Saturday, November 17, 2012

Feds decline to list Mexican wolves as subspecies

Environmentalists are blasting a federal government decision not to list the Mexican gray wolf as a separate subspecies under the Endangered Species Act. The group WildEarth Guardians says Friday's decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service means efforts to help the wolf population recover will be hurt. WildEarth Guardians petitioned to relist the Mexican wolf as a separate subspecies in 2009. Mexican wolves are a subspecies of the gray wolf. They were first added to the endangered species list in 1976 after hunting and government-sponsored extermination campaigns nearly wiped them out. A reintroduction effort along the New Mexico-Arizona border began in 1998 with the release of 11 wolves. The program has been hampered by everything from illegal killings to legal wrangling, and only about 60 live in the region. AP

Oh, We Forgot to Tell You ...

by Victor David Hanson

The second-term curse goes like this: A president (e.g., Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, etc.) wins re-election, but then his presidency implodes over the next four years -- mired in scandals or disasters such as Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinsky, the Iraqi insurgency and Hurricane Katrina.
     Apparently, like tragic Greek heroes, administrations grow arrogant after their re-election wins. They believe that they are invincible and that heir public approval is permanent rather than fickle.
The result is that Nemesis zeroes in on their fatal conceit and with a boom corrects their hubris. Or is the problem in some instances simply that embarrassments and scandals, hushed up in fear that they might cost an administration an election, explode with a fury in the second term?
     Coincidentally, right after the election we heard that Iran had attacked a U.S. drone in international waters.
     Coincidentally, we just learned that new food stamp numbers were "delayed" and that millions more became new recipients in the months before the election.
     Coincidentally, we now gather that the federal relief effort following Hurricane Sandy was not so smooth, even as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Barack Obama high-fived it. Instead, in Katrina-like fashion, tens of thousands are still without power or shelter two weeks after the storm.
     Coincidentally, we now learn that Obama's plan of letting tax rates increase for the "fat cat" 2 percent who make over $250,000 a year would not even add enough new revenue to cover 10 percent of the annual deficit. How he would get the other 90 percent in cuts, we are never told.
     Coincidentally, we now learn that the vaunted Dream Act would at most cover only about 10 percent to 20 percent of illegal immigrants. As part of the bargain, does Obama have a post-election Un-Dream Act to deport the other 80 percent who do not qualify since either they just recently arrived in America, are not working, are not in school or the military, are on public assistance, or have a criminal record?
     Coincidentally, now that the election is over, the scandal over the killings of Americans in Libya seems warranted due to the abject failure to heed pleas for more security before the attack and assistance during it. And the scandal is about more than just the cover-up of fabricating an absurd myth of protestors mad over a 2-month-old video -- just happening to show up on the anniversary of 9/11 with machine guns and rockets.

HT: News NM

Ranchers, farmers brace for 'death tax' impact

Rancher Kevin Kester works dawn to dusk, drives a 12-year-old pick-up truck and earns less than a typical bureaucrat in Washington D.C., yet the federal government considers him rich enough to pay the estate tax -- also known as the "death tax." And with that tax set to soar at the beginning of 2013 without some kind of intervention from Congress, farmers and ranchers like Kester are waiting anxiously. "There is no way financially my kids can pay what the IRS is going to demand from them nine months after death and keep this ranch intact for their generation and future generations," said Kester, of the Bear Valley Ranch in Central California. Two decades ago, Kester paid the IRS $2 million when he inherited a 22,000-acre cattle ranch from his grandfather. Come January, the tax burden on his children will be more than $13 million. For supporters of a high estate tax, which is imposed on somebody's estate after death, Kester is the kind of person they rarely mention. He doesn't own a mansion. He's not the CEO of a multi-national. But because of his line of work, he owns a lot of property that would be subject to a lot of tax...more

Friday, November 16, 2012

New trial, different verdict in NM Teapot Dome scandal

The two descendants of Albert Bacon Fall both know that Saturday's retrial and subsequent not-guilty verdict of their historically infamous relative won't have much legal standing. But they're holding out hope that someone with the appropriate power specifically the president of the United States may be able to lend a hand. Eighty-three years after Fall, a judge, U.S. senator from New Mexico and secretary of the interior during the Warren G. Harding presidency, was convicted of bribery during the Teapot Dome scandal, an Alamogordo audience found him not guilty of that conviction. It was the result of an informal retrial of United States v. Albert Bacon Fall that was staged Saturday night at New Mexico State University-Alamogordo's Tays Special Events Center. "It's what we've been saying all along," said Jouette Smith, the great-granddaughter of Fall who made the trip from Deming to watch the retrial of her great-grandfather. "I just wish the rest of our family could be here for this. My father (Fall's grandson) was obsessed about this his entire life. This would have pleased him." The case was presented by local attorneys, judges and others as part of Alamogordo's state centennial celebration. It was sponsored by the bar associations of Otero and Lincoln counties. The jury members of the audience sat through nearly three-and-a-half hours of testimony for and against Fall...more

Fort Sill Apache celebrate reservation anniversary

One year after being granted reservation status in New Mexico, the Fort Sill Apache raised their flag Friday on their 30-acre plot in the Akela Flats of southern New Mexico. But tribal Chairman Jeff Haozous says it will likely take generations to re-establish a true presence on tribal homelands. That remains contingent, however, on resolution of the tribe's longstanding battle to build a casino on the reservation, and there has been little progress in the last year. The casino is necessary for the tribe to be able to make money to expand the reservation and create the jobs necessary to lure tribal members back, Haozous said in a telephone interview. But Gov. Susana Martinez opposes the casino, saying the tribe promised it would not establish gambling when that land was first put into trust a decade ago. Additionally, other tribes that operate casinos in the state have failed to line up in support of the proposal, and others have questioned the tribe's sincerity in seeking the reservation status as part of its quest to return to its New Mexico homelands. Haozous, however, says he remains undeterred, and the tribe will submit its proposal to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Fort Sill Apache Tribe, which has about 700 members, is the legal successor of the Chiricahua, Warm Springs, Nednais and Bedonke bands of Apache Indians. They lived in southwestern New Mexico and Arizona until they were removed and made prisoners of war when Geronimo surrendered. They were first taken to Florida, then to Alabama and finally Oklahoma...more

Song Of The Day #974

Ranch Radio is dustin' off an old 78rpm with Arthur Smith's Krackerjacks performing Mountain Polka.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Utah: Taking over public lands a tough, complex task

The Utah Legislature’s controversial plan to transfer millions of federal acres of mountains, desert and grasslands to the state will be extremely complicated to implement and could threaten revenue from the federal government now flowing into the state, according to a new study. "A great deal of work needs to be done. This is a complex process. Additional steps are needed to get us to the point where we are fully informed," Tony Rampton, a deputy attorney general assigned to public lands, told legislators Wednesday. Passed last session, HB148 demands title to most federal land within Utah’s borders be transferred to the state. This land covers about 60 percent of Utah and does not include the five national parks and the national monuments — except for Grand Staircase-Escalante — nor areas designated under the National Wilderness Preservation System...more

Public Lands Transfer Study recommendations

Set up a 9-member “interim” panel with representatives from various interests to continue studying the state acquisition of federal land.

