Saturday, March 22, 2014

Navajo Family Fighting to Stay on Monument Land

Before an expanse of grassland and pueblo ruins in northern Arizona was declared a national monument, it was home to hundreds of Navajos whose ancestors returned to settle the area after a forced march to an eastern New Mexico internment camp. Slowly, the Navajo families left Wupatki National Monument too, either voluntarily or under pressure by the National Park Service, which sought to eliminate private use of the public land it managed. Only one Navajo woman remains. When 89-year-old Stella Peshlakai Smith dies, her residency permit dies with her, ending forever the Navajo presence at Wupatki. The Peshlakais have vowed to fight for the land where their sheep once grazed freely. Support for the family is mounting among state and tribal officials, but it’s up to Congress to decide whether they can stay. “This family has had a homestead there for generations and generations, years, and we want that to be made right,” Navajo Nation lawmaker Walter Phelps said. One 1970 letter on display is from the Park Service to a former U.S. senator from Arizona. It says: “At no time have the Navajos who grazed within the monument had any title in the land. ... In the absence of appropriate legislation, these lands could not be surrendered to the Peshlakai family. We believe such legislation would not be in the public interest.” It’s the same position that monument Superintendent Kayci Cook Collins takes today...more

Another example of what a National Monument designation can do to local people and their culture. 

New Mexico heads into new year of severe drought

The first two months of 2014 marked the driest start to any year on record for New Mexico, and forecasters with the National Weather Service said Friday that things haven't improved. Senior meteorologist Chuck Jones told state and federal officials during a monthly drought briefing that New Mexico received less than one-third of its normal snow and rain over the winter, and that the lack of snowpack in the mountains is prompting concerns among water managers. "It's terrible. We're looking at the snowpack levels and they're just blowing away," said Raymond Abeyta with the Bureau of Reclamation. "What has us concerned is the soil moisture levels." The latest drought map shows conditions have worsened in New Mexico over the past three months, with areas covered by severe drought conditions or worse nearly doubling since December. While record rains helped some areas last fall, officials said the Rio Grande Basin didn't fare as well. Advisers with the Rio Grande Compact Commission, which oversees a water-sharing agreement between New Mexico, Colorado and Texas, said Thursday that there was almost no native Rio Grande water in storage above Elephant Butte Reservoir...more

Interior leadership shuffle seen offering political cover for Landrieu

A major leadership shuffle at the Interior Department could help resolve a political impasse over a top nominee while aiding a key Senate Democrat's re-election campaign. Yesterday's announcement that Tommy Beaudreau will become Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's new chief of staff in April means he'll be withdrawing his nomination to become Interior's assistant secretary for policy, management and budget, the post now held by Rhea Suh (Greenwire, March 20). The shift means Suh could keep her job if her nomination for assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks remains stalled in the Senate. Such a scenario would also spare Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) from having to cast an awkward vote in favor of Suh, whom Landrieu's political opponents are portraying as a threat to Louisiana's energy industry, a major constituency in the Bayou State. Landrieu's likely opponent in the November midterm election is Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), who's criticized Landrieu's past statements that she plans to support Suh, who previously worked for conservation philanthropic foundations and was at Interior when it halted Gulf of Mexico oil and gas drilling following the Deepwater Horizon disaster. "This is an exit strategy where everyone has a safe place," a source close to the situation said. The Obama administration remains committed to confirming Suh as assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, the post that oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, but there is skepticism among some at Interior over whether she'll be able to navigate the Senate's political minefield. Interior said Jewell wanted Beaudreau as her top aide. A native Alaskan, Beaudreau is seen as a capable replacement for Chief of Staff Laura Daniel-Davis. He’s praised as a fair arbiter both by conservation groups and by the oil and gas industry he has regulated...more

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mysterious plume in NM still baffling people - video

A mysterious plume that showed up on National Weather Service radars is still puzzling people. The radars first picked up the plume in Socorro County Monday evening, then went east into Texas and Oklahoma. The weather service offices in El Paso and Albuquerque didn't know what caused it, so KOB Eyewitness News 4 called White Sands Missile Range. Officials there didn't know what it was. KOB also called Holloman and Cannon Air Force bases. They were both just as baffled as everyone else. For now, the mystery remains.

Here's the KOB video report:


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1231

Another Out West Week tune with Judy Martin & Her Mountain Rangers performing Straight Shootin' Cowgirl.  Listen to that fiddle break at 1:15. Here's a short bio from the All Music Guide:

b. Eva Alaine Overstake, 16 July 1918, Decatur, Illinois, USA, d. November 1951. She learned to play guitar as a child and first sang at Salvation Army gatherings with her elder sisters, Evelyn (b. 20 December 1914, Decatur, Illinois, USA) and Lucille (b. Virginia Lucille Overstake, 13 January 1915, Decatur, Illinois, USA, d. 16 December 1978, Torrance, California, USA). In 1931, singing as the Three Little Maids, they became regulars on WLS Chicago, where they worked with Red Foley and their unit the Mountain Rangers. In 1933, after she married Foley, the act broke up (Evelyn and Lucille went on to work as solo acts, with Lucille later achieving lasting country music fame as singer-songwriter Jenny Lou Carson). Eva became a regular on the WLS National Barn Dance programme until 1947. During this time, she and Foley raised three children; the elder, Shirley Lee, later married singer Pat Boone and is the mother of pop singer Debbie Boone. Eva also brought up Betty Foley, whose mother, Foley's first wife Axie Pauline (Cox), had died in childbirth. In the late 40s, Eva followed a solo career, performing as Judy Martin, but in November 1951, she ended her life with an overdose of sleeping tablets. Her reasons were unclear but reports indicated that it was mainly because of Foley's friendship with Sally Sweet, who later became his third wife. She made some recordings with Foley and may be heard onRed Foley on Vocalion Records, 1966.
The Westerner

Bunkerville Rancher Prepares To Battle Feds Again For Land

Here is another article on Cliven Bundy.  Previous articles are here and here.

