Friday, May 17, 2013

The few, the proud, the tortoises: Marines protect endangered species

by Ben Kesling

U.S. Marines are taught to overcome obstacles with a minimum of help. But when some Marines prepared to charge a hill in a training exercise here a few months ago, they were forced to halt and radio the one man who could help them advance: Brian Henen, turtle expert. 
    The troops were “running up the hill and firing at targets,” Mr. Henen said. “Some of the tortoises like the hill also. The Marines don’t want to hurt the tortoise, so they call us and we go in and move it.”
    Mr. Henen, who has a doctorate in biology, is part of a little-known army of biologists and other scientists who manage the Mojave desert tortoise and about 420 other threatened and endangered species on about 28 million acres of federally managed military land.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t recognize the amount of conservation the Marine Corps does,” said Martin Husung, a natural-resource specialist on the base. “A lot of people think we’re just running over things.”
    Instead, Mr. Henen often hustles out to remote parts of the Mojave Desert to make sure the threatened desert tortoise, which can weigh 10 pounds and live to be more than 50 years old, isn’t frightened by charging troops.
    “When they get scared, they pee themselves,” Mr. Henen said, referring to the tortoises. Since tortoises can go two years between drinks of water, an unplanned micturition can cause dehydration and even death. So Mr. Henen sometimes demonstrates to troops how he soaks the reptiles in a pool until they drink enough water to plod on with their lives.
    The tortoise isn’t the only animal benefiting from the limited hunting, high security and trained biologists on many bases. On the Navy’s San Clemente Island, biologists protect vulnerable loggerhead shrikes from hungry rats by installing metal “rat flashings” at the base of trees the birds nest in. In Texas, the Army creates protective nesting environments for endangered golden-cheeked warblers to fend off incursions by brown-headed cowbirds. And at Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee, the once-endangered Helianthus eggertii, or Eggert’s sunflower, is doing so well it has been taken off the endangered list.
    Congress ordered the Defense Department to protect the flora and fauna on its lands under the 1960 Sikes Act. Today, the military works with agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service, a bureau of the Interior Department, to search for and protect animals, plants and archaeological sites on its bases...
    Last year, the Department of Defense spent nearly $70 million on threatened and endangered species management and conservation, including $16.5 million on the red-cockaded woodpecker and just under $6 million on the desert tortoise.

I see that I and a desert tortoise have something in common.  After all, if a bunch of marines were firing their weapons and running in my direction I'm sure I'd suffer "unplanned micturition" myself.

That highlighting of the $70 million was by me, not the author.

Senate Committee passes bill to transfer nine historic cemeteries away from Forest Service

A Senate bill that would transfer the ownership of nine historic cemeteries in the Black Hills from the U.S. Forest Service to local communities has passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sens. Tim Johnson and John Thune introduced the bill earlier this year and it’s now headed to the main Senate floor. Johnson says transferring the cemeteries to the local communities that have been long maintaining and caring for them makes a lot of sense. He says the bill is a permanent solution. Thune says the current arrangement causes headaches for the caretaking communities that have managed the cemeteries for generations and places an unnecessary liability on the Forest Service. An identical bill was introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem. AP

Here's an excerpt from The Westerner in 2005:

Ghost town fights to bury its dead A dispute over ownership of a cemetery in a Montana ghost town has landed in Congress, where one of Montana's senators is urging the federal government to surrender the land. But the U.S. Forest Service, which owns the property in the tiny mountain town of Elkhorn, says it's not inclined to give up the title without getting fair market value. The old ghost town in Jefferson County has just a few aging families left, and a number of them want to be buried in the cemetery _ legally _ next to their ancestors on the tranquil site overlooking a valley. People were buried in Elkhorn before Montana became a state or the Forest Service was established. But the cemetery became Forest Service land somewhere along the way, no one is sure quite when, and federal law prohibits human burials on public land. That hasn't stopped residents from burying loved ones there over the years, however. Locals estimate up to 90 people, maybe more in unmarked graves, have been interred in the last century or so. Resident and rancher Fred Bell, 71, whose grandparents, parents and son are buried in the cemetery, says he won't stop pushing the government to legally allow burials. He was among those who approached Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., last year after an unsuccessful effort spanning 15 years...

There are many stories of historical cemeteries being located on federal land, creating problems for both families and the Forest Service.  One Forest Service publication, Wild Cemeteries?, even discusses the challenges of managing a cemetery in a Wilderness area.

So if you thought when you were dead and gone your problems with the feds was over, you better think again.

Grazing goats maintain fire break

Goats take a water break
The number of goats removing vegetation that could fuel fires near San Diego Country Estates has grown from 600 to 1,400. As of May 9, they were two-thirds of the way through their 100-acre project in the Cleveland National Forest, according to officials. They started on April 23. It takes a lot of animals to forage those acres, said Ray Holes, owner of Prescriptive Livestock Services in Kennewick, Wash. For 15 years, Holes has been delivering goats for large grazing projects throughout the Western states, expanding his herd to 9,000. “We consider them a tool,” Holes said of the goats. The forest service considers the goat grazing project to maintain the San Vicente/Barona Mesa Community Defense line that protects the Estates, and other fuel breaks, an experiment. Palomar District Ranger Joan Friedlander said she was nervous about the reaction of residents but has received positive feedback. “Just very excited myself to see the results,” she said. The goal, Forest Service Fuels Battalion Chief Tim Gray said, is a 75 percent reduction in vegetation...more

You mean livestock grazing can lead to healthy and safe forests?  Yes, but you see this is only an "experiment". 

