Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bear activists ask governor to help out

Sandia Mountain bear activists are ramping up their campaign in favor of “diversionary feeding,” a wildlife management practice that involves providing food to bears in their natural habitat, so they won’t head down the mountains to forage in areas where humans live. The state Department of Game and Fish opposes the practice, which officials say could have negative long-term impacts, such as making bears dependent on humans for food. Advocates of the practice say bears in the Sandias are growing desperate for food due to the extreme drought and because many of their food sources sprouted in the spring and then froze. Those advocates, spearheaded by the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club and Sandia Mountain Bearwatch, have lauched a campaign asking Gov. Susana Martinez to allow diversionary feeding. According to a news release Friday from those organizations, more than 1,300 New Mexicans have sent messages to the governor urging her to allow the feeding. Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said Friday in a written statement that Martinez has faith in the experts at Game and Fish...more

Friday, July 26, 2013

Historic SF Church Plans Memorial Space For Pets

A historic Roman Catholic church in San Francisco is planning to build a repository where pet owners will be able to keep the ashes of cats, dogs, and other dearly departed animals. The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi is seeking donations for an 850-square-foot columbarium that would be the first in the city for animal remains, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday. Plans for the space include a stained-glass rendering of St. Francis, who is the patron saint of both animals and San Francisco. Urns containing the ashes of the animals enshrined there will be displayed behind glass while their photographs will be shown on a video screen. The design also calls for a Hall of Honor for service animals that worked with disabled people and in law enforcement. The 164-year-old church's rector, the Rev. Harold Snider, says the columbarium will be available to pet owners regardless of their religious affiliations...more

Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords

The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users' stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed. If the government is able to determine a person's password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused. "I've certainly seen them ask for passwords," said one Internet industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We push back." A second person who has worked at a large Silicon Valley company confirmed that it received legal requests from the federal government for stored passwords. Companies "really heavily scrutinize" these requests, the person said. Some of the government orders demand not only a user's password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. A salt is a random string of letters or numbers used to make it more difficult to reverse the encryption process and determine the original password. Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts...more

Two mussels considered for endangered species list (affects 13 states)

How does a species get added to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species list? To be approved for listing, a species must be determined as a potential candidate, or a petition must be submitted. After an assessment, the species can be declared warranted as a candidate or not warranted. If the species is found to be warranted as a candidate, the Fish and Wildlife Service must publish a proposed rule for consideration, after which the public is given a 60-day comment period. A public hearing may be held, if requested. Such a hearing was held May 21 in Joplin regarding two of the most recent candidate listings, both mussels: the Neosho mucket, which is proposed as endangered, and the rabbitsfoot, which is proposed for listing as threatened. In a rare move, the Fish and Wildlife Service also is proposing to designate critical habitat for both mussels. The Neosho mucket, which historically was found throughout Missouri as well as parts of Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, has been lost from 62 percent of its range, with only nine of 16 original populations remaining. Of the eight remaining stream populations of the Neosho mucket, there is only one viable population. It is in the Spring River in Missouri. Waterways in which the Neosho mucket can be found include the Illinois River in Arkansas; the Cottonwood, Verdigris, Fall, Neosho and Spring rivers in Kansas; the Spring, North Fork Spring and Elk rivers, and Shoal Creek in Missouri; and the Illinois River in Oklahoma. The rabbitsfoot is found in 51 rivers and creeks in 13 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee...more

 They use the ESA to control the use of our land and our water.

Utah Supreme Court rules state had a duty to protect boy killed by bear

A long legal battle over a boy who died in a bear mauling moved forward Friday when the Utah Supreme Court ruled that the state should have protected him. In a 19-page decision, the court ruled that the state had an obligation to protect Sam Ives when he and his family went camping at Timpooneke campgrounds in 2007. A bear dragged Ives, 11, out of his tent and killed him while he and his family were in the mountains near American Fork to celebrate Father’s Day. Ives’ family subsequently sued the Division of Wildlife Resources, saying the agency knew about the dangerous bear and therefore had a duty to protect campers. State attorneys disagreed. They said state officials didn’t have a duty to Ives’ family and that Utah law prevented lawsuits against the DWR for "natural conditions" on the land. Friday’s Supreme Court decision settles both arguments and reverses an earlier lower-court decision that sided with the state. First, the decision concludes that officials did actually have a duty to protect the family. And second, it points out that "a bear is not a ‘natural condition on publicly owned or controlled lands.’" Assistant Attorney General Peggy Stone said the case will now go back to the lower court, where a jury will decide if the state was at fault for Ives’ death. "Now it comes down to the facts," Stone said. "Did the DWR breach that duty?"...more

New Mexico Supreme Court Upholds Domestic Well Statute

In a case that received nationwide attention, Bounds v. New Mexico, the New Mexico Supreme Court has held that the state’s domestic well statute is constitutional. Specifically, the Court found that the domestic well statute does not violate the doctrine of prior appropriation or the due process clause. Numerous other states across the West, including Texas, have similar statutes that allow domestic well permits to be granted without the usual procedural steps required to obtain a water permit. You can read the entire opinion here.

  From the opinion, here is what the court found: 

Horace Bounds is a rancher and farmer in the Mimbres basin in southwestern New Mexico, a fully appropriated and adjudicated basin. Bounds, joined by the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau (collectively Petitioners), brought a facial constitutional challenge against the New Mexico Domestic Well Statute (DWS), NMSA 1978, Section 72- 12-1.1 (2003), which requires the State Engineer to issue domestic well permits without determining the availability of unappropriated water. Petitioners contend that the DWS violates the New Mexico constitutional doctrine of prior appropriation as well as due process of law. Petitioners’ arguments persuaded the district court but not the Court of Appeals, which reversed in a published opinion. Agreeing with the substance of that opinion, we affirm the Court of Appeals. For the reasons that follow, we hold that the DWS does not violate either the doctrine of prior appropriation set forth in the New Mexico Constitution or the guarantees of due process of law.

Smokey Bear Gives Hugs in New Wildfire Prevention PSAs

The Ad Council, in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), announced today the launch of a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring Smokey Bear designed to raise awareness about wildfire prevention. As a continuation of the longest running PSA campaign in U.S. history, the new ads include the well-known tagline, “Only YOU can prevent wildfires,” and for the first time feature Smokey Bear rewarding Americans with hugs after acting safely with fire. Celebrating his 70th birthday next year, Smokey Bear has been a recognized symbol of protection of America’s forests since 1944. His message about wildfire prevention has helped to reduce the number of acres burned annually by wildfires from about 22 million (1944) to an average of 6.9 million today. Although progress has been made, wildfires remain one of the most critical environmental issues affecting the U.S. Many Americans believe that lightning starts most wildfires. In fact, on average, nearly 9 out of 10 wildfires nationwide today are caused by people. The principle causes are careless or accidental behaviors like campfires being left unattended, debris burning on windy days, improper discarding of smoking materials or BBQ coals, and operating equipment without spark arrestors...more

Hi, I'm from the gov't and I'm here to...hug you.  Here's two of the ads:

