Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sage grouse protection plan would set aside 1.7 million acres in West

Federal biologists have found that Gunnison sage grouse are going extinct — victims of road, power-line and housing development in western Colorado. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to protect survivors as endangered species using 1.7 million acres in southwest Colorado and southeast Utah. The chicken-size, ground-nesting birds are prone to flying into barbed-wire fences and are famed for their loud mating dances. A federal notice to be published Friday announces the finding and launches a 60-day period for public comment. If federal authorities finalize the grouse's status as endangered, any designation of habitat for saving grouse would include an analysis of potential economic harm. When developers degrade the sagebrush habitat grouse need, grouse stop reproducing. "They don't lay eggs," said Patty Gelatt, the Fish and Wildlife Service supervisor in Grand Junction. "If a new power line goes through, often there will be an avian predator who will perch on the power line and eat the grouses' eggs." An estimated 4,612 grouse, fewer than one-tenth of their historical population, have survived in fragments around western Colorado...more

More articles on ammo and gun control

Biden calls on faith leaders to rally in favor of gun control Vice President Joe Biden called for national faith leaders to rally their faithful in the nation's debate regarding gun control in order to reduce gun violence. Among the 12 leaders who met with Biden in a White House meeting Wednesday was the Rev. Michael McBride, director of Lifelines to Healing, a faith-based effort to reduce gun violence in inner cities. He said the meeting was very constructive. McBride said Biden shared some thoughts on the White House's proposal to curb gun violence, which includes universal background checks and bans on assault weapons with a possible ammunition component. Biden also expressed the need for faith leaders to appeal to all Americans to eventually pass legislation that will meet that goal. McBride said he looked forward to "working with Vice President Biden, the Obama administration and Congress to find the comprehensive solution that keeps all of our children and neighbors safe from gun violence."

Biden Looks to 'Smart Guns' as White House Moves to Curb Firearms Capping three days of meetings on ways to stem gun violence in light of the Connecticut shootings last month, Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday he was interested in technology that would keep a gun from being fired by anyone other than the person who bought it. Technology for so-called "smart guns" is being developed, although, so far there has been little demand for it. Various techniques such as fingerprint recognition or the wearing of a magnetic ring would prevent anyone other than a weapon's registered owner from firing it.

Harvard doctors call for massive federal tax ‘on all firearms and ammunition’
A trio of public health doctors from Harvard University argued Monday that the federal government should institute “a new, substantial national tax on all firearms and ammunition” to pay for programs that “reduce gun violence.”  They wrote that the practice of periodic government safety inspections of automobiles should be expanded to include firearms, “including documentation of home storage and safety measures.” And they compared the enforcement of speed limits on roadways to now-common proposals to restrict the sale and possession of high-capacity magazines that can hold dozens of rounds of ammunition. Drs. Dariush Mozaffarian, David Hemenway and David Ludwig wrote that public health crusades against cigarette smoking, accidental poisonings and unsafe driving should be the new models for responding to gun violence like the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn. The commentary was published online Monday afternoon by JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.

NY Guv Vows to ‘Enact the Toughest Assault Weapon Ban in the Nation, Period!’One of the most hotly anticipated elements of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s annual State of the State address today was his plan to enact “sweeping” gun control reforms in New York. In his speech, the governor outlined a seven-point gun control plan focused on “high-capacity assault rifles” that he promised would be one of the “toughest” in the nation and lead similar laws to spread beyond New York.

Gun permit suspended after YouTube video Tennessee has suspended the handgun carry permit of a firearms trainer who said he'd "be glad to fire the first shot" in a civil war over gun control. James Yeager, chief executive officer of Tactical Response in Camden, Tenn., said in a video posted Wednesday, "Vice President Biden is asking the president to bypass Congress and use executive privilege -- executive order -- to ban assault rifles ... to impose stricter gun control. "I'm telling you that if that happens it's going to spark a civil war and I'll be glad to fire the first shot," he said. "I'm not putting up with it. You shouldn't put up with it. And I need all you patriots to start thinking about what you're going to do. Load your dam mags, make sure your rifle is clean, pack a backpack with some food in it and get ready to fight." The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security said Friday it has suspended Yeager's handgun carry permit based on "material likelihood of risk of harm to the public," WTVF-TV, Nashville, reported.

Opposition to Gun Control Grounded in Post-Civil War Paranoia, Expert Says “The debate about gun control in this country is not related to American Revolutionary thought, as gun control opponents often claim,” she says, “but is grounded in the paranoia experienced by whites over the loss of slaves and their own political domination, a state of mind that arose after the Civil War,” says Carole Emberton, PhD, assistant professor of American history at the University at Buffalo. “The demand for little or no restriction on gun ownership,” she says, “is related to disillusionment with and fear of the federal government and non-white ‘others,’ which developed in the Reconstruction South, as well as the West and in the country’s growing urban centers.” “In 1865, 4.5 million slaves were freed. Whites feared, that the recently-freed slaves would retaliate against them,” says Emberton.

State Rep's bill would limit guns to a single round A Connecticut politician has introduced a bill that drops all pretenses of wanting to establish a conversation on "reasonable" and "common sense" measures to address violence involving misuse of firearms, a state gun rights group informed Gun Rights Examiner this afternoon. Democrat State Senator Edward Meyer has introduced Proposed Bill No. 122, “An Act Concerning Restrictions on Gun Use” in the January session. Meyer wants that to happen by amending the general statutes “to establish a class C felony offense, except for certain military and law enforcement personnel and certain gun clubs, for (1) any person or organization to purchase, sell, donate, transport, possess or use any gun except one made to fire a single round, (2) any person to fire a gun containing more than a single round, (3) any person or organization to receive from another state, territory or country a gun made to fire multiple rounds, or (4) any person or organization to purchase, sell, donate or possess a magazine or clip capable of holding more than one round.”

