Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tests confirm slain mountain lion attacked boy

California wildlife officials confirmed Friday that a mountain lion they shot and killed is the same one that attacked a 6-year-old boy on a hiking trail. DNA testing on the slain mountain lion was completed late Thursday as results also determined the big cat didn't have rabies or any other diseases, said Lt. Patrick Foy, a California Fish and Wildlife spokesman. "Yes, indeed it was the cat. We are 100 percent certain," Foy said. "Our primary concern was that it may have rabies, but it did not. It was pretty healthy." After four days of scouring rugged terrain, searchers and dogs surrounded the 74-pound, 2-year-old mountain lion in a 70-foot tree Wednesday before killing it about 130 yards from the attack site on a trail near the Silicon Valley city of Cupertino. Officials defended the decision to kill the juvenile cat instead of trying to bring it in alive because it was deemed a threat to public safety, said state wildlife spokeswoman Janice Mackey. The injured boy was released from the hospital on Monday, a day after he suffered bite wounds and scratches on his head and neck while hiking with his family and others. The boy's father told investigators his son was about 10 feet ahead of the group when the cougar appeared from nowhere and attacked...more

NM farmers threaten lawsuit over water meters

Farmers from a narrow strip of fertile land in southwestern New Mexico are accusing the state’s top water management agency of violating their constitutional rights. The group is threatening to sue the state engineer’s office over a mandate that calls for metering devices to be installed along the Mimbres River. State officials say the meters are necessary as drought continues, but the farmers argue the metering program shouldn’t involve them giving the agency unchecked access to their private property. Buddy and Deanna Eby said the state engineer has been fining them $200 a day since late March for not agreeing to an easement on part of their property and installing a meter to monitor the amount of water they pull from the river to irrigate crops and pasture land. Because of the dispute, the couple have been unable to divert water for months and has lost their crops. “It’s about private property and it’s a matter of protecting our Fourth Amendment rights, our right to the expectation of privacy,” Buddy Eby told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “That’s the whole issue. We’re not against metering.” In their notice of intent sue, the farmers contend the state engineer’s office has attempted to “extort an agreement from ditch users that among other things allows ... unfettered, unnoticed access to all corners of these people’s private property.” The letter goes on to say the agency has refused to negotiate over the metering agreements and has used the threat of drastic penalties against water users...more

Minnesota’s largest high school ditches Michelle O’s lunch rules

There’s a sign in the lunchroom of Minnesota’s Sartell High School: Students can choose two packets of barbecue sauce, or three ketchup packets, or two ketchups and a mustard, or just one packet of mayonnaise. Michelle ObamaThe new condiment quotas are the product of new federal regulations that strictly limit calories, fat, sodium, sugar and most other nutritional elements of school snacks and lunch foods. The rules, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama as a means to combat childhood obesity, are part of the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The measure, implemented in phases since 2012, overhauled the National School Lunch Program to force schools that receive federal lunch funding to offer “healthier” meals and school snacks for students. But the overbearing regulations have thus far convinced a record number of students to bring their lunches from home. Lunchrooms across the country are experiencing significant revenue loss, and increasing waste due to a requirement that all students take a fruit or vegetable, whether they eat it or not. As a result, many districts are opting to forego their federal funding to serve students food they want to eat. The latest round of regulations – which regulate nutritional elements of snacks sold at school – went into effect this year, and Sartell officials said they’ve seen an immediate impact, reports. District Food Services Director Brenda Braulick “says last year, between the middle and high schools, (the a la carte line) brought in $2,200 a day. So far this year, it’s been about $1,400 a day, though she says the number is increasing.” The sales loss is troubling, she said, because the new whole-grain rich foods are more expensive to begin with. “The students enjoy mini corn dogs. We won’t be able to serve those every day,” Braulick said. “All juices must be 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, or diluted with water but no added sweeteners,” she said. Elementary students are now limited to 8-ounce servings of milk or juice, and middleschoolers are limited to 12 ounces, reports. Snacks are now limited to 200 calories, while full lunches cannot exceed 850. “Any condiments or accompaniments must also be included in that nutritional profile,” said Braulick, adding that the district is lobbying for exemptions, such as eliminating the mandatory fruit or vegetable requirement. “To tell them they have to take it does not get them to consume it,” she said. Meanwhile, at Minnesota’s largest high school, officials have already determined that the nonsensical federal lunch edicts are more trouble than they’re worth. Wayzata High School officials dropped out of the National School Lunch Program this year, along with a lot of other schools in many states, because the one-size-fits-all regulations don’t jibe with the school’s diverse student body, CBS reports. “We’re trying to make sure they get enough food, because if they are athletes, they are here at six in the morning until at least six at night, so they are hungry,” Sue Johnson, the school’s cafeteria coordinator. Another reason the school is ditching the federal lunch rules is because much of the “healthy” food – such as the mandatory fruit or vegetables – ended up in the trash, anyway. “We certainly did see an increase in waste … because it had to be there, or had to be on the tray,” Mary Anderson, supervisor for the Culinary Express Department at Wayzata schools, told CBS. Despite a 25 cent increase in the price of lunches at Wayzata High School this year, school lunch sales have increased significantly with the new menu – a clear indication the district made the right move. “We’re seeing increases between two and three hundred lunches a day,” Anderson said.  Source

School bans 'offensive' Chick-fil-A sandwiches

Feathers have been ruffled at California’s Ventura High School, where the principal this week banned the football booster club from selling Chick-fil-A sandwiches over fears that people might be offended. What, pray tell, could people find offensive about a plump juicy chicken breast tucked between two buttered buns? Were English teachers put off by the restaurant chain’s grammatically challenged bovine pitchmen? Did the waffle fries and banana pudding milkshakes exceed the nutritional limits deemed acceptable by the federal government? The answer, dear readers, is no. It seems Principal Val Wyatt’s ban has less to do with poultry and more to do with politics. “With their political stance on gay rights and because the students of Ventura High School and their parents would be at the event, I didn’t want them on campus,” Wyatt told the Ventura County Star. It was a sentiment supported by Trudy Tuttle Ariaga, superintendent of the Ventura Unified School District. “We value inclusivity and diversity on our campus, and all our events and activities are going to adhere to our mission,” Ariaga told CBS News in Los Angeles. This is a classic example of those preaching inclusivity and diversity being the least inclusive and diverse of all...more

Friday, September 12, 2014

Will Aurora Strike Tonight? Here’s What to Expect

Auroras showed up as forecast last night beginning around nightfall and lasting until about 1 a.m. CDT this morning. Then the action stopped. At peak, the Kp index dinged the bell at “5” (minor geogmagnetic storm) for about 6 hours as the incoming shock from the arrival of the solar blast rattled Earth’s magnetosphere. It wasn’t a particularly bright aurora and had to compete with moonlight, so many of you may not have seen it. You needn’t worry. A much stronger G3 geomagnetic storm from the second Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME) remains in the forecast for tonight.  Activity should begin right at nightfall and peak between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. Central Daylight Time. The best place to observe the show is from a location well away from city lights with a good view of the northern sky. Auroras are notoriously fickle, but if the NOAA space forecasting crew is on the money, flickering lights should be visible as far south as Illinois and Kansas. The storm also has the potential to heat and expand the outer limits of Earth’s atmosphere enough to cause additional drag on low-Earth-orbiting (LEO) satellites. High-frequency radio transmissions like shortwave radio may be reduced to static particularly on paths crossing through the polar regions...more

This edition of The Westerner

This is one weird edition of The Westerner, from Ancient Greeks to cattle mutilations, hay arsonists, earthquakes and an embarrassing slip of the tongue by the Secretary of Interior, its all here.  Hope there aren't too many more like this one.

