Saturday, November 16, 2013

Judge: Release 'Internet kill switch' plans

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. government’s “Internet kill switch,” a plan to deactivate wireless communications networks in a crisis, is not protected by secrecy laws and must be disclosed to the public. The ruling on SOP 303 – the Department of Homeland Security’s Standard Operating Procedure – comes from U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg in Washington. The judge ordered the DHS to turn over SOP 303 to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which brought the Freedom of Information Act case, within 30 days. Boasberg ordered his actions stayed until it’s determined whether the government will appeal. EPIC, nevertheless, declared victory on its website, explaining that it sought the documentation “to determine whether the agency’s plan could adversely impact free speech or public safety.” The federal court explained that SOP 303 codifies “a shutdown and restoration process for use by commercial and private wireless networks during national crises.” The government explains that such a move might become necessary under certain circumstances to “deter the triggering of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.” When EPIC requested the information, DHS responded that it “had conducted comprehensive searches for records that would be responsive … [but was] unable to locate or identify any responsive records.” However, as part of an appeal process, DHS admitted there was a record – “the very document EPIC had requested: Standard Operating Procedure 303.” But DHS withheld some of the document because it contained personal information for “state homeland security officials,” claiming it would “disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions” and that it could “reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.” The judge, however, discounted DHS’ arguments for preventing the release of information. He wrote that the agency could not meet the requirement that a disclosure “would reveal ‘techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions.’”...more


Official: 18 bodies found in mass graves in Mexico

Investigators have dug up 18 bodies in western Mexico after questioning nearly two dozen police officers who confessed to working with a drug cartel and led agents to a series of mass graves, an official said Friday. Officials said that more bodies could be found as excavation of eight graves continues. Some of the bodies were gagged and showed signs of torture, and one of them was a woman, said the federal prosecutors official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the press. Neither the identities of the victims nor the motive for the killings have been released, but the area near the border between Jalisco and Michoacan states is the site of a turf war between the Knights Templar and the New Generation cartels. The graves were located in La Barca in a remote area by Lake Chapala, which is popular among tourists and American retirees. The discovery of the mass graves follows the capture of 22 police officers and three other men who are suspects in the disappearances of two federal investigators. The empty vehicles of the unit the two agents were traveling in were found burned earlier this month...more

Friday, November 15, 2013

Elk sparring with photographer - video

A North Carolina photographer dove headfirst, literally, into his assignment when he came face-to-face with an elk. James York was photographing elk at sunrise in the Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tenn., when one of the elk on which he had his lens focused approached him. "He came up peacefully enough," York said. "I was hoping he might just take a little sniff and move away but he didn't." Instead, the elk began nuzzling York, sniffing at his leg and forcefully nudging his antlers into York's head, which York did his best to keep down. "I'm thinking, 'Don't show him fear,'" York said. "He was prancing and digging his hoofs in the ground and then bouncing back and forth and lowering his horns down and coming at me fairly aggressive."...more

Here's the ABC News report:

Scientists Confirm World's Oldest Creature...But Kill it Determining Its Age

In 2006, climate change experts from Bangor University in north Wales found a very special clam while dredging the seabeds of Iceland. At that time scientists counted the rings on the inside shell to determine that the clam was the ripe old age of 405. Unfortunately, by opening the clam which scientists refer to as "Ming," they killed it instantly. Cut to 2013, researchers have determined that the original calculations of Ming's age were wrong, and that the now deceased clam was actually 102 years older than originally thought. Ming was 507 years old at the time of its demise. According to the Mirror, Ocean scientist Paul Butler from Bangor University said: “We got it wrong the first time and maybe we were a bit hasty publishing our findings back then. But we are absolutely certain that we've got the right age now.The nice thing about these shells is that they have distinct annual growth lines, so we can accurately date the shell material.That’s just the same as what archaeologists do when they use tree rings in dead wood to work out the dates of old buildings.” The 507-year-old clam shattered the previous unofficial title holder for world's oldest creature held by a 374-year-old Icelandic clam in a German museum. Source

Even more Ethanol in Gasoline?

According to the Worldwatch Institute, the US Department of Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, is pushing for an increase of the current maximum of 10.2% ethanol in gasoline to 15-20%. Much of that is supposed to come from corn and, later, from cellulose (wood). Under the current federal “Renewable Fuel Standard” the US is already slated to increase its use of biofuels from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. That standard does not even include the proposed increase of the ethanol content of common gasoline. To begin with, the idea is a red herring. There is no shortage of automotive fuel or its precursor, crude oil. The production of crude oil in the US already has substantially increased as shown in the graph below and continues to expand. Current predictions are that the US will actually become a net oil EXPORTER in a few years’ time. For that reason alone, there is absolutely no need to “adulterate” good gasoline with ethanol.  However, there are far more compelling reasons to steer away from the ethanol mandate altogether. There is no shortage of potential engine problems with such a mandate. You may as well kiss your car/pickup/motorcycle/ATV, lawnmower, outboard, generator and other engines good-bye. Gasoline with that kind of ethanol content will kill most of them in short order, especially in areas of colder climes. To begin with, many engine and connecting parts cannot withstand the corrosive or solubilizing properties of ethanol when present at higher than 10% in gasoline. For example, gaskets and the like in older engines (pre-2000) cannot withstand its effects. Furthermore, gasoline, at any temperature and level of activation will not react with aluminum but alcohol (ethanol) will when the metal’s protective oxide layer is compromised. Without that protection, for example, aluminum would readily dissolve in water. The energy content of (pure) ethanol versus that of (pure) gasoline is another problem. A given amount of ethanol simply does not have anywhere near the same energy content as an equal amount (either volume or weight) of straight gasoline. That’s a consequence of its chemical composition...more

The Global Warming God Strikes Again


...In response to the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan; the green prophets of the left are prophesying that their liberal deity is angry over capitalism and industrialization.

“Whenever Mother Nature wants to send an urgent message to humankind, it sends it via the Philippines. This year the messenger was Haiyan,” The Nation wrote.

“That it was climate change creating the super typhoons that were taking weird directions was a message from Nature not just to Filipinos but to the whole world,” The left-wing magazine claimed.

For those infidels questioning whether Nature (capital N) was really speaking through a struggling lefty publication begging readers for money to pay its postal bills, its expert on typhoon theology had an answer.
“Is it a coincidence, ask some people who are not exactly religious, that both Pablo and Yolanda arrived at the time of the global climate negotiations?”

It is of course the very definition of religious faith to assume that a bearded woman in the sky is sending storms to threaten global climate negotiators (while missing them by two hemispheres and 6,000 miles). A more cynical person might suspect that climate negotiations are arranged around storm season for maximum effect...

At the Washington Post, the Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, a former president of the Chicago Theological Seminary and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, gathered the tattered remains of her religion around herself and argued that Typhoon Haiyan was caused by human sin and needed to be atoned for by “confessing” that human beings cause typhoons.

But then Thistlethwaite, displaying less faith in whatever god she believed in than Ray Nagin had in his Chocolate City divinity and The Nation in its typhoon-hurling Mother Nature, added that “These ‘superstorms’ aren’t an ‘act of God’, but an act of willful disregard for God’s creation.”

That is to say, God is dead. Instead Republicans must confess to the liberal theologians who speak for the superstorms, that they were the ones who made the winds blow. And if they don’t, then the speakers-to-superstorms will also hold them responsible for the next hurricane...

Liberalism built the God of Global Warming in its own image. Like liberals, their deity can destroy, but not create.

The God of Global Warming is the embodiment of liberalism and holds all the politically correct beliefs while carrying out brutal atrocities in the name of the left’s favorite political causes. With a moral logic as flawed as that of its worshipers, it is a deity that kills people in the Philippines for the carbon crimes of Americans and kills people in New Orleans because Bush bombed Iraq.

