Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cute 4 Year-Old Recites Every New Testament Book - and Ends with a Hilarious Surprise


Officials: NM ranch had 1,000 emaciated cattle

The discovery of about 1,000 emaciated cows has prompted state officials to consider the unusual move of seizing a herd of cattle on a drought-stricken ranch near Fort Sumner. New Mexico Livestock Board officials served a search warrant at the sprawling Double V Ranch on May 17 and found at least 25 dead animals and others at risk of starving to death, the Albuquerque Journal reported on Friday. The owner, Richard Evans, was charged with 25 counts of cruelty to animals. A number listed for Double V Ranch was a fax number. No other listing was found for Evans. If a judge orders seizure of the cows, it would mark the first large herd taken by the New Mexico Livestock Board. "It is going to be a major deal," said Ray Baca, interim director of the board. "We're not actually funded for this kind of a major crisis." The board had 75 employees and a budget of $5.6 million in fiscal year 2013. Board inspector Barry Allen wrote in an affidavit for the search warrant that he observed 25 to 30 dead cattle at two locations on the ranch from public roadways during a May 14 inspection. About eight carcasses appeared to have been deteriorating for about six months, "indicative of the malnourishment being an ongoing issue on this ranch," Allen wrote. Live cattle at the ranch were in poor condition and nursing calves appeared stunted, he wrote. Allen also said he asked Evans about the condition of his cattle. "Mr. Evans indicated he was aware of the situation and reasoned that dry weather, and drought conditions, along with his wife's recent passing were all contributing factors to his inability to properly provide nourishment to livestock," Allen wrote...more

Navajo Nation's 'Mother of Justice' dies

The Navajo Nation's "Mother of Justice" passed away this week. Evelyne E. Bradley, who served as one of the tribe's first-ever women judges, died Tuesday surrounded by friends and family at Fort Defiance Indian Hospital. She was 88. Bradley served as a district court judge from 1984 until her retirement in 1995. When she first was appointed as a judge by former Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah, she was 59 years old. "Apparently, some of the council delegates were giving her a hard time because they saw her white hair," said Evelyne Bradley's daughter, Francine Bradley, a retired police officer. "She said, Don't let this white hair and these wrinkles fool you.'" Evelyne Bradley served with the Ramah, Tuba City and Kayenta judicial districts in Arizona. She also served as acting chief justice from 1984 to 1985. After retirement, she was elected to the justice of the peace position for Navajo County in Kayenta, Ariz. "She was always firm. She always followed law, but she also treated the people like their mother," her daughter said. "She was mean but loving." That was partially because before the late Bradley was a judge, she had endured her own trials in life...more

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bison-Loving Billionaires Rile Ranchers With Land Grab in American West

Linda Poole can’t restrain herself when it comes to the most-polarizing topic in Montana: the reintroduction of purebred bison. As Poole sees it, the bison aren’t a cause. They’re cuddly fundraising mascots helping the American Prairie Reserve to raise money to advance its mission of land accumulation under the auspices of species preservation. “If you can ignite people’s imaginations with free-roaming bison,” she says, “you get the bison to make your money.” The bison in question are grazing about 20 miles (30 kilometers) away on ranch land owned by the nonprofit Prairie Reserve, which has attracted some $60 million from well-known Wall Street and Silicon Valley financiers, Bloomberg Pursuits will report in its Summer 2013 issue.  Its plan is to buy out Poole’s neighbors and assemble as much as 3.5 million acres (1.4 million hectares) of contiguous private and public land -- about a million acres more than Yellowstone National Park to the south -- in a bid to build an American Serengeti, where the deer and the antelope can again play free. The organization’s donor roll reads like a who’s who of the ultrarich: billionaire candy heirs Forrest Mars Jr. and his brother, John (combined net worth: $44 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index); German retail baron Erivan Haub ($4.9 billion); the foundation of Swiss medical device mogul Hansjoerg Wyss ($12.4 billion); and Susan Packard Orr, daughter of the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and chairwoman of the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, which has assets of $5.6 billion. After cobbling the properties together, the group plans to populate the sparsely settled scrubland with up to 10,000 genetically pure bison, descendants of the original animals that last thundered across the American frontier of the 1800s (as opposed to today’s tamer descendants, which have been crossbred with cattle)...more

Colo. Road Project - $46 million to protect wildlife

Local groups and governments are emptying their piggy banks trying to find any available money to contribute to a 10-mile safety-improvement project on Highway 9 in Grand County. Their cash is crucial to getting the plan approved. High Country stakeholders have to put up 20 percent of the project’s $46 million bill to qualify for Colorado Department of Transportation funding. The owner of the Blue Valley Ranch near Kremmling, billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Jones, contributed $4 million to the match last month, leaving a local citizens’ group with $4 million left to raise from the public and local stakeholders before CDOT’s deadline for project applications next month. The project aims to resolve an ongoing problem with wildlife-related accidents on the rural highway north of Silverthorne with roadside fencing and a series of under and overpasses that will allow animals to safely cross the highway and access a critical water source. The proposal also calls for the road to be expanded with wider shoulders and room for bicycle lanes. The improvements, the result of a collaboration between CDOT and the Division of Parks and Wildlife, are designed to increase safety on one of the more dangerous stretches of road in the region. In the last 20 years, 16 humans and hundreds of animals have been killed in collisions on the segment Hwy. 9 through Grand County...more

Nope, that's not the way to save human lives, or better the life for some humans.

--Instead of building the overpass build some deer stands.
--Declare open season.
--Sell special hunting licenses.
--Take the $46 million plus the license fees and use it to help the poor and disabled.

For safety reasons they trap and kill wildlife at airports all the time.  Why not on highways?