Gun Control Controversy Rages After Another School Shooting As President Obama’s anti-gun violence task force was meeting Thursday with the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups, there was another school shooting. Students at Taft Union High say the teenage suspect arrested for the shooting had been bullied by other students, and may have had a hit list.

Gun Manufacturer Claims Bank of America Withheld Money Over Online Sales In the wake of December's Sandy Hook school shootings, the debate over America's firearms policy has come to a full boil, marked by increasingly heated arguments from lobbyists, legislators, gun owners and gun control activists. According to a gun manufacturing firm in Scottsdale, Ariz., it has even caused one of the country's biggest banks to take matters -- and the law -- into its own hands. In late December, Joe Sirochman, president of American Spirit Arms, took to the Internet, claiming that Bank of America illegally withheld his company's funds because of the nature of its business. On his company's Facebook feed, Sirochman wrote that the bank put holds on payments for guns it sold through his e-commerce site. When he called to investigate why the deposits were being delayed, he alleges, he was eventually told by by a bank representative: "We believe you should not be selling guns and parts on the Internet." Citing client confidentiality concerns, Bank of America refused to discuss Sirochman's specific case on the record.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Song Of The Day #995

The Lady and The Cowboy by Ray Whitley is Ranch Radio's tune today.

Feds Must Rethink Newly Opened Trails Because of Richard Nixon

The U.S. Forest Service improperly opened 2,000 miles of Sierra Nevada trails to vehicles legal both on and off public highways, a federal judge ruled. Stanislaus National Forest stretches from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite National Park in California. The battle over the use of public lands by unauthorized off-highway vehicles, or OHVs, has simmered for decades. In 1972, President Nixon issued an executive order holding that OHVs are "in frequent conflict with wise land and resource management practices, environmental values and other types of recreational activity." He bolstered that finding with a second order in 1977. The Forest Service's Travel Management Rule (TMR) implements the executive orders that manage OHV use to protect resources and public safety, and minimize use conflicts. In 2009 the Forest Service concluded a four-year review and updated its motorized travel management decision for the area. This decision restricted motorized travel within Stanislaus National Forest to National Forest Transportation System (NFTS) routes only, though it added 137 miles of previously unauthorized trails and logging roads to the official map. While the Forest Service also changed 93 miles of NFTS roads to allow off-road vehicles, it restricted another 400 miles of roads once open to OHV to highway-legal vehicles only. Three environmental groups - Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center, the Wilderness Society and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility - sued the U.S. Forest Service in 2010, claiming violations of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA)...more

Notice that the travel plans on all these forests implement Nixon's EOs.  Oh yes, tricky dick was quite a friend to the enviros.  Let's see, there was:

° NEPA in 1969
° An EO to create the EPA 1970
° An EO to create the CEQ 1970
° An EO to ban Compound 1080, strychnine, cyanide, and thallium by federal agents on federal lands
° Clean Air Act in 1972
° Marine Mammal Protection Act 1972 
° Endangered Species Act 1973

I'm sure there was other stuff I can't remember but he was a good buddy to the environmental movement.

And by the way, Reagan issued an EO rescinding Nixon's ban on chemicals for predator control.

Obama, Biden & Gun Control Articles & Headlines

Vice President Biden will present his anti-gun-violence working group's recommendations to President Obama by Tuesday of next week. Biden made the remark at the opening of a meeting with sportsmen and wildlife interest groups and hours before he is set to meet with representatives of the National Rifle Association and other gun-owners groups. “I have committed to him that I will have the recommendations to chim by Tuesday,” Biden said. Biden had been given an end-of-month deadline to offer his task force’s recommendations to Obama. The president formed the group after 20 six- and seven-year-olds were killed in a mass shooting last month at a Connecticut elementary school. Seven adults were also killed in the rampage. Biden met with gun control and gun safety groups yesterday, whom he said emphasized strengthening criminal background checks for gun owners. Biden said this included “universal background checks, not just closing the gun show loophole.”  Biden also suggested that the federal government would revamp the way it collected data on gun violence, comparing current limits on data gathering with the 1970s-era restrictions on federal research over the causes of traffic fatalities. He emphasized that the government needed to gather information on “what kind of weapons are used most to kill people” and “what kind of weapons are trafficked weapons” to better evaluate the problem of gun violence. The announcement came at the start of a packed day of meetings for the vice president. In addition to the meetings with the NRA and sportsmen groups, Biden will meet this evening with entertainment industry representatives...more

Biden: Executive action can be taken on guns  Vice President Joe Biden indicated Wednesday that the president will be able to take executive action to combat gun violence as he kicked off one of several meetings this week in response to the Newtown shooting. "We're here today to deal with a problem that requires immediate action, urgent action," Biden said at the start of a meeting with leaders from gun control groups and several victims of gun violence.

