Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

World Series Richest Team Roping - Tops 5 Million

Las Vegas, NV – The World Series of Team Roping, started just six years ago as a recreational diversion for cowboys during the National Finals of Rodeo, has exploded into the richest team roping event in the world, and the fifth richest equine event in the world.  The World Series Grand Finale VI, which finished on December 10th at South Point Equestrian and Events Center in Las Vegas, NV, paid out $4,735,000 in cash and $300,000 in prizes for a total of Five Million. The payout for each division smashed all previous historical records for the sport.

Las Vegas can proudly lay claim to two of the top five richest equine events in the world. Individually they are both impressive, but together they distribute $10.7 Million in prize money to the cowboy industry within a 10-day period.  For fifteen days, Vegas is transformed by a barrage of cowboy hats, trucks, trailers, and horses. Set up for the trade shows begin two days before the rodeo and vendors from all over the world work tirelessly to construct booths that will ultimately handle 20,000 Christmas shoppers per day once the doors open at all of the 10 plus “Cowboy shop till you drop” venues up and down the strip. 

Between the WNFR, the trade shows, and everything the city of Las Vegas has to offer, one might ask; “How or what else could elevate this experience to even greater heights?” Nineteen hundred and ninety eight (1998) individual team ropers representing Canada, Mexico, Italy, and the United States competing for unbelievable purses, that’s what!

The event each year brings over five thousand strong to the Casino’s on the southern throws of the Las Vegas strip. The World Series of Team Roping Finale brings a big attraction to the city and, by piggy backing on the NFR, makes these 10 days in December the number one overall event to take place in the city annually.

Team Roping is the largest economical component of the recreational horse world producing over $60,000,000 in purses each year. The World Series of Team Roping Grand Finale has quickly become the richest and most prestigious showcase for the sport.  The event will return to South Point Casino Equestrian Center December 10th, 2012.

Cactus Saddlery #13 Pro-Am Finale 
$1,165,000 Cash

The Pro-Am was truly one of the toughest World Series Ropings of the year with an 80% catch ratio and only four seconds separating 44th call from high team back.
The top team to the short round, Tyson Campidilli of Vinita, OK  and Cody Brown of Oolagah, OK,  had to be 8.60 to maintain their number one spot.  After the dust settled and the final flag dropped, a time of 7.91 put the capstone on a $200,000 payday for the Oklahoma team. Tyson has been winning a lot in this past year, as he placed a couple of times at the USTRC Finals.  Tyson is a switch hitter and is equally comfortable heading as heeling. When we caught up with him following the roping, he was laughing about the fortunes of team roping, “ I was king of the mountain on Wednesday, and on Thursday missed three heel shots in the #11”.

Cody Brown, a saddle maker, celebrated his one year wedding anniversary in Vegas two days before his big win. He brought his own cheering squad to Vegas with him and said, “that scream was my mom”.  Cody confessed that he had second thoughts about the big entry fees, but his friends Larmon and Amos, the team that won the #13 the previous year had, “assured me that this would be a roping contest and not a drawing contest, and they were right.” He also had a secret weapon. He borrowed Clint Peverley’s super horse “Glory” that placed in the top five of every roping event at the AQHA world show, and with this win the horse had over $175,000 won on him this year.

James Gililland of Belen, NM and Cody Wilson from Capitan, NM stepped up their game in the short round and stopped the clock in a 7.62 to secure them the reserve championship and $140,000 in team earnings.

Fast Back Ropes #12 Finale
$1,230,000 Cash

This was the biggest division, the largest payoff ever at a World Series Finale and second only to the WNFR itself. Just like the winners of the #13, this team came in to the short go as number one in the aggregate and solidified their victory with an 8.93 on their final steer. Jake Stephenson of Gouldbust, TX was working the horns for his partner Bobby Simmons of Breckenridge, TX.  Simmons is in the oil field construction business, but was a well know PRCA header for many years. Bobby laughed as he waited to take the stage to receive his check and prizes, “Wait ‘til I tell all the boys this. My biggest check ever was roping feet!” Bobby had quit rodeoing  in 2004 because he, “ had a horse buck me off and fall on me. He broke my back in two places, my neck and several ribs.  I’m happy to be competing, and really enjoyed the cattle, they were very ropeable”.

Jake, a 22 year old with a big personality, won previously in the year at a roping in Abilene. The college student from Angelo State brought an entourage of about thirty people with him from Coleman County, and they were plenty vocal. It didn’t stop at the roping, when the stewardess from Southwest Airlines asked if anyone on the plane won anything in Vegas, he quickly became the star of the flight. It ended with pictures with the entire plane crew, which means Southwest Magazine might be on the horizon. Funny side note here, Bobby and Jake discovered at the roping that they were both riding horses purchased from Troy Morrison, one nicknamed “Meat”, and the other “Taters”.

Jimmy Ruiz of Three Rivers, TX and Marcus Becerra of Alvarado, TX made the jump from the fourth back to claim the reserve champion title banking  $140,000! Jimmy walked out of the South Point arena with $95,000 in his Wrangler Jeans, which included a check from the #12 roping.

Heel O matic #11 Amateur Finale
$1,188,000 Cash

One of the most unbelievable short rounds in memory was witnessed in the #11 Finale. Forty third high call placed 6th over all, and the reserve champion team of Cody Britten, a farmer and rancher of Groom, TX and heeler Junior Crump of Lelia Lake, TX, who had already been in the short round earlier in the week, jumped all the way from the thirteenth spot to claim $140,000, buckles and Cactus Saddles.

Announcers with their hats on backwards, the crowd in amazement, and the WSTR people saying they have never witnessed anything like this in short round Finale history, added to the jaw dropping excitement as the number eight high team back of Q.B Cobb of Pampa, TX and heeler Trew Cates of Booker, TX caught their steer in 8.66. They sat and watched as the top seven teams in the short go could not stop the clock, ultimately leading to their big win. When it was all said and done, Q.B and Trew went on to bank roll $200,000 and the prizes.

The two feedlot cowboys roped together in high school, but roped with Trew heading and Q.B. heeling. At the Wiley Hicks, they found themselves one partner short and decided to give the switch a try. The win provided plenty of money for the entry and trip to Vegas. Q.B. works for Quien Sabe Feedyards in Happy, TX and brought a lot of family with him to Vegas. Trew Cates works for his father some at Cates Feeders and trucks for himself. The pair said they were Facebook sensations for the past week.  As for the seven teams that missed in the short round, Trew said, “I feel bad for them, but we sure were happy they let us have it”.

