Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hage case’s impact on minor roads raises red flags

Wayne Hage
By Mark Waite

    The Hage family last Thursday filed a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, appealing a claims court judgment that stripped away part of their $14 million award in a suit against the U.S. Forest Service over grazing rights in Monitor Valley.
    Nye County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman said Tuesday she’s afraid the ruling by a court of appeals for the federal circuit overturning part of the judgment in the Wayne Hage case — that only hand tools are allowed to be used to maintain roads in the national forest — could jeopardize the $250,000 the county spent on the minor road inventory. The county inventoried more than 3,000 miles of minor roads to establish the public rights to use them.
    District Attorney Brian Kunzi said he would file a friend of the court brief in support of the family of Wayne Hage, who died in June 2006.
    Hage was a hero of the public lands movement who sued the forest service for $28 million in 1991 after the agency seized 100 head of cattle he was grazing on the Meadow Canyon allotment in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The forest service said the land was overgrazed, causing ecological damage. Hage authored a book called “Storm over Rangelands.”
    U.S. Claims Court Judge Loren Smith awarded Hage a $14 million judgment in 2002 after he found government actions prevented the Hage family from accessing their 1866 ditch rights, amounting to a physical taking. Smith ruled Hage had a right to let his cattle use the water and forage on at least some of the federal land where he held a grazing permit.
    Hage acquired the Pine Creek ranch in 1978 in Monitor Valley, which included 7,000 acres of private land; he also used about 752,000 acres of federal land under grazing permits. But trouble began after the forest service allowed the Nevada Department of Wildlife to release elk into the Table Mountain allotment in 1979.
    The U.S. Court of Appeals last August overturned important parts of the judgment. A statement from the Hage family Wichman read at the county commissioners meeting, noted the appeals court decision occurred on the 146th anniversary of the passage of the 1866 Mining Act, designed to encourage people to move west by protecting their property rights.
    In the Hage case, Wichman said the appeals court reversal allowed the forest service to demand the Hages seek permission before they could access and maintain their rights of way unless they limited themselves to the use of hand tools.
    “The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals overlooked well more than 100 years of local customs, laws and court decisions, including a 2005 decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the claims court that recognized that no such permit could be required,” Wichman said reading the statement.
    “This is not just a fight between solitary ranchers and the government. The ruling, if it stands, may impact virtually every major highway and water system in the West,” the statement read.
    Wichman said Nye County used the 1866 Mining Law as a basis in asserting the publics right to use the minor roads in compiling the county inventory.
    “We have claimed jurisdiction on all those roads that have existed prior to the reserve of the forest service and BLM. To do that we basically used the 1866 Mining Law, which gave express jurisdiction to those people that are using the roads. So how it threatens it is, if that judge has determined that the forest service can tell you that all you can do in the forest is to work with hand tools, those roads are maintained by use, which is ordinarily motorized vehicles,” Wichman said Tuesday.
    “What happens to those roads if you cannot take machinery down the road? If you cannot drive a vehicle down the road, you cannot maintain those roads because that’s what keeps the roads open,” she said.
    Wichman, who has made the minor road inventory her pet project, said all the minor county roads in the national forest in Nye County have been inventoried and all roads in areas managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management south of Beatty. On the Tuesday county commission agenda, the Board of Road Commissioners accepted another 17 minor county roads.
    Each road acceptance includes photos of the road, a topographical map, a legal description with township and range, the length and width of the road.

From the 1/25/2013 Pahrump Valley Times

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ranchers decry plan for wolf protection: NM County backs opposition to federal proposal

Bill Sauble
Several area ranchers expressed their opposition to a federal plan that would offer protection to wolves that may migrate into northern New Mexico in growing numbers in the future. The Colfax County commission promised the county would share the ranchers’ strong concerns with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and take any other steps it can to keep predatory wolves from negatively impacting the local livestock industry. The unanimous anti-wolf sentiment expressed at Tuesday’s commission meeting came during a public hearing for commissioners to listen to citizens’ input regarding the Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed Southwestern Gray Wolf Management Plan. The plan contains detailed, multiple-layered standards and procedures by which a gray wolf could be deemed a “problem” wolf for attacking livestock or pets or coming too close to humans, and how that wolf would be dealt with. The proposed plan “gives the wolves more protection than our farmers and ranchers,” said Marietta Shell, a former Colfax County commissioner. “These are predators I do not believe can be managed.” Commissioner Bill Sauble, a rancher himself, made a motion that county officials look at revising the 2008 ordinance stating opposition not only to wolves being intentionally reintroduced into the county but opposing federal protections for wolves naturally migrating into it. The motion passed unanimously...more

Drakes Bay Oyster Co. goes to court to fight closure

Lawyers for the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will square off Friday before a federal judge in Oakland in the first round of a legal battle to continue the commercial oyster operation in the Point Reyes National Seashore. At stake is Salazar's decision in November not to renew a 40-year lease that gave oyster farm operator Kevin Lunny the right to commercial operations in 2,500-acre Drakes Estero, a five-fingered estuary that features extensive eelgrass beds and a harbor seal colony. The decision, hailed by wilderness advocates, gave Lunny's company 90 days to shut down a business that plants and harvests 8 million oysters — worth about $1.5 million a year — from the near-pristine estero. The deadline was subsequently extended to March 15. Four days after Salazar's Nov. 29 decision, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit filed a federal lawsuit alleging it violated federal rules and was based on faulty science.“The government has doubled down on bad science, refusing to listen to anyone who tells them anything to the contrary,” said Amber Abbasi, an attorney for the group Cause of Action, who will argue Lunny's case on Friday before U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers...more

Turning America's water into Big Green's elite empire

by Ron Arnold

Two weeks ago, outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar named the White River -- which cuts 722 miles through its 17.8 million-acre watershed, crossing 60 counties in Arkansas and Missouri -- as the second National Blueway.

