Friday, February 21, 2014

New Mexico youth ranch settles suit against state, agrees to oversight

A central New Mexico ranch for troubled youth has settled its lawsuit against the state, agreeing to some oversight. Tierra Blanca Ranch High County Youth Program sued the state last year, challenging the state's investigation of its program and a high-profile October raid that sought custody of nine minors. Under the agreement signed Friday, the ranch has agreed to give the Children Youth and Families Department access to students and their files for the next 12 months. The ranch also agrees not to use restraints and to supervise teens placed in segregation. Both sides claimed victory. Ranch operator Scott Chandler said the agreement provides a management structure without complex regulations like those the agency sought during the just-ended legislative session. "The settlement demonstrates we can apply a simple, common sense, standard to the pertinent issues and arrive at an understanding," he said in a statement, noting the agreement came "at an exceedingly heavy price. Getting to this point has taken an enormous toll on people's lives and taxpayer's resources." CYFD spokesman Henry Varela said it gives the agency access to the kids until it can try again next year to pass a law regulating such programs. "This is a big victory for us," he said, noting that under current law the agency has no authority to contact kids in such unregulated programs investigating specific and current allegations of abuse...more

Environmentalists Say Kerry Has 'No Choice But To Reject The Keystone XL Permit'

National environmental leaders say they are "confident" that Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama will eventually reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. "It wouldn't make sense to have taken such major steps forward … and then turn around and approve this project that is inconsistent with that leadership," said Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president for government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters. "We're confident that at the end of the day, we're going to like the decision." The proposed 1,660-mile pipeline has been a key issue for environmental groups, which consider it a major test of the Obama administration's climate-change policies. Because the pipeline, which would carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada's oil sands to refineries in Texas, crosses an international border, it is up to the State Department to grant approval. State issued a final environmental impact analysis for the pipeline at the end of January, paving the way for Kerry to issue his decision. At an event Wednesday morning, representatives from the Center for American Progress, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Natural Resources Defense Council said they believe they will eventually prevail in defeating the pipeline. Panelists at the "Road to Rejection" event pointed to Obama's recent climate-related announcements, which included a proposed billion-dollar climate resilience fund as well as new fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks. During a speech earlier this week, Kerry referred to climate change as "perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction."...more

Does John Kerry think Canada is more dangerous than Iran?

Is anyone more hypocritical than a professional environmentalist? In case folks need a hint, see this month’s exhibit: As North American environmental activists throw all of their energy and resources into blocking Canada from selling its oil to the United States, they have haven’t made a peep over Iran increasing its own oil exports. And one would think they’d care, as the environmentalists’ entire rationale for opposing Keystone is that if a pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is built, more carbon will be put into the atmosphere. But their problem here — and often — is that the facts don’t support their claims. Professional environmentalists don’t seem to mind that if this pipeline is not built to the gulf, it could be built to China, where the oil will be used anyway — and with less oversight by a government unconcerned with carbon emissions and hostile to American interests. President Barack Obama’s Department of State even agreed, saying earlier this month that the fuel would be used whether or not Keystone is built. Nor did professional environmentalists seem to care that the State Department’s final report pointed out that the building or scuttling of the project won’t impact how much oil is burned by our own gulf refineries — oil imports will simply come from other, less friendly countries: “When this demand is not met by heavy Canadian supplies in the model results, it is met by heavy crude from Latin America and the Middle East.”...more

BLM says both of its responding officers fired weapons in fatal encounter with pedestrian

Both responding Bureau of Land Management officers fired their weapons in the fatal shooting of a pedestrian last week near Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, the agency said in a 434-word statement today. D’Andre Berghardt Jr., 20, Los Angeles, was shot and killed Friday as he tried to grab a rifle from the car of a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper who had responded to reports of a pedestrian harassing bicyclists on State Route 159 near the Red Rock Canyon Visitors Center. The Highway Patrol on Wednesday identified the trooper as five-year NHP veteran Lucas Schwarzrock. The patrol said Schwarzrock did not fire his weapon. In today’s statement, the BLM did not identify its two officers but said Berghardt actively resisted commands throughout the encounter...more

Sounds like a justified shooting but why did it take the feds six days to get their feces amalgamated and issue a statement? 

Jurassic age dinosaur tracks stolen from Moab trail, BLM officials say

A 190-million-year-old dinosaur track was reported stolen from a trail in Moab Wednesday, officials said. The track was lifted out of Jurassic age Navajo sandstone in the Hell's Revenge area, according to the Bureau of Land Management. The missing track was noticed by a tour guide for Moab Cowboy Country Outdoor Adventures, who reported it to the BLM. Moab Cowboy Country Outdoor Adventures owner Kent Green was on a tour on the Hell's Revenge trail in the Sand Flats recreation area with a group from California when he noticed the dinosaur track was missing. "I was showing them the tracks and explaining a little bit about them and walked over to show them this beautiful, definite track that I always liked to show and I discovered it was gone," he said. "It was just gone — I couldn't believe my eyes when I'd seen that." The person responsible for the theft could face fines and a potential jail sentence of up to five years...more

Another example of a federal agency who can't manage the lands they have, yet keep asking for $$ to acquire more.  Wonder why the Republicans in the House keep appropriating $$ for land acquisition? 

EPA’s lax oversight allowed John Beale to steal $900K from taxpayers

Can the Environmental Protection Agency be trusted with Americans’ tax dollars? Last August, former EPA employee John Beale was charged with stealing $900,000 in taxpayer dollars and for pretending to work for the Central Intelligence Agency. A report by the free-market Institute for Energy Research argues that the Beale incident raises questions about the EPA’s ability to deal with fraud and oversee their employees. “John Beale may be in jail for his crimes, but this case is certainly not closed,” said Thomas Pyle, IER’s president. “Until EPA regains the trust of the American public that suspected fraud will be reported, investigated, and addressed by senior EPA officials, there is little reason to believe that the agency won’t continue to callously abuse taxpayer dollars.” John Beale began working at the EPA in the late 1980s for the agency’s air quality office where he worked on several big projects, including drafting amendments to the Clean Air Act under President Bush which led to major reform in 1990. But Beale also worked on international issues and was eventually given lots of autonomy because of his seniority at EPA. IER’s report notes that while Beale’s theft of taxpayer dollars took place over a 13-year period, the largest amount of money was stolen from taxpayers while he was working under EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, who at the time was head of the air quality office — where Beale worked. Under McCarthy’s watch Beale was able to steal $373,799 from taxpayers. This amount includes money stolen by Beale for times he skipped out from work and for illegal retention bonuses he got. In a 13-year period, Beale stole $886,186 from taxpayers in time and attendance fraud, retention incentives, fraudulent billing and parking fraud. Between 2000 and 2012, Beale skipped work for at least 616 days. But his fraud wasn’t discovered until last year when it was found out that he was still getting paid for a year and a half but hadn’t shown up for work in that whole time. Under McCarthy, Beale missed at least 18 consecutive months of work, costing taxpayers more than $239,000...more

