Friday, February 07, 2014

Danger in the Desert: KFOX14 joins Dona Ana County sheriffs on patrol

Thank goodness, somebody in the main stream media is finally covering the border security issue.  Kudos to Genevieve Curtis who filed this report for KFOX14.  Here ARE some excerpts:

The Dona Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison and his office opposes a bill to make the Organ Mountains and Desert Peaks a national monument because of safety and security concerns. KFOX14 went along with two members of the office as they patrolled the remote areas of the New Mexican desert. Capt. Manion Long and Lt. Jon Day specialize in border security; they’re focused on things like drug smuggling and human trafficking. “We are concerned about criminal activity taking place in Dona Ana County,” said Long. Among their chief concerns, -- around 340 square miles of wide open wilderness, stretching from the U.S. Mexican border, to Interstate 10 and beyond. It’s land where smugglers and criminals have carved out paths to cross. “A lot of these routes, these smuggling routes, are historical in nature. Fathers have taught son, grandfathers have taught fathers. It's a family enterprise,” said Long. But it’s also land that could soon become a national monument. While beautiful, there can be danger in the desert. “This is an open area. The fact of the matter is we don’t have a secure southern border. It is a national security issue,” said Long. While on patrol, Long explained what he looks for. "Markers, I’m looking for tracks in the roadway, I’m looking for movement, dust, which could indicate movement, anything man-made,” he said. Empty soda cans perched into the mesquite can be used to guide people through the tough terrain. The cans reflect light and serve as guide post markers. Long and his team have also found stones stacked in the desert. Typically, a few large stones will be stacked on top of each other, creating pillars. “The stones don’t stack themselves,” said Long. While on patrol, Day and Long returned to a location where they found carpet shoes buried in the sand just a few days before. “We found carpet shoes typically associated with smugglers in an effort to conceal their footprints in the soft sand,” said Long. After re-canvassing the area, they found several more sets of carpet shoes. “Our group is getting bigger,” said Long. Water bottles, bottles of ‘Electrolyte’, bread and a can of sardines were also found near the shoes. All of the wrappers bore Spanish print. Within the last year Long said a rancher also found abandoned bundles of marijuana near the area...more

I would encourage everyone concerned about border security to read the entire story or watch the video.  There are some errors, but the whole thing is confusing to many because there are three proposals:  S. 1805 by Udall/Heinrich which would designate 22% of Dona Ana County as Wilderness and a National Monument, H.R. 995 by Pearce which would designate the Organs only as a monument, and the proposal by NMWA to have the President designate 25% of Dona Ana County as a monument.   So if you are standing on a piece of ground you have to ask is it Wilderness or Monument and is it a legislative or administrative designation.  I'll cover the errors in a future post but everyone should thank Curtis and KFOX for their coverage.

Grazing bill passes the House again

Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador added two amendments to a bill that passed the House Wednesday. The actions please Idaho ranchers but frustrate anti-grazing advocacy groups. Labrador’s grazing bill, similar to a bill carried in the Senate by Wyoming Republican John Barrasso, would extend livestock grazing permits on public land from 10 to 20 years. His amendment to the bill on the floor would require groups that sue and lose on grazing issues to pay the costs of the ranchers involved. Ranchers, who have occasionally won a long series of lawsuits over violations of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act say Labrador’s bills would give them stability and fairness. But they most of all would delay many of the actions federal land managers and the courts have required when permits were issued. “Ranchers can no longer afford the incredible regulatory and litigious environment created by excessive application of NEPA,” said Dustin Van Liew, executive director of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, when the bill cleared the Natural Resources Committee in 2013. Environmental and sportsmen’s groups say the grazing fees are far below market rates and keep the grasses unavailable for wildlife like elk, deer, antelope and buffalo. When the Western Watersheds Project's Ken Cole lobbied against the bill in Washington in 2013, he said the bill would allow the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service to renew permits without conducting rangeland health assessments and further imperil sage grouse...more

Obama's Commitment Energizes Stornetta Supporters

President Barack Obama is indicating he's willing to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect more federal lands. His statement in the State of the Union address is energizing groups along the Mendocino coastline in Northern California. Supporters of Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands want to see the 1,600 acres made part of the California Coastal National Monument. "It would be the very first time a chunk of land onshore has been protected,” says Robert Pinoli, general manager of the historic Skunk Train that takes visitors through the Redwoods...more

BLM: Monument to guard tradition

San Luis Valley residents have been told that a newly designated national monument in northern New Mexico will not interfere with traditional uses of the public lands, such as livestock grazing. Area residents attended a recent meeting hosted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which has jurisdiction over the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The Antonito meeting was the only one in Colorado, with the remainder of the public input meetings held in northern New Mexico. The monument covers some 242,455 acres. John Bailey, assistant field manager with the BLM office in Taos, N.M., explained that the 2013 presidential proclamation establishing the new national monument was clear about protecting long-standing uses of the land. Source

A Future of Lab-Produced Meat?

Literally predicting the future of cultured meat is of course impossible, but since August 2013's hamburger demonstration in London, where the work of Professor Mark Post's laboratory was unveiled, speculations have abounded. There are conferences and symposia on cultured meat, and the Dutch arts collective Next Nature is producing a Cultured Meat Cookbook  - actually a project meant to grow the conversation, rather than provide cooking instructions for an as-yet-unavailable ingredient.

