Saturday, August 18, 2012

Feds designate 838,000 acres in Az & NM for the jaguar

The U.S. proposed Friday to designate about 1,309 square miles across Southern Arizona and a sliver of New Mexico as prime habitat that is essential for conservation of the endangered jaguar. Among those areas is the site of the proposed Rosemont Mine in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. That sets up a potential conflict between the big spotted cat's stomping grounds and a project that would employ 400 people and be the fourth-largest copper mine in the United States. The Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, whose litigation led directly to the jaguar habitat proposal, said the mine is its biggest concern among all potential human threats to jaguar habitat. Under federal law, destruction or "adverse modification" of critical habitat is illegal. Adverse modification typically means human activity that makes the lands no longer valuable for the endangered species, in this case the jaguar, Humphrey said. The proposed critical habitat occupies mountain ranges in large swaths of rural Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties in Arizona, along with a much smaller area of southwestern New Mexico, in Hidalgo County...more

And this article says:

The critical habitat proposal triggers a public comment period, as the USFWS seeks specific input, including whether any of the proposed areas should be excluded, as well as information on the projected and reasonably likely impacts of climate change on the jaguar and proposed critical habitat. The agency will also do an economic analysis to determine the cost of the habitat designation, and whether there are any national security concerns associated with the proposal that should be considered.

The USFWS proposal is here and their press release is here.

The acreages are:

● 138,975 acres in the Baboquivari Mountains, Ariz.
● 143,578 acres in the Tumacacori, Atascosa and Pajarito mountains, Ariz.
● 343,033 acres in the Santa Rita, Patagonia and Huachuca mountains and the Canelo Hills, Ariz.
● 105,498 acres in the Whetstone Mountains, including connections to the Santa Rita and Huachuca Mountains, Ariz.
● 99,559 acres in the Peloncillo Mountains, Ariz. and N.M.
● 7,590 acres in the San Luis Mountains, N.M.

Writer Nichols in rare appearance at NM film fest

Writer John Nichols, known for his New Mexico trilogy of novels that included "The Milagro Beanfield War," has made a rare appearance to promote a new documentary based on his life. The 72-year-old Taos, N.M.-based author spoke Friday at the Albuquerque Film Festival following the screening of "Milagro Man: The Irrepressible Multicultural Life and Literary Times of John Nichols." Nichols told the audience that he hadn't seen the film until the screening and was happy to participate in talking about his writing career. The film also explored his life as a social activist, his work as a screen writer and his relationship with celebrities like Robert Redford. Nichols also signed copied of his new book released this week, "On Top of Spoon Mountain." AP

The Westerner's Radio Theater #043

Ranch Radio brings The Gene Autry Melody Ranch Show with the episode How Gene Found Champion.

180,000 Horses Fall Victim to Hard Times and Dry Times on the Range

AZTEC, N.M. — The land is parched, the fields are withering and thousands of the nation’s horses are being left to fend for themselves on the dried range, abandoned by people who can no longer afford to feed them. They have been dropping dead in the Navajo reservation in the Southwest, where neighbors are battling neighbors and livestock for water, an inherently scant resource on tribal land. They have been found stumbling through state parks in Missouri, in backyards and along country roads in Illinois, and among ranch herds in Texas where they do not belong. Some are taken to rescue farms or foster homes — lifelines that are also buckling under the pressure of the nation’s worst drought in half a century, which has pushed the price of grain and hay needed to feed the animals beyond the reach of many families already struggling in the tight economy.
While precise figures are hard to come by, rough estimates from the Unwanted Horse Coalition, an alliance of equine organizations based in Washington, puts the number of unwanted horses — those given up on by their owners for whatever reasons — at 170,000 to 180,000 nationwide, said Ericka Caslin, the group’s director.
Many more could be out there, though. The Navajos, for instance, have no tally on the number of feral horses on their land; a $2 million effort to count and round them up was vetoed by the tribe’s president because of the cost. Roundups are being carried out almost every day, all across the reservation. The horses are sold, at least some of them destined for slaughter in Mexico. One morning in Cornfields, Ariz., on the western edge of the reservation, a woman tried to keep the feral horses from being penned in her corral, cursing and screaming at the men who had rounded them up at her grandson’s request. Ms. Johnson watched it unfold from afar. “What do we do?” she asked. “Do we leave them out to die of hunger and thirst?”...more

Horse Given Painkiller Breaks Down at New Mexico Racetrack

A horse that recently tested positive for a supercharged painkiller drawn from a type of South American frog broke down and was euthanized Thursday at a New Mexico racetrack after winning a trial heat for the coming All American Futurity, one of the world’s richest horse races. The horse, Jess A Zoomin, was one of eight New Mexico quarter horses that tested positive for the painkiller dermorphin on the same day in late May. All were running in an earlier round of trial heats to earn the right to advance to the Futurity, which has a purse of more than $2 million. The dead horse’s trainer, Jeffrey Heath Reed, is accused of doping five of those horses. But he has been allowed to continue training — and vying to win the Futurity on Labor Day — after exercising his right to verify the state’s positive tests at a second laboratory. A second horse that Reed trained, which had not tested positive for dermorphin, also broke down and was euthanized Thursday during another trial heat for the Futurity. Reed declined to comment. Vince Mares, executive director of the New Mexico Racing Commission, expressed frustration at the length of time the lab is taking to report its dermorphin findings. “We do not have the authority to tell other labs to hurry up,” Mares said. The quarter horse industry has also been rocked this year by charges that a small group of horsemen had been laundering money through racehorses for two Mexican drug cartels...more

Wolves - Sabotage of Fox Mtn. Pack trapline

The Gila Livestock Growers Association has just learned that Michael Robinson and two other Volunteers from the Center for Biological Diversity have destroyed the trapline for management of the Fox Mountain pack of livestock killers. FWS was asked for law enforcement to stop them and the agency has refused. They are baiting a bad situation down there telling the trapper they stopped the kill order and will do whatever is necessary to stop any wolf management.

We have also learned FWS is now following a 5 year old letter from then Governor Bill Richardson in order to stop the kill order for the Fox Mtn. problem wolves. They do not feel they must follow their own rule and refuse to cooperate with other agencies in protecting the private property of New Mexican's.

Anyone want to take this on with the Governor? Anyone want to file a complaint with FWS? Thugs.

Just talked to Corwin Hulsey, he has moved his cows again and they are losing weight and not breeding not to mention being guarded day and night from the pack and not the CBD. Corwin has not been reimbursed, has spent over 16,ooo dollars on this mess and been paid for one cow and 3 tons of hay. $2800 dollars. If anyone thinks that is full reimbursement they need to be set straight.

May I remind everyone this is occurring outside the reintroductions area and on mostly deeded land? There are 7 dead and more on the way. Privately owned cattle and private business going under while this garbage goes on. CBD does the false press releases and Sherry Barrett wolf team leader is telling media it is being managed and compensated when that is not true.

Laura Schneberger

Friday, August 17, 2012

EPA Requiring $85M in Upgrades to Industrial Plants to Cut Haze in Montana - Forest Service Wanted More - See Impact On NM & Az

Federal regulators have approved a new measure meant to help turn Montana's Big Sky Country into Clear Sky Country by forcing industrial plants to cut pollutants that make hazy skies over national parks and wilderness areas. The Environmental Protection Agency rule has been criticized by industry as too costly and by conservationists and other federal agencies as not tough enough. The goal is to restore visibility to natural conditions in national parks and wilderness areas from Idaho to North Dakota. The official target date is 2064, but EPA officials acknowledge it would take several centuries for some parks and wildernesses under the new rule. To get there, the agency detailed $85 million in upgrades needed within five years at the Colstrip coal power plant in southeastern Montana, the Ash Grove cement plant near Montana City and the Holcim cement plant near Three Forks. Including operating expenses over the next 20 years, the total costs to the three plants would top $270 million, EPA officials said Thursday. An alternative proposal that was favored by conservation groups but rejected by the EPA would have cost Colstrip an additional more than $120 million. The National Park Service said EPA regulators overestimated the potential costs of more advanced pollution controls that could have further cut emissions. The U.S. Forest Service said the rules jeopardized Montana's chances of meeting the 2064 goal. But the EPA said more expensive pollution control upgrades were not justified...more

This demonstrates another cost of Wilderness - higher electricity bills.