Bloomer Trailers #10 Lo-Am Finale
$1,160,000 Cash

It looked for a moment like the high call team of Shayne O’Hotto of Ft. Lupton, CO and Terry Lindner of Sedalia, CO would win it all to claim the $200,000 payday. Shane said about their final run ,“That steer backed into me a little and I didn’t want to wave it off so I took an extra swing. It made us a little longer but hey, for $140,000 I’ll take that extra swing every time”.

The second high call team of Michelle Rezzonico of Queen Creek, AZ and partner Shawn Hastings of Gilbert, AZ made an absolutely great run of  8.09 on their last steer  and clinched the victory with a 35.51 on four.  Michelle was all smiles as she stepped onto the stage at the after party to receive her check for $100,000. “This is awesome!” she said.  The pair split $200,000 and took home a truck load of prizes. Michelle who double dipped with her husband in the #11 for an additional $21,000, left Vegas as the biggest winner with $121,000. “I had my number increased a few months ago and I think a lot of this is my little mare. She is out of John McFarland’s great stud ‘Gilligan’.”

Shawn Hastings is a farm and ranch broker who is also the co-owner of RopeSteer Superior rope tools.  Shawn said, “ I don’t go to many team ropings, but this is certainly the best event I have ever been to. When you pull up and get valet service for your horses, it is pretty obvious this isn’t a normal jackpot.”


For more information and a full schedule of events, go to

For information contact:
Audra Gentry – 505-898-1755

About that wolf shot in the Gila

Here is the LA Times version of the story:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week ordered the death of a female Mexican gray wolf after the animal was discovered hanging around a group of domestic dogs. The lone 4-year-old female was shot and killed in New Mexico's Gila National Forest on Wednesday after she was apparently attracted to domestic dogs at a private residence. The female had earlier this year mated with a dog and given birth to a litter of five hybrid pups. Four of the pups were euthanized and the fifth has not been found. The five-year Mexican wolf reintroduction program has so far failed to recover the animals, and more wolves are being held in captive facilities than are free in the wild. Wildlife biologists say that when female wolves fail to find a male wolf as a mate, they pair with domestic dogs, producing wolf-dog hybrids that are usually put down by wildlife authorities.

Here is the CBD release on the incident.

The more complete AP story can be seen here.

None of these articles are telling the complete story, having either an environmental or agency spin dominate. No mention is made of a ranch wife and her small children. Stay tuned and I'll report on what actually happened, so check back here for an update.

Big Green's endangered species money machine

Karen Budd-Falen is a fifth-generation rancher in Wyoming. She's also a strong-minded lawyer who tracks millions in legal fees paid to Big Green environmental groups by federal agencies in lawsuits to save endangered species -- and she makes the records public. They show that the Endangered Species Act has been hijacked by those same Big Green groups that use it in the courts as an ideological weapon against development -- and to enrich themselves. Stories of such things as wind farm projects thwarted by a field mouse are no longer uncommon, but investigations of how environmental lawyers turn the ESA into a private money machine are almost nonexistent. Budd-Falen has pioneered that niche with high-detail profiles. The government stopped compiling and releasing its legal cost information years ago. Budd-Falen's research revealed that the blackout has hidden hundreds of millions in legal costs, even some that don't result in attorney fee awards but fritter away agency conservation budgets. For example, a recent thorny ESA case required paperwork that cost more than $206 million. Budd-Falen's painstaking research is the only way to find out what American taxpayers are really paying the "environmental litigation industrial complex," as one wag calls it. "I'm concerned over the role federal court litigation has taken in directing the Endangered Species Act against economic activity. I show why oversight by Congress is needed," Budd-Falen explains. A substantial following of clients and interested citizens has taken up her call for congressional oversight. Her work came to the attention of House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and inspired him to call a hearing titled "The Endangered Species Act: How Litigation is Costing Jobs and Impeding True Recovery Efforts" with Budd-Falen as lead witness...more

Solyndra debacle goes global

We might think Solyndra is a uniquely American scandal, yet it draws from the very same failed thinking that environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) employ around the globe. They involve two key features: applying “green” economics and squandering taxpayer funding. The fundamental flaw of the Department of Energy loan program was its promotion of “green” energy that isn’t viable on the open market. Not only did the federal government offer specific loans to these companies, it also pushed for energy standards that only the industries they funded could meet. The result was to prop up a company, indeed an entire industry, that otherwise would be uncompetitive. While the $525 million price tag of the Solyndra fiasco seems astronomical, policies pushed at the recent United Nations climate change negotiations in Durban, South Africa, offer even greater prospective abuse of taxpayer funding. Consider the $700 million that the Obama administration pledged to a World Bank program with total pledges of $5.5 billion from European governments. NGOs marketed the program as a means of addressing claims that deforestation generated 17 percent of global emissions. Yet U.S. taxpayers ended up buying another lemon. Research now shows emissions from deforestation could be as low as 6 percent. Plus, a growing body of science demonstrates that promoting sustainable forestry is a far more efficient method of reducing emissions than banning forestry altogether. The World Bank isn’t the only group peddling this brand of snake oil. The Worldwide Wildlife Fund (WWF) has announced it plans to “transform markets” by capturing supply chains and forcing manufacturers to purchase only products that meet its preferred sustainability standards and not the most competitively priced products. Target industries include timber and paper, soybeans, palm oil, dairy, beef and marine products. If they succeed, many small farmers in the United States, as well as in developing countries, would be excluded from supply chains and costs to consumers would rise. Furthermore, the WWF would have to pursue anti-competitive strategies to achieve its goal...more

