Friday, June 14, 2013

NMSU calf roper loses finger, still ties calf in 8.6

From the NMSU Rodeo FaceBook page:

CNFR Update: Paeden Underwood started a good ride but his bareback horse triumphed this time.

Bryce Runyan was a 9.2 in the tie-down roping moving him to 3rd in the average, he should come back solid in saturdays short-round.

Bo Simpson was 8.6 in the tie-down, currently splitting 3rd in the round. However, while dismounting to tie his calf, Bo cut his right ring finger off after the first joint. Talk about tough, cuts his finger off and still makes a smokin run. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Until tomorrow night... wish us luck and GO AGGIES!
Coach Brown's comments:
As a rodeo coach and CNFR Production Manager, I can say I have never had to stop a rodeo before to find a finger..

This picture of Simpson's run is in today's Casper Star-Tribune

Congressman looks for truce in Pinon Canyon fight

A Colorado congressman is pushing a measure he hopes will bury the Army's long-dormant plans to expand Fort Carson's Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner has offered a measure that would ban the Army from expanding the 235,000-acre training area without a congressional vote. Gardner said that would put an end to an annual push by ranchers in southeastern Colorado to ban expansion funding, and tamp down years of rancor between the Army and its neighbors. "It's quite frankly not been good for Fort Carson or the people of Southern Colorado," said Gardner, whose 4th Congressional District includes Pinon Canyon. "I think the negative publicity surrounding the yearly fight was not good for Fort Carson." Every year since 2006, Congress has taken up legislation to ban funding to expand the training area. The Army in 2005 issued plans to expand Pinon Canyon, with its ambitions starting at an eye-popping 418,000 acres before it settled on a 100,000-acre expansion. Gardner's measure, an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act which has drawn bipartisan support, doesn't block future expansion, but makes it more difficult. The Army would be required to complete an environmental impact assessment for expansion and get measures to pay for the land through both chambers of Congress...more

A Congressman who actually wants Congress to be held accountable for what it spends - what a novel idea!

A similar amendment should be attached to each agency's appropriation bill. 

Klamath irrigation shutoffs for ranchers begin

During past droughts, ranchers in the upper Klamath Basin could keep irrigating until the rivers ran dry. This year, the rules have changed. The Klamath Tribes have been formally recognized by the state as having the oldest water rights in the region and they are demanding they be enforced on behalf of endangered fish that the tribes hold sacred. Watermasters on Wednesday started going ranch to ranch along the Sprague River and its tributaries notifying them they had to stop irrigating, because their water rights were junior to the tribes’, said Douglas Woodcock, field services administrator for the state Water Resources Department. And under time-honored water law, first in time is first in right. “It’s painful,” said Don Gentry, chairman of the Klamath Tribes. “But we have to protect our resources and really make sure our water rights are enforced.” Woodcock said it was not yet clear whether all the irrigators drawing from the Sprague have to be shut off. It will take the next week and a half to make all the notifications. Shutoffs on the Wood and Williamson rivers are to follow...more

Southern Nevada Water Authority's pipeline plan draws fire during hearing

ELY— A plan to funnel billions of gallons of rural groundwater to Las Vegas NV came under wide-ranging attack Thursday, as opponents laid out legal, scientific & even spiritual arguments against the - Southern NV Water Authority’s pipeline. Lawyers representing Great Basin ranchers, environmentalists, American Indian tribes & two counties in Utah spent the - day trying to convince a district judicial judge to overturn a 2011 ruling by State Engineer Jason King granting water for the - arguable project. In turn, lawyers for the - state & the - authority defended King’s work, which cleared the - wholesale water agency to eventually pump up to 84,000 acre-feet of groundwater a year — — enough for more than 160,000 homes — — from four rural valleys in Lincoln & White Pine counties.

Ruling favors Canyon dude rancher

A federal judge has agreed to enforce the terms of a 2007 settlement between a dude rancher and the federal government over the paving of a road to the Grand Canyon Skywalk. U.S. District Court Judge Neil V. Wake ruled Thursday that representatives of the U.S. Department of the Interior need to work with Grand Canyon Ranch Resort owner Nigel Turner and demonstrate that federal officials are abiding by settlement conditions. But Wake refused to grant Turner’s motion for a temporary restraining order to halt further construction for at least 30 days so he could review site plans. Wake said information exchanges between the government and Turner can occur while construction is ongoing and that any objections can be raised in court. The judge wanted both parties to “move forward in good faith” and said he would order further discovery if necessary. Last week, Turner blocked the existing road out of frustration with the government. Turner’s working dude ranch attracts 400 to 500 visitors a day and accommodates about 40 overnight guests, many from overseas. He claims business has suffered as a result of Hualapai tourism traffic and the noise from construction of the new permanent road...more

NCBA Accepting Applications for Public Policy Internship

WASHINGTON (June 10, 2013) – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) government affairs office in Washington, D.C., is accepting applications for a fall 2013 public policy internship. The deadline to submit an application for this opportunity is July 8, 2013. “NCBA’s public policy internship gives college students a one-of-a-kind view into the policy making process in Washington, D.C., while helping them prepare to transition from college to career,” said NCBA Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts. “We are looking for college students with an interest in the beef industry, public policy and communications to help NCBA represent cattlemen and cattlewomen in Washington, D.C. The internship is designed to work closely with the lobbying team on Capitol Hill and assist with NCBA’s regulatory efforts.” The full-time internship will begin Sept. 9, 2013, and end Dec. 13, 2013. To apply, interested college juniors, seniors or graduate students should submit the application, a college transcript, two letters of recommendation and a resume to More information and the internship application are available on NCBA’s website. “This isn’t a ‘check-the-box’ style of internship. NCBA’s public policy interns work alongside NCBA staff on critical issues ranging from agriculture policy to trade, the environment and more.” Butts said. “If you or someone you know is interested in this opportunity, we encourage you to apply.”

Investment in 4G and smartphones changing the work on farms, ranches

Kendall Atkins, a "darn near 80-years-old" panhandle farmer, remembers well the days when market prices remained fixed all day and horses tilled the land. "We used to dream about sitting in our house, driving the tractor by the push of a button," he recalled. Now, with GPS guiding machinery and rural 4G networks providing data--and more--instantly, even when farmers or ranchers are out in the field, those days are apparently here. One smart phone application allows farmers to determine the precise chemical mix necessary, when starting a pesticide or fertilizer run from any point...(subscription)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wyo. ranchers complain about Western Watersheds Project influence on local grazing decisions

Wyoming ranchers say an Idaho-based environmental group has too much influence over how local grazing allotments are managed on public lands, but a representative of the group says it's only making sure that laws and regulations are being followed. Ranchers complained about the Western Watersheds Project to federal land managers at last week's Wyoming Stock Growers Association annual convention. There are about 2,400 grazing permits on Bureau of Land Management land in Wyoming, and more than 400 on land administered by the U.S. Forest Service in the state. Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Stock Growers Association, said Western Watersheds actively intervenes in many grazing permit renewals in Wyoming. "One of the things that we find bothersome is that Western Watersheds tends to get themselves in a position as an 'interested party' so they're sitting at the table when I visit with my range professional in the agency about how I'm going to graze my livestock," Magagna said. "They're often there, and we don't believe that's an appropriate role for the public." It's more appropriate for Western Watersheds and others to be involved when federal agencies are reviewing the overall grazing program, he said...more