What exactly, we should ask, is a National Blueway? In short, it's the focus of the biggest federal land grab in American history.

Physically, a National Blueway is an entire watershed, including its municipal, county and tribal governments, private property, businesses and everything else within the ridge line of the watershed. Consider the first Blueway, the 410-mile Connecticut River, along with its 7.2 million-acre watershed, which stretches into Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. It wouldn't take too many grabs like that for the federal government to control all the water in the nation.

Politically, a Blueway is a watershed that falls under a new bureaucracy, an intra-agency National Blueways Committee. The designation was created by Secretarial Order 3321 of May 24, 2012, signed by Salazar. The order says, "The National Blueways System will provide a new national emphasis on the unique value and significance of a 'headwaters to mouth' approach to river management and create a mechanism to encourage stakeholders to integrate their land and water stewardship efforts by adopting a watershed approach."

Salazar's vague "watershed approach" subverts the power of local governments, which now use various individually tailored "watershed management" techniques for their local water supply, water quality, drainage, stormwater runoff and water rights. Where did those go in Salazar's ghastly green goo?

The idea of using "network management" to cope with multifaceted water issues through a powerful master unit was first promoted in Europe by the World Water Council, a consortium founded in 1996 and based in Marseille, France. WWC members include the World Bank, the United Nations and major European corporations. The founders were well aware that "the implementation of any common vision presents a new role for NGOs because of their unique capabilities in local community coordination, thus making them a valuable partner in network governance," according to British environmental governance professor James Evans.

Which brings up the question of why Salazar created Blueways in the first place.

Judge: Thinning on North Kaibab legal

The Kaibab National Forest can proceed with its plans to thin and conduct prescribed burns on about 25,000 acres north of the Grand Canyon over the objections of two conservation groups, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. The groups questioned whether the Forest Service properly analyzed risks and benefits of its formula for prescribed forest thinning, and U.S. District Judge Paul Rosenblatt ruled that it had. The area in question is about 39 square miles located near Jacob Lake, or north of the 40,000 acres accidentally burned in 2006's prescribed-burn-turned-wildfire on the North Kaibab Ranger District, called the Warm fire. It's a defeat for the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity, which have raised objections over the age and size of trees to be thinned since 1998. Those groups asserted that the scale of thinning the Forest Service had proposed on the Kaibab Plateau is not beneficial to the northern goshawk, a bird the forest service considers a "sensitive" species (not federally listed as threatened or endangered), and submitted data to support that view. The Forest Service weighed that data, then set it aside in favor of what its own expert had said about how dense or sparse the forest could be in areas where the goshawk live. The plans allow for logging of ponderosa pines 16 inches and larger in diameter (with no upper size limits), though the Forest Service says it will only account for fewer than 2 percent of the trees to be cut...more

Court refuses to hear challenge to oil and gas leases decision

A legal challenge to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's controversial rescission of 77 oil and gas leases offered for bid in Utah was delivered a setback Thursday with an appellate court refusing to hear the case. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver turned back a request by energy companies and a trio of Utah counties to set a full panel of judges to reconsider a September 2012 ruling. In that decision, the court agreed with U.S. District Judge Dee Benson's earlier ruling that the energy companies and the counties missed their opportunity to protest Salazar's actions because the 90-day window of appeal had closed. Critics of the Bureau of Land Management resource plans that fostered issuing the leases long contended that they were part of a last-minute "giveaway to the oil and gas industry" in the waning days of the Bush administration in 2008...more


Finally signed the papers to refinance my casa and completed a project. Lab tests Friday and hopefully I can get back to blogging again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tom Udall’s name added to the mix for Interior post

So much for a short list. Add another name to the possible candidates for Interior secretary, a post that will be vacant when Ken Salazar departs the agency in March: Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) We hear Salazar suggested Udall as a potential replacement, and that his name has been sent to the White House for consideration. Of course, he wouldn’t be the first Interior Secretary named Udall. The senator’s father, Stewart Udall, was a legendary environmental champion who served as Interior Secretary under Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. So he’s got a great pedigree, he’s well-liked, and he’s a Westerner, which is considered desirable in that job. But he’s hardly a lock. The White House is desperately seeking diversity in its Cabinet picks (because the first few nominees were mostly white men), and Udall wouldn’t exactly add to the rainbow. Other names we’ve heard that might fit that bill include outgoing Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, Office of Personnel Management chief John Berry (who would be the first openly gay Cabinet secretary), and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Then there’s the fact that Republican Gov. Susana Martine would be the one to appoint Udall’s replacement for the two years remaining in his term — so Democrats would likely lose a Senate seat. Besides, Udall has reason to be pretty comfortable where he is. He was recently named to the powerful Appropriations Committee, and is running for re-election in 2014. Washington Post blog

Slate calls this Ken Salazar's Brilliant Plan to Empower Senate Republicans.

