Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rural New Mexico county fights feds over water rights

Rancher Gary Stone and FS ranger James Duran
The latest dispute over federal control of land and water in the West has erupted along the banks of the Agua Chiquita, a small spring-fed stream in the mountains of southern New Mexico where the federal government has installed metal fences and locked gates to keep cattle out. The move has enraged one rural county, where the sheriff has been ordered by the county commission to cut the locks. The U.S. attorney for the district of New Mexico hoped a meeting Friday would ease tensions enough to avoid an escalation like the armed standoff last month over grazing rights in Nevada. The discussion resulted only in more frustration and disappointment. Otero County Commissioner Ronny Rardin said after the meeting that the dispute was far from over. "Ultimately, it is incumbent upon the commission, the sheriff and the citizens of Otero County to stand up for our constitutional rights," he said. In a statement, U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico said no resolution was reached during the meeting and that the office will continue to monitor the situation "to ensure that public safety is preserved" in Otero County. "To that end, the U.S. Attorney's Office will make every effort to facilitate a dialogue between county officials and the Forest Service," the office said. Decades in the making, the dispute in Otero County centers on whether the Forest Service has the authority to keep ranchers from accessing Agua Chiquita, which means Little Water in Spanish. In wet years, the spring can run for miles through thick conifer forest. This summer, much of the stream bed is dry. The Forest Service says the enclosures are meant to protect what's left of the wetland habitat. Forest Supervisor Travis Moseley said the metal fences and gates simply replaced strands of barbed wire that had been wrecked over the years by herds of elk. The Otero County Commission passed a resolution earlier this week declaring that the Forest Service doesn't have a right to control the water. Ranchers say they believe the move is an effort by the federal government to push them from the land. "If we let them take over our water rights, that's the first step. Then we would have nothing left here," said Gary Stone, head of the Otero County Cattleman's Association. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., said what's happening in Otero County is another example of overreach by the federal government. "These disputes could be easily avoided if federal bureaucrats would stick to their constitutional oath and respect property rights," he said. With no resolution in sight, Sheriff Benny House said Friday he plans to continue investigating whether forest employees are breaking state law by fencing off the water. The commission is also seeking a congressional hearing on the matter...more

Pearce statement on Otero Co. situation

Washington, DC (May 16, 2014) Congressman Steve Pearce is disappointed by the Department of Justice's inability to recognize the constitutional property rights of citizens in the ongoing dispute over access to water for cattle ranchers in Otero County. The U.S. Forest Service continues to deny the Goss family access to the Agua Chiquita, after two court rulings have declared this family's right to access that water for their cattle.

"The Department of Justice and the U.S. Forest Service have acted with contempt to the findings of these courts. They have also failed to cooperate today with elected officials of Otero County, as they attempted to mediate the property rights issues surrounding the opening of the gates at Agua Chiquita," said Congressman Steve Pearce. "The DOJ's actions in this matter demonstrate that our constitutional protections have no value to this administration. I will immediately request a Congressional field hearing to address the U.S. Attorney's failure to uphold the private property rights of citizens, and an additional hearing on the USFS's taking of private water rights."

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that if a person has water rights, they have the right to convey that water over private or public property to their livestock. The USFS has not allowed the Goss family this ability. Federal claims court ruled in their favor after the USFS denied the longtime ranching family the ability to access water in another area of the national forest. The New Mexico State Engineer has also agreed that the Goss family maintains water rights to the Agua Chiquita.

Congressman Pearce has stood by Otero County ranchers and elected officials during this dispute. He will continue to stand by the county and its citizens. The USFS and US District Attorney refused a request by the county attorney who asked for Congressman Pearce to be present at today's mediation hearing.


Is country music dead?


As a platinum-selling country music artist and, more importantly, a lifelong fan of the genre, I’d like to send out this heartfelt plea to the gatekeepers of the industry:

Enough already.

I’d like to think that I am expressing what nearly every artist, musician and songwriter (with perhaps a few exceptions) is thinking when I contend that the Bro’ Country phenomenon must cease.

It has had its run for better or worse and it’s time for Nashville to get back to producing, and more importantly promoting, good singers singing real songs. It’s time for country music to find its identity again before it is lost forever.

I know, I run the risk of being labeled as a “has-been, carrying sour grapes” by speaking out.  Nothing could be further from the truth. I had my run from 1991 until 2002 and I’m quite thankful for that.

I have more hits than I can possibly play in a single concert. I had my day and I do not begrudge anyone having theirs.

But as someone who grew up loving and being forever affected by the true greats of country music, I simply have to offer up this plea to the Nashville country music industry to reclaim the identity and poetic greatness that once was our format. The well-written poetic word of the country song has disappeared.

There appears to be not even the slightest attempt to “say” anything other than to repeat the tired, overused mantra of redneck party boy in his truck, partying in said truck, hoping to get lucky in the cab of said truck, and his greatest possible achievement in life is to continue to be physically and emotionally attached to the aforementioned truck as all things in life should and must take place in his, you guessed it...truck.

I didn’t mind the first two or three hundred versions of these gems but I think we can all agree by now that everything’s been said about a redneck and his truck, that can possibly be said. It is time to move on to the next subject. Any subject, anything at all.

Willie Nelson once wrote in his early song, "Shotgun Willie," that “you can’t make a record if you ain’t got nothing to say.” Apparently, that’s not the case anymore.

Disposable, forgettable music has been the order of the day for quite a while now and it’s time for that to stop.

Our beautiful, time-honored genre, has devolved from lines like, “I’d trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday ... holding Bobby’s body next to mine,” and “a canvas covered cabin, in a crowded labor camp stand out in this memory I revive. Cause my Daddy raised a family there with two hard working hands….and tried to feed my Momma’s hungry eyes,” down to “Can I get a Yee Haw?”

And the aforementioned Truck! “Come on slide them jeans on up in my truck! Let’s get down and dirty in muh truck, doggone it I just get off riding in muh truck, I love ya honey, but not as much as muh truck!” Oh and we can’t leave out the beautiful prose about partying in a field or pasture.

Now I’m not saying all songs should be somber ballads or about heavy, profound emotional subject matter. On the contrary, great fun, rockin’, party songs, describing the lifestyle of blue collar country folk have always been a staple of the genre. But compare for a minute the poetic, “middle American Shakespeare” infused lyrical prose of classics like Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya” or Hank Jr’s “All My Rowdy friends are coming over tonight” or Garth Brooks’ “I’ve got friends in Low Places” or his “Ain’t going down till the sun comes up” to the likes of contemporary offerings like “That’s My Kinda Night,” or any of the other 300 plus songs from recent years that say the exact same thing in pretty much the exact same way. It’s like comparing a Rolls Royce to a ten speed.

Finally, I’m not pointing a finger at the artists and especially not the songwriters. They’re simply doing what they have to do to make a living.

It’s the major label execs, the movers and shakers, the folks who control what is shoved down radio’s throat, that I am calling out. They have the power and ability to make a commitment to make records that keep the legacy of country music alive, and reclaim a great genre’s identity.

Who knows? Some of these Bro’ Country guys could actually be awesome singers with potential to be great artists! But we‘ll never know, as long as they’re encouraged by the industry to continue being redneck flavors of the day.

It’s not fair to them or to anyone.

Thankfully there are a handful of artists out there currently who are trying to keep integrity in the mainstream. Miranda Lambert is one of them. There are a few others but not nearly enough to rescue the terminally ill format.