Energy Dep't Spending Millions So You Can Buy a $50K Hydrogen-Powered Car

The Energy Department has $9 million more taxpayer dollars to spend on projects that may make a very expensive car less expensive and more acceptable to consumers. The latest round of funding is intended to accelerate the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, backup power systems, and hydrogen refueling stations. "These investments will strengthen U.S. leadership in cost-effective hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and help industry bring these technologies into the marketplace at lower cost," the news release said. The cost of making a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car has plummeted, USA Today reported last month. Vehicles that cost around $1 million in past years now cost about $140,000 to produce, and Toyota said it expects the cost to be around $50,000 three years from now, when it plans to begin selling its models in the U.S. Ironically, the Energy Department credits cheaper fossil fuel with reducing the cost of producing hydrogen fuel cells: "Recent development of the United States’ tremendous shale gas resources has not only helped directly cut electricity and transportation costs for consumers and businesses, but is also helping to reduce the costs of producing hydrogen and operating hydrogen fuel cells," the Energy Department said...more

While Colorado burns, Republicans slam Hickenlooper for not funding air tanker fleet

Colorado’s wildfire season ignited all at once this week, with at least five blazes claiming homes, causing evacuations and stretching the state’s firefighting capability to its limits. It also ignited another political debate, as Republican politicians took to Twitter to complain that a new law authorizing the state to purchase its own fleet of air tankers was amended to make funding the program discretionary rather than mandatory. As a result, Colorado has the legal clearance to buy up to three 3,000-gallon large air tankers and three tactical aircraft, but no money has been appropriated for the purchases. Aircraft from other states have been summoned to help fight fires in southern and central Colorado, but when the most destructive one flared up — the Black Forest fire, which by Wednesday afternoon has destroyed as many as 100 homes in a neighborhood north of Colorado Springs — bill sponsor Sen. Steve King texted fellow Republican Sen. Greg Brophy with the message “no aircraft available.” King called the lack of funding for the air tanker fleet the “biggest failure” of the Democratic-dominated legislative session. “Colorado has four million acres of dead trees and we are one lightning strike, one accidental match strike, one intentional arsonist or terrorist match strike away from a catastrophic fire that will change Colorado for generations to come,” King said. “God help us and our lower basin neighbors if one of those catastrophic fires are in our watersheds.”...more

Sierra Club leaders visit Utah to unveil national campaign on monuments

Using Utah canyon country as a backdrop, senior Sierra Club executives on Tuesday unveiled a renewed effort to protect the nation’s scenic treasures, highlighting environmentalists’ hopes to establish a Greater Canyonlands National Monument and shut the door on tar-sands development. The "Our Wild America" campaign also steps up the environmental group’s commitment to connect kids with nature, restore forest health and reduce the nation’s reliance on the fossil fuels behind climate change. "Pollution, mining, drilling and fracking are encroaching on some of our last remaining wild wonders, and our society is becoming increasingly disconnected from nature at a time when climate disruption is making it more important than ever to be expanding our conservation legacy," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, author of the book Coming Clean — Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal. Brune is on a two-week road trip around the Southwest with his wife and three young children, visiting key spots like the newly designated Rio Grande del Norte and Chimney Rock national monuments and areas around Grand Canyon National Park that conservationists hope to see protected...more

Feds decide not to release wolves in Arizona

Wildlife officials have decided to return a pair of endangered Mexican gray wolves to captivity after their pups died in an acclimation pen where the would-be pack was awaiting release in eastern Arizona. The so-called Coronado Pack was moved from Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico to a site south of Alpine in late April. The adult pair are being held inside a chain-link fence in Apache National Forest and will be returned to a captive-wolf center this week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said. It would not say which center...more

U.S. Sugar Support Lives: Protection Too Sweet To End

The provisions by which Washington transfers wealth from 316 million American consumers to a few thousand sugar producers are part of a "temporary" commodity support program created during the Great Depression. Not even the New Deal could prolong the Depression forever. It ended. But sugar protectionism is forever. The Senate recently voted 54-45 against even mild reforms of the baroque architecture of protections for producers of sugar cane and sugar beets. The government guarantees up to 85% of the U.S. sugar market for U.S.-produced sugar. The remaining portion of the market is allocated for imports from particular countries at a preferential tariff rate. Minimum prices are guaranteed for sugar from cane and beets. Surplus sugar — meaning that which U.S. producers cannot profitably sell — is bought by the government and sold at a loss to producers of ethanol, another program whose irrationalities are ubiquitous. All this probably means $3.7 billion in higher sugar costs. It also means scores of thousands of lost jobs as manufacturers of candy and products with significant sugar content move jobs to countries where they can pay the much lower world price of sugar...more

Fred Thompson

Report: FedGov paid $332M in employee bonuses in 2012. Since they were busy burying scandals, should we call these "shovel-ready jobs"?

DFW now a ‘command and control’ center for Mexican cartels

The slaying in Southlake Town Square of a Mexican attorney with reputed ties to drug cartels was a brazen and well-coordinated assassination that illustrates the increasingly long and lethal reach of the brutal criminal organizations, security experts say. The flamboyant public hit was unusual because Mexican cartels try to stay off the radar on this side of the border. But it underlines an ominous trend: Dallas-Fort Worth has become a key “command and control” center for moving drugs and people across the country, top state and federal law enforcement officials confirm. DFW is more than 400 miles from the Mexico border, but its central location and vast network of interstates and rail lines make it a vital distribution point for drugs. “When you have these kinds of incidents in your nicer communities, it really resonates and brings home the cartels’ reach,” said Fred Burton, a security analyst with Austin-based Stratfor Global Intelligence who monitors the cartels, their areas of influence and their drug routes. “There’s a perception that these guys don’t do that kind of stuff here, but in reality they do. They are selective, but if they do want to kill somebody, they’ve been successful in doing it, as evidenced by what happened in Southlake,” he said. The cartels’ tentacles reach everywhere, Burton said. “If you are in a large city in America, in all likelihood there is a cartel presence there. No city is untouched anymore,” said Burton, a former counterterrorism agent with the State Department from 1985 to 1999. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Mexican cartels “constitute the greatest organized-crime threat” to the state. Six of the eight major cartels operate in Texas: Los Zetas, the Gulf Cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel, the Beltran Leyva Organization, La Familia Michoacana and the Juarez Cartel, according to the Texas Public Safety Threat Overview released by the DPS in late March. In the last half-dozen years or so, the cartels have expanded beyond drug smuggling to become multifaceted organized-crime groups dealing in murder, extortion, kidnapping, human trafficking, oil theft, money laundering, auto theft, weapons smuggling and corruption, McCraw said...more

