Friday, December 07, 2012

Oyster company: Obama Admin’s faulty science shut us down

Make a copy of this picture and put it on your refrigerator, nail it in your tack room or put it in a drawer.  If you ever have the inkling of doing business with the government, then pull it out and stare at it real hard.

From today's coverage by Audrey Hudson at Human Events: A family oyster business recently shut down by the Obama administration’s demand that the public land on which it operates revert to a wilderness area is suing the federal government for what they say is an illegal taking of the property. “Our family business is not going to sit back and let the government steamroll our community, which has been incredibly supportive of us,” Drakes Bay Oyster Company said in a statement. Lawyers for the company, which is situated in Drakes Estero, a tidal inlet off Drakes Bay, will ask a judge in the Northern District of California’s District Court for an injunction on Friday to block the eviction while the lawsuit progresses. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week ordered that the century-old oyster farm company be evicted from the Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California so that the park can be returned to its wilderness state. Salazar says that commercial activities are not compatible with wilderness designations.

For my previous coverage of this oyster ouster, including the negative review of the science by the National Academy of Sciences and the complaint of scientific misconduct which has been filed, go here.

Pacelle: Projecting a Moderate Face on Animal Rights

 By Philip Brasher

Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, recently took a break from his long-running battles with livestock producers to set up a new branch of the Humane Society in India, an occasion that included the presence of the Dalai Lama.
    But having Pacelle on the other side of the world — about as far away from Capitol Hill as possible — still gives the U.S. farm lobby reason for heartburn. Beyond India, Pacelle has his eyes on establishing similar organizations in other countries that are major agricultural producers and markets for U.S. exports, including Brazil and Russia.
    That puts the beef, pork and poultry industries squarely in the cross hairs of consumers around the world concerned about the treatment of animals bred and raised for food.
    “They are going to these other countries to also add that international pressure on producers in the U.S.,” said Kay Johnson Smith, president and CEO of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, a livestock industry group.
    “It’s the same tactic, just a difference audience that they’re trying to approach,” she said.
    Under Pacelle’s leadership, the Humane Society has used a powerful combination of ballot initiatives, social media, undercover videotaping and corporate arm-twisting to force some of the biggest players in the meat industry to end farming practices the producers maintain are sound and ethical.
    The pork industry was essentially forced to phase out the use of tight-fitting stalls to confine sows after McDonald’s and Safeway announced plans to phase out purchases of pork produced in those stalls.
Meanwhile, the egg industry is asking Congress to do what would be unthinkable for many industries: impose the very regulations sought by its critics.
    The United Egg Producers, stung by the Humane Society’s ability to pass state laws regulating livestock housing — including a 2008 ballot measure in California — reached a deal with the society to set national standards for cages that will force farms to end the use of the small “battery cages” that have long been the industry standard. Animal rights supporters say larger “enriched” cages, which would be mandatory under the proposed national standards, give hens space to perch, nest and move around.
    Pacelle has been able to convince the egg industry that things could get worse if it doesn’t get behind the new regulations.

BLM ducks complaint about suppressing livestock damage

The biggest and most ambitious scientific undertaking in the history of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is languishing after it was revealed the agency directed scientists to exclude livestock grazing as a possible factor in changing landscapes.  The agency has also yet to respond to a scientific integrity complaint filed one year ago by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) charging that the exclusion of livestock data constituted political interference. Launched in 2010 with more than $40 million in stimulus funds, BLM sought to analyze ecological conditions across six “eco-regions” covering the Sagebrush West.  There was only one catch: when scientists were assembled BLM managers informed them that there was one “change agent” that would not be studied – the impacts of commercial livestock grazing.  BLM managers told stunned scientists the reason for this puzzling exclusion was due to “stakeholders” opposition and fear of litigation, according to documents appended to the PEER complaint.  Since that complaint –
•  These so-called “Rapid Ecoregional Assessments” have all stalled with no timetable for completion although they were slated to be finished this year;
• To investigate the PEER complaint, BLM tagged Louis Brueggeman, its Fire Management Liaison, to act as “Scientific Integrity Officer.”  It is not clear that Mr. Brueggeman has interviewed a single witness proffered by PEER.  Nonetheless in an October 12, 2012 email, he said he was “in the process of finalizing the report” responding to the November 2011 PEER complaint; and
• BLM now claims its studies are limited to “four overarching environmental change agents: climate change, wildfires, invasive species, and development (both energy development and urban growth)” but notes “Additional change agents may also be addressed based on ecoregional needs.”...more

Grazing study, climate link spark controversy

An Oregon State University College of Agriculture administrator said a report authored by an OSU College of Forestry professor that was critical of grazing on public lands does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the university. Further, John Killefer, head of the College of Agricultural Sciences Department of Animal Health, said: “I think that livestock grazing can be an important part of a range management program.” A report by OSU forestry professor Robert Beschta and a team of scientists in the online publication Environmental Management determined grazing on public lands exacerbates the effects of climate change.In the report, published Nov. 15 in the online publication Environmental Management, the scientists wrote that livestock production on public lands “can alter vegetation, soils, hydrology and wildlife species composition and abundance in ways that exacerbate the effects of climate change on these resources.” “Removing or reducing livestock across large areas of public land would alleviate a widely recognized and long-term stressor and make these lands less susceptible to the effects of climate change,” they wrote. A USDA rangeland scientist and cattleman rebuked the findings which say it exacerbates the effects of climate change. Tony Svejcar, research leader of the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Service Center in Burns, said the report highlights isolated examples of poorly managed allotments and fails to present an accurate picture of the overall effect of grazing on federal lands...more

Playing Chicken in Oil-Patch Politics

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that it will formally consider listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken—whose habitat includes some of the nation's major energy fields—as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This clearly is another desperate ploy by the Obama administration to further its campaign against oil and gas drilling. Such egregious overreach has been a specialty of the Environmental Protection Agency in the past. The administration has now found another agency to do its bidding.

