Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

"Give me liberty or give me death." ~Patrick Henry~ Happy Independence Day! This is Tim Cox Fine Art's LAND OF THE FREE.

The NSA may have another leaker on its hands

Edward Snowden has done a lot of damage to the National Security Agency by disclosing dozens of its most sensitive internet surveillance programs—but there may be a lot more to come from someone following in his footsteps. German public broadcaster Das Erste revealed yesterday the existence of a previously undisclosed NSA program called XKeyscore, which automatically logs the online identities of anyone who even searches the web for tools that might keep their activities anonymous. Experts who are familiar with Snowden’s leaked documents say that this information is from a new source.“I do not believe that this came from the Snowden documents,” wrote security expert Bruce Schneier, who had access them through his work with the Guardian. “I also don’t believe the TAO catalog came from the Snowden documents,” he said, referring to the “tailored access operations” that the NSA uses to gain access to certain priority targets. “I think there’s a second leaker out there.” XKeyscore logs the IP address of anyone searching for “privacy-enhancing software tools” like the TOR Project, free software that can ensure online anonymity that is used by millions of people a day. “The NSA is making a concerted effort to combat any and all anonymous spaces that remain on the internet,” wrote Lena Kampf, Jacob Appelbaum and John Goetz, who are all associated with the TOR Project. “Merely visiting privacy-related websites is enough for a user’s IP address to be logged into an NSA database.” The IP addresses and any surveillance data gathered through XKeystroke is kept indefinitely. “This isn’t just metadata; this is ‘full take’ content that’s stored forever,” wrote Schneier, who called it “very disturbing.” Users may also be tagged for surveillance by receiving emails or reading news articles—like this one, for example—that discuss TOR and other privacy tools...more

Thursday, July 03, 2014

NM ranching family tells feds: ‘Don’t fence us out’ - video


For more than a century, the Lucero family has grazed livestock in the majestic landscape near Fenton Lake in the Santa Fe National Forest. They started with sheep and, in the 1920s, switched to cattle.
But that may all come to an end because of an endangered mouse.

“You’re taking a lot of heritage away,” said Mike Lucero, as he looks over the creek that cuts through the meadow. He was accompanied by his brother Manuel and cousin Orlando, who have brought their family’s cattle to this spot since they were children.

Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the meadow jumping mouse as an endangered species. Now, the U.S. Forest Service, which oversees the Santa Fe National Forest, is considering erecting a series of 8-foot high fences to protect the mouse’s habitat.

The Luceros, members of the San Diego Cattleman’s Association and holders of grazing permits with the federal government, say the fences will lock out their cattle — as well as those of other permit holders — from ever returning to the meadow where the livestock graze for 20 days in the spring and up to 40 days in the fall.

“We’re not insensitive to protecting the mouse,” Orlando Lucero said. “But let’s work on something that keeps everyone’s interests in mind.”

Forest Service officials in Albuquerque say no final decision has been made but, at the same time, they are required by law to comply with the Endangered Species Act. Since the meadow jumping mouse is now listed as endangered, the Forest Service is bound to take steps to protect its habitat.

Grazing was listed as one of the “a primary threats” to the mouse, said Robert Trujillo, the acting director of Wildlife, Fish and Rare Plants for the Southwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service.

 “At first, they were talking about a 300-yard fence on eight feet of either side (of the Rio Cebolla, a creek that feeds the meadow),”  Manuel Lucero said. “But you look at the (Forest Service) map now and it goes on for three and a half miles – and that’s just for this allotment.”

 In fact, the Forest Service proposal could potentially put up fencing over large swaths of the forest, including the San Antonio Campground, a popular destination for families and outdoors enthusiasts in northern New Mexico.

This is the second time in the space of two months that the meadow jumping mouse has raised hackles among people with grazing permits in the state.

Some 275 miles south, in Otero County, the Forest Service reinforced locked gates to keep out cattle from a creek called the Agua Chiquita to protect the mouse’s habitat. The move angered ranchers who tend over herds thirsty from a prolonged drought.

Here’s New Mexico Watchdog video of Mike Lucero:

First, many thanks to Rob Nicolewski at NM Watchdog for his great coverage of federal lands issues. Some recent examples would be: Why there’s a federal land dispute brewing out West, Why a chicken and a mouse are stirring debate in New Mexico, The cattle vs. mouse debate in NM, Former governor blasts Forest Service report on Ski Valley crackdown,  and Mighty mouse: Rare rodent raises tensions between ranchers, feds.

Second, Congressman Steve Pearce has weighed in on the mouse issue and ranchers in southern NM, but where is Congressman Ben Ray Lujan in supporting the Lucero family and other ranch families in northern NM?  


Bipartisan Western Governors Urge Endangered Species Act Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 3, 2014 - In a recent letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Governors John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) and Brian Sandoval (R-Nevada) eexpressed encouragement regarding the House of Representatives’ efforts to improve and update the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as evidenced most recently by the House Natural Resources Committee’s passage of a package of four ESA-related reform measures.  Pointing out the significant species conservation programs and comprehensive and current data provided by states, the Governors noted that the ESA “could be greatly improved through targeted reforms, particularly those that would involve states as full and equal partners in the development of scientific data, analyses and management provisions applied within listing, recovery and de-listing decisions.” 
Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) expressed appreciation for the Western Governors’ bipartisan letter.  “With the important role that states are playing to help keep species off of the ESA list, I am pleased Western Governors agree that common sense, targeted reforms can improve the ESA while protecting state data and landowners rights.  Earlier this year, the House Natural Resources Committee passed four bills intended to do that. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the House to improve ESA listing data and litigation transparency and other measures to focus resources on actual data and recovery of species, rather than on lawyers.”
Western Caucus Co-Chairman Cynthia Lummis (WY-at large) stated, “I am very pleased that our western governors are adding their voice to the ESA reform effort.  The whole point of this reform effort is to find ways to bring the ESA into the 21st century, and enhancing the role of the states is a critical component.  States care deeply about conservation and have proven their abilities to understand firsthand the needs of both the species and people.  They have led the way on species science, species conservation, and species recovery.  It’s high time we recognize the importance of the states in ESA decision-making.”

Press Release

Farmers, ranchers and State of Texas win whooping crane case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a district court decision on July 30 and ruled in favor of the State of Texas in a lawsuit concerning the whooping crane. It was the classic example of water for people weighed against an environmental group suing under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The Fifth Circuit concluded the environmental group, The Aransas Project (TAP), failed to prove the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) management of water permits resulted in the deaths of whooping cranes. The court also concluded an injunction imposed by District Court Judge Janice Jack on water management was an abuse of discretion. This is a great win for farmers, ranchers, property owners and all Texans who would suffer from the lower court’s opinion that overreached and relied on dubious science. TAP sued, claiming the State of Texas was responsible for the deaths of 23 cranes in an estimated population of 247 birds in the winter of 2008-09. TAP’s evidence consisted of two carcasses and the failure to see cranes during aerial surveys. In spite of this claim, the Fifth Circuit noted in its ruling the numbers of whooping cranes has continued to increase with the latest estimate of 300 in the winter 2011-12. The Fifth Circuit unanimously reversed the district court’s judgment holding that TCEQ is not liable for takes under the Endangered Species Act. They ruled the deaths of the whooping cranes that live part-time in Texas are too remote from TCEQ’s process for issuing surface water permits from the San Antonio and Guadalupe Rivers. The Fifth Circuit agreed with the position Texas Farm Bureau has taken all along. There are too many factors between TCEQ’s permitting process and purported whooping crane deaths to blame TCEQ. Hopefully, this will be the end of this ill-advised litigation...more

Government stops sending surplus federal vehicles, stock to rural fire departments

Trucks, tankers and other unused federal vehicles are a critical aid to rural fire departments throughout the country, but the supply of surplus rolling stock now appears to have dried up. The federal government has ended a program that provides millions of dollars worth of equipment to thousands of rural fire departments, including nearly 800 in Oklahoma, said George Geissler, state director of forestry services. The U.S. Department of Defense ended the program when it recently decided to enforce a 25-year-old agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, Geissler said. Jennifer Jones, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, said her agency received informal notice that the Defense Department was upholding the agreement after it was determined that engines in its vehicles did not meet EPA standards. The Forest Service acts as an intermediary between the federal agencies and about 48 states that use the surplus equipment program.  One of the surplus program’s biggest benefits is that it provides vehicles that would normally cost a small fire department $150,000 to $200,000. Instead departments only have to equip the vehicle, at a cost of $30,000 to $40,000...more

If you're an entity who protects folks lives and property, the gov't will cut you off.  If you're an entity that raids homes and confiscates property, the gov't will send you armored SWAT vehicles, drones and a whole arsenal of weapons and ammo.

