Friday, March 07, 2014

Thirsty pot crops threaten NM forests, boost fire danger

As New Mexico heads toward a potentially devastating fire season, there’s a threat to to the state’s public lands that may come as a surprise. People are illegally growing marijuana, hiding the plants deep within national forests and public lands. The plants are stealing precious water the state desperately needs. The growers are using extensive watering systems. “The way they get the water here in the Southwest is they typically tap into streams and other water sources that may be out there in the national forest,” said Robin Poague, special agent in charge at the U.S. Forest Service in Albuquerque. For example: a group of growers tapped into a stream in the Frijoles Canyon in Bandelier National Monument two and a half years ago to feed 10,000 plants worth an estimated $10 million. They laid at least a quarter mile of tubing from the stream to a huge marijuana plantation growing in Bandelier. “It can be miles. Sometimes they use a gravity-fed system so the water flows downhill into the grow,” Poague told KRQE News 13. “Other times we’ve seen them use pumps out there as well to pump the water up a hill to water the plants.” Growers also build tanks for the water, which can hold tens of thousands of gallons. Authorities found a holding tank next to the grow site in Bandelier. “We think they were filling this with water and then using it to water from,” Superintendent Jason Lott said when authorities busted the grow in 2011...more

 So here's a National Monument in northern NM where they found 10,000 marijuana plants, a quarter mile of pipe and a water tank, and Udall & Heinrich say we can put a National Monument 5 miles from the border with Mexico and that it will not be a threat to public safety.  I decided to do a little research and its even worse than I thought - they had even built a dam.  This is from the 9/8/2011 edition of the Santa Fe New Mexican:

...They dammed up a portion of the creek. They cut down some trees and built simple, log living quarters and a place to dry their crop. They planted more than 9,000 marijuana seedlings. Without leaving a trail, they hauled in everything they needed for a healthy crop: soil, fertilizer, pesticides, hundreds of feet of hose. At some point, it appears they poached a cow for some fresh steaks, said Jason Lott, Bandelier's superintendent. Their plants survived the Las Conchas blaze in June, New Mexico's largest fire to date. By the time their pot farm was spotted Aug. 23., the plants were 6 feet to 10 feet tall and worth an estimated $10 million, said Lott. Agents raided the isolated pot farm on Sept. 1 but captured no suspects. Two men had been sighted earlier, according to the National Park Service...Lott said investigators found three sites close together in Frijoles Canyon. Growers had built an impoundment on the upper tributaries of Frijoles Creek. After water had collected behind the hand-built dam, the growers hand-watered the plants with a hose from the impoundment...Trash, a cow carcass and the number of structures built at the site indicate the operation could have been in place at least a year, Lott said... In addition, DTO growers usually live on site through the harvest. A DTO grower, if caught, will have connections with drug cartels in Mexico.

The cartels trafficking  in humans and drugs would never use a National Monument just across the border, right?

Park Service could hire more under Obama budget

The National Park Service could resume hiring rangers and seasonal staff and beef up visitor programs under President Barack Obama’s spending wish list for fiscal year 2015. The White House’s budget request to Congress, unveiled Tuesday, proposed giving the park service $55 million more than the $2.53 billion the agency got from Congress for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said $30 million of proposed budget increase would be for the park service to operate the 401 parks, monuments, battlefields and other sites under its control. “That (money) largely goes to beefing up the people side,” Jewell told reporters in a conference call. “We’ve had significant cuts to things like seasonal ranger programs and other visitor services because the budgets have been tightened.” The budget request also calls on Capitol Hill lawmakers to provide a total of $1.2 billion over the next three years — $400 million a year — to rejuvenate the park service as it marks its 100th anniversary in 2016. The so-called Centennial Initiative is meant to chip away at the $11 billion backlog in long-delayed maintenance projects nationwide, hire more young people and military veterans, attract additional volunteers of all ages and boost private donations by providing for federal matching grants...more

Judge strikes down small drones ban

A federal judge slapped down the FAA’s fine for a drone operator, saying there was no law banning the commercial use of small drones. The judge’s decision could open up the skies below 400 feet to farmers, photographers and entrepreneurs who have been battling the FAA over the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles. NTSB Administrative Law Judge Patrick Geraghty ruled Thursday that the policy notices the FAA issued as a basis for the ban weren’t enforceable because they hadn’t been written as part of a formal rulemaking process. The ruling, for now, appears to make it legal for drones to fly at the low altitude as part of a business — whether that’s delivering beer, photographing a baseball game or spraying crops. The case, Pirker v. Huerta, concerned Raphael Pirker, a Swiss drone operator who was fined $10,000 by the FAA for operating a drone recklessly while filming a commercial for the University of Virginia’s medical school. Pirker is the only person the FAA has fined for violating the rule, but the agency has sent letters and made informal calls to other drone operators. The judge’s ruling dismisses the FAA’s fine...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1219

Continuing 1964 Week on Ranch Radio here is Johnny Wright - Walkin' Talkin' Cryin' Barely Beatin' Broken Heart.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Arizona Game and Fish opposes recent jaguar critical habitat announcement

On March 4, 2014, the Southwest Region of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) notified the public that the Service had designated 764,207 acres of land in Southern Arizona as critical habitat for the rarely-present jaguar. This action completed the third review by the Service that examines the need for jaguar critical habitat in Arizona. The two prior reviews found that designation of critical habitat in Arizona-New Mexico was not warranted. The Arizona Game and Fish Department does not support the latest finding of the Service that designating critical habitat is essential to the conservation of the jaguar. Game and Fish Assistant Director for Wildlife Management Jim deVos states, “I find it difficult to justify designating critical habitat for a species that is so rarely found in Arizona. In looking at the available data on the presence of jaguars, there has been no documentation of a female jaguar in Arizona for nearly a century. There have been long periods when no jaguar was even found in the state. Such designations should be based on good science and effective conservation, which are both lacking with this designation. This designation does nothing to further the conservation of the jaguar.” Based on the current information from Mexico, the closest breeding population of jaguars is approximately 130 miles south of the international border between Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Further, for many decades, the observations of jaguars in Arizona have been individual males, which clearly do not constitute a “population” given the lack of females and/or breeding pairs...more