This would just be another "thinning project", so grab your guns, save lives and help the less fortunate all in one fell swoop.



Education coalition attacks Utah's efforts to get federal lands

A group of public education proponents say Utah's top political leaders such as Gov. Gary Herbert would help the long-term interests of students by dropping their "misguided" public lands fight with the federal government. The network, called For Kids and Lands, held a press conference Wednesday at Liberty Park, where they decried Utah's "arrogant" battle with the federal government over ownership of certain lands and titles to disputed roadways or trails. "Ultimately this public lands transfer will result in marred and scarred landscapes for years to come," said James Thompson, a Bingham High School teacher. "We set a poor example for our children by pursuing such courses of action," reads a statement by the group that was delivered to Herbert's office on Wednesday.  But Herbert, Ivory and others behind the push say they have tried tirelessly to reach reasonable solutions with the federal government in cases such as disputed roads and the threatened endangered species listing of the greater sage grouse, only to be stonewalled or rejected. "Just as Henry Ford offered his first customers a choice of any color car they wanted as long as it was black, federal land management agencies today provide flexibility in land management," Herbert told a Congressional subcommittee on Tuesday, "as long as they do it the way Washington tells them."...more

If anything needs saving, its those kids at Bingham HS from one James Thompson.  We can't afford to have those kids exposed to such stupidity. 

Ranchers divided on federal divestment from community pasturelands

Prairie community pastures and grasslands amounting to one and a half times the size of Prince Edward Island may soon be privatized, and ranchers’ reactions are mixed. In April 2012, Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz quietly announced that the federal government was divesting its interest in the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA). The PFRA was established in 1935, at the height of the “Dust Bowl,” to help combat erosion of pasture and farm land by managing the number of cattle grazing the land. Eighty-seven community pastures were established on land deemed unsuitable for cultivation; 62 in Saskatchewan, 26 in Manitoba, and one in Alberta. Since then, the PFRA has successfully preserved 2.3 million acres of pastureland, much of which is endangered tall grass prairie, while providing ranchers with well-managed land for grazing at reasonable rates. By 2018, the 87 PFRA-operated community pastures in Western Canada will be transferred to the provincial governments, beginning with 10 pastures this year in Saskatchewan. Not only will the provinces be saddled with this new responsibility, they are free to manage PFRA land as they see fit...more   

Transferring lands from the feds to the provinces - Looks like the Canada is beating us to the punch.


Hispanic Caucus backs Grijalva for top committee slot

Hispanic Caucus backs Grijalva for top committee slot

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) is backing Rep. Raúl Grijalva’s (D-Ariz) uphill battle to become the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee.

“As Democrats, we rightly pride ourselves on our diversity and awareness of what it means to represent Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life,” states a “Dear Colleague” letter from the caucus circulated Thursday. “Few of our colleagues understand and embody that diversity and awareness as well as Raul.”

That slot will open up if current ranking member Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) is elected to the Massachusetts Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Grijalva faces very long odds against Peter Defazio (D-Ore.), who’s next in line for the ranking member slot by seniority and has support from a number of key Democrats.

But the CHC, in the letter, calls Grijalva “one of the strongest public land advocates our party has seen in a long time,” and says he is a “consensus builder” among Latino, Native American, Western, environmental and progressive communities.

Email from The Hill.

Lawsuit Launched Against 800,000-acre Domestic Oil Shale, Tar-sands Plan

A coalition of conservation groups today filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Land Management under the Endangered Species Act for allocating more than 800,000 acres of federal public land in the Colorado River Basin to greenhouse-gas-intensive oil shale and tar-sands development without protecting endangered species and their habitat. On March 22 the BLM amended 10 resource-management plans in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, making 687,600 acres available for oil shale leasing and 132,100 acres available for tar-sands leasing. The BLM refused to conduct formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect endangered species, despite acknowledging likely impacts to Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, razorback sucker, Mexican spotted owl and many other threatened and endangered species...more

Sen. Wyden zeroes in on legislation to boost federal logging revenue for timber counties

Sen. Ron Wyden is zeroing in on his plan for boosting logging on federal lands in Western Oregon and helping rural counties beset by money problems. The Oregon Democrat announced Thursday a more specific framework for legislation to address complaints that so-called O&C lands have not been turning out the level of money for timber counties they did before logging was cut back to protect the northern spotted owl and salmon from extinction. He said he hoped a bill would become law before the end of the year. "We are building the kind of coalition that will navigate Congress and get signed by the White House," Wyden said from Washington, D.C. "It is not going to ignite an ideological war. It will give us a chance to do what we do best in Oregon, which is to find a way for people to get jobs in rural Oregon, boost timber harvest, and respect the treasury." Wyden's proposal differs from another in the House in one key area. Wyden's would give timber counties with below-average tax rates incentives to help themselves. However, it does not spell out what those incentives are...more

Wolves taking toll on Northeastern Oregon cattle, sheep

Domestic sheep and cattle have been taking hits from gray wolves this month in northeastern Oregon, and at least one young wolf has died, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Four sheep were confirmed killed, another was injured and still another is missing north of Pendleton, the department confirmed this week. Wolf tracks were found at the scene, and radio-collar data showed at least one wolf from the Umatilla River pack was in that area the night of the attacks, said biologists. Meanwhile, a rancher's yearling cow was killed by Imnaha Pack wolves in Wallowa County on May 15, the department reported. Evidence of at least two wolves was discovered at the scene, according to biologists. Five days earlier, ODFW biologists confirmed a rancher's calf was bitten on a hind leg by a wolf, but was expected to survive. Biologists found a radio-collared Wenaha pack wolf known as OR19 dead of unknown causes in the Sled Springs game management unit of Wallowa County May 19, the department reported. Foul play was not suspected...more