The organization New Harvest acts as a hub connecting researchers and other interested parties, and encouraging discussions of cultured meat. We're in what Disney would call the "Imagineering" stage, in other words, and some of Silicon Valley's biggest investors are starting to contribute to the cause. If true prediction is beyond our powers, a few things do seem certain, and we can clear up a few misconceptions about cultured meat now:

  • Cultured meat is not going to appear on your supermarket shelves in 2014. Or in 2015. While no prediction is reliable, the most wildly optimistic promoters of the technology don't think it will reach markets for another ten years. Twenty seems more likely.
  • Cultured meat is animal flesh based on real animal cells, not fully synthetic or based on vegetable protein (but vegetable meat substitutes are also reaching new and impressive levels of development) The process by which cultured meat is made, is somewhat complex (you can watch a cartoon, produced for Mark Post's group, here).
  • While no animals need to be killed to harvest the cells used for cultured meat, current techniques also employ serum taken from fetal animals - truly kill-free meat would be possible if scientists devised a substitute, and some think that this is possible.

 First offshore wind project proposed for US West Coast

US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has announced the first offshore wind project proposed for federal waters off the West Coast. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has given the green light for Principle Power, Inc. to submit a formal plan to build a 30MW pilot project using floating wind turbine technology offshore Coos Bay, Oregon. Principle Power, Inc. will seek to site its project within a 15 square mile proposed lease area. The project is designed to generate electricity from five floating “WindFloat” units, each equipped with a 6MW offshore wind turbine...more

Arizona drought forcing ranchers to sell cattle

Ongoing drought conditions are forcing cattle ranchers to sell off part of their herds early. Nearly one million head of cattle in Arizona makes for big business, especially in Pinal County, one of the top counties in the U.S. when it comes to cattle sales. A normal cattle auction in February at the Marana Stockyards sells off around 500 head of cattle, but due to drought conditions they've seen nearly double that number. Ruben Rivera, a cattle rancher from Globe, Arizona, was one of the many in town Thursday to unload cattle to be auctioned off. He says the lack of water on his land is making it hard to keep his herd healthy. "I think it's going to become a problem not only for us but for everyone up there. Everyone is running dry right now," explains Rivera. As drought conditions drag on the natural pasture that cattlemen depend on is unavailable forcing them to supplement with expensive feed. Clay Parsons with Marana Stockyards says this is one of the main reasons he has seen an increase in numbers at his auctions. Parsons says, "We can't feed our cattle year round hay. It's too expensive and too cost prohibitive. We have to sell the cows." According to Parsons, Central Arizona ranchers are selling off about 20% of their herds, but if it doesn't rain soon they will be forced to sell even more...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1202

More rockabilly with a tune written and performed by Jerry Reed titled Mister Whizz.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

GOP lawmakers target endangered species law

Republicans in Congress on Tuesday called for an overhaul to the Endangered Species Act to curtail environmentalists’ lawsuits and give more power to states, but experts say broad changes to one of the nation’s cornerstone environmental laws are unlikely given the pervasive partisan divide in Washington, D.C. A group of 13 GOP lawmakers representing states across the U.S. released a report proposing “targeted reforms” for the 40-year-old federal law, which protects imperiled plants and animals. Led by Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington state, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, the Republicans want to amend the law to limit litigation from wildlife advocates that has resulted in protections for some species. And they want to give states more authority over imperiled species that fall within their borders. Also among the recommendations are increased scientific transparency, more accurate economic impact studies and safeguards for private landowners. Vanderbilt Law School professor J.B. Ruhl said previous attempts to reform the Endangered Species Act in the 1990s and again last decade failed. Regardless of the merits of the late...more

Oh, come on Republicans, do you really think the ESA needs amending?  After all that illustrious public servant Richard Nixon signed it into law and I'm sure you wouldn't want to tarnish his legacy.  I notice your amendments are "targeted".  I would propose only one amendment that would read something like "strike everything after the short title".  But to get back to reality and my original question, is there really a need to amend the act?  Let's see what the last 48  hours of news tells us.

Water needs of NM minnow not met, environmentalists say

The federal agencies overseeing the Rio Grande have repeatedly failed to meet their legal requirement to ensure river flows and habitat for the Rio Grande silvery minnow, the environmental group WildEarth Guardians claimed in legal notices filed this week. The “notices of intent” allege violations of the federal Endangered Species Act and start a 60-day clock ticking toward possible litigation. The notices highlight growing tensions between human water use and the Rio Grande’s natural ecosystem in what is shaping up to be the fourth consecutive year of drought, and set the stage for potentially bruising litigation this summer. Human water diversions have left the Rio Grande ecosystem with too little water to maintain the minnow and other species that depend on the river’s flow, including the valley’s iconic cottonwoods, said Jen Pelz, Wild Rivers Program coordinator for WildEarth Guardians.  A plan developed in 2003, after similar litigation, required habitat restoration and water management operations that mimicked the river’s natural flow, including a spring spawning peak for the fish. WildEarth Guardians alleges the river’s managers have failed to carry out those plans...more

  A fish and a tree are more important than farmers and other users of river water.

State cancels dozens of timber sales to protect bird

The Oregon Department of Forestry has agreed to cancel more than two dozen timber sales on state forests because they threaten the survival of the marbled murrelet, a sea bird that nests in large old trees. The proposed settlement filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Eugene comes in a lawsuit brought by three conservation groups, Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Audubon Society of Portland. It alleged that the department violated the Endangered Species Act prohibiting the harming of a protected species by failing to protect stands of trees on the Elliott and other state forests, where threatened marbled murrelets build their nests. The murrelet is a robin-size bird that lives on the ocean, and flies as far as 50 miles inland to nest in old growth forests. The bird was declared a threatened species about two decades ago, making it a factor in the continuing court and political battles over logging in the Northwest. The settlement comes as the state has been trying to increase logging on state forests to provide more funding for schools and counties and more logs for local mills...more

 A bird is more important than school children and jobs.