Pre-designate protected wilderness or conservation areas.

 Indemnify Utah counties against any loss of revenue.

Review existing state park designations and increase funding to parks and landscape conservation initiatives.

 Direct new revenue to public education or other legislatively designated priorities.

Ski areas and Forest Service fight over water rights

Ski-area operators and their federal landlord faced off in federal court Thursday, arguing over ownership of the resorts' rights to water they use for snowmaking and other purposes. Last year the Forest Service introduced a new rule in its ski-area permitting process that required ski areas to transfer some water rights to the federal government, arguing the water should stay connected to the publicly owned land. The Lakewood-based National Ski Areas Association — or NSAA — sued, calling the new permitting condition a federal takeover of private property that ski areas acquired legally through state water courts. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge William Martinez entertained oral arguments from both sides in a case that could decide the fate of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ski-area water rights. Citing 140 years of federal laws and court decisions, NSAA lawyer Zeke Williams argued the agency overstepped its authority with the new directive, which he called a "sea change in agency law." "The agency can point to no statute that authorizes it to condition use and occupancy permits on the permit holder assigning to the Forest Service property that is not federal property," Williams said. The Forest Service says it changed the law to prevent ski areas from selling water rights connected to federal land. "The worry here is that a permittee could cease using the area for permitted purposes and move the water somewhere else," said Department of Justice attorney Clay Samford...more

Colorado ranchers, sportsmen propose buy back of oil-lease land

Colorado ranchers and sportsmen have hatched a novel plan to protect 220,000 acres of high-country public land from oil and gas drilling: Buy back the leases from energy companies. The opening offer — $2.5 million, or $2 per acre, the amount the companies paid for the leases when they were auctioned by the Bureau of Land Management nearly a decade ago — was rejected as too low. But the Thompson Divide Coalition says it can raise as much as $50 million to buy nonproducing leases and protect an area spanning five counties south of Glenwood Springs that supports the region's robust tourism and agricultural economies. Theirs is a free-market alternative to complex litigation and the confrontational battle now being waged by Front Range anti-fracking activists...more

Evansville zoo adds pair of mexican gray wolves

Staffers at Evansville's zoo are hoping that its new pair of endangered Mexican gray wolves will be good parents as they try to help the species thrive again. The adult male and female arrived Tuesday at Mesker Park Zoo after a flight from a federal wolf management center in New Mexico, the Evansville Courier & Press ( ) reported. Zoo officials say the species has become endangered because of livestock practices and shootings and that fewer than 300 remain in captivity. Plans are for the two wolves to breed at the Evansville zoo and be foster parents for pups rescued from the wild, said Mesker animal curator Susan Lindsey. The pair had pups in 2010 and 2011. "This pair of experienced parents will make a significant contribution to the recovery efforts," said Lindsey, an adviser to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Mexican gray wolf recovery program...more

Endangered Wildlife Reflects Troubled Waters

...Right now, many of the ecosystems associated with our lakes, rivers and streams are showing signs of distress. Clean drinking water is something we all need every day. Most of Earth's surface is water, but between saltwater and ice caps, only 1 percent of this water is available for drinking, irrigating our crops, and running our fisheries and industries. When our waterways show signs of stress, we need to listen. The Endangered Species Coalition just released a report detailing 10 imperiled water-related ecosystems, and the imperiled wildlife that depend on them. Pay attention: there's probably a lake or river near you on the list.
Here are some examples:
• In the Sonoran Desert, near Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., the last few hundred Sonoran pronghorn antelope struggle to survive in one of the hottest, driest corners of North America.
• In the Ozark Rivers and streams of the Eastern United States, the ancient salamander called the hellbender has declined 75 percent since the 1980s. North America's largest salamander depends entirely on cold, clean rushing water.
• In Florida's famous Everglades, some 600 native species are rare or imperiled. One example is the Everglades kite, a beautiful hawk that specializes in eating a single kind of snail.
• In the Colorado River (the river that carved the Grand Canyon) four species of native chub and pikeminnow fish are listed as endangered.
The other imperiled ecosystems -- and information about what people can do to help protect them -- can be found at

Wolves return to courthouse

Environmental groups once again are aiming to place Wyoming wolves under federal protection. The groups, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and Natural Resources Defense Council, asked a federal judge to order the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to revoke its granting of wolf management to Wyoming and get the canines back on the Endangered Species list. The groups filing the suit oppose the predator zone where wolves can be shot on sight across most of Wyoming. “While it is true that most of the wolves in Wyoming currently reside in that northwestern corner of the state, the Wyoming plan ensures that wolves will never be allowed beyond that imposed boundary — a policy of absolute intolerance for a species that our country just spent the last several decades working to recover,” said Natural Resource Defense Council Wildlife Program Director Dr. Sylvia Fallon in her blog Tuesday. “Furthermore, by restricting wolves to the northwest corner and reducing the number of wolves surrounding Yellowstone, Wyoming’s plan compromises the ability of wolves to successfully travel (and exchange DNA) between the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the remaining wolf sub-populations in central Idaho and northwest Montana — a component that has been identified as critical to the survival of the entire Northern Rockies wolf population.” But Eric Keszler, public information officer for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said there is documentation of genetic exchange between Wyoming wolves and wolves in central Idaho and northwest Montana,. Wyoming is getting the samples necessary to track the genetic diversity of wolves, said Gov. Matt Mead. “Those suing the federal government appear to have decided to go forward regardless of what is happening on the ground,” Mead said...more

Wyo. adjusting well to wolf management

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has had no difficulty taking over monitoring wolves outside Yellowstone National Park since the federal government removed Wyoming's wolves from endangered species protection last summer, according to the biologist now in charge of keeping an eye on the state's population. Wyoming must report annually on the status of its wolf population under its agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that got the animals delisted. As a result, Wyoming has begun tracking about 40 radio-collared wolves in some 20 packs east and south of Yellowstone, a job that previously fell to Fish and Wildlife in that area. Meanwhile, Wyoming's first wolf hunt since delisting in August also has been providing data for the state agency. State biologists have been able to examine and take genetic samples from wolves killed by hunters this fall, said Mark Bruscino, large carnivore section supervisor for Game and Fish. "By and large, hunters have acted ethically. They're working with us, reporting harvests immediately," Bruscino, who is based in Cody, said Tuesday...more

Idaho county sues amid bid to delist caribou

A northern Idaho county and a snowmobile group sued the U.S. Department of Interior in federal court, the latest step in their bid to have Endangered Species Act protections lifted from rare woodland caribou that roam the U.S-Canadian border region. Bonner County and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association filed their complaint Thursday in U.S. District Court. They're being represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group. Their complaint contends U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has failed to act on their petition lodged earlier this year contending the caribou were improperly given ESA protections starting in 1983. They want Salazar to make a decision on the petition -- and to pay for their lawsuit. Four caribou were counted south of the Canadian border during an aerial census last winter. AP

Links of interest

Idaho skiers go to court in powder struggle with snowmobile use

Proposal calls for SEAT to be stationed at Ruidoso airport

Injured sledder sues Forest Service

BLM IDs wilderness characteristics, grouse habitat on Hi-Line

Obama Begins Push for New National Retirement System

Putting up peaches brings back memories

by Delbert Trew

...The mention of peaches brings to mind a story from 1951 on the old Griffin/Trew Ranch in the old rock house at the headquarters on Rana Creek. The late Jack Buxton of Logan, N.M., and I were single, batching cowboys — big men with big appetites and somewhat limited in cooking expertise. We could cook meat, biscuits, pinto beans and gravy. Though we both had “sweet teeth,” we were deficient in sweet recipes and the necessary ingredients to concoct.