For how this affects NM and Arizona see EPA sets final rules for curbing haze-causing pollutants from Navajo power plant. It will shutter three units and cost $290 million.

Also see EPA versus Arizona on regional haze issue and EPA war on coal threatens Tucson water supply.

Social Security Administration Explains Plan to Buy 174,000 Hollow-Point Bullets

The Social Security Administration posted a blog on Thursday to explain why it was planning to purchase 174,000 hollow point bullets. SSA posted a "Request for Quote for Ammunition" on the website on Aug. 7. The request listed the commodity that SSA desired as ".357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow point pistol ammunition." The quantity listed was "174 TH." The SSA’s Office of the Inspector General’s said it posted a new blog on the agency’s website, “Beyond the Numbers,” “as we strive to be a transparent and accountable government organization for all of our stakeholders. The blog states that the SSA has 295 special agents who work in 66 offices across the United States. “These investigators have full law enforcement authority, including executing search warrants and making arrests,” the blog post states. “Our investigators are similar to your State or local police officers. “They use traditional investigative techniques, and they are armed when on official duty,” the blog post states. Concern expressed in some media reports about the type of ammunition ordered by the agency is unfounded, the blog states, explaining that the .357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacked hollow point pistol ammunition is “standard issue for many law enforcement agencies” and is appropriate for the work agents perform. “Our special agents need to be armed and trained appropriately,” the blog post states. “They not only investigate allegations of Social Security fraud, but they also are called to respond to threats against Social Security offices, employees, and customers.”...more

SSA has 295 special agents with "full law enforcement authority"?  Do they really need weapons to investigate fraud?  They then use the excuse they respond to threats and they are in 66 offices.  Bull hockey.  When I worked at a local Federal Bldg a local security firm provided armed guards.  Local firms also provided security for federal agencies that moved to other locations.  Besides, there are over 1,500 SSA offices, even 11 in little old NM, so how did they pick the 66 with LEOs? 

The Regulatory Cliff Is Nearly as Steep as the Fiscal One

Americans are learning more about the "fiscal cliff" approaching at the beginning of next year, when tax rates for families and small businesses are set to spike and new taxes in President Obama's health-care spending law take effect. But unless there's real change in Washington, we're also headed for a steep "regulatory cliff" that could compound the damage. After three years of bureaucratic excess, the Obama administration has been quietly postponing several multibillion-dollar regulations until after the November election. Those delayed rules, together with more than 130 unfinished mandates under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law, could significantly increase the regulatory drag on our economy in 2013. Then there is the mega-rule on the shelf at the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) that could block business expansion in many areas of the country. Proposed in 2010, the Ozone Rule would impose a limit on ozone (which creates haze from emissions from cars, power plants and factories) so strict that up to 85% of U.S. counties monitored by the EPA would be in violation. Susan Dudley, a regulatory economist at George Washington University who served in the previous administration, notes that this rule would force many communities "to forego productive investment and hiring decisions in order to spend hundreds of billions of dollars per year in vain attempts to meet unachievable standards." The EPA itself says the rule could impose up to $90 billion in yearly costs on manufacturers and other employers. Last September, after months of public outcry, the White House instructed the EPA to put the rule on ice until 2013, when it will be "revisited." Also on the Obama EPA's to-do list for 2013 is a new rule that its regulators admit could increase costs for energy consumers and others by as much as $4.5 billion per year, depending on how it's implemented. The rule targets equipment that power plants and manufacturing facilities use to draw in water to prevent overheating, even though those intake systems are not harmful to human health or water quality. Last year the EPA estimated that this new rule would cost $1 for every three cents in benefits. More recently, the EPA has proposed the use of public-opinion surveys with hypothetical scenarios that boost the alleged benefits of its proposed regulation by nearly 14,000%. This is another example of a major regulation put off until next year, ensuring that Americans won't learn about its effect on their electricity bills until after the election...more

Reversing Decades of Decline, the Number of Hunters and Anglers is on the Rise

Highlighting the reversal of decades of declining numbers, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the preliminary results of a comprehensive national survey of outdoor recreation showing a significant increase in hunters and a double-digit increase in anglers over the past five years.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation found that hunters nationwide increased by 9 percent while anglers grew by 11 percent.  Nearly 38 percent of all Americans participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. They spent $145 billion on related gear, trips and other purchases, such as licenses, tags and land leasing and ownership, representing 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.  Other key findings include: In 2011, 13.7 million people, 6 percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older, went hunting. They spent $34.0 billion on trips, equipment, licenses, and other items in 2011, an average of $2,484 per hunter...more

And the worse the economy gets the more people will hunt.  If Obama is reelected, expect the numbers to go up again.

Our Opinion: This ain't their first rodeo

In the 21st century, technology has dramatically changed the way we do business, in almost every aspect of our daily lives. Not necessarily the daily life of a rancher. As those competing in this weekend's annual Texas Ranch Roundup, the old way works just fine. And "just fine" is just about the most generous event Wichita Falls has going. The Texas Ranch Roundup, starting tonight and going through Saturday at Kay Yeager Coliseum, is characterized as the "original" event that replicates big cattle roundups of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The event, which benefits the North Texas Rehabilitation Center of Wichita Falls, the West Texas Rehab Center in Abilene, and West Texas Boys Ranch in San Angelo, pits working ranches against each other in such long-lasting skills as bronc riding, calf doctoring, team branding, team penning and wild cow milking. Crews from ranches also create real chuck wagon meals fit to be judged. On Sunday, there's cowboy church, a time to worship and reflect on all our blessings. We are blessed that these ranchers call Wichita Falls home for the weekend. The Texas Ranch Roundup is considered the first of hundreds of similar events, and its criteria still sets the bar for others that occur all over North America. Not just anybody can compete. The ranchers must be owners, full-time hands or immediate family members from historic Texas cattle ranches...more

Council for Native American Farming and Ranching Begins Work

An intensive two day public meeting wrapped up earlier this week in Washington, D.C., as the recently appointed members of the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching met face-to-face for the first time. The Council, appointed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as part of the Keepseagle settlement, is charged with making recommendations to improve access by Tribes to USDA programs and services. On the first day, members received extensive briefings from 17 agencies in the 7 USDA mission areas.  On the second day, officers were elected, protocol issues were handled and the Council took two hours of public testimony. Major topics included:  Access to credit by Native farmers and ranchers; how to support Native youth who desire a future in farming and ranching, food and agriculture; subsistence concerns among Alaskan Native communities; special challenges for small farm owners and operators in Indian Country; the need for agricultural infrastructure, such as efficient irrigation systems and business incubation; education and extension needs; and agency-specific issues, such as finding ways for Native livestock producers to build out slaughter capacity and boost economic development and job creation in their communities...more

For a list of the Council members go here.


Western Dance Aug. 18 Bucky Allred

Song Of The Day #909

As promised, Ranch Radio brings by request Nevada Waltz. This version is by Dude Martin & His Roundup Gang.

A Drought So Severe, Even Cacti Can't Survive - Roswell, NM

Mike Corn
by Monica Ortiz Uribe

The historic nationwide drought has resulted in disaster declarations for more than half the counties in America. In the Southwest, parts of New Mexico and the Texas panhandle are in the worst shape.
Few feel the effects of the drought more strongly than cattle ranchers.

At the Cowboy Cafe in Roswell, N.M., Saturday morning breakfasts are a ritual for local retired ranchers. They sit at a roundtable scarfing eggs, hash browns and of course, steak. It's here where men like John Burson air a multitude of grievances.

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture is promoting meatless Mondays where they're not gonna eat any meat," he said. "This is cattle country and dairy country and it kinda pisses us off."

But worse than vegetarian diets is the stubborn drought that's now in its second year. It's the worst dry spell in 50 years. Ray Vallez, a local dairy farmer, said it's affecting everyone in agriculture.

"The drought is affecting us big time," he said. "This is a total wreck."

On July's rainfall map, southeast New Mexico looks like a bad sunburn. The region is colored in beige and red, meaning there's been little to no precipitation.

Off state Highway 246 just outside Roswell, rancher Mike Corn stares down the drought from the wheel of his truck. He's embarrassed to admit, this is his land. It's a long stretch of arid plain, all grey and mossy, with the nutritional equivalent of cardboard. Even the hardy desert cholla plant perished in this weather. It's a bad sign when even the cacti can't survive.