Thousands attend Utah counterculture fest (Rainbow Family)

A graying man clad in a towering rainbow top hat and neon sunglasses raised a sunflower high above his head in a circle of three dozen listeners. “The thing about rainbows, the thing about this place, the thing about these people,” he said Tuesday before handing the flower to the next speaker, “is love.” The man known here as Glowing Feather is one of more than 4,000 who have trekked to the annual Rainbow Family gathering about 60 miles east of Salt Lake City. Some members greet visitors with smiles and “Welcome home,” or “Loving you.” Others ask whether newcomers are wearing a bra, invite them to play nude Frisbee or simply offer up a blunt. A council of group elders asks visitors to avoid bringing alcohol, but they stress that’s a request, not a rule. The Rainbow Family has no official creed or leaders. This week, the gathering is expected to double in size as more members pour into the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest for a four-day celebration that ends Friday. On Tuesday, about two dozen officers and a drug dog climbed the two-mile path up to various camp sites. “Leash your dogs!” Members called ahead of the officials. Forgetting to do so breaks the law in national forests. Authorities say a New Hampshire woman and a man from Texas at the celebration apparently died in their sleep, but they haven’t released details. Police also say a New Mexico woman at the campsite last week stabbed a participant, seriously injuring him. On July 4, members typically join to chant one “om” on the final day of the festival, praying for peace worldwide. “We’re sending it out through our voice and our body into the earth,” said Karena Gore, who travelled from Montana. Mike Dominguez, a father of four from Hawaii, was preparing to cook 500 pounds of pasta for the final day of the celebration...more

I'm with them on peace and love, and definitely the nude Frisbee...but 500 pounds of pasta?  Guess I'll be staying home on the 4th.

Feds move to enact shooting limits in large area of Colorado land

The United States Forest Service has proposed a plan to restrict public use of a 625-mile area of Colorado, encompassing most of the state’s Front Range foothills and Interstate 70 Mountain Corridor. The plan proposes to close current areas and possibly establish new ranges for recreational sport shooting (RSS). Besides the increase in overcrowding of the area, the land is often left looking like a garbage dump. Forest Service officials assert that recreational shooting in these zones not only poses a risk to other users of the public land, but that the areas are often left littered with beer cans, old appliances used for targets, and mountains of spent casings. “We’re all working together on this, but when the recreational shooting public sees it, they’re going to get outraged very quickly,” said Steve Yamashita, acting director of the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife. The Forest Service maintains that it will establish other areas for RSS, but it has closed shooting areas in the past due to environmental concerns before offering alternative lands for shooting. After a significant number of live trees were blown to bits in Mount Evans recently, the Forest Service closed the area to shooting without offering new alternative areas for the activity...

So you can smoke dope, make love, beat drums, play naked Frisbee and cook 500 lbs of pasta on Forest Service land, but drop a beer can and they'll shut you down.  And "mountains" of spent casings?  Colo. sport shooters must all be rich.

California wind farm allowed to kill bald and golden eagles, ruffling more than feathers

By sacrificing a few bald eagles, the Obama administration may have opened a can of worms. In a bid to give alternative energy sources a boost, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has quietly granted a California wind energy farm a permit to kill a limited number of endangered bald and golden eagles that get sliced up in its giant turbines. But last week’s free pass is sparking anger from wildlife advocates and from free market advocates who ask why they don’t qualify for the same dispensation. The American Bird Conservancy filed a lawsuit last week against the 6-month-old federal rule expanding permits for killing bald and golden eagles from a maximum of five to 30 years, charging the Interior Department with “multiple violations of federal law.” Conservancy spokesman Bob Johns said the organization is on board with green energy but the Obama administration has gone too far with incentives for the wind industry. The incentives include optional guidelines on environmental rules and production tax credits. “We know we need renewables, and that’s fine. We’re not saying shut them down, we’re just saying, ‘Hey, enough’s enough, bring them into the same ballpark that everyone else is in,’” said Mr. Johns. “Give them regulations, tell them where they need to site these things, where they shouldn’t site them. Don’t give them a set of, ‘Gee, it would be nice if you did this, but if you don’t, it’s OK.’” Last week, the Fish and Wildlife Service ruffled feathers by issuing what officials called a first-of-its-kind permit that allows a 50-turbine Northern California wind farm to kill up to five golden eagles over five years. In exchange, the developer agreed to retrofit 133 utility poles to reduce eagle deaths by electrocution...more

Obama's enviro buddies get a pass on killing eagles, while some Native Americans risk fines or jail time just to possess a feather.  

Red Tapeworm 2014: Cumulative Final Rules in the Federal Register

by Wayne Crews

Let’s keep this one short. Picture is worth a thousand words, one power-hungry bureaucrat is worth a thousand congressmen, and all that.
The cumulative effect of regulation on the national economy and at the family and personal levels matters a great deal despite yearly fluctuations.
    The good news is that, final rules issued by federal agencies last year did dip a little, but proposed rules ominously are on the increase, and the president promises to go around Congress to shape society according to his left-wing biases and intractable redistributionist mindset.

    Regulations accumulate, and the framework for tomorrow is being laid by today’s political philosophy and its corresponding enactments. 
    The bottom line is that the ceaseless annual outflow of over 3,500 final rules, and often far more, has meant that about 87,282 rules have been issued since 1993, when the first edition of Ten Thousand Commandments appeared.
    In that same amout of time, Congress passed “only” 4,224 public laws. (I’ve yearly counts in Appendix J here of “The Unconstitutionality Index.”)
    The tail wags the dog, or has become the dog, when it comes to lawmaking. I track the number of annual proposed and final rules online hereSource

Wolverine photographed in Uinta Mountains

As wildlife biologists scanned photographs taken by a trail camera in the Uinta Mountains last winter, they saw something never captured before in Utah: the first official photos of a wolverine. Kim Hersey, mammals conservation coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said biologists from the DWR and the U.S. Forest Service set four bait stations — monitored by trail cameras — along the north slope of the Uinta Mountains last January. They set the stations to capture images of elusive forest-dwelling carnivores, including wolverines. DWR and Forest Service biologists used snowmobiles to reach the areas and set up the stations. Then, this spring, they started retrieving the cameras. After retrieving the cameras, nothing unusual showed up in photos from the first, third and fourth stations. But images from the second station were a different story: They showed the first wolverine verified in Utah since a wolverine carcass was found in 1979. Hersey says biologists baited the second station with deer that had been killed by cars. Marten, jays, squirrels and a red fox were among the wildlife that raided the station. “The fox took off with the bait,” she said. “All it left behind were the wire wrappings that were supposed to secure the bait to the area.” Even though the bait was gone, the odor the carcasses left behind was enough to attract a wolverine to the area. On Feb. 18, two days after the fox made off with the bait, the camera captured its first image of the wolverine. The animal only stayed in the area about five minutes. That was enough time, though, for the motion-sensing camera to capture 27 images...more

