Saturday, March 16, 2013

CowCams: Technology makes its way into the barn

Calving season can be difficult for both ranchers and heifers. Day and night, ranchers need to check on their heifers every two hours to make sure the young cows are not having difficulty giving birth. All this activity can make a cow in labor nervous and disrupt the birthing process. Rancher and self-proclaimed computer nerd Michael Delaney has come up with a solution: CowCams. Last year, Delaney installed wireless cameras in the calving barn on his family-run 44 Ranch northeast of Grass Range. This livestock monitoring system was so successful, he turned it into a business called CowCams. According to Delaney, the monitoring system allows a rancher to watch cows on a computer monitor or smart phone from a wireless system between the house and the barn or outdoor lot. “It’s nice not to have to go check on the heifers,” he said. “It’s not a matter of being lazy; every time you check on a heifer, you disturb her, she gets nervous, and it takes her longer to calve.” “I have cameras that pan and tilt and can be controlled from a computer or smart phone,” he said. “I try to set the system up so all areas can be seen and controlled from inside the house.” An Internet connection is not required for CowCams to work, according to Delaney. However, ranches that are equipped with high speed Internet will be able to monitor the cameras from a computer or smart phone wherever Internet is available...Delaney has a degree in animal science from MSU Bozeman and likes to experiment with ways of using technology in ranching. “The next project I want to work on is developing a long-range wireless water tank monitoring system,” he said. “My goal is to have solar powered cameras set up at water tanks several miles away that send wireless video feeds back to the house. With water tanks being so critical to every ranch, I feel that a system like this would be invaluable.”...more

Readers of The Westerner know I've written about DuBois Drone Detectors, but I think Delaney may have solved the technological riddle.  Just get yourself 4 CowCams, point one in each direction and you'll have your defense mechanism against the BLM, Forest Service, USFWS, EPA, etc.

Ok, ok, we'll call them Delaney-DuBois Drone Detectors.

ESA - Good intentions to intrusion

    The federal government of the United States of America has become the 800-pound gorilla to many Americans. It touches our lives from the moment we wake up in the morning to the minute we go to bed at night. In many cases, the intrusions are unwelcome and oppressive.
    Take, for example, the Endangered Species Act. Now, who could be against protecting poor, defenseless owls in the Northwest? That was the rationale when Congress passed the original Endangered Species Act in 1973. No controversy. Hardly any debate on the floor of the U.S. House and Senate. And, President Richard Nixon signed it into law immediately.
    Fast forward 40 years to 2013, and the Endangered Species Act is out of control. It has become much more than a mechanism to protect animals, mammals, fish and plants that are in danger of becoming extinct.   It has become a weapon of the environmental extremists to stop development of our natural resources.
    Environmental groups have even figured out how they can make money off filing lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act.  Litigation has become an industry for these groups, because they can be reimbursed by the federal government for legal expenses if they win.
    The Center for Biological Diversity has filed 835 lawsuits from 1999 to 2012, which averages 1.24 lawsuits each week for 13 years.
    The Austin American Statesman reported in July that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service paid attorney fees of about $1.5 million in 26 cases from 2004 to 2010. The U.S. Treasury Department paid $14.2 million from 2003 to 2010 to a range of plaintiffs in environmental cases involving the Environmental Protection Agency.
    Additionally, billions of dollars have been spent by private individuals and companies, state and federal governments on 1,436 species that have been listed, and only 27 species have been recovered for a slim 1.88 percent success rate.

TSA says it missed bomb because it’s ‘hard to spot’

Transportation Security Administration officials responded to Newark inspectors’ failure to find bombs planted on security testers this way: We tried, but it’s really hard. “It’s not like they’re using a cartoonish bundle of dynamite with an alarm clock strapped to it,” Bob Burns with the TSA’s Blog Team posted on the agency’s website on Wednesday, as reported by The New York Post. “The items are extremely hard to spot.” His comments came in response to the TSA’s failure to identify a fake bomb that was being carted Feb. 25 by a tester at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. The tester was able to pass through two separate security lines and ultimately was given access to board the plane, the Post reported. The TSA tester had placed the fake IED down his pants...more  

Reminds me of a line from a song...He's got a rocket in his pocket

Colo. fire burns in erratic winds, threatens homes

A wildfire driven by erratic winds charred up to 1,000 acres and threatened more than 50 homes in northern Colorado on Friday, prompting hundreds of evacuation orders. Firefighters saved two homes and a state park visitors' center from flames, authorities said. They said no homes had been destroyed. The fire began Friday west of Fort Collins and was burning west of Horsetooth Reservoir, near the scene of a large wildfire last summer that burned 259 homes and killed one person. The Larimer County Sheriff's Department said 860 phone lines got automated calls ordering evacuations Friday, but some addresses have multiple lines and other numbers were cellphones, so the exact number of homes in the evacuation area was not known...more

USGS Water Watch

Friday, March 15, 2013

$3,500 reward offered in fatal shooting of Grant County cow

The New Mexico Livestock Board has announced a $3,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible for fatally shooting a cow in Grant County last month. The rancher who owned the cow found her dead on his ranch southwest of Santa Clara, N.M., on Wednesday, Feb. 13. The NMLB livestock inspector investigating the case says the shooting happened sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. that day. “This cow represents someone’s livelihood, so it’s important that justice be served,” said NMLB interim executive director Ray Baca. Baca said that the Livestock Board could bring charges of either extreme cruelty to animals or injury to livestock, both of which are fourth-degree felonies. “We don’t know the motive, but the wounds suggested that malice was a factor,” Baca said. “It’s possible that the shooter or shooters mentioned to someone what happened, and we hope that person comes forward.” The reward is being offered by New Mexico Cattle Growers, Grant County Cattle Growers, and the New Mexico Livestock Board. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Bobby Pierce, deputy director of the Livestock Board, at 505-362-9318. All calls will be kept confidential, and callers may remain anonymous. KOB

Johnny Thomas Ogden 1945-2013

    Funeral services for Johnny Ogden, 67, of the Floyd Community, will be at 10:00 AM, Monday, March 18, 2013 at Faith Christian Family Church, 3401 N. Norris, Clovis, NM with Pastor Rick Rainey officiating. Burial will follow in the Portales Cemetery with T. J. Garcia, Tanner Allen, Brenden Smith, Trenten Smith, Corey Vandenberg, Ryan O'Donnell, Sgt. John Michael Carson, Jr., represented by his wife, Lindsey Carson, Brogan Fraze and Cray Fraze. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Johnny Ogden Scholarship Fund, c/o J. P. Stone Community Bank, P O Drawer 888, Portales, NM 88130. The family will receive guests at the funeral home on Saturday, March 16th from 5 to 8 PM.
    John Thomas Ogden, known to family and friends alike as Johnny, was born March 20, 1945 in Albuquerque, NM to the home of Hazel and LeRoy H. Ogden, and died March 13, 2013 in Lubbock, TX. The family moved to Portales when Johnny was 9 years old, and he was a 1963 graduate of Portales High School. On November 25, 1964 he was married to Janice Gossett in her parents' home in Floyd. He attended Eastern New Mexico University for two years before transferring to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Johnny worked 50 hours a week, and maintained a 4.0 average to complete his degree in Ag Ed in 1970.
    He worked three years as an Ag Teacher in Elida, before establishing a dairy, and in 1977, they moved the dairy to Floyd. In 1986, he closed the dairy, and became a dairy inspector for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. Johnny was a Dairy Specialist with the designation of Inspector III that allowed him to inspect both dairies and cheese plants. He often served as a consultant for diary and milk plants. Johnny was very conscientious where the public health was concerned, but always tried to serve both the public and the dairymen.
    Johnny was a dedicated Christian and a member of Faith Christian Family Church in Clovis. He loved Jesus and he loved people. Johnny was a very patriotic man, and though he never served in the military, he truly had a heart for those who serve our country. Johnny would go out of his way to speak to a service man or woman, and thank them personally for what they were doing for our country and the world.
    Johnny served on the Eastern New Mexico State Fair Board, as well as the Roosevelt County Fair Board. He loved the fairs and working the Junior Livestock Sales each year. Johnny served three terms on the Floyd School Board because he loved young people and he believed in education. He strongly supported the FFA program because he believed deeply in the leadership training it instills. In addition, Johnny drove the activity bus for the Floyd Schools for many years.
    Other things that Johnny enjoyed included working ropings, music, and working crossword puzzles. He often worked as a chute man at roping events, and was considered one of the best. He could always be counted on to give loud encouragement for a job well done. He could play almost any instrument by ear, and play it well. When working crosswords, if they seemed too easy to suit him, he would make up rules to make them harder.
    Johnny was a devoted family man, and really enjoyed his family. He was very proud of his daughters and their families, and made it a point to attend as many of his grandchildren’s activities and events as possible. One of the special memories his girls have of him is his distinctive whistle that could be heard over the din of even the State Fair. When they heard that whistle they knew it was time to come and find him.
    Johnny is survived by his wife, Janice of their home; his daughters and sons-in-law, Debbie and Curtis Allen of Rhea, TX, Sherrye and Anthony Lovelace of Alva, OK and Tammy and Trevor Fraze of Portales; 12 grandchildren, Taryn O’Donnell and husband, Ryan, Tanner Allen and fiancĂ©, Charlsi Heinrich, Lindsey Carson and husband, Sgt. John Michael Carson, Jr., Brenden and Trenten Smith, T. J. Garcia and wife, Andrea, Amber Garcia, Corey Vandenberg, Mycah Garcia, and Brogan, Cashlin and Cray Fraze; 2 great-grandchildren, Raylee Kaye O’Donnell and Isabella Rose Garcia; two sisters, Dorothy Dunaway and husband, Ken of Portales and Carol Pape and husband, David of St. George, KS; and a sister-in-law, Sarah Ogden of Albuquerque, NM. He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, David Ogden and by a son-in-law, Dennis Smith.