It must start with the gatekeepers. The true fans of country music deserve nothing less.

The artists of my era knew we weren’t as cool or great as the true greats of the past but we did try to hold to a standard that they had set, which built and sustained the Nashville industry and truly made country music an American art form. It needs to be that way once again.

God Bless Hank Williams. God Bless George Jones.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Colorado River reaches gulf

She wasn't necessarily popping champagne Thursday, but conservationist Jennifer Pitt was certainly celebrating the arrival of water from the Colorado River into the Sea of Cortez. It was a monumental moment for conservationists, who said that water hasn't flowed regularly from the Colorado River to the sea in more than 50 years. It temporarily reached the sea twice in the 1980s and last in 1993. "The pulse flow meeting the sea marks completion of a journey that the Colorado River has not made in a long time, and I take it as a sign of hope not only for our efforts to restore the Colorado River Delta, but also rivers and watersheds everywhere in the world where climate change promises an uncertain future," said Pitt, director of the Environmental Defense Fund's Colorado River Project. The water reached the sea on Thursday afternoon. It traveled nearly 100 miles from a previously barren delta at the Morelos Dam just south of where California, Arizona and Mexico meet. It was a result of a bi-national agreement that came together after years of negotiations. Enough water to supply over 200,000 homes for a year was released on March 23 in an effort to revive trees, wildlife and aquatic life that have perished since the delta dried up decades ago. Conservationists say it'll be years before they see the environmental effects of the water streaming through, but residents in the town of San Luis Rio Colorado in the Mexican state of Sonora have been frolicking in the water and gathering at the river ever since the flow started...more

Federal health-care subsidies may be too high or too low for more than 1 million Americans

The government may be paying incorrect subsidies to more than 1 million Americans for their health plans in the new federal insurance marketplace and has been unable so far to fix the errors, according to internal documents and three people familiar with the situation. The problem means that potentially hundreds of thousands of people are receiving bigger subsidies than they deserve. They are part of a large group of Americans who listed incomes on their insurance applications that differ significantly — either too low or too high — from those on file with the Internal Revenue Service, documents show The government has identified these discrepancies but is stuck at the moment. Under federal rules, consumers are notified if there is a problem with their application and asked to upload or mail in pay stubs or other proof of their income. Only a fraction have done so, according to the documents. And, even when they have, the federal computer system at the heart of the insurance marketplace cannot match this proof with the application because that capability has yet to be built, according to the three individuals.

Forest Service Snubs Otero County; Sheriff To Continue Criminal Investigation


For More Information, Contact: A. Blair Dunn, Esq. 505-881- 5155

Members of the Otero County Commission, the Sheriff of Otero County, and Representative Yvette Herrell met with their legal counsel, the US Attorney Damon Martinez, Forest Service Regional Supervisor Cal Joyner, federal law enforcement, counsel for the United States Forest Service and Forest Service Personnel. Ultimately, the members from the County were frustrated and disappointed by the inability of the USFS to work cooperatively in any meaningful way. And, while the County contingent respectfully discussed that the US was violating the law in their current actions, the Federal Government was unwavering in their belief that they lacked the authority to stop violating the law and open the gates.

Commissioner Herrell stated that he "was disappointed that after he implored upon the USFS to recognize that their actions resembled nothing short of tyranny that the USFS was unwilling to even open the gate for 30 days to allow the parties to explore a more long term solution." Litigation, both civil and criminal against both sides of the disagreement, was discussed and Sheriff House expressed that he would continue with his criminal investigation against the USFS and if appropriate, bring charges against those individuals that had criminally violated state law. Commissioner Rardin expressed "that this was far from over and ultimately it is incumbent upon the commission, the sheriff, and the citizens of Otero County to stand up for our Constitutional Rights."

Otero County Commission is adamant that they wish for Congress to immediately have inquiry into what the USFS is doing and hold a congressional hearing on the matter. “We hope that Congressman Pearce will immediately come to our assistance on this matter.”

New Mexico Game Commission chooses agency director

The New Mexico Game Commission on Thursday selected a 20-year-veteran of the state Game and Fish Department to serve as the agency's new top administrator. Alexandra Sandoval was announced as department director during the commission's regular meeting in Albuquerque. She was among four finalists being considered for the position following a national search for candidates. Sandoval is currently the agency's chief financial officer and head of its administrative services division. She began her career with the department as a game warden in Roswell and Clayton and worked her way up to a wildlife specialist and a federal grant manager before taking over the department's financial responsibilities. Sandoval will be the second female director in the department's 101-year history. She will oversee more than 300 employees and an annual budget of more than $38 million. The other finalists were Edward "Ted" Koch, a supervisor with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Nevada; Brian Wakeling, wildlife management branch supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department; and Mathew Wunder, chief of the state Game and Fish Department's ecological and environmental planning...more

Splitting the Río Grande

The offices of the San Luis Valley Irrigation District are housed in an aging Quonset hut on a sleepy side street in Center, Colo. To an outsider, the hand-painted sign and worn carpet imply an organization that is old-fashioned and outdated. But in reality, the district is part of one of the most modern and sophisticated water management operations in the country. District superintendent Travis Smith has made a career out of water management in the San Luis Valley. He’s well acquainted with the myriad challenges the valley’s irrigators face — both environmental and economic — and he’s wary of outsiders who are quick to criticize the enormous amount of water consumed by the farmers he serves. In recent years, those criticisms have grown louder. Prolonged regional drought has strained relations between water users north and south of the border. Long sections of the Río Grande in New Mexico have dried up entirely, and the state’s pecan and chile industries have suffered badly for lack of water. Rafting outfitters in Taos County have joined those focusing their ire north. Some guides complain scant Río Grande flows are killing their businesses. This is particularly true because rafters and kayakers can’t run one of the area’s main recreation attractions — the Taos Box — if irrigators leave almost nothing of the river in the late spring and summer. In preparation for his interview with The Taos News, Smith has three things on his desk: the daily Río Grande flow report detailing exactly how water from the river will be allocated that day; a pocket-sized copy of the Río Grande Compact, which shows how much water Colorado owes New Mexico; and a newspaper article about a Santa Fe environmental group threatening to sue Colorado over its irrigation practices. Like just about everyone in the San Luis Valley, Smith’s first point is that Colorado is strictly abiding by the terms of the compact. The compact is an interstate agreement between Colorado, New Mexico and Texas that was signed in 1938. Colorado’s obligation to New Mexico varies from year to year, depending on how much water comes into the valley, but in general Colorado must deliver about a quarter of the river’s annual flow to the state Smith’s claim
Colorado is fulfilling its end of the bargain is accurate. In fact, deliveries to the state line have been slightly greater than the compact’s requirements in recent years. But there’s a catch — that amount is calculated on an annual basis, meaning Colorado can take nearly all of the river in the spring and summer (coinciding, of course, with rafting season and irrigation season for New Mexico farmers), let it flow unimpeded in the winter, and still meet the terms of the compact. On Monday (May 12), runoff from Río Grande’s headwaters came barreling from the San Juan Mountains and into the San Luis Valley. A streamflow gauge just west of Del Norte, Colo., (used to measure the full volume for purposes of meeting the compact) clocked the turbid river at around 2,100 cubic-feet per second (cfs). Moving east from that point during irrigation season, however, the river loses water like a leaky bucket...more

