Friday, December 14, 2012

EPA announces it will not tighten farm dust regulations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its national clean air standards today without tightening “farm dust” standards. "EPA's final decision today on national clean air standards will have no impact on farm dust from agricultural operations, as they have indicated for more than a year,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in response. “I commend EPA Administrator Jackson for her efforts to reach out to the agricultural community and to make it clear that EPA had no interest in regulating farm dust.” Uthe Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA is required to review its air quality standards every five years. According to EPA, a federal court required the agency to issue a final standard by December 14, because it did not meet its five-year legal deadline. In June, EPA proposed to retain the coarse particulate matter (PM-10) standard, and several farm groups submitted comments encouraging EPA to make that proposal final. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald said her organization “is relieved that EPA listened to rural America and realized that further tightening the dust standard would have disastrous effects on America’s agricultural economy.” She said if the PM standard had been tightened, “it would have been virtually impossible for current agricultural operations to demonstrate compliance, subjecting them to fines under the CAA of up to $37,500 per day” noted NCBA.  McDonald added that NCBA will continue to fight EPA’s dust standard until legislation is passed by Congress that gives cattle producers permanent relief from dust regulations...more

Supporters lobby for Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act as clock winds down on Congress

Time is running out on the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, but the bill’s backers continue to lobby on TV and online while the state’s senior senator looks for opportunities to advance the legislation in a Congress preoccupied with fiscal issues. The bill, six years in the making and crafted by the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front, would protect 278,000 acres of public land in Lewis and Clark National Forest where the prairie collides with the Rocky Mountains west of Choteau and Augusta. Backers of the bill are holding out hope that members of 112th Congress, although busy with talks about the nation’s finances, will find time to talk about wilderness before they adjourn Jan. 3. The bill would added just under 70,000 acres of new wilderness to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex in Patrick’s Basin, Silver King Falls Creek, Deep Creek, Our Lake and the West Fork of the Teton River. It also would designate 208,000 acres as “conservation management area,” which provides protections but allows more flexibility than wilderness, such as allowing use of chainsaws and mountain bike riding. It’s unclear at this time whether lawmakers will agree on a year-end lands package that would include the Heritage Act, but Baucus is not ruling out other ways to advance the legislation, according to his office. “I’ve heard from thousands of Montanans who want to make sure our kids and grandkids have access to the treasures of the Rocky Mountain Front, which is what our bill does,” Baucus said in a statement. “There’s more than one way to skin a cat and I’ll be looking for the right opportunity to move the Rocky Mountain Heritage Act forward.”...more

Rocky Barker: Can we turn ranchers into rangers?

...If range management is changing, maybe ranching can change, too. Maybe it’s time to turn ranchers into rangers. Increasingly, range managers are seeking to manage for resilience at a time of rapid changes from global warming, invasive species and human development. Unfortunately, on public land, these new imperatives run into a grazing permit system developed in the 1930s, new legal challenges based on the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act and changing economics that favor neither the public nor the 27,000 ranchers whose wealth and credit is tied to the federal rangeland. Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador, other House Republicans and even a few Democrats think extending the terms for grazing permits from 10 to 20 years is the answer. Some environmentalists like Jon Marvel think buying out grazing permits is the answer. Imagine if the permits were changed to meet the tougher new guidelines and standards that many range managers believe are necessary, especially with drought and higher temperatures reducing productivity. In exchange, ranchers would be given credits or even payments for ecological services they provide, including monitoring, fire-fighting, stream restoration, game protection and fuel reduction. You might see more ranchers running a herd of goats because they are more effective for mowing down cheatgrass. Some cattle ranchers might shift from cow and calf operations to yearlings in some areas to make it easier to regulate their numbers as conditions dictate. Financial institutions and universities would need to be involved in reworking these permits so they meet the needs of the public and the ranchers. I’ve seen ranchers dramatically improve fish and wildlife habitat on their own lands, in part because they benefit directly through payments from hunters and anglers. Many do it just because it’s the right thing to do — the cowboy way, if you will. The 21st-century public-lands rancher could take on the role of the ranger, remaining free but still tied to the land, like the men and women who rode it before them...more

Forest Service International Programs lauded by Secretary of State

During the recent annual Comprehensive Partnership meeting in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indonesian Foreign Minister Natalegawa applauded recent initiatives supported by the U.S. Forest Service’s International Programs, including forest governance, environmental impact assessment, climate change mitigation, and the sustainable management of forests. International Programs draws on the expertise of the entire agency to promote sustainable forest management overseas and to bring important technologies and innovations back to the U.S.  With funding from the Department of State, the Forest Service is working with partners to support the development of the Indonesian Climate Change Center, and the work it is undertaking to map and slow the loss of peatlands, a key cause of greenhouse gas emissions in Indonesia...more

What a waste and look at this:  The Republicans in their House appropriations bill want to fund this at $6 million, $2 million above what Obama requested.

The Boquillas land grant and evictions of 1906

George Hurst
Between 1880 and 1906, contested ownership of Mexican land grants in the San Pedro valley caused controversy and suffering in our area. Even so, the sacrifices of our predecessors led directly to something of great economic, ecological and cultural value we enjoy today — the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA). The Mexican Government issued 20 land grants in what is now Arizona during the 1820s and 1830s; eight in what became Cochise County. The San Juan de las Boquillas y Nogales grant ran roughly 12 miles north along the San Pedro from near the Charleston bridge. The San Rafael del Valle grant, stretched from near the Hereford bridge north to near the southern edge of the Boquillas grant. Each was roughly 4 “sitios” in size or about 18,000 acres. Sonora approved both grants in 1833 for 240 pesos each. Northern Sonora was enjoying a brief respite from Apache conflicts during this period and the San Pedro land grants prospered as cattle ranches. However, by the 1840s renewed Apache raiding meant that wild cattle roaming the San Pedro were the only remnant of the Mexican ranchos. The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, that ended the Mexican-American War in 1848, called for the United States to recognize the legitimacy of Mexican land grants. Land grant claims had to pass validation by the U.S. legal system. The difficult approval process confused ownership and hindered economic development of the Arizona Territory. George Hearst and other entrepreneurs operating from San Francisco speculated in land grants. Hearst was no stranger to the San Pedro — he invested in mines and mills here and was a visitor to Tombstone in 1880, where the story is, Wyatt Earp served as an escort. In 1880, Hearst became sole owner of the Boquillas grant. Hearst sold portions of the Boquillas grant as sites for mills, railroads and ranches. The other occupants of the land grant area based their ownership on homestead claims, preemption (“squatting”), or purchase from rival claimants to the land grant. Courts eventually approved eight Arizona land grants. One interesting anecdote centers on the failed attempt in 1880 by James Reavis to claim a land grant covering a huge area running from Phoenix to Safford, based on documents he had forged. This story became a movie in 1950, “The Baron of Arizona,” starring Vincent Price as Reavis. In 1899, the U.S. Court of Public Land Claims ruled the Hearsts had valid title to the land grant. A group of 30 other residents of the land grant soon filed a lawsuit to dispute the ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the decision in 1906. In 1901, while their case was still pending, the Hearsts sold the Boquillas grant to the Kern County Land and Cattle Company. This new owner formed the Boquillas Land and Cattle Company in 1901 and began to raise cattle as the Little Boquillas Ranch. The Del Valle grant was added to the Little Boquillas Ranch in 1912...more