House votes to block EPA regs on coal-fired electricity plants

The House voted Thursday to override a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule limiting carbon emissions from future coal-fired electricity plants. Members passed the Electricity Security and Affordability Act, H.R. 3826, in a mostly partisan 229-183 vote; 10 Democrats voted for passage. The bill is a response to a proposed EPA rule Republicans say would require new coal-fired plants to achieve an emission standard that is virtually impossible using today's widely available technology. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), the bill's sponsor, says that means the rule will effectively ban new power plants. "In January of next year, it is anticipated that they will finalize a rule from EPA that will make it impossible to build a new coal-powered plant in America," he said during Wednesday debate. "That is hard to believe that that can be the situation in our great country, particularly since 40 percent of our electricity comes from coal."...more

1 Million Kids Flee the Lunch Line - 321 Districts Drop School Lunch Program

New school lunch standards implemented as a result of First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign have led to more than 1 million children leaving the lunch line, according to a new report. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a wide-ranging audit of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act nutrition standards last week, finding 48 out of 50 states faced challenges complying with Mrs. Obama’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. The new standards led to kids throwing out their fruits and vegetables, student boycotts, higher lunch costs, and odd food pairings such as “cheese stick with shrimp” in order for schools to comply with the complicated rules. The National School Lunch Program saw a sharp decline in participation once the healthy standards went into effect during the 2012-2013 school year. A total of 1,086,000 students stopped buying school lunch, after participation had increased steadily for nearly a decade. The report found that 321 districts left the National School Lunch Program altogether, many of which cited the new standards as a factor. The decline was “influenced by changes made to comply with the new lunch content and nutrition standards,” state and local officials said. The GAO conducted a nationwide survey of nutrition directors and visited 17 schools in eight school districts for the audit. In each district, “students expressed dislike for certain foods that were served to comply with the new requirements, such as whole grain-rich products and vegetables in the beans and peas (legumes) and red-orange sub-groups, and this may have affected participation.” The standards brought “negative student reactions.” In one case, middle school and high school students organized a three-week boycott after their school changed their sandwiches to comply with the rules. All eight School Food Authorities (SFAs) the GAO visited “modified or eliminated” popular food items. One district had to cut cheeseburgers because “adding cheese to the district’s burger patties would have made it difficult to stay within the weekly meat maximums.” The new standards are exhaustive, including calorie ranges for each age group, sodium limits, zero tolerance for trans fats, and specific ounce amounts for meats and grains. White bread will be mostly phased out beginning in 2014 because only “whole grain rich” items will be allowed...more

Go kids, stick it to 'em!  This program goes back to 1946 when it was used after WWII to sop up surplus ag commodities and now its Michelle Obama's personal social engineering party.  Wrong when it started and wrong today.

Power grid takes on the West Texas drilling boom

The booming oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin has created a voracious demand for power in West Texas, one that the grid is struggling to keep pace with, a Texas grid manager said Thursday. “Growth out in the far West is 20 to 25 percent year over year. It has just exploded and it is all oil field load,” said Brad Jones, vice president of commercial operations for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the grid for most of Texas. Jones was one of several speakers at a morning panel at the IHS CERAWeek energy summit in Houston, speaking about electricity issues confronting Texas. But a lack of juice has not slowed down production, Jones added...more

Justice Won't Prosecute EPA Scientist

A recent Journal editorial noted an appalling double standard: the Department of Justice has given a pass to senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency who enabled fake spy John Beale to steal almost $900,000 from taxpayers. Meanwhile Justice threatened EPA career employee Mark Townsend with prison time for alleged management failures that were far less serious. Good news for Mr. Townsend arrived late yesterday. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia notified his lawyer Mark Heilbrun that the investigation of Mr. Townsend is closed.  But has U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen even started an investigation of the EPA brass who enabled Beale to bilk taxpayers for years while he pretended to be a secret CIA agent?  On Capitol Hill, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D. Calif.), who is supposed to lead oversight of the EPA as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, hasn't held a single hearing on the Beale disaster. But even without subpoena power, the committee's ranking member Sen. David Vitter (R., La.) has poked enough holes in the official story to expose open hostilities between EPA's top leadership and the Obama-appointed inspector general who has been investigating the case...more

Probe: Did the CIA spy on the U.S. Senate?

The CIA Inspector General’s Office has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations of malfeasance at the spy agency in connection with a yet-to-be released Senate Intelligence Committee report into the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program, McClatchy has learned. The criminal referral may be related to what several knowledgeable people said was CIA monitoring of computers used by Senate aides to prepare the study. The monitoring may have violated an agreement between the committee and the agency. The development marks an unprecedented breakdown in relations between the CIA and its congressional overseers amid an extraordinary closed-door battle over the 6,300-page report on the agency’s use of waterboarding and harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists held in secret overseas prisons. The report is said to be a searing indictment of the program. The CIA has disputed some of the reports findings. White House officials have closely tracked the bitter struggle, a McClatchy investigation has found. But they haven’t directly intervened, perhaps because they are embroiled in their own feud with the committee, resisting surrendering top-secret documents that the CIA asserted were covered by executive privilege and sent to the White House. McClatchy’s findings are based on information found in official documents and provided by people with knowledge of the dispute being fought in the seventh-floor executive offices of the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Va., and the committee’s high-security work spaces on Capitol Hill...more

Personally, I hope they did spy on the Senate.  Then we can sit back and see how the Senators protect their privacy as compared to protecting ours.