Postal Service Halts Deliveries to Low Mail Slots...bending over 'dangerous'

The postman always rings twice, unless he has to bend down. The U.S. Postal Service (Brooklyn) has stopped delivering mail to some households in Borough Park, claiming the low-set mail slots they’ve been using for decades are dangerous, furious residents said. The change has forced them into hour-long lines at the 51st St. post office to collect the crucial medicines, Social Security checks and letters that used to come right to their door. “Since when do guidelines change?” asked Chumy Orgel. “I’ve been living here 30 years.” The mailboxes are a safety hazard, according to an Aug. 21 letter sent by a postal service customer service manager to residents along 46th St. Necha Altman has lived on the street for 35 years, always getting the mail through a slot near the bottom of her door. She installed new mailboxes on the wall after receiving the letter, but that wasn’t good enough for the carrier, who wanted the boxes at street level to avoid her nine steps, she said...more

What about all this rain & sleet & snow stuff.  I looked it up, and the motto is actually inscribed on a NY City P.O. building!  According to Wikipedia:

An inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City reads:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.[1]
This phrase was a translation by Prof. George Herbert Palmer, Harvard University, from an ancient Greek work of Herodotus describing the Persian system of mounted postal carriers c. 500 B.C.E.  It derives from a quote from Herodotus' Histories, referring to the courier service of the ancient Persian Empire:

It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of a day’s journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed.

—Herodotus, Histories (8.98) (trans. A.D. Godley, 1924)

The gov't has had us "bending over" for a lot longer than 35 years.  But in no way will they even slightly bend to deliver one of those apparently very heavy letters in NY City.

If there was a Pony Express today I'm sure they'd be riding Shetlands.

And what's up with these politicians and the Greeks?  James A. Farley, Democrat party boss, "borrows" from Herodotus for a motto, and Abraham Lincoln, Republican, "borrows" from Pericles for the Gettysburg Address.  A little bipartisan theft for all you fans of bipartisanship.

This does, however, clear up part of an ongoing investigation here at The Westerner.  We have eliminated all Post Office employees from the list of suspects who stole and relocated the BLM signs.

List of excuses for ‘the pause’ in global warming is now up to 52

An updated list of at least 29 32 36 38 39 41 51 52 excuses for the 18-26 year statistically significant ‘pause’ in global warming, including recent scientific papers, media quotes, blogs, and related debunkings...

For the complete list, go here.

Businesses to BLM: We bank on backcountry

More than 200 sportsmen-dependent businesses from across the country are urging the U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management to conserve backcountry BLM lands, arguing the remote country not only offers prized hunting and fishing opportunities but also is good for the bottom line. The businesses have sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and BLM Director Neil Kornze asking them to conserve BLM backcountry areas in the West to sustain public land hunting, stand up for outdoor-related businesses and support areas of high-quality wildlife habitat. “Public lands hunting is absolutely paramount to our business,” said Ryan Callaghan, marketing manager for First Lite, an up-and-coming performance hunting clothing manufacturer in Ketchum, Idaho. Callaghan was in Great Falls this week for a media summit on public land and water issues organized by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. A key topic was BLM resource management plans the agency’s offices are revising for land covering 123 million acres in the West, including Montana...more

“Public lands hunting is absolutely paramount to our business,” said Ryan Callaghan  Mr. Callahan should check out the hunter-visitor days in a private lands state, like Pennsylvania.

Sec. Of The Interior Makes Weird Masturbation Reference

What a better time and place to talk about masturbation than on a tour of the White House Visitors Center with First Lady Michelle Obama? In a splendid WTF moment, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell strolled trough the Center with Obama, White House Historical Association Chairman Fred Ryan and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. What a boring, boring time. Well, until Jewell decided to make things sexually interesting. From a White House Pool Report by The Hill’s Judy Kurtz:
Sally Jewell drew laughs several times during her remarks.
Noting one of her favorite artifacts in the Visitor Center are the chocolate molds used by pastry chefs to create the White House seal, she said, “As I’ve taken friends to lunch at the White House, yes, people have taken pictures of the butter.”
She also offered up a lighter, and perhaps unintentionally awkward moment,
“This interactive center is just that, interactive. It encourages people to touch. So for those of us that have children or grandchildren, or even if we love to touch ourselves, there’s some great stuff out there.”
Your pooler observed a few nervous glances after the comment.

I'll leave the commenting up to others.

Cliven Bundy Stumps For Statehood

Cliven Bundy has left the ranch. He will speak this afternoon in Elko at an event hosted by the Nevada Committee for Full Statehood, which is one stop on an informal speaking tour. The Washington Post characterized Bundy's appearances as part of a campaign for third-party candidates such as Russell Best, a member of the Independent American Party who is running for Congressional District 4. But Bundy himself denies that he is stumping for any candidates. "I'm not really supporting a party," he said. "I support good candidates who believe in the Constitution." Bundy switched his registration from Republican to Independent American earlier this year. He said he was frustrated by the lack of support he received from Republican lawmakers during the Bunkerville standoff in April. The Independent American Party of Nevada believes the federal government should relinquish control of federal land to state of Nevada, that currency should revert to the gold standard, and that most federal regulations are unconstitutional...more

New Fences Keep Cattle In, But Allow Elk & Wildlife to Move Freely

Long-time rancher John Nunn’s land is near a route where pronghorn migrate. His ranch is surrounded by woven fences, and although the pronghorn can sometimes find a way through, he wanted to ease access for them. “We found they would go a certain path, and we didn’t want to jeopardize that,” Nunn said. Nunn is one of several producers in Wyoming who recognized that the existing woven wire and 5- to 6-wire barbed fences prevented pronghorn, deer and elk from freely moving and migrating through their lands. That’s when he looked into wildlife-friendly fencing as a replacement for the fencing that was put on his land before he owned it. Traditional fences can injure or kill pronghorn, deer, elk and other wildlife when they run into them or become entangled in them. Plus, repairing a fence damaged by wildlife is costly and time consuming. Nunn and others applied for assistance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help them replace their existing wire fence into a wildlife friendly fence with funding from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, one of the conservation programs of the 2014 Farm Bill. These new fences allow pronghorn antelope and other big game to pass through the fence without the risk of getting tangled in the wires. The fence wire spacing allows pronghorn to crawl under the fence, while the lighter-on-their-feet deer and elk can easily jump over the fence – all with minimum risk of injury. Meanwhile, these fences still keep cattle inside...more

Moo-F-Os: What’s Behind Tales of Cattle Mutilation?