The Lesser Prairie Chicken is a ground-nesting bird native to portions of Texas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. In Texas, it is found primarily in the Texas Panhandle and the Permian Basin. Listing the bird as threatened or endangered would make drilling all but impossible in these economically thriving regions. The Permian Basin alone produces more than one million barrels of oil a day, accounting for almost 70% of Texas' total production and 20% of the nation's oil production. It also supports thousands of jobs and provides millions of dollars in state revenue.

Several groups, including the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association and the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, have drafted something called a "Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances" in the hope that Fish and Wildlife will approve the plan and forgo listing the bird. The agreement describes oil and gas companies' involvement in habitat-conservation efforts and ideally will be merged with similar documents being developed in other states. Operators who choose not to participate in the voluntary conservation process will be held responsible for any reduction in wildlife or habitat and could be subject to penalties or even jail.

The Lesser Prairie Chicken matter isn't the first time the federal government has tried to use the Endangered Species Act as a tool in the war on drilling. Not that it is always successful. This summer, after months of research, Fish and Wildlife conceded that listing the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard as threatened or endangered wasn't warranted. The agency reviewed some 800 written comments and 147 comments from individuals or organizations at a two-day public hearing. Only 30 supported listing the lizard.

As it happens, the habitat of the Lesser Prairie Chicken largely overlaps that of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard. Since Texas was able to produce a plan for the lizard that would work for environmentalists and operators alike, there is reason to hope that a similar plan being drafted for the Lesser Prairie Chicken will work.

Yet another issue of concern is the funding behind these efforts to list certain animals as endangered. Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson testified to Congress in June that taxpayer money is being spent in litigation over these listings. For instance, the petition to list the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard was originally filed by a radical environmental group, the Wild Earth Guardians. Interestingly, this group collected $680,492 in tax money (as grants and the like) from Fish and Wildlife between 2007 and 2011. During that time the group sued the federal agency 76 times over alleged environmental violations.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Colorado wild horses found dead at prison training pen in Cañon City

The Bureau of Land Management is trying to determine whether an illness or something else led to the deaths of 19 wild horses were in the care of the Wild Horse Inmate Program outside Cañon City. A BLM employee found some of the horses dead in a pen Monday, and others nearby were so sick that veterinarians gave them little chance of surviving, so they were euthanized. Now BLM veterinarians, as well as state and federal animal health authorities, are investigating the source of the horses conditions. Tests will include necropsies on three horses at the facility and examination of tissue samples sent to Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Colorado State University. There was no immediate timetable for the tests to be completed. Tests also are being done on water and hay samples. As a precaution, other horses and burros at the Cañon City facility are being fed hay from a different source, BLM said...more

Battery maker that received stimulus money could be sold to Chinese company

A bankrupt battery manufacturer that was a cornerstone of President Obama’s effort to make the United States a global leader in clean-energy technology could end up in the hands of a Chinese company when it goes on the auction block Thursday. Congressional Republicans call the company, A123 Systems, which received $133 million in federal stimulus grants, a textbook case of how the Obama administration wasted taxpayer money trying to nurture new industries. Administration officials say the stimulus money was used to build a new manufacturing facility in Michigan that could remain open under new owners, even if they turn out to be foreign. The company also has a Pentagon contract classified as “secret,” and Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Thune (R-S.D.) are waving red flags. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, they called for a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an inter-agency group that reviews transactions that might harm national security. Treasury oversees CFIUS. A123 Systems, founded in 2001, sells lithium ion batteries for electric cars and for utilities that use them as backup, community or renewable-energy storage...more

Song Of The Day #981

Ranch Radio is ready for a little Hawaiian steel guitar. Here's Andy Iona & His Islanders with Along The Pineapple Trail.

Turkeys, Jimmy Bason and Me

Well, it's true.  For some reason, when Sharon's tom turkey sees me in the wheelchair, he thinks I'm another tom and the fight is on.  Sharon, grand kids and all know to leave the broom at the back door so I can defend myself.

I told Bason, Bason told A-10, and the result is what you see above.

Jimmy Bason and I have a lot of fun with each other.  If your not familiar with Mr. Bason, I've chronicled some of his exploits here at The Westerner:  Bason's Burro Bodyguards and Bason's Organic Beef would be two examples.  And he is the star in the Max Evans classic Super Bull and Other True Escapades. Actually, the bull is probably the star, but he was on Bason's ranch and Bason is the one who couldn't gather the little critter.

And speaking of turkeys, Bason's most proud of his roll in developing the NM Spaceport and the resultant increase in taxes we're paying to fund it.  He worked closely with his favorite politician to get'er done, and he would be upset if I didn't post this picture:

Sorry Jimmy, I just couldn't make it any bigger.

And many thanks to A-10, who made my glasses thicker and my gut thinner.  Years ago he did another cartoon of me.  It was about when I was in a team roping contest and ran over the flagger and his horse.  Now that I think about it, the flagger just happened to be Bill Frost, Bason's business partner at the time.  You still got that A-10?

Salazar seeks to quash decades-long dispute between NM potash and energy players

US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar hopes to bring an end to a protracted battle between developers of oil and natural gas and potash miners in New Mexico with the issuance of a new plan on Monday to divvy up extraction zones. Bloomberg reports that Salazar's plan outlines the creation of "drilling islands" in the southeast of New Mexico which will permit the simultaneous development of oil, gas and potash. The south-east of New Mexico is home to the USA's richest potash reserves and accounts for three quarters of all potash mined in the country. Disputes over extraction rights are long-standing and date back to the 1930's, however, as the region is also host to abundant oil and gas deposits. Potash miners contend that the extraction of oil and gas has a ruinous effect upon the quality of the key fertilizer ingredient, leading to fraught legal battles between the industries over development rights. Salazar's says the new plan will bring an end to these disputes and permit the simultaneous development of all three resources via the creation of "drilling islands" and attendant buffers zones which ensure that oil and gas extraction does not have a deleterious effect upon potash deposits...more