NRA rips Biden task force for 'attack' on 2nd Amendment, as details of plan emerge The National Rifle Association emerged from a meeting Thursday with Vice President Biden and accused his gun violence task force of leading an "attack" on the Second Amendment -- just hours after Biden gave a glimpse into the gun-control recommendations expected to hit the president's desk in a matter of days.The vice president said earlier that "an emerging set of recommendations" focuses on launching "universal" background checks, restricting high-capacity magazines and allowing federal agencies to do more research on gun violence. But the NRA, after sitting down with Biden and other firearms groups Thursday afternoon, blasted the effort as primarily focused on restricting gun rights.  "We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment," the group said in a written statement. "While claiming that no policy proposals would be 'prejudged,' this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners -- honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans. "It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen."  Aside from the NRA, Biden also met Thursday with sports groups like the Outdoor Industry Association and firearms groups like the National Association of Arms Shows.  Attorney General Eric Holder and other Obama Cabinet secretaries were meeting as well with Walmart and several other sports retailers...more 

Wal-Mart to attend gun control meeting at White House After initially declining an invitation to attend, Wal-Mart announced Wednesday that it will participate in a meeting with Vice President Joseph Biden's gun violence task force. In response to the criticism, Wal-Mart said it would attend. "We underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person, so we are sending an appropriate representative to participate," said Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar. Tovar said that Wal-Mart has been "very purposeful" about striking the right balance between serving hunters and sportsman and ensuring that it sells firearms responsibly. He also said the retailer is committed to staying engaged in the discussion about the right path forward with lawmakers. Wal-Mart sells guns in roughly 1,800 of its 4,000 stores, according to Tovar. It sells semiautomatic assault rifles, like the ones used in Sandy Hook, in about 1,200 stores across the country.

U.S. Senator calls for background checks to buy ammo

Mayors gun control group airing TV ad (This is the same group the Mayors of Las Cruces and Ruidoso are involved in)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Forest Service Restoration Appealed

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety and other groups are appealing a recent U.S. Forest Service decision to proceed with restoration of an area along the Rio Grande near the Buckman Direct Diversion for a project that includes recreational trails and day-use facilities. Concerned Citizens has concerns about “legacy” contamination from Los Alamos National Laboratory carried to the Buckman area in years past and buried in an old floodplain. Concerned Citizens wants, among other things, more extensive data collection and analysis to determine contamination levels in the 34-acre project area. “We must understand the nature and extent of the LANL legacy wastes in order to protect workers, schoolchildren, and the Rio Grande watershed,” the group’s Dec. 31 appeal states. Other appellants have raised concerns about herbicides that will be used to remove non-native plant species...more

Appeals court: Park Service can shoot excess elk and not use wolves

A federal appeals court sided with Rocky Mountain National Park in a dispute with environmentalists who said that wolves should be reintroduced to control the elk population rather than leaving the task to volunteer marksmen. Using the trained volunteers to help Park Service employees shoot and kill excess elk doesn't violate a hunting ban in national parks, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday. In ruling on the suit brought by WildEarth Guardians, the court said rules governing hunting in the parks allow the killing of animals that are dangerous to humans or detrimental to the park. "Neither .... the hunting ban nor the exceptions to that ban are based on the identity of the party destroying the animal .... Nor does WildEarth satisfactorily explain why, if NPS personnel can shoot an elk without it being considered hunting, the NPS's agents cannot do so," the court said. The Park Service argued that reintroducing wolves wasn't feasible, citing a lack of support from other agencies, safety concerns of nearby populations and the possibility of conflicts between wolves and people...more

Obama ‘seriously considering’ hosting climate change summit

Barack Obama may intervene directly on climate change by hosting a summit at the White House early in his second term, environmental groups say. They say the White House has given encouraging signals to a proposal for Obama to use the broad-based and bipartisan summit to launch a national climate action strategy. “What we talked about with the White House is using it as catalyst not just for the development of a national strategy but for mobilising people all over the country at every level,” said Bob Doppelt, executive director of the Resource Innovation Group, the Oregon-based thinktank that has been pushing for the high-level meeting. He said it would not be a one-off event. “What I think has excited the White House is that it does put the president in a leadership role, but it is not aimed at what Congress can do, or what he can do per se, so much as it is aimed at apprising the American public about how they can act.” Campaign groups and major donors have been pushing Obama to outline a strategy on climate change, in the wake of his re-election and superstorm Sandy. Jeremy Symons, senior vice-president for conservation and education at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), said Obama needed to give a clear indication early on of what he intended to do on climate change – ideally before the State of the Union address when presidents typically outline their agenda...more

Enviros are making a big push on global warming.  Can't help but notice this is all happening right when NOAA has released a study that says 2012 was the hottest year on record.  Surely this is not coordinated.

Conservation Groups Ask President Obama for a Suspension of Arctic Ocean Drilling

National Audubon Society, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana, Ocean Conservancy, Pacific Environment, Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society called on Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to suspend offshore oil and gas activities in the Arctic Ocean. This letter comes after Shell Oil’s long series of accidents, near-misses and reversals in its Arctic Ocean program. Interior Secretary Salazar announced this week that Shell’s program and his agency’s approvals of it would be subject to rigorous investigation, while recognizing the inherently dangerous operating conditions in the Arctic. Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard is working with the National Transportation Safety Board on its own investigation into the grounding of the Kulluk. Any investigation will show that oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean cannot be conducted now in a safe and responsible manner...more

Song Of The Day #994

Today's tune on Ranch Radio is Carolina Moonshiner by Al Hopkins & His Buckle Busters.

The tune was recorded in New York City on Dec. 20, 1928.  Note below you have to go to Austria to get some of our own early country music.