We’ve heard the creepy stories before: A farmer goes out in the field to feed their livestock and discovers one (or more) cows dead, drained of blood, perhaps missing an appendage or two. Such stories were once so prevalent that the FBI investigated cattle mutilations in the '70s. “The ranchers and rural residents of Colorado are concerned and frightened by these incidents,” wrote then-Colorado senator Floyd K. Haskell in a letter to the FBI. UFOs, sinister cults and secret government operations have all been blamed. Scientists have put forth more mundane explanations, such as run of the mill scavengers. Ranchers still report these incidents, and cattle mutilation has been enshrined in popular culture on shows like the “The X-Files.” Modern Farmer talked to Bill Ellis, associate professor of English and American Studies at Penn State Hazelton, who wrote about the phenomena of cattle mutilation in his book, “Raising the Devil: Satanism, New Religions, and the Media.

Modern Farmer: How old are these stories? How far back to they go?

BE: The earliest cycle of stories that I’ve seen date back to the beginning of the 20th century in England. There were cycles of panics that were caused by people allegedly killing and mutilating horses and domestic animals of various kinds. And there were a number of explanations that then created an additional flap on top of that, and that’s mostly what I’m interested in — when you have all of these theories that explain the mutilations and then those theories take on a life of their own. There were two ideas: One was that there was a wolf that had been somebody’s pet that had escaped and was committing all of these mutilations. Wolves by that time were extinct in England, so there’s no way that an actual wolf could have appeared and done all of these things. And the other thing was that it was a lunatic – that there was somebody going around and doing this out of some kind of psychological compulsions. And in fact there was a person who was arrested and was tried and convicted of committing a number of these mutilations. And here’s an interesting twist: Arthur Conan Doyle, who was the creator of Sherlock Holmes, actually investigated the evidence and found a number of faults and determined that the person had been set up as the culprit because people had an ethnic prejudice against him — he was an East Indian, a scapegoat to blame for these incidents. It’s something that then crops up in the popular press in a small way off and on in England and particularly in the United States until the ’60s, and it then becomes much bigger news, blamed initially on hippie cults. This was the time where there was a lot of attention being given to the counterculture and the interest of some people in non-traditional religions: cosmic consciousness and meditation. And it was a time that the actual Church of Satan in San Francisco was founded. That had generated a lot of press and a lot of concerns. The theory then became developed that what was happening was some of these young people had been recruited into some sort of cult that involved animal sacrifice...more

Serial Arsonist Targets Hay

CRAIG COUNTY, Oklahoma - A serial arsonist has set fire to 166 hay bales in Craig County. Authorities say six different ranches in Craig and Mayes County have been targeted over the past few weeks. The damage is climbing in dollar amounts and putting ranchers in a tough spot as hay season ends and winter waiting around the corner. After several years of drought, hay producers in Oklahoma finally have a good hay crop, and then an arsonist torched their livelihood. There isn't much rancher Bill Propp can do other than watch the smoldering. Propp is the latest victim. "It takes about three days to burn them down,” he said. At about 2 a.m. on Wednesday, an arsonist set fire to Propp's hay near Big Cabin, destroying $6,000 worth of his round bales...more

Napa wine industry sustains $80M damage from quake

Napa’s 6.0 earthquake in late August revealed at least two things about California: seismic activity is part of life and humans can be resilient. While estimates are quite preliminary, Napa’s famed wine industry likely suffered between $70 million and $100 million in damage from the Aug. 24 temblor, according to a report commissioned by the County of Napa and Napa County Vintners Association, a non-profit trade association. The report was issued by Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), the dominant lender to the Napa wine industry and an expert on the global wine industry. The bank’s analysis of wine industry losses is extensive. It includes damage to winery buildings and infrastructure such as waste water ponds and private bridges, winemaking equipment, cleanup and removal costs, vineyard irrigation, bottled inventory in current release, bottling supplies, finished inventory ready for bottling, bulk wine, barrels, lost revenue from damaged tasting rooms, losses from business interruption, and loss of wine held in wine libraries...more

Tejano Ranch Life Comes To The Big City At The Institute Of Texan Cultures

It’s a slowly disappearing lifestyle in Texas, but this Sunday it’ll be all on display. The Institute for Texan Cultures is featuring one of those cultures: Tejano Ranching. "There’s a whole culture and way of life around ranching," said the ITC's Brandon Aniol. "A lot of the folks we’re going to have on Sunday are active ranchers and vaqueros in their everyday life. " Vaqueros is the Spanish word for cowboys. "And we’re bringing their lifeways into the museum here for folks to look at," said Aniol. Also coming on horseback Sunday are the Charros Completos. Aniol explained what they are. "Charros Completos are the champion riders, champion ropers, and they take a lot of the expertise that these vaqueros have, and they’re sort of the champions in these lifeways,” Aniol said. I've been to a charreada before, and their abilities with the horses are just amazing. “Oh yeah, they’re incredible," he said. "Victoriano Flores and his family are going to be here. They are three generations of Charros Completos. The grandfather, son and his son are all champions in what they do.”

James Herring picked for livestock industry Golden Spur Award

The National Ranching Heritage Center will present the livestock industry’s Golden Spur Award to James E. Herring of Amarillo, during a dinner at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at the center’s main gallery, 3121 Fourth St. Herring, chairman and chief executive officer of Friona Industries, is credited by the cattlemen with creating benefits and opportunities for ranchers and beef producers across the United States. Ross Wilson, president and chief executive officer of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, said he has known and worked with Herring for many years. “He is a visionary businessman with an uncanny ability to foresee and capitalize on opportunities in the beef industry, many of which have not been easy to achieve.” He said, “At the same time, he gives back to the beef industry and community interests through countless hours of volunteer service.” The Golden Spur Award, which has gone to 36 others in the industry through the years, is presented as an honor to an individual by the American Quarter Horse Association, the National Cattlemen’s Foundation; Ranching Heritage Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, and Texas Farm Bureau...more