Sangre de Cristo wildlife corridor grows as Billionaire finalizes deal

Federal wildlife officials and billionaire conservationist Louis Bacon on Tuesday finalized a deal bringing the land preserved from development on the east side of Colorado's San Luis Valley to 166,000 acres — grassland, forests and tundra between Great Sand Dunes National Park and La Veta Pass. This helps build the emerging Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area, which is emerging as one of the world's longest protected wildlife corridors, through Colorado and New Mexico. Bacon and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials met near Fort Garland at the base of Blanca Peak and announced completion of an easement covering 90,000 acres, adding to 76,000 acres declared off-limts to development earlier this year. It is the agency's largest donated conservation easement. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar hailed the deal as embodying a new era of conservation where private landowners play a lead role protecting treasured landscapes...more

U.S. Forest Chief Says Wildfires to Get More Destructive

If you think fires have gotten big in the past few years, hold on. U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said Friday that the blazes will only get bigger and that the cost of fighting them could nearly double. But the agency that manages 193 million acres of national forest -- including 20 million in Idaho -- plans to increase timber sales by 20 percent in the next two years as part of a restoration effort to make communities safer and watersheds more resilient. Wildfires have burned in excess of 8 million acres six times since 2004, a dramatic increase over the yearly totals seen in the past five decades. But Tidwell told the City Club of Boise that as many as 12 million to 15 million acres will burn annually now because of warming temperatures and drier years. This comes even as state, tribal and federal agencies put out 98 percent of all the fires that start, Tidwell said. Firefighters jump on those blazes as aggressively as they can, he said. "It's that 2 percent that become very large very quickly," Tidwell said. Today's fires are often so ferocious that managers won't risk putting crews in their path...more

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Clashes over financing threat UN climate talks

The world's poorest nations on Wednesday called for significant financing to cope with the impacts of global warming, setting up a potential clash with rich countries that could slow progress on reaching a global climate pact by 2015. Rich countries, including the United States, said at U.N. climate talks in Doha that they have fulfilled promises to provide more than $30 billion the past three years and remain committed to providing $100 billion a year by 2020. But developing nations want that financing increased gradually starting next year — a commitment the European Union, United States and Japan are not willing to make. Earlier in the day, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told The Associated press that it was "only fair and reasonable that the developed world should bear most of the responsibility" in fighting the gradual warming of the planet. Ban's comments echoed the concerns of China and other developing countries, which say rich nations have a historical responsibility for global warming because their factories released carbon emissions into the atmosphere long before the climate effects were known. "The climate change phenomenon has been caused by the industrialization of the developed world," Ban told The Associated Press. "It's only fair and reasonable that the developed world should bear most of the responsibility." Many rich nations, including the U.S. and EU countries, are demanding the 2015 pact include commitments from developing nations who are expected to produce the bulk of emissions in the decades ahead. Among them is China, which has overtaken the United States as the world's largest emitter...more

Song Of The Day #980

The tune on Ranch Radio today is Charlie Adams' 1950 recording of Plain Horse Sense.

California oyster farm sues U.S. government to keep business

A California oyster farm on Tuesday sued the federal government, challenging a U.S. Interior Department decision last week to end its 40-year lease on public land. The suit by the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, located on land an hour north of San Francisco, pits environmentalists eager to create the first West Coast marine wilderness outside Alaska against sustainable and local agriculture groups who see the operation as striking the ideal balance between using and preserving nature. The family-owned company on Tuesday sued Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, saying he based his decision to close down the operation on a faulty environmental impact statement. “Secretary Salazar’s decision was a final agency action in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act,” the complaint reads in part. The oyster farm site and surrounding ranches were sold to the federal government 40 years ago in exchange for long-term leases. Salazar said he would renew leases to cattle ranchers at Point Reyes National Seashore, but not the oyster farm. Environmentalist Neal Desai, associate director of the National Parks Conservation Association, said the family was trying to steal a national treasure. “This lawsuit is clearly an attempt to privatize the estero (bay),” he said by email. Salazar’s decision was preceded by a fight about whether the farm hurt local wildlife and what rules governed his action. Lawyers for Lunny and his company have derided the government’s scientific efforts, and on Tuesday they argued Salazar ignored other reports...more

 About Interior's science, U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) issued the following statement:
Interior just flat out killed this oyster farm and its jobs by using misleading science and ignoring economic impacts, Vitter said. The most ironic part about the Drakes Bay permit is that the Interior official, Mary Kendall, who should have been investigating the allegations of scientific misconduct, is under investigation herself for involvement in a separate issue involving faulty science used to implement the drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The Drakes Bay Oyster Co. is on federal lands and part of a controversial scientific review by the National Park Service and the administration. In April, Dr. Corey Goodman, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, filed a Scientific Misconduct Complaint with the Department of Interior.
 And about the National Academy of Sciences review of  Interior's science,  Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) wrote to Interior and had these quotes from the review:
 National Park Service “selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information on potential impacts of the oyster mariculture operation” (p. 53). 

 the Academy’s finding regarding the “lack of strong scientific evidence that shellfish farming has major adverse ecological effects on Drakes Estero at the current levels of production and under current operational practices.” (p. 5)

“gave an interpretation of science that exaggerated the negative and overlooked potentially beneficial effects of the oyster culture operation” (p. 53)

 “selectively presents harbor seal survey data in Drakes Estero and over-interprets the disturbance data which are incomplete and non-representative of the full spectrum of disturbance activities in the estero” (p. 2)

