Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fair vendors waiting for fair weather

Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal
Judging by Friday’s comments from vendors at the New Mexico State Fair, cash registers are ringing proportionally to the amount of sunshine gracing the latest edition of the fair, which is taking place through Sept. 22 at New Mexico Expo. Clarissa Garcia at Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ, said business had been steady since the fair opened on Wednesday, but that things slow down every time it rains. “It’s been OK, unless it rains,” Garcia said during a brief period of sunshine Friday afternoon. The state has been hammered during the last few days with unusually heavy rains. Like most vendors, she’s hoping for big, hungry, weekend crowds and a break in three days of off-and-on rainfall. Fernando Aviles’ Custom Stickers booth outside the Lujan exhibit hall was a little slow Friday. When asked how business was, one of his compadres chimed in, “You mean how slow has business been?” Aviles, who’s been selling at the fair for seven years, said business has been down, but he still has nine days to go, and he’s hoping things will pick up. He then offered a deal on a Mayweather vs. Canelo T-shirt and predicted Canelo will win today’s super lightweight bout...more

Flood Warning Ends, But Water Levels Are High In ABQ

A flood warning for New Mexico's largest city has been canceled as water levels for Rio Grande slow. The National Weather Service said Saturday that the river is expected to crest at 6.5 feet. Flood stage is at 8 feet. A day after parts of the state saw "life threatening" floods, Albuquerque officials were worried that runoff water in the Rio Grande could cause the river's level to rise up to 12 feet above normal. That would result in potential bosque flooding throughout the city and Bernalillo County. Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry is scheduled Saturday to outline details and possible emergency plans. City officials have reopened bosque trials around the Rio Grande...more

Roswell dealing with cleaning up after flood - video

The sun was shining Friday in Roswell, shedding some light on the aftermath of the flooding. The rain may be gone, but the damage isn't. The dried up creek hasn't seen flowing water in 20 years, but that all changed Wednesday.  As for the people that live around here they've had to find another way home. Water came rushing through the Berrendo creek in Roswell Wednesday, dragging a lot of damage along with it.  Down power lines, ripped out fences, and broken bridges are just a few of the sights around Roswell Friday. Two days later, water is still flowing over roads, cars are still stuck, and people are still in disbelief. “The water was up to the top of the fence here.  All the way across to the fence over here, and unbelievable I’ve never seen that kind of water in my life out here," said French. Water hasn’t rushed through the Berrendo creek in Roswell since 1991.  A long time for some, but to others it used to be a more frequent memory...more

Here's the KOB tv report:

Raging waters threaten bridges

A turbulent Gallinas River slams into the historic Bridge Street Bridge near Las Vegas’s downtown Plaza on Friday afternoon. The bridge remained open, despite the high waters. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)
LAS VEGAS, N.M. Parts of this northern New Mexico town looked more like bayou country Friday as floodwaters from a raging Gallinas River spread from its banks to surround, and sometimes flood, homes. Authorities said as many as 50 houses were evacuated in Las Vegas and numerous roads were closed in surrounding San Miguel County. There were also probably some flooded homesites along the Gallinas east of town, they said. County Commission chairman Nicholas Leger said low-water crossings and bridges out in the county had been damaged in what was believed to be a bit larger than a 100-year flood for the Gallinas. But no injuries or deaths had been reported. “There’s going to be a tremendous amount of damage,” Leger said. The problems caused by heavy rain – 5 to 7 inches had fallen around the county, according to Leger – were exacerbated by an overnight rupture in an earthen diversion canal that is supposed to send some of the river water to Storrie Lake, the privately owned reservoir just outside Las Vegas. The 20-foot rupture east of town meant all of the water in the Gallinas’ mountain watershed was rushing down the river – at flows estimated at as much as 20,000 cubic feet per second – and through Las Vegas without the pressure release provided by the Storrie Lake diversion. Las Vegas Mayor Alfonso Ortiz said it could take three or four days or longer to repair the broken canal. “We’re very, very concerned about that,” said Ortiz...more

J.R. Absher photo of Cuchillo Creek, Friday a.m.

No doubt you've seen coverage on the flooding in Colorado, but down here in New Mexico, we're having some excitement, too. The normally dry Cuchillo Creek was wall-to-wall water this morning.

The small amounts of joy that we find each day...

The small moments of joy that we find each day are so much more precious now than when I looked at them before.  


Friday, September 13, 2013

La Union flood cripples town; residents without gas and water

Shari V. Hill  Sun-News
This week's heavy rains overwhelmed an aging earthen dam outside La Union, leaving many of the small community's people scrambling, frustrated and soggy. Home flooding, washed out roads and widespread utility outages forced many residents to evacuate their homes in southern Doña Ana County on Friday, a day when Gov. Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency throughout New Mexico after record rainfall and subsequent damage. "It's affected everybody," La Union resident Alex Uranga said. "It just got out of hand." No injuries have been reported, county spokesman Jess Williams said. He did not have count of how many people have been affected by the La Union flooding, but about 300 residences are without water and gas...more

Officials brace for more floods in San Juan County

San Juan County experienced monsoonal rainfall this week, as did much of New Mexico. Heavy rains brought flash floods that stopped traffic, damaged property and carried debris throughout the county.The San Juan County Communications Authority and fire, emergency medical services, road, management and sheriff's office personnel created a tactical operations center to better coordinate emergency responses this weekend, said sheriff's office spokeswoman Beth Utley in a prepared statement.Many areas of San Juan County flooded Thursday night, and officials are preparing for more flooding this weekend. "We're waiting for the next storm and trying to handle the last The month isn't even half over, and Farmington has already received nearly three times as much rain as it typically gets in the entire month of," said County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter.Farmington received 2.22 inches of rain from Monday to Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. The precipitation was measured at the Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington.The city receives an average of .78 inches of rain in September.So far this year, Farmington has received 6.48 inches of rain, which is at 112 percent of the average rate for this time of year...more

Pecos River rising as evacuations increase

Shelters are open in three counties hit by flash flooding, and the National Guard has been called out to aid in evacuating a mobile home park near Artesia where deep water stranded as many as 60 residents. What the National Weather Service is calling a "historic September rain burst" is living up to its billing with roads washed out around the state, the Pecos River at a 53-year high and the rain still falling. Late Thursday morning rescuers were using a helicopter to pluck as many as 60 residents from the flooded mobile home park in Lakewood about 15 miles south of Artesia. By midafternoon Carlsbad officials shut down the US 285 bridge as a precaution essentially cutting Carlsbad in half. The American Red Cross opened a shelter in Carlsbad at Leyva Middle School and was preparing for evacuees from as many as 200 homes there, a Red Cross spokesperson said. Some of the people rescued in Lakewood also were headed there on buses provided by Eddy County. Water levels have been rising all along the Pecos River with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation saying water levels had double and in some cases tripled in reservoirs. An increased outflow from Avalon Dam at 5,750 cubic feet a second reached Carlsbad just downstream about 9:30 a.m., and the outflow from the dam later rose to 6,000 cfs. While the channel through Carlsbad is designed to handle 20,000 cfs, the BOR said boating and recreation equipment in the river could be at risk. With the expected flooding from Dark Canyon feeding into the Pecos at Carlsbad, the BOR later extended its warning to the Texas border and warned people to stay away from the river and Avalon Dam. At last report the combined flow of the Pecos and Dark Canyon in south Carlsbad had reached 13,000 cfs...more  

This report is from the evening of 9/12.