Little of BLM horse budget spent on fertility controls

The government spent less than 1 percent of its wild horse management budget on contraception programs and more than 60 percent on horse holding facilities last fiscal year despite a pledge to step up use of fertility control as an alternative to controversial roundups of overpopulated mustang herds on U.S. rangelands, agency records show. Wild horse advocates say the fiscal year 2013 budget numbers show the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has reneged on a commitment to fertility control as the best way moving forward to keep herd numbers in check when necessary in Nevada and nine other Western states. Instead, the leader of the largest national coalition says she fears the administration is moving to align itself with a growing number of ranching interests urging an end to the ban on slaughter of horses at overflowing holding pens where costs are skyrocketing. “The only explanation at this point is that the BLM is creating a crisis where slaughter of America’s wild horses is the only solution,” said Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. She said the 509 mares that received fertility treatment last year were far short of the annual goal of 2,000 the agency set three years ago. BLM spokesman Tom Gorey said Wednesday the critics’ claims are baseless, “anti-BLM propaganda.”...more

Interior Secretary Jewell Announces Two Solar Projects Approved in California, Nevada

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution, create jobs and move our economy toward clean energy sources, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell yesterday announced the approval of two solar energy projects located near the Nevada-California border that are expected to supply 550 megawatts of renewable energy, enough to power about 170,000 homes, and support more than 700 jobs through construction and operations. Yesterday’s approvals bring to 50 the number of utility-scale renewable energy proposals and associated transmission that the Interior Department has approved since 2009, including 27 solar, 11 wind, and 12 geothermal projects...more

See: The Dark Side Of Solar Power

Bill to punish gun-seizing cops gets Idaho Senate support

A bill to punish law enforcement officers who obey a hypothetical federal mandate to seize the firearms of Idaho citizens found no opposition on the Senate floor. Lawmakers voted 34-0 in favor of the bill Wednesday, clearing its path to the House. Sen. Steve Vick, a Dalton Gardens Republican who co-sponsors the bill with Meridian Republican Marv Hagedorn, touts it as a way to ensure Idahoans’ Second Amendment rights are protected. The proposal is a response to fears that President Barack Obama will ban some guns...more

Wild bumblebees in decline, study says caused by honeybees

Wild bumblebees worldwide are in trouble, likely contracting deadly diseases from their commercialized honeybee cousins, a new study shows. That's a problem even though bumblebees aren't trucked from farm to farm like honeybees. They provide a significant chunk of the world's pollination of flowers and food, especially greenhouse tomatoes, insect experts said. And the ailments are hurting bumblebees even more, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. "Wild populations of bumblebees appear to be in significant decline across Europe, North America, South America and also in Asia," said study author Mark Brown of the University of London. He said his study confirmed that a major source of the decline was "the spillover of parasites and pathogens and disease" from managed honeybee hives. Smaller studies have shown disease going back and forth between the two kinds of bees. Brown said his is the first to look at the problem in a larger country-wide scale and include three diseases and parasites. The study tracked nearly 750 bees in 26 sites throughout Great Britain. And it also did lab work on captive bees to show disease spread. What the study shows is that "the spillover for bees is turning into (a) boilover," University of Illinois entomology professor May Berenbaum, who wasn't part of the study, said in an email...more

Woman Survives Liplock From Rabid Raccoon

Ginny Ballou was half asleep when she reached over to pat her cat, Pretty Boy. Only the long-haired tomcat was nowhere in sight. What Ballou was running her fingers through instead was the coarse fur of a deranged raccoon. The vicious animal had crept into the house through the cat door on Wednesday morning, sneaking in beside the 73-year-old woman in bed before jumping on Ballou's face and locking on, said police in Hingam, Mass. "She had been sleeping on her bed and she thought it was a cat and she went to pat it and found out it was a raccoon," Sgt. Steven Dearth of the Hingam Police Department told ABC News. "It began to attack her and bit onto her mouth." Ballou, her lower lip locked in the jaws of the creature, struggled for a terrifying two minutes before managing to pry the raccoon off with her thumbs and throw it to the floor. Ballou could not be reached for comment, but her daughter recounted the details of the unnerving ordeal to ABC News affiliate WCVB. "She used her landline telephone to smash it on the head. It ran out of the bedroom; she closed her door and called 911," Jen Bowles said...more

HT:  Outdoor Pressroom

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1213

More "1954 Week" on Ranch Radio:  Webb Pierce - Even Tho.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Environmental groups may sue over lack of turtle protections in Gulf shrimp trawls

 Environmental groups are threatening to sue to force the use of turtle excluder devices in shrimp trawls in the Gulf of Mexico. The groups on Wednesday said that until those devices are required, the National Marine Fisheries Service should “suspend the shrimp trawl fishery" in the Gulf.  The groups on Wednesday notified the fisheries service of their intent to sue, saying the federal agency must require the devices in skimmer trawls, which are used primarily in shallow water such as Louisiana's coastal waters, bays and estuaries. Often referred to as TEDs, the devices help prevent turtles from being trapped in shrimp nets. “The Fisheries Service has violated and continues to violate the (Endangered Species Act) with respect to its duties to protect and conserve threatened and endangered species,” read a letter sent to the Fisheries Services and the Department of Commerce by the Center for Biological Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network, Oceana, and the Sea Turtle Conservancy...more

Turtle soup goes good with fresh shrimp, I Gua-Ron-Tee.