...“I have pre-emptive rights on that land, adjudicated back in the 1930s under the Taylor Grazing Act,” Bundy said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to protect my life, liberty and property; and along with them, the rights of the other citizens of Clark County to have access to the land.” This is not the first time that Bundy’s cattle have been in the crosshairs of the BLM. The legal actions have been flying back and forth since the early 1990s. That’s when environmentalist worries about the effects of ranching on the endangered desert tortoise habitat began to take hold. By the end of the 1990s, the government had bought out all of the existing grazing permits from Clark County ranchers; all, that is except for Cliven Bundy’s. Bundy refused to sell his rights. But the entire allotment of rights, including Bundy’s, was retired anyway at that time by the BLM. For his part, Bundy disputes the very claim that the tortoise is truly an endangered species. Even if it is, he disputes that the existence of his cattle on the range are a danger to tortoise habitat. But Bundy also insists that the current dispute is not really about the tortoise nor his cattle. Rather it is a dispute over ownership of the land and over the right of the public to access it. Bundy has insisted all along that this issue is not under the jurisdiction of the federal government because he claims the land, by rights, actually belongs to the state of Nevada. “According to the 10th Amendment, the state of Nevada is a sovereign authority within the United States to make rules and regulate itself and its lands,” Bundy said. “I believe that it is the people of Nevada and of Clark County who own this land that I graze my cattle on. I have no contract with the federal government so this whole thing shouldn’t be controlled by a federal court. It is the state courts that should assert authority in this matter.” But the federal courts have disagreed with this assertion over the years. In 2008, the federal government took Bundy to court for Trespass on federal land and prevailed. The decision found Bundy in Trespass and levied a heavy fine of $200 per day per cow. Bundy expected an appeal to the Supreme Court by the state of Nevada who, he said, should have proclaimed its sovereignty in the matter. But nothing was ever done about it. He was never assessed the fines, and Bundy just kept on ranching the land as he always had done. That went on for 14 years. Then in the spring of 2012, the BLM made some specific plans for hiring contract cowboys to round up and impound hundreds of Bundy’s cattle. In response, Bundy, along with his family and supporters quickly sprang into action. They sent notices to the contract cowboys, the Clark County Sheriff, the Clark County Commissioners and other state elected officials; promising to hold each of them liable for any loss of cattle or equipment in the raid. The BLM officials backed down at that time stating that they would return back to the courts to strengthen their position. Then last fall, the U.S. District Court released two orders that did just that. The orders permanently enjoined Bundy from trespassing on land that he has always considered his pre-emptive ranching allotment. The court orders also found that Bundy’s cattle had been allowed to wander far beyond his traditional allotment onto what the document calls “New Trespass lands”. So the orders also permanently enjoined Bundy from trespassing on that land and ordered him to remove all cattle from those lands as well. The order also quickly dismissed Bundy’s claim that the land is, or should be, under state jurisdiction. “The court finds that Bundy’s objections to the United States’ Motion are without merit,” the Order reads. “The court has stated unequivocally on numerous occasions that it has jurisdiction to hear this case and that the (former Bundy) allotment is owned by the United States. Bundy’s repeated suggestions to the contrary are entirely unavailing.” Finally, the documents specifically entitled the federal government to “seize and remove to impound any of Bundy’s cattle that remain in trespass after 45 days of the date hereof”. These documents claimed to have lined up all the legal technicalities needed for the BLM to move forward with the roundup. So now the BLM’s plan was to again hire a contractor to round up the animals and confiscate them. This process requires that each animal be checked over by a state brand inspector. Even this technicality is claimed to be covered in the legal paperwork from the federal court being presented by the BLM. “The Sheriff told me that they were going to come out and that the Nevada brand inspectors would be there to inspect the cattle,” Bundy said. “So it seems like both of their legs are wobbling a little bit on this thing.” Nevertheless, Bundy says that he will continue on in the fight, following all of the legal avenues that he can. This includes pushing for a legal recognition that an order would be needed from a Nevada court in order to proceed with the brand inspections. “Without a Nevada court order, the brand inspector is not required to come out,” Bundy said. “They work for me as a citizen of Nevada not for the feds. But they seem to be just going along with this. All the State Brand Inspector has to do is say ‘no’ and this whole thing would be shut down.” Bundy said that he also plans to make a continued appeal to the Sheriff to uphold his grazing rights. “All the Sheriff has to do is say ‘no’ to this,” Bundy said. “Is he going to step in and protect my rights or is he going to stand on the fence and allow this to go on?”...more

 “The BLM is continuing in its ongoing efforts to work with state, local and federal agencies to comply with the court order,” Cannon said. “There are a lot of details that are being worked out so we are still working on a timeline.”

What the BLM means about "details" is that they've co-opted state and local officials.  If the feds had jurisdiction they wouldn't have waited 14 years to act.  If the local sheriff and the state brand inspectors go along with this then it will happen.  If they don't, then it won't.  Its as simple as that.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Environmental 'Magna Carta' is Increasing Carbon Emissions and Burning Money


One of anti-development environmentalists’ favorite weapons, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), may actually be exacerbating this interest group’s greatest concern and increasing carbon emissions. This unintended consequence is the result of bureaucratic delay that forces oil producers to burn off, or flare, much of the natural gas contained within oil wells.

Oil deposits are usually surrounded by an enormous amount of natural gas. When companies are extracting oil out of the ground, they have a few options to deal with this natural gas. The most logical thing to do with the natural gas is to collect it, process it, and sell it. Doing so means more money for mineral rights owners, federal and state governments, and the company actually producing the oil and natural gas. The natural gas coming out of oil wells is processed into methane, ethane, and propane, basically a variety of energy sources Americans use to heat their homes, cook their food, or turn their lights on.

What should be a manageable task is made difficult by the snail-like speed at which the federal government issues permits. Collecting the natural gas within oil wells means building a gas gathering pipeline to connect the unprocessed natural gas to a processing plant. If it sounds simple, it isn’t. NEPA requires the Department of the Interior to signoff on these gas gathering pipelines located on federal or Indian land. That is, the same law that has delayed the Keystone XL Pipeline for 2000 plus days must be satisfied to build simple pipelines from wellheads to processing plants.

