Saturday, November 23, 2013

Study: Greenland Ice Sheet was smaller 3000-5000 years ago than today

Think Greenland’s ice sheet is small today? It was smaller — as small as it has ever been in recent history — from 3-5,000 years ago, according to scientists who studied the ice sheet’s history using a new technique they developed for interpreting the Arctic fossil record. “What’s really interesting about this is that on land, the atmosphere was warmest between 9,000 and 5,000 years ago, maybe as late as 4,000 years ago. The oceans, on the other hand, were warmest between 5-3,000 years ago,” said Jason Briner, PhD, University at Buffalo associate professor of geology, who led the study. The findings appeared online on Nov. 22 in the journal Geology. Briner’s team included Darrell Kaufman, an organic geochemist from Northern Arizona University; Ole Bennike, a clam taxonomist from the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland; and Matthew Kosnik, a statistician from Australia’s Macquarie University. The study is important not only for illuminating the history of Greenland’s ice sheet, but for providing geologists with an important new tool: A method of using Arctic fossils to deduce when glaciers were smaller than they are today...more

Friday, November 22, 2013

Duke Energy fined $1 million for bird mortalities at two wind facilities

Duke Energy Renewables, a commercial business unit of Duke Energy, today announced it has reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the deaths of golden eagles and other migratory birds at two of Duke Energy’s wind generation sites in Wyoming.
The DOJ brought misdemeanor charges under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) for 14 golden eagle mortalities within the past three years at Duke Energy’s Top of the World Windpower Project and Campbell Hill Windpower Project near Casper, Wyo.
Golden eagles are not listed as threatened or endangered under U.S. law. However, they are protected under the MBTA.
  • Federal fines and restitution of $1 million will be levied against Duke Energy Renewables. These funds will be dispersed to the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and The Conservation Fund.
“Our goal is to provide the benefits of wind energy in the most environmentally responsible way possible,” said Greg Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables. “We deeply regret the impacts to golden eagles at two of our wind facilities. We have always self reported all incidents, and from the time we discovered the first fatality, we’ve been working closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service to take proactive steps to correct the problem.”
These steps, among the first in the wind industry, have included:
  • Installing and testing new radar technology to assist in the detection of airborne eagles on or near the site, which was developed from the same technology used in Afghanistan to monitor incoming missiles
  • Instituting a curtailment program using field biologists, who radio for turbines to be temporarily shut down upon sighting an eagle in the vicinity
  • Further curtailing turbines during periods of high eagle flight activity
  • Instituting migratory bird training programs for wind technicians and developing a reporting system to track any findings related to avian populations on the sites
  • Removing rock and debris piles that attract eagle prey
  • Continuing to voluntarily report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) all eagle and migratory bird mortalities and meeting with the agency regularly to discuss adaptive management measures to reduce avian mortality.
Press Release

Obama Pushing Shooters Off Public Lands

Gun owners who have historically been able to use public lands for target practice would be barred from potentially millions of acres under new rules drafted by the Interior Department, the first major move by the Obama administration to impose limits on firearms. Officials say the administration is concerned about the potential clash between gun owners and encroaching urban populations who like to use same land for hiking and dog walking. "It's not so much a safety issue. It's a social conflict issue," said Frank Jenks, a natural resource specialist with Interior's Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres. He adds that urbanites "freak out" when they hear shooting on public lands. If the draft policy is finally approved, some public access to Bureau lands to hunters would also be limited, potentially reducing areas deer, elk, and bear hunters can use in the West. Conservationists and hunting groups, however, are mounting a fight. One elite group of conservationists that advises Interior and Agriculture is already pushing BLM to junk the regulations, claiming that shooters are being held to a much higher safety standard than other users of public lands, such as ATV riders. "They are just trying to make it so difficult for recreational shooters," said Gary Kania, vice president of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation. His group is one of several, including the National Wildlife Foundation, Cabela's and Ducks Unlimited, on the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council fighting the new rules. During a two-day meeting ending this afternoon, they are drafting their own changes to the BLM rules...more

Pollution Suit Puts Chill on Popular Hot Sauce Sriracha

When Minneapolis donut chef Teresa Fox heard that Huy Fong Foods Inc., maker of Sriracha Asian-style hot sauce, might be forced to shut its factory near Los Angeles, she knew she needed to stock up. The co-owner of Glam Doll Donuts, a hip bakery popular with a late-night crowd, uses the sweet and spicy chili sauce in the icing for her peanut butter and Sriracha-flavored "Chart Topper" doughnut. To ensure she would have enough on hand, Ms. Fox said she purchased five extra cases of Sriracha, each with a dozen 28-ounce bottles. "It's one of those things—once you discover it, you start putting it on everything," Ms. Fox said. Fans and business owners across the food-service industry, from quirky retailers like Glam Doll to specialty grocery stores and countless restaurants, are concerned they could face a serious shortage of the increasingly ubiquitous condiment brand, made by a family-owned company at two facilities in the Los Angeles area. Recently, residents living near Huy Fong's new 626,000-square-foot facility, which opened last year in Irwindale, Calif., have complained of noxious fumes. Late last month, the city sued in state court to close down the operation. A judge could decide as soon as Friday whether those claims merit a preliminary injunction, which would halt production at the facility as the case moves forward. The city claims that fumes generated by the plant's processing of chili peppers have caused eye and throat irritation and headaches among residents since mid-September...more

UN climate talks fall apart as 132 countries storm out

Poor countries pulled out of the United Nations climate talks during a fight over transferring wealth from richer countries to fight global warming. The G77 and China bloc led 132 poor countries in a walk out during talks about “loss and damage” compensation for the consequences of global warming that countries cannot adapt to, like Typhoon Haiyan. The countries that left claim to have the support of other coalitions of poor nations, including the Least Developed Countries, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Africa Group. Poor countries have demanded that the developed world give them $100 billion annually by 2020 to prepare for the impacts of global warming, such as heat waves and droughts. Brazil even put forward a proposal last week that would have made rich countries pay for historical greenhouse gas emissions. “The US, EU, Australia and Norway remain blind to the climate reality that’s hitting us all, and poor people and countries much harder,” said Harjeet Singh, spokesperson for ActionAid International. “They continue to derail negotiations in Warsaw that can create a new system to deal with new types of loss and damage such as sea-level rise, loss of territory, biodiversity and other non-economic losses more systematically.” Rich countries have so far resisted these proposals. Australia, Europe and the U.S. have all argued that the issue should be addressed in 2015, when the world is set to discuss a comprehensive climate agreement. Developed countries have also banded together to block attempts to create a whole new bureaucracy to handle climate “reparations” to poor countries...more

Oh weekend is ruined.  