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ghost of the Rockies - Movie Trailer

Government’s Shocking Interference in Rancher’s Life

by Hans von Spakovsky

A startling decision on government wrongdoing by a federal court in U.S. v. Estate of E. Wayne Hage gives credence to those who say that the federal government is engaging in a “war on the West” that is hurting rural communities. It is a stark reminder of how powerful our federal government is today and how it can ruin the lives and businesses of American citizens.
The 104-page opinion by U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Jones on May 23 in Nevada tells a sordid and infuriating tale of a two-decades-long conspiracy among federal employees of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of the Department of the Interior to deny the grazing rights of a Nevada ranching family, interfere with their water rights, and destroy their cattle business by scaring away their customers.
The case has long, complicated procedural history, but in essence, the federal government in 1991 refused to renew a grazing permit that the Hage ranch had held on federal lands for a very long time. The government also interfered with the Hage family’s water rights, which pre-dated the implementation of the grazing permit system in 1934, by restricting their access to various streams and wells. The BLM seized the Hages’ cattle and filed a civil trespass action against Hage, at one point even building fences around waterways to keep thirsty cattle from getting water, a scene right out of a 1930s Western movie.
Judge Jones did not mince words: “[T]he Government’s actions over the past two decades shocks the conscience of the Court.” The judge concluded that the government denied the renewal of the Hages’ grazing permit for a “nonsensical” reason that was “arbitrary” and “vindictive.” The employees of the BLM “entered into a literal, intentional conspiracy to deprive the Hages not only of their permits but also of their vested water rights.” Some of the Hages’ “vested stock watering rights” on local streams and wells dated back as far as 1866 and 1874; most of them had been established by late 1800s and early 1900s.
The court did award the government $165.88 for the grazing of the Hages’ cattle on federal land after the permit was denied, quite a recovery for the Interior Department in a 20-year dispute (there is no telling how many millions the government spent pursuing this case). But the court held that the government had abused its discretion “through a series of actions designed to strip the Estate of its grazing permits, and ultimately to strip Defendants of their ability to use their water rights, for reasons unrelated to the appropriate use of the range or ensuring that historical grazing use is respected.”
Judge Jones issued an injunction against the federal government interfering with the Hage family’s water rights and ordered it to grant a grazing permit in accordance with the “historical usages and preferences” in that area of Nevada. The judge said he was restricting the government’s “normal discretion” in “this extreme case because of the conspiracy…and the obvious continuing animus against Hage by” government officials. Two government employees were held in contempt by the judge for sending trespass notices to people who leased or sold cattle to the Hages in order to “pressure other parties not to do business with the Hages, and even to discourage or punish testimony in the” case. The judge referred them to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for “potential prosecution for obstruction of justice.” That is quite an indictment of the Interior Department and its employees.
Sadly, Wayne Hage, the patriarch of the Hage family, did not live to see his eventual triumph over the Interior Department. His son, as the executor of the estate, carried on the long and expensive fight against the federal behemoth. But the Hage family fight shows just how dangerous the power of the federal government can be in the hands of bureaucrats who don’t respect the ranchers, miners, and farmers who settled the frontier and who still live and produce there today.
Heritage Foundation

Judge says BLM underreports grazing impacts

A scathing decision by an administrative law judge has concluded the Bureau of Land Management underreports impacts of grazing leases on Rich County’s 25,000-acre Duck Creek allotment. If the ruling’s reasoning is applied broadly, it could change the way BLM manages grazing on its holdings across the arid West, according to Jim Catlin of Wild Utah Project. The 140-page opinion by Judge James Heffernan, released last month, said the BLM ignored inconvenient data and contrarian views in its environmental assessment of the Duck Creek project, intended to be a showcase for public-lands grazing. Also, the BLM’s grazing-management practices could violate the agency’s own range-health standards and put sage grouse habitat at risk, according to the ruling that remands the project back to the BLM to revise it in accordance with Heffernan’s findings. He released his decision after fielding the longest appeals hearing in the history of the Taylor Grazing Act. The transcript exceeds 15,000 pages and Catlin himself spent 200 hours on the witness stand. Utah BLM officials say their 2009 decision, which Heffernan reversed, put in place a four-pasture rotation system, exclosures and upland water troughs to keep cattle out of riparian areas, extensive monitoring and other innovations that are not ordinarily required. BLM is considering appealing the decision to the Interior Board of Land Appeals and has until June 17 to file...more

Massive dust storms hit southeast Colorado, evoking "Dirty Thirties"

Jillane Hixson stopped dusting her home about noon on a clear Friday and looked out the window to a storm roiling in the distance. Small dust devils kicked up, and within moments, a punishing dust storm slammed into Hixson Farms at full force, trapping Hixson and her husband, Dave Tzilkowski, in their home for 15 hours to kick off the Memorial Day weekend. "You hear sand and dirt pounding against the window," said Hixson, a fifth-generation farmer whose land and home are 4 miles south of Lamar. "You know that it's your crop that's hitting the windows and blowing away, and it's not just affecting you, but also everyone else." They raced to close the blinds and curtains — to minimize the thick fog of dirt seeping inside and to block the grim vision. "You can't stand to look at it," she said. "It's like a train wreck, looking a disaster full in the face." They paced and they prayed as 60 mph winds kept coming. "At one point, the sand was pounding on the glass so hard, I didn't know if it was hail or dirt," she said. By late evening, so much dirt was floating inside the house, they had to cover their faces with handkerchiefs. "It was in your nose, on your tongue, in your eyes," she said. By the time they woke at 6 a.m. Saturday, the storm had passed. They opened the front door and saw 3-foot drifts of dirt everywhere. "We were shellshocked, almost immobilized by depression," she said. "We were overwhelmed by the huge financial loss, and by the physical and emotional stress."...more

Amount of Dust Blown Across the Western U.S. Is Increasing

The amount of dust being blown across the landscape has increased over the last 17 years in large swaths of the West, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder. The escalation in dust emissions -- which may be due to the interplay of several factors, including increased windstorm frequency, drought cycles and changing land-use patterns -- has implications both for the areas where the dust is first picked up by the winds and for the places where the dust is put back down. The increase in dust erosion matters, the researchers said, because it can impoverish the soil in the areas where dust is being lost. Wind tends to pick up the finer particles in the soils, and those are the same particles that have the most nutrients and can hold onto the most soil moisture, Brahney said. Increasing amounts of dust in the atmosphere also can cause people living in the rural West a variety of problems, including poor air quality and low visibility. In extreme cases, dust storms have shut down freeways, creating problems for travelers. The areas where the dust travels to are also affected, though the impacts are more mixed. When dust is blown onto an existing snowpack, as is often the case in the Rockies, the dark particles better absorb the sun's energy and cause the snowpack to melt more quickly. But the dust that's blown in also brings nutrients to alpine areas, and the calcium in dust can buffer the effects of acid rain...more