New Asteroid Mining Company Aims to Manufacture Products in Space

A new private company called Deep Space Industries announced today that it intends to send a fleet of small spacecraft to near-Earth asteroids with the aim of mining resources and turning them into products using space-based 3-D printers. Last year was thick with audacious private spaceflight company unveilings, including the announcement from Planetary Resources, Inc. of their plans to mine relatively valuable platinum group metals from asteroids. With the formation of Deep Space Industries, it seems that 2013 could see a new crop of private space companies with lofty goals.“We are about prospecting, exploring, harvesting, extracting, and manufacturing based on the resources of space,” said Rick Tumlinson, founder and chairman of DSI, during a press conference on Jan. 22. There exists potentially extremely valuable material on asteroids, including nickel, silicon, platinum group metals such as platinum and palladium, and water, which can be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen to make rocket fuel. DSI intends to create a fleet of prospecting spacecraft called “FireFlies” (perhaps trying to rouse interest in their plans from Joss Whedon acolytes) that will travel to asteroids in Earth’s vicinity on journeys of two to six months. The spacecraft will be built up from teams of small CubeSats — low-cost miniature satellites — to form 25 kg (55 lbs) machines that can collect data about the best asteroids to mine from. The company hopes to launch the first FireFly in 2015. A year later, DSI wants to launch larger spacecraft called DragonFlies that can make a round-trip journey to an asteroid and bring back samples. They estimate the trip will take two to four years and can return as much as 70 kg (150 lbs) of asteroid material to Earth orbit. DSI has patented technology they claim can extract precious metals from raw asteroid material and build it into parts with a 3-D printer...more

We've all read how rules, regulations, restrictions and taxes are driving firms they are driving them clear into outer space.  Expect the UN to get involved pronto.

What the FBI Doesn't Want You To Know About Its "Secret" Surveillance Techniques

The FBI had to rewrite the book on its domestic surveillance activities in the wake of last January’s landmark Supreme Court decision in United States v. Jones. In Jones, a unanimous court held that federal agents must get a warrant to attach a GPS device to a car to track a suspect for long periods of time. But if you want to see the two memos describing how the FBI has reacted to Jones — and the new surveillance techniques the FBI is using beyond GPS trackers — you’re out of luck. The FBI says that information is “private and confidential.”
Yes, now that the Supreme Court ruled the government must get a warrant to use its previous go-to surveillance technique, it has now apparently decided that it’s easier to just keep everything secret. The ACLU requested the memos under the Freedom of Information Act — which you can see FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann waving around in public here — and the FBI redacted them almost entirely.
Though the FBI won’t release the memos, we do have some information from other sources on the surveillance techniques federal agents are already using. And for the most part the FBI contends they do not need a warrant, and one wonders, given the public nature of this information, why they are officially claiming its "secret."

Cell Phone Data Requests

Tellingly, in U.S. v. Jones, after the US government lost its case in the Supreme Court with the GPS device, it went right back to the district court and asserted it could get Jones’ cell phone site location data without a warrant. EFF has long argued cell location data, which can map your precise location for days or weeks at a time, is highly personal, and should require a warrant from a judge.
In July 2012, the New York Times reported that federal, state, and local law enforcement officials had requested all kinds of cell phone data, including mappings of suspects’ locations, a staggering 1.3 million times in the previous year. Worse, the real number was “almost certainly much higher" given they often request multiple people’s data with one request. The FBI also employs highly controversial “tower dumps” where they get the location information on everyone within a particular radius, potentially violating the privacy of thousands of innocent people with one request.

Stingray Interceptors

In late 2012, we reported on the secretive new device the FBI has been increasingly using for surveillance known as a IMSI catcher, or “Stingray.” A Stingray acts as a fake cell phone tower and locks onto all devices in a certain area to find a cell phone’s location, or perhaps even intercept phone calls and texts. Given it potentially sucks up thousands of innocent persons’ data, we called it an “unconstitutional, all you can eat data buffet.”
The FBI has gone to great lengths to keep this technology secret, even going as far as refusing to tell judges its full range of capabilities. Recently, documents obtained by EPIC Privacy through a FOIA request shed more light on the devices.

License Plate Readers

In cities across the country, local police departments and other law enforcement agencies are installing automated license plate readers that create databases of location information about individual cars (and their drivers). These readers can be mounted by the side of a busy road, scanning every car that rolls by, or on the dash of a police car, allowing officers to drive through and scan all the plates in a parking lot.
In Washington, D.C., nearly every block is captured by one of the more than 250 cameras scanning over 1,800 images per minute. In Los Angeles, more than two dozen different law enforcement agencies operate license plate readers to collect over 160 million data points. This surveillance is untargeted, recording the movements of any car passes by. In cities that have become partners in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, or have entered into another data-sharing agreement, this location information is at the fingertips of those federal agents.

Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to EPA pollution rule

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a major copper company’s plea to review an Environmental Protection Agency air pollution rule that set standards for sulfur dioxide, a pollutant tied to several respiratory ailments. The justices denied Asarco LLC’s request to review an appellate court decision that upheld EPA’s 2010 regulation, which had drawn challenges from several states, companies and industry groups. Asarco, which operates a major copper smelter in Arizona, in October asked the high court to review whether EPA illegally set a standard — 75 parts per billion over one hour — that it calls overly stringent. The company had alleged that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit failed to properly restrain EPA’s discretion in setting the exposure standard for SO2...more

Environmental groups sue over OK for BLM drilling in Utah

A consortium of environmental groups has filed suit challenging the BLM’s decision to authorize drilling in unroaded wilderness-caliber lands surrounding Desolation Canyon. Last June, Denver-based Gasco Energy gained federal approval to develop nearly 1,300 wells over a 207,000-acre project area in the southeast corner of the Uinta Basin where it transitions to the Tavaputs Plateau. The dispute is not so much over the amount of wells and associated infrastructure, but where this development will occur and its potential to further degrade the basin’s air quality. In a federal suit filed Friday in Salt Lake City, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other groups say Interior Secretary Ken Salazar botched the call in approving up to 215 wells on land proposed for wilderness near the Green River’s most scenic, remote stretches. The BLM also approved drilling in the Pariette Wetlands and Nine Mile Canyon areas of critical environmental concern. Nearly one-fifth of the project area is roadless, according to the suit. A compromise proposal advanced by conservationists called for 1,100 wells concentrated in areas that are already developed and are less sensitive. But Interior chose to "put one company’s profits above the protection of this world-class landscape," said SUWA’s Steve Bloch. Joining SUWA as plaintiffs are The Wilderness Society, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club. Bloch conceded that the BLM did not authorize drilling within Desolation Canyon proper, but sights, sounds and smells of development will be apparent to river runners putting in at and floating by Sand Wash...more

I thought the sight and sounds criteria was dropped by the Forest Service years ago - so more lands could be designated as wilderness.  Now the enviros are using sight and sounds to promote wilderness?

Proposed rule may return wild Alaska wood bison

A proposed rule allowed under federal law governing endangered species could open the door for the return to Alaska of wood bison, North America's largest land mammal and a species now found only in Canada. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday confirmed that wood bison reintroduced in Alaska would be considered an experimental population not essential to the continued existence of the species under the proposed rule. The rule would allow wood bison to be managed by state wildlife officials and be exempt from certain restrictions in the Endangered Species Act., allaying state fears that development projects could be stymied if wood bison are released into the wild.Under the proposed rule, Alaska could use hunting as a tool to manage the population. The rule would also limit endangered species requirements that could impede development: a requirement for the Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for wood bison, and the requirement for companies to consult with federal agencies if their proposed developments affected a threatened species...more

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

$3 Tail

Song Of The Day #1004

Ranch Radio continues our week of Country Roots music.

As a teenager, "Fiddlin' John" Carson (1868-1949) learned to play a fiddle that had been brought from Ireland.  Over the years he worked in various cotton mills, as a horse jockey and as a moonshiner.  As a result of a cotton mill workers strike in 1914 Carson was forced to make a living by playing for tips in the streets of Atlanta.  Between 1914 and 1922 he was proclaimed "Champion Fiddler of Georgia" seven times

The New Georgia Encyclopedia writes:

In the spring of 1922, Georgia's "Fiddlin' John" Carson, at the age of fifty-four, became the first genuine old-time country musician to broadcast genuine old-time country music over a radio station. A year later, on June 14, 1923, the country-music recording industry was launched when Carson made his first phonograph record...

 When Atlanta's WSB, the South's first radio station, went on the air on March 16, 1922, Fiddlin' John Carson took notice. A week later, fiddle in hand, he visited the studios to inquire about being allowed to have a try at this latest marvel of entertainment technology. Taking his place before the microphone, Carson launched into an impromptu concert of mountain music that lasted, according to one station official, until "exhaustion set in." The response from listeners was instantaneous and profuse. Telephone calls, telegrams, and letters poured in for days afterward...

 Carson began making records in 1923, when an official with a New York record company, visiting Atlanta for the OKeh label, reluctantly allowed Carson to record two songs, "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane" and "The Old Hen Cackled and the Rooster's Going to Crow." Although the record company held this effort in low esteem, the record-buying public depleted the initial supply of 500 records within days, and company record-pressing facilities were rushed into service to fill back orders. When sales reached the 500,000 figure, the company greatly altered its assessment of Fiddlin' John Carson's abilities. Carson was called to New York to record more of the music from his considerable repertoire of old-time ballads and traditional fiddle tunes. His recording career, which yielded some 165 recorded songs, lasted into the 1930s...

Carson went on to record many songs that became the standard repertoire of fiddlers and country bands.  Tunes suchs as Billy In The Low Ground, Old Sallie Goodman, Old Joe Clark, Arkansas Traveler, Boil Them Cabbage Down, Sally Ann, Bully Of The Town, Soldiers Joy and many others were recorded by Carson..

Here's those first two songs recorded by Carson, Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane and  The Old Hen Cackled and the Rooster's Going to Crow. 