Working Around Keystone XL, Suncor Energy Steps Up Oil Production in Canada

Suncor Energy, Canada’s top petroleum producer, announced on Thursday that it would expand its oil production in 2014 by 10 percent in another sign that the Obama administration’s delay in approving the Keystone XL pipeline extension is not holding back growth in the western Canadian oil sands fields. “We’re set for a strong year of continued production,” Suncor’s chief executive, Steven W. Williams, said. The company announced a capital spending program of $7.45 billion for 2014, $477 million more than it had forecast earlier this year. Suncor, which is based in Calgary, produces oil and gas around Canada, and has operations in North Africa and the North Sea. But its oil sands operations are the main driver for the company. In the most recent quarter, its oil sands output rose 16 percent from the year before for a record of 396,000 barrels a day, nearly 20 percent of the country’s total oil sands production. The company said it expected its oil sands production to increase again next year to 430,000 barrels a day. Reports of increased production are coming even as Canadian oil executives are privately questioning whether the Obama administration will ever approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which it has been considering for more than two years...more

The 'Spy' Who Fooled the EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency wants to be the nation's super-regulator, though it might first try to regulate its own employees. At least the ones pretending to be James Bond. The Department of Justice in late September announced a plea agreement with John C. Beale, until recently a senior career employee at EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. Beale, 64, has admitted to devoting most of his 23-year career to bilking taxpayers of some $900,000 in pay and expenses. "Saturday Night Live" couldn't come up with this story. Information released by law enforcement, and details from an investigation by Louisiana Senator David Vitter, show that the fraud began when Beale stated in his 1989 EPA job application that he'd worked for the U.S. Senate, though there is no record of such employment. By 1994 Beale was claiming he was a CIA operative to justify prolonged absences. Apparently this raised no eyebrows at EPA. Prosecutors estimate that from 2000 to 2013 Beale was absent from his EPA duties for a total of 2.5 years, claiming to be working for "Langley" or on a special EPA "research project." In 2008 he was gone for six months but never submitted a leave request.  Around May 2011, Beale claimed to be retiring and celebrated with colleagues on a dinner cruise. An EPA manager admitted to not seeing Beale at the office after that, though not noticing until November 2012 that Beale was still on the payroll. Beale used his "research" excuse to have taxpayers fund at least five trips to Los Angeles—worth $57,000 in travel expenses—to visit relatives and stay at nice hotels. Beale also claimed that he'd contracted malaria while serving in Vietnam, requiring taxpayers to cough up $18,000 for a handicapped parking spot in downtown Washington, D.C. He didn't serve in Vietnam and he didn't have malaria. Beale was paid despite his absences and he received retention incentive bonuses that for a time made him among the highest paid employees at EPA. Mr. Vitter's office has noted that Beale was only approved to receive these bonuses for six years, yet EPA somehow handed them out for 23. Spooks the world over are jealous...more

Senate Committee Passes Grazing Improvement Act

The Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) hailed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for passage of S. 258, the Grazing Improvement Act of 2013. The legislation, sponsored by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) comes as a means to codify existing appropriations language - adding stability and efficiency to the federal grazing permit renewal process. The bill passed by the Committee will extend the term for grazing permits from a minimum of 10 up to 20 years, providing for added permit security. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have consistently - for more than a decade - carried a backlog of grazing permit renewals due to overwhelming and unnecessary National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) assessments. This bill provides sole discretion to the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture to complete the environmental analysis under NEPA while allowing for an analysis to take place at the programmatic level. "The act is vital for ensuring the fate of our producer's permits - livelihoods are depending on the efficiency of the system - which undoubtedly needs restructuring," said Scott George, NCBA president and Wyoming rancher. "Not only will the bill codify the language of the decades old appropriations rider, it will also allow categorical exclusions from NEPA for permits continuing current practices and for crossing and trailing of livestock. Additionally, it will allow for NEPA on a broad scale, reducing paper pushing within the federal agencies."...more

Backlog of Endangered Species Awaiting Protection Reaches Lowest Level Since 1970s

For the first time since the 1970s, the number of plants and animals on the waiting list for Endangered Species Act protection has dropped below 150. The progress the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made last year addressing the backlog highlights the success of a landmark agreement reached with the Center for Biological Diversity in 2011 requiring the Service to speed protection decisions for 757 species. The 2013 “candidate notice of review” released by the agency today includes 146 species now awaiting protection: 94 animals and 52 plants. In fiscal year 2013, 81 species were awarded final protection under the Endangered Species Act. During the past year the Service issued proposals to protect dozens of new species under the Act including the wolverine, lesser prairie chicken, Yosemite toad, red knot, a shorebird along the Atlantic Coast, and the northern long-eared bat, which was once found in 39 states before its population was decimated by a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome. Also among the proposed were the western yellow-billed cuckoo, which only lives along desert streams, four kinds of pocket gophers from Washington state, and butterflies from Florida and the Dakotas.  The vast majority of the 146 species still on the waiting list will receive listing proposals in the next three years. Species still waiting include the Pacific walrus, eastern gopher tortoise, west coast fisher, Lower Colorado River roundtail chub, Sonoran desert tortoise, several types of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees, and the Black Warrior waterdog, a large salamander from Alabama...more

Range riders help ranchers deter wolves

Before the sun breaks over the mountains, Leisa Hill is firing up a generator in a remote cow camp in eastern Stevens County. Soon she'll be poring over satellite data points on her laptop, tracking the recent wanderings of a GPS-collared wolf. Hill is a range rider whose family grazes 1,300 head of cattle in the Smackout pack's territory. Knowing the collared wolf's whereabouts helps her plan her day. She'll spend the next 12 to 16 hours visiting the scattered herd by horseback or ATV. Through the regular patrols, she's alerting the Smackout pack that cattle aren't easy prey. Her work is paying off. Last year, 100 percent of the herd returned from the U.S. Forest Service allotments and private pastures that provide summer and fall forage. This year's count isn't final, but the tallies look promising, said Hill's dad, John Dawson. "We've lost nothing to wolves," he said. Hill's range rider work is part of a pilot that involves two generations of a northeastern Washington ranch family, the state and Conservation Northwest. The aim is to keep Washington's growing wolf population out of trouble. Conservation Northwest helps finance three range riders in Washington — the Dawsons in Stevens County, and others in Cle Elem and Wenatchee. Hiring a range rider costs $15,000 to $20,000 for the five-month grazing season, Kehne said. The state and individual ranchers, including Dawson, 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. Collared wolves are known as "Judas wolves" for betraying the pack's location. The downloads 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...more

Reward for information about endangered red wolf killings

Six endangered red wolves have been shot in the last month in North Carolina, prompting the feds to advertise a reward made up of contributions from conservationist organizations. Scientists estimate there are less than 100 red wolves in the wild, and the species was declared extinct in the wild in 1980. After a reintroduction that has left the species on the endangered list, the wolf roams free only in a small section of North Carolina. It remains under federal protection. The combined reward is now up to $26,000 for information leading directly to an arrest and conviction in the cases. The money is made up of contributions from North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Red Wolf Coalition, Humane Society of the United States, and the Center for Biological Diversity...more

BLM seeks to collect 700 wild horses in southwest Wyoming roundup

The Bureau of Land Management plans to begin gathering wild horses in southwest Wyoming this week. A BLM press release says horses will be collected from the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek herd management areas located south of Interstate 80 to the Wyoming-Colorado border from Rock Springs to Wamsutter. The BLM plans to gather about 700 wild horses and treat female horses with fertility control. The two areas are located on public, private and state land in Sweetwater and Carbon counties. The roundup is expected to last roughly four weeks or until the designated number of excess wild horses have been removed. The last area roundup was conducted in October 2010. Animals removed from the areas will be available for adoption. AP

Alleged mobster who posed as Idaho rancher convicted in attempted hit

A former Mob associate who spent over a decade posing as a cattle rancher in Idaho has been convicted in a string of federal charges, including the attempted murder of a man who became the boss of the New England Mafia. Enrico Ponzo was convicted Wednesday in a racketeering indictment after a month-long trial. Prosecutors said Ponzo teamed up with a faction of mobsters that wanted to stop Francis "Cadillac Frank"  Salemme from becoming the boss of the Patriarca crime family. Ponzo was convicted of being one of the triggermen who shot at Salemme in 1989 as he walked into a pancake house in Saugus, north of Boston. He was acquitted of several other charges. Ponzo fled in 1994 and wasn't captured until 2011, when authorities found him in Marsing, Idaho. Sentencing was set for March 6. AP

It should have tipped them off when he name his horse Luigi.

