Friday, December 02, 2011

Feds delay decision on NM, Texas lizard listing

A decision on whether a lizard found only in parts of New Mexico and Texas should be added to the endangered species list has been put off another six months, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday. Federal wildlife officials were set to deliver their decision on the dunes sagebrush lizard later this month, but the agency said it wants to solicit additional scientific information and public comment before making any final decisions regarding the lizard proposal. The move comes after congressional representatives from several states, including New Mexico and Texas, sent letters to the agency and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Environmentalists accused Fish and Wildlife of caving to political pressure and oil and natural gas interests. Environmentalists contend lizard habitat makes up only a fraction of the areas being used by energy developers. However, the developers, some lawmakers and state officials in Texas are concerned that a listing decision would have severe implications for the region's economy. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., and others have complained that a listing would result in oil and gas development being limited on thousands of acres in the Permian Basin, costing jobs, tax revenues and royalties. Pearce was among 18 House members who sent a letter to Salazar in late November, saying new scientific evidence collected since the initial listing proposal supports the view that the lizard isn't endangered...more

Economists: Public Land Means Jobs, Vitality for the West

"Protect public lands to grow the economy." That's the message from dozens of economists and professors who sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday. It says protected public lands are an economic boost to western states like Colorado - not only for creating recreation industry jobs, but for attracting innovative companies and employees. Dr. Ray Rasker with Headwater Economics organized the letter and its signers. "If you have a community that is surrounded by spectacular landscapes, wilderness areas and parks, companies can move to those areas. One of the things we're seeing is that's how they are recruiting really talented employees." The letter - which includes the signatures of three Nobel laureates - asks the President to invest in improving public lands and establish new wilderness areas, national parks and monuments. It says research shows that quality of life has become a competitive strength for the West and a significant contributor to economic growth...more

The letter and report are available here.

I'm sure their findings are correct, which is why we should turn 50% of the land east of the Mississippi River into federal lands so they can "grow their economy".  In one fell swoop we could fix the financial crisis, the housing crisis and the dollar crisis. All we need is more federal land for Headwaters Economics to study.

DuBois Desert Economics finds an amazing number of organizations who receive federal funding produce studies saying we need additional government.

There were two signees from NM:  Robert Berrens from UNM and Christopher Erickson from NMSU.  Dr. Berrens  has received funding from the Forest Service and EPA and  Dr. Erickson has stated President Obama's economic plan proposed this year was "mildly negative" because of the proposed "freeze on federal spending."

Forest Service says budget cuts forcing limits on bark beetle response

The U.S. Forest Service says budget cuts are forcing the federal government to limit its response to a bark beetle outbreak that has destroyed millions of acres of forests in the West, and scientists are trying to figure out what the forests will look like after the epidemic has run its course. U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who requested a yearlong study of the epidemic's impact on Colorado and Wyoming, said Thursday he plans to introduce new legislation in Congress next year to help federal agencies deal with the devastation. Potential changes include emergency authority for the U.S. Forest Service to clear dead trees for a reasonable cost, reauthorization of the Good Neighbor Authority that allows the Colorado State Forest Service to work with the U.S. Forest Service on projects that cross federal-state boundaries, and permanent reauthorization of laws allowing the Forest Service to trade goods for services. "As the mountain pine beetle epidemic continues to spread across our western forests, it's clear that we need to address the problem more intensely and effectively," Udall said...more

Torres named new ranger in Gila National Forest district

Roman "Ray" Torres has been named the new ranger for the Wilderness Ranger District of the Gila National Forest. He will begin Dec. 4. Kendall Brown, who was named temporary acting district ranger Nov. 2, will return to his permanent work station as range staff officer at the Glenwood Ranger District when Torres begins his first day on the job. Torres will share similar responsibilities with five other district rangers on the forest, which include managing resources and working with local residents, organizations, elected officials and sister agencies, said Russell, Gila National Forest supervisor. Torres has more than 20 years experience with the U.S. Forest Service and the California State Parks system. He served as a state park ranger and state park supervisor and worked in law enforcement, lands, recreation, and resource management, as well as managing prescribed fire programs and park administration at various locations. Most recently, Torres served as district ranger for the Devil's Garden/Warner Mountain Ranger District at the Modoc National Forest in northern California. Before that, he was the deputy district ranger on the Happy Camp/Oak Knoll Road on the Klamath National Forest and district lands and recreation officer for the Hat Creek Road on the Lassen National Forest, both in northern California. Torres, along with his wife, Barbara, had operated a family-owned equine supply business in Texas...more

Infected bull bison is from Ted Turner's ranch

A spokesman for media mogul Ted Turner confirmed Wednesday that a bull bison on the Snowcrest Ranch in the Upper Ruby Valley, in southwestern Montana, tested positive for brucellosis last month. Russ Miller, general manager for Turner’s western ranches said the bull bison was the only animal from the herd that tested positive for the disease. He said the animal was destroyed. Miller said the ranches were open about the infection and encouraged the Montana Department of Livestock to release the information about the ranch. “We had one positive animal on the ranch and we tested the entire herd,” Miller said. “It’s not unexpected when you’re in the designated surveillance area (for brucellosis), which was created for a reason.” Last month state veterinarian Marty Zaluski announced that a bull animal on a Madison County ranch had tested positive for the disease, which can cause females to abort their young. Zaluski would not release the species of animal or the location of the ranch other than to say it was in Madison County...more

Bingaman restates opposition to Fort Sill gaming

The Fort Sill Apache are gearing up for another round in their long-running fight to open a casino in southern New Mexico. The tribe last week was granted a 30-acre reservation near Deming -- the first new reservation in the state in decades. With that status, tribal chairman Jeff Houser says the tribe is again is looking at a casino. But it could be tough fight. U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman on Thursday sent Interior Secretary Ken Salazar a letter outlining what he says is long-standing opposition to gaming by the tribe. Houser says he is hoping to reverse some of that opposition now that the tribe has official status in New Mexico. Deming Chamber of Commerce executive director Mary Galbraith said many in Luna County -- which has a 19% unemployment rate -- are excited about the prospect of a casino and the jobs it would create. AP

Song Of The Day #724

 Hank Thompson sings Swing Wide Your Gate of Love.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Video - 18 ft. Great White Sharks circes boat off N.C. coast

Trolling fishermen brought home a rare catch — video of a great white shark cruising the North Carolina coast and circling their boat. Matt Garrett of Boston and some friends were fishing in a flat, calm sea about 25 miles from Wrightsville Beach. Garrett says the fish stopped biting and they saw the fins of the huge ocean predator. Garrett says the 18-foot shark circled the boat for several minutes, nudged it with its nose and slapped it with its tail. Boat captain John Watson says the whole boat shuddered. Paul Barrington of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher confirmed that the video shows a great white shark, which is rare for the North Carolina coast. WRAL

The video:

Did BLM let politics trump science?