"We need a really good soaking rain," Corn said. "We need one of those rains that comes in here, that rains three days in a row and the water never runs down the hill."

Driving down one of those hills along the range, a herd of sheep and cattle cried up at a sky dotted with heavy clouds. They only tease the animals, providing a little shade but no moisture.

In the absence of grass, Corn's livestock survives off supplemental feed. Feed prices have doubled lately, also thanks to the drought.

Corn is almost at the point where he can no longer afford to keep his animals. If no rain falls in the next week he'll have to sell them. All of them.

"Do you have a pet cat or a pet dog?" Corn asked. "Do you have anything that you're attached to and you don't want to get rid of? I've never had to make this kind of a decision. It's like pulling my heart out."
Lately the weather patterns in New Mexico have not been kind to ranchers according to Dave DuBois, the state climatologist.

"We've been having above-normal average temperature for a number of months now," he said. "If you look at it in longer term with drought, the past two years have been the warmest on our records."

Statewide the average temperature rose a little more than 3 degrees in the first half of this year.

Despite the hard times, most ranchers are unlikely to quit all together. For Mike Corn, raising cattle is more of a lifestyle than reliable source of income. Like many other ranchers nearby he and his wife have city jobs that pay the bills.

"Times have changed, it doesn't rain like it used to," he said "I'm a firm believer that everything is cyclical and that it'll come back around. It may be on a 100 year cycle or a 50 year cycle … but I just hope I'm here when it starts coming."

One Roswell rancher put it this way: 'It's a wonderful way of life, but it's a hard way to make a living.'

Originally posted by Arizona Public Radio

More than 70 wildfires burn in the US West amid drought

The number of wildfires across the west of the United States had increased to more than 70 on Thursday, the US Forest Service said, as thousands of firefighters battled to get blazes under control, reported dpa. Dry conditions have been exacerbated by a severe drought across much of the country. In California alone, some 8,000 firefighters were working against 13 fires and the military had been called into help, with marines using helicopters against a blaze near San Diego, CNN reported. Also hard hit were the north-western coastal states of Washington and Oregon - along with interior states including Nevada, Utah and Idaho - according to a daily fire mapping report by the US Department of Agriculture's forest service. CNN reported that 900 people had been evacuated in the region. More than two-thirds of the lower 48 states are suffering drought...more

US Forest Service to allow night aerial firefighting in Southern California

The U.S. Forest Service will now allow helicopters to operate at night to fight potentially devastating Southern California wildfires like the 2009 Station Fire, federal lawmakers announced Thursday. A Government Accountability Office report last year found the use of night-flying aircraft could have allowed the Forest Service to control the Station Fire on the first night. That fire burned more than 160,000 acres, destroyed 89 homes and claimed the lives of two L.A. County firefighters. The Forest Service, which previously restricted firefighting operations to daylight hours, is now training and retrofitting helicopters for night-time use, according to a joint statement by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Palmdale, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "We will never know with certainty if night flying could have extinguished the Station Fire in those critical first hours, but I'm glad we will have a better chance in the future," Rep. Schiff, D-Pasadena, said in the statement. "This step today by the Forest Service is long overdue, but will provide an important new line of defense against fire for our neighborhoods."...more

EDITORIAL: Wise to change fire policy

The 2012 wildfire season already has been one of the worst in U.S. history. As of Wednesday, the National Interagency Fire Center reported 63 large wildfires were burning, totaling more than 1.2 million acres. The 6.5 million acres burned so far in 2012 are the most acres burned by wildfires in the last decade. The increase in wildfires this year, strengthened by drought conditions in the western United States, has prompted the U.S. Forest Service to temporarily abandon its policy of allowing national forest supervisors to let small fires in isolated areas that are started by natural causes, usually by lightning, to burn. The USFS will now send fire crews to fight all fires before they can grow in size and require more resources to contain. The Forest Service said its change in fire policy was in response to the drought and the number of fires that are bigger and more severe than in average years. The USFS said it would review its change in fire policy if drought conditions improve...There is no sign that the drought is improving in the western United States, and the potential for damaging wildfires is only going to get worse. Given the widespread drought and high number of large fires burning in the western United States, a change in national fire policy to fight small fires before they get too big and outstrip available resources is a wise decision...more

Livestock industry files suit against US Forest Service

The Public Lands Council (PLC), National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), challenging its latest forest planning rule. PLC, NCBA and ASI join multiple industry organizations, such as the Federal Forest Resource Coalition, Minnesota Timber Producers Association and the California Forestry Association in filing suit, claiming that the new planning rule, finalized in March 2012, violates the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the Multiple-Use, Sustained-Yield Act (MUSYA) of 1960 and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Under the NFMA, USFS is required to promulgate regulations under the principles of the MUSYA, which set out the process for development and revision of land management plans, guidelines and standards. Individual forests follow the direction of the planning rule and develop specific management plans. The new planning rule, however, is flawed in multiple respects. For example, the planning rule requires USFS to "maintain a viable population of each species of conservation concern within the plan area." The ill-defined term "viable population" does not appear in NFMA or any other statute, according to PLC Executive Director and NCBA Director of Federal Lands Dustin Van Liew. He said this vague term opens the door to even more litigation by radical special interest groups. Van Liew said the rule also effectively turns USFS guidelines into legally enforceable standards, throwing away hard-fought victories establishing that guidelines are discretionary - not mandatory - and tying the hands of land managers unnecessarily. In the new forest planning rule, the general focus is on ecosystem services, sustainability, preservation and even "spiritual values" over multiple-use, a clear diversion from the statutes governing management of our national forests. The new rule also fails to reflect MUSYA and NFMA requirements governing active land management for multiple uses, including livestock grazing, timber management and recreation...more

Drought could be a factor in US anthrax cases

Anthrax has killed more than 100 animals on ranches in Colorado and Texas within the past two weeks, and experts say the risk of infection may be greater with drought covering much of the United States. Anthrax outbreaks happen occasionally in livestock herds and wild animals in the U.S., usually west of the Mississippi River. Animals typically contract the disease by ingesting or inhaling spores that can survive in soil for decades. Once infected, livestock can die within hours. Anthrax bacteria react to drought and other harsh conditions by producing more spores, and scientists said conditions are ripe for disease this year. A drought stretches from Ohio west to California and from Texas north to the Dakotas. Many places also have been burned by unusually long stretches of triple-digit temperatures. "My concern is that if we have more and more drought, if drought frequencies go up, we will see greater frequencies of these outbreaks," said Mary Stromberger, associate professor of soil microbiology at Colorado State University. More than 60 cows on three Colorado ranches and nearly 50 sheep from a Texas herd have died so far. Anthrax experts and veterinarians warned ranchers to watch their herds for sudden deaths, the usual sign of an anthrax infection. Entire herds can be decimated by an outbreak if animals are not quickly vaccinated...more

Two more calves found dead in Washington wolf country

A week after state wildlife managers killed a wolf that was attacking cattle in northeastern Washington state, a rancher there has found two more dead calves. Laurier, Wash., rancher Len McIrvin found a dead calf the afternoon of Aug. 14. McIrvin believes the evidence was consistent with a wolf attack, with multiple bites and fang marks on the hindquarters about 1 3/4 inches apart. Nate Pamplin, assistant director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said state biologists and Steven’s County Sheriff’s officers responded to the report. “What I’m hearing so far is it looks like wolves were likely involved in this attack,” Pamplin said. Protocol is to collect data from the scene, including noting injuries on the animal, tracks, scat and the struggle site, Pamplin said. A determination isn’t made in the field, giving agency employees time to review the material and “bounce ideas” off others, he said. That process was being completed the morning of Aug. 16. McIrvin said he has it in writing that if the attack is confirmed to be a wolf, the state will remove the Wedge Wolf Pack from the area. “It’s unfortunate the pack is demonstrating a pattern of predation here,” Pamplin said. “It’s looking like we would be having to address and potentially put additional lethal removal on the table.” Relocation of the pack is an option, but Pamplin said the pack’s pattern of depredation makes them poor candidates for moving elsewhere in Eastern Washington. The goal would be to disrupt the pack enough to move on or disperse, he said. McIrvin said he found another dead calf the evening of Aug. 15 but wasn’t certain of the cause of its death. Pamplin had not heard of the discovery, but said it was possible field staff were aware of it. McIrvin reported a loss of 11 calves and five bulls last year, and expects higher numbers this year...more