Global Warming is the worship of the left. It elevates its petty biases against industry and the middle class to the status of a religion. It insists on their right to act as the mediators between individuals and the economy or else the God of Global Warming will unleash her superstorms on the bourgeois infidels.

Republicans demand list of possible monument sites

Nearly three dozen Republican lawmakers yesterday asked Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to disclose which areas of the country she is considering for national monument designations. The letter to Jewell spearheaded by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Reps. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) comes weeks after Jewell announced in a speech to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that President Obama will use his executive authority to designate monuments if Congress fails to act (E&ENews PM, Oct. 31). "If Congress doesn't step up to act to protect some of these important places that have been identified by communities and people throughout the country, then the president will take action," Jewell said then. The Republican lawmakers requested a list of those "important places" and asked whether the president is considering executive protections for lands not currently proposed for national monuments. They also requested that the Obama administration contact members of Congress from a particular state at least 90 days prior to announcing a monument. "Given the gravity and permanence of national monuments, we believe that should these decisions be necessary, they should be made by Congress in an open, transparent, and public manner using extraordinary caution," the lawmakers wrote. "Especially in consideration of past controversial usage of the Antiquities Act, your statements at the National Press Club have the potential to unravel the good work done by many to develop bottom-up land management solutions." They added that public lands designations should "originate in local communities where the concept enjoys broad support from elected officials, stakeholders, and other impacted individuals." Obama has so far designated nine national monuments, most of which are relatively small and seek to protect historical sites. All were supported locally. But conservationists are calling on Obama to designate larger monuments in his second term, including the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in southern New Mexico and the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains in central Idaho. Both proposals are supported locally but are opposed by Republican House members in those districts...more

Conservation groups condemn sage grouse plan: Controversy focuses on livestock grazing

By refusing to reduce livestock grazing, proposals offered by the BLM and U.S. Forest Service to manage sage grouse across the West will not do enough to keep the birds off the endangered species list, conservationists involved in the process contend. “All of these plans are following the same trend—they are choosing preferred alternatives that the best available science says are insufficient to conserve the species,” said Mark Salvo, federal lands policy analyst with Defenders of Wildlife. Neither of two alternatives proposed by conservationists was selected. Both would substantially reduce grazing. Conservationists claim that grazing has degraded sage-grouse habitat and increased the frequency of range fires by spreading the growth of cheatgrass. They say an understory of cheatgrass, an exotic species, prevents the recovery of native plants essential for sage grouse food, cover and nesting. Karen Launchbaugh, a professor of rangeland ecology at the University of Idaho, has a contrary view. She acknowledges that heavy, poorly timed grazing can promote the growth of cheatgrass, but says properly targeted grazing can actually improve sage-grouse habitat. “The problem with reducing grazing in the ecosystem is that you increase fuels and increase the chances for fire,” she said. “The goal is to manage grazing in a way that does not degrade sage-grouse cover but does reduce fuels. It’s the amount of grazing but it’s also seasons.” Launchbaugh advocates putting cattle onto the land in early spring when cheatgrass is one of the few plants to have emerged, as well as late in the season. She said the time to avoid grazing sage-grouse habitat is during the late spring and summer when the native plants are flowering. “Properly grazed systems have less cheatgrass than improperly grazed systems or not-grazed systems,” she said...more

It’s time to delist all wolves

Past experience in Idaho, northeastern Oregon and Washington state illustrate that it's time to take gray wolves completely off the federal list of endangered species.

The West’s wolf problem started in 1995 and 1996. That’s when 66 wolves from Canada were reintroduced in Idaho and Yellowstone National Park.

Those wolves multiplied and spread into Wyoming, Utah and Oregon. They also took up residence in Washington state and Montana, where other wolves from Canada already lived. Today at least 1,674 wolves live in 321 packs within the region, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That’s in addition to the 65,000 wolves living in Canada and Alaska.

One does not have to be a wildlife biologist to see the gray wolf is not an endangered species in any sense of the word.

The rapid spread and population growth of the gray wolf is proof that it is here to stay. Across the West, the wolf has established itself as a top predator. Where once there were no packs, hundreds now thrive. That’s in addition to a thriving wolf population across the upper Midwest.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has floated a proposal to take the gray wolf off the list of endangered or threatened species in the West. That follows the lead of Congress, which in 2011 took the wolf off the list in Montana, Idaho, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and north-central Utah.

Today, it is ranchers who need protection, not wolves. While some wolves seem content to leave livestock alone, others see a flock of sheep or a herd of cattle as a walking buffet line. Wolves killed more than 250 sheep and about 90 cattle last year alone in Idaho. Working together, wolves can easily take down the largest steer or the smallest lamb. They torture the animal, tearing at its backside before eating it.

In the meantime, the other animals in the herd or flock are traumatized. They don’t gain as much weight, they become afraid of all canines, including guard dogs and cattle dogs, and they are harder to manage.

House panel to revisit shut down - national parks

The House Natural Resources Committee will consider a bill next week that would require the government to reimburse states for all funds spent on national park operations during the 16-day government shutdown. Rep. Steve Daines's (R-Mont.) bill mandates that the costs be repaid no more than 90 days after federal appropriations became available again.  Montana did not reopen its parks during the shutdown, but Utah, Arizona, South Dakota and Colorado did. The panel will consider Daines's bill at a hearing that will also discuss a measure from Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) to prevent national park closures during any future shutdown.  The bill, titled the Provide Access and Retain Continuity Act, H.R. 3311, would allow states to fund and keep operations running at parks and other federal facilities or programs that directly affect tourism, mining, timber, or transportation. Republicans ripped the Obama administration for closing national parks and monuments during the shutdown, arguing the White House was seeking to inflict more pain on people through the closures. The GOP attacked the administration for creating a hostile atmosphere at the parks and barricading monument sites along the National Mall...more

National Park Service slammed for spending up to $1,368 per visitor at Alaska park

Alaska's national parks are singled out by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in a new report on the National Park Service titled "Parked: How Congress’ Misplaced Priorities Are Trashing Our National Treasures." And the attention lavished on Alaska’s national parks isn’t positive. "Given the remoteness of 'the Last Frontier' state, it does not come as a surprise that Alaska is home to some of the least attended and least accessible units," Coburn reports. "However, it may come as a shock that one park unit in Alaska costs more than $1,300 per visitor to operate, the highest subsidy per visitor in the entire National Park System."So on what park visited by a mere 1,390 people did the Park Service spend $1.9 million for a subsidy of a whopping $1,368 per visitor?  It's Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, the park unit made famous in recent years by a confrontation between a pair of park rangers and 70-year-old riverboat skipper Jim Wilde from Central. The incident divided state residents. Some thought the park service engaged in Gestapo-like tactics in the takedown of Wilde on the Yukon River; others thought the old man only got what he deserved for challenging the authority of rangers...more

TSA profiling at airports has yet to nab a terrorist

The TSA’s behavior-profiling program at airports has been in effect for seven years, but has yet to identify any potential terrorists who pose a threat to aviation, the agency’s administrator acknowledged Thursday. Still, John S. Pistole, chief of the Transportation Security Administration, said that if Congress halts the program, he will have to order his agents to do more pat-downs and lines at airports will get longer. Mr. Pistole is fighting to preserve the profiling program, run by Behavior Detection Officers, or BDOs, in the face of a new government-watchdog report that says the research shows officers are little better than random chance in picking out potentially dangerous passengers. The Government Accountability Office recommended cutting funding — and that proposal has the support of a number of members of Congress, who said the $200 million a year spent on profiling could be better spent elsewhere. Mr. Pistole disagreed with the research and said cutting the program will force him to put more passengers through stiff screenings...more