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management told scientists working on a $40 million study mapping ecological trends that they couldn’t look at the effects of grazing, an environmental group says. The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed a complaint Wednesday saying the BLM study violated the Department of Interior’s new policy designed to limit political interference. The complaint is the first major test of a policy that Barack Obama promised environmental groups in the 2008 presidential election. Obama said his administration would emphasize science over political considerations, contrasting that approach with what critics said were Bush adminstration officials who handcuffed scientists and subverted science on pubic lands, wildlife and endangered species — including keeping sage grouse from being listed as an endangered species. Earlier this year, the Interior Department, the BLM’s parent agency, adopted its first scientific-integrity policy prohibiting political interference with, or manipulation of, scientific work. The BLM’s Rapid Ecoregional Assessments, financed with stimulus money, are looking at the impacts of fire, invasive species, urban sprawl, climate change and even rock-collecting in each of the six main regions of the sagebrush West. BLM managers told scientists at an August 2010 workshop to exclude cattle grazing because of “anxiety from stakeholders,” fear of litigation and lack of available data on grazing impacts, PEER said in its complaint...more

Rep. Tipton says Forest Service forced resort to relinquish water rights

Congressman Scott Tipton says the U.S. Forest Service forced Powderhorn Mountain Resort to surrender water rights so the ski area could open in two weeks. Tipton wrote Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell this week, asking the agency to honor a water agreement reached between Powderhorn, other ski areas and the George W. Bush administration. The Grand Junction Sentinel reported Wednesday ( that Tipton urged the agency to ensure Powderhorn retains its rights. He said current Forest Service policy could cost ski resorts financing for maintenance and development because water is so valuable. Powderhorn is scheduled to open Dec. 15. AP

In October, Tipton sent a letter to the Secretary Tom Vilsack urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reconsider implementing a permit condition to require the transfer of privately held water rights to the federal government as a permit condition on National Forest System lands. Tipton expressed concern over the impact the requirement would have on water rights held by ski areas and ranchers in particular. That letter is here.  The most recent letter is here.

U.S. Seeks to Protect Forests to Save Wild Reindeer

The U.S. government proposed protecting old-growth forests in Idaho and Washington state on Tuesday to save the nation's dwindling population of mountain caribou, popularly known as wild reindeer. Under the plan, roughly 375,000 acres of mostly U.S. Forest Service land in the Selkirk Mountains in northern Idaho and northeastern Washington would be designated as critical habitat for the reclusive caribou. The estimated 46 mountain caribou in the Selkirks, which bridge the border between the United States and Canada, are all that remain in the country, said Susan Burch, branch chief in Idaho for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Unlike other types of caribou, some of which live in Alaska, the Selkirk band inhabit elevations above 4,000 feet and rely on old-growth forests for food and protection from predators, government scientists said. The greatest threat to survival of the animal is fragmentation of its territory by logging, wildfires, road-building and recreation trails, according to the service...more

80,000 acres or over 12 sections per animal? 

National forests propose new restrictions in grizzly habitat

A new grizzly bear protection plan may close some forest roads in northwestern Montana and northern Idaho. The plan responds to a decade-old lawsuit that accused the U.S. Forest Service of ignoring the effect of roads on grizzlies in the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk mountains. While no specific roads are marked for gates or closure, Forest Service officials said the changes would come up for public review over the next eight years. Less than 100 grizzlies are believed to live in the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk recovery zones, which cover a combined 4,560 square miles of grizzly habitat. They include bits of northwestern Montana, northern Idaho, northern Washington and southern British Columbia. The access management plan affects parts of three national forests: 1.2 million acres of the Kootenai, 806,000 acres of the Idaho Panhandle, and 163,000 acres of the Lolo. That compares to more than 1,000 bears in the Northern Continental Divide recovery zone extending from Glacier National Park down to the southern tip of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies sued the Forest Service over a 1999 access rule environmentalists believed lacked adequate scientific grounding. Another rule was proposed in 2004, but that was also appealed. A U.S. District Court judge ordered the Forest Service to do a new environmental analysis in 2006, and its final draft version was released on Monday...more

Durban Climate Conference: The Dream Fades

Things don’t look promising for the perennial climate confab which convenes in Durban, South Africa today. There is little chance of extending the expiring 1997 Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Kyoto has turned into a giant international scam that has already wasted hundreds of billions, with little to show for it; in fact, the increase in atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases has been accelerating. What brings nearly 200 delegations together is a dream—the forlorn hope that developed nations who have ratified the Protocol will come up with a $100-billion-per-year aid program. This is supposed to allow developing nations to adapt to the putative climate disasters that the IPCC, the U.N.’s climate-science panel, has been predicting for more than 20 years. The U.S., which never ratified Kyoto, is expected to supply the lion’s share of this subsidy. Fat chance; just look at the polls and listen to the statements from leading Republican presidential candidates who denounce these disaster predictions as “hoax” and “poppycock.” But the 10,000 or so Durban attendees—official delegates, U.N. and government officials, journalists, NGO types, and other hangers-on—will have a grand old time: two weeks of feasting, partying, living it up in luxury hotels, and greeting old friends at this 17th reunion—all at someone else’s expense. Statesmen will arrive on the last day to sign important-sounding communiqu├ęs and quickly depart before having to explain just how they will “save the climate” and humanity...more

Settlement talks fail in dispute over motorized use in wilderness study area

Attempts to reach a settlement failed in a long-running dispute over the use of snowmobiles, dirt bikes and other vehicles in a wilderness study area north of Yellowstone National Park, leaving a federal appeals court to resolve the conflict. The issue centers on the U.S. Forest Service's 2006 Travel Management Plan that would restrict the recreational use of motorized and mechanized vehicles within the Hyalite/Porcupine/Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area, also known as Gallatin Crest. Congress created the 155,000-acre wilderness study area in 1977, ordering that its existing wilderness character as of that time be maintained for possible inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. Three conservation groups sued the Forest Service over the plan meant to manage travel and recreation within the study area. The groups — the Montana Wilderness Association, Greater Yellowstone Coalition and Wilderness Society — said the plan would allow too much motorized vehicle use in the wilderness study area, which is part of the 1.8 million acre Gallatin National Forest. A district judge ruled in favor of the conservation groups, and the Forest Service appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A 9th circuit panel of judges earlier this year ordered lawyers for the conservation groups, the Forest Service and Citizens for Balanced Use to hold talks with a court-appointed mediator in an attempt to resolve the dispute...more

Montana recommends moving bison to Indian reservations

Montana wildlife officials on Wednesday said they will recommend the relocation of 68 quarantined Yellowstone National Park bison to two Indian reservations after running into strong opposition by ranchers and landowners to proposals to move the animals to other parts of the state. The bison could be moved to the Fort Peck and Fort Belknap reservations this winter if the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission approves the recommendation at its Dec. 9 meeting. Tribal officials with the northeastern Montana reservations have been advocating the relocation for several years. They welcomed the news Wednesday and encouraged the commission to take the last step. FWP had originally considered four possible relocation sites, but received an overwhelmingly negative response from residents near the Spotted Dog and Marias River wildlife management areas in southwestern and northern Montana. The ranchers, landowners and hunters in those areas expressed concern with the spread of disease and damage to private property...more