REESE CASE: Defense Team Defends Judge Brack’s Order

In August 2011, Rick, Terri, Ryin and Remington Reese were charged with 32 counts relating to gun smuggling, conspiracy, money laundering and falsifying information on Form 4473. Nearly a year later, Remington was found not guilty of all charges. Rick and Terri Reese were convicted of one count each, and their son Ryin was convicted of two counts of Form 4473 violations. The issue relating to the counts of conviction boiled down to the Reeses should have known the undercover government agents who filled out Form 4473, were acting as straw purchasers for Mexican cartel member Jose Roman. The government alleges the Reeses knew Jose Roman was a Mexican cartel gun and drug smuggler – something the Reeses emphatically deny – and therefore would have known the agents were acting as straw purchasers. (Form 4473 is used to run the FBI background checks conducted before a gun is purchased from a FFL gun dealer. The agents used phoney identification, which passed the background checks.) In November of 2012, information the government withheld from the defense before and during trial was given to the trial judge, Robert C. Brack. The government did not want the judge to share this information with the defense team. Judge Brack disagreed and by the end of January two hearings had been held in the matter. It turned out that Deputy Sheriff Alan Batts, the law enforcement officer Terri Reese had called to report a suspicious weapons buyer, had himself been under investigation for a number of years for alleged corruption. As a result of the testimony of a supervisor in the Las Cruces U.S. Attorney’s Office, the testimony of two FBI agents, and testimony from Alan Batts, Judge Brack ordered a new trial for Rick, Terri and Ryin. The government immediately filed an appeal. The government does not want the Reeses to have a new trial. On November 20, 2013 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, Colorado heard the government’s arguments against a new trial, and the Reese attorney’s argument in support of affirming Judge Brack’s decision granting a new trial...more

24,000-Year-Old Body Shows Kinship to Europeans and American Indians

Lake Baikal in Siberia
The genome of a young boy buried at Mal’ta near Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia some 24,000 years ago has turned out to hold two surprises for anthropologists. The first is that the boy’s DNA matches that of Western Europeans, showing that during the last Ice Age people from Europe had reached farther east across Eurasia than previously supposed. Though none of the Mal’ta boy’s skin or hair survives, his genes suggest he would have had brown hair, brown eyes and freckled skin. The second surprise is that his DNA also matches a large proportion — about 25 percent — of the DNA of living Native Americans. The first people to arrive in the Americas have long been assumed to have descended from Siberian populations related to East Asians. It now seems that they may be a mixture between the Western Europeans who had reached Siberia and an East Asian population. A European contribution to Native American ancestry could explain two longstanding puzzles about the people’s origins. One is that many ancient Native American skulls, including that of the well-known Kennewick man, look very different from those of the present day population. Another is that one of the five mitochondrial DNA lineages found in Native Americans, the lineage known as X, also occurs in Europeans. One explanation is that Europeans managed to cross the Atlantic in small boats some 20,000 years ago and joined the Native Americans from Siberia. Dr. Willerslev thinks it more likely that European bearers of the X lineage had migrated across Siberia with the ancestors of the Mal’ta culture and joined them in their trek across the Beringian land bridge...more

Since 2008 Argentina's lost 30,000 cattle ranchers, expert says

Fernando Canosa, a cattle specialist from Argentina, has estimated that nearly 30,00 cattle ranchers got out of the business since 2008, when the Argentine government imposed a price-fixing policy to meat. The number is equivalent to 10 percent of the previous total number of producers of meat in the country. In an interview to local paper √Āmbito Financiero, Canosa explained that exports became “marginal” for the meat sector over the years. “The demand is pushed mostly by (local) consumption. We hope that (the policies) rectified”, said the expert. Source

This 2007 Bloomberg article explains:

The government has imposed a maximum price of 2.5 pesos (81 U.S. cents) per kilo of live steers while the producers demand a price higher than 3 pesos per kilo, Gallo Llorente said. The ranchers say that current prices are below their production costs. Last year, Kirchner banned meat exports in a bid to force producers to sell more in local markets, helping lower domestic prices.

Could it happen here?  It already has.  Forty-two years ago Nixon imposed wage & price controls:

On Aug. 15, 1971, in a nationally televised address, Nixon announced, “I am today ordering a freeze on all prices and wages throughout the United States.” After a 90-day freeze, increases would have to be approved by a “Pay Board” and a “Price Commission,” with an eye toward eventually lifting controls — conveniently, after the 1972 election. There was no national emergency in the summer of ‘71: unemployment stood at 6 percent, inflation only a point higher than it is now. Yet, after Nixon’s announcement, the markets rallied, the press swooned, and, even though his speech pre-empted the popular Western Bonanza, the people loved it, too — 75 percent backed the plan in polls. By the time Nixon reimposed a temporary freeze in June 1973, Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw explain in The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy, it was obvious that price controls didn’t work: “Ranchers stopped shipping their cattle to the market, farmers drowned their chickens, and consumers emptied the shelves of supermarkets.”

How did Nixon get this authority?  Congress gave it to him.

First, it’s usually Congress that lays the foundation for an imperial presidency with unconstitutional delegations of authority to the executive branch. The Economic Stabilization Act of 1970 gave Nixon legislative cover for his actions.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1151

Hank Locklin will be featured on Hank Week today with his 1956 recording of You Can't Never Tell.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wolf hearing draws crowd of around 500 people

Public comments on a pair of proposals by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would affect gray wolf recovery efforts nationwide ran about 2 to 1 in favor of expansion of the wolf recovery program, but cattle and sheep ranchers said the program is a failure and needs to be discontinued. A near-capacity crowd of about 500 conservationists, ranchers, landowners and concerned citizens weighed in on the proposals during a three-hour public hearing here Wednesday at Embassy Suites. More than 100 of them signed up to make 2-minute comments on the proposals. Several speakers cautioned the agency to weigh its actions carefully, with particular attention to potential economic impacts on New Mexico. Others, like state Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, urged agency officials to “make decisions based on science,” rather than political or any other basis. “Make that the hallmark of your decision-making,” he said. Conservation groups – which were well-represented at the public hearing – generally opposed removal of the gray wolf from the endangered species list and expressed concerns with other proposals affecting the Mexican wolf. Las Cruces City Councilman Nathan Small said he thinks recovering the Mexican wolf would be beneficial to southern New Mexico, and that as an outdoorsman and hunter, he thinks the presence of wolves would enhance all outdoor experiences. Saying wolves are “vital to the health of the ecosystems” in which they have historically lived, outdoor writer Ruth Rudner urged expansion of the lands they are allowed to roam and claimed wolves have “become the scapegoat for increasingly anti-everything politics.” Barbara Bacon of Albuquerque said she was concerned that the proposed changes “are not going to promote full recovery of the Mexican gray wolf.” She also said she supports expansion of the wolf recovery area as far south as the Mexican border because “wolves can’t read maps.” Citing losses of livestock to wolf depredation, ranching groups – also well-represented at the hearing – strongly back federal efforts to remove gray wolves from the list of endangered species, even though they typically receive compensation from the federal government for livestock losses attributed to wolves. Rex Wilson with the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association and Caren Cowan with the New Mexico Wool Growers Association said wolf reintroduction in New Mexico had failed and needs to be discontinued. “There is ample scientific evidence for removing the gray and Mexican wolves from the endangered species list,” Wilson said. “After 15 years, it is clear the experiment has failed,” he said, adding that there is not enough wildlife in New Mexico to justify restoring wolves here. He and Cowan said they support taking not only the gray wolf from the endangered species list, but the Mexican wolf as well. “This experiment has gone on too long,” Cowan said, adding that the program “is not working for anyone, especially them (the wolves).” Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity expressed concerns about a lack of biological diversity among the existing wolf population in New Mexico and said it’s Fish and Wildlife’s fault for limiting their reintroductions...more

NM received $479 M from federal energy funds

New Mexico’s share of revenue received by the federal government for energy production on public lands amounted to $479 million, according to the Interior Department. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the department collected and disbursed more than $14.2 billion in revenue generated by energy production on public lands and offshore waters in Fiscal Year 2013 – a $2 billion increase over the previous year. Among the top states receiving revenue are Wyoming ($933 million); New Mexico ($479 million); Utah ($138 million); Colorado ($130 million); California ($102 million); North Dakota ($90 million); Montana ($36 million); Louisiana ($27 million); Alaska ($19 million) and Texas ($17 million).