If natural gas is not collected from oil wells, it is usually burned and released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Most oil producers do not want to flare natural gas, it is quite literally burning money, but have no choice when met with NEPA-induced bureaucratic delays.

Looking to remedy this problem, Senators Barrasso (R-Wy), Hoeven (R-ND) and Enzi (R-WY) have introduced the Natural Gas Gathering Enhancement Act which will expedite permits for natural gas gathering lines on federal and Indian land. These three Senators hail from two of the states that undertake the largest amount of flaring – North Dakota and Wyoming. The North Dakota Petroleum Council estimates that 40 percent of natural gas production is flared at oil wells on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, a percentage that is substantially higher than the amount flared on state and private lands within the state.

Since the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does not keep specific statistics on right-of-way permitting timelines, it is hard to know to what degree the NEPA process forces companies to flare natural gas.

Anecdotes and extrapolation from data we do know can provide some insight. One large independent producer has said that it waited 2.5 years for the BLM to approve its gas gathering pipeline. More broadly, it takes an average of seven years to receive a NEPA-required Environmental Impact Statement in Wyoming. In Wyoming alone, SWCA Environmental Consultants estimate that the lost opportunity cost associated with the delay of oil and natural gas development is $22 billion in labor income and $90 billion in economic output over a ten-year period. Again, these numbers are illustrative of the real world impact an elongated permitting process can have due to NEPA, the same law that is preventing some natural gas from being collected from oil wells.

Tale of two species on Western rangelands

by Thomas Mitchell

Our government masters too often seem downright schizophrenic.

Take the raging debates over what to do about two species — sage grouse and wild horses.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is hell bent to list the chicken-sized bird under the Endangered Species Act because they fear the population could become extinct. Such a listing would hurt farmers, ranchers, miners, recreation and oil and gas exploration on public and private land. Yet, the birds are legally hunted in Nevada and other states.

One study estimates there are 535,000 sage grouse ranging across 11 Western states, yet between 2001 and 2007 hunters bagged 207,000 sage grouse — and that doesn’t count the untold numbers that were wounded, escaping the game bag but later died. About 9,000 sage grouse were harvested in Nevada alone in the 2009 and 2010 hunting seasons.

On the other hand, there are an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 wild horses — actually feral horses, since they are not native to the region — roaming the Western range lands, though Bureau of Land Management officials say the open range can only sustain 27,000. Under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, it is illegal to harass or harm such horses and burros. Doing so is punishable by a fine of $2,000 or a year in jail.

Sometime next year the free-roaming wild horse population is expected to hit 69,000. The BLM already has 47,000 wild horses warehoused in corrals.

So, the federal government says there are too few sage grouse, but it is legal to shoot them, while there are too many wild horses, but it is illegal to shoot them.

Even though the 1971 law instructs the BLM to sell excess horses to any willing buyer “without limitation,” the agency has steadfastly refused to sell horses for slaughter for meat or other purposes.

But now that reluctance by the BLM may be moot. It turns out the budget deal signed into law in January by Obama withheld any money to pay for federal inspections for slaughterhouses that ship horse meat interstate or export overseas. No inspections, no slaughter.

Even though the sage grouse population is such that, even if it is declining at the rate estimated by the federal government, the birds can survive for several centuries in the wild, there is a push to list them as threatened or endangered.

But under the “management” of the Bureau of Land Management, the wild horse overpopulation has reached a crisis level.

74 House Members Send Letter Urging Secretary Jewell to Maintain Critical Gray Wolf Protections

Today, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) released a bipartisan letter co-signed by 73 House members urging Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to continue critical protections for endangered gray wolves. The letter comes on the heels of an independent peer review that found the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) failed to use the “best available science” when it drafted a proposed rule that would remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states. In the letter, the members write, “Because it is not based on the best available science, the proposed rule undermines decades of conservation work done to protect the gray wolf, and sets a bad precedent for future ESA delistings. Further, it would stifle gray wolf recovery at a time when conservation gains are only nascent in the Pacific Northwest, and recovery has yet to begin in California, Colorado, Utah, and the Northeast, where scientists have identified a significant amount of suitable habitat that would support wolf populations.” The members ask Secretary Jewell and the Service to rescind the proposed rule immediately...more

Trust for Public Land turns up heat in Coast Dairies case

The Trust for Public Land, a conservation group seeking to transfer a 5,500-acre swath of North Coast land for public use, is taking an unusual and aggressive stance against a group of Bonny Doon neighbors who've tied up the project in court for years. This week, Trust for Public Land asked the neighbors to pony up $200,500 in attorney's fees — the cost of defending the case in court. The case has lingered for years, with the San Francisco-based group recently winning a judgment that seemed to clear the way for the former Coast Dairies and Land property to be transferred to the Bureau of Land Management, a move that was expected earlier this year. But neighbors, represented by Save Our Agricultural Land, the Rural Bonny Doon Association and four individuals — Don Croll, Jodi Frediani, Bruce Kosanovic and Celia Scott — recently appealed the case again, leading to the unusual request. "I haven't seen anything like this in my 25 years of practice," said Bill Parkin, a Santa Cruz environmental attorney representing the neighbors in court. Indeed, it usually works the other way around. California law grants individuals and their lawyers the right to act as "private" attorneys general on behalf of the public. Those lawyers commonly recover fees from the parties sued, including the government. While some see the law as a boon for plaintiff's lawyers, it is also one way environmental litigation becomes feasible for those with little economic resources. But Trust for Public Land is arguing that they are acting in the public interest, not Bonny Doon neighbors...more

Town hall pans proposed U.S. Senate legislation on Organ Mountains national monument