2012 hottest year on record in contiguous U.S., NOAA says

Temperatures in the contiguous United States last year were the hottest in more than a century of record-keeping, shattering the mark set in 1998 by a wide margin, the federal government announced Tuesday. The average temperature in 2012 was 55.3 degrees, one degree above the previous record and 3.2 degrees higher than the 20th-century average, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. They described the data as part of a longer-term trend of hotter, drier and potentially more extreme weather. The higher temperatures are due in part to cyclical weather patterns, according to the scientists. But the researchers also said the data provided further compelling evidence that human activity — especially the burning of fossil fuels, which produces greenhouse gases — is contributing to changes in the U.S. climate. The new report has broad ramifications for policy — and everyday life. Americans who might have thought climate change was a problem for the distant future are experiencing warmer temperatures in their own lifetimes — “something we haven’t seen before,” said Thomas R. Karl, who directs NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. “That doesn’t mean every season and every year is going to be breaking all-time records, but you’re going to see this with increasing frequency.”...more

Salazar: 'So many' Shell Arctic mishaps 'troubling'

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday he is concerned about the series of blunders surrounding Shell's recent Arctic drilling and is looking to a government investigation for answers. “We don't know what went wrong, and that's why it's important that this high-level review occur,” Salazar told reporters. “There is a troubling sense that I have that so many things went wrong.” Although Salazar stressed that the Obama administration remains committed to Arctic energy development, he stopped short of saying Shell would be able to resume drilling exploratory oil wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas this summer...more

BLM assessing wild horse sanctuary plan in Nevada

Federal land managers have identified a wide range of issues that must be addressed to move forward with a proposal to establish a wild horse ecosanctuary over 820 square miles in northeast Nevada, from the impact on neighboring mustangs, livestock and wildlife to fencing, water supplies and the local economy. The one thing most of the thousands of commenters agree upon is that that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's current horse management policy isn't working. The BLM issued a 228-page public scoping document on Tuesday that it will use to develop a range of alternatives to examine. The effort will be done in conjunction with the plan by Madeline Pickens and her group Saving America's Mustangs to develop the Northeast Nevada Wild Horse Ecosanctuary that has been described as part dude ranch, part Jurassic Park. The idea is to give visitors an up-close look at free-roaming mustangs in the wild along with a taste of Western rural life, while at the same time keep horses BLM removes from the range from spending the rest of their lives in costly holding facilities, mostly in the Midwest. Pickens and other backers say it could become a vacation destination that would help pump millions of dollars into the local economy. Most of the criticism has come from ranchers who fear it could ultimately result in reductions in livestock grazing in the region...more

Montana Wildlife Agency Remains Opposed to Wolverine Protections

Montana wildlife officials have given up on a wolverine trapping season this winter, but want the state excluded from future federal protections for the elusive predators so trapping can be revived. Federal officials are poised to announce by next Friday whether wolverines should get Endangered Species Act protections across the western U.S. That's what government scientists have recommended for years due to habitat threats posed by climate change. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said Tuesday the animal's population is healthy enough in the state that no additional protections are needed. And even if protections are proposed, Aasheim says Montana will seek authority to continue trapping, on the grounds that the issue is separate from the future perils wolverines face...more

Beca & Stormy - video

Watch this video of a young lady and her horse.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

You can't keep a cow from water (or Jon Marvel from grazing issues)

by Paul Larmer

In September, the Western Watersheds Project announced that it was seeking a successor to Jon Marvel, its founder and executive director. Marvel, who lives in Hailey, Idaho, began his campaign to end public lands grazing back in the early 1990s, following a dispute with a neighboring rancher whose cattle bedded down on Marvel's property and munched on his grass. This inspired Marvel, an architect, to start the Idaho Watersheds Project. His group made headlines in 1996 when it successfully bid on state grazing leases with the intent of removing cows from the range once it controlled the leases. Marvel's goal, both then and now, was to puncture what he sees as the unholy alliance between ranchers and public-lands agencies, which, he says, has caused the ecological degradation of most of the West through excessive livestock grazing.  High Country News covered his bare-knuckled crusade in an in-depth cover story in 1999. HCN Publisher Paul Larmer recently caught up with the 65-year-old activist via phone.

HCN: So why are you stepping down as the director of the Western Watersheds Project? Have the range wars been won?
J.M.: First, we haven't found anyone yet to take my job, so I'm continuing for now. But it's my choice, really -- to reduce my time and the administrative aspects of the job. The board would like to bring in some youth, and that's a good idea. I'll continue on as an advisor.
My strongest wish is for the larger conservation organizations to take up the public-lands grazing issue. The Nature Conservancy, for example, has never said a bad word about ranching. In fact, they say that ranching is a solution to restoring the land. Other groups have dabbled in it, too, but always backed off.
HCN: Why have they backed off?
J.M.: Groups like the Sierra Club and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) fall away when they encounter the difficulty of changing the system. Foundations (that fund environmental groups) reinforce this approach. The Pew Charitable Trust is highly focused on polling. They try to control what language you use, how you frame the issue. If you do a focus group on mining and ask people what they think, 90 percent will say it's a disaster. Do the same with grazing, and the results are the opposite; 80 percent are positive -- "We love ranchers; they are part of our heritage."So (despite grazing’s big impact on land health, groups like Pew that fund environmental nonprofits) listen to what focus groups tell them. They have focused so much on wilderness designation, trying to get ranchers on board. "Hey, we'll pass legislation that makes life easier for you, Mr. Rancher, because the environmentalists won't bother you if the land is designated wilderness."
HCN: Have your views about ranching and the damage caused by livestock grazing changed over time?
J.M.: Not much. Ranching culture is a violent culture. The killing of 90,000 coyotes by federal wildlife service agents, the killing of wolves and prairie dogs -- that's all about ranching. It is also a secretive culture. Ranchers who want to take buyouts from environmentalists are afraid of being socially ostracized by their peers. It's remarkable that so many conservative ranchers won't respect an individual rancher's decision to sell off their grazing permit and retire it. People who hate the government, but depend on it, are mentally ill.