2 NM tribes honored for Code Talker work

While President Barack Obama was at the White House distributing presidential medals to Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton on Wed-nesday, leaders of Congress were on Capitol Hill awarding the Con-gressional Gold Medal to Native American tribes to honor Code Talkers who served in World Wars I and II. On Wednesday, 25 tribes were awarded medals, including Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. Eight other tribes, including New Mexico’s Laguna tribe, will receive medals at a later date. The award is one of the nation’s highest honors. The Code Talkers were considered critical to the U.S. efforts in World Wars I and II for their use of Native American languages to help transmit critical intelligence to U.S. forces, often from behind enemy lines. The ceremony marked the second time Code Talkers have been honored by Congress. In 2001, Navajo Code Talkers – including some from New Mexico – were honored in a stirring ceremony in the Capitol rotunda...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1150

Next on Hank Week is Hank Snow and his 1954 recording of The Bill Is Falling Due.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Government Economists: About as Useful as a Fork in a Sugar Bowl

Here's an excerpt from an email I received today:

Humans tend to believe what they're told by authority figures. Even in the face of contradictory evidence.
The Milgram Experiment taught us this in 1963. Posing as scientists, researchers instructed volunteers to inflict painful electric shocks on what they thought were other innocent volunteers, as a penalty for answering questions incorrectly. The shockers couldn't see the people they were shocking, but could hear their reactions: terrible cries of pain, pounding on the wall, pleas to stop, and eventually, ominous silence.

Of course, it was all a ruse, but the shockers didn't know that. They thought they were effectively torturing the victims. Yet most shockers ignored the victims' agonized pleas to stop, opting instead to obey the "scientist's" commands to continue.

Why? Because the "scientist" was an expert. He was wearing a white lab coat, so he must know best.
We treat economists similarly today, deferring to their expertise in economic matters, even when common sense suggests they are wrong. Paul Krugman says an alien invasion would cure our economic ills by forcing us to spend money to defend against their attack. If a stranger on the bus said that, you might direct him to the nearest mental facility.

But Krugman? He has a framed MIT doctorate gracing his office wall, so he must know what he's talking about.

Here's a dirty little secret: Economists—particularly government and other mainstream ones—stink at their jobs. They're awful at forecasting the future. History shows that not only are economists incapable of forecasting recessions, they usually can't even recognize that we're in a recession once it's already started. If you were as bad at your job as the average economist is at his, you wouldn't have a job. Management would fire you, assuming they could do so before your horrendous decisions brought down the entire company.

With that background, I'm excited to share with you an excerpt from John Mauldin's fantastic new book, Code Red. As you might've guessed, the premise of the passage you'll read below is that mainstream economists have a horrific track record, a claim the book backs up with impressive stats.

This was aimed at the economy and investors, but could also be viewed in the context of NEPA and regulatory analysis and other brain flatulence that we must deal with almost every day.

NM gov proposes investment in water infrastructure

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Tuesday unveiled a $112 million proposal that she said would give the state greater security when it comes to drinking water resources. The amount the governor has proposed to invest in water infrastructure projects would be about 60 percent of the capital outlay funds lawmakers will have to work with when they meet for their next legislative session in January. Pointing to unprecedented drought, wildfires and floods, Martinez said aging infrastructure around the state has been put to the test in recent years. She added that some communities have run out of water, others are facing shortages and watersheds have been damaged. "While we cannot dictate the duration or magnitude of these crises, we can and must dictate our response," the governor said. "That is why I am proposing such a large capital investment." Martinez's plan would prioritize spending on projects in communities that are in danger of going dry or struggling with water quality. The funding would also be spent on rehabilitation of dams and watersheds...more

Since wolves were reintroduced, some eastern Arizona ranchers claim the animals have destroyed their lives

     He was on horseback on a mountain trail south of Rose Peak, in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, when four wolves attacked him and his six blue tick hounds, setting off a ferocious struggle.
     "Picture 10 animals in a dogfight under your horse, and you know what I'm talking about," says Warren, then a rancher and range deputy for the Greenlee County Sheriff's Office.
     "I'm being attacked by wolves!" he hollered into his police radio. "I need help!"
He yelled and fired shots into the air, but the wolves kept coming. The desperate brawl lasted two hours. Warren's fighting retreat brought him to Sawmill Cabin, where he closed himself inside a barn, the animals pacing and howling outside.
     Something--probably the arrival of rescuers--caused them to quit, and Warren, 62 years old at the time and a crack outdoorsman, headed home, considering himself lucky. If his horse hadn't been accustomed to dogs, he says he could've been thrown to the ground and injured or killed.
     But the funny part, the tragic part, the unbelievable part, is the idea of a cowboy, alone, in a death struggle with vicious animals--and what's running through his mind, apart from not turning into wolf kibble?
     "I definitely felt threatened, but I knew that if I shot those wolves, I could pay a huge fine and maybe get years in jail," says Warren. "Hiring a lawyer would break me. I don't have that kind of money in my hip pocket."
     Welcome to the government's version of the Wild West.
    ..."The wolves ate me out of house and home, and I had to quit the cattle business," says Harold Filleman, patriarch of an eastern Arizona ranching family. "It wasn't profitable anymore. The only thing we could figure was to pull out and wait until the government stops funding these wolves."
     Like Warren, Filleman lived on Eagle Creek, 30 miles above Clifton.
    ...Once on the ground, the wolves did their part to rattle nerves even more. Shortly after their release, they staked out Scott Dieringer's ranch, about 8 miles above the Creek.
    Gary Bowen, who helped Dieringer through the ordeal, said the wolves "created constant turmoil" and behaved so aggressively that if either Scott or his wife went to town, the other had to stay home to keep the animals from attacking their stock and dogs.
     Once, in April 1999, the Dieringers looked out their living room window and saw three wolves in their front yard, one entering his corral. Dieringer went outside with a rifle, and after the animals attacked his dog, he fired shots into the air to scare them off.
     "The wolves just stood and looked at me," wrote Dieringer, in a letter to the Eastern Arizona Courier. He threw rocks, but they dodged them. After the wolves chased Dieringer back to his house, he and his wife jumped into their truck and left to get help.
     Dieringer didn't get to see his grandchildren at Easter that year because the ranch was too dangerous to visit. In his letter, Dieringer explained why he'd decided to pack up and leave: "We fear for ourselves, our dogs and our livestock, and feel we have no way to defend ourselves."
     Some in the area say they live with bouts of stress and sleeplessness, wondering if that sound they heard in the night might be a wolf looking for a snack.
     Retiree Ed Fitch found a wolf chasing his baby foal and her mother, penned up beside his barn. He ran the wolf off, but not before it forced the foal into a fence, badly cutting her face.
     A wolf chased Ed's wife, Edie, down a hill near their home, and the Fitches say that when they walk their dogs at night, they carry a gun just in case.
     THE ELY FAMILY, OF THE 4 Drag Ranch, have just emerged from a hellish period last year, during which an unusually aggressive wolf pack targeted their cattle.
     Clifton's Copper Era newspaper described one episode in which Gary Ely and two cowboys came upon a wolf feeding on the hindquarters of a live heifer.
     "The anguishing screams of the calf shocked them all," Darcy Ely told the paper. "You could hear this horrible wailing. My husband fell apart over this, and so did the rest of the crew."
     The Elys--wrung out and hardly fans of the pro-environmentalist press, according to friends--wouldn't respond to several messages seeking comment. But one neighbor estimates they lost between 100-200 cows, most to wolves, they contend, each worth a conservative average of $400.
     As Darcy Ely told the Copper Era, she and Gary have begged the feds to come out to their wolf-cattle kill sites; they also moved their cattle to repeatedly to protect them from the wolves. "Now the wolves are in the middle of the pasture," she says. "Where do we go now?"
     The Elys are still hanging on. But of the eight families living along the Creek proper, all of whom ran cattle in the late 1990s, only two do so now, according to Frank Hayes, chief of the Forest Service's Clifton district, a reduction in cattle numbers of 70 percent.
     It's not because of wolves, he says. It's the drought. Ranchers agree the drought has been bad, but say piling wolves on top of it has creamed their bottom lines.