Monuments on Arizona Strip focus of court hearing

Resource management plans for two national monuments on the Arizona Strip are being challenged in federal appeals court.Conservation groups sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 2009, alleging the plans conflict with presidential proclamations establishing Grand Canyon-Parashant and Vermilion Cliffs national monuments. The U.S. District Court in Arizona ruled against the groups in their bid to have the BLM revise the plans to prohibit off-road motor vehicle use. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the groups' appeal Thursday. The BLM says it has complied with the proclamations by limiting motor vehicle use to designated roads. The appellate court did not issue an immediate ruling Thursday. Conservationists say the case is among the first challenging the adequacy of resource plans for monuments under the BLM's control. AP

Environmental groups sue to stop mountain bike 'skills park' at Mount Hood's Timberline ski area

Four environmental groups sued the U.S. Forest Service today over its decision to allow the Timberline ski area to build a lift-assisted mountain biking "skills park" on Mount Hood. The lawsuit says the 17 miles of trails on the lower ski slopes, designed for use from July to October, would increase erosion into the sensitive headwaters of Still Creek and the West Fork of the Salmon River. It would also disturb summer recreation such as hiking and wildflower viewing, the groups charge, spread noxious weeds and disturb wildlife, including elk, that rely on high alpine meadows during calving season. Timberline would install bike carriers on the Jeff Flood chairlift, its newest lift, and install jumps and other skill features along the trails. RLK and Company, the resort's longtime operator, has said the trails would have a full-time maintenance crew. RLK proposed the project in 2010. Mt. Hood National Forest Supervisor Christopher Worth approved the park in November after two years of review that included an environmental assessment and 1,200 public comments. In his decision letter, Worth said the project design -- including sediment traps and siting trails away from streams when possible -- would limit erosion and damage to vegetation. The project will include watershed restoration projects to help keep sediment out of streams, improving conditions in two Mount Hood watersheds "beyond their current state," Worth said...more

Ravalli County Commission wants to talk to F.S. chief about water rights

The Ravalli County commissioners have invited U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to Hamilton to talk about his agency’s plan to acquire in-stream water rights on 11 streams on the Bitterroot National Forest. The commission made that unanimous decision this week after learning that their objection to the agency’s request to acquire water rights on two streams had been denied. The Bitterroot National Forest is working through a process outlined under a 2007 water rights compact between the state of Montana and the Forest Service, which allows the agency to file for in-stream water rights on national forest lands. Under the terms of the compact, the in-stream flow rights are junior to any other water right claimed on the stream. The claims stop at the national forest boundary and are non-consumptive. The Bitterroot Forest has completed the process on five streams and plans to file on an additional 11 others, including Blodgett and Laird. The commission objected to both the process and allocation of water.  The commission’s objection said the Forest Service should not be able to receive a new water right at a time when other entities could not do the same because the Bitterroot basin is closed to new water rights. It also claimed the agency was seeking more water in Blodgett Creek than what is available during most of the year. A federal water gauge on that stream that operated between 1947 and 1969 indicated the flow was less than 20 cubic feet per second up to seven months of the year. The agency was seeking 31 cfs...more

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tejano Matriarch Immortalized by U.S. Postal Service

In tribute to the legends responsible for making American music part of global popular culture, the U.S. Postal Service today proudly announces the launch of a new Music Icons stamp series with the issuance of a stamp honoring Lydia Mendoza, one of the first and greatest stars of Tejano music. The Lydia Mendoza Forever Stamp was dedicated today during a special ceremony featuring actor Jesse Borrego as master of ceremony at the Guadalupe Cultural Center in San Antonio, TX. Mendoza is the first to be honored in the Postal Service’s new Music Icons series, which will include legends Ray Charles and Johnny Cash later this year. The stamp is now available for purchase at local Post Offices, online at or by calling 800- STAMP24 (800-782-6724). As a Forever Stamp, it is good for mailing 1-ounce First-Class Mail letters anytime in the future regardless of price changes.  Known as La Alondra de la Frontera, the Lark of the Border, Mendoza performed the Spanish-language music of the Texas-Mexico borderlands and beyond. Best known for her solo performances, Mendoza, with her soulful voice accompanied only by the playing of her 12-string guitar, recorded more than a thousand songs in an enduring career that spanned seven decades. Through her music, she gave a voice not only to the poor and working-class people North and South of the border, but also to Latinos throughout the Western Hemisphere. Her enormous repertoire of canciones, boleros, corridos, danzas, and tangos included ballads about historic figures and songs about hard work, lost love, and the joys of everyday life...more

‘Sequester’ cuts force halt to California oil, gas lease sales

The Obama administration this month canceled onshore oil and gas lease sales in California for the rest of this year, blaming the “sequester” budget cuts — but acknowledging they were breaking yet another federal law that requires them to hold the sales. The Bureau of Land Management’s California office acknowledged canceling the three sales conflicts with the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, which requires each state office to conduct four sales a year. But spokesman David Christy said they had a choice between granting new leases or allowing companies to continue exploring on existing leases. He said the operators in California noted they’d prefer to work existing leases if given the choice. “We’ve got limited staff and tight budgets, so something’s got to give,” Mr. Christy said. “If we put the resources into offering a new lease, then we’ll have to cut back on our enforcement and inspection, which affects the current leases, or we cut back on applications on a permit to drill — that’s for drilling new wells on existing leases.” The move didn’t sit well with energy advocates, who said the bureau cannot pick and choose which laws to violate. “Just because of their budget cuts, they can’t decide not to meet their obligations,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government affairs for the Western Energy Alliance. She said not holding the sales actually costs the government money. She said for every dollar the bureau spends administering its onshore oil and gas program, companies return $89 to taxpayers. “By cutting back on leasing, they’re forgoing revenue today and tomorrow,” she said. Some energy groups said the bureau has not halted permitting of green energy projects and is in fact adding personnel to streamline permits for solar farms — a move that, if true, would expose political motivations, said Rep. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican. “Basically this is a setup where they’re going to use the sequester to disallow what they don’t like and continue to push forward on what they do,” said Mr. Lankford, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s energy policy subcommittee...more

West Nile Virus Cases Up Across Southwest

West Nile virus cases in the Southwest are up from previous years, according to new 2012 statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control. First discovered in New York around 1999, the West Nile virus traveled west, carried by birds and mosquitoes, eventually hitting the Southwest. "2003 was the first time we actually had human cases, and we had 209 human cases that year with four of those cases being fatal," said Dr. Paul Ettestad of the New Mexico Department of Health. Since then the number of infections here have fluctuated, with 25 cases in New Mexico in 2010; four in 2011; and 47 in 2012; making the virus hard to predict. But Ettestad says one forecast he can make is that in the Southwest, the virus will turn up near waterways. "So along the Rio Grande, in the northwest along the San Juan and the Animas and in the southeast along the Pecos," Ettestad said. "In those areas where we have the irrigation is where we potentially have more human cases."...more