Researchers also found that the Park Service had “no acknowledgement of the historical baselines of the natural ecosystem before humans caused the functional elimination of the native Olympia oyster in Drakes Estero during the mid 1800s to early 1900s” (p. 58). This is important because Olympia oysters “were part of the historical ecological baseline condition of Drakes Estero” and could have played a “significant role in the biogeochemical processes of the estero” (p. 5), performing the same functions for water clarity and nutrient fixing provided by the oysters cultured in the Estero today. If the Park Service forces the cessation of the mariculture operations, it may well be eliminating conditions that were an important part of the ecosystem as it existed long before the park was established.
And concerning Dr. Goodman's complaint, Greenwire reported earlier this year:
The Interior Department's inspector general appears likely to join the growing scrutiny over whether the National Park Service falsified data in an environmental review of a California oyster farm. Scientific integrity officials at Interior -- which houses NPS -- are already reviewing allegations that officials purposely misled the public by using 17-year-old data from New Jersey police boats to represent sound levels at the farm. The numbers appeared in a draft environmental impact statement that NPS developed to help determine whether to renew the farm's lease in a national wilderness area (Greenwire, March 27).  But yesterday, scientist Corey Goodman submitted a formal complaint to Interior IG Mary Kendall, asserting that the Park Service "should not be involved with an investigation of itself." In recent weeks, he said, NPS Scientific Integrity Officer Gary Machlis restricted access to sound files from a microphone that was placed near the farm in 2009 and 2010. That data was used in a study referenced in the draft EIS. The case is one of the first to test Interior's new scientific integrity policy, which stipulates that investigations into scientific misconduct be handled by a Scientific and Scholarly Integrity Review Panel. The policy directs cases of fraud, waste and abuse to the IG. In his letter yesterday to the IG, Goodman asserts that the oyster farm complaint "goes beyond scientific misconduct and involves fraud." He also references a letter Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent last month that called the draft EIS "deceptive and potentially fraudulent"
You see the lengths Interior will go to establish a water wilderness.  Some will say they did similar things in their land wilderness reports.

"The oyster farm site and surrounding ranches were sold to the federal government 40 years ago in exchange for long-term leases."  Forty years ago Reagan was President and Watt was Interior Secretary, and still it was a bad deal.  Don't ever sell your property to the feds and expect them  to honor it's terms down the road.  The same can be said for conservation easements.  Just don't do it. 


A rancher must sell out after losing a court case against a gas company

 by Nelson Harvey

It was a hot day in the summer of 2009, and Dow Rippy was out on his four-wheeler in western Colorado, checking on his cows.

As he drove, tracing the southern edge of his property, Rippy followed the route of a gas pipeline that the Houston-based gas company, SG Interests, was building across the ranch.

Dow and his wife, Kathy, owned about 1,900 acres of hilly oak brush south of Silt, Colo., near the heart of Colorado’s gas patch. They had acquired the land over 15 years, though Dow’s family had been ranching in the area since they originally emigrated from Scotland in the late 1860s, after the Civil War.

In 2007, Dow signed a contract allowing SG Interests to build a pipeline across his land. The agreement established a 30-foot-wide corridor for the pipeline and required the company to repair fences and slopes along its route. Yet as Dow reached the southeastern edge of his ranch on that day in 2009, he noticed not only that a section of pipeline had been left unburied; it also appeared to be well outside of the boundary allowed in his contract.

Dow had always been a fierce defender of his property rights, and this made him angry. He ordered SG pipeline workers to leave until he had spoken to the company’s managers, and then he closed his gate, locking their equipment inside.

Dow didn’t know it then, but that day marked the beginning of the end of his ranching career. This past October, he put his ranch up for auction to settle a court battle with SG Interests. He’d lost that battle, and was ordered to pay the company more than $700,000 in damages.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Song Of The Day #979

Ranch Radio says you better put on your dancing shoes cuz here's Bud Hobbs with Lazy Mazy.

An important shift: U.S. cattle imports from Mexico and Canada

The supply side of the supply-demand economic environment will continue to support cattle prices. U.S. calf crops have been shrinking in recent years; the 2012 crop is likely 800,000 to 850,000 smaller than 2011’s. And the 2013 calf crop will be even smaller. Besides the smaller calf crop, in the next few years two additional factors will contribute to lower-trending U.S. cattle slaughter: 1) smaller cattle imports; 2) increased hold-back of U.S. heifers and cows for breeding herds. The discussion below focuses on why U.S. cattle imports are expected to drop. Over the last 20 years, annual U.S. imports of Mexican cattle averaged 1.07 million head. During that same timeframe, cattle from Canada averaged 1.06 million head per year. Most of those Mexican animals are “feeder cattle” (not slaughter ready animals or breeding stock) and, depending on the year, those animals go to grazing programs (e.g. Oklahoma wheat pasture) or directly to feedlots (mostly in Texas). Canadian producers sell all types of cattle to the U.S. with the bulk being either feeder cattle or slaughter ready animals sold to packers (steers, heifers, and cows). Last year (2011), imports from Mexico totaled 1.43 million head, which was the largest since 1996 and about 200,000 head above 2010’s. The most severe drought in decades devastated Mexican pastures in 2011, just like in the Southern Plains of the U.S., forcing producers to sell animals early and liquidate herds. Further, the drought was expansive, causing animals from further south than normal in Mexico to move north...more

Kazakh Cowboys Tour ND, Get Cattle-Tending Tips

Mananbai Sadykov cuffed his stiff blue jeans over intricately stitched cowboy boots and tread mindfully though minefields of cattle manure at the Helbling Hereford Ranch in central North Dakota. Sadykov, 48, is no citified dandy, having worked with livestock most of his life in Kazakhstan. But he tried to keep his new duds — a gift from some North Dakota ranchers — cowpie-free. Western wear is rare the former Soviet republic. And, until recently, so were cows. About 15 Kazakh cattlemen, Sadykov included, visited North Dakota ranches in November to inspect the state's beef herd and get a hands-on tutorial in tending cattle from veteran cowboys. "It's not splitting atoms growing cows. But it is hard work," said Mark Archibald, who ranches near Hettinger in southwest North Dakota and hosted a contingent of the Kazakhs. "They haven't had the background to build upon so we're showing them our way of doing things." Kazakhstan's beef herd was butchered and all but sold off following the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Cattle numbers dropped from about 35 million to about 2 million. To help rebuild that industry, more than 5,000 Hereford and Angus cattle bred to withstand North Dakota's notoriously nasty winters have been sent since 2010 via jumbo jets from Fargo to Kazakhstan, and a shipment of 3,000 more is planned before year's end...more