This article is from 2003, but given recent events is worthy of review.


House Passes Bipartisan Bill To Advance Onshore American Energy Production

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1965, the Federal Lands and Energy Security Act of 2013, with a bipartisan vote of 228-192.  This package of bills would protect and expand onshore American energy production and create new American jobs by streamlining government red-tape and regulations.  Also, this legislation would establish an efficient and effective process to responsibly produce both renewable and conventional energy on our federal lands as part of a true all-of-the-above approach American energy production.

 H.R. 1965, the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act of 2013, includes the following five Natural Resources bills:
  • Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act (Lamborn CO-05) - This bill would reform the leasing process for onshore oil and natural gas projects on federal lands to eliminate unnecessary delays; reform the process for energy permitting, once a lease is in hand, to encourage the timely development of our federal resources; ensure funds are available for efficient wind and solar permitting; and set clear rules for the development of U.S. oil shale resources.
  • Planning for American Energy Act (Tipton, CO-03) - This bill would establish common sense steps to create an all-of-the-above American energy plan for using federal lands to meet our Nation’s energy needs.
  • National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act (Hastings, WA-04) - This bill would cut through bureaucratic red tape to unlock the full potential of energy resources in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) by ensuring that oil and natural gas are developed and transported in a timely and efficient manner.
  • BLM Live Internet Auctions Act (Johnson, OH-06) -  This bill would give the Secretary of the Interior the authority to conduct internet-based auctions for onshore leases to ensure the best return to the Federal taxpayer, reduce fraud, and secure the leasing process.
  • Native American Energy Act (Young, AK-At Large) - This bill would streamline burdensome and duplicative government regulations and remove the barriers erected by the Obama Administration that are blocking Indian tribes from developing energy resources on their own land and creating new jobs.

Unemployment & Wolves

by Jim Beers

This morning’s news reports on the TV and the radio are full of a news item broken in The New York Post that an employee of The US Census Bureau has revealed that he was told months before last year’s Presidential Election to do whatever it takes to lower the Unemployment Rate below 8% before that Election. As a result this employee (and others?) fabricated interviews and data that did indeed reduce the National Unemployment Rate below the magical 8% level, above which no President had ever been re-elected in recent times.
    As all the reportage of this scandal fulminates about how unbelievable it is to imagine a “federal employee” or a “federal agency” actually lying like this and then further maintaining a political fiction of this magnitude as some sort of scientific or analytical finding for more than a year now; an explanation is emerging. The explanation given is that direct control of the US Census Bureau (as with the IRS managers that “handled” Tea Party tax exemption requests, State Department Security managers that “handled” Benghazi, and ATF managers that “handled” Fast & Furious gun smuggling to Mexican killers and Drug Lords) was placed totally under White House political hacks and czars when the current Administration took office 5 years ago.
    As was once so aptly observed by that American philosopher and former great catcher for the New York Yankees, Yogi Berra; for me this US Census Bureau scandal was “De ja vu all over again”.
    About a month ago I was interviewed for an article about wolves in a Montana newspaper. Last week, I read several comments about the article. Couched in the remarks about how anyone quoting me should (along with me, ranchers, hunters and other rural residents) be declared mentally unbalanced and committed, were the following two quotes:
    “You are not going to change the minds of the thousands and thousands of tourists and potential new residents each year who come to Montana to enjoy and appreciate living, breathing wildlife, and who fully understand that wolves predate (although the incredulously ridiculous wolf depredation “figures” flagrantly bandied about by anti-wolf advocates border on the inane), and increasingly more of whom are not among the dwindling 5 percent of the nation that still hunt (and, overwhelming, for nothing other than the thrill of doing so).”
    “Between 1996 and 2006, the nation’s hunters declined by 400,000. ... [This decline] coincides with a 13 percent increase in wildlife watching since 1996.”
    The foregoing two quotes tell us two things. First the writer is unapologetically a pro-wolf advocate with neither tolerance nor respect for anyone objecting to being forced to live with wolves. Second, and most important for us here, is the use of numbers, percentages and trends (i.e. implied “science” and analysis of mathematical and statistical data if you will) to “prove” the author’s claims about the inevitable ascendancy of the pro-wolf “ecosystem” and the concomitant decline of the biological travesty known as the Rural American “Ecosystem” (economy, lifestyle, human benefits, liberties, etc.) known to rural Americans from the signing of the US Constitution until recently.
    The dirty little secret about these (wildlife, hunters, “watchers”, etc.) numbers, percentages and trends is this: they have been generated, “analyzed” and reported on by the US Census Bureau since 1982. Year-in-year-out the US Census Bureau interviews Americans about fishing, hunting and wildlife recreation, they collate and analyze the “data” they collect and then they issue and update the “National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation”. This National Survey is both bible and source of unassailable numbers for every radical, bureaucrat, politician, and other ne’er-do-well involved in:
    - Eliminating hunting, fishing, ranching, trapping, cropland and pastures, timber management, wildfire-fighting, private property, local governments, animal ownership, roads, dams, irrigation, animal damage control, animal management for human benefit, etc., etc.
    - Increasing the range and densities of dangerous, deadly and destructive predators from wolves and cougars to grizzly bears; Wilderness; federal land acquisition and control; wild animal claims that diminish human rights and freedoms; government size, funding and power, etc., etc. 
    I know what you are thinking: “Why are federal Census employees and their Bureau doing this?”; “How do Census bureaucrats know what to ask or how to report their findings?” and “How reliable is what they report?” The answer to these questions is that the US Census is merely a tool for truly sinister agendas.
    First of all, the US Census Bureau like every bureaucracy since antiquity wants first and foremost to grow itself. One of the best ways to do so, next to conjuring up some new urgent and important task that no one else can do, is to actually do someone else’s urgent and important task. In this case the US census Bureau is ever on the lookout to “collect” data for others at a price and preferably ad infinitum and thus the US Fish and Wildlife Service has had a permanent staff of “experts” “running” the National Hunting and Fishing (the purposeful common misnomer) Survey for over 30 years now.
    This staff of US Fish and Wildlife Service “experts” (historically run by an anti-hunter overseeing a staff that is at best indifferent to hunting and fishing et al and at worst radical environmental ideologues) composes the questions, analyzes the “data” and actually issues the reports. The US Census Bureau merely accepts millions of dollars during each ten-year Census Cycle for “collecting” the “data”.
    Once again, I hear you thinking: “Why is USFWS doing this?” This is a good question and the answer is because the State fish and wildlife agency Directors let them. So now you ask, “That doesn’t make sense that state Directors let them”? A little history might help you understand.
    Back in the late 1970’s it was not uncommon to hear federal bureaucrats and political appointees in Washington say, “In just a few years, trapping will be banned in most states and hunting will not be far behind”. Also, “Fishing will disappear as well and then the government will concentrate on preserving wilderness, saving keystone species, setting aside more endangered species areas, conducting ecosystem research, eradicating non-native plants and animals, controlling human activities that harm the environment,” etc. While all this tickled the federal bureaucrats who survive on federal Appropriations from Congress: it scared the dickens out of State fish and wildlife agency bureaucrats who survived primarily on licenses, excise taxes, and permits necessary for wild animal management.
    So in the waning days of the Carter Presidency a vision was conjured up by federal and state “partners” that would benefit each. The federal bureaucrats that collected hundreds of millions in excise taxes annually that by law could only go to state fish and wildlife programs would “partner” with the state Directors and skim off millions of dollars each year to hire a USFWS staff to contract with and work with the US Census Bureau to “count” and help “bring together” the gazillions of wildlife watchers and wildlife lovers that heretofore have been ignored so that they will “support” federal Appropriations and state funding from state Legislatures in the future. Al that was needed, they thought, was to count all those folks and measure their enthusiasm and politicians would be bowled over with thoughts of courting their votes.
    The USFWS staff was hired, the State Directors (with State Governor/Legislature approval??), okayed skimming the funding from their state’s portion of the annual allotment in Washington before it made it to the state; and the USFWS holding it, spending it and quietly reporting on what they were doing with it to the state directors. Just as The Endangered Species Act’s precedents influenced the Kelso Decision of government power over private property for whatever government wanted to do; so too did this sub-rosa scheme of federal and state bureaucrats laundering money set the stage for the theft of millions 15 years later from the same federal excise taxes by federal bureaucrats with a “wink- wink, nod-nod” from state directors to capture and forcibly introduce wolves into areas where they destroy hunting, animal husbandry, rural economies and rural life as Americans had come to know it AFTER Congress had refused to fund the wolf debacle.
    Thus began 20 +/- years of USFWS “National Survey staff “ massaging questions and data to “prove” the viability of The Brave New World just around the corner. It was geared to justify “Chickadee (i.e. Non-Game Funding) Check-offs” on state and federal tax returns but it failed miserably. Then there was a proposed tax on birdseed but the birdwatchers and bird paraphernalia manufacturers were less than enthusiastic to say the least. Then there was the proposed tax on binoculars and on hiking equipment and camping equipment; all of which failed : unless of course you count the ascendancy of the current female outdoor activity retail store magnate as Secretary of the Interior, and “about time” I say (not really).
    Even though all those clever schemes came to naught, the federal and state bureaucrats use the National Survey to continue generating largely bogus nonsense at a cost of millions about how wolf lovers and new birdwatchers will generate the GDP of France annually if only the government spends more money and imprisons any rural residents not willing to move to the city when so ordered. They bamboozle politicians and hunters and fishermen while schmoozing the likes of Defenders of Wildlife and HSUS et al with the discouragement of rural residents and the encouragement of fund-raising enthusiasms of urban lovers of TV Nature/Animal shows. Just as Heinrich Himmler, the Head of the Gestapo, once famously observed, “We want to use science that supports our ideology” so too are these federal and state directors and their supposed future constituencies searching for data that supports their ideology. Thus this fellow condemning me thirty years later with the numbers, trends and percentages from no less an authority than the United States Census Bureau!
    But consider the biggest irony in all this, like Lenin’s statement that “we will buy the rope from the capitalists that we use to hang them with”, the federal and state bureaucrats and their radical environmental/animal rights “partners” have been funding this “National Survey” to eliminate hunting and fishing with the very excise tax funds collected from hunters and fishermen to preserve and manage hunting and fishing for 30 + years! Is this a great country or what?
    Finally, “the De-ja-vu all over again” aspect for me is this. For 30+ years the US Census Bureau has been a complicit, though ignorant, partner with federal, state, and radical organizations whose goal is the destruction of hunting, fishing and rural America, truth be known. This has gone unnoticed and is an illegal (in most or all states federal fund eligibility cannot be reduced by state directors but only by the Legislature and/or the Governor each and every time it occurs) activity. So when we are stunned by current White House covert manipulations of the Census Bureau to lie about the Unemployment Rate before an election in order to re-elect a President - remember, the Census Bureau is only acting in the finest traditions of the NSA (no scratch that one), in the finest traditions of our federal and state wildlife bureaucrats and previous Census Bureau heroes who we all know have only the highest standards and goals.