With the screw worm season in full swing, we left before daylight, riding one horse and leading another and with saddle bags filled with screw worm dope, not leaving room for lunch of any size. We returned each evening late as tired cowboys riding sweating horses. The missed lunch had our backbones rubbing against the front lining of our empty stomachs. That evening meal became the high point of the day.

My mother devised a recipe even cowboys could produce. It called for a certain size Bisquick box and a certain size sack of sugar, all mixed and poured into a big pan. Last came a gallon of store-bought sliced peaches. She called it an upside-down cobbler; because of the size, we called it “super cobbler.” Just place the mixture into a preheated oven and miraculously, the crust rose to the top and browned. To the best of my memory, Jack and I ate one of these about every five days all summer and appreciated every bite.

As a growing boy of 17, I credit the super cobbler with saving my life several times. Many an afternoon, as I watched the sun slowly creep across the New Mexico sky, I called upon my vision of the super cobbler to restore my energy enough to get back to the house and unsaddle my tired horse.

Brown Mountain lights still enchanting

No one knows the answer to the mountain’s mystery, including C.W. Smith, who has probably spent as much time around fabled Brown Mountain as anyone alive. Smith, 67, spent 33 years with the U.S. Forest Service, patrolling the Pisgah National Forest as a federal law enforcement agent beginning in 1966. He knows every fold of the ridge and is familiar with its marquee mystery, the so-called Brown Mountain Lights. He grew up in nearby McDowell County in western North Carolina and never much believed the stories about nocturnal flickerings. Then while working one night, he caught sight of what looked like a bonfire on the mountain, but in a place where there were no trails. “It started going up the mountain, too fast for someone to be using mountain-climbing equipment. It went up to the ridge line and disappeared.” With that, Smith became a believer, he told a symposium on the phenomenon held Saturday at Morganton Municipal Auditorium. “If you ever see them, you’ll never forget it because you’ve never seen anything like it before.”Brown Mountain, a rugged lump in the wrinkles of the Blue Ridge, has attracted attention since antiquity because of the lights. Folklore holds that Cherokee Indians thought they were torches held by ghosts of grieving maidens. An early European explorer, a German surveyor named G.W. de Brahm, studied the mountain in 1771 and concluded it vented “nitrous vapors which are borne by the wind.” Other theories have been floated through the years.In February 1913, the Observer ran through a few, including dust vented from a mica mine, then added: “Quite a few suspect that some moonshiner, who likes not the limelight, is sending up the light on a kite to frighten his neighbors and others out of that immediate vicinity.” A U.S. Geologic Survey later that year concluded people were observing refracted lamps from locomotives on the Southern Railway. Then came the Great Flood of 1916, which washed away tracks and the theory. Trains didn’t run for a spell, but the lights stayed on the job...more

Read more here:

Song Of The Day #973

The story above is about the Brown Mountain Lights and Ranch Radio brings you Sonny James singing about them.

Researchers: Global warming necessitates elimination or significant reduction of livestock

Eight researchers in a new report have suggested that climate change is causing additional stress to many western rangelands, and as a result land managers should consider a significant reduction, or in some places elimination of livestock and other large animals from public lands. A growing degradation of grazing lands could be mitigated if large areas of Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service lands became free of use by livestock and “feral ungulates” such as wild horses and burros, and high populations of deer and elk were reduced, the group of scientists said.  Their findings were reported today in Environmental Management, a professional journal published by Springer...more

Among the observations of this report:

• In the western U.S., climate change is expected to intensify even if greenhouse gas emissions are dramatically reduced.
• Among the threats facing ecosystems as a result of climate change are invasive species, elevated wildfire occurrence, and declining snowpack.
• Federal land managers have begun to adapt to climate-related impacts, but not the combined effects of climate and hooved mammals, or ungulates.
• Climate impacts are compounded from heavy use by livestock and other grazing ungulates, which cause soil erosion, compaction, and dust generation; stream degradation; higher water temperatures and pollution; loss of habitat for fish, birds and amphibians; and desertification.
• Encroachment of woody shrubs at the expense of native grasses and other plants can occur in grazed areas, affecting pollinators, birds, small mammals and other native wildlife.
• Livestock grazing and trampling degrades soil fertility, stability and hydrology, and makes it vulnerable to wind erosion. This in turn adds sediments, nutrients and pathogens to western streams.
• Water developments and diversion for livestock can reduce streamflows and increase water temperatures, degrading habitat for fish and aquatic invertebrates.
• Grazing and trampling reduces the capacity of soils to sequester carbon, and through various processes contributes to greenhouse warming.
• Domestic livestock now use more than 70 percent of the lands managed by the BLM and Forest Service, and their grazing may be the major factor negatively affecting wildlife in 11 western states. In the West, about 175 taxa of freshwater fish are considered imperiled due to habitat-related causes.
• Removing or significantly reducing grazing is likely to be far more effective, in cost and success, than piecemeal approaches to address some of these concerns in isolation.

Study may be viewed here.

The need for a balanced public lands policy

By Kathleen Clarke
    In its 2012 general session, the Utah Legislature passed HB148: The Transfer of Public Lands Act. This bill charged the Constitutional Defense Council with the duty to study the many complex issues pertaining to the public lands and to report its findings to the Legislature. As director of the Governor's Public Lands Policy Coordination Office, I have overseen this ongoing study.
My experience as the previous executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources and the national director of the United States Bureau of Land Management has given me a unique insight into public lands policy: Utah's public lands would be better managed, more productive and more accessible under state stewardship.
    Current federal land policy and management is inefficient, ineffective and threatens the long-term use and enjoyment of the public lands. Washington gridlock has resulted in a system where rigid and often conflicting management policies shackle federal land managers and prevent them from actively managing the lands.
Outmoded federal policies have resulted in forests that are vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire, insect infestation and disease. Our rangelands are deteriorating and restoration efforts are underfunded. While land is rich in timber and mineral resources, production efforts are either precluded entirely or greatly limited by regulations, endless administrative red tape and lawsuits brought by interest groups that oppose any use of the land.
    As long as the public lands remain under federal control, they will continue to deteriorate, and Utah and its citizens will be deprived of the many economic benefits to which we are entitled and so desperately need. I am confident that, in state hands, the public lands will be restored, protected and more productive.
Utahns have always been good stewards of the land. We have a long track record of both environmental protection and fiscal responsibility. Utah has the expertise in existing agencies —including those within the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Agriculture and Food — to address the many complex and interrelated issues of public land management. Utahns know that people from around the world flock to our state for its unmatched beauty and incredible scenery, and to experience meaningful outdoor experiences...
    HB148 is neither a "land grab" nor a "political stunt," as some have maliciously alleged. It is an earnest effort to draw attention to a federal lands policy that does not protect the land, does not pay for itself and does not meet the economic or energy challenges of today. There is no intent to sell transferred lands. Rather, these lands will be retained in state ownership and control so that they forever benefit not only the people who live, work and recreate on them, but all Utahns who look to government services to educate their children and enhance their lives. 

