Friday, February 15, 2013

Song Of The Day #1021

Whew, Ranch Radio needs a fiddle break break this Friday. Plus I've had several requests for more fiddle music, so here's the Kessinger Brothers and their 1930 recording of Shoo Fly.

The tune is on their 23 track CD Complete Recordings 3 (1929-30).

Former BLM chief may share $528,000 payday from land sale he backed

While still in office, former U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey pledged to help developer Chris Milam buy 480 acres of federal land in Henderson - a deal that would conclude with Milam paying Abbey's consulting firm a "success fee" of $528,000, according to legal papers filed this week in Clark County District Court by attorneys representing the City of Henderson. The land deal, now under investigation by the Department of Interior's Inspector General, is a key element in Henderson's lawsuit against Milam. In late January, Henderson sued Milam, land use consultant Mike Ford and three other Milam associates, alleging they conspired in a fraudulent scheme to win Henderson's endorsement of the deal by promising to build a sports complex while actually planning to flip the land for commercial and residential development. The new court papers filed by the Las Vegas law firm of Bailey Kennedy detail Abbey's involvement in the land deal, and his relationship with Ford, another former BLM official and Abbey's partner in the Henderson land consulting firm of Abbey Stubbs & Ford LLC. At the end of July, 2011, Ford and Abbey attended the wedding of Ford's daughter in Colorado. On Aug. 2, one day after he officially went to work for Milam, Ford sent the developer an email with good news: "I had a chance to visit informally with Bob Abbey at the wedding . . . Bob will stand down until we are ready to introduce the request formally, on behalf of the City of Henderson, but we can expect full support and cooperation at the local, regional and national level." Abbey said he welcomes the federal investigation and is confident his name will be cleared. "There is nothing to hide," he told the Review-Journal Thursday. Abbey denies he influenced the BLM in the Milam land deal, and described the allegations as "frivolous and slanderous."...more

Federal opposition to Izembek road rallies Alaskans against Interior nominee Sally Jewell

The U.S. House has little influence over the confirmation of Cabinet nominees, but that's not stopping Alaska Congressman Don Young from brewing trouble for President Obama's pick to lead the Department of the Interior.  On Thursday, Rep. Young took to the House floor to urge his colleagues in the Senate -- which must confirm Cabinet secretaries -- to put the nomination of former REI chief Sally Jewell on hold until outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approves a federal land exchange to construct a road between King Cove and Cold Bay in Alaska's Aleutian Islands, through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The proposed road connecting King Cove and Cold Bay been a source of contention for years between residents, who say it would save lives, and environmentalists, who say it would damage the ecosystem of the refuge. To allay fears of environmental degradation, a land exchange was proposed that would allow for a 9-mile road through the refuge, comprising about 1,800 acres of federal land, in exchange for the addition of more than 56,000 acres to the refuge. The exchange was approved by Congress as part of the Omnibus Public Lands Package. On Feb. 5, however, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decided not to take action on the proposed land exchange, preventing the deal from taking place. However, the final decision lies with the soon-departing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Fish and Wildlife is an agency of the Interior Department, which manages federal lands, including most of Alaska, more than 60 percent of which is still owned by the federal government. Last month, Salazar announced his plans to resign. Now, Young is urging him to act before he steps down...more

GOP bills target ‘overreaching’ EPA

A series of new bills introduced this week in the Senate seek to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory reach and would subject the agency to penalties for missing reporting deadlines. Offered by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), the legislation reflects the latest in a series of Republican attempts to rein in an EPA that GOP lawmakers say has run amok and must be held accountable. Republican anger has mostly been directed at the agency’s use of regulations and official memoranda to further the administration’s environmental agenda without congressional approval. Lawmakers also complained loudly after EPA’s regulatory agenda was released long after its statutory deadline. Johanns introduced four separate bills. The first targets EPA’s use of guidance documents, rather than formal rules, to enforce actions. Such guidance is not subject to congressional oversight, but Johanns’s bill would remedy that by bringing them under the scope of the Congressional Review Act, he said. The second would require the EPA’s Inspector General to report to Congress twice a year on the agency’s progress toward meeting deadlines that, Johanns said, are now being skirted...more

Sorry Senator, you are just pickin' around the edges of the scab.  Amend the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and other statutes that give them their authority.

The third measure would reduce EPA’s budget by $20,000 every week until the agency meets its agenda setting deadlines.

Twenty thousand a week to an agency who's budget is over $8 billion a year?  You Repub's really mean business, yuk.  Maybe your little bills have a chance to pass, but in the long run this little tweaking won't mean a thing.

