Saturday, December 10, 2011

North America's Biggest Dinosaur Unearthed in New Mexico

North America's biggest dinosaur has been unearthed. And it looks like it once called New Mexico home. The revelation of the massive titanosaurus was documented in a recent issue of Acta Palaeontologica Polonica published on Dec. 6. Co-authors Denver Fowler, a researcher from Montana State University, and Robert M. Sullivan, senior curator of paleontology and geology at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg describe their discovery of an enormous vertebra from a sauropod dinosaur known as Alamosaurus sanjuanensis. A cousin of the Diplodocus, the Alamosaurus habited the New Mexico region about 69 million years ago. "When we got back to camp, we started thinking: How did this compare to the biggest specimens from South America?" Fowler told "This was so much bigger than the other material of Alamosaurus that had been found up to this time." Fowler and Sullivan stumbled upon the bones during a dig in the New Mexico desert back in 2004. At first, no digging was necessary since the rock had eroded away enough to expose the bones to the air. But after the full bone had been freed, Fowler said the trip back to the truck was the hardest part of the entire process. The Alamosaurus vertebra that Fowler and Sullivan found puts the dinosaur in the same category as other Titanosaurus sauropods discovered in South America – the Argentinosaurus and the Puertasaurus which both could weigh up to 80 – 100 metric tons. Fowler says that the Alamosaurus they discovered could potentially be the same size...more

'Billy the Kid' PBS film explores Hispanic link

His mythical exploits and jail escapes made this son of Irish immigrants one of the nation's most famous Old West outlaws. Yet fewer know that the man widely known as Billy the Kid was a central figure in a violent, Irish-English land war in New Mexico, and was beloved by Mexican-American ranchers who felt discriminated against by racist white bankers and land thieves. And the Kid's end came only after he refused to abandon his Mexican-American teen girlfriend. Despite hundreds of stories and books, movies, songs and even poems covering the notorious Billy the Kid, the PBS series American Experience is joining in exploring his life and myth with a new documentary set to air in January. Filmmaker John Maggio said this documentary will focus less on Billy the Kid the legend and more on Billy the Kid the human being. "His whole life he was searching for a home," said Maggio. "There was more to him that the fact that he killed and was an outlaw." Born Henry McCarty, likely in New York City, he came to New Mexico with his mother while searching for a better economic future. It was in Silver City, N.M., that a young Billy the Kid learned Spanish and Mexican dances as he mingled easily among the territory's large Mexican-American population when others from the East Coast didn't even bother, according to Paul Hutton, a University of New Mexico American West historian, who appears in the new film. When his mother died of tuberculosis when he was 15, Billy the Kid was left an orphan and raised largely by Mexican-American ranchers and sheepherders. This helped the Kid later when he was on the run from the law and was given shelter by poor Mexican-Americans ranchers he befriended, Hutton said. To emphasize this, Maggio included in the film Latina novelist Denise Chavez and Native American writer N. Scott Momaday, who discuss their beliefs that Billy the Kid was a viewed as a hero by those facing discrimination in the old territory, despite his reputation as a horse thief and outlaw. The PBS documentary also focuses the dueling interests of cattle ranchers from Ireland and Britain who brought old hostilities from Europe to the plains of New Mexico. The Kid was swept up in what was known as the "Lincoln County War" after his British mentor was gunned down by a corrupt Sheriff William Brady. Billy the Kid organized the assassination of Brady in revenge, which escalated into a war between factions. The film also discusses the Kid's love for Paulita Maxwell, the daughter of a Mexican-American landowner. When he was being chased down by another sheriff, Billy the Kid refused to leave Maxwell for safe haven south of the border. Her brother tipped off Sheriff Pat Garrett who eventually gunned down the 21-year-old Kid at the Maxwell's Fort Sumner, N.M. home...more

The Westerner's Radio Theater #013

This Saturday's program is the All Star Western Theater broadcast on Sept. 29, 1946 with guest star Smiley Burnette

Friday, December 09, 2011

Yellowstone grizzly bears: New cause célèbre for effects of global warming?

Even more than their high-profile polar cousins, Yellowstone grizzly bears could become the newest cause célèbre for how global warming is threatening ecosystems worldwide. On Nov. 22, a US appellate court ruled for the first time that the federal government must continue to protect an animal – in this case, Yellowstone grizzlies – in part because of the emerging effects of rising temperatures. For environmentalists arguing that urgent congressional action to combat global warming is needed, the ruling is seen as a benchmark that establishes a legal foothold. It could lower the bar on when the government should take action to try to preserve species threatened by climate changes. Moreover, the ruling opens the door to charges that federal programs designed to conserve species one at a time – such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) – could be overwhelmed by a mega-event like climate change, which could affect whole suites of flora and fauna. "It raises the question of what happens when one species gets in trouble, and its decline pulls the rug out from another species," says attorney Doug Honnold, who helped conservation groups halt the removal of grizzlies from federal protection. In its ruling, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the country's famous Yellowstone bruin population should remain classified as "threatened" under the ESA. The reason: One of its primary food sources is being wiped out, with help from global warming, many scientists say. Grizzlies gorge on highly nutritious seeds in the cones of whitebark pines. Studies show the nutlike edibles are important in producing healthier, fatter bears and larger numbers of cubs. In addition, because whitebark grow on remote mountain ridgelines, their location draws foraging bears away from places where people live...more

Fuel-subsidy fight pits Koch vs. Pickens

The New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act of 2011, or NATGAS Act, subsidizes cars running on natural gas. Proponents in the House and Senate want to stick the measure into a year-end, must-pass omnibus spending bill or tax-extender package. Pickens is the bill's original author, chief lobbyist and prime beneficiary: He owns 41 percent of Clean Energy Fuels, which has the largest natural-gas truck-fueling station in the world and plans to set up a series of similar fueling stations around the country -- if it can get the subsidies. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Clean Energy Fuels admits it is subsidy-dependent: "Our business plan and the ability of our business to successfully grow depends in part on the extension of the federal fuel excise tax credit for natural gas vehicle fuel, the reinstatement and extension of the federal income tax credit for the purchase of natural gas vehicles and the passage of legislation providing for additional incentives for the sale and use of natural gas vehicles." That's all in the NATGAS Act. Pickens' gain would be at the expense of everyone who uses natural gas, which will spike in price thanks to increased demand. Primary among natural-gas users is the fertilizer industry. One of the world's largest fertilizer sellers is Koch Fertilizer, a subsidiary of the politically connected Koch Industries. Koch (owned by pro-free-market businessmen Charles and David Koch, who are in the top 1 percent of even the Forbes 400) has led the resistance to Pickens' bill. So in this age of multiplying bailouts and subsidies what does it take to thwart a billionaire seeking federal handouts? It might just be two multibillionaires not willing to pick up some other guy's tab...more

If the bill were to pass, Pickens could make up to $100 million on stock options. That would buy a helluva ranch for Madeleine and her wild horses.

