Friday, May 23, 2014

Battles Brewing Over Proposed New Tribal Recognition Rules

The Interior Department announced Thursday its long-awaited new rules for granting federal recognition to Native American tribes--but some lawmakers are already seeking changes. Some members of Congress and officials on the state and local levels have been warily bracing for the proposed new rules. Many have been concerned with how far and wide they might open new avenues for tribal casinos or lead to erosion of state tax bases and new battles over historical lands. The new rules by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn would represent the reformation of a 35-year-old process by which the Interior officially recognizes Indian tribes. There are altogether 566 federally recognized tribes already--but only 17 of those have been recognized under this 35-year-old process, which the proposal is seeking to revise. And in fact, the proposed changes announced Thursday keep and incorporate a key feature floated in a draft plan in June to provide recognition to a tribe that can show "community and political influence/authority from 1934 to the present," rather than from as early as 1789 under existing rules. The change would also eliminate the need for a petitioner to demonstrate that third parties identify them as a tribe from 1900 to the present. "President Obama believes that reforming the federal acknowledgment process will strengthen our important trust relationship with Indian tribes," said Jewell, in a statement. But the fear from some lawmakers and state and local politicians was that the new language devised by Bureau of Indian Affairs could result in federal recognition for literally hundreds of tribes that for years have struggled and failed to receive that status--and could give them all the privileges that come with that...more

Government Grants $6.7 Million to Hire Youth to Work on Public Lands

As part of the Department of the Interior’s ambitious youth initiative to inspire millions of young adults and veterans to play, learn, serve and work in the great outdoors and the President's 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Initiative, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced $6.7 million in grants to support conservation employment and mentoring opportunities at 43 projects on public lands across the country – a 60 percent increase over last year’s funding. The grants, the latest in the Obama Administration’s efforts to develop a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) and expand employment opportunities for young people and veterans, will provide jobs resulting in paid conservation work experiences for more than 620 youth on public lands, as well as fund materials, transportation and other related supplies. These projects will also support approximately 1,550 volunteers working on public lands...more

Thursday, May 22, 2014

New Mexico fence impasse deepens as county weighs sanctions against feds

Blair Dunn
Caren Cowan
New Mexico ranchers are plenty mad over the U.S. Forest Service’s refusal to open a gate blocking their cattle from reaching water, but all sides say they are working hard to avoid an armed showdown reminiscent of Nevada’s Bundy ranch skirmish any time soon. But that doesn’t mean a resolution will be easy or that the pressure on the local officials at the center of the clash is any less. And still standing are the metal fences and locked gates along the banks of the Agua Chiquita, put up by the Forest Service to keep local cattle out. The federal government says the fences are merely replacing long-standing barbed-wire enclosures protecting a vital wetland habitat. Otero County officials say they’re exploring possible criminal and civil sanctions against federal agencies after failing to reach an agreement with federal stakeholders. The ranching community is also reaching out to Congress to step in on behalf of cattle owners. “It’s time for a congressional inquiry into this and probably a committee hearing somewhere in the West to deal with this, because it’s not just here. It’s Utah. It’s Nevada. It’s what’s going on in Texas,” said Albuquerque attorney Blair Dunn, who’s representing Otero County in the matter. “It was very frustrating for the sheriff and the county commissioners to go all that way, have that meeting in good faith, and nobody in that room from the federal government ever had any intention of compromising,” said Mr. Dunn. Fourteen federal officials and law enforcement officers attended the meeting, said Mr. Dunn, but they insisted that they have no authority to remove the pipe fencing, which is tall enough to block cattle from reaching the watering hole but short enough to allow elk and deer to leap over. Opening the fence may sound like an easy fix, but Mr. Joyner said it would require the Forest Service to reopen the NEPA planning process and change the rules governing the riparian area, which is being protected as habitat for at-risk species, such as the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse. Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, said the feud over the fence is just the latest example of the ongoing struggle between those who make their living off the land and the federal government, which owns 42 percent of the land within the state’s borders. “This whole federal lands’ abuse — and there’s no other term for it — has been something that has been building for years,” said Ms. Cowan. “Basically, we feel like here in the West, and particularly in New Mexico, we’re almost under siege with the federal government trying to drive us off the land.”...more

BLM director says money and resources are issues to managing horses

Under fire by ranchers, county commissioners and several state officials who want the federal officials to “obey the law,” Bureau of Land Management Director Juan Palma said he faces financial restraints and lacks the tools needed to get the job done. During an interview, Palma said he can’t “print money” and is only able to spend what Congress appropriates — it isn’t enough to reduce the overpopulation of wild horse herds to the legal numbers required under the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act. “The public wants us to do more but I need help. We want to comply with what the public wants and the law but we’re hamstrung and limited to manage the problem. The fact is we haven’t been given the resources and tools necessary to deal with the issue,” Palma said. Palma’s response follows a statement issued Tuesday by the Iron County Commissioners and supported by their counterparts in Beaver County, calling the BLM’s most recent announcement to only gather 200 horses off the western range in 2014 a “joke.” The statement is one of many made in the last three months by both Iron and Beaver County commissioners to take care of the problem of overpopulated herd numbers on the range if the BLM won’t. While Palma said the 200 horses only are the initial roundup of what’s to come without being able to provide an exact timeline of when the rest of the excess herds would be removed, county officials say it’s not enough –they want to see the federal government turn over control of the wild horses to the state. “Here’s exhibit A: deer, elk, bison and wild horses are all managed wildlife. Three of these areas are managed by the state and managed well. One is managed by the federal government. Guess which one is managed by the federal government?” said Mark Ward, senior policy analyst and public lands counsel for the Utah Association of Counties. The association is in the process of filing a “friend of the court” brief in support of the Western Rangeland Conservation Association, a group of several ranchers and government officials, who on April 30 filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior. The suit is asking a federal judge to issue an immediate injunction against the BLM — if granted would force the agency to remove the wild horses now overpopulating the range and to bring the numbers down to AML...more

During an interview, Palma said he can’t “print money” and is only able to spend what Congress appropriates — it isn’t enough to reduce the overpopulation of wild horse herds to the legal numbers required under the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act.

By pointing to Congress as the culprit, Palma is throwing horse puckey at us and he knows it.  BLM's annual budget is $1.1 billion, of which around $960 million is in their Management of Lands & Resources category.  Money can be moved around in that account and BLM can even transfer monies from one state to another.

“The public wants us to do more but I need help. We want to comply with what the public wants and the law but we’re hamstrung and limited to manage the problem. The fact is we haven’t been given the resources and tools necessary to deal with the issue,” Palma said.

Palma may be "hamstrung and limited", but its by his bosses in DC.  BLM's budget request for 2015 actually calls for less money to be spent in this category overall.   However, BLM does want more money to manage Wilderness, cultural resources, recreation and oh yes, for land acquisition.  Point that finger at the real culprits Mr. Palma.