‘Endangered’ Mouse Could Delay Flood Recovery

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is warning that many flood repair projects could be delayed because they are in an endangered mouse’s habitat. The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is listed as a threatened species, which means it and its habitat are protected by federal law. Its habitat lies along rivers and stream beds where flood repairs are underway. The news upset Colorado State Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, who represents many of the flooded communities. He sent a letter to Colorado’s congressional delegation asking it to intervene saying the federal government has put a mouse ahead of Colorado families. “We’re holding up the ability to redo safe drinking water, to rebuild sewage treatment facilities so we can keep sewage out of the rivers, trying to have a safe environment because of a mouse,” said Sonnenberg. According to him, communities have to delay repairs after FEMA issued a warning that local governments could lose federal funding if they violate the Endangered Species Act. The mouse is causing controversy with some Colorado scientists, saying it isn’t even endangered. “This mouse has cost millions of dollars to Colorado taxpayers already. It threatens the livelihood of agriculture and now it’s threatening flood recovery efforts. This is absolutely incredible,” said United States Rep. Cory Gardner...more

 A mouse is more important than people's homes and public bldgs. and facilities.

Environmentalists Sue Army in Apache Country

The Army's Fort Huachuca is sucking dry the Southwest's last major free-flowing river while government officials drag their feet, environmentalists claim in court. The San Pedro River flows north from Mexico 140 miles to the Gila River, passing through southeastern Arizona. Though in some stretches the river is seasonally dry, it remains the last major free-flowing, undammed river in the desert region. As such, it is an important stop for some 300 species of migrating birds, and provides a rare cottonwood-willow riparian habitat for at least two endangered species - a rare aquatic plant called the Huachuca water umbel, and the Southwestern willow flycatcher, a water-loving bird. The Center for Biological Diversity and the Maricopa Audubon Society sued the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Defense, the Army and Fort Huachuca, in Federal Court. For years groundwater pumping at Fort Huachuca, an Army base 76 miles southeast of Tucson in the small town of Sierra Vista, has threatened the San Pedro's health, and it continues to do so despite a court order directing the government to do something about it, according to the lawsuit. More than two years ago, a federal judge scrapped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's most recent biological opinion on the river and ordered the agency to consult with the Army on how the fort's groundwater pumping affects the river. So far, nothing has come of this order, the groups say...more

A bird is more important than the U.S. Army.  By golly those Republicans may be on to something.

Meeting stacked against opponents of national monument

by Jim Harbison

Those of us who attended the recent public information session on Senate Bill 1805, the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks Monument, conducted by Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, were able to see an example of the classic "stacking the deck" against the opposition. Seven of the invited panelists were in favor of the monument and four were opposed. The outcome was predetermined...

The public announcement that our senators would be conducting this faux public meeting was withheld until Wednesday, approximately 48 hours before the scheduled meeting. Thursday the Udall and Heinrich staff's sent out emails establishing rules designed to silence any opposition to their bill. There would not be any opportunity for "questions and answers" but the public, by way of a lottery, would be ALLOWED to speak for one minute.

No signs, posters, or handouts would be allowed in the meeting and there was to be no applause, cheering or booing. There were handouts and maps supporting their bill but none were allowed for the Pearce bill. Understanding the tactics of stacking the deck, it was not surprising that the Wilderness Alliance was prepared and allowed to provided large 4-inch stickers in support of the Udall-Heinrich proposal prior to entering the building. This immediately identified and divided the audience.

The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, which was a large financial contributor to the campaigns of Udall and Heinrich, bussed out-of-town environmental carpetbaggers from Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Silver City and El Paso to fill the audience. Many of those who wanted to attend the meeting were turned away because of these carpetbaggers when the room capacity was reached. This included Sheriff Todd Garrison, Sheriff Captain Craig Buckingham and Richard Aguilar, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, all who oppose SB 1805. I wonder how many other Las Crucens who wanted to learn about this proposal or express their opinion one way or the other were refused entrance.

                                             READ ENTIRE COLUMN

US rejects bid to expand national monument in Ariz.

The boundaries of Walnut Canyon National Monument are unlikely to expand anytime soon. But residents are still hopeful that Congress will intervene and set aside a large chunk of Flagstaff’s southern back yard for protection from development. The final Walnut Canyon study, more than a decade in the making, was released last week and presented on Monday at a joint meeting of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors and the Flagstaff City Council. The two bodies decided to push for the federal government to expand the 3,600-acre national monument in 2002, but it took years to find funding for an official study. The resulting report says that the 30,000 acres — 47 square miles — examined for an expanded monument do not meet the National Park Service’s high standards...more

Study?  Where's the federal study for the Organ Mtns-Desert Peaks National Monument?

Interior Dept. seeks summary judgment in Cherokee freedmen case

The Department of the Interior says certain descendants of black slaves once owned by some members of the Cherokee Nation should be afforded tribal citizenship rights. A local newspaper reports that U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell filed the motion Friday in federal court in the longstanding case between the descendants, known as freedmen, and the Cherokees. The Interior Department believes the federal court should declare that the Treaty of 1866, signed between the U.S. government and the Cherokees, gives certain freedmen and their descendants the same rights of native Cherokees. About 2,800 freedmen are seeking citizenship rights. A 2007 tribal vote kicked the freedmen out of the tribe and cut off benefits including health care. A tribal spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment. AP

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1201

Staying with some rockabilly here's Wanda Jackson's 1957 recording of Cool Love.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

White House to help farmers, ranchers cope with climate change

The White House will announce President Obama's latest executive order later today -- a move aimed at helping farmers, ranchers, and rural communities combat climate change and adapt to extreme weather. The move comes a week after Obama in his State of the Union pledged to take action on his own to deal with the effects of climate change. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce at the White House press briefing the creation of the first ever "Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change" at seven locations across the U.S. The White House says the climate hubs, which are part of Obama's Climate Action Plan, will "address increasing risks such as fires, invasive pests, devastating floods, and crippling droughts on a regional basis, aiming to translate science and research into information to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners on ways to adapt and adjust their resource management."...more 

Actually, our farmers and ranchers need help in coping with the White House, not global warming.