USFS chief: Wilderness conservation to continue as opportunities shrink

The U.S. Forest Service was founded on the idea of conserving the nation’s wild country, and it will continue that mission even as the opportunities to do so shrink, according to agency Chief Tom Tidwell. “Once you use wilderness for something else, for our generation or future generations it’s gone,” Tidwell said during a lecture at the University of Montana on Tuesday. “It can shrink, but not grow.” But Tidwell said we need blank spaces on the map to, as conservationist Wallace Stegner put it, preserve the challenge against which we as a people were formed. Those places defined by the Wilderness Act of 1964 serve as both places of human refreshment and ecological reserve in a landscape that’s getting ever more crowded. Several different divides must be bridged before wilderness land designations can be resolved, Tidwell said. There remains a deep split between those who insist on “clean” wilderness bills that only involve additional acreage added to the system, and bills like one U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has authored that combine new wilderness with new logging or recreation compromises. And there are a lot of people who support keeping inventoried roadless areas and proposed wilderness areas “as is,” with no new roads or motorized use, but who also object to the official “big W” federal wilderness designation. Others question what authority the Forest Service has to designate de facto proposed wilderness areas in the first place. “Why would I propose adding more wilderness when we can’t take care of what we have?” Tidwell asked. “I think we’re improving the care of those areas, and there’s no question we need more. We also need a stronger support base for wilderness. I think we do an outstanding job of engaging the public, and the forest planning process is the right place to do that. We’ll continue to do the job until Congress acts.” But he acknowledged the Forest Service needs to get better at amending its plans to deal with new challenges and anticipating some of those challenges before they burst. Audience members specifically asked how the Forest Service could square the Wilderness Act’s requirement to leave natural processes alone with Idaho Fish and Game agents using federal cabins and airstrips in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness this winter to base wolf-killing operations. They also asked about the growing problem of aircraft fly-overs that some said ruined the quiet quality of the backcountry...more

Folks who don't like the use of airstrips in Wilderness should read Section 7(a) of PL 96-312 which specifically allows for the use of existing airstrips and even says the Secretary "shall not" permanently close airstrips except for "extreme danger to the aircraft" and then only with "the express written concurrence" of the State of Idaho.  Cabins when the Wilderness Act says there shall be no structures?  PL 96-312 also instructs the agencies to do a survey of "ranch, homestead, trapper and other cabins" and report back to Congress.  Since these are now referred to as federal cabins, it looks like the federales are taking care of themselves.  Mining?  PL 96-312 creates a special management zone where the prospecting for and development of cobalt and associated minerals are the "dominant use" and they can even cut timber for their mining operation.  All of these are called exceptions to the Wilderness Act, and there are plenty of them across the West where Congress adulterates the original Wilderness concept so they can shoe horn more acreage into Wilderness.

Professional hunter eliminated 2 wolf packs in Frank Church Wilderness

A professional hunter has been called out of a federal wilderness in central Idaho because he succeeded in killing all the wolves in two packs, a state agency spokesman said. Idaho Department of Fish and Game spokesman Mike Keckler said that the hunter killed eight wolves with traps and a ninth by hunting. Gus Thoreson of Salmon started hunting and trapping in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in mid-December as part of a state plan to eliminate wolves to boost elk numbers. The state agency had planned to keep Thoreson hunting through the winter. “He had been pretty effective early on, but it had been two weeks since he had taken any wolves, so we decided there was no reason to keep him in the area any longer,” Keckler said. Keckler said the average size of a wolf pack in Idaho is five wolves, so the agency determined it had reached its goal of eliminating the Golden Creek and Monumental Creek packs. Officials announced Monday that Thoreson was coming out...Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch filed the lawsuit Jan. 6 asking the judge to stop the plan immediately to give the case time to work through the courts. The environmental groups were joined by Ralph Maughan, a former Idaho State University professor, conservationist and longtime wolf recovery advocate from Pocatello. They lost their initial bid on Jan. 17 when a federal judge rejected their request for a temporary restraining order. The conservation groups argued that Thoreson’s activities violated the 1964 Wilderness Act and other federal acts. The groups had appealed that decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Tim Preso, an attorney for Earthjustice representing the groups, said Wednesday that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game faced a Tuesday deadline to file a legal brief concerning the appeal, but pulling the hunter made that unnecessary. “Instead they were able to sidestep all that,” he said, adding the groups are considering their next move...more

BLM Clearing Brush Along I-8 In National Monument To Reduce Smuggling

The Bureau of Land Management has begun a brush-clearing project along Interstate 8 east of Gila Bend. The operation, called Project Daylight, is an effort to remove the cover used by human and drug smugglers along I-8. BLM says it will clear brush and trees that are often used by smugglers to transfer cargo to vehicles for further distribution. Crews will be working the next couple weeks to prune or remove dense vegetation from a six-mile area along the interstate. Motorists should be aware of possible shoulder closures and that intermittent lane closures could be needed. The area where the work is being done is in the Sonoran Desert National Monument, which is bisected by I-8. The effort is aimed at improving visibility along the highway, eliminating places for people involved in criminal activities to hide, and improve natural resources that have been damaged by illegal activity. BLM eventually plans to remove brush from a 42-mile area from near Gila Bend east to about Stanfield. The timetable for that has not been set.  Source

Having to clear brush in a National Monument many miles north of the Mexican border. Senators Udall and Heinrich want a National Monument just 5 miles north of the border.  This is what's happening in Arizona so what makes them think it won't happen in NM?  

Research shows cows aren’t crying wolf

In 1994, an environmental impact statement collaborated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and the US Forest Service, was signed to reintroduce gray wolves to central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. Since then, the wolf population has boomed across the western region and proved to be problematic for livestock producers. According to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, there were 51 confirmed cattle kills, 15 probable cattle kills, 24 confirmed sheep kills and 7 probable sheep kills in the state in 2013. On top of hitting ranchers’ finances with livestock death rates, a recent study conducted by Oregon State University (OSU) has found cows exposed to wolves are less likely to become pregnant. “"When wolves kill or injure livestock, ranchers can document the financial loss," said Reinaldo Cooke, an animal scientist in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences, in an Extension article. “But wolf attacks also create bad memories in the herd and cause a stress response known to result in decreased pregnancy rates, lighter calves and a greater likelihood of getting sick. It’s much like post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD – for cows."...more

President Proposes $1.1 Billion for BLM in Fiscal Year 2015 and Increase in Grazing Fees