Toyota Recalling 670,000 Prius Hybrids in U.S.

Toyota is recalling 670,000 of its 2004-9 Prius hybrids in the United States to fix problems involving the loss of steering and the hybrid powertrain shutting down, the automaker has told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The move is part of a worldwide recall of 2.77 million vehicles, according to The Associated Press, which quoted Toyota officials in Japan. The cars are being recalled because the metal used for a steering component is not hard enough, according to a report the automaker filed on Wednesday with the safety agency. The part could wear out “if the steering wheel is frequently and forcefully turned to the full left or full right position while driving at low speeds,” and that “could result in the loss of steering ability,” according to the report. A second recall covers 350,000 of those same vehicles and involves replacing an electric water pump that could fail and shut down the hybrid powertrain system. But the gas engine would continue to move the vehicle, Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman, said in an e-mail...more

IRS and Treasury Investigate Obama's SolarCity

News that SolarCity, another recipient of millions in government largess from the Obama Administration, would be issuing an IPO forced the disclosure that the IRS and the Treasury Department were now investigating the company, and others, for potential abuse of taxpayer funds. The company, which received a subpoena in July from the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Treasury to determine whether the company was part of a scam, inaccurately stated the fair-market value of their PV systems when applying for funds under the Treasury's Section 1603 cash-grant program. Rumors of "misrepresentation" on 1603 applications have swirled since Solar Energy Industries Association President and CEO Rhone Resch alluded to such behavior -- and other ethically questionable practices cropping up in the solar sector -- at this year's Solar Power International conference. "The Department of Justice could decide to bring a civil action to recover amounts it believes were improperly paid to us," SolarCity writes in its SEC filing. "If it were successful in asserting this action, we could then be required to pay damages and penalties for any funds received based on such misrepresentations." The Obama Administration awarded the company a $275 million loan guarantee. In addition, it has been awarded millions in contracts to supply solar panels to military housing across the country. Like Solyndra, the owners of SolarCity are donors to the Obama campaign and the Democrat National Committee...more

Business Lobby Balks at California Auction of Carbon Emission Rights

On the eve of the first auction for carbon-emission permits in California, the state's Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit that slams the plan as a "money grab." By auctioning carbon allowances to entities responsible for the majority of the state's pollution, the California Air Resources Board has created an unconstitutional tax, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in superior court. "This action brought by an unelected state board to use regulatory statutes to raise tens of billions dollars from taxpayers is unprecedented in our state's history," the powerful business lobby claims. "Even the elected and democratically accountable Legislature and governors of California have never imposed such a massive tax/fee. "What is shocking about this money grab, in addition to the fact it exceeds the authority granted to the regulatory agency by the Legislature, is the agency's admission that this revenue-raising component of its regulations is unnecessary to achieve the purposes of the regulatory scheme." The chamber says that its lawsuit is not about the merits of climate change, nor does it challenge the Legislature's authority to manage the state's greenhouse gas emissions. "This lawsuit is about one thing and one thing only - the lack of authority of the unelected, politically-appointed Air Resources Board to engraft into a regulatory program a $70 billion or more revenue-raising device that would impose what is in effect an invalid tax or an unconstitutional fee," the complaint states...more

Forests study a grand merger

The U.S. Forest Service’s regional office has told officials with the Bridger-Teton and Caribou-Targhee national forests to study a merger. Regional Forester Harv Forsgren sent a letter about a month ago requesting that Bridger-Teton Supervisor Jacque Buchanan and Caribou-Targhee Supervisor Brent Larson begin investigating a merger, Buchanan said Tuesday. Members of the two forests’ staffs will come up with a recommendation before February. At that time, a preliminary decision could be reached. If the recommendation is to merge and that occurs, the result would be the largest national forest in the Lower 48. A combined Caribou-Targhee-Bridger-Teton National Forest would be almost 6.5 million acres. Only Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, at 17 million acres, would be larger. The investigation into merging forests is being driven by budget shortfalls, Buchanan and Forest Service regional spokeswoman Erin O’Connor said...more

Groups sue over Wyoming wolf delisting

Four conservation groups joined together in a lawsuit filed Tuesday seeking to place Wyoming gray wolves back on the endangered species list. Wyoming’s wolf management plan is too aggressive and does not protect wolves in 85 percent of the state, said Mike Leahy, Rockies and Plains director for Defenders of Wildlife, one of the groups participating in the lawsuit. Other groups in the lawsuit include the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the District of Columbia. “We want the wolves to be protected until Wyoming comes up with a plan that doesn’t leave the wolves isolated in the Yellowstone population and cut off from other wolves. And we object to the idea that an eradication policy is appropriate for the great majority of the state of Wyoming,” said Tim Preso, an attorney for Earthjustice, a nonprofit law firm representing the conservation groups. It could be months before the federal court hears arguments and makes a decision...more

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Video: Some Horses Starving As Hay Prices Continue To Rise

Abandoned and starving horses were a problem before the drought hit, thanks to the do-gooders.

Ken Salazar offers to "punch out" reporter Dave Philipps for wild horse question

Nobody has ever mistaken Ken Salazar, the mild-mannered, 57-year-old Secretary of the Interior, for Mike Tyson. Except, perhaps, Salazar himself. Taken by surprise by a question about one of his agency's most troubled programs -- the scandal-plagued effort to rid the public lands of "excess" wild horses -- the flustered Salazar apparently threatened to clean the clock of Colorado Springs Gazette reporter Dave Philipps. The exchange went down on election day, during a gathering of Obama supporters in Fountain. Philipps, who recently wrote a revealing piece for ProPublica about how the Bureau of Land Management has moved at least 1,700 wild horses to a Colorado livestock hauler who may have shipped them abroad to slaughterhouses, grabbed a couple of minutes with the Secretary for a quick interview. Philipps asked Salazar about the pending investigation of the horse trader, Tom Davis -- who, as Philipps pointed out in his original article, lives "just down the road" from the Salazar family spread in the San Luis Valley. Salazar said he didn't know much about it. According to witness Ginger Kathrens, executive director of the wild horse advocacy group the Cloud Foundation, Salazar then unexpectedly turned back to Philipps and declared, "If you set me up like this again, I'll punch you out."...more