Frenchtown Elementary students get lesson in wilderness

To a second-grader, everything outside the school door looks like wilderness. Especially at Frenchtown Elementary School, where the playground has actual cattail wetlands and the occasional bear wandering through. Nevertheless, Lane Long’s class of children seemed fully prepared to discuss the finer points of wildland management when the U.S. Forest Service came to call Wednesday. “The capital-W Wilderness is wilderness that’s protected by the Wilderness Act,” explained Payton Hicks, 8, as he waited to visit with Ninemile Ranger District staff about horsepacking and firefighting in the nation’s most pristine backcountry. Hicks was part of a novel learning opportunity developed by student teacher Lizzy Douglas, who was testing its ideas with Lane’s students. So in addition to studying the history of John Muir and Bob Marshall and other wilderness advocates, the kids got an up-close-and-personal look at the challenges of working in places where wheels and motors must be left at the border. Forest Service packer Casey Burns brought his pals, Palmer the mule and Longshanks the horse, to demonstrate the challenges. “Can you take bikes in the wilderness,” he asked the students. No, came the reply – no wheels allowed. “What about flashlights?” Yes, the law allows battery-powered devices. “What about battery-powered drills?” Tricky. A power drill doesn’t qualify as a primitive tool, so it has to stay behind.  “This is such a great opportunity to get students out of the classroom and learning,” Douglas said as the children peppered Burns and Staufer with questions. She designed the Wilderness Investigations curriculum as part of her requirement to get a master’s degree in education at the University of Montana. A chance meeting with Long at a conference last summer led to Douglas landing a student-teacher internship at Frenchtown, where she got to try out the lessons in a classroom setting. “I grew up doing a lot of hiking and camping in northern Wisconsin,” Douglas said. “I think children should be aware of the natural history of the wilderness and natural resources. Especially since next year is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964.”...more

Education or indoctrination?  I'm not sure.  But I do know this:  To get a masters degree from a government school Long wrote a curriculum for a government school that involves government land and government employees.  That's what our country is coming to.

Drones aid land research, but worries remain

Unmanned aerial vehicles -- called UAVs or drones -- are commonly associated with the missile-toting remote-controlled aircraft that patrol the skies over faraway lands like Pakistan and Yemen, but researchers in the U.S. are pressing their unarmed cousins into service for a variety of civilian uses. Across the vast public lands of the West, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service face competing interests in monitoring remote habitats. Land managers are being pressed to step up monitoring of rangeland health even as the manpower and money for surveillance dwindles, said Al Rango, a research hydrologist with the USDA. "You keep telling them that, and they will eventually come and use remote sensing data," he said. Rango has studied the use of unmanned aircraft at the Jornada Experimental Range in Las Cruces, N.M., for more than five years and sees them as an elegant solution to the dilemma faced by public land managers. Operating UAVs is cheaper and safer than manned aircraft, he said. Photos taken by UAVs can easily let scientists distinguish between bare ground and vegetation, and special "multispectral" cameras help them identify specific types of plants. Different species of plants reflect and absorb different wavelengths of light. Land managers and ranchers could use them to figure out how much of the ground cover in an area is edible for livestock, said Mark Seyfried, a USDA soil scientist at the Northwest Watershed Research Center in Boise, Idaho, who has worked with Rango. Accurate aerial information could also serve as a weapon against invasive species by letting managers gauge the spread of weeds over time, Seyfried said. "One of the most important things is knowing where they are and what the sources are," he said. Seyfried said the technology could eventually be used to study the management of cattle on public lands...more

No more range cons, just pilots and data readers.  Maybe they'll get their start in Lane Long's wilderness class.

Forest Service, Idaho Agency Hit With Fines Following Probe Into Firefighter's Death

Six months after a 20-year-old Moscow woman was killed while battling a wildfire near Orofino, the U.S. Forest Service and the Clearwater Potlatch Timber Protection Agency have been fined more than $14,000 for violations in connection with her death. Anne Veseth of Moscow was killed when one tree fell and crashed into another tree, causing it to fall in a domino effect. The tragedy occurred while Veseth was battling the Streep Corner Fire on Aug. 12, 2012. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an investigation, leading to citations and fines. Among the several violations listed in OSHA's report were: failure to keep crews informed of weather reports and not knowing what the fire was doing at all times. The report also pointed to "communication problems" and inadequate "maintaining control of workforces." But a spokesman fro the U.S. Forest Service said they disagreed with the findings and will issue their own safety investigation report later today. "It's 180 degrees different than OSHA," Rick Brazell, supervisor of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, told the Lewiston Tribune. "[The Forest Service's report] found no one did anything wrong and it was a more intensive investigation than OSHA."  Boise Weekly

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Major report adds climate change to ‘high risks’ facing US government

The investigative arm of Congress has labeled climate change a “high risk” area for the U.S. government, a finding that liberal Democrats are using to seek political support for tougher measures to confront global warming. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), in its biennial list of high-risk areas facing government operations, warned Thursday that the U.S. needs a better cross-government approach to a threat that’s creating huge financial exposure. “Climate change creates significant financial risks for the federal government, which owns extensive infrastructure, such as defense installations; insures property through the National Flood Insurance Program; and provides emergency aid in response to natural disasters,” the report states. Several Democrats quickly highlighted the finding, which arrives as President Obama is vowing new executive-level actions on climate but has provided few specifics on his agenda...more

Congress is a bigger threat than global warming.