Interior issues new drilling rule on public land

The Obama administration said Thursday it will require companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to publicly disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations. The new "fracking" rule replaces a draft proposed last year that was withdrawn amid industry complaints that federal regulation could hinder an ongoing boom in natural gas production. The new draft rule relies on an online database used by Colorado and 10 other states to track the chemicals used in fracking operations. ( ) is a website formed by industry and intergovernmental groups in 2011 that allows users to gather well-specific data on thousands of drilling sites. The proposed rule also sets standards for proper construction of wells and disposal of wastewater.  Interior Secretary Sally Jewell called the proposed rule a "common-sense update" that increases safety while also providing flexibility and improving coordination with states and Indian tribes.  But environmental groups said the proposal was weaker than last year's plan and represents a nearly complete capitulation to industry, which had lobbied heavily against the earlier rule. Interior's Bureau of Land Management has held at least 11 meetings this year with industry groups as well as fracking opponents. "Comparing today's rule governing fracking on public lands with the one proposed a year earlier, it is clear what happened: the Bureau of Land Management caved to the wealthy and powerful oil and gas industry and left the public to fend for itself," said Jessica Ennis, a spokeswoman for the environmental group Earthjustice...more

Mescalero Apache Explore Rare Earth Element Mining

The Mescalero Apache tribe of New Mexico says it is looking to expand it's economy by mining rare earth elements. The elements are highly sought after for their applications in high-tech and green industries. For decades, China has controlled up to 97 percent of the world's rare earth supply, and in the last three years, have cut exports of those elements by more than 70 percent. Without rare earths, a lot of technology relied upon on every day doesn't work: cell phones, computer hard drives, radar systems, lasers and hybrid vehicle batteries. That's where the Mescalero Apache come in. Since China's cutback on rare earth exports, entities in Australia, Canada and the United States have been searching for more of the stuff. And in the northeastern portion of the Mescalero reservation, two key elements are known to exist...more

Feds block Utah law over police power on public lands

A federal judge signed an order Monday blocking implementation of a Utah law prohibiting some Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service employees from enforcing state laws anywhere in Utah after the U.S. Department of Justice argued the law was unconstitutional. HB155, sponsored by Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, makes it a class B misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine and six months in jail, for federal employees who are not certified law enforcement officers to enforce any state law within Utah. In a filing Monday, the Justice Department said that Congress has the authority to make laws governing federal lands and that the Utah Legislature does not have the power to overturn or supersede those laws and rules. The federal regulations governing the officers and land have been written to incorporate state laws and local ordinances. After a conference call with attorneys for the state and federal governments, Judge David Nuffer signed a temporary restraining order blocking the law from taking effect until a June hearing on a longer-term injunction. The law had been scheduled to kick in Tuesday. Ultimately, the Justice Department is asking the judge to strike down the law as unconstitutional. "BLM and Forest Service employees who operate in the State of Utah will subject themselves to potential criminal penalties under state law by continuing to perform the duties required of them under federal law," the federal government wrote in the brief.

Taxpayers funding huge federal land grabs that may harm environment

 by Dustin Hurst

    Governments and green groups all across America are gobbling up private land in a determined and often coordinated effort to forever restrict responsible development and restrict private property rights.
    And American taxpayers help fund it.
    Here's how it works: Private property owners, either interested in preserving trails, wetlands, scenic views or open spaces or looking for generous tax benefits, donate or sell off their development rights -- including resource extraction -- to government organizations or qualified nonprofit groups like Ducks Unlimited or The Nature Conservancy.
    The arrangement, known as a conservation easement, forever encumbers the property. Even if the property owners sells the land or gifts it to heirs, the agreement legally blocks development...
    The federal government and some states encourage the practice with generous tax deductions and credits. The federal income tax deduction only applies, however, to donors who agree to restrict development into perpetuity, as opposed to signing term-limited deals.
    Roger Colinvaux, associate professor at the Columbus School of Law, notes the deductions cost $1.22 billion in 2008 and $2.18 billion in 2007, the latest figures available...
    According to the National Conservation Easement Database, trusts and governments hold more than 95,000 easements, locking up more than 18 million acres of land.
    The injurious effects of the lock-ups are many, said Harriet Hageman, a fourth-generation Wyoming rancher and land lawyer. "It's a bad idea," Hageman warned. "It really is."
    Conservation easements, she said, knock "the hell out of" the property value, decrease the tax base for schools, counties and cities, and set permanent land-use policies without regard for future considerations.
    Americans would soundly reject, Hageman said, land-use policies set in the 1600s because society changes and so do the needs of the county's population...
    Some free-market enthusiasts see the easements as a government-free solution to conservation, circumventing zoning restrictions or other regulations.
    The New Mexico Land Conservancy, for one, uses this argument to solicit donations from government-wary landowners.
    "Conservation easements are a voluntary, free-market technique that provides tax and financial incentives in exchange for giving up certain land use rights," the group's website explains.
    While many see the easements as an avenue to land preservation without involving Uncle Sam, critics, like Hageman, argue that the arrangements have become just another way for the governments to grab land.
    Most easement contracts allow the grantee -- the land trust or the government entity -- to transfer or sell the easement's development rights to another party.
    This allows groups like The Nature Conservancy to buy up easements and flip them to the federal government, usually earning a tidy profit in the process...
    While many of these green organizations rely on individual or foundation donations for operating cash, they also receive millions each year in government grants.
    According to foundation records, five major players in conservation easements -- The Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, American Farmland Trust, Ducks Unlimited and The Trust for Public Land -- have received more than $2 billion in government grants since 1998.
    The Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited are the biggest recipients, taking $761 million and $718 million, respectively.

While private energy booms, Dems blame sequester

A new report by Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee details the various cuts and revenue losses resulting from the sequester, including the lost revenues from reduced oil and gas leases and coal sales. The report says that the sequester will cause the Bureau of Land Management to process up to 400 fewer oil and gas drilling leases and issue 150 fewer leases. This will cost the government $150 million in revenue, according to committee Democrats.  Oil and natural gas production on private and state lands has increased under President Barack Obama. Non-federal lands produced 3,487,800 barrels of oil per day in 2009, which grew to 4,580,800 barrels per day last year. Non-federal lands also produced 16,233 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2009, which grew to 20,242 billion cubic feet in 2012. On federal lands, however, production has fallen since the beginning of Obama’s tenure. In 2009, the U.S. produced 1,731,500 barrels per day on federal lands, but in 2012 federal lands only produced 1,627,400 barrels per day. The total share of crude oil produced on federal lands fell to 26 percent in 2012 from 33 percent in 2009. Natural gas production on federal lands fell from 5,376 billion cubic feet in 2009 to 3,724 billion cubic feet last year...more