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bill to Expand White Sands Missile Range Clears Senate Committee

A bill that would expand White Sands Missile Range by swapping land between the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Army cleared a key Senate committee on Thursday. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich and co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall, represents a three-party agreement between White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss, as well as the BLM. According to Heinrich’s office, the bill would provide a “comprehensive and enduring buffer for the total mission set in Doña Ana County.” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., also co-sponsored the bill. The bill, if approved by the full Congress and signed into law by the president, would transfer 5,100 acres of land from the BLM to the Army for use as a “safety and security” buffer to NASA’s White Sands Test Facility and the Department of Defense’s Aerospace Data Facility-Southwest. Both are tenants of White Sands. The measure would also transfer 2,050 acres of land in Fillmore Canyon from the Army to the BLM to create a boundary that is more clearly identifiable to the public to prevent accidental trespass onto Fort Bliss. Finally, the bill would prohibit the BLM from selling, swapping or developing 35,550 acres of land to prevent “incompatible development” near the Fort Bliss Dona Ana Range Complex and Training Areas, Heinrich’s office said...more

Federal immigration prosecutions jump in NM

Federal immigration prosecutions in New Mexico posted the biggest percentage increase of any of the nation's 94 judicial districts during the first 11 months of the federal fiscal year, a new report shows. Prosecutions in the state's federal judicial district jumped by 46 percent from the previous period. The state is on pace to post its highest number of immigration prosecutions since tracking began in 1986. Meanwhile, prosecutions fell in Arizona by 22 percent and by 13 percent in the Southern District of California. There were 5,999 prosecutions in New Mexico through the end of August. The federal fiscal year ended Oct. 1. Clearinghouse co-director Sue Long told the Santa Fe New Mexican in a story Wednesday that prosecutions were up nationally but she was surprised by the big increase in New Mexico. "What was surprising was how different the patterns were . particularly in New Mexico because it had been declining for years and then it shot up," Long said. New Mexico ranked fourth overall in total immigration prosecutions, behind the Southern District of Texas (Houston) with 31,000, the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) with 22,970, and Arizona with 21,000, according to the report...more

Early Uses of Chili Peppers in Mexico

Chili peppers may have been used to make spicy beverages thousands of years ago in Mexico, according to new research published November 13 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Terry Powis at Kennesaw State University and colleagues from other institutions. Capsicum species are usually referred to as chili peppers, and their uses are well known in the history of Spain and Portugal. There are relatively few sites in Mesoamerica, Central America, and South America that contain remains of Capsicum, and therefore, we know little about how groups such as the Mayans and the Mixe-Zoquean, inhabitants of the site studied here, used chili peppers in those regions. In this study, the authors used chemical extractions to reveal the presence of Capsicum residues in pottery samples from a site in southern Mexico. Some of these pottery vessels were over 2000 years old, dating from 400 BC to 300 AD. They found Capsicum residue in multiple types of jars and vessels, which suggests that those cultures may have been using chili peppers for many different culinary purposes. For instance, Capsicum was found in a vessel called a sprouted jar, which is used for pouring a liquid into another container. The authors suggest that chili peppers may have been used to prepare spicy beverages or dining condiments. Powis elaborates, "The significance of our study is that it is the first of its kind to detect ancient chili pepper residues from early Mixe-Zoquean pottery in Mexico. While our findings of Capsicum species in these Preclassic pots provides the earliest evidence of chili consumption in well-dated Mesoamerican archaeological contexts, we believe our scientific study opens the door for further collaborative research into how the pepper may have been used either from a culinary, pharmaceutical, or ritual perspective during the last few centuries before the time of Christ." Source

Interior secretary says Obama may bypass Congress on monuments

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says she will recommend that President Obama act alone if necessary to create new national monuments and sidestep a gridlocked Congress that has failed to address dozens of public lands bills. Jewell said the logjam on Capitol Hill has created a conservation backlog, and she warned that the Obama administration would not "hold its breath forever" waiting for lawmakers to act. "The president will not hesitate," Jewell said in an interview in San Francisco last week. "I can tell you that there are places that are ripe for setting aside, with a tremendous groundswell of public support." Congress has not added any acreage to the national park or wilderness systems since 2010. Jewell blamed ramped-up rhetoric in Washington for the impasse. She said the appetite for preserving American historic and cultural sites remains high but some officials seek to avoid the appearance of publicly embracing more government protection. Jewell, who has been on the job scarcely six months, came to California to promote several intiatives and tour a site that could be added to a national monument along the Mendocino coast...more

75 representatives, senators call for full delisting of gray wolf

The letter supports a proposal submitted in June to remove the delist the gray wolf as either “endangered” or “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. It also opposes listing the Mexican wolf as a separate, endangered sub-species. It is the second letter sent to Ashe. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains in 2009 and in the Great Lake region in 2011. Hastings said the current situation has created a confusing management and regulatory scheme that has left some states – including Washington, Oregon and Utah – in the unsustainable and random situation of having wolves listed on one side of a highway and delisted on the other. The statutory purpose of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is to recover species to the point where they are no longer considered ‘endangered’ or ‘threatened,’” the letter said. "The gray wolf is currently found in 46 countries around the world and has been placed in the classification of ‘least concern’ globally for risk of extinction...” “This is a clear indication that this species is not endangered or threatened.” The letter expressed opposition to creating a Mexican sub-species. “Since wolves were first provided protections under the ESA, uncontrolled and unmanaged growth of wolf populations has resulted in devastating impacts on hunting and ranching and tragic damages to historically strong and healthy herds of moose, elk, big horn sheep and mule deer. “This is why we believe it is critical that you reconsider your decision to list the Mexican wolf as a sub-species…” The letter also suggests states are better able to manage recovered wolf populations than the federal government...more

You can read the letter and see who signed it by going here.

Arizona officials: Forest Service regulation on trailers unfair to hunters

Arizona officials are slamming the U.S. Forest Service over a regulation making trailers subject to impoundment or citation if left unattended for more than 72 hours in northern Arizona national forests. Calling the move unprecedented, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department contend that the regulation hurts hunters, anglers and other recreational users. “This has been real disruptive to hunters and citizens who are trying to obey the law,” said Jim Paxon, chief of information for Game and Fish. A Coconino National Forest news release dated Aug. 16 and titled “Parking trailers in forests prohibited during hunting season” said that many hunters have parked trailers in forests to reserve locations for the season and to avoid hauling them back and forth. “If trailers are left unattended for more than 72 hours, the Forest Service considers them abandoned property and may remove them from the forest,” the release said. “Violators can also be cited for this action.” The release said the regulation applies to all national forests in northern Arizona. Paxon said state officials learned that regulation doesn’t apply in the Apache-Sitgreaves, Tonto and Coronado national forests. There, he said, trailers can park for 14 days, as has been the rule for decades. Paxon said the commission and the Coconino and Yavapai county sheriff’s offices have tried several times without success to get the Forest Service to rescind the regulation...more

Udall applauds Forest Service pledge on water rights

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado said Wednesday that he welcomed the U.S. Forest Service’s stated intention to not pursue the transfer of water rights from ski areas in exchange for permits to use public lands. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell issued the statement to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee as a result of a compromise that Udall helped to broker. The move came in response to the “Water Rights Protection Act” being sponsored by Colorado 3rd District Congressman Scott Tipton, which was scheduled for mark up in the House Natural Resources Committee today. That bill, which has bipartisan support including co-sponsorship by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, would prohibit the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management from conditioning use permits on the transfer of relinquishment of privately held water rights. The Udall compromise would remove that practice for ski area permitting. The Garfield County Board of Commissioners and Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado have both lent their support to the Tipton bill, not only because of the potential impacts on ski areas but on agriculture and energy development in the region...more

Groups appeal to stop Courthouse Creek logging project

The Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of three conservation groups, filed an administrative appeal of the U.S. Forest Service’s logging project in the Courthouse Creek area of Pisgah National Forest, the groups announced Wednesday. The appeal was filed on behalf of the Wilderness Society, Wild South and Western North Carolina Alliance. The U.S. Forest Service has said the project is necessary for habitat improvement and forest health. The federal agency plans to review the appeal, said Stevin Westcott, of the U.S. Forest Service. “We’ll meet with the folks and try to come to a resolution,” he said...more  

Another logging/thinning project either delayed or denied.