Undervalued Coal Leases Seen as Costing Taxpayers

The Interior Department is failing to collect tens of millions of dollars in lease payments for coal mining on federal lands, according to an agency inspector general’s report released Tuesday.  The study found that the Bureau of Land Management was improperly applying its own rules for assessing the fair market value of minerals beneath federally owned lands, shortchanging the government and providing a bonanza for a handful of large coal companies operating in the Powder River Basin of the Mountain West. The report, the product of one of a series of investigations under way of federal coal leasing and royalty collection, indicated that significant problems remained in a program that has periodically been hit by scandal and that has not undergone a serious overhaul in decades...more

U.S. Forest Service Smokejumper Killed in California

A 28-year-old U.S. Forest Service firefighter was killed battling a wildfire in the Modoc National Forest in California. Luke Sheehy, of Susanville, Calif., was a member of the California Smokejumpers, based in Redding, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. Sheehy was struck by a tree while working on the Saddle Back Fire. Efforts to resuscitate him following the 5 p.m. incident were not successful.  He was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Alturas where he was pronounced dead...more

IRS Buying Spying Equipment: Covert Cameras in Coffee Trays, Plants

The IRS, currently in the midst of scandals involving the targeting of conservative groups and lavish taxpayer-funded conferences, is ordering surveillance equipment that includes hidden cameras in coffee trays, plants and clock radios. The IRS wants to secure the surveillance equipment quickly – it posted a solicitation on June 6 and is looking to close the deal by Monday, June 10. The agency already has a company lined up for the order but is not commenting on the details...more

They need these hidden cameras.  While they are away at one of their extravagant conferences (learning how to line dance) they can still monitor the Tea Party and other such groups.  See, there really is a need for them.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Klamath Tribes and federal government put out historic call for water rights in drought-stricken Klamath Basin

The Klamath Tribes and the federal government called their water rights in southern Oregon's Klamath Basin for the first time Monday, likely cutting off irrigation water to hundreds of cattle ranchers and farmers in the upper basin this summer. The historic calls come after Oregon set water rights priorities earlier this year in the basin, home to one of the nation's most persistent water wars. Drought has cut water flows in upper basin rivers to 40 percent of normal. "This is a devastating day," said Becky Hyde, a longtime cattle rancher in the upper basin's Sprague River Valley. "This is such a core piece of our economy. It's not like we can lean back on tourism and things can be OK." The Klamath Tribes' water rights apply to flows in Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, including the Sprague, Williamson and Wood rivers that run through the tribes' former reservation. In March, after 38 years of work, the state found that the tribes' water rights dated to "time immemorial," making them by far the most senior. That means the tribes will get water to protect fish in traditional fishing grounds, including two species of suckers on the endangered species list. Farmers irrigating through the federal government's 1905 Klamath Reclamation Project, covering roughly 200,000 acres that draw from the lake, will also get water, though they'll face restrictions, too. But "off-project" irrigators on about 150,000 acres above the lake generally have junior water rights to reclamation-project irrigators. They'll have to tap wells if they can or see their water supplies reduced or shut off. Some 300 to 400 irrigators – and 70,000 to 100,000 cattle – could be impacted, upper basin water groups estimated. State officials said shut offs could begin as soon as Wednesday, and would be calibrated throughout the summer as river flows and weather dictate...more

Supreme Court agrees to hear Sierra Nevada forest case

A long-running Sierra Nevada forest planning dispute will now be settled by the Supreme Court in what could shape up as a crucial public lands case. On Monday, the court agreed to referee the dispute pitting environmentalists with the Portland, Ore.-based Pacific Rivers Council against the U.S. Forest Service over decision-making that dates back to the second Bush administration. While the specific case involves 11 Sierra Nevada forests, the eventual outcome could shape everything from who gets to file lawsuits to the scope of future environmental studies. “Definitely, throughout the West, this could have huge impacts on the moving of projects forward,” Dustin Van Liew, executive director of the conservative Public Lands Council in Washington, D.C., said in an interview Monday. One key question confronting the court will be whether environmentalists have the “standing” to sue against a general forest plan, as opposed to a specific project proposal, by virtue of their making recreational use of the national forests. To gain standing in federal court, individuals must show they’ve been injured or face imminent injury. A second major question is how extensively detailed the Forest Service must be when preparing overarching management plans, such as the one governing the 11 Sierra Nevada forests. The court’s decision to hear the Sierra Nevada case, sometime during the 2013 term that starts in October, means that at least four of the court’s nine justices agreed to reconsider a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision from last year in which environmentalists prevailed. In that 2-1 appellate court decision, the 9th Circuit panel concluded the Forest Service in 2004 failed to adequately study the effect of dramatically revised forest plans on Sierra Nevada fish populations. “The Forest Service provided no analysis despite the fact that the 2004 (plan) allows much more logging, burning, road construction and grazing,” Judge William A. Fletcher wrote for the appellate panel...more

 Notice the PLC is called "conservative" while the Pacific Rivers Council has no such modifier. 

Also note 9th Circuit said the 2004 plan allowed for increased grazing.  That must be an error on the courts part.  I've been following this stuff for 40 years now and I've never seen a FS plan that called for an increase in grazing!

 Then there's this:

When presidents have changed, so have the Sierra Nevada forest plans. The Clinton administration issued one Sierra Nevada plan in January 2001, about a week before President Bill Clinton left office. The President George W. Bush administration then scrapped that plan, and issued another in 2004.

But I thought this was all based on science.  Does the science change every 4 or 8 years?  Nope.  These federalized lands are managed by politicians...both in Congress and the higher echelons of the land management agencies.  And oh yes, by the politically well-connected lawyers who sit on the various courts. 

WWP Wins on Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument

On Friday, June 7, Western Watersheds Project prevailed against the Bureau of Land Management’s insufficient assessment of livestock grazing on the special objects of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana! In an important case in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, federal judges ruled that the BLM did not adequately assess the impacts of grazing when it renewed the grazing permit on the Woodhawk allotment. Although the court concluded the BLM did not have to make programmatic changes in grazing policy in its Resource Management Plan, it concluded the BLM must consider a range of alternatives including reducing or eliminating grazing at the allotment level in order to prevent harm to the resources that national monuments are designated to protect. Because the BLM did not consider anything but the status quo grazing management when it renewed the Woodhawk permit, the court held the agency had erred. The unanimous three-judge panel said “Given the varied objects of the Proclamation, and the ways in which grazing in a particular area might affect them, we do not think that readopting prior grazing levels in the Monument without assessment was precisely what the President had in mind in proclaiming that prior grazing policies could continue.” This is an important point because many of the National Monuments across the West share the overarching language that grazing may continue according to, “[l]aws, regulations, and policies followed by the [BLM] in issuing and administering grazing permits or leases on all lands under its jurisdiction . . .” The BLM has interpreted this to mean that grazing shall continue unchanged; Friday’s ruling provides guidance that considering changes is necessary when the fate of specially-protected resources are at stake....more

‘Service First’ agreement signed

Local public land management agencies in the Southern Black Hills are working closer together, as a result of a recently signed agreement between the Forest Service and the National Park Service. Known as a “Service First” agreement, reflecting the recent law on which it is based, the agreement allows the Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to exchange resources and share equipment across jurisdictional boundaries. “We hope this agreement improves service to the public while increasing operational efficiencies among agencies,” said Larry Johnson, Jewel Cave National Monument Superintendent. “We all share common borders and in many cases, similar issues. In this time of budget shortfalls, working together as good neighbors makes sense and benefits everyone, especially the taxpayers.” Participating in this agreement is the Hell Canyon Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest, the Fall River Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands, Jewel Cave National Monument, and Wind Cave National Park. “This is really about building relationships between administrators and looking for opportunities to share scarce resources,” stated Hell Canyon District Ranger, Lynn Kolund...more

Times must be really getting tough out there...federal agencies are actually cooperating with each other.