Dust Bill Passes House, Headed to Senate

By a vote of 268 to 150, the U.S. House has passed the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 20ll. Written by Representative Kristi Noem of South Dakota, the act, H.R. 1633, would prohibit EPA from placing regulations on farm dust. Noem said – this is a huge win for farmers and ranchers. The regulation of farm dust is not a partisan issue. It is a rural issue. Senator Mike Johanns applauded the news that the House of Representatives had passed the farm dust bill. Johanns says the legislation would – provide legal certainty to farmers and ranchers. EPA’s pledge to not regulate farm dust was important, but a valid argument has been made that it does not prevent future Administrations from doing so. The House bill puts this issue to rest for good. Johanns hopes – we can build on the House’s bipartisan support and pass my legislation in the Senate to ensure we avoid this dust-up in the future. Senator Johanns’ legislation would enable EPA to consider the source of particulate matter while prohibiting the agency from regulating farm dust. After Senator Johanns introduced his legislation, EPA announced it would not be revising its regulation on coarse particulate matter. However, Johanns also indicated that the flaw in the current law allowing EPA to consider onerous regulations of farm dust must be addressed to give farmers and ranchers long-term certainty...more

The article also has this about the NFU:

Meanwhile, the National Farmers Union believes the Dust Regulation Prevention Act is unnecessary. NFU President Roger Johnson says it is a – meaningless, unnecessary bill. He says – misinformation regarding potential dust regulation continues to spread across the country, creating unnecessary concern for farmers and ranchers. Congress should stop politicizing this issue and move on to passing meaningful legislation to help farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

Roger was the Sec. of Ag in North Dakota when I was Sec. in NM, and I enjoyed working with him.  But come on Roger, your comments are right out of the Democrats playbook and designed to give them political cover.  Besides, if there is a "potential dust regulation" in 2011, just think what the potential may be after 2012 if your buddy Obama wins.  Congrats to the House for making sure that won't happen.

Montana OKs using hunters to kill wolves for livestock depredations

Montana ranchers whose livestock is killed by wolves will be allowed to use hunters, in addition to federal agents, to remove those wolves under a proposal adopted Thursday by the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission. Ranchers still need to go through the original process. They have authority to shoot a wolf in the process of harassing livestock, but if they don't see it happen, they must call Wildlife Services to confirm the kill and get authorization to kill the offending wolves. If agents with Wildlife Services - a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture - aren't able to complete the removal of wolves, the rancher now can call upon a hunter to do the job. "The idea has had a fair amount of discussion ... and this is the application of another tool - the hunters - that we can rely on, in coordination with Wildlife Services and the landowner," said Quentin Kujala, the FWP wildlife management section chief...more

Supreme Court struggles with terms in dam dispute

A Supreme Court dominated by Easterners tried to make sense Wednesday of a Western water dispute. The court heard arguments in a lawsuit between a power company and the state of Montana over who owns the riverbeds beneath 10 dams sitting on three Montana rivers, including the Great Falls of the Missouri River — five scenic waterfalls near the present day city of Great Falls. The state says it's owed more than $50 million in back rent and interest from the company, PPL Montana. For an answer, the court is looking back as far as the travels of Lewis and Clark more than 200 years ago. The outcome could affect property rights, public access and wildlife management along Montana's rivers, as well as those in other states. The power company is appealing a Montana Supreme Court ruling that the state owns the submerged land beneath the dams. The decision turned in large part on that court's findings that the three rivers were navigable when Montana became a state, despite the presence of significant waterfalls on two of the waterways. The titles to riverbeds beneath commercially navigable waterways go to state governments upon statehood. Non-navigable riverbed ownership stays with the federal government...more

Gov. Matt Mead wants easements to protect sage grouse

Gov. Matt Mead wants state lawmakers to put up $10 million for sage grouse conservation. Mead's office says the state expenditure would trigger the release of $30 million of matching funds from federal and private sources to purchase and retire development rights on private ranches. Wyoming is anxious to avoid the possible federal listing of the sage grouse as an endangered species. Such a designation would hamper energy development that provides most state revenues. Bob Budd, executive director of the state's Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust, urged state lawmakers on Wednesday to support the governor's funding request. Budd says the trust would use the $40 million to pay for conservation easements on private ranches to prevent commercial and residential development in critical sage grouse areas. link

Interior Secretary to talk sage grouse in Wyo.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has scheduled a Friday meeting with representatives from 10 western states to discuss development of a comprehensive strategy intended to protect sage grouse while maintaining a strong economy, a spokesman said Thursday. Adam Fetcher, a spokesman for Salazar in Washington, said the meeting will include Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead. Renny MacKay, a Mead spokesman, said the governor and Salazar plan a press conference on the sage grouse issue on Friday. Sage grouse, birds about the size of chickens, are found in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, the Dakotas, Nevada, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. The federal government announced last year that sage grouse deserve protection under the federal Endangered Species Act but held off listing the bird immediately because other species were of more immediate concern. A final determination whether to list them is due by late 2015. Western states and federal land management agencies are scrambling to avoid federal protections for the birds. They fear listing the birds would result in restrictions on energy development on the millions of acres of sage brush habitat...more