Lakewood flood evacuees ponder future

CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) - The rain has stopped in southeastern New Mexico, but officials and residents are still dealing with the most dangerous flooding they've seen in years. It's been nearly 24 hours since Lakewood residents were airlifted to safety from their flooded homes. For now there's still no telling when they'll get to go back. "They were just trying to get us out by the helicopter, but now we can't go back," an evacuee who identified himself only as cowboy said. "In fact we can't even live there for awhile." More than 70 residents from an RV park in Lakewood were evacuated and transported to an American Red Cross shelter in Carlsbad. "We were trapped," resident Anthony Simmonds-Amari said. "The water was filling it up. "I'm happy to be here. We will go back when we go back." Simmonds-Amari, a resident of Lakewood for more than 20 years, says he watched as flood water swallowed his home Thursday. The area is still off limits...more

State Police Officer Rescues Family from Chaves County Flood

Chaves County — On Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 7:00 am; NMSP Dispatch in Roswell received a call from the Pecos Valley Regional Communications Center regarding assistance needed with distressed residents on River Road. River Road is located ten miles east of Roswell.

The Pecos River began rising to impassable levels due to heavy rainfall within the past twelve hours. This resulted in people being unable to leave their homes for safety.

Officer Marcus Gonzales, a NMSP Diver, responded to the scene equipped with swift water equipment, assisted by members of the Roswell Fire Department and Sierra Volunteer Fire Department.

Officer Gonzales was able to cross thirty feet of chest-deep, rushing water numerous times to carry an adult female, and several young children, and elderly persons to safety.

Rescue vehicles were able to transport these individuals to various locations, to include the Eastern NM University Roswell Campus shelter arranged by the American Red Cross.

HT: Heath Haussaman

Chicago abolishes gun registry in place since 1968

Chicago on Wednesday reluctantly abolished a 45-year-old requirement that gun owners register their weapons with the city, marking a victory for advocates of gun rights such as the National Rifle Association. The city council voted to end the gun registry in place since 1968 to comply with court rulings against Chicago and Illinois gun control laws, and to bring the city into line with a state concealed carry law. "I happen to think the court's wrong. I think their interpretation is wrong," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said of the rulings that forced Chicago to eliminate the registry. He spoke after the council voted. The Chicago decision came one day after the gun rights lobby scored a victory in Colorado, ousting two lawmakers who had supported gun control in the state legislature. The powerful NRA, which boasts millions of gun owners as members, has successfully employed tactics, such as recalls and challenges to gun control laws in court, as a way to get strict enforcement of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which sets out the right to bear arms. "We're glad the Chicago firearm registration is gone," said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, the local affiliate of the NRA. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010, in a case challenging Chicago's gun restrictions, that every state and city must adhere to the Second Amendment. The ruling did not strike down the Chicago restrictions directly, but sent the case back to a U.S. appeals court for review. In December 2012, the appeals court ruled that Illinois's ban on concealed carry was unconstitutional and gave the state six months to create a law allowing guns to be carried in public. Illinois approved a concealed carry law in July, giving control of gun regulations to the state and essentially nullifying Chicago's power to require that gun owners register their weapons and have a city firearms permit...more

Eddy County Sheriff's Dept. investigating shooting deaths of cows, horses

By Stella Davis

Sheriff Scott London said the suspects were brought in for questioning and allegedly admitted to shooting the animals. No charges have been filed because of the ongoing investigation.

Dolie Bond-Bradford said the shooting on her son's ranch involved three young hunters who had originally gone dove hunting and turned their sights on two cows, two calves, a pregnant mare and another horse, a loss of several thousand dollars.

"I cried when I saw what they had done," Bond-Bradford said, noting that she and her late husband owned the ranch before their son, Mark Bond, took it over.

Bond-Bradford said the dead livestock were discovered by other hunters who reported it to law enforcement.

"My granddaughter posted on her Facebook page asking anyone with information about the shooting of the livestock to call her," Bond-Bradford said. "One of the boys involved in the shooting of the animals apparently bragged about it at school. Someone contacted her and the information was given to the sheriff's department."

Stella Davis may be reached at (575) 628-5546.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1101

Johnny Cash - Five Feet High And Rising (1959)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Jewell Announces Over $40 Million for State and Local land acquisition; reiterates call for full funding of LWCF

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that $40.03 million is being made available in allocations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and will be distributed to all 50 States, the Territories, and the District of Columbia for state-identified outdoor recreation projects. LWCF state grant funds are awarded through Federal matching grants that leverage public and private investment in America’s state and local public outdoor recreation projects.

Secretary Jewell also underscored the importance of President Obama’s proposal to require mandatory, full funding of the program by 2015.

“For nearly half a century, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has used funds derived from energy development in federal waters to support conservation and recreation projects that create jobs, support local economies, and increase outdoor recreational opportunities in every county across the country,” said Jewell. “This is why President Obama is asking Congress to fully appropriate the money in this fund to be used for the purpose for which it is being collected, so we can help create outstanding outdoor spaces for all people from all backgrounds to enjoy sports and recreation close to home.”

The LWCF was established by Congress in 1964 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. The primary source of revenue for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is from Federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.
The funds enable State and local governments to establish everything from baseball fields to community green spaces; to provide public access to rivers, lakes and other water resources; and to conserve natural landscapes for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment.

Only once in the past 49 years has Congress appropriated LWCF funding at the full authorized level of $900 million. President Obama’s 2014 budget request includes a legislative proposal to establish dedicated mandatory funding for LWCF programs, with full funding at $900 million beginning in 2015.

Just what we need:  less private and more public land.

The plumber vs. the billionaire

Michael Bloomberg is the mayor of New York and a media mogul who weekends in Bermuda and whose net worth is an estimated $27 billion. Victor Head runs a plumbing business with his brother in Pueblo, Colo.

The two clashed from a distance Tuesday in the Colorado gun recalls, and Head gave the billionaire a righteous drubbing. The defeat of two pro-gun control Colorado state senators in recall elections sends a message that should be heard all the way back on the Upper East Side, and maybe even in Hamilton.

It wasn’t too long ago that Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns was supposed to be the great equalizer in the gun debate. For too long, the National Rifle Association had dominated with its big dollars and its fierce commitment to its cause. Bloomie would change that. Or so we were told.

This was before dozens of mayors quit the organization, some of them explaining that it had dawned on them that the group wasn’t against illegal guns so much as for making more guns illegal. And that was before the Colorado recall. The vote reinforces the failure of gun control in Congress earlier this year, with the extra sting of a direct populist rebuke.

The gun control measures at issue are relatively mild, certainly compared with what gun control advocates truly want. Colorado limited magazines to 15 rounds and imposed background checks on private transactions. Nevertheless, it was a career-ending vote for the two targeted Democrats.