Court strikes down lawsuit challenging trapping in wolf country

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media  contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact: (505) 476-8000


Court strikes down lawsuit challenging trapping in wolf country

ALBUQUERQUE – A U.S. District Court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit alleging the director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the chairman of the State Game Commission violated the federal Endangered Species Act by allowing trapping in the recovery area of the Mexican gray wolf. U.S. Magistrate Lorenzo Garcia ruled that the environmental activist organization WildEarth Guardians failed to present facts showing the defendants’ actions directly or indirectly caused trappings or taking of wolves. The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled. Department Director Jim Lane, who was named in the lawsuit with State Game Commission Chairman Jim McClintic, hailed the decision as a sportsmen’s victory for “real conservationists,” state authority over wildlife management, and the integrity of the Endangered Species Act. “We fought aggressively to defeat this frivolous lawsuit,” Lane said. “We are happy with the outcome. It’s unfortunate we had to spend hunters’, anglers’ and trappers’ dollars to win it rather than leveraging those same dollars toward on-the-ground conservation of New Mexico’s wildlife.” Several organizations intervened as defendants in the case, including the New Mexico Trappers Association, New Mexico Council of Outfitters & Guides, New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties for Stable Economic Growth, United Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, New Mexico Wool Growers, and New Mexico Federal Lands Council. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission filed an amicus brief in support of the department’s position. WildEarth Guardians filed the lawsuit in February 2012, challenging an action by the State Game Commission that lifted a ban on trapping in southwestern New Mexico where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced the endangered wolves. The organization asserted that by lifting the trapping ban imposed by Gov. Bill Richardson in 2010, the agency and commission violated the Endangered Species Act by creating a system that could kill or harm the wolves. The court ruled that WildEarth Guardians lacked evidence and failed to present facts to support its case. The group could not support its assertion that trapping – by legal or illegal means – posed a significant threat to Mexican wolf populations, nor could it convince the court that the Department of Game and Fish or the State Game Commission were responsible for trapping-related wolf mortalities caused by third parties – trappers. Although listed as an endangered species, Mexican Wolves are considered an “experimental, nonessential population,” which means the species lacks rigid no-take prohibitions. The species was reintroduced to southwestern New Mexico in 1998, with a goal of reaching a population of 100. The current known population is about 58 Mexican wolves in the wild.

'Everyone in US under virtual surveillance' - NSA whistleblower

The FBI has the e-mails of nearly all US citizens, including congressional members, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney. Speaking to RT he warned that the government can use information against anyone it wants.
­One of the best mathematicians and code breakers in NSA history resigned in 2001 because he no longer wanted to be associated with alleged violations of the constitution.
He asserts, that the FBI has access to this data due to a powerful device Naris.
This year Binney received the Callaway award. The annual award was established to recognize those, who stand out for constitutional rights and American values at great risk to their personal or professional lives.

RT: In light of the Petraeus/Allen scandal while the public is so focused on the details of their family drama one may argue that the real scandal in this whole story is the power, the reach of the surveillance state. I mean if we take General Allen – thousands of his personal e-mails have been sifted through private correspondence. It’s not like any of those men was planning an attack on America. Does the scandal prove the notion that there is no such thing as privacy in a surveillance state?

William Binney: Yes, that’s what I’ve been basically saying for quite some time, is that the FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the e-mails of virtually everybody in the country. And the FBI has access to it. All the congressional members are on the surveillance too, no one is excluded. They are all included. So, yes, this can happen to anyone. If they become a target for whatever reason – they are targeted by the government, the government can go in, or the FBI, or other agencies of the government, they can go into their database, pull all that data collected on them over the years, and we analyze it all. So, we have to actively analyze everything they’ve done for the last 10 years at least.

RT: And it’s not just about those, who could be planning, who could be a threat to national security, but also those, who could be just…

WB: It’s everybody. The Naris device if it takes in the entire line, so it takes in all the data. In fact they advertised they can process the lines at session rates, which means 10 gigabit lines. I forgot the name of the device (it’s not the Naris) – the other one does it at 10 gigabits. That’s why the building Buffdale, because they have to have more storage, because they can’t figure out what’s important, so they are just storing everything there. So, e-mails are going to be stored there for the future, but right now stored in different places around the country. But it is being collected – and the FBI has access to it.

RT: You mean it’s being collected in bulk without even requesting providers?


Supreme Court rules government may be liable for flooding

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the federal government may be required to pay damages when it releases water from a dam that causes temporary flooding for a property owner downstream. The case addressed the politically charged issue of when government activity that affects private property constitutes a "taking" that requires payment to a landowner. Under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the government must pay owners of private property that it takes for public purposes. Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said temporary flooding of private land by the government is "not categorically exempt" from liability under the 5th Amendment's Takings Clause. There is "no solid grounding in precedent for setting flooding apart from all other government intrusions on property," Ginsburg wrote. The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, which operated the 23,000-acre Dave Donaldson Black River Wildlife Management Area, had complained about water releases by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from the Clearwater Dam in Missouri, about 115 miles upstream. It claimed that releases between 1993 and 1998 led to six years of flooding, causing the death or weakening of nearly 18 million board feet of timber and making it harder to operate...more

U.S. evicting oyster farmer to create water wilderness

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told a popular oyster farm at Drakes Bay on Thursday to pack up and leave, effectively ending more than a century of shellfish harvesting on the picturesque inlet where Europeans first set foot in California. Salazar's decision ends a long-running dispute between the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. and the National Park Service over the estuary at Point Reyes National Seashore where Sir Francis Drake landed more than 400 years ago. The National Park Service intends to turn the 2,700-acre area into the first federally designated marine wilderness area on the West Coast, giving the estuary special protected status as an unaltered ecological region. To do that, Salazar rejected the oyster company's proposal to extend its 40-year lease to harvest shellfish on 1,100 acres of the property. Salazar gave the farm 90 days to move out, issuing his decision a day before the lease was set to expire and one week after visiting the Point Reyes National Seashore for a tour...more

We have land wilderness, now we'll have water wilderness.  That just leaves air.  We'll probably see that before this administration is done.