Nebraska Senators question Sec. Jewell on federal land acquisitions

U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) sent a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell expressing concerns and seeking clarification about potential land acquisitions by the federal government along the Niobrara River and near Ponca Bluffs. Johanns said, “Just like the hundreds of Nebraskans who have contacted me, I get an uneasy feeling when the federal government starts talking about buying hundreds of thousands of acres of private land. We all need some answers before this plan goes any further and the Department of Interior needs to be clear about their intentions.” Fischer said, “Local residents are already excellent stewards of the natural resources entrusted to them, and they are rightly concerned about the federal government seizing or controlling the land they have proudly taken care of for so long. My efforts on this matter are a direct response to the legitimate concerns of these landowners, farmers, fishermen, hunters, ranchers, boaters, and other interested citizens, who deserve more information about the Department of Interior’s proposal and its potential impacts.”...more

NM AG King says slaughter of some horses illegal

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, who has been a vocal opponent of plans by a southeastern New Mexico company to resume domestic horse slaughter, says state law could prohibit the operation. In an opinion issued Monday, King says the slaughter of horses with certain drugs in their system would be a violation of the state's adulterated food act. Those drugs, he says, would include an anti-inflammatory commonly found in racehorses, and medications used to treat bacterial, parasitic and viral infections. Opponents of the application by the plant, which would become the first horse slaughterhouse to operate in the country since 2007, hailed the ruling. "Slaughtering horses for human consumption is barbaric, inhumane and unsafe for consumers, and Attorney General King is right to deem the practice illegal under state law. Killing horses for their meat in New Mexico — or anywhere else in the U.S. — is clearly a misguided enterprise." But Blair Dunn, the attorney representing Valley Meat Co. of Roswell in its fight to get U.S. Department of Agriculture approval for the operation, said the opinion "doesn't really do anything." Dunn said the opinion appeared to be nothing but politics by King, who has announced he is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who has also been vocal in her opposition to plans to convert Valley Meat Co. from a cattle plant to a horse slaughterhouse. "And it's not even good politics," Dunn said. "This has the potential to have impact elsewhere. There is not an animal sector that does not ... give antibiotics. If you were to apply this standard to the dairy industry, you would shut down the entire dairy industry in this state. This is reckless and dangerous." AP

Casey Tibbs rodeo weekend packs Ft. Pierre

Clouds, wind and intermittent rain might discourage attendance to some events, but not across drought-stricken cowboy country. In fact, they inspire ranchers and cowboys to celebrate. And that’s what they did, on the muddy bluff overlooking the Missouri River at Fort Pierre, SD, the first day of June, 2013. Cowboys and cowgirls flocked to the Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center/Mattie Goff Newcombe Conference Center where they enjoyed a cowboy barbecue and exchanged information about how high the creeks ran, which dams got filled, when they branded and how big the calves were. Such happy gossip was interspersed with ooh’s and aah’s over the Johnny Smith Memorial Sculpture Garden, centered by a freshly unveiled life-size bronze representative of South Dakota pride. Created by Belle Fourche rancher, rodeo hand, and renowned artist Tony Chytka, the breathtaking statue commemorates a 2009 Cheyenne Frontier Days championship ride; World Champion bronc rider Billy Etbauer spurring out 89-points on Harry Vold’s magnificent bronc Painted Valley. Cowboy and announcer Rory Lemmel then introduced Billy Etbauer who, of course, needed no introduction. Lemmel pointed out, “You all know he’s won every major rodeo in the world!” but mentioned other qualities and accomplishments, calling Etbauer the “number one supporter of R-CALF,” and noting how hard he’s fought for agriculture...more

Monday, June 10, 2013

Green Coast - Return of the Rocky Mountain high

Greg Gianforte, a charismatic man with a goatee who resembles Mr. Clean, is known for passionately stalking opportunity in the West – both in the boardroom and in the woods. He tells the story of once rising before dawn during hunting season, suiting up in camouflage, and disappearing into the rugged foothills around this small Montana city.

After shooting a black bear with a bow and arrow, he hurried home to put on jeans and a starched shirt, and headed into the office just in time for a 10 a.m. conference call with clients on the other side of the world. They, of course, had no idea what he had done that morning before work.
Yet the chance to get in some early morning hunting is a prime reason Mr. Gianforte, the founder and former chief executive officer of RightNow Technologies, a customer-service software firm, moved to Bozeman to begin with. After selling a different high-tech company in Silicon Valley in the mid-1990s, he and his wife settled here intending to retire as 30-somethings. But the restless entrepreneur soon came up with another idea for a start-up firm.
Venture capitalists in California told him he would never be able to make it work in such an isolated area, one closer to geysers than sales markets and software engineers. Undeterred, in 1997, he converted a guest bedroom into an office and put up $50,000. In 2011 he sold RightNow to Oracle for $1.5 billion. It had become the largest private employer in Montana, with 550 workers, and has inspired numerous spinoffs.
"The Internet removed geography as a significant obstacle that formerly prevented out-of-the-way places from being active players in the New Economy," says Gianforte. "I think this is the future."
Gianforte's successful venture, and his passion for the outdoors, helps explain why the Mountain West is now one of the most robust regions in the United States. Drawn by the area's natural amenities, a new generation of entrepreneurs and professional service providers, many of them well educated, is moving into towns like Bozeman and other scenic communities across the West.
From Kalispell, Mont., near the Canadian border, down the spine of the Rockies to places like Durango, Colo., and Taos, N.M., and over to Flagstaff, Ariz., they are adding an entrepreneurial dynamism to the region, a phenomenon first identified by analysts with the Federal Reserve banks of Kansas City and Minneapolis who track economic barometers.
These software engineers, biotech researchers, medical specialists, outdoor-gear manufacturers, and day traders are being joined by a wave of retirees who want to take advantage of the outdoor lifestyle and relatively inexpensive living costs. Together, economists say, they helped the Mountain West enter the recession later than other parts of the US and come out of it sooner. Now the region leads in population and job growth.
While the boom in energy production – coal in Wyoming and oil and gas in the Bakken formation of eastern Montana and the Dakotas – gets most of the attention, experts say the New Economy growth, rooted in the region's scenic wonders, is one of the most important forces shaping the West. Call it the rise of the "Green Coast."