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's visit to Las Cruces earlier this year apparently sparked what turned out to be a standing-room-only public meeting Wednesday to talk about federal legislation that could lead to Organ Mountains, and possibly other peaks in Doña Ana County, being designated as a national monument. The auditorium at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum was filled to capacity and an overflow crowd of as many as 100 more spilled into the museum hallway to talk about markedly different pieces of legislation that have been introduced into the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, respectively, aimed at protecting the Organ Mountains. The town hall meeting was organized by Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., who is proposing the Organ Mountains National Monument Establishment Act to protect 54,800 acres in and near the Organs, east of Las Cruces. The Senate legislation, introduced by Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Democrats, proposes to set aside 498,815 acres — including much the Organs and other undeveloped areas of the county — that would be designated as the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. At the core of many of the concerns voiced at Wednesday's town hall was the vast difference in the size of a proposed national monuments. "I've been attending thse meetings for several years," said Las Crucen Ron Camunez, who was clear he doesn't support the Senate legislation. "I say it's time we stand up and say enough is enough. It's time we tell those in Washington (D.C.) to leave us alone and stop the grandstanding and lying to us. Let's stop this nonsense." Most of the comments at the meeting echoed much of the same sentiment. Mark Cox, whose family has owned and operated the Cox Ranch near White Sands Missile Range since 1893, said years of the U.S. government telling his family what they could and couldn't do on the family ranch — after the federal government acquired much of the family's ranchland to establish White Sands Proving Grounds in 1945 — has Cox skeptical about the Senate proposal...more

Army looks for other options as Forest Service scales back helicopter zones

Within six months, Fort Carson hopes to have its new Combat Aviation Brigade on base and in full swing, with about 117 helicopters executing landings and takeoffs in the Pike and San Isabel national forests. But while the community has largely embraced the new unit's arrival, a few wonder if allowing approximately 350 pilots to fly hundreds of missions in tinder-dry forests is a good idea. The U.S. Forest Service says no wildland fires have been ignited by sparks from a helicopter crash. But tell that to Lance Williams, who lives just south of Manitou Springs in Crystal Park, a hamlet at 9,000 feet. Williams considers the "more or less constant" whop-whop-whop of helicopters overhead a warning of impending catastrophe. "The fire threat makes training in this area very questionable," he says. Conditions have changed dramatically in the 36 years since the Army obtained its permit to land helicopters amid the forests: The population has nearly tripled, more homes lie close to the forests, and the forests themselves have been desiccated by drought. In addition to the fire threat, the Forest Service also is worried about the impact of expanded helicopter training on wildlife and other forest users, and has taken steps to discourage Fort Carson from relying too heavily on the forests. Carson has generally followed the Forest Service's wishes, but the Army asserts in documents that High Altitude Mountain Environmental Training (HAMET) is crucial to preventing crashes in places such as Afghanistan. Though the forests remain its preferred training site, the Army has applied for a long-term lease of Bureau of Land Management land southwest of Colorado Springs, extending to north of Cañon City. That application will kick off a National Environmental Policy Act process that will include public comment and analyze the impact of takeoffs and landings from 43 sites...more

Why would they move a Combat Aviation Brigade to Ft. Carson if they haven't secured areas for them to practice?  According to the FY 2013 Base Structure Report the Department of Defense owns 28 million acres.  There's nowhere in that huge land area where they can practice HAMET? And here's another thought:  Stay the hell out of Afghanistan.

Colorado mountain town makes not recycling a civil offense

Part of the reason it has taken so long to pass a recycling mandate in Vail is that questions about implementation have dogged the proposal. Those questions were answered to the satisfaction of five Vail Town Council members on Tuesday, enough to give final approval to an ordinance that makes the town the first in the valley to mandate recycling — and make not recycling a civil offense. One of the biggest questions residents and council members have is just how some buildings in Vail Village and Lionshead will be able to meet the new requirements. Ron Riley is the co-owner of Russell’s restaurant. That building, along with three others, are members of a trash facility “association” for a structure behind Russell’s and the Gorsuch building. Riley told the council he’s been involved in several meetings with other building owners, town officials and representatives of his trash hauler trying to find a way to incorporate recycling facilities into the existing trash structure. So far, there hasn’t been a solution. Those fines, if imposed, can be steep — up to a maximum of $999 in fines and 180 days in jail for every violation...more

They can force you to buy health insurance and they can force you to recycle your trash.  I say take your ObamaCare forms and throw them in the trash...just make sure its in the right can.  Come to think of it, Vail would be a good place for those Army helicopters to practice.

Pilots Say Glare from Newly-Opened Ivanpah Solar Farm Is Blindingly Dangerous

A pilot flying over the newly-completed Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert, near the Nevada border, complained to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that he was “nearly blinded” by reflections from the huge mirrors used to harness the sun’s rays. He is apparently not alone, according to federal documents reviewed by the Riverside Press-Enterprise. An anonymous Los Angeles air traffic controller told the FAA that pilots had complained to him about the blinding light and that he himself had experienced it as a passenger flying over. “I have no idea what can be done about this situation, but being a passenger on an aircraft that flew through this airspace and saw it for myself, I would say that something needs to be done. It is extremely bright and distracting,” the controller wrote. The complaints were reportedly made to the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) last August, relayed to the FAA in November, passed along to Nevada’s Clark County Department of Aviation in January and sent to NRG Energy and Bright Source Energy, co-owners and operators of the plant, last week. The companies were asked to respond within 10 days to the ASRS, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Ivanpah sits on public land leased from the BLM. Ivanpah is reputed to be the world’s largest solar energy project in the world, with 170,000 heliostat mirrors focusing the sun’s rays on 459-foot-high tanks of water, producing steam to run a conventional turbine that produces electricity. It began producing electricity last year and came online in December...more

The reports went to the gov't last August.  So it took them 7 months to send them to the companies involved, yet they expect a response in 10 days.  That pretty well describes the shape we are in today.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1230

Its Out West Week on Ranch Radio and here is Rex Allen performing Happy Yodeling Man.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Land commissioner unhappy with governor's veto

State Land Commissioner Ray Powell is objecting that Republican Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed money for a feasibility study about New Mexico buying some federal land. Martinez eliminated $250,000 for the study from a budget bill this week using her line-item veto powers. Powell contends that New Mexico could generate more money for education if the Land Office acquired "disposal land" from the Bureau of Land Management. He says the land could be used for grazing leases, commercial development and energy production. Powell said Thursday that "politics as usual in Santa Fe must end." A Martinez spokesman said the governor understands the importance of the land acquisition issue, but thought the study was too expensive and the Land Office could pay for it rather than using the state's main budget account. AP

Editorial - State makes a point in suing over federal failure to consider oil plan

Gov. Sean Parnell has taken the next step in the long-running, slow-moving effort to tap the energy resources of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain, an area that Congress decades ago recognized as having high oil and gas potential.