Mexican wolf captured, pregnant mate left behind to birth

Federal officials have captured a recently released male Mexican gray wolf for the second time in the last four months after the lobo wandered away from his mate and a designated recovery area. The wolf, designated M1133, had been in the wild only two weeks when he was captured May 11, and returned to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wolf Management Facility at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.  Federal officials put the male wolf and his mate, a pregnant female designated F1108, into a temporary enclosure in McKenna Park, a remote area in the Gila Wilderness on April 27. The enclosure is designed to allow wolves to chew through and “self-release,” which the pair did May 3. But while the pregnant female appears to be denning near McKenna Park in order to raise pups, her mate headed east, covering more than 75 miles before he was captured east of the San Mateo Mountains, located in the Cibola National Forest southwest of Socorro. Because the wolf was outside the boundaries of the 4-million-acre Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico, and is considered part of a “non-essential, experimental population,” the Fish and Wildlife Service said program rules required the capture of the wandering lobo...more

The above is from the Albq. Journal, and just like the AP article there is no mention of M1133 killing a calf.  

Tree Ring Pens

When Dave Wager fells a tree, he gets a glimpse into the past. As we trudge through a forest in the mountains of western Montana, the extent of this history becomes apparent. Surrounding us is a tall stand of ponderosa pines, their thick, red bark attesting to their age, which Wager estimates to be 300-years-old. Stopping beneath an old ponderosa, we examine the debris left from Wager’s latest harvest: a young Douglas fir that had taken up residence a few yards from the giant pine. By the time Lewis and Clark passed through the area in 1805, this ponderosa pine was already well established. But the forest that surrounded the tree back then was quite different. Frequent low-intensity fires, both naturally occurring and man-made by Native Americans, maintained a sparse, open understory suitable for hunting and resulted in a forest dominated by large, fire-resistant species such as ponderosa pines and western larch. With fires occurring on average every five to 30 years, the pine-larch forests relied on fire for regeneration. Over the next century, logging removed most of the pine’s brethren, and by the early 20th century a policy of fire suppression came to dominate forest management. What remained of the historic pine-larch forests existed either as an act of preservation or due to a forester’s oversight—or because the terrain was simply too steep for logging. Around this time, Douglas firs, like the one Wager felled, began to engulf the forest. Wager is working to protect what remains of this old-growth pine forest, and he is doing so in an unusual way—by selling pens. His company, Tree Ring Pens, restores small forest stands such as this one by removing dense understory trees and crafting them into high-end pens. Each pen displays the tree’s annual growth rings, which reveal the events that shaped the tree, the surrounding forest, and the American West...more

Facing National Scrutiny, BLM Struggles to Explain Wild Horse Program

"Wild horses are not receiving a fair shake." Those are the words of a thirty-year Bureau of Land Management (BLM) veteran to NBC News' senior investigative correspondent, Lisa Myers, as part of her groundbreaking report, "Horses are wild -- but not free."  Until recently, the BLM's wild horse program has operated without accountability, due to a lack of public awareness and political pressure. But over the last four years, the program has slowly started to take on water: the $80 million annual price tag, the fact that three out of five wild horses have been captured and now live in government warehousing, and the sale of 1,700 wild horses to a known kill buyer. The NBC News report leveraged all of this and more to put the program's supporters on the defensive. When Myers challenged the head of the program, Joan Guilfoyle, over the justification for the program, Guilfoyle responded that the BLM was trying to maintain a "balanced approach" to public land use. The former BLM official quickly dismissed this by pointing out, "what really needs to be done is reduce the livestock numbers." Cattle, after all, outnumber wild horses by 50 to 1 on public lands. As further evidence, NBC pointed to research by our campaign, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), that shows the BLM is allocating more than 80 percent of forage in wild horse habitat areas to privately-owned livestock instead of to federally-protected mustangs...more

Endangered Species Act: On 40th anniversary, time to rethink how we protect wildlife

Many organizations are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. One group of equity investors that will not be honoring the occasion is Google, NRG Solar and BrightSource. This trio has spent millions to keep a large solar thermal power plant from going dark before ever lighting a single home -- and all because of a tortoise listed as threatened under the species act. The plant is situated in the Mojave Desert -- an ideal spot for generating solar power but also prime habitat for the desert tortoise. To keep the installation from being derailed, investors have allocated $56 million -- and have already spent more than $130,000 per animal -- to care for and relocate the species. The private sector is not the only one footing the bill to keep this reptile burrowing beneath the Southwest. Among creatures protected by the act, the tortoise is one of the top recipients of tax dollars, which have been funneled through four states, seven military installations and four national parks with little success in advancing conservation goals. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that the tortoise received nearly $190 million in tax-dollar support from 1996 to 2009, yet species population increased negligibly. The power plant itself received $1.6 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to help create green jobs and energy. In short, tax dollars appear to have been ineffective in protecting this species, and its latest The Endangered Species Act is expensive and ineffective in its reactive approach to conservation, which tends to penalize property owners once a species is already in a tailspin. A system of positive incentives for environmental stewardship, before formal listing under the act, could enhance species conservation by motivating more effective and less expensive habitat management.risk comes from a government-supported project. At the end of the day, we may have no tortoise, no green power, and no money...more

NMSU Wildlife Society wins “Best in the West”

Members of the New Mexico State University student chapter of The Wildlife Society were awarded “Best of the West” at the 2013 Western Regional Student Conclave in Laramie, Wyo. The team competed in March along with students from wildlife programs from 14 western U.S. universities. The NMSU Wildlife Society chapter was presented the award by the Wyoming student chapter during the conclave. “The award recognizes the top overall performance of a school throughout the conclave,” said Trey Turnbull, outgoing president of The Wildlife Society.  Eight NMSU students were winners of the overall competition including Daniel Macias who was awarded first place for his research poster, and Sarah Moon, who also took first place in the fauna photography category with her photograph of an owl...more