President Obama today requested $1.1 billion for the Bureau of Land Management in Fiscal Year 2015, which will enable the BLM to continue to responsibly manage the development of conventional and renewable energy on public lands, conserve valuable wildlife habitat and cultural and historic resources, and implement innovative landscape scale management approaches. The 2015 President’s request seeks $954.1 million for the Management of Lands and Resources appropriation and $104.0 million for the Oregon and California Grant Lands appropriation, the BLM's two major operating accounts. The total BLM budget request, partially offset by new fee collections, is a decrease of $5.6 million below the 2014 enacted level...more

Here's what the press release says about grazing:

Livestock Grazing – As in previous years, the Administration’s budget proposal seeks to initiate a grazing administration fee pilot project that would enhance BLM’s capacity for processing grazing permits.  A fee of $1 per animal unit month is estimated to generate $6.5 million in fee collections in 2015, more than offsetting a $4.8 million decrease in appropriated funds in the Rangeland Management program.  The increase of $1.7 million in funding resources will allow BLM to make more progress in addressing the grazing permit backlog.

BLM would impose onshore inspection fees under proposed 2015 budget

The US Bureau of Land Management would impose inspection fees for onshore oil and gas producers operating on lands under its jurisdiction under the Obama administration’s proposed fiscal 2015 budget. The fees would be similar to those the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement charges offshore producers, BLM said. An official at the Western Energy Alliance in Denver criticized the idea. “This latest budget again tries for the fourth or fifth year to impose new inspection and nonproducing acreage fees,” said Kathleen Sgamma, the organization’s vice-president of government and public affairs. “The oil and gas industry more than pays for the cost of all leasing, permitting, monitoring, and inspecting activities by returning $88.76 for every dollar BLM spends administering the onshore program,” she said, adding, “New fees are akin to charging taxpayers for filing their income tax returns.”...more

Lowell Pimley Named Acting Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner

Newly confirmed Deputy Secretary Michael L. Connor has praised Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell’s decision to appoint Lowell Pimley to serve as acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation until a new Commissioner is selected by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate. “Lowell has the depth of knowledge and breadth of experience to manage through the complex issues facing Reclamation,” said Connor. “The collaborative relationships he has built during his tenure as Deputy Commissioner have prepared him to step into the responsibilities of this position.” Pimley has served as Deputy Commissioner for Operations since January 2013 with oversight of Reclamations five regions, the Native American and International Affairs Office, and Technical Resources, which includes the Technical Service Center, Research and Development Office, Power Liaison and Dam Safety Officer/Design, Estimating, Construction...more

Hillary Joke of the Week...

Hillary Joke of the Week...

"Hillary Clinton is putting on a little weight.
She'd better be careful...  if she gains 10 more pounds,
Bill's going to start hitting on her."
—David Letterman

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1218

Its 1964 Week on Ranch Radio and here's the no. 5 tune on the country charts, Johnny Cash - Understand Your Man.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Feds Set Aside Habitat In Southwest For Jaguar

Federal wildlife officials are setting aside nearly 1,200 square miles in the American Southwest as critical habitat for the jaguar. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its decision Tuesday. The area includes parts of Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties in Arizona and Hidalgo County in New Mexico. The area was chosen, because it has ideal prey such as deer and javelina. The cat’s habitat is in Latin America, but it extends up into southern Arizona and New Mexico. There has not been a jaguar sighting in New Mexico in eight years, and federal biologists are aware of only one male jaguar that frequents southern Arizona. The critical designation means anyone developing federal land in the area needs to consult the service to ensure it will not hurt the jaguar’s habitat. The designation goes into effect next month. Still, the agency said setting aside land will contribute to the cat's recovery across its entire range, which stretches into South America. Environmental groups filed a series of lawsuits seeking to protect the jaguar, but critics argue that critical habitat in the U.S. isn't essential to the cat's survival. Jaguars were placed on the federal endangered species list in 1997.  AP

Girl, 11, shoots cougar stalking her 9 year-old brother

Shelby White 11
When Tom White spotted a cougar approaching his teenage son outside their home in rural Washington state last week, there was only one thing to do - hand a gun to his 11-year-old daughter. Without a moment's hesitation, Shelby White killed the female cougar, and wildlife officials suggested that the animal may have been sick. The mountain cat was 4 years old and weighed about 50lbs, which is about half of what an animal that age should weigh. 'This cougar was very, very skinny,' State Fish and Wildlife Officer Cal Treser said. The fearless 11-year-old took action when she saw the cougar following her 13-year-old brother as he was walking towards their home in the town of Twisp, population 940. In a phone interview with MailOnline Wednesday night, Shelby’s grandfather, William White, revealed that it was a fourth cougar killed on his property in the past several weeks. Mr White, 64, a cattle rancher, said that earlier this month, Shelby’s 13-year-old brother, Tanner, also shot a cougar that has been circling his farm. ‘We're real avid hunters,’ Mr White said of his clan, which he described as 'backwoodsy.' . The rancher explained that until recently, local residents were able to keep the cougar population in check by hunting the predators with dogs, but two years ago, the local Legislature outlawed the practice. William White explained that last Thursday, Shelby and her young brother were walking home from school when a dog started barking, alerting them to the presence of a predator. 
Cody White, 9, with cat he shot
‘She looked out, and there was this cougar,’ Mr White recalled. The animal appeared to be moving in the direction of Shelby’s 13-year-old brother, who was unaware of the danger as he made his way toward the basement door with a bag of animal feed in his hands. The girl’s father, Tom White, was home at the time, but Shelby was the only one in the family with a tag - a permit to legally kill a cougar. ‘He said, “Shelby, grab that gun and go shoot that cat,”’ White said, adding that the 11-year-old ‘wasn’t scared a bit’ as she pulled the trigger. ‘She was excited to get to do that,’ Mr White recalled. Luckily for the older brother, the boy didn’t realize he was in danger until the cougar lurking nearby was dead at the hands of his sister...more

The whole thing gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling...except for the part about the legislature.  There are more pictures at the link provided.