BLM denies guided hunts in Sweet Grass Hills

The Bureau of Land Management has denied an outfitting permit in the East Butte of the Sweet Grass Hills after the public protested about competing for elk and deer with an outfitter on public land. “While we recognize there’s a need for outfitting in some areas, we don’t feel there’s a need in all areas,” said Stanley Jaynes, field manager for the BLM’s Havre Field office, who signed the decision. Northern Rockies Outfitters Ltd., owned by Richard Birdsell, had applied to expand its special recreation permit in the West Butte portion of the Sweet Grass Hills to the East Butte portion, which has 4,000 acres of BLM lands adjacent private and state lands...more

Wyoming ranchers, outfitter say seismic exploration hurt wells, deer hunting

Two south-central Wyoming ranchers and a hunting outfitter said seismic exploration on prime hunting land drove away deer, could harm water wells and hurt sage grouse protection. Ranchers Sharon Salisbury O’Toole and Patrick O’Toole complained to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in person in Casper on Tuesday, saying the exploration company, GRMR Oil & Gas LLC of Broomfield, Colo., didn’t file a big enough bond for their work. In seismic exploration, workers set off explosions and measure reflected sound waves to map underground geologic formations. But the commission, in its first hearing over new bonding requirements for seismic exploration, decided Tuesday in favor of the company, which was searching for oil and gas near Savery in the Little Snake River Valley near the Colorado border. The commission determined that the O’Tooles didn’t show sufficient evidence they were significantly economically hurt or that a higher bond was necessary. The O’Tooles, of the Ladder Livestock Co. LLC, disputed the $13,000 surety bond filed by GRMR Oil & Gas. The O’Tooles argued that the seismic work threatened artesian wells, decimated wildlife and income from hunting leases, and affected its measures to protect sage grouse, for which their company was contractually obligated under an agreement with the federal government...more

Montana Releases Map Of All Gun Owners

The State of Montana, inspired by the recent release of home addresses of gun owners in New York, has followed suit.

Locations of firearms throughout the state are marked in red:

S. Dakotans question choice of Joan Jett for parade float

Some South Dakota farmers and ranchers are upset by the selection of singer-guitarist Joan Jett, a vegetarian and animal rights advocate, to perform on the state’s float in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are scheduled to appear at the annual event in New York City, riding on the float that promotes South Dakota tourism and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial located in the Black Hills. South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association President Cory Eich, who farms and ranches near Canova in eastern South Dakota, said Wednesday he thinks it was a mistake to select Jett because she is a supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which promotes a vegetarian diet and criticizes livestock production practices. Her stands don’t mesh with South Dakota, a state where the cattle industry makes up a huge part of the economy, he said. The Rapid City Journal first reported some South Dakota residents were upset with the pick. “To me, it seems like a huge blunder,” Eich said. “I guess I couldn’t disapprove more. I don’t understand what they were thinking.” Larry Gabriel, a former state lawmaker and state agriculture secretary who ranches near Quinn in western South Dakota, said Jett is entitled to her beliefs, but he hopes she doesn’t use her appearance on South Dakota’s float to promote her vegetarian beliefs or PETA. Dan Mathews, senior vice president of PETA, said the livestock industry is being defensive because it is the South Dakota industry most destructive to the environment, human health and animals. “We’re surprised that ranchers want to draw attention to themselves by being crybabies over the appearance of a vegetarian icon such as Joan Jett on the state’s float,” Mathews said in an email...more

Researchers look for answers to difficult wild hog issues

For ranchers who struggle with invasive feral hogs tearing up their pastures and possibly spreading diseases, the scientific community is working on the problem. One of those scientists is Australian and wildlife biologist Raoul Boughton, who has been working at Archbold Biological Station in Venus since 2000. Boughton and Archbold are working in conjunction with researchers at the University of Florida to understand the behavior of feral hogs, an invasive species that was probably introduced by Spanish explorers in the 1500s. Boughton, whose official title is program director of disease ecology, and his colleagues placed GPS collars onto 10 sows and 10 boars, then collected and analyzed the data. "We wanted to understand their home range, how far do they go, the intensity of use in their general areas," said Boughton. As many ranchers can attest, feral hogs can be hard to control because they are quite proficient at digging under fences. If ranchers start hunting them in a certain area, the smart pigs simply choose a different path. They are also well-known for digging up pasture areas with their powerful snouts. As a secondary area of study, Boughton and other researchers are looking at the negative effects of these rooting behaviors on grazing areas. A third consideration is how much feed the pigs may be consuming. Using cameras, researchers studied how often feral hogs visited feeding troughs. And they already have some answers: "Of the visits of cattle and swine to molasses, one-fifth of that, or 20 percent, are made by feral swine," Boughton stated. Ranchers might be surprised to learn that one in five visits to their molasses feeding troughs are made by wild pigs and not cows. For a rancher putting out hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of feed per year, that's a lot of stolen food...more

Indian tribes get another wooing from Obama and his team

While President Barack Obama's popularity has slipped in public opinion polls, he found plenty of support Wednesday among one key constituency: the 566 leaders of federally-recognized Indian tribes. "I'd rank him as high as I can go --- a 10 really, to be honest with you," said Leo Lolnitz, first chief of the Koyukuk Native Village in Alaska. And Brian Cladoosby, chairman of Washington state's Swinomish Indian Tribal Community for the last 17 years, said Obama is "second to none" when compared to other U.S. presidents and their work with tribes. Tribal leaders consider the occupant of the White House one of their own: Barack Black Eagle Obama, who got the name in 2008 when he was formally adopted by a couple on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana. And on Wednesday, they got a chance to meet with him yet again, as Obama kept a campaign promise by hosting his fifth White House Tribal Nations Conference. The annual gathering at the Interior Department gives tribal leaders a chance to make pitches on what they want from Washington in the coming year. In 2014, tribal leaders want an end to the budget cuts known as sequestration and more authority to manage their own affairs, among other things. A dozen Cabinet officials met with tribal leaders, promising more help for such things as fighting crime, fixing schools and getting better health care...more

Oil and gas ban spurs lawsuit in NM county

A decision by one northern New Mexico county to prohibit oil and natural gas development has prompted a statewide industry group and three landowners to challenge the ban in federal court. The case is being closely watched as Mora County was the first in the country to impose such a ban. The lawsuit filed this week in Albuquerque by the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico and the landowners claims the ban is unconstitutional and violates state laws. The plaintiffs say the county lacks authority to pass such an ordinance, and it stands to effect property and due process rights as well as potential revenues that benefit New Mexico schools, universities and hospitals. "These resources belong to the people of New Mexico, not to the commissioners of Mora County. This ordinance would in effect impact each and every citizen in the state," Richard Gilliland, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico, said Wednesday. County Commissioner John Olivas said several attorneys from across the country have already stepped up to help the county through what promises to be a long legal battle. "It's very unfortunate that municipalities and communities cannot say no to corporations without getting sued," Olivas said. "But Mora County is up to the challenge. I think this was expected." AP

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Note to readers

I've been ill.  Will try to catch up on the news as I can.