The governor on Friday announced that the state has filed suit against the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over those agencies’ refusal to consider the state’s plan for exploratory oil and gas activity in the 1.5-million-acre coastal plain of ANWR as required by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980.

It’s a good move and shows that the ANWR battle, although quieted nationally by an unfavorable White House and Senate, is far from over.

The source of the disagreement between the state and the federal agencies stems from a 2010-2011 Fish and Wildlife Service revising the 1988 ANWR comprehensive conservation plan, which deferred handling of the coastal plain to a 1987 ANWR resource assessment report that recommended Congress approve an oil and gas leasing program for the coastal plain.

The revision put forward by Fish and Wildlife officials didn’t include an oil and gas option but did include two options for Congress to declare the coastal plain as wilderness.
That, rightly, set off some alarms in Alaska.

The state submitted an oil and gas exploration plan in 2013 but was rejected by Fish and Wildlife. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said authority for approving a plan expired with completion of the 1987 resource assessment report required by ANILCA.

The big flaw in the secretary’s argument, however, is that ANILCA contains no expiration date for the authority to approve a plan. The process outlined for approval of a plan of exploration activity remains on the books.

So the secretary must follow through with the process, which requires that any exploration plan submitted for approval and meeting the guidelines get at least one public comment hearing in the state and then be approved.

That hasn’t happened.

Alaska House Urges Interior Secretary to Reconsider Ill-Informed Izembek Land Exchange Decision

The Alaska House of Representatives today passed a resolution by Rep. Bob Herron urging U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to reconsider the Izembek Land Exchange denial. House Joint Resolution 30 calls on Secretary Jewell to take into consideration King Cove residents’ needs for modest road access to the Cold Bay Airport, located across the Kinzarof Lagoon, for life, health and safety reasons. “The Congress acted five years ago to approve the exchange, yet we’re no closer today than we ever have been due to the ill-informed decision from Secretary Jewell,” Herron, D-South Bering Sea, said. “She came to King Cove, to a packed gym, and listened to the outcry from the kids, then went to the community center and listened to the adults. After taking that all in, she said she would have to take all of the input back and that she’d ‘listened and learned and now she’ll have to listen to the animals.’ Her off-handed comment is ironic. “She is so insensitive to the needs of Alaskans, the needs of our community that you could have knocked me over with a feather,” Herron said. “I agree with our senior U.S. Senator, Lisa Murkowski. She called her heartless. She cares not for the safety of our people, which is contra to the federal requirement for taking the human impact of a decision into the equation. She’s violated the Trust Responsibilities for Alaska Natives. She can do the right thing, and reconsider her decision based on the agency’s own requirements and the technical and procedural deficiencies in the Environmental Impact Statement.”...more

Some of the most productive farm land in the world is going fallow thanks to a man-made water shortage


    Yet there's another California, set back from the left coast, in the abundantly fertile Central Valley, which produces half of America's fruits and vegetables; more than 98% of its almonds, pistachios and walnuts; a third of U.S. dairy exports—and Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck wine. This California has come under siege from the California of politicians and regulators, a siege that has been especially harmful during the current prolonged period of drought and water shortages. The storms that hit the state a couple of weeks ago didn't make a dent in the water shortfall or in the farmers' larger problems.
    Just ask Mark Watte, a second-generation dairyman and nut grower from rural Tulare, who doesn't mince words. "Everywhere you turn, they are coming at us with this nonsensical b.s.!" he says. Who are "they"? Environmentalists, though the beleaguered California farmer cautions against using that word: "Most of them don't really care about the environment. They are obstructionists."
    The 61-year-old farmer tends to speak with exclamation marks when he's revved up—and that's often these days. Mr. Watte sat down to chat recently at the Tulare Golf Course restaurant, where the dress code is jeans-and-flannel and the music strictly country. He was joined by Rep. Devin Nunes, who grew up working on a family-owned dairy farm that is still managed by his 95-year-old grandmother.
    The congressman rolls out a large map of California's sprawling irrigation system showing its rivers, canals, dams and lakes. The ultimate aim of the environmentalists, Mr. Watte says, is to wipe out 1.3 million acres of farmland and return the valley basin to its once-swampy state.
    West-side growers have already taken tens of thousands of acres out of production. This year they plan to leave fallow half a million more acres, a drastic move spurred by a depletion of aquifers and suspension of state water deliveries. Harris Farms alone is taking 9,000 acres that would have grown melons, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage and lettuce out of production. One result of farmers scaling back is that 72 million heads of lettuce won't be produced in California and likely will be imported instead from Mexico.
    Mr. Watte explains that west-side farmers in the Central Valley are idling all their crops except for high-value nut trees, which the farmers are paying a premium to keep on the drip. An acre-foot of water (enough to submerge an acre of land in one foot of water) can cost up to $1,300 compared with about $40 a few years ago. Meanwhile, some farmers are drilling deeper wells at a cost of $1 million per hole. These wells may last only five years, and the groundwater is often too salty to irrigate crops.
    East-side farmers like Mr. Watte who were blessed with rich aquifers are also having to pump deeper. Later, on a tour of his farm, he drops a rock down a well. The "plunk" that reverberates is music to his ears since it means he still has groundwater. But he expects many pumps to break by this fall due to heavy use, which could force him to leave some land fallow. He also worries that farmers are causing "long-term permanent environmental damage" by depleting aquifers. "Once an aquifer is gone, you can't restore it."
    "I'm more worried about 2024 than 2014," says Mr. Watte who has worked on the farm since his father transplanted their family here from Long Beach in 1958. Mr. Watte and one of his two brothers, Brian, took over the business when their dad retired in 1984 and have since tripled its footprint to 4,500 acres. While Mr. Watte's three daughters aren't involved in day-to-day operations, a son-in-law and nephew help run the business.
    Liberals blame the water shortage on record dry weather and climate change. (Climate models predict that California will get wetter if the world is warming, but never mind.) Those explanations ignore that San Joaquin farmers haven't received 100% of their contractual water allocations from the federal Central Valley Project since 2006, even in years of heavy rain or snow. Farmers got only 45% of the water they were due in 2010, when precipitation was 110% of the norm. Regulations ostensibly intended to protect fish like the three-inch delta smelt, steelhead and chinook salmon, Mr. Watte says, are to blame.
    He explains that California Democratic Rep. George Miller in 1992 led the first major water siege with the  Central Valley Project Improvement Act, which allocated 1.2 million acre-feet of water to wildlife—enough to sustain 1.2 million families and 300,000 acres. The law aggravated the existing acrimony between farmers and environmentalists, and resulted in a turf war between federal and state regulators.
    Eventually, green groups, farmers, the feds and state reached an armistice with the 1994 Bay Delta Accord, which jettisoned a demand by environmental groups to restore fish to a dry stretch of the San Joaquin River. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in October 1994 expressed her unequivocal opposition to "any effort to take water from Friant Dam for the purpose of restoring a long gone fishery on the San Joaquin River." Such a water diversion, she said, would have proved devastating to "10,000 small, family farms."
    But environmental groups soon broke the peace by suing for more water diversions to protect salmon and smelt. By 2009, Ms. Feinstein's views had reversed: She backed the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act, whose goal was to restore fish to what had been a dry river bed. But not just any fish—specifically, cold-water salmon that hadn't been documented at the site since the 1940s. Cold-water salmon require "huge volumes of water" to thrive, Mr. Watte notes, and he thinks that was exactly the point. The environmentalists "don't care about fish," he says. "The fish are just a prop, a vehicle to get our water."
    That may sound paranoid, but consider that about 400,000 acre-feet of water over the past two years have been diverted from farm use merely to conduct salmon test-runs on the dry river. Such prodigious use of water for seemingly everything but farming is starting to seem familiar to growers. For the past seven years, federal regulators have been flushing hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta into the San Francisco Bay on the pretext of protecting three-inch smelt from pumps that send water to farmers in the Central Valley.
    It's ironic, Mr. Watte says, that the biggest threat to the smelt is "Sacramento and other communities that are pumping their sewage into the delta—or not treating it the way they should be." Another irony: Government biologists kill more smelt each year conducting population surveys than do the delta's water pumps. Meanwhile, Mr. Watte notes, San Francisco is piping in "pristine water from Yosemite"—thereby circumventing the delta—while liberals demand that more water be diverted from farmers to restore the smelt's polluted ecosystem.

