Friday, April 27, 2012

New Mexico off to 10th driest start in 2012

New Mexico saw little measureable moisture during the first three months of the year, and with less water coursing through the state's rivers, farmers are beginning to feel the pinch again this year as they scramble to find ways of watering tens of thousands of acres of cropland. Forecasters with the National Weather Service and state and federal officials addressed the lack of moisture during a regular drought meeting Wednesday in Albuquerque. This is nothing new for a state that has seen more dry starts than wet ones for the last 12 years. So far this year, forecasters said New Mexico has seen less than half of its normal precipitation. Last year, it was even worse. "Only 2010 and 2005 were wet starts to the first three months of the calendar year, so basically we should be getting used to this dry start thing," said meteorologist Ed Polasko. New Mexico and Texas, two of the hardest hit states last year, are now not alone in 2012. National drought maps show dry conditions creeping across a bigger portion of the West, as well as parts of the upper Midwest and the entire East Coast. By mid-April, not one speck of land in New Mexico had escaped categorization as either abnormally or exceptionally dry — or somewhere in between....more

Song Of The Day #823

Today Ranch Radio brings you Jim Reeves and his 1953 recording Wagon Load of Love.

Iceberg!  Iceberg!

Navajo community banks on proposed solar array

This flat, dusty stretch of prairie in central New Mexico is where the leaders of a remote, sparsely populated American Indian community envision a sea of solar panels capable of producing enough electricity for more than 10,000 homes miles away from the reservation. The To'Hajiilee solar project is one of 19 energy projects that will share in $6.5 million recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to spur renewable energy development on tribal lands. About two-thirds of the money is earmarked for tribes in the West, and most of that will be going toward getting projects in New Mexico and Arizona off the ground. Over the last decade, $36 million has been doled out for nearly 160 projects from Alaska to Maine as part of the DOE's Tribal Energy Program. This year's grants come as Congress considers new measures aimed at reducing the bureaucratic hurdles tribes face in developing their resources and as the Obama administration looks for ways to speed up the leasing of land for clean energy projects...more

Govt backs off new limits on child labor on farms

Under heavy pressure from farm groups, the Obama administration is dropping an effort to prevent children from doing hazardous work on farms owned by anyone other than their parents. The Labor Department says it is withdrawing proposed rules that would ban children younger than 16 from using most power-driven equipment. The rules also would prevent those younger than 18 from working in feed lots, grain bins and stockyards. The agency says thousands of comments have expressed concern about the impact of the changes on small family-owned farms. Many farm groups have complained that the rules would upset traditions in which children often work alongside relatives other than parents to learn how a farm operates. Government officials have said their goal was to protect children from life-threatening injuries. AP

Ask yourself: What will happen of Obama is re-elected?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Making a Hash of the Second Amendment

Harvard historian Jill Lepore has a piece attacking gun rights in the latest New Yorker, and a follow-up post on the magazine’s website. Most of it is basically what you’d expect: some numbers about gun violence, some horrifying anecdotes about people who’ve misused guns, some reporting from a gun range, some artsy writing (“a gun is a machine made to fire a missile that can bore through flesh”), and an overarching history of the gun-rights movement. More irksome, however, is Lepore’s analysis of the Second Amendment’s meaning. By leaving out or misrepresenting key historical details, she shortchanges the idea that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. There are three theories that have played a significant role in the debate on the Second Amendment. One holds that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. Another might be called the “limited individual right” or “civic right” theory, which holds that even though individuals have the right to bear arms, the right applies only in the context of militia service. (Some advocates of this theory compare the right to bear arms with the right to serve on a jury.) The third, the “collective right” theory, posits that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” refers to the right of state governments to form militias. This last idea is patently ridiculous, suggesting as it does that the Founders used the word “people” when they meant “states.” And yet this was the theory that swept through the appeals courts in the decades leading up to the 2008 Heller decision, in which the Supreme Court endorsed the individual-right theory. The source of the confusion seems to be the 1939 Supreme Court case United States v. Miller — and Lepore doesn’t help to clarify matters...more

Song Of The Day #822

Today Ranch Radio brings you Johnny Bond performing Louisiana Lucy.

The tune was recorded on April 23, 1953 in Hollywood, Ca.

Judge suspends horse packing in wilderness

Horse packing in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks is on hold because a San Francisco judge says the parks are violating the federal Wilderness Act. The issue percolated for years before exploding last month, leaving packers one chance in May to forestall a ban that many say will cripple their industry. Wednesday, Rep. Devin Nunes stoked the fire by blaming the Obama administration for caving to environmentalists and not pushing for a compromise. Sequoia & Kings Canyon Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich wrote in a March 12 letter to 16 pack stations that no permits would be issued until the matter is resolved in federal court. More than two dozen other businesses that operate within the park are also affected. These include back-country trips booked through REI, Outward Bound or any other commercial guide services. The park's action came as a shock to pack station owners just as their phones are starting to ring from customers interested in booking summer trips. "It's pretty distressing," said Woodlake-based Horse Corral Pack Station owner Charley Mills, who estimated wilderness trips comprised 90% of his business."We're on pins and needles about this summer." Whether horse packers will be allowed to continue services into the parks' wilderness areas will be determined in a federal courtroom. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg, presiding over a 3-year-old lawsuit between the High Sierra Hikers Association and the National Park Service, has set a May 23 hearing to determine the next step. On Jan. 24, Seeborg ruled the National Park Service violated the Wilderness Act because its 2007 general management plan for Sequoia & Kings Canyon does not specifically determine to what extent commercial stock are necessary in wilderness areas. More than 97% of Sequoia & Kings Canyon's jointly managed 865,964 acres are designated wilderness and thus protected from development and overuse by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Last spring, the parks began preparing a Wilderness Stewardship Plan that will establish the extent that commercial services such as pack stock belong in wilderness. That plan probably won't be set until 2015. Pack station owners are hoping for quick resolution at the May 23 hearing, but it's unclear whether the judge will require further deliberations...more

Read more here:

Read more here:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Assault on Food

Instinct tells us to fear poison. If our ancestors were not cautious about what they put in their mouths, they would not have survived long enough to produce us.
Unfortunately, a side effect of that cautious impulse is that whenever someone claims that some chemical -- or food ingredient, like fat -- is a menace, we are primed to believe it. That makes it easy for government to leap in and play the role of protector. But for every study that says X is bad for you, another study disagrees. How is a layman to decide? I used to take consumer activists' word for it. Heck, they want to save the world, while industry just wants to get rich. Now I know better. The activists want money, too -- and fame. To arbitrate, it's intuitive to turn to government -- except ... government scientists have conflicts, too. Who becomes a regulator except people who want to regulate? Some come from activist groups that hate industry. Some come from industry and want to convert their government job into a higher-paying industry job. Some just want attention. They know that saying, "X will kill you," gets more attention than saying that X is probably safe. I don't suggest that we ignore the experts and eat like pigs. But the scientific question should not overshadow the more fundamental issue. Who should decide what you can eat: you? Or the state? Should government decide what we may eat, any more than it decides where we live or how long our hair will be? The Food Police claim that they just want to help us make informed choices. But that's not all they want to do. They try to get government to force us to make healthy choices. The moral issue of force versus persuasion applies even if all the progressives' ideas about nutrition are correct. Even if I would be better off eating no fat and salt, that would not justify forcing restaurants to stop serving me those things. Either we live in a free society or we don't...more

EPA Official Compares Agency Enforcement to Roman Crucifixions

A video surfaced on Wednesday showing a regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency comparing his agency’s philosophy with respect to regulation of oil and gas companies to brutal tactics employed by the ancient Roman army to intimidate its foes into submission. EPA’s “philosophy of enforcement,” said EPA’s Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz, is “kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean: they’d go into little Turkish towns somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they’d run into, and they’d crucify them.” “That town was really easy to manage for the next few years,” Armendariz added. His comments are indicative of the “EPA’s war on fossil fuels,” claimed Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) in a news release on Wednesday. Inhofe reiterated the remarks in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon. Armendariz’s comments, Inhofe said, “give us a rare glimpse of the Obama administration’s true agenda.” The region over which Armendariz has authority includes Inhofe’s home state of Oklahoma.