Thursday, August 16, 2012

News Links

Bob Kerrey Takes Back “Welfare Rancher” Smear

A Washington Rancher’s Showdown With Pollution Regulators

Offroad Clubs Say Riders Need to Respect Ranchers by Closing the Gates They Open

Cle Elum ranchers dodge destructive blaze twice in four days

Anthrax confirmed in death of Colorado cattle

U.S. Forest Service volunteers play vital role in spotting fires

Waldo Canyon Fire cause remains unknown

Gov. Otter packs up Featherville home as wildfire gets closer

USFWS Study - Dogs Sniffin' Owl Dung

A series of forest searches by dogs specially trained to sniff out northern spotted owl pellets – the undigested bones, fur and other bits regurgitated by owls – improved the probability of finding the owls by nearly 30 percent over a series of traditional vocalization surveys. Since the 1980s scientists and land managers have relied on vocalization surveys that use simulated northern spotted owl calls to elicit owl responses. As forests have been invaded by barred owls, which displace and even kill spotted owls, concerns have grown that spotted owls may be timid about responding to such vocalization surveys and may open themselves to attack if they do, said Samuel Wasser, University of Washington research professor and director of the UW Center for Conservation Biology. UW researchers trained Shrek, a Labrador retriever mix, and Max, an Australian cattle dog mix, to locate owl pellets and feces of northern spotted and barred owls at the base of trees where the owls roost. Maps showing the habitat types were used to hone in on the best places to search for roosts. DNA analysis of the samples confirmed the species of owl.  The detection probability for northern spotted owls was 87 percent after three searches by the dogs compared to 59 percent after six vocalization surveys following U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protocols, nearly 30 percent better, Wasser said...more

I'm sure dogs running through the forest smellin' every dung pile they can find has no impact on the owls.  If they were "timid" before they are probably "terrified" now...or should I say scared shitless.

Cows eating candy during the drought

Ranchers have struggled with skyrocketing corn prices, because the drought has made feeding their livestock very expensive. But one rancher has turned to a very sweet solution. At Mayfield's United Livestock Commodities, owner Joseph Watson is tweaking the recipe for success. "Just to be able to survive, we have to look for other sources of nutrition," he said. His 1,400 cattle are no longer feeding off corn. The prices, Watson says, are too high to keep corn in stock. So earlier this year, he began to buy second-hand candy. "It has a higher ratio of fat than actually feeding straight corn," Watson explained. "It's hard to believe it will work but we've already seen the results of it now." Watson mixes the candy with an ethanol by-product and a mineral nutrient. He says the cows have not shown any health problems from eating the candy, and they are gaining weight as they should. "This ration is balanced to have not too much fat in it," he said...more

I'll bet those dogs would rather sniff chocolate cow pies than that stinky old owl dung.

Price of Ground Beef Hits Record High

The average price of ground beef hit a record high in the United States in July, according to data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS has been tracking the average price of a pound of 100% ground beef since 1984. In July, it cost $3.085, up from $3.007 in June.  Prior to June, the average cost of 100% ground beef in the United States had never topped $3.00. In January 1984, the first month BLS tracked the price off 100% ground beef, the price was $1.29 per pound. Had that price merely tracked the rate of overall inflation, according to the BLS inflation calculator, it would have risen to $2.66 per pound by 2009, when President Obama took office. However, between 1984 and 2009, the average price for a pound of 100% ground beef did not increase as much as overall inflation. Thus, in January 2009, when Obama was inaugurated it was only $2.357.  Since January 2009, the average price for a pound of 100% ground beef would have risen to only $2.52 per pound--if it had tracked the overall rate of inflation. However, the price of 100% ground beef has outpaced overall inflation in the past three and a half years--hitting July's record price of approximately $3.09. The average price for a pound of 100% ground chuck hit a record $3.449 in July--up from $1.821 in January 1980.xls (when BLS started tracking it) and $2.961 in January 2009, when Obama took office. Between January 1980 and January 2009, the price of ground chuck grew at a slower pace than overall inflation. Had it kept pace with overall inflation during that period it would have been $4.74 in January 2009 instead of just $2.961. Since January 2009, the price of ground chuck has outpaced overall inflation. Had it tracked overall inflation, it would be $3.16 per pound now instead of approximately $3.45...more

Farm Pollution Draws Scrutiny As Industrial Dumping Declines

Eight times in seven years, a state inspector asked Joe Lemire to keep his cattle off the banks of Pataha Creek. Why? Because they drop cow pies in the water. Cows trample pollution-filtering streamside plants. Cows mash the banks down so dirt gets into the stream, which had been targeted for cleanup by the government since the early 1990s. The state even offered to pay for fences to keep the cows out of the stream. But Lemire refused. He fired back that the state couldn’t prove his cows were polluting the stream, which cuts an undulating path deep into the volcanic plains of southeast Washington.  When the state issued him a formal order in 2009 to keep the cows away from the creek, Lemire appealed to a state pollution-hearings board. This fall his case heads to the Washington Supreme Court in what is shaping up as a pivotal decision about farmers’ obligations to protect Northwest waterways. In a related struggle, Indian tribes are charging that farmers such as Lemire are killing salmon...more

Song Of The Day #908 Elvis Presley Anniversary

OpenDrive is back up and some friends on Facebook have reminded me its the 35th anniversary of Presley's death. We'll honor Presley today and for the folks in Reno the Nevada Waltz will be the selection tomorrow.

I like Presley's early stuff from the 50's, so the first duo is Hound Dog and All Shook Up with the second being Don't Be Cruel and Jailhouse Rock.

Lack of bidders cancels auction of town, Custer archive

About an hour before this flyspeck of a town and a large collection of historic documents were to be auctioned off Wednesday afternoon, auctioneer Tommy Williams reflected on the fickleness of the business. “Something that’s this unique, it’s hard to predict how things will turn out,” he said. In this case, things didn’t turn out at all. Just before 4 p.m., when the auction was scheduled to begin, Williams stood in front of the Custer-themed collection of buildings and announced that there would be no auction. “The reason is very simple,” Williams said. “There is nobody that has registered today. Is it still for sale? The answer is yes.”...more

Song Of The Day

OpenDrive is down.  I've had a request for The Nevada Waltz and will post it whenever OpenDrive is back up and running.

Fox Mountain Pack Killing Livestock - FWS Does Nothing - Greens Media Spin

To date the Fox mountain pack has cost the family about 30 head of calves and cows, the use of their deeded land lease at 6500 dollars to date, over 8000 dollars in hay out of their own pockets while they attempted to cooperate with FWS and move their cattle and feed them. Over 600 dollars in fuel to move cattle out of the way of the denning wolves. Compensation bragged about in the pro-wolf circles including FWS amounted to 1600 dollars in hay and 1200 dollars for one cow. There is no compensation for the extra 24 hours a day labor required to stop wolves from killing your livestock. A range rider was also required but has had little impact on keeping the pack out of the cattle. When Corwin Hulsey was informed that he had a right under the law to shoot any wolf killing his stock on his deeded land lease, he put his foot down and FWS finally sprang into action claiming they would feed the wolves and stop the killing. They placed a food cache within 100 yards of the pasture the cattle are in . The feeding looked a lot like baiting wolves into the area to many people closely involved in the Hulsey case.

Read the whole sordid story at Wolf Crossing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A proposal to "buy out" private farms and ranches

After writing in Wildlife News that livestock are a major contributor to global warming and that global warming is the cause of the drought, George Wuerthner proposes the following:  

    Perhaps one of the best ways to both sustain the financial viability of the Ag sector as well as reduce global greenhouse gas emissions would be to buy out farms and ranches rather than maintain Ag production.  For the same amount of money (billions of dollars) we are spending annually on price supports, Ag disaster relief, Conservation Reserve Program, and numerous  other agricultural support programs, we could buy up millions of acres of Ag land and permanently retire them from production.
    These lands could be restored and dedicated to other public benefits like protection of watersheds, wildlife habitat, and public recreation. We have done this in the past. During the 1930s Dust Bowl, the US government purchased millions of acres from willing sellers throughout the Great Plains. These lands are now part of our national grasslands administered by the Forest Service, as well as national wildlife refuges overseen by the Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management holdings.
    At the same time as we would reduce environmental degradation resulting from Ag production, a retirement of Ag land would increase the financial security of the remaining farmers and ranchers since over production in many years results in low product prices.
    Finally, to the degree that this Ag land retirement results in less cattle and other livestock production, we may see some reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions.