The Ogden Family
618 S. Roosevelt Rd. AB
Portales, NM 88130

Success in land management is rooted in a clear mission


For the Capital Press

    Ask Idahoans if they value healthy forests and you'll likely get an affirmative response.
    Ask them how to manage for healthy forests and you'll likely get a wide range of opinions.
    Therein lays the challenge for the U.S. Forest Service and other federal land managers. A tangled web of federal laws and policies designed to guide the management of most federally managed forestlands in Idaho often leaves professional land managers in the unenviable position of trying to be all things to all people on all acres.
    The result is gridlock.
    Gov. Butch Otter recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to urge a House subcommittee to support setting aside a specific national forest in Idaho for a pilot project under a trust management model as a way to address the gridlock.
    As state forester, I oversee management of 1 million forested acres of the total 2.4 million acres of state endowment trust lands in Idaho. The Idaho Department of Lands and the Land Board manage these lands under a trust model mandate grounded in Idaho's constitution. Our mission is clear: to "maximize long-term financial returns" to public schools and other constitutionally designated public institutions.
    Meeting our mission requires ongoing stewardship of endowment trust lands. Tree planting following a harvest and leaving in place seed trees for natural regeneration are examples of that long-term stewardship. Stewardship also means we follow all state and federal environmental laws aimed at protecting water, air quality and habitat. In fact, recent water quality audits show harvest activities on state lands have a 99 percent rate of compliance with standards set forth in the Idaho Forest Practices Act and accompanying administrative rules.
    Legal roadblocks to achieving our land management objectives are limited because the law dictates for us one type of dominant use paradigm -- active management to produce revenues for schools.
    The benefits of a trust management model in reducing fire-prone fuels, enhancing economic activity and creating jobs, and improving forest health undoubtedly are the governor's driving motives in urging this approach. It is the dominant use concept that makes the trust model so effective in achieving well-defined land management objectives.
    Even wilderness areas are managed under a dominant use model, as are national recreation areas, national parks and roadless areas, lessening the likelihood of litigation when the Forest Service makes a decision in keeping with the prescribed management of those lands.
    But roughly 7 million acres managed by the Forest Service in Idaho have no defined dominant use to drive effective management.
    On these 7 million acres, most actions the Forest Service deems necessary to improve the health of the land -- for instance, using timber harvest as a management tool to remove vegetation to promote growth of desired tree species -- need to comply with onerous procedural requirements and are met with reams of paperwork to withstand an appeal. Former Chief of the Forest Service Dale Bosworth termed it, "analysis paralysis."
    Additionally, a recent study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office showed that Region 1 of the Forest Service, which includes northern Idaho, led with the most appeals and lawsuits on federal projects involving fuel reduction activities of any region of the Forest Service during fiscal years 2006 through 2008. Region 1 is facing 10 timber sales with active lawsuits and was even blocked on a collaborative stewardship project because of perceived threats to lynx habitat, according to one article following an interview with the Region 1 forester.
    As past Forest Service chiefs have pointed out, including Jack Ward Thomas, without a clear mission or mandate from Congress, the Forest Service is left longing for how to define and measure success.
    We may not all agree on how to manage public lands, but at least the establishment of a dominant use model in addition to wilderness and roadless areas for some of our federally forested lands in Idaho, as the governor suggested, would create realistic expectations and a clear mission for Forest Service land managers to achieve the economic, ecological and social benefits we all seek.

David Groeschl has been the Idaho state forester since 2011. He has 27 years of experience in forestry and land management.

Our View: Whose land is it anyway?

This newspaper has not taken a position on fracking. We are aware that new sources of natural gas have resulted from the process. That has helped our nation in pursuit of the goal of energy independence. It has also helped keep downward pressure on the cost of energy, and has had a positive effect on air pollution because natural gas burns cleaner than coal. But we have also listened to the fears raised by concerned residents. In our opinion, those concerns have not been adequately addressed.

But having the meeting 11 months after the initial protests leads us to think the government simply wanted the issue to go away. The time and place for the meeting appears to be planned in the hope that people will stay away.

The government needs to remember that federal lands belong to the people — not just to the politicians and agencies that manage them.   

You've got to be kidding.  They are referred to as Forest Service lands, BLM lands, Park Service lands, etc. and not People lands for a good reason.  The only real say people have over these lands is through the politicians they elect and the resulting appointments.

The people have a right to know how their land is used, and to express their opinions about how it is used.

If it was "their land" they would already know how it was used and they would be making decisions on  its use, not just offering their "opinions."

On your conclusion we agree:

The people deserve better.

Utah restricts feds from enforcing local laws

The Utah Senate has approved a bill barring certain federal officers from enforcing local laws, such as a traffic violation. The Senate approved the bill in a 23-4 vote Wednesday. The bill from Kanab Republican Rep. Michael Noel says law enforcement officers with agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Forest Service cannot enforce local laws unless there's an emergency. Noel says federal officials pulling someone over for an infraction such as speeding are a violating Utah's state sovereignty. He also says many of the federal officers are not trained to enforce those laws. Officers that attempt to enforce state or local laws would be charged with a misdemeanor count of impersonating a peace officer. The bill is now on its way to the governor. AP

Utah actually believes they are a State, not a subdivision of the federal government.  How refreshing.

Forest and Fire Groups Request Senate Matches House Investment in 2013 Fire Management

A collection of forest and fire groups are requesting the Senate match the House’s investment in fire management for 2013, as reflected in the House’s Continuing Resolution (HR 933) passed last week. Funding for the FLAME wildfire suppression reserve funds and the Wildland Fire Management program, which fight fires and performs forest treatments to reduce the risk of megafires, will help cover a fire season as bad as last year.  Last year was the third worst fire season since 1960, and the USDA Forest Service ran out of money to fight fires in September. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has already predicted current drought conditions will continue through May of this year.  Today’s letters into House and Senate Appropriators were endorsed by the following organizations:

American Forest Foundation
National Association of Forest Service Retirees
American Forests
Federal Forest Resource Coalition
National Association of State Foresters
Society of American Foresters
The Nature Conservancy

Bill would benefit NM forests

By Brent Racher 

The U.S. Forest Service has announced a new wildfire management policy that provides for prioritizing which wildfires to suppress and which to let burn. The option to allow fires to burn has evolved, in part, because past forest management practices have resulted in overly dense forests that, when ignited by natural or human causes, produce fires so intense, they are extremely costly and hazardous to attempt to suppress.

Public funding is increasingly scarce to allocate toward deployment of fire management resources, and prioritizing wildfire suppression is a logical need as the size and intensity of wildfires has increased. 