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Butterfly

A coalition of conservation and environmental justice groups submitted a legal notice today of their intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for approving PG&E’s Gateway Generating Station, which harms endangered species and local communities. The Gateway Generating Station is a large, natural-gas-fired power plant in Antioch, Calif., that pollutes nearby communities, worsens the global climate crisis, and threatens the survival of one of North America’s most imperiled species: the Lange’s metalmark butterfly. Today’s notice from the Wild Equity Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity and Communities for a Better Environment comes on the heels of a $2 million settlement with a neighboring power plant, the Oakley Generating Station, and marks the third time PG&E and the EPA have been notified of their illegal activities. “Four other power plants in the Bay Area have adopted model agreements to protect endangered butterflies from nitrogen pollution and also protect local communities,” said Laura Horton, staff attorney at the Wild Equity Institute. “PG&E has already been put on notice twice of their violations. This is PG&E’s last chance to do the right thing or its three strikes and they’re out.” There are only a few dozen Lange’s metalmark butterflies remaining in the world. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that nitrogen pollution from power plants near the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is “virtually certain” to cause the species to go extinct, and earlier this year joined with conservation groups to demand the EPA and PG&E consult with experts and mitigate their environmental harms...more

Appaloosa group follows 1877 flight of Nez Perce

The morning sun filtered through fine dust kicked up from the prairie as a coterie of 150 riders spread out in a ragged line beneath a dog-toothed cliff overlooking this valley. The men and women were riding to connect to a tragic history, for love of traveling in beautiful places and out of dedication to a unique, tough breed of horse — the Appaloosa. The 2013 Chief Joseph Trail Ride was trotting through this rugged terrain Wednesday as part of a five-day trip roughly between Cooke City and Clark, Wyo. The ride started Sunday. Each year since 1965, the Appaloosa Horse Club in Moscow, Idaho, has sponsored the ride that covers 13 sections of the Nez Perce Trail, riding a different section each year. This year, tourists traveled from as far as Norway, the United Kingdom and Germany to take part. The only qualification is that riders must have a registered Appaloosa...more

Jane Cain 1929-2013

    Jane Cain passed away Friday, July 19, 2013. She suffered little, as it was a massive stroke that ended her life. She was 84.
    Born February 28, 1929, in Eden, Texas, Martha Jane Fulcher was the fifth of Carroll and Tereecie Fulcher’s six children. Jane was raised by her mother and her older siblings after their dad died in 1935. Jane attended school in Concho County, Texas, and later in Elida, New Mexico. In 1946, she moved to what was then Hot Springs, New Mexico to live with her sister, Mildred Fryar, the home economics teacher at Hot Springs High School. The moved sealed Jane’s fate, as her next-door-neighbors were Doug and Lola Cain. Jane took a shine to the couple’s youngest son, Ben. She would later joke that she “chased Ben ‘til (her) tongue was hangin’ out.”
    Ben and Jane married on February 2, 1949, in Elida, New Mexico. They spent their first few years of married life in remote northeastern Sierra County on the Buckhorn Ranch. In 1954, they moved to the Bar Cross Ranch south of Engle, where they raised children Steve, Judy and Cindy. The couple lived at the ranch until Ben’s death in 2007 following a long bout with cancer. Jane moved to her home in T or C some years later and enjoyed receiving guests there. Before she moved to town, she welcomed people passing by the ranch on their way to the construction of Spaceport America. She was always quick to offer visitors something to eat, as well as a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
    Jane took great pride in being a rancher and a rancher’s wife. For 58 years, her name was rarely mentioned by itself but rather as half of “Ben & Jane.” The couple spent all their time together working on the ranch alongside their kids. Ben and Jane were active in Cattle Growers and viewed the annual meetings as a change to reconnect with old friends. Before arthritis set in, the couple would also get away from the ranch on weekends to compete with friends and family in roping held in the area.
    Jane also prided herself on the academic and athletic accomplishments of her grandchildren. When they were in grade school, her grandkids enjoyed spending summers at Grandma and Granddad’s, competing in rodeos for prize ribbons, wading in the canyon after big rains, swimming in the tank with Grandma, and modeling the clothes Grandma had sewn for them. If they pleaded long and hard enough, Jane’s grandkids could get her to “take (her) teeth out” for a good laugh. Jane always enjoyed spending time with her grandkids, as well as with her many treasured nieces and nephews.
    Jane also enjoyed attending church, especially Engle Country Church, where for years she helped preacher Jack Cain lead the congregation in song. Jane also found fellowship in the frequent get-togethers she enjoyed with her “Antiques” group – friends who had gone to high school together back in the 40’s.
For those who knew Jane, her cooking is sure to be among the reasons they remember her. Jane would fix big meals of brisket and beans for the cowboys come shipping time, and none of her holiday spreads were complete without homemade monkey bread. In the lead-up to Christmas, Jane would ship up big batches of popcorn balls, divinity, and fudge. Her grandkids always got a kick out of the zany concoctions Jane would come up with in the kitchen, including her still-mysterious “hummingbird cake”.
    Jane was preceded in death by her husband of 58 years, Ben Cain, in 2007; son, Steve Cain in 1976; and grandsons, Cody Cain in 1976 and Greer Goetz in 2012.
    Jane is survived by one sister, Annie Rogers of Austin, Texas; sisters-in-law, Elma Cain of Nara Visa, N.M. and Olga (Bill) Bristol of Nogales, Arizona; daughters, Judy (Phil) Wallin of Moriarty, N.M. and Cindy (Dudley) Goetz of T or C; daughters-in-law, Leta “Jake” Cain of Buckhorn, N.M.; many beloved nieces and nephews; granddaughters – Traci (Dave) Fresques, Stevye Lee (Mike) Stanley, Amanda (Curtis) Creighton, Bobbie Wallin, Charlcee Goetz, Katie Goetz, and Gina (Logan) Vanlandingham; and great grandchildren, Taylor, Cody Jo, Kaylee, Bentlee and Barrett.
    Services will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at the Caballo Church with Rev. Jack Cain officiating. Jane’s family will be available to receive visitors at the church prior to the services. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Sierra County Cancer Assistance c/o P. O. Box 47, Truth or Consequences, NM 87901. Arrangements are by Kirikos Family Funeral Home, Inc. & Sierra Crematory, LLC. 303 N. Cedar St. (TorC, NM) for online condolences, please visit,

Song Of The Day #1062

Did you ever hear Jim Reeves swinging it? Well here he is with Sweet Sue, Just You. Recorded in 1958 and available on the box set Welcome To My World.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

‘The West is burning’, or Harry Reid is wrong again

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is trying to cope with drought and heat across the West. And U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada said Western heat and fires are signs of climate change. The heat and fires jeopardize the livelihood of ranchers who depend on grazing, and threaten urban areas like Reno that depend on snowpacks for their water supplies. “Since last fall and winter, we have been working with grazers across the West in anticipation of tough conditions related to drought,” said BLM deputy director Neil Kornze in a prepared statement. “In southwestern Montana, for example, the BLM worked with permitted ranchers to graze no more than 70 percent of their allotted forage on BLM-managed lands. As drought conditions continue, wild horses, livestock, and wildlife that rely on rangeland forage and water will face extremely challenging conditions that may leave them in very poor condition. We are taking action to address these situations as quickly and as effectively as we can, but our options are increasingly limited by conditions on the land.” In Nevada, the BLM has been trucking 5,000 gallons of water day, five days a week to four locations for wild horses. A veterinarian was expected to be in Lincoln County this week. BLM employees reported that horses were not eating or drinking, raising questions about their health. “The West is burning,” Reid said in Nevada on July 17. “I could be wrong, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a fire in the Spring Mountains, Charleston range like we just had.” “The West is being devastated by wildfires,” Reid said a day later in D.C. “Millions of acres are burning. Millions of acres have burned. … They’re occurring all over. Why? Because the climate has changed. The winters are shorter, the summers are hotter.”...more

 Let's give Reid 1 out of 2. 