Obama wants to keep the West happy

by Rocky Barker

    Forget the parlor game about which person President Barack Obama will pick as his Interior secretary or other posts that have dramatic impacts on Idaho, such as the Department of Energy.
    The person picked, while important, is not as critical as the president’s agenda for the region beyond the 100th Meridian. During his first term, Obama was largely conciliatory with leaders in the West.
    His Interior secretary, Ken Salazar, did not shove any major initiatives down the throats of Western states.
Western Republicans, including Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, protested loudly over Salazar’s “wild lands” policy, which was aimed at managing roadless areas controlled by the Bureau of Land Management. But Obama didn’t fight back when Congress put a hold on it; he wasn’t looking for a fight.
    Salazar aggressively pushed the delisting of wolves from Day One and did not oppose the bill that delisted them, backed by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana. Without that bill, Tester most likely would have lost to Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg. Tester’s election was more important politically to Obama than pleasing wildlife advocates.
    That won’t change in the second term. For the first time, Democrats appear to have a chance to make major gains across the West.
    “They’re not going to do something to make a Jon Tester or a Harry Reid go crazy,” said Idaho Conservation League Executive Director Rick Johnson, who is in Washington for Obama’s inauguration.
Climate change will remain the major environmental issue on Obama’s plate...
    The harder issue ahead for farmers, hunters and other westerners is private lands. Since 1985, farm bills have included billions of dollars for conservation programs — such as the conservation reserve program that paid farmers to rest their land in grass instead of grow crops.
    Up to 42 million acres of private land has been turned into habitat for ducks, upland birds and many other species of wildlife, but that could be coming to an end because of major changes in government and the farm economy.
    “This perfect storm of collapsing budgets and extraordinary commodity prices is destroying 30 years of conservation programs,” said Tom France, National Wildlife Federation regional director in Missoula, Mont...
    There will still be issues such as sage grouse listing, power lines, salmon and grizzly bears.
    These aren’t War on the West issues.

I'm not sure about that "keep" in the title. 

Personally, I've been worried about just the opposite.  With no re-election concerns and Salazar leaving, I figured we might be in for a no-holds-barred War On The West.

Years back Barker and I attended a PERC conference and I found him to be a thoughtful guy.  Let's hope he's right and my concerns are unfounded. 

Big bet on Wyoming wind: Phil Anschutz's latest $9 billion idea

Phil Anschutz — who has made money out of everything from a well explosion to a failing railroad — is looking to wager $9 billion on the fierce winds of Wyoming. Anschutz's Power Company of Wyoming is seeking to build the nation's largest wind farm and then ship the power to California over a 725-mile transmission line, the longest to be built in decades. California is the West's biggest renewable-energy market and a vital one for the project. The problem is that officials there say they don't want Anschutz's electricity. Gov. Jerry Brown has voiced a strong preference for in-state renewable-energy projects, and California utility executives say they can meet renewable- energy requirements with projects close to home. That has not deterred the 73-year-old Denver billionaire, who has made invention and shifting strategy his hallmarks. Just a few years ago, Anschutz put his Wyoming property — the 320,000-acre Overland Trail Cattle Ranch near Rawlins — up for sale with an asking price of $45 million. The ranch was owned by Anschutz Exploration Co., an oil and gas driller. "Then we saw an opportunity to develop a large infrastructure project to tap a new market," said Bill Miller, who went from head of the drilling company to the wind company's chief executive officer. The current Wyoming project, however, is no simple gas well. The Sierra Madre and Chokecherry Wind Project would put 1,000 wind turbines on 2,000 acres at a cost of up to $6 billion. The TransWest power line, a $3 billion project, would carry the wind farm's 3,000 megawatts of power across four states to a point south of Las Vegas, where it could connect with the California power grid...more  

One has to wonder just how much of that $9 billion will be subsidized by the taxpayers.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Idaho may be next state for lands fight with feds

Idaho may be the next Western state to pick a public lands fight with the federal government for control of millions of acres of forest, rangeland and mineral deposits within its borders. Idaho lawmakers, motivated by the potential for new revenue and the appeal of having more authority over how those lands are managed, are gearing up to follow the lead taken by Utah and Arizona in 2012. Last year, Utah and Arizona approved measures demanding the federal government surrender control of millions of acres of land overseen by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies. Utah's bill became law when it was signed by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, while Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill. "This is about economic self-reliance," Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory told a joint meeting Monday of the House Resources and Conservation Committee and Senate Resources and Environment Committee. Ivory, a lawyer and Republican from suburban Salt Lake City, led the charge for the bill in Utah, making the case that language in statehood documents dating back to the 1800s contain a constitutional provision that the federal government intended to relinquish control of the land it held in each state. But for some states, especially those in the West, the federal government reneged, Ivory says. He challenged Idaho lawmakers to compare fates with North Dakota. Both became states nine months apart and, Ivory claims, did so under identical statehood language. Yet, federally managed land in North Dakota accounts for less than 5 percent of the state's overall acreage. "The federal government has not been disposing of those federal lands as it promised to do," he said. The Utah Transfer of Public Lands Act pushes the issue, setting a 2014 deadline for the federal government to hand over more than 20 million acres scattered across the state. The law exempts national parks and monuments, tribal reservations, military installations and congressionally approved wilderness areas and calls for using revenue gleaned from state-sanctioned land sales and royalties from logging and mining to be used for schools and repaying the federal deficit...more