So how did the BLM get their hands on this?  They acquired the land grants from Tenneco Oil Company, for some hefty tax write offs I'm sure.  Pennzoil did the same thing in northern NM.  Both were done under Ronald Reagan.  While at Interior I tried to fight the one in NM, but James Baker in the White House was a big supporter.  Besides, the Treasury Dept. makes the call on the tax write offs. 

Unpacking the HSUS Gravy Train (2012 Edition)

Every November, we get a peek at the internal operations of HSUS when we get a copy of its IRS Form 990, a publicly available tax return that nonprofits have to file with the federal government. We have a copy of HSUS’s latest Form 990 (PDF - 6.7 MB), covering calendar year 2011, and there’s some good and bad news. The good news: Public support for HSUS is down. You read that right. Contributions and grants to HSUS went down by about $8.5 million in 2011 compared to 2010, for an overall decrease of 6.5 percent. HSUS’s total revenue actually decreased by more than 10 percent, mostly due to the drop in public support and drop in investment income relative to 2010. (No wonder HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle has seemed especially vitriolic towards us recently. Or maybe it’s because his book can’t sell better than a beadwork guide.) Hopefully this decline in public support was matched with an increase in giving to local pet shelters and rescues. That’s something near impossible to measure. But we can measure how much of donors’ donations to HSUS are being sent to pet shelters. And that’s the bad news: HSUS’s grant-giving to support pet shelters continues to be criminal, figuratively speaking. Grants made by HSUS for the purpose of aiding pet sheltering appear to make up about only 0.25% (one-quarter of one percent) of HSUS’s budget. Even including spay/neuter and other grants made to shelters, that figure only goes up to about 0.50% of HSUS’s budget. Nothing to write home about. We’re releasing a report today to the media showing, state by state, how little HSUS gives to support sheltering. If you want to see how your state fared, click here to view a PDF. (The data comes from Schedule I of the tax return.)...more

More trails opening up for off-road vehicle users

Off-road vehicle users will have more trails to ride in the Coconino National Forest. The forest signed off on a plan this week to open 95 miles of trails between Flagstaff and Munds Park to all-terrain vehicles and motorbikes. The Arizona Daily Sun ( reports that the decision came after off-road vehicle users complained that the Forest Service hadn't provided enough narrow, winding trails in its travel management plan. Jim Hall of the Coconino Trail Riders says the group will work with the forest to help create the network of trails. It will be a mix of new trails, some that had been marked for closure and illegally built trails that will be allowed to stay open. The project is expected to take up to five years and cost $70,000.

Forest Service restricts use of firearms in Boulder Ranger District

A U.S. Forest Service restriction on the discharging firearms went into effect Saturday on portions of the Boulder Ranger District. Boulder County officials already had put a fire ban put in place that applies to National Forest System lands in the county. The restriction prohibits discharging a firearm on National Forest System lands in the geographic area encompassed on the west by Colorado 7 and Colorado 72; on the north by the Boulder County line and Johnny Park Road (National Forest System Road 118); east by the National Forest boundary; and the south by Colorado 72. This area has a high concentration of shooting activities and this restriction limits shooting activities as a potential ignition source. Legal hunting activities are exempt...more

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lady Liberty's sea-washed gates closed indefinitely

The Statue of Liberty still lifts her lamp beside the golden door, but the island that's home to the iconic statue was severely tempest-tost by Superstorm Sandy. Flood damage inflicted by the storm has closed Liberty Island and nearby Ellis Island indefinitely. The statue itself escaped the storm unscathed. But across Liberty Island, paving stones are missing and large chunks of fence are washed away. Docks and buildings will need to be repaired or replaced. On nearby Ellis Island, historical artifacts and exhibits survived the storm intact, but underground flooding destroyed a lot of the island's infrastructure, including heating and electrical systems. The National Park Service says these two islands alone will need $59 million worth of repairs. Add in the damage at other nearby national parks, such as Gateway National Recreation Area and Fire Island National Seashore, and the total rises to more than $200 million. Salazar says the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island may reopen in phases as repairs are completed...more

 A lot more than Sandy has been destroying Lady Liberty.

Green Energy Proves to Be a Very Bad Market Investment

Green energy investments touted by President Obama and the Democrats of New Mexico’s Congressional delegation have proved to be a disastrous bet. Since the Fall of 2008 an index tracking the market performance of solar, wind and other green energy companies is down 98%…while the rest of the stock market has climbed to impressive highs. The RENIXX index tracks the market performance of green energy companies. It peaked in December 2007, and continued to drop along with the rest of the market into the dark days of October 2008. The green energy index has continued to fall in both relative and absolute terms. If you were playing with your own money, you would have lost your shirt betting on the overall green energy index. But, of course, the politicians and lobbyists who have pushed billions of taxpayer dollars into failed energy adventures have generally profited from the public’s losses. It is worth recalling, as well, the failed promises of former Gov. Bill Richardson’s “solar valley” vision for New Mexico. The companies into which he steered direct and indirect state investments (indirect in the nature of infrastructure and tax breaks) lie in shambles or died in utero, never having a chance to survive in the real world...more

Feds seeking 920,000 acres of easements in SE Idaho

Federal wildlife officials are on the hunt for ranchers and farmers willing to put thousands of acres of land into conservation easements in Idaho's southeast corner. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking to buy up development rights in the Bear River watershed. KIDK-TV reports the target is to set aside up to 920,000 acres deemed important habitat for species. Fish and Wildlife Service official Bob Barrett says conservation easements are critical to protecting valuable habitat in the long term. Under conservation easement rules, the government pays landowners for the right to stop development on certain acreage -- though farmers and ranchers can still use the land to grow crops or graze cattle. The agency held public meetings in Montpellier and Preston on the plan last week. AP