Panel debates who is best suited to manage Utah’s public lands

Ken Ivory
Is the federal government the West’s absentee landlord, accountable to no one and implementing inane policies that are wrecking both the land and rural communities? Or is it doing its best to manage big swaths of Utah’s mountains and deserts under conflicting mandates in hopes of balancing a smorgasbord of competing interests and preserving the land for future generations? To Ken Ivory, a Republican lawmaker from West Jordan, the answer is as clear as the part in his hair. Under federal management, fire danger is "off the charts" on these lands and they are being cordoned off from the people who live near them, Ivory said Wednesday at a town hall debate addressing the question of whether Utah is best suited to manage public lands within its borders. But thanks to a spate of 19th century "giveaway" laws, the government has long since handed millions of Western acres to private enterprise, countered Dan McCool, a University of Utah political scientist. Short-sighted policies of the past ensured forests were aggressively cut and rangelands overgrazed. Newer laws reflect a national interest in conservation and multiple use on these lands, he said. Land management has become a lightning rod issue in Utah and around the West, where local officials, ranchers, miners and ATV enthusiasts increasingly challenge federal authority, sometimes breaking the law while they’re at it.To Ivory, the best solution to these growing conflicts is for the federal government to cede control of public lands to Utah and the other Western states, whose governments can be more responsive to the needs of the people and to conditions on the ground. "Not only can Utah afford to manage our lands to support our schools, protect the environment, and grow our economy, we can’t afford not to," Ivory told a packed auditorium at Salt Lake City Public Library auditorium, where partisans in both sides of the debate were well represented...more

Go to the American Lands Council website for more information on this important issue.

Chiracahua National Monument employee recalls near-deadly attack

A park employee left for dead at the Chiracahua National Monument nine months ago, speaks out about her attack. Karen Gonzales, 60, was viciously beaten in broad daylight in one of the park restrooms. She suffered a brain injury and is now walking with a limp. She tells News 4 Crime Trackers, "I will never forget his face coming at me." Gonzales was cleaning the women's restroom at the Faraway Ranch Campground when she heard a noise, looked up, and saw her attacker come at her with a rock. The DNA evidence left behind tied 33-year-old Gilbert Gaxiola as her attacker. The Cochise Country Sheriff's department confirms Gaxiola is an undocumented immigrant. According to Cochise Co. Sheriff's investigators, Gaxiola hit her so hard, it broke the rock. The Sergeant told her, he not only hit her with a rock but he slammed her up against the metal door. Evidence of the dent remains on the door. Gonzales says her hands are still recovering from the injuries. "Maybe some of it was fending off the blows, I don't know. But I know I hit him." She says she also chased after Gaxiola. Detectives say Gaxiola dragged her back into the restroom, and then stole her truck. He was seen in surveillance video going through the drive-thru of two fast food restaurants, and a going to WalMart. "He stole my truck to get back to Douglas and he was caught the very next day with a drug load." Detectives say he abandoned the truck in Douglas. Border Patrol agents arrested him for drug smuggling the next day. Besides the scenic rock formations of the Chiricahua National Monument the hiking trails are also used by drug smugglers. In the peaks, drug cartels place lookouts to warn of Border Patrol activity. "I had a gut feeling when I was up at the bone yard that someone was watching me, and he was."...more

Little Tommy You-Dull tells us this would never happen in his national monument.  No drug smugglers allowed. 

 Besides the scenic rock formations of the Chiricahua National Monument the hiking trails are also used by drug smugglers. In the peaks, drug cartels place lookouts to warn of Border Patrol activity.

It happens throughout the National Monuments & Wilderness areas in Arizona, but it will not happen if we impose the same designations on federal land in New Mexico.  Why won't it happen here?  Cuz Little Tommy You-Dull says it won't.  I would agree with him...but then we'd both be wrong.

BLM to pull 200 horses from Utah’s West Desert

The federal Bureau of Land Management will likely clear most if not all the wild horses from a West Desert block of state land in July as part of a newly approved plan to remove 200 wild horses from Utah rangelands this year. The Interior Department this week greenlighted Utah BLM’s request to gather these horses in the face of mounting pressure from state and local officials concerned that overpopulation of wild horses is damaging a parched range and could force ranchers to reduce cattle grazing levels. "It’s a bittersweet thing to me," said Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney. "Juan [Palma, BLM’s state director] means well, but it’s only a drop in the bucket in what needs to be done in the West Desert because they’ve let the problem get so out of control, especially in drought conditions." BLM’s plan calls for rounding up 140 horses on the Blawn Wash herd area that overlies 26,000 acres overseen by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) west of Milford. Blawn Wash has been a source of tension for state trust lands managers who amassed this block of rangelands several years ago with the expectation that horses would no longer be allowed to graze them, according to Kim Christy, SITLA’s associate director. "This goes beyond revenue generation. This is a severe resource degradation issue that’s attributable to overstocking of horses," Kristy said...more

Rodeo event teaches students about ranch work

Fifth-grader Olivia Pimentel drew one conclusion after attending Western Heritage Day with her classmates at the rodeo grounds here. “It is not easy to be a cowboy,” said the 11-year-old student of Turtle Bay Elementary School in Redding. Pimentel sat in the grandstands with hundreds of other area schoolchildren on May 14 and learned how events at a modern rodeo have their origins in ranch work. The kids watched a drill team and timed-event slack competitions that were part of the Redding Rodeo. Looking out at the horses and cattle in the arena, Pimentel could almost imagine life on the range in the Old West. “Except when they play on their phones while they’re riding,” she said as some horsemen were warming up. Rodeo organizers started holding Western Heritage Day several years ago to inform students about how many of the featured events began in the old days on ranches across America. For instance, as rodeo entertainer John Payne — a.k.a. “the One-Armed Bandit” — drove some longhorn steers across the arena, announcer Bob Ow told stories of how ranchers in the Old West had to drive cattle thousands of miles to cow towns such as Dodge City, Kans. During calf roping, Ow said one reason the animals are roped is to vaccinate them. “He goes into why there is rodeo,” said Jim Croxton, who organized Western Heritage Day for the Redding Rodeo Association. “Back before we had the things we have today, they had to use horses … They had to rope their calves and brand them.”...more

Horse roping or horse tripping? Jordan Valley rodeo exposes Oregon culture clash

Almost a year after the Oregon Legislature banned horse tripping for entertainment, animal-rights activists remain fearful the practice will continue at the Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo this weekend. Jordan Valley rodeo board members have long disputed the term "horse tripping," instead calling their signature event "horse roping." In any case, footage (see below) apparently filmed at last year's event, showing a horse go end over end, reignited a controversy and led to the statewide ban. The practice involves lassoing a horse around the neck, then around the forelegs. This causes the horse -- often at rapid speeds -- to crash to the ground. Semantics aside, it's an issue as much cultural as technical: Horse tripping is done at a handful of remote Oregon rodeos, but the bill was driven in part by Portland-area legislators -- Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, was a co-sponsor of the bill. Jordan Valley Mayor Jake Roe said he made the eight-hour trek to Salem last year to testify against the bill and explain horse roping. But, he said, there was a disconnect. "We actually had to get out a map to show those senators where we were from," Roe said. "If they've never come to see the rodeo, I'm not sure they know what they're talking about." The rodeo is the pride of Jordan Valley. Every third weekend in May, thousands descend upon the eastern Oregon town to see a weekend of roping, riding and racing. The "big loop" competition distinguishes the event from your run-of-the-mill rodeo. And in a town made up mostly of ranchers, it's also steeped in tradition...more