Another Forest Service recreation fee bites the dust

Hikers in Arizona will get a break from pesky Forest Service recreation fees this summer, as a federal judge last week approved a settlement that ensures free access to the trails and backcountry of the Mt. Lemmon Recreation Area, near Tuscon. The court-ordered deal concludes yet another legal battle over public land fees, but the war is not yet over. In another lawsuit against the Forest Service, fee opponents are challenging the now widespread practice of allowing private, for-profit concession-holders to charge fees for day-use areas and other public land sites across the country. At Mt. Lemmon, the Forest Service had been charging a general-access fee for what it called a high-impact recreation area. That didn’t sit well with some local hikers, who, with the backing of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, challenged the agency in court — and won, leading to the settlement. “Instead of being required to buy a pass to park anywhere within an 18,432-acre area encompassing a whole highway corridor and numerous trailheads and dispersed camping areas, fees will now be required only for use of ten developed picnic sites and a visitor/interpretive center,” Western Slope No-Fee Coalition president Kitty Benzar said via email. So far, the Forest Service is only making these changes at Mt. Lemmon. But the agency is also being sued over a similar Adventure Pass in Southern California, and could face additional lawsuits unless it stops charging general-access and parking fees, including areas like the Arapaho National Recreation Area and the Maroon Bells area, both in Colorado...more

Ranchers, farmers credited with saving Chinook salmon by cutting water use

State Department of Fish and Wildlife officials are giving ranchers and farmers along the Shasta River credit for saving thousands of Chinook salmon from dying in the river. About a half-dozen landowners and irrigation districts that get water from the river reduced the amount they divert so more could flow downstream and help migrating salmon, DFW officials said. About 29,000 salmon returned to the river this year, making it the largest run since 1962. "Irrigation districts and individual landowners stepped up and contributed water to reduce disease risks to returning salmon," said Neil Manji, DFW's regional manager. "The increased flow helped cool the river water and avert disease and a potential salmon kill." Ranchers have been cutting back on diversions to help the fish for many years, said Leo Bergeron, past president of the Siskiyou Water Users Association and a rancher in the area. "Really, that's the way it should be done. I don't think there is anybody that wants to deliberately handicap a species," Bergeron said. Last September the fish returning to spawn encountered low river flows and high temperatures in the river, DFW officials said. Large numbers of fish together in close quarters can promote the spread of two deadly diseases — columnaris and ichthyophthirius multifiliis (also called "ich"). Similar conditions in 2002 on the lower Klamath River caused an outbreak in the diseases, killing about 30,000 salmon and steelhead, the DFW said...more

Oklahoma Rep. seeks constitutional amendment to protect agriculture industry

A House lawmaker intends to file a bill that would protect the rights of Oklahoma farmers and ranchers to engage in and utilize modern and traditional agriculture practices. State Rep. Scott Biggs’ legislation would place a state question on the November 2014 ballot to amend the constitution to protect “the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices” and would prevent any state law or regulation that would “[abridge] the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology and modern livestock production and ranching practices.” Biggs, a member of the House Agriculture and Wildlife Committee who grew up on a farm in Indiana and studied agriculture economics at Oklahoma State University, said the amendment is necessary to protect the industry from outside special interest and activist groups. “Whether it is one of these liberal eco-terrorist groups that complain about the way we use our land or the animal-rights groups that claim we mistreat our livestock, our rural way of life is under attack,” said Biggs, R-Chickasha. “Farmers and ranchers are environmentalists by necessity. We have sweat and blood invested in our land, and we care for it deeply. “We depend on the land to provide for our families and we work hard to preserve it for our kids and grandkids. By imbedding this natural right into our state constitution, we can protect our land and our way of life for generations to come.” In November, voters in North Dakota overwhelmingly approved a similar measure that amended that state’s constitution. link

Can ranchers co-exist with jaguars?

Jaguar once roamed from the United States to Argentina, but today they've been eliminated from several range countries, including the United States. The chief reasons are habitat loss and direct killing by humans, putting ranchers and farmers at the heart of the issue. Both ranchers and farmers convert key jaguar habitat and kill the big cats as a threat to their livestock. However in parts of Brazil's Pantanal, some ranchers are going about their business without killing jaguars. My Pantanal, a film by Andrea Heydlauff, Vice President of the wild cat conservation group Panthera, takes a look at one particular ranch that is helping prove that jaguars and ranchers can co-exist. My Pantanal will be shown on Jaunary 31st at the 3rd Annual New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival. Ahead of the screening, Heydlauff answered some questions from about the film and her conservation work...more

GMO labeling law goes to New Mexico legislature

LEGISLATION has been introduced in the New Mexico Senate that would require animal feed and human food containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) to be labeled as such. The legislation, introduced by state Sen. Peter Wirth, an attorney from Santa Fe, N.M., would amend the state's feed and food laws. If it passes the Senate, it then would go to the New Mexico House of Representatives. The legislation would require that any product that contains more than 1% by weight of genetically modified material be packaged with a label that's "conspicuous and easily understood by consumers." Genetically modified material is described as a substance that has been modified through the use of bioengineering or genetic engineering. Regulations for enforcement would be developed by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board. Wirth, a Democrat, said the bill's premise "is simple: New Mexicans deserve the right to know what's in the food they are eating and feeding their families." The bill would give people the "basic information" needed to decide what kinds of food they want to buy, he said. Wirth said he introduced the bill after being approached to do so by the environmental activist group Food & Water Watch. The legislation is one of several state-based initiatives seeking to require the labeling of feed and food that have GMOs in them...more

So how is the livestock industry going to respond to this?  After all, they supported Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) based on the same premises.