Labor department to distance youth from farm work

Proposals that would regulate child labor on farms and ranches have left agricultural professionals nationwide disgruntled, and they have until today to offer comment. Local farmers and ranchers so far have expressed little concern over the proposed changes to the agricultural occupations order under the Fair Labor Standards Act, though many children pitching in on area farms likely would be affected. The proposal would prohibit farmworkers under age 16 from participating in agricultural work with animals, pesticide handling, timber operations, manure pits and storage bins, according to an August press release from the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division in Washington, D.C. It also would prohibit youth under age 16 from operating almost all power-driven equipment, a regulation that has applied to nonagricultural workers under the age of 16 for about 50 years. They also would be prohibited from operating power-driven equipment while using electronic or communication devices. Additionally, workers under age 18 could not be employed in the storing, marketing and transporting of raw farm product materials, the release said. Youth under age 18 could not work in country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges or livestock auctions...more

For 2 centuries, miracles sought through personal notes, holy sand at New Mexico’s Chimayo

They come in pain and in prayer, seeking cures and a cup of sand from a tiny adobe church called Chimayo. For two centuries, Hispanic and Native American pilgrims have sought help from El Santuario de Chimayo (pronounced CHEE’-mah-YOH’), located in a mountain hamlet in northern New Mexico. They clutch pictures of sick loved ones, hobble weakly on crutches, and bring stories of hopeless conditions. They leave small slips of paper asking for mercy and miracles, promise to give up drinking and show more compassion, and they light candles in front of images of saints and La Virgen de Guadalupe, patron of the Americas. Before they leave, they visit a room in the shrine that houses “el pocito,” which means the little well, a small pit of holy adobe-colored dirt which some say possesses the power to cure. Just one touch, say those who believe, and cancer might go into remission, an injured knee might heal, and leukemia might be held off long enough to witness a child’s birth. Along the wall hang crutches that are no longer needed, material proof from those who say they’ve been helped. The history of el pocito goes back 200 years, when legend holds that a friar, performing penances, saw a strange light streaming from a hillside near the Santa Cruz River. The friar began to dig to find the source of the light, and soon uncovered a crucifix. The crucifix was taken to a nearby church several times, but according to the story, it kept mysteriously returning to the place where it was found. A chapel was built there in 1813, and followers have been returning to pray at el pocito ever since...more

Song Of The Day #723

OpenDrive is still not working for new songs that I've uploaded. However it works fine for songs previously uploaded.  So I'll play selections from the library until they get this fixed.  Here is Boots Woodall and the Radio Wranglers with Since You've Been Gone.

Prosecutor: Advocating jury nullification ‘not protected by the First Amendment’

Advocating for a controversial legal tactic known as jury nullification can get U.S. citizens prosecuted for jury tampering, according to one Manhattan prosecutor who’s pursuing that very charge against a 79-year-old former chemistry professor. Indicted last year, all Julian P. Heicklen says he was doing is handing out pamphlets from the Fully Informed Jury Association near a courthouse. He wasn’t targeting any specific jury or juror, and his activism has taken him to dozens of courthouses around the country, according to The New York Times. Manhattan prosecutor Rebecca Mermelstein argued in a recent court filing examined by the paper that because he hoped to “target prospective jurors,” he was tampering with the legal process. “I’m not telling you to find anybody not guilty,” he allegedly told an undercover officer. “But if there is a law you think is wrong then you should do that.” Essentially, he’s right: Jury nullification is the right of citizens to nullify the application of laws the feel are unjust. During alcohol prohibition, nearly 60 percent of trials were nullified by jurors. Nullification was often used in cases involving the Alien and Sedition and Fugitive Slave Acts, but it was also common in the South, where it was used to stymie civil rights trials...more

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gunmen kill 4-year-old boy in Mexican border city

A 4-year-old boy was killed by gunmen while he was playing outside a neighbor's house in Ciudad Juarez, considered Mexico's murder capital and the most dangerous city in the world, police said. Alan David Carrillo was playing with a friend when a group of gunmen opened fire on the house, the Ciudad Juarez municipal police department said in a statement. The boy's relatives rushed him to a clinic, but he died a few minutes after arrival at the medical facility. Ciudad Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, has been plagued by drug-related violence for years...more

Mexican Spillover Violence: The Riddles Grow

The two new cases of spillover violence, on October 30 and November 24, took place in Texas, more than 300 miles apart. Both produced murky and conflicting reports. Each involved a different Mexican crime cartel, on different kinds of missions. These probes by foreign criminals onto U.S. soil were apparently unrelated, and only coincidentally close in time. But there is still the deeper riddle. Could the incidents be predictors of thing to come? Do they foreshadow a general tendency to bring violence north across the border? For decades Mexican drug smugglers have had marketing links inside the United States, but the large cartels have kept most of their fighting in Mexico. There has been the unwritten rule: antagonizing U.S. law enforcement isn’t worth the risk. But this is only a custom, and customs can change. The drug war itself might be defined as a gradual breakdown of norms and inhibitions. The two recent incidents ask once again: How far will the cartels go?...more

Burrito Bust Puts NM Prison on Lockdown

The presence of a burrito caused a full prison lockdown in New Mexico Tuesday, leaving some concerned and others laughing. Officials at the Valencia County Detention were ordered to lockdown the facility after is was discovered that a guard had smuggled a burrito into the prison, intending to give it to an inmate. The prison warden Joe Chavez said he believed the guard and inmate were attempting a dry run to see if it were possible to bring in contraband via burritos. Chavez told KOAT TV that after more than 20 years ‘this is a first that I saw someone smuggle in a burrito.’...more

Guard was fired, no burrito contraband was found, don't know what happened to the Bandito Burrito.

Arizona gun club offers photos with Santa, rifles - New contest at The Westerner

An Arizona gun club is offering a chance for children and their families to pose for photos with Santa while holding pistols and military-style rifles. One image shows Santa in a wingback chair with a snowflake background, a Christmas tree behind him and flanked by an $80,000 machine gun and a tripod-mounted rifle. Next to Santa is a man standing behind a boy, who is holding an unloaded AR-15 with an attached grenade launcher. Ron Kennedy, general manager of the Scottsdale Gun Club, says the business got the idea for the photo op last year when a club member happened to come in dressed as Santa and other members wanted their picture taken while they were holding their guns...more

This calls for a new bunch of Christmas carols, like:

I Saw Mommy Shooting Santa Claus

Silencer Night

Rudolph, The Rifle Totin' Reindeer

Joy To The Winchester

Jingle Shells, Jingle Shells

You get the picture and let's have a contest.  Who can come up with the best gun-related Christmas carol.

Put your entry in the comments section or email them to

Winner will receive World-Wide Recognition on The Westerner!

Oregon Sheriff continues stand against Forest Service

by Sarah Foster

Two months ago Gil Gilbertson, the sheriff of this rural county in southern Oregon, drafted a 10-page report exploring the origins and extent of federal power within a state and emailed his findings to various parties, asking for comment.  Since the report was in rough-draft form he was somewhat surprised that it went viral, but it shows there are a lot of people hungry for information about how much power (particularly law-enforcement power) the federal government actually wields within a state, where that power comes from, and the limits to that power.  Gilbertson continued his research and recently completed a 13-page revised and updated version, retitled: Unraveling Federal Jurisdiction within a State. It is highly footnoted with references to statutes and court decisions.  This a “must read” for anyone concerned about infringements against the 10th Amendment and federal encroachments in general – like road closures, Wild Lands and Monument designations, mining and other resource uses. In other words, this is for anyone and everybody with an interest – no matter how casual -- in accessing the public lands, either as a “resource user” (a rancher or miner) or simply a casual vacationer who enjoys weekend camping. “If you’d told me two years ago that I would be writing such a document, I would have probably walked away from you shaking my head,” the sheriff notes in the introduction. “This paper is a result of a clash with the federal [U.S. Forest Service] law enforcement in this county, from citizens complaining of what can only be described as harassment and violations of their rights,” he explains. “The first time I approached the USFS the door closed regarding any discussion. The USFS advised me to file a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. “ Eventually Gilbertson was able to discuss the issue with the Forest Service. “Most of my questions were answered except for one: Where does the USFS’s authority come from? (bold-face in original). The answer(s) were surprising.”...