Bloomberg - ‘I can outspend the NRA and gun manufacturers’

Billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg made it abundantly clear that he plans to continue his fight to pass tougher gun laws at both the federal and state levels in a recent Yahoo interview with Katie Couric. In fact, the former New York City mayor did not even bristle at the thought of going dollar for dollar in the political arena with the nation’s preeminent gun rights organization, the National Rifle Association. “You think you can really outspend the NRA and the gun manufacturers?” Couric asked. “Oh sure,” Bloomberg responded. “I’m not the only funder of this. All of these groups raise money. ” Bloomberg is the co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, arguably the most aggressive pro-gun control organization in the country, especially now that MAIG has partnered with the grassroots-savvy Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Specifically, Bloomberg wants to see a federal law that expands background checks to cover private firearm transfers made over the Internet and at gun shows. Though he didn’t give a timeframe, in the interview, Bloomberg said he was “100 percent convinced that he would get a bill through Congress, through the Senate and the House.”


Senator Heinrich Visits Cibola County, Tours National Monument

This morning, Heinrich visits the El Malpais National Monument and is meeting with monument administrators to discuss conservation efforts and growing New Mexico's outdoor recreation economy. In 1987 Congress established the 115,000-acre national monument -- which is managed by the National Park Service -- and the 263,000-acre El Malpais National Conservation Area. Tomorrow, Senator Heinrich will tour Mount Taylor Manufacturing (MTM) in Milan to meet with the company's president and members from the Cibola National Forest Fire Management to discuss a U.S. Forest Service program to clear small wood from the Cibola National Forest. MTM is a family owned business, which was established as a wood molding plant in 1965. The sawmill makes products from trees selectively harvested from the Cibola National Forest...more

EDITORIAL - Time running out to share your opinion on monument expansion

How many times have we heard the lament, “No one asked my opinion”? In our hustle-bustle lives, there are times when we’re asked about what we think, but we forget to respond. Such might be the case with the expansion of the Ocmulgee National Monument. In case you’ve not heard, there is an effort to expand the footprint of the 702-acre monument by as much as 2,100 acres. When the monument was originally designated in 1934, it was supposed to be about 2,000 acres, but as usual, money was tight and the size of the park never reached its designated size. The effort to expand the monument has included a study that lays out what could be future plans for the monument’s expansion. A public meeting was held during the first week in March where residents had the opportunity to look at the plan and ask questions. Understanding that not everyone would be able to make the meeting, the National Park Service is soliciting comments on the plan at Interested parties can examine the plan and comment. So far, about 3,000 people have made their opinions known, but the comment period closes on Friday. And while 3,000 comments seems like a lot -- and it is -- those opinions represent less than 2 percent of Macon-Bibb County’s population. The process of expanding the monument respects property rights. Owners of land would be given fair market value if they choose to sell. They can also donate their properties. No landowner would be forced to sell through eminent domain or any other process. Some parcels that could be included are owned by Macon-Bibb County and the state’s Department of Transportation, and some parcels are already being held by the Archaeology Conservancy. While separate from the effort to expand the monument, the Ocmulgee National Park and Preservation Initiative is trying to get the monument designated as a national park. It would be the only national park in Middle Georgia...more

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NMSU rodeo impresses with doubleheader victory

The New Mexico State University rodeo team took more wins during the March 15-16 doubleheader at Central Arizona College in Florence, Ariz.

The women’s and men’s teams captured more than 22 places in the eight events.

“I am very excited to see our men continue their dominance of the region,” NMSU rodeo coach Jim Brown said.