A New Progressive Voice From New Mexico Joins the Senate

...One of the new generation of Democrats elected to the Senate in 2012, with a coalition behind him of working class whites, senior citizens, Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanics, Heinrich, aged 41, isn’t typical Senatorial material. In a Congress whose members have an average net worth of almost one million dollars, according to an article published in U.S. News and World Report in January, New Mexico’s junior senator, who was the first member of his family to attend college, has a net worth of a little over $50,000, making him the fifth-poorest Senator on the Hill. He understands the economic struggles of his working-class constituents. Meeting their basic needs, he argues, is about “the dignity of working people. We lose sight of how important these people are in the economy, even in a high-tech world.” Like President Obama before him, Heinrich—a charismatic politician, in his element when he’s wearing jeans, a western silver belt buckle, a casual shirt and a turquoise bolo tie and standing, talking before a large crowd—has had a golden run to the top over a remarkably short span of years...more

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mexican wolf captured again after straying in NM

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the male wolf—dubbed M1133—was captured Saturday just east of New Mexico's San Mateo Mountains. The animal left his pregnant mate and roamed outside the wolf recovery area that spans parts of New Mexico and Arizona. Two weeks before, the wolf and his mate were packed into the Gila Wilderness on the back of a mule so they could be released. The female stayed in the area, but the male traveled more than 75 miles after leaving a temporary enclosure on May 3. This is the second time the male has been captured and returned to captivity. The first was in January, when he failed to pair up with another female in Arizona.It's strike two for a Mexican gray wolf that was released into the wild just weeks ago. AP

What this AP story doesn't tell you is that M1133 killed a calf before he was trapped.  I'll have more on that later.

A Supreme Court EPA Decision That Could Cost Taxpayers $21 Billion Per Year

By Marlo Lewis

Is the Clean Air Act so badly flawed that it will cripple environmental enforcement and economic development alike unless the EPA and its state counterparts defy clear statutory provisions or, alternatively, spend $21 billion a year to employ an additional 320,000 bureaucrats?

That is a central issue in a recent lawsuit by the Southeastern Legal Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a host of lawmakers and several companies.

They are petitioning the Supreme Court to review an appellate court decision upholding the EPA’s global warming regulations. The litigation challenges the EPA’s interpretation of both the Clean Air Act and the Supreme Court’s April 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision. In that case, the Court held the EPA must determine whether greenhouse gas emissions may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.

If so, the EPA must establish greenhouse gas emission standards for new motor vehicles. In part, the Court based its ruling on the assumption an endangerment finding would not lead to “extreme measures.” At most, cars might get better gas mileage. What’s not to like?

But in July 2008, the EPA argued it might also have to establish greenhouse gas emission standards for aircraft, marine vessels, non-road vehicles, fuels and numerous industrial source categories. It might even have to establish national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for greenhouse gases. In short, an endangerment finding could empower the EPA to implement an economy-wide de-carbonization program without having to clear any of it with Congress. Somehow none of this was discussed in Mass. v. EPA.

But wait, it gets weirder. In October 2009, the EPA acknowledged that regulating greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act leads to “absurd results” and “administrative impossibility.”

Here’s why. As the EPA reads the statute, “major” stationary sources – entities that emit 250 or 100 tons per year of a regulated air pollutant – must obtain permits from environmental agencies to construct or operate their facilities. Carbon dioxide became a regulated air pollutant when the EPA’s greenhouse gas motor vehicle standards took effect on Jan. 2, 2011.

Whereas only large industrial facilities emit 250 or even 100 tons of conventional air pollutants per year, literally millions of small, non-industrial facilities – office buildings, restaurants, schools – emit CO2 in those quantities. The EPA and its state counterparts suddenly faced the prospect of having to process 81,000 pre-construction permits annually (instead of 280) and 6.1 million operating permits annually (instead of 15,000).

That gigantic work load would overwhelm their administrative resources unless, the EPA estimated, agencies hire 320,000 additional full-time staff at a cost of $21 billion annually. Otherwise, ever-growing bottlenecks would paralyze environmental enforcement and freeze economic development. Both the application of complex and costly permitting requirements to tens of thousands of non-industrial facilities and the quantum jump in taxpayer burden qualify as “extreme measures.”

2013 In Global Temperature: Standstill Continues

The observed lack of change in global annual average surface temperature over the past 15-years or so is a fact that is being increasingly debated within the scientific literature and in the wider world. It is fair to say there is no consensus over its cause, or about how long it may continue.

Although we have only a quarter, and in one case a third, of the annual global surface temperature data available for 2013 it is interesting to look at how things are going, particularly since the world is currently El Nino neutral and has been for the past ten months. So far we have no El Nino pushing temperatures slightly up, or La Nina doing the converse.

The major global temperature databases are all telling the same story about 2013 so far.
According to NOAA January, February and March were the 9th-10th warmest on record, although when errors are taken into account it could almost have been 15th or thereabouts. Nasa Giss gives January as the 6th warmest, February as the 11th, March as the 12th and April as the 13th. Hadcrut4 has January at 10th, February at 9th and March at 12th.

So far 2013 is proving to be statistically identical to the past 15-years or so, and if it is destined to be a record year then the monthly averages for the rest of the year will have to behave abnormally to make up the increasing shortfall when compared to the ‘warm’ years of 2010 and 2007. In Nasa Giss for example there is 0.88 deg C to make up after only four months.

One has to be careful in looking at the global annual average temperature for the past 15-years or so. I would go no further than saying that it is remarkably flat with no statistically significant change. But something to look out for comes from NOAA data as reproduced below. It shows 0.1 deg C decline in global temperatures in the past decade! What would it have been like if the 2010 El Nino had not taken place? Won’t the next five years of data prove interesting.

Commissioners: Feds do not have authority over Lake Lowell

For the past month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been collecting public comment on its proposed management plan for Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, which includes the almost 9,000-acre Lake Lowell and surrounding lands. The plan, due out later this year, restricts some non-wildlife-related lake uses, including boating. On Tuesday, the Canyon County Commission made its stance clear: Deer Flat may be federally owned and controlled, but the county will not abide any federal rules pertaining to Lake Lowell until the federal government proves it has jurisdiction over the irrigation water that fills the reservoir. The county maintains the irrigators and the state control the water in Lake Lowell. The commissioners said the county will not use its law enforcement resources "to enforce the on-water regulations" enacted by the feds. If federal law enforcement personnel and resources are brought in to enforce any on-water regulations, the commissioners said in their comments, "Canyon County will immediately cease its provision of parks assistance and labor," which are used for Deer Flat's cleaning and maintenance services...more

Read more here:

Wind farms get pass on eagle deaths

Wind farms in this corner of Wyoming have killed more than four dozen golden eagles since 2009, one of the deadliest places in the country of its kind. But so far, the companies operating industrial-sized turbines here and elsewhere that are killing eagles and other protected birds have yet to be fined or prosecuted - even though every death is a criminal violation. The Obama administration has charged oil companies for drowning birds in their waste pits, and power companies for electrocuting birds on power lines. But the administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind-energy company, even those that flout the law repeatedly. "What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK," said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent based in Cody. It's a double standard that some Republicans in Congress said Tuesday they would examine after an Associated Press investigation revealed that the Obama administration has shielded the wind power industry from liability and helped keep the scope of the deaths secret...more

Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, increased efficiency in the use of energy and other resources, mitigation of the threat of climate change, and protection of national security. The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions.  --Barack Obama

He seems to be falling a wee bit short of his policy, at least when it comes to wind farms and endangered birds.