Anson's Cowboys' Christmas Ball gets newfound recognition

Larry Chittenden
Country musician Michael Martin Murphey is the flagship performer at Anson's annual Texas Cowboys' Christmas Ball, but he's also the event's biggest booster. Rather than just a stop on his tour itinerary, the Ball has become almost synonymous with Murphey. Their goals are essentially the same: to keep Texan frontier traditions alive and celebrate the culture that birthed them. Inspired by an 1890 poem by rancher and poet Larry Chittenden, the ball has existed as a re-enactment of Chittenden's words since 1934. Murphey and his band have played the event every year since 1992, with one exception. "I was sick one year," Murphey said, interviewing by phone from his tour bus. "I almost dragged myself out of the hospital that year to do it, but I just couldn't." In many ways, the Ball is defined by how it doesn't change. The period costumes, the decorations, the dancing and the frontier manners (check your hats at the door, please) all conform to how the ball looked in 1885, when Chittenden first visited. But some developments within the last year should ensure that the Ball gains some notoriety across Texas. For starters, Murphey finally pestered curators from Texas Tech University's Southwest Collection archive into visiting the Ball last year after three years of trying. "I told them that it's been a signature part of my life, the Cowboys' Christmas tours," Murphey said. "We had all these old guestbooks and other artifacts. So they came, and they just flipped out. They went crazy." With some help from the people at the Southwest Collection, one of the biggest collections of Western history in the nation, Anson residents have unearthed a variety of treasures surrounding the Ball's history. That includes a fiddle from the original 1885 dance, a 1953 newsreel on the Ball featuring interviews with original pioneers and a collection of books donated by Chittenden to the local school...more

Song Of The Day #735

Buck Owens and Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Obama Withdraws Threat of Veto Over Detainee Rules - House Passes Bill

President Barack Obama on Wednesday withdrew his threat to veto a Pentagon-funding bill that increases military authority over terrorism detainees, even though counterterrorism officials voiced concerns the legislation injects new uncertainty into sensitive national-security investigations. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller said Wednesday that the bill failed to resolve his concerns over the military custody-issue despite changes included by the conference committee. Several hours later, the White House said Mr. Obama was dropping his objections and tried to portray it as a victory for the president. The House approved the $662 billion bill Wednesday night, and a Senate vote could come Thursday. An unusual alliance of civil-liberties groups, tea-part activists and the FBI lobbied against the detainee provisions. Tea-party activists and civil libertarians oppose the provision authorizing the indefinite detention without trial of some terrorism suspects, possibly including American citizens. Mr. Obama has outlined plans to use indefinite detention, and lawmakers in both parties sought to make clear such a practice is legal. On Twitter, tea-party activists urged voters to call lawmakers to state objections. "From a legacy perspective he's basically the first president in history to authorize indefinite detention without trial in the United States of America," said Laura Pitter, counterterrorism adviser to Human Rights Watch, which urged the president to veto the legislation.The chief forces behind the military-custody provision were Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Arizona Sen. John McCain, the senior Republican on the panel...more

Since he is co-author of the legislation, I'm sure Senator Levin can clear things up for us:

Mr. Levin was asked Monday night whether Americans were subject to indefinite detention. He said: "That's up to a court as to whether or not they're a combatant. If you're an enemy combatant, at that point you're kept until the war is over. When's the war over? Nobody knows."

How refreshing.  At least they are now admitting they have no idea how this bill will be implemented. 

House approves defense bill on detainees

Heinrich & Lujan voted against the bill, Pearce voted for it.

Utah plans to sue feds over thousands of roads

Utah has served notice that it will sue the U.S. Interior Department for control of nearly 19,000 roads crossing federally managed lands in the state. The threatened lawsuits are collectively the latest and biggest to date in a legal barrage in which Utah is attempting to put dirt paths and disputed trails crossing Bureau of Land Management jurisdictions officially on the map and open for state or county maintenance. It makes good on a promise that the governor’s public-lands office made earlier this year to join counties that have made their own pitches for control of roads on federal lands. "We will continue to use every tool available to us, including negotiation and lawsuits, to quickly and permanently get title to our roads," Gov. Gary Herbert said Wednesday in a prepared statement. "We are intent to defend our rights, and this filing will force the federal government to respond." Whether the roads really are Utah’s or its counties’ will depend on proving their general public use before 1976, when Congress repealed the act that granted rights of way for roads that could help in development of the West. Environmentalists view the legal strategy as a substitute for the anti-wilderness agenda, because many of the roads are of the most primitive, never-maintained class and cut across territory that otherwise could qualify as wilderness, new national monuments or for other protective designations...more

Forest Service to exclude 30% of lands from fire retardant use to protect species

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell has cleared the way for continued use of aerial fire retardant as long as pilots use special maps to avoid hurting threatened or endangered species. The decision answers a lawsuit the agency lost over whether its aerial firefighting tactics properly consider fire retardant's environmental impact. The new rules will make it challenging for fire management, according to Neptune Aviation President Dan Snyder. The Missoula-based company is the nation's largest provider of retardant-dropping airplanes. In particular, the new rules carve out lots of exclusion zones around communities and subdivisions along the fringe of national forests. Those areas are also the places where aerial fire retardant is most effective in initial attack because of the planes' ability to have a big impact before ground crews can arrive, Snyder said. The new maps put nearly 30 percent of the Forest Service land into aerial buffer zones to protect waterways, and list another 1 percent as sensitive ground. The buffer zones protect more than 300 plants and animals on the endangered species list and another 3,700 species considered sensitive to retardant effects. Andy Stahl, whose Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics filed the successful lawsuit, was skeptical of the results. "The final (environmental impact statement) acknowledges the Forest Service has no evidence fire retardant contributes to any firefighting objective," Stahl said. "They made their decision on the basis of cherry-picking from a biased sample that fire managers claim retardant makes a difference." Stahl also argued the 12,000 new maps were never put out for public review. His organization was able to examine six of them, and concluded the areas where threatened or endangered species existed appeared based on predicted data - not actual field checks of habitat...more

Court Rejects Plan to Build Warehouses Next to Kangaroo Rat Preserve

A Riverside County Superior Court judge has ruled that a proposed industrial warehouse project adjacent to an important wildlife preserve cannot proceed in destroying habitat for imperiled wildlife. The proposed warehouses on Alessandro Boulevard — just south of the city of Riverside’s Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park — threaten to sever the last remaining natural connection between the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park and the March Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat Preserve. The court found that Riverside County improperly ignored the neighboring March Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat Preserve when it approved warehouses on endangered species habitat. This ruling follows a series of successful legal challenges to development proposals on western Riverside’s few remaining natural places, which were prompted by the failure to follow obligations in the Stephens’ Kangaroo Rat Habitat Conservation Plan — a plan originally proposed to strike a balance between wildlife protection and development...more

Supporters Of a Mount St. Helens National Park Want National Park Service To Study That Possibility