Armenian farmers feel defenseless after fresh wolf attacks on domestic animals

Despite efforts of the government to protect Armenian villagers from wolf attacks, the beasts continue to cause considerable damage to the country’s cattle-breeding rural communities. Only during this week three separate wolf attacks on domestic animals were reported in two provinces of Armenia, with more than 50 sheep killed by the predators. “We woke up at 5 in the morning to go and inspect our cattle-shed only to see 23 sheep mauled there. Some of them survived, we had a total of 31. It’s a big loss. We called our village mayor, who promised to do whatever is necessary. We’ll see what happens,” Zina Smoyan, a resident of the village of Sipan of the Aragatsotn province, told ArmeniaNow. The owner of the sheep killed by wolves says her large family has incurred a loss of about 1.3 million drams (or more than $3,100) based on the current prices of sheep in the village. Tengiz Mamoyan, the head of Sipan, which is a 324-member community of mainly Yezidis, tells ArmeniaNow that local farmers mainly breed cattle for meat and wool and they are apprehensive of wolf attacks. The village mayor says that a lot of such attacks happened in the past. In particular, 30 sheep were killed in a single attack in 2012. The family that lost the domestic animals then has not received assistance till today. On Monday a report came from the region of Lori where in the village of Amrakits wolves killed 25 sheep, the next day three sheep were killed by wolves in the town of Stepanavan...more

Black bear shot by rancher

A rancher who killed a black bear outside Forsyth on Tuesday morning won’t face criminal charges, a Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokeswoman said Thursday. Bill Anderson, who ranches northeast of Forsyth, told FWP officials that he felt the bear was threatening cows when he shot the animal, which had been reported several times in the area since Sunday. The bear was probably searching for new territory. A game warden was en route with a tranquilizer when the bear was killed, said Cathy Stewart, information officer with the Miles City FWP office. Typically, FWP will haze or relocate black bears to more remote areas, Stewart said, but every encounter varies, and circumstances such as immediate danger, behavior and human safety are considered. In this case, after discussions with the Rosebud County attorney, it was decided not to prosecute Anderson. The hide and head of the 190-pound male bear were saved for educational purposes. Montana black bear populations are on the rise and sightings are expected to increase, Stewart said...more

Government To Give Nearly $200 Million to Mexican Ranchers

The government will provide 2.46 billion pesos ($199 million) in assistance to ranchers affected by droughts and freezes in Mexico, Agriculture and Ranching Secretary Enrique Martinez y Martinez said. The assistance will go to ranchers in several states, Martinez said in an address at the 77th National Ranching Organizations Assembly. Some of the funds will be used to guarantee loans totaling 5.7 billion pesos ($462 million), increasing total resources available for ranchers to 8.16 billion pesos ($662 million), the agriculture secretary said...more

Cattle growers to meet in Socorro

The New Mexico Cattle Growers Association will hold its southwest regional meeting in Socorro at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at Bodega Burger Co., 606 California St. “Anyone who is interested or involved in the cattle business, whether or not they are NMCGA members, is welcome to join us for this meeting,” said Rex Wilson, NMCGA President, Carrizozo. “The program will include important information for landowners and ranching families, and give people a chance to learn more about the Association.” Getting information into the hands of ranchers will be the focus of the meeting, with updates on and discussion on issues the 2013 New Mexico Legislative session, endangered species listings, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish issues, and a proposed National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation partnership, Wilson said.  The NMCGA’s Southwest Regional Meeting will be followed on May 29 by the New Mexico Drought Workshop, hosted by the New Mexico Section of the Society for Range Management in conjunction with the National Drought Mitigation Center and the National Integrated Drought Information System, in Socorro...more 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

All Around The US, Risks Of A Water Crisis Are Much Bigger Than People Realize

With about half of the country still suffering from extreme drought, farmers and businesses in the Western United States are looking at another hot, dry summer.  And the country's water risk is a lot worse than most assessments suggest, according to a recent study from the Columbia University Water Center.  Taking into account past patterns of drought and water use, the Columbia study reveals that several major metro areas, including New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, are at high risk for water scarcity, along with the Great Plains agricultural belt extending from North and South Dakota down to North Texas.  

"All cities and all businesses require water, yet in many regions, they need more water than is actually available — and that demand is growing," said Upmanu Lall, director, Columbia Water Center. "The new study reveals that certain areas face exposure to drought, which will magnify existing problems of water supply and demand."  The study notes that a 99% population increase since 1950 combined with a 127% increase in water use has further decreased water availability, making it increasingly difficult to replenish water supplies after a drought. The report doesn't predict when or where the water scarcity will become an issue. In New York and Washington, D.C., for example, water is brought in from outside of the city from other sources, which are typically plentiful. In other areas, however, the current drought — the worst since the Great Depression — is already bringing water availability issues to the fore.  According to the most recent federal forecast, about 48% of the contiguous U.S. is now experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, down from a high of 60% at the beginning of the year. The drought is expected to intensify in the West this summer, and while conditions should "ease" in the Plains states, the drought is not expected to end anytime soon and temperatures are expected to be above-normal for most of the lower 48 this summer...more