BACK IN TIME: Area cowboys made ‘wild’ trip to Argentina in 1905

In 1905 a group of cowboys from Midland, Texas and the West Texas area went to Argentina to perform in a series of rodeos. And the “Wild West” shows they were performing in led them into an even greater adventure. The cowboys accompanied two well-known Midland ranchers on the trip to Argentina, Spence Jowell and W.D. “Bill” Connell. When Jowell returned to Midland some time later, an article in the San Angelo Standard stated, “He thinks the opportunities for money making in the livestock business in that country are exceptionally good and he is greatly pleased with the outlook.” The newspaper article went on to note, “Mr. Jowell is also enthusiastic over the prospect for success in that country of a Wild West show, after the cowboy carnival type and it was in the interest of this enterprise he has returned home so quickly.” Wild West shows and cowboy carnivals were common forms of entertainment in that era, with such noteworthy showmen as William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, “Texas Jack” Omohundro Jr., and Zach Mulhall having toured a large segment of the United States for several years. The popularity of the shows gave young men such as Clay McGonagill, Joe Gardner and others in the West Texas area a new way of generating income besides working on the ranches. And it was utilizing the riding and roping skills they used in the work on the ranches, the skills they had perfected while growing up. McGonagill and Gardner were two of eight cowboys recruited by Midland cattlemen Jowell and Connell to travel to Argentina to put on a series of “Wild West” shows, at the request of a group of Englishmen. Jowell and Connell were in Argentina looking for some ranch properties when the Englishmen approached them about “bringing some cowhands to Buenos Aires for a series of shows.” The Englishmen even offered to foot all expenses, furnish livestock, and arrange for arenas. Jowell returned to Texas to line up a group of cowboys for the trip while Connell stayed in Buenos Aires to arrange for the anticipated rodeos. Other cowboys recruited by Jowell included Lem and Ira Driver, Wiley “Wild Horse” Hill, Joe Hooker and William “Bill” Pickett, a well-known Black cowboy. Another cowboy, Asa Draper, showed up unexpectedly and joined the group. The cowboys traveled to New York City where they marveled at the multi-story buildings, described by McGonagill in the following manner after going on an excursion to the top of a 26-story skyscraper. “Big six-story buildings that didn’t look no bigger than a barn. The people on the streets didn’t look no longer than my finger.” After the sea voyage to Buenos Aires, Argentina, the cowboys thrilled spectators there and in neighboring Montevideo, Uruguay. In fact in one of the performances, McGonagill accepted the challenge of riding an outlaw horse that had never been ridden. The event was detailed in an article in The Cattleman magazine which stated, “The gauchos, defeated in steer roping, brought larger and wilder steers to succeeding performances; bested in bronc riding, they brought the meanest of their own horses to the arena to test the Americans. Finally they brought in a famous outlaw that had never been ridden, offering him to the cowboy who could ride him. McGonagill rode the great bronc to a standstill to the delight of the crowd and acclaim of the gauchos.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1292

Roy Rogers - When I Camped Under The Stars. Recorded in Los Angeles on Sept. 1, 1938. Rogers was backed up that day by some familiar friends:  The Farr Brothers, Lloyd Perryman & Pat Brady.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wolves in the Wool

As dozens of sheep shuffle along a mountain trail in southern Stevens County, a hidden sentry stands watch. A white Maremma-mix guard dog crouches almost imperceptibly amid the huddled flock, rising suddenly to bark out a warning at the approach of any intruder. Swift and cagey predators stalk these hills. For at least two years, the young Huckleberry wolf pack has hunted these steep, timber-lined slopes without incident, but last month that changed. Rancher Dave Dashiell, of nearby Hunters, moved his 1,800 sheep onto the private timber company property earlier this summer, just like he did last year. In mid-August, a series of attacks left more than 24 sheep dead. He called in state Department of Fish & Wildlife officials for help. "This experience has taught us two things," Dashiell writes in a recent statement. "Once wolves start killing livestock, no amount of effort can discourage them and don't put too much trust in words." While 10 confirmed packs reside in Northeast Washington, the Huckleberry pack's territory extends the farthest south, putting it closer to Spokane and other established communities. As wolves continue to multiply and migrate across the state, wildlife advocates and ranchers brace for new conflicts. Dashiell has now called for the "removal," or killing, of the entire pack of up to 12 wolves, but advocates argue that nonlethal deterrents can successfully prevent wolf depredation on livestock — if given a chance. Steve Pozzanghera, eastern regional director with Fish & Wildlife, says his staff provided "range riders" to patrol the area, closely monitored a pack member with a radio collar and posted floodlights around the flock. Killings continued. On Aug. 22, officials approved lethal force against the pack...more

Environmental groups prepare lawsuit to force mexican wolf recovery plan

A coalition of environmental groups notified the federal government Wednesday it intends to sue over what it considers inadequate action to re-establish the Mexican gray wolf in the Southwest. The five environmental groups, including the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, said a lawsuit would force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a workable recovery plan for the species. “The Fish and Wildlife Service has three times begun a plan to save the wolves but has never concluded one,” said Tim Preso, attorney for Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization. Mexican gray wolves, added to the Endangered Species List in 1976, were reintroduced to eastern Arizona and western New Mexico in 1998. At last count, 83 wolves were in the wild. The program has been controversial from the start, with area ranchers complaining that the wolves are a menace to livestock and environmental groups saying federal officials haven’t done enough to create a thriving, genetically diverse population. Michael Robinson, conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the Endangered Species Act requires the federal government to create recovery plans tailored to the needs of each species. According to Robinson and Preso, a backlog has prevented the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from updating a stopgap proposal drafted in 1982 with the wolves in imminent danger of extinction. Robinson noted that the Fish and Wildlife Service is considering regulatory changes that would expand the area in which wolves could be released but would allow wolves found north of Interstate 40 to be hunted and killed. That proposal is currently in a public hearing period, with a decision expected in January...more

Montana orders drilling limits to help sage grouse

Gov. Steve Bullock on Tuesday ordered restrictions on future oil drilling and other activities blamed for driving down sage grouse numbers, bringing Montana into step with other states across the West rushing to head off federal intervention for the ground-dwelling bird. The order establishes no-occupancy zones that extend six-tenths of a mile around certain sage grouse breeding grounds. Roads could not be built in those areas, and other activities, such as oil and gas exploration, would be allowed on a seasonal basis. Existing land uses, including agriculture, coal mines and oil wells that already are in place, would be exempt. The restrictions, similar to rules in Wyoming, are meant to prevent disturbances and increase breeding success for the chicken-sized birds, known for an elaborate mating ritual in which males strut around and puff out their breasts in a colorful display. The no-occupancy zones are smaller than the 1-mile radius recommended in January by an advisory council established by the governor. Representatives of the oil and gas industry had pushed for the smaller area. Energy companies still will have to alter their activities to comply, industry representatives said. But Josh Osher with the Western Watersheds Project said the order isn't enough to reverse the bird's decades-long decline. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service faces a September 2015 deadline to make an initial determination on whether sage grouse should be added to the list of threatened and endangered species. Before that date arrives, Montana and other states want to demonstrate that sweeping federal protections aren't needed. State officials want to keep local jurisdiction over the birds and avoid conservation measures that could be more onerous than what's been proposed. Such a result came for the Arctic grayling, a Montana cold-water fish that federal officials decided against protecting, saying local restoration efforts already were in place. Bullock characterized Tuesday's order on sage grouse as a compromise that balances conservation with landowners' rights. He plans to include a proposal in his budget for a Sage Grouse Stewardship and Conservation Fund, to encourage ranchers and other private landowners to voluntarily conserve sage grouse habitat...more