Another request has been made on Congress to direct the National Park Service to study the possibility of transferring Mount St. Helens from the U.S. Forest Service so it can be designated a national park. In a letter outlining the request to U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Mount St. Helens is portrayed as a monument in decline, one that has seen annual visitation drop from 1 million in the years immediately following the volcano's eruption to fewer than 250,000 today. "Paralleling this decline has been the closure of visitor centers and other visitor services. All this has negatively impacted the economies of the monument’s gateway communities," reads the letter, which was signed by more than 30 local elected officials, business owners, community leaders, conservationists, and park supporters. This is just the latest request for such a designation. As long ago as 2007 there was an effort in Congress to transfer the mountain from the Forest Service to the Park Service. At the time proponents of the move referred to Forest Service budget woes that led to the closure of a visitor center...more

Colorado, South Dakota Eyed For Yellowstone Bison

For the first time in decades, the federal government is considering moving bison captured leaving Yellowstone National Park to public lands in Colorado, South Dakota and elsewhere as part of efforts to curb periodic slaughters of the animals. However, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday the animals belong to his state and he will block any attempt to move them. In a Tuesday letter obtained by The Associated Press, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told Schweitzer his agency is looking at relocation sites including Badlands National Park on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Salazar also mentioned Wyoming's Wind River Reservation, where a prior attempt to place Yellowstone bison collapsed two years ago. The proposal came as state and federal officials have been trying to come up with alternatives to the periodic slaughter of bison leaving the park in search of food. Cattle ranchers say those migrations raise the chance of livestock being infected by diseased bison...more

Oregon ranchers keep right to shoot killer wolves

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department is barred by a court order from killing wolves that kill cattle in Eastern Oregon, but authorized ranchers are not, according to the department. The department has issued 32 caught-in-the-act permits so far this year to ranchers, all in Wallowa County and all as a result of attacks on livestock by the Imnaha pack, said Russ Morgan, the department wolf coordinator. The Imnaha wolves killed a yearling heifer Sunday morning in Wallowa County, bringing to 19 the number of confirmed livestock losses there since spring 2010. It s the fifth confirmed livestock loss to wolves since an Oct. 5, 2011, stay by the Oregon Court of Appeals ended the agency plan to kill two wolves from the Imnaha pack. However, "caught-in-the-act" permits have been issued to some ranchers allowing a permit-holder to kill a wolf caught biting, wounding or killing livestock. "The stay was against ODFW's lethal removal of the wolves," said Michelle Dennehy, fish and wildlife spokesperson. "That was when we were going to go in and find the wolves, but it is not against these permits." Permits allowing producers to haze wolves have also been issued, according to an agency press release. But, the probability of the permit being used is low. Attacks typically occur at night and wolves usually avoid people, Dennehy said...more

Oregon Department of Agriculture will compensate ranchers for livestock killed by wolves

A $100,000 compensation fund is now available for Oregon ranchers whose livestock or herd dogs are injured or killed by wolves. The money also can be used to reimburse ranchers for non-lethal wolf deterrence measures they've taken or plan to put in place. The fund, established by the 2011 Legislature, is controlled by the Oregon Department of Agriculture but will be administered on the local level by county committees. Ranchers who have lost livestock or who plan to install deterrence measures such as special fencing must file claims with the committees, which in turn must apply for money on Feb. 15 each year...more

Video - Bear hitches a ride on Vancouver garbage truck

Residents in downtown Vancouver got an encounter with the wilderness without even leaving their city streets. A bear hitched a ride on a garbage truck headed downtown. The bear was apparently in a dumpster and came out when the dumpster was lifted. It took conservation officers about an hour to figure out what to do with the bear. They eventually tranquilzed it and caught it on a tarp after it teetered off the side of the truck. The bear was then taken back into the wilderness. WDAY

Okla. AG vows to appeal EPA's haze ruling

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt promised to appeal a new ruling issued by the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday that is designed to reduce haze and improve visibility in national parks and wilderness areas. The EPA rule will impose new requirements on three Oklahoma power plants to reduce sulfur dioxide pollution. In its rule, the EPA approved most of Oklahoma's plan for targeting haze, but rejected a portion of the state plan that dealt with retrofitting power plants with technology to reduce pollution. The EPA's plan is designed to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants and industrial sources to improve visibility at federally managed wilderness areas like the 59,000-acre Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge near Lawton. It would target coal-fired power plants operated by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. at Red Rock and Muskogee and another operated by Public Service Co. of Oklahoma at Oologah. The federal plan would require utilities to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in scrubbers and other equipment to remove pollutants like sulfur dioxide from emissions at coal-fired plants. Pruitt, citing data from the utilities, has said those required investments could cause consumer electricity rates to rise more than 13 percent over the next three years...more

NM reaches settlement over air quality violations

A subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc. has reached an $800,000 settlement with the New Mexico Environment Department over air quality violations at a natural gas-fired power plant in southeastern New Mexico. The settlement, the largest reached by the department this year, will result in Southwestern Public Service Co. investing $500,000 in a solar photovoltaic array at Eastern New Mexico University's Roswell campus. The money will also fund an adjunct professor position in the university's renewable energy degree and certification program. Department officials said they plan to continue promoting supplemental environmental projects like the one at ENMU as a means of getting permit holders to pay for violations. "This settlement demonstrates our philosophy that monetary penalties ought to go back into projects that protect the environment," Environment Secretary David Martin said in a statement issued Wednesday...more

Navajos Top List Of Native Language Speakers In US

More people speak Navajo at home than any other Native American language, a seemingly promising 169,000 people at a time when some tribes have lost their native tongue or are struggling to retain the words of their ancestors. Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, a Navajo professor at Northern Arizona University, said the figure recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau is no surprise, but can be misleading. The country’s population of Navajos is well over 300,000. For every one who speaks the language, one doesn’t — and those are likely younger Navajos, Yazzie said. “Navajo has the largest population, they say, of Native speakers, but it also has the largest population of non-speakers,” she said Wednesday. “And it kind of presents a skewed picture.”...more

NM links

NM Democrat lawmaker's outburst: 'You're carrying the Mexican's water'

Former Richardson official, fundraiser testify at grand jury probe

Pro-marijuana, anti-tax Gary Johnson mulls presidential run as Libertarian
From the Miami Herald