Senators introduce Klamath Basin agreement bill

Lawmakers from Oregon and California introduced legislation in the Senate on Wednesday that formalizes the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement struck last month. Under the deal, users above Upper Klamath Lake agree to reduce their water consumption, allowing an extra 30,000 acre-feet to flow into the lake. In exchange, the Klamath Tribes agree to not pre-emptively exercise their senior water rights above the lake, and local landowners will commit to helping restore plant and fish habitats in riparian areas. Downstream irrigators and ranchers, who have lesser claims to the water, stand to gain more certainty of access to water, particularly in dry years. But critics say the deal hasn’t reduced water demand in the basin enough to solve the problem. They warn that under the legislation, salmon fisheries could face devastating die-offs, as they did in 2003 following reduced river flows caused by drought the previous year. The Klamath Basin is 16,000 square miles that drain into the Klamath River as it flows more than 250 miles from its headwaters in Southern Oregon through Northern California to the Pacific Ocean. In March 2013, after 38 years of litigation, the Oregon Water Resources Department adjudicated the competing claims to the water. Essentially, under the principle of first in time, first in right, the Klamath Tribes were awarded top claim on much of Upper Klamath Lake and portions of its tributaries. But should high-priority rights holders exercise a “call” on their water claim during particularly dry years, ranchers and irrigators worry they wouldn’t have enough water for their livestock and crops. In a prepared statement, Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both D-Ore., called on Congress to enact the legislation...more

Editorial - Obama's Land Grab Opens Path For Cartels, Illegals

    The Bureau of Land Management plans a Bundy-like seizure of New Mexico land for a national monument that will restrict Border Patrol access and provide an open corridor for drug and human traffickers.
    In August 2002, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Ranger Kris Eggle was killed in the line of duty. Allegedly the killers were drug smugglers crossing through the Arizona park, which shares a border with Mexico. Since Eggle's death, Organ Pipe has been called the most dangerous park in America.
    According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, about 65% of the cocaine and most of the marijuana entering America come from Mexico, and much of those drugs through Organ Pipe. In 2002, the year Eggle was murdered, some 200,000 illegal aliens were caught sneaking into the U.S. through Organ Pipe.
    The Border Patrol estimates that 700,000 pounds of illegal drugs enter America through the park each year. Federal lands and national parks along our southern border are favorite points of entry for illegal aliens and drug runners. Those areas often resemble a war zone.
    These border parks, created to protect the environment, often more closely resemble a landfill from the debris and damage caused by endless streams of drug runners and illegal aliens.
    Yet to protect the "pristine" nature of existing monuments like Organ Pipe, the Obama administration has barred the Border Patrol from using their vehicles to hunt for illegals and drug traffickers.
    President Obama on Wednesday announced that he would bypass the Senate and Congress to create another 600,000-acre off-limits "monument" near the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico, to be called the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.
    The city of Juarez, Mexico — a city riddled with drug-cartel activity — is right across the border from the new national monument.
     "Without law enforcement having access to federal lands, drug traffickers, human smugglers and potentially terrorists are able to exploit yet another loophole created by the Obama administration's lax immigration enforcement," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., in a May 2 statement.
    Zack Taylor, the chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, told Breitbart Texas that the creation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument "is the biggest breach of border security I have seen in the last 20 years. The people don't want it, and the sheriff doesn't want it. It is an open invitation for the foreign drug cartels and transnational criminals to bring their illegal drugs and aliens into the U.S."
    According to a 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service, "The federal government owns and manages roughly 635-640 million acres of land in the United States — about 28% of the total land base of 2.27 billion."
    That percentage has increased since then, and agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which recently engaged in an armed confrontation with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, want more.
    The government's agenda in this and many other land-confiscation activities is motivated by a desire to comply with a U.N. "rewilding" program that advocates pushing humans out of rural areas and into densely packed urban zones to promote what the U.N. called "sustainable development."
    "Land ... cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market," said a U.N. action plan. "Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice."
    It's not surprising that the Obama administration is again putting the social-justice agenda once advocated by far-left "green jobs" czar Van Jones ahead of border security and enforcement of the nation's immigration laws. It's all part of the promised "fundamental transformation" of America.


Land grab? Local officials blast move by Obama to set aside 500,000 acres in NM

Local officials in New Mexico warn a move by the Obama administration to designate nearly a half-million acres as a national monument could open up a crime corridor making it easier for illegal immigrants to cross the border and for drug cartels to operate undetected. “I’m not finished,” Obama said during Wednesday’s ceremony. The New Mexico national monument is the second one he’s designated this year. He added, “I am here to pick up a little bit of the slack because there is no time to waste to preserve precious resources and give a shot in the arm to local economies.” But Dona Ana County Sheriff Tom Garrison told the monument will likely hamper law enforcement’s ability to patrol the area. Garrison said his concerns have fallen on deaf ears, and says he’s been shut out of the process. “They tell the media they have talked to law enforcement, but they haven’t talked to local law enforcement,” he said. “They haven’t talked to me. They talk to Border Patrol and Border Patrol tells [lawmakers and media] whatever Washington tells them to say.” The law, signed by Theodore Roosevelt, was originally passed out of concern for protecting Native American artifacts but allows a president to set aside land for "historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest." But Garrison argues the designation hurts his deputies’ abilities to keep the area safe. Garrison said while his deputies will not be legally allowed on the land, it is unlikely smugglers will suddenly start obeying the rules. “The cartel is smart. It’s not a stupid operation,” Garrison said. Following the designation ceremony, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called out Obama for failing to include additional protections for border security. “At a time of continued cartel violence in Mexico, we should not be putting any additional restraints on efforts to protect our borders,” he said in a written statement. Citing “unresolved security gaps along the border,” Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, asked Obama to reconsider the monument designation. “National parks, monuments and wilderness areas along our southern border have become prime drug-trafficking corridors for violent criminals and drug cartels,” Bishop wrote to Obama in a May 19 letter. Bishop, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee’s public lands subcommittee, said it is “irresponsible” for the administration to focus on new land designations rather than address existing criminal activities at the border. Local ranchers have also expressed concern and say they are worried the designation will cut into their grazing rights...more