Sizing Up Sally Jewell

Editor's note:  This is a long and wide ranging look at Jewell, including her childhood, family, different job experiences and the current issues she faces.  Also mentioned are the legacies of previous Secretaries.  The following is an excerpt from the article in Outside magazine.

by Bruce Barcott

The new Interior Secretary has an impressive résumé. Oil geologist, banker, president of REI. But today's Washington is a landscape without maps, and in this age of climate change and keystone, the major battles are taking place over at the EPA and State. Is greatness still possible at Interior?

 ...SO WHAT WOULD a Jewell legacy look like? “I don’t think about my own legacy,” she told me back in June. “I do think about a legacy for President Obama.” Exactly what that might be remained an open question.
 The answers began to come 111 days into her term, when the secretary pivoted from listening to leading. At a speech given at DOI headquarters and webcast to field offices nationwide, she laid out the top priorities. The more traditional goals included ramping up renewable-energy production, repairing the Native American education system, and addressing looming water catastrophes like the massively overburdened Colorado River. Jewell told staffers her agenda wasn’t “radically different than what you’ve been doing. Maybe a little tweaking, a little change.”
    On climate, she showed that she can be bold. “I hope there are no climate-change deniers in the Department of the Interior,” she said to her team. “If you don’t believe in it, come out into the resources. Come out to Alaska, which is melting. Go in to the sierra,” which is losing its snowpack. It was a strong, clear message that raised howls among fringe denialists but provided cover to the scientists and biologists in Interior’s ranks.
    We could use more of that straight-up fact facing, the courage to point at a cow pie and call it bullshit. Specifically, Jewell has a rare opportunity when it comes to oil and gas regulations. Interior’s proposed rules for fracking on federal land are a joke, modeled on a template put out several years ago by the American Legislative Exchange Council, the conservative bill mill backed in part by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Jewell commands both the respect of the drilling guys—she knows how to frack a well herself—and the support of environmentalists; she’s in a unique position to give the regulations real teeth.
    Ditto the rules for siting oil and gas leases on fragile lands. An early test will come in Utah, where the BLM has proposed 82 leases for the San Rafael swell, a recreationally important and biologically rich region often mentioned for monument designation. The leases, scheduled for auction in November, pin Jewell between her oil experience and her conservationist leanings. When I asked her about the skepticism with which outdoor enthusiasts usually greet drilling, she struck a decidedly non-Babbittian tone. “I think it’s important for people to step back and look at their own lifestyle and acknowledge that it’s difficult if not impossible to not be a user of fossil fuels,” Jewell told me. “Most outdoor recreationists drive to a destination. Some walk softer than others, but we all have an impact. It’s important to understand that and not vilify the industries that we rely upon.”
    Other issues are also going to intersect oil and gas. She’s unlikely to halt the full delisting of the gray wolf, but her leadership could either cause or avert a legal train wreck over the possible listing of the greater sage grouse, a bird whose habitat of existing and potential oil fields could make it the spotted owl of the Intermountain West.
    Much of the action during Jewell’s term will happen in Alaska: the ANWR stalemate will likely continue, and Obama shows no signs of slowing Shell’s push into the Chukchi Sea. But Jewell has real power when it comes to Bristol Bay, breeding ground for the world’s most productive salmon runs. It’s an airport-or-Everglades issue. One of two global conglomerates planning a gold mine there pulled out of the project this fall. Jewell and Obama could build on that momentum by creating a wildlife refuge or national monument on federal land. It wouldn’t stop the mine (which is on state land), but it would throw up roadblocks. “If you’re going to allow offshore leasing in Alaska, there ought to be offsetting designations of protected areas,” Babbitt says. “Using the Antiquities Act to protect Bristol Bay is a great opportunity.”
Those are the traditional big gets for Jewell’s term. But the question remains: What does she want her legacy to be?
    THE KEY to Sally Jewell is that there’s no grand ideology at work. She’s neither neocon nor neolib. She doesn’t align herself with the Aldo Leopold school of conservation or the Bill McKibben carbon-fighting corps. Policy is driven by the personal and the pragmatic. She’s got to get on the ground and see what’s going on, paddle Rhode Island’s Blackstone River, as she did in May; handle an invasive boa in the Everglades (April); or circle Washington’s Squaxin Island, as she does every New Year’s Day in her kayak. She’s worked on the Alaska pipeline; she knows the benefits oil companies can bring, and she knows the environmental harm they can wreak. Most of all, she knows what outdoor exposure did for her as a girl, so she wants to spread the gospel of adventure among the next generation...
    Indeed, when she laid out her goals for the department in July, the last two were these: “celebrating and enhancing America’s great outdoors” and luring the millennial generation into the wilds.
    That first part refers to the America’s great outdoors Initiative, a fuzzy, feel-good effort created during Obama’s first term. The idea was to connect an increasingly urban, plugged-in citizenry with its public land and waterways—but nobody on Salazar’s team figured out how to give it purpose and clarity. As Jewell receives it, America’s great outdoors can become whatever she wants it to be.
    She can use it to lure more Hispanics and African-Americans into the parks, to expand the constituency of the outdoors. And she can use it to get kids to unplug. Last Child in the Woods, journalist Richard Louv’s exploration of kids’ increasing disconnection from the natural world, is a touchstone book for Jewell, and she’s determined to use her bully pulpit to fight the syndrome Louv calls nature-deficit disorder.
    This is where Jewell’s true passion lies, and she’s already made it a top priority. There are easy fixes she can make: she can direct park and refuge managers to reconceptualize their most accessible areas to attract underserved communities. She can empower young Park Service rangers and reach the millennials where they live, on social media. But she has an opportunity to go even bigger, to create a signature program under her watch. To do that, she could revamp Interior’s partnership with the Student Conservation Association, which provides high school and college students paid, hands-on internships in parks and wilderness areas. SCA is one of America’s greatest programs, but it’s largely unknown outside of outdoor culture. It could become a public-service option as famous as teach for America or a brand as strong as outward bound. Franklin Roosevelt had the Civilian Conservation Corps; a supersized SCA could be Obama’s next-gen public-works project. With a one-month stint in SCA, you’ll hook a kid on the outdoors for life.
    Youth and climate change: those could be the overriding themes of a great Jewell administration—and the foundation of Obama’s environmental legacy.
    “We need warriors for that battle on climate change,” Jewell told me when I caught up with her again in July, at a youth summit in Seattle. The secretary seemed clear and confident in her message. “If I don’t get these young people engaged, they’re not going to care about and support the outdoors. I only have three and a half years. So I gotta get going.”