Contentious meat-labeling rule moves to White House

Facing the prospect of damaging trade sanctions, the Obama administration is hustling to bring U.S. meat-labeling rules into compliance with international standards. But the American meat and cattle industry is sharply divided about the path forward.  The White House’s Office of Management and Budget is now weighing proposed regulations designed to resolve last year’s finding by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that U.S. rules give American meat products an unfair advantage over those from Canada and Mexico. Inaction by the federal government would clear the way for those nations — the United States’s top two meat trading partners — to impose retaliatory tariffs that would inflict pain on American meat producers and packers. “This would be an incredible hit to our industry,” said Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA.)  At issue are federal country-of-origin labeling rules that became mandatory in the United States in 2009, after years of debate. Known as COOL, the program is meant to give consumers more information about the food they eat by requiring labels on packaging that show where certain cuts of meat came from. The NCBA would just as soon do away with the labels, and said Congress — not the administration — should act to resolve the issue. Proponents of the COOL policy — farm and cattle industry groups, along with consumer watchdogs — argue the WTO ruling does not altogether ban labeling. Rather, they contend that the adjustments to the current regulation would remedy the issue, while allowing COOL to continue...more

USFWS Withdraws Wolf Proposal

Song Of The Day #1020

Today Ranch Radio brings you Merle Haggard singing Valentine. The tune is on his CD Merle Haggard 1994.

Six NM mayors sign onto letter asking for assault weapons ban

Six New Mexico mayors were among the 886 mayors across the United States who signed onto a letter to Congressional leadership asking for an assault weapons ban to help curb gun violence. The letter was from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, arguably the most prominent gun control groups in the nation.  Mayors Joe Murrieta of Grants, Ken Miyagishima of Las Cruces, Ray Alborn of Ruidoso, David Coss of Santa Fe, Mayor Albert Campos, Jr. of Santa Rosa and Gloria J. Chavez of Tijeras were the New Mexico signatories onto the letter...more

Obama’s ‘Sudden, Harsh, Arbitrary’ Sequester Only 1.2 Percent of 2013 Spending

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama described the upcoming sequestration cuts as “sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts,” claiming they would “devastate” important government functions and cost “hundreds of thousands of jobs.” However, according to Congressional Budget Office figures, the cuts amount to only 1.2 percent of 2013 spending, which is enough to keep the government running for about 4.5 days. More pointedly, the CBO estimates that with the sequester in place, federal spending will be $3.553 trillion in 2013. With the $44 billion in sequester cuts removed, federal spending would rise to $3.597 trillion, which includes a little over $1 trillion in borrowed money, i.e., debt...more

And that's going to cause them to shut down meat inspection

Smugglers Hold Child for Ransom

A woman's attempt to have her children smuggled into the United States turned into a nightmare. The woman, Miriam Moreno, paid human smugglers to have her two sons taken from Honduras to Houston. They only delivered one. "I can't sleep. I'm really worried, and I will be until I have my kids. I have faith in God that I'm going to get good news about my boy," Moreno said. Moreno came to the United States several years ago. "It's not easy. Just imagine washing dishes and working at a restaurant. It's real tiring. I had money to buy them a house," Moreno said. She saved money to have her sons smuggled into the country. Jerry, 15, was delivered to her in Houston. Jason, 10, was held for ransom. Moreno said the smugglers sent her threatening text messages. The smugglers told her they would abandon his child or turn him over to the Border Patrol if she didn't pay. Moreno said she didn't have any more money. She had paid $13,000 to have the boys smuggled to Houston. Jerry told his mother the men were ruthless criminals. "They treated us very bad," Jerry said. "They would hit us on the head and give us some sort of pill in our juice." Jerry said he tried to protect his younger brother, but the pills would put him to sleep...more

Hundreds gather to protest global warming

Of cows and climate

...On Jan. 28, the BLM’s Owyhee Field Office in southwestern Idaho took the opportunity offered by the renewal of four grazing permits to lower the number of cows allowed on those permits. Specifically, the revised permits cut livestock numbers by one third to one half and limit the amount of time the cattle can be on the BLM land. The grazing cutbacks didn't come about just because the BLM was integrating new science, though. Rather, they are the culmination of an epic legal battle begun by the nonprofit Western Watersheds Project, whose pressure has forced the cutbacks. The group, known for its unwillingness to compromise and staunch opposition to public lands grazing, sued the BLM in 1997 for issuing nearly 70 permits without a thorough consideration of rangeland health. In 2002, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in WWP’s favor.  Because of that ruling, the agency is just now re-evaluating the health of the area, and an environmental analysis of the first four permits found that all of the allotments violated at least two, and sometimes four, of the BLM’s rangeland health standards, including water quality, endangered species habitat and native plant health. More importantly, the analysis determined that livestock were “significant causal factors” in the allotments’ failure to meet standards -- in other words, the cows are to blame. A small paragraph in document also notes that cattle are a stressor that adds to impacts already being wrought by climate change, and cites a paper published in January in Environmental Management that details the relationship between cattle and climate...more

Global warming: Yet another threat to Southwest's iconic pinyon pine?