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

For the current issue with the Census Bureau see Report: Census Bureau faked jobless data to help Obama

Time to throw the Antiquities Act into the recycling bin of history

by Ron Arnold

Two words — national monument — conjure Images of the Lincoln Memorial or the Statue of Liberty, but probably not the Virgin Islands Coral Reef or the Alibates Flint Quarries near Amarillo, Texas.

Only one of those is not on the list of America’s 103 national monuments: the Lincoln Memorial, which was authorized by Congress in 1910.

Congress has never authorized a national monument, although it has the power. Only a president of the United States has created a national monument, and did it by merely writing and signing a proclamation – a form of executive order – empowered by the controversial and politicized Antiquities Act of 1906.

Originally spurred by looting of Southwest Indian ruins for artifacts - dubbed “antiquities” by anthropologists - in such places as Colorado's Mesa Verde, Congress empowered the president to protect by proclamation, "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest," on federal lands, and to “reserve” (read “take”) private property for the purpose.

At the time, nobody worried about giving the president power like a Roman emperor, to swiftly proclaim protection for government property (and coveted private property) without waiting for an unconcerned Congress to act.

Today, a lot of Americans fear and loathe that power and that law, because it has become a political weapon to devastate the fossil-fuel industry.

As an example, President Clinton unilaterally proclaimed the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, thereby depriving the energy-using public of an estimated 62 billion tons of clean-burning, low-sulfur coal, five billion barrels of oil, and four trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Clinton's decree also wiped out dozens of tax-base school land tracts of the state of Utah.

Compounding the problem, four agencies manage 101 of the monuments: the National Park Service (79), the Bureau of Land Management (19), the U.S. Forest Service (7) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (7).
Some monuments are co-managed by two agencies, so overlap complicates dealing with them. Two other agencies co-manage one monument each.

...National monuments have a nasty habit of developing mission creep once established, especially against public access.

The motorized recreation community is particularly burned by the hikers-only purists who relentlessly push for controls, then road and trail closures, then selective bans, and finally lockouts.

...That became an issue in Congress this week with a “briefing on benefits of the Antiquities Act to local economies, communities, and national treasures.”

The briefing featured panelists from the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Pew Charitable Trusts, Wilderness Society, Outdoor Industry Association and others.

Panelists cited a study showing that outdoor recreation generated $646 billion in national sales and services in 2011 and supported 6.1 million jobs. I asked Taylor for his response.

“They’re telling only part of the story,” he said. “The same study shows that approximately $257 billion or nearly 40 percent of the total $646 billion in economic contribution comes from motorized recreation.”

Mr. Arnold is a meticulous author who seldom errs, but he is mistaken on one minor point in this column. National monuments have been created by Congress. An example would be the 114,000 acre El Malpais National Monument, created by legislation signed into law by President Reagan in 1987. 