Small Bear Creek cabin removed

Though secret structures built in the woods as housing are not as common as they once were in Telluride, a few are still around. In early June a small cabin was removed from the Bear Creek Preserve after it was discovered to be 10 feet within the preserve’s boundaries. The Town of Telluride is required to remove structures in the preserve due to a conservation easement held by the San Miguel Conservation Foundation, which has been in place since the early 1990s. Occasionally significant structures are found, but according to Lance McDonald, program manager for the Town of Telluride, they are uncommon these days in Bear Creek. “Since 1994 the town has been removing illegal structures in Bear Creek,” McDonald said. “In the ‘90s there were a lot of illegal structures, now it’s kind of like every now and then. As they appear in their various forms they are removed, and we do it in a very courteous way.” McDonald said the inhabitants of the cabin, known locally as “Grandma’s House,” were notified about a year ago that it was going to be removed. The cabin itself had likely been in place for a long time and McDonald said crews found people at the site cleaning it up for the summer. The cabin was a small structure about 12 feet tall with a metal roof, windows, floor and a loft. It had a wood stove as well as room for chairs and a table. The conservation easement for Bear Creek specifically states that no structures can be built in the conservation area, and there is also no camping allowed. However, historic structures are left in place and the aim is to keep the area as natural as possible. The Bear Creek Valley is a complex mix of U.S. Forest Service land with private property such as mining claims and town open space. It’s not always obvious what type of land a specific site might be located on and different rules apply, especially when it comes to camping...more

Texas ranchers OK beef checkoff to tout industry

Texas ranchers have voted to establish a state-level program to promote and market beef in the nation’s leading cattle-producing state. The Texas Department of Agriculture on Wednesday announced approval of the program. The no more than $1 per head assessment, each time a beef animal is sold, begins Oct. 1. The state measure will supplement a similar U.S. checkoff. The Texas Beef Checkoff program will be managed by the Beef Promotion and Research Council of Texas. Council members will be selected by Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. The department conducted the referendum at the request of cattle industry groups and under the authority of the Legislature. Voting took place the first week of June. Two-thirds of those casting ballots, people who owned cattle in the previous yearlong period, approved the measure.  AP

Migrant flight lands in California without protest

A flight shuttling Central American immigrant children and families from the Texas border arrived Wednesday in Southern California without trouble, a day after flag-waving protesters blocked another group in buses from entering a suburban border patrol facility. The latest arrivals included roughly 140 immigrants who were taken to a facility in El Centro for processing, said Lombardo Amaya, president of the local union of border patrol agents. The scene was markedly different from the one that unfolded Tuesday in Murrieta, where American-flag waving protesters forced the rerouting of Homeland Security buses to a different facility...more

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

New Mexico residents angry over housing immigrants

Residents in southeastern New Mexico crowded a town hall meeting Tuesday to express anger at the opening of a temporary detention center for immigrants suspected of entering the country illegally. Around 400 people attended the meeting in Artesia to speak out against holding up to 700 Central American women and children at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Currently, less than 200 people are at the center. City and federal officials fielded questions from residents, including how long the facility would be used for detention. Residents told federal and local authorities they were afraid the immigrants might take jobs from locals and resources away from American-born children...more

New Mexico town's mayor: Residents not expected to protest immigrants

The meeting in the small New Mexico town of Artesia was loud, volatile and emotional, and the number of people in attendance set an all-time record for a community face-off, officials said. The issue was whether the oil and farming community of 20,000 was going to protest the arrival of underage immigrants, who had entered the country illegally, at a federal facility there. In the end, Artesia Mayor Phil Burch said Wednesday that the town would not raise picket signs to protest the move. Burch said he has met with U.S. Homeland Security officials, who told them it wasn’t their wish to use the facility for the detainees, but that they had no choice. “They were told to get the facility ready.” More than 350 residents met Tuesday night in a recreational center in town. There were no arrests and most of the meeting was orderly. “We’ve never seen anything like this in Artesia,” Burch said of the town, located about 240 miles south of Albuquerque. “Then again, we don’t normally have emotional issues like this.”...more

Utah counties want Congress to let states manage wild horses

Iron and Beaver counties will not round up wild horses on their own, as they threatened earlier this spring, but instead are pressing for a dramatic change in how the horses are managed. They want the states, not the federal Bureau of Land Management, to decide how many horses can be on the range and what to do when there’s an overpopulation. A resolution to that effect, written by Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney, won the support of the Utah Association of Counties. He and a commissioner from Garfield County will next propose it to the National Association of Counties. That group meets late next week in New Orleans. Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, is preparing legislation that would give states and Indian tribes the option to manage wild horses, much as they do other wildlife. "This really is a political problem," said Iron County Commission Chairman David Miller. "We need Congress to get off their butts." "We know that we’ve got to use a political platform to go forward on this," said Whitney, who previously had given the BLM a "drop-dead" date of July 1 to remove excess wild horses. "The last thing we want to do is anything that would create tension or an uprising or vigilantes," Whitney said Tuesday. The BLM agrees there are more wild horses on the range than the agency wants, but it had planned no roundups this year because there is no room in its long-term pastures. Nearly 50,000 horses already are stockpiled there...more

And many states did manage them, but in 1971 Congress passed the  The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.  NM challenged the act as being unconstitutional and won in district court.  However, in 1976 they Supreme Court overturned the lower court and ruled that 1. The Act is a constitutional exercise of congressional power under the Property Clause of the Constitution, which provides that "Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States."  2. The Property Clause in broad terms, empowers Congress to determine what are "needful" rules "respecting" the public lands, and there is no merit to appellees' narrow reading that the provision grants Congress power only to dispose of, to make incidental rules regarding the use of, and to protect federal property.  3. The  Property Clause must be given an expansive reading, for "[t]he power over the public lands thus entrusted to Congress is without limitations," United States v. San Francisco.  4.  Federal legislation under that Clause necessarily, under the Supremacy Clause, overrides conflicting state laws and though the Act does not establish exclusive federal jurisdiction over the public lands in New Mexico, it overrides the New Mexico Estray Law insofar as that statute attempts to regulate federally protected animals. 


"If the means to which the government of the union may resort for executing the power confided to it, are unlimited, it may easily select such as will impair or destroy the powers confided to the state governments."
-- John Taylor
(1753-1824) usually called John Taylor of Caroline, served in the Virginia House of Delegates, US Senator, writer, political pamphleteer

Obama Looks to Cabinet for More Executive Actions

President Barack Obama convened his cabinet on Tuesday to devise a new round of executive actions, disregarding Republican plans to file a lawsuit over their use. "We can't wait for Congress to get going on issues that are vital to the middle class," Mr. Obama said while flanked by his top advisers from the Defense Department, Interior Department and other cabinet agencies. "We've already seen some of the power of our executive actions." Mr. Obama highlighted steps to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and to curtail carbon dioxide emissions. The president said more needs to be done to help the middle class. "We're going to have to be creative about how we can make real progress," he said. House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) last week said he was planning to file a lawsuit against Mr. Obama over his use of executive actions. The unusual legal action would be aimed at reining in steps Mr. Obama has taken that Republicans consider an overreach of his power. "The Constitution makes it clear that the president's job is to faithfully execute the laws. In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the law," Mr. Boehner told reporters Wednesday. He didn't specify which actions he objected to. The White House appears unfazed by the threat. Instead, Mr. Obama this week has blamed House Republicans for blocking progress on issues such as immigration and infrastructure spending and said he would move ahead on his own...more