Congress passes land-transfer bill for Utah town

The family of a man who helped settle the tiny town of Mantua gave the Forest Service 32 acres in exchange for a $1 bill. Now, 70 years later, Congress is giving the land to the town, as long as it’s used for a public purpose. On a unanimous voice vote late Wednesday, the House ended a three-year legislative push by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, to transfer the land to the town. The land-transfer is also the first piece of legislation sponsored by freshman Sen. Mike Lee to become law. The bill requires the Forest Service to turn over the legal right to two parcels on the town’s south end to the local government within the next year. Bishop first introduced legislation in 2008 and the House has passed the bill twice, only to see it stymied in the Senate. In promoting the bill on the House floor, Bishop took a few jabs at the other chamber, saying: “The fact that the Senate did anything should be a cause for our celebration today.” He said the land transfer in Box Elder County made sense because the Forest Service hasn’t used the property since taking control of it in 1941. “In the intervening time period that the Forest Service has owned these lands, not only have they not needed them, they have not used them and until five years ago forgot they had them,” Bishop said...more

Colorado launches bid for spaceport near Denver

The future of Colorado's commercial space industry may lie out on the wind-whipped runways of Front Range Airport. Colorado is pursuing Federal Aviation Administration​ designation for a spaceport, with Front Range as the likely site for such a facility, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Wednesday. Front Range is located near Watkins, east of Denver. Its proposed status as "Spaceport Colorado" would allow for creation of a facility offering tourism, travel and cargo transport to space and from point to point on Earth. Spaceports — of which eight are active in the United States — are viewed as important economic-development tools. Front Range, one of the largest general aviation airports in the country, has 4,000 acres of airport property and is surrounded by 6,000 acres of privately owned industrial property, all in an aviation-influence zone, Heap said. The airport has two 8,000- foot-long runways, with plans to lengthen them to 10,000 feet. It has good transportation in Interstate 70 and a rail line to the south. Even Denver International Airport's closeness — a scant 6 miles away — is an advantage, Heap said, saying travelers or cargo can arrive and depart through DIA and conveniently transfer to space planes at Front Range. Those are attributes that don't exist at Spaceport America near Las Cruces, N.M., probably the best known of the U.S. spaceports...more

Ranchers Weigh in, Criticize Proposed Cattle Identification Rules

The comment period for proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture rules on Animal Disease Traceability will come to a close late tomorrow evening at 10 o’clock. Among other things, the proposed rules would remove hot-iron cattle branding from the list of acceptable USDA forms of identification for livestock moving across state lines. Instead, the main identification form would be an ear tag for cattle. Proponents say many ranchers have already made the change, adding that putting a focus on numeric ids in ear tags would make the US more competitive in the global beef export market. But the group Ranchers–Cattleman Action Legal Fund, or R-Calf, says the change would cost cattlemen more with little pay off. Bill Bullard, executive director of the group, says R-Calf estimated the cost at about $30 per calf. “That’s not the cost of the tag, that’s the cost of the labor, time and equipment needed to catch each animal in a head gate, apply the tag and record the tag’s number,” he says. Under the new rule, Colorado and 13 other states would still allow ranchers to use the brand as a form of identification within state boundaries...more

Song Of The Day #730

So you want country.  Well Ranch Radio's got it.  Yesterday's song was about cellophane and today's is about flat top haircuts.  Here's Jimmy Dawson singing Flat Top.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

House approves 'mother of all anti-regulatory bills'

The House on Wednesday passed legislation that would require Congress to approve all major federal regulations with an effect of $100 million or more, a Republican attempt to rein in what they see as the expanding regulatory burden faced by companies across the country. The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, H.R. 10, was approved in a mostly party-line vote. The bill passed 241-184, and only four Democrats joined Republicans. Before final passage, the House approved just one Republican amendment that would require federal agencies to assess whether proposed rules would add to or detract from job creation. House passage sends the bill to the Senate, which again is not expected to consider it at all. House Republicans have argued over the last several weeks that the House is sending jobs bills to the Senate, which is refusing to act on them...more See my previous post The REINS Act ends unchecked bureaucratic power.

Excessive Endangered Species Act Litigation Threatens Species Recovery, Job Creation and Economic Growth

Today, the Committee on Natural Resources held a full committee oversight hearing to examine how excessive Endangered Species Act (ESA) related litigation impacts species recovery, job creation and the economy. This was the first hearing in series that will be held by the Committee to take a fair look at the ways in which the ESA is working well and areas where it could be improved and updated. “The purpose of the ESA is to recover endangered species – yet this is where the current law is failing – and failing badly. Of the species listed under the ESA in the past 38 years, only 20 have been declared recovered. That’s a 1 percent recovery rate. I firmly believe that we can do better. In my opinion, one of the greatest obstacles to the success of the ESA is the way in which it has become a tool for excessive litigation. Instead of focusing on recovering endangered species, there are groups that use the ESA as a way to bring lawsuits against the government and block job-creating projects,” said Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04). “By strengthening and updating the Endangered Species Act, improvements can be made so it’s no longer abused through lawsuits and instead can remain focused on fulfilling its true and original goal of species recovery.”  Due to rigid timelines, vague definitions in the Act and the propensity of some groups to sue the federal agencies as a way of generating taxpayer-funded revenue, the ESA has become taken over by lawsuits, settlements and judicial action. According to information provided to the Committee, Interior Department agencies currently have a combined total of over 180 pending ESA-related lawsuits. In July 2001, the Interior Department agreed to a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity and the Wild Earth Guardians that covered 779 species in 85 lawsuits and legal actions. At the hearing, Karen Budd-Falen, an attorney specializing in private property rights and rural counties and communities, explained how the ESA has become a tool for litigation. “With specific consideration of the ESA, if the federal government fails to respond to a petition to list a species within the 90 day time period mandated by the ESA, an environmental group can sue and almost always get attorneys fees paid. In these cases, the court is not ruling that the species is in fact threatened or endangered, but only that a deadline was missed by the FWS.” release