Wells Dry, Fertile Plains Turn to Dust

Forty-nine years ago, Ashley Yost’s grandfather sank a well deep into a half-mile square of rich Kansas farmland. He struck an artery of water so prodigious that he could pump 1,600 gallons to the surface every minute. Last year, Mr. Yost was coaxing just 300 gallons from the earth, and pumping up sand in order to do it. By harvest time, the grit had robbed him of $20,000 worth of pumps and any hope of returning to the bumper harvests of years past. “That’s prime land,” he said not long ago, gesturing from his pickup at the stubby remains of last year’s crop. “I’ve raised 294 bushels of corn an acre there before, with water and the Lord’s help.” Now, he said, “it’s over.” The land, known as Section 35, sits atop the High Plains Aquifer, a waterlogged jumble of sand, clay and gravel that begins beneath Wyoming and South Dakota and stretches clear to the Texas Panhandle. The aquifer’s northern reaches still hold enough water in many places to last hundreds of years. But as one heads south, it is increasingly tapped out, drained by ever more intensive farming and, lately, by drought. Vast stretches of Texas farmland lying over the aquifer no longer support irrigation. In west-central Kansas, up to a fifth of the irrigated farmland along a 100-mile swath of the aquifer has already gone dry. In many other places, there no longer is enough water to supply farmers’ peak needs during Kansas’ scorching summers. And when the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains. This is in many ways a slow-motion crisis — decades in the making, imminent for some, years or decades away for others, hitting one farm but leaving an adjacent one untouched. But across the rolling plains and tarmac-flat farmland near the Kansas-Colorado border, the effects of depletion are evident everywhere. Highway bridges span arid stream beds. Most of the creeks and rivers that once veined the land have dried up as 60 years of pumping have pulled groundwater levels down by scores and even hundreds of feet...more

U.S. wheat conditions well below average

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the condition of the nation’s winter wheat crop slipped modestly, while spring wheat planting was making progress. As of May 19, winter wheat in the 18 major states was rated 31 percent good to excellent, down a percent from the previous week, but well below last year’s 58 percent. This year 41 percent of the crop was rated poor to very poor, which compares to 14 percent last year. Just 31 percent of the crop was rated good to excellent. This year’s poorer ratings are due to lingering drought conditions and unseasonable cold spring temperatures across much of the wheat growing region. Winter wheat heading in the 18 leading states as of May 19 was 43 percent, compared to 80 percent at the same time last year, and 62 percent for the five-year average. Spring wheat planting was estimated at 67 percent complete in the six major states, well behind the 98 percent planted at this time last year. The five-year average is 76 percent complete...more

Wolves in U.S. won't lose protections -- for now

The on-again, off-again protected status of wolves in the Lower 48 continues, as it appears that the expected de-listing of gray wolves in the United States has been placed on indefinite hold. The Associated Press reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildife Service indicated in filings in response to a lawsuit that the removal of gray wolves from the endangered species list was not going to happen soon, but the agency provided no further explanation. The status of the Mexican wolf, a separate species in Arizona and New Mexico, remains unclear. A draft of the de-listing plan had called for placing that population of animals on protected list.  LA Times

Enthusiasts celebrate the anniversary of wolf reintroduction

Dave Parsons
More than 30 Mexican gray wolf enthusiasts and interested residents stepped into the shade at the Little Walnut Creek Picnic area for the 15th Anniversary Lobo Birthday Party on Sunday. Featuring guest speaker Dave Parsons, carnivore conservation biologist and former US Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator, and live music by the Silver City String Beans, the event was held by the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. According to the group's website, the Alliance is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection, restoration, and continued enjoyment of New Mexico's wild lands and wilderness areas. Before his speech, Kim McCreery, Regional Director and Staff Scientist for the Alliance had visitors welcome Parsons with a howl. Parsons was chosen as guest speaker because the event was held to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Mexican gray wolf's reintroduction project, which Parsons personally jump-started. Parsons said he got the job in 1990 when he discovered that the New Mexico Fish and Wildlife Service had done nothing to help reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf, which it was legally required to do since the wolf's identification as an endangered species 14 years earlier in 1976. He held the position of Recovery Coordinator from 1990 to 1999. In 1998, he said he saw the Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduce 11 Mexican gray wolves...more

Lessons in Socialism: Venezuela Has Toilet Paper Shortage

Venezuela's National Assembly has backed plans to import 39 million rolls of toilet paper, in an effort to relieve a chronic shortage. Lawmakers voted to approve a $79m credit for the country's ministry of commerce, which will also be used to buy toothpaste and soap. The products are currently in short supply in Venezuelan shops. The oil-rich nation relies on imports, but currency controls have restricted its ability to pay for foreign goods. President Nicolas Maduro, who won a narrow majority in April's presidential elections, maintains that the country's periodic shortages of basic goods are the result of a conspiracy by the opposition and rich sectors of society. Mr Maduro has vowed to uphold the legacy of his late predecessor, Hugo Chavez, whose "21st-Century socialism" involved sweeping nationalisation and extensive social programmes...more

Its a good thing socialism causes constipation or these folks would really be in trouble.

What's not funny is look at that headline...and then think Obamacare.

Big rig carrying fruit crashes on 210 Freeway, creates jam

Monday’s morning commute started off horribly for drivers in the San Gabriel Valley when a big rig carrying fruit overturned on the 210, blocking lanes in both directions in Monrovia for most of the morning...more

Not much of a story, but you gotta love that headline. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Funding ban again halts expansion; Not One More Acre! file protest letter claiming piecemealing