Editorial: Ken Salazar owes an apology to reporter

Appearing at an Election Day event for the Obama campaign in Fountain last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar snapped, plain and simple. He — not a spokesperson — should publicly own up to it and apologize for his conduct. The Denver Post's Allison Sherry reported Tuesday that the former Democratic senator who now heads the Department of the Interior threatened to punch a reporter at the end of an interview. "Don't you ever ... You know what, you do that again, ... I'll punch you out," Salazar told Dave Philipps of The Gazette in Colorado Springs. We doubt that was something Salazar learned when he studied at St. Francis Seminary in Ohio. And it's seemingly so out of character that we were skeptical of the initial reports. But the entire exchange was captured on audio. And in listening to the exchange, it strikes us that Phillips conducted himself professionally — and Salazar did not...more

U.S. Ranchers Struggle to Adapt to Climate Change

For western Colorado ranchers, the decision to sell cattle during tough times can hinge on a flower. Local cattle have developed immunity against the poisonous larkspur that live among more edible grasses. So a rancher culling a herd he can't afford to feed faces a problem restocking once economics improve: The replacements may die if they binge on the purple and pink larkspur. That's the problem confronting Carlyle Currier, who owns a 4,000-acre ranch in Molina, Colo. and is mulling a decision to trim his herd of 500 Angus-Hereford-Charolais hybrids. Basic economics also worry him; he knows that he may well have to pay more later to buy replacement calves if the price per head of cattle rises from today's rock-bottom lows. But like many ranchers across the West and central plains, Currier has little choice. This year's record drought has made his operation untenable. "This is probably the worst it's been since 1977," Currier says. "We just can't grow enough to feed the cattle ourselves." Welcome to the new normal. The drought has pressured ranchers across the West to sell breeding cattle, take on more debt, or seek supplemental work off the farm. Some, particularly in Texas last year during a crushingly severe drought, have even liquidated the whole ranch. The drought has killed off much of the natural forage on grazing pastures as well as the alfalfa that Currier and other ranchers typically grow, forcing them to dig into savings to buy hay, straw, soybean supplements and other alternative feeds. Supply shortages have sent corn and soybean prices to record heights...Farmers may not call it climate change, or attribute it to human activity. But many are scrambling to adapt – or make themselves more resilient – to a future of greater uncertainty and risk. Their survival kit consists of a mixture of emerging cattle-breeding technology, sustainable rangeland and farmland practices, and new business plans...more

The latest proposal to allow Wyoming ranchers to keep streams flowing for fish

Conservation advocates are pushing for approval of a bill by the legislature this January that would allow private landowner to lease their water rights temporarily to groups such as Trout Unlimited. Those groups could then keep the water in the stream to help fish populations. Small streams that get too hot for fish, or dry up completely, would have a better chance of allowing trout to flourish, said Cory Toye, Wyoming Water Project Director with Trout Unlimited.  Wyoming water rights holders can already temporarily change the use of their water and lease it to the Highway Department or to energy development projects. Those uses are allowed because they are consumptive in the same sense water irrigation is a consumptive use. In-stream flow, because the water is left in the creek, is considered non-consumptive, Toye said. The currently proposed bill would add to the list of possible temporary changes, allowing leasing of water rights to organizations such as Trout Unlimited to keep the water in-stream for the benefit of fisheries and trout populations across the state, Toye said.  So what’s the incentive for landowners who hold precious water rights to support the leasing idea? Money. Toye said a typical Wyoming irrigator might, under the law, be able to lease 50 percent of the water right, the same amount presumed to be used for irrigation, Toye said. The owner would be paid for the water without giving up the claim for future use.  Exactly how much water rights would lease for is currently unknown as it will depend on the area and amount of water...more

Portales peanut butter plant remains idle

The New Mexico peanut butter plant linked to a salmonella outbreak remains idle as officials wait for federal approval to reopen. Sunland Inc. spokeswoman Katalin Coburn declined Monday to estimate when operations at the country's largest organic peanut processing plant may resume, saying only that officials are awaiting a response from the Food and Drug Administration. Sunland shuttered its operations in Portales and began a top-to-bottom scrubbing in late September after salmonella was found in peanut butter it made for Trader Joe's. The company then issued a voluntary recall of hundreds of products. Forty-one illnesses in 20 states have been linked to the peanut butter. The shutdown comes amid a bumper harvest of eastern New Mexico's prized Valencia peanuts. Coburn said the peanuts are being stored for processing when the plant reopens. AP

Chute Out - video

Song Of The Day #972

Today's tune on Ranch Radio is Start All Over by Lee Emerson.

Don't Forget we take requests.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sometimes environmentalists and their policies don’t get along

By Rebekah Rast

As green energy technologies continue to spread throughout all areas of the U.S. it has angered a peculiar new bully.


Yes.  Sometimes green energy and environmentalists don’t get along.  In fact, these conflicts are becoming more common.

A New York Post article highlighting the environmentalist’s attack on green energy states, “Nationally, environmental activists push the expansion of renewable energy — solar, wind, etc. But when industries work to implement those initiatives at the community level, local greens scream at the impact on their community; they’d rather keep the land as it is.”

How is green energy supposed to replace our current energy supplies if those who want it most keep fighting against it?

Some examples of this conflict cited in the New York Post article:  Environmentalists trying to stop a cable that would bring affordable hydropower electricity from Canada to New York City out of fear it might somehow damage the Hudson River.  Another example:  Wind energy developers evaluating sites in the New York Harbor and Hudson River for a future project are being stalled by environmentalists concerned about the impact these turbines will have on the American Eel.

This plays out across the country too.  In Southern California, environmentalists are hoping a court will curb the area’s growing wind energy industry, which is believed to pose a threat to the endangered condor.  The backers of this lawsuit: The Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club.  These groups “said in the filing that a neighboring wind farm, Pine Tree, has killed at least eight golden eagles and that California condors could be at risk from the blades of turbines as well.”

These lawsuits even extend from green energy to green living. In San Francisco, the city planned to paint bicycle lanes on their streets, a big win for environmentalists, however a resident said no with the thinking that the lanes may cause additional pollution.

Maybe green energy and green living are necessary requirements as long as they don’t appear in the backyards of their strongest advocates.

Unless environmentalists are willing to take some hits, green energy will never become the energy of the future.