Catron County Urged to Denounce San Francisco River Destruction

The Center for Biological Diversity and Western Environmental Law Center today demanded that Catron County commissioners officially denounce the county’s illegal bulldozing of the San Francisco River, formally abandon plans to do so in the future, and discourage any further motorized use of the area to avoid harm to imperiled wildlife and the river. The commission holds its regular monthly meeting today. “Catron County’s bulldozing of the San Francisco River was a deliberate attack on endangered species, public lands and federal environmental laws,” said Cyndi Tuell with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The county has an opportunity today to denounce those destructive actions and vow that it will never happen again.” In August, the county bulldozed 13.5 miles of the river, including 47 crossings, downstream of Reserve, N.M., without Clean Water Act and other permits. The river reach is located in a roadless area on the Gila National Forest and is critical habitat for the federally threatened loach minnow. On Oct. 3, 2011 the Center sent Catron County a notice of intent to sue for full restoration of the disturbed areas, for which a court could impose on the county a maximum federal fine of $37,500 per day per violation to be paid to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The groups have not yet filed release

Drought, low production mean hard times for Eddy County farmers and ranchers

For some Eddy County farmers, 2011 has been an extension of the hard times in 2010.  Prolonged drought, small water allotments, low alfalfa production and a drop in cotton prices this week have been tough things for local agriculture industry to deal with, said Woods Houghton, County Extension Service agriculture agent. Ranchers have not fared any better. They have had to cull their herds because of the lack of forage due to the drought, and the price of hay has gone sky-high because of its scarcity in the county. On top of that, he said ranchers have reported a loss of about $1 million in dead cattle, killed accidently as a result of the high activity in the oil and gas fields in the county.  For Houghton, in his role as county agriculture agent, 2011 has been an extremely difficult year - one of the hardest he has endured in his 32 years in the profession, he said...more

Rancher rattled by debris pile residents

Bill Reed has seen plenty of unusual sites and excitement at his ranch in Flournoy, but nothing prepared him for the surprise he got on Wednesday when he encountered more than 50 rattlesnakes under a pile of debris. “I decided it was time to clean up the pile of debris and start a new collection of treasures for future use,” Reed said. “I have found a few rattlesnakes in the past finding refuge among the trash, so I was a little cautious as I went about loading my truck.” He figured because it is cold out at this time of year, there would not be much of a worry about the venomous snakes as they should be in hibernation and slow moving if disturbed. “What I was not prepared for was an encounter with over 50 of those slimy critters taking up residence,” Reed said. He said the smallest of the snakes was about 8 inches long, and the largest about 4 feet. “One of the things that worries me now is that my daughter has been climbing all over this stuff for her artwork. I don’t think I’ll be letting her do that anymore,” he said. Reed’s pile of debris is pieces of scrap metal he saves for repairs, pipes to mend a plumbing problem, six feet of barbed wire to fix a fence or a piece of corrugated roofing to make a temporary fix on a leaky old barn...more

Snow slows Dona Ana County pecan harvest

Pecan farmers may be eager to rake in this year's crop, thanks to a forecast of high prices, but this week's snowfall put a crimp in their plans. North Valley pecan grower Dave Slagle said he now must wait for the 6 inches of snow covering his orchard floor to melt and then for the ground to dry out to launch the harvest. "Right now, we're dead in the water," said Slagle, who farms in Leasburg. "There's nothing we can do. I'm figuring it's going to be the rest of the week before things are no longer white." Farmers don't move heavy harvesting machinery through wet orchards because that creates ruts, which keep equipment from picking up all of the pecans. Some harvesting already had taken place in New Mexico prior to the storm. In all, 12 percent of the pecan crop had been gathered through the early part of last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some 56 million in-shell pounds of pecans are expected from the 2011 crop, according to a U.S. Agriculture Department forecast from October...more

Song Of The Day #729

So you want Country? Ranch Radio's got pure country with Pete Hunter and his problems cuz everything is Wrapped In Cellophane.

Running late today.  Check back later for a full slate of links.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

EPA cites Albuquerque with Clean Water Act violations

Federal regulators have cited New Mexico's largest city twice this year with violating provisions of the Clean Water Act, and environmentalists are concerned failure to correct the problems could ultimately affect the Rio Grande. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in late October issued an administrative order against Albuquerque for alleged storm water permit violations. The order, which stems from a 2009 audit, accuses the city of failing to implement an effective program for managing the storm water that races down the city's streets and through its drains and arroyos each time it rains or snows. The order also says the city failed to develop goals for assessing the effectiveness of its management practices. City officials disagree with some of the findings. They're preparing a response for the agency. Greg Smith, deputy director of the city's Municipal Development Department, said city officials were surprised by the order given that a similar audit was done in 2007 and the city received a "clean bill of health" at that time. "They found our program was adequate and implemented in accordance with the permit. That's the same program that is being criticized now," he said. In recent years, the EPA has cited four communities in its five-state South-Central region with violating the Clean Water Act's storm water provisions. Among them was Dallas, which was forced to spend more than $3.5 million on fines, the creation of two wetland areas and programs to limit the amount of pollution entering its storm water system. Estimates for bringing Albuquerque into compliance range from $1.9 million to $3 million, according to reviews done by an engineering firm and city employees...more

Cockerell's bumblebee rediscovered in New Mexico

An elusive bumblebee, which was last seen in 1956, was recently found living in the White Mountains of south-central New Mexico, scientists announced Monday. Known as "Cockerell's bumblebee," the bee was first described in 1913 using six specimens collected along the Rio Ruidoso, a river located in the Sierra Blanca and Sacramento Mountains, N.M. Over the years, one more sample was found in Ruidoso, and 16 specimens were collected near the town of Cloudcroft, N.M. The last Cockerell's bumblebee sample was collected in 1956. No other specimens had been recorded until Aug. 31, when a team of scientists from the University of California, Riverside, found three more samples of the bee species in weeds along a highway north of Cloudcroft. The bee species has also "long been ignored because it was thought that it was not actually a genuine species, but only a regional color variant of another well-known species," Yanega explained. An assessment of the genetic makeup of the three newly discovered specimens gives fairly conclusive evidence that Cockerell's bumblebee is a genuine species, the researchers said...more

The article also says:

Cockerell's bumblebee does not appear to be facing extinction. The bumblebee dwells in an area that's largely composed of National Forest and Apache tribal land, it is "unlikely to be under serious threat of habitat loss at the moment," Yanega said.