Temporary Change

You will notice a change in the template and the color scheme of The Westerner.

This is not by choice.  First I haven't been able to reach my blogger account using Firefox for 5 days.  So I  switched to Chrome, which gets me in my blogger account but causes problems when I copy and paste.  I have to have a white background to make it easier on me.

Not sure what will happen next.

Otero County sheriff House shuts down welder in Lincoln Forest - Forest Service questions his authority

When Lincoln National Forest Sacramento District authorities questioned Otero County Sheriff Benny House's authority because he shut down a contractor welding on a pipe fence in the Lincoln Forest May 24, House told LNF authorities he did shut it down. The project was being done in the Lincoln National Forest's Agua Chiquita Road area. With Stage Two fire restrictions in the Lincoln National Forest in the Sacramento, Smokey Bear and Guadalupe districts since May 11, House believes it was the right thing to do by shutting down the maintenance project. Fire restrictions also had been in place for Bureau of Land Management lands and Otero County had a county-wide burn ban in place May 10. State Forestry fire restrictions also were in place. All the fire restrictions prohibited welding during the drought conditions. "With the fire restrictions and severe drought in the forest right now, even though it's an approved project by the Lincoln National Forest, the Sheriff's Office felt that there is too great a risk for there to be welding and cutting material in the forest," House said. "The Sheriff's Office was monitoring the area. We found it was being done through a private contractor. They were working in an area that's covered by the fire restrictions. We shut the contractor down and gave them a verbal warning to cease operations until the fire restrictions are lifted." House said Sacramento Ranger District Ranger James Duran contacted him. "He questioned my reasoning and ability to shut down a National Forest project on the Lincoln," House said. "I told him that I felt I do have the authority to protect the Lincoln National Forest as well as the property owners in the mountain areas and the project is not going to continue until the county gave authorization for the contractor to continue when the fire restrictions were lifted. Neither of that has happened. A lot of the work is continuing that doesn't involve welding or the use of cutting torches. They're still doing work on the project, but it's work that doesn't require the use of welding or cutting equipment."...more

The Sheriff, in compliance with state law, shut down a Forest Service approved project.  So what do the federales say?

Duran said the district is the land-management agency that authorized it. "There have been some issues with the contractor," Duran said. He said he believes there may be some misconceptions about the Sheriff Office's authority, but it falls under our authority and management. "It's an approved project," Duran said. "It's been in place. We're moving forward. I know there were some questions about fire conditions, but we identified mitigations and those concerns were dismissed. We were fully prepared to do the work safely and reduce the risk. If we could not have done the work safely, we wouldn't have authorized it. We did provide an exemption from our forest restrictions to the contractor. As the managing agency, we provide exemptions to folks on the National Forest to do work when it's dry." He said he believes the mitigation for the fire risk was forest service personnel, with resources available and water onsite.

That's not what the Sheriff found:

House said he and deputies found no water trucks at the work site or fire apparatus nor were area fire departments notified about the welding project.  "Fire dangers are extreme right now," he said. 

Now let's get back Duran saying, "there may be some misconceptions about the Sheriff Office's authority." State Forestry had issued fire restrictions which included no welding.  Does Duran believe this state law doesn't apply to activities on Forest Service land as part of the police power of the state?  Duran says they provided "exemptions" to the contractor.  Does Duran believe he can offer exemptions to state law? 

Let's take another example.  Does Duran believe state game laws apply to wildlife on Forest Service land?  Does he believe he can provide "exemptions" to state game laws? The state retains "exclusive legislative jurisdiction" over all lands within the state unless the state purposely cedes that back to the feds.  The welding could have been shut down by State Forestry, the State Police or the sheriff's office. 

Sheriff House has his take on it:

"We're keeping our fingers crossed and praying for rain. We're all walking on pins and needles because of the fire danger. We can't intentionally put the public at risk right now. We have to be diligent on public and private lands to prevent fires. I have a duty to protect life, our lands and property, while protecting the public's rights."

Good job, Sheriff House.

The Sierra Club Exposed

by Marita Noon

  ...This month they’ve launched a new campaign: Our Wild America—which will call for new national monument designations.
    The Hill’s E2 Wire heralds the news: “Green groups to Obama: Designate public lands to stop oil and gas drilling.” No longer hiding behind the protection of a critter, the environmental groups have come out of the shadows and boldly proclaimed their intentions. The article starts with: “Environmental lobbyists are pressing President Obama to turn more western lands into national monuments to prevent oil-and-gas companies from drilling there. The Sierra Club is leading the charge…”
    Apparently the gang green is frustrated with the lack of Congressional action in locking up lands and is now resorting to pressuring the president to take executive action. Bentley Johnson, legislative representative for the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands campaign, said his group prefers to work at the local level to build momentum with congressional delegations. But that has proven relatively fruitless in recent years. “The standstill on getting lands protected through the legislative route might have pushed the White House to go it alone in recent months.”
    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is mandated to manage the public lands for “multiple use.” The BLM Terminology & Actions document defines it this way: “‘multiple uses’ include recreation, range/grazing, timber, minerals/oil & gas, watershed, fish & wildlife, wilderness, and natural, scenic, scientific and historical values.” But, the “century-old” Antiquities Act gives President Obama the authority to designate national monument status even if there’s no actual monument erected. A national monument designation makes the locale off limits to development. President Obama has used this “emergency” designation nine times—six times in the past year.
    The Sierra Club wants it used more.
Dan Chu, the director of the Sierra Club’s Wild America campaign, explained: “Recreation, wildlife and scenic values would have much more priority in management planning if it was designated as a national monument.”
    As a part of the Wild America campaign, Michael Brune, executive director for the Sierra Club, is currently on a “road trip” to “educate the public and excite Sierra Club members about getting some of these proposed areas as national monuments.”
    One of Brune’s stops is Moab, Utah. Marc Thomas, a member of the executive committee of the Sierra Club’s Utah Chapter’s Glen Canyon Group, is in support of the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Monument—1.4 million acres near Moab—that he describes as “a whole swath of land that is not protected from impacts like mineral extraction or privatization.” Thomas exclaims: “That's what I'm concerned about.”
Chu agrees. Addressing the campaign he says: “We, along with our partners, are concerned about imminent threats from tar sand development, oil and gas leasing and the increase in illegal trails from off-road vehicle use.”    
    The Wild America campaign is described as “a grassroots movement to secure permanent protection for significant landscapes and advocating for responsible wildlife and lands management”—which is spearheaded by “the largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the country.” But how grassroots is the Sierra Club really? It is not the hiking and nature club that it used to be—or that the leadership wants you to think it is. The Sierra Club is now a true political organization flexing its muscle to move its agenda with nearly a hundred million dollars in annual revenues.
    There’s a La Raza connection. E2 Wire reports: “Chu argues the West is becoming ‘less purple and more blue’ because of an influx of Latino and younger voters. The Sierra Club aims to marshal those voting blocs to get new national monuments in New Mexico and Colorado. Chu said Latino and young voters care more about conservation than about energy drilling, citing a poll for the Sierra Club and National Council of La Raza that said 69 percent of Latino voters support increasing the number of national monuments.”
    Yet, polling done by the Western Energy Alliance (WEA) shows otherwise. Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government affairs reports: “Our polling (conducted by the Tarrance group) shows that Latinos favor increased oil and natural gas in the US by 74%. I think they, along with a majority of Americans, realize that development creates jobs and economic opportunity throughout the US.”
    Jessica Kershaw, a spokeswoman for the Department of Interior (DOI), said the administration wants to see grassroots support for monument designations before acting: “DOI, as part of the Obama administration, is certainly committed to the conservation of these designations. But it’s rooted in the partnership of these local communities,” she said. So, Brune is out trying to get Sierra Club members excited about the proposed national monuments. I believe, as the WEA poll confirms, the average American understands that more drilling means more jobs, lower-priced fuels, energy security, and a balancing of the trade deficit—which is why, as Johnson said, working “with congressional delegations” to lock up lands has been “fruitless.”