Brazilian scientists to clone Jaguars

According to an IPS report, Brazilian scientists have begun a project which will include the cloning of endangered species. The project will be carried out through the combined efforts of the Brasilia Zoological Garden and EMBRAPA. While the genetic material being used in this study comes from wild animals, the researchers have no intention of releasing cloned animals into the wild. “The zoo wants to increase the number of specimens for its own use. The idea is to keep these animals in captivity. The use of clones would prevent the impact caused by the removal of these animals from their natural setting,” said Carlos Fredrico Martins, EMBRAPA researcher, to Tierramerica. Jaguars, maned wolves, and the black lion tamarian are among the first animals which will be cloned (the full list has not yet been made available)...more

Mexico’s ecology important for future

Jared Blumenfeld, right, regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, walks with Wildcoast coastal program manager Paloma Aguirre among debris in the Tijuana River just north of the border with Mexico

As Mexico progresses and works to pull itself out of “third-world” status, media attention mostly focuses on the economy, violence, drugs, poverty and immigration. Absent from much of the news is how Mexico is managing its varied and distinct ecology. The population of the country has grown from 26 million in 1950 to 114 million today.  There are just 67 federally recognized national parks—ecologically protected areas managed by the government’s ComisiĆ³n Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas—accounting for only 0.73 percent of the Mexican territory.  Some might feel it’s difficult to make a case for saving forests and animals when people in the same areas are suffering from poverty and unemployment. No doubt it’s a difficult balancing act for the Mexican government, but protecting natural resources is as important as helping individuals. Mexico’s biodiversity and cultural heritage is almost unparalleled. UNESCO’s World Heritage list for Mexico includes 27 cultural sites, four natural sites and there are 32 sites or locations presently on a consideration list. One preserve; the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve protects the habitat of approximately 70 percent of the wintering monarch butterflies’ eastern population...more

Russian woman attacked by wolf, axes it to death

Beware of 56-year-old Russian women with axes. A lone wolf attacked Aishat Maksudova outside her sister's home in Russia's province of Dagestan in the North Caucasus Mountains. The animal bit the farmer on her arm and her leg and she fell to the ground, crying out for help from other villagers. No one was in earshot. So she reached for an ax she had brought along to repair a fence, and with remarkable aplomb, she hit the wolf over the head several times until his teeth unclenched. The wolf later died. Maksudova has become a hero in the Caspian Sea province that lies east of Chechnya. She was still being treated for her wounds Tuesday at a local hospital after last week's incident. Doctors said she is recuperating well. AP

Rancher Brings Pollution Battle to WA Supreme Court

The Washington Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday that will decide how much control environmental regulators have over pollution that runs off people’s land and into streams. Cowboy hats and wrangler jeans could be seen among the business suits normally worn in the Washington Supreme Court building. Around 80 ranchers and environmentalists packed into the courtroom. They traveled from around the state: Spokane, Dayton, and Puget Sound. At issue: Can the Washington Department of Ecology make a rancher fence-in a stream that runs through his land?...more

Classic Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Decreases 5% in 2012

As Arizonans sit down at the Thanksgiving table to dig into the traditional feast this year, the turkey dinner with all the trimmings will cost $47.53 for an Arizona family of 10, or around $4.75 per person. This is a decrease of $2.53 or about 5 percent under the 2011 Arizona Thanksgiving meal ($50.06) and $1.95 cents less than this year’s American Farm Bureau Thanksgiving survey of $49.48. Without factoring in store coupons or specials, the cost of a 16-pound turkey purchased in Arizona this year was $19.20, or $1.20 per pound, which reflects a decrease of 13 cents per pound, or a total of $2.08 under last year. This year’s meal is actually $5.28 cheaper than what shoppers paid four years ago when the total was $52.81. The 2012 Arizona Thanksgiving meal cost estimate is the result of the Arizona Farm Bureau’s annual informal Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey of the prices of basic food items found on the Thanksgiving dinner table. For a second year, we conducted an Organic Price Survey on the same basic food items found on the Thanksgiving dinner table. The Organic Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings will cost $87.23, nearly twice the amount of the non-organic purchase of the same items. The biggest ticket item was a 16-pound organic turkey at $46.72 or $2.92 per pound. Milk, pumpkin mix, and cubed bread stuffing were also significantly higher in price than the non-organic items.  The Arizona Farm Bureau survey shopping list includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray including carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream plus coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. To make a proper comparison, these items are the same food items used in the national Farm Bureau survey for the past two decades...more

King Ranch Showdown

David Saenz stood by his little red tractor as the bulldozer edged ever closer to his property line Saturday morning. As owner of J.S. Trophy Ranch, Saenz believes in the importance of owning a piece of land. He believes there is a sense of security inherent in investing in land. Across the fence, the managers of the King Ranch believe the same. A standoff is taking place along the Jim Wells County border with Kleberg County. It involves a handful of ranchers, some three miles of fence line and the historic King Ranch. Saenz and several other land owners along the fence line south of Farm to Market Road 2508 received a letter two weeks ago from the general manager of land and minerals King Ranch, informing them of a survey recently completed by Brister Surveying of Corpus Christi. The survey outlined a common border between the ranch properties and the northern portion of the King Ranch's Santa Gertrudis Division. The new survey was sent as a courtesy to the land owners, notifying them of the construction of a new boundary fence the ranch planned to build...more

Sheepherders and ranchers trade accusations over treatment, pay

Some Utah ranchers are complaining they spend big money to import sheepherders from Peru, but all too often the herders run away and take other work. Critics claim there's an underlying problem: too little pay for long hours in bad living conditions. Before foreigners can be brought in to herd sheep, federal regulations require the jobs to be advertised to Americans. There are rarely any takers. Nearly all sheepherders now are from Chile or Peru. Ranchers pay their air-fare and other expenses. They come on one-to-three year contracts with temporary visas. Ranchers provide food and housing, usually in a trailer and typically pay $750 dollars a month, a government-set minimum. According to sheep industry veterans, the Peruvians often jump ship for better paying jobs in the dairy or oil and gas industries. "We'll have one every year or every two years that will skip a contract," said rancher Phil Allred. "That's a several-thousand-dollar investment in each one of these guys," said sheep broker Doug Livingston. "And you go out to the camp and he's gone." According to Peruvians who have filed lawsuits or complaints with the department of labor, herders are typically on duty or on call 24 hours a day. "Seven days a week," said Yon Palomino. "You don't have vacation. You don't have nothing." Palomino says he personally was treated well by his rancer. But he said many Peruvians put up with bad food, or too little food, improper clothing, inadequate heat and other unsuitable conditions...more