Billionaire brothers buying Montana ranches

Near where the borders of Fergus, Musselshell and Golden Valley counties meet south of the Little Snowy Mountains, two billionaire Texas brothers have quietly collected more than 177,000 acres of ranch land in the last two years. But that’s only a portion of the property that Farris, 60, and Dan Wilks, 56, have accumulated in Montana. In all, they own more than 276,000 acres in seven counties in the eastern half of the state. That's 431 square miles, more than half the size of Silver Bow County. Owning such large amounts of land puts them in the big league of Montana landowners. Turner Enterprises, owned by former media mogul Ted Turner, has 149,000 acres in Montana holdings. It was announced last week that Stanley Kroenke, a billionaire who is married to a Wal-Mart heir, bought the 124,000-acre Broken O Ranch near Augusta that had been listed for $132 million. According to Forbes magazine, Kroenke also owns the Cedar Creek Ranch near Ennis and the PV Ranch near Hysham. The Wilkses’ presence hasn’t gone unnoticed, especially in Fergus County where they’ve purchased 79,000 acres from 10 landowners in the last two years. The brothers’ biggest acquisition was the fabled 62,000-acre N Bar Ranch, for $45 million. That deal made national news in 2011, partly because the property was then owned by software billionaire Tom Siebel. Another landowner the Wilks brothers have bought out is Theodore Roosevelt IV, who had a log lodge, timber and grazing land between the south and north forks of Flatwillow Creek. They also bought property from the Sunlight Ranch Co., owned by Earl Holding of Sinclair Oil. This summer, the brothers hosted a barbecue at the N Bar Ranch headquarters, inviting the locals to eat, drink and chat. “They seem to be really nice folks to me, down-home and friendly,” said Tom Lowry, who owns ranch land at the east and west edges of the N Bar on Flatwillow Creek. He went to the barbecue and talked to the brothers. “Both of them were very cordial,” he said...more

Song Of The Day #986

Today Ranch Radio brings you Jim & Jesse McReynolds performing I'll Love Nobody But You.  The tune was recorded in Jacksonville on August 4, 1959 and released as Starday 458.

This one goes out to my old bluegrass buddy Tom Bahr.

A monumental danger

Southern Arizona’s national monuments have the uneasy reputation of being good places to smuggle drugs and immigrants. Bureau of Land Management law enforcement rangers routinely find trash bags of marijuana stashed beneath mesquite and paloverde trees, piles of muddy, discarded clothes and Dumpsters-worth of empty water bottles, painted black to make them less visible in the sun. They also apprehend immigrants traveling through the monuments and occasionally find the bodies of those who died in the desert.  Once across the border, many migrants and drug smugglers come north through the Tohono O’odham Nation to Sonoran Desert National Monument, just southwest of Phoenix. “This is a place that’s still wild enough to move through,” said monument manager Rich Hanson. In recent years, though, Hanson has noticed fewer immigrants traveling through the monument. Instead, what he sees is trash from drug smugglers: harnesses to carry 40-pound bales of marijuana, cell phones, slippers to hide footsteps and discarded weapons. In 2010, an Arizona deputy sheriff was wounded and two drug smugglers were shot by a rival cartel inside the monument. The Vekol Valley, which runs through the monument from the border of the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation up to the suburbs of Phoenix, is a hotbed for drug-related violence. The violence prompted the BLM's chief ranger to propose closing the monument, a request that was denied because he couldn’t prove the violence had reached the level of “extreme danger,” as required by BLM policy (page 21 of this 2010 Government Accountability Office report has more detail). Instead, the agency placed signs outside Sonoran Desert National Monument warning visitors to stay away from abandoned cars and backpacks, and informing them they may encounter criminals and smuggling vehicles speeding through the desert. The BLM discourages visitors from going to the southern portion of the monument, a popular rendezvous for drug smugglers and people hiking marijuana up from the border...more

Gun buyer connected to Fast & Furious, Brian Terry's death gets 57 months in prison

An Arizona judge on Wednesday sentenced a man to 57 months in prison for his part in the gun-smuggling ring that is connected to the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and was the target of the Justice Department’s failed Operation Fast and Furious. Jaime Avila Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy and dealing guns without a federal license. The 25-year-old Avila bought two rifles found at the scene of the fatal shooting of Agent Brian Terry north of the Arizona-Mexico border. He also must undergo treatment for drug and alcohol abuse while in prison, as part of the sentencing.  U.S. District Judge James Teilborg said Avila has shown remorse, but could have spared the lives of Terry and others. Teilborg was also scheduled Wednesday to sentence five other men who admitted serving as straw buyers for the ring. Operation Fast and Furious started in 2009 and was run by an Arizona field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agency allowed roughly 1,400 guns to enter the black market in hopes the sales would lead them to cartel organizers. However, many of the guns turned up at crime scenes across Mexico and the United States and most were not recovered...more

Senate intern, illegal immigrant and a sex offender, faces deportation

Sen. Robert Menendez employed as an unpaid intern in his Senate office an illegal immigrant who was a registered sex offender, now under arrest by immigration authorities, The Associated Press has learned. The Homeland Security Department instructed federal agents not to arrest him until after Election Day, a U.S. official involved in the case told the AP. A Homeland Security spokesman, Peter Boogaard, said Wednesday that it was "categorically false" that the department delayed the arrest of Luis Abrahan Sanchez Zavaleta, 18, until after the election. Authorities in Hudson County notified ICE agents in early October that they suspected Sanchez was an illegal immigrant who was a registered sex offender and who may be eligible to be deported. ICE agents in New Jersey notified superiors at the Homeland Security Department because they considered it a potentially high profile arrest, and DHS instructed them not to arrest Sanchez until after the November election, one U.S. official told the AP. ICE officials complained that the delay was inappropriate, but DHS directed them several times not to act, the official said...more

Colorado River Basin faces dramatic shortfall, federal study says

The Colorado River Basin will see a supply-demand imbalance of 3.2 million acre-feet of water by the year 2060, according to a study released Wednesday by the federal Bureau of Reclamation and the seven states in the affected region. In making that announcement, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, in a press briefing with media members participating by telephone, said the report endorses no single proposal for fixing the potential long-term shortfall. The first-of-its-kind study, authorized by Congress through the 2009 SECURE Water Act, produced more than 150 different proposals contributed by study participants, affected parties and members of the public. The Colorado River Basin spans parts of seven states -- Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming and California. Water from the basin irrigates about 5.5 million acres of land, is depended upon by no fewer than 22 federally recognized tribes and is the lifeblood of four national recreation areas, seven national wildlife refuges and 11 national parks. Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle, another participant in Wednesday's press conference, noted the contributing factor of a 12-year drought in the affected region. She said the looming shortfall is an issue "we simply have to tackle now, so that our children and grandchildren will have adequate supplies in the future."...more

I guess "our children and grandchildren" were bound to come up in a water debate.  The feds bring it up for every other program they try to sell. 