The suppression costs are only a drop in the bucket, though. 

From 2009 through 2012 in New Mexico alone, our wildfires have cost the state a midpoint estimate of $1.5 billion, with the brunt of this being carried by the state, county and local governments, and by private individuals and businesses. 

These costs are from rehabilitation, infrastructure losses, structures burned and other direct and indirect costs not including the suppression costs borne by state and federal governments. 

With the forecast of increasing risk of wildfires in New Mexico and shrinking state and federal public funds to apply toward forest fire suppression and restoration, it is time to give the private sector the incentive to thin out the New Mexico forests and utilize the materials for public and entrepreneurial benefit. 

Senate Bill 204 proposes an amendment to existing state statues that would encourage private industry to construct energy producing facilities that specifically use, in a responsible and controlled manner, the volatile materials that have built up in New Mexico’s forests.

The incentivization and implementation of the energy producing facilities that use hazardous forest material as proposed by SB 204 would provide the public multiple benefits. 

Mexican rancher trying to push his cattle back into Mexico arrested by Border Patrol

Here's the Facebook post:
Another instance of ignorance in the Border Patrol. We have been having problems with Mexican cattle jumping over the fence onto the farms, this evening the Mexican rancher tried to get his cows back on his side and the BP arrests him. Overzealous piece of shit just wanting to make an arrest so he can brag. I swear some of these guys are so damn ignorant. Use a little common sense it's not like he wanted to be here he was just trying to get his cattle home. Think a call to the sector chief is in order in the morning.
For those of you on Facebook, a very interesting discussion on this post is taking place.  You can follow it here.

Hubbard museum adopts new logo

A new logo for the Ruidoso Downs-owned Hubbard Museum of the American West will include the image of the larger-than-life display of eight bronze horses at the museum. "As most of you know ... the former (museum) director made a presentation about four or five years ago to change the logo and there was pretty massive misunderstanding and it was voted down because I think the council at that time thought he was changing the city's logo," Jim Kofakis, the director of the museum told city councilors. "In the last four to six weeks I was approached by a couple of members of the governing body to readjust that. I went back to what I learned in college in Marketing 101, if you're branding the city or branding the museum, it needs to be something that people recognize right away without the text." "I took the basic design elements of ... the city of Ruidoso Downs logo, kept the most important design elements being the tree, Sierra Blanca (peak), the sun or moon depending on what time of the day it is, removed the race horses and put in a silhouette of the monument, which is arguably the most recognized icon that the museum has." The icon, Free Spirit at Noisy Water by Dave McGary, is between the museum and U.S. Highway 70...more

Groups file suit to block Canyon uranium mine near Grand Canyon

The Havasupai tribe and three conservation groups sued the U.S. Forest Service March 7 over its decision to allow Energy Fuels Resources, Inc. to begin operating a uranium mine about six miles from the south rim of the Grand Canyon. The Havasupai Tribe along with Grand Canyon Trust, Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club contend the Forest Service did not consult with the tribe or update a 1986 federal environmental review. In a press release, the groups said the Canyon Mine threatens cultural values, wildlife and endangered species and increases the risk of soil and groundwater pollution near Grand Canyon. The lawsuit alleges violations of environmental, mining, public land and historic preservation laws...more

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Flooding after Little Bear fire causes damage

Approval by Ruidoso village councilors of a sub-grant agreement with the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for $88,379 is aimed at installation of a temporary water filtering system in the duck pond leading into Alto Reservoir. Village Community Development Director Bobby Rose explained to the council that a severe period of storms from June 22 to July 12, after the Little Bear Fire, caused flooding and washed debris into roads, lakes and the duck pond, which is part of the village's water supply system. "The village has accepted bids for a water filtration to make water in the duck pond able to be transferred to Alto Reservoir for treatment of safe drinking water," she wrote in a memorandum. "This is a temporary measure to filter the water until it meets the required treatable standards for drinking water. This option is desirable, as it allows the duck pond to be placed back into operation and to refill Alto Lake."...more

Feds provide Little Bear cleanup funds

The cleanup cost from flooding that followed the Little Bear Fire will be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency announced Tuesday that more than $1 million will be delivered to Lincoln County to cover the cost of removing and hauling debris along waterways, to restore access to roadways, and to protect property. The FEMA reimbursement is expected to cover the lion's share of the cost of cleanup work that included hiring contractors to haul debris away. The total cost was $1.38 million. The fire, which was first detected on June 4, 2012, within the Lincoln National Forest's White Mountain Wilderness, went out of any kind of control on June 8, and swept across some 26,000 acres and onto private lands in just over a day. The inferno destroyed 255 homes and 28 other buildings. Its final size was put at 44,330 and went into the records as the most destructive fire in New Mexico history. In the weeks that followed, concerns grew over damaged watersheds and the impact of potential flooding during the monsoon season. Some flooding sent logs, silt and debris down some streams such as Eagle Creek and the Rio Bonito. In an August 2012 letter to the president seeking a disaster declaration because of runoff from the fire's burn area, Udall and then Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, noted the city of Alamogordo, which owns Bonito Lake in the burn scar, Lincoln County and the village of Ruidoso were forced to declare emergencies the month before. The letter went on to say debris deposited in reservoirs and the high level of sediment in runoff compromised water quality for the surface water sources used by Alamogordo and Ruidoso...more

Song Of The Day #1041

Ranch Radio stays in the 60s with Stonewall Jackson and I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water.

The tune was recorded in Nashville on May 5, 1964 and and released as Columbia 4-43197. 

Senate approves Frank Church wilderness measure

A resolution urging the federal government to help clean up networks of trails damaged by years of wildfires in the eastern Idaho wilderness has blazed through the Senate. The Senate on Wednesday approved a resolution asking the U.S. Forest Service to declare the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness' trail system a natural resources disaster area. The House passed the measure earlier this month. The problem supporters say is that wildfires and erosion has slowly degraded trails in the 2.3 million acre preserve. Terreton Republican Sen. Jeff Siddoway said trails are blocked by fallen trees, making it difficult for hikers and sportsmen to enjoy it. Ketchum Democrat Sen. Michelle Stennett said calling the region a disaster area could hurt local outfitters or tourism groups making a living on the land. AP

Another Wilderness is called a natural disaster area.  This time officially by the Idaho Senate.  But don't ask them to quit making them, no sir.

Here is NPR's take on it:

 Backcountry enthusiasts fear that over time, a failure to maintain trails could force the U.S. Forest Service to close some of them, in the name of public safety.

That's the goal of some advocates anyway - no human beings allowed.

Not giving up, the Forest Service has turned to volunteers:

One avenue the Forest Service has taken is to rely on volunteers. During late spring, members of the Student Conservation Association clear rocks, dirt and logs that block trail’s on a remote stretch of the Frank Church Wilderness. Using shovels and picks is slow and physically demanding.

You won’t hear the roar of chainsaws. That’s because mechanized tools and vehicles are banned in the name of preserving the wilderness experience.

Volunteers put their backs and muscles into the slow-going teamwork required by a two-man crosscut saw. it takes some getting used to.

John Burns with the Salmon River Backcountry Horsemen says these primitive tools make for slow-going progress.

John Burns/Salmon River Backcountry Horsemen: “We’ve actually had contracts up there where the use of a wheelbarrow is prohibited.”

Burns wants the Forest Service to allow volunteers to use mechanized tools like chainsaws to increase efficiency. The Forest Service already has the ability to to this. But Craig Gehrke with the Wilderness Society says it would not benefit those who come here to enjoy nature.

Clear the trails or close them for public safety.  Use only primitive tools, which means it probably isn't going to get done.  So close them for public safety.  People stay out.  That's what federal management of wilderness areas has come to.

Heinrich will push for access to land

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said Tuesday that he’ll support the nomination of Sally Jewell for interior secretary but vowed to press her, if she is confirmed by the Senate, to create more access to public lands that are currently blocked by private landowners. Heinrich, an avid hunter and fisherman, said outdoorsmen across the nation are growing increasingly frustrated as private landowners buy large tracts of land that sometimes completely cut off public access to public lands. The Sabinosa Wilderness in northern New Mexico is one such example, he said. “It’s surrounded by private land and there is currently no legal access — not so much as an easement for a trail,” Heinrich told the Journal on Tuesday. “It’s completely landlocked by private land. There are a number of places like that.”...more

I just gotta ask:  Why would Heinrich's colleague, Tom Udall, push so hard for a wilderness area the public can't access? Upon Obama's signing of the bill, Udall issued a press release saying the Wilderness "will now be open for grazing, hunting and other recreational uses." Really? Did he not know that, according to Heinrich, there is "no legal access"?