Forest Service land deal falls through

The largest tract of developable land in downtown Jackson is up for grabs — again. A contract between the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Rustic Inn owner Jerry Johnson fell through for the 10-acre parcel owned by the federal government on North Cache Street. The deal collapsed Nov. 19, according to a U.S. Forest Service press release. “The Forest Service and contract buyer could not agree on closing terms that met the buyer’s investment strategy, so the buyer withdrew the offer,” the release said. Lingering uncertainty about the future zoning of the land may have made closing the deal difficult. Johnson requested extensions to the closing date in order to work through those issues, the Forest Service’s release said. “The buyers wanted certainty and wanted a quick close,” said broker Bill Van Gelder of Sotheby’s International Realty, who is working on the land sale. Those are difficult stipulations to provide right now, he said. Indeed, the public land will have to be rezoned when it switches to private ownership, but the town has said it can’t give any indication of what that zoning may be. For the first step of a rezoning, Jackson Town Council members and Teton County commissioners would have to undergo the lengthy process of amending the comprehensive land-use plan. Then the council would have to vote on new land development regulations for the property. Those working on selling the land have said that scenario makes any purchase unique and potentially difficult...more

This is hilarous, but sad too: One form of gov't (municipal) is preventing another form of gov't (federal) from privatizing it's land. Buyers won't buy until the land is zoned but the city won't zone until the land is private.  Gov't planning at its best.  Usually its the feds who mess up or influence local gov't but the process is reversed in this case.

The private sector needs a stalker.  The feds have the Nature Conservancy to purchase land and hold it until the feds have the money to acquire.  We need a Freedom Conservancy to purchase and hold land until its ready for final sale to the private sector.

Gov. Mead: Camp Guernsey won't try to grab ranch land

More than 100 people crowded into the Wheatland armory on Monday afternoon to ask Gov. Matt Mead about the plans for various government-owned lands around a local military training center. The federal Bureau of Land Management has expressed interest in divesting itself of thousands of acres of land in and around Camp Guernsey in Wheatland, with the Wyoming Military Department reacting favorably to the proposal. Maj. Gen. Luke Reiner, the adjutant general for the Wyoming Military Department, said he would like to see the exchange take place in order for Camp Guernsey to gain full control of land within the base boundaries, as well as to “square off” some of its jagged borders, which he said would make it easier for camp personnel to train. But the plan has been met with mixed reactions from area ranchers. Some have expressed willingness to swap portions of their leased BLM land with Camp Guernsey, while others fear the talks constitute an attempt at a “land grab.” One flier circulated before Monday’s meeting made that very charge, but Mead dismissed the notion, adding that the Wyoming Military Department will not negotiate for any parcel of BLM land if the rancher using it objects. “The problem that’s developed over the last year and a half is, I’ve had people come forth and say, ‘Why are you taking so-and-so’s land? We hear you’re using imminent domain,’” Mead said. “We’re not using imminent domain or grabbing any land. We’re saying if you’d rather have the state as a partner than the federal government, that’s up to you.” To demonstrate those intentions, Mead pointed to the example of local rancher Bill Criss, whose ranch occupies 6,000 acres to the south of Camp Guernsey, including a 2,500-acre swath of BLM land that cuts right through the ranch. Criss’ family has leased that land for more than 131 years, and when Criss objected to any possible extension of the camp onto that land, Mead said the Wyoming Military Department declined to pursue the matter further. “I’ve told the general it’s got to be voluntary; the best person to evaluate whether it’s a good deal or not is the individual rancher,” Mead said. “If he doesn’t want to do it, he doesn’t want to do it, so it’s over. Mr. Criss, we understand, is not interested, so there is no swap.” But Mead encouraged those ranchers that are interested in a swap to contact the military department to let their views be known. The same, he said, goes for anyone else opposed to a swap. Several attendees expressed an interest in seeing the BLM lands turned over, not to the Wyoming Military Department, but rather directly to the state. Mead agreed that was what he’d like to see as well but added that BLM has been thus far unwilling to do so, stipulating that if any federal lands are turned over to Wyoming, it would have to be through the military department. “That’s how they would do it, if they do it, when they do it,” he said...more

Editorial: National security comes first over SunZia’s plans

The sort-of good news is that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is delaying a decision on an environmental impact statement that calls for routing a private consortium’s high voltage transmission line across the White Sands Missile Range’s Northern Extension.

The delay is to allow yet one more study of the line’s potential impact on the range’s national security mission. 

The not-so-good news is that the study may just be one more effort by SunZia proponents to get more ammunition to push the project through at all costs. 

As proposed, 45 miles of the 550-mile line from central New Mexico to southeast Arizona would cross the extension, a call-up area the range uses when testing weapons and technology. Range commander Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham, has said the Department of Interior’s preferred route would reduce the range’s use of the area by 30 percent and would mean the end of some low-altitude testing missions. 

A strong SunZia supporter, Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., proposed that Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Lab do the study as a way of resolving the conflict. The Department of Defense has agreed to contract with MIT to review the Army’s concerns and examine potential changes to test protocols that would allow missions even if the line is built. 

While that might sound reasonable, at the end of the day there is only one White Sands Missile Range, and anything that could compromise its mission should be approached with a healthy dose of skepticism, instead of bowing to a private company’s dream of making piles of money on a speculative green energy project.
This is clearly a time for national security – and New Mexico’s economy – to take precedence. 

Landmark Study Reveals Low National Rate of Frog Abnormalities on Wildlife Refuges

An unprecedented 10-year-study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows encouraging results for frogs and toads on national wildlife refuges. The study, published today in the peer-reviewed online journal PLOS ONE, finds that on average, less than 2 percent of frogs and toads sampled on 152 refuges had physical abnormalities involving the skeleton and eyes - a lower rate than many experts feared based on earlier reports. This indicates that the severe malformations such as missing or extra limbs reported in the media during the mid-1990s were actually very rare on national wildlife refuges. The Service's study also detected areas where sites with higher rates of abnormalities tend to cluster together geographically. Within these regional hotspot clusters, which were found in the Mississippi River Valley (northeast Missouri, Arkansas and northern Louisiana), in the Central Valley of California, and in south-central and eastern Alaska, abnormality frequency often exceeded the national average of 2 percent, affecting up to 40 percent of emerging amphibians in some individual samples. Source

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1149

Its Hank Week on Ranch Radio and here is Hank Thompson's 1954 recording of A Fooler, A Faker.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Interior Secretary’s Emphasis on Responsible Public Lands Management Draws Praise from Sportsmen

Sportsmen’s priorities for the management of America’s public lands and waters figured prominently in remarks made today by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership applauding Jewell’s calls to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, protect the nation’s special places, and uphold economic sectors dependent on federal public lands.
“Sportsmen appreciate Secretary Jewell’s call to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which, along with other key conservation programs, is critically important to maintaining our nation’s hunting and fishing traditions,” said Whit Fosburgh, TRCP president and CEO. “Our ability to continue enjoying both our publicly owned natural resources and our outdoors way of life – not to mention the recreation-based economy that relies on them – hinges on these programs being strongly funded.”
The TRCP also commended Jewell’s recognition of the existence of “special places” that need protection. In terms of land management, Jewell acknowledged that inherent tensions exist in balancing development with conservation. She said that the answer is development in the right ways and the right places and noted that some places are “too special to develop,” all points made consistently by the TRCP and many of its partners.
Joel Webster, director of the TRCP Center for Western Lands, agreed with Jewell’s statement that “demands are greater than ever” on our public lands.
“Sportsmen know special places first hand, and we are engaged in BLM land use planning processes across the West to help conserve some of America’s last, best, publicly accessible hunting and fishing areas,” said Webster. “As the agency continues its work to balance a range of activities on these lands, including energy production as well as recreation, meaningful conservation of special places – where the best and highest uses are fish and wildlife habitat and dispersed recreation such as hunting and fishing – must take center stage. To that end, we strongly encourage the Department of the Interior to commit to conserving intact and undeveloped BLM lands across the West – lands that provide key habitats and high quality sporting opportunities.”
During her speech, the secretary made her first secretarial order, which calls for a department-wide mitigation strategy. Jewell said that order addresses the Interior Department’s effort to encourage balanced development and ensure landscape-level planning.
“Sportsmen are encouraged by Secretary Jewell’s interest in promoting landscape-level planning and mitigation when it comes to the special places that are most important to our hunting and angling traditions,” said Ed Arnett, director of the TRCP Center for Responsible Energy Development. “The fact remains that solid, strategic planning on a macro level will resolve many of the conflicts and problems we’ve been seeing over the energy planning and development process. BLM and DOI simply need to commit to doing it.”