Over the past decade, researchers have documented the increased vulnerability of large stands of a Southwestern forest icon – the pinyon pine – to the dangers associated with a warming climate: drought, insects, and wildfires.  Now, it appears that rising temperatures could also put a damper on pinyon reproduction, potentially limiting the ability of trees that survive the other scourges to recolonize disturbed areas, a recent study says.  Across nine stands of pinyon – two at the western tip of Oklahoma's panhandle and seven throughout New Mexico – the production of seed-bearing cones dropped 40 percent from a 10-year period centered on 1974 to another centered on 2008. Looking only at years of exceptional seed-cone production, known as masting years, cone production fell 43 percent from the earlier decade to the recent one. Meanwhile, the average temperature during the growing season in the two periods increased by 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.3 degrees Fahrenheit). The study represents a first look at the potential impact of a warming climate on the production of pinyon seeds, which, in addition to being vital to repopulating pinyon forests, are also an important source of food for wildlife, notes Miranda Redmond, a University of Colorado PhD student who led the study...more

Navy expansion could halt King of the Hammers event

Less than a week after the King of the Hammers off-road race in Johnson Valley, the U.S. Navy on Wednesday issued its decision on a proposed expansion of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms that could put a brake the popular event as well as all off-roading in the high desert.The official record of decision, which Marine officials said will be available online today, endorses a plan that would give the Corps more than half the 188,000 acres of public off-roading area located about 20 miles north of Yucca Valley. Bumping up on the western boundary of the base, the land is now under the protection of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.  As outlined in a previous environmental impact report released in July, 108,530 acres of the valley would be permanently closed to off-roaders and used instead for training exercises involving thousands of Marines, along with tanks, helicopters and live ammunition.An additional 38,137 acres — including the valley’s world-famous rock-crawling trails, known as the Hammers — would become a “dual-use” area, available to off-roaders for 10 months a year. The Marines would use the area for training exercises for the other two months, but would not use live ammunition, the report said. The proposed expansion would also include 21,304 acres directly southeast of the existing Marine base.Marine officials have said they need the extra land for training exercises that are critical for the Corps’ post-Middle East role as a slimmed-down, rapid-response force...more

According to the 2012 DoD Base Structure Report, the DoD owns or controls over 28 million acres of land. Don't tell me they don't already have enough to practice on, with much to spare.

And any ranchers or rural landowners out there who have been supporting our interventions in the Middle East might want to reconsider that support.

Environmental groups challenge Salazar's solar plans

A trio of environmental groups are challenging the Department of Interior's establishment of solar energy zones in six southwestern states, including Utah, asserting the federal government failed to contemplate permitting large-scale utlity projects on already developed lands. "We don't have to use pristine desert if there are sufficient (alternatives) that could achieve the same goals as these large projects proposed on public lands," said Chris Krupp, an attorney for Western Lands Project in Seattle. Krupp is representing that organization, as well as the Western Watersheds Project and the Desert Protective Council, in a suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in California. Initially, the Interior Department pursued the establishment of solar energy zones on 285,000 acres in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. In October, however, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed off on an expanded solar plan the groups contend keeps open 19 million acres for possible large-scale projects. "The administration is opting to needlessly turn multiple-use public lands into permanent industrial zones," said Janine Blaeloch, also with the Western Lands Project. "Solar development belongs on rooftops, parking lots, already-developed areas and on degraded sites, not our public lands."...more

A Move to Protect Red-Rock Country in Utah

In a move that has heartened some environmental advocates, a state senator has proposed a resolution calling on the federal government to protect 1.5 million acres of red-rock arches, mesas and spires adjacent to Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah. The Canyonlands acreage, the largest roadless tract in the lower 48 states, is currently managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Conservationists and the hikers, bikers and backpackers who flock to the southern Utah’s five national parks say that recreation is the “highest and best use” for this fragile area. Meanwhile, industries see the potential for a potash mine and tar sands development. After a Utah state Senate committee hearing last week that was packed with conservationists and outdoors enthusiasts, the proposed resolution was referred to an interim committee for study. In conservative Utah, where many believe there is already too much protected land that doesn’t generate taxes for the state, the bill could have easily died, according to its author, Jim Dabakis, a Democratic state senator from Salt Lake City. Mr. Dabakis, who won a special election in December, said he planned to propose to the federal government and Congress that 1.5 million acres around Canyonlands be protected from development while an unspecified amount of federal land in eastern Utah was turned over to energy development. “That way, we protect the land but still do right by the people of Utah,” he said...more