New Mexico Hay Association, NMSU to co-host Southwest Hay and Forage Conference

Other highlights of this year's conference include weed control in alfalfa, control of salt cedar, and center pivot irrigation technologies.At the annual Southwest Hay and Forage Conference in Ruidoso, Jan. 23-25, growers will come together to learn about developing trends in the agricultural world, the outlook on water and fertilizer supplies, and new technologies available to producers...more

Song Of The Day #1003

This week Ranch Radio will move back in time for some Country Roots music. Our first selection is Pass Around The Bottle And We'll All Take A Drink by Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers.

The tune was recorded in Atlanta on April 17, 1926 and released as Columbia 15074-D.

 Tanner had recorded several singles in 1924 with his friend and guitarist Riley Puckett, but the full group wasn't organized until 1925 and today's tune is from their first recording session.

CMT says "From 1926 to 1931, the Skillet Lickers were the most popular country band in the country.", and the New Georgia Encyclopedia says "Gid Tanner was one of the most widely recognized names among country music enthusiasts of the 1920s and 1930s. The group that he headed, Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers, was one of the most influential string bands that recorded during the formative years of the country music industry."

Listen close to this song and you will notice its a "dixiefication" of a popular yankee song.

Cowgirl Sass and Savvy

Legacy for the living

by Julie Carter
There are a couple of cowboys in heaven that I think about quite often both with gratitude and with the hope that someday I can once again “ride the range” with them.

Those cowboys are very much a part of who I am today, part of a long journey of “cowgirl” that has culminated in recording the lifestyle in print to share with others.

My dad, and after he died, my step-dad, were both fine men remembered with honor for their knowledge and abilities in ranching in an era that is no more. I was blessed to have them both in my life.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that their legacies depend on me to carry them on and, even more so, to pass them on.

In a lifetime, I have collected a PhD-equivalent of little things about cowboying, cows, horses and right-living. I'd be hard pressed to itemize them all because they aren't all tangible things. They are things that just are because that’s the way it is.

Some of the lessons loom large in my daily life, even now away from the ranch. And I think even a partial list might hit home to many no matter where they live or what they do.

·  Slow is fast. Work cattle slow and your day will get over faster and with a more successful conclusion. Quiet patience is good with cattle, horses, kids and women.
·  A very few well-placed words speak louder and clearer than a long speech.
·  Polite ways will open many doors and keep even more from slamming shut.
·  Good horses, good grass and a good cow dog will make a cowboy about as content as he can be. Throw in a wife who can cook and a pickup that will run and it’s pure bliss.
·  Find something in everything to laugh about. Nothing soothes the soul like laughter and nothing eases a tense situation like a smile. When the gate didn't get shut and the cattle got out, smile because that colt you are riding will get some needed miles under a saddle. Laugh because you may just as well.
·  Know that Mother Nature has the upper hand. Respect her, don't fight her because it's a fixed fight.
·  Wet saddle blankets make good horses and respectful kids. Hard work is a solid foundation for the cowboy and the horse he rode in on.
·  Enjoy the little things. Take time to pat the dog, soothe the colt, watch the sunrise and the sunset. Just because they are there every day doesn't mean they always will be.
·  Make good memories, not bad enemies.
·  Honesty is a smooth-riding horse.

I can't tell you why I know some of the things I know, like how to read a cow and her intentions or a horse and what the look in his eye tells me.

Some things that I know were never spoken to me, but were lived in front of me. They weren't verbal lessons but were a sum total of who these men were and where they came from.

Integrity was paramount. It encapsulated these basic men who simply lived life the best way they knew how.

They were cowboys, but they were also just good people. And in recalling anything about either of them, first comes to mind they could both laugh and enjoy life at any level.

That is the best of the legacy that they left to me.

I'm not only holding tightly to it, but I'm doing my best to share it with anyone that crosses my path.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Judges, Kings and Horses

Freedom through the hands of Chuck
Remembering Judges, Kings, and the Sovereign Individual
Bailey, ER, the Tejon retinto, and the Tom Threepersons horse
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