Sage grouse on endangered list will cost Utah billions, Herbert says

Gov. Herbert
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert kicked off a two-day sage grouse summit Tuesday, bringing together hundreds of people throughout the state who have been working nearly two decades to restore the imperiled bird's habitat. The sage grouse's potential addition to the endangered species list is a problem of epic economic consequences to states in the West, with Herbert explaining that the impact in lost economic development in Utah tops $41 billion for the oil and gas industry alone. "The negative impacts are not acceptable to me and should not be acceptable to anyone here," Herbert told the crowd. The event at the Utah Department of Natural Resources' auditorium is actually a precursor to a national summit that will be held in Salt Lake City this fall. Sage grouse, considered an "indicator" species that is a barometer for the health of an entire ecosystem, has come under increasing threat due to habitat fragmentation, expansive wildfires, urban encroachment, and energy development in Utah and the 10 other Western states where it occurs. Because its range is so far-reaching, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to add the football-size bird to the endangered species list would have enormous consequences to industry, recreation, ranchers and private landowners. "The threat of having the sage grouse listed is real," Herbert said...more

Dem birds go good with shrimp too.

Green groups: Keystone won’t be forgiven

If a flurry of climate change initiatives is an attempt by the administration to soften up environmental supporters ahead of an approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, green groups say President Obama better think twice. While complimenting Obama’s calls for a $1 billion climate change resiliency fund and tougher fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks, they say none of that will make up for green-lighting Keystone. “There is not a blanket of regulations big enough to cover the pipeline elephant in the room,” said Jamie Henn of the green group “There is nothing the administration could do to negate the impact the pipeline would have on the climate.” If Obama approves Keystone, it will provoke a “vehement reaction” from environmental groups, said David Goldston, director of governmental affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “People have speculated that a push in climate policies could be some kind of trade-off but for the environmental community there is no such trade-off on Keystone XL,” Goldston said. “I don’t think that’s a strategy that would work in terms of the environmental movement either substantively or politically.” Environmental groups acknowledge widespread speculation that Obama will look to burnish his climate change credentials as a way to soften the blow of approving Keystone. Doing so could help several Democratic Senate candidates — most notably Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.). But they reject any link between Keystone and Obama’s recent announcements...more

Editorial - The Dark Side Of Solar Power

What do you call an energy source that consumes vast tracks of open land and fries birds that cross its path? If you're the president, you call it "safe," "reliable," "green" and worthy of massive taxpayer subsidies.

That, at least, is the case with the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station that covers a vast area of desert outside Las Vegas and, thanks to the generous support of the Obama administration, has officially opened. The plant points hundreds of thousands of mirrors at three towers to boil turbine-spinning water. But the heat rays aren't very friendly to the area's birds, including falcons, hawks, warblers and sparrows that have shown up dead near the towers.

One of the inconvenient truths that global warming fanatics and renewable energy purists try to ignore is that wind and solar energy are not so environmentally friendly. At least, not if you care about wildlife and land preservation.

First, these energy sources are massive land hogs. Ivanpah requires more than 5 square miles of mirrors to produce enough electricity to light 140,000 homes. It would take roughly 3,600 Ivanpahs to supply all the country's electricity needs, with mirrors covering New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and a chunk of Massachusetts combined.

Wind power is hardly much better. According to the Nature Conservancy, it takes 30 times the land for windmills to produce as much electricity as a nuclear power plant.

And their turbines amount to bird Cuisinarts. To keep wind farms spinning, the Obama administration recently issued permits letting them kill protected bald and golden eagles for 30 years, provided they take some steps to mitigate the slaughter.

Will US expand NSA surveillance?

The federal government may actually expand the controversial surveillance program that collects Americans’ phone records in a bid to preserve evidence for the multiple lawsuits filed against the National Security Agency, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The decision comes despite President Obama’s instruction in a speech on American surveillance practices last month that government officials find a way to end the data collection program. Obama tasked Attorney General Eric Holder and members of the intelligence community with finding a way to wind down the government program without eroding the government’s intelligence capabilities. But, according to the Journal, government lawyers are worried that if they shut down the program, they could violate evidence preservation rules requiring them to maintain the databases amid ongoing litigation. Civil liberties groups like the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation have filed lawsuits charging the surveillance program is unconstitutional. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has also led a class-action suit against the government program. In fact, concerns over the legal challenges could even effectively expand the phone record database. At present, the government only maintains five years of call data, purging older information at least twice per year. But the government may now opt to maintain that older data in the interest of preserving evidence. The concerns raised by the government lawyers are only likely to complicate the already difficult task of deciding how to wind down the metadata program...more 

That'll teach us private citizens who sue to protect our rights, now won't it.  Then there's this:

 The concerns raised by the government lawyers are only likely to complicate the already difficult task of deciding how to wind down the metadata program.

Complicated? Difficult?  Its called a plug...pull it.  

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1212

Today Ranch Radio brings you the #1 song on the country charts in 1954:  Hank Snow - I Don't Hurt Anymore.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

GOAL Advocacy Releases Organ Mountain Survey Results

A survey of Dona Ana County residents conducted by GOAL Advocacy shows that while there is support for a national monument designation for the Organ Mountains, residents have strong opinions on the size, scope and how the final designation is made.

The survey of over 600 Dona Ana County residents shows 60% support for protecting the Organ Mountains with a national monument designation versus 30% who opposed a designation and 10% who were undecided.  However, residents by a 67%-21% margin favored the designation being made through the legislative process with input from local stakeholders as opposed to a unilateral declaration from Washington DC.

Other findings included –

-         80% of the residents of the county had high or somewhat high interest in the proposed designation
-         A majority of those surveyed indicated Recreational Access (32%) was the most important issue to be considered followed by Border Security (24%), Watershed Management (20%) and Economic Impacts (15%)
-         62% of the residents would be less likely to support a designation that restricted Border Patrol access
-         By a 50%-25% margin, residents would be less likely to support a proposal that would restrict or prohibit the maintenance and construction of flood control projects
-         By a 58%-29% margin, residents would be less likely to support a proposal that would prohibit or restrict livestock grazing

Finally, when given the informed option between the two current legislative proposals, residents overwhelming (73%-18%) chose the option that focused on protecting the Organ Mountains proper and rejected the idea of restrictions being placed on an additional 700 square miles of land throughout the county found in the Senate proposal.

GOAL Advocacy Board Member Nancy Brantley whose family has ranched in the area for seven generations issued the following statement:

“I hope this survey by GOAL Advocacy helps ensure that all of the concerns of the residents of Dona Ana County are addressed before any action is taken on the proposed monument designation.  While a majority of the county does want some protections for the Organ Mountains, it is clear that the people of Dona Ana County do not want this done unilaterally by the heavy hand of Washington.  Moreover, it is clear that residents of Dona Ana County want recreational access protected, strong border security and their rich tradition of ranching in the area protected for future generations.“

The survey was conducted by BWD Global on February 11, 2014 and has a 3.9 margin of error.