The recallees, state Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo, weren’t fighting on hostile territory. In terms of registration, Morse’s district is split three ways among Democrats, Republicans and independents. Giron’s district is much more favorable, a heavily working class and Latino area that has been a Democratic stronghold forever. President Barack Obama carried it by nearly 20 points in 2012.

It was always thought that Morse, who has alienated all sorts of people besides gun rights advocates, could go down, and he did by 51 percent to49 percent. That Giron would follow him and by a larger margin, 56-44, was shocking...

As for the NRA and the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity, they certainly played in Colorado. The pro-recall forces were still badly outspent, by as much as 8-to-1 according to some estimates. Bloomberg wrote a personal check for the anti-recall side for $350,000.

Victor Head is not writing those kind of checks. Months ago he set out on what has all the hallmarks of a classic story of taking on City Hall.

Let's not forget Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima, and Mayors Joe Murrieta of Grants, Ray Alborn of Ruidoso, David Coss of Santa Fe, Darren Cordova of Taos, Albert Campos, Jr. of Santa Rosa, Barbara Cottam of Angel Fire and Gloria J. Chavez of Tijeras are members of Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Senate demands answers on EPA’s armed raid of Alaskan gold mine

Republican senators are demanding answers from the Environmental Protection Agency after agency officials participated in an armed raid of gold mines near Chicken, Alaska. According to reports, in late August agents of the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force swarmed the mine in groups of four to eight and even went so far as to wear body armor and carry guns while investigating a supposed violation of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. No arrests were made in the raid and no citations were issued. “Imagine coming up to your diggings, only to see agents swarming over it like ants, wearing full body armor, with jackets that say POLICE emblazoned on them, and all packing side arms,” gold miner C.R. “Dick” Hammond told the Alaska Dispatch. “These heavy-handed tactics appear to have been wholly unnecessary,” wrote Republican Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana and John Barrasso of Wyoming in a letter to the EPA, “and we therefore request that you immediately accommodate Alaska Governor Sean Parnell’s call for you to review and evaluate how EPA handles [Clean Water Act] violations.” Alaska’s congressional delegation and the state’s governor have also demanded to know why  the EPA decided to send armed officers for a water pollution permit inspection. The EPA said the investigation was launched based on sites with a history of violating the CWA, but the agency refused to publicly explain to why it opted to use fully armed officers for its “multi-jurisdictional” investigation at the mine. On a conference call held in late August, a staffer for an Alaskan senator said that the EPA sent in armed men because it had been given information by Alaska State Troopers regarding “rampant drug and human trafficking going on in the area.” That explanation was debunked by a spokeswoman for the state troopers, who said they did not advise the EPA to raid the mine and that there was no evidence of drug and human trafficking occurring...more

Hey Republicans.  You gave them the budget.  You allowed them to be trained in military style tactics. You gave them the weapons and the body armor.  You gave them the authority to conduct these type raids.  And now you expect them to not use the dollars, training, weapons and authority?

Cut their budget, take their toys away and limit their authority.  If the EPA needs law enforcement presence during an inspection, they can use the FBI or local law enforcement.   Sending a letter and making a few public statements will change nothing, and you know it.

National Parks Group Discovers Serious Flaws in Air Pollution Policy, Highlights 300 Year Gap between Congressional Mandate and Natural Air Quality in Iconic Parks

Despite the directives of the 1977 Clean Air Act and the 1999 Regional Haze Rule, many national parks today suffer serious air pollution and at the current rate of progress it will be centuries before their natural air quality is restored, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has found. Included in a sample of ten national parks that NPCA highlighted are the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone, which will not achieve natural air quality until 2163, and the Grand Canyon, which is prized for its stunning vistas above all else and will not see pristine air quality until 2127. NPCA has launched a petition calling on President Obama to speed the rate of improvement of national park air quality by closing regulatory loopholes and ensuring that all parks have natural air quality by 2064, the deadline provided in the 1999 Regional Haze Rule. In addition, NPCA has produced a short video  on the impacts of pollution in parks and on the 300 year delay in cleaning up  these beloved places...more

GOP energy bill amendment would block EPA carbon regulations

The bipartisan energy efficiency bill on the Senate floor is fast becoming a magnet for politically controversial amendments on climate change and ObamaCare. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) has filed an amendment that would thwart the Environmental Protection Agency’s planned carbon emissions rules for power plants. A separate Barrasso amendment would prevent federal agencies from using the “social cost of carbon” (SCC) – a metric that helps tally the estimated benefits of avoided emissions – in regulations. And Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is demanding a vote on his plan that would require the president, the vice-president and political appointees, along with members of Congress and their staff, to use the ObamaCare health exchanges, among other provisions. Vitter is blocking lawmakers from securing votes on amendments unless he gets a vote on his plan, either as an amendment to the energy bill or separately. If the bill goes forward, it’s likely to attract other controversial amendments too. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) has said he wants a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline...more

California poised to ban lead ammo with help from the HSUS

The recent opinion piece in the San Diego Union Tribune, “Lead poisoning a threat to wildlife” by the head of a national animal rights organization was the latest ploy in a propaganda campaign forged by those seeking to end hunting and fishing in the United States. In this piece, Wayne Pacelle of the anti-hunting Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) conveniently omits several key concerns with Assembly Bill 711 a bill to ban traditional lead ammunition that passed the California State Senate in a 27-15 vote on Monday. That bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown. This onerous legislation has united a coalition of hunting organizations, labor unions, manufacturers and taxpayer advocates in opposition. Can anyone seriously believe the HSUS will find hunting acceptable if hunters are forced to use alternative non-lead ammunition? What is AB 711 about really?  As the voice of America’s firearms and ammunition, hunting and sporting industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation supports the right of hunters to choose alternative ammunition, and manufacturers offer such products in response to consumer demand. Currently, alternative metal ammunition only accounts for just 1 percent of the ammunition market. Alternative ammunition made with brass can be classified as armor piercing ammunition that is illegal to make, sell or possess unless the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) grants special permission. As HSUS knows, ATF refuses to grant manufacturers the needed waivers to produce and provide alternative ammunition. This is one key reason why every major hunting organization in California and nationwide understand that an enacted AB 711 would amount to ban on hunting...more

Squealing Pigs Render Farm Worker Deaf, France Orders Piggery To Pay For Work Hazard

A French court Wednesday ordered a piggery to compensate a former worker who became deaf partly as a result of the incessant squeals of the animals in his charge. A court in the western town of Lons-le-Saunier in the Jura region ruled that the Pelizzari group had committed an "inexcusable error" by failing to protect Serge Personeni from a work hazard. The amount to be paid to the 59-year-old Personeni, who worked there from September 2001 until February 2008, will be decided later after he is inspected by a doctor. Personeni was in charge of feeding and looking after nearly 4,000 pigs. Deafness was recognised as a work hazard in France in 2012. It was then decided that those working in places with decibel levels higher than 85 should receive protective equipment. During a hearing in June, the court said Personeni was made to "work in conditions incompatible with human dignity." AFP

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1099

Wilma Burgess - Misty Blue (1966)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Threatened Species a Focus for Energy Industry