Your Comments on Song Of The Day

Your comments, in order of numbers, were:

° More Western Swing
° More 78s and rarities
° Expand to include 60s and later years
° More bluegrass
° More fiddle tunes
° Continue radio programs
° Newer listeners who missed out would like to hear some of the classics
° Visit the pop side of Billboard from time to time

Looks like your tastes are as eclectic as mine.  Not sure I can work it all in but I'm gonna try and thanks to each of you who took the time to comment.

And don't forget I do take requests.

Song Of The Day #993

Ranch Radio's tune today is (as the tom cat said to the skunk) I've Enjoyed As Much Of This As I Can Stand by Porter Wagoner.

The song was recorded in Nashville on Aug. 30, 1962 and released as RCA Victor 47-8105.

Judge: Yellowstone bison get more room to roam

A long-running battle over Yellowstone bison was at least partly resolved this week, as a Montana judge upheld a state policy allowing the animals to roam outside Yellowstone National Park without facing harassment and death. The state rules were challenged by ranchers opposed to allowing bison to graze in the Gardiner Basin, just north of the park, important habitat in the winter and early spring. Federal and state biologists decided last year to allow bison seasonal access until May 1 of each year, opening critical foraging lands when higher elevations in the park lack spring grasses for bison and other grazing animals. “Today’s ruling represents a victory for all those who want to see wild bison as a living part of the Montana landscape,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, who defended the bison policy in the case on behalf of the Bear Creek Council, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Yellowstone region’s bison herds are the descendants of the last wild bison in the American West, and today they stand as some of the last genetically pure bison in the world.  The court rejected the idea that the law requires slaughtering these magnificent animals whenever they cross the park boundary.”  The Park County Stockgrowers Association, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, and Park County, Montana went to court to try and block the policies, raising concerns about about the potential for bison to infect cattle with brucellosis. But the only two cattle ranchers operating year-round in the Gardiner Basin did not join the legal challenge...more

Salazar orders review of 2012 Arctic oil, gas drilling

The US Department of the Interior has launched an expedited, high-level assessment of the 2012 offshore drilling program in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, Interior Sec. Ken Salazar announced. The assessment, which will take 60 days, will review activities and identify challenges and lessons learned, he said. It will pay special attention to problems Shell Offshore Co. encountered in connection with certification of its containment vessel, the Arctic Challenger; the deployment of its containment dome; and operational issues associated with its two drilling rigs, the Noble Discoverer and the Kulluk, Salazar said on Jan. 8. US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy Beaudreau, who has been selected to serve as Acting Assistant Interior Sec. for Land and Minerals Management, will lead the assessment, with technical assistance from the US Coast Guard. He said the review will look at Shell’s safety management systems, its oversight of contracted services, and its ability to meet the strict standards in place for Arctic oil and gas development...more

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

U.S. evaluates pollution, jobs at Navajo coal plant

A federal working group will address concerns about air pollution and jobs at the largest coal-fired power plant in the western United States, the Navajo Generating Station on an Indian reservation near the Grand Canyon, three U.S. agencies said on Friday. A joint statement from the Department of the Interior, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the agencies would work together to find ways to produce "clean, affordable and reliable power" while "minimizing negative impacts on those who currently obtain significant benefits from (the Navajo station), including tribal nations." The 2,250-megawatt 1970s-era coal plant is located on the Navajo Indian reservation just 15 miles from the Grand Canyon. The Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation owns 24 percent of the plant and is the largest single owner. Navajo supplies electricity to customers in Arizona, California, and Nevada. The Bureau of Reclamation's share of the power is used to move water to tribal, agricultural, and municipal water customers in central Arizona. Proposed EPA rules to reduce regional haze in the West would require expensive new control equipment that could make the plant uneconomical to run. Shutting the plant would cost more than 1,000 jobs at the plant and the coal mine that supplies it, according to U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican. A majority of the workers are Native Americans...more

The feds own 24 percent of the plant and so all of a sudden they're concerned about shutting it down.  Can't wait to see what the final price tag will be.

New Grouse Study Focuses on Spring Grazing

By 2015, federal biologists will decide the fate of the sage grouse — if its plight merits listing it as endangered. A group of Idaho researchers are already looking beyond that date, planning a 10-year study of how spring grazing affects the bird’s habitat. One goal is to provide ranchers with advice and information on grazing practices after a possible grouse listing, said Karen Launchbaugh, a range scientist with the University of Idaho. The university would partner with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and possibly other agencies for the study.  “We all know sage grouse are pending listing in 2015. A lot of people would like to put in research to help that decision,” Launchbaugh said. “This won’t. Our goals are longer than that. Sage grouse are declining at a rate of concern and we are going to have to figure out how to graze after a decision is made.” Spring grazing will be the primary focus of the new study, Launchbaugh said. During the same time ranchers release their livestock for spring grazing, sage grouse use the southern Idaho desert for nesting. One of the study’s goals is to determine if that spring grazing has a negative effect during a sensitive time for the grouse...more

Mexican wolf scheduled for release soon in Arizona

An adult male Mexican gray wolf may be released soon in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest in east-central Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department officials say the wolf is scheduled for a mid-January release adjacent to the Bluestem pack. It will replace the pack's alpha male found dead in July and determined to be illegally killed. The release is contingent upon the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project's interagency field team's survey work to ensure no other male wolf has paired with the Bluestem pack's alpha female. The Mexican gray wolf was added to the federal endangered species list in 1976 after it was nearly wiped out by government trapping and poisoning designed to help cattle ranchers. The federal government began a reintroduction effort in 1998 in Arizona and New Mexico. AP