I believe the correct spelling is Sabinoso.

Obama’s Weekend Warrior

When Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced his resignation from the Obama Administration, attention turned instantly to a successor. But President Barack Obama shattered the mold when he nominated Seattleite Sally Jewell, CEO of Recreational Equipment, Inc., known as REI...But I’m not sure she’ll be awesome as Secretary of Interior. In a nutshell, REI is Cabela’s for green urban yuppies. Any Friday night, mixed in with the pickups and trailers of the Cabela’s cohort, hordes of Subarus and Volvos, roof racks groaning with gear from REI, zoom out of America’s metropolitan centers in a mass escape from cubicle jail to a weekend of freedom in the natural world. On Sunday night, the weekend warriors are back in town. What happens in the hinterlands the rest of the week, or in the off season, matters little, if at all, to them. With the exception of three years in the high-plains oilfields, Jewell has spent her entire adult life as a weekend warrior, including a decade of guiding a large business that lives or dies on its ability to package and sell the weekend-warrior lifestyle...more

Deb Fischer: Rancher, Country Gal, Senator

You’ve probably heard of Jeff Flake, the cowboyish Arizonan. You know a bit about Tim Scott. And you definitely know Ted Cruz by now. But the fourth freshman Republican senator has dodged countless spotlights, flying under the radar and into the upper chamber of Congress. She’s Deb Fischer, she’s a rancher from Nebraska, she’s not a tea-party senator (despite what you might hear), and she’s a bit of a wonk on agricultural affairs. While Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were busily generating headlines and sparking controversy in the 2012 Senate contests, Fischer quietly beat two tea-party-backed opponents in her primary and a thick-walleted Manhattan darling in the general election. It doesn’t really make for compelling television — while we were biting our nails over Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, Deb Fischer was beating her opponent and still beating him and beating him all the way home. She’s a Republican from a red state and she could be a star — she’s straightforward, pragmatic, and female — but she’s dodged the press as if she’s Terrence Malick or Greta Garbo. She did a short interview with a Nebraska TV station and the Hill did a feature on her as New Member of the Week, but she turned down invitations to all six Sunday shows on her first weekend in Washington. After she won the primary, she went head-to-head with Bob Kerrey, former governor and senator from the Cornhusker State who became a Manhattan transplant and president of the New School in Greenwich Village. Steve Martin made a whimsical campaign video for Kerrey, and former SNL writer Sarah Paley, a lifelong New Yorker who is Kerrey’s wife, wrote a sassy essay for Vogue bemoaning the fact that her husband’s fidelity made a move to flyover country unavoidable, should he win. On Election Day, Fischer trounced Kerrey, winning by 16 points...more

Fiddle break

Whew, I need a fiddle break...actually a twin fiddle break. Here's Kenny Baker & Bobby Hicks performing Louisville Breakdown.  The tune is on their Darkness On The Delta CD.

U.S. sugar producers are poised to get a sweet deal

U.S. sugar producers are poised to get a sweet deal. The USDA is considering buying 400,000 tons of sugar in an aim to limit supply and boost prices so that sugar producers can pay back government loans that they’re in danger of defaulting on, the Wall Street Journal reports. The move would be an exercise of an untested provision inserted in the 2008 farm bill called the Feedstock Flexibility Program, which allows the USDA to intervene in the market to raise prices. While the artificial price boost would benefit companies that manufacture sugar, the losers may be the makers of your favorite candies -- like Mars, Hershey and Nestle -- and that may mean higher candy prices. The sugar industry has long benefitted from controversial government subsidies, and it doesn't appear that will change anytime soon: The Senate voted down an amendment just last June that would have slowly stripped the sector of federal government aid, according to Businessweek. Though it’s not uncommon for the government to prop up certain commodities, the sugar subsidy functions differently than most. Instead of sending money to farmers to elevate prices -- like in the case of corn, wheat and rice -- the sugar program limits imports...more

I'm sure you noticed this:

The USDA is considering buying 400,000 tons of sugar in an aim to limit supply and boost prices so that sugar producers can pay back government loans that they’re in danger of defaulting on...

The DC Deep Thinkers have a loan program for sugar producers, which increases the supply, which lowers prices, resulting in the producers defaulting on the gov't loan.

Now who should bear the burden for this stupid program...the producers, or the dummies who thought it up?  I would say both.  But oh no, your buddies in the gov't have decided you should pay, through artificially inflated prices for consumer goods.  The feds are here to help you don'tcha know.

Neanderthals' large eyes 'caused their demise'

A study of Neanderthal skulls suggests that they became extinct because they had larger eyes than our species. As a result, more of their brains were devoted to seeing in the long, dark nights in Europe, at the expense of high-level processing. By contrast, the larger frontal brain regions of Homo sapiens led to the fashioning of warmer clothes and the development of larger social networks...more  

The next time your watching the news check out the size of the eyes of those DC Deep Thinkers...they're huge.

Sen. Mike Lee: Obamacare bans 98 percent of individual insurance plans

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, called foul on President Obama’s promise that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it, as he noted a recent study showing that 98 percent of individual plans are illegal under Obamacare. “As we we were all shocked to learn recently, 98 percent of all individual health insurance policies in the United States right now are in violation of Obamacare’s standards,” Lee said on the Senate floor as he argued in favor of de-funding the health care law. Health Pocket, an insurance data company, recently provided the basis for that claim. “The data shows that there will be a near complete transformation of the individual and family health insurance market starting in 2014,” according to Health Pocket. “Less than 2% of the existing health plans in the individual market today provide all the Essential Health Benefits required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)” (original emphasis)...more

Obamacare Taxes Double Original Estimate

According to the Government Accountability Office, the President’s health care law contains 47 tax or tax-related provisions.  Estimates by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation confirm that tax increases associated with the law total more than $1 trillion over the next ten years. Many of these provisions are already in effect, and others will become effective in 2014.  Key provisions include:  a tax on medical device and drug manufacturers, and health insurers; a tax on individuals and families who do not purchase government-mandated health insurance, a tax on employers that do not offer government-mandated health insurance, additional Medicare taxes and taxes on investment income...more

Obamacare Taxes Reaching All the Way to Veterinarians

Dog owner Lori Heiselman was surprised where her veterinarian posted a warning on Facebook. The notice read: “Because medical equipment and supplies will be going up in cost, that extra expense will have to passed on to the customers.” Why the increase? Its part of a new 2.3-percent federal excise tax on certain medical devices that just went into effect. The tax will help fund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, intended for people, not pets. Manufacturers pay the tax, but a recent survey found more than half plan to pass it along...more

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Get ready for busy wildfire season

Despite the slowest start to a wildfire season in a decade, the head of the U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday his agency is preparing for another busy year, but with fewer firefighters. Late winter storms have helped bring more snow and rain to some parts of the country, but Chief Tom Tidwell told the Associated Press in a telephone interview that much of the South and Southwest are expected to dry out by May and June as drought conditions persist. That will give way to a season much like last year, when more than 14,500 square miles - an area bigger than the state of Maryland - were charred. A dozen lives were also lost last year and more than 2,200 homes and businesses were destroyed. The predicted hot spots for wildfires this year? Tidwell pointed to Florida, Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California...more

Song Of The Day #1040

Ranch Radio is riding thru the 60s this week and here's Jim Reeves with A Railroad Bum.

The tune was recorded in Nashville on Nov. 10, 1961.  Backing him up that day was Chet Atkins on guitar, Pete Drake on steel and Floyd Cramer on piano.