Stringing Up Gibson Guitar

On a sweltering day in August, federal agents raided the Tennessee factories of the storied Gibson Guitar Corp. The suggestion was that Gibson had violated the Lacey Act—a federal law designed to protect wildlife—by importing certain India ebony. The company has vehemently denied that suggestion and has yet to be charged. It is instead living in a state of harassed legal limbo. Which, let's be clear, is exactly what its persecutors had planned all along. The untold story of Gibson is this: It was set up. Most of the press coverage has implied that the company is the unfortunate victim of a well-meaning, if complicated, law. Stories note, in passing, that the Lacey Act was "expanded" in 2008, and that this has had "unintended consequences." Given Washington's reputation for ill-considered bills, this might make sense. Only not in this case. The story here is about how a toxic alliance of ideological activists and trade protectionists deliberately set about creating a vague law, one designed to make an example out of companies (like Gibson) and thus chill imports—even legal ones...more

Senator suggests state takeover of forests

The state should take over the national forests and dramatically accelerate logging to thin forests and prevent catastrophic wildfires, said state Sen. Sylvia Allen and a group of people affected by the massive Wallow Fire during a recent press conference and hearing at the state capitol. The group posed in front of a flatbed truck with a huge tree charred in the summer fire that consumed 730 square miles in the White Mountains. She called for the state to take over the forests if the Forest Service doesn’t act immediately to undertake thinning on a massive scale. “All of our people up on our mountain are from all political persuasions, and I would say confidently that 95 percent of them are behind what we are trying to do. They want to save our forests,” said Allen, a Snowflake Republican and Senate President Pro Tem whose district includes all of Rim Country. “If the Forest Service will not act now,” said Allen, “then the state of Arizona needs to step up on this emergency and take over management of our forest lands.”. “If they don’t get to those places where the trees have been killed, they are going to start falling over and it’s going to become a fire hazard again,” said Whitney Wiltbank, whose family has owned the Sprucedale Guest Ranch for 70 years. He spoke at a Nov. 17 press conference that preceded a Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing on forest management issues...more

Badly-Needed Alaskan Oil Is Kept From Market By Obama Decision

The same administration that says we can and should get oil from the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is blocking a bridge needed to get it to market on environmental grounds. The NPRA, 23 million acres of North Slope wilderness, was established in 1923 by President Harding to ensure a reserve of oil for the U.S. Navy. Obama has cited it as an example of areas where the oil companies could drill but are reluctant to, knowing full well his administration has walled off preferred areas offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The problem is that at least one oil company, Conoco Phillips, has said it will go after the oil and gas in the NPRA, estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to hold 2.7 billion barrels of oil and 114.36 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. To get it out, Conoco Phillips wants to build a road bridge and pipeline over the Colville River on the edge of the NPRA to get drilling supplies in and the oil and gas out. The Army Corps of Engineers, backed by the usual environmental suspects, says a pipeline under the river, which is frozen half the year, is preferred even though the oil company has said it would be less safe. The oil firm argues that since the pipeline will carry a mix of oil, gas and water, it would be at greater risk of corrosion and leaks under the water. An above-ground pipeline would be easier to monitor and maintain. But Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has impeded domestic energy production anywhere he can on environmental grounds, supports the Corps' decision...more

Wolf killed in southeastern Montana had traveled far

Rancher & 98 lbs.  wolf
In what is the first documented wolf incident in far southeastern Montana since reintroduction, a male black wolf was shot by a Hammond-area rancher Sunday after it attacked his sheep. The 2-1/2-year old wolf was far from home — 300 miles by air. That’s not unusual, said Mike Jimenez, wolf recovery project leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Wyoming. “It’s a prime age for dispersal,” Jimenez said, as a male seeks a breeding partner. Although the average distance that wolves will go when seeking a mate is closer to 50 to 65 miles, one wolf in 2008 traveled roughly 3,000 miles in a journey from near Bozeman to Vail, Colo. Others have been documented traveling from Idaho to Oregon and from Montana to British Columbia. “They’re impressive when they get a mind to move,” Jimenez said. The 98-pound wolf killed near Hammond had been collared last winter north of Jackson, Wyo., as a member of the Gros Ventre wolf pack...more

Imnaha wolves strike again

Two Zumwalt area ranchers lost cows to the Imnaha wolf pack in separate attacks sometime around the Thanksgiving holiday, state wildlife managers confirmed yesterday. In a brief email response to the Wallowa County Chieftain on Nov. 28, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesperson said wolves were determined responsible in both incidents. A tracking collar indicated that the alpha male of the Imnaha pack, referred to as OR-4, was in the area at the suspected time of the attacks, according to area ranchers, who say ODFW notified them of the wolf's proximity. The cows were preyed upon while grazing in privately owned pastureland on the Zumwalt Prairie about 25 miles east of Eggleson Corner. Zumwalt area rancher Charity Ketscher said she went to let her dog outside Thanksgiving night and noticed that he seemed spooked by something. Wolves crossed her mind. The next morning Ketscher and her husband, Phillip Ketscher, received a text message from ODFW notifying them that wolves were near their ranching operations. The report came as no surprise to the Ketschers because they could hear the wolves howling that morning as Charity prepared breakfast...more

CMT honors 5 top country stars; Hank Jr. pulls out

Brad Paisley fully endorses the format of the CMT Artists of the Year celebration. Paisley was one of five country music stars honored Tuesday night during a taping of the second annual event, joining Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift. He loved the idea of already knowing he was taking a trophy home when he showed up. But it was Hank Williams Jr. who turned in the night's most buzzed about moment, leaving the stage quickly mid-song after singing his part during a duet with Aldean. Williams' spokesman Kirt Webster said after the taping that Williams left because he didn't feel like he was giving an adequate performance while joining Aldean on his song, "Tattoos on This Town." Williams told the show's producers the night was meant to honor Aldean, a friend. Turning in a poor performance would only ruin that effort, Webster recounted. Aldean did a second run-through of the song after Williams left without problem. The singer praised Williams as a hero in an interview before the show and said it had been fun hanging with him during rehearsal. "It was really kind of funny watching him go about music the way he does," Aldean said. "He's kind of like, 'OK, this is the way y'all do it. I'm going to do it the way I do it.' It's just the way it is. And you go, 'It's Hank,' you know. 'Make it sound like you want it to sound, bro.' But he's awesome. I don't know what else to say about the guy. He's the real deal as far as country singers go." Williams has been in the news quite a bit recently. A political analogy he made on television involving President Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler led to the pulling of his "Monday Night Football" theme song by ESPN. But he rallied and turned it into something of a public-relations victory, issuing a new song and appearing on "The View" where he found a sympathetic reception. He soon joined Paisley and Carrie Underwood earlier this month on the Country Music Association Awards, stealing the show with a single word...more

Horses could soon be slaughtered for meat in US

Horses could soon be butchered in the U.S. for human consumption after Congress quietly lifted a ban on funding horse meat inspections. Pro-slaughter activists estimate a slaughterhouse could open in 30 to 90 days with state approval. The meat would be shipped to Europe or Asia. United Horsemen President Dave Duquette says no site has been picked yet but he's lined up plenty of investors who have expressed interest in financing an American-owned slaughterhouse. Congress cut off funding for horse meat inspections in 2006 but lifted the ban earlier this month after a federal report found more horses had been neglected and abandoned since the economic downturn started...more

Yup, they'll soon be turning Ol' Paint into a Pinto Pot Pie.