Jeff Laub restores sheep wagons - Wyoming's first mobile homes

Jeff Laub turned a hobby into a business. “I always had an interest and discovered I was tired of working for other people,” he said. His restored sheep wagons are in high demand. The sheep wagon was created in Wyoming in 1884 by blacksmith James Candlish. In the 1900s, sheep wagons were a necessary staple for ranches that relied on scarce winter grazing. They’re all fairly standardized, although there are slight differences. In 1892, the Schulte Hardware Company of Casper began building an improved model of the wagons. It had a window above the bed and a cast iron stove. Up until the company burned in 1950, the basic design of the sheep wagon changed little. “Every area had peculiarities. They were all similar but all different,” Laub said. These models of compactness were home to sheepherders and cowboys and are, in fact, the first mobile homes. Equipped with a bed, stove and storage, the wagons had all the necessary trappings. Built as a farm or utility wagon with extension boxes for storage and support, the wagons often began their lives with wooden wheels. “After World War II, most of them swapped the wooden tires for rubber ones,” Laub said. There was a plaque inside the wagon Laub is currently restoring that may have been moved when the bed was redone. The plaque reads “Licensed to the Caspar Body Co. Patented Oct. 28, 1919 in Denver Colorado.” The wagon came complete with the original stove, cast iron pots and tin dinnerware. The leather loops which were meant to hold a rifle were hanging from the bows of the cover. There were quilts still on the bed and the drawers under the bed were labeled “Ammo, Bandoliers and old Christmas lights.” The wagon was used as storage before Laub bought it to restore. “I’m going to take it back to 1919,” he said. He said that he’s not hung up on selling them; a buyer will come along when they’re ready. Usually the wagons are bought by those wanting a little piece of the west. “I know a lady who bought one and she goes out and sits in front of it with a glass of wine every night.” There are several of his projects in the Jackson area. Ranchers have also hired him to restore the sheep wagons that were in use on their ranches. “They’re looking for that part of their legacy and history,” Laub said...more

Song Of The Day #971

It's a sad, sad day at Ranch Radio, as I recollect the time I finally realized I Just Can't Live That Fast Anymore.

Lefty Frizzell sings it, and the tune is dedicated to the best man at my wedding:  The one-eyed bull rider from Nevada, Mr. Rick Ewing.

Do environmental groups deserve credit for big wins last week?

Martin Heinrich (D) won election to the U.S. Senate from New Mexico last Tuesday, defeating his opponent, Heather Wilson (R), by more than five percentage points.

The Washington Post suggests a possible reason for the victory:
The environmental community scored a string of successes Tuesday in New Mexico, Montana, Texas and other states, winning seven of eight targeted Senate races and at least three targeted House races. Although plenty of outside groups poured money into these contests, even some representatives of the fossil-fuel industry said that environmentalists had invested their resources wisely in 2012. …
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) spent more than $14 million this year, more than it had in the past three election cycles combined, and groups including the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, Defenders of Wildlife Action Committee, Environment America and Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund also devoted money and volunteers to key contests.
One analyst gave his take on that New Mexico race to the Post:
Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, who had rated the New Mexico Senate contest as a tossup/tilt Democrat at the start of the summer, questioned whether environmentalists were decisive, given the state’s Democratic leanings.
“I’m not doubting that they did something,” Rothenberg said of environmentalists. “If they hadn’t done anything, I think Wilson still would have lost.”
To Rothenberg’s point: President Obama won the state of New Mexico by an even larger margin than Heinrich. It’s unlikely, then, that environmental ads and contributions are what made up that five-point margin of victory.

Wolverine M56 goes solo in Colorado as feds mull endangered status Read more: Wolverine M56 goes solo in Colorado as feds mull endangered status

While state biologists wait for federal authorities to declare a second species — wolverines — endangered by climate change, one lone male wolverine is making the case that Colorado mountains are a critical refuge. But the wolverine, M56, arrived on his own, and it likely would take an act of the state legislature to import any others. Now entering a fourth winter after trekking from Wyoming across the Red Desert into Rocky Mountain National Park, M56 has not only survived but thrived. Food apparently hasn't been a problem — marmots in summer, meaty elk bones during winter. State tracking data from a cigar-size transmitter in his belly show M56 roving as far as 100 miles — from forests west of Fort Collins across Interstate 70 to Mosquito Range mountains southeast of Leadville. Biologists say M56's exploits have demonstrated that wolverines can climb down from tundra and slink through human territory undetected when necessary, dealing with roads, and probably would not attack cattle...more

Biologist excited by first rare ferret find since Meeteetse 1981

A Columbus, Neb., biologist might have discovered the first wild colony of an endangered species since the Meeteetse find in 1981. Mike Gutzmer, with Columbus-based New Century Environmental LLC, found three black-footed ferrets during an endangered species survey in South Dakota. The black-footed ferret is the most endangered mammal in America and has been on the endangered species list since 1967. It has been more than 30 years since the black-footed ferret was found in the wild in Meeteetse. There have been several populations of the animal reintroduced by scientists over the years in eight states. The black-footed ferret used to number in the tens of thousands, but because of habitat loss and disease, the animal faced extinction. It was presumed extinct in the wild in 1987. About 1,000 of the ferrets are recorded today, with 750 living in the wild and another 250 in captivity. The black-footed ferret is the only ferret species native to the Americas...more

Monday, November 12, 2012

Buyer of wild horses from BLM under investigation by feds, state of Colorado

A southern Colorado man under investigation for his handling of protected wild horses has admitted to state regulators that he shipped animals out of Colorado in violation of brand inspection laws, officials said. Officials with the Colorado Department of Agriculture's Brand Inspection Division have turned the case involving Tom Davis over to the district attorney in Alamosa for prosecution. "The brand laws are some of the oldest laws in the state. They are there to prevent livestock theft and we take them very seriously," Brand Commissioner Chris Whitney said. Davis, 64, a livestock hauler and proponent of the horse meat industry who lives in La Jara, 15 miles southwest of Alamosa, has purchased more than 1,700 wild horses from the federal Bureau of Land Management since 2008 — roughly 70 percent of all horses sold by the agency. Davis signed agreements with the BLM, which is charged with managing and protecting wild horses, promising not to sell any to slaughter. As detailed in an investigation published by ProPublica in September, Davis has brand inspections documents for 765 horses, which say he shipped these animals to Texas towns near the Mexican border. There is no information about disposition of the other horses he purchased from the BLM. Davis is also the subject of a federal investigation. The probe was opened in June by the BLM's law enforcement division, but is now being handled by the U.S. Department of Interior Office of Inspector General, according to Interior spokesman Blake Androff. Often the inspector general takes over cases in which there is a potential conflict or involvement by the agency. Wild horse advocates welcomed the news of the potential prosecution, but said any investigation would be incomplete until it includes the actions of the Bureau of Land Management and its parent agency, the Department of Interior. "Let's get real. There is no way the BLM could think someone was buying that many unadoptable horses for anything but slaughter," said Laura Leigh, director of the Nevada-based advocacy group Wild Horse Education. "The people who sold those horses are just as culpable. This is a breach of public trust and there needs to be some accountability."...more

Secession petitions filed in 20 states

In the wake of last week's presidential election, thousands of Americans have signed petitions seeking permission for their states to peacefully secede from the United States. The petitions were filed on We the People, a government website. States with citizens filing include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Oddly, folks from Georgia have filed twice. Even stranger, several of the petitions come from states that went for President Barack Obama. The petitions are short and to the point. For example, a petition from the Volunteer State reads: "Peacefully grant the State of Tennessee to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government." Of all the petitions, Texas has the most signatures so far, with more than 23,000...more

And the Washington Post reports:

“We petition the Obama Administration to peacefully grant the State of Alabama to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own new government,” reads the Alabama petition. The following text is the same in most of the 20 filed so far:
As the founding fathers of the United States of America made clear in the Declaration of Independence in 1776:
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government…”