Thing is though, in November Interior did their "high-flow" releases on the Colorado, sending water at up to 42,000 cfs down the river to benefit fish and aquatic habitat.  Seems to me they're more interested in paying off the enviro lobby than worrying about adequate water supplies for our children. 

That one release cost the Western Area Power Administration,  the federal agency that markets the dam’s electricity, $1.4 million.  That’s the value of the power that won’t be generated as a result of outflows bypassing the turbines.  More releases are planned using the protocols established in May.  Be glad our children and grandchildren won't need any power...oops, I forgot about solar, wind and all those other successful energy projects.

Here's a photo of Interior taking care of the fish:



Virgin to abandon N.M. spaceport? Richardson to abandon Bason?

The deal was sold to New Mexicans in classic Richard Branson fashion. If taxpayers would build the colorful British businessman a $209 million futuristic spaceport, he would make New Mexico the launching point for a space tourism business catering to the rich and famous. Now, with Spaceport America nearly complete but still mostly empty, a Virgin Galactic official says the company will reassess its agreement if lawmakers don't pass liability exemption laws for its suppliers, raising the possibility it could take its spacecraft elsewhere. And state officials acknowledge that the company - which has yet to post a deposit for what is supposed to be a $1 million-a-year lease - could walk away from the quarter-billion-dollar project. Paul Gessing, president of the conservative Rio Grande Foundation, said the lack of protections for the state was not surprising, "given the Richardson administration's record of throwing money at 'development' of these big vision projects" like the spaceport and a $400 million commuter train. "What is truly unique about this project is that it was completely, 100 percent speculative," he said. Tourism and spaceport officials have estimated as many as 200,000 people a year will visit the first-of-its kind center. And officials promised it would spur economic development and bring high-paying jobs to the mostly rural state. But other space companies have passed New Mexico over and there is growing skepticism about whether Virgin, which has pushed its estimated date for starting flights from 2011 to 2014, will ever move into the spaceport...more

Maybe Bason can get Interior to do some of those "high-flow" releases on the Rio Grande.  That way folks could raft down the river and take pictures of the abandoned Spaceport.

One source tells me Bason is negotiating to acquire a $209 million barn to house his Bason Burro Bodyguards and Bason Organic Beef operations.  The source said the delay is caused by Richardson, who hasn't yet agreed to the project.  Stay tuned... 

Interior Secretary Salazar ‘thinking hard’ about second term

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he’s still mulling whether to serve another term atop the department. “We are thinking hard about it,” Salazar said in the Capitol Tuesday evening. “My family and I are having lots of great conversations,” he said when asked whether he planned to stick around. Salazar, who was a U.S. senator from Colorado before President Obama tapped him for the Interior job, did not provide a timeline for making a decision...more

2 Teton collared wolves killed

Hunters have killed two radio-collared wolves that roamed Grand Teton National Park, localizing a debate about the legal killing of “park” wolves used for research. Wyoming Game and Fish Department harvest data shows 13 wolves reported killed in hunt areas bordering the park. For wildlife managers, the portion of those that were park wolves is inconsequential and biologically insignificant. Because wolves range great distances, the loss of those that use the parks is unavoidable. The deaths of well-known wolves and sound wolf management are different issues, said Mike Jimenez, wolf management and science coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “When you radio-collar wolves, especially in areas where you can see them and identify them, those wolves take on identities,” Jimenez said. “Those wolves evoke strong emotions, that’s an issue." Wildlife managers and pro-wolf groups are at odds following the shooting of at least 10 collared animals that frequent Wyoming’s two national parks. Included in the bunch was wolf 832F, a Lamar Valley pack alpha female, that was dubbed the “most famous wolf in the world.” Eight collared animals have been shot outside of Yellowstone National Park. On Monday, Montana closed a portion of its hunt area abutting the park. Conservation groups are now calling for a similar buffer zone with limited or no hunting in Wyoming...more

Udall and Grijalva seek to rekindle mining reform efforts

Two Democratic lawmakers are hoping public concerns over the economy and the looming "fiscal cliff" will reinvigorate a movement on Capitol Hill to reform the General Mining Act of 1872, which exempted mining companies from paying royalties for profiting from U.S. public lands. They want miners to pay the same 12.5 percent in royalties as oil companies, a move that could bring hundreds of millions of dollars in new annual revenue. The 1872 law "was designed to perpetuate the `go west, young man' idea to bring people, commerce and industry to the West. But that's done, it's the new West now," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., who along with Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, requested the GAO study. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada - home to most of the country's gold mining - has been outspoken against past approaches to reform. However, his office said he remains open-minded on the royalty issue. The mining association's Raulston said the industry is not opposed to royalties in theory but believes charging a rate comparable to oil, coal and natural gas is unfair. "Metals are not immediately sellable products - there are processes and refining needed to get out the impurities," she said. "So, there are added costs in metals mining that you don't see in other natural resources like timber, gas and coal."...more

Song Of The Day #985

Ranch Radio's tune today is Jukebox Blues by Pee Wee King & His Golden West Cowboys.

The song was recorded in Chicago on Dec. 1, 1947 and released as RCA Victor 20-2841.  That's Red Stewart on vocal,  Roy Ayres taking the steel guitar break, and Henry Stewart & Jimmy Boyd on fiddles.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New UA study team has ties to Macho B's death

    In June 2011, a helicopter pilot with the U.S. Border Patrol watched a large, spotted feline amble through the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson.
    The sighting meant that Macho B, the nation's only known wild jaguar when he was unlawfully captured and then euthanized in 2009, finally had been replaced. The revelation came just as the University of Arizona's Wild Cat Research and Conservation Center received a $771,000 federal contract to study jaguars.
    Scientists are setting 240 motion-activated cameras along wilderness trails to monitor the endangered species' travel and habitat. They will also use a specially trained dog to find scat for genetic analysis.
The research, financed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has major implications for the border-security fence in southern Arizona. It also may influence the outcome of legal battles over the designation of jaguar habitat.
    In a news release, project manager Lisa Haynes described the contract as a "significant win" for the wild-cat center because there was stiff competition for the money. Another faculty member, Kirk Emerson, added, "We look at this project as an opportunity for a fresh start regarding jaguar monitoring in the United States."
    The news release did not mention that some members of the university's study team played prominent roles in the saga of Macho B.
    One of the researchers, Ron Thompson, was the Arizona Game and Fish Department's large-carnivore biologist when Macho B died. Emil McCain, who was convicted in the case, told The Arizona Republic that Thompson pressed him to snare Macho B and afterward to cover up. E-mail records show that Thompson was advised of the snares, sent messages encouraging McCain, and celebrated the capture.
    Agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service referred Thompson for criminal charges, according to federal records, but the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to prosecute.
    In interviews with federal agents and The Republic, Thompson denied plotting to catch the cat or knowing that snares were set in the jaguar's vicinity.
    Thompson now serves as field biologist and security adviser for the wild-cat center's study. His student son, Kyle, also is listed as a field biologist on the project.
    Jack Childs, another member of the university's team, was co-director with McCain at the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project, a non-profit organization that used trail cameras to monitor Macho B. He helped develop capture plans for the Jaguar Conservation Team, an agency run by Arizona and New Mexico wildlife officials.
    Federal investigators concluded that the Jaguar Detection Project arguably was part of a conspiracy in Macho B's capture. Childs was referred for prosecution but not charged. In interviews with law-enforcement agents and The Republic, he denied participating in such a plot.