 The West is burning. 

But it's primarily due to 40+ years of mismanagement, not global warming. 

 Is Reid really that ignorant, or is the public finally catching on to the real problem and this is just a diversion/cover-up to evade responsibility?

Lummis: It’s Time to Sink the Blueways Order

by U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis

This column is an open call for Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to disavow the National Blueways Order. If you are wondering what a “Blueway” is, you are not alone. Few in Wyoming knew until word spread that the Department of the Interior wanted to designate the Yellowstone River Watershed as a “National Blueway” under Secretarial Order 3321.

So what is a Blueway? According to Interior official Rebecca Wodder, a Blueway is a “pat on the back” that will bring “recognition to big river systems.” The consistent message from Interior is that the program is voluntary, collaborative, and non-regulatory. Over the last several months, however, this message has turned out to be patently false.

First, consider the source. A Secretarial Order is an executive order that comes from a cabinet secretary and not the President. It is not a law passed by Congress. New federal land and water designations created by secretarial fiat smell fishy from the start.

Moreover, Ms. Wodder is the former CEO of American Rivers, a litigation-happy organization where she took policy positions so far on the fringe that she was forced to withdraw from her presidential nomination to an appointed position at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. From her consolation perch as a “senior advisor” to the Secretary, her new rivers project is the Blueways Order.

Second, listen to the experts from Wyoming who traveled to Washington to oppose a Yellowstone River designation. Shoshone Conservation District Supervisor Russell Boardman testified in April that the Order’s objectives will undermine local conservation efforts, as the Order ignores agriculture, municipal water delivery, hydropower and the many other demands on Wyoming’s scarce water resources.

Just this week, Cheyenne property and water rights expert Karen Budd-Falen testified that she had examined the order and found no basis in law for Interior to claim this massive designation authority. She found flaws in the Order too numerous to list, including the potential for regulatory and litigation burdens produced by the Order. More litigation and regulation on Wyoming water and land users is the last thing our State needs.

Third, notice the secrecy under which Interior pursued the Blueway designation of the White River in Missouri and Arkansas. Instead of conducting an open, public process, Interior cherry-picked a handful of local supporters, promised more federal dollars, and made the designation while keeping the majority of local governments and stakeholders in the dark. Once residents knew what hit them, and realized that the designation would have real impacts on their ability to use land and water in their backyard, the public outcry forced Secretary Jewell to withdraw the designation.

Enter the Yellowstone River Watershed. About half of the watershed, or 22 million acres, is in Wyoming. Yet the Department of the Interior did not approach a single Wyoming official or water user—not a one—about Interior’s desire to slap a new federal designation on Wyoming’s river systems, the lifeblood of our communities. This lack of an open process is eerily similar to the White River experience and legitimized the concerns of Wyoming residents that a Blueways designation could be foisted on them over their objection. When you take away the flowery rhetoric of the Blueways Order, all signs point in one direction: more Washington control over land and water in Wyoming.

Over the last several months, the Wyoming delegation, Congressional Western Caucus, and House Natural Resources Committee have waged an aggressive oversight initiative over the Blueways Order. In response, Secretary Jewell has announced that she will “pause” the Blueways Order in order to educate herself about it. My message to Secretary Jewell is that the education should already have occurred. The results are in. The Blueways experiment has failed. If Secretary Jewell or Ms. Wodder wants a voluntary, collaborative, non-regulatory rivers program, they already have it in the form of the hundreds of state and local conservation efforts already underway and already supported in Wyoming and the west.


Editorial: 4FRI Effort needs to continue

It is not enough to identify the Four Forest Restoration Initiative as “the nation’s largest and most ambitious forest remediation effort,” as the promotional literature declares.

“4FRI,” as the project is known, is all that. It is an epic project. But merely reciting its size and scope — restoring and reviving 300,000 woodland acres across four Arizona forests by way of mechanical thinning over the next 10 years — fails to capture the emotional investment Americans have placed in this vital project...

The company selected by the U.S. Forest Service over a year ago to conduct the thinning, Pioneer Forest Products, has requested the agency allow it to transfer its contract to another, as-yet unidentified company.
The Forest Service says it is reviewing the request. In the meanwhile, Pioneer stumbles along performing a miniscule facsimile of its once-enormous mission: It hired a dozen loggers, who finally started work in May, to thin 1,000 acres over the next 18 months.

If this development were merely a glitch for an otherwise solid operation, it would not be viewed as devastating as it is. But Pioneer has never been solid. It failed to secure financing for a sawmill. Its business plan has looked star-crossed. It always has been difficult to figure out how this company could make money.

The conduct of the Forest Service, meanwhile, has been — if anything — worse.

A week before the federal agency announced Pioneer’s request, a Forest Service representative told The Arizona Republic the service was confident in the company’s ability to fulfill its contractual obligations.

Perhaps Pioneer’s announcement caught the Forest Service by surprise, too. But, in some respects, pants-down credulity seems worse: Critics of Pioneer have been shouting from rooftops almost since the beginning that the company, owned (at one time, anyway) by a former Forest Service employee, could not possibly do the work. Now we see the critics were right.

Sell the timber, make money for the feds and create a healthy forest.  Is the Forest Service incapable of producing a NEPA document that will survive a court challenge?

Burning Man - BLM Approves Multi-Year Permit for 68,000

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Winnemucca District, Black Rock Field Office, has issued a multi-year Special Recreation Permit (SRP) to Black Rock City (BRC), LLC authorizing the annual Burning Man event through 2016, contingent upon annual reviews showing BRC’s compliance with the terms and stipulations of the permit. This year the Burning Man event will be held on the Black Rock Playa from Aug. 26 through Sept. 2. This year, the BRC is required to keep the maximum population from exceeding 68,000 people during the event. The BLM is also requiring BRC to comply with 13 standard stipulations, which are common to all SRPs, and 48 special stipulations specific to the Burning Man event. The special stipulations relate to matters such as event set-up, signage, security, public safety, resource management, debris removal, fee calculation and payment, and event take-down and clean-up...more

Western Senators Introduce Measure To Offer Certainty For Cabin Owners

Leading U.S. Senators from the American West introduced a bipartisan measure to make cabin user fees more affordable and predictable, allowing families to keep their cabins on Forest Service land at no cost to the federal government. Many Western families have owned family cabins on leased Forest Service land for generations. But due to skyrocketing land values, annual user fees are too expensive for many families, forcing some to consider abandoning their cabins. Led by Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana), the lawmakers are addressing the issue by restructuring the fee system to reduce annual user fees to as low as $500 and requiring new land appraisals to be completed within two years. The Cabin Fee Act assigns annual user fees according to an eleven-tier “cabin value” system ranging from $500 to $5,500. This system will provide greater certainty to cabin owners, but will not reduce the Forest Service’s revenue from cabin leasing...more

Authorities find 28,000 pot plants in Cuyama Valley

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday it had discovered and eradicated marijuana plants worth $85 million in the Cuyama Valley near Figueroa Mountain. The Sheriff’s Department worked with personnel from the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, U.S. Forest Service, California National Guard, state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Santa Barbara Regional Narcotics Enforcement Team to locate and eradicate the plantings. The operations were conducted July 18 and July 23. Ten separate locations were discovered through tips from area residents and aerial observations by law enforcement. More than 28,000 plants were discovered, according to the Sheriff’s Department. The operation also led to the arrests of 46-year-old Jose Humberto Rivera, of Ventucopa, and 34-year-old Jose Garcia-Armas, of Los Angeles. Both were charged with marijuana cultivation...more

If any type of productivity is found on federal lands, they will stomp it out.