The ongoing efforts of those groups trying to prevent the U.S. Army from expanding its Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) gained another measure of success last week as the Military Construction Subcommittee of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee voted to continue the funding ban on “any action that relates to or promotes the expansion and size” of the PCMS, which is located in northeast Las Animas County. Because the U.S. Senate has not placed a permanent ban on expansion of PCMS, the House must act each year on the funding ban, according to information from “Not One More Acre!’’ (N1MA!), which is one of several groups opposed to expansion. The funding ban is part of a larger military construction budget bill that must first be passed by the full House of Representatives and then the U.S. Senate before it goes into effect. The funding ban was first instituted by Congress in 2007 to stop what opponents believe are secret plans to expand across 6.9 million acres of fragile prairie ecosystem. Jean Aguerre, president of N1MA!, announced the renewal of the sixth annual funding ban Wednesday, on the same day N1MA! filed its third challenge against the Army’s PCMS environmental disclosures in the past six weeks. The filing was made on N1MA!’s behalf by the Ewegen Law Firm of Denver. That protest, titled “Programmatic Environmental Assessment and Draft Finding of No Significant Impact for the Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan 2013-2017 for Fort Carson and the PCMS,” and other information can be found on the website Last Wednesday’s protest from N1MA! charged the Army with continuing to “piecemeal its plans for the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in an effort to sidestep basic requirements of the funding ban, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and a 2009 Federal District Court ruling that vacated the PCMS Transformation Record of Decision issued by the Army in its original efforts to expand the site.”...more

Scientists Call on Obama Administration to Keep Gray Wolves Protected Under Endangered Species Act

In two sharply worded letters sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today, prominent scientists argued for continued protections for gray wolves across the lower 48 states and criticized a draft federal proposal to remove those protections for being premature and failing to follow the best available science. One of the letters came from the American Society of Mammalogists, the other from 16 prominent biologists. “The science simply doesn’t support removal of protections for wolves,” said Dr. Brad Bergstrom with the American Society of Mammalogists. “Wolves are altogether absent or barely beginning to recover in large swathes of the country that still contain excellent habitat.” Signatories to the letter include several scientists who conducted research that’s relied on by the government in its draft proposed rule. Those scientists are now criticizing the agency for misrepresenting their work, stating: “Collectively, we represent many of the scientists responsible for the research referenced in the draft rule,” and “We do not believe that the rule reflects the conclusions of our work or the best available science concerning the recovery of wolves.”...more

New law aims to prevent drones from spying on farmers

A new Idaho law that takes effect July 1 aims to prevent people from using drones to spy on farmers and ranchers. A bill that has been signed into law by Gov. Butch Otter restricts people from using drones to spy on anyone but was crafted specifically with agriculture in mind, said its sponsor, Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise. It's meant "to protect the agricultural community from unreasonable searches," said the Idaho Senate's assistant majority leader. The new law prevents any person, entity or state agency from using a drone to conduct surveillance or observation of private property "without reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal conduct." The bill allows individuals to use drones to take pictures or video of their own property, which is important for the growing number of farmers who want to use that tool to improve their operations, said north Idaho farmer Robert Blair. Former Idaho Attorney General Dave Leroy agreed with a policy expert from the American Civil Liberties Union that the Idaho law doesn't clearly state that it applies to federal agencies. Even if it did, it could be struck down by a judge on the grounds of federal pre-emption, a doctrine upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court that state laws are invalid when they conflict with federal laws, said ACLU Policy Strategist Allie Bohm. If it is tested in court on that issue, "it would be interesting to see what a court says," Bohm said. Winder said that while Bohm is correct on the pre-emption issue, "We are hopeful, however, that it does provide some protection of Idaho citizens from unlawful search by all levels of law enforcement, as guaranteed by the U.S. and Idaho constitutions." The bill's passage took on added meaning in early April when one of the nation's largest animal rights groups, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, announced it would use drones to spy on hunters and farmers...more

U.S. food labels seen heating up North America meat war

The United States is poised to introduce stricter rules on the labeling of meat imports this week, a move that is likely to heat up a simmering trade dispute with Canada and Mexico. Under new regulations that Washington says are aimed at complying with a World Trade Organization order, all meat sold in the United States must have labels that state where an animal was born, fed and slaughtered. Meat exporters in Canada and Mexico say the new rules would cut even deeper into cattle and hog shipments that have already slumped by as much as half in the last four years. The Canadian government has threatened a possible retaliatory strike against U.S. imports, and is hoping Mexico will join it. Instead of relaxing the rules, U.S. regulators proposed tougher requirements, arguing the changes would place the country in compliance with the WTO by applying the same rules to meat produced in the United States and other countries...more

NM sees oil production jump 46 percent

Oil production in New Mexico has increased by nearly 50 percent over the last three years, making it one of five western states that have helped boost national production over the last three years.
Statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show onshore oil production increased nationally by more than 2 million barrels a day - or nearly two-thirds - between February 2010 and February 2013...more

Read more here:

New Mexico setting new records with drought

New Mexico is slipping further into drought, having marked the driest two-year period in nearly 120 years of record-keeping. National weather forecasters and water managers shared the latest statistics on New Mexico's devastatingly dry conditions during a meeting Tuesday. They say the last 12- and 24-month periods have eclipsed even those dry times of the early 20th century and the 1950s. For the first four months of this year, New Mexico has seen less than half of its normal precipitation, with communities in the south and along the Rio Grande Valley seeing even less. Forecasters say the Santa Fe and Socorro areas have received just 17 percent of their normal snow and rainfall so far this year. And with the snowpack now melted, officials say there is nothing to replenish the state's reservoirs. AP

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Working on my column for The New Mexico Stockman.  Will get back to posting as soon as I can.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Utah governor to argue for state management of federal lands

Michelle Merlin, E&E reporter
Published: Monday, May 20, 2013     

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) recently signed a bill demanding that the federal government cede its lands, which make up roughly two-thirds of the state's area, to the state.

Herbert, who also chairs the Western Governors' Association, will be on Capitol Hill tomorrow to tell a House Natural Resources subpanel that he thinks Utah and other states manage their lands well, perhaps even better than the federal government.