The Westerner first reported on this here.

Positive impact of Mexican wolf program is overlooked

The Mexican wolf reintroduction program has encountered its share of challenges, yet it’s disappointing to see that The Arizona Republic editorial on Tuesday, “Gives wolves a chance,” neglects to include any mention of the program’s positive accomplishments and omits basic facts that are important to understanding the milestones that have been achieved in the management of this experimental population. Most importantly — and as is often demonstrated — the Arizona Game and Fish Commission is committed to restoring a sustainable, wild population of Mexican wolves in Arizona. It is naive to believe that the needs of the public and multiple uses of the land don’t figure into the equation. Arizona Game and Fish, working alongside other program partners, spends countless hours in the field working to make the program successful in balance with the other wildlife, public-land values and uses that Arizonans expect from their working landscapes. Many Arizona ranchers deserve credit for taking proactive measures to work with the department to further wolf recovery, but that’s largely unrecognized — most recently by The Republic, as well as by many in the environmental community. Ranchers use range riders, fencing fladry and telemetry equipment — all of which is accounted for in Arizona’s inventories — to monitor wolves on the landscape, provide a human presence in those areas to deter wolf-livestock interactions, and, in some instances, even move their livestock to avoid conflicts. Just as those who vilify wolves do a disservice to wolf conservation, those who vilify people who live on the land where wolves are conserved do a similar disservice...more

The author, J.W. Harris, is Chairman of the Az. G&F Commission.

Only 1 of 7 next-generation tankers flying as fires burn

As fire season heats up, the U.S. Forest Service remains able to use only one of seven large, state-of-the-art air tanker planes it contracted last month to fight wildfires. The other six planes have yet to be certified, a process that could take as many as two more months under the contract terms, according to U.S Forest Service spokesman Mike Ferris at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. The Forest Service announced May 6 it was contracting five companies for the seven “next-generation” air tankers. The Forest Service has awarded the next-generation contracts twice in the past year — the agency did so last year, but started the process over after two companies that didn’t get contracts filed protests. One of the protesters was 10 Tanker Air Carrier, which flies two DC-10 passenger jets modified to drop fire retardant. The company won a contract in the latest round to fly one of its planes. The DC-10 is the only plane flying under the next-generation contract. The plane dropped slurry on the recent fires in Los Angeles County and lately has been fighting fires in New Mexico. The so-called “next-generation” turboprop and jet planes are bigger and faster than air tankers previously contracted by the Forest Service. The planes must be able to carry at least 3,000 gallons of slurry and fly at least 350 mph. The certification process to be completed by four of the five companies includes proving the planes’ slurry tanks. The planes also must be approved for field trials and be issued Federal Aviation Administration certificates, according to Ferris...more

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Old vs. New Conservation: An elderly lady was checking out at the grocery store...

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days." The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment f or future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribbling's. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart-ass young person.

Local decision-making best for N.M.

by Yvette Herrell

When I was first elected into the New Mexico Legislature I knew there would be challenges ahead, but I was excited about the opportunity to help improve the economy and well-being of our great state.

It did not take long, however, to realize that ideas and solutions to these problems would often be paralyzed by the over-involvement of the federal government.

The success of our system of government depends on cooperation between the federal and state governments. It is our job as citizens to become more engaged once that cooperation becomes heavy handed and burdensome, and ultimately hinders what is best for New Mexico.

Just look at our Medicaid program. Currently, the state has a quarter of its population on Medicaid, soon to be one-third.

The Medicaid funding formula is a matching one – for every dollar New Mexico spends, the federal government spends approximately $2.50. New Mexico’s current Medicaid funding accounts for 16 percent of the state budget – $904 million for this fiscal year alone. When the federal match is added, this figure increases to $2.8 billion.

This highlights the relationship we have with the federal government; our policy appears to be geared towards chasing federal funds rather than truly helping the needy population...

Although we were unsuccessful in passing House Bill 292 – Transfer of Public Lands – a measure that would turn control of federal land management to the state, we will continue our efforts to educate the public. It is imperative that New Mexico finds ways to retain the annual royalty payments of nearly $500 million that come directly from the gas and oil industry. Our general fund, our schools, our seniors and our state depend on it.

New Mexicans would be better served if decisions on how to manage our public lands were made on the local and state levels. The Little Bear Fire in Ruidoso last year cost the state millions of dollars because of poor forest management by the federal forest service.

That’s why I’m supporting the Federalism in Action Project, to make the case that decision-making should be local because it simply works better.

I’m joining lawmakers from across the country that want to see local people making decisions; we can be far more effective together than we are working alone...