Sure, just wait for the lawsuits.

North Carolina Principal Resigns For Suspending Student Who Called Teacher ‘Cute’

The principal of a Gaston County school where a 9-year-old boy was suspended for sexual harassment submitted his resignation Tuesday, saying he wasn’t given a chance to apologize. School officials offered an apology to Emanyea Lockett and his mother, Chiquita Lockett, after the boy was accused of calling a teacher “cute.” A statement from the system said it was determined that the fourth grader at Brookside Elementary School didn’t engage in sexual harassment. The school system said the suspension won’t count against the student, and there will be additional instructional assistance provided to the student for the classroom time missed. “This is something that everyone needed to see, just to see what’s happening within our school systems,” Lockett told WSOC-TV...more

Looks like they don't mess around in North Carolina.

I originally posted about this incident here.

Washington doesn’t need to regulate rain

If the Supreme Court declines to review it, a recent ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will put federal courts into the business of managing every acre of privately owned timberland in America. Farmers beware. You could be next. In May, the 9th Circuit determined that rainwater draining from forest roads into local streams, rivers and lakes is “point source pollution.” As such, it must be regulated in the same way effluent from sewage-treatment plants is regulated. To make a long story short, rainwater that accumulates alongside logging roads has become a new target of environmental litigators. Several lawsuits were filed within days of the 9th Circuit’s decision. The court made this determination despite the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has insisted for 35 years that requiring “point-source” permits is unnecessary to protect the environment and is even harmful. In deciding as they did, the judges overturned a long-standing rule that, within reason, the federal judiciary must defer to federal agencies in interpreting laws they enforce. The main culprits here are the lowly drainage ditch and the only slightly more fashionable culvert, a steel cylinder buried beneath the road surface that directs rainwater away from the road, reducing the threat of flood-caused soil erosion. It is this rainwater that the three-judge panel thinks the federal government must regulate. By instructing the EPA to oversee every ditch and culvert that runs alongside a forest road, the 9th Circuit is subjecting public and private timber landowners to an unnecessary and costly regulatory labyrinth that won’t make water any more suitable for fish and wildlife than it is now. Worse, every project, no matter its insignificance or urgency, will be appealed and litigated by environmental groups that oppose economically productive use of the nation’s forests...more

Reports say the Supreme Court will decide Friday about taking the case.

Wyoming appeals roadless rule decision

Gov. Matt Mead on Monday directed the state of Wyoming to petition for a rehearing of the decision that upheld a federal law prohibiting roads on nearly 50 million acres of land in national forests across the United States. In October, a three-judge panel from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a ruling hailed by environmentalists as one of the most significant in decades. The ruling affects 3.2 million acres of national forest land in Wyoming, protecting water quality and wildlife habitat for grizzly bears, lynx and Pacific salmon. Wyoming's petition asks the entire 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, currently composed of 10 judges, to rehear the case. The petition alleges that the U.S. Forest Service violated the 1964 Wilderness Act when it created de facto wilderness areas. It also states, among other assertions, that the Forest Service circumvented required environmental and forest management rules and is required to evaluate forest use only on a forest-by-forest basis...more

Survey: Land trusts see 27 percent increase in five years

Land trust advocates are pointing to a recently released survey as proof that land conservation easements are a successful way for ranchers and farmers to preserve their land. The National Land Trust Census, released by the Land Trust Alliance last month, shows that conservation easements increased 27 percent between 2005 and 2010. The survey found 10 million new acres conserved nationwide since 2005, with more than 2.3 million acres in California. Easements keep land from being developed. A total of 47 million acres -- an area larger than Washington state -- are now conserved by land trusts through easements, according to the survey. Representatives of the Northcoast Regional Land Trust (NRLT), which operates in Humboldt, Trinity and Del Norte counties, said the greatest percentage of new acreage comes through local and state land trusts. In California, land trusts conserved 2.3 million acres between 2005 and 2010, a 34 percent increase. Land owners receive an enhanced tax deduction for the land donation. Currently, land owners who donate a qualified conservation easement are allowed to deduct the fair market value of the easement. These deductions are capped at 50 percent of income, but farmers and ranchers are able to claim 100 percent. According to the office of North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, the carry forward period for such deductions is 15 years. Thompson has co-sponsored a bill to make the incentive permanent -- the current incentive will expire at the end of this year...more

Ski area water-rights duel now in political arena

A showdown over ski area water rights is now in the political arena, as four U.S. Senators have asked the Forest Service to delay implementing a revised permit condition that could require resorts to transfer certain types of water rights to the federal government. In a Dec. 1 letter to U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, along with Senators John Barasso (R—WY) and James Risch (R-ID), asked the Forest Service to consider a moratorium on the new water rights clause.The ski industry claims the permit conditions are a federal water grab, while Forest Service officials say the intent is to keep the water rights linked with the permitted ski area use. Read more details and background in this Summit Voice story. In their letter, the four lawmakers said ski area operators in their state expressed concern that the water rights clause could have immediate and practical implications on ski area operations, but the letter did not spell out those concerns. According to the letter, a moratorium would give the agency a chance to assess the impacts of the clause and “allow ski areas to avoid immediate impacts to water rights.”...more

U.S. Forest Service opposes SkiLink

In a recent Congressional Hearing, the United States Forest Service weighed in on the Rep. Rob Bishop's SkiLink Bill, which if passed would sell federal land to build a gondola linking Canyons Resort to Solitude. Gregory Smith, the Department of Agriculture deputy chief, voiced his opposition to the project and said that the public benefit was not strong enough for him to encourage the 30-acre sale of government land to Canyons Resort. The gondola, dubbed "SkiLink," would link Canyons Resort to Solitude as a way to cut down traffic between Utah resorts. "While we appreciate the desire of the bill's proponents to reduce traffic between the two resorts, the department does not support" the SkiLink project, Smith testified...more