World's Largest Solar Power Plant Scorching Birds

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System officially opened last week, a $2.2 billion solar farm containing about 350,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door. Those mirrors are aimed at three 40-story-tall towers. The concentrated sunlight boils water in the towers, which in turn generates steam that drives special turbines. For birds, the towers are more like the Eye of Sauron. During test runs at the plant over the past several months, workers discovered dozens of dead birds, the Wall Street Journal’s Cassandra Sweet reported. “The dead birds included a peregrine falcon, a grebe, two hawks, four nighthawks and a variety of warblers and sparrows.” They appeared to have been scorched.  This system has the capacity to generate 392 megawatts — enough to power 140,000 homes annually, according to developer BrightSource Energy. Plans are in the works to build another plant near Joshua Tree, but biologists warned regulators that it could kill golden eagles and other protected birds, the WSJ reported. So far the only plan to address the problem is a two-year study. Ivanpah’s solar concentration system must have seemed competitive before construction began in 2010. But the new plant is already being called irrelevant. Business Insider’s Rob Wile noted that the new Antelope Valley Solar Ranch photovoltaic array will generate 1.5-times as much power as Ivanpah. Without the steam...more

Its not solar power, its frying power...otherwise known as CFC (California Fried Chicken).

Carbon Benefits Exceed Costs by up to 500:1

The Environmental Protection Agency, other government agencies and various scientists contend that fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous global warming and climate change. They use this claim to justify repressive regulations for automobiles, coal-fired power plants and other facilities powered by hydrocarbon energy. Because these rules are costing millions of jobs and billions of dollars, a federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) devised the “social cost of carbon” concept (SCC) – which attaches arbitrary monetary values to the alleged impacts of using hydrocarbons and emitting carbon dioxide. SCC estimates represent the supposed monetized damages associated with incremental increases in “carbon pollution” in a given year. With little publicity, debate or public input, in 2010 the IWG set the cost at $22 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted. Then, in 2013 (again with little notice), it arbitrarily increased the SCC to $36/ton, enabling agencies to proclaim massive, unacceptable damages from “carbon,” and enormous benefits from their regulations. Recently, the Department of Energy used the $36 formula to justify proposed standards for microwave ovens, cell phone chargers and laptops! The SCC allows unelected bureaucrats to wildly amplify the alleged impacts of theoretical manmade climate disasters, exaggerate the supposed benefits of rules, minimize their costs, and ignore the value to society of the facility, activity or product they want to regulate. That is exactly what is happening. Fundamental flaws in the SCC concept and process make the agencies’ analyses – and proposed rulemakings – questionable, improper, and even fraudulent and illegal. A new Management Information Services, Inc. (MISI) analysis examines this in detail...more

County seeks Colo. couple's land through eminent domain to preserve open space

The view from the deck of the small, century-old cabin was a dream come true for Andy and Ceil Barrie -- a sweeping panorama of 13,000 and 14,000-foot peaks towering above the forest of centuries-old bristlecone pines. It convinced the couple to buy a 3-bedroom home in a subdivision below, where they could live year-round, and the 10-acre parcel surrounding the cabin in the midst the White River National Forest. Now the county government, alarmed that the couple drives their ATV up a 1.2-mile old mining road to the cabin, wants to take the Barrie's land — and it's doing so by claiming eminent domain. Rather than using the practice of government seizure of private property to promote economic development, the county is using it to preserve open space. The move shocked the Barries. They have allowed hikers to travel through their property, had no plans to develop the land and were negotiating with the county at the time it moved to condemn the property. Open space "is all it's ever been," said Andy Barrie. "I feel like I can't trust my government." Summit County Attorney Jeff Huntley said the county had to act after the Barries insisted on being able to use motorized transport to get to the cabin. "People in this community are very intent on preserving the back country," he said. Experts in eminent domain say it's rare for governments to use that power to create parks or open space. "It's not that you can't do it, but they don't do it much," said Dana Berliner, who was co-counsel in the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case upholding the constitutionality of eminent domain. "There's typically other ways of doing open space than just taking land." But in Colorado, where picturesque mountain towns are bursting with tourists and second-home-owners, and outdoor recreation is the state religion, there have been a few instances of cities deciding to confiscate land to preserve it. The most significant was when Telluride in 2004 seized 572 acres that the owner wanted to develop along the San Miguel River and left it as open space. The state Supreme Court upheld the confiscation, saying that especially overcrowded mountain towns need to preserve their recreational and natural assets...more

Climate billionaire aims to set stage for 2016 - To spend $100 million on 2014 elections

California billionaire Tom Steyer turned heads in Washington with the news that he plans to spend $100 million to help make climate change a defining issue in this year’s elections. But it gets even bigger: The hedge fund executive turned green activist might be willing to lay out even more than that eye-popping number, and he’s looking to spend it in places that are also important for 2016. Steyer’s strategy calls for targeting races including Senate or gubernatorial contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida and possibly Pennsylvania — all key battlegrounds in presidential politics, sources familiar with the plan told POLITICO on Tuesday. The fleshed-out details paint a picture of a big-pocketed donor who is going beyond his early efforts to help individual Democrats, such as Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, as well as address specific issues like the Keystone XL pipeline — and instead wants to give his signature climate cause a starring role in the next presidential race. Steyer’s operation “is going to be very aggressive” and will set itself apart from the efforts of mainstream environmental groups, said Betsy Taylor, a Takoma Park, Md.-based leader of a network of wealthy climate donors who attended a recent discussion of the strategy at the billionaire’s California ranch. “They’re fearless. They don’t worry about access to Democratic Party leadership.”...more