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Ranch wife survival

 by Julie Carter

It's an old story and an ongoing hazard for the ranch wife -- a husband that says, "Hold that gate and don't let her by." 
By her, he is referring to a thousand pound, snot-blowing, completely irritated cow that has every intention of going wherever she wants to and that will include through or over the top of the very gate the little woman is holding.
In a couple hundred years of cattle ranching, the bovine species has never gotten the memo that when the ranch wife is holding the gate, you don’t really have to remove it from its hinges.
When it comes to ranch work, allowances for special treatment because of gender are non-existent. When the operation is a "mom and pop" deal, mom has to pull her share of the duty without regard to stature, age or any of the usual necessary domestic duties.
As that determined cow steam rolls toward the gate with an obvious determination to exit at all costs, and the little woman holding said gate knows "this is gonna hurt," --there is a flash of mental calculating that determines what happens next.
With Herculean strength, at least in her mind, she more often than not will try to hold her own, ergo hold the gate, against the cow, steer or even a freshly weaned 500-pound calf. With a hope of the odds and perhaps angels on her side, she prefers that option to the inevitable hollering or cussing she’ll get from cowboy husband if she doesn’t do it.
She knows from experience there are consequences if she decides to pitch the gate away and run.
With any luck at all, the results won't require a wild and bumpy pickup ride to the "local" hospital emergency room a couple hours away. That would really mess up a well-planned afternoon of getting some cattle sorted and tended to before dark.
But sometimes, the cow wins. Odds are she'll be a favorite cow, one that's raised 5-6 good calves and has a healthier chance of living a long life on the ranch than the wife does.
And although she's a little on the cranky side even on a good day, her production stats determine that she be given dispensation for her attitude and grievances against the little missus.
And the missus? Well according to the head cowboy, she needs to get a bag of ice on that eye because come Monday, she’ll have to be presentable for her job in town.
There are a few tough gals who have learned quitting is sometimes a temporary option. Nothing, absolutely nothing, taxes a ranch marriage like working cattle together and especially in the corral. Husband and wife sign language flies with enthusiasm and hollering comes in waves of some feigned attempt to control frustration. 
Worth remembering is the story about the cowboy who, in his anger at his non-compliant help in the corral, told his wife to "just go on to the house. I'll finish up by myself."
Obediently she got in the pickup and drove home. However, in his tempered state, he had forgotten that they'd come to the pens together. That pickup she drove off in was the only vehicle at the corrals.
It was an eight-mile walk back to the house.

Julie, a purple-heart veteran of the cow and gate wars, can be reached for comment at

One Page Laws

Philosophy according to Jack
One Page Laws
Write it again

By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            I once read an account of how former GE Chairman Jack Welch demanded one page memos.
            At the time, our farming operation was ranked among the bigger operations and I liked staff meetings about like Mr. Welch so I instituted a similar process. Communicate frequently and ongoing, but do it with simplicity. I don’t recollect sending anything back if it exceeded the single page as Welch would have done, but the point remains similar.
            “If you can’t get it on a single piece of paper … rewrite it.”
            Furthermore, “If it takes more than a single piece of paper, you don’t have a single point but, rather, multiple points … break it down to the single point of emphasis.”
            Maybe we didn’t swing a loop quite as big as Mr. Welch’s, but we left an impression and we ran a good business. After all these years, I would judge our leadership approaches in lock step with his first six leadership secrets.
            History does matter
            The size and rate of growth of our government is … ungovernable. With all the words and gnashing of teeth, every representative that has been sent into the black hole of Washington must receive a failing grade in his or her success of halting the assault on our treasury. Objective Americans who will be expected to capitalize resolution of this pending cataclysm are being treated like subjects rather than the sovereign citizens they are.
            The confusion is made worse by the jigsaw puzzle legislative actions that are being bundled and cast to the cabinet level secretaries for regulatory authorship and implementation. By their shear size, they are untenable, but when the politics of the managing agency is morphed into the administrative process, they become weapons against the citizenry. They are debacles, and they are an insult to our foundation.
            The discovery of the size of the staff in the original Congress makes all this more indefensible. There were nine employees, and four of them were chaplains.
            There is no way that the Affordable Health Care Act would be the paper giant it is if the Congressmen and Senators elected to represent the folks had to pen the document themselves. In the framework of the original Congress, they would have done that very thing. The permanent record would have been rendered to a recording secretary, but the genesis of the bill would have come from the mind … and the pen of the originator.
Staff … the sound of that word should make every one of us shudder. It has become a matter of automatic recourse for city councils, county commissions, state legislators, and, of course, congressional representatives.
            “We will refer the matter to staff,” is the mirrored byline. 
            That interpretation is straight forward. The grunt work will be parlayed away and the elected kahunas will make the learned decisions. Well, it is time to fire the staffs and demand the self aggrandized kahunas earn their golden parachutes. It is time to seek constitutional commitments to the nation and that starts with statesmanship and courage. It must proceed by acting the part of the trusted representative of the sovereign citizens who cast their votes for ethical representation.
            The procedure for legislative action must also be altered. Multiple thousand page bills are unacceptable. They are shameful. They are not the products of competent elected officials. They are complicit wish lists. They are the creation of political parties and special interests that maneuver and conspire with staff to assemble and construct monstrosities of civic molestation. They are being driven purposely to levels of confusion and complexity.   
            One page, public servants
            A suggestion was once made to a key aid of the chairman of an important natural resource committee by this parched lipped westerner that federal laws should be no more than one page in length. That fellow, who will read this, offered a gracious response, but he and I both know the real truth of his reaction. He had to hold his teeth in and gain control of his breathing before he squared himself and gave his best rendition of cordiality.
“Impossible” was his abbreviated answer.
            The matter, though, is foundationally impaired. Laws must be considered with constitutional unity, reduced to simplicity, and transcribed in a clear and concise manner. The human interpretation will confuse the issue enough for debate.
            Federal laws should be reduced to one page.
They should be written in a manner that any citizen can understand, and they should be authored by the elected servants who pledged to defend that Constitution upon receiving that majority vote from the folks back home.
 Pretty simple isn’t it?
An example is the Copyright Act of 1790. It remains an important piece of legislation. It was approved for presidential signature on May 31, 1790. Printed on today’s electronic equipment, it is nearly two pages in length. After reading it, Jack Welch would have rejected and sent it back to the sender on the basis of confusion. I would have pondered it, similarly.
“Write it again.”
An example of confusion is the continued repetition of what it is protecting, “maps, charts, books, or books already made and composed”. After the first reference, it should have been tagged henceforth as “protected subjects”.
The Constitution provides adequate authority to police such action. If it exceeds a single page, the president should refuse to sign it. Upon three iterations of attempting to sign, and it still does not meet standards, the bill should be scrapped. It was not assembled with adequate simplicity.
Reversing tyranny
What the Constitution didn’t delegate to the federal government  is the business of the states and the people. The Tenth Amendment gave us that authority. If the states want cumbersome laws to fight in court, even two pages long, it is the prerogative of the folks managing the course of state actions to make such determinations.
The point remains the same. If the complexity of laws is so great page after page of details are necessary, they exceed the reasonableness of simplicity and shouldn’t be undertaken by elected servants. Complexity should be reserved for the sovereign citizen. It is there the genius of the individual overcomes the complexity of issues.
The Bible presents the most brilliant example. At issue are the Ten Commandments. When Moses came off the mountain with the single page tablet inscribed with the commandments, GOD considered his actions. In his infinite wisdom, HE sent word back to angelic staff.
“Rewrite it,” HE commanded.
The large font, one page directive came back as two sentences. The words were:
“Love the Lord your GOD with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your mind, and … Love your neighbor as yourself”.
The point is abundantly clear. If it is good enough for GOD … it is more than good for those who think they are.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “In addition to simplified legislation, Washington staff must be reduced to only those individuals who report to the highest ranking aid to the respective elected officials.”