Brandi Pfeifer and Tyke Kipp took the All-Around wins the first day, scoring the highest points for their teams.

“The women’s team has really stepped up this semester and have pulled themselves up from a rocky start to a very much attainable team championship,” Brown said.

Among the first place winners were: Trenton Montero in bareback, Tyke Kipp in saddlebronc riding, Pacen Marez and Victor Ugalde in tie-down, Jenna Suazo in breakaway and Colt Capurro in steer wrestling.

Both men’s and women’s teams made the top spot the first day, while the men took first and the women took third the second day.

“With four rodeos to go, there’s a lot that can happen,” Brown said.

The next rodeo is scheduled for March 22 at the University of Arizona in Tucson. For a full list of rodeo events visit the NMSU Rodeo Facebook page at

Those highlighted are NMSU athletes.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1229

Its Out West Week on Ranch Radio and here is Texas Jim Lewis & His Lone Star Rangers performing My Little Prairie Flower, which they recorded on July 23, 1942.  The last 20 seconds shows my version of a Little Prairie Flower. Here's a short bio.  For a complete bio go to 

b. James Lewis Jnr., 15 October 1909, Meigs, Georgia, USA, d. 23 January 1990. His mother died when he was five and his father remarried and raised two more children. In 1919, the family relocated to Fort Myers, Florida, where Lewis stayed until 1928, when he relocated to Texas. Here, he began singing and also acquired his nickname. By 1930, the family were in Detroit and he returned home and played local bars with 14-year-old Jack Rivers (in reality his half-brother Rivers Lewis). In 1932, he returned to Texas where, until 1934, he played with the Swift Jewel Cowboys in Houston. Returning to Detroit, he joined Jack West's Circle Star Cowboys and also worked on WJR. He then formed his own Lone Star Cowboys, which included Jack Rivers and Smokey Rogers, and moved to New York, where they remained for five years. With a repertoire of western swing and popular numbers, they played a residency at the Village Barn, various theatres and clubs and made regular radio appearances. They recorded for Vocalion Records and between August 1940 and February 1944 cut almost 40 sides for Decca Records. They ranged from the gentle 'Molly Darling', to the comedy of 'When There's Tears In The Eye Of A Potato (Then I'll Be Crying For You)'. They also recorded numerous transcription discs and toured as far as California. Lewis became noted for the strange musical instrument that he called Hootenanny. It comprised washboards, motor horns, cowbells, sirens and guns that actually fired. When Lewis was drafted in 1942, Spade Cooley became leader of the band. When he returned to the music in 1944, he formed a new band, opened a club and toured until 1950, when he relocated to Seattle. Here he presented a radio show and then established hisRainier Ranch and his very popularSheriff Tex's Safety Junction children's show on KING-TV, which lasted for seven years. He also appeared on Canadian television with the programme. Most of his recordings at this time were children's records. After his children's show ended, he continued to play around the Seattle clubs and over the years, he has been afforded many tributes for his dedicated work in promoting western swing music. He appeared in several films includingBadmen From Red Butte (1940), Pardon My Gun (1942), Law Of The Canyon andThe Stranger From Ponca City (both 1947). He also successfully recorded 'Squaws Along The Yukon', several years before the Hank Thompson version and had a number 3 US country hit, 'Too Late To Worry, Too Blue To Cry', on Decca Records, in 1944. Although few of his recordings are available on US labels, in the 80s Cattle Records of Germany issued several albums of his early work and also one, Just Plain Old Ordinary Me (1985), by Jack Rivers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Secretary Jewell may withdraw lands pending legislation

No stone of preservation was left unturned by advocates of landscape resource protection in the Crown of the Continent Saturday during a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and John Walsh at the Hungry Horse Ranger Station. Tribal members, environmental groups, Glacier National Park brass, civic leaders and federal officials attended the gathering, which was organized to update stakeholders on the progress of the widely supported North Fork Watershed Protection Act, and for attendees to voice concerns about the need for additional federal measures to protect the landscape in the transboundary Flathead Valley. Democrats Tester and Walsh have overwhelmingly supported the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, a version of which was first introduced by former Sen. Max Baucus, whose retirement to become ambassador to China cast doubt on the bill’s future. However, Jewell emphasized the importance of a lands protection bill like the North Fork measure and said she may seek administrative relief to temporarily implement the bill as it languishes in Congress, while Tester and Walsh pledged to continue to work toward permanent passage of the bill. “As human beings we haven’t always appreciated these great landscapes. I know there have been decisions made by some of my predecessors to put leases in areas right on the edge of a national park, right on the edge of a wilderness area and right in areas that are too special to be developed,” Jewell said. “You have all worked very hard to make people understand why these places are too special to be developed. This is a very important place to protect into perpetuity.” Jewell, who visited Hungry Horse and Glacier Park on a three-day tour of Montana, said the prospect of an administrative withdrawal – a temporary decree that enacts the fruits of legislation without congressional action – is a strong possibility, but she must work with Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “There is an administrative ability to exercise, when there is legislation in play, for us to administratively withdraw lands from future mining leases while that legislation is pending,” Jewell said. “We are going to work on it to get it done. It crosses two departments. It is now on my radar and I will make sure it is on Tom Vilsack’s radar.”...more

Jewell awaits Idaho invitation to talk

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell may want an official invitation from the state's congressional delegation to study the Boulder-White Clouds National Monument proposal, but that's unlikely to happen. All four Idaho Republican senators and representatives expressed opposition in February to use of the 1906 Antiquities Act by President Barack Obama to designate the central Idaho mountains as a national monument. But Jewell looks forward to an invitation from local officials. "I think we would be very happy to meet with the community, whoever invites us," Jewell said in Boise Monday. The Stanley City Council authorized letters last week asking Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Thursday or their staffs to meet with the council on or about June 12. Designation of a 570,000-acre Boulder-White Clouds National Monument has emerged as a serious option, especially since the death of Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson's bill. His bill would have protected swaths of wilderness while preserving some popular ATV and motorcycle trails. The two counties that contain the 700,000-acre roadless area managed by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are on opposite sides of the issue. Blaine County's commissioners have approved a resolution in support of a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument. Commission Chairman Larry Schoen has been trying to organize several roundtables with commissioners and business people in the two counties. Custer County is opposed. Nonetheless, County Commission Chairman Wayne Butts said he would welcome the administration coming to meet with local officials. He even has a venue for them: The Idaho Association of County Commissioners and Clerks is meeting in Challis the week of June 12...more