Arizona mapping error nearly fixed

Coconino County Supervisor Matt Ryan urged a House committee Friday to grant "much-needed relief" to county residents who recently learned that their homes were built on federal land because of a 50-year-old surveying error. A 2007 U.S. Bureau of Land Management survey found that a 1960 private survey erroneously marked some federal land near Coconino National Forest as private property. Those 2.67 acres of land would become part of the Mountainaire Subdivision, where 27 people bought what they thought was private property and where some now live. Some residents said they have had multiple property surveys over the years and it came as "a shock" when they learned that their homes had always been on federal land. Under a bill considered Friday by the House Natural Resources Committee, the 27 property owners would be able to buy the land from the Forest Service for $20,000. "We believe this is a small price to pay to grant these homeowners the peace of mind of knowing the property they live on is their own," Ryan said. A Forest Service official testified that the agency supports the intent of the bill, but would first like to see an appraisal of the property done and see the homeowners pay the appraised value...more

Environmental group sues over LBL farm subsidies

An environmental group is suing a pair of Kentucky farmers over subsidies they received over a two-year period for growing corn and soybeans in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in western Kentucky. Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics wants a judge to order farmers Kerry Underhill and Bobby Cunningham to pay between $5,500 and $11,000 per day for each day they received subsidies for farming the land without a valid lease from the U.S. Forest Service. The Oregon-based environmental group also wants an injunction stopping the farmers from filing for further subsidies without a lease with the government. At issue is whether Underhill and Underhill Farms in Cadiz, and Cunningham and Cunningham Farms in Murray, should have been eligible for federal farm subsidies on their crops between Jan. 1, 2008 and March 19, 2010. The environmental organization said the two had leases with the National Wild Turkey Federation, not the U.S. Forest Service, making them ineligible for subsidies...more

Federal rewrite of labor laws causing a flap down on the farm

Sparking outrage across the country’s rural heartland, the Obama administration is proposing rules to curb the ability of children on farms to engage in “corn sex” for pay. Farmers call it corn detasseling, a time-honored but physically demanding chore designed to promote cross-pollination in the field. For decades it has been a way for teens to earn extra spending money — and forge some good-natured field hand camaraderie — for a few weeks each summer. The Obama administration is considering revisions to federal agricultural work rules that effectively would bar teens younger than 16 from engaging in a number of traditional chores for pay — including detasseling. Opponents of the rules across the Farm Belt argue that they are in part an attack on a way of life, one foreign to Beltway bureaucrats and one that should be encouraged in an era of rising childhood obesity rates and increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Rule critics were bolstered last week by farm groups and detasseling companies gathering at state capitols to urge lawmakers to intervene with the Labor Department. The department is reviewing those laws, which also would cover work with bulls, cows and other farm animals and farm machinery, at the urging of groups such as the Child Labor Coalition and the National Safety Council. According to a Labor Department statement: “Children employed in agriculture are some of the most vulnerable workers in America. The fatality rate for young agricultural workers is four times greater than that of their peers employed in nonagricultural workplaces.” The rules would not affect children working on their parents’ farms, but could affect minors who want to work for relatives or hire themselves out for temporary work during the summer. The Labor Department proposal would restrict the range of chores children could do for pay, including driving tractors, branding cattle, working above a certain height and herding livestock on horseback...more

Song Of The Day #728

 So you want country?  Then Ranch Radio will bring you some pure country.  Here is Country Boy Eddie & His Show Band playing Fodder Fossil's Blues.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Southern Rockies Wolf Plans Dangerous? Includes NM


Southern Rockies Wolf Plans Dangerous? Read for yourself

The official S. Rockies wolf documents have now been released to the public. CLICK HERE to visit where you can download and read the proposal. Here's how these documents were released to the public.
On December 2, 2011 Arizona Fish and Game commission released official documents, which would mandate wolf proliferation across the Southern Rockies and into Texas. The documents have been confirmed by several sources, including a regional director for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service testifying at Friday's Arizona Fish and Game Commission hearing.
Despite denials by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding these plans, it has become clear that these plans are moving forward. This official "draft" was released for official comment by members of the wolf recovery team in the last couple of weeks. In the wake of criticism by western states, USFWS' national director accused states of "mischaracterizing" the Southern Rockies wolf plans. These leaked documents confirm that the criticism of these plans by western states were well founded.
Here are several quotes from the document that illustrate the dangerous nature of these plans:
(1) An acknowledgment of the intent to force wolves into Texas 
"Several questions at the August recovery team meeting focused on...availability of suitable habitat in Mexico and the United States, especially Texas." "Approximately 24,000 square kilometers of potentially suitable [wolf] habitat...occurs in western Texas."
(2) Mandated wolf proliferation across the entire southern Rockies
"Based on the material below we recommend that the Mexican wolf recovery area include "Mexico...western Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and the southern portions of Utah and Colorado."
(3) Dramatic increases in forced wolf populations minimum numbers
"Three major zones of suitable wolf habitat exist in the area encompassing Arizona, New Mexico, southern Colorado and southern Utah. Under current habitat conditions, it is estimated that over 1,000 wolves could inhabit this large area." This is more than triple the number of wolves that were required in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
(4) Mandating Mexican wolves OUTSIDE their historic range using the Endangered Species Act
The report spends several pages trying to justify mandated Mexican wolf populations outside their historic range. The report concludes "recovering [Mexican Wolves] outside purported historical ranges...may establish a useful and critically important precedent." Given demonstrable damage from invasive species, most biologists we have spoken with feel this is a slippery slope and a dangerous precedent. The areas outside of historic range includes Utah and Colorado.
(5) Plans designed to prevent S. Rockies wolves from ever being managed by Western states
The devil is in the details. Legally, no delisting can occur until Mexican wolves are recovered across a "substantial portion of the range." 90% of Mexican wolf range is in Mexico. With no plans to recover wolves in Mexico, there is little hope that wolves in the Southern Rockies would ever be delisted. The legal mechanism of preventing wolf management in the future is by eliminating the safe-guards provided by "non-essential experimental" status and instead create a "subspecies" listing. A "subspecies" listing would prevent delisting even if populations objectives are reached in the Southern Rockies. As a result, these plans provide little in the way of safeguards for livestock and wildlife.
(6) The plans would result in "swamping" of Mexican Wolf Genetics
Despite claims these plans are about recovering Mexican wolves, Wolf specialists have confirmed that interbreeding with Northern Gray wolves could overwhelm Mexican wolf genetics in as short as 20 years.
Folks these plans are dangerous. These plans do not protect wildlife. These plans do not protect livestock. These plans would violate well-established limitations on federal authority. These plans are based on a dramatic overreaching.
Please help us stop these plans from being forced on the good people of the Western United States.