Canadian scientists work to save endangered blood-squirting lizard - video

A group of biologists working in Saskatchewan's Grasslands National Park are trying to save one of Canada's rarest and perhaps strangest creatures — the greater short-horned lizard. This lizard, which can be found anywhere between New Mexico and southwestern Alberta, has a rather unique and strange defense mechanism. It shoots its own blood from its eyes to ward off an attacker. The lizard has been considered endangered on Canada's Species At Risk list since 2007, mainly due to habitat loss from "ongoing oil and gas development, proliferation of roads, proposed mineral development, and an increased human presence." Dr. Shelley Pruss, a Species at Risk Ecologist at the University of Alberta and member of the team of biologists studying the lizard, told the Canadian Press that her team has only ever seen one of these lizards once...more

Plague-Stricken Squirrel Prompts Closure Of Campground In Angeles National Forest

A squirrel that tested positive for plague prompted the days-long closure of a campground in the Angeles National Forest. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the U.S. Forest Service decided to shut down Broken Blade, Twisted Arrow and Pima Loops of the Table Mountain Campground for at least seven days. Health officials said squirrel burrows will be dusted for fleas...more

Zonkey: the cutest form of hybrid ever

A DONKEY and a zebra have come together to prove Mother Nature doesn't discriminate when it comes to love. This little guy is the offspring of an affair between said zebra and an endangered species of donkey at an animal reserve in Florence. So enamoured was the brawny zebra, he climbed his protective fence to spawn a breed of hybrid seen rarely before; a zonkey...more

Good Times Announces New Hatch Valley New Mexico Green Chile Lovers Menu and TV Ad

GOLDEN, Colo., Jul 24, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Good Times Restaurants Inc. GTIM +0.33% today announced it recently rolled out a new, limited-time Hatch Valley New Mexico Green Chile menu that will run through the prime green chile season until the end of September, supported by a new television ad. In addition to its permanent menu of $2 Green Chile Breakfast Burritos, the limited-time menu consists of Fresh Cut Green Chile Cheese Fries, a Green Chile Burger and Slider. Commenting on the introduction, Director of Marketing Nicholas Corbishley said, "We have had such outstanding results and customer feedback from our breakfast burritos, we wanted to extend the use of our authentic Hatch Valley New Mexico Green Chile to other products, particularly during the height of the season for roasted Hatch Valley Green Chiles. Additionally, we are continuing the creative campaign that we introduced with our first television ad featuring our Springer Mountain All Natural Hand Breaded Chicken that was such a success." The Company reported that this is the second in a series of television ads under the same creative campaign umbrella that launched at the end of March...more

Song Of The Day #1061

Ernest Tubb - Thanks A Lot (1963)

The new power triangle

Barack Obama, to hear his advisers tell it, has finally found The One he has been looking for: John McCain. “We have been looking literally for years for someone we can cut deals with, and finally someone has stepped up,” a White House official said. West Wing aides say they now talk with McCain roughly every other day. McCain, to hear fellow Republicans tell it, has finally found The Two he has needed to make such conversations worth the bother: Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat who can actually get things done in the Senate, and Denis McDonough, a White House chief of staff who actually cares what senators say and think and do...more

And if that's not enough, there's this:

While Obama and party leaders clash endlessly and hopelessly, these three men are showing it is possible to put aside political and personal grievances to get consequential stuff done, even in Washington’s currently twisted state.

That makes me want to puke.

So just what have these "leaders" accomplished?

This new alliance has resulted in an immigration bill and a deal to avoid the nuclear option for confirming nominees, and is in preliminary conversations to avert a government shutdown over the budget. It has created trust — tenuous but real — among these three officials (and others) who can deliver results.

Obama has found The One alright.  Notice each move pushes us farther to the left.  Thank John McCain.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

NSA can't check its own emails

The National Security Agency (NSA), which monitors communications all over the world, has a very interesting weakness: the agency claims that it cannot even search its own employees’ email. You read that correctly: NSA Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officer Cindy Blacker told Justin Elliot of ProPublica, "There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately.” She added that the NSA system is “a little antiquated and archaic." Elliot had filed a request for emails that had passed between the NSA and National Geographic Channel employees because he was studying the National Geographic Channel’s marketing strategies. Blacker responded a few days later telling Elliot to make his request more specific because the FOIA could not search emails en masse, only “person by person.” This would take a fair amount of time; the NSA has 30,000 employees. Eliiot persisted by contacting the NSA press office but there was no response. Mark Caramanica of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press was befuddled, saying, “It’s just baffling. This is an agency that’s charged with monitoring millions of communications globally and they can’t even track their own internal communications in response to a FOIA request.”...more

Justin Amash Amendment To Stop NSA Data Collection Voted Down In House

Members of the House of Representatives engaged in a heated debate Wednesday over an amendment from Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) to halt the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone record data. "We're here today for a very simple reason: to defend the Fourth Amendment, to defend the privacy of each and every American," Amash said as he introduced his measure. Lawmakers' votes, he said, would answer one simple question, "Do we oppose the suspicionless collection of every American's phone records?" Apparently, the answer was no. The House voted 217-205 to defeat the amendment Wednesday evening. Amash's measure, offered as an amendment to the Department of Defense appropriations bill, would have prevented the government from invoking Section 215 of the Patriot Act to scoop up phone call metadata -- information about whom people are calling and when, but not the content of the calls -- unless the government had a reasonable suspicion that a specific target was involved in terrorism. Co-sponsored by liberals including Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the amendment represents the first time either chamber of Congress has weighed in on the revelations of NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Amash warned that "opponents of this amendment will use the same tactic that every government throughout history has used to justify its violation of rights: fear." And the measure's foes -- even those within his own party -- did not disappoint...more

Feds to start shooting barred owls

Federal wildlife officials plan to dispatch hunters into forests of the Pacific Northwest starting this fall to shoot one species of owl to protect another that is threatened with extinction. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday released a final environmental review of an experiment to see if killing barred owls will allow northern spotted owls to reclaim territory they’ve been driven out of over the past half-century. The agency has been evaluating the idea since 2009, gathering public comment and consulting ethicists, focus groups and scientific studies. It will issue a final decision on the plan in a month. “If we don’t manage barred owls, the probability of recovering the spotted owl goes down significantly,” said Paul Henson, Oregon state supervisor for Fish and Wildlife. The agency’s preferred course of action calls for killing 3,603 barred owls in four study areas in Oregon, Washington and Northern California over the next four years. The experiment requires a special permit under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits killing nongame birds...more

Playin' God, shooting one species to supposedly save another. As the article points out, this isn't the only place the D.C. Deities are active:

 The idea of killing barred owls to protect northern spotted owls underscores the fragile balance of nature that biologists have struggled with in recent years. Between 2000 and 2006, wildlife officials captured and removed more than 40 golden eagles from the Channel Islands off Southern California to protect the island fox. They also hired a company to kill 5,000 feral pigs on Santa Cruz in a controversial program to restore the island’s ecosystem. In Oregon, wildlife officials have used lethal injections to kill selected California sea lions that feast on protected salmon in the Columbia River. And in Yosemite National Park, saving bighorn sheep has meant hunting protected mountain lions.