Robert Duvall Goes on a Spree in ‘A Night in Old Mexico’

Robert Duvall won his Oscar for his finely calibrated portrayal of a recovering alcoholic country singer in “Tender Mercies,” and much of his best work is in service to nuanced roles. Yet his most memorable performances also include some where he goes big, as in, for example, the napalm-loving Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore in “Apocalypse Now.” When he has fun, he lets us in on it. Mr. Duvall has fun in “A Night in Old Mexico” as Red Bovie, the latest in a series of ranchers he’s played in recent years. Red’s an ornery cuss who’s lost his South Texas spread to the banks. Just as he’s about to end it all, there’s a knock on the barn door from Gally (Jeremy Irvine), a grandson he’s never met. They have barely exchanged howdies when Red, who is being forced to leave his homestead, impulsively takes off in his Caddy for good times across the border, Gally reluctantly riding shotgun. Written by Bill Wittliff, who first worked with Mr. Duvall on the “Lonesome Dove” mini-series, the script is not shy about borrowing from other modern westerns. Arriving in a border town, Red and Gally dance and drink tequila, vie for a beautiful señorita and stumble onto a backpack filled with drug money that many professional killers want back. Red spends the rest of the movie trying to prove that, dammit, this is still country for one old man. As Mr. Duvall paints his portrait of the none-too-cuddly Red in broad brush strokes, Mr. Irvine and the others have a hard time keeping up. Still, the director Emilio Aragón wisely trains the camera on Mr. Duvall. “A Night in Old Mexico” is his baby, and he rocks it.  Source

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Humane Society Of The United States And Co-Defendants Pay $15.75 Million Settlement To Feld Entertainment Ending 14 Years Of Litigation

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), along with their co-defendants, have paid Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus, $15.75 million to settle cases stemming from a lawsuit they brought against Ringling Bros.® over the care of its Asian elephants. This historic settlement payment to Feld Entertainment ends nearly 14 years of litigation between the parties. "We hope this settlement payment, and the various court decisions that found against these animal rights activists and their attorneys, will deter individuals and organizations from bringing frivolous litigation like this in the future," said Kenneth Feld, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Feld Entertainment. "This settlement is a significant milestone for our family-owned business and all the dedicated men and women who care for the Ringling Bros. herd of 42 Asian elephants. We look forward to continuing to set the standard for providing world-class care for all our animals and producing high quality, family entertainment." HSUS and animal rights groups the Fund for Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, Born Free USA (formerly the Animal Protection Institute), the Wildlife Advocacy Project, the law firm of Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal, and several current and former attorneys of that firm, paid the settlement for their involvement in the case brought under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that the U.S. District Court ruled was "frivolous," "vexatious," and "groundless and unreasonable from its inception." Today's settlement also covers the related Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case that Feld Entertainment filed against the groups after discovering they had paid a plaintiff for his participation in the original lawsuit and then attempted to conceal those payments. In December 2012, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a former co-defendant in the case, settled its share of the lawsuits by paying Feld Entertainment $9.3 million. Today's settlement brings the total recovered by Feld Entertainment to more than $25 million in legal fees and expenses, which the company actually spent in defending the ESA case...more

Roy senior in a class of her own


Audra Rivera has sent out about 300 invitations to her high school graduation, which will take place in the school gym Friday night. After the ceremony there will be a dinner and dance.

The ceremony itself should be short and sweet: Audra is the only member of the Roy High School Class of 2014.

“In seventh and eighth grade I actually had classmates,” Audra told me as she showed me around the school where she has been a student since the first grade.

The other kids moved away – a common story in Roy – and Audra was left as the only member of her freshman class. “I was the last one standing,” she says.

Over the next four years, no kids her age moved into Roy – another common story – and so she went through all four years of high school as the solo member of her class.

There are some perks to being the only senior. Audra was elected prom queen, no surprise. The prom was overloaded with boys by a 4-to-1 ratio, so she got to dance to nearly every song.

An array of dozens of photos of her life and high school career takes up an entire hallway wall just outside the school office. “My shrine,” Audra says.

Of the 88 lockers that line the high school hallway, she got to choose locker No. 1.

And she got to pick the themes of the class of 2014. Class color: maroon and white. Class flower: the blue rose. Class song: “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys. Class motto: “It’s really long,” Audra says. “I can’t really remember it.”

Roy sits at a highway crossroads in northeastern New Mexico, just south of the Kiowa grasslands and about 60 miles west of the Texas state line. The trend in isolated ranching communities is decampment. The U.S. Census counted 304 people in Roy in 2000. Ten years later, the count was 234. (Audra has made friends in a wide swath of Harding County, which is why her high school graduation invitation list outpaced the village’s population.)

The village educates all its children under one roof. Elementary school has 34 kids this year, including five kindergartners. Audra is joined by 13 classmates in grades 7 through 12.

“I bet you can name them all,” I venture.

“I can,” Audra says. “Do you want me to?”

Tucumcari City Commission opposes prairie chicken listing

The Tucumcari City Commission on Thursday joined the Eastern New Mexico Council of Governments and immediately asked EPCOG to join the city and Quay County in opposing the listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species. In two separate measures, the commission voted to pay the $1,878 dues to join EPCOG, then passed a resolution asking EPCOG to join in a protest of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken, a grouse species, as threatened. The FWS named the bird to the threatened list on March 27. The city’s resolution says the listing will adversely affect agriculture, the utility industry and other industries, costing jobs and hampering economic development. In addition, the resolution says, industrial organizations have already taken action to protect the species...more

Watch where you spit! EPA may declare it a wetland

Claiming they want to “clarify” their jurisdiction under the 1972 Clean Water Act, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have given the public until July 21 to comment on proposed new regulations to expand their power, by adding small, temporary and seasonal flows of water.

Like places where somebody has spit. Or could spit in the future. And of course mud puddles. Might kids splashing in a puddle become a federal offense?

Claiming it’s all necessary to protect us from dirty water, the bureaucrats are marching forward with their power grab, an overreach so severe that they someday might require federal approval to water your lawn and garden.

The Constitution provides federal authority over “navigable waters.” The EPA and Corps of Engineers seem to think that means wherever the tiniest of toy boats might float. The Corps has even argued to the Supreme Court that their jurisdiction over water is unlimited.

The agencies’ rationale is that even small and temporary flows lead to permanent and navigable waters. Eventually. After all, doesn’t all water flow downhill? Just like all power flows to Washington, D.C.? And like the interstate commerce clause means anything that might affect interstate commerce (which is to say, almost anything).

How big is this expansion of jurisdiction? Roughly speaking, 60 percent more power for EPA. That’s based on EPA’s announcement in April that “60 percent of stream miles in the U.S. only flow seasonally or after rain,” but would henceforth be regulated.

The EPA claims its efforts are all based on sound science. Except that they aren’t. The agency announced its work is based on a “draft” scientific assessment, a report which won’t be finished until after the time expires for public comment.

Yet the bureaucrats want to rush their regulation before all the facts can be reported and debated publicly. And before this fall’s elections might get in the way.

That EPA draft report (“Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters”) simply confirms the obvious: Streams of water flow into each other. That’s not rocket science.

But the Water Advocacy Coalition and other critics comment that the report never considers which of those water connections are significant. Water from a mud puddle, a watering trough or a farmer’s fishing pond may eventually flow into a river, but that doesn’t make the quantity or quality meaningful.

Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican, describes it in practical terms: “South Dakota is scattered with creeks, stock ponds, and ditches These small and seasonal bodies of water have typically been regulated at the state level, but a costly new power grab from the EPA could have devastating economic impacts on South Dakota farmers, ranchers, homeowners, and businesses.”

Tucumcari rockabilly festival to expand

The second annual Rockabilly on the Route will be taking over the Mother Road on June 5-8 with music, classic cars, pinup girls, parades, and multiple events throughout the weekend at the Tucumcari Convention Center. This years event has been extended to four days of events including the addition of a movie night at the Odeon theater and much more. It all begins on June 5 with a Rockin’ Bowl: Rockabilly on the Route Kick-off and La Loca Magazine release party at Mountain View Bowling. This year there will be 11 live music bands starting at 6 -p.m.- 8 p.m., on June 5 and 6 during the Happy Hour Hullabaloo at the Tucumcari Convention Center with live music from the Sandbox Bullies and Emily Herring and the Farm to Market...more

Nice to see these economic development events in Quay County.  Our leaders don't believe in this type of thing here, relying instead on a proposed 500,000 acre national monument.  To that end they've already run off the Chile Challenge (which annualy had a $12 million positive impact on the community) and as I predicted,  the "ghost city" Pegasus Project.  That last one just cost us 3,200 construction jobs and 350 permanent jobs.  Further, we have no idea what present or future economic developments are or will bypass our area due to the eight years of attempts to designate monuments or wilderness surrounding Las Cruces.

Either tell our current "leaders" to TAKE A HIKE, or teach your kids HOW TO HIKE, because that is their future until they become adults and move away to an area with economic opportunities.

Custer Commissioners Hope to Gather Monument Comments

The Custer County Commission announced Wednesday that it has designed an online portal so residents can comment on the proposed Boulder-White Clouds National Monument. While the commission has formally opposed the idea of turning the 591,905-acre area into a national monument, the page will be neutral and open to all opinions, Commissioner Wayne Butts wrote in a news release. Most of the proposed monument is in Custer County. Commenting is limited to county residents and businesses, but the commission hopes other affected governments and counties will create similar pages and link them...more

Grijalva seeks US review of pipeline service roads through wildlife refuge

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Tucson Democrat, has asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to intervene in a controversial pipeline project that would carry natural gas from Tucson to Sasabe and into Mexico. Grijalva sent a letter to the secretary of the interior Monday asking the department to challenge findings from a draft report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the use of access roads in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge for the Kinder Morgan Sierrita Pipeline project. In the report, known as a draft compatibility determination, Fish and Wildlife evaluated a proposal from Kinder Morgan to use 12 miles of roads in the refuge area during pipeline construction and determined it was permissible. Grijalva questioned why the agency would let Kinder Morgan use roads in the refuge after it refused to let the company build its pipeline through the refuge in an existing corridor near Arizona 286. “Not only would these roads be used for construction and access by heavy equipment and trucks, these roads would serve as permanent access for maintenance and repairs of the pipeline,” Grijalva said in the letter. “This is an inexplicable determination and totally inconsistent with their previous determination of incapability of siting the pipeline along the already disturbed highway corridor.”...more

Obama withdraws nomination for top Interior official

President Obama Monday formally withdrew the nomination of Tommy Beaudreau to be the assistant secretary of the interior, since Beaudreau has taken another position at the Interior Department. Obama had sent Beaudreau’s nomination to the Senate for confirmation in January after announcing it in October. He would have replaced Rhea Suh, who was nominated to be Interior’s assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced in March that Beaudreau would instead become her chief of staff. Obama’s Monday announcement formalizes the administration’s decision...more

Capps Pushes for Wilderness Protection

Asserting that she has worked for more than a year to build a broad consensus for support of a bill to expand wilderness in Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument (CPNM) as well as add 158 of miles new wild and scenic rivers, Congresswoman Lois Capps is set to announce today she will be introducing a bill in Congress titled the “Central Coast Heritage Protection Act” within the next few days. The Act would increase the amount of wilderness in all of the Central Coast portions of Los Padres Forest as well as establish three new wilderness areas in the Carrizo Plain, add wild river status to large sections of the Manzana, Mono, Indian, Sespe, Matilija and Piru Creeks and officially designate the Condor Trail as a national recreational trail. In response to those who complain that there is already plenty of wilderness in Los Padres National Forest, Capps noted that there are potential threats to many of the non-wilderness parts of the forest and that they are too important not to protect. “It’s about the future we want to leave for our children; it’s about what we want to leave to them after we’ve gone,” she said. Currently, 49% of the Forest is designated as wilderness. The proposal would increase that by 240,000 acres. In addition to the added wilderness in the Los Padres, the bill would authorize the creation of the Caliente Mountain, Soda Lake and Temblor Range wilderness areas in the CPNM totaling just over 62,000 acres. Capps noted that these, like the interior parts of Los Padres National Forest that are either now wilderness or will be if the bill becomes law, are also critical Condor habitat and need the additional protection that wilderness designation would bring them...more


"Were we directed from Washington
when to sow and when to reap,
we should soon want bread."
-- Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President

Welcome to the West for Pa. Congressmen (Compliments of the Northern Long-Eared Bat)

Today, U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, PA-5, joined by eight members of the Pennsylvania delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) urging the agencies to reevaluate their proposal to list the Northern Long-Eared Bat as an endangered species. The members reference the scientific data used by FWS as the basis for the designation as inadequate and caution that moving forward with the listing would constitute a “fundamentally ineffective” approach to species restoration, while imposing an unnecessary and harmful impact upon Pennsylvania’s economy...more

Under attack, commission defends coastal program

Environmental groups are lambasting proposed changes to Marin’s Local Coastal Program outlined this month by California Coastal Commission staff. The Sierra Club and the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin claim that the plan, which will regulate development in the county’s coastal zone for the foreseeable future, represents a drastic shift from current land-use policies and could spark a rash of development on agriculturally zoned parcels. In response, commission staff published a report on Wednesday defusing many of those claims, and county planners accused critics of distorting the proposal by using a unit of measurement—square feet—that exaggerates the potential for development. The changes in regulations on agricultural lands are meant to strengthen the ability of farmers and ranchers to maintain their operations by making it easier to build an additional home for family members and housing for workers. (The coastal commission is holding a hearing on the plan on today.) The Sierra Club’s alert, sent last week, claims the new L.C.P. would allow “over 1 million square feet” of residential and commercial development on agriculturally zoned land. It says this development could take place “by right,” since permits for a farmhouse and one intergenerational home—what they call “bonus” housing—could not be appealed to the commission. Nor could up to 5,000 square feet of processing facilities for products made on-site, or up to 500 square feet for sales. According to the alert, that “goes way too far.”...more

World's oldest sperm uncovered in Queensland cave

We like old stuff here at The Westerner and this certainly is old.  Besides, you really have to admire those shrimp.