More than 100 species in Texas could be classified as endangered by the federal government in the coming years, potentially choking development for oil and gas companies in the state. And so some of the biggest players in the energy industry —including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Chesapeake Energy, BP and Sandridge Energy — are looking to take a major role in protecting such animals, whether or not they are listed as endangered. Critics say that putting oil and gas companies in charge is not in the best interest of threatened species, but proponents say that the industry is promoting a market-based strategy that will provide strong environmental returns. Lobbyists for the Texas Oil and Gas Association have set up a non-profit organization that is overseeing a plan to conserve habitat for the dunes sagebrush lizard, a habitant of West Texas’ oil-rich Permian Basin that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to list as endangered last year. And an ExxonMobil lobbyist recently incorporated a foundation to oversee a conservation plan for the lesser prairie chicken, also prevalent in the Permian Basin; the agency will decide whether to list the bird for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act by next March. Both plans are loosely based on the concept of a “wildlife habitat exchange,” in which oil and gas companies that disturb habitat would pay landowners to set aside a certain amount of their own acreage for habitat conservation. Proponents of the idea — including the Environmental Defense Fund and the environmental consulting firm Natural Resources Solutions, which helped write the plans — say it is the best hope for protecting animals without crippling economic development in Texas, and they hope to apply it to other threatened species. Wildlife advocates and some public officials say that although the concept of a habitat exchange has promise, it is doomed to fail in Texas if it’s controlled by the industries that could damage habitat the most...more

Study: Wind farms killed at least 67 eagles in 5 years

Wind energy facilities have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years, but the figure could be much higher, according to a new scientific study by government biologists. The research represents one of the first tallies of eagle deaths attributed to the nation's growing wind energy industry, which has been a pillar of President Barack Obama's plans to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming. Wind power releases no air pollution. But at a minimum, the scientists wrote, wind farms in 10 states have killed at least 85 eagles since 1997, with most deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012, as the industry was greatly expanding. Most deaths - 79 - were golden eagles that struck wind turbines. One of the eagles counted in the study was electrocuted by a power line. The vice president of the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, said the tally was "an alarming and concerning finding."...more

Jemez Mountain salamander placed on endangered species list

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the Jemez Mountain salamander to the federal endangered species list Tuesday, ensuring that its habitat must be protected. For New Mexico herpetologist Charlie Painter, who has championed the little salamander for more than two dozen years, the listing was long awaited and deeply welcome. “That’s really great news,” said Painter of the state Department of Game and Fish. The federal agency listed recreation — camping, off-road vehicles and mountain biking — among the threats to the salamander’s already limited mountain habitat. The listing could help Santa Fe National Forest defend an existing plan that limits off-road vehicle use in the Jemez Mountains, which has been challenged by off-road enthusiasts. The slender salamander is found only in the Jemez Mountains in portions of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Sandoval counties...more

Grazers want rights maintained as BLM launches land auctions

Grazing interests will look on with interest in late October when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) hosts the first competitive auction for three parcels of public lands in two Solar Energy Zones (SEZ) in Colorado. The sealed and oral bid auction will mark the first of what are expected to be a growing number of sales aimed at developing utility-scale solar projects on public lands in 17 BLM-designated zones covering 280,000 acres across six southwestern states. Identified last October, the zones are part of a Western Solar Plan the Obama administration hopes will help generate an additional 20,000 megawatts of electricity from public lands by 2020 and “ensure a fair return to taxpayers for the commercial use of these lands,” said Helen Hankins, BLM's Colorado state director. Another two zones were designated earlier this year. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, whose department oversees the BLM, told a national clean energy conference last month that the plan will incorporate what officials are calling a “smart-from-the start” approach to renewable energy development on public lands. Groups like the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) have taken little public stance on the latest developments. But Chase Adams, NCBA's director of communications, says it's his group's position that federal lands be managed for multiple use, as federal law states. “So, we oppose single use areas such as solar zones when they negatively impact grazing on public lands,” Adams said. “We're not opposed to the sale of public lands for development such as solar zones, so long as the rights of ranchers are not negatively impacted. Federal grazing permits are a property right interest.”...more

Senators: Illegal NSA spying still secret

Two Democratic senators are warning that the administration has still not revealed the full scope of the National Security Agency's privacy violations. In a statement released late Tuesday, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who both have access to classified information as members of the Intelligence Committee, warned that "some significant information — particularly about violations pertaining to the bulk email records collection program — remains classified." The senators made the statement after the Obama administration released about 1,800 pages of court documents showing that NSA analysts had improperly accessed phone call data thousands of times between 2006 and 2009. Leaks by former government contractor Edward Snowden revealed earlier this year that the NSA collects data on virtually all U.S. phone calls. Analysts are only allowed to search the vast phone database if they have a "reasonable articulable suspicion" that a phone number is connected to terrorism. But the NSA acknowledged in early 2009 that analysts had been routinely comparing thousands of numbers without any suspicion that they were connected to terrorists. As a result of the violations, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court pulled the NSA's authority to search the phone database on its own, requiring that the agency receive court approval on a case-by-case basis except for imminent threats to human life.  After the NSA made a series of changes to its training procedures and internal oversight, the court authorized the agency to resume searching the database on its own in September 2009...more 

Help Kickstart World War III! - video

Energy Department ‘green’ project comes in at twice the estimated cost: report

The Energy Department’s latest biomass plant is seeing plenty of green — it’s environmentally friendly and it’s costing taxpayers a wad of money. The $65 million facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee could wind up costing double that amount — another $67 million — because of mistakes in its construction and operation, the Energy Department’s internal watchdog is warning. “The Oak Ridge Site Office had not ensured the construction site was suitable and the soil conditions had been properly analyzed prior to the initiation of a major construction project,” investigators for the department's inspector general's office said. The biomass-fueled steam plant burns wood chips from local sources and originally was projected to supply much of the site’s energy needs at a significant discount to fossil fuels. It wasn’t until after construction started that workers discovered that the building site was contaminated by high levels of oil and radioactive water, the IG's office said. Construction ground to a halt for nine months, and costs soared by $44 million while Oak Ridge tried to fix the problems. It wasn’t until later that investigators discovered that an independent engineering firm had performed an evaluation prior to construction and warned Oak Ridge about the potential problems — but the laboratory chose to ignore the assessment...more  

But we don't have enough money to fight forest fires.