National climatologists project more Texas drought in 2012

If weather patterns hold true, ranchers will find it just as hard to feed and water herds next year. Farmers will find just as much dust in their fields. Homeowners will see continued watering restrictions that could get even tighter, and fires will rage in areas not already burned. Bill Proenza is director of the National Weather Service southern region. "The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center is looking ahead and seeing similar conditions setting up again for the upcoming year," Proenza said. About 100 climate scientists from several states gathered in Fort Worth to look ahead. They don't like what they see...more

Texas, New Mexico both claim Billy the Kid gravesites

Any fan of outlaw lore needs to visit the graves of both Billy the Kids or, if you prefer, Billies the Kid. Only one is Billy, of course; the other's just kidding. New Mexico and Texas will eternally feud over which is which. One grave is just outside Fort Sumner, N.M., where one William Bonney was buried after being shot to death by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881. The other is in Texas -- in Hamilton, just down the road from Hico, the hometown of one "Brushy Bill" Roberts, who claimed that Garrett shot the wrong guy and he, in fact, was Billy the Kid. This Billy the Kid died of a heart attack in 1950 while walking down the street in Hico. ''See Billy the Kid's Real Grave," reads the sign leading down the lonesome road off U.S. 60 west of Clovis, N.M. Yeah, these folks have heard about the other Billy, and they don't much like it. Down the road is the gravesite and the Billy the Kid Museum (3501 Billy the Kid Road,; $3.50), which contains cowboy memorabilia, wanted posters, news clippings, posters of the many Billy the Kid movies and, of course, a stuffed two-headed calf. Outside is the gravesite, which contains the remains of Bonney and his pals Tom O'Folliard and Charlie Bowdre. The names of all three are on one marker. A second is dedicated just to Bonney, inscribed: "Billy the Kid. Bandit King. He died as he had lived." A sign next to the grave says that this tombstone was stolen in 1950, turned up in 1976 in Granbury (yes, the one in Texas) and was stolen again in 1981 and found in Huntington Beach, Calif. Now it's inside an iron fence, shackled firmly to the ground...more

Song Of The Day

Sorry, can't get OpenDrive to work again this morning.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

With Ken Salazar, peering into the Department of the Interior

The Washington Post interviews Secretary Salazar:

What life experiences have helped shape your views on leadership? Growing up in a very rural and remote area in Colorado’s San Luis Valley – one of the poorest counties in the United States – essentially created the framework of values from which I operate. I stand up for the little guy. I fight discrimination at all levels. I fight for an inclusive America. I recognize that my own American dream was one which eluded my parents, but they gave it to me because of education. I don’t believe that the American dream should be reserved for those who are born into the elite or somehow have been given an advantage over others. My growing-up experience is probably the most important thing that guides my priorities and my work today. How do you prioritize your challenges and your time? From day one, I’ve had three very clear goals. They guide how I spend my time and they guide where I prioritize the work that I do. They are energy, conservation and Native Americans. On the energy front, we’ve created a virtual revolution on renewable energy on public lands where nothing existed before. On the conservation side, we are moving forward in a very difficult environment because of funding issues to continue a conservation and preservation agenda that will be a very robust one. And on the Native American front, we have turned a new page in the 400-year history of the interface between the American settlers of this country and the nation’s first Americans. That’s included a new relationship where the sovereignty of tribes is in fact recognized...

EDITORIAL: Time to stock up on light bulbs

Within four weeks, it will be a crime to manufacture a 100-watt version of Thomas A. Edison’s brilliant invention. Thanks to a Democratic Congress and the signature of President George W. Bush in 2007, anti-industrial zealots at the Energy Department received authority to blot out one of the greatest achievements of the industrial age. They’re coming for our light bulbs. Know-it-all bureaucrats insist that foisting millions of mercury-laden fluorescent tubes on the public is going to be good for the planet. The public obviously does not agree. Voting with their wallets, people have overwhelming favored warm, nontoxic lighting options over their pale curlicue imitators. Beginning Jan. 1, Obama administration extremists will impose massive financial penalties on any company daring to produce a lighting product that fully satisfies ordinary Americans. The Republican House hasn’t done enough to stop this. Rep. Michael C. Burgess, Texas Republican, added language to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill to prohibit the ban’s implementation. A Senate committee deleted this sensible amendment in September, and it’s been quite a while since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has allowed an up-or-down vote on a funding bill. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership hasn’t made this a priority. Many in the GOP remain cowed by the fraudulent claim that these are just harmless “energy standards” and opposing them would be a crime against the environment. The reality is that this ban is yet another example of the sort of job-destroying regulations that enrich the administration’s friends at the expense of consumers. Specifically, the rules turn a 50-cent light bulb into a purchase of $3 or more...more

And that ain't all. In case you forgot, look at what they are already doing...

Rampaging bureaucrats aren’t just satisfied with foisting inferior light bulbs on the public. The Energy Department uses the force of the federal government to redesign an entire suite of consumer products to meet their personal preferences. In nearly every case, their meddling makes things worse. Current regulations micromanage the function of ceiling fans, clothes washers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, faucets, freezers, furnaces, heat pumps, lamps, pool heaters, power supplies, refrigerators, room air conditioners, shower heads, stoves, toilets and water heaters. Enough is enough.

18 congressional leaders join bipartisan opposition to listing of dunes sagebrush lizard

A bi-partisan letter from 18 congressional leaders opposing the proposed listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard under the Endangered Species Act has been submitted to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, according to a press release. Federal wildlife officials are set to deliver their decision on the dunes sagebrush lizard in December. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., is among the 18 representatives who signed the letter. The letter also calls for at least a six-month delay of a listing decision to gather more credible science and to allow for current conservation efforts to enroll additional participants and to grow a private funding base. "Given the growing body of evidence, we ask that the Fish and Wildlife Service not list the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered or threatened," the Representatives wrote in the letter. "If the Service feels that it cannot make that determination at this time, then at a minimum, we request that it delays its final decision by at least six months to take into account the rapidly evolving state of facts on the ground." The letter continued: "As with all listings, the crux of our concerns is the science underpinning this decision; there simply is not enough information to credibly argue that the species is declining. There are also important questions about the science on which Fish and Wildlife based this proposed listing." The science available to the Fish and Wildlife Service warrant the listing has continued to come under question, drawing a similar letter from Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman, both Democrats representing New Mexico. The congressional leaders note in their letter that there is a study out that shows that the lizard's population has actually increased by a factor of 2.4 in areas where oil and gas wells were present compared to an increase by a factor of 1.6 in areas without wells...more

Also see NM senators seek delay in lizard decision.