The oldest sperm sample in the world has been uncovered from a tiny fossilised shrimp in a Queensland cave. A seed shrimp estimated to be around 17 million years old was uncovered by a team from the University of New South Wales in an ancient cave deposit in the Riversleigh world heritage fossil site and dates from the Miocene epoch. The remarkable finding has drawn even further interest because the samples tested were almost as large as the shrimp themselves. The team studied 66 fossils using X-ray topography and found that the shrimp – which measure just 1.26mm – had sperm that were almost their own length or longer, measuring between 1.2 and 1.3mm.  Study researcher Renate Matzke-Karasz, a geobiologist at Ludwig-Maximilian-University, said the most astounding part of the study is that it “strongly suggests that the mode of reproduction in these tiny crustaceans has remained virtually unchanged to this day”...more

New Mexico lawmakers sue over water settlement

A bipartisan group of legislators and a northwestern New Mexico farmer asked the state's highest court on Wednesday to nullify an agreement between the state, the federal government and the Navajo Nation settling tribal rights to water from the San Juan River. The lawsuit contends the governor can't unilaterally bind New Mexico to the deal and the settlement must be approved by the Legislature to take effect. The San Juan is drought-plagued New Mexico's largest river by volume and a major tributary of the Colorado River, which supplies water for many Western residents. The state Supreme Court was asked to invalidate the settlement and order the state to submit any proposed Navajo water deal to the Legislature for its rejection or approval, including allowing lawmakers to make possible amendments. Former Gov. Bill Richardson signed the settlement in 2010. A state district court approved the settlement in 2013, but non-Indian irrigators have appealed the decision. Three legislators — two Republicans and a Democrat — along with irrigator Jim Rogers of Waterflow, New Mexico, brought a separate challenge to the settlement by suing the state's water agencies. Lela Hunt, a spokeswoman for the State Engineer's Office, said the Legislature has "actively supported" the settlement by approving money to help pay for a required water supply project...more

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Navajo Code Talker Tom Jones Jr. dies in Farmington

A Navajo Code Talker from Hogback has died in Farmington. Tom Jones Jr., 89, died Monday at San Juan Regional Medical Center of pneumonia and other medial conditions, according to a press release from the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President. He was part of a group of soldiers who used the Navajo language to communicate military messages during the Pacific battles of World War II. Jones was inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps on Nov. 26, 1943, and was honorably discharged on Dec. 30, 1945. He served as a messenger for the 3rd Division, Unit 297 Navajo Code Talkers 767 and the Navajo Code Talkers 642 platoons based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. After his service, he worked for Navajo Mine in Fruitland. Among the awards Jones received for his military service is the Congressional Silver Medal, which is displayed in his home in Tse Daa Kaan Chapter. "Our father was a private, humble, simple, caring and giving father, grandfather, brother, friend and comrade. His heart was caring, his mind was strict, his life was blessed and his soul was graceful," said Carmelita Nelson, Jones' daughter, in the press release. Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signed a proclamation to have tribal flags flown at half-staff from Wednesday through Saturday in honor of Jones...more

Utah study: ‘Crowded’ wolves raid other packs, kill pups

Wolves kill one another and the pups of competing packs in battles over territory even if there is plenty to eat, according to a new study from Yellowstone National Park. The research is a rare glimpse into the way wolves behave when humans are generally out of the picture, said Utah State University ecologist Dan MacNulty. "At the end of the day, the success of a wolf from an evolutionary perspective is based on how many pups it leaves behind," said MacNulty, who worked with scientists from the University of Oxford and the Yellowstone Wolf Project on a new paper published online in the Journal of Animal Ecology. "If they’re packed close together, they have the opportunity to raid each other and kill pups and eliminate the competition." For a wolf, closeness is relative — as in 65 wolves per 1,000 square miles, the point at which adult survival rates drop below 70 percent. The study, which will also appear in a print edition of the British Ecological Society publication, is based on 13 years of data from radio-collared wolves at Yellowstone. Until now, it’s been hard to say how a large population of the animals interact with one another in the wild because their numbers were tightly controlled. The animals were eliminated from Yellowstone by the National Park Service in the 1920s. They were reintroduced starting in 1995 and grew to something unique in the country — a group of wolves protected from human development and hunting. The population peaked in 2004, though, and has declined since — but not for lack of food. The canines had plenty of their main prey: elk, as well as bison, bighorn sheep and mule deer. Rather, the No. 1 cause of death during the study period was other wolves. "They need more than simply food," MacNulty said. "That’s sort of an unappreciated aspect of their biology."...more

Commentary: ‘Grass March’ slated to free Nevadans

In 1930 Gandhi began the Salt March that eventually gained freedom for the citizens of India. On May 26, 2014, a Grass March will begin in Elko, Nevada, to free the people of Nevada.

In 1964 the federal government forced the ranchers on Mount Lewis to cut their cattle and sheep grazing by 50 percent even though the government only owned one half of the land and none of the water on the mountain. The ranchers had been grazing their cattle on the mountain from 1862, before Nevada became a state.

In the 1980s the State of Nevada bought out the Tomera Ranches in Elko County to build the South Fork Reservoir for recreation. The Pete Tomera family then bought the diminished Marvel and Horn ranches that included the water rights on Mount Lewis. Along with three Filippini families, a sheep grazing right owned by Ellison Ranching and a few others with grazing rights, the Tomera cattle have been grazing the mountain since their purchase.

The Tomeras own 80 percent of the grazing rights and most of the water on the mountain. The Tomeras own the water to over 80 springs, 12 wells and 183 miles of streams. The Tomeras and their neighbors have always paid the grazing fees imposed by the government and made all changes demanded by the government even though the government owns only half of the land and none of the water.

In February the government, by phone, informed the Tomeras that the government was cutting all of the grazing on Mount Lewis by 100 percent for 2014. As a result the three Tomera families have no place to go with 1,800 head of cattle. In an attempt to convince the government to allow them to graze on Mount Lewis this year the Tomeras built, at the suggestion of the government, a 16-mile fence at a cost of over $80,000. But when they completed it the government still refused to budge.

As the attorney for the Tomeras on another matter I learned about the great wrong being visited on the Tomeras and their neighbors. I told the Tomeras that to file suit against the government to force the government to relent and let them graze their cattle this year would be impossible. It would take a long time to even get before a BLM administrative judge and during that time the Tomeras and their neighbors would be prevented from grazing. And rather than be able to go into a real court they would be forced to go into an administrative court before a judge hired by the Bureau of Land Management. Eventually they would be able to appeal an unfavorable decision by the BLM administrative court to a real court. But by that time they would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and missed years of grazing on the mountain. The actions of the BLM last year and so far this year have already cost the Tomera family over $300,000.

After anguishing and praying over this problem I concluded that perhaps public opinion and our elected officials could cause the Battle Mountain BLM manager, Doug Furtado, to relent. So my sons and I volunteered, for free, to do all we could to bring the issue to the knowledge of the public and our elected officials. We are working with several others, most notably John Carpenter, who also recognize the great injustice being imposed on the Tomeras and their neighbors.

On May 26 I am going to begin a Grass March, horseback, from Elko to Battle Mountain. When I proposed this project to my family my son, Dallas, said it was similar to Gandhi’s Salt March in India in the 1930s that eventually led to the citizens of India gaining their freedom from the dictatorial rule of the British government. The British government had a total monopoly on all salt. A citizen of India was even prevented from distilling a little salt from ocean water for his family. All salt had to be bought from the British government. In Nevada the federal government has a monopoly on Nevada land and the grass. The government owns 87 percent of the land, but also exercises total control over much of the private land as well. The effective control of the government exceeds 92 percent of the grass in Nevada.

We believe that it is the inalienable right of Nevadans to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil. We believe also that since the agencies of the federal government are depriving Nevadans of their rights and oppressing them that the control of the federal lands must be transferred to the State of Nevada for the protection of the citizens of Nevada. If any government deprives a people of their rights and oppresses them the people have a right to alter that government or abolish it. The British government in India not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but was ruining India economically, politically, culturally and spiritually. The same thing is happening in Nevada.