Drone on the range: Agricultural uses for drones endless

For centuries, farmers have braved the elements to walk their land to check for problems ranging from wind damage and calving cows to pests and predators. Unmanned aerial vehicles may save farmers time and money with bird’s-eye views of farmland, says Bill Wiebold, University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist. It opens up endless possibilities for precision agriculture, he said. Wiebold’s recent talks on drones during MU Extension crop conferences have drawn attention from producers anxious to learn how to use them. Wiebold and other MU researchers have been studying how farmers can use the new technology. Drones suited for farm applications vary widely in cost and size. Entry-level aircraft cost $500 to $1,500 and can fly for 10 to 20 minutes without recharging batteries. Most weigh less than 5 pounds, have a wingspan of less than 3 feet and travel under 30 mph. For about $300, farmers can install cameras in drones that can send clear still or video images to a smartphone. Drones can provide information to answer questions like “How bad was last night’s hail storm? Are all of my cows on the north 40? Does my corn need more nitrogen?” Entry-level systems can be guided by a handheld remote control. More sophisticated vehicles can be programmed to fly designated routes using GPS and GIS technology, but only skilled flyers should try this type of aircraft, Wiebold said. The uses are as varied as Missouri farmland, Wiebold said. Entomologists may find the devices especially helpful for directed scouting of pests. Drones can collect information on plants that have grown to heights that make it difficult to walk through narrow rows. Additionally, farmers can use the unmanned devices to document conditions when applying for government programs such as crop insurance. While much of the recent media attention has centered on unmanned aircraft as a way to deliver packages, commercial agriculture likely will be the largest beneficiary of drone technology, Wiebold said. Drone technology has raised concerns about privacy issues, but drones used in agriculture likely are less controversial than those used for commercial applications. Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration does not allow drone use for commercial purposes. Farmers must follow FAA guidelines for hobbyists...more

Did Climate Change Cause the California Drought? Or Big Government?

While scientists continue to debate global warming, it’s undeniable that the federal government has had an active hand in exacerbating California’s drought. President Obama flew to Fresno, California, last Friday to announce a drought relief package and speak on climate change’s influence. Although no single weather event can be attributed to climate change, the White House painted the drought as part of a larger picture of the devastation wreaked by global warming. Is it, though? Amid environmentalist litigation in 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recalled a permit allowing farmers to use irrigation pumps in the Sacramento Delta, claiming that the pumps were a direct threat to the delta smelt fish. A previous permit had come to the opposite conclusion. Hundreds of thousands of acres of water have since been diverted from farmlands. The Farm Bureau predicts that between 400,000 acres and 500,000 acres of crops will be lost. Department of Water Resources director Mark Cowin estimates that if it weren’t for the federal government’s irrigation restrictions, the number would be 200,000 acres less. In the wake of the drought brought on by the water diversion, unemployment and food prices have soared in some areas. As Reason reports, in 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced “a bill that would turn the pumps back on.” Had they been successful, the drought might not have inflicted as much damage as it is currently doing...more

Obama Shouldn’t Decide Your Truck’s Gas Mileage

It shouldn’t be President Obama calling the shots on the range for gas mileage for trucks. The new regulations will be yet another piece implementing his Climate Action Plan end-run around Congress, which involves Obama implementing policy not by signing congressional legislation, but by agency regulations. Sure, fuel efficiency is good. But there’s no reason to believe that Americans, even without regulation, wouldn’t push the marketplace to create high fuel-efficiency vehicles. The setting Obama chose for his announcement is telling: the Safeway distribution center in Maryland, like any other major company, likely invests significant resources to maximize efficiency. That’s because they’re trying to maximize their profits, not because the government mandated that they do so. And in calling for new efficiency regulations, Obama has made the decision to prioritize fuel efficiency over other preferences customers and businesses might have – safety, size, performance, or price, to name a few. A business, for instance, might be willing to spend more on gas if it means their products will be delivered more safely. Limiting customer choice in this way is unlikely to create many benefits if previous experience holds. The President purports that fuel efficiency standards will save consumers money and improve the environment. Instead it’s likely the regulations will increase upfront costs for customers – since manufacturers will have to spend to get the higher mileage rates, regardless of whether customers want to pay for that or not — without any meaningful environmental benefit...more

New Fuel-Efficiency Standards for Trucks: A Political Priority, Not a Policy Improvement

President Obama announced a new round of fuel-efficiency rules for trucks today, saying that the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency would work together to find new ways to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The new standards, part of the president’s “year of action,” will doubtless appeal to the green faction of the Democratic party. But the rushed effort seems less sensible when one considers that trucking companies already have a strong incentive to be as fuel-efficient as possible, and further regulation is likely to carry several unintended consequences. Fuel is one of the most costly inputs for the trucking industry, so before any regulation at all, the private sector had made extensive efforts to cut down on fuel usage. “There are no reasons for these standards,” says Daniel Simmons, director of regulatory affairs for the Institute for Energy Research. “[Trucking businesses] already spend a lot of money figuring out how to be efficient. They know where their trucks are, how fast they’re going in real time, how efficient their trucks are, and what they can do to improve efficiency much better than the federal government does.” The first set of truck efficiency regulations, requiring trucks to cut fuel consumption and emissions by 10 to 20 percent, were implemented seven weeks ago, meaning trucking companies are just beginning to see any of their side effects. Even before today’s round of regulations, the existing new rules will probably affect the delicate balance underpinning the trucking industry’s business model. There are ways to make fleets more fuel efficient, but they’re expensive, and unless the subsequent fuel savings cover the upfront cost, trucking companies are likely to raise prices, which will eventually affect the cost of the goods they transport. More worrisome, though, are the potential safety risks of the efficiency innovations. Trucks can reduce their fuel consumption by using lighter tires, but that can also raise the risk of blowouts. Likewise, lower fairings, to reduce the amount of space between the trailer and the road can improve the aerodynamics of the trucks, reducing fuel consumption – but they can also accumulate sleet, and in extreme weather, they can result in flying ice chunks that jeopardize passenger cars...more

Uproar over ObamaCare’s menu rules

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is asking the Obama administration to scale back draft regulations under ObamaCare that would force restaurants to post nutritional information on their menus.

 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is close to finalizing a rule requiring calorie labels on vending machines and at restaurants and “similar retail food establishments.” Proposed in 2011, the regulations stem from the Affordable Care Act and are designed to combat obesity by helping consumers make healthier choices.  But the group of 24 lawmakers said the draft regulations, which apply to restaurants with 20 or more locations, go beyond Congress’ intent and would create painful new expenses for certain businesses, including delivery joints and eateries that specialize in made-to-order dishes “Specifically, the proposed rule limits the ability of businesses to determine for themselves how best to provide nutritional information to customers,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “As a result, the proposal harms both those non-restaurants that were not intended to be captured by the menu labeling law as well as those restaurants that have flexibility and variability in the foods they offer.” 

 The lawmakers pressed the FDA to limit the scope of the regulations, which they say would harm small businesses that are already complying separately with the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act.