Utah House passes bill to get cannabis oil to seizure-stricken kids

Utah’s House gallery, filled with parents of children with epilepsy, erupted into applause Monday following passage of a bill that would allow their trial use of non-intoxicating, seizure-stopping cannabis oils. The breach of decorum drew a reprimand from House Speaker Becky Lockhart, who, nevertheless, landed on the "yes" side of the 62-11 vote to approve HB105. Families spilled from the chambers exchanging tearful, congratulatory hugs and flowers. The measure now heads to the Senate where it’s expected to be warmly received. "This treatment could mean a better quality of life for my son," said April Sintz, the South Jordan mother of a seven-year-old boy with an untreatable form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome. "We hope it helps him function and participate in school, to be able to do things that a little boy should be doing, instead of just being at home seizing." HB105 would allow authorized Utahns with "intractable epilepsy" to purchase certain cannabis extracts — high in cannabidiol (CBD) but low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical component of marijuana that creates a high in users — without fear of prosecution. Priming the bill for passage was the Utah Medical Association’s endorsement. The doctor lobby previously opposed it, but the latest version adopted Monday limits access to patients with "intractable epilepsy" and only with a neurologist’s recommendation. Patients would have to apply to the Utah Department of Health for a "hemp extract registration card" and be observed and evaluated by their doctor who would report on patients’ progress to the health department...more

I see the docs wouldn't approve it until the bill was amended so they can make money off the program.  The parents are are apparently too dumb to know what's best for their kids.  They should title this bill "The Welfare for Doctors Act".

Tribes Clash as Casinos Move Away From Home

Hemmed in on a small, rocky settlement, with trailers for housing and tribal members so poor they often cannot afford burials for their family members, the North Fork band of Mono Indians went in search of new land that could offer an economic lifeline: a place to build a casino. “We are virtually landless,” said Elaine Bethel-Fink, the North Fork chairwoman. “So we had to seek land elsewhere.” But the Chukchansi Indians, with their own thriving casino just 30 miles away, have another name for the North Fork’s plan to open a rival casino on the dusty plot of land it acquired just north of this city, 36 miles from its Rancheria, or tribal settlement. “It’s reservation shopping,” said Nancy Ayala, one of the Chukchansi tribal leaders. After decades of nearly uniform tribal support for Indian gambling — fighting in court and at the ballot box against state governments and anti-gambling politicians who sought to close their poker rooms — casino-owning Indian tribes have emerged as some of the most powerful and dogged opponents of new Indian casinos. One of the most pivotal and expensive battles is shaping up here. The Chukchansi and their Wall Street backers — Brigade Capital Management, an investment firm — and the Table Mountain tribe have spent more than $2 million to place a question on the statewide ballot in November about whether the North Fork tribe should be allowed to build its casino. Their campaign is one of the first times that tribes have turned to the ballot to fight another tribe’s gambling plans. Federal and state officials have already approved the North Fork project, which would bring a Las Vegas-style casino, and much-needed jobs, to this recession-ravaged area northwest of Fresno. But now the local issue will be put to voters statewide, illustrating just how far some tribes are prepared to go to keep newcomers off their turf. The phenomenon has been particularly intense in California, where there are more Indian tribes (109), more casinos (more than 60) and higher profits (about $7 billion a year) than in any of the other lower 48 states, according to state officials. Six more tribes have applied to open new casinos, while 78 groups have applied for federal tribe recognition, which is a prerequisite for a casino. But other examples abound. With profits stalling in the $28 billion-a-year Indian gambling industry, tribes from Oregon to Arizona are now using their casino wealth to stifle the competition: lobbying lawmakers, contributing generously to political campaigns and filing lawsuits to stop new casino projects in their tracks...more

Utah Legislators Looking to Give More Power to Local Sheriffs

(KUTV) Utah legislators are trying once again to take power away from BLM and Forest Service law enforcement and give more power to local sheriffs. Legislators tried to make it happen last year, but a federal judge struck down the law. Mike Noel says BLM and Forest Service police can enforce federal laws on federal land, but they shouldn't enforce state laws like state speeding laws. He says federal traffic tickets don't allow real due process for people that are accused. Another bill to shift the power is going through capitol hill in hopes that the second time will be enough to change the law.

Go to the link provided for a more complete video report.  Thanks to Bud Eppers, we already have a law like this in NM.

Domestic Crude Oil Drives a Cautious Refining Revival

N.Y. Times photo
NIXON, Tex. — Since its construction in 1980, the small hard-luck refinery on the outskirts of this little cattle town has been locked shut for more years than it has been open. Situated a hundred miles inland and with domestic crude oil production declining year after year, the refinery could not compete with the large refineries on the Gulf Coast that imported vast supplies of high-quality oil from Nigeria, Angola and North Africa. Rust built up around the refinery’s pipes and storage tanks over the decades, just as it did on dozens of other refineries that closed. But suddenly a technological drilling revolution has unlocked a gusher of superior-grade sweet crude from the Eagle Ford shale field just east and south of Nixon. Two years after a small Houston company named Blue Dolphin Energy reopened the mothballed plant, trucks now line up to take fuels for shipment across the state. Local residents complain a bit about the traffic. But otherwise Nixon, a town of 2,500 people outside San Antonio where the roads are lined with cactus and many storefronts downtown are still empty, is buoyant with newfound optimism. The refinery has employed more than 50 local residents who were mostly out of work. The local barbecue joints and Mexican restaurants are full with workers and truck drivers, sales taxes have doubled and property values have quadrupled since the refinery reopened. Along with the local oil boom, the reopening of the refinery has allowed the town to add a policeman to its five-man department, repave streets and add a well to its water system. Investors are even talking about building a hotel in town. “We were a dead town before the oil industry came in,” said George Blanch, Nixon’s city manager. “Now we’re on the edge of a boom.” The rebirth in Nixon could be a symbol for what is happening in the refinery business around the country. Long plagued by boom and bust cycles, refiners are now enjoying a rare golden age fueled by cheap and plentiful domestic oil and natural gas. Major refiners like Tesoro, Valero, HollyFrontier and Marathon Petroleum are expanding existing refineries in Utah, Texas, Kansas and Illinois to process the light grades of oil that come out of the new shale fields like Eagle Ford. Smaller companies are investing in “teapot” refineries like Nixon’s to take advantage of the new market conditions.