Russia: Raids by wolves spark 'emergency' in Sakha

An influx of wolves preying on reindeer herds has triggered a state of emergency in the Sakha Republic, in north-eastern Russia. Squads of hunters will pursue the wolves in a three-month "battle" from 15 January, officials say. The most successful hunters will get bonuses. The vast, sparsely populated region is also known as Yakutia. Experts quoted by Russian media believe a shortage of mountain hares has caused the migration of hungry wolves. Wolf packs have moved into Sakha's central reindeer pastures, from their normal hunting grounds in the mountains and dense forests. Reports speak of increased attacks on livestock, but not on humans. The wolf-hunting season has been extended to the whole year, as the target is to get the wolf population in the region down to 500 - reckoned to be the optimal number. Currently there are estimated to be more than 3,500. The Sakha agriculture ministry says 16,111 reindeer were savaged by wolves in 2012 - a 4.3% rise on 2011. That meant a loss to reindeer herders of more than 150m roubles (£3m; $5m), as each reindeer is worth about 10,000 roubles (£205; $328). Wolves also killed 314 domesticated horses, the Sakha authorities said. Last year hunters killed 730 wolves in the republic...more

And we are spending millions to protect them. 

More than 100 protesters take over TransCanada’s Keystone XL offices in Houston

More than 100 blockaders stormed the lobby of TransCanada’s Keystone XL office in Houston this morning. Protesters danced, spilled black ‘tar sands’ balloons and hung neon orange hazard tape to highlight the deadly effects of TransCanada’s corporate greed on communities and ecosystems. After being forced out of the lobby by police, the protesters gathered on the sidewalk and performed street theatre in which a “pipe dragon” puppet destroyed homes and poisoned water until being slain by knights representing the grassroots coalition of Tar Sands Blockade, Idle No More, Earth First and others. Today’s action was the largest yet in the months-long campaign by climate justice organizers and Texas landowners against the pipeline and the first mass action in Houston targeting TransCanada corporate offices directly. It kicks off a new phase of Blockade organizing, targeting the corporate, political and financial infrastructure behind the Keystone XL pipeline with solidarity actions planned across the country this week, including in Austin, Detroit and New York release

New BLM rules restrict sales of wild horses

Sales of wild horses and burros will be restricted under new rules announced Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management after an investigation into the sale of more than 1,700 horses to a Colorado livestock hauler who supports the horse meat industry. "It is a response to that inquiry, which is being conducted right now by the Office of the Inspector General of the Interior Department," said Tom Gorey, BLM spokesman for the wild horse program in Washington, D.C. Wild horse advocates said the rules amount to "window dressing" and won't keep large numbers of mustangs out of the hands of so-called kill buyers. The inspector general is investigating what became of 1,777 horses sold since 2009 to Tom Davis. Wild horse advocates fear the animals were taken to Mexico for slaughter. Under the new rules, sales of wild mustangs and burros will be limited to no more than four within a six-month period unless prior approval is obtained from a BLM assistant director. Buyers also must describe where they intend to keep the animals...more

F.D.A. Offers Broad New Rules to Fight Food Contamination

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday proposed two sweeping rules aimed at preventing the contamination of produce and processed foods, which has sickened tens of thousands of Americans annually in recent years. The proposed rules represent a sea change in the way the agency polices food, a process that currently involves taking action after contamination has been identified. It is a long-awaited step toward codifying the food safety law that Congress passed two years ago. Changes include requirements for better record keeping, contingency plans for handling outbreaks and measures that would prevent the spread of contaminants in the first place. While food producers would have latitude in determining how to execute the rules, farmers would have to ensure that water used in irrigation met certain standards and food processors would need to find ways to keep fresh food that may contain bacteria from coming into contact with food that has been cooked. New safety measures might include requiring that farm workers wash their hands, installing portable toilets in fields and ensuring that foods are cooked at temperatures high enough to kill bacteria...more

Monday, January 07, 2013

Stop the Obesity Epidemic! Establish 'No Pie Zones' and Ban Spoons!

by Mike Rogers

"Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure costs this country more than $120 billion dollars each year." – Michele Obama

It is well known that obesity is Americas number one killer today. Don't believe me; just take a gander at the video of Michelle Obama as she makes the quote above. 

Recently many people in the USA have been calling for a gun ban as we all know that inanimate objects (as well as God, dogs, voices in the head and Frank Zappa recordings) can and do control human actions. Guns are responsible for about 9,000 deaths in the US annually. Meanwhile obesity, er, I mean, spoons and forks, account for over 300,000 deaths. Where are our priorities?

Of course we need to ban all guns and ammo (as well as camouflage clothing, night vision glasses, Coleman camping equipment and sterno lanterns). But, let's get our house in order and set our priorities straight! We must fight back against the obesity epidemic by severely restricting spoons and all other types of silverware and table utensils that make it easier to become obese!

The real problem with America today is obesity not gun murders... Therefore I propose a federal ban on spoons as too many Americans eat far too much ice cream and sweets... I also propose enforcing a "No Pie Zone" over all major American cities.

I have pitched this idea and done so for absolutely free (no copyright claims to come from me as I do this for the greater good – Apologies to Walter Block). I have also shown this idea to my intelligent friends on Facebook and asked for their opinions. I think you'll find the following exchange of ideas to be quite refreshing and invigorating....

Let's now put our heads together and find a way, a true way, in the American spirit of bi-partisanship, towards finding the best way to deal with this obesity scourge that is obviously caused by kitchen utensils. 
I have a dream! Today spoons and forks, tomorrow desert plates and tablecloths!

Let the discussion begin! Here's how we tackle this obesity epidemic once and for all! Here are selected quotes from my distinguished panel of friends! 