Gary Johnson: ‘No Decision’ On Libertarian Run…Yet TPM

National Polling Firm Has Wilson, Gingrich Leading Big in NM

NM regulators hear closing arguments in case over NM greenhouse gas emissions rules

NM Supreme Court says governor illegally vetoed tax bill

Group hires contractor to move forward with plans for ghost town for scientific testing in NM

The Wild West in the Rim Country

It happened during the second year of what many call The Pleasant Valley War. A young sheepherder in his early twenties, named Al Fulton, was murdered near the place now called Al Fulton Point. It was September 1888. About 10 years earlier Al’s older brother Harry Fulton had come to Arizona to pursue the sheep business, and he ran sheep near the San Francisco Peaks of Flagstaff. In 1886 he helped to found the Arizona Wool Growers Association and was elected its first president. Harry’s brother Al obtained work for a rancher named Woods. This is the gentleman for whom Woods Canyon and Woods Canyon Lake are named. While driving a flock of sheep from Holbrook toward the Rim to take them over and down to winter pastures Al Fulton was murdered. The why and how of his demise is captured in several variant traditions. Even his grave carries a mystery. When the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad reached Flagstaff it produced a huge influx of cattle ranchers and the sheep ranchers soon felt themselves being edged out of grasslands. The railroad sold large tracts of land in Yavapai and Apache counties and wealthy groups snapped them up. Among the cattle giants was the Aztec Land and Cattle Company, which purchased 500,000 acres. It brought with it a rough and tumble group of cowboys, who were soon dubbed The Hashknife Outfit. Not only did they herd the cattle, but they made sure any sheep that encroached on grazing land they wanted were violently driven off...more

Country singer Billie Jo Spears dies at 73

Singer Billie Jo Spears, whose performance of "Blanket on the Ground" went No. 1 on the country charts in 1975, has died at age 73. A funeral home spokesman confirmed her death Wednesday evening. Carl Willis of R.S. Farmer Funeral Home in Silsbee had no details. The Orange Leader newspaper in Texas reported that she died Wednesday morning at her home in Vidor (VYE'dur), 85 miles northeast of Houston. No cause of death was stated. The Beaumont native was voted most promising female vocalist by the Academy of Country Music in 1976. Her other hits included "Mr. Walker, It's All Over" in 1969; "What I've Got in Mind" in 1976; "Misty Blue" in 1976; and "If You Want Me" in 1977. AP

Song Of The Day #734

Ranch Radio's Christmas tune for you today is Merry Christmas Waltz by Gene Autry.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Experts: Managing tribal forest helped stop Wallow Fire at reservation

Blackened, rusted and bent, a barbed wire fence snakes along the boundary of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in eastern Arizona's White Mountains. To the east, a sea of black rolls with the land as trees resemble burnt matchsticks. The national forest stand is dense with young trees. Most won't survive. To the west, on tribal land, the trees are spread farther apart, with blackened dirt hidden by growth of wild strawberries and forest grasses. The trees on this side of the fence, for the most part, will live. It was along this line that fire ecologists and forest managers say the westward expansion of the Wallow Fire, the largest in Arizona's history, slowed and eventually stopped. Touring the area, Jonathan Brooks, tribal forest manager for the White Mountain Apache Tribe, said forest management strategies unhindered by environmental litigation and drawn-out federal government processes helped check the wildfire here. For decades, the tribe has cleared young trees, logged larger trees and burned underbrush to replicate the natural burn-and-growth cycle of the Ponderosa pine forest. Brooks said that made it easy for firefighters to create a backfire here to deprive the approaching Wallow Fire of fuel. "Had this area not been thinned, logged, prescribe-burned, we wouldn't have been able to do a burnout operation here - so the fire would've been able to come through here unchecked," he said. A new federal government report that analyzed the Wallow Fire's impact on tribal lands supports Brooks' assessment. In addition, the Wallow Fire Fuels Treatment Effectiveness Report, prepared by agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs, notes that the Wallow Fire killed fewer trees on the Fort Apache and San Carlos Apache reservations because it burned less intensely there...more

Take a look at the report. The pictures tell the whole story.

Colorado business leaders plead for Tipton to reconsider sponsorship of roadless bill

Over 30 Colorado business leaders are asking U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton to reconsider his support of the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act saying it poses “a serious threat” to their bottom line. Executives from the Wallaroo Hat Company, Sierra Designs, Patagonia, Osprey, Kelty, Jax Mercantile, Brandwise, Backbone Media and other suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, and associations in the outdoor recreation business recently wrote Tipton, R-Colo., to say they are “extremely disappointed” he is co-sponsoring the bill. “Our industry depends on the conservation of our public lands to provide places for our customers to use the products that we make and sell,” their letter states. “H.R. 1581 represents a serious threat to the outdoor recreation industry and the thousands of jobs and local communities we help support. It would also severely undermine the opportunities Americans have to enjoy their federal public lands.” The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act, aka H.R. 1581, would undo the work put into the Colorado Roadless Rule and open up vast expanses of the American West to drilling, mining and roadbuilding. Its opponents have called it “the biggest attack on wilderness” in modern history...more

If the Republicans maintain control of the House, I think you will see more of this tactic by the wilderness advocates, i.e., creating new or utilizing existing "green" business groups to lobby Republicans and to appear more moderate to the general public. Notice the headline they got as "business leaders".

$400G in Stimulus Funds Stomped On at Occupy D.C. Park

Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House oversight committee, is asking the Obama administration to explain how it could allow Occupy protesters to destroy $400,000 worth of landscaping and refurbishment by setting up camp in a D.C. park. Issa wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Tuesday requesting he reply to an eight-page letter detailing the decisions of the National Park Service to withhold evictions of protesters who had clearly set up a tent city despite NPS' rules barring camping at the park. Issa said NPS' laxity toward enforcing its own rules has resulted in protesters killing "newly planted grass that had been funded by the stimulus" and "wasting much of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money used to rehabilitate McPherson Square." "While the merits of this stimulus funding are debatable, we can all agree that once the federal government invested the funds, no government agency should have allowed it to be damaged or destroyed when it legally could have been prevented," Issa wrote...more

Aspen Times series

The Aspen Times is running a weekly, five-part series on management of the White River National Forest. Here are the first three installments:

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

Public lands provide big benefits to Skico, skiers

Loving the land to death?