 Pizza places and grocery stores in particular have complained about the draft standards, saying they would be all but impossible to maintain. For instance, there are 34 million different combinations of pizza toppings, according to an industry trade group. It’s impractical to require that they list calorie counts for all of the options, they say.

 The lawmakers, led by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), are pushing legislation that would limit the scope of the menu rule to businesses where food service is the primary source of revenue, allow delivery restaurants to post their nutritional information online and allow firms to choose between multiple approaches for labeling made-to-order items. 

The bill, which also would limit penalties for labeling mistakes, has attracted more than 50 co-sponsors, and there is companion legislation in the Senate...more 

Jon Marvel - Longtime activist will retire as Western Watersheds Project director

Jon Marvel, the co-founder and executive director for 21 years of the Hailey-based conservation group Western Watersheds Project, will step down from his post at the end of this month. He will be replaced by the organization’s current public lands director, Travis Bruner. Marvel—refreshingly outspoken or rudely abrasive, depending on whom you ask—has steered Western Watersheds Project toward its audacious goal of ending livestock grazing on public land in the West. Under his direction, Western Watersheds Project has grown from a group of three conservation activists who began bidding on Idaho state trust land grazing leases to a staff of 14 people keeping an eye on management of public rangelands in 10 states. Though the organization remains far from accomplishing its ultimate goal, it has garnered a reputation as being effective in forcing federal and state land managers to follow environmental laws and their own regulations, often under threat of litigation. Suzanne Stone, Idaho representative for Defenders of Wildlife, called Western Watersheds Project “a very powerful ally for the environment.” “They’ve had a very loud voice in raising concerns that haven’t been promoted in Idaho,” she said. “They’ve been paying attention to things that have otherwise gone undocumented. “They’ve sometimes been considered abrasive, but they’ve been very true to their mission. Sometimes you need bookends to find out where the middle is.” In the organization’s office above Shorty’s Diner in Hailey, Marvel, 67, reflected upon his tenure. He said that as a result of Western Watersheds Project’s efforts, range managers with the U.S. Forest Service and BLM have started to move away from viewing themselves as working solely for ranchers, rather than for the public at large. “It’s not the degree of impact that we’d like to see,” he said, “but it’s a definite change from the acquiescent attitude that the agencies had prior to our existence. Because we’re now in the arena, the agencies have to pay attention to what we say, because they know we know what’s going on."...more

Obama Plays Water-Guzzling Desert Golf Courses Amid California Drought

President Barack Obama traveled to California on Friday to highlight the state’s drought emergency at two events near Fresno, calling for shared sacrifice to help manage the state’s worst water shortage in decades. He then spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the hospitality of some of the state’s top water hogs: desert golf courses. Vacationing with DVDs of his favorite television shows and multiple golf outings with his buddies, the duffer in chief played at two of the most exclusive courses in the Palm Springs area. On Saturday, Obama played at the Sunnylands estate, built by the late billionaire Walter Annenberg, which features a nine-hole course that is played like 18 holes. The following day he golfed at billionaire Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s 19-hole Porcupine Creek. On Presidents’ Day, Obama hit the links at Sunnylands once again. The 124 golf courses in the Coachella Valley consume roughly 17% of all water there, and one-quarter of the water pumped out of the region’s at-risk groundwater aquifer, according to the Coachella Valley Water District. Statewide, roughly 1% of water goes to keep golf courses green. Each of the 124 Coachella Valley courses, on average, uses nearly 1 million gallons (3.8 million L) a day because of the hot and dry climate, three to four times more water per day than the average American golf course. Of course, golf is a vital industry to the tourist paradise with streets named for Presidents and Hollywood stars, but the two courses Obama selected are among the most exclusive, seeing far fewer rounds per year than nearby courses. Sunnylands, owned by a trust, is not open to the public. Ellison’s course hosts charity events, but is also closed to the general public...more

$1 Trillion Farm Bill Full of Subsidies, Special Favors

President Obama was in Michigan last week to sign a 10-year, $1 trillion farm bill. While much of the debate has centered around the spending on food stamps, buried in the 1,000-page plan are many other provisions that are indefensibly bad policy. While some are praising, and others complaining, about slightly rolling back spending on food stamps and eliminating some of the direct payments to "farmers" (who did not actually farm), the bill goes far beyond that. This bill continues special subsidy deals to farmers in every area in the country — from corn and beans to rice and peanuts to sugar and catfish. The farm bill also pays 62 percent of the premiums for crop insurance costing billions annually. The program is administered through 18 private companies. According to The New York Times, "Crop insurers scored a major victory from a provision in the bill that bars the Agriculture Department from renegotiating lesser payments to those companies over the … life of the bill. In previous years, the Agriculture Department's renegotiations with insurance companies have resulted in billions of dollars in savings for the government." While the Congressional Budget Office said the bill will reduce federal spending by $16.6 billion, the R Street Institute, a free market think tank with its headquarters in Washington, D.C., said only $8.6 billion of that comes from trimming farm subsidies. Comparably, the 2014 White House budget wanted $37.8 billion in net cuts to farm subsidies. So the GOP, which provided most of the votes on this bill, soon will be campaigning on fiscal prudence, but could not manage to cut less than the president. "The Obama administration is not exactly known for austere budgets, so the fact that the White House would cut $29.2 billion more in wasteful agriculture spending than the farm bill Congress approved underscores just how terrible this legislation is," said R Street Senior Fellow Andrew Moylan, in a press release. The Economist noted that the bill is a 50 percent increase in spending over the 2008 law, with 80 percent going to spending that has nothing to do with farming. The median farm household income is 25 percent higher than the national average and 75 percent of the subsidies in the bill go to the largest 10 percent of farm businesses. In practical terms, this means the rest of society is subsidizing wealthy agriculture companies...more

Personalized Drone Delivery: the new Personal Computer?