 On any other issue it's no human intervention and let nature take its course. 

 All hell is breaking loose over slaughtering a few horses, but you can apparently blast away at barred owls.  They better hope Robert Redford, Bill Richardson, Susana Martinez and HSUS don't show up at their door.

Farmers Question Science Behind Endangered Listing For Bladderpod

A group of farmers in southeast Washington is trying to stop the federal government from giving endangered species protection to a rare plant. It’s called the White Bluffs bladderpod. And it grows on a narrow ribbon of federal land and farms. A farmer group is using genetic tests to claim that the plant is not as rare as it seems. The farmers hired an agronomist to sample three plants found along the bluffs of southeast Washington. They also hired a scientist from the University of Idaho to genetically compare those samples to a handful of plant material gathered throughout the Columbia Basin. The farm group said the results show this bladderpod is the same one that grows in many other areas of the West, not the narrow slice federal scientists have claimed. Stuart Turner is the agronomist who led the recent study. “Unfortunately, Fish and Wildlife is wrong. The indications are based on this technology that, based on this extensive testing and cross analysis against other samples from a wide area that is that we have one common species,” Turner said...more

Federally Endangered Clapper Rail Found Dead At Solar Plant

A Yuma clapper rail, a bird listed as Federally Endangered, has been found dead at a desert solar plant in California. There have already been reports of numerous bird fatalities at wind farms around the country, posing questions as to how best to develop renewable energy while protecting wildlife and the environment. Solar power raises many of the same issues. This is believed to be the first death of an Endangered bird at a renewable energy generation site in the mainland U.S., but it is only one of many birds that have died at the Desert Sunlight solar facility near Joshua Tree National Park. The Yuma clapper rail was listed as Endangered in 1967 under the Endangered Species Preservation Act, which was a precursor to the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Experts believe that fewer than 1,000 Yuma clapper rails survive in the United States...more

Build those solar plants, kill those endangered birds.  The DC Deep Thinkers have a great policy here.

Ca. coyote bites, drags 2 year-old girl

A 2-year-old girl is recovering after she was bitten and dragged by a coyote at a Southern California cemetery. The Orange County Register reports Klarissa Barrera, of Long Beach, was given a rabies shot and treated for a 2 1/2-inch gash on her calf. She was attacked 10 feet from her mother Thursday as the family visited a relative's grave at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress. Michelle Luper says the coyote bit her daughter on the back and dragged her toward some bushes. Luper says she screamed and lunged, and the coyote let go. State wildfire officials later shot and killed three coyotes at the cemetery...more

Cows in Range Creek? Grazing to resume to reduce fire threat

Faced with the persistent threat of wildfire in remote Range Creek Canyon, the University of Utah proposes bringing cattle back to the archaeological research area in the hopes of knocking back invasive cheatgrass. Conditions were so hazardous last summer that rockfall triggered a fire that burned 900 acres up canyon from the field station. The Lighthouse Fire was the fourth since the canyon southeast of Price came into public ownership a decade ago, according to Duncan Metcalfe, the U. anthropology professor who oversees excavations there. Through a program of "prescriptive" grazing, Metcalfe hopes a couple hundred cows can devour much of the cheatgrass that carpets the canyon floor every spring. This two-foot-high annual dries out early and can easily ignite by the time fire season hits. But cheatgrass, though nutritious, is palatable for only a brief window in the spring, perhaps a week or two, before its seed heads cure into prickly pods. The canyon had been grazed for more than a century while the Wilcox family owned the bottom lands in the lower canyon and controlled the surrounding public lands. A decade ago they transferred 1,513 acres to the state, which has entrusted the U.’s Natural History Museum of Utah with managing the undisturbed archaeological resources along with two adjacent 640-acre sections of state land. Grazing is allowed under the conservation easement attached to the former Wilcox land, which is to be managed primarily for research and the preservation of its ancient Fremont Indian sites. The Bureau of Land Management administers the slopes towering above the canyon floor. No cattle have been here since the transfer except for some limited grazing in 2006-07...more

Hikers report confrontation with horseman on forest trail

A man on horseback in the mountains above Santa Fe threatened to shoot Panama Pete, a rescue dog and canine model, who was hiking the Winsor Trail last Thursday with his owner and her friend. While hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians are mostly respectful of one another on the popular multiuse trails around Santa Fe, some unpleasant encounters do occur — and this was one of them. The incident was reported to U.S. Forest Service officials, who have turned the case over to New Mexico State Police. Lorna Dyer, Pete’s owner, said she and Kay Fitzgerald were about halfway back up to the ridge from the meadow known as La Vega when they came around a curve on Winsor Trail and saw two cows and two calves crossing the trail. The animals were followed by a man on horseback. Pete, who was off-leash, began barking and running toward them. The rider, who was armed, started yelling at the dog and at the women. Dyer called to her dog. “Pete came right away, and she put him on the leash,” Fitzgerald said. But the rider continued swearing at the women, repeatedly calling them vulgar names. Dyer said the rider, who had a holster on his right hip, put his hand on his gun and said, “If your dog comes at my cattle, I’ll kill him.” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Laurence Lujan confirmed that Dyer had reported the encounter. “We are looking into it,” he said. The case has since been turned over to New Mexico State Police. In such encounters, he noted, “animals are spooked and startled, and they react and the owners react.” A few years ago, forester ranch management consultant Henry Carey and his wife were thrown off their horses during a run-in with dogs on the lower Winsor Trail. Carey was bitten by one of the dogs, and his wife was knocked unconscious...more

Tales of Tyranny: Joyce Daman’s Untouchable Timberlands - video

The Western slopes of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula are prime timber country. During World War II, Joyce Daman’s grandfather purchased some of that land and logged it to support the war effort. He appreciated both the land and the legacy it would provide for future generations. He passed some of that timber land down to Joyce’s father, who gave it to Joyce. Three generations managed that land according to some of the strictest timber management practices in North America. After 70 years, the timber was ripe for harvest. Yet to harvest timber, even on private land, requires permission from Washington State’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Damans applied for their permit, and it was granted. They hired a team of loggers from the local community. But just as they began, DNR changed its mind and issued a “stop work order” against the Damans. It turns out a Seattle-based anti-logging group had challenged the Damans’ permit. That was all it took to put the team of loggers out of work and threaten to destroy the rewards of 70 years of good stewardship. If you follow all the rules only to have them change at the last moment … is this the rule of law? If you can do everything right, get a permit, even get started, only to have government change its mind and stop you in your tracks … are you really free?...more