Did enviro group and IRS collude against Va. farmer and Tea Party activist? IG takes a look

The Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury Department is investigating whether an environmental group pressured the Internal Revenue Service into auditing a Virginia farmer and tea partier, according to attorneys, policy analysts and other sources familiar with the case. But the investigation has not discouraged IRS auditors, who are expanding their audit of Martha Boneta in what has become a high-profile dispute over property rights. Boneta told The Daily Caller in an interview that she has been asked to submit “reams and reams” of new information in addition to the original audit request.  Boneta said that she and her legal representatives recently met with a special agent of the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Information (TIGTA) “on two separate days, for almost five hours.” While Boneta would not comment on the details of the meeting, she did say the “close coordination and collusion” between the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) and the Fauquier County government in Virginia could become central to the ongoing investigation. The meetings with the special agent took place earlier this summer and with witnesses as recently as this past week.Boneta, who is actively pushing for new property rights legislation in the state, is convinced she is on the receiving end of a “deliberate, persistent, coordinated assault.” She became the subject of an IRS audit after the PEC sued her over the terms of a conservation easement that sits on her property and after Fauquier County issued her a series of citations based on alleged zoning violations that could amount to thousands of dollars in fines...more

Effort to Save a Houston-Area Prairie Comes Down to the Wire

The Deer Park Prairie is spared from development. Just hours before Tuesday’s deadline, Bayou Land Conservancy raised enough money to buy the land. In early August, Dean Lawther, a longtime housing developer in the area, agreed to sell the property to conservationists for $4 million. The initial proposal kicked off a campaign to quickly raise the money. On Monday night, a new agreement was reached. Lawther would come down on the price, to $3.8 million, and the prairie would have a longer name: Lawther Deer Park Prairie. Bayou Land Conservancy will hold the conservation easement, preventing the prairie from ever being developed, but will transfer ownership to the Native Prairies Association of Texas to manage and operate. The remaining donations will be used to maintain the park. Bayou Land Director Jennifer Lorenz calls the project the “fastest conservation campaign ever completed in Texas.” The group raised nearly $4 million, mostly from individual donors, in a matter of weeks. “Individuals made this happen, this truly is the people’s prairie,” she says...more  

That's how its done in a private lands state. Willing buyer, willing seller and resource is protected without delay. 

In a public lands state they would spend the $4 million on an EIS that would take years to complete, then appeals, then litigation and then turned over to federal mismanagement based on a Land Use Plan that would take another $4 million and more years to complete.  Meanwhile, the resource is damaged and the feds blame it on global warming and sequestration.

Green power groups: Energy Department’s crystal ball is broken

Green energy and environmental groups say the federal government is publishing “unreasonably low” renewable power growth forecasts – and that the faulty crystal ball could slow investment in the industry. A new letter from an array of groups to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) takes aim at the agency’s closely watched “Annual Energy Outlook.” “We believe that EIA's estimates in past issues of the ‘Annual Energy Outlook’ for future electrical generation from renewable energy sources in the near- and mid-term have been unreasonably low and have not been borne out by actual experience,” states a letter Tuesday to EIA from dozens of groups...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1098

Lonzo & Oscar - See Saw Baby

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Time line of NPS response angers victim's family

By Carol Broeder and Ainslee Wittig

 While the family of a National Park Service employee who was assaulted last Wednesday, Aug. 28, is relieved to see a suspect is being sought, they believe he could have been in jail by now had Chiricahua National Monument rangers reported it immediately to area law enforcement agencies.

Joe Gonzales is the 26-year-old son of Willcox resident Karen Gonzales, the NPS employee who was left for dead in a restroom at Chiricahua’s Faraway Ranch area, 38 miles south of Willcox. He said Sunday that he felt that law enforcement rangers wanted to keep the response in-house and did not follow protocol for contacting area law enforcement and other procedures for such an incident...

Michelle Fidler, a public information officer for NPS, said a park researcher, who is not an NPS employee, found the victim in the bathroom at 12:30 p.m. and ran back up the road to the headquarters (near the visitors center), where it was reported to NPS by 12:45 p.m.

The park researcher who found Gonzales reported that she appeared to have head trauma, and that it was unknown if she had fallen, Capas said...

NPS emergency medical personnel responded and began treating Gonzales, she said.
Fidler said NPS called HCI ambulance of Willcox directly for assistance transporting Gonzales.
When HCI medical personnel arrived, it was determined that the best course of action would be for Gonzales to be airlifted to a Tucson hospital for further treatment, said Capas.

Fidler told the Range News that NPS medical personnel are park rangers with emergency medical training and that Chiricahua National Monument has three law enforcement rangers (commissioned law officers). Two were at the park last Wednesday...

Fidler said HCI transported Gonzales to the heli-spot nearby to be airlifted to UMC.
In the meantime, Joe Gonzales said it was about 1:30 or 1:40 p.m., just after he returned to work from lunch about a quarter mile past the visitor’s center, that he was summoned by another employee who said, ‘something happened to your Mom. We think she may have fainted,’ Joe said.

“I ran to the maintenance yard to get my own vehicle and drove it to the restroom area at Faraway. I saw two LEs (law enforcement rangers) parked there. I saw a huge pool of blood outside the restroom and drag marks into the restroom and I started to run in, but (the LE) jumped in front of me and yelled at me – ‘she’s not f–ing in there.’”

“I actually felt threatened and I backed up a couple of feet and yelled, ‘where is she? Where is she?’ After seeing the blood, I was hysterical by this time; he escalated that. He told me she was at the LZ (landing zone) near the entrance area, and he followed me to my car,” Joe said.

Joe said he was able to see his mother in the ambulance and “she was awake and responded to me by nodding her head. Her hands were covered in blood.”...

“One of the employees offered to drive me back to Willcox and another would follow in my truck, so I could feed her animals before going to Tucson. And then it clicked in my head … I needed her ID, cellphone and purse, and I asked where was the truck? He said he ‘didn’t know, maybe by maintenance.’ And we drove up to (Building) 24, and another employee stopped us on the road, and I asked her about my mom’s purse and backpack,” he said.

“She said, ‘Joe, we don’t know where the truck is … we’re looking around the park.’” I felt like they knew this already, and I was pissed. I said ‘why are you looking in the park? Why hasn’t Border Patrol, the Highway Department, the Sheriff’s Office or Willcox Police been notified?’ And, they said, ‘We’re working on it,’” he said.

“I called Lindsey (Joe’s sister) and told her to get a hold of the Sheriff’s Office. I felt like they were trying to keep it under wraps that a government rig got stolen. I watched two visitors drive right out of the park past me and I said, ‘Why isn’t this gate shut? This is a crime scene!’

“Why did I have to think of that?” Joe said...

It was not until about 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, that the Sheriff’s Office received a call about the assault, Capas said...

Ellis said, “I talked to (NPS employees) at the hospital. I said, if you’d had someone notify every law enforcement agency and put out an ATL immediately – not two  hours later — the Border Patrol would have gotten them immediately. Willcox Police was only notified that they needed an ambulance. They said they were caring for for their employee. But that’s not an excuse. They don’t know common protocol for law enforcement.”