County commissioners side with ranchers in BLM dispute

Rancher Pete Tomera prepared this map to illustrate the ownership of the land within the Bureau of Land Management’s Argenta Allotment. The BLM has closed the entire mountain allotment to grazing, even though half the land is private property. The land colored orange is public under BLM management. The Tomera family owns the land colored red, the land colored purple is the checkerboard railroad property that is leased by the Tomeras, and the land left white is owned by various other private interests. The Tomeras also own all the water within the allotment. The springs are circled in blue and the streams are the blue lines.

Lander County Commission voted unanimously Thursday to back ranchers locked in a battle with Bureau of Land Management Battle Mountain District Manager Doug Furtado over his decision to close the Argenta Allotment, where several Lander County ranching families graze their cattle. Furtado’s decision leaves those families scrambling for alternative pasture for their cattle and facing financial ruin. Within hours of the vote by the Lander commission, the Elko County Commission joined the cause with a vote of support for their neighboring commissioners. Both sets of commissioners also voted to put Saturday’s Grass Tour of the allotment south of Battle Mountain on their respective agendas so they can legally attend the event. Several state and federal representatives also have indicated they plan to attend. The Grass Tour is being organized in an effort to combat the decision by BLM’s Furtado to close the allotment to grazing this season. Furtado cited drought conditions for the closure, but the Tomeras counter the area has received abundant rain over the past four months and there is plenty of grass for their cattle. They invite everyone interested to come Saturday and see for themselves. John Carpenter, a former rancher and state assemblyman and current candidate for the Elko County Commission, said he has been working with the Tomeras to try to get them some relief from the BLM closure and prevent them from being driven out of business. He said he went out last week with a private consultant and the allotment looked great. He added the range specialist gathered information and will have his findings ready to report at Saturday’s Grass Tour. Pete Tomera prepared the accompanying map and explained that only about half of the allotment is publicly owned and managed by the BLM (shaded orange). The rest is privately owned. His family has purchased a big chunk of land (shaded red) and most of the rest (shaded purple) was the old checkerboard railroad land that the Tomeras lease. The white sections are owned by various other private interests. The allotment encompasses about 365,000 acres, so the BLM decision closing the allotment to grazing arbitrarily shuts down more than 150,000 acres of privately held land. On top of that, Tomera added, he owns all the water in the allotment. He pored over the map of the allotment and counted 89 springs (blue circles on the map) and 185 miles of creeks (blue lines)...more

Petition circulated to oust Battle Mountain BLM chief

Petitions are being circulated throughout northern Nevada seeking the removal from office of Battle Mountain Bureau of Land Management District Manager Doug Furtado, after he closed the Argenta Allotment to grazing. “We, the undersigned petitioners, demand that Battle Mountain Bureau of Land Management District Director Doug Furtado be removed from his position because he has been ignoring and continues to ignore the pleas of Lander, Eureka and Nye County residents and even his own staff. Mr. Furtado, without notice and without hearings, reduces and impedes agriculture, mining, recreation and hunting. His latest action in demanding radical reductions in grazing imperils tens of thousands of animals with wildfire. Millions of animals, including sage grouse, are at imminent risk of burning, because the fuel load continues to increase on BLM land,” the petition reads. “Mr. Furtado’s actions also imperil the economies of all Nevada counties,” it adds...more

What the president can do right now for conservation

by Bruce Babbitt

...I believe that the whole sorry Bundy episode has given us an opportunity to renew our commitment to conservation. We can do that by calling on President Obama to take action to protect more of the special places on our public lands.

He can begin by using the Antiquities Act to establish more national monuments. Some may counsel caution in light of the recent House passage of a bill by Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop to gut the law. However, the best way to protect and preserve the Antiquities Act is to use it visibly and vigorously, thereby demonstrating once again the broad public support it has enjoyed for more than 100 years.

The president could start with California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill to protect a million acres in the Mojave Desert of California.  Or he could take up Maine Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud’s bill to protect the scores of small islands that host seabird colonies off the coast of Maine. The president can use his authority under the Antiquities Act to take these bills and their establishing language and designate the lands in questions as new national monuments.

President Obama could also review the list of our existing national parks and monuments, many of which are in need of expansion because these areas are threatened by encroaching strip mining, drilling or other incompatible development. He could start out in the majestic expanses of southern Utah, where Canyonlands, Arches and Capitol Reef national parks all need additional lands to protect their archaeological sites and unique geological formations.

And at Yellowstone National Park, the migratory herds of bison, elk and other wildlife all need more space, which can be best obtained by designating the forest lands to the West as a national monument. There are many other areas where local residents are voicing support for new national monuments, including the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains in Idaho, the Vermillion Basin in Colorado and the Owyhee Canyons in Oregon.

The president also has the authority to add lands to our National Wildlife Refuge System. There is an urgent need to create a system of refuges to protect the endangered greater sage grouse that inhabits the sagebrush seas that stretch across public lands in seven Western states...

U.S.D.A Solicitation for submachine guns - .40 Cal. S&W




Solicitation Number: USDAOIGWEA-5-7-14
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Office: Office of the Inspector General
Location: Procurement Branch
Added: May 07, 2014 2:03 pm
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, located in Washington, DC, pursuant to the authority of FAR Part 13, has a requirement for the commerical acquisition of submachine guns, .40 Cal. S&W, ambidextrous safety, semi-automatic or 2 shot burts trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsilbe or folding, magazine - 30 rd. capacity, sling, light weight, and oversized trigger guard for gloved operation.  NO SOLICITATION DOCUMENT EXISTS.  All responsible and/or interested sources may submit their company name, point of contact, and telephone.  If received timely, shall be considered by the agency for contact to determine weapon suitability.

1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 40-E J.L. Whitten Fed Bldg
Washington, District of Columbia 20250

USDA, Office of Inspector General - Investigations
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, District of Columbia 20250
United States

Linda F. Josey,
Chief, Procurement Management Branch
Phone: 2027208337

The IG's office at USDA is supposed to audit departmental programs and assist the department in becoming more efficient.  Even if they are investigating food stamp fraud, do they really need submachine guns?  We don't know the number of guns they want as it is not in the notice.

But still, why do they need them?