ND voters add farmer protection to constitution

Voters in heavily agriculture-dependent North Dakota became the first to enshrine the right to farm in their state constitution, a move that some say could have far-reaching effects on genetic modification, land use and the way animals are raised. The amendment approved Tuesday guarantees the right of farmers to engage in "modern" agriculture and bars any law limiting their right "to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices." Supporters said it was broadly worded to protect farmers far into the future. But critics complained it was too vague, and officials in North Dakota said this week that they aren't sure what the new right really means, how long it will take to define it or whether it would survive a court challenge. Another big question is whether other states will follow. "There's certainly a lot of interest in the states in protecting agriculture and agricultural practices," said Scott Hendrick, a program director with the National Conference of State Legislatures. "This takes a broader tack. I think some states will look at this." "It's going to give us a big leg up on special interest groups that come in from outside and want to tell us what to do and what not to do," said Doyle Johannes, president of the state Farm Bureau. "They're not going to stop. That was the big thing, to beat these people back. We don't need outsiders coming here and telling us how to do things." The amendment passed with two-thirds of the vote Tuesday, the same day voters in California rejected a measure calling for labeling on food products containing genetically modified ingredients. Farm groups also saw that proposal as an attack on agriculture because some of the nation's most important crops, such as corn, are mainly grown with genetically engineered seeds. Joe Maxwell, a vice president with the Humane Society, said he wouldn't be surprised if North Dakota's constitutional amendment sparked similar efforts in other states...more

Court case of ABC News, ‘pink slime’ is a study in media trust

By Gene Hall

   Regardless of how you feel about the hatchet job ABC News foisted upon a perfectly honorable and legitimate company, Beef Products Inc. (BPI), and the meat business itself, the resulting court case is interesting. BPI has sued ABC News. I don’t know if they can win, but at a minimum, this should embarrass the network.
    ABC is defending itself on first amendment grounds. As a former reporter, I understand that free speech and a free press have to be almost absolute in this country, but there are limits. I blogged about this awhile back.
    At issue is a product called lean finely textured beef (LFTB), which ABC chose to portray as “pink slime.” This is a recovery process, retrieving beef close to the bone or otherwise difficult to get. It is finely ground and mixed with other ground beef. Having reviewed the process and talked to people in the know, I rest in the sure and certain knowledge that the product is absolutely safe. I’d let my granddaughter eat it today—well done of course, as all ground beef should be.
    But after the pop culture wave of protest subsided, many parents and school lunch programs concluded the safe food containing lean finely textured beef would no longer be served. It no longer mattered whether the product was safe or if ABC News had told any part of the truth. Three BPI plants went under and several families lost their jobs.
    The media company claims that “ABC News’ statements were in any case covered by the first amendment as examples of ‘imaginative expression’ and ‘rhetorical hyperbole,’ which the courts have ruled are protected speech.”
    Well—here’s what that means. Start with a definition of hyperbole: “a figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect.”
    In other words, ABC believes it can “use its imagination” or “exaggerate” to tell you most anything it wants. They said that’s within the network’s first amendment rights.
    But, should you trust them, knowing they ignored facts and common sense and put Americans out of work? That’s for you to decide. I already have.

Gene Hall is public relations director with the Texas Farm Bureau

Cowboy Christmas Dinner & Dance

High-flow release planned for Glen Canyon Dam

The Interior department will begin a five-day "high-flow experimental release" at Glen Canyon Dam at noon Monday, Nov. 19. The release is part of a long-term protocol announced in May by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to meet water and power needs and resolve problems with downstream sediment and non-native fish predation on the Colorado River below the dam. Scientists have determined the correct conditions exist to conduct a high-flow release to benefit downstream resources, including camping beaches, sandbars, backwater habitats, riparian vegetation and archeological sites. The total maximum release from the dam will reach approximately 42,300 cubic-feet-per-second — 27,300 cfs of full-capacity powerplant releases and a bypass release through four river outlet tubes sending 15,000 cfs of water out over the Colorado River in what authorities say will be a spectacular visual display. The total duration of the high-flow release will be nearly five days, according to an Interior news release. SLT

Song Of The Day #970

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and we bring you Axel Zwingenberger with Pine Top's Boogie Woogie.  The tune is on his Brothers In Boogie CD.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Making a new friend

Julie Carter

A cowboy’s life is as much about the stops made as the road traveled. The same applies for the cowgirl.

A cowgirl I know had her own cowboy who for all his life had been restless and ambitious. As a couple, they had cowboyed in every corner of their home state of Texas. Twenty-some-odd years into the partnership, they landed on a big ranch they bought in New Mexico. They looked at it as their just- rewards for the thousands of long hours in the saddle during their formative years.

She had made at least one very good friend at every stop on this Western road of life. And each new place taught her that in every hundred miles across the country, the customs and the cowboys changed.

She learned, sometimes the hard way, that you can't out-native the natives. She discovered that the best way for survival in a new place with new folks was to find a seemingly responsible local person and listen to his stories.

Now, once again, she was a mighty far-piece from home, so was on the lookout for such a candidate.

She learned that her nearest neighbor was quite familiar with their new ranch. He had worked there as a button and been the foreman for a number of years. When moving to their new ranch, she had noticed the neighbor's ranch entrance sign with his name and brand on it. 

As she gradually got settled in and unpacked, she had planned to go meet this new neighbor. However, it happened a little quicker than expected. Her good cowdog Heidi, also a Texan, had discovered the local porcupines in an up-close and most serious way.

The cowgirl needed help for her Heidi and her head cowboy was out of state at the time. She loaded Heidi in the pickup and headed to the neighbors. 

Over needle-nose pliers and with everybody that happened to be there helping to hold the dog, the acquaintance was made. 

Like all ranchers, they had to establish a couple of things of common ground.

First, it isn't ever a good idea to look in the old cistern. You never can predict what might be in there looking back at you. And second, with the drought, the government and the cattle market, they would all be lucky to still be alive by the end of the year.

Those requisites safely handled, the cowgirl and the neighbor got down to some regular neighborly visiting.
The neighbor allowed that he knew their place pretty well from working there and would be happy to show her a few things. They drove over to her outfit, saddled up, and rode to a picturesque canyon where he related the history of the area and the fact there were remnants of Indian artifacts and petroglyphs.

She studied the ancient signs that translated to fending off witchcraft, the sign for water, hunting, directions, water carrier, danger, snakes and many of the other special graphics that the Indians had embellished on rocks around their encampments. 

Finally she got to one that looked obviously newer than some of the ancient symbols carved in the stone. This resembled a diamond-bar-diamond. She thought about it a minute until it finally came to her that she was looking at her neighbor's ranch brand. 

With a grin that matched his when he saw the recognition in her eyes, she knew things were going to be better now. Knowing cowboys and the ornery nature that often qualifies a friendship, she knew she had a new friend.

No words were needed. It was carved in stone.

Julie treasures friends, even if they don't have their own petroglyphs, although some of them are that old. Reach her for comment at