Water ruling says Texas violated ESA

In a stunning ruling that is bound to affect water rights, a federal judge has found the state of Texas was responsible for the deaths of 23 endangered whooping cranes and now must make amends. Senior U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack ruled Monday in Corpus Christi that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to manage freshwater flows from the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers to the birds' Gulf Coast habitats in winter 2008-09. The TCEQ said it may challenge the 124-page decision. Jim Blackburn, lead counsel for the Aransas Project, which sued the state, said the case sets a precedent in dispelling the notion that riverflows into coastal bays constitute “wasted water.” In a stunning ruling that is bound to affect water rights, a federal judge has found the state of Texas was responsible for the deaths of 23 endangered whooping cranes and now must make amends. Senior U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack ruled Monday in Corpus Christi that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to manage freshwater flows from the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers to the birds' Gulf Coast habitats in winter 2008-09. The TCEQ said it may challenge the 124-page decision. Jim Blackburn, lead counsel for the Aransas Project, which sued the state, said the case sets a precedent in dispelling the notion that riverflows into coastal bays constitute “wasted water.” “Inactions and refusal to act by the TCEQ defendants proximately caused an unlawful 'take' of at least 23 whooping cranes,” Jack said in her ruling, based on testimony presented at a December 2011 trial. She blocked the state from issuing new water permits on the rivers until assurances are in place that a conservation plan is implemented to balance the interests of water users with preservation of crane habitats...more  

The judge is a 1993 Clinton nominee.

Wildfires force grazing lessees off some federal lands

The 65,000-acre Fontenelle fire that burned west of Big Piney in western Wyoming last summer was what land managers call a mosaic burn pattern; burning hot in some areas while leaving patches of untouched landscape elsewhere within the burn area. Aside from lost structures, and the dangerous and costly efforts to contain the fire, the mosaic Fontenelle fire was a good burn for its potential to rejuvenate forest and vegetative growth. But in order for that natural rejuvenation to happen, federal land managers must “rest” tens of thousands of acres of federal grazing leases, forcing ranchers in Sublette County to find alternative pastures for some 1,200 head of cattle. That’s no easy task during this time of drought and with the likelihood that wildfires will continue to rage across the West. Without any help, some ranching operations dependent on those federal lands might be squeezed to death — especially if continued drought and wildfire delay the vegetative recovery process beyond two years. In response, Chad Hayward of the U.S. Forest Service’s Big Piney Ranger District helped organize an ad hoc group of agriculture, wildlife and land managers to see what various groups could bring to the table to help the local ranching community. “It’s been very complicated. We can’t take federal dollars and spend them on private grazing leases for permittees,” Hayward said, referring to limitations within the U.S. Forest Service. So Hayward said he’s working within U.S. Forest Service authority to fill grazing allotments in neighboring districts, and in some cases helping place Fontenelle area cattle on federal grazing allotments that have never been used. That should take care of the majority of the displaced cattle, he said...more  

Kudos to Chad Hayworth. Can you imagine a forest ranger, say on the Gila, letting a rancher graze on a vacant allotment?

Lawyers, environmentalists continue court fight over trout

    The U.S. government says environmentalists are back in court on nothing more than a “fishing expedition” in a decade-old attempt to again close 1.5 miles of a gravel road along a threatened trout stream near the Nevada-Idaho line leading to some of the most remote, federally protected wilderness in the nation.
    The conservationists insist they’re trying to save the fish — a job they say has fallen to them because the U.S. Forest Service has shirked its responsibility to enforce locally unpopular laws.
    The latest round of courthouse volleys over the bull trout and the South Canyon Road in Elko County has the two sides fighting over tens of thousands of pages of documents that environmentalists say will prove the Forest Service and the county knew a settlement they reached in 2001 was illegal and detrimental to the fish protected under the Endangered Species Act.
    Long at odds over who owns the road to Snow Slide Gulch Trail Head near the century-old mining town of Jarbidge, the Forest Service originally fought the county in court to block reconstruction of a section that washed out in a 1995 flood.
    Agency scientists and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists were adamant that silt eroding from the narrow road would warm the stream’s cold mountain waters and choke off trout eggs in the gravel beds of the furthest point south in the nation where the fish is known to survive.
    In the years that followed, volunteers in a county known for defying the government rebuilt the road by hand, hundreds marched down main street in the name of the “Shovel Brigade” and helped force the resignation of the regional forest supervisor.
    The agreement the arch enemies forged was unlike any the Forest Service had worked out before or since in a broader, ongoing legal battle over right of way claims. The claims — called RS-2477 — allow local governments or individuals to seek ownership of a road based on their belief the road existed before the national forest system was created in 1905.
    Richa Wilson, the Forest Service’s regional architectural historian based in Ogden, Utah, concluded a trail that later turned into a road was built in Jarbidge Canyon in 1910. Among other things, he found references to a Western Shoshone legend of an evil man-eating devil — “Johrbitch” or “Jarvidge” — that supposedly kept Indians and settlers from venturing into the wildly, rugged mountain canyon in the years before that.
    In the deal with Elko County, the Forest Service made clear that it was not acknowledging the county’s right of way to the road but said it would not formally challenge that right.
    Two environmental groups, the Wilderness Society and Great Old Broads for Wilderness, cried foul. They said they should have been allowed to argue that such a deal was illegal under the National Environmental Policy Act and Federal Land Policy Management Act.

State Efforts to ‘Reclaim’ Our Public Lands

Despite the many problems that states and municipalities face today—from budget shortfalls to unemployment—seven western states have decided to embark on unconstitutional and quixotic battles attempting to force the federal government to turn millions of acres of public lands over to the states. Doing so, however, would result in the eventual exploitation for private profits of these beautiful parks, refuges, forests, and other lands because the leaders driving such efforts would prefer to see quick economic gains from resource extraction rather than prioritizing these areas’ more sustainable economic uses such as recreation. Rather than being managed so that all Americans can enjoy them, turning our public lands over to states would result in their management on the whims of governors and state legislatures, who in the West are often quite conservative and tend to ideologically favor limited regulation and private profits. According to one state lands commissioner, these bills would be “catastrophic” to the public lands that Americans know and love. We are now seeing yet another iteration of that hardy but misguided western impulse. These state legislative efforts are nothing more than corporate-backed messaging tools that can be traced to conservative front groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, and Americans for Prosperity, as we discuss further below. The proposals run directly contrary to abundant evidence that Americans and westerners support federal management of their public lands and value the economic benefits those lands provide, especially when they are protected from mining and drilling and are used instead for recreation and other more sustainable purposes. ALEC and Americans for Prosperity have been fanning the fire under these efforts to “reclaim” federal public lands. ALEC is a conservative corporate front group funded by fossil-fuel interests such as the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil that develops model legislation for state legislators to introduce in their legislatures, and it has endorsed many of the bills turning public lands over to the states...more  

I don't believe the Center for American Progress is very happy about this.

Prison for man who shot at BLM rangers

A man convicted of two counts each of attempted murder and aggravated assault for shooting at two Bureau of Land Management rangers was sentenced to serve 16 years in prison by a judge in Cochise County Superior Court on Friday. Tracy Thibodeaux, 72, was convicted of the counts by a jury in January. The incident took place on June 5, 2010, when the BLM agents began following a vehicle driven by Thibodeaux. While rangers are normally tasked with patrolling recreation areas and enforcing site rules, an increase in illegal immigrant and drug smuggling traffic on public lands has meant they have also started dealing with those issues, BLM Spokeswoman Diane Drobka has said. While following, Thibodeaux stopped his white pickup, exited the truck with a rifle and fired at least two shots at the agents, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office reported. The rangers returned fire when the pickup turned around and drove past them. Several area law enforcement agencies responded to the area of Thibodeaux’s home on Happy Camp Canyon near Dos Cabezas but he was not found until later that week outside the post office in Bowie...more

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

EDITORIAL: Can Obama build a public lands legacy?

Barring some particularly ugly fits of partisanship -- which is completely possible in Washington these days -- REI Chief Executive Sally Jewell will become the nation's next Interior secretary.

Given the vast influence the Department of the Interior has over California's water, wildlife, public lands, Indian reservations and energy development, residents of the Golden State should pay close attention.
Jewell is a surprising pick. She isn't well known in California water circles, so it is unclear whether she will veer from policies of her predecessor, Ken Salazar, in attempting to resolve battles involving the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the Colorado, the Klamath and other rivers.

She isn't a creature of the Beltway, having been born in Britain and raised in Washington state. She worked as an engineer in the oil industry before going into banking, which might alarm some environmentalists, except that Jewell is known as a serious aficionado of the outdoors. She's climbed Mount Rainier multiple times, kayaked, skied and snowboarded the most serious of runs.