One person has speculated USDA is concerned about stopping GMO assault crops (hee,hee), but the real reason is they fear:

25,000 steelhead released during hatchery break-in

Someone released an estimated 25,000 juvenile steelhead during an overnight break-in at a fish hatchery east of Seattle — and some are wondering if a disgruntled angler might be to blame. Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife announced last month that it would not release hatchery steelhead into any Puget Sound rivers but one this spring, after a conservation group sued over the hatchery program. While many anglers are happy to catch hatchery-raised steelhead, the Duvall-based Wild Fish Conservancy argued in U.S. District Court that the hatchery fish program had not been approved by federal officials under the Endangered Species Act, and that the hatchery fish hinder the recovery of wild steelhead. The break-in at the Tokul Creek hatchery in eastern King County was discovered Tuesday morning, said Kelly Cunningham, a deputy assistant director at Fish and Wildlife. The ponds there were behind chain-link fence, barbed wire and a locked gate...more

Surprising global species shake-up discovered

The diversity of the world's life forms -- from corals to carnivores -- is under assault. Decades of scientific studies document the fraying of ecosystems and a grim tally of species extinctions due to destroyed habitat, pollution, climate change, invasives and overharvesting. Which makes a recent report in the journal Science rather surprising. Nick Gotelli, a professor at the University of Vermont, with colleagues from Saint Andrews University, Scotland, and the University of Maine, re-examined data from one hundred long-term monitoring studies done around the world -- polar regions to the tropics, in the oceans and on land. They discovered that the number of species in many of these places has not changed much -- or has actually increased. Now wait a minute. A global extinction crisis should show up in declining levels of local biodiversity, right? That's not what the scientists found. Instead they discovered that, on average, the number of species recorded remained the same over time. Fifty-nine of the one hundred biological communities showed an increase in species richness and 41 a decrease. In all the studies, the rate of change was modest. But the researchers did discover something changing rapidly: which species were living in the places being studied. Almost 80 percent of the communities the team examined showed substantial changes in species composition, averaging about 10 percent change per decade -- significantly higher than the rate of change predicted by models...more

Environmentalists Sue to List Bumble Bee as Endangered

A bumble bee once common in the United States is disappearing so quickly it should be listed as an endangered species, environmentalists said in a lawsuit filed against U.S. government agencies on Tuesday. The rusty patched bumble bee is now found in fewer and fewer areas as urbanization and agriculture reshape their traditional habitat on the Midwestern prairies, said the suit, which was filed in U.S. district court in Washington, D.C., against the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Scientists ascribe the dwindling population to threats including disease, habitat destruction and pesticides, the environmentalists say. "The leading hypothesis suggests that disease may be playing a role," said Sarina Jepsen, a program director at the Oregon-based Xerces Society, which brought the lawsuit along with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Bumble bees pollinate a wide variety of plants and crops and are used commercially by farmers to help grow tomatoes in greenhouses. The wild species may have picked up diseases from non-native bees brought in by tomato producers, Jepsen said...more


Ranchers Wary As U.S. Considers Brazilian Beef Imports

Sharon Harvat drives a blue pickup truck through a field of several hundred pregnant heifers on her property outside Scottsbluff in western Nebraska. Harvat and her husband run their cattle in the Nebraska panhandle during the winter, then back to northern Colorado after the calves are born. Harvat says when she heard about a proposal to open up the beef trade with Brazil, she felt a pit in her stomach. "On an operation like ours, where we travel a lot with our cattle, that would probably come to an abrupt halt if there was an outbreak," she says. She's talking about an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. Although it rarely transmits to humans, the foot-and-mouth virus is very contagious in livestock. The U.S. hasn't had an outbreak in more than 80 years, but Brazil has: The latest was in 2006. Outbreaks in other countries, like Great Britain, have led to mass slaughter of animals, causing huge economic damage in the billions of dollars. The Department of Agriculture wants to greenlight imports of fresh beef from Brazil, arguing that there's little risk of the disease hitching a ride to the U.S. on packages of meat. But the deal has ranchers like Harvat wringing their hands. The government disagrees. "We certainly understand the concerns ... that we'd be putting the U.S. livestock industry at risk by allowing these imports," says Gary Colgrove, a director with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which oversees trade relationships. "However, we feel that the risk analysis is robust and it's out there for the public to scrutinize." That risk analysis says that a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak would indeed be devastating, but that the fear is unwarranted. Colgrove says Brazil has proved its ability to contain and control the disease and has been vaccinating cattle against foot-and-mouth for years. When American inspectors visited Brazil over the past decade, ports were well staffed and a system of permits to keep the disease in check was up to speed, the analysis says. Still, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association is urging caution. It is asking USDA to withdraw the proposal...more

Wind Power Disrupts Local Climate

Parade Magazine columnist Marilyn Vos Savant, once considered the smartest person in the world, wrote on May 11 that wind power may actually disrupt local weather. While this information contradicts climate alarmist attempts to reduce extreme weather to a consequence of global warming, it adds to the list of environmental problems with wind turbines. Vos Savant claimed that wind turbines “will have an impact on the weather,” in addition to causing “ground warming and drying.” She pointed out that wind turbines “remove energy from the wind” which logically has an impact on local climate. Vos Savant also said that this problem will increase “the more widespread [turbines] become” and that “improved engineering” will not change the basic fact that they affect the air around them. This is not just a fringe claim. On February 14, Scientific American reprinted an essay detailing studies that explored how wind power affects the climate. This essay discussed recent which found that increased wind turbines throughout Europe changed temperature and rain patterns.  Researchers also found that “the climate impacts of wind farms extend beyond the farms themselves,” impacting local communities or ecosystems...more

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Obama Blocks Keystone To Start Energy Takeover


    After successfully bringing more than 30% of the U.S. economy — the health care and financial services industries — under political control during his first term, President Obama made it clear last week that a priority of his second term is to go after the energy sector — another 10.5%.
    The purpose of the White House's orchestrated release of the National Climate Assessment on May 7 was to set the stage to drive energy markets and fossil fuels under the heel of more government regulation.
    Most Americans would celebrate knowing that the U.S. is on the cusp of oil and gas energy independence and the lower prices that will follow — especially with memories of OPEC's oil embargo and the cartel's ongoing ability to manipulate markets.
    So with Obama promoting more energy regulation and choosing to hold up construction of the Keystone XL pipeline — one of the three legs of U.S. energy independence — many Americans wonder what's going on.
    First, some background. The primary purpose of Keystone XL is to transport crude oil from the oil tar sands of Alberta, Canada's Athabasca region to refineries on the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana that are specifically designed to process and refine heavy crude into byproducts such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.
    Radical environmentalists may have heightened opposition to so-called dirty oil from tar sands, but the end products are essentially the same as those refined from light sweet crude.
    Travel by air, rail and ship require petroleum-based fuels, and with 94% of America's electric power coming from legacy sources — largely fossil fuels — and only 4% provided by solar and wind (made possible only by huge tax subsidies), it makes enormous sense to bring on more supply, lower prices and reduce OPEC's influence.
    ...If the U.S. does not take full advantage of the Canadian oil sands resource, China certainly will to a greater and greater extent. In February 2013, the Chinese National Oil company, CNOOC, closed the $15 billion acquisition of Canada's Nexen Oil Co. — which has a significant stake in the Alberta oil sands.
    Most environmentalists think globally and must realize that delaying Keystone only gives China more clout in securing a larger portion of the oil sands. And then who wins? Certainly not Mother Earth, given China's horrid environmental record.
    Then there's the current Venezuelan regime, which benefits from limiting the flow of oil from Canada. Most of the capacity of the Texas and Louisiana refineries, which would be the destinations for Keystone pipeline output, is taken up by heavy oil from Venezuela.
    ...People also need to follow the money and understand the Keystone holdup by analyzing who benefits. Opposing the Keystone XL pipeline is a lightning rod and cash cow for the Democratic Party.
    Environmentalists who are among the 1% — notably Tom Steyer — have pledged $100 million to fight Keystone and fossil fuels. Oh, and then there is billionaire Democrat Warren Buffett, whose Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad capitalizes on transporting the oil that would otherwise flow more safely and economically through the Keystone pipeline.
    ....Internationally, the Keystone holdup helps sustain OPEC, while it weakens U.S. relations with Canada — an immediate neighbor and longstanding ally. At the same time, blocking Keystone helps China and Venezuela — two repressive regimes that are often hostile to the U.S.