Era of energy subsidies is over

Bill Clinton famously said, “The era of big government is over.” Well, it didn’t work out that way. But something truly remarkable is happening in our national conversation about energy subsidies: outrage, mounting opposition and, we hope, a swift end. This would be great news for taxpayers and consumers. Subsidy folly has been bipartisan and commonplace. For the past three decades, both parties have intervened in the energy industry. In 1978, a Democrat-controlled Congress and President Carter created an investment tax credit for solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. In 1992, a Democrat-controlled Congress and Republican President George H.W. Bush passed the production tax credit for electricity produced from wind and biomass. Then in 2005, a Republican-controlled Congress and President George W. Bush passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included massive tax subsidies for seemingly every energy source under the sun, including alternative vehicles, advanced nuclear power and, of course, solar power. The latter legislation created the infamous Department of Energy loan-guarantee programs that produced the ongoing Solyndra scandal. After three decades, what have we learned? c Energy subsidies distort the free market by funneling billions in taxpayer dollars to politically favored energy sources and technologies, preventing market prices from signaling the optimal source for particular energy uses. c Subsidizing energy sectors drains the federal treasury and forces the consumption of higher-cost energy sources. c Politically allocated capital typically flows to politically connected companies or to large companies that could develop innovative technologies on their own dime. The $535 million Solyndra scandal has reinforced all of these lessons and helped shine a light on the energy-subsidy debate, exposing those who maintain government is the solution to our energy needs. The good news is that with the support of the American people, politicians now are speaking the truth...more

Grazing strategy could be key to reducing wild land fires, researchers say

New Mexico State University researchers and experts from other universities are looking into the possibility that a targeted grazing strategy for range cattle could significantly reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. "Behavior of wildfires is affected by the abundance of what we call 'fine fuels,'" said NMSU rangeland expert Derek Bailey. "Our assumption is that moderate levels of grazing can be used to strategically reduce the levels of fine fuels and correspondingly limit impacts and economic losses of wildfire." Bailey teaches in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences and is the director of NMSU's Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center north of Las Cruces. He and other investigators are halfway through a three-year study on targeted grazing. Targeted grazing at four locations in New Mexico and Arizona involves manually herding cattle into more rugged and remote areas of fuel buildup and determining if the availability of forage, along with the strategic positioning of protein supplement blocks, encourages the animals to spend a higher percentage of their time away from the overgrazed areas around their water source. Preliminary results suggest that the combination of herding and strategic supplement placement can effectively reduce biomass of fine fuels, Bailey said...more

A citizen activist forces New Mexico's dairies to clean up their act

Which, in a way, was why I had come -- to learn how and why this loner became the driving force behind a movement that brought the state's mega-dairies to heel. The dairy industry is New Mexico's largest agricultural sector and an influential lobbying force. Although the state Environment Department has long worked with dairies to reduce pollution, change has been slow: Almost 60 percent of the state's dairies have polluted groundwater with manure runoff, yet not one has begun the required cleanup. Now, thanks largely to the pressure brought to bear by Nivens, his allies, and an Environment Department employee named Bill Olson, New Mexico has passed some of the most progressive dairy-related water regulations in the West. Citizens have campaigned against dairy pollution in Idaho, Washington and California. Yet despite grassroots support for tighter controls, industry has largely succeeded in slowing or even loosening regulations. New Mexico's new rules may inspire other states to take the responsibility for limiting factory-farm pollution into their own hands, activists say...more

Indian land-leasing reforms announced

Reforms to remove roadblocks to business activities in Indian Country ranging from home purchases to renewable energy projects were unveiled Monday by the Obama administration. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar described the proposal in historic terms and added it is hard to overstate what the changes should mean for Indian Country. "The proposed changes are the most comprehensive reforms of Indian land leasing regulations in more than 50 years and will have a real impact for individuals and families who want to own a home or build a business," Salazar said. He said the proposed reforms would replace a current process that allows the Bureau of Indian Affairs to do nothing and let applications languish. Land held in trust by the federal government on behalf of tribes cannot be bought and sold. If a tribe or tribe member wants to build a house on it or use it for a business or industry, the Interior Department must approve a "lease." Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., welcomed the announcement. "This is a major step in the right direction," said Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and reportedly the only enrolled member of a tribe now serving in Congress...more

Also see U.S. Targets American Indian Land for Wind, Solar Projects for more specifics on the reforms.

Census: American Indian populations are on the rise

Populations of American Indians and Alaska Natives are growing, both in numbers and in percentage of the total U.S. population. Once comprising less than one-half of 1 percent of the total population, the two groups are expected to reach 2 percent by 2050, according to 2010 Census data. The two populations increased by 1.1 million people or 26.7 percent since 2000, the data shows, as compared to a 9.7-percent growth in the overall population. The nation's population of American Indians and Alaska Natives is 5.2 million, or about 1.7 percent of the total population. By 2050, the projected population is expected to be about 8.6 million, including those who are more than one race. Businesses owned by this group grew in number more than 237,000, generating $34.5 billion in annual revenue. The largest number of firms owned by American Indians and Alaska natives — nearly 46,000 — is in California, and the top cities are New York, Los Angeles and Gallup. Nearly a third of these businesses are involved in construction, repair, maintenance and personal services, according to Census data. Census data also reveals the following trends regarding American Indians and Alaska Natives:

# 28 percent of people age 5 and older speak a language other than English at home.

# 73 percent of residents of the Navajo Nation age 5 and older speak a language other than English at home.

# 77 percent of people have at least a high school diploma or GED; 41 percent of people have a bachelor's degree.

# The median age of American Indians or Alaska Natives who are no other race is 29 years.

# Median household income is $35,000.

# 28.4 percent of individuals are living in poverty. The general population is at 15.3 percent.

# 29 percent of individuals lack health insurance, as compared to 15.5 percent of the general population.

# More than 156,000 American Indians or Alaska Natives are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

Read more here

Program aims to decrease feral hog numbers

The hunt is on. Feral hogs have wrecked havoc on Texas land and rooted profits out of farmers' and ranchers' hands. Texas AgriLife Extension Service estimated that annual economic damage caused by feral hogs is $500 million. So' last year Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) decided to add some extra incentive for hunters and landowners to come together to reduce the ever-increasing population of feral hogs. According to the TDA website, the 'Hog Out' program is designed to encourage counties across the state to make a concentrated and coordinated effort to reduce the feral hog population and the damage they cause. All counties that submitted a notice of intent to participate began capturing and counting hogs Oct. 1 and will continue to do so through Dec. 31. The five counties that earn the most number of points through the capture of the feral hogs and education programs put on during this period of time will be awarded monetarily. According to the TDA, the highest-scoring county will be awarded $20,000; the second-highest will be awarded $15,000; the third highest will be awarded $10,000; and the fourth- and fifth-highest will be awarded $7,500 each. Points are earned toward the grant in two ways. One is educational programs on feral hog abatement and the other part is the actual taking of the feral hogs either by shooting or trapping...more