Predator drone helps convict North Dakota farmer in first case of its kind

What began as a wild west-style cattle-stealing case may have ushered in a brave new world of law enforcement officials using drones to gather evidence to put Americans behind bars. In the first-ever case of a U.S. citizen being convicted and sentenced to prison based in part on evidence gathered by a drone, Lakota, N.D., farmer Rodney Brossart got a three-year sentence for his role in an armed standoff with police that began after he was accused of stealing his neighbors' stray cattle in 2011. Brossart was arrested on June 23, 2011, but his family refused at gunpoint to let authorities armed with a search warrant onto their 3,600-acre property to investigate the neighbors' complaint. Brossart was later released on bail, and warrants issued for his three sons, but the family refused for months to respond to orders to appear in court, prompting Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke to have the U.S. Border Patrol deploy a Predator drone conduct live video surveillance of the farm. The drone monitored the family's movements on the farm following the armed standoff. It was not clear how long the drone was deployed or whether it gathered evidence of the alleged cattle theft. But the eye in the sky gathered enough evidence to prompt Janke's men to finally move in in November 2011, arresting five family members on terrorizing charges. A jury found Brossart not guilty of stealing the cows, valued at $6,000, but he did get three years - all but six months of which was suspended - for his part in the armed police standoff based in part on video supplied by the drone to court officials, according to the Grand Forks Herald. The case could prove significant, because Brossart's attorney tried unsuccessfully to have the terrorizing charges related to his standoff with police dropped because evidence was gathered by the drone without a search warrant specifically allowing for it. Forbes magazine predicted it won't be the last time drones are used to put Americans in prison, and reported the use of drones for police missions is on the rise. Between 2010 and 2012, law enforcement agencies used CBP Predator drones for 700 missions, the media outlet reported...more

Some of you ag producers might have thought, "Hey, the feds are monitoring my emails, website visits, texts, phone calls, bank accounts, etc., but at least I can saddle up and taste a little freedom from the surveillance state that way."  Better think again.  Instead think of FS, BLM, USFWS & EPA drones flying over your place.

And what is the Border Patrol doing diverting a drone from protecting our border to becoming involved in a dispute over six cows?   A 2012 Inspector General report says the drones cost $18 million a piece and cost $3,000 an hour to operate.  All this for six cows?  I say put the drones on the border or put them on the ground.

Drought leaves dark cloud over California ranchers, growers

Beneath unyielding blue skies on a recent afternoon, Ryan Indart knelt down to examine what was left of one of his sheep pastures. Land that should have been lush with native grasses this time of year has been reduced to powdery dirt, splotched with a few withered strands of filaree and foxtail. And where there's no vegetation, there are no sheep. A fourth-generation rancher, Indart has already sent 10% of his 4,000 ewes — which he normally would want to keep — to the slaughterhouse because he can't afford the hay to feed them. If the drought keeps up, his hungry ewes won't reproduce as they should to make his investment pay off. Yearlings will struggle to gain weight because their mothers won't produce enough milk. Indart may have to cull more of them if the clouds don't open up. "These animals need to be on green pasture," he said. "Without Mother Nature giving us rain, we can't do that. We can't survive just feeding them hay. It's critical." As California's punishing drought drags on, ranchers are among the first to feel the pain. Cattlemen and sheep farmers need winter rain to grow range grass. Without it, they have to depend on expensive feed, which delivers only a fraction of the nourishment provided by natural pastures. Their struggle is a bellwether for California's $45-billion agriculture sector, a force responsible for filling the grocery aisles and pantries of the world. The Golden State produces nearly half of all U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables and is the nation's leading dairy and wine producer. But dwindling water supplies are rousing anxieties in rural communities across the state. Ranchers have begun liquidating herds. Growers are considering tearing out thirsty tree crops such as nut orchards and citrus groves. And tens of thousands of additional acres of prime California soil could go unplanted if farmers don't get enough water to irrigate them...more

Study: Oil and gas accounts for 31.5 percent of NM’s general fund

How important is oil and natural gas to New Mexico’s economy? This important: A just-released study shows that nearly one-third of the state’s general fund is derived from the oil and gas industry. “The results are no big shocker,” said Richard Anklam, president and executive director of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute, which crunched the numbers for fiscal year 2013. ”We just were a little more thorough about it. If anything, the numbers are a little bit conservative.” Anklam said the data is directly attributable to revenue relating to the oil and natural gas industry and determined that 31.5 percent of the state’s general fund comes from taxes, royalties and fees on the industry. The institute reported the 31.5 percent figure also applies to funding for public schools and higher education in New Mexico. Click here to look at the entire 325-page report that also includes a breakdown of oil and gas impact in each county...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1200