Interior Sec. points to need to conserve Colorado River water

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell cited the Colorado River and Lake Mead as examples of the water conservation problems that she called one of the top issues facing her department. And that problem will only get worse as climate change creates more extreme droughts in the Southwest, Jewell said. On water issues, Jewell said the region has not done enough to conserve water and that the federal government needs to work with states on conservation efforts. She also said the Colorado River Basin’s water issues are a symptom of climate change. “Climate change is upon us,” she said. “You see it in droughts throughout the West. You see it in the Colorado River. If you look at the levels in Lake Powell or Lake Mead or any of the other lakes that are in that region, you will see that we have a huge problem.” Her comments came the same day that more than 80 public officials from the Colorado River basin – including 16 local government officials from Arizona – sent a letter to the Interior Department supporting water conservation measures. While thin on specifics, the letter supported “urban and agricultural water conservation” and urged state and federal governments to follow up on a 2012 Bureau of Reclamation report that warned about the future of the Colorado River. That report said the Colorado is not on track to keep up with the demand on its water. It said the river’s water supply could be reduced by 10 to 20 percent by midcentury, creating a deficit that would be exacerbated by the area’s rapidly growing population...more

U.S. and Mexico struggle to clean up Rio Grande

When the Rio Grande is swollen with rain, as it was recently in Laredo, it's hard to tell that more than 5 million gallons of raw sewage spill into its waters every day. But kayak through the little creeks on the side of the river bordering Mexico, and the odor is unmistakable. So are the sights — chocolate-brown water, floating dog carcasses, dead fish. "The smell was terrible. You couldn't stand it," Amanda Perez, one of two commissioners in the border town of Rio Bravo, said after a kayaking trip on the river with local border officials and environmentalists. "I don't have words to explain it. … I did not believe it was that bad." Perez's town is one of many along the Texas-Mexico border where water supplies are threatened by persistent pollution in the Rio Grande, due, in part, to raw sewage coming from Nuevo Laredo in Mexico. Perez, local officials and environmental advocates along the border are calling for the U.S. and Mexico to tackle the problem of Rio Grande pollution more aggressively. But that's easier said than done in a time of record stagnation in American government and violence on the other side of the border. Because the river straddles two borders, getting things accomplished here is more complicated, said George Frisvold, a professor at the University of Arizona who studies international environmental policy. While the federal Environmental Protection Agency would typically be involved in such an issue, here it must also be joined by the U.S. State Department's International Boundary and Water Commission and a Mexican counterpart, which means more bureaucratic delays...more

Amtrak route in jeopardy in NM, other states

New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas communities face the potential loss of passenger rail service if Amtrak fails to reach a new agreement by 2016 for maintaining and upgrading portions of the Southwest Chief route through those states, the rail operator said Tuesday. Ray Lang, Amtrak's state government relations chief, proposed to a New Mexico legislative committee that Amtrak split the costs of maintenance and capital improvements for more than 600 miles of track with the states and Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which owns the line but uses only a portion of it for hauling freight. He asked lawmakers to consider a cost-sharing arrangement in which each of the states would spend about $4 million annually for a decade to keep Amtrak's Southwest Chief line on its current route. He suggested that Amtrak and BNSF could cover similar amounts, about $40 million over 10 years, but he acknowledged that BNSF has made no commitment. Lang said Amtrak had approached transportation officials in each of the states months ago, and they encouraged the rail operator to seek federal money. Amtrak's operating agreement with BNSF expires in January 2016. Lang said BNSF doesn't want to upgrade sections of the track used by its slower-moving freight trains to meet the higher speed requirements for Amtrak's passenger trains. Amtrak can't afford to foot the full cost itself, and it's unlikely Congress will provide the extra money, he said. The Southwest Chief route travels between Chicago and Los Angeles, but the portion of the route that's jeopardized runs from the central Kansas community of Newton to Albuquerque in New Mexico. If no track maintenance deal is reached, Lang said, Amtrak will have to consider changing the Southwest Chief to a more southern route using another BNSF line — going through Wichita in Kansas through Amarillo in Texas and then to Belen in New Mexico. It's possible that Amtrak could continue serving Albuquerque, he said, but Raton, Las Vegas and Lamy, which is near Santa Fe, would lose service...more

The amount of track in the U.S. peaked in 1916 at 254,251 miles. Current figures are 140,695 miles.  The private rail industry responded to consumer preferences based on...the invention of the car. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In Mexico, Violence Leaves At Least 13 Dead In Border City Matamoros

Thirteen people were killed in shootouts on Sunday around the northeastern Mexican city of Matamoros in one of the worst recent outbreaks of violence in an area ravaged by drug gangs. Three gunfights took place around the city opposite Brownsville, Texas, two of which were exchanges between gunmen and Mexico's armed forces, according to a statement from the state government of Tamaulipas. Eight men died in the fighting with Mexican Marines after four men and one woman were killed in an earlier clash between unidentified armed groups, the state government said. None of the dead have yet been identified. Seeking control of smuggling routes into the United States, drug cartels have in the past few years been responsible for a slew of massacres, gunfights and kidnappings in Tamaulipas, giving the state the reputation as one of the most lawless in Mexico...more

Mexican Drug Cartels Extending Violent Reach Into California

Ruthless criminal organizations behind mass murders, assassinations and kidnappings are setting up shop in the area, right under property owners’ noses. One rancher, who we’ll only call James for his protection, now patrols his property armed and ready for his own drug war. Somewhere in Calaveras County, he agreed to take a CBS13 photographer, producer and reporter on a hike through his property. He and his men are all armed, with one serving as lookout. “That way if we get in trouble, he can get us some help,” James said. Ruthless criminal organizations behind mass murders, assassinations and kidnappings are setting up shop in the area, right under property owners’ noses. One rancher, who we’ll only call James for his protection, now patrols his property armed and ready for his own drug war. Somewhere in Calaveras County, he agreed to take a CBS13 photographer, producer and reporter on a hike through his property. He and his men are all armed, with one serving as lookout. That way if we get in trouble, he can get us some help,” James said...more  

Here's the CBS13 video report

Widow Of Murdered Rancher Rob Krentz Blocks Access To Case File

Susan Krentz, the widow of Arizona border rancher Rob Krentz, filed a request with a Superior Court judge to prohibit Cochise County officials from releasing any information about her husband's death.

The request for injunction was filed Monday, after the Fronteras Desk revealed that a U.S. resident is a person of interest in the murder. The Fronteras Desk identified the person of interest, Manuel Corona, after filing a public records request for the investigative file. More than 400 photos and 300 pages were released on September 30. Some of the photos are autopsy and crime scene photos which the Fronteras Desk has chosen not to publish due to their graphic nature. 

In 2010, the popular and well-respected rancher was found shot to death on his property. According to the law enforcement report from that day, Krentz was last heard from at 10 a.m. on March 27. He had radioed his brother and told him that he'd seen an undocumented immigrant nearby who seemed to be in need of help. Nearly 14 hours later, an Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter found his body. Footprints at the scene were tracked down to the Mexican border.

One man that sheriff's investigators focused on was Alejandro Chavez Vasquez, a suspect in a series of burglaries in the nearby town of Portal. He was identified as a person of interest in the Krentz killing but was never seen again by U.S. law enforcement.

However, in a recent interview with the Fronteras Desk, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels revealed that Manuel Corona, a resident of Cochise County in the U.S. whose citizenship status is unknown, is also a person of interest in the murder. Corona's son was arrested in August after the driver of the car he was in rammed a Sierra Vista police officer's vehicle. He was arrested again with a second man in September on charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault after allegedly shooting three people in Elfrida, Ariz. Sheriff Dannels has not said why the father is a person of interest in the murder.

After the story was published, the Cochise County Sheriff's Department released a statement:
As the result of multiple Arizona Public Records requests, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office has released copies of the Krentz homicide report. The initial report and multiple supplementary documents were previously released between the time of the incident in 2010 and now, with information concerning anywhere between 30 to 50 persons of interest. For the Sheriff’s Office investigative purposes, "persons of interest" are defined as anyone who may have information regarding subjects involved in an incident in any capacity, to include suspects and/or anyone who can relay any insight with regards to each particular case.  As the investigation is continuing to evolve with a variety of informational sources contributing to the forward movement, many of the people mentioned in these reports have been interviewed and any information gathered as a result has been supplemented to the case.
The statement does not say whether Corona was among those already interviewed.

The day after Susan Krentz filed the injunction request, the Cochise County Attorney's Office sent a letter to the Fronteras Desk and other news media in Arizona. It says, "The Cochise County Sheriff's Office will not be joining in the Plaintiff's application. The Sheriff's Office will be filing a Motion requesting the court designate it as a neutral Custodian of Records."