Boehner: Obama move on N.M. monument could thwart immigration reform

President Obama’s new national monument in New Mexico, which he announced Wednesday, thrilled environmentalists, who said it preserves nearly 500,000 acres of spectacular and pristine lands, but it could also doom his hopes of getting Congress to pass an immigration bill this year. House Speaker John A. Boehner said the president’s unilateral move is exactly the type of action the GOP has been warning against, adding it shows the president isn’t serious about enforcing border security. Mr. Boehner has repeatedly said Republicans are reluctant to trust that the president will take seriously border security and immigration enforcement as part of a “comprehensive” deal that also would include the path to citizenship that Democrats prize. “The president’s announcement today intensifies those concerns, demonstrating a level of audacity that is remarkable even for this administration,” the Ohio Republican said. “Once again, the president has chosen to bypass the legislative branch — and, in this case, do so in a manner that adds yet another challenge in our ongoing efforts to secure our southern border.” The monument designation is Mr. Obama’s latest effort to use executive action to sidestep a Congress he said is too gridlocked to do what he wants. But in making the move, Mr. Obama sidelined Rep. Stevan Pearce, the Republican whose district includes the land the new monument is on. Mr. Pearce had written a bill envisioning a monument slightly larger than 50,000 acres, or just one-tenth the size of the one Mr. Obama designated. Republicans said Mr. Obama should have let Congress hash out the differences between Mr. Udall and Mr. Pearce rather than having the White House step in and side with Democrats. The president, however, said this is exactly what he promised when he said he would make 2013 a year of action. “As I said in my State of the Union address, I’m searching for more opportunities to preserve federal lands where communities are speaking up,” he said. “Because wherever I see an opening to get things done for the American people, I’m going to take it. I’ve said before: I want to work with anyone in Congress who is ready to get to work and shares those goals, but recently they haven’t gotten the job done.”...more

Chairman Hastings: The Imperial President Strikes Again

President Obama Raises Border Security Concerns by Unilaterally Designating 500,000 Acre National Monument in New Mexico over Local Objections 

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 21, 2014 - House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) issued the following statement today on President Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act to unilaterally designate nearly 500,000 acres in New Mexico as the Organ Mountain–Desert Peak National Monument: 

“The Imperial President strikes again.  Instead of working in a transparent, open manner that guarantees public participation, President Obama is taking unilateral action, behind closed-doors to designate hundreds of thousands of acres.  Local communities and their local elected leaders oppose this designation because they know it will block job-creating economic activities and increase security risks along the U.S.-Mexico borderDrug smuggling and criminal activity are known challenges in this area and the designation could put the Nation’s border security at risk. This is an issue that deserves careful examination. Time and again we have seen examples of where restrictive federal land management policies have created security risks including lawless corridors where criminals roam outside of law enforcement’s reach.
During the President’s first-term in office an internal memo was leaked that revealed a scheme to lock-up more than 13 million acres – including this land in New Mexico - with the simple stroke of the President’s pen.  The fears and concerns then have now been turned into reality.   This is not the way major land-use decisions should be made.  That’s why earlier this year, the House passed legislation to protect communities from federal land grabs and require public participation in the process.”

In March, the House passed H.R. 1459, the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act. This bill would require public participation before a presidentially-declared National Monument is made official. Under a century-old law, the 1906 Antiquities Act, presidents can unilaterally designate National Monuments without any input or involvement of the American public, community leaders, or elected officials. This authority, enacted prior to the establishment of today’s land management laws, was intended to be used in emergencies to protect historic artifacts and sites of scientific value from imminent threat and “confined to the smallest area” necessary.


Obama Turns to Tourism in Latest Bid to Spur Economy

Sparking economic growth through tourism is the latest pitch from President Barack Obama, who’s ramping up his jobs message leading into November’s U.S. congressional elections. Obama today signed a document that will turn almost 500,000 acres of New Mexico wilderness into a protected national monument. U.S. tourism in March, the most recent month available, totaled $5.1 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In unadjusted dollars, that was the second-highest monthly total on record. Focusing on tourism is “a small-scale kind of proposal, but it’s one that especially at this time in the summer that people will like to hear about,” Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University history professor, said in a telephone interview. “It’s not the kind of proposal that’s going to solve the sluggish economic growth that this country faces.”...more

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Watch: Outraged Utah Rancher Tells The BLM What’s In Store For Them If They Try Anything

The reaction to the Bundy Ranch showdown proved hostilities between civilians – specifically ranchers – and the federal government is not limited to Nevada. Land disputes in Texas and protests in Utah have highlighted what many see as undue intrusion by the Bureau of Land Management into the rights of ranchers who have used the land for generations. Outrage has reached a boiling point among some in Utah who depend on federally owned land for their livelihood and who feel the government is now making their way of life virtually impossible. “I’ve been riding a horse and taking care of them … ever since someone could hold me on the horse,” rancher Preston Johnson said, explaining he had hoped to pass his lifestyle down to his children. The San Juan County rancher’s concerns come just days after a nearby protest against the BLM’s failure to act on requests that it reopen a canyon that has been off-limits to motorized vehicles since 2007. He cited the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act as the basis for his claim to use the land, though he notes that he and other ranchers are facing mounting opposition by the BLM. Under the guise of protecting endangered animals or some other ostensible emergency, he complained that federal agents are resorting to the use of force to enact new restrictions on ranchers across the American West. His mother, Sandy, agrees. “The government has pushed us and pushed us ‘til we’re tired of being pushed and we’ve done the things we need to do like pay our grazing fees and everything,” she explained. Failure to pay such fees, officials claim, was the basis for an armed standoff at the Bundy Ranch. Some critics contend the BLM is working toward the full removal of ranches and cattle from the millions of acres it currently owns. As for Preston Johnson, he made it clear that he has no intention of voluntarily capitulating to the encroaching federal bureaucracy. “I’ll stay here ‘til they have to run me off,” he concluded, “with everything they got, because I ain’t going nowhere.”...more

Here is the KSL-TV video report:


Washington, DC (May 21, 2014) Congressman Steve Pearce opposes President Barack Obama’s use of executive powers under the Antiquities Act to designate one-fifth of Doña Ana County to create a new national monument.
President Obama’s announcement today that he will establish the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument flies in the face of the democratic process,” said Congressman Steve Pearce. “This single action has erased six years of work undertaken by Doña Ana County ranchers, business owners, conservationists, sportsmen, officials and myself to develop a collaborative plan for the Organ Mountains that would have preserved the natural resource, and still provided future economic opportunities.
The President’s reckless use of his executive powers also takes away assurances of border security for county residents, soil and water conservation, hunting and motorized vehicle access,” Pearce continued. “I was elected to represent the people of Southern New Mexico, and President Obama ignored the people of Southern New Mexico with the stroke of a pen.”
Congressman Pearce has always supported a permanent solution to protect the Organ Mountains. Pearce introduced H.R. 995 in March 2013 to establish the Organ Mountains National Monument. The bill would have protected the rights of ranchers, hunters and law enforcement to access the monument. It would permanently withdraw 54,800 acres of the land from mineral exploration, and ensure that new roads would not be constructed without the consent of the Interior Secretary. It also guaranteed that flood control structures could be repaired when necessary.
President Obama will instead use the Antiquities Act to bypass Congress and establish half a million acres of land in Doña Ana County as the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. The Antiquities Act states that the President must only use this power to declare monuments within “the smallest area compatible.” The President said in his State of the Union address that if Congress did not implement his will, he would take as many executive actions as he saw fit.

N.M. national monument raises concern about law enforcement along border

A top House Republican urged President Obama on Tuesday to ensure Border Patrol agents will have access to rugged and remote mountain ranges along the Mexican border that the president is designating as a national monument. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, said the president’s action could make it more difficult for law enforcement to patrol huge swaths of the border in New Mexico. “Without law enforcement having access to federal lands, drug traffickers, human smugglers and potentially terrorists are able to exploit yet another loophole created by the Obama administration’s lax immigration enforcement,” Mr. Goodlatte said. “As President Obama moves forward with his decision, I urge him and his administration to allow Border Patrol agents to do their job and gain control of our nation’s porous borders.” Mr. Obama will use his executive authority Wednesday to designate nearly a half-million acres in New Mexico as the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. About half that land is expected to be set aside eventually by Congress as wilderness, which would close those areas to vehicles. Dona Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison said Monday the president’s action will create “a pathway for criminals to get into this country to do their criminal acts.” The New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association also is opposed to the move. The president’s action is raising questions of border security just as he is seeking the help of law enforcement groups to pressure House Republicans to approve comprehensive immigration reform. Mr. Goodlatte challenged the administration’s record of enforcing the borders, saying it has given priority to land preservation. “Documents show that the Departments of Interior and Agriculture are using environmental regulations to prevent the Border Patrol from accessing portions of the 21 million acres along the U.S.-Mexico border and over 1,000 miles of the U.S.-Canada border,” Mr. Goodlatte said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Obama Administration officials have so far prevented Border Patrol agents from securing the border by denying them access to federal lands under the guise of environmental preservation.”...more

Only Cartels Benefit from Obama's Border 'Monument,' says Former Border Patrol Association

On Wednesday the Obama Administration is set to unilaterally designate a 600,000 acre national monument in New Mexico near the U.S.-Mexican border. The sanctuary, which will be called the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, has drawn sharp criticism from law enforcement who say it will impede border security. "By creating this monument, President Obama is ensuring a pathway to get drugs into the country" Zack Taylor, Chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, told Breitbart Texas. The Obama Administration will ultimately control how much access Border Patrol agents will have to the land, including whether or not they will be able to use vehicles. Taylor, who has 26 years of border security experience, pointed out that one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Juarez, Mexico, is right across the New Mexico border. Impeding law enforcement near this section of the border could allow Juarez's cartels and violence to enter the U.S. with ease. "This is the wrong place to put a monument," Taylor said. "The New Mexico border has no river--it's just an imaginary line. If criminal illegal aliens can walk across the border and into the sanctuary area, they will use that land for criminal acitivy and use it extensively. Everything surrounding the monument is in peril." Advocates of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument claim the land needs to be preserved for environmental reasons. But opponents claim this argument is a deflection from the real issue, which is the safety of U.S. citizens. "Who benefits form this more than the cartels?" Taylor asked. "The people who live there don't benefit, law enforcement doesn't benefit, the sheriffs don't benefit. The only people who benefit from this monument are illegal illegal immigrants brining drugs into this country. Environmentalists say we're protecting this land by shutting people out, but we're actually doing the opposite." Taylor concluded, "The Obama Administration is using 'environmental concerns' as a tool to bypass Congress and take over the land. By doing so, he is completely ignoring national security and public safety."...more 

Monument Preserve in New Mexico Could be Next Land Rights Battleground

President Barack Obama's decision on Wednesday to declare 500,000 acres in southern New Mexico as the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument has set the stage for another controversy that pits conservationists against ranchers, The Washington Times reported. Environmentalists, conservationists, and state tourism officials lauded the decision as bringing more visitors to the state while protecting the area's unique landscape. The monument is home to five mountain ranges, ancient rock art, and is also where the Apollo astronauts trained for their missions. Ranchers are angry at losing grazing land. Local law enforcement authorities say the new environmental restrictions that come with the monument designation, will make it harder to patrol the area, which is fast becoming a haven for drug smugglers and illegal immigrants. Sheriff Todd Garrison of Dona Ana County said the designation would leave thousands of acres as pathways "for criminals to get into this country," the Times reported. Garrison said law enforcement vehicles will face environmental restrictions in patrolling the area, while smugglers will simply disregard the new monument designation. The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management will administer the national monument. The U.S. Border Patrol will have limited access to the land when agents are in hot pursuit of smugglers, the Times reported. Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee's public lands subcommittee, confirmed that environmental restrictions have hampered the Border Patrol. He called on the president to delay the designation until "solutions to existing criminal activities plaguing the border" could be implemented...more

Obama Unilaterally Making Swath of Dangerous Border Region a National Monument

A Western lawmaker urged President Obama from once again using the 1906 Antiquities Act to unilaterally designate national monuments, this time at the volatile U.S.-Mexico border. The White House announced that Wednesday Obama will host an event at the Interior Department to sign a proclamation establishing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in south-central New Mexico. “By establishing the monument, the President will permanently protect more than 496,000 acres to preserve the prehistoric, historic, and scientific values of the area for the benefit of all Americans,” the White House said. “A recent independent study found that a new national monument could generate $7.4 million in new economic activity annually from new visitors and business opportunities while preserving access for sportsmen, ranchers, and recreational users.” But Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) fired off a letter to Obama yesterday arguing that the monument lacks local support and could impede the Border Patrol and local law enforcement’s ability to conduct security operations. “Unresolved security gaps along the border and a recent violent attack of a U.S. National Park Service (NPS) employee at Chiracahua National Monument raise serious concerns about safety and ongoing violence along the border. In light of the unresolved criminal activity taking place on federal land along the border, I am asking the Administration to abandon any efforts to move forward with new national monument designations,” Bishop wrote. “Despite local opposition, interest groups and the Department are pushing a 600,000-acre national monument via the Antiquities Act and circumventing an open and transparent congressional process,” the congressman said. The Albuquerque Journal reported that a coalition of cattle ranchers and county sheriffs have been expressing vocal opposition to the plan that would swallow up 20 percent of Doña Ana County — nearly half a million acres. “It’s going to tie up a huge portion of land that is going to create an avenue of access for illegal activity,” Doña Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison said. “It’s already happening in Arizona. Why would we think it’s not going to happen here?”...more

Editorial - Lawless Order Is How This White House Always Operates

A Democrat congressman's desire for all of government to "work around" immigration laws is already happening — on many laws. President Obama should be wearing an "impeach me" sign.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., told a Senate subcommittee Monday that until an amnesty-based immigration "reform" gets passed, "every institution in America, including our military, must work around the inability of our federal government and the U.S. House of Representatives to fix our immigration system."

Gutierrez is another Chicago community organizer-turned-politician, and has represented one of the most shamelessly racially gerrymandered congressional districts in the country.

...On Wednesday, taking a page from Bill Clinton, President Obama will nationalize about a half million acres of New Mexico bordering Mexico as the new Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, infuriating local police who warn that Mexican drug cartels will use it as "a pathway for criminals to get into this country to do their criminal acts," as Dona Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison told the Washington Times. 
As House Public Lands Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, notes, the environmental regulations within nationalized lands "limit Border Patrol access and, as a result, make it easier for drug smugglers and human traffickers to move their drugs and people in and out of the United States unnoticed."

What if the government "worked around" other laws too, like our constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and religion? Oh, hold on. The Obama administration is violating those laws, as in ObamaCare forcing faith-based groups to cover abortions, and the IRS harassing Tea Party groups because of their politics.

With impeachment a long shot, this president knows he can get away with just about as much lawbreaking as he wants.

Citizens tour closed grazing allotment

Two hundred concerned citizens turned out Saturday for the Grass Tour of the Argenta Allotment south of Battle Mountain that was closed for grazing earlier this year by the Bureau of Land Management’s District Manager Doug Furtado. The collection of ranchers, citizens and elected representatives was taken on a tour that showed thousands of acres of tall, green grass and listened to a report from Bob Schweigert of Intermountain Range Consultants, who said the range was in good shape and fully capable of supporting cattle. “The BLM likes to say all this green grass is not forage, but recovery,” Schweigert told the assembly. “I’m here to tell you it is not recovery, it is recovered.” The Grass Tour was organized by Elko attorney and Elko County Commissioner Grant Gerber and former rancher and state assemblyman John Carpenter, who also is a candidate for Elko County Commissioner. They are trying to get Furtado to reverse his decision to close the mountain allotment to grazing. “We were so pleased with the great support from our wonderful friends,” Lynn Tomera said. “Thank you all.” The 340,000-acre allotment, which is 56 percent private property, is grazed by the extended Tomera and Filippini families. The closure has left them all scrambling for alternative pasture and facing financial ruin. Furtado says the closure was necessary in response to the drought of the past three years. The ranchers point out he made his decision last winter and that the rains over the past four months have ended the drought and the range is in good condition...more

Groups file appeal for endangered whitebark pine

Not satisfied with a lower-court ruling favoring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, two environmental groups are filing an appeal asking that whitebark pine be listed as an endangered species. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and WildWest Institute filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after a lower court judge ruled that the USFWS hadn't done anything wrong when it decided not to list the whitebark pine as a threatened species. In July 2011, the agency determined that whitebark pine forests have enough threats, such as climate change, to warrant listing. However, the USFWS was not abusing its power or being arbitrary when it decided other species have a higher priority for listing, said U.S. District Judge Dana Christiansen of Missoula in his April 25 ruling. The USFWS has identified more than 260 species that qualify for Endangered Species Act protections but are yet to be listed. “The FWS has already found that whitebark pine trees are going extinct due to global warming,” said Mike Garrity, AWR executive director. “Whitebark pine seeds are an important food source for grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We are going to keep fighting to keep whitebark pines from going extinct because Yellowstone grizzly bears are so dependent on them.“ The U.S. Forest Service estimated that climate change would result in the whitebark-pine population shrinking to less than 3 percent of its current range by the end of the century...more 

This is a nice little racket.  Congress, including the Republicans in the House, appropriates money to the Forest Service to study global warming.  The enviros then use that federally-funded research to sue the feds under the ESA, and if they win or there is a settlement, the feds pay their attorney fees.

Bison to be pushed back into Yellowstone this week

BILLINGS, Mont. — State and federal agencies plan to start pushing bison into Yellowstone National Park on Tuesday in an annual event meant to keep the migrating animals away from cattle in southwestern Montana. State Department of Livestock Executive Officer Christian Mackay said workers on horseback and ATVs plan to drive about 300 bison in the West Yellowstone are roughly 7 miles back into the park. Unlike previous years, there is no plan to use a helicopter to assist in this year's efforts. That practice had drawn lawsuits from environmental groups but was upheld in U.S. District court last year. Bison migrate from the park to lower elevations in Montana in the winter. A federal-state agreement requires their return to the park in the spring to make way for cattle to graze.  AP

Sheep herding dog killed by wolf in Boise foothills

A recent wolf attack in the Boise foothills killed a sheep herding dog. Authorities say this isn't necessarily uncommon, but they do want the public to be aware. On May 8th, a one-year-old border collie named Teson was killed by a wolf. Teson was herding sheep through the Upper Hulls Gulch area when the wolf attacked. Frank Shirts is Teson's owner and has been herding sheep through the Boise foothills for years. "It makes you mad, the sheep herders feel bad about it because they've had him since he was a puppy training him, and it's a asset to me," said Shirts. Each spring, Shirts rely on two border collies to help guide the sheep, and two great Pyrenees to guard them. "I just like people to know what the wolves will do to you and your animals, they're causing us a lot of problems, always have and probably always will," said Shirts...more

Governor urges Secretary of the Interior to delist grizzly bears

Governor Matt Mead is asking the Secretary of the Interior to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list. Secretary Sally Jewell wrote to Governor Mead in late 2013 saying she expected to make a decision in early 2014 and take final action this year. “The recovery of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem is a conservation success story of our time,” Governor Mead said. “The State of Wyoming has managed grizzly bears under federal control responsibly for years at significant cost. There is no reason to wait to remove federal protections and return control of grizzly bears to the states.” Governor Mead points out that Wyoming has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to research food sources and the effect of those food sources on populations. That research demonstrates that grizzly bears forage on numerous sources and are expanding in population and range. “Both the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee and the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee have reviewed the data and both recommend FWS delist the grizzly bears. All regulatory requirements and biological objectives have been met or exceeded,” Governor Mead wrote...more

Vexing mussels: Officials concede defeat at Lake Powell, seek to contain invasive species

For 14 years, officials at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area focused on keeping Quagga mussels out of Lake Powell. It was an undertaking, as National Park Service rangers tried to police about 2 million annual visitors and an estimated 400,000 boat launches at eight developed boat access points, and at least a half-dozen other access points along 2,000 miles of shoreline, said Todd Brindle, recreation area superintendent. Last year, rangers learned they lost the battle against the invasive species in the vast lake. "We did all we could," Brindle said. On Monday, Brindle announced at a meeting of local, state and federal representatives from various agencies at the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation office in Provo that the National Park Service is shifting its efforts from prevention to containment. The emphasis now will be on educating boaters and screening boats not as they enter the lake, as was done before, but as they exit. "There's no way to remove mussels from Lake Powell; no way to reverse that," he said. "We're going to face the lake and try to focus on boats coming out of the lake."...more

Indigestion: School Boards Seek Relief From 'Onerous' School Lunch Rules

The National School Boards Association is seeking relief from the "onerous regulations" and "rigid mandates" of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a law pushed by first lady Michelle Obama. “Students need healthy meals and adequate nutrition to achieve their potential in school, and school board members are committed to ensuring all students are prepared to learn,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, whose group represents 90,000 local school board members across the nation. “However, school boards cannot ignore the higher costs and operational issues created by the rigid mandates of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.” NSBA wants lawmakers to provide "modest regulatory relief" for school meal programs in the fiscal year 2015 appropriation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The NSBA spelled out its request in a May 19 letter to the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, as follows:...more

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Apple growers sever ties with New Mexico

The owners of Dixon’s Apple Orchard in Peña Blanca have agreed to relinquish their lease on the orchard and another 8,600 acres of land managed by the State Land Office in exchange for $2 million. The agreement brings to a close the family’s ties to the land that date back to 1944, when Fred and Faye Dixon moved to a dude ranch on the Spanish land grant known as Rancho de la Cañada and began developing an apple orchard. Dixon’s was known for its Champagne apples, a pale yellow variety prized by New Mexicans for being particularly crisp, juicy and sweet. People from all over the area made fall pilgrimages to the apple shed to buy bushels of Champagnes, as well as another popular variety, Sparkling Burgundy. In 2011, however, a devastating fire and subsequent flooding destroyed many of the trees in the orchard. The damage also broke the will of Fred Dixon’s granddaughter, Becky Mullane, and her family to continue growing apples on the land near Cochiti Lake...more

Another casualty of federal land management.

Massachusetts man shot, killed on California trail

A Massachusetts man was fatally shot and his hiking partner was wounded in a robbery on a Northern California trail, authorities said Saturday. Francis "Pat" Gregory, 69, of West Tisbury, and a 76-year-old man from Manton, California, were hiking a trail north of Red Bluff on Friday when they were confronted by a gunman, said Tehama County Sheriff's Lt. Dave Greer. The robber shot the men after taking their money and belongings, and left the victims for dead on a remote part of the trail until another hiker came upon them about three hours later. Gregory died at the scene; the surviving victim was hospitalized with critical injuries. A doctor told investigators he was expected to pull through, Greer said. The men were found about 100 yards from the start of a Bureau of Land Management trail that leads through grasslands, oak trees and lava rocks to an overlook above a bend in the Sacramento River...more

Reports: Climate change could have drastic effects on Navajo

As the Obama Administration released its new report on climate change Tuesday, the Navajo Nation was grappling with the ramifications of the publication of a similar report from scholars at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The report, titled "Considerations for Climate Change and Variability Adaptation on the Navajo Nation," outlines the major challenges facing the Navajo Nation as a result of climate change and what the tribe can do about it. The Navajo Nation is in a particularly vulnerable position when considering land and water resources because much of the high desert plateau that comprises reservation land is arid and vulnerable to desertification, according to the report's authors. As one might have predicted, prolonged drought, heat waves, and the risk of fire are the major threats of climate change to the Navajo Nation. This was reinforced by the Obama Administration's report on how climate change is affecting the United States. According to this second report, in the Southwest, where the Navajo Nation is located, drought and fire were the major issues facing the region. Julie Nania, adjunct faculty at UC-Boulder law school and one of the lead authors of the report, said that climate variability is important to understand. "Variability" means that the extremes in weather are greater, from higher temperatures in the summer to colder temperatures in the winter. Variability affects howr water runs across the land, how fast it evaporates, what kinds of plants and wildlife can grow in these conditions and, ultimately, how Navajo people can continue to maintain a living in this changed environment...more

Shirley's campaign blasts term limit proposal

The Navajo Nation Presidential election season is in full swing — not the time to introduce a piece of legislation on term limits, according to one candidate. Dr. Joe Shirley Jr's campaign office sent out a press release on May 6 stating that Navajo Nation Council Delegate Russell Begaye, 2014 presidential candidate, is using his position on the Council to eliminate Shirley from the race. What they are referring to is how Begay is sponsoring legislation 0107-14 a referendum on amendments to Title 2 Navajo Nation Code 1002(D), term limits for the Navajo Nation President. The legislation proposed by Begay states that "no person shall be elected to the office of the President for more than two terms; terms in the office of President need not be consecutive." "The big reason is the abuse of power and also the need to have term limits," Begaye said on why he wanted to sponsor the legislation...more

Republicans, Local Sheriff Warn Border Monument Zone Will Create Vast Drug Corridor

The Obama administration is set to designate a 600,000 acre national monument in south-central New Mexico to be managed and controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, a federal agency. The designated land will be called the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, and environmentalists have long-sought the designation.

Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, the chairman of a key subcommittee, blasted the plan in a letter Monday, saying it would allow the region to become an unfettered drug corridoor.

"National Parks, monuments, and wilderness areas along our southern border have become prime drug-trafficking corridors for violent criminals and drug cartels.  Restrictive environmental laws within these federal corridors limit Border Patrol access and, as a result, make it easier for drug smugglers and human traffickers to move their drugs and people in and out of the United States unnoticed," Bishop, who is chairman of the Public Lands and Environmental Regulation subcommittee on the House Natural Resources committee, wrote.

Melissa Subbotin, the Communications Director for Rep. Bishop, told Breitbart News that Obama appears likely to bypass the Senate and Congress by creating the monument under the Antiquities Act.

"The Antiquities Act is a tool for presidents to lock up land," Subbotin told Breitbart News.

"Environmentalists have had their eye on this specific land for a long time--they think that Border Patrol is destroying the landscape by driving vehicles on it. But it's often individuals involved in the drug trade who are littering the area and making fire bombs."

She added that ultimately, it will be up to the Obama Administration to decide if Border Patrol agents are able to access the land with vehicles. "In some national monuments, no vehicle traffic is allowed," Subbotin said. "Making this a new national monument will impede Border Patrol's ability to have routine access to the land."

Interfering with Border Patrol's access to highly trafficked land will likely "create a new criminal corridor," Subbotin said.

Zack Taylor, the Chairman & Border Security Expert of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, told Breitbart News the creation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument "is the biggest breach of border security i have seen in the lat 20 years. The people don't want it, and the sheriff doesn't want it. It is an open invitation for the foreign drug cartels and transnational criminals to bring their illegal drugs and aliens into the U.S."

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sheriff Garrison statement on National Monument

I was just informed, that the President of the United States will sign a bill next week making over 500,000 thousand Acres in Dona Ana County, New Mexico, a National Monument, called the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument/Wilderness.  This is the bill, that I as the Sheriff of Dona Ana county have fought for over eight years now because I lack the confidence that we will be able to effectively do our job of protecting the public’s safety.  I have requested over and over to be included in the discussion related to these Bill’s written over the years by these Senators who continue to try to get them passed.  To this date I have not had the opportunity to be involved in any Law Enforcement discussion before any of these bill’s were written.  Why not?  And why is the President of the United States just going to sign this into existence when it has been fought so hard and so long?  

Everyone believes that Border patrol is going to do that job along the border and I can assure you local law enforcement supports Border Patrol in the job they do.  However, if a criminal, a drug or human smuggler, gets past border patrol (which they do all the time)and kills, rapes, or commits any kind of crime; all that now falls onto the backs of local law enforcement to take care of not Border Patrol.  This is the primary reason local law enforcement has fought this bill, as it stands now we have access to this area and can effectively patrol it.  If the Monument goes into affect there will be roads closed making it very difficult to effectively patrol even for the Border Patrol not impossible but very difficult.  We have asked in the past that this bill include language that will not hamper the ability of local law enforcement to effectively patrol it but nothing has been changed, nor has local law enforcement ever been allowed to sit at any table to discuss these bills.  We have been told, we will have access if there is a need to respond, please keep in mind this will not include the need to patrol and keep criminals away, only respond to the area to take care of something after it has already happened.

It is my belief as the current Sheriff of Doan Ana County, that the only people who will truly benefit from this monument/wilderness area, will be the criminals/cartels.  They will use them the same way they have used them in other states along the US/Mexico Border and these lands have not been protected the way legislatures said they would.  People need to Understand, only law abiding citizens obey laws, the criminal element will not.  It’s a shame, that we are so willing to give up the safety of this country in such a way as this, all in the name of protecting lands for the future use of our children.  I believe these kinds of Monument/Wilderness Border areas have clearly show us all, they do not protect the land as these Legislatures have promised they would; but clearly allow the land to be abused in such a way that our children will never be able to enjoy them. 

This country and its leaders are asleep at the wheel, or they are being bought off and paid for by the Cartels that will use these lands in such a way as to further erode the safety of our counties, or states and this Country that we have all sworn to protect.  I cannot believe people continue to sit by and let these things continue to happen.  Do they really believe all the things they are being told?  Are we really that naïve after all we have seen along our border?  Wake up before it’s too late and there is nothing left to protect.  All one has to do is a little research about Federal Designated lands along the US/Mexico Border if you want to know what will happen, look it up for yourself.  Don’t just believe it because someone from the Federal Government is telling you it’s the truth.  

I am asking that you please notify all law enforcement and ask them to stop this action before it happens and the President signs this into law.  Please have them reach out to all State and National representatives they work with all of which have sworn to protect this country.  Please keep in mind, this land is already being protected as a wilderness study survey area and with that comes great protections for the land as to how it can be used but it does not keep law enforcement off of it by closing all the existing roadways.  We are talking about over 500,000 acres of land in the middle of the desert.  Yes, there are some great areas within this proposed Monument/Wilderness that we need to protect, but to encompass all this land in one very large space will only create a pathway for the criminals to utilize and further their criminal activity, making it much more dangerous for the people that wish to enjoy these areas and for the reason it is being set aside for. 

I am not against Monuments or Wilderness, I just do not believe that this kind of thing along the Border of the US and Mexico, can work.  Please stand up and say something before it’s too late for this county and possibly for this country.  Remember, I have fought this issue for over eight years now, the only law enforcement this has been discussed with have been the Federal Agencies.  These Agencies say what they are told to say as they have for years regarding these kinds of issues, why, they want to keep their jobs!.  If you wish to know the truth about border related issues please ask a retired Border Patrolman.  It will not hurt to ask, unless you really do not wish to know the truth!

Thank you for your consideration in this very important matter.

Todd Garrison, Sheriff
Dona Ana County

Udall, Heinrich Celebrate Organ Mountains National Monument Designation

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) released the following statements after the White House announced President Obama's plan to sign a proclamation designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in southern New Mexico as a national monument:

"The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument will put the unique and spectacular desert landscapes of Southern New Mexico on recreation maps around the world, attracting tourists to the region, creating jobs and bringing in millions of dollars in tourism revenue," Udall said. "The president's decision finally puts into motion a plan that began with the people of Southern New Mexico, who wanted to ensure these special places would continue to be available for local families and visitors to hike, hunt, and learn from the hundreds of significant historic sites throughout the area for generations to come. I want to thank the thousands of New Mexicans who have worked tirelessly for many years to get us to this point. This monument is a reality because they spoke up and worked hard to get it done."

"This is a very special moment for New Mexico and a major accomplishment for the community who has worked tirelessly for a decade to make the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument a reality," Heinrich said. "An Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument will preserve important cultural links to our past and strengthen southern New Mexico's economy by boosting tourism and recreational opportunities, like hunting, hiking, camping, and horseback riding. My deepest thanks go to the diverse coalition and stakeholders for their overwhelming support to put Doña AnaCounty literally on the map and showcase to the world all that our state has to offer. The president's decision to designate this natural treasure a national monument will ensure a critical piece of our shared outdoor heritage and cultural identity will be protected and preserved for generations to come."

Senators Udall and Heinrich introduced the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act last December.

The Senators office issued a joint statement stating that establishing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks as a national monument will be the culmination of a decade of involvement from the local community. It will permanently protect nearly 500,000 acres stretching across the Organ, Doña Ana, Potrillo, Robledo and Uvas mountains, home to game animals, such as pronghorn sheep and deer, as well as rare plants and animals, some found nowhere else in the world. It encompasses Broad Canyon, Sleeping Lady Hills, Rough and Ready Hills, Picacho Peak, Mount Riley, Peña Blanca and Bishop's Cap, and contains more than 5,000 archeologically and culturally significant sites, including Geronimo's Cave, Billy the Kid's Outlaw Rock, Spanish settlement sites, and numerous petroglyphs and pictographs.

Rep. Bishop Urges President Obama to Reconsider Using the Controversial Antiquities Act to Create a New National Monument on U.S. Mexico Border

WASHINGTON—Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01) today sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging that he refrain from designating a new national monument on the U.S.- Mexico border given the ongoing violence occurring on federal lands in the southern border regions. News broke last week that a National Park Service (NPS) employee was brutally attacked by drug smugglers on federal land. It has been rumored that President Obama is considering using the controversial Antiquities Act to create a new national monument in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak area of southern New Mexico. The proposed new national monument lacks local support and there are concerns that it will impede the U.S. Border Patrol’s and local law enforcement’s ability to conduct security operations [local citizens and sheriff speak out against monument].

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to urge the Administration to reconsider any and all efforts to designate lands along the United States-Mexico border as National Monuments under the Antiquities Act.  Unresolved security gaps along the border and a recent violent attack of a U.S. National Park Service (NPS) employee at Chiracahua National Monument raise serious concerns about safety and ongoing violence along the border. In light of the unresolved criminal activity taking place on federal land along the border, I am asking the Administration to abandon any efforts to move forward with new national monument designations.

National Parks, monuments, and wilderness areas along our southern border have become prime drug-trafficking corridors for violent criminals and drug cartels.  Restrictive environmental laws within these federal corridors limit Border Patrol access and, as a result, make it easier for drug smugglers and human traffickers to move their drugs and people in and out of the United States unnoticed. 

In an October 2009 letter, then Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano illustrated the difficulty that certain environmental policies create with regards to the U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) fulfillment of their mission[1]:

“While the USBP recognizes the importance and value of wilderness area designations, they can have a significant impact on USBP operations in border regions. This includes that these types of restrictions can impact the efficacy of operations and be a hindrance to the maintenance of officer safety.”

More recently, a public servant with the National Park Service on duty at Chiracahua National Monument was viciously attacked by a drug-smuggler.  The assailant beat the NPS employee with a large rock, dragged her into a nearby NPS facility, and then fled the scene in the employee’s truck[2].  The employee suffered brain damage among other serious injuries. 

It’s irresponsible to focus efforts on new land designations rather than finding solutions to existing criminal activities plaguing the border. I am concerned that new federal land designations along the southern border will only add to the ongoing criminal activity already taking place. New and restrictive federal land designations on the border will further hamper the U.S. Border Patrol’s ability to conduct routine patrols and apprehensions, allowing drug smuggling and human trafficking to occur on our federal land. As a sovereign country, this is inexcusable. Statistics prove that areas where the Border Patrol has unfettered access are among the safest and secure areas along the southern border. Areas with strict federal land policies that block the USBP from having necessary access are among the most highly trafficked routes.  

I am specifically concerned by the Administration’s identification of the 1.2 million acre Otero Mesa in southern New Mexico as a leading candidate for a designation under the Antiquities Act.  This area was described in the Administration’s Treasured Landscape memo as one of the most endangered ecosystems in the country[3].  Sadly, unfettered border crossings by drug cartels are not only a scourge on communities but they are fueling ecosystem degradation.  It’s been widely reported that thousands of pounds of trash are left along the border by illegal crossers and drug smugglers[4].

Other sites along the border are being considered by the Administration for a unilateral designation under the Antiquities Act.  Interior Secretary Sally Jewell recently led a listening tour of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak area of southern New Mexico.  Despite local opposition, interest groups and the Department are pushing a 600,000-acre national monument via the Antiquities Act and circumventing an open and transparent congressional process. 

It’s time to revisit our conservation policies along the United States-Mexico border.  The current system harms border patrol agents, land managers, and environmental advocates.  The only groups that benefit under the current system are the drug smugglers and human traffickers.  We can do better. Our new approach to conservation must involve local communities, Congress, and multiple agencies within the executive branch.  The Antiquities Act is not the answer.  

I hope that we can work together to address the deteriorating security situation along the United States-Mexico border.  Protecting the homeland and preserving the environment are not mutually exclusive, but environmental laws cannot and should not be used to impede and limit Border Patrol activities and pursuits. 

Thank you for you attention on these important issues.


                                                            Rob Bishop
                                                            Member of Congress

Breaking: Obama to make Organ Mountains national monument

For generations, the Organ Mountains have been an iconic part of the Mesilla Valley. Soon they will be part of a national monument. President Obama is planning to sign a proclamation Wednesday establishing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, according to a White House official. The proclamation is expected follow a bill introduced last December by U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, Both D-NM, in covering about 450,000 acres in southern New Mexico. About half of that land — approximately 350 square miles — likely will be designated a wilderness area, the highest level of protection that can be imposed by Congress. That includes the Organ Mountains; the Robledo Mountains northwest of Las Cruces, the Doña Ana Mountains north of Las Cruces; the Potrillo Mountains in the southwestern part of the county; and the Sierra de Las Uvas Mountains in the Hatch region...more

A righteous protest of BLM


Government oppression is government oppression, whether it takes the form of Jim Crow laws of the 1950s South, or the form of Bureau of Land Management rules designed to force a people out of home and business.

To protest against this is a righteous and American thing.

Now comes the “Grass March,” from a group of Nevada ranchers looking to take their plight to the range of Northern Nevada in the form of a 70-mile horseback journey from Elko to Battle Mountain.

The march will be a public protest highlighting the plight of ranchers under the yoke of federal oppression.

It’s a smart move on the part of Westerners, especially in the aftermath of the confrontation between the BLM and Cliven Bundy in Bunkerville. There, both sides bumped chests. The BLM oppressively confiscated Bundy’s livelihood and put citizens who dared to object in a “First Amendment” pen. Thanks to the intervention of Gov. Brian Sandoval, the BLM stood down.

The BLM pledges to “hold accountable” Bundy for his failure to pay fees.

Fine. Hold him accountable.

But let’s also hold the BLM accountable. Bundy refused to pay fees on the grounds of a “sovereign nation” theory. That dog won’t hunt in both the court of public opinion and the federal courts.

Had he, instead, played up the truth that indigenous ranchers manage public land better than Washington, D.C., he might have gotten somewhere. Ranchers are all about sustainability. The BLM is all about politics.

Alas, the opportunity for public scrutiny dissipated when Bundy, not unlike Sen. Harry Reid, graced us with his stupid theories on “the Negro.” Bundy talked about slavery and the welfare state; Reid gave us the politics of the “Negro dialect.”

But the cowboys in Elko, Ely, Eureka and Battle Mountain have a better idea.

To draw attention to how the BLM has run roughshod over sane management of public lands, they will protest by riding horseback over public grasslands between Elko and Battle Mountain over Memorial Day weekend. Hopefully, Nevada’s newspapers and the nation’s large newspapers and television stations will come along to tell the story.

Ranchers in 2014 are to the BLM what the people of India were to the British Empire in the 1930s — a subjugated people forced to live by the whims of a government that neither understands the people nor cares about the land.

In the 1930s, Britain’s Salt Acts prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt — a key ingredient in the Indian diet.

The people were forced to buy salt from the British, which levied a heavy tax on the product.
In addition, the people were prohibited from collecting or making their own salt.

In an act of civil disobedience, Mohandas Gandhi organized a 240-mile march. Supporters were encouraged to make their own “illegal” salt from seawater along the way.

About 60,000 people, including Gandhi, were arrested.

With a little luck and a lot of media coverage, the “Grass March” can galvanize good people just like the “Salt March” some 85 years ago.

March organizer Grant Gerber, an Elko County commissioner, said the federal bureaucracy, particularly the BLM, has the same stranglehold on Nevada land and grass as the British had on Indian salt supplies.

“The British government had a total monopoly on all salt,” Gerber noted. “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.”

BLM oppression is real. The bad management of rangeland by the BLM is demonstrable.

If you want to help, contact Commissioner Gerber at It’s time to end BLM oppression.

Godspeed to those standing up for justice in making the “Grass March” trek. May their lawbreaking horses eat plenty of government grass.

Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at