Red Brown: You need to move incrementally – you can't just throw this down all at once. First you need to make people register their spoons, and also restrict the capacity of spoons allowed. Once that becomes accepted, you can move towards limiting the number of spoons a person can have, and you can also restrict the movement or exchange of any spoons. Then, and this is the important part, you announce that there is a bill in the works to criminalize any and all silverware. Finally, you strike down all the provisions of this new bill except banning spoons of any type. You also move most of the old spoon restrictions over to forks. Everyone thinks they got off pretty well and gives up their spoons – easy as that! 

Marc Abela: Since you don't want to alarm everyone, first I suggest we increase taxes and add bureaucrats who will build a paper based federal spoon-registry list... all spoons will need to have a serial number on them, and they will need to be registered and attached to a clearly identified owner...

Red Brown: Unfortunately, a huge black market, of illegal spoons from foreign countries and also locally made spoons, explodes into existence and the Feds create a new bureaucracy called the BATFU (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms & Utensils). This monstrosity consumes 1/10 of our federal budget and most of the employees are grossly overweight.  

Rogers says this Eatensil should be banned!

The Eatensil is designed for the kitchen. It combines seven tools which make eating easier – a spoon, fork, knife, pizza cutter, chopsticks, bottle opener and wooden chip fork – all in a Swiss Army Knife-type casing." The Eatensil?! We've got to put a stop to this!

Song Of The Day #992

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here's Milton Brown with This Morning, This Evening, So Soon.

 The tune was recorded on August 8, 1934 in San Antonio and was released on the Bluebird label.

More tomorrow on the future of Song Of The Day.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Pioneer treasures

 by Julie Carter

I slid down off the back of my fat slick horse, unfettered by the trappings of a saddle, and tied him to the nearest tree. The afternoon summer sun shone through the aspens and the only sounds were of the birds moving around from branch to branch as they chattered about my arrival.

Looking around, I was alone except for nature’s critters as I watched a cottontail rabbit hop away as an indication of my intrusion while a chipmunk chattered at me from a nearby pile of rotting wood slabs.

This adventure was like the many I took as a teen when the summer days seemed endless, both in number and in length. Hours were spent exploring the secret places of a high mountain ranch that was once home to Indian tribes, miners, trappers and eventually homesteaders. It captured my imagination and lured me to journeys of discovery.

My mother was used to me gathering up my horse using only a bridle and riding off, giving her only a general direction and a promised time of return. My father’s only admonition was to not go inside any of the crumbling and caving old homestead structures that remained from an era gone by. I failed that instruction more than I admitted.

From a framed window that no longer held glass, I peered into a large room of the old house that held tight to its past. The ceiling, also wood, had fallen over half the room and the floor boards were intact only in a few places. Scattered across the remaining floorboards were books in all sorts of disarray and condition, some completely tattered from exposure to the elements.

Leaning in as far as I dared, I tried to reach some of the closer volumes, knowing that surely they would reveal the character and mindset of the inhabitants of the house when it was a home. I found a song book that had dog-eared pages marking old hymns and a few children’s songs. I was able to pull out a faded catalog that offered practical household items as well as fashion and dry goods.

Not satisfied with what I could access with my hands, I soon was reaching with a long branch to drag more toward me, sitting in the afternoon sun to flip through the pages that weren’t matted with moisture. My imagination took me to a time when this same browsing action took place by someone I could only create in my mind.

And then there was that one book. The one in the middle of the room, barely visible because of the tattered remnants of other books, the one with the dark green binding and an embossed title I could only see partially. Of course, I had to have it, just because.

I carefully slipped over the window sill and eased my way across the creaking, cracking floorboards, fearing impending disaster from the sagging roof remnants, but not enough to abort my mission. When I could, I reached for the book, pulled it from the pile and carefully retraced my steps to the outside.

With no time to browse through my ill-gotten treasure, I stuck it in the waist of my jeans, remounted my horse and headed for home.

The book was a treasure for its time. A sort of encyclopedia of everything you needed to know about any number of things. It offered a variety of self-help items ranging from recipes for sour dough starter to home remedies for physical ills, tooth aches and child birth. The most fascinating to me, and I’m not sure why, was the recipe for embalming fluid.

While my family thought my treasure was indeed a great find, my dad was not fooled as to how I had come by it. You see, he too found great intrigue in poking around those old homesteads, and he had seen that very book, knew where it was and that it didn’t come into my hands without my disobedience.

Nowhere in that old book did I find a remedy for disobeying my dad, but at least the use of the embalming fluid didn’t become necessary. However, the section that covered the tanning of hides did hold some possibilities.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Fartin' Horses & Federal Policy