A little Western Bop with Al Terry performing No Shrimp Today

Here's some info on Terry: b. Allison Joseph Theriot, 14 January 1922, Kaplan, Louisiana, USA, d. 23 November 1985, USA. An early country music performer, singer and guitarist Terry was among the first artists to develop the rockabilly sound. He made an appearance at the age of 13 on radio KVOL and formed his first band while still in high school. After graduation he spent a period in Beaumont, Texas to learn about radio broadcasting with KRIC. Terry’s best-known recording is the self-penned 1954 Cajun hit ‘Good Deal, Lucille’, which often appears on compilations. In 1955 Country & Western Jamboree magazine voted Terry number 1, above Elvis Presley, in their New Male Country Singer category. In the mid-50s he was a featured guest on The Louisiana Hayride. Among artists with whom Terry worked was Jimmy C. Newman, appearing in several recordings in the late 40s/early 50s. Terry also worked as a disc jockey on KROF radio in Abbeville, Louisiana.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Oregon chub becomes 1st fish taken off endangered list

A tiny minnow that lives only in Oregon backwaters is the first fish ever taken off U.S. Endangered Species Act protection because it is no longer threatened with extinction. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was to announce Tuesday that the Oregon chub was recovered, 21 years after it went on the endangered species list. The agency will monitor the fish for nine years to make sure populations continue to grow. "We're not saying it won't need management," said Paul Henson, Oregon director of Fish and Wildlife. "But they can leave the hospital and get out to be an outpatient." Henson was to make the announcement at 10 a.m. Tuesday at a 92-acre property along the McKenzie River outside Springfield owned by the McKenzie River Trust that combines a working farm with habitat protection and restoration.  Unlike Pacific salmon, the Oregon chub was relatively easy to save because it inhabits small places and does not get in the way of huge economic forces, such as logging, hydroelectric power and farming, said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Brian Bangs, who since 2005 has supervised recovery efforts...more

Can you imagine what life would be like without this tiny minnow?  Its terrible to contemplate. We are so lucky it was "relatively easy to save" and thus took the government only 21 years to save.  Let's all wish the chub well and hope it survives nine more years of  monitoring.  Besides, I had no idea the NSA had an interest in fish. 

Scientists trap bighorn sheep to better understand die-offs

The female bighorn sheep looked like two sacks of potatoes as the helicopter lowered them to the ground. Blindfolded and hobbled, they stayed motionless while a crew of wildlife biologists, game wardens and a veterinarian ran to them to begin testing. Five sets of hands worked on the first ewe. Someone took her temperature: 101.7. A game warden held her down. Hank Edwards, a wildlife disease specialist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, swabbed her tonsils, nasal passage and ears. Another person fit her with two radio collars. Within minutes, the group carried her to the bottom of a rocky hill and let her go. Sheep No. 12 was one of six female bighorns captured, tested and collared Sunday near Jackson as part of a multistate effort to better understand what’s killing the animals. Experts know pneumonia often brings death, but they want to know what combination of bacteria, parasites, habitat, weather or overcrowding makes them susceptible to the deadly bacteria. “How come they can live with these pathogens most of the time and then all of a sudden tip over?” Edwards asked. “What is the tipping point here?”...more 

And I wonder what the "tipping point" is for taxpayers who fund hiring helicopters and pay for five people to swab the nasal passages of a bighorn sheep.

BLM sets new trend in ruins research

The BLM is at the forefront of a new trend in archeological research that uses digital photography combined with a modern desktop computer. Called close–range photogrammetry, the technology uses overlapping digital photos and advanced software to create the most accurate 3D computer models of artifacts and ruins ever recorded. A new pilot program spearheaded by the BLM National Operations Center is using Canyons of the Ancients National Monument as a testing ground for photogrammetry, and the results are promising. Vince MacMillan, CANM archaeologist, has been experimenting with the process on museum pieces at the Anasazi Heritage Center, and in the field to analyze the condition of at-risk ruins on the monument. “We’re able to build 3D photographic models with accuracy down to less than a millimeter, about the size of a grain of sand,” he said during a demonstration of the technique. “The scale of the technology is amazing, and there are many uses for monument management and public education.” As an educational tool, there are many advantages. The super-accurate 3-D images of ruins can be rotated to view from any perspective. They can be e-mailed to Native American tribes for input during the consultation process. Sharing the images with universities, high-school classrooms, and researchers will be much easier as well. An 800-year-old vessel can be intensely studied on a screen, without fear of dropping it. Museums can show hyper-accurate digital displays of remote, fragile structures on the monument, allowing public access without the risk of over-visitation...more

California Legalized Selling Food Made At Home And Created Over A Thousand Local Businesses

A government official appears at a man’s door. The man has been breaking the law: He has sold bread baked at home. This isn’t a page from Kafka—it happened to Mark Stambler in Los Angeles. For decades, Stambler has followed traditional methods to bake loaves of French bread.  The ingredients are simple: distilled water, sea salt, wild yeast and organic grains.  Stambler even mills the grain himself.  To make it easier to steam loaves, he built a wood-fired oven in his own backyard.  Stambler’s loaves came in first place at the Los Angeles County Fair and the California State Fair. Soon after that, Stambler got the idea to expand his hobby into a home business, which became Pagnol Boulanger.  Word of mouth spread.  In June 2011, The Los Angeles Times profiled Stambler and his bread in a full-page feature. Unlike his bread, that profile was bittersweet.  He was busted the very next day.  As he described it, the health department “descended like a ton of bricks on the two stores that were selling my bread…they could no longer sell my bread.” An inspector from the health department even showed up at his doorstep to make sure “no bread baking was taking place.”  For the next 18 months, Pagnol Boulanger was forced to go on hiatus. That’s when he “became an activist,” Stambler said in an email interview. He started researching other states’ cottage food laws, which allow homemade food to be sold.   To qualify as a cottage food, it must be designated by the state as “non-potentially hazardous,” meaning it has a low risk of spreading bacteria. Out of the blue, he got a call from his Assemblyman, Mike Gatto, who read The Los Angeles Times profile, and wanted to help him and other small businesses. Stambler helped Assemblyman Gatto draft the California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616) to legalize cottage food.  AB 1616 was overwhelmingly popular with lawmakers, passing the California State Assembly 60 to 16 and unanimously passing the state Senate in August 2012.  Upon signing the bill, Gov. Jerry Brown praised AB 1616 as a way to “make it easier for people to do business in California.” In January 2013, just a few days after the law went into effect, Stambler became the first person in Los Angeles County to sell homemade food legally.  Since he’s re-started his business, he hasn’t received a single complaint from consumers. More home bakers have followed.  In Los Angeles County, there are almost 270 cottage food businesses.  Statewide, over 1,200 homemade food businesses have been approved...more