Zeta soldiers launched Mexico-style attack in Harris County

The mission was supposed to be a textbook "controlled delivery" - a routine trap by law enforcement officers using a secret operative posing as a truck driver to bust drug traffickers when their narcotics are delivered to a rendezvous point. Instead, things spun out of control. Shortly before the marijuana delivery was to be made Monday afternoon, three sport-utility vehicles carrying Zetas cartel gunmen seemingly came out of nowhere and cut off the tractor tailer rig as it rumbled through northwest Harris County, sources told the Houston Chronicle. They sprayed the cab with bullets, killing the civilian driver, who was secretly working with the government. A sheriff's deputy, who was driving nearby in another vehicle, was wounded, possibly by friendly fire. For some at the scene, it seemed all too similar to what has been playing out in Mexico, where drug cartels operate with near impunity as they clash with each other and with the military and police. "We are not going to tolerate these types of thugs out there using their weapons like the Wild, Wild West," said Javier Pena, the new head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Houston Division. "We are going after them." "Everybody is surprised at the brazenness," Pena continued as he stressed a full court press by the DEA, the sheriff and police. "We haven't seen this type of violence, which concerns us."...more

Monday, November 28, 2011

Homeland Security funded camera network will focus on jaguars

Starting next year, jaguars will be the target of an extensive network of remote cameras placed across Southern Arizona and southwest New Mexico. In a three-year, $771,000 project that has been greeted warmly by environmentalists but warily by cattle growers, University of Arizona researchers will try to learn more about the status and presence of the endangered animal. Fifteen years after the jaguar was listed as endangered in the U.S., this project will try to determine how often it roams from Mexico to the United States and back, said Melanie Culver, the project's principal investigator and a geneticist for the U.S. Geological Survey and the UA's School of Natural Resources. Funding is from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Other possible results of the research include: • Pinpointing movement corridors for jaguars across the mountainous borderlands region. • Understanding more about how other wildlife relates to jaguars, and about the region's general biodiversity. • Helping the federal government determine prime jaguar habitat, and prepare a federal recovery plan for the species. • Learning how much impact the U.S.-Mexican border fence, illegal immigrants, and vehicles and equipment used to pursue immigrants has on the animal...more

This must be from the bribe...excuse me...mitigation money going from the Border Patrol budget to Interior.

Aging Sagebrush Rebel Keeps up Fight Against Feds

A 75-year-old lawyer who fought private property rights battles alongside Idaho U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth and her Nevada rancher husband Wayne Hage in the 1990s is still cultivating the Sagebrush Rebellion's roots. Fred Kelly Grant has been slowed by age and heart surgery, but he's in demand from counties — and tea partyers who attend his $150-per-person seminars — as conservative elements in the West's continue to clash with the federal government. California's Siskiyou County is paying Grant $10,000 to help block removal of four Klamath River dams. Montana and Idaho counties have enlisted him to trim hated wolf populations and thwart U.S. Forest Service road closures. What Grant preaches is "coordination," the theory that federal agencies by law must deal with local governments when revising their public land travel plans or protecting endangered species. Grant insists he's not reviving the discredited "county supremacy" movement, in which a Nevada county once threatened federal employees with prosecution. "This is not nullification," simply ignoring federal mandates, he told The Associated Press. "Coordination is working within the system to try and make the system work."...more

BLM auction in Salt Lake City will test new environmental reforms

This month's federal oil and gas lease auction will be a crucial first test in Utah of new environmental mandates implemented by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Even though the 11 parcels snatched up by a pair of companies have gone through environmental analysis by the Bureau of Land Management prior to the auction, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other groups lodged a protest. That protest could result in a courtroom battle where a judge would determine if the BLM did an adequate amount of review up front. "This is the best sale we've had as far as the maximum price per acre," said Kent Hoffman, the agency's deputy director of the land and minerals division. Hoffman said the parcels offered this month have been altered since the 2008 auction, with some changes made that include considerations for sage grouse habitat. The 2010 reforms are resulting in a much longer period of time for parcels to be offered at auction, though industry interest is on the uptick, Hoffman said. Hoffman said an indication of that agency slowdown is the disparity between the number of parcels the industry nominates for possible development and the actual number of parcels the agency is able to release for bid — which is substantially lower...more

Forest Service spends $1.2 million for fish-friendly bridge

Chokepoint and bottleneck are terms often heard in regard to traffic congestion, but not often with fish. But a steep, dark, narrow culvert under Idaho 21 created aquatic gridlock for fish and other water creatures traveling Five Mile Creek about 11 miles east of Lowman. The Idaho Transportation Department and U.S. Forest Service's solution was to remove the 300-foot-long, 72-inch-wide culvert and replace it with a 125-foot-wide bridge, opening up Five Mile Creek. Restoration of the fish passage will allow bull trout and other fish and aquatic organisms better navigation and re-establish Five Mile Creek’s connections to the South Fork of the Payette River, according to ITD. The $1.2 million project, paid for by the Forest Service, is scheduled to wrap up by early December. Crews will return in the spring to complete seeding, paving and roadway approaches, and other minor work....more

Salazar: No new federal limits on target shooting

The Obama administration said Wednesday it will not impose new restrictions on recreational shooting on public lands, a Thanksgiving gift for thousands of gun owners and hunters concerned about a draft plan to limit target shooting near residential areas. The policy, proposed this summer, could have closed millions of acres of federal land to gun use, a prospect that caused alarm among gun owners, particularly in the West, where target shooting on public land is a longtime tradition. Hunting season for deer and other game begins around Thanksgiving in many states. Officials said they were trying to ensure public safety in rapidly growing areas of the West, where some residents have clashed with gun owners who use public lands for target practice. In a memo obtained by The Associated Press, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said his department supports opportunities for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on federal land. "By facilitating access, multiple use and safe activities on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management helps ensure that the vast majority of the 245 million acres it oversees are open and remain open to recreational shooting," he wrote. The memo directs BLM Director Bob Abbey to "take no further action to develop or implement" the draft policy on recreational shooting...more

Is there an election coming up soon?   Expect this to resurface if Obama is re-elected.