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Congressman wants revised PILT rules

Colorado county governments received about $24 million in federal payments-in-lieu of taxes, or PILT, last year, but Rep. Scott Tipton is asking the Department of Interior to revise a legal opinion so that those counties may get an additional $4.3 million that is linked to mineral lease payments. Tipton, the Republican who represents Pueblo within the 3rd Congressional District, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week, urging him to recognize newly created federal mineral lease districts as separate from county governments. If Interior will do that, according to Tipton, counties will be able to receive their full PILT payment as well as federal mineral royalties. It's not a major issue along the Front Range counties, but in Western Slope counties where there is significant oil and gas leasing, those counties have had their federal mineral lease payments deducted from the annual PILT money they receive on federal property within their borders...more

Coalition Responds to Proposed Child Labor Regulations

Responding to proposed child labor regulations, last week the American Farm Bureau Federation filed comments on behalf of more than 70 agricultural organizations in response to a proposal by the Labor Department that would limit youth employment opportunities on farms and ranches. AFBF also filed separate comments on its own behalf supplementing its views on the DOL proposal. Farm Bureau noted that the proposed regulation seems to go well beyond DOL’s authority. The department has the authority to prohibit youth employment in jobs that are "particularly hazardous" but the department’s proposal would prohibit youth from working in any job with "power-driven equipment." Read literally, the department’s proposal would prohibit a youth under 16 from working in any job that had even simple power tools like a battery-operated screw driver. The coalition argued that DOL should withdraw the rule and make sure that it is following the intent of Congress in only addressing occupations that are particularly hazardous. "We have no desire at all to have young teenagers working in jobs that are inappropriate or entail too much risk," said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. "Farmers and ranchers are more interested than anyone else in assuring the safety of farming operations and their right to operate their farms with family members is specifically permitted by Congress. We don’t want to see those rights infringed." The National Pork Producers Council, the American Sheep Industry Association and the National Turkey Federation, were part of the coalition. The group said that many youth use livestock as a part of 4-H, FFA and other leadership programs, but youth under 18 would be prohibited from being near certain animals without adult supervision under the regulations...more

Ranchers suing Assessor; challenge new land values

Ranchers who own a combined 430,000 acres in Yavapai County have filed an Arizona Tax Court suit against Yavapai County Assessor Pam Pearsall, accusing her of illegally jacking up the value of their grazing land. It's the largest number of acres involved in any property tax lawsuit he's ever seen, said the ranchers' attorney Paul Mooney of Mesa. The list of about three dozen plaintiffs reads like a who's who of Yavapai County ranching families, including Fain, Groseta, Hays, Maughn, Kieckhefer, James, Teskey, McCraine and Denton. Ranches include Yavapai, Orme and Inscription Canyon. The lawsuit says the plaintiffs own or lease 2.5 million acres of public and private ag land in Yavapai County, or nearly half of all the acreage in the county. The Assessor's Office in February raised the full cash value of grazing land from $7.56 per acre in the 2011 taxable year to $25 per acre in 2012. State law requires assessors to base grazing land value on actual income. The quadrupled value would increase the combined value of the 429,310 acres of grazing land from $3.2 million to $10.7 million...more

Wyoming lawmaker expects at least one horse slaughterhouse in the state

At least two Wyoming groups are considering opening horse slaughterhouses in the state after Congress passed legislation allowing USDA inspection of horse meat and plants, a proponent says. State Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse, is a member of the United Horsemen. She said her group formed the company Unified Equine to explore the creation of a horse meat processing plant in Wyoming. The possibility only opened Nov. 18, when President Barack Obama signed an agriculture spending bill. The bill reversed a 2006 decision by Congress prohibiting U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections for horse meat and plants. The last horse slaughterhouse in the country closed in 2007. Without the inspections, horse meat couldn't be transported out of the state, Wallis said. So, technically, slaughterhouses weren't banned, except in a couple of states that passed laws prohibiting the businesses. But it is impossible to run slaughterhouses without inspections, Wallis said...more

Boy, 9, Suspended from School for Sexual Harassment After Calling Teacher 'Cute'

A 9-year-old boy North Carolina boy was suspended for calling a teacher “cute,” reports. The boy’s mother, Chiquita Lockett, said the principal of Brookside Elementary in Gastonia called her after the incident to say the comment was a form of “sexual harassment.” "It's not like he went up to the woman and tried to grab her or touch her in a sexual way," Lockett said. "So why would he be suspended for two days?” According to the station, a district spokeswoman said she could not go into detail, but said the boy was suspended for "inappropriate behavior" after making "inappropriate statements." The district's Code of Conduct doesn't list "inappropriate behavior," but says "disruption of school" is punishable by five days of out-of-school suspension...more

Ninja Cow Returns With A New Side of Beef - video

First there was one and now there are two. The cow Plattsmouth townspeople have dubbed the "ninja" cow disappeared over the weekend. She showed up this morning, but piled new problems on the town's already beefed up plate. "I saw these two little ears poke up alongside her," said Tom Malcolm, a rancher who has been helping catch the cow. "It's just uh oh, now we've got a new problem in town." That's right, the ninja cow is a new mom. The town wasn't worried about the cow being a danger before, but that's changing. "A black beef is the best momma there is out there," said Bob Wagner, a butcher in town. "So don't mess with the calf, she will really overhaul you if you mess with her calf." The new addition could also mean a harder time catching the mom. Malcolm points out that shooting the cow is now out of the question since that would leave the calf without a mom. As of late Monday afternoon, animal control officers had managed to coral the baby and were just hoping the mom would follow. KPTM

I've seen cows like that, but my Dad didn't call them "ninja".