Public lands are her playground, and by choosing her to be Interior secretary, President Barack Obama has signaled that he recognizes the growing clout of the outdoor recreation industry and the weekend warriors and gear heads who shop at emporiums such as REI.

Yet if there are lingering questions about Jewell's policy agenda, there are even bigger questions about what kind of Western conservation legacy President Obama has on his radar. Past administrations, particularly that of President Bill Clinton and his Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, used their final terms to push through initiatives of lasting impact. Clinton and Babbitt used the Antiquities Act to establish the 2-million-acre Escalante National Monument in Utah, one of the most extraordinary additions to our protected public lands in decades. They made headway on protecting the Everglades, restored flows in the Trinity River, helped enact the California Desert Protection Act and struck a deal to protect the Headwaters Forest on California's north coast.

By contrast, Obama has shown little interest in Western conservation and visits California mainly to raise campaign dollars. His administration has been the most generous to date in helping Indian tribes expand casinos, hardly a conservation legacy. Numerous critics, including Babbitt himself, have urged Obama to use the Antiquities Act and other tools to preserve the West's unique natural wonders before they get overrun by oil and gas development and other threats.

GOP questions Interior nominee over lawsuits

Republicans are raising concerns that Interior Department nominee Sally Jewell belonged to a conservation group that in the past has sued the government dozens of times but the issue doesn’t appear to be slowing her confirmation process. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., questioned Jewell about her work on the board of the National Parks Conservation Association, which Barrasso noted has sued to shut down coal-fired power plants, halt coal mining and block oil and gas drilling. In all, the association has sued the federal government 59 times since Jewell joined the board in 2004. "It’s unsettling to many that you have a fundamental conflict of interest when it comes to leading the Department of Interior because many of these 59 lawsuits your organization filed against the government are still pending," Barrasso said during Jewell’s confirmation hearing last week. A list of cases provided by Barrasso’s office shows 74 cases the NPCA has filed or intervened in since 2000. Four of the cases involve Utah oil and gas drilling permits.  Barrasso wanted Jewell to say she would recuse herself from any settlements or litigation strategy on cases involving the NPCA, and noted that because the group often seeks legal fees after suing or delays projects, it is "putting Americans out of work." Jewell, the former head of Recreational Equipment Inc., noted that she is roughly one of 30 board members and has not been involved in its lawsuits...more

Song Of The Day #1039

Ranch Radio will be meandering around the 60s this week and here's Roger Miller with Chug-A-Lug.  The tune was recorded in Nashville on August 11, 1964 and released as Smash S-1926.

Park ranger: Supervisors pushed sequester cuts that visitors would see

Another federal employee has come forward to claim the Obama administration resisted efforts to ease the impact of sequester. A U.S. park ranger, who did not wish to be identified, told that supervisors within the National Park Service overruled plans to deal with the budget cuts in a way that would have had minimal impact on the public. Instead, the source said, park staff were told to cancel special events and cut "interpretation services" -- the talks, tours and other education services provided by local park rangers. "Apparently, they want the public to feel the pain," the ranger said. The National Park Service is among many federal agencies warning of a major impact from the sequester cuts, which took effect last Friday. The agency has warned of delayed access to portions of Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks, closed campgrounds at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, reduced hours at the Grand Canyon visitor center and other ramifications. At the Park Service, the alleged incident occurred in one region and it's unclear whether other divisions were given similar guidance...more

Getting grouse, grazing on Interior's radar

The Idaho Republican told Sally Jewell to examine the Bureau of Land Management decision that will force Owyhee County ranchers to reduce the number of cattle they graze on public lands. The agency told ranchers in January that it was instituting reductions because three of the four areas in the southeast corner of Owyhee County don't meet rangeland health standards in effect since the late 1990s. The 252,000 acres are the first of 75 grazing permit renewals U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ordered the BLM to finish this year after a lawsuit was filed by Western Watersheds Project. BLM Idaho State Director Steve Ellis said Friday he's the one who has to make sure all permits are completed on time: "It's going to be me who'll be in contempt of court if we don't meet our obligations on those permit renewals." Ellis said he supports livestock grazing on public lands, but he said his agency has to take a tough stand so that Winmill doesn't issue an order removing all livestock from the range. Risch, state officials and others have not challenged the BLM's rangeland standards. But they are asking Ellis and his superiors to give ranchers more time to meet them. The Owyhee Initiative board of directors, which represents groups as diverse as the Wilderness Society, the Owyhee Cattlemen's Association, the Idaho Conservation League, The Nature Conservancy and the Idaho Farm Bureau, wrote Ellis urging him to seek ways to meet his obligation to the court recognizing its standards for rangeland health. But the 12 members of the Initiative also wrote: "We have often found that making the effort to explore ways to minimize the impacts of decisions like these can produce more durable, successful results - an outcome we all hope to achieve." Adding to the BLM's isolation was the Natural Resources Conservation Service decision early this month to terminate its role as a cooperating agency in the environmental review of the permits, in light of the anger in the ranching community that the Conservation Service serves...more

Genetic experiments could bring back extinct animals

Will we ever see a woolly mammoth again? What about the striped Tasmanian tiger, once-prolific passenger pigeon, or the imposing wild cattle called aurochs? Our species has played a role in the extinction of these and many other species. But now some scientists are proposing a radical turn of the tables: Bringing lost species back from the dead. Three main methods for "de-extinction" have been proposed. Cloning gets the most attention, thanks in part to the science fiction of Jurassic Park. We probably won't ever see a Tyrannosaurus—despite the discovery of degraded soft-tissue remnants in fossilized dinosaur bone, no one has ever found non-avian dinosaur DNA—but cloning is plausible for less ancient creatures whose genomes can be reconstructed. And while mammoths tend to hog the spotlight when such proposals are discussed, researchers are also considering resurrecting other species that might not be as famous, but are equally charismatic. Cloning might not be the easiest, or best, route to de-extinction in some cases. If a close relative of a lost species is still alive, researchers can tinker with that genome to "reverse engineer" the extinct species. That's how some ornithologists and geneticists envision bringing back the passenger pigeon. There may be an even simpler way to revive some lost species, such as aurochs, the ancestors of domestic cows. Aurochs survived alongside their domesticated descendants until the early 17th century, when the species ultimately succumbed to disease, habitat loss, and human mismanagement. Now, scientists including Henri Kerkdijk-Otten of the Megafauna Foundation hope to re-create the auroch through a process called "breeding back." Starting with domestic cattle, the process uses strategic mating to incrementally restore the anatomy and the genome of an extinct animal. The advantage of such an approach, Kerkdijk-Otten says, is that it would utilize cattle already adapted to the world's present ecology, rather than trying to re-create an animal from a different time and climate...more

Wyoming wolf lawsuit draws multiple parties

The cast of characters is growing in a legal fight in which environmental groups are challenging the federal government's recent decision to end protections for wolves in Wyoming. U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson of Cheyenne has allowed a coalition including Wyoming county governments and sportsmen groups to intervene in the lawsuit. He hasn't acted yet on a request from the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International, a hunting group, to intervene. The groups are siding with the state of Wyoming and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in defending the federal decision to turn wolf management over to the state. Wyoming's plan classifies wolves in most of the state as unprotected predators that can be shot on sight. Two other similar lawsuits have been consolidated in Washington, D.C. AP

Academy Award-Winning Filmmaker To Direct Feature Documentary About The Next Generation Of American Farmers And Ranchers

Oscar® winning and two-time Emmy® winning filmmaker James Moll is proud to announce the production of a feature-length documentary about the next generation of American farmers and ranchers. The yet-to-be-titled documentary will profile farmers and ranchers in their twenties, all of whom have assumed the generational responsibility of running the family business. Made in cooperation with U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA®), the film will give us an up close and personal look at some of the young farmers and ranchers who grow and raise the food we consume daily, and into the latest farming practices and technologies that are changing and improving the landscape of modern agriculture. "I've always strived to make films that are unbiased testaments to the subject matter," said Moll. "It's about telling real stories that resonate. I've been looking for the right subject to tackle in my next documentary, and I've found the perfect topic in American agriculture."...more