The testimony could highlight the differences between members of the conservative Western Caucus, who believe the federal government should stay out of state land management, and environmentalists, who worry that states will sell their protected lands for oil and gas drilling.

Herbert is going to "emphasize state- and local-based management techniques and practices are effective," said Cody Stewart, Herbert's energy adviser and a former aide to Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah). "The federal land management structure is an outgrowth of 50 years of ideas. It may be well-intentioned, but the result is a system that is inflexible, a system that is bureaucratic, a system that does not encourage or even allow for innovation or flexibility."

Bishop, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, which is holding the hearing, has often questioned whether the federal government should be involved in land management, especially when the federal and state partnership can be unwieldy.

The hearing will examine "why not just let the states who have more of a vested interest in the health and viability of the lands in the first place [manage them] ... [and see if] it makes more sense for the states to have the authority and sole responsibility to manage the land instead of it being a state-federal-type situation," said Bishop spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin.

Environmentalists tend to oppose these viewpoints because they fear states would open up the protected lands to development.

"If somehow the state would wrest control over public lands, it's clear they would be sold or leased to the highest bidder," Steve Bloch, an attorney and energy program director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said about Utah's land transfer bills.

Environmentalist groups from outside the state also argue that the federal lands aren't just Utah's.

"The federal lands are lands that belong to all Americans, and the notion that the American people take this wonderful resource and hand it over to a single state to do what they want with it is simply nonsensical," said Paul Spitler, the director of wilderness policy for the Wilderness Society. "These lands are a national treasure, and they belong to all Americans, and they should stay that way for perpetuity."

Schedule: The hearing is Tuesday, May 21, at 10:30 a.m. in 1324 Longworth.

Witness: Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R), chairman of the Western Governors' Association.

Unmasking Liberalism on the Arizona Range

by Dan Daggert

Some of the most important lessons I've learned about liberalism I've learned from an unexpected source -- nature. Some of the clearest and most instructive of those lessons have come from a U. S. Forest Service "study area" in the central Arizona high desert.

In 1946, the U. S. Forest Service erected a fence around a portion of an area exhausted by human overuse and misuse in this arid rangeland to demonstrate one of the core principles of modern liberal environmentalism -- that the best way to restore damaged land to ecological health is to protect it from the impacts of humans. Today, the Drake Exclosure (The Drake) has been under the beneficent care of nature alone for more than 66 years, but...

Rather than the revived Eden one would expect to find after 66 years of environmental protection, much of the Drake, today, is as bare as a well-used parking lot.

"Actually, it looks pretty much the same as it did back in 1946," said a Forest Service scientist studying the area, "but the trees were smaller."

Studies show that 90% of the plant species that lived within its boundaries before it was protected no longer live there. In fact, much of the land supports no plants at all, and, judging from the lack of tracks and dung, not much wildlife either.

When I bring environmentalists here and ask them what they would do to remedy this apparent failure of one of their most basic principles, invariably, they say they would continue to protect the area even though that policy has failed for 66+ years.

Some even say that they would extend this failed policy beyond the Drake's protective fence.
This is where things become even more revealing

Outside the fence a local rancher has applied the basic conservative principle that doing nothing is not always the best remedy for doing the wrong thing, and...

If something doesn't work, do something else. Better yet, if something does work -- emulate it.

This rancher manages his cattle as Nature manages her own grazers -- in herds moving regularly in response to natural conditions and allowing the land to recover before they return. On the land managed in this way, Nature's "Yes" is as obvious as the "No" she has made so clear inside the Drake. Outside the Drake's protective fence, on the land grazed by the conservative rancher's cattle, a healthy stand of native grasses has repopulated the land; the plant species that have ceased to exist within the Drake can still be found; and there is plenty of evidence of wildlife as well as livestock.

Environmentalists react to this unexpected anomaly in a way that is revealing precisely because it isn't surprising. First, the fact that the "protected" land inside the exclosure is essentially morbid and desertified, doesn't shake their faith in their prescription for a second. In fact, they don't really seem to care about the condition of the land inside or outside the exclosure.

What they do seem to care about is that this inconvenient failure might put their liberal prescription -- that we ought to protect as much of nature as possible -- in jeopardy.


Oregon family’s sawmill fails as logs, way of life dwindle

Jennifer Phillippi’s grandparents started producing lumber in this corner of Oregon timber country in 1922, when a man could set up a mill, log the trees within range of a team of horses, and move the mill to a new stand when those trees ran out. In those days the forests were full, timber and work both plentiful. But now what was the last sawmill standing in Josephine County has hit the end of the line after yet another timber family had to give up hope the lands surrounding them could provide enough of the big pine logs they needed to stay afloat. Phillippi and her husband, Link, are spending their last days at the helm of Rough & Ready Lumber handing out severance checks and hugs to their 88 employees, many of them also the third generation in the mill. The sawmill shut down in mid-April and will ship the last finished lumber in June. “What they tell me is, one door closes and another door opens,” said Ron Hults, 50, who worked at the mill for 18 years operating the various machinery it takes to turn a rough log into a smooth piece of lumber. “I’m waiting for the open door.” So are many of the nearly 1 million who live in Oregon’s timber country. After World War II, the U.S. Forest Service began selling timber to build homes for baby boomers. Bulldozers carved roads into the hillsides to haul out the logs. Mills operated round-the-clock. No tree was too big to be cut. “You could get a job anyplace,” said Jim Ford, 85, of Grants Pass, the Josephine County seat. Ford quit high school during World War II to work as a logger. At 14, he threw steel cables around giant logs so they could be hauled and loaded onto trucks. After the war, he and his brothers started their own logging business. It closed in 1993. All that remains now are faded photos of logging trucks and a collection of hard hats, chain saws and pulleys hanging from the walls and ceiling of the shop behind Ford’s house...more