Group Doesn't Like Land Swap Proposal for Jesus Statue - video

The controversy over a statue of Jesus Christ on Big Mountain near Whitefish continues this week. The religious statue is on US Forest Service land at the Whitefish Mountain Resort. Earlier this fall, the Freedom From Religion Foundation called for the statue to be removed. US Representative Denny Rehberg proposed a land swap to keep the statue, but move it off Forest Service property. The group says it does not like the idea, saying it's a public handout to the church. The statue has been on the mountain for 50 years as a World War II monument...more

Here's the KFBB-TV video report:

Aspen Times series: Challenges grow, funds shrink in Aspen's public forest lands

Jerry Gerbaz remembers the days when he would play on the dirt road that would eventually become Highway 82 in front of his family's midvalley ranch roughly 10 miles west of Aspen. Vehicles were few and far between. Gerbaz, 73, still lives on a corner of the ranch his grandparents started homesteading in 1897. It's an understatement to say he's seen a lot of changes in the valley and the surrounding White River National Forest. He recalls an era when more sheep and cattle populated the national forest than well-heeled skiers or thrill-seeking mountain bikers visited it. Gerbaz used to help take his family's 1,000 ewes and their lambs up to federal grazing allotments in the Rocky Fork and Chapman areas in the Fryingpan Valley prior to construction of Ruedi Reservoir. They would guide their flock up Woody Creek, through Lenado and over to the Fryingpan Valley in mid-June. “We'd never see anyone,” Gerbaz said. National forest use in the 1940s, '50s and even into the '60s was largely utilitarian. The valley floor was full of working ranches and virtually all of them had permits to graze their cattle, sheep or both in summer pastures on public lands. While Aspen's reputation as an international ski resort was growing, industrial-strength tourism hadn't hit yet. Aspen was so little known while Gerbaz was growing up that the Maroon Bells were advertised as a place of stunning beauty “approximately 40 miles from Glenwood Springs,” he recalled. Now, of course, Aspen is an internationally famous resort and recreation reigns supreme. “The U.S. Forest Service was a land of many uses. Now it's the land of no uses,” Gerbaz said...more

Rancher struck with Texas fever pushed to travel west

Born in a log cabin in Shelbyville, Tenn., on Aug. 20, 1872, Robert Vincent Taylor was the sixth of 11 children born to William Carroll and Martha Jane White Taylor. In 1891, Robert and several of his cousins followed the path of many other young Tennesseans, including David Crockett, who became struck with Texas fever and pledged their future goals on going west to the Lone Star State. "In 1891 most of the Texas-bound boys from Tennessee could not afford the cost of traveling to Texas, so they agreed with ranchers and farmers to work for some period of time to repay the cost of transportation," said grandson Carol O. Taylor. "The first stop was at Italy, Texas, south of Dallas." Carol said his grandfather kept all his correspondence in a trunk. "It was filled with letters and receipts dating from February 1891 until 1944." Robert soon returned to Texas and took a job grubbing cactus on a ranch near Wichita Falls. He later went to work for the Fort Worth Stockyards selling cattle insurance. When Robert decided to further his education, he went to Kansas City and attended a dental college. After graduation as a dentist at 36, he graduated from the McKillip Veterinary College in Chicago. "His reasoning for a double degree was because at that time a horse with a bad tooth was usually just shot as nobody had thought of working on teeth in animals," Carol said. "I found an interesting receipt in Granddad's letters stored in the old trunk," Carol said. "For castrating a horse, then pulling the owner's tooth, he charged a total of $7.50."...more

Song Of The Day #722

 Its Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here is Ricky Calmbach performing Its Too Late To Lie.  The tune is on his 2005 CD A Step In The Right Direction.

Bloomberg bans "pampered pussies" in famed hotel lobby - video

The city Department of Health & Mental Hygiene has sunk its claws into another beloved New York institution — The Algonquin hotel’s lobby cat. Matilda III — the latest in an illustrious line of free-roaming Algonquin felines — has been banished from the lobby lounge, leaving guests fruitlessly searching for her under chairs and sofas. Prodded by Nanny Bloomberg, the DOH has been socking restaurants with steep fines for minor violations — and slapping dreaded “C” ratings on places where no one was known to get sick. Some places are taking no chances, eliminating popular features before the DOH can strike them down. The party-pooping agency recently nudged Sardi’s to eliminate cheese snacks at its bar. Now, thanks to a DOH “reminder,” poor Matilda is on a leash behind The Algonquin’s check-in desk, or out of sight on a higher floor. The city’s favorite feline, a blue-eyed ragdoll, took up residence last winter. She’s the 10th Algonquin cat since Rusty, a k a Hamlet I, moved into the hotel, legendary home of the “Round Table” literary salon, in 1932. The pampered pussies are as much a part of The Algonquin’s cozy confines as the oak paneling and upholstered chairs and sofas...more

Here's the NY Post video:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

FDA Declares Rick Perry a Vegetable

In a decision that raised some eyebrows in the nutrition community, the Food and Drug Administration announced today that it had declared Texas Governor Rick Perry a vegetable. The decision, effective immediately, means that a serving of Mr. Perry would be approved for school lunches across the nation. In an official statement, Mr. Perry said he was “surprised and honored” by the FDA’s decision. “As a vegetable, I am honored to join the other three food groups,” said Gov. Perry. “Meat, dairy, and… nope, can’t do it. Oops.”

Borowitz Report

I'm a fan of Rick Perry, but this is funny as hell.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The West of my imagination
  by Julie Carter

"Whatever it was Lucy longed for, whatever was whispered by the wind and written in the mystery of the waste of sage and stone, she wanted it to happen there at Bostil's Ford. The desert and her life seem as one, yet in what did they resemble each other - in what of this scene could she read the nature of her future."
    This particular Zane Grey classic novel was a bestseller in 1917 and has been in demand ever since. The timeless story of Wildfire, a magnificent temperamental stallion with fierce speed, is a story set in a West that framed the imaginations of youth and adults alike.
    Everyone wanted to claim this untamable horse and was willing to do the unthinkable to capture him. This gave the plot all the elements of evil, villains and heroes that made the story powerful, exciting and one of Grey's masterpieces.
    As I raced through the mountain meadows of my childhood home aboard the "Wildfire" of my life, I could be Lucy in the middle of some imagined adventure. I could be lost in the mountains, surrounded by nature's splendor with only my horse for a hero.
    These journeys into a world created by my mind were part reality, part day dreams. They were nurtured by the summers that seemed to go on forever, filled with hours upon hours of reading.
    Books - that medium that took me away from the remoteness and isolation of my life as it budded into teen hood and sought answers to life beyond the present. And yet my preference in genre was that which fed into the life I already lived.
    I spent every hour with Flicka through all three volumes of Mary O'Hara's books. It was me "in" the book every time I picked it up to devour more of the story.
    Walter Farley's bestselling "Black Stallion" series with the magnificent horse and his young owner, Alec Ramsay, ramped up my imagination and took me to places in the world I could only see through the words on the pages.
    And in reality, every horse I rode had the potential for that adoring, loyal relationship. When I read the words, I felt the emotions, heard the sounds, and recognized the smells of a sweating horse after a long run or felt the soft blow of his breath as he snorted a greeting.
    I don't have any idea what it was like for a kid living in the suburbs of a city or a fourth-floor apartment to read the same books that I read. Perhaps his imagination allowed him the same escape to the West without living in it, but I know mine had a Technicolor that only reality could enhance. I lived where others read about.
    Today, when I read those kinds of stories, they return me to those same settings where now my imagination meets memory.
    The sun as it sets behind a red sandy bluff, the smell of a juniper wood campfire, the sounds of a gurgling stream, the rustle of leaves in a stand of Aspens - written in one world by the author, providing instant mental transportation for me back to my world.
    There, I can still hear the sounds of my horse picking his way down a rocky trail, the sounds of iron shoes clacking against the stones and the creak of the leather in the saddle as it strains against the back muscles of the animal beneath it.
    Zane, Walter and Mary and I have a whole lot more in common than I realized those many years ago, and it all began with the West of my imagination.

Julie can be reached for comment at