UN Says: Why Not Eat More Insects?

The U.N. has new weapons to fight hunger, boost nutrition and reduce pollution, and they might be crawling or flying near you right now: edible insects. The Food and Agriculture Organization on Monday hailed the likes of grasshoppers, ants and other members of the insect world as an underutilized food for people, livestock and pets. A 200-page report, released at a news conference at the U.N. agency's Rome headquarters, says 2 billion people worldwide already supplement their diets with insects, which are high in protein and minerals, and have environmental benefits.  Insects are "extremely efficient" in converting feed into edible meat, the agency said. On average, they can convert 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of feed into 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of insect mass. In comparison, cattle require 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) of feed to produce a kilo of meat. Most insects are likely to produce fewer environmentally harmful greenhouse gases, and also feed on human and food waste, compost and animal slurry, with the products being used for agricultural feed, the agency said. The agency noted that its Edible Insect Program is also examining the potential of arachnids, such as spiders and scorpions, although they are not strictly speaking insects...more

Are you ready for:

beetle barbeque

grasshopper gumbo


prime rib of spider

moth meatloaf 

chile con cutworm

roach roast

tarantula t-bone

caterpillar caviar

rocky mountain scorpion oysters 

fruit fly pie

Are you ready for:

insect whisperers

roach rodeos

county insect fairs 

insect food pyramid 

Purina insect feed


Finally, us poor New Mexicans will have to do without, or import all our insect goodies.  Why?  Because I'm sure Governor Martinez will oppose the slaughter of insects in our state.

Feds: More Wildfires, Fewer Firefighters

With a bleak outlook for this year's wildfire season and the challenge of a shrunken budget, federal officials on Monday urged private citizens to do their part to reduce the risk of fire to property and life. "We are now at a time in the season where we need to begin to prepare for what will likely be a difficult fire season," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said during a news conference call from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Noting that 12 of the hottest years on record have occurred in the last 15 years, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said she expected the coming fire season to be "a tough one." "It's pretty scary for folks on the ground here," said Jewell, who joined Vilsack in Idaho...more

Congrats to Vilsack & Jewell...they managed to get budget cuts and global warming in a press briefing allegedly about the fire season.

Vilsack, whose department oversees the U.S. Forest Service, said his budget has about $1 billion less in discretionary spending than in 2009, so less federal money is available for fuel reduction projects that can decrease fire danger.

Cancel the ridiculously puny "fuel reduction projects" and use the money to hire firefighters.  Then issue contracts to real, live timber companies so they can harvest the resource.

"There will obviously be fewer firefighters, there will be fewer engines, and hopefully we'll be able to manage this situation and ensure that people are protected and property is protected. That's our ultimate goal." - Vilsack

For that quote I had to resort to my bullshit detector. 

And sure enough, it found this was nothing but

Insiders at USDA advised his "ultimate goal" was to overturn the sequestration cuts and elect Democrats in 2014.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Farmington is U.S. mobile home capital

The Farmington area has a claim on being the mobile home capital of the United States, according to a housing study released last month by the Census Bureau. “The largest percentage of mobile homes as part of a metro area’s housing inventory was in Farmington, N.M., with 32 percent, followed by Yuma, Ariz., with 29 percent,” says the study titled “Physical Characteristics of Housing: 2009-2011.” The study is based on the Farmington metropolitan statistical area, or MSA, which means it includes all of surrounding San Juan County, including the Navajo Nation. The high proportion of manufactured homes is likely a rural phenomenon. Just more than two-thirds of the county’s estimated 128,529 population live outside the city of Farmington, scattered across roughly 5,500 square miles of typically rugged terrain, said Theresa McBee, president of the San Juan Board of Realtors. Manufactured homes could be the most cost-effective choice for a house in remote areas, she said.  At 26.7 percent, Lake Havasu/Kingman, Ariz., was the only other metro in the country to have mobile homes account for more than 25 percent. Doña Ana County shows up on a map as having 20 percent or more of its housing stock in mobile or manufactured homes...more

EPA waives fee requests for friendly groups, denies conservative groups

Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived for media and watchdog groups, while fees for more than 90 percent of requests from green groups were waived, according to requests reviewed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. CEI reviewed Freedom of Information Act requests sent between January 2012 and this spring from several environmental groups friendly to the EPA’s mission, and several conservative groups, to see how equally the agency applies its fee waiver policy for media and watchdog groups. Government agencies are supposed to waive fees for groups disseminating information for public benefit. “This is as clear an example of disparate treatment as the IRS’ hurdles selectively imposed upon groups with names ominously reflecting an interest in, say, a less intrusive or biased federal government,” said CEI fellow Chris Horner.  For 92 percent of requests from green groups, the EPA cooperated by waiving fees for the information. Those requests came from the Natural Resources Defense Council, EarthJustice, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, The Waterkeeper Alliance, Greenpeace, Southern Environmental Law Center and the Center for Biological Diversity. Of the requests that were denied, the EPA said the group either didn’t respond to requests for justification of a waiver, or didn’t express intent to disseminate the information to the general public, according to documents obtained by The Washington Examiner.  CEI, on the other hand, had its requests denied 93 percent of the time...more

Editorial - A Soybean Patent Lesson

Patent fights have turned into legal brawls in recent years, and the Supreme Court has sometimes provided a note of sanity, as it did again in Monday's important ruling in Bowman v. Monsanto 

The High Court ruled unanimously in favor of Monsanto's patent rights over its Roundup Ready soybean seeds, which make plants resistant to a common weed killer. Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman violated a Monsanto licensing agreement that said he could plant these seeds in one—and only one—season. When Monsanto discovered Mr. Bowman was replanting Roundup Ready seeds to produce more, it argued he was infringing on, and diminishing the value of, its patent.

The Justices agreed, providing valuable guidance on the "doctrine of patent exhaustion"—which Mr. Bowman invoked, and which holds that once a patented product is sold, the patent no longer protects the product. The Court said this doctrine does not allow the purchaser to make copies of the patented invention, since the "patent would plummet in value after the first sale of the first item," providing the inventor "scant benefit."

The Justices also didn't buy Mr. Bowman's argument that because soybeans are "self-replicating" the plants themselves did the copying—not him. "This blame-the-bean defense" is "tough to credit," wrote Justice Elena Kagan for the Court, since Mr. Bowman was actively planting, tending and harvesting his crops.

The Court stressed that its holding was not meant to address every patent case involving a self-replicating product, though its ruling provides some assurance that companies pouring money into 21st-century technologies can expect to have their patents honored. That's the way to grow innovation.


Obama Hailed ‘World Press Freedom Day’ As His DOJ Was Seizing AP Phone Records

President Barack Obama issued a statement heralding World Press Freedom Day in May 2012, at the same time his Department of Justice was secretly obtaining phone records from Associated Press reporters and editors. “On this World Press Freedom Day, the United States honors the role of a free press in creating sustainable democracies and prosperous societies,” Obama said in a statement on May 3, 2012.  “We pay special tribute to those journalists who have sacrificed their lives, freedom or personal well-being in pursuit of truth and justice.” The AP disclosed on Monday that the Justice Department obtained telephone records of 20 separate lines, including all outgoing calls and personal phone numbers, in April and May of 2012. The AP is the world’s largest wire service serving newspapers, websites and broadcast media...more

Justice Dept. Seized Call Records from More Than 20 Associated Press Phone Lines

The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news. The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls. In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than a hundred journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters. In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies...more

Forest Service Notice Of Intent To Impound Livestock/Lincoln National Forest

There will be a meeting today concerning this:

  There will be an Otero County Grazing Advisory Meeting in Alamogordo on Tuesday, May 14 at 10:00 AM in the Otero County Commission Bldg and this issue will be discussed. Please plan to attend if at all possible and stand behind our citizens of this great state

 I understand an official from the regional office of the Forest Service will attend.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Texas to be dropped from Mexican Grey Wolf habitat; Expansion in NM & Az.

The USFWS will publish a new rule this week that drops west Texas from consideration and expands the areas for New Mexico and Arizona.  Below is a copy of USFWS' summary of the new rule.

Obama’s top donors ask him to say no to Keystone XL

Environmental activists have been putting their bodies on the line for months — both in the form of physical blockades in Texas and rallies in Washington — to halt the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands to the Gulf Coast. The TransCanada pipeline extension requires Obama’s approval, and experts believe he will give it — a State Department survey of the project (written by contractors with ties to the oil industry) has already given the pipeline the green light. On Friday, 150 of the president’s most prominent donors, including Vinod Khosla, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems; Rob McKay, the heir to the Taco Bell fortune and chairman of the Democracy Alliance; Blythe Danner, the actor and mother of Gwyneth Paltrow; and Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of the Esprit clothing, wrote to the president urging he reject the pipeline...more

Read the letter here.

Stewardship is under pressure as Jewell takes over Interior

The national press is infatuated with Sally Jewell as the outdoorsy new secretary of the Interior. In the Seattle area, it’s nearly impossible to find people who don’t have good things to say about the former chief executive of REI. She will need all this goodwill and more, because the Interior Department can be a school for scandal. Most recently, in 2008, the wing of the department that collects oil and gas royalties was caught up in allegations of financial improprieties, cocaine use, sexual misconduct and taking gifts from energy companies. Back in the 1920s, the department was the epicenter of the infamous Teapot Dome scandal that defined the Harding administration, where oil companies bribed Interior Secretary Albert Fall to lease naval petroleum reserves. Fall became the first former Cabinet member to serve prison time. Before Jewell, the last Washington resident to become Interior Secretary was Richard Achilles Ballinger, appointed by President Taft in 1909. The former Seattle mayor gave his name to what was popularly known at the time as the Ballinger Affair. Although improprieties were alleged, Ballinger was cleared. But the controversy was part of a split between Ballinger and Gifford Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt’s beloved Forest Service chief. Pinchot and his allies claimed Ballinger favored private exploitation over conservation. When Taft fired Pinchot, it began a conflict in the Republican Party that cost it the next presidential election. This is not a dull, political patronage job...more

Conservation Groups Urge Interior Secretary Jewell Not to Strip Wolf Protections Across United States

The leaders of six of the nation’s most prominent conservation groups today called on the U.S. Department of the Interior to cancel plans by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for wolves across nearly the entire lower 48 states, stating the plan would be disastrous for gray wolf recovery in the United States. The letter, addressed to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, is signed by the chief executives of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Endangered Species Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club. The letter urges Jewell to reverse course on the planned delisting because dropping federal protections at this point would be premature and notes that there are still few, if any, wolves in the vast majority of their former range, where scientists have determined much suitable habitat remains...more

Southwest Alberta ranchers losing cattle to grizzly bears

It appears some southern Alberta cattle producers are facing an extra challenge this spring. Dozens of ranchers claim their calves have been killed by grizzly bears. “It’s getting to where the bears are getting bolder,” said Calvin Walper, strolling on his Twin Butte property where he’s encountered nearly a dozen bears, recently losing five-to-six head of cattle per year. “In the fall they’re a little smaller,” Walper said. “Being a 600 lb. animal, a bear can take them to the bush over there and feast on it.” The problem isn’t exclusive to this ranch. Fish & Wildlife officers say at least nine cattle in southwest Alberta have been killed since mid-April, with several others missing. “It’s the combination of such a late green-up, not much fruit for the bears, and such a high density of grizzly bears between Twin Butte and Waterton,” said Perry Abramenko, who helps oversee the Pincher Creek district. Walper claims the grizzlies are getting so accustomed to human contact, they’re coming within three metres of his family’s home. In one instance last year, two bears were found lounging where the family parks their vehicles...more