Which state has the worst food laws?  Why its the same state that elected Al Franken to the U.S. Senate.

On the opposite spectrum for cottage food freedom are states like Minnesota.  The Land of 10,000 Lakes has one of the lowest sales caps on cottage food in the nation, banning people from selling more than $5,000 in a year.  That’s less than $100 a week. In addition, cottage food entrepreneurs in Minnesota can only sell at farmers markets and special events.  Unlike California, online orders and indirect sales are banned.  That greatly limits their growth.  Renegade bakers can face fines of up to $7,500 or three months in jail.

Rail plan may hinge on N.M. governor's support

A proposal to bring Amtrak's Southwest Chief train through Colorado and two other states could get stopped in its tracks by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. Proponents fear the plan to run Southwest Chief on tracks owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway will hinge on the Republican governor's support. Martinez has said in recent months that Amtrak is funded by Congress and any agreement should not leave New Mexico taxpayers with a large bill. Her office did not respond to questions Friday.  "According to the New Mexico (Department of Transportation), the state has never provided state funds for Amtrak service," Martinez's office said in January. "We're willing to work together on this issue, but any agreement needs to take that reality into account." Under the plan, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas would split track maintenance costs and ensure the train route remains active beyond 2015. The partnering states and railroads would have to provide roughly $4 million a year each for a decade. A bill introduced by state Rep. Roberto "Bobby" Gonzales that would call for New Mexico to contribute funding is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday before the House Transportation and Public Works Committee, which Gonzales chairs. 

The Southwest Chief, spanning from Los Angeles to Chicago, travels through several New Mexico cities, including Albuquerque, Gallup, Lamy and Las Vegas. If no funding agreement is reached by the end of 2015, most of those cities, as well as towns in Colorado and southwest Kansas will be eliminated from the route. Adding to the urgency, Burlington Railway announced it won't maintain its tracks to endure high speeds of passenger trains. Lawmakers say the train would help increase economic development and tourism...more

 Seems like every form of government spending lately is justified by claiming it will "increase economic development."   Problem is, if it requires government spending, its not economic. In other words if it is economic the market has determined its success and development will occur without any political support.  An honest description would be it will "increase uneconomic development."

New Mexico company seeking to open basalt mine draws fire some residents

An Albuquerque company's plan to mine basalt near the villages of Cerrillos and Madrid is drawing fire from some residents. Rockology and development company Buena Vista Estates recently applied to rezone and mine a 50-acre parcel of land on a mesa near the villages, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports. Buena Vista Estates owns more than 5,000 acres, which are for sale, on the mesa. But for residents in the nearby villages, who can see La Bajada's historic dark escarpment from the south, the plan is just the latest battlefront in ongoing skirmishes to stop mining in the area. "It is an utterly destructive use of the land," said Diane Senior, who lives in an off-grid, solar-powered home with a view of the entire mesa...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1199

Ranch Radio will feature rockabilly this week and here's the Miller Brothers with Patty Cake Man.  A short bio of the group from

 The Miller Brothers started singing in front of audiences as far back as when they were in grade school - at school functions and civic events. On the weekends, they would at dances and with other show groups. The 1955 version of The Miller Brothers group had been together sine 1940 and were continually doing the proverbial one-night stands. During the World War II period of 1943 and 1946, the group got split up a bit by serving in the military. For much of the early part of their career, they were playing mainly in Texas and southern Oklahoma. But in 1950, they decided to branch out a bit and started appearing in places such as New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and occasionally over to Louisiana and Mississippi. Leon Miller was the leader of the group, and was an instrumentalist and composer, too. In high school, he was a concertmaster of his junior and senior year orchestras. Lee Miller helped Leon organize the group and handled a lot of the business arrangements. The group achieved a fair bit of fame in the mid-1950s. Billboard magazine named them the number 3 band in 1956. Downbeat magazine awarded them the number 4 spot in their new big bands contest. And they also got 29% of the vote as one of the most promising up and coming band in a Cash Box magazine survey. In Texas, they were rated the top Lone Star unit. In addition to their dance music, they also put on a bit of a floor show, trying to give their fans a bit entertainment for their admission price. The band also owned their own place to play when they weren't making appearances elsewhere - the MB Corral in Wichita Falls, Texas. It was able to seat 1,000 folks and had a roomy dance floor. The Miller Brothers did a radio show that aired twice a day over KFDX out of Wichita Falls, Texas. They also recorded for the 4 Star record label. Group members included:

    Leon Miller
    Lee Miller
    Sam Miller
    Bill Jourdan
    Madge Suttee
    Dutch Ingram
    Bill Taylor
    Dale Wilson