Miniaturization, robotics, and the hastening automation economy are coming together in interesting new ways. Personal drone delivery services could be a fast-arriving concept. Amazon announced PrimeAir in November 2013, to possibly be ready for launch in 2015 pending US FAA regulations of personal drone airspace. In the ideal case, the service would deliver ordered items within 30-60 minutes. Similarly, Dubai and the UAE announced a personalized drone delivery service including eye-scanning verification for government documents. Personalized or at least targeted micro-delivery via drones is not a new idea. One obvious use is delivering aid, medicine, and other supplies to remote, war-torn, economically-strapped, crisis-based, or other remote or sensitive geographic areas. The potential cost savings, convenience, and efficiency gains make a strong argument in favor of personalized drone delivery. Immediately many human-based delivery and courier services could be put out of business...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1211

This will be 1954 Week on Ranch Radio and to kick us off here's Ernest Tubb performing Two Glasses, Joe.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Italian farmers rebel against wolf protection

Italian farmers are illegally shooting wolves and dumping them in towns and villages as a graphic public protest against the death of their livestock, according to newspaper reports. The wolf was pushed to the verge of extinction in Italy by the 1970s, when the population dipped to just 100 individuals, but since then a ban on shooting, trapping and poisoning means numbers are now estimated at around 1000. In Tuscany, reports say at least eight wolves have been illegally shot in the past two months, while another was apparently strangled to death after being caught in an illegal snare. Carcasses have been dumped prominently in villages or by roadsides in what some believe is an anonymous protest intended to shock. One wolf was left in a piazza in the Tuscan village of Scansano, while the corpse of a two-year-old female wolf was left by the side of a road leading to the town of Saturnia in the same region, a few days before Christmas.
Farmers say they are having their livelihoods ruined by regular wolf raids. ‘‘Wolves attacked my animals three times in December,’’ said Franco Mattei, a sheep farmer. ‘‘The first time, I came across a sheep which had been disembowelled. Another two had just disappeared. On the third occasion I killed the wolf - it was the day before New Year’s Eve,’’ he said. The killing of wolves by farmers has been strongly condemned by environmental groups...more

Ranchers, enviros and officials seek a middle path on public-land grazing in Utah

If you had never heard them talk about one another, you might assume Mary O'Brien and Bill Hopkin were enemies. Hopkin, a sturdy 68-year-old with a shock of white hair, grew up stringing fence and tending cows in conservative, pro-ranching northern Utah. Now the grazing management specialist for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, he says he's still "at my best when I'm talking over the hood of a pickup." Cattle, he fervently believes, can help rangelands thrive. O'Brien, also 68, is elfish and unflinchingly direct, with a big laugh. She grew up in Los Angeles, devouring Willa Cather's books and falling so in love with grasslands that she would later encourage ecology students to honor native plants by thinking of each as a person. Before joining the Grand Canyon Trust, she earned an anti-grazing reputation for arguing against introducing cows to areas formerly grazed by sheep in Hells Canyon, on the Idaho-Oregon border. Last May, at Kanab's Amazing Earthfest, O'Brien's husband mentioned that they had been married for 45 years. "I am so sorry," Hopkin cut in. But instead of spite, his tone revealed affection and respect developed working with O'Brien to improve public-lands grazing in Utah. Though federal managers say reforms in the '60s and '70s helped heal lands damaged by settlement's grazing free-for-all, conditions on southern Utah's three national forests, the Dixie, Fishlake and Manti-La Sal, have since largely plateaued. Ninety-seven percent of their land is grazed, and roughly on the same schedule, regardless of various ecosystems' needs. As a result, biodiversity and water quality have suffered, and environmentalist lawsuits and appeals have piled up. O'Brien and Hopkin were in Kanab to showcase a different approach: A collaboration as unlikely as Earthfest's own celebration of public lands, where yogis rub shoulders with motorheads in a county best known for opposing public-land protection...more

Ranchers credited for helping Modoc sucker fish recover

Ranchers’ efforts at modifying their grazing practices helped a species of sucker fish recover to the point that they no longer need protection under the Endangered Species Act, federal officials say. The Modoc sucker, a small fish native to the upper Pit River drainage in southern Oregon and northeastern California, benefited from such conservation actions as habitat restoration and improved management of public and private lands, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said. The efforts of ranchers in the Pit River watershed are “a strong demonstration of how conservation partners working together can recover an endangered or threatened species,” U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement. Fish and Wildlife proposed the sucker for delisting on Feb. 12, which begins a review that could take up to a year. The announcement followed a recent proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the Oregon chub, which was the first fish ever to be proposed for delisting because of recovery, according to the agency. The Modoc sucker — which is separate from the Lost River and shortnose suckers that contributed to a water shutoff to Klamath Basin farmers in 2001 — was first listed in 1985 because its habitat had been reduced to 12.9 miles within seven streams, according to an agency news release...more

Stornetta lands may soon be monument

Supporters of a two-year campaign to extend national monument status to a breathtaking stretch of southern Mendocino coastline are abuzz with speculation that President Barack Obama might use his executive authority to make it happen, and that he might do so soon. A key reason for the anticipation is the president's pledge two weeks ago during his State of the Union address to use his office “to protect more of our pristine federal lands.” A Washington Post story five days later added to the speculation when it named the Stornetta Public Lands near Point Arena as one of two areas Obama was preparing to designate national monuments. The Feb. 2 story cited unnamed sources not authorized to speak on the record because a final decision had not been made. The news comes after assurances from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who toured the Stornetta lands last fall and said the president was prepared to preserve unique, sensitive landscapes if Congress failed to act. The convergence of administrative support and possible presidential action has left Stornetta advocates more optimistic than ever that the landmark property will soon be part of the California Coastal National Monument. “I do have a sense of confidence,” Scott Schneider, president and chief executive of Visit Mendocino Inc., said from Washington, D.C., last week, after a meeting with representatives from the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Department of Interior staff...more

Yellowstone Park Considers Slaughtering Bison By The Hundreds

Yellowstone National Park managers are considering a plan that would ship hundreds of bison to slaughter if large numbers of the nation's last purebred herd migrate out of parkland and into Montana state lands in search of food. Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said the park was preparing to capture any animals that cross into Montana, where they are not tolerated. An estimated 4,600 bison now roam the park, far exceeding the target population of 3,000 to 3,500, he said. Yellowstone biologists have determined that between 600 and 800 bison, also called buffalo, must be culled each year over the next several years to reduce the herd, Nash said. "In order for us to approach that population target, we're going to seek opportunities to capture any animals that move outside the park's boundaries," he said, adding that just over 100 bison have been removed so far this year through hunts in Montana. The plan to cull wayward bison is refueling a decades-long debate over management of animals that wander during harsh winters from Yellowstone's snow-covered high country to seek forage in lower elevations in Montana...more