Jet Fuel-Gate Is Obama's New Solyndra

SolyndraGate was no isolated case of corrupt government misspending. The U.S. Navy was just forced to buy 450,000 gallons of biofuels from an Obama-connected firm at an outrageous $16 per gallon. The massive Obama stimulus was supposed to generate millions of jobs, but the $535 million loan guarantee it gave to solar panel maker Solyndra on the eve of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy illustrated the fundamental incompetence of Obama's neo-Keynesian economic ideology. Now we find the Navy partnering with the Agriculture Department to purchase hundreds of thousands of gallons of alternative biofuel in place of standard JP-5 fuel for Navy aircraft — the biggest federal purchase of biofuel ever. It's part of the White House's "we can't wait for Congress" strategy as the 2012 election year looms. But JP-5 typically costs less than $4 a gallon. If a family on a budget started filling up with $16-a-gallon gas, it might want to adopt the motto, "we can't wait to go broke." A look at the lucky seller of this environmentalist version of the proverbial $600 Pentagon toilet seat indicates that the move is not just wasteful, but ethically suspect. As J.E. Dyer noted over the weekend on the Hot Air Green Room, "a member of Obama's presidential transition team, T. J. Glauthier, is a 'strategic advisor' at Solazyme, the California company that is selling a portion of the biofuel to the Navy. Glauthier worked — shock, shock — on the energy-sector portion of the 2009 stimulus bill."...more

Obama’s Keystone cop-out

President Obama has done everything in his power to keep oil from flowing through the Keystone XL pipeline. TransCanada says this $13 billion project would put 20,000 to work immediately, but the Obama administration wants none of it. House Republicans have come up with a clever strategy to get around the blockage. The House is expected to pass legislation Tuesday tying the 1,661-mile pipeline delivering black gold from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast to the Democrats’ favorite - but failed - “job creators”: the payroll tax holiday and extended unemployment benefits. Doing so puts the ball in the court of Democrats, who will be forced to choose between getting the desired benefits and appeasing environmental extremists. Mr. Obama said last week he will “reject” a payroll tax package that includes the pipeline. On Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Keystone pipeline is just “a political gift or an ideological item” for Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said he opposes the two items tied together, but his own caucus members are starting to question his rationale. The Teamsters and AFL-CIO back the Keystone project because it means jobs for their members, but Mr. Obama punted the pipeline decision until after the election to avoid angering radical greens while still holding on to Big Labor’s campaign cash...more

Deal Or No Deal? The Climate Con Lives On In Durban

So an accord has been reached at the Durban climate conference after all. Or did envoys merely agree to make a real deal later, letting them continue with their corrupt enterprise? The headlines say the representatives at the United Nations climate conference in South Africa reached an agreement. But the real story is that the meeting only produced an agreement to start more talks on a deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol by 2015 with emissions limits that won't be in effect until 2020. Despite the uncertainty of such a proposition, one official, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa's foreign minister, nevertheless had the nerve to claim "We have saved planet Earth for the future of our children and our great-grandchildren." Apparently she's forgotten that the alarmists have said that global warming must be solved now — that Prince Charles traveled to Rio de Janeiro 33 months ago and lamented that the world had "less than 100 months" to save itself. So if we have roughly 67 months left, that puts the beginning of the end at some time in 2017. So why bother with framing a treaty that won't start until 2020? Won't that be too late?...more

Another Cow Killed By The Imnaha Wolf Pack

Another cow has been killed by wolves from the Imnaha wolf pack. This brings the total number of confirmed livestock losses to the pack to 19 since spring 2010.
A yearling heifer was found dead on private land in Wallowa County early Sunday morning. Electronic collars showed that the pack had targeted the ranch twice over two days. ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says the rancher did everything he could to keep the pack away. Dennehy- "He had installed 'Fladgery Fencing,' which is this flag fencing that has been shown to keep wolves away for a time period anyway. In other parts of the ranch he had a radio activated guard device, which basically when a collared wolf comes near it, it will emit a loud noise that will scare a wolf away." Besides non-lethal measures, special permits have been issued allowing ranchers to kill a wolf if they are "caught in the act" killing cattle. Governor Kitzhaber has also helped initiate a compensation program for livestock owners. The ODFW has plans to kill two of the wolves from the pack, but that decision is on hold due to a pending lawsuit. KLCC

Colo. group sues Forest Service over trails

The controversy over travel management in the San Juan National Forest has landed in federal court with a lawsuit filed by the Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. At the heart of the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court on Dec. 2, is the group’s assertion that the Forest Service has unlawfully authorized off-road vehicle use on 14 trails – 80 miles – in the Rico-West Dolores travel-management area. The Rico-West Dolores area covers 244,550 acres, encompassing federal lands surrounding Bear Creek, Taylor Mesa and around Rico, Dunton, Black Mesa and Stoner Mesa. The lawsuit names the U.S. Forest Service, the agency’s Chief Thomas Tidwell and San Juan National Forest Supervisor Mark Stiles as defendants, according to the court documents. The Backcountry Hunters and Anglers complaint claims the 14 trails at the heart of the lawsuit are closed to motorized vehicles under the San Juan Public Lands Draft Management Plan, and yet “the Forest Service has permitted and encouraged the use of two-wheeled ORV’s (motorcycles) on these trails.”...more

Smokey and Woodsy Under House GOP Fire

Your two favorite woodland creatures who dually prevent enviro-atrocities and make childhood lessons bearable are on the political chopping block. Yes, Smokey the Bear and Woodsy the Owl have been placed on the endangered list thanks to the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's new "YouCut" program. YouCut welcomes the public to offer ideas as to where significant budget cuts can be made in federal spending. The Forest Service’s “environmental literacy” and “conservation education” programs — Smokey and Woodsy's home sweet home — made the list. Cantor supported this cut, saying that it’s wrong for taxpayer dollars to go to “generate issue-oriented advocacy.” Additionally, cutting this program would save $50 million over 10 years...more