Report: Property Rights in America Weakening

The strength of property rights in the United States has declined over the past four years, a new report on property rights around the world has revealed. The Property Rights Alliance released its annual International Property Rights Index on Tuesday. The index ranks 131 countries based on how they score in three areas of property rights protection: legal and political environment, physical property rights, and intellectual property rights. The United States was ranked 17th in the world for property rights protections. The United States had an overall score of 7.6 out of 10, putting it behind such countries as Finland, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Germany. Its score puts it just ahead of Belgium, Ireland, France, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.  Intellectual property rights was the highest component of the U.S.’s score, coming in at 8.3 and putting it in a five-way tie for second in the world. However, the relative weakness of the U.S.’s physical property rights and legal protections dragged down the overall score. The United States ranked 23rd for legal protections with a score of 7.2 and 22nd for physical property rights with the same score. Those countries with stronger property rights protections tend to be wealthier, the report showed. A strong correlation exists between all three areas of property rights and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita...more

Neil Young’s Electric Car Breaks Down, Left ‘Helpless’ on California Highway

Neil Young, a high-profile proponent of cars powered by alternative fuels, was recently stranded on the highway when his own $1 million biomass-powered hybrid car broke down. California highway patrol officers found the Canadian rocker stranded on the side of a road near Donner Summit, Calif. Young was on his way to an environmentalist festival in Canada, according to the Sierra Sun, driving his custom-made hybrid electric 1959 Lincoln Continental. “The car is touted as the world’s first full-sized luxury series hybrid electric car powered by biomass, according to the LincVolt website,” the Sun reported. Young recently joined Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) at an event pushing for the reauthorization of federal regulations mandating the use of ethanol in gasoline.  Source

Longtime ABQ dairy goes up for sale

One of the last dairies delivering milk in Albuquerque is calling it quits. Mickey’s Dairy has just put its farm on the market, saying New Mexico's drought and economy are two big problems they just can't overcome. While its business owners have 41 years of history in the Albuquerque area, they say their drive-in and door-side milk delivery service will soon be gone. “Right now I am totally broke,” said Danny McMahon, co-owner of Mickey’s Dairy. Judy McMahon, who also co-owns Mickey’s Dairy, said they've laid off so many employees, they're "down to the bare bones." The South Valley dairy farm off Coors Boulevard says the past five years of business has been bad for a few reasons, including the weather. The farm used to have about 300 head of cattle. Now, there are only about 50 head. The farm says many have been sold to slaughter because they're too expensive to maintain. “It's more the cost of the feed. That’s the number one problems right now,” said Judy McMahon. Danny McMahon added, “With drought after drought after drought, borrowed money to stay in business and it's just no longer feasible.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1097

Tony Douglas - Thunder & Lightning

Monday, September 09, 2013

Forest Service threatens water supply

The water supply for 250 residents of the Banning Bench and a century-old resource for the city of Banning are threatened by complex permitting issues involving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Forest Service. Federal commission staff will be in Banning for a conference on Thursday, Sept. 12, with people involved in different aspects of the regulatory dilemma. At issue is a 1913 flume that carries snow melt about 14 miles, from just above Raywood Flat in the San Gorgonio Wilderness area of the San Bernardino National Forest southwest to a turnout where Banning Heights Mutual Water Co. has a reservoir. From there, water is piped uphill to shareholders and the excess percolates into ponds in the Banning Water Canyon for city use. Southern California Edison has a federal permit to operate hydroelectric facilities on the flume but no longer generates power and has filed a federal application to surrender its license. The city of Banning is seeking a federal permit to take over the flume operation and possibly pursue a hydroelectric project, said Duane Burk, city public works director. But about 1,100 feet of pipeline crosses San Bernardino National Forest land. The Forest Service has notified Edison that the manmade improvements must be removed by Jan. 1, 2014. Burk said the Forest Service determined that the flume facilities didn’t fit into the land management plan for the forest. Burk contends that hydroelectric facilities are allowed...more

Yosemite Rim Fire Damage Draws Dozens Of Scientists As Restoration Planning Begins

Scientists are assessing the damage from a massive wildfire burning around Yosemite National Park, laying plans to protect habitat and waterways as the fall rainy season approaches. Members of the federal Burned Area Emergency Response team were hiking the rugged Sierra Nevada terrain Saturday even as thousands of firefighters still were battling the four-week-old blaze, now the third-largest wildfire in modern California history. Federal officials have amassed a team of 50 scientists, more than twice what is usually deployed to assess wildfire damage. With so many people assigned to the job, they hope to have a preliminary report ready in two weeks so remediation can start before the first storms, Alex Janicki, the Stanislaus National Forest BAER response coordinator, said. Team members are working to identify areas at the highest risk for erosion into streams, the Tuolumne River and the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, San Francisco's famously pure water supply. The wildfire started in the Stanislaus National Forest on Aug. 17 when a hunter's illegal fire swept out of control and has burned 394 square miles of timber, meadows and sensitive wildlife habitat...more

Hot Springs enthusiast wants cabin restored

An avid visitor to the Conundrum Hot Springs in the wilderness southwest of Aspen is aiming to convince the U.S. Forest Service to put the roof back on an old cabin located close to the pools. Evan Ravitz, of Boulder, contends that the cabin is needed for safety from “vicious hailstorms” and late-spring snowstorms that strike the high mountain valley. The hot springs are the highest in the U.S. at 11,250 feet. Forest Service officials consider the cabin “an attractive nuisance” that is out of balance with wilderness values. The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness management plan dictates that the agency will allow the vast majority of cabins and “fall into ruin at the hands of the elements.” Former Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Scott Snelson decided in August 2012 to have a crew remove the tin roof from the cabin. Ravitz said he is exploring whether the Forest Service followed the National Environmental Policy Act when it took the action. He said there was no public process before the action was taken in the summer of 2012. He is exploring whether the public was allowed to weigh in on the cabin issue when the wilderness management plan was created in 1988. If it appears National Environmental Policy Act was violated, “then we’ll talk to lawyers,” Ravitz said...more

ENMU-Ruidoso awarded $449,999 U.S. Forest Service collaborative restoration grant

ENMU-Ruidoso was recently awarded a $449,999 U.S. Forest Service Collaborative Forest Restoration Program grant to fund prescription treatments on national forest service and Mescalero land. The grant, written by Chair of Mathematics and Sciences and Assistant Professor Quentin Hays, sets aside money to harvest trees and implement prescribed fire on Lincoln National Forest and Mescalero Apache Tribal lands as part of a forest resiliency plan that also takes into account habitat of the threatened Mexican spotted owl. "This allows us to brings the parties to the table and enables us to act as unbiased intermediaries to bring the tribe, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Forest Service together to talk about issues that were hard to talk about in the past," Hays said. "It helps us to develop common goals for forest management taking into account threatened species, the changing climate and increased prevention of wildfires with the goal of promoting forest resiliency." A long-contested issue, the Mexican spotted owl was listed as threatened in 1993 under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed a recovery plan in 1995. The original plan was updated in 2012 to include guidelines for forest management in the face of recently increasing large-scale wildfires. Hays said approximately 60,000 acres on the Sacramento District of the Lincoln National Forest are affected by owl-recovery guidelines. The Rocky Mountain Research Station (USFS) in Cloudcroft conducted a long-term study of Mexican spotted owls in the region, and the grant will build on its findings and implement treatments on Lincoln National Forest and Mescalero Apache Tribal lands within the owl habitat...more

GOP report cites ‘culture of secrecy and evasion’ at EPA under Jackson

Republican lawmakers on Monday issued a scathing report accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of flouting transparency regulations in pursuit of its policy goals. “The Obama Administration has advanced the most aggressive, far-left environmental agenda ever and developed the most secretive, behind-closed-doors way of doing it. And that's not by accident,” said Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.  The 30-page report, prepared by Republican members of the panel, primarily focuses on EPA activities under former Administrator Lisa Jackson, who left the agency in February. It accuses agency officials of establishing an alias identity to hide Jackson’s actions — a nod to the “Richard Windsor” scandal — and taking an unresponsive posture with regard to requests made of the agency under the Freedom of Information Act. EPA officials, the lawmakers alleged, have mismanaged the electronic records system in a manner that has jeopardized some federal records, and redacted too much information from documents that have been released...more