Susan Krentz's injunction request is similar to one made by some of the widows and family members of the Yarnell Hill fire last July where 19 firefighters died. The Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV filed suit, requesting documents of the investigation but not photos of the victims' remains or personal effects. 

Mrs. Krentz is represented by Arizona Voice for Crime Victims. The request said, "The emotional pain of Rob's murder is still fresh, even more than three and a half years later." 

It also said, "The publication of crime scene or autopsy photos of Rob would have an adverse emotional impact on the Krentz family. Additionally, the investigative materials likely contain private and confidential information about the victims."

While a supporter of freedom of the press as a vehicle to keep a check on government agencies, it's clear this suit is appropriate to protect the family's right to privacy. 


Washington ranchers track wolves with GPS

In an effort to protect their cattle herds, two generations of a northeast Washington ranch family are tracking wolves using satellites and GPS. The efforts are part of a pilot program being sponsored by the state and the environmental group Conservation Northwest. The aim is to keep Washington's growing wolf population out of trouble, the Spokesman-Review reported Sunday.Last year, government trappers and sharpshooters killed seven members of the Wedge pack for repeatedly attacking another Stevens County rancher's cattle. The pilot program consists of equipping range riders, the people tasked with herding the cattle, with laptops that download GPS data. The data come from wolves that have been collared. They are known as "Judas wolves" for betraying the pack's location.The data give the wolves' locations for the past 24 hours, though the system isn't foolproof, said Jay Shepherd, a state wildlife conflict specialist. Dense stands of trees can block signals, and the timing of satellite orbits affects data collection. GPS tracking adds a high-tech element to modern range riding, but much of it is still grunt work. The Smackout pack's territory covers about 400 square miles. John and Jeff Dawson's cattle graze 10 to 15 percent of the pack's territory, but their range encompasses the heart of it.Conservation Northwest helps finance three range riders in in Stevens County, Cle Elum and Wenatchee.Hiring a range rider costs $15,000 to $20,000 for the five-month grazing season, said Jay Kehne of the environmental group. The state and individual ranchers also contribute to the cost.In addition, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife provides daily satellite downloads on GPS-collared wolves to help range riders manage the cows.So far, the efforts are paying off for John Dawson."We've lost nothing to wolves," he said...more

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

For what's it worth -- advice from the saddle

by Julie Carter

I wander through my days pretty much like everybody else. I have to make a living, pay my bills, be kind to my neighbors and find inspiration to write each week.

Usually I'm as surprised as you are at what might finally hit the page and it's not uncommon to come to my computer keyboard with a hodgepodge of ideas -- or none at all.

A writer's prompt showed up in my email box that asked "what is the best advice you ever received?" I queried a few friends with the same question and each answered true to their personalities.

• Never date a woman you don't respect enough to marry.
• Marry a good man. In 20 years, their looks will be gone but if you marry a good man, he will still be a good man in 20 years.
• Stand straight. Tall girls don't have to be beautiful. The boys see them first.
• I get so much advice from my husband and he assures me it is all wonderful.
• No matter who says what, don't believe it if it doesn't make sense.
• When someone shows you what they are, don't ask them to show you again.
One cowboy, who is clever with his short, direct answers simply said, "Never saddle a horse named Bucky." I fell for that once, thinking that the horse's name, Buck, was for his color. The bad advice that follows is always, "Just turn your toes out. There ain't nothing to him." It worked but it wasn't pretty.
Along those same lines, there are some classics among cowboys that are worth repeating. I credit most of these to Texas Bix Bender's book, "Don't Squat with your Spurs On! -- A Cowboy's Guide to Life."
• Don't believe all that you hear, spend all that you have or sleep all that you want.
• When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
• Don't judge folks by their relatives.
• There are three kinds of men. Some learn by reading, some by observation and the rest have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
• If you get to thinking you are a person of influence, try ordering somebody else's dog around.
• Good judgment comes from experience but a lot of experience comes from bad judgment.
• It's best to keep your troubles to yourself because half the people you tell them to won't give a darn and the other half will be glad to hear you've got them.
• Most folks are like a barbwire fence. They have their good points.
• The best way to keep your word is not to give it foolishly.
• Always take a good look at what you are about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is but it's critical to know what it was.
• The easiest way to eat crow is while it's still warm. The colder it gets, the harder it is to swallow.
• Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

And my favorite: The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every morning.

Julie can be reached for comment at


One of my favorites by Wilmeth...originally posted here in October of last year.