There's that "declined to prosecute" again.  The private contractor they decided to prosecute had this to say:

McCain, the biologist held legally culpable for the jaguar Macho B's capture, also expressed bewilderment. "Now, the man that organized the capture of Macho B and ... placed all blame on me is being paid, along with his son, to conduct the study that I proposed, designed, wrote and presented to federal agencies," said McCain, who is banned from conducting U.S. research for five years under terms of a federal plea agreement. "My professional career has been ruined over the Macho B incident, but the man who was my supervisor with the government agency who instructed me to try to catch the jaguar has skated unscathed through the whole thing."

But, I'm sure the governmental entities involved with this study have nothing to hide.  After all, they are simply conducting scientific research with public funds, right?  Well...

It is unclear how the UA team won the jaguar contract because government agencies failed to provide the relevant public records and key officials declined to comment. The Fish and Wildlife Service released some documents, but pages were heavily redacted in apparent violation of the Freedom of Information Act. For example, the agency deleted the number and identity of contract bidders, the contents of their proposals and factors used in selecting the winner. UA released documents last week but blacked out numerous sections in violation of state public-records law. For example, university officials redacted all references to Childs, Thompson, McCain and the Borderland Jaguar Detection Project. They also deleted paragraphs explaining objectives of the research.

Objectives of the research?  The public doesn't have a right to know the objectives of a research project funded by the public?  What are they hiding and why?  Some names may be excluded because of the Privacy Act and Homeland Security may not want some of the details related to the fence made public, but everything else should be released. Let's hope the Arizona Republic continues to pursue these FOIA and open records requests.

So why all these machinations over the contracts and studies?

There's the money of course - $771,000 of it and probably more to come (The Bush Administration pledged a total of $50 million).

And there's also opportunities to influence significant policy outcomes:

The question of jaguar turf has major implications because developments in protected zones would face environmental reviews and potential lawsuits. Already, environmentalists are arguing that a trail-camera photograph of a jaguar's tail near the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine about 30 miles south of Tucson should block the controversial project. Habitat designation elsewhere also could have an impact on planned roadways, grazing leases and homebuilding.

Also discussed in the article is how the study could influence the construction of the border security fence and the designation of critical habitat.

So money meant for border security is ripped off for environmental studies, those administering and conducting the study have been investigated but not prosecuted, and the study could determine the future of a border security fence and through habitat designation the future of a copper mine and livestock grazing, home building, etc. over a potential  9,000 square miles.

Is that about where we are and does the USFWS really believe a study conducted by this bunch will have any credibility at all with the public?

My previous posts are here and here and praise goes to Dennis Wagner and the Arizona Republic for their series of investigative articles.  

Diverse Coalition urges Obama to pick Raul Grijalva for Interior Secretary

On Monday, a letter was sent to President Obama signed by 238 conservation, Hispanic, recreation, animal welfare, religious, labor, youth, business and women’s groups urging President Barack Obama to nominate Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) as the next interior secretary when that position opens. Grijalva is currently ranking member of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and a leading Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. The letter, released by Center For Biological Diversity, stated in part: The selection of the next interior secretary is an important moment to place a renewed emphasis and urgency on some of the most critical issues of our age, including climate change, the protection of endangered species and preservation of water and wild lands. We strongly believe Congressman Grijalva exemplifies the modern and forward-thinking vision of the Department of the Interior.

I couldn't think of anything worse. This would put Jimmy Carter's War On The West to shame. 

Go here to view the letter and view the list of  signatory groups.  Of local interest, the letter is signed by the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and the Southwest Environmental Center.  Interestingly, I didn't see signatures representing the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Wilderness Society, NRDC, etc. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

US Fines Bank For Its Cartel Cash

A British banking corporation reached a settlement with the U.S. Treasury Department for nearly $2 billion Tuesday morning. HSBC Holdings was accused of failing to enforce money laundering rules against criminal syndicates. Among the various shadow figures the bank is accused of doing business with was Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel. HSBC was charged with violating what’s called the Bank Secrecy Act. Under the law, banks are supposed to monitor themselves to ensure criminal syndicates are not using their systems to launder money. For example, from 2006 to 2009, bulk cash deposits totaling more than $15 billion were deposited into HSBC banks in Mexico. Hundreds of billions in wire transactions from Mexico were also allowed to go through, no questions asked...more

Mezcal Production Drawing Mexicans Back Home

It’s after midnight at Bar Añejo in Manhattan. Añejo means ‘aged’. On this night--in this place--it means “the nectar of a Mexican plant that’s been lovingly grown, and you’re about to sip it.” “We’re having a midnight mezcal de Oaxaca….” Mezcal is tequila’s cousin. Both are products of both the agave plant and astonishing skill. But unlike tequila, mezcal isn’t mass produced -- each batch is unique -- and most of the people here have never tasted it. “It’s wonderfully smooth, it has a very powerful, smoky taste.” Mezcal bars are increasingly popular in the U.S. in cities like New York, Austin, Denver and Los Angeles. The Mexican agency that certifies mezcal says exports have gone from 100,000 gallons to 170,000 in the last 2.5 years. But this isn’t a story about where mezcal ends up, or why it’s in fashion. This is about where mezcal’s made, how it’s made, and how an unexpected thirst for mezcal in the United States is bringing some people home to Mexico...more

Seventh Circuit Rules in NRA's Favor in Illinois Gun Law Case

The National Rifle Association just won a major court case in Chicago, providing a huge victory for Second Amendment proponents and gun owners. Illinois is one of the most anti-gun states in America. Its hostility toward the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is demonstrated in a state law that forbids the carrying of firearms outside the home. There are narrow exceptions for classes of persons such as police officers, or under restrictions that keep the firearm from being readily usable, such as being kept unloaded in a locked case.Two cases brought by gun owners supported by the NRA challenged this restriction that leaves people defenseless outside their homes, suing Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued its two-to-one decision in Chicago, siding with gun owners in Moore v. Madigan. The opinion was written by Judge Richard Posner, a Reagan appointee who often leans left on some issues (including guns) but is also regarded as one of the most brilliant minds on the federal bench...more