As I escorted Kathy from our daughter, Stephanie’s, wedding, he was in the back in Concordia smiling and waving. With his hat on his lap, a silver slide was snugged up against his fire engine red wild rag. There sat a genuine Californio … a real vaquero.
            I can’t remember who introduced me to Chuck Hitchcock, but to whom it was I offer belated thanks. Chuck will be one of the great friendships of life.
            I do remember a first image of him. He was in his round pen ponying a horse. He called for little Roxie to come in to get on the horse. Roxie was just a kid then … 14 if she fudged. Beautiful child, she didn’t weigh anything. She came through the gate and waited as Chuck snubbed the colt closer to that big palomino he used at that stage of his process.
            Roxie came to the horse when Chuck nodded and mounted him with quiet, outward confidence. Chuck let the horse balance himself and then left in a trot.
Roxie’s mom must have lived through a thousand deaths. There was this gorgeous little girl whose mama wanted nothing more than for her to be a lady, and she’d constantly sneak off to be with Chuck and ride those horses. She got good, but Chuck’s mentorship made her better.
            Every person needs a Chuck Hitchcock in their life.
            Old Testament Lessons
            I have stated that I am drawn to Old Testament lessons. Somehow my limited understanding of things is more open for impression and interpretation. Such is the case of Judges and Kings.
            I believe those books provide a good portion of the foundation of our Constitution. Both books have boiled down to simple conclusions for me.
 “God, we gotta’ have judges down here to make sure things are fair!” Man said. “There are too many of us on the short end of the stick.”
            “No, my children, you don’t have to have judges to make things fair, but, if you absolutely insist,” God conceded, “go ahead.”
            Of course, there was ultimate disappointment and the people clamored for more fairness.
            “Hey, God … we’re not getting our share of the goods!” Man complained. “These judges are corrupt and play favorites … we need an ultimate decision maker!”
            God had to be disappointed. He had warned of the fallout of judges. He knew what the outcome would be. Mostly, though, he must have been disappointed at the suggestion most dismissive to his existence. These humans wanted a King!
            “No, my children, you don’t have to have an earthly king …” He said. “But, go ahead and seek such a being.”
            That, of course, ended in disappointment, too.  The King system expanded the same litany of disappointments. Corruption, favoritism, self aggrandizement, and distance from the most basic of worldly sovereignty prevailed. Nothing changed. Chances are good a modern assessment would reveal the only thing conclusive was freedoms were eroded dramatically.
            So, 200 generations or so later, a group of men gathered in Philadelphia and mapped another model. In their mind, expanded by Biblical study and debate, they conceptualized what was new and yet foundational from the start of time. They created the idea that the individual, the sovereign individual, was the cornerstone of the only system that was truly sustainable.
            In retrospect, it is likely that only four or five of those men actually grasp the true appreciation and comprehension of what they set in motion. How many exist today is similarly sparse … certainly the minority.
What is clearly revealed is that at least 50% of the electorate is nothing more than contemporary counterparts of the mobs who cried for Judges and the Kings. Their emphasis of existence is what they perceive they don’t have, have been convinced they don’t have, or, more correctly represented, covet.
It is long past time to call this spade a spade. This mob is sucking our freedom away, it always has, and it might be a critical, fundamental dilemma to our existence.
The honesty of horses
Those of us who are fortunate to live in a world with little firewall against failure sometimes have the honor of being with the horses on which Hitchcock and others have placed their hands. This near spiritual relationship is often difficult to express.
I don’t profess to have ridden enough horses, but I do profess to have ridden only a few truly good ones. The rest were like me … attempting earnestly to seek adequacy.
I am going to include a mare we have as one of the good ones. Bailey stands about 60’ away from me as I type, and, if I went outside, she would likely nicker at me negotiating a feed deal. She is a better cowboy than I am. She is extremely athletic and beyond that she is courageous. She doesn’t get along with everybody, and, interestingly, that includes our oldest granddaughter who is reaching a point she rides most horses better than anybody. Neither of them likes the other.
Two other horses in my life earn worthiness of mention. The first was a government horse. He was nothing to look at and weighed maybe 875 pounds, but he had the biggest motor I ever witnessed. His left ear was split and he had a monstrous, ugly ER branded on his left hip which gave him his name … Her with a silent H.
We never worked cattle on him but I would suspect he was or could have been a superb cow horse. We packed him and rode him. We kept shoes on him just because, but he could have been left barefoot. Your hands would ache after trimming him.
He tolerated fools lightly.
Once, we turned the pack string loose ahead of us coming down Little Creek. ER left taking everything with him. We cussed him as we followed in a high trot. Where the new trail left to merge (unbeknownst to us) with the old Ring Canyon Trail the string followed him without hesitation. By then we were trying to head him and he only backed his ears and shifted gears. When he topped out we began seeing old blazes as the remnants of the old trail started becoming apparent. From there, we just let him go. Never had we covered that country any faster or easier. He knew a whole lot more than we did, and, by the time we got to Gila Center, we never questioned that horse again.
I didn’t know the Tejon retinto at all. I read about the horse in the Rojas book and I heard my little cadre of vaquero friends talk about his legend. It was Chief himself who wrote in third person about the idiot that the little black roan horse dumped on the side of a Tehachapi slope, and, then, proceeded to finish the gather himself. When the vaqueros arrived to help hold the cattle, the Tejon retinto was making weltes around the herd with his ears laid back holding rodear himself.
When the kid finally arrived, it was Don Jesus who asked him what had happened.
The kid didn’t answer, but asked who had ridden the horse.
 Don Jesus revealed it was Adolfo Encinas.
“A de ver sido muy buen vaquero,” was what Rojas represented he’d said.
Indeed, it had to have been a very good vaquero to have partnered with such a horse to allow the horse to become as good as he was.
It was the same thing the day I had the honor to ride the Tom Threepersons horse. With no wing to help, we put a load of weaned calves into a pen in the middle of a flat by ourselves. Kermit Davis shut the gate behind us. He only nodded to me, but I knew full well what his gesture implied.
After we started the calves, I never touched the horse’s mouth. I rode him with my heals. It was inspiring. The horse alone offered me that most important lesson.
What a horse he was! He gave back to me in a few minutes what Tom Threepersons had given him … freedom.
The Lesson
Freedom to act and to interact … what a powerful and important lesson!
The mob could use lessons from good horses. The problem is they would have to do it by themselves. Therein lays the problem. They don’t know what sovereignty is because they can’t venture there alone.
Chuck could have helped. He demonstrated that with horses and people. He protected both until they willingly emerged to protect themselves. He offered freedom.
Most people have no concept of that. As a result, we are in big trouble.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “An ambassador from what old California once was … Chuck Hitchcock was a true gentleman.”