North Teton wolves zero in on moose herd

Wolves roaming the north end of Grand Teton National Park have developed an appetite for moose during the wintertime, a study shows. Some 43 moose, including 25 cows, were found wolf-killed by Grand Teton and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service researchers during the winters of 2010 and 2011. Preliminary data shows another 13 were killed during 2012, Grand Teton biologist Steve Cain said. Wildlife officials have been dealing with a Jackson Hole moose herd in decline for years. An exchange of emails between Park Service and Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials shows the study findings surprised biologists. “Wow, I don’t think anyone can argue that wolf depredation on moose is not additive and that they are not having an effect on moose numbers,” Game and Fish large carnivore biologist Bob Trebelcock wrote in a May email...more

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

U.S. Forest Service helps Hollywood build ‘green' movie set for 'Raising Hope'

The U.S. Forest Service announces today that they have teamed up with Hollywood to build the first “100 percent sustainable studio set.” The Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory teamed up to help create a hotel room for a two part episode of the show ‘Raising Hope.’ According to the release, the Hollywood set consists of “100 percent, USDA-certified bio-based and made with 100 percent cellulose fibers including post-consumer paper, wood and agricultural raw material sources” and “no toxic additives or adhesives.” “Raising Hope” art director John Zachary is thrilled. “The ongoing use of tropical hardwoods in set construction is an environmental tragedy and this experiment provided a cost-efficient alternative to unsustainable forest products,” he said in the release.  The team used “environmentally friendly paint, wallpaper, glue and carpet” during production...more

Ain't that a fine use of taxpayer dollars.  I recommend one thing:  sequester.

Song Of The Day #1019

Here is a favorite of Ranch Radio:  Rex Allen telling us about a horse called Droop Ears. My version is from his Bear Family Records LP album Boney Kneed Hairy Legged Cowboy Songs. However, it's now available on his 16 track CD Voice Of The West, or you can download the mp3 version for 99 cents.

Progressives applaud as GOP Gov. Susana Martinez of N.M. OKs gun background checks

New Mexico’s leading lady, Gov. Susana Martinez, has come out in support of a bill to impose background checks for those who buy firearms at gun shows. The bill, sponsored by a Democrat, also would pave the way for state records on mental health patients and convicted criminals to be brought into the federal instant background check system, according to a report on Newsmax. “We want to make sure that guns aren’t sold to a felon or someone who’s mentally ill at a gun show,” the governor said in a Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper report. Progressives are applauding. “We don’t often agree with the governor on policies like these,” said Pat Davis, executive director of Progress Now New Mexico, in the New Mexican report. “When progressives like us can agree with conservatives like her on gun law reform, New Mexico should sit up and take note.” The bill is set for a full House debate on Wednesday...more

Fast-food chain offers towering nine patty burger

Major fast food chains are finding new ways to shave calories off their menu items, but one burger flipping franchise is going in the other direction. Jake's Wayback has made a towering burger with nine—count em, nine—patties, a permanent menu item. The east coast chain, which is currently expanding to 14 states across the country, has decided to put the Triple Triple on their menu after receiving over 100 orders during a test-month last year. The nine-patty Triple Triple—the tallest burger you can get at a major fast food restaurant—was originally offered as a limited-edition novelty item. A challenge for competitive eaters with a craving for cow, the company got a bigger response than they expected. “It’s crazy. We had one guy eat it in less than two minutes,” Gillian Maffeo, director of marketing for parent Jake’s Franchising LLC, told Burger Business...more

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Interior Nominee Would Likely Continue Bad Policies

Considering the anti-fossil fuel track record of President Obama and his first-term cabinet members Lisa Jackson (EPA), Steven Chu (Energy Dept.) and Ken Salazar (Interior Dept.), there is no reason to expect that Department of Interior nominee Sally Jewell would impose a different agenda – especially since the president no longer has to worry about re-election. In 2007 she told Forbes she was “intrigued” by the “success” of cap-and-trade as it was applied to sulfur dioxide, and seemed to welcome the idea to regulate carbon dioxide. As Charlie Spiering of the Washington Examiner noted, “Jewell called for ‘real change’ in the country’s approach to climate change.” which tells you where her head is at regarding fossil fuels.
Then in a 2009 interview Jewell embraced the other major policy means to approach carbon dioxide reduction. “We are not paying for the cost to the environment,” she told Web site, “of the carbon that we use, and we should be paying for that. I know tax is a dirty word, but if we were paying a carbon tax that accounted for our impact on greenhouse gases, that would in fact change our consumption…. Regulation plays an important role in driving behavior.” And as the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel recounted on Friday, the former oil company engineer (liberals love how that makes Jewell look more temperate) has served in leadership roles for years on boards for groups such as the National Parks Conservation Association and the Conservation Alliance, through which REI has pushed anti-development initiatives on public lands and financed environmental activist litigators to prevent economic activities such as logging and mining. “The president knows he can rely on Ms. Jewell to do for the federal government exactly what she’s done at an activist level,” Strassel wrote, “Lock up land, target industries, kill traditional jobs.”...more