At Arizona's border morgue, illegal immigrant bodies keep coming

In the past 15 years, at least 5,513 migrants have been found dead along the 1,954-mile border with Mexico, including 463 in fiscal year 2012, the Border Patrol reports. The Tucson sector, which since 2001 has accounted for more migrant deaths than any other Border Patrol sector, located 177 bodies in the last fiscal year. Texas’ Rio Grande Valley saw the greatest jump in bodies found: 150 last year compared with 66 in 2011. In that state, migrants cross the Rio Grande, catch a ride north and then hike for days on vast ranches in Brooks County to avoid a highway checkpoint. The county has no medical examiner and does not test DNA of deceased migrants, who are buried in unnamed graves at a cemetery in the town of Falfurrias. The situation is similar to what Pima County authorities faced when Arizona became the busiest corridor for illegal crossings more than a decade ago. At the Pima County Forensic Science Center on The University of Arizona Medical Center campus, file cabinets hold dossiers on more than 700 unidentified corpses discovered since the late 1990s. Many bodies were too decomposed to identify. Others carried false identification or no identification. Coolers for 262 corpses and refrigerated trucks on call with room for another 45 give the nation’s 30th-largest city one of the country’s largest morgues. “Nobody has this problem. Nobody,” said Dr. Gregory Hess, Pima County medical examiner. His office rules on more than 2,000 deaths a year by murder, suicide and other causes, but migrants pose the biggest challenge because they so often cannot be identified. Since 2001, the office has examined the bodies of 2,067 border crossers, the vast majority of them Mexican men...more

Rancher says Border Patrol budget cuts are stab in the back

As Washington struggles to find a solution to the federal budget cuts in the recent sequester, the U.S. Border Patrol has begun to cut back, and the numbers are already beginning show immigrants are taking advantage of it. Border Patrol stats leaked to our newsroom show the RGV sector detained almost twice as many immigrants in February as they did in January. While Border Patrol agents will likely lose overtime and face up to 14 furlough days, one south Texas rancher says he’s going to lose too, security he depends on. Just 4.5 miles north of the Falfurrias checkpoint, Mike and Linda Vickers live on a 1,000 acre ranch in Brooks County. When Mike moved to the ranch in the 1980’s he says he would see about two or three immigrants crossing his property each week. Today he sees about 20 or 30 a day, tearing up his fences, breaking water pipes, some even breaking into his house. “The fences are cut, the property’s trashed out,” Mike said. “We have traffic absolutely every day, big groups, small groups." “At some point they will come out to the highway and get picked up north of the checkpoint,” Mike said. Most he said are heading to Houston. Not only are crossings more abundant, Mike said those who trespass today are more violent...more  

The writer says the increased numbers are because of cut backs, but the figures he cites were from February, before the sequestration took effect. This child thinks they are coming because of the renewed push for immigration reform and amnesty.

‘Toaster Pastry Gun Freedom Act’ proposed in Maryland

A Maryland state senator has crafted a bill to curb the zeal of public school officials who are tempted to suspend students as young as kindergarten for having things — or talking about things, or eating things — that represent guns, but aren’t actually anything like real guns. Sen. J. B. Jennings, a Republican who represents Baltimore Harford Counties, introduced “The Reasonable School Discipline Act of 2013″ on Thursday, reports The Star Democrat. “We really need to re-evaluate how kids are punished,” Jennings told The Star Democrat. “These kids can’t comprehend what they are doing or the ramifications of their actions.” “These suspensions are going on their permanent records and could have lasting effects on their educations,” he added. A nationwide flurry of suspensions seemed to reach an absurd level recently when Josh Welch, a second-grader at Park Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland, was suspended for two days because his teacher thought he shaped a strawberry, pre-baked toaster pastry into something resembling a gun...more

So it's no Pastry Pistols in Public Schools...jeez. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Judge Blocks Bloomberg's Big Beverage Ban

Today a judge blocked New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's big beverage ban, which was scheduled to take effect tomorrow. New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling issued a permanent injunction barring the city from enforcing its drink regulations, which he said are "fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences." I detailed some of those last week, noting that beverages exempt from the city's 16-ounce serving ceiling often have more calories per ounce than exempt beverages, even though fighting obesity is the official rationale for the restrictions. Tingling also noted that only certain businesses are covered by the regulations: restaurants, coffee shops, food carts, and concession stands. Convenience stores and supermarkets, meanwhile, would have been free to sell soda servings as big as customers wanted, including 7-Eleven's Big Gulp, the epitome of effervescent excess. The upshot would have been "uneven enforcement even within a particular city block," Tingling said. He deemed the drink diktat "arbitrary and capricious" because "it applies to some but not all food establishments in the City, it excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories on suspect grounds, and the loopholes inherent in the Rule, including but not limited to no limitations on re-fills, defeat and/or serve to gut the purpose of the Rule." Tingling also concluded that the Bloomberg-appointed Board of Health does not have the authority to "limit or ban a legal item under the guise of 'controlling chronic disease.'"...more

Dad outraged after Mich. school removes plastic soldiers from son’s birthday cupcakes

A Michigan third-grader who brought cupcakes topped with plastic army soldiers into class for his birthday was told they were “insensitive” and needed to be removed. The boy’s father, Casey Fountain, said the principal of Schall Elementary School in Caro, Mich., called and told him that dressing the cupcakes with soldiers was inappropriate in light of recent gun-related tragedies, specifically Sandy Hook, according to WNEM, a Saginaw-area CBS affiliate. “I think it’s disgusting that they won’t allow them in our schools and that they’re lumping [soldiers] together with sociopaths that shoot children,” Mr. Fountain said. Principal Susan Wright said the school is standing by its decision. “These are toys that were commonplace in the past,” she said in a statement. “However some parents prohibit all guns as toys. In light of that difference, the school offered to replace the soldiers with another item and the soldiers were returned home with the student...more

Missouri Lt. Governor: Governor Illegally Sharing Information with Feds on Gun Owners

ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)– Lt. Governor Peter Kinder says the Missouri Department of Revenue is illegally sharing information on concealed gun permit applicants with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “We’re trying to get answers from the Governor and he’s stonewalling us,” Kinder said, “Missourians have a right to know where this policy came from.” The allegation first surfaced Monday in a lawsuit filed by Eric Griffin of Stoddard County, Missouri. Griffin’s suit claims he was seeking a concealed carry gun licence at a local fee office, when he was told his personal information would be forwarded to other government agencies. A judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the alleged data sharing, and a hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers say such data sharing would be a violation of Missouri law. “It’s illegal already,” said Representative Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany), “If you look at what we passed in 2009, the Department of Revenue shouldn’t be doing this. They should be protecting the people of Missouri rather than taking that information, especially as it relates to people’s conceal and carry permits.” Lawmakers are working to tighten up the existing law to specifically prohibit the sharing of data on gun ownership. Guernsey says gun owners are worried that the compiling of a list of conceal carry owners could eventually be used to confiscate guns...more

Song Of The Day #1038

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here's Charlie Shearer with When Love's Not In Love With You.

Video: Obama & A Goat On Sequestration

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Wrong before right  

by Julie Carter 

Life's lessons aren’t learned in the classroom. For country kids they frequently involve an event that includes pain and disappointment on the way to that eventual "Aha" moment.

My dad wasn't one to spend a lot of time explaining things. As a kid, I didn't know any better but as an adult looking back, I know I learned most of what I know by paying attention. My lessons were caught more than taught.

He wasn't loud or aggressive about letting my brothers or I know we’d done something wrong. With the same quiet, he didn't often acknowledge to us if we had done something right. We just had to figure it out by watching for any subtle reaction.

When he was pleased, he would tell my mother. She would, in the way mothers do, pass that on to us.
In this manner, I learned how to read a horse, watch a cow and know how to not get in the way when working cattle in the pasture or in the corrals. He "showed" more than he taught about working with colts, riding with easy hands, a light handle, and when it was time to establish who was in charge.

Sometimes for kids, allowing them to do things the wrong way is the best way for them to learn how to do it right, and more importantly, remember the lesson.

When Frankie was just a young button about 7-8 years old, his grandpa lost the coin toss and was delegated the job of teaching him the art of calf roping.