Police: Law Should Mandate Recording and Storing Text Messages

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and other wireless providers would be required to record and store information about Americans' private text messages for at least two years, according to a proposal that police have submitted to the U.S. Congress. CNET has learned a constellation of law enforcement groups has asked the U.S. Senate to require that wireless companies retain that information, warning that the lack of a current federal requirement "can hinder law enforcement investigations." They want an SMS retention requirement to be "considered" during congressional discussions over updating a 1986 privacy law for the cloud computing era -- a move that could complicate debate over the measure and erode support for it among civil libertarians. It wasn't immediately clear whether the law enforcement proposal is to store the contents of SMS messages, or only the metadata such as the sender and receiver phone numbers associated with the messages. Either way, it's a heap of data: Forrester Research reports that more than 2 trillion SMS messages were sent in the U.S. last year, over 6 billion SMS messages a day...more

Monday, December 03, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Holiday shopping for the rural minded

by Julie Carter

“Only a cowboy can get all his Christmas shopping done at the feed store,” says a A.W. Irwin’s Hooves and Horns cartoon. Standing next to a stack of range cube bags ready to load on the flatbed pickup that is already holding some hay, a saddle and cowdog, he reads from his list saying, “Don’t forget the cattle wormer for my mother-in-law.”

Truly the mercantiles, feed stores and tractor supply type stores will do a booming business over the next few weeks until Santa flies by the ranches and ranchettes across the country.

I've had my eye out for clever Christmas gifts all year, but like most years, I either forgot about it if I saw it in March or I bought it, hid it and don't remember where.

Early gift buying has its disadvantages. While spreading the cost of the holiday throughout the year, it also increases the odds of you paying more for the same thing that will be on sale later.

The Black Friday shopping expanded to Cyber Monday shopping some years ago and now it has all blurred to early Black Friday, extended Black Friday, Cyber Monday Eve and many “adding one more day for your bargains” that goes on a for a week. All this just before the “last minute” sales and the after-Christmas clearances. Useful gifts never go out of style and every year they take on a facet that makes them a little different from last year, but still very utilitarian.

Fad colors, embroidered phrases and rhinestones turn a regular cap into something that makes a fashion statement. While the market for "gimme" caps from feed, seed and implement dealers is still quite viable, nothing says” cutting edge” like a cap that announces, "Jesus ropes here."

Spur straps, once just a piece of leather with a function, now come in colors, animal print and of course, more bling. Some of them are so fashionable that the livestock will need sunglasses to stop the glare.

A favorite gift among the working cowboy set is the thoughtful offering of the cowboys' favorite beverage, usually in aluminum cans but sometimes upgraded to a glass bottle. The ropers refer to it as "aiming fluid," and have determined that the proper amount not only improves their roping but makes pastures greener and girls prettier.

This year's twist is the camouflage container that convincingly offers to those that imbibe the ability to become invisible if enough is consumed.

Then there is the never-ending list of "new" ideas for gifts designed to entice the giver to give to the guy that already has everything.

One gift of choice for the season is a giant beach-type umbrella with a base that attaches over the gooseneck trailer ball in the bed of the pickup. This allows spectators to sit in the shade next to the beverage cooler and watch the rodeo from the back of the truck.

Sometimes I spot something that just won't compute in my cowgirl brain. With decades of thinking I've seen it all, always, something proves me wrong.

Once it was seeing a big black Hummer pulling an aluminum horse trailer going south through town. The oddity of that combination left me speechless and yet only a couple years later it’s not a rare kind of sight at all.

Maybe I just need to get out more.

Julie can be reached for comment at

The Boys of New Mexico

Leaders or Individuals?
The Boys of New Mexico
Pyle and Mauldin
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