Battle shaping up over federal water rights

A battle is shaping up in Congress over federal efforts to claim western water, and a Colorado lawmaker wants to make it clear who owns it. Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton says legislation recognizing the water laws of Colorado and other western states could discourage federal efforts to claim water the states need for their own use. "The West is under assault at this time," Tipton said Saturday at the fall meeting of Club 20, a Western Slope advocacy organization. The most recent battleground over water is a demand that ski areas surrender water rights to the U.S. Forest Service as a condition of obtaining their permits to operate on lands administered by the Forest Service, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported Monday. Forest Service officials said the requirement is necessary to assure the continued use of the water for skiing. Many ski areas use their water rights to make snow. Ski areas and other water users sued the Forest Service and gained a temporary victory when a federal judge ruled that the agency failed to follow federal procedures when it applied the directive in 2011 to the new owners of Powderhorn Mountain Resort near Grand Junction. The new owners were required to agree to the new rules before they could open the mountain in 2011. The National Ski Areas Association said the demand amounted to a federal taking of private property. Tipton previously said Forest Service policies could cost ski resorts a lot of money for maintenance and development because water is so valuable. AP

What NSA snoops like about the iPhone

The iPhone apparently is popular not just with consumers but with the National Security Agency, though for somewhat different reasons. The NSA can retrieve user data on iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices, according to internal classified documents obtained by German news outlet Spiegel. Special task forces within the agency have reportedly studied the three mobile platforms with the goal of accessing the contacts, instant messaging traffic, and location data found on the devices. The classified documents don't point to any "large-scale" snooping of smartphone owners, but they do highlight the historic record of a few specific cases. And as detailed in a follow-up story published Monday by Spiegel, Apple's iPhone has been a favorite among NSA agents for several reasons. NSA programs called "scripts" can spy on 38 different features of the iPhone operating system, though the documents -- at least one of which dates back to a 2010 NSA internal report -- list just iOS 3 and 4 as the accessible versions. These features include mapping, voice mail, photos, and such apps as Facebook, Yahoo Messenger, and Google Earth. The NSA also uses the iPhone's backup files as another infiltration tool, according to Spiegel. These files contains such tidbits as contact lists, call logs, and drafts of text messages. And to grab this data, agents don't even need to hit the iPhone itself -- they can simply access the PC used to synchronize with the phone. Agents have also tapped into photos taken by the iPhone, according to the documents obtained by Spiegel. As one example, a photo taken in January 2012 shows a former senior government official of a foreign country relaxing on his couch in front of his TV. He's taking pictures of himself ... with his iPhone. The man's name and other details were apparently revealed in the documents, but Spiegel chose not to print them...more

Rabies fear prompts NM to ban animal relocations

A fear that a strain of rabies might spread from Arizona deeper into New Mexico has prompted New Mexico officials to prohibit releases of captured foxes and some other species back into the wild, resulting in those animals being killed instead. The Albuquerque Journal ( reports the ban on relocating so-called nuisance animals also applies to raccoons, skunks, coyotes, bats and some bobcats. Wildlife health specialist Kerry Mower of the New Mexico Game and Fish Department says the ban imposed in June is a result of fears that Arizona fox rabies could spread from the southwest quadrant of New Mexico. Mower says health officials don't want it to reach the Rio Grande because that's a wildlife corridor. AP  

Just wolves carry rabies?

Resource management alternative for Fort Stanton Cave examined

A protest period was opened last week by Bureau of Land Management officials on an amendment to the Resource Management Plan/Environmental Assessment for Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area. The protest period will end Sept. 22. The national conservation area encompasses 24,876 acres, plus 246 acres covering the Rio Bonito Acquired Lands Tract and a grazing allotment of 80 acres. Four alternatives were examined by agency staff, with Alternate A selected as the preferred plan. Under that alternative, all public lands in the Fort Stanton NCA would be closed to commercial disposal of mineral materials. The agency would institute fees for designated developed campgrounds under specific conditions that include a campground business plan is created in compliance with the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2005. Agency officials also would consider reestablishing a campground in the Upper Rio Bonito Canyon, if suitable access could be provided and a suitable location more than 100 feet from the stream or riparian area is available and impacts to cultural resources can be avoided, according to information from the agency's report. The number of visitors to Fort Stanton Cave would continue to be limited through the use of cave permits, keeping with up to 20 percent of the 398 recreation cave permits available possibly issued for commercial use. Agency officials would not recommend any rivers or river segments within the NCA to be designated as part of the National Wild Scenic Rivers System. Staff would consider constructing portals for year-around access to the Snowy River Passage calcite formation of the cave, which has drawn international attention. Overhead structures with a height greater than 15 feet would be buried or prohibited, including small wind turbines, to reduce visual impacts in the NCA...more  

The RMP amendment is posted online here.

Christo's "Over the River" art project clears another legal challenge

Artist Christo's grand plan to drape shimmering fabric over 6 miles of the Arkansas River has cleared another legal hurdle, thwarting his opponents. A Denver District Court judge on Thursday supported Colorado State Parks' June 2011 decision to allow the artist to use portions of the Arkansas River Headwaters Recreation Area between Salida and Cañon City for his long-planned Over the River art installation. Christo is paying for the entire project, which is estimated to cost $50 million and will take two years to build before displaying for just two weeks...more

Jim Beers commentary on "Idaho senator: Family business threatened by gray wolves"

Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, says gray wolves recently stampeded 176 of his ewes and lambs, costing him $35,000 in lost livestock.