Out Of Touch President Obama Fiddles While Tombstone, AZ Burns

Welcome to the Wild West, 2012 style.  The Feds to Tombstone:  “If you want to fix your water line, better lawyer up and talk to President Obama.” The left is attacking Mitt Romney as “out of touch.”  But the left’s own champion, President Obama, is truly the out of touch candidate.   The U.S. Forest Service — of which the president is ultimate boss — is preventing, on the flimsiest of excuses, Tombstone Arizona from rebuilding its water pipeline.   Obama, conniving, is putting Tombstone, a fixture of American history, in mortal danger.  Tombstone was the site of the “Showdown at the OK Corral.”  It was a silver mining boomtown and very Wild West: over a dozen saloons, 6 gambling halls, a very cosmopolitan city.  Today Tombstone is a cultural attraction with 1500 residents and tens of thousands of visitors. But now the U.S. Forest Service is building a tomb for Tombstone.  A massive forest fire in 2011 wiped out the vegetation in Coronado National Park, wherein lies Tombstone’s waterworks — which were destroyed by the following torrential rains. The ensuing monsoon damage was severe but readily fixable.  Except that Tombstone’s water sources are surrounded by a designated wilderness area.  ...the U.S. Forest service takes the position that Tombstone needs its permission to bring in tractors and bulldozers to clear the rubble throttling its water supplies. Tombstone cannot survive long on the tiny wells located in town or on the small amount of water it temporarily was able to hand patch through its water main.  It needs to use regular earth-moving equipment to repair its lines.  As Sosa explains, “you have boulders the size of motorcycles breaking your pipeline, and other boulders and uprooted trees mangling it… the water is buried by 6 to 15 feet of boulders, trees, rocks.” Coronado is not an exceptionally delicate ecology.  Fire and monsoons have had far more impact than would a few tractors and bulldozers.  And yet, the Forest Service forbids Tombstone to bring in crews with earth-moving machinery...Forbes

Folks continue to berate the Forest Service, but this is nothing more than the Wilderness Act at work.

Wilderness blaze exempted from suppression order

A new wildfire in the Teton Wilderness is the first to be granted an exception to an all-but secret memo directing the U.S. Forest Service to fight all fires immediately this year. The exception was granted for the Butte Creek fire, a mid-size wildfire moving through the Teton Wilderness. Fire managers at the Bridger-Teton National Forest and other national forests around the West have a directive to pounce on all wildfires this year, regardless of size or location, unless special approval is granted. The directive to fight all fires, issued by Jim Hubbard, the U.S. Forest Service’s national deputy chief, was sent May 25 but managed to stay out of the press until last week. Hubbard’s memo says he expects “regional forester approval” before allowing any fire to burn for management purposes. That’s a departure from management strategies in recent years, which have emphasized allowing smaller, more remote wildfires to play a natural role in the ecosystem. In the congressionally designated Teton Wilderness, for example, natural events are supposed to run their course. The change in strategy was born from the drought year, rampant wildfires and a strapped Forest Service budget, Hubbard said in a telephone interview...more

Three-judge appeals court panel hands victory to Texas in dispute with EPA

In the latest legal turn in an ongoing fight over appropriate environmental regulation, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled 2-1 on Monday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's rejection of a key Texas air permitting program violated the federal Clean Air Act. The EPA's rejection of Texas' flexible permitting program, which applied to refineries, power plants and other industrial sites, overstepped the agency's bounds, the court held by a 2-1 margin. Under the program, established in 1994 under Gov. Ann Richards, companies could modify their facilities without additional regulatory review so long as any increase in emissions would not exceed an overall limit specified in the permit. In 2010, the EPA rejected the program, arguing that the Texas regulations contained inadequate monitoring provisions and gave too much discretionary power to the director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, among other reasons. According to the majority opinion of Judge E. Grady Jolly, which called the rejection "sixteen years tardy," as long as minimum standards of the Clean Air Act are met, "states enjoy a measure of discretion." The EPA's disapproval "transgresses the (Clean Air Act's) delineated boundaries of this cooperative relationship," the majority held...more

EPA’s ‘Border Environmental’ Agreement Ignores Damage Done by Illegal Aliens

Illegal aliens left an estimated 1,000 tons of trash while crossing the Arizona border into the United States last year, according to state officials. According to federal government estimates, illegals each year leave more than 500 tons of trash and more than 100 abandoned vehicles at just one national wildlife refuge along the Arizona border. But that kind of environmental impact is not mentioned in a new U.S. agreement with Mexico on border environmental issues. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Aug. 8 that it had signed an agreement with Mexico to address “high priority border environmental issues.” Those issues, according to the agreement, include reducing air pollution, improving access to clean air and water, and to “enhance compliance assurance and environmental stewardship” on both sides of the border. But the 43-page document, “Border 2020: U.S-Mexico Environmental Program,” does not include any language about the ongoing impact to federal lands in the United States caused by human and drug trafficking and other illegal activities of Mexican drug cartels and other people who are illegally entering the country...more

Feds prepare to end wolf protections in Wyoming

The federal government plans to announce an end to protections for wolves in Wyoming later this month. Spokesmen from some environmental groups say they plan to review the final wolf delisting rule carefully when it's issued Aug. 31. They say legal challenges are likely over the state's plan to classify wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in most areas. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead recently reached an agreement with U.S. Interior Sec. Ken Salazar that calls for Wyoming to maintain at least 10 breeding pairs of wolves and at least 100 individual animals outside of Yellowstone and the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming. There are currently about 270 wolves in the state outside Yellowstone. AP

Firearms Restrictions Plan Fails in Corrales

A proposal to prohibit firearms on Corrales village property came under withering attack at the council meeting Tuesday, with opponents claiming it was a government attempt to impose tyranny. The standing-room only crowd cheered, whooped and whistled as councilors defeated the proposal on a 4-2 vote. The resolution proposed by Councilor Mick Harper would have forbid carrying, displaying or using firearms on specified public property, including the village offices, Municipal Court, senior center, community center, the library, recreation center and two village parks. It said “the presence of openly armed individuals, particularly those carrying firearms, is likely to cause serious apprehension or intimidation among the peaceable unarmed residents of the village.” The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action put out an alert about the resolution Monday, calling for people to attend the meeting and stop the measure from passing...more

New Mexico on the lookout for 'imposter' chiles

With chile season in full swing in New Mexico, the state department of agriculture is cracking down on growers falsely claiming their "impostor" chile is from the state. "The chile's been really good. The problem is I don't think we're going to have enough for everybody, especially (now that) it's getting so famous around the country," said Melva Aguirre, the owner of the Pepper Pot restaurant in Hatch, N.M. Chiles have made Hatch a household name and with that fame comes plenty of people trying to ride the coattails by claiming their chiles are grown in New Mexico when they are not, an action that is now illegal in the state because local farmers and state legislators feel those impostors are basically committing copyright infringement. The law requires anyone selling fresh chiles or products containing chiles and labeling it as made in New Mexico file paperwork with the NMDA to prove it. If vendors don't, then inspectors will stop all sales of those products until the vendors either prove the origin of the product or change the product's packaging. Anyone caught lying about their chile being made in New Mexico can face up to $300 in fines and/or 90 days in jail if they get caught, all to protect what local farmers said is the best chile in the world...more

Links of interest

Forest Service says fires are linked to landslides

As Smokey Bear turns 68, a look at his career [Video]

Hordes of raccoons invade Germany

In Iowa Obama Blames Ryan For Blocking Farm Bill

Study: High Fructose Corn Syrup Is No Worse Than 'Real' Sugar

Song Of The Day #907

Ranch Radio's selection today is I'll Never Be Free by Tennessee Ernie Ford & Kay Starr.  The tune was recorded in Hollywood on 6/28/1950.