CIA Backs $630,000 Scientific Study on Controlling Global Climate

The Central Intelligence Agency is funding a scientific study that will investigate whether humans could use geoengineering to alter Earth's environment and stop climate change. TheNational Academy of Sciences (NAS) will run the 21-month project, which is the first NAS geoengineering study financially supported by an intelligence agency. With the spooks' money, scientists will study how humans might influence weather patterns, assess the potential dangers of messing with the climate, and investigate possible national security implications of geoengineering attempts. The total cost of the project is $630,000, which NAS is splitting with the CIA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA. The NAS website says that "the US intelligence community" is funding the project, and William Kearney, a spokesman for NAS, toldMother Jones that phrase refers to the CIA. Edward Price, a spokesman for the CIA, refused to confirm the agency's role in the study, but said, "It's natural that on a subject like climate change the Agency would work with scientists to better understand the phenomenon and its implications on national security." The CIA reportedly closed its research center on climate change and national security last year, after GOP members of Congress argued that the CIA shouldn't be looking at climate change. The goal of the CIA-backed NAS study is to conduct a "technical evaluation of a limited number of proposed geoengineering techniques," according to the NAS website. Scientists will attempt to determine which geoengineering techniques are feasible and try to evaluate the impacts and risks of each (including "national security concerns")...more
Could be this was engineered by entities outside the CIA and this is a raid on the CIA budget.

How the CIA can send a drone after any mobile phone (even if its powered off)

Since 2001, armed Predator drones have been used by the CIA in many foreign nations to attack individuals on the ground. There's a new revelation about them, too: In some cases, the NSA helped the CIA find targets by locking onto their powered-off mobile phones. Even when phones have their batteries removed, it appears the NSA still has the ability to locate them.

Buried inside a Washington Post story by Dana Priest is the following tidbit:
By September 2004, a new NSA technique enabled the agency to find cellphones even when they were turned off. JSOC troops called this "The Find," and it gave them thousands of new targets, including members of a burgeoning al-Qaeda-sponsored insurgency in Iraq, according to members of the unit.
At the same time, the NSA developed a new computer linkup called the Real Time Regional Gateway into which the military and intelligence officers could feed every bit of data or seized documents and get back a phone number or list of potential targets. It also allowed commanders to see, on a screen, every type of surveillance available in a given territory.
"The Find," the Post article says, is run by a team in the basement of the NSA's headquarters whose job is to track the location of mobile phones in real time. Because many phones have chips that stay on even after a battery has been removed, tracking powered-down phones is within the realm of possibility...more

Song Of The Day #1060

Faron Young - I Hear You Talkin'

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Permit denied for NM horse slaughter company

A New Mexico company's hard-fought attempts to convert its cattle plant to a horse slaughterhouse was dealt a series of new blows Monday, with the state denying its wastewater permit and actor Robert Redford, former Gov. Bill Richardson and the state attorney general announcing plans to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to block a return to domestic horse slaughter. The New Mexico Environment Department told Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, which has a lapsed discharge permit, that it won't renew the permit without a public hearing because of extensive comments already received. Valley Meat Co. attorney Blair Dunn said the lack of permit would not prevent the plant from opening as planned Aug. 5, but it would increase the cost of doing business because the plant would have to haul its waste. Dunn accused the state of unfairly targeting a small, family-owned business. He noted that many dairies are operating around the state with lapsed permits. He said the state ignored Valley's request for a renewal until the horse slaughter debate became so divisive and Gov. Susana Martinez announced her strong opposition. The denial came the same day that Redford and Richardson joined the fray, announcing formation of an animal protection foundation whose first act was to seek to join a federal lawsuit filed by The Humane Society of the United States and other groups to block the planned Aug. 5 opening of Valley Meat and another recently approved horse slaughterhouse in Iowa. The plants would be the first horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. to operate in more than six years. Also Monday, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said he had filed a motion to intervene on behalf of horse slaughter opponents. Redford said he and Richardson have both donated seed money to the group, but declined to say how much. A lifelong horse lover, Richardson in a statement said he is committed to do "whatever it takes to stop the return of horse slaughterhouses in this country and, in particular, my own state." "Congress was right to ban the inhumane practice years ago, and it is unfathomable that the federal government is now poised to let it resume," he said. Dunn, the Valley Meat attorney, questioned why groups like Redford and Richardson's don't "use their money to actually save animals instead of harassing people in their lawful business?"...more

Well, they've all done it now.  First was the Republican Governor.  Now too lib-Dems, Redford & Richardson. All jumping on a minority-owned enterprise.  Hollywood, the Gov., the Attorney General and the most corrupt politician NM has ever produced, all jumping on this family for strictly political reasons.

So what is next?  Will Gary King develop a sudden love for deer?  Martinez for cows? Richardson for feral pigs?  You see where this is heading.

EPA agrees to hold onto farmer, rancher data for now

The American Farm Bureau Federation's (AFBF) decision to file a lawsuit and seek a temporary restraining order against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has resulted in the EPA’s agreement to hold off on releasing personal information about farmers and ranchers to environmental groups who filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the EPA. According to AFBF, the EPA will off hold off on responding to any future FOIA requests for the same information until the legal issues are resolved by a court. AFBF filed the lawsuit and temporary restraining order to keep the EPA from releasing the information on livestock and poultry operations across the nation. Earlier this year, the EPA released data it had gathered from state regulators, including names, home addresses, GPS coordinates and personal contact information, for farmers and ranchers in 29 states in response to FOIA requests from three environmental groups.


Wyoming joins lawsuit against EPA's 'sue and settle' practice

Wyoming is one of 12 states that will sue the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday to force the release of EPA records related to some lawsuits by environmental groups. The suits, to be filed by Republican state attorneys general, seek to show the EPA cooperated with green groups through a process known as “sue and settle” to impose new or tougher environmental regulations. Sue and settle reportedly occurs when an organization files a lawsuit against an agency for missing a deadline for issuing a rule or hasn’t properly administered a regulation. Agencies can choose to defend themselves or settle with the petitioner. Industry and Republicans allege the EPA worked with groups to impose regulations without letting states get involved, according The Hill newspaper. Led by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the 12 states are seeking to obtain records of lawsuits that led to new regulations. Wyoming is concerned about the EPA process that led to a state plan on regional haze being denied and replaced with a more onerous federal plan, said Renny MacKay, press secretary for Gov. Matt Mead...more

Hey AGs, what about Interior and the Forest Service?

DOE study: Fracking chemicals didn’t taint water

A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site, the Department of Energy told The Associated Press. After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water, geologist Richard Hammack said. Although the results are preliminary — the study is still ongoing — they are a boost to a natural gas industry that has fought complaints from environmental groups and property owners who call fracking dangerous. Drilling fluids tagged with unique markers were injected more than 8,000 feet below the surface but were not detected in a monitoring zone 3,000 feet higher. That means the potentially dangerous substances stayed about a mile away from drinking water supplies...more

U.S. rules on fracking on public lands seen costing drillers dearly

A proposed set of federal rules governing hydraulic fracturing on public lands would cost oil and gas producers in the western US at least $345 million a year in extra costs if finalized, according to industry groups. The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management estimates the rules, which are awaiting a final seal of approval after many months in the works, would cost drillers an extra $12 million to $20 million per year. The proposed measures were scaled back from an earlier plan that would have cost explorers about twice as much. The groups said the "cost to society" of the rules would be $345 million per year extra, with an average per-well cost of $96,913. "While there are improvements in the second version of the rule, it still remains fundamentally flawed from an engineering perspective, as well as bad regulatory policy," Kathleen Sgamma, a vice president of government affairs for the Western Energy Alliance, said in a statement released on Monday in conjunction with the Independent Petroleum Association of America. "(Interior) still has not justified the rule from an economic or scientific point of view, and continues to lack the budget, staff or expertise to implement it." The WEA and IPAA said a recent economic analysis showed that requirements for enhanced casing in drilling wells accounted for nearly 90% of the extra cost...more

Should Idaho Really Take Over Federal Lands?