Ranchers say proposed rule poses threat

Area cattle and poultry ranchers, dairy owners and other large factory farm owners worry that a proposed Environmental Protection Agency water safety rule goes too far and actually poses a security threat. The new rule would require more information to be supplied to the EPA including the location of each large factory farm, also known as a concentrated animal feeding operation. Ranchers insist that for security reasons, locations of concentrated animal feeding operations must be kept confidential. They complain that providing operational information to the EPA would also bog down the small office staffs that run large factory farms. The proposed rule, made in response to a 2010 settlement agreement between the EPA and three environmental groups, proposes two options for collecting and managing data related to how water is discharged from large factory farms. One option would require every concentrated animal feeding operation to report directly to the EPA. The other would require reporting only from large farms in watersheds where concerns exist about water quality. Possible methods of collecting information under the new rule include submission of survey forms by farm owners, the collection of information by state or federal agencies, or reliance on information that is already available...more

California's Native American first to dance in the Library of Congress

A group of Mi-Wuk Indian tribal dancers, who escorted the National Christmas Tree from the Stanislaus National Forest to Washington DC, made history in Washington. The Indian dancers were the first Native Americans to dance in the Library of Congress, according to the US Forest Service coordinator. The dancers performed for 15-minutes in front of 700 or more people at a reception following the lighting ceremony: the dance was called a "fun dance," it is to "promote unity and happiness," according to an indian representative. The dancers, also, performed at the National Museum of the American Indians, to dedicate a 19-ft white fir from the Stanislaus National Forest, which will stand outside of the museum for the holidays...more

Feds may reduce number of Guard troops at U.S. border

One year ago this week, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout in a remote smuggling area near here. Since then, federal authorities have ramped up the number of agents patrolling the entire southwestern border, particularly the region where he was shot. "We've put more people into those canyons," said Alan Bersin, the Customs and Border Protection commissioner. "The level of violence has come down. ... We are taking back this corridor. The progress is quite obvious. We're determined that Brian Terry did not die in vain." Bersin said the total number of illegal immigrants arrested along the border was down 53 percent in fiscal 2011 compared with fiscal 2008. Apprehensions in Arizona fell 41 percent in fiscal 2011 from fiscal 2010. "These numbers illustrate the investments made by CBP to improve border security (and) increase border efficiencies," Bersin said. Given the progress, federal authorities said Monday that they are considering a reduction in the number of National Guard troops stationed on the border. In 2010, President Barack Obama announced that he was temporarily sending 1,200 troops to help secure the border...more

More links

NM, Arizona get new state directors for Bureau of Land Management operations

Enviros Fight Fracking Leases in California

BLM releases proposed Taos Resource Management Plan

Advocates explore constitutional options to appoint consumer chief Can the President force the Congress to adjourn so he make a recess appointment?

New Mexico judge's bribery case is one for the books
From the L.A. Times

Harvard Political Review interviews Gary Johnson

Bill Richardson purchases $1.67 million Cape Cod vacation home

NM's medical marijuana program flourishing

Gary Johnson’s executive style: Put issues first, politics last to get good government

Riders Take Horses Into Steamboat Springs Safeway - video

There was a crazy ride in Steamboat Springs. Three people took their horses to several bars, Starbucks and Safeway. All three galloped into a Safeway on Sunday. The riders scared shoppers and clerks. That came after they decided to ride into a local bar. The Steamboat Pilot reported that police used a stun gun and arrested Michael Joseph Miller, because he ignored police orders. That happened at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday. According to the Steamboat Pilot, the ride began more than 10 hours earlier atop Emerald Mountain. “I had a great ride right up until the very end,” Miller, 44, told the Steamboat Pilot an hour and a half after he was released on a $750 bond from the Routt County Jail. Miller faces charges including suspicion of harassment, disorderly conduct, obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest. Police said Miller was involved in a fight at a pub around 9:30 p.m. Kenneth Recker and Roxanne Lange, of Clark, were the other riders, but they were not arrested. According to the Steamboat Pilot the three had visited several bars before going to Starbucks and Safeway for a snack...more

Song Of The Day #733

Celebrating Christmas on Ranch Radio is Bobby Helms singing Jingle Bell Rock.

A-10's 2012 Calendar & Christmas Cards

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Water-quality standards unfairly burden rural communities

When Clarence Aragon began managing the half-century-old Mora Mutual Water and Sewer Association 12 years ago, he thought he was helping the environment. Hundreds of households around Mora, N.M. -- a small river-valley community on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains -- flush wastewater through subpar septic systems, sending trickles of variably treated sewage into a shallow aquifer and eventually to the Mora River. But Aragon's 1,000 or so subscribers employ one of rural New Mexico's few treatment plants, a system of lagoons that oxygenate the water while special bacteria digest harmful sludge. The system isn't perfect, Aragon admits: The lagoons need repairs, and even when they're working properly, they weren't designed to reduce algae-fueling nutrients -- nitrogen and phosphorous -- enough to meet up-to-date water-quality standards. But building a treatment plant to meet those standards, which originated in a 1997 environmentalist lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, would cost around $7 million. "This is a community with zero economy and 25 percent unemployment," Aragon says. "Even if someone were to write me a check for (that system), we couldn't afford to run it." So the EPA will soon revoke Mora Mutual's permit to discharge into the river, leaving Aragon with two choices: Build a new treatment plant a half-mile from the river that would treat wastewater less stringently than the EPA requires and let it percolate into Mora's groundwater -- the community's only source of drinking water -- or abandon his subscribers to septic tanks. "There's no law that says we have to have a sewer service," he says...more

Administration moves to end state-by-state listing for endangered plants, animals

The Obama administration proposed a new rule Friday that would end a practice in which some endangered species were classified differently in neighboring states. The new policy would clarify that a plant or animal could be listed as threatened or endangered if threats occur in a “significant portion of its range,” even if the threat crosses state lines and does not apply in the species’ entire range. The draft rule would replace a Bush-era policy that allowed animals such as the gray wolf and Preble’s meadow jumping mouse to be classified differently in neighboring states. The 2007 policy was withdrawn last spring after two federal courts rejected it. The new rule would help clarify which species are eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act and allow officials to act sooner to conserve declining species, said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. The rule applies to the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, which administer the endangered species law. Noah Greenwald, with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that has frequently clashed with the government over species listings, called the new proposal a “recipe for extinction,” noting that it retains parts of the Bush-era policy that block protections for some species that have lost large parts of their historic range...more