Survey says lesser prairie chicken numbers up 20 percent from 2013

An aerial survey shows good rains in parts of the five-state range of the federally threatened lesser prairie chicken have brought a 20 percent increase in the grouse's population from last year. A release Tuesday from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies says there were 22,415 lesser prairie chickens in this year's survey, up from 18,747 last year. The increase came in the northeast Texas Panhandle, northwestern Oklahoma and south central Kansas — areas where more rain produced better prairie habitat. The bird is also in New Mexico and Colorado. In March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the grouse as threatened. The service said the grouse had lost more than 80 percent of its traditional habitat, mostly from human activity and the ongoing drought.  AP

King Cove Residents Praise Governor for Joining in Lawsuit over King Cove Road Issue

King Cove tribal and community leaders are thanking Governor Sean Parnell after the State of Alaska announced it filed a motion yesterday to intervene in support of King Cove and the other plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed earlier this month. The state and the King Cove plaintiffs are asking the federal court to order the U.S. Interior Department to reverse its decision regarding the connector road and land exchange between the remote community and the all-weather Cold Bay airport. “We are so appreciative of the governor’s continued support of the lives, health and safety of the King Cove people,” said Della Trumble, spokeswoman for the Agdaagux Tribe and the King Cove (Native) Corporation. “While the Secretary of the Interior seems to believe that we can’t coexist with the birds, mammals and the habitat, the Governor, a lifelong Alaskan, knows better. This is so heartening to us.” Governor Sean Parnell announced Monday that the State of Alaska had filed a Motion to Intervene in support of the City of King Cove and other plaintiffs who are seeking to force the Department of the Interior to reconsider its decision regarding the proposed land exchange in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. “After years of putting birds over the well-being of Alaskans, it’s time for the Obama administration to agree to this exchange,” Governor Parnell said. “After all, the State of Alaska is willing to exchange more than 40,000 acres of state lands for merely nine miles of life-saving road.” In the congressionally approved land exchange that the Interior Department rejected, the state and King Cove Corporation would have added more than 50,000 acres of state and corporate land to the refuge in exchange for 206 acres of federal land that is necessary for the road to connect King Cove to the all-weather airport in Cold Bay...more

20 Possible Sites Named For Bison Relocation Program

Federal wildlife officials on Monday listed 20 parcels of public lands in 10 states that could be suitable for bison from Yellowstone National Park, but said it would be years before any relocation of the animals. The sites eyed for potential future herds include areas as diverse as Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park, an Iowa wildlife refuge and a North Dakota national historic site. They were identified in a long-awaited Department of Interior report that looked at using Yellowstone's bison herds to further the restoration of a species that once ranged most of the continent. Tens of millions of bison occupied North America before overhunting nearly drove them extinct by the late 19th century. Yellowstone was one of the last holdouts for the animals in the wild. It had roughly 4,600 bison at last count. During their winter migrations, the animals periodically spill into neighboring Montana, triggering large-scale, government-sponsored bison slaughters to prevent the spread of the animal disease brucellosis. Capturing the animals and shipping them to other public lands would ease those population pressures. A pilot bison relocation program in Montana has struggled for years against opposition from ranchers. They worry both about the disease and the possibility of bison competing with cattle for grazing space. Several dozen Yellowstone bison have been moved onto American Indian reservations in the state after the animals were held in quarantine for years to make sure they were disease free. Efforts to relocate another group of about 145 bison that went through the quarantine have stalled. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials in June said they were considering new requests to take the animals from tribes, private conservation groups and the state of Utah. If the park services were to revive the quarantine program and make it permanent, federal officials said it could be five years to a decade before more animals were relocated. "If we were to do this, where would you place these bison? This report gives us a head-start on that question," said Jorge Silva-Banuelos, a U.S. Interior Department official...more

Ranchers face unknown questions as Diego Fire threatens cattle - video

Many folks in the Jemez Mountains are faced with a lot of unknown as the Diego Wildfire continues to burn. The fire south of Coyote has grown to more than 3,400 acres and there is no containment at all. It has led to evacuations for communities near the fire including Wetherall, Jarosa, and Dunlap Spring. Many people own property and keep livestock in the fire area. Rancher Phil Branch is like so many others in this area. He says his herd of cattle is pretty spread out up there. He worries a little more every day about them. Branch is in limbo right now. A lot of what he loves is in serious trouble. “It really hurts to see the loss we are going through,” said Branch. “The loss that I envision, the loss I haven't seen yet, that I really don't want to see.”

Here's the KOAT-TV report:

State prepared for flood of undocumented immigrants

By Rob Nikolewski

Trying to stem a tide of thousands of undocumented immigrants, as many of 50,000 of them children, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is about to convert atraining center for the U.S. Border Patrol in the southern New Mexico town of Artesia into a detention center.

But Gov. Susana Martinez said last week she's concerned about a host of questions, ranging from how the children and their families will be cared for to making sure state and local agencies aren't stuck picking up part of the bill.

"It is a federal facility and it's their facility so they should incur all costs," Martinez told New Mexico Watchdog. "But at the same time, we're not going to leave a child hungry or without medication because of the failed (immigration) policy in Washington. We're just not going to do that."

Elected officials across the state are still getting answers about the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, which is being converted to house as many as 700 immigrants, nearly all of them from Central America.

Officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and FLETC met with state and local officials at the training center Monday and Tuesday.

Dennis Kintigh, the mayor of Roswell, located 41 miles from Artesia and just eight miles from the county line, was among those at last Tuesday's meeting and told New Mexico Watchdog what was shared by federal officials:

• The facility will not be taking unaccompanied minors
• Families may be entering the facility as early as Thursday or Friday, with officials expecting as many as 50 individuals being housed at first
• Federal officials expect the facility, made up of 20 family units, to be open for 6-12 months. "I think it's going to go longer than that, though," Kintigh said.
• Immigrants will be coming in and out on a rotating basis, with new arrivals replacing those who are processed out of the facility. The average processing time will be 30 days.
• The immigrants will be housed in modular dormitories that are already on site
• Kintigh said federal officials told state and local representatives the facility will house "only the lowest-level risk" immigrants. "They're not going to be gang-bangers, they said," Kintigh said, "although they will be sending up to 17-year-old males with a mother."
• Chain-link fences are being constructed around the dormitories, but there will be no wires atop the fences
• Training around the facility will continue for those enrolled in the Border Patrol academy
"My concerns were more from a law enforcement perspective than about (immigration) policy," Kintigh said. "Before this meeting, there was no coordination with law enforcement in our area or with Chaves County."
"My main concern is, we have children who are a very young age being held in immigration camps where children don't belong," Martinez said, adding, "That facility is meant to keep people out, not to keep them in."

                                                               READ ENTIRE ARTICLE

 Contact Rob Nikolewski at and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski.

New Mexico official worries about escapes from immigration facility

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

The secretary of New Mexico’s Department of Public Safety has some concerns about a federal Border Patrol training center in southern New Mexico that has been converted into a facility to detain hundreds of immigrants who have entered the United States illegally.

Among the concerns: What’s to keep some detainees from simply climbing over the just-erected 8-foot-high fence should they learn they will not be allowed to stay in the U.S.?

“I worry about people who have taken this remarkable step in their life that has to be borne out of desperation to come to the United States and then they learn that they’re going back to the place that they left,” said DPS Secretary Greg Fouratt. “They might not have the motivation to stick around. How much of that are we going to have to deal with? We have to be prepared.”