An Idaho legislative interim committee meeting next month could make a splash — by keeping its ripples on the small side. That might mean shifting its assigned mission. The panel is the federal lands interim committee, meeting Aug. 9, co-chaired by Senator Chuck Winder and Representative Lawerence Denney. House Concurrent Resolution 21 asked it to assemble research “before the Idaho Legislature can properly address the issue of the management and control of public lands now controlled by the federal government in the state of Idaho should title to those public lands be transferred to the State of Idaho …” Context: HCR 22, which also passed, “demand[ed] that the federal government extinguish title to Idaho’s public lands and transfer title to those lands to the state of Idaho.” Pre-meeting, attorney Michael Bogert was asked to collect background materials, and he assembled a 274-page report. As he noted, it covered many of the issues involved, but it could have been even larger: I’ve watched similar efforts flail and fail over the past 40 years. The states active on this, like Utah and Arizona, hit a brick wall: The lands are owned by the whole country and that’s unlikely to change. Still. The debate over just how well the states could do is far from conclusive. States can be useful laboratories of experimentation, and there’s talk, in some quarters, about something more modest than a fruitless demand for massive land turnover. Such as: Carve out a few small and varied parcels of federal land, require that federal standards be maintained in managing them, and then in essence pay the state to manage them in a pilot project. Could the state do better? If so, how? The exercise might open new and useful approaches to management, and either quash the state’s argument that it could do better, or strengthen it...more

Taste for beef kills cub of famous Teton grizzly

In the days before he was killed by wildlife managers, the cub of famous Teton grizzly 399 was doing what his mother taught him to do: kill easy-to-catch ungulates. The problem was that bear No. 587 was killing cattle. Chronic livestock depredation was the cause of 587’s demise. It was a trait the bruin exhibited beginning not long after he was pushed away by his mother in 2008. When 587 went on a cattle-killing spree on a herd grazing in the Upper Green River drainage the first week of July, it was one episode too many, said Zack Turnbull, carnivore biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Pinedale office. “He killed cattle in 2010, he killed sheep in 2010, he killed cattle in 2011,” Turnbull said. “He killed nine or 10 or more cattle in a three- or four-day period this year.”...more

House votes to add 2 miles of coast to national monument

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Monday to add more than two miles of stunning Mendocino coastline to the California Coastal National Monument. Monday's vote to pass the bill backed by Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, brings the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands a significant step closer to achieving monument status. As a national monument, the lands would benefit from stricter protections for the delicate coast ecosystem as well as greater access to money for improvements and management. The next hurdle will take place in the U.S. Senate. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer introduced companion legislation that will face committee and floor votes. The passage of the bill, called the California Coastal National Monument Expansion Act of 2013, would provide the first mainland addition to an existing monument encompassing 1,100 miles of coastal rock formations, pinnacles and reefs along the entire California coastline. The property to be added includes the 1,132-acre Stornetta Public Lands and a 123-acre portion of the nearby Cypress Abbey Ranch, which are both currently run by the Bureau of Land Management...more

Judge rules in favor of Forest Service

A federal judge ruled in favor of the U.S. Forest Service Monday in a lawsuit filed by Beaverhead County commissioners concerning access to 322,000 acres in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The suit contended that the Forest Service’s 2009 revised forest plan unfairly restricted access to motorized recreation vehicles in newly recommended wilderness areas by failing to consult with the plaintiffs and by not conducting a proper environmental analysis. In his summary judgment, U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon dismissed two of the plaintiffs’ claims and found in favor of the defendants on three others. The plaintiffs were Beaverhead County Commissioners Tom Rice and Mike McGinley, along with many individuals and organizations interested in access to wilderness. Those individuals and organizations included snowmobile and off-road vehicle groups, ranchers and mining organizations...more

Prairie dog move denied

Chaves County doesn’t want prairie dogs, and the Clovis City Commission declined on Thursday night to help a citizens group bring them there. By a unanimous vote, the commission denied a request by Citizens for Prairie Dogs to capture prairie dogs from the Clovis Civic Center, O.G. Potter Park and the Goodwin Lake Walking Trails and move them to Bureau of Land Management property in Chaves County. “We just want to save the prairie dogs, remove them, relocate them humanely,” said Susan Hubby of Citizens for Prairie Dogs. Not many others at the meeting were interested. Jack Muse of Clovis, in sentiments echoed by other citizens, said the city should look into an ordinance that declares the animal a public nuisance and require property owners eradicate them. Johnny Chavez said he was dismayed by accounts of prairie dogs being found in city pools and holes in youth baseball practice fields. “We don’t need them; nobody else wants them,” Chavez said. Regarding the land where the prairie dogs would be kept, Joe Adair of Bold Visions said the land was controlled by the BLM, and any desire they have for the land supersedes a recent ordinance by the Chaves County Commission outlawing the importation of prairie dogs into the county from another entity. Adair said that prairie dogs would take centuries to get from that BLM land to private ranch land, but that wasn’t enough to convince Chaves County Commissioner James Duffy, who came to Clovis for the meeting. “We spend thousands and thousands of dollars to eradicate prairie dogs,” Duffy said. “They are rodents.” He noted the Curry County Commission had a similar ordinance in the works and said, with no intent of being flippant, if prairie dogs aren’t good enough for Curry County they certainly shouldn’t be good enough for Chaves County...more

Tropic bird goes astray, sparks NM birding frenzy

There's a frenzy erupting in the birding world, and the Rufous-necked wood-rail is to blame. Never before has there been a recorded sighting of a Rufous-necked wood-rail in the United States, but for the last two weeks one of the birds has been right at home among the cattails at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Typically, the species is found along the coasts and in tropical forests in Central and South America, far from parched New Mexico. The sighting has prompted emergency plane reservations and impromptu road trips reminiscent of "The Big Year," the comedy starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson that brought to life the annual competition among birders to identify the most species of birds in North America in a year's time. The difference here is that no one expected they would get to check the wood-rail off their list...more

Song Of The Day #1059

Today we'll jump to the 60s with George Jones & Melba Montgomery performing Long Walk Off A Tall Rock.  The tune is on their 1967 LP Album Party Pickin'.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Full Dinosaur Tail Excavated In Northern Mexico

Mexican paleontologists say they have uncovered 50 vertebrae believed to be a full dinosaur tail in the northern desert of Coahuila state. The National Institute of Anthropology and History says the tail is about 15 feet (5 meters) long and resembles that of a hadrosaur or crested duckbill dinosaur. An institute Monday says it's not yet possible to confirm the species, but it would be the first full tail of that kind in Mexico. Paleontologist Felisa Aguilar says they uncovered roughly half of the dinosaur, which was 36 feet (12 meters) long and lived about 72 million years ago...more

The Ethanol Tax

The summer is high driving season, so $4 gasoline in many parts of the country will add to the cost of family vacations. The gas price is mostly dictated by supply and demand, but Washington is helping to keep prices high. We warned in "The Ethanol Gas-Pump Surcharge" on March 13 that the 2007 ethanol mandate was starting to raise prices at the pump. Congress and the White House did nothing and now the problem is getting worse.