526,421 family farms threatened by new death tax

New legislation that jumps the death tax to 55 percent of estates exceeding $1 million threatens 526,421 family farms, of about 25 percent of all farms in America, according to a Senate analysis. According to the analysis from the Senate Republican Policy Committee, chaired by Wyoming's John Barrasso: If President Obama and Senate Democrats do not act, the federal government will begin taking more than half the value of family farm estates exceeding $1 million beginning next year. This summer, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Democrats passed legislation (S.3412) on a party-line vote that allows Washington to take up to 55 percent, a huge increase over today's top rate of 35 percent, and drop the tax's exemption from $5.1 million to $1 million. The lower exemption -- combined with soaring farm real estate values -- could put more than 420,000 additional farm estates at risk from the death tax...more

Drought and Economy Plague Sheepmen

Since he was a boy in western Colorado, John Bartmann seemed destined to become a sheep man. He raised lambs with the local 4-H club and sheared them for elderly German farmers. His office is lined with paintings of sheep and a plaque honoring him for “promoting culinary excellence” in lambs. But over the last few years, skyrocketing costs, a brutal drought and plunging lamb prices have battered Mr. Bartmann and the 80,000 ranchers across the country who raise sheep — from a few to several thousand. It is the latest threat to shadow a Western way of life that still relies on the whims of summer rains, lonely immigrant sheep herders and old grazing trails into the mountains. “For the sheep industry, it’s the perfect storm,” Mr. Bartmann said, glancing out his office window here at a bleating sea of wool. “The money is just not there.” Many ranchers are laying off employees, cutting their flocks and selling at a loss, and industry groups said a handful had abandoned the business entirely. Mr. Bartmann has trimmed his flock of 2,000 by one-third. With prices down more than half since last year and higher costs for gasoline and corn, Mr. Bartmann said he expected to lose about $100 for every lamb he sold. “Even in the good years, you don’t make that much money,” he said. “We can’t take that kind of hit.” Weather and economics take big shares of the blame. The drought withered grazing grounds, killed off young lambs and dried up irrigation ditches, and a glut of meat and imported lambs from New Zealand helped send prices plummeting...more

CCF Establishes Headquarters for Defense of Bacon

While the cheeseburger, ice cream, and the cookie may have their partisans, the ultimate symbol of wonderful food decadence must be the dripping, crispy strip of cured pork belly we call bacon. But animal rights activists wearing suits (the vegan-led Humane Society of the United States), lab coats (the so-called Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), or not much (the “press sluts” at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are waging war on bacon. So we have taken up the delicacy’s defense.

Today we establish a headquarters where bacon’s defenders can rally together. At, you can sign our petition to protect bacon, learn more about the animal rights whackos attacking bacon, and learn fun and exciting bacon-based recipes, like bacon brownies.

Bacon faces formidable foes. HSUS attacks pork farming practices that the American Veterinary Medical Association finds can provide for animal welfare. PETA hypocritically kills animals while propagandizing children to “go vegetarian” in aggressive campaigns and even in school curriculums. And PCRM cherry-picks data to mark not only the decadent bacon but also heart-healthy fish (among others) as evil.

   With cities declaring “Meatless Mondays” and at least one college banning pork, these are dark times for bacon. But if we may borrow words from one historical bacon aficionado, if all do their duty (sign our petition!) then we have the fullest confidence that we shall defend our chosen breakfast (or lunch, or dinner, or snack). So go to, and then eat some bacon. You will have earned it.


Thoughts On Song Of The Day

We are creeping up on #1000 and I need your thoughts on this feature.

I stared out playing country classics by Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, Bob Wills, etc. with a rarity thrown in every once in a while. Most recently, I've concentrated on selections that are hard to find and 78s.

I've had very few repeats except for requests.

Here's where you can help me:

Do you want me to continue with Song Of The Day?

Classics, rarities...what kind of a mix do you prefer?

Most selections are from the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.  Should I expand this to the 60s and beyond?

Most selections are either country, western, western swing, swing, bluegrass or rockabilly with a dixieland jazz piece thrown in every once in a while.  Should this be expanded to include some pop tunes from those eras?

Please give me your thoughts and comments so I can decide whether to continue and if so, your preferences on what should be featured here.

You can use the comments section below, email me, or comment on Facebook or Twitter.

Mucho thanks for your help,


Song Of The Day #984

Dustin' off old 78s and the selection on Ranch Radio today is I'm Pounding The Rails Again by Johnny Bond.

The tune was recorded in Hollywood on August 12, 1941 and released as Conqueror 9868.

Macho B: Jaguars, Martha Stewart and Cover-ups

...McCain and Brun contend that key federal officials with oversight authority to protect endangered species knew that capture planning was under way and that snares were set in Macho B’s territory. Two months before the cat died, Erin Fernandez, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee responsible for jaguar protection, convened a meeting with McCain, Thompson and others to discuss funding for border-carnivore studies on the border, records show. Around the same time, McCain and others sent e-mails to Fernandez, the federal “jaguar lead,” describing snare locations and photo evidence that Macho B had returned to the Atascosa Mountains. She also was advised that Game and Fish officials were seeking information on how to euthanize a jaguar. When questioned by criminal investigators from her own agency, Fernandez said she knew nothing about plans to capture Macho B, but “should have connected those dots.” Fernandez was asked by federal agents for relevant e-mails. At least nine key messages were not provided to them but were discovered later when the investigators obtained a search warrant for McCain’s computer. The e-mails also revealed that in 2007 Fernandez had congratulated McCain and Childs for securing a jaguar collar, and said her boss wanted more information on the risks of capture. McCain told The Republic that neither Fernandez nor any other federal official said, “Hey, wait a minute. We should not be trapping there.” Instead, immediately after Macho B’s capture, e-mail records show Fernandez sent a gushing message to McCain: “Such exciting news!” In the 3,441-page criminal case file under a heading titled “Laws Violated,” Fish and Wildlife agents wrote that Fernandez had obstructed justice by concealing or destroying records, an offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison. They also wrote that her conduct constituted fraud and false statements punishable by a sentence of up to five years. Fernandez, who declined Republic interview requests, was listed among the defendants in the criminal file, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute. A Fish and Wildlife spokesman said she remains the jaguar lead but would not comment further, saying personnel matters are protected by privacy law...more

Erin Fernandez, jaguar lead for the feds, was investigated by USFWS agents who found she had obstructed justice, committed fraud and made false statements.  The U.S. Attorney's office "declined to prosecute."  Why?  Was the evidence provided rock-solid or not.  What criteria do they use to decide whether or not to prosecute and is there a decision document that explains why  the decision to not prosecute was made?  Remember, Martha Stewart went to the pen for obstruction of justice and making false statements.