Equine flatulence
The Path of Grandfather Logic
Unnatural alterations
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            I had two wonderful, and, yet, diametrically opposed grandfathers.
            Carl Rice was my friend. He kept me in cowboy hats and he cared what I looked like under one. He taught me to love outside. He made sure there was something under the Christmas tree that he liked as much as I would. He liked my company, and I loved his.
            Albert Wilmeth was a mentor extraordinaire. With him, we were constantly positioned in real life situations that mattered. He taught us little accomplishments were the path to big ones. He never cared what was under the tree. I don’t know if he even liked my company. I rely on his today … nearly 35 years after his passing.
            Equine flatulence
            Walt Anderson and I had a serious discussion about equine flatulence. That subject happens to be a profound one of which too few have much knowledge.
            The discussion started when I asked Walt if he thought horses farted as much today as they did years ago. His reaction was much like yours when such a seemingly irrational question is posed. The fact is I don’t think they do, and, with a bit of explanation, Walt altered his reaction to the subject as well.
            For those with grey hair who listened to thundering remudas of horses running to the corral before sunup 50 years or more ago, there was more to the thunder than heretofore discussed. As those ponies approached the corral gate, a cacophony of muted, uproarious, explosive, and disharmonious sphincter babble was a fact of their existence. Exertion acting upon stored reserves was the facilitator.
            It would continue as horses were saddled and humped backs were softened and relaxed. Mounted cowboys could prompt it again by a jab of a spur. It would continue at a diminishing rate except for exceptional horses.
Snooper was renowned for his ability to pass gas on command. Once, at the end of a long day, Hugh Reed and I doubled up on him bareback to ride down the creek to fish. He stood there immobile with his ears back until Hugh jabbed him with his heal. His response was a typical loosely discordant first note. An explosive chorus followed with each lunge in a pitching, straightaway run. With a fishing rod in each hand, he tipped me out the back about the third jump.
Hugh was whooping and hollering as he regained control and came back up the trail. There I stood in the muddy trail on both feet planted firmly where I landed. Snooper still had his ears back, but I held each fishing rod in the same position they had been prior to the prelude.
A Texas cowboy told me some years ago he believed the phenomenon was the feed we feed today more than the horse we have. In the days of thundering remudas, horses didn’t eat hay unless they were kept up. They were selectively grained or grained enough to make them want to come in. The bulk of their diet came from natural turf.  At Grampa’ Wilmeth’s barn on the Mangus, there may have been only a dozen bales of hay at any one time, but there were a number of 55 gallon drums of whole oats.
A good many of those horses looked different as well. With big barrels and worked hard, they consumed great quantities of roughage to satisfy their dietary demands. They didn’t get anything in measured doses, but they ate throughout the day when turned out.
The health of those horses was not an issue, either. Until years later, I never heard the term colic except for human babies that didn’t sleep through the night. Now, colic is a worry and I can look out the window and see three horses that have a demonstrated some history of the problem. In fact, there is a big bottle of Banamine in the refrigerator in the shop bathroom. I know the typical respiration rate of each of those horses, and, if and when we need our Vet, he now asks what kind of gut sounds I hear on each side.
Certainly, horses were lost from what now must be assumed to be colic. A favored horse of my uncle found dead in a field one morning likely expired from colic.
The point is it wasn’t such a problem that it was a big worry. As a result, a theory must be accepted that horses maintained under natural evolutionary conditions, on their own, are less likely to be susceptible to such problems. Under those conditions they will maintain immense populations of micro flora and fauna to digest all that mass of roughage, and … a natural byproduct from that process is equine flatulence.
The Grandest Analogy
What else have we altered, manipulated, and subsidized similarly that equates to worry and permanent maintenance?
At a minimum, we must realize that at least 20% of the nation has tipped over into a crevasse that poses perhaps insurmountable consequences to our future well being and freedom. Eleven states now have more welfare recipients than employed citizenry. Alabama, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, and South Carolina have more folks on the take than self supporting.
            New Mexico has 1.53 takers for every one giver!
            As this is written, the day after the infamous fiscal cliff vote, the specter of worsening conditions is the only honest outcome that can be anticipated. The represented 45:1 ratio of increased taxation against spending cuts is laughable … especially when there is no real intent to cut anything regarding entitlement spending.
            Our Congress isn’t going to change this accelerating free fall into oblivion. For too long, we assumed there was reasonableness among their ranks, and at least the issue of spending would eventually take precedence over politics. It hasn’t.
We must now face the inevitable truth. The emerging cataclysm isn’t just a multiyear mismanagement of our national treasury and trust. It is the pending annihilation of our entire constitutional system. There is evidence that the true nature of unfunded obligations doesn’t equate to one year of gross national product.  It equates to over 14 years of total gross national product.
In other words, to fund all obligations now contracted by legislation every dollar created by every American would be swept away for 14 years. That doesn’t even account for future grand projects envisioned by these money changers.
This is epic. It is unavoidably assigned to us as the ultimate closet to be robbed. We are not just feeding high powered hay … we now have every being hooked up to an IV and are spoon feeding every ounce of sustenance needed. There is no reliance on the individual to be given the God given freedom to care for and look out for himself. This is an all new horse of unfathomable consequences. On the deserts of southern New Mexico, it looks like a fatal case of national calamity and inevitable bankruptcy.   
The Image is cast
Today, there is not a single elected national leader who has earned title to be showered with accolades. Starting and magnified from the top, there is not a single leader who can be counted upon to lead this collective band of blind, inept avant-garde proxies out of their dreamland. If there was, he or she would have emerged or he or she would have gone to his death fighting for the sovereign existence of our country.
Words … just words!”
That next morning the alphabet soup news readers were going through the tedious ranks of the Washington crew getting their take on the outcome of the vote. The comedic analogy was just too apparent not to draw attention to it. The jabs of the spurs were symbolically transformed into the rapid fire questions from the other incredibly biased migratory troop of tramps, the Capital Hill reporters. 
Just like that bay horse, Snooper, the automatic babble responses were immediate and continuous with each jab.  The substance of the ‘cacophony of muted, uproarious, explosive, and disharmonious (orifice) babble’ was no more meaningful than the similar clouds of gas that dissipated into the morning air all those years ago.
At least the horses were honest, and … didn’t attempt to shape or enunciate their responses for future reference.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Yea, I know … I have left it to this point to tie my grandfathers to this topic, and, since we have breached narrative etiquette already, we’ll linger there. They both offered logic in reasonable doses. One universal suggestion was a lesson in selecting horses and men. The ditty was ‘a fartin’ horse’ll never tire, and a fartin’ man is the man to hire!’ That logic has never failed, but, with the standoff of one being a staunch Republican and the other a middle of the road Democrat, neither contributed to my constitutional proficiency … just like Congress.”