In 2007 the Bush Administration and Congress mandated how much ethanol the oil and gas industry must purchase each year to be blended into gasoline. This year it is 13.8 billion gallons. The quotas were established when Washington thought gas consumption would rise year after year, but instead it has fallen.
Lower consumption means refiners are now nearing a "blend wall" of 10% ethanol per gallon. Most American motorists won't buy gas with more than 10% ethanol, partly to protect engines from damage and partly because of higher prices. The volume mandates are so high they would require more than 10% ethanol.

So under federal law refiners must comply with a complicated system of buying renewable energy credits to make up for the ethanol they don't use. These credits are called Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs. Demand for RINs has surged and so their price has exploded. In January the RIN price was less than 10 cents a gallon, then it hit $1 in March and is now $1.40. This translates into a roughly $14 billion a year gas tax, or 10 cents a gallon more for consumers.
The quickest way for Washington to lower prices would be to repeal the ethanol quotas. But White House energy adviser Heather Zichal said this week that repeal would be "shortsighted" because the mandate combats climate change. But even environmentalists (including Al Gore) now concede that ethanol probably increases carbon emissions.
The ethanol quota is scheduled to rise again in 2014 and many energy market experts believe this could add another 10 to 25 cents per gallon of gas. Only Washington could come up with such a scheme.

BLM to remove 1,300 mustangs in West this summer

U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials say they plan to remove only 1,300 wild horses and burros from the range across the West this summer because of budget constraints and overflowing holding pens. Overall, they intend to remove about 4,800 of the animals from the range during the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30, compared with 8,255 in the last fiscal year. The vast majority of targeted animals will be wild horses. Nine of the BLM’s 16 summer roundups will be conducted in Nevada, home to roughly half of the estimated 37,000 free-roaming wild horses and burros in the West. The agency plans to remove 855 wild horses and burros in Nevada, 140 in Oregon, 105 in Arizona, 65 in New Mexico, 50 in Colorado and 25 in Idaho. The BLM made the announcement Friday, about a month after 30 U.S. representatives urged new U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to make reforming the government’s wild horse management program and its spiraling budget a priority. The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign coalition criticized the BLM’s plans, saying the captured animals will be added to government-funded holding facilities that are already at capacity with 50,000 wild horses and burros...more

ND working to import sage grouse from Montana

Wildlife officials hope to move as many as 60 greater sage grouse from Montana to North Dakota over the next two years to boost a waning population. The proposal is part of a multistate effort to improve conditions for the birds and keep the federal government from listing them as endangered. Officials in Western states fear that federally mandated protections could severely restrict ranching, grazing and energy development. Scientists say the sage grouse has lost half of its traditional range and also has been hit hard by the West Nile virus. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2010 determined sage grouse deserved federal protection but that other species were of higher priority. The agency has pledged to make a final decision on listing the sage grouse by late 2015. Far southwestern North Dakota is on the edge of the sage grouse's historic range. The bird's population in that area peaked at 542 males in 1953, and has steadily declined in the past three decades. Sage grouse hunting was halted in the state in 2008 for the first time in nearly half a century after a steep population drop officials attributed to the West Nile virus. This year's survey found only 50 males. Wildlife officials would like to see five times that number...more

Group seeks doubling of marine species protected by Endangered Species Act

A conservation group will ask the federal government Monday to list 81 additional marine species under the Endangered Species Act, seeking to protect sharks, corals and other sea life and begin correcting what it considers a bias toward safeguarding terrestrial creatures. Of the 1,475 U.S. species protected by the landmark 40-year-old law, only 94 live in the oceans. The conservation group WildEarth Guardians contends there is no scientific basis for that disparity. “It’s just an historic imbalance that needs to be righted,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for the organization, which is based in Santa Fe, N.M. With most efforts to protect species started by groups and individuals, the overwhelming majority of species listed have been the ones people can see — land- and river-based wildlife, predominantly in the West, she said. Boris Worm, a professor of marine biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, noted that global extinction of marine species has been historically rare and that no fish species has been completely eliminated from the waters that cover 71 percent of the globe. (A number of species, including some sturgeon, bluefin tuna and white marlin, have become extinct in certain regions, which often signals the onset of a more widespread problem, he said.)...more

Eavesdropping on Endangered Species With iPods and Machine Learning

Somewhere in Puerto Rico, a small yellow frog is chirping into a microphone attached to an iPod. Several kilometers away, a computer is listening. Within a minute, that song will be posted online, and the species of the frog will be identified — all without scientists lifting a finger. This wildlife recording studio is part of a new project to study biodiversity using automated hardware and software. ARBIMON, which stands for automated remote biodiversity monitoring network, was developed by Mitchell Aide and Carlos Corrada-Bravo from the University of Puerto Rico, who report their new work this week in the journal PeerJ. They teamed up to apply 21st century technology to the problem of species monitoring, combining readily available parts with advanced machine-learning algorithms to analyze thousands of hours of wildlife audio in real time. Scientists have long used automated technology to track deforestation, but they haven’t had nearly as much success in developing similar techniques to monitor the effects of climate change and habitat loss on fauna. “We don’t have good, long-term data on how these pressures are affecting the abundance or distribution of species,” says Aide. The challenge is that human researchers can only be in so many places at once, and only for so long. And even when they deploy automated recorders, thousands of skilled man-hours are required to sift through the resulting data. That’s where ARBIMON’s new software comes in handy...more

Carlsbad farmers left high and dry

For the third year in a row, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission’s $100 million system to deliver water to Carlsbad-area farmers has failed. State officials blame drought. Critics say the system is flawed because its design was based in part on data from a period of unusually wet weather. Whatever the root cause, the network of wells installed to pump groundwater to the Pecos River for the farmers’ use will deliver less than half the water it is supposed to this year, according to a mid-July estimate by the state. That has led to farmers in the Carlsbad Irrigation District with little water for their crops, and a legal battle over who bears responsibility for living up to the state’s water rights obligations. The groundwater pumping system is part of a deal struck in 2003 among the state and two Pecos River irrigation districts. Extensive groundwater pumping for farming in the Roswell-Artesia area was depleting flows in the Pecos River, hurting Carlsbad-area farmers who were downstream as well as leading to a deficit in the state’s obligations under the Pecos River Compact to deliver water to Texas. The Carlsbad farmers generally have senior water rights, meaning their farmlands were the first to put the Pecos water to use in the area, and without a deep aquifer of their own they rely primarily on river water to irrigate their crops. Under state law, they have first call on the water over most of the groundwater pumpers upstream in the Roswell-Artesia area who came later and whose pumping was alleged to be causing the river’s shortfalls. Rather than simply cutting off those Roswell-Artesia pumpers, the state Legislature appropriated some $100 million to try to fix the problem. The money was spent to reduce water use in the Pecos Valley by buying up agricultural water rights and taking the land out of production. The state also spent money to build well fields north of Carlsbad to pump groundwater into the Pecos in dry years for use by Carlsbad farmers...more