Wild-horse advocates split over interior nominee

Wild-horse advocates may be unified in opposition to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, but they're split over President Barack Obama's choice to replace him. Horse defenders have sharply criticized Salazar, saying nearly 40,000 mustangs have been removed from the range across the West during his four-year tenure, which ends in March. Suzanne Roy of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign says her group "responded optimistically" to Obama's nomination of Recreational Equipment Inc. chief Sally Jewell. Roy notes Jewell's background as a conservationist and outdoor enthusiast. But Anne Novak of California-based Protect Mustangs says she's skeptical because of Jewell's background as a Mobil Oil engineer and commercial banker. Madeleine Pickens of Saving America's Mustangs says she "welcomes the change," and is hopeful Jewell's background means she has empathy for mustangs. AP

NM lawmakers: Water is critical issue this session

A bipartisan group of New Mexico legislators announced Tuesday that they have introduced a series of bills aimed at tackling what they consider to be a looming crisis as the state grapples with a persistent drought, dwindling water supplies and legal pressure from neighboring Texas. Among the changes, the bills would revamp the state's water plan, boost the number of judges who handle water rights and spend millions of dollars on infrastructure. With New Mexico heading into its third year of drought, nearly every square mile of the state is suffering from dry conditions. The snowpack in the northern mountains is dismal, rivers and reservoirs have reached historic lows and forecasters said more hot, dry weather is in store. New Mexico is also locked in a legal battle with Texas over sharing of the Rio Grande, which supplies water to thousands of farmers in both states. One of the bills being considered during New Mexico's 60-day legislative session calls for studying supply and demand issues along with the economic consequences of having such a limited water supply. "The bottom line is in this state, a desert state, future economic development turns with water," said Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee...more  

In that supply and demand study, one part should be a study of the amount of water in NM that has been allocated to the feds, the amount of pending claims by the feds and the impact of federal policy on NM's ability to develop and manage water resources.

Water issues on tap for New Mexico legislators

Lawsuits over water deliveries and water rights, the potential impacts of drilling for oil and gas, and a steady decline in stored water at New Mexico reservoirs are a few of the issues scientists and state officials outlined for state lawmakers Monday in a joint committee hearing. Providing water for agriculture, energy development, businesses, endangered species and households is an endless challenge for the state's water managers. An ongoing drought has increased the challenge. Lawmakers, meanwhile, are considering a range of bills this session that address water issues. The U.S. Drought Monitor map shows 93 percent of New Mexico in a severe drought or worse. A few more good snowstorms might elevate the level to moderate drought, said John Longworth, chief of the Water Use and Conservation Bureau of the New Mexico State Engineer's Office. The ongoing drought over the last several years has lead to water flows periodically disappearing on some stretches of the Pecos and Rio Grande rivers. Interstate Stream Commissioner Estevan Lopez said such dry times impact water New Mexico must deliver downstream to Texas and Southern New Mexico farmers under interstate stream compacts. New Mexico has three major Indian water rights settlements to finish involving the Navajo Nation, Taos Pueblo and four pueblos in the Pojoaque River Basin. The largest water rights settlement is the Navajo Nation's claim in New Mexico to the San Juan River. The tribe has a separate case for water rights on the San Juan in Arizona. The settlement cost is an estimated $1 billion, with the state paying a $50 million share. The 2006 Taos settlement finalized the water rights of Taos Pueblo, the Taos Valley Acequia Association, the town and a dozen mutual domestic water associations. The cost of the settlement is $144 million, with the state picking up $20 million of the tab...more

N.M. House opposes 'threatened' listing for lesser prairie chicken

Opponents of federal protection for a rare bird won a moral victory Tuesday in the New Mexico House of Representatives. House members voted 39-28 for a memorial asking that local officials support efforts to protect the lesser prairie chicken but oppose it being listed as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act. State Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, sponsored the memorial, which expresses a sentiment but has no force of law. She said jobs would be lost in southeastern New Mexico and the state's overall economy would be damaged if the prairie chicken received federal protection. Invoking the Endangered Species Act would stop voluntary efforts by private landowners to coexist with the bird, Ezzell said. For instance, she said, oil companies in select areas stop drilling during prairie chicken mating season. Numerous Democrats tried to derail or defeat Ezzell's memorial. Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, offered an amendment to rewrite her memorial to gut its opposition to the Endangered Species Act. His proposal was killed by one vote...more

Governor backs gun show bill

Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican who who has courted the pro-gun vote, said Monday that she supports a compromise bill that would require background checks on people who buy guns at gun shows. Asked by a reporter about House Bill 77, which passed the House Judiciary Committee Friday on a bi-partisan vote, Martinez said, "I think I could support it if it stays the way it is." She said she likes the bill because it would help in "keeping the guns out of the hands who people who don't have any business having guns." Said Martinez, "We want to make sure that guns aren't sold to a felon or someone who's mentally ill at a gun show." The bill, sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, will be debated by the full House on Wednesday, Feb. 13, said a news release from House Democrats. If it passes there, it still must go through the Senate before it reaches the governor's desk. Martinez said a major reason she backs the bill in its current form is that it would establish a procedure to align the state's mental health and criminal conviction records with the federal instant background check system. The law currently requires background checks for gun purchases from licensed dealers, whether at retail stores or gun shows. However, bill supporters say that a significant number of gun sales in the state do not require background checks...more