The TRCP is the group who is always going to the Republicans and who are referred to as moderates and even sometimes as a conservative organization.

Yet, they want to spend almost a billion dollars a year on land acquisition, i.e. they want the size of government to grow.  More land for the feds in spite of the fact the feds own 640 million acres (and 700 million acres of subsurface minerals) or roughly 30% of the land in the U.S.  Further, report after report shows these lands are either mismanaged or they don't have the resources to properly manage them.  That being the case, why would any reasonable person suggest we need more?  Hunting is already banned in most  national parks, and mark my words, will eventually be banned on most federal land.  That means the TRCP is actually promoting a policy that is against the long term best interest of hunters.

We all know that "Special Places" means more Wilderness and more National Monuments.  Guess where the first places will be that they ban hunting?  After all, these places are special.  First will be the ammo used, followed by an outright ban on hunting.

I've been around hunters all my life and terms and phrases like "landscape-level planning and mitigation" and "strategic planning on a macro level" have never crossed their minds or poured from their mouths.  Let's face it, the TRCP is primarily an org for corporate America and trust fund babies. They can afford to do the travel, rent the equipment and hire the guides to take them to these "special places" and they'll be the ones who will go to Latin America, Africa or other foreign areas to hunt after they screw it up here for the rest of us. 

EDITORIAL: Uncle Sam, land baron

Include new Interior Secretary Sally Jewell among those who want President Barack Obama to bypass Congress whenever it suits his administration.

The president continues to make headlines for his unilateral tweaks to the Affordable Care Act, his simultaneous insistence that Obamacare is “the law of the land” notwithstanding. However, Ms. Jewell received considerably less attention this month when the former REI chief executive, clearly miffed that Congress hasn’t created any new national parks, wilderness areas or monuments since 2010, said she would recommend that President Obama act alone to set aside vast areas of federal land for conservation.

“The president will not hesitate,” Ms. Jewell told the Los Angeles Times. “I can tell you that there are places that are ripe for setting aside, with a tremendous groundswell of public support.”

Yes, national parks are popular with the public — so popular they had to be closed during October’s partial government shutdown to remind taxpayers who’s boss. And presidents have acted unilaterally to designate national monuments under power granted in the 1906 Antiquities Act. President Bill Clinton was especially fond of this authority, most famously creating the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah in 1996.

But there’s a very good reason why Congress hasn’t hurried to make new conservation designations. The Interior Department controls too much land already — so much that it can’t effectively manage it all. The federal government owns about 30 percent of the entire country, but half of the West and nearly 85 percent of Nevada. A report released by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., on Oct. 29 found the National Park Service has an $11.5 billion maintenance backlog, even as Washington spends between $255 million and $529 million every year acquiring new land.

Meanwhile, federal land-use policies have left vast rangelands and forests overgrown, fueling devastating wildfires. And expensive moves to protect various species, including Nevada’s wild horses, have accomplished precisely the opposite.

We need less federal land and more state and local control of our acreage. The lack of privately owned land in Nevada limits property tax collections and prevents the kind of resource development that has made North Dakota an economic juggernaut. That’s why a bill to turn Southern Nevada’s fossil-rich Tule Springs into a national monument also releases thousands of acres from federal control and improves public access to thousands more acres.

But many environmentalists want no such trade-off. And that’s why Ms. Jewell wants her boss to act alone, yet again.

More national parks and monuments would be good for America. But only if we get local control of even more lands in return.

BLM sport area in peril because of WSA status

As temporary use by snowmobilers of a potential wilderness area at Molas Lake turned long-term, Bureau of Land Management officials decided enough is enough. So, in an October order, Connie Clementson, field manager of the Tres Rios office of the BLM, said the 2013-14 winter will be the last that commercial and permitted snowmobile and dog-sled tour operators can use a 460-acre segment of 1,000 acres that Congress could label as wilderness. Long use, albeit only a few months a year, they reasoned, could lead to undue expectations and influence a congressional decision about a permanent land-use designation. A wilderness designation precludes motorized and other uses. The area is known as the West Needles Contiguous Wilderness Study Area. Casual users – nonpermitted, noncommercial users such as individuals or clubs – received an additional year of grace. Their last winter will be 2014-15. The rationale, Clementson said, is that it takes longer to get the word out to a dispersed clientele...more

I don't believe federal employees are supposed to lobby and we've all been told management will be based on sound science.  And yet, here we have a management decision to "influence a congressional decision".  The BLM is also concerned about "undue expectations".  Excuse me why I go find that in FLPMA.  What they are really doing is banning the uses now so those folks won't be around and raising hell about any federal legislation.  Looks like their ploy may backfire:

However, a reprieve for users of the 460 acres is possible. Identical legislation in both chambers of Congress, the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act, contains language to remove the 460 acres from being labeled as wilderness, no matter what happens to the remaining acreage. A Senate committee will discuss the bill Wednesday. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, has asked for a hearing in the House, aide Darlene Marcus said.

Remember, the next time you're in a BLM office or around BLM employees, do not, I repeat, do not mention any of your "expectations", or they will try to manage them for you.

Feds Reach Out to Natives on Climate Change at Tribal Nations Conference

Building on the participation of tribes announced in President Barack Obama’s recent executive order laying out a plan to deal with climate change, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) announced that it too would partner with the administration. As the White House Tribal Nations Conference wrapped up, NCAI announced measures to work directly with the federal government to address climate change effects in Indian country. Several federal officials noted the severe impacts that climate change has had on American Indians and Alaska Natives, the NCAI said in a release. During the conference, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Obama and others spoke directly to those issues in Indian country and about how the government can work with tribal leaders to best address these challenges...more

When I first saw the headline I thought there must be a problem with the carbon content in smoke signals.  

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1148

Its Hank Week on Ranch Radio and we'll start with Hank Williams - The Blues Come Around.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hundreds of undocumented immigrants captured at military base in southern Arizona

How secure are U.S. military installations? You would think the answer is: very. But, as the News 4 Tucson Investigators uncovered, one installation, right here in southern Arizona, continues to face potential outside security risks, and the problem doesn't seem to be getting any better. Fort Huachuca is only 15 miles north of our state's border with Mexico. The Army post covers more than 73,000 acres. In many parts, the terrain is steep and rugged. Much of the work that goes on at Fort Huachuca is classified but, as the News 4 Tucson Investigators learned, keeping people who don't belong there out, proves to be a difficult mission. Fort Huachuca is home of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command. It's also the site of hundreds of apprehensions of illegal immigrants each year. Dave Stoddard, a former U.S. Border Patrol supervisor tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "I think the average American should be petrified." The News 4 Tucson Investigators have learned that in fiscal year 2013, there were 331 undocumented immigrants apprehended on Fort Huachuca...more

Note the wilderness area just south of the fort.

George W. Bush on Keystone XL: 'Build the damn thing'

Former President George W. Bush said building the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline is a "no-brainer" for economic growth. "I think the goal of the country ought to be, 'How do we grow the private sector?' " Bush said at a Pittsburgh luncheon with energy executives, according to DeSmog Blog. "If private-sector growth is the goal and Keystone pipeline creates 20,000 new private-sector jobs, build the damn thing," Bush said. The State Department says the proposed Canada-to-Texas pipeline would create 42,100 direct and indirect positions — about 3,900 of them being construction jobs — during the two-year construction phase. The agency says it would contribute 35 permanent jobs after construction. President Obama, who has questioned Keystone's jobs potential, has said he won't approve the pipeline if it "significantly exacerbates" carbon emissions...more