Whenever one fed declines to prosecute another fed my antennae go up.  Were there legit reasons for declining to prosecute (The I.G. report) or was the U.S. Attorney's office in Arizona too busy trying to cover up Fast & Furious to mess with it?

Also see yesterday's post and for more information on the critical habitat proposal see SACPA's comments here.

Editorial: Backlash to Point Reyes oyster farm ouster sends a message to D.C.

KEN SALAZAR is far from the most popular man in Marin right now. The secretary of the U.S. Interior Department announced last week that the lease for the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. will not be renewed, ending 100 years of oyster farming in Drakes Estero. His decision, while not a surprise, triggered a flood of local reaction that has mostly taken him to task. The IJ has received more than 45 letters to the editor on the issue. They are running about 80 percent in favor of the oyster farm getting a longer lease on life. There also have been hundreds of comments posted on IJ stories online. The outrage in Marin is genuine, but we don't expect Salazar to change his mind, despite the reaction here and the lawsuit filed this week by Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Co., and his supporters. Salazar and other federal officials knew this was a no-win situation, that the government would be sued regardless of his decision. They would rather deal with a lawsuit by an oyster farmer than with one by major environmental and conservation groups. That doesn't make his decision right. It just makes it political...more

Fracking Can Help Fix the CO2 Problem

 by A. Barton Hinkle

    The oceans are now roughly 30 percent more acidic than in the pre-industrial era. And unlike future climate change, the effects are already apparent. Just head down to the Tidewater area of Virginia or out to coastal Oregon and talk to the folks who raise shellfish.
    Four years ago the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Tillamook, Ore., lost millions of oyster larvae. The company found the problem was, yep, the overly acidic ocean water it was pumping in. Now it treats the water when the pH balance falls too far. “For us, the only thing that is correlate
d with mortality is the CO2 level,” said owner Sue Cudd. She was talking to the magazine Seafood Business, not some Soros-funded outfit cranking out leftist agitprop. If current trends continue, by century’s end the oceans could be twice as acidic as they are now. Ocean acidification matters, says Shallin Busch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, because of “the fish we eat and the things we make money off of.”
    Before we all put on the sackcloth and ashes, though, note some good news: America’s carbon-dioxide emissions are actually falling. In fact, they have not been this low since 1992. And while no single factor can account for the entire shift, much of the credit goes to something environmentalists often detest: hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
    Among power sources, the worst source of CO2 emissions by far is coal. Natural gas generates half the CO2 per kilowatt-hour, and in the past few years natural gas has displaced coal to a remarkable degree. This year gas-fired electricity generation equaled coal-fired generation for the first time. According to the Energy Information Administration, that trend will continue as shale gas production rises from 5 trillion cubic feet in 2010 to more than 13 trillion cubic feet in 2035.  Fracking made this possible—by opening up the Marcellus shale deposit in Pennsylvania and many others. Twelve years ago, shale gas made up 2 percent of the U.S. supply. It now makes up 37 percent.
    All of that was achieved without government direction—and in the face of considerable environmental resistance. Now the world’s worst CO2 emitter, China—which gets 80 percent of its electricity from coal—has taken up fracking too. China’s natural-gas reserves are 50 percent bigger than America’s. If climate change is the worst danger facing the planet, as some environmentalists contend, then Chinese fracking should be good news.
    But most environmentalists hate fracking. Instead, they have placed their bets on other horses—many of which have come up lame (see: Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, A123 Systems, et al.). And even green-energy pursuits insulated from market forces pack a remarkably weak punch. The Navy has just built a 10-acre solar-panel field at its Norfolk Naval Station, at a cost of $21 million in Obama stimulus money. It can power all of 200 homes—a mere 2 percent of the naval station’s power needs. An audit says the money saved on utility bills will recoup the project’s costs in roughly 447 years (not a typo).
    This is part of a bigger pattern going back decades, in which environmentalists and politicians have backed loser after loser—from the Synthetic Fuels Corporation of the 1970s to the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles in the 1990s.

Let it burn? Federal agencies draft national wildland fire strategy

Wildfires and weather share a common problem: We all talk about them, but what can we do about them? The federal government hopes to answer the wildfire question with a three-year strategy session that’s wrapping up this month. But there’s no guarantee the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy will save an acre of forest. In fact, it might force the nation to decide how much it’s willing to let burn. We’ve never done this before, and we’re still trying to work out the details,” former forest supervisor Alan Quan said from his home in Prescott, Ariz. “We’re looking at where are the values we’re protecting? Where are the risks? What would make sense? What areas are best to manage to reduce fire risk to the community? What resources could provide protection?  Quan coordinated the nationwide drafting effort, after Congress’ 2009 FLAME Act got the strategy effort started. On Dec. 15, it enters a last comment period before it becomes a final draft action plan on Feb. 16...more

Miners vs. American Indians over private land use

by Perry Pendley

    On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court considered a petition by miners to review a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that the Forest Service must consult with the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) when miners notify the Forest Service that they plan to engage in suction drilling on their claims in the Klamath National Forest. The Karuk Tribe of California, which brought the suit, claims the Forest Service’s mere receipt and review of notices from miners constitutes “agency action,” which triggers an Endangered Species Act (ESA) requirement that it consult with the FWS. That consultation in turn requires the FWS to determine whether ESA species might be affected. Even if the FWS determines there is no impact, that finding will lead to litigation. In short, the miners will never be able to use their claims, which are their private property.
    In October 2004, the Karuk Tribe sued the Forest Service in California federal district court, claiming it must consult FWS when miners notified them of intent to work on their mining claims. The miners whose notices of intent were challenged intervened in the case.
In July 2005, the district court ruled that merely receiving a notice is not “agency action.” The Karuk appealed. In April 2011, a divided three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit agreed with the 2005 ruling; however, in June 2012, an en banc panel ruled that the Forest Service’s receipt of a notice—even when the Forest Service may not stop the mining—is “agency action” and forces ESA review. The Ninth Circuit panel issued its ruling over a scathing dissent.
    Specifically, the dissent criticized the majority for issuing a ruling that departed from Ninth Circuit precedent and for the disastrous impact the ruling will have on miners: “Most miners affected by this decision will have neither the resources nor the patience to pursue a consultation [regarding the ESA]; they will simply give up, and curse the Ninth Circuit. As a result, a number of people will lose their jobs and the businesses that have invested in the equipment used in the relevant mining activities will lose much of their value.” Unfortunately, decried the dissent, “this is not the first time our court has broken from decades of precedent and created burdensome, entangling environmental regulations out of the vapors.”
   The dissent then discussed three recent rulings and described their impacts. One decision “decimat[es] what remains of the Northwest timber industry.” Another “dramatically impede[s] any future logging in the West.” Yet another decrees “less, perhaps far less water for irrigation in the San Joaquin Valley’s $20 billion crop industry.”