Kaibab National Forest approves new forest plan

The Kaibab National Forest released its new land management plan last week, outlining increased protection efforts and new wilderness areas. The 1.6 million acres of U.S Forest Service land border Grand Canyon National Park and Williams. The new plan replaces the original 1988 plan, officials said. It outlines measures to restore ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forests, as well as grasslands, using increased fire frequency through prescribed burns and allowing natural burns, like lightning-caused fires, to burn themselves out where appropriate. Mechanical thinning will also be a major component. Forest officials say the new plan will help reduce the risk of catastrophic crown fires and boost ecological resilience in the face of climate change. They hope the Four Forests Restoration Initiative will help with those goals. The new plan also includes 6,400 acres of additional wilderness areas. Source

U.S. Forest Service retirees oppose Idaho land exchange

A group of about two dozen retired U.S. Forest Service employees has sent a letter to the U.S. Senate and Natural Resources Committee decrying a proposed northern Idaho land exchange. The Spokesman-Review reports the group is concerned that Idaho’s congressional delegation is pushing the land exchange through Congress. Republican U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, and Republican Rep. Raul Labrador, last fall asked the Forest Service to halt a National Environmental Policy Act review of the exchange. The lawmakers said legislation might be a better option for getting the trade done. “It seems like it’s shaping up to be done outside of the public eye, and I think that’s wrong,” said Larry Ross, a retired district ranger on the Clearwater National Forest. But it’s unclear what’s happening with the land swap in Congress. “Senator Risch is not spearheading the Lochsa land exchange,” said his press secretary, Suzanne Wrasse, in an email to the newspaper. “The proponents of the exchange are working with other stakeholders to garner support.” The deal involves a combination of purchasing and trading public land to obtain about 40,000 acres of private land owned by Western Pacific Timber Co. in the upper Lochsa River basin. The land includes habitat for threatened steelhead and bull trout, Canada lynx, elk and portions of the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. Explorers Lewis and Clark trekked the area in the early 1800s. But the group said the deal trades away popular recreation areas for inaccessible timberlands on the Idaho-Montana border...more

Mexican national guilty in Kern County marijuana operation

A Mexican national entered a guilty plea Monday in U.S. federal court for marijuana cultivation on public land in Kern County. Noe Alvarez Ramirez, 28, grew marijuana in the Gibboney Canyon area of the Sequoia National Forest, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Fresno. U.S. Forest Service agents seized 7,302 marijuana plants from the site and found 5,000 marijuana plant stalks that indicate a prior harvest took place. Trash and fertilizer bags were scattered in the area, and native vegetation was slashed to make room for the marijuana plants, according to prosecutors. Alvarez must pay more than $2,600 in restitution to the Forest Service and is subject to deportation after serving a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years in U.S. prison. Source

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1217

Its 1964 Week on Ranch Radio and here is the no. 6 song on the Charts that year, Dang Me by Roger Miller.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Connecticut gun control

For background on what been going on in Conn. see Connecticut Moves One Step Closer To All Out Confiscation Of Guns & Magazines.   

This article is primarily about a phone call to the state police asking if they would go to people's homes and confiscate guns which had been made illegal under a recently passed state law.  The call is now on youtube and has gone viral.

However, this is what caught my eye:

Connecticut residents who spoke with WND said the mood across the state was tense – especially after a major newspaper essentially suggested rounding up everyone who failed to comply with the new law. “Authorities should use the background check database as a way to find assault weapon purchasers who might not have registered those guns in compliance with the new law,” The Hartford Courant said in an editorial, suggesting that longtime fears among gun owners that background checks were being used as a tool to secretly and unlawfully create a weapons registry were not unfounded. “A Class D felony calls for a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine,” the paper continued. “If you want to disobey the law, you should be prepared to face the consequences.”

You legally purchase a gun and follow the law in registering the purchase.  Then the legislature passes a law that makes your weapon illegal.  The authorities then go to your gun registration papers...

Dan Roberts writes:

The various Anti Gun Groups and their acolytes have dismissively laughed and ridiculed the idea that “Registration leads to Confiscation” in-spite of the fact that there is overwhelming evidence from around the world that that is exactly what happens. As I reported just a few days ago in another column, even The Obama Justice Dept has quietly admitted in an NIJ “white paper” that registration is pointless and ineffective unless coupled with confiscation. It happened in England, Australia, California and its been openly discussed and on some level implemented in both New York State as well as New York City

This appears to be the new strategy, as reported in the New Republic: Gun Control's Next Chapter Is All About Background Checks

Taos Ski Valley drug sweep by Forest Service ruffles feathers

One Carson National Forest employee has been called a Nazi, former Gov. Gary Johnson is on the warpath and there have been numerous other complaints because of a drug sweep by Forest Service agents at Taos Ski Valley last week. In short, the agency is catching some serious grief for an operation in which four agents with a drug dog issued several citations and confiscated “possession amounts” of marijuana in a “saturation patrol” that included the ski valley parking area and nearby roads. And the Forest Service is doing some serious backpedaling. We’ve had “many, many complaints,” said Kathy DeLucas, a Carson National Forest spokeswoman. She said her office had no prior knowledge of the Feb. 22 operation and that the impetus for the sweep came from Forest Service law enforcement in Albuquerque. The ski valley operates on Carson National Forest lands. Robin Poague of the Albuquerque office and special agent in charge for Forest Service’s Southwestern Region said he’s “not sure who actually made the decision” to conduct the drug sweep. That individual may be away on a training assignment, he said. “I don’t agree with the tone that was set by the officers there,” said Poague. Asked what he meant, he said, “I think there were too many officers up there. … We are taking a look at it and the unintended consequences of public perception.” Poague described the operation as a “saturation patrol” and it was his understanding that, prior to the raid, “they had some issues up there,” apparently some sort of altercation. “I am definitely conducting an inquiry as to what happened up there,” he added. He said he’s aware of the number of complaints to the Taos office “and that’s led to my concern.” Ski valley marketing director and vice-president Chris Stagg said he didn’t witness the officers in action but employees and guests complained to him and other ski valley officials. “They didn’t show respect to people,” said Stagg. “Clearly, I thought the officers, their demeanor was rude and out of line.” One consequence of all this, according to DeLucas, was that a Taos employee of the national forest “went into the grocery store in her Forest Service uniform and was called a Nazi. So it’s affecting all of us.” Apparently, “there was a cancer fundraising event and youth event” going on at the ski valley when the officers and their dog made their appearance on a Saturday, she said. Former Gov. Johnson, who lives at Taos Ski Valley, said he was outraged. Johnson said he got first-hand accounts of the raid from a dozen people. He was told the officers had to muzzle their “dog because this dog even bit one of its handlers. This dog was in the face of young children.”...more