Fouratt told New Mexico Watchdog that 193 undocumented immigrants, nearly all from Central America, are expected to he processed by Monday at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, N.M.
Officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Border Patrol plan to house up to 700 women and children under the age of 17 at the facility, which was originally designed to serve as an academy to train border agents.

The FLETC facility is not taking in unaccompanied minors, estimated to number at least 52,000, who in recent weeks and months have flooded across the southern border.

“Some of my concern is allayed because the population going to Artesia right now is, I guess, as docile as it can be,” Fouratt said, adding that DPS is fretting over ancillary costs that state and local governments could be on the hook for as the facility expands in coming weeks.

“We’re worried there might be more crime than what Homeland Security is worried about,” Fouratt said Monday. “And when that happens, we know that Artesia (Police Department) is going to be called first because FLETC is inside the city limits. We also know that Artesia PD is staffed modestly. Eddy County Sherriff’s Office, the same way. The State Police will be batting third, and God only knows how many times we’re going to have to respond … The best we can do is monitor routinely and regularly.”

Calls to public affairs officers at ICE asking for more details about the facility went not returned Monday.

Fouratt, who met with federal officials in Artesia last week and spoke to a security supervisor by telephone Monday, offered more details about the facility:

  • DHS is contracting with an outside company to provide security inside the center.
  • Security will work in eight-hour shifts, with each shift consisting of 38 uniformed personnel who will not carry guns. “I was pleased to hear the number was that high,” Fouratt said.
  • The federal official Fouratt spoke to Monday morning said the processing of the immigrants thus far “has gone as smooth as glass.”
  • Children in the facility will receive education services but it won’t start until the school year begins and will be done in conjunction with the Artesia School District. The children will be taught inside the facility itself. No word yet on the cost that will be incurred. “That question, I don’t think they know the answer to and if they do, they didn’t give it to me,” Fouratt said.
Contact Rob Nikolewski at and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

Native Americans had a baby boom from 500 to 1300 AD

In what may hold lessons for modern society, scientists have sketched out one of the greatest baby booms in North American history, a centuries-long "growth blip" among south-western Native Americans between 500 and 1300 A.D. It was a time when the early features of civilization, including farming and food storage, had matured to a level where birth rates likely exceeded the highest in the world today, said the researchers. Maize, which we know as corn, was grown in the region as early as 2000 B.C. At first, populations were slow to respond, probably because of low productivity, said Kohler, but by 400 B.C. the crop provided 80 percent of the region's calories. Crude birth rates were by then on the rise, mounting steadily until about 500 A.D. Around 900 A.D., populations remained high but birth rates began to fluctuate. The mid-1100s A.D. saw one of the largest known droughts in the southwest. The region likely hit its carrying capacity. "They didn't slow down. Birth rates were expanding right up to the depopulation. Why not limit growth? Maybe groups needed to be big to protect their villages and fields," said Kohler. It was a trap, however. The northern southwest had as many as 40,000 people in the mid-1200s, but within 30 years it was empty, leaving a mystery...more

Are we alone? It's World UFO Day

Attention aspiring ufologists: July 2 is World UFO Day. It's a day to raise awareness of what some think are extraterrestrial visits to our planet. The day roughly corresponds to the date of perhaps the most well-known UFO story. In July 1947, debris was discovered on a ranch northwest of Roswell, N.M., that some think came from an alien spacecraft. Eye witnesses claimed they saw alien bodies at the crash site. An initial statement from the Air Force said a "flying saucer" had crashed. Later the service said the debris came from a weather balloon.  Decades later, the Air Force issued a report saying the debris was likely from experimental surveillance balloons. Any "aliens" observed in the desert were in fact "anthropomorphic test dummies" that were in the balloons, according to the 1994 report. The Air Force also investigated UFOs from 1947 to 1969 under Project Blue Book to determine if any sightings threatened national security. It concluded there was no threat and none of the "unidentified" objects were extraterrestrial vehicles. But one UFO expert says the government has covered up the truth about Roswell and the existence of extraterrestrial visits in general. "It's cosmic Watergate," said Stanton Friedman, a nuclear physicist who has studied UFOs for more than 40 years. He added, "We're dealing with the biggest story of the millennium."  Thirty-six percent of Americans say they are certain UFOs exist and have landed on Earth, and 11% say they're confident they have spotted one, according to a 2012 National Geographic Channel survey. The Mutual UFO Network, which investigates UFO sightings, receives thousands of reports each year. To date in 2014, the organization received more than 4,100 reports of a UFO sighting, according to an e-mail from Roger Marsh, MUFON spokesman...more

The Hard Data on UFO Sightings: It's Mostly Drunk People in the West

Tuesday is the 67th anniversary of the rumored alien crash-landing in Roswell, New Mexico. But extraterrestrial aviators have been rather busy in the last few decades.

The National UFO Reporting Center has received about 90,000 reported sightings of UFOs in the last 40 years, according to the Economist. That's about six per day—with the majority happening on Fridays, in the West, and during, um, drinking hours.

When and Where Americans See Aliens

Economist/National UFO Reporting Center

The fact that this graph is going viral online today suggests many are persuaded by the correlation. It would irresponsible for me, as a statistical analyst, to not point out the problems with it. And so, for the Roswell fans out there, I present three veins of countervailing interpretation:

1. The correlation is weaker than it appears. Utah, the state with the lowest beer consumption by far, has a higher share of UFO sitings than North Carolina, the state with the highest beer consumption. Washington, the state where you're most likely to report a UFO, drinks less alcohol than all but six states. There is more to the story than alcohol, sheeple.

2. We have several omitted variables, including direct line-of-sight to the sky and light contrast. It's plausible that people don't see UFOs while they're working or sleeping because ... they're working in-doors and completely unconscious. What the Economist calls "drinking hours" are also the hours we're most likely to be outside looking at anything bright contrasting with the dark sky.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Overreaching federal government makes strong men weak - Glen Beck's team in NM