Song Of The Day #1018

The selection on Ranch Radio today is Herr Schmidt #2 by Red River Dave.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Tender offers of Valentine love

 by Julie Carter

Saddle up boys, here it comes again. Valentine’s Day is here. Just as they dusted off the shelves when they cleared the poinsettias out, the world was painted with red and pink hearts and accented with chocolate.

Some will attest to the theory that Valentine’s Day was invented as a clever ploy to stimulate the economy in an otherwise financially sluggish time of year. Greeting card companies, florists, jewelers and chocolate manufacturers who flourish because of the promotion would have to agree.

Valentine’s Day advertisements, even locally in a rural part of the world, promise evenings of lasting romance and adoration if you will just come dine with them for only $175 a couple. I don’t believe too many pickup trucks will be leaving the ranch for that offer.

There will be some “romantic” gestures made out on the range.  It may not be wine and roses but a cowboy on a Valentine’s Day date will offer his heart’s delight a romantic late night walk through the frosty pastures for a “just once more” check of the heifers. After all, it is calving season.

I know a gal who books her husband and herself into the dentist for a teeth cleaning every Valentine’s Day. “Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a plaque-less kiss,” she claims.

Although shrouded in mystery, history records a couple theories about this annual homage paid to the patron saint of the day, St. Valentine.

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men that were his crop of potential soldiers.

Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages in secret for young lovers.  When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

According to another legend, Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself. While in prison awaiting his execution, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl who may have been his jailor's daughter who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.

A veteran ranch wife who is still waiting for her cowboy to grow up, phoned me and the topic of Valentine’s Day came up. I ventured to ask if she had received a gift from her love of 35+ years.

“Well, he did ask if I wanted something,” she said. “But after my Christmas gift, I was afraid to let him think it was time for another gift.”

What did you get for Christmas?” I asked.

“He brought me a cat from the pound.”

“Did you ask for a cat or even want a cat?”

“No to both. This gift just fit his budget. It was free.”

I got a Valentine once. The card was in Spanish because that is all that was left at the store in small-town America. With it came a box of chocolates, his favorite kind, since, as he pointed out, I was serious in my sticking to a diet.

It is those tender moments of adoring love that make a gal think seriously about returning the sentimental thought with something equally as endearing as a well-timed “Well, kiss my …uh…coraz√≥n …. dear!” 

Julie can be reached for comment at

Kiss My...Uh...Corazon

Hey, MMM, Baxter Black, Chuck Cusimano and all you song writers out there, this could turn into a hit.

And on your wait out my pretty little hon, 
Don't slam the door and kiss my corazon 


On your way out, please be so kind,
To cierre la puerta y beso mi behind

Who should sing it?  Well, from the male point of view I would pick The Texas Tornados or a similar group or artist.  And for the female point of view?

Write some more on the song and give us your recommendation for a recording artist.

I must admit I always hoped Julie Carter would write me a love song...and now she has.