Cattle rustling: An Old West problem still plagues New Mexico ranchers

Venture outside the city and vast tracts of dusty plains greet wondering adventurers around New Mexico, along with herds of cattle, whose only restriction upon complete freedom is a wobbly barbed-wire fence. This is not the Eddy County of a century ago, but in terms of livestock crime, ranchers may as well be living in the Wild West. Technology has evolved and aided in the capture of criminals, but deterrence remains lacking. "In some ways it's the same as it probably was in the 1800s, but probably not on quite as big a scale now as it was back then because there are better ways of tracking stuff," said Darrell Brown, the chairman of the New Mexico Beef Council who also does some ranching in Artesia. Last week the Eddy County Sheriff's Office reported that a man was seen skinning a calf on the side of Rocking R Red Road near Armstrong Road in Hope, southwest of Artesia. The man gutted it and took the calf before police arrived on scene. The Eddy County cattle growers are now offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the cattle rustler, double the amount of the original $500 reward posted immediately following the event. The incident was a stark reminder that cattle theft, commonly known as "cattle rustling," remains part of everyday life, even in the 21st century. Today internet databases and other electronic means of tracking allow law enforcement to spot cattle theft quicker and capture suspects easier. "I've been here for more than 20 years, and it's changed dramatically for me because all of us have computers and such in our vehicles now," said Ray Baca, the director of the New Mexico Livestock Board. "Technology has been the number one factor. If somebody calls me and says (an animal) just got stolen, we are linked to other law enforcement plus (our database) alerts all of our inspectors at the sales barns as well to make sure somebody is not trying to sell them or dispose of them. It would actually alert the adjoining states of that theft as well." Of the 11 states that have brand laws, New Mexico boasts the strongest legal recourse. The state Livestock Board is the oldest government entity in the state and was established in 1887, 25 years before New Mexico was granted statehood. Board inspectors have the same authority as the New Mexico State Police — they can arrest and detain suspects and are not bound by any municipalities. The New Mexico Livestock Board's power is rare for a state agricultural inspection agency and is another reason agents are so effective in catching rustlers, according to Baca...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1210

Monday was a holiday, so let's call this Swingin' Tuesday.  There's swing and there's blues, but there ain't nothing like swingin' the blues and that's exactly what this trio from West Virginia does on today's selection:  Blue Yonder - Cinder Bottom Blues.  The tune is on their 2013 CD Bittersweet Road.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rodeo great Reynolds dies at 77

Benny Reynolds, the 1961 all-around world champion and member of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, died of an apparent heart attack while loading hay at his ranch in Twin Bridges on Friday.

He was 77.

Considered one of the most versatile athletes in the history of professional rodeo, Reynolds competed mainly in bareback riding, bull riding and steer wrestling. He also competed in saddle bronc riding and team roping. It is estimated he accumulated more than 360 buckles in his 40-plus career.

He was the PRCA’s Rookie of the Year in 1958 and qualified for the National Finals Ro
deo 11 times over a seven-year span, earning multiple berths in each of the NFR’s first four years (1959-62).

Reynolds was the winner of the inaugural Linderman Award, given to a cowboy who competes at both ends of the arena, in 1966.

“He was one of my heroes,” said three-time world saddle bronc champion Shawn Davis, who was originally from Whitehall. “I traveled with him for a while when I was starting out and we’ve been friends forever. He was one of the great ones.”

Reynolds stopped competing in riding events in 1993 after he suffered a broken neck at the age of 57. He would steer wrestle a few more years and continued to team rope at Old Timer’s Rodeos until he was 71.
Reynolds still roped regularly and worked his 270-acre ranch. From 1987 until last December, he worked the arena gates at every NFR.

Originally from Melrose, Reynolds was listed among Montana’s Greatest Sports Figures in the 20th century by Sports Illustrated.

He is survived by his three children – Rooster, Jenny and Louis John – all of whom live near the family ranch. Rooster Reynolds, the 1995 NFR steer wrestling average champion, was working with his father when he died.  Source

I got to party one night (all night as I recall) with Benny Reynolds and my good friend Rick Ewing after an NFR performance.  When the NFR was over Reynolds gave me his  NFR official vest.  Its something I've treasured over the years and will now more than ever.

Here's a video tribute to Reynolds.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Romantics of the range

 by Julie Carter

“Put another log on the fire; cook me up some bacon and some beans.  Now don't I let you wash the car on Sunday? Don't I warn you when you're gettin fat?”

Those lines are from the old favorite cowboy song sung by Tompall Glaser on the album, “Outlaws” by the Outlaw band. In their own endearing way, rural men really do believe the basics of life are measures of love. 

My dad took my mom on their honeymoon to a high mountain lake camping and fishing. They packed in horseback in the beauty of summer in the Sangre de Cristos. Only downer for the event was the couple of other relatives dad invited to come along with them.

The Outlaw song continues: “Ain't I a-gonna take you fishin' with me someday? Well, a man can't love a woman more than that.”

A ranch wife will be tickled plumb pink to get a new vacuum cleaner for Valentine’s Day.  A big heart crafted from baling wire is about as tender as the moment will ever get.

I know a gal who books herself and her husband in for a teeth cleaning every Valentine’s Day. “Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a plaque-less kiss,” she says.

Ranch marriages that survive that 50 year mark have a unique sense of romance to them. One old rancher had to have new rings made for his wife. She had worn out two sets already.  It was important to her but not a big deal to him.

His daughter begged him to be “sweet” when he presented her with the new set, since she was going to be sad that her old ones couldn’t be fixed. The jeweler boxed up the rings in a pretty box and the rancher took them to his beloved along with a little poem he wrote:

Maggie, with this ring, I, thee wed...
But I wouldn't have....
If I hadn't of...
Already have....

“There,”  he said. “That was romantic wasn’t it?”

The long lists of “you might be a redneck if” one liners are hilarious only because they are so very true. Occasionally one will refer to Redneck Romance and even come with a poem with stanzas so sincerely endearing:

“Yore hair is like corn silk
a-flapping in the breeze
Softer than Blue's
and without all them fleas.”
It’s been said that the perfect romantic redneck card says it all by simply saying “Honey, I love you more than beer.” This from those romantic guys that define quality entertainment as having a six pack and a bug zapper and consider “The Farmer’s Almanac”  deep reading.

As the Outlaw song continues:

“So, put another log on the fire.
Cook me up some bacon and some beans.
And go out to the car, lift it up and change the tire.
Wash my socks and sew my old blue jeans.”

A man can’t love a woman more than that!

Julie can be reached for comment at