Bullet blitz: Demand from public, government leaves ammo shelves empty

Steve Warholic spends nearly his entire workday at a Nevada ammunition store scouring the Internet, and the owner puts in even more time online. Both think they need to spend more time on the web. They’re trying to find bullets for their customers at Stockpile Defense and the store’s sister school, where 50,000 people are trained every year in firearms handling. Shelves that once held the most popular calibers, like .22 and .45, are bare. There are waiting lists as long as two months and students are requested to bring their own ammunition. Pre-orders are no longer allowed.“We’re buying everything we can find and we still can’t bring in enough,” said Warholic. “It’s a constant battle.” Demand for guns and ammunition has cleaned out stores nationwide, leading to waiting lists and early morning lines outside of gun and sporting good stores for ammunition shipments. Common calibers routinely sell out within minutes of appearing on store shelves and prices have soared as much as 70 percent. With such little supply, retailers have slapped restrictions on the number of boxes of ammunition customers can purchase. In January, Walmart limited ammunition sales to three boxes per customer, per day. Dick’s Sporting Goods and Cabela’s imposed a three and ten box-restriction on purchases, respectively...more

IRS Scrutinized Groups for Advocating Smaller Government

The Internal Revenue Service's scrutiny of conservative groups went beyond those with "tea party" or "patriot" in their names—as the agency admitted Friday—to also include ones worried about government spending, debt or taxes, and even ones that lobbied to "make America a better place to live," according to new details of a government probe. The investigation also revealed that a high-ranking IRS official knew as early as mid-2011 that conservative groups were being inappropriately targeted—nearly a year before then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told a congressional committee the agency wasn't targeting conservative groups. The inspector general's office has been conducting an audit of the IRS's handling of the applications process and is expected to release a report this week. The audit follows complaints last year by numerous tea-party and other conservative groups that they had been singled out and subjected to excessive and inappropriate questioning. Many groups say they were asked for lists of their donors and other sensitive information...more

Rasmussen Poll: Nullification Goes Mainstream

Day after day, the media pounds out a relentless drumbeat against nullification. Pundits, commentators and so-called legal experts demonize it as unconstitutional, villainize it as racist and trivialize it with slurs like “wacky” and “kookie.” But while the political class continues to arrogantly ridicule Madison and Jefferson’s principles, everyday Americans embrace them in increasing numbers. A Rasmussen poll released Monday indicates that nullification is growing more and more popular in mainstream America.   Pollsters found 38  percent support states taking actions to “block” federal acts that restrict the right to keep and bear arms.  Less than half (45 percent) oppose blocking these unconstitutional federal acts. Even more revealing: more people than not approve of nullification in general. “On the general question of ‘nullification,’ 44 percent believe states should have the right to block any federal laws they disagree with on legal grounds. Thirty-six percent disagree and 20 are undecided,” pollsters said. Digging into the numbers, we find even broader support for nullification where it really counts – on Main Street. A majority of everyday politically engaged Americans support the general principle of nullification. According to the Rasmussen poll, 52 percent of mainstream voters think states should have the right to block any federal laws they disagree with on legal grounds. Think about it. Even enduring constant demonization from the mainstream media and the political elite, most average American voters approve of nullification efforts...more

Behind the Chutes: Last Cowboy Standing

A few hours before the final day of the Last Cowboy Standing, nine-time World Champion Ty Murray asked Silvano Alves if he was going to win the $100,000 event. Alves smiled and shook his head yes. He did more than win the Last Cowboy Standing, on Saturday night, in Las Vegas. In the minds of many he solidified himself as the odds-on favorite to win an unprecedented third consecutive world title when the season concludes back in Vegas this coming October.  One would be hard-pressed to convince Murray otherwise and the next morning, fellow PBR co-founder Cody Lambert said the 25-year-old Brazilian is the best professional bull rider in the world. Two former World Champions - Michael Gaffney and Justin McBride - agreed. "He was the best bull rider again tonight," said McBride, "and that ride on Smackdown that was a really good ride. For a right-handed guy that bull is no day off. Gaffney added, "That's the first time a right-handed guy has ridden that bull."...more

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Git’er done cowgirl style

 by Julie Carter

The front wheels of the truck were almost off the ground and the hitch was close to dragging but with cowgirl confidence, the duo set off to haul a deal-of-a-century load of feed tubs to the backside of a remote ranch.

That was when the trouble started but first I’ll tell you how things digressed to that point.

Supplementary feeding of cattle in this part of the world, while a necessity most years, is cost prohibitive enough to be a single source of going broke.

The function requires dealing with feed salesmen who as a general rule, rank right up there with used-car salesmen and shady horse traders.

Minerals and supplements come in a variety of forms - licks, tubs, and blocks, just to name a few. Deanne had some cattle on a grass ranch on the east side of the state and her friend, Bobby Jo was, this week, acting as a feed supplement rep.

After her pitch to Deanne for the perfect supplement for the kind and condition of cattle she had and the location she had them pastured, they made a deal and the tubs were to be delivered.

However, in the delivery phase, Bobby Jo found herself a little short on equipment so she borrowed a former boyfriend's small, light pickup. With it came an equally small, light, and very old flatbed trailer. Refer to paragraph one and we are now into the story.

Bobby Jo picked Deanne up and they headed to the ranch. When they got to the gate, the steep canyon ahead of them was in view and Deanne started to feel a little squeamish about the trip to the bottom.

About half way down the cliff-hugging road, Bobby Jo announced that there were no working brakes on the pickup. Simultaneously, the trailer realized it too. It jackknifed, bouncing a good number of the tubs on down the hill ahead of them.

Shrugging, they thought, well all right, we were going to take them there anyway. But the real problem showed up when they realized a few of the tubs had landed underneath the truck.

These were forcing the truck off the ground, had the front of the trailer up in the air and the whole business stopped dead still.

The hitch was no longer workable and nothing could be dislodged. Cell phone service was not available in the remote location and nobody was expecting them for days.

And of course, the jack was in the "other truck."

Using the only logic they could come up with, they decided the best thing to do was run over the tubs, hope the oil pan was in good shape, the brakes would suddenly come back to life and they’d go on down the hill.

In record time, they got to the bottom with no loss of life or limb. The truck hadn't been in that good of shape when they started out and Bobby Jo had already broken up with that guy anyway.

The trailer had to be backed over a gully so that the hitch would come loose. It fell at an interesting angle and they left it there.

Everybody dusted their hands, knowing they had accomplished what they set out to do  which was to deliver the tubs to Deanne's cattle.

They limped the pickup back to town and Deanne and Bobby Jo parted friends.

Another cowgirl job well done.

Julie can be reached for comment a