And just a few miles north in Colo. recreation use of weed is legal.  They didn't show "respect" and their "demeanor was rude"...rural New Mexicans know all about that.  These were the results of their "saturation patrol":

The Forest Service officers issued five violation notices for marijuana possession, one for illegal possession of prescription drugs and others for traffic or vehicle equipment violations. There also were verbal warnings for things like cracked windshields, said Poague. No “traffickable amounts” of pot were found, he said.

Illegal prescription drugs?  Traffic and vehicle equipment violations?  Cracked windshields?  That's what we pay Forest Service officers for?  Keep that in mind the next time you see an article about them not having enough money to protect federal lands.  Some folks need to go talk to the Sheriff as he could put a stop to this nonsense right away.

U.S. sues Sprint over company's wiretap expenses

Federal officials filed a lawsuit Monday alleging that Sprint Communications Inc. overbilled government agencies $21 million for wiretap services. The lawsuit filed federal court in San Francisco alleges that that subsidiary of Sprint Corp. collected unallowable expenses from the FBI, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and other government agencies while carrying out court-ordered wiretaps and other electronic intercepts of its customers. Communication companies ordered by courts to intercept customers' communications are allowed to recoup the cost of installing and maintaining the wiretaps. The lawsuit arises from a dispute between communication companies and the federal government over the expense of installing and maintaining wiretaps. In 1994, lawmakers passed a law requiring communication companies to upgrade their equipment and facilities to ensure they can comply with court orders seeking wiretaps of their customers. The companies and government tussled for 12 years over who was responsible for those expenses. The Federal Communications Commission settled the dispute in 2006 in favor of the government, ruling that companies can't bill for modifying its equipment and facilities to more efficiently intercept communications. The Department of Justice claims in its lawsuit that Sprint received payments for such modifications between Jan. 1, 2007, and July 31, 2010. The DOJ is seeking $63 million, a tripling of its damages it said it's entitled to if a jury finds Sprint filed false claims. A Sprint spokesman said the company denies the allegations. "Under the law, the government is required to reimburse Sprint for its reasonable costs incurred when assisting law enforcement agencies with electronic surveillance," Sprint spokesman John Taylor said. "The invoices Sprint has submitted to the government fully comply with the law. We have fully cooperated with this investigation and intend to defend this matter vigorously." AP

Talk about your expensive upgrades: $21 million for 3 years worth of spying equipment or facilities.   And that's just one company.  Wonder what the total bill is for all communication companies "to more efficiently intercept communications"? 

Read more here:

Lingering U.S. Winter and Ukrainian War Could Spark Perfect Gasoline Storm

The extreme winter weather pounding the eastern half of the United States is keeping many drivers at home. That means less demand along with lower prices at the pump compared to last year. Unless something gives, however, geopolitical issues in Ukraine could spell trouble for consumers, AAA said Monday. AAA reported a national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the United States of $3.46, a price that's 17 cents higher than the same time last month but 30 cents less year-on-year. The national average price for Monday, however, is the highest since Sept. 24 and marks the 24th straight day of increases. AAA said gasoline prices in the United States ended February with the largest on average increase since July. The lingering cold weather, along with regular maintenance at the nation's refineries, means it may be April before prices start to come back down for U.S. consumers. For Green, the situation overseas could make what's normally one of the costliest seasons for gasoline prices even worse for U.S. consumers. Gasoline futures have increased "significantly," he said, because of the potential that oil prices will increase further in response to the Ukrainian crisis...more

Hundreds of Keystone XL pipeline opponents arrested at White House

More than 500 protesters chanting, “Hey, Obama! We don’t want no pipeline drama,” marched to the White House Sunday, demanding that President Obama stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline extension that would daily carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. About 200 protesters, who marched from Georgetown University, through the streets of D.C., stopping in front of the house of Secretary of State John Kerry to drop “a fake oil spill,” were arrested after they used plastic zip ties to lock themselves to the White House fence. “We are here to tell President Obama to stop a pipeline that he has the control to stop,” said Justin Filtz, 26, who traveled from Stevens Point, Wisc. “The XL pipeline is like a line in the sand if we are going to stop climate change.” The segment of the Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Canada to Oklahoma would require a presidential permit.

Why does the President have this authority?  The Congress delegated it to him.

New Report Finds Oil Sands Production Costs Below U.S. Tight Oil

Canada’s oil sands are often thought of as one of the world’s most expensive, marginal sources of crude. That may not be the case, however, according to a new report by Scotiabank Economics. After examining more than fifty plays across Canada and the United States, the report found that, on average, Canada has lower full cycle breakeven oil production costs than the United States. Moreover, the report found that the oil sands have lower associated production costs than the “light, tight” crude from American shale that is upending the North American oil market. On average, Canadian oil production was found to have an average full cycle breakeven cost of between $63 and $65 per barrel as compared to the U.S. average of $72. The oil sands also have stability—we know where the Athabasca oil sands are and how much oil they hold. This gives the oil sands a competitive edge over tight oil production. The rapid decline of tight oil wells makes it difficult to justify multi-billion dollar fixed pipeline infrastructure—within a few years, a well’s productive prime could be behind it. The EIA estimates that simply maintaining production at 1 million barrels per day in the Bakken requires 2,500 new wells per year. The Athabasca oil sands, on the other hand, will be producing for decades to come, making future production more predictable and expensive infrastructure investment more palatable...more