New Mexico has never produced a leader of the ages. There has never been a Washington or a Reagan judged on the basis of lasting legacy and the prism of time. A few visitors came within sight of the bullseye … militarists John Pershing, George Patton and Douglas Macarthur, but they, too, left this earth with only conditional brilliance.   
John Chisum, Mangus Colorado, Lew Wallace, Geronimo, Albert Fall, and perhaps two or three living contenders could be categorized as resident near misses, but that remains their collective legacy. Perhaps they were strong individuals, but they didn’t create anything constitutionally inextinguishable.
Great ropers just don’t count.
The paradigm
New Mexico is a contradiction of grand proportions. It is blessed with resources, and, yet, those resources are largely incompatible with government dominion and progressive politics.
Government is the owner, the landlord, the policeman, the tax collector, the guidance counselor, the planner, the labor leader, the community organizer, and the major employer of the state. Fully, 36% of the state’s budget is derived from Washington. It’s little wonder that it consistently votes for the greatest purveyors of handouts. There really ought to be some consideration given to a new state motto. Never did ‘It grows as it goes’ capture the full essence of fact. ‘It (government) grows as it goes’ is a much more accurate depiction of reality of historical trends in the state.
In short, the state is not a fertile hotbed of aspiring leaders of free and independent men. Individualism and private enterprise are near contradictions in the state’s character.
Brilliance in the state, though, can be assigned to a handful of folks that tend to have a common personality trait. They tend to be individuals who take a stand and fight valiantly for their perception of moral authority. They prefer to remain aligned directly with the doer, the individual who is at risk.
Two of them can arguably be nominated as the most influential war correspondents in history. Today, too few even know their names.
Ernie Pyle
Ernie Pyle began life, like many New Mexicans, as a sharecropper’s son. He was born in Indiana and almost graduated from that state’s most prestigious school of journalism. Within a semester of finishing, he quit. Some will argue that Mr. Pyle got cold feet on assuming the role of a genuine college graduate. He seemed to prefer sitting outside the circle of acceptance.  It was there he could remain immune from the norm, from the mainstream, and from prevailing societal standards. He preferred to smoke, whittle, and spit with the boys rather than play the part of the learned.  
I know Ernie Pyle because I got my grandmother’s war books.  Through Mr. Pyle’s written words, I experienced the Greatest Generation in North Africa, through Sicily, on to Germany, and then back to that “lovely green orchard” in France where he sat writing how he was losing his ability to be objective about that terrible war.
Armed with his notepad, a pencil, and his old typewriter in a backpack, his courage under fire wasn’t invented on some editor’s desk. It came from that personality and the unique skill he perfected expanding insight of the war through common GIs, the guys who took the orders and marched to their deaths. It came from being in the foxholes with them during the shelling that killed and maimed human bodies.
He knew exactly what he meant when he witnessed filthy GIs awakening on winter mornings amidst rubble looking “like a tree full of owls” (I understood that phrasing when I eventually looked into the eyes of my mother-in-law in the final days of her Alzheimer’s battle).
In his book, Brave Men, he profiled no less than 600 brave young men. His text is filled with us and we. Try to find I or me and the pickings are few. There was no self aggrandizement in Ernie Pyle’s existence.  
Before he went to the Pacific and his death, Mr. Pyle, struggling with depression, apologized to his readership that he “lost track of the point of the war”. He knew only one thing to do and that was to return home to attempt to rid his head of the demons of war.
He sought to restore his vigor under adopted New Mexico skies. He finally concluded he was ready to go “warhorsing around the Pacific”. It was there on the island Ie Shima where he and Colonel Joe Coolidge came under machine gun fire. Laughing, Ernie called to Joe asking him if he was hit. Those were his last words as the next moment he was shot in the temple. He died instantly.
Perhaps the greatest war correspondent on the ground in history, Ernie Pyle fought the establishment for the brave guy … the guy actually doing the dirty work.
Bill Mauldin
High Rolls, New Mexico claims Bill Mauldin as son.
Mr. Mauldin became the most famous war cartoonist in history. By the age of 23, he was a Pulitzer Prize winner. His book Up Front was a number one best seller.
Like Ernie Pyle, Bill Mauldin’s weapon wasn’t a Thompson, or a Browning, or a Garand. It was a pencil and a sketch pad.
Bill Mauldin and his muddy, exhausted, whisker-stubbled cartoon characters, Willie and Joe, brought World War II to the kitchens across America. He brought the vision of truth to what it was like on the front lines. The same GIs that became Pyle’s heroes became Mauldin’s. Their gripes became his gripes, their laughs became his laugh, and their heartaches became his heartaches. He put a human face on a horrific conflict.
He was one of them and they loved him. He fought the establishment for the brave guy … the guy actually doing the dirty work.
When he put his pencil to work blasting George Patton, Patton threatened to take his pencil away and send him to the front line with a rifle.
“I’m beginning to feel like a fugitive from the law of averages,” Mauldin deadpanned in the midst of the donnybrook. He then sketched one of his most famous cartoons with the same byline.  
General Eisenhower got wind of the incident and contacted General Patton. He informed him in no uncertain words that “Mauldin draws what Mauldin wants!”  
In his entire life, Mauldin never deviated from the character that produced the brilliance of Joe and Willie. His fame didn’t change him. “He never lost his grin, he never outgrew excitement, and he never Big-shotted anybody”. He was a genuine guy … a soft spoken, independent New Mexican.
In his last days, he, too, suffered from Alzheimer’s’. Hearing about his plight, surviving GIs from around the Newport Beach area came by daily to brighten him up. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The difference
If these men exist today, they remain unidentified or, at best, undiscovered.  Their contemporaries are molded and shaped to frame a political agenda. As such, it appears the immense commitment that WWII required would be impossible today regardless of the threat to our nation.
Many of us ponder the perceived change in the American belief system since the time of ‘the boys of New Mexico’. At least a place to start would be to review the words Pyle and Mauldin used to describe their opinion of the war’s success.
“We won partly because the enemy was weakened from our other battles.” There was objectivity of their assessment of facts.
“We won because our men are brave, and … the gift of nature’s materials.” There was the common sense assessment that we stood the test, but we also used the abundance of resources of which we had been endowed.
“We won because we had magnificent top leadership.”  Give credit where credit is due. It started with Roosevelt’s commitment to victory. Perhaps that legacy is the landmark achievement of that president.
“We won because we were audacious.” Are we audacious in our current form? Each of us should earnestly consider today’s truth of that.
In fact, each of us should seriously assess these points in the context of our nation today. The wars of recent years have demonstrated the will and the ability of our Armed Forces. We can win battles, but can we win wars?
That is the question isn’t it?
Pyle and Mauldin were national treasures. New Mexico had to have had influence in the way they thought, the way they interpreted their surroundings and the way they applied their craft. As individuals they excelled.
As for leaders, the state is still looking for candidates. If there is a lesson in the New Mexico experiment, the nation needs to be worried. Americans like Pyle and Mauldin emerge, but the paradigm doesn’t produce leaders. Isn’t that the risk the entire nation now faces?

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Reconsider the rationale for WWII successes herein … what is now missing?”

Grand Canyon May Have Existed When T-Rex Roamed the Earth

Geologists, who have been fighting about the Grand Canyon’s age, now have evidence that suggests the bottom of one of the world’s most famous gorges is about 65 million years older than thought. Scientists from the California Institute of Technology and the University of Colorado at Boulder found data that may point to the formation being carved to near its modern depth 70 million years ago. That would date the canyon to the Late Cretaceous period when Tyrannosaurus Rex still roamed the earth before their demise about 5 million years later, according to a study published in the journal Science. The western canyon would have been carved around the same time as the dinosaur’s existence, according to today’s study. A previous study, from 2008, suggested parts of the eastern canyon were developed about 55 million years ago, a period that’s the dividing line between the Paleocene and the Eocene, when the first modern mammals emerged. The Grand Canyon, on the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona, is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and 1 mile deep. The Colorado River runs through it...more

So now it's clear:  The Grand Canyon was caused by overgrazing by dinosaurs and global warming. 