They worked their way through the correct positioning of the horse behind the calf, loop size, proper swing and then the tie. At last, they were down to the part where Frankie was actually to get on a horse and make a calf roping run in the arena.

Frankie’s excitement had been building, listening as patiently as he could while his grandpa explained each step of the process. With great enthusiasm, he got on his horse, backed him in the roping box and nodded, all the time keeping his eye on the calf in the chute.

The calf flew out and headed at warp speed toward the other end of the arena. Frankie’s horse broke from the roping box clean and smooth. Frankie threw a big loop, catching the calf somewhere around his belly button. 

Not quite textbook style, but a catch just the same.

He correctly made a quick dismount off the right side, only to land in a heap in the arena dirt. Getting up, he tackled the calf, managed to string two instead of three of the four feet that were kicking around. He stood up and threw his hands into the air with the triumph of a winner.

About that time, the calf used one of his free legs to take a kicking swing, tripped Frankie, and put him back in the dirt.

Undaunted, Frankie jumped up and made a mad dash back to his horse, careful to not spook him into a backward run. About the same time, the calf managed to kick loose of the piggin’ string and stood up shaking his head.

Frankie got back in the saddle, rode forward and took the rope off the calf.

When he got back up to the chute, he asked his Grandpa "What do you think I should do next time?" 

With a serious look and tone, grandpa said, "Well, I think you should take dead aim at that calf, get a good break from the box and run right over the top of him." 

Frankie stood there a minute thinking about that and finally asked, "Why should I do that?"

Grandpa answered with a deadpan look on his face. “You did everything wrong that you possibly could on that last run. Running over the calf is the only thing left.”

There are days like that --when it seems that nothing will get better until absolutely everything goes wrong first.

Julie can be reached for comment at


Founders and Framers
Natural law and the Compact
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            There lays my copy of the Constitution.
            How many years has the reference been repeated about its importance to our way of life. Both sides arguing the constitutionality of a federal action … both sides using the defensive measures it projects into the validity of their position.
            I am afraid I must reluctantly agree with Las Cruces, New Mexico radio talk show host, Michael Swickard. We really don’t have a Constitution. The patronization of its reference is more rhetorical than it is sincere. There is loyalty to its purpose only on the basis of political symbolism.
If we are honest with ourselves, few of us learned the true measure of its genius. Fewer yet learned the most important points from any instructor. If the instructor was able to grasp the measure of its profound simplicity, he didn’t communicate to us any notion of its most fundamental binding. A virtuous and moral man is imperative.
Perhaps there is no virtue among us. That was certainly the position of the naysayers before the Revolutionary War. They doubted the ability of a common man to govern.
James Madison was one who worried. He feared an American descendency without virtue and morality. He was convinced without those two qualities the Constitution and the Republic for which it stood could not be sustained.
Natural Law
Every time I go back and read from John Adams I am struck by his work ethic and diligence. Like all of the Founders he had no staff to serve his bidding. He didn’t delegate the grunt work away to rule only on important matters. He was driven to find out what the important stuff was through the labors of reaching a conclusion that made perfect sense. He reached that point by the tedium of the process. He would study for days on a concept. He would pray and read scripture. He would consult the historical masters.
Cicero was on his short list of desk references. A Roman, Cicero drew attention to the core belief that any lasting institution could exist only on the basis of identifying and adhering to the rules of “right conduct”. Such rules were valid only if they mimicked the genius of the Creator.
It was his contention that once a foundation is identified the only approach to governance was through the laws of the Supreme Creator. He referred to those standards as Natural Law.
The best example of understanding the context of Cicero’s Natural Law is to read the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. Those words are perhaps the most eloquent creations by Man for the purposes of trying to capture accurately the very doctrine under which human affairs shall be governed. They were attempts to define the ethical principles that can only be understood and perpetuated by reason. They are truly masterful attempts to clarify natural law, but they were also more … they were American words that found form and substance at a very critical juncture in time.
No less than Thomas Paine became convinced that Americans were then united on multiple fronts. The emerging Americans were “industrious, frugal, and honest” as opposed to the “luxury, indolence, amusement, and pleasure” that dominated their English masters.
Interestingly, the Americans had also arrived at that state as a majority being property owners. “Almost every man is a freeholder”, Paine wrote. Too little credence has been paid to that immensely important fact. They had come to rely on the fruits of private property in largely closed system, but … there was more.
The Americans, without the full measure of self governance, had been interacting amongst themselves in a purer state of natural law. With respect through a balance of enterprise predicated in large part on self-reliance, their economy existed on strong ties of mutual existence. They united for reasons in common. They also had what Cicero referred to as “the right reason in common”. They became united against a tyrannical master who had failed to maintain a reciprocal compact of natural law.
They rebelled and … they prevailed.
To the compact
The Constitution was and still is a compact amongst states.
It wasn’t the Senate or the House of Representatives or the Supreme Court that created and ratified the American Constitution. It certainly wasn’t the President, either. It was the victorious free states of the newly and soon to be fully formed union, the United States of America, which ratified and set in motion their conditional agreement of compact based upon clearly delegated rules of authority.
Each state gave their approval on the basis of that finite, defined demarcation.
The Constitution was the guiding document creating and defining a limited federal government. It was James Madison’s words, “I … have always conceived … that those who ratified the Constitution conceived … that this is not an indefinite government, but a limited government, tied down to the specified powers, which explain and define the general terms.”
Today, many of us believe the premise of the aforementioned Michael Swickard that the federal government has become the dominion of expanding powers and the Constitution no longer exists. The ultimate fear of Alexander Hamilton in the #78 Federalist Paper has come to pass. He wrote, “No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid”, and, yet, the Constitution in form and practice has been shredded. The creator’s partnership has been ousted.
To deny this”, Hamilton continued, “would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal … that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves …” Indeed, independent, free, and sovereign man has long been a symbolic expression rather than the cornerstone of our system.  
Writings such as these and multitudes like them make it abundantly clear the Framers held that the states not only have the authority, but the responsibility to determine when the federal government oversteps its defined boundaries. The 10th Amendment magnified the issue of states’ rights in 1791.
Many worried about the issue of virtuous leaders with enough wisdom to maintain the original precepts of the fundamentals. Thomas Jefferson was one.
In 1799, he wrote the prescription for action to be undertaken against authority creep by the federal government. He penned the following:
That the several states who formed (the Constitution), being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and, that a nullification, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under the color of that instrument, is the rightful remedy.”
What is nullification?
Nullification is the legal theory that the states have the right to nullify or invalidate any federal law which a state has deemed unconstitutional. Although tried many times, the action has never been upheld. The Supreme Court has rejected the concept. Most of the objections have come from interpretation of the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, but all Americans should wake up and vigorously defend against that assertion.
The Supreme Court did not even exist before the Constitution was written. It was created by the combined authority of the states in their adoption of the Constitution. No branch of government was party to such a vote. They held no dominion in a concept that preceded their very existence nor were they granted any right to displace the American citizens who formed the pillars of sovereignty within those states. The Supremacy Clause is what it is … the declaration the Constitution is Supreme, not the federal government!
James Madison feared the same outcome. “If the decision of the judiciary be raised above the authority of the sovereign parties to the Constitution … dangerous powers, not delegated, may not only be usurped and executed by the other departments, but that the judicial department, also may exercise or sanction dangerous powers beyond the grant of the Constitution …” Never was there truer words.
The Remedy
Honest constitutional scholars have come to the conclusion that since the Supreme Court has seized the final authority to determine the constitutionality of a federal act the United States is not a Republic of sovereign States but a monarchy. The sovereign American people and their States have been displaced by a ruling class that in form and function reflect the same tyrannical forces that Thomas Paine identified in the Anglican masters of the colonies.
“Luxury, indolence, amusement, and pleasure” were the credited references.
Again, Jefferson offered a remedy to fight back against the perversion of any suggestion of natural law with his nullification strategy, but unless a few states like Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma, and Texas lead there will not be a concerted state response, either. Most states are in the same state of constitutional corruption the federal government has led us all. 
So, that leaves the other Jefferson strategy, but that requires a buoyant, mortal catalyst … Sam Adams, do you exist?

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Tyranny in all forms is still … tyranny.”


Read Nullification by Thomas E. Woods.  However, I'm beginning to think the Anti-Federalists had it right. You can read them here.