Monday, February 03, 2014

Obama poised to protect public lands in New Mexico, California

The Obama administration is preparing to designate areas in New Mexico and California off-limits to development under its executive authority, according to individuals familiar with the matter, a move that signals a bolder public-lands policy in the president’s second term. The individuals, who asked not to be identified because a final decision has not been made, said that the White House is poised to act unless Congress moves soon on legislation that will afford similar protections.  One of the two sites, the nearly 500,000-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region near Las Cruces, N.M., is twice as large as the largest national monument established by President Obama. The other site is about 1,600 acres on California’s central coast known as the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands. Although Congress traditionally designates protection for public lands, presidents have used their authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to set aside prized areas. Obama drew an enthusiastic response from Democrats and conservationists when he said in his State of the Union speech that he would use his authority “to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.”...The move to designate Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks is more contentious, and more significant. Republicans and Democrats agree that the area has historic, cultural and environmental significance. There are petroglyphs from three American Indian societies in its canyons, as well as desert grasslands and a petrified forest. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) has authored legislation that would create a 498,000-acre national monument, about half of which would be managed as wilderness. Rep. Stevan Pearce (R-N.M.), however, has proposed a bill that would establish a 54,800-acre monument without any wilderness areas.  While the Senate bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), stipulates that grazing permits would be maintained, local and national ranching groups argue that it would hurt their operations. Some law enforcement officials, such as Dona Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison, have also said that the move would make it more difficult to monitor illegal activity near the Mexican border.  Dustin Van Liew, executive director for federal lands at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said that in the wake of national monument designations at Utah’s Grand Staircase Escalante, “we have seen grazing over time be diminished or stopped altogether.” Dona Ana County Commissioner Billy G. Garrett said that he and others want a national monument designation, because it will keep “the focus of growth” within a limited corridor while leaving other parts of the county untouched.Jewell toured the site Jan. 24 with Heinrich and Udall. As part of a community hearing during Jewell’s visit, Pearce sent a letter to all three officials. “The best way to form a collaborative agreement that respects the needs of all our constituents is to let the legislative process run its course,” he wrote. Heinrich said in an interview that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has endorsed his proposal because it allows for immediate pursuit into the monument’s jurisdiction and creates a buffer zone for law enforcement operations...more at Washington Post

Dear America, I Saw You Naked - Confessions of an ex-TSA agent

I hated it from the beginning. It was a job that had me patting down the crotches of children, the elderly and even infants as part of the post-9/11 airport security show. I confiscated jars of homemade apple butter on the pretense that they could pose threats to national security. I was even required to confiscate nail clippers from airline pilots—the implied logic being that pilots could use the nail clippers to hijack the very planes they were flying. Once, in 2008, I had to confiscate a bottle of alcohol from a group of Marines coming home from Afghanistan. It was celebration champagne intended for one of the men in the group—a young, decorated soldier. He was in a wheelchair, both legs lost to an I.E.D., and it fell to me to tell this kid who would never walk again that his homecoming champagne had to be taken away in the name of national security. There I was, an aspiring satire writer, earnestly acting on orders straight out of Catch-22. I quickly discovered I was working for an agency whose morale was among the lowest in the U.S. government. In private, most TSA officers I talked to told me they felt the agency’s day-to-day operations represented an abuse of public trust and funds...more

What Those TSA Guys Are Really Saying

Definitions in “The Insider’s TSA Dictionary” taken from James Harrington’s blog, “Taking Sense Away.”

Is America facing a beer crisis?

As it’s done for nearly a quarter of a century, Anheuser-Busch (BUD) will once again roll out splashy commercials during the Super Bowl to get people talking about Budweiser and, hopefully, drinking it. But a new report suggests that young adults—the prime demographic for these advertisements—will need a lot of persuading. U.S. beer sales have declined in recent years and aren’t showing many signs of improving, according to a new report by consumer research firm Mintel. There were 2.79 million cases of beer sold in 2013, broadly flat compared with the 2.78 million cases sold in 2012 and down from 2.9 million cases sold five years ago. And, worse, beer sales are expected to rise by just 4% to 2.89 million cases within the next four years. Baby boomers—many of whom don’t drink as much as they did when they were younger—are one reason for the lack of growth in beer sales in recent years, the research finds, and young adults in 2014 account for a smaller share of the population than boomers and retirees. What’s more, the drinking habits of young Americans have changed dramatically in recent years, studies show. Beer drinking among 18- to 29-year-olds fell from 71% in the years 1992 to 1994, to 41% from 2012 to 2013, according to a separate 2013 survey by Gallup; sales of liquor rose from 13% to 28%, and wine rose from 14% to 24% over the same period. In a separate 2013 survey by Mintel, 80% of respondents ages 22 to 24 said they drink liquor, while just 69% said they drink domestic beer. And 66% of respondents agesmore
25 to 34 said they drink liquor; 58%, beer. “These results illustrate the competition the market faces from other types of alcohol, especially among young people,” says Jennifer Zegler, drinks analyst at Mintel...

 First bullets and now beer.  Add to that incandescent light bulbs and we'll all be sitting around in the dark drinking well water and playing with our slingshot.