I'll bet Mom will like this one.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Arctic drilling might wait until 2013, Interior Secretary Salazar says

A delay in getting oil-spill equipment into the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska means that Shell Oil might not be able to start the first offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean this year as planned, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Monday. Shell is still working to meet Coast Guard requirements for its spill-containment barge, the Arctic Challenger, but “if they are not met, there won’t be Shell exploration efforts that will occur this year,” Salazar said sharply on a conference call from Anchorage, Alaska. Heavy sea ice in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas pushed back Shell’s initial plans to begin drilling in July, but Salazar argued on Monday that Shell bears the blame for not being ready to start drilling now. “It’s not the ice conditions that have held up the effort,” he said. “They have not been able to get it done," he said, referring to the incomplete and uncertified containment vessel. “If they had gotten it done, they may already be up there today.” Shell issued a statement later on Monday saying it agreed with Interior that drilling should not begin until the containment barge is in place, but it still hopes to begin drilling this summer. Shell is required to be out of the Chukchi Sea by Sept. 24 in advance of the harsh Arctic fall and winter and out of the Beaufort Sea by the end of October...more

Salazar Designates National Water Trail in Oregon

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science John Tubbs joined paddlers and kayakers at McCartney Park in Linn County to celebrate Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s designation of the Willamette River Water Trail as part of the National Water Trails System. The National Water Trails System is part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to establish a conservation and outdoor recreation strategy built for the 21st century and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors. The designation promotes America’s exemplary water trails and their contribution to environmental stewardship, outdoor recreation, and river conservation. The Willamette River Water Trail is one of nine National Water Trails designated by Secretary Salazar. The designation acknowledges not only the recreation values of the trail, but also the excellent stewardship of the state, local communities, and other partners who maintain the natural beauty and integrity of the Willamette River...more

California Officials Square Off Against Rural Residents Over Fire Fee

More than 800,000 Californians who own property in wildfire country will begin receiving bills this week for a new annual fire-protection fee, rekindling outrage among rural residents and leading to a likely lawsuit seeking to overturn the surcharge. Some 850,000 Californians who own property in wildfire country will begin receiving bills this week for a fee that is destined for a legal fight. Gov. Jerry Brown sought the fee, which can run as high as $150 a year, as a way to help fund the state's firefighting efforts. The fee, passed by Democrats in the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, is intended to raise an estimated $84 million in its first year for fire-prevention efforts. The annual charge can run as high as $150 for property owners with a single occupied dwelling, although there is a $35 discount for those who already pay a local tax for fire protection. The bills start going out Monday and will have been issued to more than 825,000 property owners by year's end. They are being sent to counties in alphabetical order, so residents of Alameda, Alpine and Amador counties will be first in line. The fee was imposed on those who own property within the 31 million rural acres covered by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, a responsibility area that includes about one-third of the state. Brown sought the fee mostly to help close the state's budget deficit, calling it "a fee consistent with the 'beneficiary pays principle'," in his signing message. If additional money can be raised and dedicated to CalFire, he reasoned, a similar amount could go to other state services that have experienced deep budget cuts...more

This is clearly a policy to extract capital from rural areas and use it to fund urban programs.

The Urban Brand is on the land.

British Government Trims Green Regulations

More than 100 energy and climate change regulations are to be scrapped or improved in a bid to cut "red tape" for businesses, the government has announced. Energy Minister Charles Hendry said that, following a review, 86 regulations would be dropped completely while a further 48 regimes would be "improved". The full package of reforms, including other initiatives by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), is expected to save businesses around £400m over the next 20 years, he said. The review was part of the government's 'Red Tape Challenge', which is allowing the public to scrutinise over 21,000 active regulations in stages...more

Compare this to the U.S., where we are getting more, not less green tape.

USDA announces $170M-program to "help" some livestock sellers

In the face of this summer’s withering weather, the US Department of Agriculture Monday gave what farmers like Tentinger saw as a modest show of support, offering to buy up $170 million worth of meat products between now and Sept. 31. Livestock farmers have been squeezed hard this year, forced to pay dramatically higher prices for feed, which consumes much of the American corn crop. Prices for meat have risen, too, but not as fast as the cost of feed. The USDA says the buy-up will help support the price of meat even as farmers who raise hogs, chicken, sheep, and even catfish, cut back their flocks, herds, and stocks to save money on feed. The meat will go to government food programs, such as school lunches and food banks. The program excludes farmers who raise beef cattle. Although they, too, have been selling off animals to reduce costs, the USDA says the selling off will likely end soon...more

---The government pays 417,000 farmers to not farm on 30 million acres, lessening the supply of all grains

---Government incentives result in 40% of the corn crop going into ethanol, further lessening the supply of feed grain

---These two government supply-restricting programs result in huge increases in the price of feed grains, putting livestock producers in a bind

So, do the DC Deep Thinkers get rid of the programs that are a major contributor to the problem?

Nope.  They use another government program to restrict the supply of livestock.  This is a great example of how one government intervention in the market place creates a problem, resulting in another government program to "solve" that problem, which creates another problem ad infinitum.  The government grows and grows and we all suffer from the results.

Two More Cities Consider Seizing Mortgages

The cities of Sacramento and Elk Grove are the latest municipalities to consider a plan that would seize troubled mortgages using eminent domain and restructure them for homeowners, according to a news report. The plan would adopt a program already under consideration in Southern California that would use private funds to acquire underwater mortgages -- those where the homes wouldn't sell for enough money to pay off the loans. Under the proposal, the condemned loans would be restructured, lowering the amount owed, with the intent of helping the owner keep the property. The proposal is pushed by a San Francisco investment group called Mortgage Resolution Partners that has close ties to former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. The plan has been denounced by groups representing the securitization industry, as well as the overseer of mortgage titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Nevertheless, the idea appears to be gaining traction among certain jurisdictions, politicians and even some celebrities...more

Appeals Court OKs Warrantless Wiretapping

The federal government may spy on Americans’ communications without warrants and without fear of being sued, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in a decision reversing the first and only case that successfully challenged President George W. Bush’s once-secret Terrorist Surveillance Program. “This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs’ ongoing attempts to hold the executive branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization,” a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote. (.pdf) The case concerned a lower court decision in which two American attorneys — who were working with the now-defunct al-Haramain Islamic Foundation — were awarded more than $20,000 each in damages and their lawyers $2.5 million in legal fees after a tortured legal battle where they proved they were spied on without warrants. They sued under domestic spying laws Congress adopted in the wake of President Richard M. Nixon’s Watergate scandal. The government appealed their victory, and the appeals court Tuesday dismissed the suit and the damages.  Jon Eisenberg, the lawyer for the two attorneys, said he may request the court to reconsider its decision with a larger panel of judges, or petition the Supreme Court. “This case was the only chance to litigate and hold anybody accountable for the warrantless wiretapping program,” he said in a telephone interview. The San Francisco-based appeals court ruled that when Congress wrote the law regulating eavesdropping on Americans and spies, it never waived sovereign immunity in the section prohibiting targeting Americans without warrants. That means Congress did not allow for aggrieved Americans to sue the government, even if their constitutional rights were violated by the United States breaching its own wiretapping laws...more

Test ahead for U.S. law limiting gun-seller liability

Recent deadly shootings in Wisconsin and Colorado reignited calls for more gun control in the United States, but one element has been largely missing from the debate: Should gun makers or sellers be held liable? A 2005 law that protects the gun industry from certain lawsuits has been challenged in Alaska in case that may give gun-control activists their next chance to test the law before the U.S. Supreme Court. On August 2, 2006, Jason Coday, a drifter with a lengthy arrest record, left a gun store in Juneau carrying a Ruger .22 rifle. Two days later, he used the gun to kill Simone Kim, a 26-year-old contract painter who was working outside a supermarket in the city's downtown. Coday was convicted of first-degree murder and other charges and sentenced to 101 years in prison. In 2008, Kim's family sued gun store owner Ray Coxe, alleging that he knowingly allowed Coday, "a fugitive from justice" and a "user of methamphetamine and other drugs," to pay for the gun without first getting a background check. An Alaska state judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2010, citing the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which prohibits civil claims against gun makers and dealers for the "misuse of their products by others." Kim's family is appealing to the Alaska Supreme Court, arguing that the law violated the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved for states or the people. Whichever way the court goes, its decision could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court...more

Song Of The Day #906

Ranch Radio brings you one of its favorite tunes by the Louvin Brothers:  Their 1956 recording of What Is Home Without Love.  Great harmony on this.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Working on a project, so this is it till later this evening.