Gone to the Horizons
National Anthem like none other
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            It was just after sundown on the last day of deer season, 1961 or 1962. My dad and I were coming off a steep slope in the exact location where Bill Evans Dam exists today. We had just reached the bottom of the Mangus when it screamed, or, rather, wailed.
            Never had I heard the scream of a cat like that before, and never …again. We never saw it, but assumed it was a lion and not a bobcat.
            Men and raw nature
            My maternal grandfather and his brother, Carl and Blue Rice, killed the last grizzly bear in New Mexico in the spring of 1931. The bear was killed just off the Rain Creek Divide in the Mogollons near the Grant County-Catron County line. That country had been Shelley and Rice family range since the mid 1880’s. The Shelleys believed the bear had killed 28 head of their cattle since the previous fall
            Lawrence Shelley jumped the bear on Lookout Ridge. The bear had come onto the trail on top of a shower that had just fallen.
Pushed, the bear turned off the ridge into the rocks and brush. Lawrence immediately trotted home to the 916 headquarters for dogs and to alert neighbors including the Rice brothers. The hunt was on.
The brothers and their hounds struck the tracks and the race commenced. They trailed the bear to where they couldn’t ride, dismounted, and followed the sound of the dogs on foot.
Soon the dogs were barking ground treed and a horrible brawl was in progress. As the brothers approached the howling, growling, and brush breaking battle of life and death, they emerged on a rock and looked down at the now bloodied dogs and the bear. Immediately, the bear saw them, and, “like a man climbing through willows”, the bear swiped the dogs aside and started to them never taking his eyes off their skylined image.
When they killed the bear coming up onto the very rock from which they waged their battle, they had only one loaded cartridge left between them.
Dust, smoke, and the sounds of that battle died away … gone forever to the horizons. What would it be like to witness and to hear those sounds?
More Sounds …
I often hear men working cattle. Most of the time, I am struck by the absence of what I remember as a kid. I think I only rarely hear the duplicated sounds of old time cowboys.
A distinct memory lingers when I think about a day about 1960 when my dad and I were coming down Clark Canyon. Way off down the canyon we could hear a lone cowboy. He was coming off a point with a bunch of cattle. My dad immediately told me it was Tom McCauley. How did he know that?
First of all, we could assume it was Tom because we were on his place. The cowboy was alone which also signified it was likely to be Tom, but there was more. Having been around Tom all his life, my dad would have known the sound of that old cowman implicitly. With a big voice, Tom would be starting cattle and moving them with his voice alone as he worked horseback.
Similarly, there are stories of the Shelleys working the Gila River bottom from Hell’s Canyon downstream to the mouth of Turkey Creek with a single man. Terrell Shelley recounts stories of how easy it was for a single man horseback to work miles of that river bottom by himself … and his voice.
I swear I think I could pick out of a recording the sound of my paternal grandfather, Albert Wilmeth, working cattle. A resonant high pitched yip was his trademark call. He never whistled like my maternal grandfather. He couldn’t. My memory of his sound was an unlikely utterance coming from his physical presence. It wasn’t so very loud in his presence, but it would carry long distances.
I’d give anything for a recording of that sound. I’d love to hear what, at one time, was taken for granted and commonplace.
Those historic sounds came from spontaneous, long ago events. Most of the cowboys in that era were one or two generations removed from Texas from which most of their families migrated. That made them one to three generations away from the Civil War and the big cattle drives. Few of the Gila River settlers would have been old enough to be in the Civil war, but their kinfolk and their contemporaries would have been.
My great grandfather, Lee Rice, would have certainly ridden with cowboys of Civil War experience when he rode “up the (Goodnight-Loving) Trail” three times with Charles Goodnight himself. On that trail, with its horrendous 45 mile dry walk to the Pecos and Horse Head Crossing from the common route with the Butterfield Trail, he would have heard the original historic yell.
That was the Rebel Yell. It likely formed the basis of generations of cattle calls that came from Texas replete with Texas customs and culture.
I would love to hear that original sound, too. If you read Jackson’s biography there is mention of the use of what became known as a trademark Stonewall strategy as early as the first Battle of Manassas. In his orders in the assault on the Henry Hill house where he earned his nickname, he instructed his men to “yell like furies”. There is every indication that result became the Rebel Yell.
It was used as Jackson’s strategy in the Shenandoah Valley battles. It was part of the psychological war he had to employ to even the disparity of men and material. It was extremely effective.
At Chancellorsville, Union troops led by General Joe Hooker were shocked into retreat by the eerie wail of the Rebel Yell as Confederate troops unexpectedly came charging out of the wilderness in fading dusk. It was to be Jackson’s last charge, but it was indelibly etched in the southern psyche.
For years, the veterans of the southern cause would gather for reunions. At some point, they would, in unison, join together with their brotherhood and their yell. As time went on, there were fewer and fewer voices. Finally, there were none.
Gone to the horizons was their original sound, but a version of it lived on in future generation cow camps from Texas to all parts of the West.
Fading …
Unabashedly, distant sounds in my mind remain dear. They are various, but they are dominated by times of youthful exuberance. The sound of basketballs bouncing on hardwood floors, the guttural and popping sounds for five seconds after a football was hiked, the soft recognition of a cow pairing with a calf, the appreciation of a tired horse waiting for you to fork some hay, the thump of a rifle somewhere off to the north on the forest on the first day of deer season, rocks rolling and the tell tale sound of a departing mule deer, a bull coming to water, the sound of a mourning dove at sundown, the real jing of bobs against tempered rowels, a John Deere A accelerating, a pruning crew in an apple orchard, all of my grandkids together laughing, a windmill pumping, and Mozart in the softness of a California morning rain all come to mind in succession. They are mine, and … they are not offered for debate.
Several years ago, Kathy and I were standing with our friends, Joe and Diane Delk, just off stage of from where the Delk Family Band was about to perform. It was there that a totally Grant County suggestion was made.  Joe took the idea and transformed it into a singular sound of uniqueness and importance.
He played the national anthem on his lone fiddle.
For a brief moment there was a bit of background noise, but it subsided. There was a pause, and, then, a gathering of human voices was heard. Softly with unity, those gathered sang as a respectful backdrop to that lone fiddle. Before the song ended there was not a dry eye in the hall. Never had we witnessed such spontaneous emotion. Never have we witnessed such reverence extended to our national anthem.
I saw Joe the other night. He talked about the most recent rendition of what is becoming a sensational patriotic offering. He played the anthem with a friend making it a twin fiddle experience. He tried to describe his emotions during the event. He couldn’t conclude the account.
I know, though. I heard and witnessed the original and it didn’t just drift off to the horizons to be forgotten. This sound needs to be heard and experienced!
It is that important, and this suggestion is also offered … without recourse of debate.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Yes, sir … this is Super Bowl significant. There is nothing like it.”


Here's Joe Delk playing the national anthem at Southern NM Fairgrounds and an image which illustrates how I feel about the whole darn thing.

Here's the man who knows what Reagan would do

Environmentalists want a Utopian world where they don’t use anything and deprive everyone else of affordable energy so they can’t use anything.

That barbed sentiment comes from a veteran of the Big Green power wars during President Ronald Reagan's administration: William Perry Pendley.

He's better known these days as Mountain States Legal Foundation's outspoken and ground-breaking president - his landmark Supreme Court win in the Adarand v. Pena civil rights case was called a “legal earthquake” by Time magazine.

His four books have established him as the go-to authority on natural resource politics and law.
Pendley earned his stripes not only as a reconnaissance navigator in the U.S. Marine Corps' Phantom II jet fighters, but also in the Department of the Interior as deputy assistant secretary of energy and minerals during the Reagan years.

Environmentalists want a Utopian world where they don’t use anything and deprive everyone else of affordable energy so they can’t use anything.

That barbed sentiment comes from a veteran of the Big Green power wars during President Ronald Reagan's administration: William Perry Pendley.

He's better known these days as Mountain States Legal Foundation's outspoken and ground-breaking president - his landmark Supreme Court win in the Adarand v. Pena civil rights case was called a “legal earthquake” by Time magazine.

His four books have established him as the go-to authority on natural resource politics and law.
Pendley earned his stripes not only as a reconnaissance navigator in the U.S. Marine Corps' Phantom II jet fighters, but also in the Department of the Interior as deputy assistant secretary of energy and minerals during the Reagan years.

It appears that managing a bureaucracy was the tougher of the two jobs from his new account, “Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle with Environmental Extremists and why it Matters Today.”

I asked Pendley his thoughts on something that matters today: the recent demise of the Interior Department's little-known agency, the Minerals Management Service, which he helped create.

The MMS was dismantled at the direction of President Obama's appointee, Rhea Suh, profiled in this space previously.

“It came as no surprise,” Pendley told me, “It's the same power play as Obama's war on coal - to make energy so expensive that no one can use it.”

“Before President Reagan,” Pendley explained, “the OCS drilling program's pre-leasing activity was run by the Bureau of Land Management and its post-leasing efforts by the Conservation Division of the U.S. Geological Survey.”

The MMS made money for the Treasury in the hard-to-understand world of oil and gas and boosted energy products for Americans for nearly three decades.

Pendley covers the creation of the Minerals Management Service in his excellent book, Sagebrusj Rebel: Reagan's Battle With Environmental Extremists And Why It Matters Today.  It came to a final resolution when Congress passed the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty and Management Act whick President Reagan signed on  Jan. 12, 1983.

This brings to mind one of the earlier skirmishes over domestic oil and gas leasing. 

Secretary Watt ran the Dept. of Interior by MBO - management by objective.  One of our goals in the Land & Water wing of Interior was to get rid of the huge backlog of oil and gas applications (it numbered in the thousands).  It became apparent that after almost two years BLM had not made sufficient progress on this goal

 One day Watt called myself, Assistant Secretary Carruthers, BLM Director Bob Burford and the other Deputy (I don't remember if it was Dave Russel or Dave Houston) into his office.  Watt told us he had a proposal on his desk to create the MMS which would take the domestic leasing of oil and gas away from the BLM.  I remember Watt saying, "I'm going to make a decision on this next Friday."  He then invited us to provide our comments on the proposal.

After the meeting with Watt, Carruthers called his counterpart, Assistant Secretary for Energy & Minerals Dan Miller, and asked why he hadn't at least alerted him to the proposal, and preferably discussed it with him.  Miller said the proposal was news to him and that he hadn't submitted or even seen the proposal.

So what was going on here?

Watt was creating competition between two agencies within the Dept. of Interior.  And guess what? It worked.  Next thing you know BLM had realty, wildlife, range and several other categories of employees working on the backlog of applications and they made great progress..

That's when I learned from Jim Watt that competition is not only good for the private sector, it also works in government bureaucracies.