Political forest management has replaced scientific timber harvest

The 1994 Northwest Forest Plan was greeted with great political fanfare. It was supposed to "end the timber wars" by providing a stable and reliable long-term supply of timber volume for industry while protecting the northern spotted owl habitat and population. However, the plan has proven to be a colossal failure. The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service have come nowhere near meeting their allowable annual sale quantity. Timber sales are continually contested and the spotted owl population continues to decline even with drastic timber reductions in harvest volume. Now the barred owl, a natural enemy for the spotted owl, has begun displacing the spotted owls. Mills must have a stable and reliable quantity of timber volume to survive. Because of lack of sufficient volume from federal lands, several mills have closed, leaving two local survivors. In attempts to obtain agreement and satisfaction regarding public agencies, industry and the environmentalists, a few "new timber sale prescriptions" have been developed in cooperation with academia. These sales are attempts to create jobs and get timber volume to mills while protecting the environment. These prescription sales, too, have been failures because they have not met the overall intended results. Thus, not everyone is satisfied with them. These new attempts have been very expensive, have produced very little commercial timber and too little revenue to be profitable to the counties Thus, they haven't met the legal requirements of the O&C Act of 1937 to produce revenue for the local counties. Apparently the only timber sales acceptable to environmentalists are thinning of small-diameter trees near homes to reduce wildfire hazards. Such sales produce little commercial timber and are either below cost or provide very little revenue. Such "treatments" produce political, not professional or scientific, overall forest management...more

How Ted Turner Ended Up With Yellowstone’s Most-Prized Bison

...People who think bison should roam freely in America have always had a problem with Turner. But in 2010, when Montana governor Brian Schweitzer requested that he set aside a temporary home for 80 Yellowstone bison that had been quarantined so wildlife managers could see if they were free of the cow-turned-bison disease brucellosis, critics went crazy. It wasn't just that the feds were leasing something owned by the public to a private businessman who makes a portion of his living selling buffalo meat to his 44 Ted's Montana Grills. It was that in exchange for caring for the bison for a five-year period, Turner would get to keep 75 percent of the herd's calves for conservation. Recently, four of the biggest critics filed a lawsuit against the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, contending that the animals are a public resource that should be shielded from privatization. According to the Billings Gazette, the suits' plaintiffs said the state should either move the animals onto public land or pay Turner to take care of them rather than give up their young as compensation. But last week, Gallatin County Judge Holly Brown dismissed the request, stating that state lawmakers gave the the state wildlife agency broad decision-making authority in the management of bison. Lucky for Turner. He now gets the babies of some of America's most "heritage rich" buffalos. In his defense, he may actually be helping to contribute to a brucellosis-free bison herd in Yellowstone...more

Judge mandates joint talks on lynx

A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to consult with wildlife officials to ensure the agency takes adequate measures to protect Canada lynx in portions of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said in Thursday’s order that the Forest Service violated federal regulations by not revising its management plans for 11 national forests to take lynx habitat into consideration. Canada lynx are a threatened species believed to number in the hundreds in the continental U.S. In 2009, the Forest Service designated 39,000 square miles across the U.S. as critical habitat for the rarely seen predator, which is roughly the size of a bobcat and feeds primarily on snowshoe hares. Critical habitat designations can determine what activities are allowed on forest land. Plaintiffs from the Cottonwood Environmental Law Center said Christensen’s ruling will ensure adequate plans are in place to protect lynx across 10 million acres. The government is being sued separately to come up with a recovery plan for lynx, which were listed as threatened in 2000.

Wildlife agency dismisses wolf baiting claims

Montana wildlife officials on Tuesday rejected allegations that a Montana rancher and hunting guide illegally baited wolves by leaving sheep carcasses piled up on his property near Yellowstone National Park. Wildlife advocates had accused William Hoppe, who lives near Gardiner, of intentionally luring the predators to his land and shooting one after wolves killed at least 13 of his sheep. Hoppe is a long-time critic of the reintroduction of wolves to the Yellowstone area two decades ago. But Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks officials said an investigation determined Hoppe buried all but one of the sheep that were killed by wolves on April 24. The remaining animal was dragged away by a grizzly bear. "We certainly understand there has been a lot of talk about this story, but we have to go with the facts on the ground," FWP spokeswoman Andrea Jones said, adding that there was no evidence of baiting.Hoppe obtained two shoot-on-site kill permits from the state following the sheep attack. He used one to kill a wolf from Yellowstone National Park last week and has offered to forfeit the second. He said he's received two death threats and harassing phone calls and emails after the baiting accusation was leveled by representatives of Wolves of the Rockies and the National Wolfwatcher Coalition...more

Idaho issues "kill order" on wolf who killed 31 sheep

Sheep graze on Flat Top Ranch
The owner of the Flat Top Ranch near Carey said Wednesday that he recently lost more than two dozen sheep to wolves over a two-day period.  John Peavey said numerous lambs and ewes were killed by wolves on Friday, May 10, and Sunday, May 12.  Idaho Wildlife Services State Director Todd Grimm said Thursday that the final mortality count was at 31—18 lambs and 13 ewes.  Peavey said a Fish and Game representative determined that wolves were to blame, rather than another type of predator. As a result, Grimm said, Idaho Wildlife Services is carrying out a kill order on “at least” two wolves in the area. Peavey said the sheep are currently vulnerable because they are in lambing season, when young lambs and birthing ewes can become easy prey. One of the ewes killed was in the process of birthing triplets, he said, and one of the lambs killed was the first—and only—one of the triplets to be born.  “The guy was probably out of the womb five minutes,” he said. “It was really a heartbreaker.”  Peavey said the lamb, the ewe and the two unborn triplets were killed Sunday morning...more