by Marita Noon

I saw tears in the eyes of ranchers. These were tough men; men who could scrape a good living out of the rock and tumbleweeds in the harsh New Mexico deserts. But when asked about passing on the ranch to their children, a ranch that may have been in the family for generations, eyes grew moist, jaws quivered, and grown men became so choked up they couldn’t speak.
    Carolyn Nelson, who teaches kindergarten through third grade in a one-room school house in Catron County, New Mexico, while her husband handles their ranch, held the camera crew spellbound as she told her story. She stated: “The federal government has taken away jobs; they’ve taken away hope. Shame on them.”
    I spent two days with a film crew from the For the Record (FTR) television show that airs on Glen Beck’s Blaze TV.
    A year ago, FTR did a show on border security. For the “Borderless” episode, the
crew met with ranchers in southern Arizona’s Cochise County. After working with the ranchers there, when Nevada’s Bundy Ranch story broke earlier this year, the producers knew there was more to the story. Why would people from all over the West show up, en masse, to help defend a rancher they’d never met, against the excessive force of the Bureau of Land Management? For answers, the FTR crew reached out to the friends they’d made in Arizona, who steered The Blaze team to Joe Delk New Mexico.
    The team spent three days in New Mexico—June 23-25. I was with them for two.
    My first day was spent in the blazing sun on Steve Wilmeth’s Butterfield Trail Ranch. After an hour’s drive from Las Cruces, that included interstate highway, dirt roads, and rocky cow trails, we gathered on a bluff overlooking arid land dotted with cattle. The Organ Mountains, the subject of Tuesday’s shoot, could be seen in the distance.
    A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. I cited numbers such as the 600,000 acres the monument encompasses when the private property is included; 1906 when the Antiquities Act—which allowed President Obama to sign the national monument proclamation—became law; and 95—the number of families who’d receive direct negative impacts from the designation.  Now the numbers had faces. I heard their stories. I saw the tears. I felt their pain.
    What surprised me the most was the vastness of the space. Even though we could barely see the Organ Mountains, and we’d driven miles on a combination of private and federal lands, this distant locale was still part of the “monument.”
    Many of these ranchers’ families had cared for this land for generations—long before the federal government claimed it. They had an “allotment”—meaning they owned the right to graze their cattle on the, now, federal lands. Most ranches contained a mix of private lands and allotments. Yet, with one stroke of a pen, and talk of protecting a distant mountain, their property, their livelihood, is threatened.
    Each rancher interviewed by FTR, had already seen friends give up and quit as a result of the increasing federal regulations that made it harder and harder to support their families and the families of the ranch hands—and harder and harder to feed America the quality beef they raised on their lands. The new National Monument designation was just one more layer that may be the last straw. Though the final management plan for the monument will take years, each impacted ranch faces uncertainty as to how it will be affected. But they know the history, and they know it won’t be good.
    Each story was powerful. But, perhaps, the most compelling was that of Jim and Seth Hyatt. The father and son work together on the ranch. Jim was interviewed first. He told about the ranch history—the Hyatt family has ranched in the area continuously since the 1890s—and about the joy of working with his son and passing the ranch on. Next, came his son Seth, who shared how the ranch was in his blood. His brother, he said, didn’t take to it. He lives in Dallas. Then Haize, Seth’s two-year-old son—wearing cowboy boots and hat, and jeans held up with a belt and a big silver buckle—climbed up into his dad’s lap. (When I commented on Haize’s cowboy outfit, I was corrected: “That’s not a cowboy outfit; that’s how he dresses every day.”) Seth turned somber when he told how he’d like to teach ranching to his son, like his dad did for him, but now, because of the monument designation, that was in doubt.
    Wes Eaton, was the youngest rancher. His family had ranched for most of his life on the other side of the mountains in Carlsbad. A year ago, an opportunity came up for him to manage a ranch. He jumped at the chance.  However, a large portion of the ranch falls within the monument designation. He doesn’t know whether or not he’ll be able to continue to live his dream.
    These ranchers spent eight years going to meetings, providing public comment, doing studies—anything they could to stave off the proposed monument; eight years where they were distracted from their actual job of ranching. All for naught.
    When asked if they felt their government listened, the answer was universal. Not only did they feel unheard, they were confident that the goal was to drive them off the land.
    Each rancher interviewed on Tuesday faces imminent expulsion as a result the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. On Wednesday, the villain was different, but the end game was the same.
    The recording session started on Wednesday with Catron County Commissioners Glyn Griffin and “Bucky” Allred. In Catron County, they don’t have a monument designation, but ranchers in the region were being chased out by the reintroduction of the Mexican grey wolf—which the Fish and Wildlife Service, cooperating with environmental groups, insisted on bringing back to the region despite the direct threat they pose to humans and livestock. Both commissioners talked about the declining tax base in Catron County and how hard it was to provide basic services to residents.

EPA water proposal rattles ag industry

For years, farmers and ranchers have cast a wary eye toward new laws and regulations from Washington that they fear will be costly and burdensome. Agricultural producers argue they know the best way to take care of their land, not only to maximize production but to preserve the acreage they depend upon to survive. Now, a rule being proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency outlining which bodies of water the agency would oversee under the Clean Water Act has again rattled the agriculture industry. The EPA says it is necessary after recent court rulings to clarify the 1972 law. Many farmers fear it amounts to nothing more than a land grab that could saddle them with higher costs, more regulatory red tape and less freedom to run their farms and ranches. "This, in my career of farming, is the most scary and frightening proposition that I have witnessed," said Craig Hill, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation who farms 1,750 acres of corn and soybeans with his son in Milo. The proposed water regulation, better known as the "Waters of the U.S." rule, is the latest measure that's symbolic of the growing fissure dividing the EPA and agriculture producers. Farmers and ranchers have become more skeptical and less trusting of the environmental agency despite promises by the regulator that it is looking out for their best interests and willing to work with them when new rules and regulations are put in place...more

Wildlife Officials: Feral Pigs Threaten New Mexico's Endangered Species

State and federal officials report success in reducing New Mexico's population of feral swine, which threaten endangered species. Alan May, state director at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Program, said the agency has eliminated more than 700 of the animals statewide since early last year. The pig's populations had been swelling in New Mexico. If left unchecked, May said the pigs will destroy the critical habitat of many endangered species. "We'll lose some of our threatened and endangered species," said May. "We'll lose habitat. Some of our native species won't do quite as well because feral swine are going to outcompete them, especially in riparian wetland areas." According to May, feral swine can have two litters a year, with an many as ten piglets per litter. Adult pigs weigh as much as 300 pounds. May said the pigs also cause extensive property damage and carry parasites and diseases, such as swine brucellosis, which can spread to humans and other wildlife...more

And then there's our favorite enviro group, the Center for Biological Diversity:

Michael Robinson is a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, which does advocacy work for threatened and endangered species in New Mexico. He said his organization fully supports reducing the feral pig population, because of the threat they pose to endangered species."They displace native wildlife," said Robinson. "They impact water, they directly consume some wildlife. And it does seem like the most appropriate uses for wildlife services, for their work." According to Robinson, the center supports the USDA's program of targeting non-native species such as feral pigs, rather than trapping and sometimes killing native species like wolves that may threaten domestic livestock.

Its so simple.  Yes on USDA killing wildlife that threatens endangered species and No on USDA killing wildlife that threatens livestock.  Can't help but wonder where the PETA pigs stand on this.

Conservation groups file lawsuit against Idaho over inadvertent trapping of Canada lynx

Five environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the state of Idaho over inadvertent trapping of federally protected Canada lynx. The groups contend the state is violating the Endangered Species Act by allowing recreational trapping that inadvertently ensnares lynx. Western Watersheds Project, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater, WildEarth Guardians and Western Environmental Law Center say the state needs an "incidental take" permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for recreational trapping to continue. The permit would only be issued if officials determine it's needed for trapping other animals, like bobcats, and that occasionally catching a lynx wouldn't harm the overall population. Canada lynx, a rarely seen predator that feeds primarily on snowshoe hares, are a threatened species believed to number in the hundreds in the continental U.S. It's unclear how many are in Idaho. "Idaho can't just ignore federal law and go on condoning the trapping of this rare and magnificent cat," Amy Atwood, with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a written release. The groups want the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to develop a conservation plan that would include restrictions on body-crushing and steel-jaw traps and snares, and reporting requirements in lynx habitats. They also want a daily trap check requirement throughout lynx habitat...more

Top Court Turns Away Appeal of Oyster Farm in Wilderness Area

The Supreme Court on Monday turned away an appeal from a California oyster farm that has been ordered by the government to cease operations on federal land. Drakes Bay Oyster Co. had received an order in 2012 to shut down from then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after its 40-year contract with the federal Park Service expired at the end of November 2012. The farm's owner, Kevin Lunny, has continued his operation while appealing in federal court. But the high court's denial of the case likely spells the imminent closure of Drakes Bay Oyster Co., which produces about a third of California's oysters. The court specifically denied the farm's request to continue operating while a trial on the merits of the case proceeds. Now that the court has denied that appeal, the trial will proceed in the U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif. Mr. Lunny said his business will continue its fight to stay open. Congress designated much of the Point Reyes Preserve in Northern California, on which the farm is based, as federally protected wilderness in 1976. It is one of numerous businesses operating on federal lands in the West that in recent years have clashed with federal regulators over orders to cease or reduce operations, often with pressure from environmental groups...more