Transfer of Public Lands Act

Oh, Fair New Mexico
Transfer of Public Lands Act
Lessening the death grip
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            One of several claims to fame for Monte Roth was the epic Golden Gloves fight he had with a future world champion. When prompted, Monte would give a blow by blow account of the near upset. He would duck and dodge as he fought the fight again in his reenactment.
            “Yes sir,” he would say. “If he’d had just one arm tied behind him, I would have whipped him that day!”
            The boxer Monte fought that day was a young Cassius Clay. The point of Mr. Roth’s real life story looms larger these days. Even one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport can not compete with one arm tied behind his back. There is a limit of what even the greatest can do.
The dilemma is not limited to individuals. It applies to corporations and states. In the case of corporations in an open market place, competing with constant limitation invariably results in failure and bankruptcy. In the matter of states, the result is the loss of it most talented youth through a death spiral of job creation. Western states have long faced that threat. They are forced to compete on a national level with states that are allowed the full benefit of the Constitutional intent for disposal of public lands.
If western states were allowed to fight the good fight without one armed literally tied behind their backs … maybe the nation wouldn’t face the dismal likelihood of economic calamity.
The New Mexico model
New Mexico is a real life tale of two states.
One state is the model that most resembles the neighbor to the east, Texas. It is there, east of the Rio Grande, private property ownership exceeds government ownership. It is also there that the majority of the state’s tax and revenue harvests occur.
Oil and gas are the major providers, but that is not the entire story. It can be argued that it is there the genesis of entrepreneurial innovation still exists in abundance. The major impetus is the dominion of private ownership in the face of government.
The western side of the state, the area where county boundaries generally touch or lie west of the Rio Grande, is where the modern day subsidy and welfare sink has been created. It is there where fully 75% of the land ownership is government in the form of local, state, and federal dominion, collectively. Of course, the federal government is the major player and they dominate the landscape and the land planning.
If population was greater, the western half of New Mexico would dominate the list of counties in the nation at highest risk. Only Luna County in the southwest makes the list because it reaches the cutoff for population. If large counties such Catron, McKinley, and Rio Arriba reached the census cutoffs, they would dwarf the poverty scales in the selection process. They struggle to keep youth, they suffer from high and debilitating rates of alcoholism, and it is there welfare recipients exceed employed citizens. The counties are examples of the expanding collapse of societal structure.
With such poverty, the assumption would be that the area is void of resources. On the contrary, western New Mexico is rich with timber, uranium, copper, silver, coal, and, to the north in San Juan County, oil and gas is the salvation of local economy. The area is a sleeping giant of natural resources mired in a government induced welfare coma. It is becoming an extractive resource and agricultural wasteland. It is a model of supreme and growing environmental despair. It has become an under achieving society.
It is a world champion … fighting with one arm tied behind its back.
Transfer of Public Land Act
The Constitution set forth the limits of federal ownership to include the District (of Columbia) … and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State … for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; … Never in the imagination of the Framers was the concept of building off limits natural and resource reserves for the environmental elite a figment of hallucination.
In fact, the intent was to render lands into the hands of citizenry for two very important matters. First was the reduction of debt. Second was the creation of national wealth. The latter equated to the acceleration and expansion of the economy.
It was so profoundly important to hasten the disposal of public lands through the creation of states that the model of pricing was not what the federal government could glean from the sale, but what the price point would be to trigger the transfer. All lands not sold automatically became the responsibility of the new states. It became their problem to deal with the ultimate disposition of the lands and the federal government would not encumber the nation with added debt in the matter.
The next generation federal leadership in the first quarter of the 19th Century, though, forgot those tenants. They withheld the disposal of the ‘western’ states and a revolt ensued. Documents from each of those states demonstrated outrage over the breach of constitutional promise regarding the disposition of lands within their boundaries.
From one of the states affected, the following was recorded:
“… the system of disposing of the public lands of the United States now pursued is highly injurious … to the States in which those lands lie, and to none, perhaps, more so than to the State of Missouri.
Such public lands were in form and function blessings to be bestowed for the purpose of building wealth and firming the underpinnings of economy. The Congressional Public Land Committee of 1828 agreed. In their report to Congress, the committee reminded law makers such disposal of lands was essential to the education of youth. Furthermore, without such lands the states could not increase the comfort and wealth of the frontier without the ability “of taxing the soil” to pay for such mutual benefits. Most importantly, it was essential to the general welfare that new states share an equal standing with original states in order to gain the foundation necessary to create permanent wealth and well being.
This past week, the New Mexico Legislature debated the modern day version of the western states uprising of 1828. House Bill 292, The Transfer of Public Lands Act, was ushered forth for the purposes of existinguishing and transferring title of defined federal lands to the state by December 31,2015.
As the week progressed, a strong political headwind built as the environmental front staged their public resistance. Their salient criticism was the intent to privatize nature’s wonders.
Actually, the conceptual underpinnings of the bill avoided that very conflict. The crafters of the bill anticipated the King George progenitors, the all earth crowd, would scream to the horizons of the sins of anticipated private ownership.
The bill is actually aimed at the original view of the federal government. The state will take title to the transfer. It is the state’s responsibility to deal with the once federal lands, and New Mexico demonstrates it does a very good job of managing state trust lands.
On about five percent of the comparative managed land mass, the State Land Office (SLO) annually returns in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars more to the state than the entire United States Forest Service does to the nation. If the result of SLO on transferred lands is anywhere near their returns of managed state trust lands, the results would completely erase the 36% of state dependence on federal infusions in its $5.6 billion budget.
The outcome of the debate is that serious.
The Message to the Nation
As the nation spirals toward economic Armageddon, the willingness of tax payers to subsidize great swaths of places like western New Mexico must halt. It is simply not fair to hard working Americans to see their hard earned tax obligations transported out of their locale and transferred to communities that are willing to achieve self reliance.
Western New Mexico is a wondrous place, but the wonder isn’t just the natural beauty. Partitioned out unto itself, it is populated by Americans who fought for their existence in each step of their journey within the American model.  Estimates suggest that the United States total reliance on uranium, copper, coal, and rare earth minerals could be fulfilled from deposits within that geographic area, and, yet, federal regulations and limitations preclude any expansion of activities. Communities are suffocating.
A social travesty has been inflicted long enough across this state. That is why New Mexico Legislators Yvette Herrell and Richard Martinez have introduced HB 292.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “This is not just a New Mexico issue. Every tax payer in this country has a stake it the outcome. Allow New Mexico to provide for itself!”