"Pot Pigs" - Butcher BB Ranch Is Feeding Marijuana to Pigs

In a quick conversation with BB Ranch butcher William von Schneidau recently, he said to me, “Oh, and, by the way, we are feeding our pigs marijuana now. We’re calling them pot pigs.” At first I didn’t think I heard him right. Then I thought he might be joking. But he wasn’t. The Pike Place Market butcher shop is most definitely adding “weed to the feed,” as Schneidau says in this getting-funky-with-it video about his recent Pot Pig Gig dinner. Seattle got its first taste of marijuana-fed pigs at this event in March, when BB Ranch served a head-to-tail menu of swine fed on stems, leaves, and root bulbs from Top Shelf Organic, a medical marijuana co-op. So it’s not like the pigs were smoking a hookah or grazing on buds. All farms have excess, even the marijuana-growing kind, and with the new legality of the drug, it made sense to him to try and help out by finding a use for those cast-off bits of plant. It sounds like an idea conceived by someone holding a bong in a hazy basement, but hey, sustainability comes in all forms. Mixing the fresh herby greens to the regular pig slop adds fiber to the pigs' diet and reportedly gave the meat a more savory bite. Von Schneidau hopes to do a blind taste test soon to compare pot-fed pork's flavor with the traditional variety. He currently has a pot prosciutto curing at BB Ranch, if you're curious for a taste...more

Grass fed beef just took on a whole new meaning.

Come on over to my place if you want some marijuana meatloaf or a "pot" roast.

Here's their Pot Pig Gig video:


Slight but tough rancher helped tame wild, wooly Arizona

Mossman as a teenager
Burton C. Mossman stood barely 5 feet 8 inches tall with his boots on, and weighed 160 pounds after a steak dinner. But he was tough as nails. In 1901, Arizona Territorial Gov. Nathan O. Murphy met with Mossman, a prominent cattle rancher, at a saloon in Holbrook to ask him to be captain of the newly formed Arizona Rangers. The Rangers' mission was to rid the Arizona Territory of cattle rustlers, horse thieves and murderers. Mossman accepted the position and chose a sergeant and 12 men, including veteran Rough Riders, lawmen and able residents. In the first 12 months, these men rid the territory of more than 125 wanted outlaws, and scared many more across the border. Mossman is most famous for his bold and daring manhunt of one of the most wanted men in the history of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico: Augustine Chacon, who had murdered 15 Americans and 37 Mexicans. Crossing the border unarmed and with the help of Burt Alvord, an outlaw who agreed to help in hopes of getting a lighter sentence, Mossman brought Chacon into the gallows. In the eight years the Arizona Rough Riders were active, they were very effective at stopping crime and driving out criminals. Ultimately, they did so well they put themselves out of business. Most of them became successful businessmen and prominent citizens. Mossman was no exception. Following the Rangers, he spent many years ranching in northern Mexico and the United States, and finally hung up his saddle in 1944. For Mossman, his final career was a continuation of his first. He was born in 1867 to George W., a Civil War veteran, and Anna (West) Mossman in Aurora, Ill. He was reared in Minnesota, but by age 16 he had come to the Territory of New Mexico. At 21 he was in charge of his first cattle spread, and nine years later was he managing the 2 million acres of the Hash Knife Ranch in Northern Arizona, near Holbrook. Like most real cowboys, Mossman never died, he just faded away in 1956, in Roswell, N.M. He is buried in Kansas City, Mo...more

Pioneer rancher credits horse with saving his life

...You'd have to go all the way back to the 1800s to come to a full appreciation of the bond between man and horse in West Texas. Stories abound of the bonds formed between horses and their riders in the earliest days of history and Midland was certainly no exception. There wasn't a race involved, nor was there a game of polo that strengthened the ties, but simply a story of survival and instinct -- one wrong and one right. It was 1888, and pioneer rancher O.B. Holt found himself in a brutal blizzard unable to judge distance or direction because of the wintry conditions. In an interview with J. Evetts Haley in 1927, now in the Haley Memorial Library archives, Holt explained his dire, near death experience and how he showed gratitude to the horse that saved his life. "I have been lost in snow storms to where I gave up," Holt told Haley. "I had one horse that saved my life." Holt spoke of how, being unable to determine his whereabouts, he tried to guide his mount in a direction opposite from where shelter was. The snow was a foot deep and when night hit Holt guessed he was about 10 miles from his ranch. "I tried to pull him in one direction but he kept wanting to go in another," Holt said. "I finally gave him his head. I could hardly get off him when he reached camp. I had two little rooms and opened the door and let him in. The first thing I did was throw a suggan (covering) over him. I took him into the kitchen, pulled off the saddle and kept him there all night." When he sold his ranch, he gave the buyers everything -- except the horse. He would keep it another 25 years...more

Tim Cox "No Matter The Weather"

Sunday, May 19, 2013

648 Americans killed in Mexico in a decade

When Malcolm X’s grandson was beaten to death in a seedy Mexico City bar last week his name joined the hundreds of US citizens who have been murdered in this country in recent years. Excluding terror attacks and US soldiers killed in action, Mexico has seen more homicides of Americans than any other part of the world in the past decade, according to an analysis of US State Department figures. At least 648 American citizens were murdered in Mexico between October 2002 and December 2012 -- the latest available data -- representing more than 40 per cent of the almost 1,600 victims worldwide over the same period...more