Editorial - Prairie dog process has been a dog

...Prairie dogs and humans seek the same fertile places. While roughly a quarter of Utah is private land, that private land has more than half the known prairie dogs. For the farmers and ranchers who form much of the political force in rural Utah, the idea that there aren’t enough dogs is preposterous. They’re often breaking their irrigation equipment on prairie dog mounds. The feds, however, don’t really count the dogs on private land, even as they insist those dogs must be protected. They know they exist, but their job under the ESA is to make sure the species can go on forever. And that means they focus on the dogs living on land that is dedicated to their protection, something most private landowners are not willing to do. In fact, if the prairie dog lost its protection, it can be argued the farmers would return to the kind of eradication efforts that dropped their populations in the first place. But it isn’t even clear how many dogs there were to begin with. The Utah prairie dog was among the first animals to be listed as "endangered" when the ESA passed in 1973, but within 10 years that listing had been downgraded to "threatened." Is that because the population rebounded because of federal protection? Actually, the feds acknowledge it’s more likely that the ESA’s directive to find all the prairie dogs led to a lot more animals being discovered. So all this feeds the anti-federal flames. Wayne County commissioners tell the state not to sell land to the Nature Conservancy to preserve prairie dogs. Rep. Chris Stewart introduces a bill to force Fish and Wildlife to include dogs on private land (even if there is no habitat protection for those dogs), and the feds are sued by a group of Cedar City landowners calling themselves the People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners. Fish and Wildlife biologists are in a tough spot. They believe the dog is on its way to removal from the threatened list, but the law requires a five-year period to see if the populations really are sustaining. That clock hasn’t even started yet because they’re still trying to secure more habitat. In the meantime, the political and legal fights go on...more

Farmers and ranchers can help bring birds back from the brink

The 2014 State of the Birds report, released this week, sends a message that is both somber and hopeful: we can bring vulnerable bird species back from the brink of extinction, but there is a lot of work to be done. While some once-abundant species have rebounded in response to habitat restoration and management, others continue to decline. If we want to put our nation’s birds on a path to recovery, farmers and ranchers have a critical role to play. The State of the Birds report calls out the need for more large-scale habitat enhancement initiatives for birds in the most threatened ecosystems, such as western aridlands and grasslands, which face intense pressure from development and drought. The best hope for many birds in these ecosystems – species like the lesser prairie-chicken, greater sage-grouse and Swainson’s hawk in California’s Central Valley – lies in the region’s vast tracts of agricultural lands. In fact, with the right landowner incentives for habitat conservation in place, these declining species can prosper once again. EDF is working in partnership with agricultural associations (Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Plains Cotton Growers, and Farm Bureaus in California, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, to name a few) to launch habitat exchanges that unlock the potential of agriculture to grow bird habitat alongside crops and pastures. Exchanges provide a mechanism for farmers and ranchers to get paid for stewarding at-risk bird habitat by conservation investors and industries that are required by law to mitigate their development impacts...more

Court rules for Wyoming allowing wild horse roundup to proceed

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Wyoming’s favor on a wild horse management case. The Court denied a request for an emergency injunction by wild horse advocates, clearing the way for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to remove horses from private lands in southwest Wyoming. “Wyoming is not against wild horses on public lands, but they must be managed appropriately. Today’s ruling allows that to happen and protects Wyoming land, supports ranchers and wildlife, and it benefits wild horse populations,” Governor Matt Mead said. The BLM is planning to roundup wild horses in an area where private, federal and state lands intermingle. The BLM’s plan complies with an agreement between the BLM and a group of local ranchers. Wyoming points out unmanaged wild horse populations negatively impact habitat health on public lands. Source

Western irrigators owe $1.6B for past Reclamation projects

With many Western lawmakers clamoring for expanding reservoirs amid an entrenched drought, a government watchdog issued a report yesterday showing farmers and ranchers still owe on their tab for dams and reservoir projects done decades ago. The Government Accountability Office report says irrigation districts still owe $1.6 billion, roughly a quarter of their tab for the 130 projects built for irrigation by the Bureau of Reclamation. Irrigators have paid off construction costs in 54 of those projects, but they still owed payments on 76 projects as of the end of fiscal 2012. Many of those projects were built during the 1960s. Many Reclamation projects serve multiple purposes, and construction costs are allocated among them. In addition to irrigation, reservoirs provide water for cities, industries and power generators. Irrigation beneficiaries only have to pay back their share of the construction costs, while power generation and municipal and industrial users must pay back those costs with interest. In some cases, irrigators can prove they lack the ability to pay, in which case other users often subsidize irrigation assistance. According to GAO, of $6.4 billion in construction costs that irrigators owed for projects they had a stake in, more than $3 billion was covered by financial assistance from other revenue sources. The report comes as House Republicans are looking to grease the skids for new water storage projects. This afternoon, a House Natural Resources Committee subpanel is holding a hearing on a measure to accelerate environmental reviews of water storage projects. Democratic lawmakers who requested the GAO report pointed to its findings as a reason to oppose the legislation...more

Women gain momentum in agriculture

For Mary Ann Henriquez the road to farming began in grade school with 4-H and FFA. But it was as a student at Modesto Junior College that she committed to it as a profession. “My brother took over dad’s dairy operation and because I didn’t want to see the beef cows go, I got a loan – which wasn’t easy – and bought them,” Henriquez remembered. “I’ve been running cattle since 1987: Holstein steers, cows, calves, stockers and Holstein feeders.” Henriquez is part of an influx of women farmers, making a foray into an industry that has long been considered a man’s occupation. Now women work in a wide range of agricultural jobs including farming, sales, working for cooperative extensions, research and teaching agriculture in high school. There are other opportunities in the mix via farm to fork; food safety as well as manufacturing and packaging. The 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture found the number of women farming in California has increased steadily from 6,202 women farmers in 1978 to 13,984 in 2012. Nationally, there are about one million women farming either primary or secondary operations in the United States, according to the USDA report “Characteristics of Women Farm Operators and Their Farms.” That’s 30 percent of all farm operations. In fact, in the 25 years between 1982 and 2007, the number of women-operated farms more than doubled, with increases in all sales classes. The number of men-operated farms, on the other hand, declined by 10 percent, with declines in most sales classes...more

The Trujillo family homestead

The Trujillo family history paints a vivid picture of perseverance The Trujillo history dates back to 1865 when Teofilo Trujillo and his spouse settled in the San Luis Valley and began raising sheep. Trujillo was, in fact, one of the area’s largest sheepraisers, which did not sit well with Anglo cattle ranchers from the area. “Our story is one of courage, trailblazers and how they had to deal with the greed of the Anglo against anyone who they could not compete with fairly,” said Deborah Quintana, great-great granddaughter of Teofilo. The elder Trujillo’s life was in danger as cattle ranchers burned the family hacienda in the Medano to the ground. “[They] slaughtered our cattle and tried to end my Grandfather Teofiolo’s life,” Quintana said. “That is when my Grandfather Pedro built the historical Zapata Ranch, with a non-traditional two story log cabin, that still stands where he raised his children.” The Trujillo Homestead at Zapata Ranch is a Colorado landmark. Known for being one of the first Hispanic-operated cattle ranches in the area and for its budding architecture – the two-story cabin erected by Pedro Trujillo was an architectural anomaly in the region – the homestead was also the place where the Trujillo family stood their ground. “While most Hispanic families settled in clusters or towns, my grandfathers chose a place far from everyone to raise their families, and grow their cattle business” Quintana said. “At one time, they were the wealthiest cattle ranchers in the state, and second in the country. They brought sophisticated farming tools, tableware and what they did not bring with them from Taos, New Mexico, they traded with Native American’s from the San Luis Valley.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1291

New Mexico's Louise Massey, from the K Bar Ranch near Roswell, is the artist selected today.  Here she is with her group The Westerners, performing a song she wrote, My Adobe Hacienda.  A short bio is below the video.