French farmers protest wolves and plans to release more wild bears

Thousands of ranchers and farmers concerned about their livestock demonstrated in southwestern France on Saturday against plans to introduce a group of wild bears as well measures to protect wolves and vultures. Some demonstrators dumped sheep carcasses and manure in front of the local town hall to protest against the "re-wilding" of the mountains near Foix on the edge of the French Pyrenees, which they say is affecting their livelihoods. Police said 2,500 protesters took to the streets although organisers said the figure was higher, at 4,000, with many protesters bringing their livestock and tractors with them for a go-slow around the town. Ranchers and farmers are angry at what they call the "uncontrolled expansion" in the number of wolves across the country and a plan to introduce a dozen wild bears in the region. They are also concerned about the prevalence of the griffon vulture, which they have accused of attacking livestock. The protest was called by the FDSEA agricultural union, a young farmers union and a group representing local hunters who are critical of the restraints put on them by the animal protection measures. Protesters carried posters that read "stop the massacre", "hands off my mountain", and "wolves, vultures, bears: Stop". France's Environment Minister Segolene Royal stepped into the row on Saturday, saying that attacks by wolves had become too frequent. "The damage to herders has become too great," she said in a statement, with figures showing more than 6,000 livestock were killed by wolves last year. "The distress of the farmers and their families should be taken more strongly into account," she said...more

Court reverses ruling on whooping cranes' deaths

A federal appellate court Monday reversed a 2013 U.S. District Court decision that found the state responsible for killing 23 whooping cranes by withholding water from the lower reaches of the Guadalupe River where the endangered birds spend winter. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality were not responsible because the deaths were not foreseeable as a result of the state’s water policy on freshwater inflows into the San Antonio Bay system. The world’s last wild flock of whooping cranes, which numbers about 300, spends each winter in the bay’s estuary within or near the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The estuary relies on freshwater for its overall health and for the survival of blue crabs, the majestic bird’s primary food source. The Aransas Project, a nonprofit group that advocates responsible water management for the Guadalupe River, filed a federal lawsuit following the die-off, claiming the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality violated the Endangered Species Act. In 2013, Senior U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack, in a 124-page opinion, upheld the group’s claim that the state was at least partially to blame for a 2009 whooping crane die-off in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The appellate court disagreed fully in its decision, referring to the district court’s action as an “abuse of discretion.” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott hailed the decision as a significant win for the State of Texas. He wrote in a news release Monday that the reversal is especially good for farmers, ranchers, and communities along the Guadalupe and Blanco rivers who would have been irreparably harmed by the lower court’s ruling...more

Monday, June 30, 2014

Lobbyist on demand: For 5 bucks, company will nag your congressmember

Want to harangue your member of Congress, but don't have the time to pick up the phone?  For $4.95, someone else will do it for you. Welcome to the world of lobbyists on demand. A new company, called Amplifyd, is offering an inventive way for citizens to influence the policy debate -- for the nominal fee, the company will have a caller press the customer's issue of choice with a targeted lawmaker or official in Washington. Whether policy-conscious Americans will take up the offer and use Amplifyd to push their pet issues remains to be seen. But here's how it works. The company works with nonprofit groups, who set up “campaigns” for different causes and get a portion of the profit from the campaign. (The company and its callers get the rest of the money.) For instance, The Endangered Species Coalition is currently running an Amplifyd campaign to lobby Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to maintain Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves. Individuals who are interested in the cause can pay $4.95 to have Amplifyd make the call to Jewell -- or Jewell's office -- on their behalf...more

Restoration to begin along Rio Grande in NM, Texas

Work to restore river habitat at as many as 30 sites along the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico and West Texas is scheduled to begin soon. The work is part of a program being implemented by the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission. Commission officials collaborated with the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, Audubon New Mexico and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to establish a voluntary program to acquire water and water rights to support the establishment of native trees, shrubs and grasslands. Officials call the program innovative and say it will be a key aspect of the commission's efforts to restore riparian areas along the river. Officials planned a ceremony Monday in the flood plain near the Picacho Bridge in Las Cruces.  AP

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Independence Day cowboy style

by Julie Carter

There are some things about a cowboy that don't change, no matter the era. One of those is his delight in and dedication to celebrating the Fourth of July "cowboy style." Cowboys, if they are anything, are patriotic.

For a hundred years, rodeo has ranked bucking horses and roping cowboys right up there with the firecrackers and parades as part of the tradition of Independence Day. The sport of Ranch Rodeo has given the working cowboy a good reason to go to town whether to cheer on his peers or be part of the competition.

Just to clear up any issues of mathematics in the profit and loss department of this celebration, expenses are always only an estimate by the cowboy and rarely mentioned. However, if there is a "win" for the income column, it will never be forgotten and will become part of the cowboy's memories of legendary proportion.

The ambiance of a rodeo on the Fourth of July has changed only in the wide array of arena options available. Many a small town USA still offers board bleachers and bull-wire fencing (leaning and weathered) with the original outhouses from 1954 still serving as the "facilities." However, these are fading from the landscape.

The other end of the spectrum is the covered, air conditioned sportsplex with, in addition to the arena, a swimming pool, a couple restaurants, a Western wear and tack store, basketball court, adjoining golf course and softball field.

In spite of the contradicting monetary math, rodeo grounds across America will be covered over in trucks, trailers, hats, and swinging ropes this July Fourth holiday. It is Cowboy Christmas time and the cowboys have already been on the road for days working up their momentum for the holiday.

Even the livestock seems to know the routine. As the cowboys stand at the chutes, hats held over their hearts as the flags are posted and the national anthem is played, the bucking horses waiting in the chute will snort and kick the gate behind them. It is part of the musical percussion of rodeo.

That moment, those sounds, burn into the recesses of a cowboy's rodeo memories, along with the smell of arena dirt, the banging of gates as livestock is moved around, trailers rattling across the parking lot and the sound of hoof beats as a horse lopes to the arena.

Fourth of July rodeoing is defined by road-weary unshaven cowboys, tired horses and pickups filled with dirty clothes, rumpled programs, empty coffee cups, dust-covered sunglasses, gas receipts and a well-worn road map.

Without the need for pulling a horse trailer, the rough stock cowboys will pile in together over the Fourth of July week, crisscrossing the country, for example, from Greeley to several places in Arkansas, back to Arizona and up to Montana followed by a run in the South. Burning up the rodeo highway the old-fashioned way has not gone out of style.

They don't all win, they can't all afford it, but across the board, they all love it with a passion only they feel and no one but they can understand.

It makes me very happy to know that the tradition of rodeo on the Fourth of July continues without much change in the basics. You can't say that about very many things in this world.

It is a world where "rodeo" isn't a noun and "try" isn't a verb.