NBC: Inviting ‘Duck Dynasty’ Stars to the State of the Union Not ‘Dignified’

Willie and Korie Robertson attended the recent State of the Union speech — and stole the show, with dozens of members of both parties meeting with and talking to the classy and entrepreneurial couple before the main event. But not everyone was happy with the presence of decent country folk in their nasty world of politics. During NBC’s live State of the Union coverage Tuesday night, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd sneered at Duck Dynasty stars Willie and Korie Robertson being Republican guests at the event:  “…after the shooting with Gabby Giffords and for a couple of State of the Unions in a row….There was more of a dignified feeling about the guests that you would invite. Boy, you can tell things are a lot different now, when you’re inviting Duck Dynasty stars.”  Apparently Todd did not find it “undignified” that Obama and several Democrat members of Congress invited illegal aliens to the speech....more

Old Mexico lives on in the West

On February 2nd 1848, following a short and one-sided war, Mexico agreed to cede more than half its territory to the United States. An area covering most of present-day Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah, plus parts of several other states, was handed over to gringolandia. The rebellious state of Tejas, which had declared its independence from Mexico in 1836, was recognised as American soil too. But a century and a half later, communities have proved more durable than borders. The counties with the highest concentration of Mexicans (as defined by ethnicity, rather than citizenship) overlap closely with the area that belonged to Mexico before the great gringo land-grab of 1848. Some are recent arrivals; others trace their roots to long before the map was redrawn. They didn’t jump the border—it jumped them.

The Economist

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1198

Its Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here's Brother Al Stricklin pounding out Live Bait.  Here's some info on Stricklin:  Artist Biography by Linda Seida

Al Stricklin was a jazz pianist whose lively playing helped give Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys the band's unique western swing flavor. Ironically, when Stricklin first heard Wills play the fiddle during an audition at a radio station where Stricklin was in charge of hiring, he thought Wills' routine was more of a comedy act than any serious musical offering. It wasn't long before Stricklin's opinion changed and he became a key part of the Texas Playboys' lineup, staying with the band from 1935 through 1942. He played piano on several hundred of the group's recordings, including Wills' nationwide hit in 1940, "New San Antonio Rose."  The piano player was born Alton Meeks Stricklin in 1908 in Antioch, TX. He never had the benefit of music lessons, and has said that his major inspiration was jazz great Earl "Fatha" Hines. When he was about four or five years old, Stricklin started teaching himself how to play with his father, who was a fiddler. By the time he left high school and headed to Weatherford Junior College in 1927, and later Baylor University, the self-taught pianist was teaching others how to play to help pay for his schooling...To help support his family, he took work in 1930 at Fort Worth's KFJZ radio station, where he later auditioned Wills. Before joining the Texas Playboys, Stricklin also was employed as an elementary school teacher and principal in Island Grove, TX, and later he played with the Hi Flyers dance band back in Fort Worth. When Wills heard him play at a club called the Cinderella Roof in 1935, he lured Stricklin to the Texas Playboys with a job that paid $30 weekly.

Ranch Radio Special - Listen to these great stories about Roy Acuff & Grandpa Jones

Listen to Bill Anderson, Bashful Brother Oswald, Jean Shepard, Bill Carlisle, Mac Wiseman, Johnny Russell, Dell Reeves and others tell stories about Roy Acuff and Grandpa Jones.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Getting hitched

by Julie Carter

By their very nature, cowboys are the epitome of informal and casual.

Only for a really good buddy will they trade in their Wranglers for a few hours in genuine citified formal wear. It usually has to do with saying “I do” and what the little wife-to-be has designed for that memorable wedding day.

You can dress them up, take them to town and they are still the same basic core of a cowboy no matter the surroundings.

A cowboy in a tuxedo is the pinnacle of cowboy handsome. He’s a little squirmy and spends quite a bit of time pulling at his collar to let in some air. Mentally he is counting the seconds until he can untie the bow tie and unbutton the top button. 

You’ll notice he’s never far from his cowboy hat even at formal affairs. If a cowboy ever had a “security blanket”-- it is his hat.  His manners are at the forefront of his demeanor as he holds his hat to his body while he greets a lady. His “Yes Ma’am” is said with warmth and sincerity. His hugs are given with the same.

When the “I do” part of the day is done, it’s time to celebrate. Strike up the band and the fun begins.

Nothing brings out the heart and soul of cowboy in a more visual manner than a good two-step or waltz. They simply can’t help themselves.

Each one has an inherited Western beat pumping in their veins. It surfaces with the first few bars of the Tennessee Waltz and off across the dance floor they’ll go in three-quarter time.

The neck ties are gone, the collars loosened and the hats tipped back to reveal smiling relief. Easy laughter abounds as the fun is cut loose as only a cowboy can demonstrate. Those stiff-starched boys of only hours before become comedians in cowboy boots.

Then it happens. The music blaring over the speakers is “The Chicken Dance.” Any dignity anyone might have had up to this point has promptly left the room.

Visualization of cowboys in tuxes and ladies in dresses doing the Chicken Dance can be assisted by the Chicken Dance instructions. Remember, these are pillars of our society participating in this.

1. Anyone who's not chicken, stand in a circle facing each other.
2. When the music starts, hold your hands out in front of you and open and close them like a chicken beak four times.
3. Put your thumbs in your armpits and flap your wings four times.
4. Place your arms and hands like the tail feathers of a chicken and wiggle down to the floor four times.
5. Clap four times.
6. Repeat steps 1-5 four times.
7. After the fourth time, take the hands of the people on either side of you and everyone move in a circle. When you get dizzy, switch directions.  Repeat until the end of the music or until you fall on the floor.

There will be those that tip toe from the floor, fearing any connection with anything involving the word “chicken.” No self-respecting “beef” man acts like a wing-flapping chicken. Well not for very long anyway.

Julie, loves a good two-step but does not chicken dance, can be reached for comment at

If you've been to very many of these country dances you'll always see an old cowboy who has a problem:  the two-step is just one step too many for him.