NM is also in Region VI.

Both videos are here.

Salazar: Utah just playing politics in land fight

Top Interior Department officials, including Secretary Ken Salazar, slammed Utah’s elected leaders Tuesday for waging a campaign to take control of most federal lands, arguing the move is nothing more than a political stunt to appease conservative voters. And at the same time, Salazar promised to return to the Beehive State in the next few weeks to tout agreements on two new gas fields expected to bring nearly 5,000 additional wells to eastern Utah. Salazar spoke briefly with The Salt Lake Tribune about a new Utah law promising a lawsuit if Washington doesn’t transfer all federal lands not designated as wilderness or as a national park to state control by 2014. The effort has the backing of top Utah officials, including Gov. Gary Herbert, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Rob Bishop, and it emerged as a major theme at Saturday’s state GOP convention. Salazar sees it all as nothing but show. "From my point of view, it defies common sense," he said. "I think it is political rhetoric you see in an election year. The fact is, Utah is a great example of where, through the use of public lands, we are creating thousands and thousands of jobs." U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey also questioned Utah’s anti-fed movement, saying it detracts from efforts to craft consensus on land conflicts on a county-by-county basis — as happened in Washington County several years ago. Bishop, chairman of a public lands subcommittee, asked if Salazar and Abbey were performing a "comedy routine" and said that Salazar has repeatedly made it difficult for Utah to access natural resources to raise money for public education...more

Utah sues over bird refuge boundaries

A decades-old quarrel about the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge has landed in court. The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands is suing the U.S. Interior Department, along with its agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management, in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on the question of where state land ends and federal land begins at the 83-year-old refuge on the Great Salt Lake. "We don’t have any interest in disturbing the refuge," explained Mike Anderson, an assistant attorney general, who noted the case — involving about half the sanctuary’s 74,000 acres — is separate from the take-back-federal-lands movement sweeping Utah. Anderson said state attorneys have been negotiating with their federal counterparts for years about the refuge. Included in the court papers is a 2000 letter from then-Attorney General Jan Graham’s office to then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, threatening a suit over the boundaries. "Presently the United States occupies and manages lands below the meander line in derogation of the state’s right to do so, the most notable example being the continued occupation of major portions of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge," said the letter from Stephen G. Boyden, an assistant attorney general. "The state claims ownership to all lands below the meander line purportedly held in the name of the United States or its successors in interest." The suit also mentions a 2007 bill passed by the Utah Legislature repealing statutes from 1927 and 1929 that gave the federal government authority to use state lands as a bird refuge. Questions about ownership of the lake even went in 1976 to the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices determined the lake bedwas owned by the state, but competing claims over parts of the refuge persisted...more

Enviros blast Utah's RS2477 claims to 'roads to nowhere'

A coalition of environmental groups said Utah's claims to rights of way on thousands upon thousands of roads, routes or trails are an "absolute travesty" being pursued despite economic folly and disastrous environmental consequences. The legal battle over so-called RS2477 roads amped Tuesday to a new level after groups such as the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Sierra Club unveiled a map depicting the extent of Utah's claims. "You've heard of the bridge to nowhere? Well, these are roads to nowhere," said Heidi McIntosh, SUWA's associate director and counsel. "They aren't even really roads." Joined by the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance, the National Parks Conservation Association, a private property owner and others, McIntosh said Utah is embarking on a costly, foolhardy legal fight to assert rights to roads so it can grade, pave and improve them...more

El Paso man fined $2 millions for starting fire with toilet paper

Rodrigo Ulloa-Esquivel, 30, of El Paso, was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $2,681,492.04 in restitution for leaving a fire in the Lincoln National Forest unattended. Ulloa-Esquivel, who pled guilty to the misdemeanor offense on October 28, 2011, also must complete 200 hours of community service. The sentence was handed down in Las Cruces Tuesday. U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said that Ulloa-Esquivel was indicted on August 17, 2011 on criminal offenses arising out of a wildfire that burned through the Last Chance Canyon of the Lincoln National Forest in Eddy County, N.M. (Last Chance Fire), in late April and early May of 2011. In his plea agreement, Ulloa-Esquivel admitted that, on April 24, 2011, he lit toilet paper on fire near a campsite at the Last Chance Canyon in the area known as the Guadalupe Ranger District in the Lincoln National Forest even though he knew that there were fire restrictions in place for that area. Because the wind was blowing hard, sparks from the burning toilet paper spread beyond Ulloa-Esquivel's ability to control the fire. After Ulloa-Esquivel and his friends tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the fire, they left the area without calling the U.S. Forest Service or local authorities to report the fire...more

Utility pulls out of Idaho wind farm project likely killing it

NV Energy has decided to back out of what would have been the largest wind farm in Idaho. The Nevada utility was working with RES America Development to build the China Mountain Wind Project with anywhere from 170 to 200 wind turbines in Elko County and Idaho. But the BLM deferred a decision on the project earlier this year while it considered how to keep sage grouse from listing under the Endangered Species Act. The decision by the utility likely ends the project that was expected to generate up to 425 megawatts of electricity on more than 25,500 acres of BLM-administered lands and 10,700 acres of State and private lands on the Idaho-Nevada border south of Twin Falls...more

The Perils of a Taxpayer in a Foreign Land

by Ed Ashurst

“The border is not a fence or a line in the dirt…it is a third country that joins Mexico and the United States.”

Quote by David Aguilar, Chief Border Patrol Agent under the Obama-Napolitano regime.

     The above statement made by Obama’s head Border Patrol agent set off a firestorm of controversy and anger from everyone except those encamped in the midst of the radical left and guaranteed Mr. Anguilar a permanent seat at the current administrations round table that has been graced with the likes of Tony Rezko, James Meeks, Sam Graham-Felsen, Van Jones and others. Given the U. S. Border Patrol’s already tenebrous mission statement, coming from controversial characters like Aguilar, Napotitano and even the President himself, one can’t help but question what is the true course of action we are pursuing on the Mexican border. In the next paragraphs I will leave innuendo and commentary behind and stick to documented facts. You and your imagination can do the rest.
    Since February 21, 2012 until today, April 20, 2012, in a 12 mile stretch at the international boundary starting at Naco, Arizona and going west to the San Pedro River there have been no less than 10 drive-through loads of narcotics breaching the new steel fence that is 13 feet high. This same fence is the one that many thought would be a cure-all solution to our current smuggling problem.
    One of the first drive-throughs traversed the bottom of a mesquite infested wash where whole crews of Mexican outlaws felled trees and bridged arroyos creating a road through the wilderness north to highway 92 some 3 miles distant. By drive-through I mean Mexican Cartel agents cutting truck size holes in the metal barrier facilitating the passing of whole truck loads of dope headed north to parts unknown.
    The last three of these ten loads of narcotics, which average 1000 to 1500 pounds per load, passed through a freshly cut hole on Sunday night April 15, 2012. All ten loads negotiated the supposed sealed border within one mile of each other and all were less than one half mile from a Border Patrol camera that is on top of a tower 85 feet in the air. At that distance these cameras costing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to install and maintain can easily read a license plate on a car or see the expression on a man’s face.
    All ten of these truck loads of dope passed through a cattle ranch owned by a family who has made their living raising cattle on this same property going back to the late 1800’s. At the east end of the ranch lies the border town of Naco whose main industry is the Naco Border Patrol Station which boasts somewhere in the vicinity of 400 agents. The ranch owners long ago cooperated with the Border Patrol and welcomed the installation of four of these mega expensive ultra high tech cameras which are supposedly monitored 24/7 at the Naco Border Patrol station a short distance away.
    When questioned by the rancher the Border Patrol’s excuse for this breach of security was that “no agents were available to respond.” The fact is that they had all been sent to the northern boundaries, wherever that is, of Aguilar’s imaginary Third Kingdom.
    Within a few days Border Patrol agents in Naco will be moving into a newly constructed station that cost the American taxpayer, including Third Kingdom residents, 42 million dollars to build. Among other important amenities it will include an indoor shooting range with a 14 million dollar price tag. According to a recent article in the Arizona Commercial Real Estate online newspaper the new station has been built to “Anti-Terrorist Force Protection standards.” Oh really?
    Since 1992 there have been on this one cattle ranch, where the aforementioned dope passed, no less than 500 thousand illegal aliens apprehended. By their own admission the Border Patrol catches no more than 20 percent that cross the border. Since Obama became president they apprehend fewer than that. You can’t have low numbers if you catch large quantities. That means upward of two and a half million people have traversed this one family’s property. Whether you live within the confines of a gated community in Scottsdale or on an Illinois corn farm you should be able to relate. Imagine having two and a half million people tromping through your corn field uninvited. For good measure throw in a few dozen $60,000 Ford Raptor pick-ups with Border Patrol insignia on the doors crashing about your property piloted by agents in green uniforms who having a high level of testosterone and a low level of respect for you and your corn destroying everything in their path.
    Why should border ranchers who grow calves instead of corn have to continually hump up and take it while Middle America sits idly by and does nothing? I am not Paul Revere but I have a message for you: the Mexican Cartels are not coming, they are here, aided by ambiguous ideology and total disdain for constitutional law coming from leftist bureaucrats who have a corrupt axe to grind. The cartels move through a virtual open door. It astounds me that the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, which is supposed to be cattle ranching’s biggest and most powerful lobby, hasn't come forth with more support for their constituents who live in close proximity to the border.
    In Frederick Bastiat’s book The Law he states and I quote, “to say that the aim of the law is to cause justice to reign is to use an expression which is not rigorously exact. It ought to be said, the aim of law is to prevent injustice from reigning. In fact, it is not justice which has an existence of its own, it is injustice. The one results from the absence from the other.” The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security are in the business of creating unjust policies financed by taxpayer dollars, a good example being the derailed and ill-advised Fast and Furious program. David Aguilar’s self-proclaimed concept of a third country, which is wholeheartedly supported by the Department of Homeland Security is not only completely devoid of justice it is a gross violation of the constitution itself. Because of this odyssey into a hinterland of undefined proportions Border Patrol agents are allowed, even ordered, to abandon the line in the dirt, as Aguilar calls it, and take their dog and pony show north to parts unknown leaving gaping and bleeding holes which they try to hide with gesticulations of fatigue and cries for more funding and equipment: if we just had a better helicopter, or perhaps another 14 million dollar shooting range.
    Recently Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen introduced legislation proposing a volunteer militia trained by law enforcement and deployed to aid in the patrol of the border itself. She has received very little support and much criticism. The truth is the only time in history the Mexican border has been sealed is when the Minutemen peacefully and lawfully sat down and occupied the border itself in 2007; right there on the ground within arms reach of the line in the dirt that Aguilar says doesn’t exist. The U.S. Border Patrol did, do, and always will hate the Minutemen and others like them. They accomplished what the Border Patrol claimed couldn’t be done. Aguilar and his union-protected Brownshirts aren’t programmed for success. Personally I applaud Senator Allen for thinking outside the box that bureaucrats and gangster politicians have us all incarcerated in.
    On February 24, 2012 I attended, along with numerous Cochise County ranchers, a meeting at the stupendously opulent Tucson Sector Office Complex and Headquarters. This multi-cathedral-like edifice which cost untold millions to construct is completely devoid of any signs of economic recession; taxpayer dollars literally grow on the shrubs outside and ooze out of the finery within. Tucson Sector Chief Rick Barlow was in attendance along with the chiefs from the Douglas, Willcox, Naco, Sonoita, and Nogales stations. Two government attorneys were in attendance representing the Border Patrol’s interests. The Arizona Cattlegrower’s Association was present in support of the ranchers who were allowed to speak and voice certain grievances.
    A certain Cochise County rancher (not myself) related to all present at this meeting that they were well acquainted with David Aguilar who was at one time the Tucson Sector Chief. This individual went on to say that he (Aguilar) was a most dishonest and corrupt individual (their words not mine) and the Border Patrol had taken a visible turn for the worse under his leadership. In wonder I observed this communication and couldn’t help but notice the lack of denial. The Tucson Sector top brass along with attorneys who no doubt were experts in constitutional law sat in silence with no visible expression of anger or insult, but instead bore a melancholy countenance, not unlike one drinking vinegar.
    Ten truck loads of marijuana coming undisturbed out of Mexico upon reaching Phoenix, Denver or your hometown would have a street value of 10 to15 million dollars. Could there be something fishy going on here? Oh, but wait! I promised to stick to the facts, the facts, the facts, the facts…………. You supply the imagination.

Apache, Arizona
April 20, 2012

Las Vegas Water Permits Appeals Filed By Environmental Groups, Indian Tribes

A ruling that granted Southern Nevada Water Authority approval to pump billions of gallons of water from rural areas along the Nevada-Utah line will head back to court after appeals were filed by environmental groups, local governments, Indian tribes, ranchers and others. The legal challenges were filed Friday and Monday in Ely and Pioche over state Engineer Jason King's ruling in March granting the water authority permission to pump up to 84,000 acre-feet of water a year from the Spring, Dry Lake, Cave and Delamar valleys to supplement Las Vegas' limited supply from Lake Mead. Under the ruling, water would be piped to Las Vegas through a 300-mile, multibillion dollar project that has yet to be built and still requires permits from the U.S Bureau of Land Management. J.C. Davis, spokesman for the water authority, said the appeals were not unexpected. But he said the state engineer's ruling was based on exhaustive analysis and predicted the water right applications would ultimately be upheld by the courts...more

Song Of The Day #821

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here is the 1953 recording of He Fiddled While I Burned by Charline Arthur.

Note:  Well, this was supposed to be on Monday.  OpenDrive changed everything over the weekend and this is the first time my music files have worked.

Why tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a bad idea

Gas prices have more than doubled under President Obama, a feat unmatched even by Jimmy Carter. Understandably worried about the upcoming election, some congressional Democrats and at least one former administration official have been floating the idea that the president should release oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a way to lower prices. Any price reduction caused by a withdrawal of oil from the reserve will be temporary. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, U.S. oil consumption was about 18.8 million barrels per day in 2009, the last year for which figures are available. The reserve inventory currently stands at just under 700 million barrels, representing just 39 days of U.S. consumption. Last year, Obama released 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve—the largest withdrawal ever—as part of a 60 million barrel release coordinated by the International Energy Agency. This massive release, in response to supply disruptions in Libya and other countries during the “Arab Spring” revolts, flooded the market last summer, but by January prices were on their way back up again. Never before has a president released oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve without having replaced previous withdrawals. But, already carrying a $1.3 trillion deficit, Obama has not been able to replace last year’s drawdown. To withdraw from the reserve two years in a row would be unprecedented; moreover, further reduction of our strategic reserve would increase the risk of a serious shortage in the event of a real emergency. This is far from the only problem with using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a campaign tool. According to the law, withdrawals from the reserve “may not be made unless … required by a severe energy supply interruption.”...more

Universities, cops, manufacturers all want drones of their own

Dozens of state law-enforcement agencies and universities have been flying and experimenting with drones throughout U.S. airspace, according to Freedom of Information Act requests obtained by advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation. The data highlights widening applications of drones in domestic skies and the growing interest in unmanned technology in research laboratories. Cities and municipalities with active authorizations to fly drones include the Ogden Police Department in Utah, the Mesa County Sheriff's office in Colorado and the Polk County Sheriff's office in Florida. The Otter Tail County in Minn., and Georgia Tech Police Department had applied for an authorization, but had been rejected, according to collated Google Maps data. The list of educational institutions that have been testing unmanned aerial vehicles include Cornell University, the University of Colorado, Georgia Tech and Eastern Gateway Community College. The documents also offers insights into drones tested by manufacturers and contractors such as Raytheon and Aurora Flight Sciences Corp. The requested records provide registration numbers, which when plugged into flight tracker FlightAware, spits out data about engine specifications and when the authorizations were issued...more

Did Obama’s EPA relaunch Tuskegee experiments?

Which do you find more shocking: that the Environmental Protection Agency conducts experiments on humans that its own risk assessments would deem potentially lethal, or that it hides the results of those experiments from Congress and the public because they debunk those very same risk assessments? recently obtained through the Freedom of Information Act the results of tests conducted on 41 people who were exposed by EPA researchers to high levels of airborne fine particulate matter - soot and dust known as PM2.5. If we are to believe the congressional testimony of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, these experiments risked the lives of these 41 people, at least one of whom was already suffering from heart problems. Ms. Jackson testified in September before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, “Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.” Just to clarify what Ms. Jackson meant by “sooner than you should,” deaths allegedly caused by PM2.5 are supposed to occur within a day or so of exposure. Got that? Airborne dust and soot don’t make you sick, they just kill you - virtually upon exposure. EPA particulate matter assertions notwithstanding, PM2.5 killed none of the study subjects, and the two experiments that were stopped can likely be explained by causes other than PM2.5. You might think that the EPA would have shared these “surprising” results with the public and Congress, particularly as they seem to contradict the agency’s claims about the lethality of PM2.5. But you would be wrong...more

Limbaugh goes after feds on wilderness - video

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

4th case of BSE found in U.S.

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2012 - USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford today released the following statement on the detection of BSE in the United States:

"As part of our targeted surveillance system, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the nation's fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from central California. The carcass of the animal is being held under State authority at a rendering facility in California and will be destroyed. It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health. Additionally, milk does not transmit BSE.

"The United States has had longstanding interlocking safeguards to protect human and animal health against BSE. For public health, these measures include the USDA ban on specified risk materials, or SRMs, from the food supply. SRMs are parts of the animal that are most likely to contain the BSE agent if it is present in an animal. USDA also bans all nonambulatory (sometimes called "downer") cattle from entering the human food chain. For animal health, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on ruminant material in cattle feed prevents the spread of the disease in the cattle herd.

"Evidence shows that our systems and safeguards to prevent BSE are working, as are similar actions taken by countries around the world. In 2011, there were only 29 worldwide cases of BSE, a dramatic decline and 99% reduction since the peak in 1992 of 37,311 cases. This is directly attributable to the impact and effectiveness of feed bans as a primary control measure for the disease.

"Samples from the animal in question were tested at USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. Confirmatory results using immunohistochemistry and western blot tests confirmed the animal was positive for atypical BSE, a very rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.

"We are sharing our laboratory results with international animal health reference laboratories in Canada and England, which have official World Animal Health (OIE) reference labs. These labs have extensive experience diagnosing atypical BSE and will review our confirmation of this form of the disease. In addition, we will be conducting a comprehensive epidemiological investigation in conjunction with California animal and public health officials and the FDA.

"BSE is a progressive neurological disease among cattle that is always fatal. It belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Affected animals may display nervousness or aggression, abnormal posture, difficulty in coordination and rising, decreased milk production, or loss of body weight despite continued appetite.

"This detection in no way affects the United States' BSE status as determined by the OIE. The United States has in place all of the elements of a system that OIE has determined ensures that beef and beef products are safe for human consumption: a mammalian feed ban, removal of specified risk materials, and vigorous surveillance. Consequently, this detection should not affect U.S. trade.

"USDA remains confident in the health of the national herd and the safety of beef and dairy products. As the epidemiological investigation progresses, USDA will continue to communicate findings in a timely and transparent manner."

Salazar: House Republicans live in “imagined energy world,” says they are members of a “flat earth” society

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar sharply rebuked House Republicans Tuesday, calling them “charter members of the flat earth society” and saying they are living in an “imagined energy world … of fairy tales” in striking a balance between energy development and preserving lands. “It’s an invention of campaign years and political rhetoric. It’s a place where you hear cries of drill, drill, drill, not withstanding the fact that most of the outer continental shelf resources are open for business,” Salazar said in a speech at the National Press Club. “It’s a place where up is seen as down, where left is seen as right, where oil shale seems to be mistaken every day in the U.S. House of Representative for shale oil, where record profits justify billions of dollars in subsidies.” Salazar has been at war with House Republicans, particularly those on the Natural Resources Committee, about the Administration’s alacrity and openness in increasing domestic energy production. He has been criticized in hearings for the moratorium in the Gulf and for pushing oil and gas companies to disclose what they use in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” Salazar said Tuesday that “in the real world” natural gas production is at an all-time high and domestic oil production is at an eight-year high. He said in the last year alone, the U.S. imported one million fewer barrels of oil a day. Salazar also said renewable energy production has doubled in two years...more

Discovery of Indian artifacts complicates Genesis solar project

The Feb. 27 letter from the chairman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes was pleading and tough. It asked President Obama to slow the federal government's "frantic pursuit" of massive solar energy projects in the Mojave Desert because of possible damage to Native American cultural resources. The Obama administration didn't respond. But four days after Chairman Eldred Enas sent the letter, the Indians say they found an answer, delivered by spirits of the desert. Howling winds uncovered a human tooth and a handful of burned bone fragments the size of quarters on a sand dune in the shadow of new solar power transmission towers. Indians say the discovery is evidence of a Native American cremation site not detected in Southern California Edison's archaeological survey before the towers were built. The Indians reburied the remains a few hundred feet away. But while digging the grave April 3, they hit more ancestral bones. It was the last straw, the third discovery of artifacts at or in the vicinity of the $1-billion Genesis solar project 200 miles east of Los Angeles. All had been missed by archaeological surveys conducted in a rush to build. Now the tribes, joined by others in the desert, are not merely asking the Obama administration to go slow because of potential harm. They are demanding it. Backed by the legally powerful Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Indians say Genesis and the transmission line corridor are proof of damage to sacred lands. They are readying court challenges that could alter solar and wind energy projects across the desert...more

Video - An environmental activist caught taking her cause 80 feet in the air

You’ve probably heard the term tree hugger before, but what do you call someone who loves a tree so much they make it their home? “They call me Echo,” said 19-year-old tree sitter Echo Glynn atop an 80-foot Douglas fir on Monday, “It’s because I can be really, really loud when I want to.” Glynn said she will stay in the tree for one week in solidarity with the local Occupy Trees movement in Eugene. Glynn is one of a handful of activists with another group called Cascadia Forest Defenders who want to send a message about a pending timber sale near McKenzie Bridge...more

Ted Nugent Illegally Killed Bear in Alaska for His Reality Show

After illegally killing a bear, Ted Nugent has agreed to sign a plea deal with federal prosecutors. The incident occurred two years ago while Nugent was filming his Outdoor Channel television show "Spirit of the Wild" in Alaska. Nugent illegally killed and transported a black bear off federal property. The rocker's hunt was captured on camera and later aired on his show. Nugent also injured a second bear. So what punishments will the musician face as part of the deal? "The Motor City Madman" will be required to pay a $10,000 fine and will also have to make a 30-60 second public service announcement about responsible hunting. The PSA will air every other week on his TV show. Nugent will also be placed on two years' probation. And he'll be banned for one year from fishing or hunting in Alaska as well as on any U.S. Forest Service land. For the hardcore hunting enthusiast, that's probably the worst news of all. But it could've been much worse for Nugent. The Republican activist was charged with violating the Lacey Act, which protects certain animal and plant species. In addition to the $10,000 fine he received, violators can also get up to a year imprisonment...more

Calves light up the eyes of seniors

While the wild bucking broncos and bulls were entertaining the crowds at the Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo last weekend at Cariboo Memorial Complex, residents at Williams Lake Seniors Village had their own up-close-and-personal connection with the Wild West. Ranchers Clint and Karen Thompson from the San Jose Cattle Company brought two orphan calves Kale and Kyle, and their dog, Pause, from their 144 Mile House ranch to the Seniors Village on Sunday, and the residents enjoyed the action. Several seniors like Suzie Squinas, Ingrid Heitmann and Joan Farquharson got right into feeding the calves a bottle...more

Horse owners sue, claiming AQHA's clone ban illegal

Dr. Veneklasen with clone
Two Texas Panhandle horse owners filed a federal lawsuit Monday asking a judge to overturn a ban on cloned horses in the world’s largest equine breed registry. Canadian rancher Jason Abraham and Amarillo veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen allege in the suit the American Quarter Horse Association’s Rule 227, which bars cloned horses from the AQHA registry, illegally curbs competition and puts cloned-horse owners at an economic disadvantage. Abraham and Veneklasen — who own an undisclosed number of cloned quarter horses or offspring — claim the rule violates federal antitrust laws that prohibit any entity from monopolizing commerce without a legitimate reason. The Amarillo-based AQHA passed the rule in 2004. “Without exception, DNA tests confirm that the plaintiffs’ horses are quarter houses,” according to the complaint. “But for Rule 227 and the defendant’s unlawful enforcement of it, the horses that plaintiffs seek to register would be eligible for registration with the (AQHA).” Rule 227 states, “horses produced by any cloning process are not eligible for registration.”...more


The right to enjoy property without unlawful deprivation, no less that the right to speak out or the right to travel is, in truth, a “personal” right.

---Justice Potter Stewart

USDA Spy Proposal: So Much for Privacy

Washington has been inundated with stories in the Washington Post regarding the General Services Administration spending $823,000 on a Las Vegas motivational meeting for federal workers. Meanwhile, USDA has a proposal to hire a contractor that would cost a lot more than $823,000. Earlier this year USDA had proposed setting up a spy network on animal agriculture! The good news is that at on April 5, 2012, sanity prevailed as USDA posted an early morning notice, stating "This solicitation cancelled in its entirety." Congress is threatening to cut large parts of USDA's budget. After reading the 40-page Solicitation Contract Order, I have a perfect candidate for a significant cut and that is USDA's APHIS, MRPBS, ASD Contracting Team, Butler Square, 5th floor, 100 N. Sixth St., Minneapolis, MN. This brilliant section of USDA put out a 40-page solicitation on February 17, 2012, looking for "internet data monitoring." This is known as web crawling, or spying on you without your knowledge. The proposal "…has a requirement for a contractor to provide internet surveillance/mining for individuals that are conducting Animal Welfare Act or Horse Protection Act regulated activities domestically within the United States." USDA claims it is responsible for finding individuals who operate facilities that provide animals with care, treatment, housing, handling, sanitation, nutrition, water, veterinary care and making sure that all animal owners protect their animals from extreme weather and temperature. USDA personnel in Minneapolis (who obviously have too much time on their hands) claim that USDA "…needs to monitor, collect and manage information from internet sites for regulated activities throughout the United States." The USDA Minneapolis team also believes, "we require the expertise of an industry that utilizes technological advancements that can search the broad universe of Internet sources for information on individuals that are conducting regulated activities." The proposal goes on to declare that the contractor "…shall provide identification, categorization and analysis of Web sites to identify persons "suspected" of conducting regulated activities without the required license or registration or illegal activities involving horse shows, sales, exhibitions, or auctions." The USDA Minneapolis team appears to want to spy on individuals or groups who engage in the sale of pets, animals used for research, teaching, testing, and experimentation. I assume all of the truckers in the country need to be monitored because they engage in "commercial transportation of animals." I am sure all of our small trucking companies will be delighted to know USDA believes they need to be spied upon. Lest I forget, the proposed USDA contractor would also have to identify all persons that were suspected of illegal activities who were at animal auctions. To determine all of these activities, USDA wants its contractor to focus on individuals and businesses who are engaged in "sale of animals used as pets." USDA was going to require its contractor to use data mining and search engine techniques to "…scan the entire Internet for businesses or individuals conducting…regulated activities without the required license or registration…" More good news is that USDA ordered its proposed contractor to have a machine scan the Internet with search engine tools and not use a human being. USDA wanted its proposed contractor to check all Global Domain Registrations, Social Networking Web Sites, Web Blogs, chat conversations, Message Boards, Public email groups and discussion forums and of course, check all auctions that appear on and The contractor for USDA would provide search results for all of these U.S. domestic sites where regulated animals or activities are listed and if any individual or business purchases an animal, USDA wants to know. In fact, USDA is so interested in what you are doing with animals it proposed to require a report on the 15th and 30th of each month. In that report the USDA wanted to know the owner's name, the owner's address, IP addresses, seller's name, seller's address, and "…other information as deemed appropriate…"...more

Activists' Case is True-Life Three Ring Circus

Producers involved in animal agriculture may soon owe Feld Entertainment Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, a deep debt of gratitude. The parent company of Ringling Bros. has been engaged in its own three ring circus, and I do not mean what you take your children to enjoy. Animal rights groups such as Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Animal Welfare Institute and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals used the Endangered Species Act to allege elephant abuse by Ringling Bros Circus. Ring one has Ringling Bros. engaged nearly 11 years in a legal dispute involving its treatment of elephants. It won the case, and it cost over $20 million to defend. It turns out the key plaintiff for the animal rights groups was a paid liar! More later. It is hard to believe this matter has taken over 11 years of litigation, 500 court docket filings, a 6-week bench trial, 30 witnesses, hundreds of exhibits and hundreds of pages of post-trial documents. There have been 2 appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC. Now Ringling Bros is going after legal fees it incurred over the last 11 years. This, you might say, is the center ring of the circus. The third ring will be interesting to anyone in animal agriculture. Ringling Bros. has filed a lawsuit against the animal rights groups claiming that HSUS and its lawyers have violated the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act ("RICO") statute and further claims in this case which was filed in 2010 that the animal rights groups and their lawyers engaged in serious activities such as money laundering, illegal witness payments, bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, malicious prosecution, obstruction of justice, abuse of process, and conspiracy to harm a business. Feld Entertainment has not sent in the clowns to make these charges. If Ringling Bros. wins, the impact will be much greater than firing one of its entertainers out of a cannon...more

Monday, April 23, 2012

Arizona House votes to demand return of federally owned lands

Arizona lawmakers on Monday passed legislation demanding the U.S. government relinquish to the state millions of acres of federal territory, in the latest rekindling of a "sagebrush rebellion" over control of public lands in the West. Without debate, the Republican-dominated Arizona House of Representatives easily passed a measure seeking the return of roughly 48,000 square miles of government-owned acreage in the Grand Canyon state by 2015. The bill, approved on a 35-15 vote, now goes to the state Senate for final passage. Republican Governor Jan Brewer would then have five days once the bill reaches her desk to sign or veto it. Otherwise, the measure becomes law automatically. Arizona would be the second state in the nation to enact such legislation. Last month, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill seeking to reclaim some 30 million acres of federally owned land in his state, shrugging off warnings from state attorneys that the measure was likely unconstitutional and would lead to a protracted yet futile legal battle. Other Western legislatures are said to be weighing similar measures in what is shaping up as a new front in the decades-old conflict between the federal government and big public-land states over control of their resources. The moves cap years of rising indignation among political conservatives in big Western states over that fact that vast tracts of their land mass are owned by various federal agencies, much of it by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management. In Arizona, the U.S. government controls 42 percent of the land mass, compared with some 60 percent in Utah. Proponents of the Arizona bill have complained that federal control puts too much land off-limits to commercial development such as mining, logging and livestock raising -- limiting the state's potential tax base for schools and other public services...more

2 Utah men arrested for setting deadly booby traps along popular hiking trail

Two Utah men were arrested for planting deadly, medieval-style booby traps along a hiking trail popular with families and college students, police said. Benjamin Steven Rutkowski, 19, and Kai Matthew Christensen, 21, set the traps inside a crude shelter along a trail in Provo Canyon last week, the Utah County Sheriff's Office said. Both traps were rigged with trip wire, police said. One was designed to swing a spiked ball at the head of whoever tripped the wire, while the other would have caused someone to fall onto sharpened spikes placed in the ground, police said. "That would kill people, easily," hiker Emily Hammerstad told Salt Lake City's FOX 13 News. "It's just awful and sickening that people would do that kind of thing." Cops said the pair confessed to setting the traps, and they were charged with reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor. Had someone been hurt, the two would face felony charges, police said...more

Unforgettable parades, daring trick riders and one man with a big dream: The Herald’s history of the Stampede starts here

Stampede founder Guy Weadick 1912

The history of the Calgary Stampede reflects much of what makes this part of the world special. Albertans aren’t afraid to dream big or do things differently. They try, try and try again at something, until they succeed. They aren’t afraid to fail. And a “can do” spirit permeates much of what they do. While Stampede founder Guy Weadick was a transplanted Albertan (like many of us are), he embodied this spirit. A 10-part special series looking at Weadick’s vision, Calgary and the 100-year anniversary of the Stampede begins today in the Calgary Herald. Click here to read it. You’ll find the ultimate history of the Stampede, along with unforgettable photos, a tribute to the best cowboys and cowgirls of the last 100 years, tons of trivia and great video. The photos posted here are just a few of my favourites. I especially love the one of the trick rider holding a bottle (of beer?) as he fearlessly stands on his saddle. Gotta love Calgary in 1912!...more

Be sure and watch the video!

Crowds watch the first Calgary Stampede parade

Pit Stop

Elko County commissioner opposes horse eco-sanctuary

An Elko County commissioner and longtime critic of environmental restrictions on federal lands says a proposed eco-sanctuary for hundreds of wild horses in northeast Nevada will damage the range and could put some ranchers out of business. "Is that what we want to do, take viable cattle ranches important to the economy and switch it so now they're horse sanctuaries and the taxpayers support the horses there?" said DeMar Dahl, the commission's chairman of public lands. Madeleine Pickens, wife of oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, and her nonprofit group Saving America's Mustangs want to establish the eco-sanctuary across nearly 100 square miles east of Elko and south of U.S. Interstate 80, from the Ruby Mountains to near the Utah line. Pickens bought two ranches last year that cover 14,000 acres south of Wells, but along with the titles come rights to a grazing allotment across another 530,000 acres of federal land that includes three existing Horse Management Areas designated by the Bureau of Land Management. BLM officials announced on Thursday they will begin a two-year study to analyze the potential environmental, social and economic effects of the plan. Dahl said backers of the project "have a big hurdle to cross" to prove that the concentration of as many as 900 horses won't cause harm to public rangeland in violation of U.S. environmental regulations. Ranchers manage cattle and the range by putting cattle in one area for a time and then moving them to another so the range can heal, but with horses, "they just stay there year-round," he told the Elko Daily Free Press. Pickens said the proposed eco-sanctuary won't affect cattle ranchers "one bit," and she hopes "we can all be friends."...more

BLM suspends cattle roundup indefinitely

Recently it was learned that attempts on the part of federal authorities to implement impoundment procedures of Bundy family cattle near Bunkerville was called off. For years, Cliven Bundy and his family have been running livestock within their traditional use area without permit. It all started back in the early 1990s, when federal authorities began kicking families off the public lands claiming that such actions were necessary for the protection of desert tortoise. Upon investigation and inquiry, the Bundy family could learn little. No evidence was found justifying the removal of livestock. What evidence was uncovered indicated that tortoise had been greatly benefitted by the advent of grazing throughout the Southwest. Investigations into the history of the region indicated that desert tortoise were nearly non-existent at the time of first exploration and settlement. It was not until later, after sheep and cattle were placed upon the lands, that desert tortoise began to appear on a regular basis. Other questions arose as well. Why were the Bundys’ rights to graze not being recognized? Why were their rights to the use of waters found upon the public lands not being recognized? Why were the Bundys not being afforded due process? Further investigation raised other questions. No one working for the Bureau of Land Management or Justice Department could quantify jurisdiction. No one seemed to be able to show why it was that the federal government holds unlimited jurisdiction over the vast majority of lands that lie within western states...more

Reagan vs. Obama


BLM, county tangle over road closure

To repair fencing at his grazing allotment, rancher Keith Hill must pack in posts and other supplies by horseback, up a 4-mile trail that gains 2,000 feet in elevation. He could use his pickup truck, if not for the Bureau of Land Management's 1999 closure of Herd Creek Road, a dirt access route to Hill's allotment and other grazing land. Custer County officials have challenged the BLM's authority to close Herd Creek Road and other long-standing rural routes on federal land, which they believe are important for both agriculture and recreation. "We're paying to be here," Hill said. "Most of the roads that are in our allotments, they go to fences, water developments or tanks, or places where we need to put salt (for cattle)." The Herd Creek Road closure is scheduled for a hearing May 15 in Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill's courtroom in Pocatello. "We're setting a precedent for the Western U.S. We have to have our I's dotted and T's crossed," said Custer County Commission Chairman Wayne Butts. The county hosted a hearing a year ago to confirm that Herd Creek Road was created prior to the 1976 repeal of Revised Statute 2477, which granted counties and states a right-of-way across federal land for roadways. Butts believes the county has the sole authority to close an RS 2477 road. Butts said the county had intended to reopen the road, blocked to vehicles by earthen berms, on April 14. However, the federal government filed suit against Custer County, prompting Winmill to issue a temporary injunction April 13 to keep the road closed...more

'Bison whisperer' in demand across southern Alberta

To see Ivan Smith coax a bison cow through a narrow gate on his property is to begin to understand how the quiet rancher has gained a reputation for being something of a "bison whisperer." The 37-year-old has made a living for more than a decade working with bison, raising them on his ranch west of Penhold, Alta. - about 130 km north of Calgary - and selling their meat at shops and restaurants all over southern Alberta. While business is booming, Smith finds himself becoming the go-to guy for ranchers in desperate need of help with their "buffalo problems." Sometimes it's helping during the spring calving season, when getting between a cow and her calf means taking your life in your hands. But where Smith excels is in rounding up wayward bison, coaxing and corralling them for loading and trucking. Equal parts soft-spoken and fearless, Smith uses his pickup truck, his quad, and even his body to manoeuvre the massive animals. He says his skill is not so much in "whispering" as it is grunting and hissing - sometimes imitating a calf, other times using aggressive sounds to force a bull that's holding his ground to move along...more

'Gaia' scientist James Lovelock: I was 'alarmist' about climate change

James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his “Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being “alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too. Lovelock, 92, is writing a new book in which he will say climate change is still happening, but not as quickly as he once feared. He previously painted some of the direst visions of the effects of climate change. In 2006, in an article in the U.K.’s Independent newspaper, he wrote that “before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.” However, the professor admitted in a telephone interview with that he now thinks he had been “extrapolating too far." The new book, due to be published next year, will be the third in a trilogy, following his earlier works, “Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth Is Fighting Back – and How We Can Still Save Humanity,” and “The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning: Enjoy It While You Can.” The new book will discuss how humanity can change the way it acts in order to help regulate the Earth’s natural systems, performing a role similar to the harmonious one played by plants when they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. It will also reflect his new opinion that global warming has not occurred as he had expected...more

Modern Day Range Wars-Part I

This multi-part series is intended to explore the controversial Gold Butte issue from several points of view. It's intended to be a combination of analysis, opinion and some news reporting.

by Barbara Ellestad

It's one of those issues where it doesn't matter what you say, someone is going to be mad.

Want to clear a room real quick? Just say two words, Gold Butte.

In an effort to better understand local issues and opinions with Gold Butte, I spent three hours talking to Nancy Hall, President of the local Friends of Gold Butte. I also spent three hours talking to lifelong Moapa Valley resident Elise McAllister, Director of the Partners in Conservation. I also spent three more hours on the phone with rancher and business owner, Met Johnson.

I intentionally stayed away from federal government organizations and nationally-based advocacy groups on purpose. You can criticize that if you want. But my intention in doing so was to keep a 'local' face on the subject because, after all, Gold Butte is in our backyard.

More from and about the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) role will come at a later date.

What I learned in my conversations with these three people, and a few others, is that passions run high, extremely high. There is no black and white; no easy answers. And, very little of the controversy with Gold Butte will be settled locally - probably the saddest part of the whole issue.

Right now the whole area is designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) with a couple small parcels designated as "Wilderness." Some groups want it established as a "National Conservation Area with Wilderness." Other groups contend that by changing from ACEC to a stricter designation will disallow any form of motorized vehicles, as in ATVs, and even bicycles.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 defines wilderness as "an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain…Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value."

One thing I learned, especially talking to Johnson, is that there are so many players and interests in the outcome of what to do with Gold Butte that if you put all of them together, the 300,000 plus acres involved probably wouldn't be big enough to hold all of them.

Most of the controversy I've heard about is between those who want to limit certain kinds of recreational uses in Gold Butte versus those who don't want that many restrictions.

But, there's one part of the Gold Butte discussions I've hardly heard much about in all the years I've been in Mesquite; the interests of the longtime ranchers, farmers, and families who've lived here virtually their whole lives and used the Gold Butte area as their backyard playground.

Putting county's last cattle rancher out of business

by Vin Suprynowicz

The federal Bureau of Land Management has suspended plans to seize the 500 to 750 head of cattle run by Clark County rancher Cliven Bundy south of Mesquite - and 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas - for now.

But Bundy, 65, realizes this is just a truce in an ongoing battle. Both the Mesquite City Council and the Clark County Commission have expressed support for a plan to turn the entire Gold Butte region into a federal conservation area. Mark Andrews, a local photographer who's frequented the area for 35 years, writes in that the "BLM and the Friends of Gold Butte group have removed countless miles of road and open land access from free use. Places I used to go for decades are now blockaded. These are roads that are nearly 100 years old and in steady use. And this activity has become very aggressive and pronounced in the last 24 months."

The area south of Mesquite "is really the only public area Clark County has left that's not designated for some conservation area, or preserve, or monument, or whatever," Bundy says. "I'm really the only resource user who's still got any interest in the land," he adds, referring to the grazing rights which have come down through his family for more than 100 years, a property right he insists was not granted by and therefore cannot be suspended by the bureaucrats of Washington.

Arguments that Bundy - the last active cattle rancher in Clark County - is damaging the range by overgrazing as many as 750 head or somehow cheating the public by not paying management fees to the BLM sound somewhat curious when we look at what's happened to the 51 other allotments on which ranchers were grazing cattle in Clark County, within living memory.

Attempting to cooperate with their federal overseers, "year-by-year their operations were crippled by rising fees and reductions in AUM (animal units monthly)," wrote investigative reporter Tim Findley in the summer 1999 edition of Range magazine. "The numbers of actively used allotments were rapidly diminishing. The cattlemen took their cases to court, and won, but the BLM simply imposed new 'force and effect' regulations. More ranchers gave up."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Do we need a new “Code of the West”?

by Julie Carter

It has been almost 150 years since Horace Greeley advised, “Go west, young man, go west and grow up with the country.”

And today, they are still coming, not so much as a direction, but more of a destination. Ours is a nation of immigrants -- people who have never been content to stay in one place and always seek the new of what might be over the next horizon.

The West has long been a frontier to those with a variety of needs. Some come seeking a romanticized version of it as the “old West” or the “Wild West.”  Others search peaceful solitude away from the noise of an industrial civilization.

Frontier can be defined as the line separating civilization from wilderness. For hundreds of years in America it has been a fluid line, moving westward as men sought open spaces, new horizons and adventure.

In the 19th century, people who were willing to take a chance on the unknown moved to a vast, unsettled land that beckoned to the daring and called to hardy, courageous folks of pioneer stock.

The call of the wild is the same in the 21st century but comes with issues that catch these new pioneers by surprise. The new 20-acre piece of paradise requires owners to realize they aren’t in the suburbs any more.

Bad roads, water shortages, high utility costs, the threat of wildfires and miscellaneous wildlife that won’t respect the newcomer’s boundaries are just a few of the challenges for the new breed of pioneers.

Often urban escapees come expecting the same local government services they received in in the city limits. Emergency response time is always an issue when they expect fire trucks or ambulances to be there in three minutes when 25 minutes is the reality.

It is such a common issue in rural communities across the West that many have compiled information into publications to be distributed to prospective property owners. They are frequently titled “Code of the West” in reference to the Code of the West novel by Zane Grey.

The original Code of the West was unwritten and was based on integrity, self-reliance and accountability – the traits that guided the men and women who moved into the region during the westward expansion.

However, most of the today’s “code books” cover water rights, split estates and open range. They explain why dogs can’t run wild and why rural residents often have to haul their own garbage.

They warn that roads might not get plowed, cell phone service could be iffy, and emergency response time considerably longer. They also address accepting “ag-related annoyances” that existed long before they moved in.

Agencies of all kinds continue to address complaints and demands from the new pioneers who, one issue at a time, try to turn the West into the East under the guise of their rights as taxpayers.

Those who were in the West before this new breed of pioneer arrived, fight to keep the simple basic lives they led before the onslaught of subdivisions and the pandemic growth of golf courses.

However, it is America and therefore subject to ongoing change, even in the West. And those ag-related annoyances?  They are someone’s livelihood that undoubtedly have become disturbed by the un-ag-related annoyances that just moved a double-wide home into the pasture next door.

Creating a new Code of the West set of guidelines might be the answer for those willing to accept the changes. But for most, I suggest making the covers something edible. At least they’ll find some use for it.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Government Tyranny

A Reminder of Premise
Government Tyranny
 Amendments 28 and 29
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            The progenitors of my family name arrived in the New World as indentured servants. Their pursuit of happiness had to be extended unto such time their contracted obligation to a New World potentate was satisfied. They escaped the filth and poverty of the lives of commoners in Europe to join a band of green horns pledged to enhance the life of some person more fortunate than they at that moment in time.
             Their journey became visible in mid 19th Century Texas. By the turn of the 20th Century, they were in New Mexico ostensibly free and independent men. If there was an indicator of change, it was the fact that every child born to New Mexican hard scrabble ranchers and wage earners, Albert and Sabre Wilmeth, became a college graduate. Prior to that time, there was no similar achievement.    
             The Lessons of Tyranny
             My family was like a great number of American families who struggled to achieve and reach any degree of success. It took over two hundred years to journey from servitude to a level of visible independence. 
            The patriarch of the family demonstrated it was dishonorable to rely on anybody but himself for anything. Independence, thrift, and self reliance were the standards he advocated and displayed.
            The squalor his ancestors escaped from was pounded into our minds in our World History lessons. It was shown on the big screen movies where we saw the tax collectors visiting the English settlements and coerced payment to the King. Offenders were flogged, thrown in the dungeons, ransomed for release or dealt with in the dark of night. Collectively, those vilified masses financed the King’s investments with their money and their lives.    
            The lessons continued as our Founders organized and fought against the tyranny of King George and his Court. They rebelled. They dumped tea in the Boston Harbor. They vowed to end conditions of Tyranny under which they lived. They fought the British for their independence … and they won.
            The Modern Corollary
            The growing tremor in this land is not yet the rumble of empty stomachs. It is the growing resentment toward an ensconced, tyrannical ruling body that demonstrates selective memory of its origin. Change the names of medieval Europe, but the same factors have all taken root and are choking the vitality of freedom from the machine that drives the prosperity of this country.
            How dare our leaders vilify those who have contributed to our wellbeing and sustained this outpost as the model for hope to this world! How dare they posture in dealing with the economic debacle they have leveraged by threatening more rules and regulations to the perceived wrongdoers! 
            The actions of those in that mold are no different from the medieval courts that existed on the backs and minds of the citizens who paid the fare. Productive Americans are weary of capitalizing crippling projects of the modern tyrannical ruling body.
            To the Issue
            There is a lot of talk these days regarding a balanced budget amendment. If our decision is to live with the crowd gracing our hallways in Washington today, there is reason to pursue such an amendment. Constitutional leaders, though, don’t need it imposed on their actions. If they existed, they would be the first to make it happen.
            A more important debate is needed. The real debate is to determine the direction the country is going to take. Is the future a World Order with its human hierarchy loyally pledged to the pursuits of the Environmental Movement or is the future a populous pledged to the underpinnings of the sovereign individual? That is the real question. It should also be a national, constitutional debate. 
            America needs to see the real color of our leadership’s intentions. The identity and the agenda of their leadership are lost in the protection of political parties, a press that should be sued for malpractice and safe academic bastions. The quagmire of a veiled, undisclosed mission extends out from their safe havens in the form of social programs and corrupted political and scientific firewalls. 
            It is time to strip away the nonsense and call a spade a spade. We, the People, want to know where our hard earned tithings are pledged in spirit and intent, and we will decide if we agree with our leadership … or not.
            Amendment 28
            The 28th Amendment to the Constitution needs to map the future of the country.  It is a simple roadmap that forever elevates one of two premises. It is either going to be “In God We Trust”, or “In God We Don’t Trust”. It should be that simple. 
            In the matter of “In God We Trust” is the implied sanctity of the sovereign individual. If that course is adopted, the progressive onslaught must be scrapped. The country has had all too much warning to recognize that the Environmental Movement and the sovereign individual are mutually exclusive. They cannot exist as equals. The Environmental Movement cannot take the precedence it enjoys today if the “In God We Trust” alternative is adopted.
            In the matter of “In God We Don’t Trust” is the implied elevation of all things environmental and progressive. Accelerating social programs, uncontrolled tort actions, class vilification, revocation of the second amendment, nationalizing permanent wealth, full elimination of extractive industries, and the headlong pursuit of theoretical green industries will be the direction sanctioned by a national consensus. Forthwith, the sovereign individual will not enjoy the importance implicit in the Constitution if the “In God We Don’t Trust” alternative is adopted.
            If the American people adopt the “In God We Don’t Trust” amendment, we will line up and hand over our guns and our keys. We will submit to the tyranny of the state.
            If the American people adopt the “In God We Trust” amendment, Congress will have the mandate to eliminate all those agencies that redistribute wealth, choke the growth of American ingenuity, and force the nation into deeper debt.
For starters, the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Labor Department, FEMA, OSHA, and the Department of Health and Human Services will be shut down within the normal and customary process that any American business takes. The Departments of Interior and Agriculture will be required to transfer those agency duties that can better be managed by the states to the domain of state controls.
            If God is left in our lives … a second amendment is important. 
            Amendment 29
            The 29th Amendment to the Constitution will do several things. First, it will repeal the 17th Amendment. The selection of the two Senators who represent the state will be returned to the will and the pleasure of the state assemblies. In that manner, the states will finally, after nearly a 100 years, have vested representation at the federal level. 
            The amendment will also change the way taxes are collected and paid. There will no longer be any payroll withholdings. Individuals will have to cut a check monthly to his or her state. The state, acting as the collection agency, will remit such taxes to the federal government. The states will stand between the people and the federal government. 
            Thirdly, the authority of the payment of wages and benefits to federal officials will henceforth be overseen by the combined assembly of the state governors. Never again will Congress be allowed to mandate self payment and benefit packages. It will also be the authority of the state governors to determine if and how any retirement benefits are paid to the same Congressional representatives.
            The Controls
            The Constitution is not broken. The balance of power and the controls of power are. We, the people, are responsible for the authority in the use and application of power. The requirement is to place the control of the nation in the hands of institutions that can be controlled closer to home, closer to the people, and closer to the sovereign individual. 
            Term limits, the balanced budget amendment, and the warp speed acceleration of federal spending are not matters of controls. They are symptoms of policy creep and fiefdom expansion through decadent federal budgets without administrative market controls … the Constitutional grownups have been absent!
            All other issues we tend to identify as problems will not go away, but, if the people control the House, the moral bastion of our system, and the states control their rights through the Senate, elected officials will be much less willing to identify with special interest temptations. 
            The colonists demonstrated they didn’t care for King George … and the folks out here in the hinterlands are fed up with his modern counterpart.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “The cattle were laying up by 9:30 this morning. The spring weeds have reduced our drought conditions, but every American would gain a different perspective of life if he or she had to manage through our rainless May to July marathons. ”