Cheap, abundant coal isn't going anywhere

Standing in the dispatch office of the North Antelope Rochelle Mine near Gillette, Wyo., Scott Durgin pointed at a flat-panel display. The regional vice president for Peabody Energy smiled. The most productive coal mine in the world was on target. Since midnight, about one train an hour had been loaded, each carrying about 16,000 tons of coal. I asked Durgin how long Peabody could continue mining in the region. Easily for five more decades, he replied. "There's no end to the coal here." The Peabody mine, along with the about 1,300 other coal mines in the United States, is being threatened. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a rule that, if enacted, would in effect outlaw the construction of new coal-fired power plants in the United States. The EPA's motives are clear: It wants to shut down coal plants, which emit lots of carbon dioxide. But the EPA and the Obama administration know their attack on coal is little more than a token gesture. The rest of the world will continue to burn coal, and lots of it. Reducing the use of coal in the United States may force Americans to pay higher prices for electricity, but it will have nearly no effect on climate change. The proposed EPA rule would cap the amount of CO2 that new fossil-fuel electricity generation units could emit at 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour. Absent "carbon capture and storage," a process that isn't commercially viable, that standard will rule out coal-fired units, which emit about 1,800 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. (Natural gas units emit about 800 pounds per megawatt-hour.) Prohibiting new coal-fired power plants may please President Obama's domestic supporters, but it would leave global coal demand and CO2 emissions almost unchanged. Indeed, over the last decade, even if CO2 emissions in the U.S. had fallen to zero, global emissions still would have increased. Consider Vietnam, where electricity use increased by 227 percent from 2001 to 2010. Its coal demand jumped by 175 percent during the period, and it had the world's fastest percentage growth in CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, China has about 650,000 megawatts of coal-fired electricity generation capacity (more than twice the capacity in the United States), and it plans to build an additional 273,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity. Those numbers help explain this fact: Over the last decade, global coal consumption has increased by more than the growth in oil, natural gas and hydro and nuclear power combined...more

After scandal, Ruidoso Downs is moving forward - video

In recent months, horse racing in New Mexico has taken some major blows, including Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino, home of the prestigious All American Futurity. But as the summer racing season winds down, including the All American Futurity on Labor Day, optimism still remains high at the track among track officials and horsemen. In June, the racetrack was raided by federal authorities in an early morning operation that caught many by surprise. Agents seized dozens of racehorses allegedly involved in a money-laundering scheme by Los Zetas, one of the most violent drug cartels in Mexico. Dozens of animals were hauled away in two large horse trailers. The alleged scheme involved laundering millions of dollars by purchasing and racing horses that have won some of the nation's biggest quarter-horse races, including the 2010 All American Futurity, which was won by Mr. Piloto. "The raid was disappointing and disheartening," said Shaun Hubbard, who is the general manager of Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino and grandson of owner R.D. Hubbard. Despite the negative news, attendance is slightly up from last year and the overall betting handle is up as well. Through July 12, 90,000 people had attended races compared with 87,000 at the same point last year. And while the on-site betting handle was down three percent ($4,046,257) through July 13 compared with the same time last year, the overall betting handle, which includes out-of-state betting on races at Ruidoso, was up 10.5 percent ($12,193,900). Last year, an incredible 22,650 fans watched as Ochoa claimed the All American Futurity. The Hubbards have little doubt that this year's race will once again draw a significant amount of fans and interest from around the country...more

Here's the El Paso Times video:

Song Of The Day #905

Today Ranch Radio brings you Silver On The Sage by Johnny Bond and The Red River Valley Boys.

The tune was recorded in 1944 in Hollywood. The Red River Valley Boys were Jimmy Wakely, Merle Travis, Wesley Tuttle, Dick Reinhart and Paul Sells.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The basics of happiness

 by Julie Carter

The world seems to want to close in around all us day-to-day folks who are raising families, working jobs and wondering if it could possibly get better before it gets any worse.

The weather, the economy, and trends in lifestyles that are controversial and foreign to us push hard from every direction.

We spend each day trying to look forward but find ourselves spending a whole lot of time serving up doses of the past to ease the moment.

Looking to that place from whence we came -- those times that our memories serve up sweeter moments and easier days.

They probably really weren't, but that's how it is with memories.

Ingredients for happy moments for country folks have been as simple as good music and table full of food shared with friends and neighbors. Thankfully, that hasn't changed much.

Even this far into the age of high-tech living where before puberty comes iPods, cell phones and laptop computers--the basics of rural family entertainment still remain.

Those boot-scootin' teens will happily show up at a country dance - hats on, belt buckles shining and smiles that light up a barn where they'll shuffle around the dirt floor to the rhythm of country song.

It started when they were barely big enough to walk. Momma or Daddy took them out on the dance floor and danced with them.

By the time they were in the fourth grade, they were finding their own dancing partners, usually someone they had played with in the sand
under the bleachers when they were toddlers at the 4th of July rodeo.

I know people have been dancing in barns on dirt floors since they invented barns. They've laughed and smiled in the rain since the beginning of rain, except for, maybe, those folks stuck on the shore while the ark floated off over the horizon.

A huge part of this country is living in situations and circumstances that are far from entertaining or uplifting. Fear and worry feed the stress they wear on their faces. I believe the majority of people in those places have forgotten how to have fun. They have no way to fight it except with what ends up as addictions and a boiling rage at life in general.

However, what I see now, is an almost desperation to again feel that levity of spirit and each time there is a gathering of folks to celebrate something worthwhile, some of those old feelings return and with it, a crack in the despair. Smiles come easier, folks laugh more readily and there is an elevated appreciation for friendships and the freedom to be happy.

A joyful spirit is a generous spirit and when there is a need, even the poor will pull out their pockets and empty them for a cause. That fuels even more joy. Pie auctions and passing the hat are two of the original bailout plans. As natural disasters have plagued our country this year, people have nearly trampled each other to get in line to help out whoever and whenever they could.

Is this the upside of a disastrous economy and uncertainty for tomorrow? Are we, the people, finally realizing that what we have right here in front of us is precious and that simple things can bring great pleasure?

I'm just saying, I'm convinced those folks dancing in the barn and smiling in the rain have something figured out. We need a whole lot more rain, and with it, a whole lot more neighborly barn dances.

The recipe isn't new, but the enthusiasm can be renewed. I'm all for passing a little more of that around.

Julie, who never did learn the Cotton-eyed Joe, can be reached for comment at

Oh No! Julie Carter can't do the Cotton-eyed Joe.  The world as I've known it will never be the same.  The ground is rumbling under my feet as a sea change sweeps across the West.