I would blame this dastardly display of sustainability ignorance on early cavemen.  I mean, why didn't they get together and adopt Agenda 1?  However, I can't blame man because...he didn't exist yet.

There must have been some Primates out there who wore boots and made a livin' off of T-Rex steaks and other dinosaur delights.  Talk about your Rocky Mountain Oysters!

And global warming you ask?  Well, if cow farts contribute to global warming just imagine the damage done when ole Tyrannosaurus Rex let loose.

I rest my case.

Koontz case to protect property rights

By Ilya Shapiro and Timothy Sandefur - The Washington Times

    The right to build a home or a business on your own land is basic to the very concept of property rights. Of course, government can impose reasonable conditions for health and safety, but too often, officials misuse land-use permitting to enrich the public sector rather than for legitimate regulation. In fact, many bureaucrats view the right to develop one’s property as a privilege landowners must purchase, sometimes at the cost of their constitutional freedoms. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court recently accepted a Florida case that could force an attitude change on regulators across the country.
    Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District is the story of a family that was targeted for a bureaucratic shakedown and decided to fight back. The saga started more than 15 years ago, when the now-deceased Coy Koontz Sr. and his family asked for permission to commercially develop about four acres of land they owned in Orange County, Fla. The St. Johns River Water Management District responded that a permit would come with a price: Mr. Koontz would have to dedicate 11 acres for conservation and pay up to $150,000 for improvements on the district’s own property.
    Mr. Koontz was willing to dedicate the 11 acres, but he objected to paying for work at the government site, which was miles away and had no connection to his property or his project.
    When he refused, his permit application was denied.
    Sadly, this kind of abuse is all too common. Bureaucracies often see permitting as a way to fund government projects and provide “public” benefits not with tax dollars — but with money extorted from property owners.
    To be sure, the U.S. Supreme Court isn’t unfamiliar with this problem. In a landmark 1987 case — Nollan v. California Coastal Commission — the court ruled that arm-twisting permit applicants isn’t just unseemly, it’s unconstitutional. The court held that Golden State bureaucrats had gone too far when they ordered Patrick Nollan and his family to give up property in exchange for permission to renovate their home. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that permit conditions must be limited to alleviating a harm caused by the proposed development. Otherwise, “the building restriction is not a valid regulation of land use, but ‘an out-and-out plan of extortion.’”
    Unfortunately, as the Koontz family found out, bureaucrats have made a cottage industry out of inventing exceptions to the high court’s Nollan ruling. For example, they say Nollan only stops them from coercing land out of permit applicants, not money and other kinds of rights.
    For example, in 2002, San Francisco ordered a small hotel to pay $500,000 for permission to offer rooms on a night-to-night basis instead of a long-term residential basis. Two years later, the city of Elk Grove, Calif., ordered a family to pay $240,000 for a permit to construct a $500,000 home. The city of Carlsbad, Calif., has forced homeowners to give up their right to vote on property taxes — a right guaranteed by the state constitution — as the price of permission to renovate their homes.
    The Koontz family sued the agency that used the permit process to demand a payoff.

9th Circuit Gives the A-OK For Warrantless Home Video Surveillance by USFWS Agents

Can law enforcement enter your house and use a secret video camera to record the intimate details inside? On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unfortunately answered that question with "yes." U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents suspected Ricky Wahchumwah of selling bald and gold eagle feathers and pelts in violation of federal law. Equipped with a small hidden video camera on his clothes, a Wildlife agent went to Wahchumwah's house and feigned interest in buying feathers and pelts. Unsurprisingly, the agent did not have a search warrant. Wahchumwah moved to suppress the video as an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment, but the trial court denied his motion. On appeal before the Ninth Circuit, we filed an amicus brief in support of Wahchumwah. We highlighted the Supreme Court's January 2012 decision in United States v. Jones -- which held that law enforcement's installation of a GPS device onto a car was a "search" under the Fourth Amendment -- and specifically focused on the concurring opinions of Justices Alito and Sotomayor, who were worried about the power of technology to eradicate privacy. In our brief we argued that although a person may reveal small bits of information publicly or to a house guest, technology that allows the government to aggregate that data in ways that were impractical in the past means that greater judicial supervision and oversight is necessary. After all, a video camera can capture far more detail than the human eye and is specifically designed to allow the government to record, save and review details for another day, bypassing the human mind's tendency to forget. That means police need a search warrant to engage in the type of invasive surveillance they did in Wahchumwah's house. Unconvinced, the Ninth Circuit instead relied on a case from 1966, Hoffa v. United States, ruling that Wahchumwah forfeited his privacy interest when he "voluntarily" revealed the interior of his home to the undercover agent. But its conclusion contradicts not only the Supreme Court's decision in Jones, but also earlier Ninth Circuit caselaw as well...more

Calif., Ariz. Border Towns Have Nation’s Highest Unemployment: Over 28%

The metropolitan areas of Yuma, Ariz., and El Centro, Calif., have the two highest unemployment rates in the country, according to data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the El Centro metropolitan area, the unemployment rate for October was 28.1 percent, said BLS. In the Yuma metropolitan area, it was 29.8 percent. The national unemployment rate in October was 7.9 percent. So, unemployment in El Centro and Yuma was more than 3 and a half times the national rate. The most conspicuous factor the El Centro and Yuma metropolitan areas have in common is geography. El Centro is in Imperial County, Calif., and Yuma is in Yuma County, Ariz. Imperial and Yuma counties are contiguous to one another and to the Mexican border...more