“When I was young, I would have never envisioned that we’d be in a position like we’re in now,” said Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, in rural Jefferson County. “I’ve seen the evolution throughout the years and we’ve tried to fight back as an industry and as individuals to turn the ebb back, but we certainly have not been able to do that.”
In an interview with, Siddoway described how a business that has been in his family for 127 years spanning five generations is now threatened by gray wolves, which are officially regarded by the U.S. federal government as an endangered species.
“Because of those federal rules and regulations, it just puts the anxiety level way up over the top,” he said. According to him, the Siddoway Sheep Company has lost an average of between $30,000 and $50,000 a year for the past several years rendering his business unprofitable. He said that his company recently sustained an attack of gray wolves that led to the deaths of 176 lambs and ewes when they were stampeded over a cliff.
Officials with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report the majority of the sheep suffocated. A number of others died while being trampled in trying to escape. According to the USDA, fewer than 10 were bitten and only one was partially consumed. Each sheep was valued at $200, thus making the loss to the Siddoway ranch approximately $35,000.
“When you’ve had an attack by wolves, you don’t know if they’re coming back the next night,” Siddoway commented.
Siddoway’s concerns come at a strategic time. Earlier this year the Idaho Legislature voted to begin a process of investigating whether Idaho should seek to take control of the roughly 63 percent of the state that is currently under federal control. If the state were to obtain control of the lands, it could then more effectively control the populations of wolves and protect farm and ranching animals more effectively, some legislators said in supporting a pair of resolutions aimed at the state taking control of the federal lands in Idaho.
Noting that an interim committee of legislators has been considering how the state might move forward with the idea, Siddoway acknowledged that there are unknowns involved with the prospect of Idaho controlling the federal lands, but he nonetheless supports the idea.
“I’m supportive of that,” he told “I know there are a lot of unanswered questions there, but I truly believe that if Idaho had control of its lands we would be much more productive and we would ultimately end up making money and saving money in the long run.”
A complete discussion with Siddoway can be heard HERE.
Jim Beers Commentary
At great risk of sounding like an “extremist” or ideologue, I would suggest that this Idaho Senator/Sheep Rancher is on to something.
Wolves have been forcibly introduced into areas of the United States where federal “ownership” includes very high percentages of the land within the state.  Whether it is National Wildlife Refuges and National Forests for “red” wolves in the Carolinas and Virginia; or National Forests and National Parks in the Great Lakes states; or the National Forests, National Parks and Bureau of Land Management landholdings in Rocky Mountain States and the Southwest: federal lands have evolved to be considered inviolate lands somehow outside state authorities.  As the federal estate has grown annually (purchase, condemnation, easements, Critical Habitat Declarations, Historic Classifications, Scenic Classifications, trades, expanded federal water authority, seizures, Trusts, money entanglements with NGO’s like TNC, etc.) in large chunks that are nowhere summarized and made available: state and local government authority and the taxes they collect have dwindled.  Federal attitudes and urban environmental/animal rights’ organizations have simultaneously grown in power and fund-raising as they lobby federal lawmakers and bureaucrats to protect wolves; expand grizzly bear numbers; destroy farming (e.g. Klamath, San Joaquin); destroy ranching; eliminate grazing permits; close off water access; destroy hunting (Rocky Mtn. Elk, Minnesota Moose, etc.); expand Wilderness; Close Roadless Areas; abandon timber and fire management; and generally destroy American rural communities as economies, families, and human safety are steadily jeopardized.
Consider that Senator Jeff Siddoway is living with these federally-inserted and federally-protected wolves.  He is a businessman who has watched his business being ruined by federally-inserted and federally-protected wolves.  He has lost his livelihood and rural America has lost and is losing traditional human activities like sheep herding that provide valuable products by the managed use of sustainable and renewable natural resources.  Rural cultural values diminish as well as taxes to state and local governments.  When he says, “we’ve tried to fight back as an industry and as individuals to turn the ebb back, but we certainly have not been able to do that” he confirms the sad situation found in every state wherein State Governors and State Legislatures and their US Senators and Congressmen, with few exceptions, have not and will not stop this 45-year slide into either rural anarchy or rural tyranny by wealthy urban political factions.  Federal bureaucrats from Forest Supervisors to Wildlife Endangered Species managers have, as a result, come to consider rural Americans as so many ants in their ant farm wherein they can do what they want with them.
While familiarity is said to breed contempt: it is fair to say that desperate times demand desperate actions.  When Idaho legislators propose “Earlier this year the Idaho Legislature voted to begin a process of investigating whether Idaho should seek to take control of the roughly 63 percent of the state that is currently under federal control” they are considering what others might call “extreme” but to those being harmed is a perfectly reasonable alternative to a perfectly unreasonable and desperate situation.
While some State politicians worry about “losing” federal largesse, returning federal lands to state authority would replace disappearing Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes for which state and local governments must beg like dogs doing tricks at the dinner table with stable and increasing state taxes from growing economies. Local taxes would also grow from their original land base utilizing natural resources and human ingenuity instead of growing fire fuel amidst campgrounds infected with tapeworms and hookworms from wolf feces and habituated bears roaming about looking for ANY food.  All but extinct “Revenue-Sharing” from federal lands no longer managed to create “Revenue” would be replaced by steady revenue from productive local business.
Some state bureaucrats worry about being “forced” to be paid by and retired on “only” state funds instead of the mix of state/federal funds and retirement jobs with federal or radical organizations if federal lands and federal influence over state policies is eliminated.  Why their dreams of no more hunting/fishing/trapping in vast federal wastelands where state employees merely truck water out to federal bureaucrats and professors with federal grants, all paid for by Washington might be jeopardized.  In truth most state bureaucracies are ill-suited to helping their state government (their ostensible bosses) retrieve federal land authority these days.
There is one area of getting state lands back under State Authority that I would suggest for the esteemed Senator/Sheep Rancher that is the answer to wolf/bear destruction of livestock and rural economies – LOCAL CONTROL.
If the state regains authority over the current federal lands, local communities and their elected local/state politicians can delegate authority to manage and control Harmful, Injurious, Destructive, Predatory, Free-Roaming, Dangerous, whatever-you-want-to call-them animals.  Then Local elected officials (Always far more responsive and accountable to local or rural voters) can set the Ordinances and Conditions for capturing, killing, controlling, managing, tolerating, etc. such animals.  Those insisting that the wolves or bears or “whatevers” are “theirs” would have to pay fines to obtain release of captured animals as well as costs of maintenance and providing proof of “shots”.  Wolf feces, wolf saliva, wolf mucus, wolf blood, and wolf body fluids transmit all the same diseases and infections that endanger humans, dogs, livestock and wildlife as do dogs. 
Local governments are charged with preserving the peace and tranquility of local communities from wolf predation and bear attacks as much as from free-roaming dogs.  Wolves and bears kill and injure dogs owned and used by rural residents.  While urban environmental/animal rights’ radical organizations and their political patrons go into paroxysms of exasperation when told of cockfights or dogfights, the fact that they simultaneously ignore and dismiss thousands of dogs killed and injured by too-numerous wolves and bears should be no deterrent to Local government Ordinances that protect the dog properly in the Local community from death and injury.
Lastly and most importantly, Local Ordinances enacted by local elected politicians at the behest of local voters are the best protection of local residents from the youngest to the oldest from wolf and bear attacks and injuries. The 16-year old Minnesotan grabbed by the head in a federal campground on a National Forest a month ago could have just as easily been a 5-year old going to the biffy from his tent on a one-way trip.  The man attacked by a sow grizzly on an Upper Rocky Mountain highway recently might just as easily have been an arthritic old guy like me incapable offending off the attack.
Just as US sovereignty and US government of US citizens is never enhanced by ceding jurisdiction and authority to the UN or some other (North American Treaty, NATO,) higher government entity: so too is Local community governance only jeopardized and suffocated by an all-powerful State government and State government as we have seen repeatedly in recent years is only diminished and gelded by an all-powerful federal government.  All such shifts of power, upward and away from the individual and his family, start with high-sounding rhetoric that creates power that succeeding rulers abuse more and more unless they are constantly kept in check.
So Good Luck Senator Siddoway and Idaho.  Getting control back on Idaho’s current federal lands and returning control of their daily lives and surroundings to the local communities of Idaho is probably the first and best step in restoring local community life, local economies and the sheep, cattle, dogs, elk, moose, and peace of mind stolen from you by federal interlopers using federal lands as a sort of “badlands” where, for too long, righteous citizens were told they had no authority.
Jim Beers
8 September 2013

Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow.