Saturday, June 07, 2014

White on White - An invertebrate inventory of White Sands National Monument

The largest gypsum dune field on Earth—covering 275 square miles—undulates across the Tularosa Basin in south central New Mexico. Approximately 40 percent of the field falls within the protected area of the White Sands National Monument in Otero County. The unusual feature started forming about 8,000 years ago, when water evaporated from the surface of large lakes near the southwestern boundary of the current dune field, and gypsum crystallized out of solution. Over time, weathering degraded the crystals to sand-size particles, and winds, predominately from the southwest, blew the gypsum sand from the now-dry lake bed onto the dune field, which can rise as high as sixty feet. The blowing sand moves the dune crests from the southwest to the northeast as much as twenty-nine feet per year, covering and uncovering plants and soils as they move. Plants respond to the harsh conditions of shifting pure gypsum soils in several ways. They add stem length rapidly to accommodate encroaching dunes; they send out rhizomes (lateral roots) so new shoots can sprout up sixty feet away from the original plant; and they further bolster their root systems to avoid being taken over by a passing dune. Many animals have adapted to life in the white dunes by evolving modified coloration. Such White Sands species and subspecies as the southwestern fence lizard (Sceloporus cowlesi) and the endemic bleached earless lizard (Holbrookia maculata ruthveni) are paler than closely related populations that live outside the gypsum dunes. Animals that are naturally white or pale in color elsewhere may reside at White Sands to take advantage of the pale substrate. A lycosid, or wolf, spider maintains production of its natural darker pigments, but secretes a waxy substance to appear white. Before 2006, almost nothing was known about the invertebrate fauna in White Sands, or in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, another protected area of the northern Chihuahuan Desert about 190 miles from White Sands. As a result, the United States National Park Service invited me to conduct a ten-year study of the lepidoptera in the dunes of the Monument and within Carlsbad Caverns National Park. A primary purpose of the study was to survey the moths in various habitats within Carlsbad and White Sands, and to describe new species discovered during the study. Since the study began, in January 2007, we have recorded more than 600 species of moths, including 26 species new to science...more

Friday, June 06, 2014

Win a wolf sanctuary tour with NM author of "Game of Thrones" - video

The “Song of Ice and Fire” author's crowdfunding campaign to help a wild wolf sanctuary launched Thursday, and is close to its $200,000 goal. George R.R. Martin is offering “Game of Thrones” fans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to appear and die in one of his novels — while helping some real-life direwolves.The author has promised to name a character after someone willing to donate $20,000 to his Prizeo crowdfunding campaign. It aims to raise $200,000 in all for New Mexico's Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, which houses 60 wolves and wolf dogs. He is also raising money for the Food Depot of Santa Fe.   Among the animals at the sanctuary are the ones that appear as direwolves in the HBO series. One male and one female character will be created, and horribly killed, Martin promises.  The campaign, which started Thursday, is already close to its goal. Watch the video (above) to hear Martin's plea, and see Jon Snow's pet pal, Ghost, take a break from being menacing on TV to be adorable at home.  Source

Rally At Yellowstone National Park Aims To Boost Public Support For Wolves In The Wild

The establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 represents one of the greatest achievements in American history, affording protection to one of our country’s true wild places. Appreciation for this action, and the land it preserved, is increasing with each passing generation. And Yellowstone is much more than an American treasure; it is an international jewel, attracting millions of people from all over the world every year. Fast-forward 123 years to 1995 and 1996, when the federal government, at the behest of the American people, released 66 gray wolves into Yellowstone. After one of America’s most iconic species was brought to near extinction through hunting, trapping, poisoning, and other government-funded methods in the 19th and 20th centuries, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service finally began to recover this internationally beloved species. And, because of its wildness and large size, as well as its complement of abundant prey species, Yellowstone was one of two places chosen to welcome the wolves home. Idaho was the second place. On June 28-29, 2014, people of all walks of life are invited to attend Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014, a 2-day family-friendly celebration of wolves, predators and other native species that contribute to our rich national heritage. The event will be held at Arch Park in Gardiner, MT, just north of the Roosevelt Arch, near the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014 will feature prominent speakers and authors from the conservation community, and will include live music, education booths, children’s activities and food vendors. The event is free and open to the public...more

Just a "family-friendly" gathering of folks who are supportive of the wolf.  Not hardly.  Here are their five goals:

Event organizers for Speak for Wolves: Yellowstone 2014 have developed the following five keys to reforming wildlife management in America:
* Ban trapping/snaring on all federal public lands.
* End grazing on all federal public lands.
* Abolish the predator-control department of the USDA Wildlife Services.
* Reform how state fish and game agencies operate.
* Introduce legislation to protect all predators, including wolves, from sport hunting, trapping, and snaring.

Ranchers don’t trust BLM following Argenta dispute

Much of the BLM land in the Argenta area is “checker-boarded” with deeded land and water rights owned by the ranchers. But the BLM has no qualms about closing off huge tracts of land that contain private property and Furtado, who instituted his plan for complete closure of the Argenta, simply says that the bureau is a federal agency and doesn’t recognize state rights. It was only after the Tomera family hosted a “grass tour” on the Argenta over Memorial Day weekend that some 200 elected officials and other interested folks saw for themselves knee-high grass and plentiful water on Mount Lewis that had been closed to the Tomeras and other ranching families.

“The firsthand evidence was irrefutable,” said 78-year-old Mike Laughlin, a cowboy and retired USDA wildlife biologist, who helped turn out the Tomera cattle and who still makes his living horseback, tending cattle. “This country had plenty of rain and snow at the right time and is probably the best feed ever seen on it. But the cattle were turned out about 30 days too late to graze enough grass to lessen the fire danger. This mountain may still burn from a lightning strike because of all the forage.”

Laughlin went on to say, “In the early 1970s there were 10,000 head of domestic sheep that lambed out on Mount Lewis. There were also several cow outfits in the lower country around Mount Lewis. At that time I do not remember any range fires of note and the ranchers, the livestock and the BLM seemed to be getting along. What a change in 2014! There is something wrong with the BLM management system of today.”

... Nevada’s cattle numbers have been cut in half over the last year, because of BLM land closures. Through the years, Pete Tomera and other ranchers have paid their grazing fees and complied with various BLM requests for temporary “voluntary cutbacks” on the numbers of livestock they can graze. They have complied 100 percent. No one can recall anyone who ever had their voluntary cutbacks restored to original numbers. The Tomera Ranch went from being a 6,000-cow outfit to 1,800 head cow outfit. Once the BLM cuts your cow AUMs, you never get them back. How can you stay in the cow business with this kind of a program?

Randy Witte of Peyton, Colo., is retired publisher of Western Horseman magazine, which has followed Great Basin ranching for decades. He and Mike Laughlin are friends and have collaborated on articles .

Bison bouncing back but lack room to roam, forcing herd cuts

The dwindling of open space where bison can roam is hurting federal efforts to restore herds, forcing refuge managers to kill hundreds of bison and search for land links between protected areas. But the bison on fenced preserves continue to multiply — 11 calves were born here this spring after recent forced herd reductions. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says she is working on ensuring large landscapes nationwide, increasingly by collaborating with private property owners. "One of our biggest challenges across the entire country is habitat fragmentation. It certainly has impacted the bison," Jewell said in a recent interview with The Denver Post. "There's almost no animal it has not impacted. You get a treasure like the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge — 15,000 acres in an urban area. It is really an oasis. But without connectivity to other parts of the landscape, it's going to be difficult to make it anything like what it used to be."  Limited open space has forced culling of bison each year from nearly all the Department of Interior's 17 restoration herds — 10,000 bison on 4.6 million acres in 12 states. These include the most genetically robust bison, a third of bison managed for conservation purposes. Of those 17 herds, 11 are fenced-in...more

Alaska Tribes Sue DOI, FWS Officials for Denial of Emergency Road

King Cove residents, Alaska tribes and two local governments sued U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and several U.S. government officials in federal court Wednesday. The lawsuit was filed because of the Department of Interior’s denial of a road (that was otherwise authorized by Congress) to connect the City of King Cove (one-third Alaska Native descent) with the all-weather Cold Bay Airport. The community has been seeking the road for decades in order to medevac seriously ill or injured patients during frequent periods of bad weather, which makes crossing Cold Bay and the Pacific Ocean by boat or plane, impractical and dangerous. The Secretary refused to allow the construction of a one-lane gravel road for such medevacs, claiming that a landing craft was a sufficient alternative. “This is about protecting the lives of human beings,” said Della Trumble, spokesperson for the Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove and the King Cove (Native) Corporation. “Secretary Jewell’s decision has violated her trust responsibility to protect the health and well-being of Alaska Natives. We are insulted by the Secretary’s finding that Alaska Natives, who are critically ill or injured, should be required to take a flat-bottom landing craft many miles across dangerous open water to the Cold Bay Airport where they would then be medevaced to an Anchorage hospital. Anyone who has seen newsreel footage of our brave troops landing in Normandy on D-Day knows that the Secretary’s reasoning is greatly flawed and her concern for Alaska Natives is seriously lacking. We had no choice but to sue. We are determined to move forward to protect our people.”...more

Interior secretary says rising seas threaten Jamestown Island

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell got a firsthand look Thursday at ever-receding Jamestown Island, concluding that America's first permanent European settlement is vulnerable to rising seas from climate change. The region is also sinking, the result of a meteor that gouged out Chesapeake Bay 35 million years ago. Led by National Park Service rangers, Jewell trekked around the island, where some sections now lie beneath the James River, and heard of the devastation in 2003 when Hurricane Isabel left many parts of the island underwater and destroyed thousands of artifacts retrieved from archaeological digs. Dorothy Geyer, a Park Service natural resource specialist, said a 1½-foot rise in sea level would put 60 percent of the island under water, and a 4-foot-plus rise would increase that to 80 percent. "I know enough now having been in this job looking at vulnerable sites that this is a highly vulnerable site," Jewell said. Read more: Interior secretary says rising seas threaten Jamestown Island.  AP

Thursday, June 05, 2014

12 'agrihoods' aim to make farm-to-table living mainstream

All over the United States people are embracing local food production in an exciting new way. Called 'agrihoods,' this new type of neighborhood serves up farm-to-table living in a cooperative environment. Instead of being built around a pool or tennis court, these housing developments are centered around a farm, often using the sweat-equity of residents to create a sustainable food system for the entire community. Of course, community gardensurban agriculture, and cohousing communities are nothing new. But as the rapidly growing crop of agrihoods demonstrates, families are eager to reimagine these collaborative efforts in a new setting– often at the same or lower prices than a traditional suburban neighborhood.  Although the term is freshly minted, agrihoods are already popping up all over the United States. We've rounded up a dozen established or planned communities so you can learn more about how this trend encourages sharing, collaboration, and a healthier, more environmentally-friendly diet...more

As my disease progresses, its more and more likely I'll end up in some kind of assisted living facility (that is if Sweet Sharon doesn't kick me out sooner).  When that day comes, I'll insist it be an "agrihood" assisted living outfit.  That way the professional medical staff can stand back and watch as I herd the herbs, lasso the lettuce, corral the cabbage, bridle the broccoli, spur the spinach, wrangle the watermelons, castrate a cantalope and bulldog a brussel sprout, all while zig zaggin' thru the zuchini and never blowin' a stirrup on this poco bueno bred wheel chair.  My contribution, of course, to "sharing, collaboration, and a healthier, more environmentally-friendly diet."  Its a good thing I don't drink anymore or I'd tell you some other stuff I'd do.

Still, I'd bet my Yodellin' Yoga class would be a hit.

No sanctions or cleanup in Utah monument oil mess

The oil coating a desert wash outside Escalante came from three distinct spills over four decades, according to a report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Land Management. Because the hundreds of barrels of oil appear to be degrading in place and are no longer shedding chemical residues downstream, the agency has no immediate plans to clean it up. "It doesn’t represent a threat to the watershed or wildlife at this point, but the report does recommend continual monitoring," said Larry Crutchfield, spokesman for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Nor do federal officials plan to punish the well’s current operator, Citation Oil and Gas Corp., which may not have owned the Upper Valley oil field during the two older, major spills into Little Valley and four other washes leading into what became a national monument. But the company, which was responsible for a small, unreported recent spill, will be required to prepare a new surface use plan and consult quarterly with the BLM and Dixie National Forest, which manages the western half of the oil field...more

Pressure Mounts On Target To Ban Firearms After Loaded Gun Found In Toy Aisle

After a string of victories at fast food chains in recent weeks, gun control activists are renewing pressure on discount giant Target TGT +0.39% to ban firearms in its stores. Michael Bloomberg-backed Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has launched a campaign asking Target to ban the open carrying of guns in its stores just as news emerges out of South Carolina adding urgency to their mission. A loss prevention officer found a real, loaded gun in the toy aisle of a Myrtle Beach branch of Target last Friday night. Says the local NBC affiliate. This isn’t Target’s first time in the gun rights spotlight. In March, open carry demonstrators took to a Texas outlet of the discounter armed with long rifles. Moms Demand Action has included social media photos of the incident in its petition to the store chain. As of Wednesday, Target had no plans to prohibit firearms, with a spokesperson telling Forbes: “The safety and security of our guests and team members is our highest priority. Target does not sell firearms or ammunition and, as it relates to this issue, we follow all state and federal laws.” On Thursday, after news of the loaded gun discovery started spreading, Target’s spokesperson added: “We take these matters very seriously and we are partnering with local law enforcement on this incident. Because this matter is under active investigation, we are unable to share additional information.”...more

Mad cow disease-related death confirmed in Texas - patient traveled "extensively" in Europe & Middle East

Mad cow disease has caused a fourth death in the United States, health officials say. Lab tests have confirmed that a patient in Texas who recently died had Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Variant CJD is a fatal brain disorder linked to eating beef from cattle with mad cow disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a press release. Variant CJD was first identified in the United Kingdom in 1996, according to the CDC. Worldwide more than 220 cases have been reported, the majority in Europe. CDC officials said this is only the fourth case to be reported in the United States, and that each U.S. infection is believed to have happened while the patient was traveling abroad. The Texan patient traveled "extensively" to Europe and the Middle East, the CDC said. "There are no Texas public health concerns or threats associated with this case," the Texas Department of State Health Services posted to its website. Variant CJD is different than what the CDC calls classic CJD, which is not related to mad cow disease. Classic CJD strikes less than 400 Americans each year. It is also fatal...more

Public land takeover suit unlikely in near future

The deputy to Utah's top law enforcement official is counseling the state to avoid suing for ownership of public lands, at least for now. Assistant Attorney General Tony Rampton on Tuesday told about a half dozen lawmakers gathering for a Commission on Federalism to avoid filing such a lawsuit or creating a specific lands transfer plan, saying the takeover is a longshot with too many unknowns. Rampton recommends Utah wait to do so until it joins other states in gathering more facts. Lawmakers also should wait for a state study predicting the price tag of the lands transfer, he said. "It's going to answer a lot of questions about what makes sense," Rampton said, referring to the study. To win a court battle, Utah would have to prove that a federal promise to dispose of public land and share the proceeds with Utah trumps the right of Congress to control federal property. It also would need to come up with an equitable solution that has a chance of being accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court. West Jordan Republican Rep. Ken Ivory, who is a vocal force behind such efforts to wrestle lands from the federal government, says he agrees with Rampton. Utah had set a Dec. 31 cutoff for federal officials to turn over millions of acres. But Ivory now says it's more of a goal than a hard deadline. "I don't think anyone expects on Jan. 1, 2015, there's going to be a lawsuit filed," he told the Salt Lake Tribune. "But look how far we've come in two years" from when Utah's claims were "dismissed absolutely out of hand."  Taking more time to gather the facts, Rampton said, could win support of environmental groups, ranchers and miners. This would help the state avoid a failure as in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1980s, he said...more

Oregon confirms wolves killed sheep in attack northeast of Enterprise

The wolves howling in Wallowa County just before midnight on May 29 brought trouble. A sheepherder's warning shots, fired from a .22, didn't keep them away. Nor did three Pyrenees guard dogs. The attack on private land on the Zumwalt Prairie northeast of Enterprise, confirmed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, killed three lambs and injured 20 sheep. The location and appearance of bite wounds appeared to be from wolves, the agency said. Though the attack is within the area of the Imnaha Pack, an ODFW spokeswoman said the department isn't certain whether the pack is involved. It could take several days to reach any conclusions, said the spokeswoman, Michelle Dennehy. That pack already has one confirmed attack this year, a Jan. 30 incident that killed one sheep. The January incident was a formal strike under Oregon law for the Imnaha Pack. Under the terms of a 2013 settlement between ranchers, environmental groups and the state, once a pack has four strikes in a six-month period, the state can kill the wolves involved. The January attack expires as a qualifying incident on June 30...more

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Louis Oliver 1925-2014

Louis Oliver, 89 passed away June 2, 2014 at Gila Regional Medical Center surrounded by his loving family.

A celebration of life will be held at Baca’s Funeral Chapels Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 10 O’clock in the morning, officiating Pastor Steve Griffith.

Louis was born April 14, 1925 in Balmorhea, Texas. On May 16, 1949 he married Myrtle Sullivan in Hotsprings, NM. Following their marriage they ranched with Louis’ parents, Dan and Loree Oliver, in Pie Town, NM. From there they moved to Cliff where Louis owned and operated a gas station, started a well drilling business and continued ranching operations in Pie Town and Quemado. They lived and worked in Cliff for 18 years. While in Cliff, Louis and Myrtle bought a ranch in the Mimbres Valley in 1971. In the following years they ran the family ranch as well as owning and operating a well drilling business. Louis loved to hunt lions and to spend time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was a longtime and very active member of the Great Soil and Water Conservation District and Farm Bureau. He was a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.

He is survived by his loving wife Myrtle of the ranch in the Mimbres Valley, daughters; Nina Biebelle and husband Randy of Corona, NM and Sudi Colby and husband Dean of Los Angeles, CA., grandchildren Wayne Oliver (Breena) of Texas, Brandon Biebelle (Shay) of Mimbres, Kelly Bradymire (Jeremiah) of Hawaii. Also surviving him are his great-grandchildren Daniel, Wyatt, Colton, and Dillion Oliver, Clair and Amy Biebelle, and numerous cousins and niece, Dana Duncan Hoffman).
He is preceded in death by his son Danny Oliver.

In lieu of flowers please make a donation of your choice in Louis’ memory.

I always enjoyed working with Louis no matter the issue.  I also appreciated his strong support of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship while he served on the board of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau.  We've lost a thoughtful advocate for production agriculture.

White House science adviser John Holdren: The intellectual godfather of Obama's climate policy


President Obama's Monday announcement of crippling new Environmental Protection Agency rules to de-develop America for global warming ideology has roots planted in a 1973 book by his top science adviser.

John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is in the hot seat - again. The nation's top catastrophist was recently ridiculed for telling us to say “climate disruption” because it's scarier than “climate change.”

The 1973 book was Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions, which blatantly insisted that the United States “de-develop” its “overdeveloped” economy, divert energy from “frivolous and wasteful” uses and immediately “halt the growth of the Ameri­can population.”

It echoes in Obama's Monday move to destroy the coal industry, which fuels plants that generate nearly 40 percent of America's electricity.

...There’s doubt as to how much – but not whether – Holdren-think influenced the Obama administration to promulgate the new rule.

Holdren wrote his de-development manifesto with Paul and Anne Ehrlich, the scaremongering authors of the Sierra Club book The Population Bomb.

The de-development issue refuses to go away. It resurfaced in a 2010 CNSNews interview at an Environmental Protection Agency forum celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act - which caught our top climate scientist in a flat lie.

The CNSNews interviewer asked Holdren about the book’s "recommendations,” beginning with, “A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States,” then marching through scorched-earth campaigns concluding with a visionary paragraph extolling – the exact words – “love, beauty, peace, and plenty” where everybody is provided an equal share, and the rich – who would no longer exist – pay all the bills.

CNSNews asked Holdren: "And how do you plan on implementing that?"

"Through the free market economy," Holdren said, and refused to comment further.

...Since Holdren’s clarification wasn’t very clear, the same CNSNews reporter asked the scientist at a later meeting how de-development could be implemented “through the free market economy.” Holdren brushed him off with, “Look, this is a stale topic. If you read it and you have a problem, you're misreading it.”

Okay, let's read it and see. You can find it on the website of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.
Did Holdren write about de-developing America? Yes.

Did he say anything about implementing de-development “through the free market economy”? No. Quite the opposite.

NM Supreme Court declines to take up Navajo water rights case

The New Mexico Supreme Court has given a quick “no” to a group of state legislators who had asked the court to intervene in a dispute over allocation of San Juan River water rights to the Navajo Nation. In a one-page ruling written Friday and made public today, the court denied without comment a petition from three legislators and a San Juan Basin water user who had claimed the Navajo water settlement should be invalidated because it had never gone before the legislature for approval. The agreement, approved by a judge in New Mexico’s 11th Judicial District Court in San Juan County last August, allocates enough additional water to the Navajo Nation’s farming operation to irrigate about 40,000 acres of farmland. The agreement is based on a 1948 compact among New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming that allocated New Mexico an unusually large share of San Juan River water based on the argument that the water was needed to meet the needs of members of the Navajo Nation living in New Mexico...more

Carbon standards for reservation plants delayed

Two of the Southwest’s largest coal-fired power plants straddle the San Juan River in northwestern New Mexico, one within clear view of the other. But one of them didn’t factor into the Obama administration’s plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions across the nation because it is on an American Indian reservation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it will hold off on emissions standards for four power plants on reservations to talk further with tribes and give them an opportunity to create cleanup plans of their own. If the tribes decline, the federal government will craft plans for them. “There’s a different federal-tribal relationship than there are with states, so we wanted to take that into account,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said. Two of the power plants on the Navajo Nation — the Navajo Generating Station in Page and the Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington, New Mexico — are among the country’s top emitters of carbon dioxide, releasing 17.8 million short tons and 12.9 million short tons in 2013, respectively. Both have plans to shutter some of the generating units, which will cut down on carbon dioxide emissions that are blamed for heating the planet. The other two are the natural gas-powered South Point Energy Center on the Fort Mohave Indian Reservation in western Arizona and the coal-fired Bonanza Power Plant on Ute lands in northeastern Utah. Making a distinction between states and tribes when it comes to the Clean Air Act isn’t anything new. The EPA said the approach recognizes tribal sovereignty. But it has drawn criticism because pollution controls could end up being delayed for reservation power plants. Tribes often have fewer resources to develop and implement regulations...more

Editorial: Gerber takes a page from history to fight BLM

Grant Gerber took off his county commissioner hat on Memorial Day, put on a Stetson, and mounted up for a “Grass March” to defend the grazing rights of ranchers. The relay ended five days later with the delivery of a petition to Gov. Brian Sandoval.

It was a fitting reminder that government exists to serve its citizens, not the other way around.

Modeled after Gandhi’s Salt March against British oppression, “Mahatma Gerber” and his son Travis chose a non-threatening approach to what they saw as an unfair decision by a Bureau of Land Management district manager to close the Argenta Allotment by fiat.

It was probably no coincidence that the BLM negotiated a deal with the ranchers as Gerber finished organizing the protest. They turned their cattle out on Mount Lewis while the Cowboy Express was en route to Carson City.

Gerber has spent much of his life challenging the federal government on decisions he considers to be overreaching, such as the closure of roads and other restrictions on the use of federal lands. He and Travis have studied the writings of the pioneers, and they believe wholeheartedly that it was ranchers who made the harsh Western landscape more habitable for both man and beast.

We agree with their conclusions. Good ranchers like the families affected by the Argenta Allotment closure are stewards of the land. Still, unwelcome realities such as drought and competition for resources lead to inevitable conflicts.

We don’t envy the BLM’s duty to address the multiplicity of values held by various segments of American society, but we applaud them for listening to reason and making the right decision — at least for now — on the Argenta Allotment. Anyone who makes a living off the land must be pragmatic at heart, and it is good to see the BLM adopt the same perspective in this situation.

Groups Fight to Protect Endangered Species From Dangerous New Pesticide

Conservation and food safety groups filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency today for failing to protect endangered species from a new, toxic pesticide called cyantraniliprole. EPA risked far-reaching harm to both aquatic and terrestrial species by approving the widespread use of this new pesticide in January without input from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries services. “The Endangered Species Act and just basic, common-sense requires EPA to seek input from our expert wildlife biologists before it blindly unleashes new pesticides across the American landscape,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “EPA’s failure to look before it leaps has once again put imperiled wildlife across the country in harm’s way.” EPA authorized widespread uses of the new pesticide in both agricultural and urban areas without measures to protect endangered species despite concluding in its own assessment that cyantraniliprole is “highly or very highly toxic” to scores of endangered species. Based on these findings, the agency’s scientists recommended broad measures to keep cyantraniliprole from reaching sensitive wildlife habitat. While EPA concluded that it should consult federal wildlife biologists for more specific analysis and to develop on-the-ground protections for species, the agency failed to take that step...more

Kansas pushes back on lesser prairie chicken

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced Tuesday that he is pushing the federal government to assume some costs for protecting the lesser prairie chicken by expanding incentives for farmers to enroll their land in a longstanding conservation program. Brownback also said Kansas will return to federal court this week to seek additional time for farmers, ranchers, and oil and natural gas producers to respond to the federal government's decision in March to list the bird as threatened. Kansas residents were supposed to decide last month whether to participate in conservation efforts. They faced restrictions and federal fees to continue business activities in areas with prairie chicken habitats. A new Kansas law that took effect last month declares that the federal government has no authority to regulate lesser prairie chickens inside the state and allows the attorney general or county prosecutors to sue to block federal conservation efforts. Kansas also joined Oklahoma, Nebraska and North Dakota in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa over the process leading to the lesser prairie chicken's listing at threatened. Brownback said the plaintiffs in that case will file a new version of the lawsuit this week, seeking more time for farmers, ranchers and energy producers to respond to the prairie chicken listing...more

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Commissioner’s Gallery to Showcase Photos Chronicling Ranch Life by Carol Wilson in June

Behind you every step of the way - Carol Wilson
The New Mexico State Land Office Commissioner’s Gallery will showcase an art show entitled: "My New Mexico” by Carol Wilson. The show is a compilation of photographs chronicling ranch life and rural living, with a backdrop of the high desert mountains of central New Mexico. “We greatly appreciate Carol Wilson for sharing her beautiful artwork at the New Mexico State Land Office. It gives our employees and the public an opportunity to see and enjoy the incredible beauty of rural New Mexico through her outstanding lens.” said State Land Commissioner Ray Powell. Carol Wilson is a 4th generation New Mexico rancher who, with her husband, Rex, raised the fifth generation of ranchers near Ancho, New Mexico. The Wilsons ranch in the Jicarilla Mountains, where the prairies meet the mountains and the mountains kiss the sky. Taking pictures is Carol’s way of documenting her family’s journey. Though her work has appeared on the cover of many magazines, her main subjects are the kids, calves, colts and scenery of the home ranch. She appreciates and tries to capture New Mexico’s beautiful skies, sweeping scenery and the play of light in the Land of Enchantment. Documentation of the western lifestyle began when Carol was growing up on the Tramperous Ranch of northeastern New Mexico. Upon graduation from New Mexico State University, she became editor of the Livestock Market Digest, a weekly newspaper for ranchers across the nation. Carol has also written for the New Mexico Stockman for the last 30 years. Her stories about ranching life and the pioneers who inhabit the great American West have been carried in a great many magazines and newspapers in the past three decades. Carol drives more than 60 miles per day to teach in the high school at Carrizozo. The State Land Office Commissioner’s Gallery offers New Mexico artists a public area to display their works near the Santa Fe plaza and showcase the beauty of New Mexico. For more information about the Commissioner’s Gallery, contact Christina Cَrdova at 505-827-5762,, or visit

Your Chipotle Burrito, Brought to You by Australia

American taste for a high-end, healthy beef is getting some Australian flavor. Demand for grass-fed beef, derived from cows that roam and graze freely their entire lives, is on the rise. But most U.S. farms raise cattle conventionally, meaning that cows are treated with antibiotics and hormones, fed a corn-based grain diet, and usually kept indoors. So to find grass-fed beef, companies are looking nearly 9,500 miles away. Australian beef exports to the U.S. have been steadily increasing, and Safeway, Organic Valley, Stop & Shop, and other food suppliers have already turned to sourcing grass-fed beef from Australian farms. Last week, another household name hopped on the bandwagon headed Down Under: Chipotle. The burrito giant has recently begun sourcing some of its beef supply from ranches in southern Australia, Beef Central reports. The U.S. supply of domestic responsibly raised beef, Chipotle says, isn't growing fast enough to meet demand. Unlike the continental U.S., the Australian landscape is ideal for raising grass-fed cows for meat production. NPR's Dan Charles explains: Curt Lacy, an agricultural economist at the University of Georgia, says some of the reasons are pretty simple. Weather, for instance. In most of the U.S., it freezes. In Australia, it doesn't. So in Australia, as long as there's water, there's grass year-round. And then there's the issue of land. "If you're going to finish animals on grass, it takes more land," Lacy says. Grassland in Australia is relatively cheap and plentiful, and there's not much else you can do with a lot of it, apart from grazing animals...more

Smoke Jumpers Create Generations Of Brotherhood

It’s fire season. When a wildfire starts some of the first to put their lives on the line are smokejumpers. These daredevils fall from the sky to work in some of the most rugged and remote spots in the country. Jeff Davis is a retired smokejumper who survived 22 years in the business. At age 77 with a fragile back, Davis' backcountry days are done. Still he manages to run eight miles every day. Staying in shape is programmed into his psyche. It was a key part of his life as a smokejumper — arguably the most thrilling job in the U.S. Forest Service. "We're a firefighter," Davis said. "The only difference is our means of access to the fire. We jump in. We go in by parachute. The purpose is we can get there fast, faster than anybody." The idea is to put the fire out before it has a chance grow. "We used to drop 1,000 feet above ground level," he said. "From 1,000 feet you've got 11 seconds from the door to the ground if your chute doesn't open. Time kinda slows down. You're right in the moment. You're acting just by instinct." Smokejumpers often drop into unfamiliar terrain. Once on the ground, they're pretty much on their own. They've got a chunk of map and 120 pounds of gear on their back. "We grab our tools and we go to the fire," Davis said. They put the fire out, not with water, but with muscle. Using shovels and pulkaskis they dig a line around the flames. The line resembles a forest trail...more

Goats remove wildfire fuel in Lincoln

Officials with the Bureau of Land Management are fighting wildfire fuel with goat power. They launched a goat grazing project on 16 acres in the historic settlement of Lincoln behind the State Historic Site off U.S. 380 in the Rio Bonito Acquired Lands Tract 3. The purpose of the grazing is to reduce the amount of vegetation available to wildfire, decrease the risk of loss to adjacent property and to improve watershed conditions. The grazing with as many as 35 goats at a time began last week and is expected to last several more weeks, said James Savage with the BLM. "Goat grazing is used all over the West," he said Monday. "We're using them here to graze sacaton, which causes highly flammable conditions. Mowing leaves the material on the ground. It's not removing it. With goats, the fuel (for wildfire) is removed and any invasive seeds are destroyed in their gut. We'll probably be there several weeks this summer."...more

Bear badly mauls hunter in Montana

The 47-year-old hunter, whose identity has not been publicly released, was attacked by the bear at about 11 a.m. local time on Sunday in the mountains of Beaverhead National Forest near Dillon, about 100 miles southeast of Missoula, officials said. The man's 68-year-old father, who was a short distance away at the time, heard a rifle shot and hurried to the location to find his son severely injured, but the bear had by then vanished, said Andrea Jones, a spokeswoman for the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department. The injured hunter, who is from Stevensville, Montana, was initially taken to a hospital in Dillon, then was flown by helicopter to Seattle in Washington state for further treatment, Jones said. Jones had no information on the man's medical condition except to say that he was too badly hurt to have been questioned by authorities about the circumstances of the attack. It was not immediately clear whether the hunter was mauled by a black bear or grizzly bear, she said...more

Monday, June 02, 2014

Sandia land swap very close

It was more than a decade in the making, but a land swap between the U.S. Forest Service and Sandia Pueblo is about to conclude, awaiting only a signature from President Barack Obama. As a result, a roughly 700-acre parcel of land on the west face of the Sandia Mountains and located near Placitas, will be signed over to Sandia Pueblo. In turn, the pueblo will exchange about 160 acres of land along the Piedra Lisa Trail, which the Forest Service will maintain as a conservation easement, as well as a 70-acre parcel called the La Luz Tract that butts up to the La Luz Trail. Under the terms of the federal legislation, none of the lands in the swap may be developed, said Dominic Gabello, chief of staff for Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., primary sponsor of the Sandia Pueblo Settlement Technical Amendment Act, which passed the House on Wednesday.The legislation amends the 2003 T'uf Shur Bien Preservation Trust Area Act, enacted into law more 11 years ago to resolve Sandia Pueblo's long-standing claim to 10,000 acres on the west face of the Sandia Mountains. That act allowed for the pueblo to continue using the land for religious purposes and gave it control over some future uses, while title of the land remained with the federal government. It also required the Forest Service to consider the land exchange, which lies outside the preservation trust area...more

50 years of the Wilderness Act: Balancing restrictions with new technologies

When the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, NASA was sending astronauts into space guided by an IBM 360 computer with 1 megabyte of memory. That’s enough to hold one minute of a video on today’s iPhone. And that’s a conundrum for people like Pat Tabor. His Swan Mountain Outfitters lead paying customers into the Bob Marshall Wilderness for camping and hunting trips. That’s considered a “proper” commercial service under the special provisions clause of the Wilderness Act. But shooting a video of the experience with a smartphone for a movie about his company is not. “Now with the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, it calls into question the viability of what we’re doing,” Tabor said. “There are immense restrictions that come into play when a place is designated wilderness. The language in the Wilderness Act speaks of commercial activity ‘to the extent necessary.’ That means commercial services. But what’s the extent of that?” Chris Ryan spent 34 of her 35 years at the U.S. Forest Service in wilderness management. She recently retired as wilderness program manager at the Region 1 headquarters in Missoula. Like a surprising number of people interviewed for this story, Ryan happened to have a paper copy of the Wilderness Act handy when she spoke on the phone. “It states, ‘Commercial services may be performed within the wilderness areas designated by this Act to the extent necessary for activities which are proper for realizing the recreational or other wilderness purposes of the areas.’ ” Ryan quoted. “In legislative history, when Congress was debating the Wilderness Act, that provision was added because of outfitters and guides. They were guiding trips into the backcountry since the 1800s. Outfitting and guiding were so well established in 1964, Congress wanted to make sure it wasn’t prohibited.” The Forest Service has the job of deciding where the “extent necessary” line lies for most Montana wilderness. It has OK’d still photography, so photographers can shoot calendar images and postcards without a special permit. But a commercial video camera crew would need a permit, following an extensive and expensive review...more

Nevada ranchers deliver petitions to Governor

About 40 riders on horseback blocked traffic on the main highway of Nevada’s capital city Friday to deliver petitions to Gov. Brian Sandoval against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights on federal land.The rally ended a weeklong, 300-mile Pony Express-style odyssey orchestrated by Elko County Commissioner Grant Gerber that began on Memorial Day in northeast Nevada. Several dozen ranchers from around northern Nevada, wearing spurs and cowboy hats, met with Sandoval in the governor’s office. Sandoval assured them he would take their concerns over grazing allotments in Battle Mountain to the highest officials in the federal agency. “This is what makes Nevada great,” Sandoval said to the crowd packed in his reception area. “The fact that we’re all one family ... that you feel you can come to Carson City and present and air your concerns.” “I’m very proud of the efforts you’ve made,” he said, adding, “I’m very humbled and honored that you would do it and very respectful of all of you being here today.” Sandoval accepted a fistful of petitions delivered in a cloth satchel and told the ranchers he would take up the matter with federal officials. The petition seeks the ouster of Douglas Furtado, the Bureau of Land Management’s field manager in Battle Mountain...more

Here is the KRNV video report:

Former Nevada Governor supports ranch family

Gibbons is second from left

Former Gov. Jim Gibbons showed up Thursday to help Pete Tomera and his family turn their cows out on the contested Bureau of Land Management grazing allotment south of Battle Mountain. The former governor came in a show of support for the ranchers, who have been fighting a decision by Battle Mountain District Manager Doug Furtado to close the mountain pasture. Furtado relented May 23. Meanwhile, petitions seeking Furtado’s removal from office were delivered Friday by the Cowboy Express to Gov. Brian Sandoval. The petitions were carried by horseback from Elko in five days. Furtado told the Tomera and Filippini families in February that he was not going to allow any grazing on the Mount Lewis pasture of the Argenta Allotment because of the drought. His decision left the longtime ranching families facing financial ruin and sparked a grassroots effort to pressure the BLM into rescinding Furtado’s closure. That effort has included a public outcry by the ranching families, a petition drive demanding Furtado’s removal from office, a Grass Tour of the affected pasture, a Grass March calling attention to BLM control of Nevada’s rangelands, and a Cowboy Express to deliver the petitions on horseback to the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City. “Most people don’t have to fight to make a living. These folks do,” Gibbons said Thursday...more

Before Nevada stand-off, a collision between ranchers and tortoises

Rancher Cliven Bundy once had neighbours on the range: when the tortoise was listed, there were about 50 cattle-ranching families in the county. Some of them fought court battles to stay, rejecting the idea their cattle posed a danger to the tortoises. But, one by one, they slowly gave up and disappeared. In its years-long dispute with Bundy, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has portrayed the rancher as a scofflaw, free-riding on the backs of roughly 16,000 ranchers on BLM allotments across the United States who pay their grazing fees. They say he now owes $1 million, most of it fines. But interviews with some of Bundy's former rancher neighbours and ex-BLM officials suggest the reality is more complex: in Clark County, at least, the BLM no longer wanted the ranchers’ fees. It wanted them off the range to fulfil its legal obligation to protect the tortoises living on its land. To achieve this, it joined forces with the county government. Clark County is not an isolated case. Disputes over land rights are playing out in many Western states, especially in rural areas, where some residents and lawmakers question the legitimacy of the federal government's claim to swathes of land. In New Mexico, a county government is arguing with federal land managers over whether a rancher can take his cattle to a fenced-off watering hole. In Utah, protesters have been defiantly driving all-terrain vehicles down a canyon trail closed by the US government. In Clark County, it was rancher versus tortoise...more

The Reuters article above gives the back story on the events which occurred prior to the Bundy Cattle Battle.  It all started in 1989...

When the tortoise was listed in 1989, Las Vegas, the county seat, was one of the fastest-growing US cities. For Vegas to spread even an inch farther into the tortoise-filled desert risked a federal offense under the Endangered Species Act. The county successfully sought a permit that would allow development that inadvertently killed tortoises in some parts of the county if they funded conservation efforts in other parts. To get the permit, the county made numerous commitments to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to help the desert tortoise thrive. One of those promises was to pay willing ranchers to give up their grazing rights.

EPA to Seek 30% Cut in Emissions at Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency will propose mandating power plants cut U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions 30% by 2030 from levels of 25 years earlier, according to people briefed on the rule, an ambitious target that marks the first-ever attempt at limiting such pollution. The rule-making proposal, to be unveiled Monday, sets in motion the main piece of President Barack Obama's climate-change agenda and is designed to give states and power companies flexibility in reaching the target. But it also will face political resistance and become fodder in midterm congressional races, particularly in energy-producing states, and is destined to trigger lawsuits from states and industry that oppose it. The rule would affect hundreds of fossil-fuel power plants—hitting the nation's roughly 600 coal-fired plants the hardest. For the president, the rule is a major element of his attempt to secure a second-term legacy. While Mr. Obama is expected to remain out of the spotlight when the EPA unveils the rule Monday, he plans to join a conference call with the American Lung Association, casting the rule as needed to protect public health as well as to reduce the carbon emissions that scientists say contribute to climate change...more

Obama warns of 'devastating' hurricanes from climate change

President Obama warned Friday that storms like Hurricane Sandy will become more frequent as climate change intensifies. While being briefed by emergency response officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters, Obama urged the public to prepare now for this year's hurricane season. "The changes we’re seeing in our climate means that, unfortunately, storms like Sandy could end up being more common and more devastating," Obama said. "And that’s why we’re also going to be doing more to deal with the dangers of carbon pollution that help to cause this climate change and global warming. And that’s why we’re also, with the terrific help of these departments, thinking of how we can build more resilient infrastructure," he added. The administration is preparing to unveil Obama's signature climate change regulation Monday, which will limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants...more

New Mexicans Say Obama 'Land Grab' Will Harm Ranchers, Border Security

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument created by President Barack Obama on May 21 has angered some New Mexico residents, particularly ranchers who fear the designation will make it easier for dangerous cartels from Mexico to move people and drugs through the region. The monument is spread over about 500,000 acres near Las Cruces in Dona Ana County. "We do not see that there is anything that is better about having a monument designation, and what it does is cause more possibilities for abuse," says Carol Cooper, whose family has owned a cattle ranch on acreage that encompasses about one-eighth of the newly designated monument lands. Cooper told Newsmax that she fears the federal government will use its power to take away her livelihood and investment, closing roads and making it nearly impossible for her family to take care of its livestock. "The president acted unilaterally in this, without the input of Congress," said Cooper, who belongs to a group of about 30 people who regularly gather, seeking to thwart the government from taking over their land and industry. "As ranchers, we don't need more restrictions," she said. "We don't need our hands tied when we are trying to take care of our business. We have always worked with the Bureau of Land Management, but it is very obvious they don't want us here. We are nervous about regulations in the future that are even more restrictive." Jerry G. Schickedanz, a former agriculture dean at New Mexico State University who serves as chairman of the Western Heritage Alliance, calls the federal designation an "end run" that leaves ranchers and farmers with no protection from government ruining their livelihoods. "I'm not opposed to national monuments if they are protecting something," Schickedanz told Newsmax. "This one is scattered over 500,000 acres on three or four difference parcels. For many of the prehistoric or archaeological sites, there is no road out there. I don't know what people [who visit] are going to do. They are going to be very disappointed if they come here, get a rental car and drive all the way from the El Paso [Texas] airport. It's a big scam as far as I see as increasing tourism. It's not a destination." Ranchers, he said, fear they will lose all the money and work they have put into maintaining their parcels. "If the government imposes tougher regulations — at the behest of environmentalists who supported the monument — their small pieces of private land are not going to be enough to make a living on," he said. Schickedanz decried the increasing impact of the government in the Western states where the Bureau of Land Management oversees 19 monument areas in nine states. As for the president, "he doesn't care one whip about a national monument there. This is all politics," said Schickedanz, who questioned the timing of the action...more

'Chicken-Sized Bird' Shows Why Conservationists Don't Always Agree

When it comes to the sage grouse—a spiky-tailed bird once described as a cross between a sumo wrestler and Elton John in camo—conservationists agree on a lot, like protecting the tens of millions of acres it inhabits in the West and halting the march of invasive species. But, as the federal government is weighing whether to list the birds under the Endangered Species Act, not all conservationists want to see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service add the grouse to the rolls. Instead, conservation organizations across 11 states argue that by working with miners, ranchers, state governments, and others who care about the bird—and the implications of listing it as endangered—they can preserve sagebrush habitat and help the sage grouse recover. "Listing a species under the ESA is an admission of failure," said Kyle Davis, a consultant with the League of Conservation Voters and Wilderness Society in Nevada. "The hook is that we have this window of opportunity to do the right things now." The exact window of opportunity depends on which species of bird you're talking about. A decision on the greater sage grouse, whose habitat stretches across a huge swath of the West, covering about 22 million acres and stretching from the Dakotas in the east to California in the west, from Montana in the north to Utah in the South (11 states in all), is expected in late 2015. The government expects a decision on a Nevada-California species early next year, and another species native to Colorado, called the Gunnison sage grouse, is expected later this year...more

Roosevelt County Commission will sue feds over chicken listing

The Roosevelt County Commission is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and joining a bi-state coalition in combating the listing of the lesser prairie chicken on a federal register of endangered animals. The listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species, a bird native to New Mexico and four other states and known for its rare mating rituals, was made in March by the USFWS and affects many eastern New Mexico counties. Roosevelt County Manager Charlene Webb said other counties are considering suing the USFWS as the deadline to contest the listing is June 10. The listing has been a hot button issue for commissioners and their constituents because they fear an onslaught of regulations to protect the bird will shutter and slow down local operations in the agriculture and energy industries. Roosevelt County has been considering litigation since May 6 and officials have been meeting with attorneys to help file the suit. The Roosevelt County Commission will meet in special session June 6 to give notice of intent to file a suit, according to Webb...more

N.S.A. Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images

The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents. The agency intercepts “millions of images per day” — including about 55,000 “facial recognition quality images” — which translate into “tremendous untapped potential,” according to 2011 documents obtained from the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. While once focused on written and oral communications, the N.S.A. now considers facial images, fingerprints and other identifiers just as important to its mission of tracking suspected terrorists and other intelligence targets, the documents show. It is not clear how many people around the world, and how many Americans, might have been caught up in the effort. Neither federal privacy laws nor the nation’s surveillance laws provide specific protections for facial images. The State Department has what several outside experts say could be the largest facial imagery database in the federal government, storing hundreds of millions of photographs of American passport holders and foreign visa applicants. And the Department of Homeland Security is funding pilot projects at police departments around the country to match suspects against faces in a crowd. The N.S.A., though, is unique in its ability to match images with huge troves of private communications...more

Australian sheep get high and die on toxic weed

When Australian farmer Tony Knight first saw a purple-flowering plant growing across the bushfire-scarred terrain where his sheep grazed, his first thought was that it looked like “good stock feed.” However, the “pleasant-looking plant” was far from the nutritious food his livestock needed after their paddocks were razed bare by the fires that swept through the northwest region of New South Wales state last year. Instead, the native weed known as the “Darling pea” contained a toxin that affected the sheep’s nervous systems, killing hundreds by triggering mental and physical deterioration. “To start with, they will do quite well when they first get on to it and their condition will pick up,” Knight said at his farm near the town of Coonabarabran. “But once it gets them addicted, it’s just a drug — it goes from becoming their best friend to their worst enemy,” he said...more

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

A different bucket list

by Julie Carter

Everybody, everywhere has owned a bucket, used a bucket or needed a bucket. Buckets through the ages have played a part in the very fiber of our lives, including “kicking the bucket.”

We have the water bucket, milk bucket, mop bucket, slop bucket, coal bucket, ash bucket, grease bucket, feed bucket, lunch bucket, paint bucket and the ever popular, old oaken bucket. And a bucket of sorts, the chamber pot.

The ancestral poor-boy stories always include the lard bucket that became the lunch bucket. Lunch pail stories often include a long walk to school, up hill both ways and in the winter the sandwiches were frozen solid.

The bucket on the end of an old hemp rope strikes memories of a hand dug well providing the only water on the place. The littlest kid, because he fit the best, got the summer job of climbing down the ladder to clean the silt from the bottom of the well.

My recall is that it was important that your horse was “bucket” broke so that you could carry a bucket of something on him while in the saddle. Naturally, the feed bucket was his favorite and he preferred it in front of him, full of oats. One horse was named “Smart Bucket” although I’m not really sure what that was about, because he wasn’t.

The milk bucket was the starting point of basic education for many youngsters. Every summer, based on the high nutritional value of milk, one lad was assigned to milk the cow to provide a never-ending supply of fresh milk while visiting his uncle’s ranch.

The chore didn’t have obvious “cowboy” value to the lessons he wanted to learn about riding, roping and cattle work. Yet his uncle convinced him it was necessary to drink all this milk to maintain his strength and stamina to do the other work like fencing, punching cattle, and breaking colts.

At the end of the summer, his last assignment was to turn the milk cow out to pasture. It seems the uncle didn’t require the same nutrition during the winter.

Buckets are good for many things that don’t have anything to do with their intended use. Upside down to sit or stand on is the most popular.

At a recent down-home team roping that holds appeal to the “used-to-be” cowboy set, a couple of portly cowboys were at the back of the chutes waiting their turn in the arena.
Good friends, the pair have found different challenges in reaching the stage of their life where the spirit is willing but the knees are stiff.

One continues to ride a 16-hand rope horse because he always did, but now getting on him represents a mission impossible. In remedy, he totes a bucket wherever he goes to use as a step. His aging buddy finds the frequent need to sit down on something, anything, whatever is near and the bucket provides nicely for that as well.

The roping announcer called a name, putting one of them into action.

“Rusty, get up. I need my can.”

“I just got set down here. I can’t get up that quick,” Rusty replied.

Call two from the announcer.

“Rusty! Get up. I’ve got to go rope. They’ll turn my steer out.”

“I’m trying,” Rusty said. “Give me a hand here. My knees aren’t working too good. This can is pretty comfortable.”

During an understanding pause from the announcer, who had been clued into the situation, the bucket was vacated and then used by its owner to climb aboard his horse.
As he backed in the box, they gave call three and Rusty … well, Rusty had already settled back into his sittin’ position on that handy bucket.

There comes a time in life when just everything looks like it needs sat on.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Give me cows … lots of cows!

Give me cows … lots of cows!
Educated Incapacity
The trillion dollar hoax
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            In Texas A&M trials, the unthinkable is taking place.
Hamburger from grass fed cattle isn’t safer, healthier, or more palatable than hamburger produced from those corn fed, flatulent launching, confinement lounging fatties that are being accused of poisoning our nation’s clean water supplies. In fact, the opposite may be rearing its scientific, unbiased head.
As an example, measured oleic acid (the acid shown to reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol), has been measured to be 32% higher in the fatties than from the free ranging leanies. The leanies are also producing more saturated and trans-fats.
Ohhhhh …
Before all of this gives somebody the heebie-jeebies, though, an article from the March journal Annals of Internal Medicine may throw some cold water on all of it. The entire forced diatribe since 1961 promoting the evils of beef may wind up being not the multi-billion dollar hoax many of us have long known it to be, but more … trillions of dollars.
Educated Incapacity
Futurist Herman Kahn invented the phrasing, but Ron Arnold brought it to a broader audience. Arnold, operating out of the Seattle area, used the expression describing liberal journalists who have been “taught to be blind” so they don’t have to look into major issues of our time that run countercurrent to the standards of their liberal enclaves.
Educated incapacity is their chronic ailment. They suffer from this seemingly terminal anomaly.
The condition is the “learned inability to understand or even perceive a problem much less (suggest) a solution”. Daily, we are learning of the length and breadth of the cultural gyrations this malady has forced upon us. In an era that education is purported to be continuous and cutting edge, the ability to rationalize anything aside from an entrenched paradigm is largely nonexistent.
Arnold used the model of Big Green to expound upon the condition, but, universally, the same forces of progressivism permeate all productive deficit disorders of our society. This certainly spans politics. It also includes government, conservation, health, education, journalism, and too much of science.
Those who actually create a physical product are becoming the exception and not the rule, and they are the primary targets of … the educated incapacitators.
The genesis
The name is Ancel Benjamin Keys.
Keys set about studying the dietary conditions that seemed to promote longevity. One phase of his quest was to detail the diet of peasants from the Mediterranean island of Crete. Another was to determine what was taking place in places like Yugoslavia, Italy and Finland that contributed to long lives.
The length of time from commencement of the work to conclusion of results spanned from the end of World War II to 1961. It was then Keys landed a position on the nutritional committee of the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA, of course, was hugely influential and it afforded a stage of gigantic proportions for Keys.
There was some skepticism on the part of AHA in the Keys premise that animal fats were the root cause of most afflictions, but the organization succumbed to his hypothesis. Their decision was based largely on the absence of parallel studies defending animal fats. Since there was no rebuttal, the Key work stood without comparative review. The consensus was derived by default.
Fats, most specifically saturated fats, were labeled detrimental to health. Beef was nominated to the unbecoming position as the ultimate vector in the spread of the underlying disease complex.
By 1977, the progressive bias was gaining critical mass. It was then a Harvard nutritionist and Keys protégé, Mark Hegsted, convinced a Senate committee to recommend the Keys diet. This was made official and universally emphatic when the USDA adopted Keys based guidelines in 1980.
The storm trooping incapacitators were in business and beef was declared public enemy Numero Uno.
The malicious truth
Meanwhile, attempts to duplicate the Keys findings were constantly running into difficulties. In fact, a reported one billion dollars was burned trying to duplicate and dissect the premises of his so called research. Troubling findings took place. It started with his work on Crete.
The initial, critical Crete research was done on post war island residents when beef was not available because of war induced rationing. The absence of beef was a temporal condition not a permanent one and certainly not a cultural preference. Furthermore, the survey was done during Lent when the islanders were foregoing their limited supplies of meat and cheese for the Easter season.
Keys’s assessment was corrupted. He purposefully picked and chose his study groups. He excluded France where healthy omelet and beef eaters drank gallons of alcohol to enhance their culinary experiences. He also bypassed Switzerland, Sweden and West Germany where abundant fat consumers didn’t suffer from high rates of heart disease.
The truth would reveal he picked and chose his study replicates to conform to his own biases and to substantiate a desired outcome. Moreover, the hoax was ultimately predicated not on the data he represented as 655 samples, but a few dozen men.
The beef industry was made villainous, the participants slandered, and the United States government underwrote a war on beef of historic proportions. Educated incapacity facilitated the assault, shaped the public perception, and then frolicked and toasted their good work to their like minded fold.
“Personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias derailed nutrition policy over the past half-century”, and … it’s killing people.
The emerging science
The Texas A&M work is hugely welcome, but it also demonstrates the lingering expanse of corrupted societal norms now emanating from the tenets of false science attached to the entrenched Keys dietary recommendations. In his recent article in BEEF, TAMU researcher Stephen B. Smith makes a statement that highlights the point.
His sentence, “Ground beef from grass-fed cattle naturally contains more omega-3 fatty acids than from grain-fed cattle (three times as much), but is higher in saturated and trans fats” subtly suggests the enduring Keys premise that saturated fats are bad. That is what society has long been led to believe and that is what science has ostensibly blessed in terms of dietary recommendations in order to avoid heart disease among other ailments. That is counter cantering to the revealed study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study also suggests there have been extensive unintended consequences. One example is the outcome of switching from fatty meats to carbohydrates. Excessive carbohydrates have led to epidemic proportions of obesity, type 2 diabetes and the very heart diseases that were blamed on fats.
Another outcome is the massive switch to vegetable oils. Studies are now indicating that people consuming large amounts of those oils are more vulnerable to cancer and anomalies like gall stones. They are also more likely to die from suicides. Speculation suggests that psychological behavior disorders might be related to brain chemistry caused by these dietary changes. It may be caused by fatty acid imbalances and the depletion of cholesterol.
Vegetable oils are also known to create cirrhosis of the liver and even early death. That outcome was certainly not what Americans bargained for when they were convinced to give up butter and lard.
Women may be killing themselves in ever greater numbers by adhering rigorously to these dietary guidelines. One example is the insistence of maintaining low cholesterol levels. Studies now reveal HIGH levels of total cholesterol are equating to longer lives at ages over 50.
The long and the short of this debacle is that Americans are growing sicker and fatter under the nation’s dietary guidelines that trace lineage back to the so called scientists like Keys. The half century of vilifying and foregoing the consumption of beef, eggs, and whole fat dairy products has now become a modern day American deception.
Who among us have heard about this nutritional study?
The problem we face is the sanctity offered by societal defenses that protect the hordes suffering from educational incapacity. We are also churning these sophisticated automatons out in not just increasing numbers but accelerating rates of increase.
There is too much invested in their existence and their reserved fiefdom to expect self correction. Who involved would step up and admit the horrors of this debacle? Who among them would even understand the plight they have wrought?
Ron Arnold best expressed the reach of the institutional framework of this new order populated by the likes of Ancel Benjamin Keys. He wrote, “The … movement is a mature, highly developed network of top leadership stewarding vast institutional memory, a fiercely loyal cadre of competent social and political operatives and millions of high demographic members ready to mobilize as needed.”
He is right, and … America is paying the absurd price.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Someday a treatise must be written on the endless endurance and the immensity of societal contribution by the cow. This society is not yet ready to understand those implications.”