The video report:


My Texans of the Year are legacy cattle ranchers

Jerry Craft
West Texas ranch and range land is honest country — doesn’t deceive you with trees, bushes, vines or shade. There’s nowhere to hide from the sun. The litany of such places is always supplication for rain, and the colloquy of praise is ever for it. The earth is rocky, thorny and dry, and those legacy ranchers who lived, and still do, on land inherited from their ancestors, have personalities to match. They endure. Recently, drought-draped silence hung over West Texas. You read about it, saw the gut-wrenching images: furious winds fanning fire and brimstone, reminding of Old Testament rhetoric; the roar of fire and firetrucks and the noise of helicopters dropping orange fire retardant and precious water. Dust devils filled with flames raced across grasslands west of urban places where we wrung our hands because we weren’t able to water lawns as much as we wanted. Drought had destroyed prairie grasses, hay, grain, even cattle and wildlife. Then the relentless fires delivered a blow of such magnitude on cattle ranchers that recovery may take years. The economy played descant to the dirge of wastelands. In Jack County, on the eastern edge of West Texas, one rancher of many faced the cataclysmic event, fought as hard as he could, and came away almost whipped with his head almost down — but not quite. He had been through it all before, in the ’50s, considered the worst drought in the history of the Southwest. Jerry Craft is his name, and he represents others whose names you never heard. West Texans are accustomed to anonymity, even though ancestral roots go back for four and five generations. Twenty-five hundred acres of one of the Craft Ranches went up in flames. State and federal agencies advised evacuation. How do you evacuate a ranch? Fences were cut to allow cattle to escape. Cows put their calves down in the grass for protection at the sign of danger. That’s where the fire consumed them. Cows, perhaps checking on their offspring or reluctant to leave them, had hooves burned off and were left walking on leg bones. Those animals had to be shot...more

Song Of The Day #727

Ernest Tubb is on Ranch Radio today with his 1948 recording of Have You Ever Been Lonely (Have You Ever Been Blue).

Monday, December 05, 2011

Angry farmers dump deadly cobras on tax office floor - video

Two farmers, including a snake charmer, were so angry at tax officials in northern India that they dumped dozens of snakes, including four deadly cobras, on the floor of the tax office, The Guardian reports. The snake charmer says the farmers on Tuesday were protesting alleged demands for bribes by officials in exchange for tax records in Basti, 185 miles southeast of Lucknow, the British newspaper says. "Snakes started climbing up the tables and chairs," said a local official, Ramsukh Sharma, according to the newspaper. "There was total chaos. Hundreds of people gathered outside the room, some of them with sticks in their hands, shouting that the snakes should be killed." A video shows office workers jumping on chairs as the 40 snakes slithered around the floor. There were no injuries, but forestry department personnel had to be called in to catch the reptiles, The Guardian says...more

Here is the video:

Watching The Wheels Come Off The Green Machine

The body count continues to rise as the Green Jobs Revolution sputters its way to the end of a disastrous 2011. Few seemed to notice last week when the electric vehicle maker A123 Systems—poster child for successful clean tech investing—“temporarily” laid off 125 workers at its flagship manufacturing plants in Michigan on the eve of the Thanksgiving media break. It also reduced its earnings guidance for 2011 by $45 million, because its anchor customer, Fisker Automotive, “unexpectedly” delayed the production ramp-up for its Karma luxury electric car—again. Could these be the same plants that Democratic congressional leaders hailed as the birth of a new era in American manufacturing? The same plants that received a $249 million U.S. Department of Energy grant from the same stimulus money bucket that funded Solyndra? The same plants for which Michigan shelled out $125 million in incentives to lure away from Massachusetts? Environmentally correct planners put all this public money to work to relieve the technology bottleneck they believed held back our transition to electric cars. So they invested my money and yours into building the largest lithium ion automotive battery plant in North America—to supply a Finnish electric car manufacturer backed by Al Gore’s venture capital fund and which received $529 million in federal loan guarantees. That Finnish manufacturer was supposed to begin production in 2009, but to date has only shipped 40 cars into the U.S. Those cars were delivered to a handful of millionaires and billionaires like Leonardo DeCaprio and Ray Lane who received tax credits because they bought an electric car...more

More on Coke’s Role in a Shelved Bottle Ban for Nat'l Parks

Jon Jarvis, the director of the National Park Service, has said that its decision to scuttle a planned ban on small plastic water bottles at Grand Canyon National Park had nothing to do with opposition from the Coca-Cola Company. But a November 2010 e-mail released on Thursday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request tells a different story. Mr. Jarvis cited only one concern, Coca-Cola’s contributions to the National Park Foundation, in discussing the ban with a regional manager of the Park Service. “While I applaud the intent” of the ban, he wrote in the e-mail, “there are going to be consequences, since Coke is a major sponsor of our recycling efforts.” “Let’s talk about this” before the park “pulls the plug,” he added. The latest documents also raise the possibility that Mr. Jarvis was ready to prevent the bottle ban from going forward at parks besides Utah’s Zion National Park, which pioneered the idea of such a ban three years ago and won a park service award for doing so. An e-mail in six months ago from Jo Pendry, who was serving as the national parks headquarters official responsible for park concessions, said that an aide to Mr. Jarvis told her that “the director’s view is NOT to ban the sale of bottled water but to go the choice route.” A draft policy document obtained in response to the Freedom of Information Act cautions park managers to “consider other factors prior to making a decision to reduce of eliminate the sale of water or other beverages in disposable plastic containers.” “Some visitors have come to rely on the availability of refrigerated bottled water for sale in our parks,” it said...more

The same envirocrats, who decry the influence of say big oil money, think its a different situation when the dinero is headed to them.