EDITORIAL: Climate talks, then climate tax

Negotiators rarely find themselves at a loss for words. So it should come as no surprise that United Nations diplomats agreed Sunday to keep chatting. They set for themselves a 2015 deadline for reaching a deal on a new climate treaty. As long as they keep talking and don’t actually do anything, the world is spared the cost of a bargain that could reach into the trillions. Representatives at the 17th annual U.N. global-warming summit in Durban, South Africa, worked overtime figuring out how they could replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, set to expire at the end of 2012. While the original treaty placed carbon-dioxide emissions restrictions on industrial nations, the new “Durban Framework” calls for the inclusion of developing nations as well when it takes effect in 2020. European Union climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard commended representatives from 194 nations for “working to the very last minute to secure that we cash in what has been achieved and what should be achieved here.” The “cash” she referred to is $100 billion in annual taxes developed nations would pay into a “Green Climate Fund,” which then would be redistributed to underdeveloped countries to mitigate the impact of purported global warming. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said recently that the fund needs to collect $76 trillion over 40 years. Good luck selling that plan in today’s teetering economy...more

Time to leash Obama’s EPA

Will House Republicans squander an entire year of effort to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency? Since the 112th Congress began, House Republicans have talked tough about EPA overregulation. They’ve held a multitude of hearings. They’ve passed a number of bills to rein in EPA regulatory excesses, from the TRAIN Act imposing cost-benefit analysis on the agency to the REINS Act requiring congressional approval of regulatory actions costing more than $100 million to votes blocking the EPA from overregulating coal-fired power plants, industrial boilers and farm dust. They’ve even sliced a modest amount off the EPA’s operating budget. But none of these measures have stopped or slowed down the eco-fundamentalist EPA from its campaign to destroy the fossil fuel industry and gain control over the entire American economy. So here we are in the last throes of the first session of the 112th Congress, and House Republicans have little to show except effort. As Winston Churchill said, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what is required.” Fortunately, there is still time...more

Vermont Law School publishes top 10 environmental watch list for 2012

You can view the list and discussion by going here.

Managed Cattle Grazing in N. California Helps Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard

Invasive grasses have wreaked havoc on the natural habitat of the blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila) in Northern California. The federally endangered lizard gets caught up in the tall grasses and become extremely vulnerable to predators. The solution? Federal officials have issued cattle grazing permits to ranchers in Tulare County's Pixley National Wildlife Refuge. The cows eat the invasive grasses and the lizard can again move about more swiftly. It is a relationship that seems to benefit both reptile and mammal. This managed grazing, whereby the cows are given access to specific areas to graze, is being used throughout the valley in an effort to help endangered animals such as the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, the Tipton kangaroo rat and the San Joaquin kit fox, as well as certain plants that have been choked off by the grasses. Bryan Cypher, a Bakersfield-based ecologist who works for the Endangered Species Recovery Program at California State University, Stanislaus said in an article that appeared in the Fresno Bee that certain plants and animals may still be around due to cattle grazing. He said that grazing is the best option when dealing with non-native grasses...more

Song Of The Day #732

Its time at Ranch Radio to boogie on in to the Christmas Season, which is exactly what we'll do with The Christmas Boogie by the Davis Sisters.

Risk of violence keeps ranchers on alert

On the Chilton ranch near the U.S.-Mexico border, there's no debating what cowboys are supposed to do when they see smugglers - turn around and get outta there. Jim Chilton, his brother and the three cowboys who work for him avoid encounters with drug- or people-smugglers, even if it means falling behind on work on the 50,000-acre cattle ranch south of Arivaca in the Coronado National Forest. They work in tandem now, and they no longer carry cellphones. "The Border Patrol tells us that if we pull out a cellphone when we see someone, we're liable to get shot," Chilton said. A fifth-generation Arizona rancher, 72-year-old Chilton has owned his border ranch since 1987. Since the mid-1990s, his land - rugged, remote and near the border - has been a prime corridor for people- and drug-smugglers. The still-unsolved killing of Cochise County rancher Robert Krentz in March 2010 and the recent upsurge in violence in Mexico among groups that smuggle people and drugs through Arizona has forced ranchers to re-evaluate how they work. Though the Krentz killing is the only known murder of a Southern Arizona rancher, it shook most ranchers profoundly. "We realize that we are all vulnerable," Chilton said. The massive increase in Border Patrol agents over the last decade offers little solace to ranchers who work miles from where most agents patrol. It takes agents about three hours to drive from the Tucson station to a dirt road about five miles north of the border on the Chilton ranch, which is as far south as they usually go, Chilton said...more

Agent's slaying becomes rallying point

After bandits killed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry a year ago, he was hailed at a Tucson memorial service as a fallen hero. Then, as the circumstances of his death were revealed, Terry's name became a symbol. To some, he was the vicitm of government run amok. Others used his name to crack open government information or score political points. Two high-powered assault rifles found at the scene of the Dec. 14 gunfight west of Rio Rico were sold and let loose as part of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That investigation was Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed a total of 2,000 firearms loose and has become a political touch point since Terry's killing helped to expose it. Jay Dobyns, an ATF agent from Tucson who helped bring Operation Fast and Furious into the public eye, thinks Terry's murder may help stop abuses of power he's been complaining about in his agency...more

Nervous parents keep their kids close to home

Jennifer Majalca has been warned about falling for the temptation of quick, easy money offered by drug smugglers. She's heard it from her parents, and from police officers who came to speak to students at Douglas High School. "It's scary. They tell you, 'Don't get involved. Once you get involved, it's either go to jail or lose your life,'" says Jennifer, a 16-year-old sophomore. Mexican drug smugglers often recruit youngsters from Douglas who go dancing or drinking in Agua Prieta, says Jennifer's father, Reynaldo Majalca. That's one big reason, along with the overall increase in violence in Mexico, that Majalca forbids his daughter from going into Agua Prieta alone, even though he grew up there and the family still has relatives there. "When we go (to Mexico), we go in as a family," Reynaldo Majalca says. "And when we go, we're always nervous." Teenagers like Jennifer live in a much different border climate than the one in which their parents grew up in, or even that of teenagers of the 1980s or 1990s. Growing up in the 1960s in Mexico, Reynaldo and his pals hopped over the three strands of barbed-wire at the international line to play baseball, go swimming and ride burros in the U.S. American kids would jump the fence to play in Mexico, too. Now, fearful their children will be approached by smugglers or caught in a gunbattle between warring drug gangs, parents sometimes lock up IDs and passports required to cross the border...more