Julie can be reached for comment at

A Blaze Encounter - The Matter of our Existence

A Blaze Encounter
The Matter of our Existence
We are sovereign American citizens
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     Glenn Beck bought me supper the other night.
            No, he didn’t make small talk with me nor did he share his own insight regarding the state of the State, but he bought supper. He was represented by one of his TV production crews led by Kate Wilke. Kate, Tom, Ryan, and Ted represented him with professionalism and projected a passion that was refreshing and real.
            Until we meet, Glenn thanks for your involvement, and we appreciate greatly your interest in the matter of our … sovereign western existence.
The subject of the Visit
            Joe Delk organized the Blaze production visit. His commitment to matters of local customs and culture must be recognized and applauded.
            The ad nauseum discussion of the designation of Organ Mountain Desert Peaks National Monument was certainly a driver in his efforts, but it wasn’t the only factor. Joe has become increasingly horrified at the partisan and subversive assault on all heritage industries. Heretofore, the only national or international press coverage that has displayed any comprehensive investigative reporting inclination of the matters surrounding the complex issues of the monument came from a Norwegian TV crew. That crew was perplexed at the absence of comprehensive coverage of the issues, and they did a credible job of covering the matter. The problem was it wasn’t broadcast in America!
            The Delk-Blaze effort became a four day blitz trying to set the stage for a broader based expose on the complexities. Folks from across southern New Mexico and eastern Arizona were brought together to discuss the monument, the matter of border security, the wolf, the wildlands project, the absence of elected senatorial representation, the breach of legislative planning dictates, and the increasing assaults on all matters of private property rights.
            The interviews
            During the hot, dry, windy day that preceded that meal, six Westerners convened to sit for interviews in our Goodsight Pasture. We each came worrying about what we were leaving undone in the midst of the most difficult conditions of the year. June is, without debate, the harshest time of our ranching year.
            Walt Anderson had seen the dead cow coming up the pipeline road that the others had been oblivious to. By the time I got back that afternoon to inspect her, her back end and insides had been gleaned by coyotes and the cause of death couldn’t be determined. She was a young cow, a second calf cow, and I suspect she had died fighting coyotes and trying to have her calf.
            Later, when Walt sat for his interview, he discussed the importance of our interdependence. Without the promised inclusion and participation of most local land use planning, our mutual support is extremely important when the newest revelation of impact upon us is discovered in the Federal Register. Our defense countering the governmental actions against us has been critical, and it has come only through cohesiveness in our ranks. Within a group of individuals whose natural inclination inherently prefers individuality, we have found we will likely cease to exist if we continue alone.
            Young rancher, Wes Eaton, discussed the matter of abject indifference and hostility too often waged against our ranching community. Asked why he would ever consider such a life style, his answer was perhaps as revealing as anything else said during the day. He expressed the immensity of the role of stewardship and how so few get the opportunity of participation. The barriers, including the endless regulatory burdens, handicap the vital role of recruitment of young operators, but, if a young person can navigate the obstacle course leading to the role of steward … “why would anyone who understands the role want to do anything else”?
            While the production crew and many of the observers sat baking in the sun with short sleeved shirts and bareheaded or with limited billed cap protection, rancher Dudley Williams sat comfortably, as he would any other day, in his black hat and a baby blue long sleeved shirt that matched his eyes. He talked about his daily life near the international border where state employees are required to venture only with armed escorts. He reminded the crew of the physical features of the Arizona class smuggling corridors and how his Potrillo Mountain ranch has every feature along with the expanded concern of the rail lines feeding the largest inland port in the world at nearby Santa Teresa. His assessment that the most important defensive buffer along the border is the presence of Americans defending their property rights and … the livestock industry is a most important feature of that defensive mechanism.
            Jim, Seth, and Haize Hyatt represented three generations of an unbroken lineage of Hyatts that have ranched in Luna County since the 1890’s. As the crew shot video footage of the three of them together, the realization of the genuine matter of endangered Americans could not be avoided … there they stood.
            Jim talked about their history. His testimony was a parallel to similar testimony transcribed from the public hearings held prior and during the ranching industry cleansing in the Tularosa Basin following World War II. Few men in our midst can sit and observe the multigenerational link to the land that Jim Hyatt referenced. You could see the pride and the concern in his eyes as he talked about the past and the growing fear of the unknown future. His ranch is impacted fully by the newly designated national monument that President Obama signed into law by unilateral fiat. Jim Hyatt doesn’t know how he will operate with overlapping and confounding jurisdictions and regulatory impasse.
            Seth, like Wes Eaton, is a precious marker to links from our history to the next phase of our stewardship existence. Not a single one among us has missed the maturity Seth has displayed over the past two years. It isn’t that he has not displayed that trait. It is the obvious level of change that has marked his presence. When Seth talked about his dad, his family and the importance of continuity in stewardship commitment, we saw factors of huge importance. The future isn’t a matter of managing and fighting weather, markets, or the cost of capital … it is the defense of our existence under the assault of our government.
            The morning after the TV crew visit I was back in the Goodsight Pasture trying to catch up.
            A phone call came when it was least welcomed and under the most undistinguished circumstances. I was lying across a pipe framed float box trying to rebuild a cover to protect a trough float from cattle pushing for the clean, cool water discharging from the valve. Twice the float had been broken off and precious water had been lost from the nearby storage. I cussed the interruption and dropped my pliers into the trough trying to roll over to answer the phone. I missed the call and was immediately shoulder deep in the muck as I dug around trying to find those pliers. Hanging nearly upside down with my face against the stinking water, I finally found the pliers only to drop my mechanical pencil into the same black, oozing muck.
            ‘This ranching life is pretty dignified’ was part of my uttered words, but it was framed with adjectives that I would find less dignified after I thought about them.
            The fact is ranching is my life.
It has always been the driving force long before I was able to invest in this place. It is from that unintended emotion I couldn’t grasp any words to answer the Kate Wilke question when she asked what I would do if I couldn’t continue. I finally answered with the only thought that would come to mind.
            In 1888, Lee Rice, trailed a herd of PIT cattle down the Butterfield Trail on his way to Grant County. It is likely he came by our headquarters to water and continued northwest toward the Uvas Valley and Ft. Cummings beyond. If that was the route, it would have been within a quarter of a mile from where I sat trying to answer Kate’s question.
            The Butterfield Trail has been used as a key feature in the rationale for designating the monument that now threatens our existence. Lee Rice, using that trail to create his own family legacy would simply not comprehend how that thoroughfare, then a simple cattle trail, could serve as a reason to curtail the stewardship of any rancher … much less his great grandson’s.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “‘Hats off to Joe Delk , Jerry Schickedanz, and Frank DuBois for their unfailing and continuing efforts to minimize the impact of the institutional assaults on our way of life. Thanks also to the Blaze crew and Glenn Beck … the next tortilla is on me.”

I remember eight years ago when a group of ranchers came to my place and asked if I would help them fight a wilderness proposal.  I agreed to help, but right now I can only think of three things of a positive nature that resulted from this eight-year battle:

° Joe Delk was a ranch-raised fiddle player and feed salesmen.  Now he's the chairman of a conservation district, political activist and event organizer dealing with a nationally recognized TV and print news organization.

° Steve Wilmeth had returned to NM to pursue his family heritage of ranching.  Now he is a nationally recognized author who writes for Range Magazine, The Westerner and other publications.  His style is to beautifully meld history with current events and he's become the premier writer on federal lands and associated issues.  When asked about him, I often tell people that I write in mono while Steve writes in stereo.

° The designation of this monument was an admission of defeat by the enviros and their political henchmen.  That's right, an admission of defeat.  Their goal was to impose the most onerous of all land designations - Wilderness.  Senator Bingaman's original legislative proposal never passed the Senate.  His second version of the legislation never cleared the committee of jurisdiction, which he chaired.  And there wasn't even a hearing held on the version introduced by Senator Udall.  In the arena of the democratic process they had their hats handed to them, so they had to go find Obama lurking around behind the chutes.  The future of ranching in a Monument is not secure, but it is far better than in a Wilderness, which would have been its death knell.

So the real "hats off" go to the folks like Delk and Wilmeth.

As I sit here reflecting on these two gentlemen, one thought keeps entering my mind:  I would like to go back in time.

With Steve Wilmeth I would go back to my pre-wheelchair days when I could mount up and help him work cattle.  Hell, I'd even jump off my horse and go fetch his pliers out of the muck. 

With Joe Delk, I would go back to our college days, when we'd drink beer by the keg and I would insist Joe play Draggin' The Bow just one more time.

Come to think of it, I can still drink in this wheelchair.  So Joe, get your fiddle out and we'll go wake Wilmeth with you playin' and me hollerin'.