EPA Releases New Fuel Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency issued stricter rules for sulfur emissions in cars Monday, a move supported by the auto industry and environmentalists but opposed by oil refiners. The EPA’s new regulation will require oil refiners to remove all sulfur from gasoline, and it will mandate carmakers to phase in cleaner technology in engines. The EPA said the new rules will reduce smog and respiratory problems, saving $6.7 billion and adding $19 billion in economic benefits from improved productivity. The EPA estimates the price of gasoline will rise by two-thirds of a cent per gallon as a result. The sticker price of a car will also increase by $75. The EPA worked on the new rule with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), a trade group that represents Ford, Toyota, and General Motors. The AAM did not oppose the rule. However, the oil industry opposed the new rule, saying it will raise costs for producers and consumers while not significantly improving air quality. Ninety percent of sulfur is already removed from gasoline under current regulations. “This rule’s biggest impact is to increase the cost of delivering energy to Americans, making it a threat to consumers, jobs, and the economy,” the American Petroleum Institute’s Downstream and Industry Operations Group Director Bob Greco said in a statement. “But it will provide negligible, if any, environmental benefits. In fact, air quality would continue to improve with the existing standard and without additional costs.” The EPA’s cost-estimate is also disputed by industry analysts. Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers lobbying group, told the New York Times that the price of gasoline could rise by 9 cents per gallon under the new rule. “I don’t know what model [the EPA] uses,” Drevna said. “The math doesn’t add up.” In addition, the oil refining industry argued that the industry will struggle to meet the 2017 deadline. “Besides the enormous costs and negligible environmental benefit, we are also concerned about the timeline of EPA’s new rule,” Greco said. “The rushed timeframe leaves little opportunity for refiners to design, engineer, permit, construct, start up, and integrate the new machinery required. This accelerated implementation only adds costs and potentially limits our industry’s ability to supply gasoline to consumers.”...more

After the government "bails out" GM to the tune of $49.5 billion, would you really expect the company to turn around and oppose these new rules? 

E.P.A. Says It Will Fight Mine Project in Alaska

Federal environmental regulators, citing risks to water quality and salmon spawning grounds in one of the world’s richest fisheries, moved on Friday to block the development of a giant open-pit copper mine in the watershed of Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska. While the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency was not an outright death blow to the project, called the Pebble Mine, it left little room for the mine and its supporters to persuade the agency otherwise. E.P.A. officials said they would now start gathering additional information and public comment under a provision of the federal Clean Water Act that could end any chance of the mine project’s going ahead. The agency’s administrator, Gina McCarthy, was unequivocal in saying that the science, including a three-year peer-reviewed study by the E.P.A. completed this year, had spoken.  The vast size of the proposed mine, with its attendant waste products, would harm the water, the economy and the culture, she said...more

New Mexico farmers prep for irrigation season

Still, irrigation officials in the Middle Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere in New Mexico say the watering season is looking more promising thanks to record rainfall that helped to replenish reservoirs last fall. And if the spring runoff pans out, Lente said the Middle Rio Grande district could have about 60,000 acre-feet of water to distribute this year. An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons — enough to supply at least two average households with water a year. Farmers in the Carlsbad area are expecting at least 2 acre-feet once the irrigation season starts to ramp up later this month. That’s four times last year’s initial predictions. In southern New Mexico, the Elephant Butte Irrigation District says farmers this year could see more than half an acre-foot, double last year’s allotment. Gary Esslinger, manager of the Elephant Butte district, spent part of last week meeting with farmers throughout the lower Rio Grande Valley, where some of the state’s signature crops — chile, onions and pecans — are grown. He said they may have to wait until June for the district to deliver water. “We’re telling farmers that there’s just not enough water right now to open up,” he said. “We’re just not seeing the runoff, but that’s not to say we don’t get some storms in March and April that could help us.” Forecasters with the National Weather Service say the state should expect a spring season in which precipitation levels are below, if not well below, average...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1216

Last time on Ranch Radio we did 1954. This week lets jump ahead to 1964.  Here's the #15 song that year:  Marty Robbins - The Cowboy In The Continental Suit.

Monday, March 03, 2014

FWS Signs Key Component of Lesser Prairie-Chicken Conservation Agreement

Washington, D.C. (March 3, 2014) – Friday evening, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) quietly signed the Range-wide Oil and Gas Industry Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (CCAA), along with an accompanying environmental assessment. This agreement between USFWS, WAFWA, and the five range states allows private landowners who develop oil and gas on their lands to voluntarily enroll into the CCAA. Upon entering the CCAA, participants will pay mitigation fees when they perform certain actions that impact the lesser prairie-chicken or its habitat. These fees will then be used for conservation purposes.   
Western Caucus Chairman Steve Pearce and Western Caucus Member Randy Neugebauer responded to the announcement with the following statements:    

“I want to commend FWS for working with the five range states to approve the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Oil and Gas CCAA,” said Chairman Steve Pearce. “This decision will provide certainty for private landowners as they continue to exercise their rights to develop the resources on their lands. Listing the lesser prairie-chicken as endangered threatens the economic stability of our communities. Fortunately, conservation and development are not mutually exclusive goals. FWS must continue to work with the five range states to fully implement the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Conservation strategy, which they endorsed last October. This plan added over 1.5 million acres of habitat to millions of acres already enrolled through other FWS approved conservation programs. Energy, agriculture and other industries have proven that they will put in the effort to ensure that the species will survive, and preclude the need for an endangered or threatened listing. I look forward to working with FWS, WAFWA, the range states, and my colleagues in Washington to save the lesser prairie-chicken and the jobs our communities so desperately need.”
“I’m really pleased the Fish and Wildlife Service heeded our request to finalize the Range-wide Oil and Gas Industry Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken,” added Congressman Neugebauer. “This is an important step toward giving the range-wide conservation plan a chance to succeed, preventing a costly and unnecessary listing. Farmers, ranchers, energy companies, and landowners can work together with state wildlife agencies to preserve habitat and protect the Lesser Prairie Chicken, without federal intervention.”