InsightUSA - The New Mexico Syndrome

Ominous Thunder
The New Mexico Syndrome
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            As I sit here in the cool, predawn of an August morning, I hear the Thump, thump of artillery and tank exercises at Ft. Bliss. The 40 miles from where I type in my saddle shop and that live fire by our military doesn’t erase the sound. I can feel the affect of those projectiles even from this distance. It is like a grand analogy of our lives and our citizenship.
We trust our military, but the ominous thunder I am witnessing right now harkens to other fights we endure. Those conflicts center on governmental actions. Those actions don’t offer any pretense of upholding sovereign individual dominion. We dread the outcomes, and … we find little corrective support.
The morning update
Two things happened over the past week that are indicative of the dilemma. The first was the disclosure that the Department of Interior is pressing ahead with administrative actions to pursue the Wildlands program. This is simply an end run around the rejected policies of the previous Wildlands Secretarial order the Administration had to abandon.
In their letter to Secretary Salazar, Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman Rob Bishop called for the retrieval of the BLM manuals distributed pursuing the Wildlands protocol. The Interior plan is clearly intended to expand de facto wilderness management of federal lands that, according to the literature of the conceptual underpinnings, would require the partial to complete removal of all things civilized!
The second indicator comes from the antics of Congress to pass the new Farm Bill. The current Farm Bill expires September 30. That legislation has become a hoax that purports to support Agriculture, but, in reality, is yet another grand wealth redistribution scheme.
When the heart of the bill has become the pursuit and proliferation of food stamp distributions, agriculturists have unwittingly become pawns in the perpetuation of the whole affair. An example is the partisan defense of a portion of the bill.
The Progressives are claiming that the Republicans are gutting Conservation Programs. They call attention to a $350M reduction in funding to the Environmental Quality Improvement Program (EQIP). A close review of EQIP, though, should make every tax payer shudder. In 2002, the program funding level was $200M. Currently, the projected 2013 budget is $1.75B! Who among us should be gnashing our teeth and biting our nails over “real dollars” being cut to hit the $1.75B line item?
Rather than risk an election debate reprisal, though, the Republicans have elected to play ‘possum with the matter. They have taken up the matter by passing a $383M disaster relief package. Rather than fighting for spending cuts, they went back to a tried and true election year standard by paying somebody something. In this case it was drought stricken ranchers.
Even the rationale is pathetic. The wording coming out of Washington read “Facing ruin and uncertainty many ranchers have liquidated herds”. If that was so important, wouldn’t the greater affect have been to make such distributions before those herds had to be liquidated?
Rising Tide
There is an interesting thing happening in New Mexico that bears watching. It isn’t coming from Santa Fe.
Santa Fe remains immersed in the deep clutches of one of the country’s premier welfare state management models. It is revealed in the yield of federal distributions back into the state relative to federal tax harvests remitted to the IRS, the dismal high school graduation rate in that town amidst its highest minimum wage rate in the state, and the proliferation of heroin use amongst its youth.
The movement is coming from the southern end of the state. It is there the citizenry, waging a battle against the federal juggernaut, is starting to seek alternative prescriptions for relief.
It is there the citizenry has been savaged by unending federal programs that threaten customs and cultures. A partial list of those actions includes the progressive commandeering of local governance starting in influential Dona Ana County, the Mexican wolf reintroduction, repeated attempts to extend wildlands proliferation through massive federal land schemes, the attempt to shut down wide swaths of the vital Permian Basin oil patch through ESA, the arrival of the mega-fires emanating from make believe forest management, the stepwise elimination of historic roads in national forests, the expansion of Trojan partnerships between federal agencies, environmental groups and at risk private operations, the increasing federal attempt to claim state water rights, and the open borders policies of the Mexican border.
The process started long before the attempts to ward off the destructive reintroduction of the Mexican wolf in the Gila National Forest. Catron County was most dramatically impacted from the onset.
That county had been in the crosshairs for many years. The Wilderness Act was the initial driver in the decimation of their historic industries. Soon to be released university economic studies will reveal, in specific terms, the erosion of their cattle industry. That combined with the elimination of logging, the elimination of all complexity of grazing, the evolution of make believe Forest management, and the reintroduction of the wolf have devastated the underpinnings and hope of that community.
Otero County became the beacon for County Commission adherence to sworn constitutional duty. That body stepped up with resolutions and a single New Mexico statue and told the Forest Service they were going to take over the management of their county’s Lincoln National Forest. That appeared to be the only course of action to protect the lives and well being of Otero County citizenry.
Lea and Eddy Counties took up the fight against the cataclysm that a pending listing of a lizard posed to their oil business. Their commissions began to look to other like minded commissions to seek added strength.
That same realization was demonstrated in southern border conservation districts. It started in Dona Ana County and it spread to seven conservation districts which have aligned with each other to fight against unannounced and uncoordinated federal land schemes initiated outside of local governance land plans.
The Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) promised the Western states that, if they would give up their rights to the promised constitutional contract to dispose of federal lands, they would be at the table in all federal land decisions. That promise is as unfulfilled and porous as the southern Arizona border.
The Council of Border Conservation Districts united to disagree with how their lands are being managed. Their unofficial motto became “You (federal government) are not going to renege on the promises of FLPMA made to allow us to be at the table to discuss matters affecting our communities”.
An emerging, like minded group of southwestern county commissions has also come to recognize the same reoccurring theme. They, too, face the accelerating onslaught of federal demands in all quarters without active State of New Mexico intervention.
The State of New Mexico needs to come to the realization that southern New Mexico actually exists. It must recognize its long range best interest is served in supporting that southern constituency.
Faye Hardin, Chief Executive of Insight-USA, is a Christian broadcaster. She is based in the very heart of those sprawling southwestern desert environs, Orlando, Florida! Faye has adopted what she believes is a watershed mission.
She has come to view New Mexico as the key battleground for America’s future. “If the tide is not turned in New Mexico, our federal government will consume us all,” she counsels. “This is not just a state’s rights issue. This is the battle of good and evil.”
Faye Hardin’s ministry has a history of seeking specific missions. Her early work behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany and in the Ukraine demonstrated similar efforts. It was there she worked for recognition of private property rights and the plight of people under oppressive regimes. She became known as a defender of disenfranchised people whose significance remained critical to the foundation of society.  
Insight-USA is coming to New Mexico with a goal. That goal is to cast light on these continuing federal onslaughts. If you listen to Faye speak, her approach is evangelical, but it also adheres to old time country politics. She claims that her mission starts with prayer, but, with her broadcasting colleagues, her message potentially reaches … 49 million households each month.
New Mexico rancher, Tom Runyan, who was present at a recent Insight-USA function in Lubbock has an opinion of Faye. “For 40 years we have tried to get things done through our traditional industry channels,” he began. “We have largely failed.”
“Faye brings us hope … and a different approach.”
Indeed … the sum of all previous approaches has pushed the vital, foundational industries to the brink of a very dark chasm.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “The first Insight-USA workshop in New Mexico will take place September 29 in Albuquerque. Already, a number of grassroots speakers are seeking a slot at the podium … speakers who have never sought such an opportunity.”


The website for InsightUSA is here.

Wilmeth's column, The Case of the Butterfield Trail and Dona Ana County , is based upon a speech he gave on July 20 to attendees of Faye Hardin's InsightUSA gathering in Lubbock, Texas. Also speaking that day was Marita Noon, who has written a column for based on Wilmeth's speech.

The two sections of FLPMA referred to by Wilmeth are:

Sec. 102. [43 U.S.C. 1701] (a) The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that– (1) the public lands be retained in Federal ownership, unless as a result of the land use planning procedure provided for in this Act, it is determined that disposal of a particular parcel will serve the national interest;

Sec. 202.

(9) to the extent consistent with the laws governing the administration of the public lands, coordinate the land use inventory, planning, and management activities of or for such lands with the land use planning and management programs of other Federal departments and agencies and of the States and local governments within which the lands are located, including, but not limited to, the statewide outdoor recreation plans developed under the Act of September 3, 1964 (78 Stat. 897), as amended [16 U.S.C. 460l–4 et seq. note], and of or for Indian tribes by, among other things, considering the policies of approved State and tribal land resource management programs. In implementing this directive, the Secretary shall, to the extent he finds practical, keep apprised of State, local, and tribal land use plans; assure that consideration is given to those State, local, and tribal plans that are germane in the development of land use plans for public lands; assist in resolving, to the extent practical, inconsistencies between Federal and non-Federal Government plans, and shall provide for meaningful public involvement of State and local government officials, both elected and appointed, in the development of land use programs, land use regulations, and land use decisions for public lands, including early public notice of proposed decisions which may have a significant impact on non-Federal lands. Such officials in each State are authorized to furnish advice to the Secretary with respect to the development and revision of land use plans, land use guidelines, land use rules, and land use regulations for the public lands within such State and with respect to such other land use matters as may be referred to them by him. Land use plans of the Secretary under this section shall be consistent with State and local plans to the maximum extent he finds consistent with Federal law and the purposes of this Act.

Not mentioned by Wilmeth but important to all grazing allotment owners is this language in Title IV of FLPMA:

If the Secretary concerned elects to develop an allotment management plan for a given area, he shall do so in careful and considered consultation, cooperation and coordination with the lessees, permittees, and landowners involved, the district grazing advisory boards established pursuant to section 403 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (43 U.S.C. 1753), and any State or States having lands within the area to be covered by such allotment management plan.

The New Mexico Dept. of Agriculture and the Range Improvement Task Force at NMSU have signed MOUs with the State Director of BLM and the Regional Forester of the Forest Service to implement this section of the law. Any allotment owner can invoke this section by requesting a "Section 8" meeting on any proposed decision.

Check with your own state to see how implementation is done. I'll bet it's not being done at all. New Mexico led the way on getting this language in FLPMA and on implementing it after passage.

And let's not forget NEPA, which becomes involved in all federal land use plans, and which has the following language:

...declares that it is the continuing policy of the Federal Government, in cooperation with State and local governments, and other concerned public and private organizations, to use all practicable means and measures, including financial and technical assistance, in a manner calculated to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.

Get with it out there.