Artist Biography b. Victoria Louise Massey, 10 August 1902, Hart County, Texas, USA, d. 20 June 1983, San Angelo, Texas, USA. The Massey family relocated first to Midland and then to the K Bar Ranch, near Roswell, New Mexico, to an area still influenced by the legacy of Billy the Kid. They became a very popular vocal and instrumental family band of the 30s and 40s and one of the first to adopt elaborate cowboy outfits as their stage attire. The band originally comprised Henry ‘Dad’ Massey and three of his eight children, namely Louise and brothers Curt (b. 3 May 1910, d. 20 October 1991) and Allen (b. 12 December 1907, Texas, USA, d. 3 March 1983, Texas, USA). ‘Dad’ taught his children to play various instruments, although Curt usually played fiddle, but in later years, he also played trumpet and piano. When Louise was 15, she married Milton Mabie (b. 1900, d. 1973) who then became the fifth member of the group. The Massey Five’s career began in the 20s, when they played and sang at local shows and church socials. This led to a two-year tour of the USA and Canada, as well as a radio show on KMBC Kansas City. In 1930, ‘Dad’ retired to his ranch and a Californian, accordionist Larry Wellington, replaced him. In 1933, they became regulars on the National Barn Dance on WLS Chicago, before moving to New York in 1935, where they featured on the NBC-networked Show Boat, and the following year, they gained their own networkedLog Cabin Dude Ranch on NBC-WJZ. They had, by this time, first become the Westerners but when Louise, with her flamboyant Spanish-style costumes, became more and more the focal point of the act, she received lead billing. They made popular personal appearances over a wide area and even returned to WLS to star on Plantation Party and other shows. In 1938, they made a film appearance in Tex Ritter’s Monogram B-western Where The Buffalo Roam. They recorded for several labels including Vocalion Records, OKeh Records and Conqueror and are best remembered for their fine version of ‘My Adobe Hacienda’. Louise wrote the song, based on a house that she and Milt were building in 1941. She needed the music properly transcribed for publication before it could be used on NBC and this was done by a family friend, Lee Penny. He had no professional connection with the band or with the writing of the song but Louise credited him as co-writer for his work. After the group disbanded in the late 40s, Curt became the musical director and theme songwriter for the television shows Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction (which he actually sang).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I have frickin' gone crazy ... I've had enough!

 Received by email today:

I have frickin' gone crazy ... I've had enough! Today, I have determined henceforth this will be the direction and theme of my existence. 
1. At lunch time, sit in the pickup with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars.

2. On all check stubs, write 'For Marijuana'!

3. Skip down the street rather than walk.

4. Order a ‘diet water’ when I eat somewhere.

5. Sing along at the Dentist's office ... he actually picks some good music.

6. When the money comes out of the ATM, scream 'I won! I won!'

7. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the car park, yelling  'Run for your lives! The sons-of-bitches are loose!'

8. Tell the children over dinner: “Due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go...”

9. Pick up a box of condoms at the Pharmacy, go to the counter and ask where the fitting room is.

10. Seek a public restroom with a long line of guys, drop my pants clear to the floor like my mother used to do to me when I was three ... proceed and in midstream announce, "Dang, that water is cold down there."

And then finally:

11. Go to a large Department store’s fitting room, drop my drawers to my ankles  (like my mother did to me when I was three) and yell out: “There’s no paper in here”! 

Yep, that's what I plan to do ...

 Still figurin' out what to do with those WSA signs...

Southwest Chief gets reprieve in Colorado, Kansas - NM uncertain

Amtrak pledged to continue services along the endangered Southwest Chief passenger rail route through parts of Colorado and Kansas for two more decades Tuesday, when those states received federal transportation grants for the project. But the line’s future in New Mexico remains uncertain. Eleven communities in southern Colorado and the state of Kansas committed $9.3 million in matching funds to secure the $12.5 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation. “This TIGER grant saves the Southwest Chief route in western Kansas and eastern Colorado,” said Sal Pace, chairman of the Southwest Chief Commission established by the Colorado Legislature. “New Mexico still remains a question mark.” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari called the grant award a “huge development.” But questions about track and signal conditions from Trinidad, Colo., just north of Raton Pass, and through New Mexico remain unresolved, he said. “This resolves the track segment that was imminently to be downgraded [through western Kansas and eastern Colorado], but the Colorado/New Mexico section still remains the subject of discussions with us,” Magliari said. A map of tracks owned by BNSF Railway, formerly the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, which owns the tracks the Southwest Chief follows, shows the train could turn south from Las Animas, Colo., to Amarillo, Texas, bypassing parts of Northern New Mexico on its current route, including the Lamy station southeast of Santa Fe. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said Tuesday that she wants the Southwest Chief to continue running in Northern New Mexico. “We are huge supporters of the train and want it in Northern New Mexico,” the governor told The New Mexican. “It’s part of our history.” But Martinez’s administration has expressed reluctance to commit public money to preserving the Southwest Chief’s route, citing Amtrak’s historical reliance on federal funding. She approved $150,000 in this year’s state budget to review various aspects of the proposed project. The New Mexico study of the costs, economic development impact and legal obstacles associated with contributing funds to preserve the train's route through the state began weeks ago and is expected to be complete by November, according to a New Mexico Department of Transportation spokeswoman. “We know we can’t take forever because the dollars are at risk,” Martinez said. “So we’ve got to make sure that we move as diligently as possible.” In January 2016, BNSF Railway plans to stop maintaining the tracks on the Southwest Chief route. Absent that upkeep, the line would soon be unable to support travel at the 60 to 80 mph speeds required for passenger service...more

Wilderness Study Area signs illegally moved on public lands

ELKO, Nev. – The Elko District Office, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), has recently been informed that vandals have been moving Wilderness Study Area signs and placing them on roads in unrestricted areas of public lands. As BLM works to resolve the issue within the Elko District, public users are encouraged to refer to official maps for WSA locations and boundaries as well as inform District Office staff of improperly marked locations. When reporting locations, please include coordinates, or township range and section.  Maps are available for free at the District Office located at 3900 E. Idaho St., Elko, Nev. or online at press release

Where, oh where has my WSA gone,
Where, oh where can it be,
With our signs so moved and our face so red,
Its time again to raid Bun-dy.