Lesser prairie chicken: BLM acquires land in eastern Chaves County to protect possibly endangered bird

The area of protection for the lesser prairie chicken in New Mexico is expanding. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management acquired 1,789 acres of land in eastern Chaves County earlier this month that will become part of a larger, special management area for the member of the prairie grouse family. The BLM had sought the help of the Conservation Fund to consolidate land and raise funds to purchase land and grazing permits. "We hope that other private land owners will be inspired by today's announcement and will work with federal, state and non-profit partners to establish similar strongholds for this species throughout its range," Benjamin Tuggle, the southwest regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said Friday. The chicken's range includes parts of New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas. Fish and Wildlife is conducting a review to determine whether the lesser prairie chicken should be formally listed as a threatened species. Ranchers, farmers and wind farm operators worry about a listing because it could increase regulations. Wind turbines, oil wells and fences are among the culprits scientists say have caused the chicken's decline. A final decision on the listing is expected by November 2013. Nearly 85 percent of the chicken's grass and brush-land habitat has been affected by ranching and farming. Most of it is on private land. The Conservation Fund also purchased the grazing rights on more than 42,000 acres of public land in New Mexico and will retire them as an additional protection measure for the chicken and the dunes sagebrush lizard. AP  

Retire the grazing permit? I was unaware they could do that.

Interior Secretary Moves To Tighten Rules Over Sale Of Wild Horses

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar says he will tighten regulations of the federal government's wild horse program, restricting the number of horses people can buy and making it easier for the government to prosecute buyers who sell mustangs to slaughter. Under the new rules, buyers also will only be able to acquire five wild horses every six months. Any order larger than that will require the signed approval of the BLM's deputy director. Salazar said the changes should help prevent horses from ending up at slaughterhouses. He acknowledged, however, that fundamental fixes to the wild horse program, which has been dogged by controversy and mounting costs, have so far eluded his agency...more

Monday, December 10, 2012

Song Of The Day #983

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here's Zona Jones with House Of Negotiable Affections.

The tune is on his 13 track CD Harleys & Horses.

The 2013 AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations features a reorganized format and new rule numbers

AQHA Handbook

The American Quarter Horse Journal, December 10, 2012 - As the American Quarter Horse Association has grown, so has the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules of Regulations. When members crack the spine on the 2013 AQHA Handbook, they will be looking at a newly reorganized rulebook with new rule numbers.

“The AQHA Handbook will be available soon for digital viewing,” said AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway Jr. “Be sure to familiarize yourself with the new organization and rule numbers.”

The 2013 AQHA Handbook is divided into sections. For example, rules in the Shows section all start with SHW. Rules regarding AQHA shows and show approval are SHW100-134, while all racing rules begin with RAC and all registration-related rules begin with REG.

Among the rule changes you’ll find in the 2013 AQHA Handbook are:
  • Leveling: The AQHA leveling program will go into full effect January 1, 2013. Classes will be leveled based on exhibitor records (youth, amateur, cattle and halter classes) and horse records (open classes). Leveling rules may be found in the SHW200 sequence of rule numbers.
  • Amateur Eligibility: Amateur eligibility changes were made effective May 25, 2012, and will be included in the 2013 handbook in the SHW200 sequence of rule numbers. 
  • SHW416-419: Ranch pleasure will be offered in youth, amateur and open divisions at AQHA shows.
  • GEN117: A one-time change may be made to AQHA life memberships at no fee. 
  • SHW100-134: A new show approval fee structure will be applied and new mileage charts for show approval will be implemented.
  • REG112: Mare owners may retain rights to use oocytes, with the use of a $50 permit.
  • Bylaws: Changes were made relative to director allocations.
Members may request a 2013 AQHA Handbook, or when it becomes available, view the 2013 edition online at AQHA members who have participated in an AQHA show within the past two years will automatically receive the new handbook.

The AQHA Handbook app will also be available for free download for mobile devices that are iOS and Android-compatible.

For members interested in submitting their own rule change, rule-change proposals for the 2013 AQHA Convention are due December 31, 2012. To learn more about submitting a rule-change proposal, visit

AQHA news and information is a service of AQHA publications. For more information on The American Quarter Horse Journal or America’s Horse, visit AQHA Publications.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Cowpunchers melting pot

By Julie Carter

Cowboys have their own style that has evolved through a century of working their trade.  Though widely imitated by everyone from John Travolta to a Wall Street wanna-be, the true essence of genuine is rarely captured.

Often the differences between imitation and genuine are so subtle only another cowboy can discern them. 

Cowboys will usually judge the other by the first impression. Initially, it will be the hat and boots on the cowboy followed by the tack (saddle etc.) that the horse is wearing. After that, the real test comes when observing a man’s skill with a horse or his handling of cattle.

Unique to the occupation, cowboy style will vary with every hundred miles of geography depending on weather, terrain, types of cattle work and necessities of the occupation.

The Texas Panhandle is said to draw the largest concentration of cattle on feed anywhere in the world. That makes it about the best place in the world to catch the largest number of working cowboys in the same place at any one time.

Some come from ranch owning families and others from working ranch hand families. Others come from South Texas or are buckaroos from Nevada. More than a few have waded the Rio Grande having cowboyed their way from Chihuahua to El Paso.

Many arrive from places where towns crowded them out, while others are kids working their way through college. A fair number have diplomas and are paying their dues at the bottom of the ladder before they go on to manage one of the mammoth feed yards.

Occasionally one will have come west from the piney woods of southeastern United States after deciding he was tired of driving cattle trucks hauling stocker cattle to the feedlots in the Texas Panhandle.  In the winters they will drift down from Montana, the Dakotas, Kansas and anywhere the climate is reputedly more fierce.

The major portion of the Texas Panhandle cowboys are homegrown panhandle ranch hands coming to “town” to work the feedlots for awhile. They can always count on employment, a steady paycheck and almost none of them have any illusions about the romance of cowboying.

This melting pot of cowboy types, unless raised at the feedlots, will be overwhelmed with the sheer numbers of confined cattle. Most will have come from places where sections of land scattered cattle far and wide. They will bring their good horses who will likewise be appalled by the dust, mud and endless multitude of gates to be opened horseback.

The Panhandle feedlot cowboys are a colorful lot and perform an absolutely critical function for the cattle industry. Owners of the cattle in the feed yards, feedlot managers and feedlot owners recognize that these men are the backbone of this labor intensive operation.

Decades may pass, but the look changes only a little in style. Under it all are young men with a dream. The cowboys themselves just look at it as their jobs—another part of being a cowboy. In good cowboy style, they just enjoy being punchers.

Julie can be reached for comment at