Oregon GOP candidates agree on forest control

Candidates squaring off in the Republican primary, seeking to unseat Democrat Jeff Merkley in November, all support turning Oregon federal forests over to local ownership. Jo Rae Perkins, former Linn County GOP Chair, noted 53 percent of Oregon land is owned by the federal government. “This land should not be owned by the federal government. It needs to go back to the state and back into private ownership. Let the people take care of the land,” Perkins said. “We’ve got environmentalists who don’t even live in Oregon who want to bring a lawsuit against every timber sale there is. And then we have some lightning strikes and it all goes up in smoke. What’s the point? We’re spending billions and billions and billions of dollars every year to fight unnecessary forest fires. We’re leaving billions of dollars in taxes out there.” The federal forest issue was the most local of the many national and international items discussed. “I agree we can do a better job locally of controlling our public lands, managing our public lands than the federal government does. It’s actually complete dereliction of duty on the part of the federal government at this time,” said Conger. He noted Oregonians enjoy their open spaces, but with half of Oregon in federal hands, he said it’s out of balance. “We all know federal lands don’t pay taxes,” Conger said. “So if you live in Southern Oregon or a lot of Eastern Oregon, your communities are bankrupt, your schools are lacking money and there are no jobs available. It is tied intimately to mismanagement or non-management of our federal lands. That’s got to change.” Crawley advocated for full local control, with local panels deciding which trees are cut. “Folks from the community. Because it’s their resource ultimately,” he said. “It’s not a corporation’s and it’s not the federal government’s. These resources are ours and we are best capable of managing them.” “I support transferring federal lands back to local control, but to me it comes down to an issue of sovereignty,” Callahan said. “It’s about our state sovereignty, it’s about our local sovereignty. By having federal lands in federal control, they’re taking away our local sovereignty, they’re taking away our state sovereignty.”...more

Congressman who stalled Tule Springs monument bill gets tour

Rob Bishop
Less than a month after he stalled efforts to create a new national monument in the fossil-rich hills north of Las Vegas, Rep. Rob Bishop took a short hike through Tule Springs and held bits of mammoth bone in his fingers. “This is cool,” said the Republican congressman from Utah. “We’re going to have to work this out.” Bishop visited the proposed monument site Monday as part of a whirlwind, three-hour tour that also offered him a quick look at other public land set to be transferred or otherwise impacted by the legislation. He was accompanied on the tour by some high-powered advocates for the bill, including its sponsor, Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, former Congressman turned lobbyist Jon Porter, and Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce President Kristin McMillan. As they stood at the edge of a trench left over from an early-1960s scientific expedition known as the “Big Dig,” Horsford praised Bishop for his willingness to research the issue in person. “Once you get out here and touch it and see it, you can see why we’re working so hard to transfer this land,” Horsford said. The bill would create Nevada’s only national monument on 22,650 acres prized for its wealth of fossils from a vast cross-section of time, which allows researchers to study climate change and its impact on camels, horses, mammoths and other animals that died off about 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. The measure also would grant 660 acres of federal land to Las Vegas and 645 acres to North Las Vegas to be auctioned off as “job creation zones.” Other parts of the bill would add land to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, improve management of the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, free up property for campus expansion by the Nevada System of Higher Education, and convey land to Clark County for an off-road vehicle recreation park at Nellis Dunes. It is the most sweeping public lands legislation for Southern Nevada in a decade, and every member of Nevada’s delegation supports it — or at least they did. The measure was headed for a Feb. 27 hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee when Bishop, a leader on the committee, sponsored a last-minute change that would direct profits from land auctions in the bill into the U.S. Treasury rather than allowing the money to remain in the state...more

Internal review coming in controversial Taos Ski Valley drug sweep

The popular image of the friendly forest ranger has taken a major hit after a drug sweep at the Taos Ski Valley angered skiers at the popular resort and infuriated a former governor of New Mexico. Now the special agent in charge of U.S. Forest Service’s Southwestern Region tells New Mexico Watchdog an “after-action review” will be conducted next week in the wake of the operation in which four officers carrying side arms, wearing flak jackets and accompanied by one drug-sniffing dog descended on the ski resort Feb. 22.  “I do have concerns about the tone of the law enforcement activities up there,” special agent Robin Poague, who is based at the Forest Service office in Albuquerque, told New Mexico Watchdog. Poague said a patrol captain is being brought in from Arizona to conduct the review next week, but didn’t say how long it will take for the findings to be released. “The bottom line is I’m responsible for what went on,” Poague said of what was called a “saturation patrol” of the resort. The chief operating officer of the Taos Ski Vallery, Gordon Briner, was more careful with his words, saying, “The manner in which the mission was done was not done in a manner consistent with a great partnership,” referring to the long-standing agreement between the forest service and the ski resort, which partially sits on federal land.  With feelings among some Taoseños still raw, Poague said he wanted to stress three things: “One, I’m the person responsible, not the officers doing their jobs. Two, as to the people who have expressed their concerns, I hear their concerns. And three, the after-action review will look at what went right and what went wrong.”  There has been speculation the drug sweep came in response to reports of a quota system on the part of forest service administrators, but Poague said that wasn’t the case. “We had some previous law enforcement incidents up there,” Poague said, including DWIs and selling of Molly, a drug similar to Ecstacymore 
The popular image of the friendly forest ranger has taken a major hit after a drug sweep at the Taos Ski Valley angered skiers at the popular resort and infuriated a former governor of New Mexico.
Now the special agent in charge of U.S. Forest Service’s Southwestern Region tells New Mexico Watchdog an “after-action review” will be conducted next week in the wake of the operation in which four officers carrying side arms, wearing flak jackets and accompanied by one drug-sniffing dog descended on the ski resort Feb. 22.
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