Notice they had to be "informed".  That means the feds didn't even know it had happened until a member of the public told them. 

Not to worry though, the BLM only has 500+ of these boogers totaling 12.7 million acres.

Plus, more are coming through BLM's planning process.  Copycatting Smokey Bear, this time they will be called lands with wilderness characteristics.

Plus, all of Interior's lands are so well managed that Secretary Jewell has been crisscrossing the country to get the Land & Water Conservation fund reauthorized.  That way they can acquire more land to put signs on.

I'll bet the sign-making industry is lobbying hard for that fund too.  While the rest of the economy is in the doldrums, thanks to BLM the sign industry is making a killing.

House passes bill to halt EPA water rule

The House passed legislation Tuesday that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing a proposed rule to define its jurisdiction over bodies of water. Passed 262-152, the bill would prohibit the EPA from using the proposal for any rulemaking regarding the Clean Water Act. The rule, proposed in March, sought to clarify which bodies of water, such as wetlands and streams, are subject to agencies' authority under the act. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said the rule does not significantly expand the agency's existing authority. Republicans said the rule would go too far and subject trivial bodies of water to federal regulation. "I have heard from many of my constituents that this rule would force them to prove that large mud puddles and ditches on their property are not federally regulated waters," Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) said. "I support this bill because sometimes, a mud puddle is just a mud puddle." Democrats largely dismissed the concerns as hyperbole. "We have departed from reality," said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. DeFazio said that halting implementation of the proposed rule would prevent the EPA from simply clarifying which bodies of water are subject to federal regulation. "Where do we end up if this cockamamie thing passes the House and becomes law, which it won't?" DeFazio said. "Well, where we end up is back in the earlier era of the 2003 and 2008 guidance." But some Democrats, particularly those in tough reelection races, broke with their party and said the rule could result in federal overreach. "The only certainty that these regulations provide is the sure knowledge that under them, anyone undertaking any activity so much as a ditch in the United States will have to deal with the bureaucracy known as the EPA," said Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the top Democrat on the House Transportation Committee and one of the most vulnerable incumbents this cycle. The legislation includes a provision requiring the EPA administrator and Army Corps of Engineers to develop recommendations for a proposed regulation in consultation with local officials. A final report would be due to Congress within two years...more

House Committee hearing on ESA

Transparency, Sound Science, & Inclusion of States and Localities Needed in ESA Listing Decisions NOT Federal Edicts Driven by Litigation and Settlement Deadlines

Committee Considers Six Bills in Broadening National Discussion on Ways to Improve the ESA

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 9, 2014 - Today, the House Natural Resources Committee held a Full Committee legislative hearing on six pieces of legislation aimed at updating and improving the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a law that has not been reauthorized since 1988. This hearing is the latest in the Committee’s efforts to review the ESA to make sure that this important law is working in the best interests of species and people.

“The bills before us today are not the only solutions to ESA issues but, these bills demonstrate a continuing and growing awareness that ESA, as it currently exists, is not serving people or species well, not just in the West, but in many other areas of the country as well. Among other things, these bills would instill greater transparency, more accurate economic analyses, counting of species, adding sunshine to ESA ‘sue and settle’ policies, and greater deference to states that are already conserving species,” said Natural Recourses Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. “Clearly, ESA as written and implemented can be improved upon to ensure that this important law is working in the best interest of species and people and I expect that a discussion on sound legislative updates and improvements will continue well beyond this Congress.”

Witnesses at today’s hearing reiterated that transparency, sound science, and state, local, and tribal input, should driving listing decisions not closed-door court settlements with litigious environmental organizations.

“Greater state and local authority over species and habitat management is one way to fix the ESA. Under the current law, far flung activist groups have hijacked the process of listing species as endangered. At the same time, input from local, state, and regional officials — the very people impacted by listing decisions — is not required for such action. Activists have successfully gamed the system. This has led to burdensome and ineffective federal management of species, while collaborative conservation efforts by states have been ignored. Local, state and regional officials are better equipped and should be given the opportunity to coordinate species management efforts with stakeholders.” Todd Staples, Texas Agriculture Commissioner
“Let me be blunt; in my view, the species most threatened here is the American farmer and rancher. We are being marginalized right out of business by over-regulation from federal agencies acting beyond the intentions of Congress. These actions jeopardize the economic stability of the nation’s agricultural economy. Four decades ago, the men and women of Congress passed the Endangered Species Act. We now need Congress to exercise some common sense and fix these problems. To be clear, Farm Bureau supports the Endangered Species Act for the protection of legitimately threatened species. However, expansion of the law without first considering the full economic consequences is detrimental to an industry that provides food, fiber and shelter for our country and a good portion of the world.” Randy Veach, President, Arkansas Farm Bureau
“By engaging in closed door agreements with environmental groups the Fish and Wildlife Service ceded its own species priority setting process to outside parties agreeing to take they're marching orders from work plans created by environmental groups which were then, in turn, approved by a Federal Judge. The result is that while local stakeholders were left out of the process they still faced the responsibility of defending against proposed listings that have the potential to harm their communities… I would suggest that if all parties (stakeholders) are notified through their respective local governments and given the opportunity to be present and participate in the ESA Settlement discussions, there would be benefits potentially overcoming the delays that can result the outcomes of the present closed-door procedures.” Tom Ray, Water Resources Program Manager, Texas Water Conservation Association, Western Coalition of Arid States
“Sadly, it has become increasingly evident that non governmental entities are driving the agenda and continue to enrich themselves on the backs of American Taxpayers through sue and settle arrangements with USFWS invoking the protections afforded under the Equal Access to Justice Act. This litigious model, by so called non-profit organizations, has not only harmed the American economy by nearly shutting down our Primary and Secondary sectors of Industry but it has further divided the nation because of the disregard many of the outspoken environmental advocates have for private property and the protections afforded by both Federal and State Constitutions for the same.. Adopting this measure (H.R.4256) addresses the inconsistency that architecturally currently places endangered species in an adverse relationship with State, tribal, and private property owners and allows the advantages of localized involvement, shared responsibility and opportunity for recovery of endangered and threatened species while mitigating the negative relationship with the USFWS and the Congress of the U.S.” Dave Miller, Commissioner, Iron County & Cedar City, Utah
“Those of us charged with conservation of our natural resources and authorized to use the regulatory process to implement those endeavors, must be cognizant of the social and economic impacts or the weight of public opinion will result in its undoing. Should that occur, the losers will be our children and grandchildren. KDWPT and other state wildlife agencies are far better equipped to find the balance than the USFWS. The one size fits all approach, cannot find that balance in the various states. Conservation is too important to jeopardize its future with burdensome regulation or continual litigation. Environmentalist, Conservationist, and Natural Resource Agencies should unite behind voluntary incentives so we can have a true partnership with private property owners to preserve the diversity of our natural resources. H.R. 4866 recognizes the potential of those partnerships and instructs the Secretary of Interior to monitor and report on their progress.” Robin Jennison, Kansas Secretary of the Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism

press release

Destiny in Taos

by Marin Hopper

My father, Dennis Hopper, believed that being on the road in search of something was very American. You had to keep moving forward no matter what. Ride into town, gunfight at high noon, then off into the sunset. “Easy Rider,” he said, was really a western with motorcycles instead of horses: bad boys, bikers and beads.

Traveling by car is the only way to get around if you live in sunny California. In 1969, I got to drive with my dad, his then-girlfriend, a willowy Native-American beauty named Felicia, our friends Bob and Toby Rafelson and their kids, Julie and Peter, to a seemingly faraway place called Taos, N.M. My father had discovered Taos during one of his many scouting trips for “Easy Rider,” which he had shot the year before.

My dad was 32. I was 6.

...According to my dad, Taos was sacred. It was the land of American Indians and their mountains, their beautiful Pueblo and their blue lake, which was meant to be so spiritual you could land in Tibet if you bore a hole through the bottom of it. He also told me more than once that rattlesnakes refused to go to Taos because of its extraordinarily high altitude. They instinctively knew not to travel past Santa Fe.

As we drove, my father rattled off the names of adventurers who had populated the Taos landscape over the years — artists, writers and activists like D. H. Lawrence, Dorothy Brett, Mabel Dodge Luhan and Millicent Rogers, who had resided there since the 1920s. They didn’t seem like regular people but figures out of myth, characters who had bucked society to find their own way in their own world, forming a grand community of outsiders, together. Sounded good to me. No snakes — just artists, mountains and Native Americans.

...Once we arrived in Taos, we stayed at the Kachina Lodge. Giant-size kachina dolls stood guard outside the hotel over the miniature versions housed inside. Some were adorned with feathers, others with tiny turquoise and silver jewelry. Julie and I found them all deeply enchanting. At this time, Taos was a wonderfully sleepy Southwestern town nestled at the foot of the beautiful Sacred Mountain. I was in awe of the particularly carved wooden pillars that were placed in front of many houses and buildings, and of the unique hand-painted beams inside them. The smell of burning firewood was ubiquitous, and carefully applied murals made one feel as though each home was a stand-alone one-of-a-kind.

A year later, in 1970, my father bought Mabel Dodge Luhan’s Taos house, Los Gallos, from her granddaughter, with all of Mabel’s original furnishings inside. He also rented the house Mabel had built for her husband, Tony Luhan, on land next door that belonged to the Taos Pueblo. Los Gallos was a place where (from the 1920s to the 1950s) Mabel had invited artists, dancers and writers like Martha Graham, Ansel Adams, Willa Cather and Marsden Hartley to participate in the artist colony she had created there. Mabel had great flair for mixing up pieces of furniture she had brought to Taos from her time living in Florence, with Navajo rugs and pottery as well as fine Venetian silks and Fortuny fabrics.

After he bought that house, my father decided to live in Taos and leave L.A. for good, and following in Mabel’s steps, to create a creative counterculture where his friends — artists, actors, musicians — could come and gather in the Mud Palace, as he liked to call it. Los Gallos had more than 10 bedrooms, a guesthouse and a carriage house — plenty of room to have friends come and cross-pollinate their ideas. He wanted to set up an editing room so he could work on “The Last Movie.” He also bought the old Taos movie theater, El Cortez, across from the Ranchos de Taos church, and used it to screen different cuts of the movie as he was finishing it.


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1290

Our tune today is Smokey Rogers - Huggin' And Chalkin'.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

In West's latest land fight, New Mexico ranchers sue over access to habitat of protected mouse

New Mexico ranchers are suing the federal government over its attempts to limit their cattle's access to water and grazing areas after a tiny mouse won endangered-species protections in the Southwest. Ranchers, the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, and several cattlemen groups filed their lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque. They contend their private property rights as well as the ranching traditions of some rural New Mexico communities near the Santa Fe and Lincoln national forests are at stake. In the latest dispute over public lands in the West, the U.S. Forest Service has closed off some areas this year to prevent damage to the habitat of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse under the Endangered Species Act. Habitat protections have also been proposed for parts of Arizona and Colorado. AP

Montana counties gain voice in federal land management via growth plans

An old political joke holds that where you stand depends on where you sit. In the debate over who should control federal lands in Montana, some observers have noted a corollary: If you want a seat at the table, it helps to bring a chair. “If you want the federal government to understand about your local customs, your schools, your weeds, your hunting, your industry, you have to have a plan documenting those things,” said Wally Congdon, a Powell County rancher and frequent consultant to county governments around the West. “Federal law states that federal land management must be consistent with local plans to the greatest extent possible. If you want to play the game, bring a team.” The effort is neither simple nor cheap, according to Beaverhead County Commissioner Michael McGinley, who worked with Congdon a decade ago to develop his county’s growth planning resources. And it hasn’t given the county control over issues proposed by the U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management. But it has kept the county a player rather than a spectator in those federal decisions, he said. “A lot of people think a federal land transfer is the best thing since sliced bread – just take the land from the Forest Service and all your problems are solved," McGinley said. “I don’t think that’s the best thing. I don’t think Montana has enough money. It’s better to ask for cooperating agency status.” In June, the Montana Republican Party passed a platform resolution calling for state takeover of 25 million acres of federally controlled land. But the Legislature’s Environmental Quality Council recently considered a report on problems with federal land management in Montana that contained numerous “risks and concerns” about federal oversight, and recommendations for speeding up decisions on issues like logging, mining permits and road construction on public lands. The federal government owns about 70 percent of Beaverhead County. That puts huge pressure on the county government, McGinley said, when federal programs like Payment In Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools don’t contribute their expected payments. In the case of the Red Rocks National Wildlife Refuge, McGinley said Beaverhead County has only received $40,000 of $180,000 it’s owed this year. “They’ve got 25 days left before the federal year’s over,” McGinley said. “Congress has got to appropriate money for SRS and PILT before the end of September. In Beaverhead, it totals up to about $2 million.” Money problems like that are common justification for proponents of federal land takeover. But more tangible issues, like whether a forest road gets maintained or how energy exploration and wilderness designations get decided, are what residents really care about, McGinley said. “We have the resource use plan – that’s where it starts,” McGinley said. “That’s the document you use when you start talking with the federal agencies. And Beaverhead and Madison counties hired a resource use planner together. That way, when you have the meeting, somebody has to be there.”...more

Cogdon is right about the consistency provisions in the planning reg's.  McGinley is wrong about the transfer of lands.  McGinley wants to be a "player" and have a chair at the table.  Problem is, the Forest Service owns the table and the cards, sets the rules of the game and decides when the game will be played.  The player sits there while the Forest Service spits in his face and tells him its raining.

The odds for local players would rise exponentially if the state, rather than the feds, owned the table.