Saturday, January 03, 2015

700 miles of U.S.-Mexico border still insecure, congressional investigators say

Less than 3 percent of illegal immigrants will ever be deported, and more than 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border remained unsecured as of 2014, according to Sen. Tom Coburn’s final oversight report released Saturday morning, which found the Homeland Security Department failing in several of its top missions. The report also said corruption is a serious problem in the Border Patrol, but said agency officials actually told internal affairs investigators to cut down on the number of cases they were pursuing, according to the former division head. In another finding Mr. Coburn’s staff on the Senate Homeland Security Committee found mission creep to be a problem: agents at one immigration agency spent time cracking down on women’s lingerie that they believed infringed on Major League Baseball’s officially licensed logos. The agents raided a lingerie store in Kansas City, Mo., flashed their badges and confiscated 18 pairs of underwear marked with an unauthorized Kansas City Royals logo, Mr. Coburn’s investigators found. Mr. Coburn said that agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, should spend more time focusing on illegal immigrants and less time on property issues like women’s underwear. Meanwhile, more than 700 miles of the border were deemed porous because there was “little to no deployment density or aviation surveillance coverage” to detect illegal immigrants, smugglers or others, said Mr. Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who retired effective Saturday. That 700-mile figure accounts for more than a third of the southern border. Mr. Coburn warned the northern border was even worse-off. “With these broad gaps in coverage of both our Southern and Northern borders, the problem of people and goods illegally entering our country remains a significant concern, and a committed adversary seeking illegal entry into the United States has a reasonable chance of doing so undetected,” said the senator, who was the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee. Overall Mr. Coburn, who has studied the department possibly more closely than any other member of Congress, said it hides important data from Congress and the public, and fails to follow cybersecurity protocols itself, even though it is the agency charged with overseeing the issue nationally...more

Little Jimmy Dickens Dies at Age 94

Although he stood less than 5 feet tall, country music lost a giant when longtime Grand Ole Opry star Little Jimmy Dickens died Friday (Jan. 2) at a Nashville-area hospital at age 94. A master showman and a fan favorite at the Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame member made his final Opry appearance on Dec. 20. A diminutive bundle of energy in his 1950s and 1960s heyday, Dickens wowed country fans with a pleasing mix of his tiny size and an incongruous gum-popping swagger. Also known for his self-deprecating humor, he often called himself “Willie Nelson after taxes” and pretended to have overheard a fan describe him as “Mighty Mouse in pajamas.” His best records featured a hot group of talented pickers in and around his Country Boys band, such as Jabbo Arrington, Thumbs Carlille, Spider Wilson, Howard Rhoton, Walter Haynes, Buddy Harman and Buddy Emmons. Famous for classic comedy novelties like “A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed” and “Out Behind the Barn,” Dickens sang with incomparable heart such love ballads as “We Could,” “I’m Making Love to a Stranger,” “Another Bridge to Burn” and “Life Turned Her That Way.” Born James Cecil Dickens on Dec. 19, 1920, in the small community of Bolt, West Virginia, he was the oldest of 13 children, and within his extended family was a good share of music-loving and music-making coalminers. On radio, he heard a more professional brand of music. By his teen years, Dickens was playing guitar and singing. He first got paid to sing at WJLS in Beckley, West Virginia, in 1938, two years before his high school graduation. In the company there of such future country legends as the Bailes Brothers and Molly O’Day, Dickens moved on to Fairmont, West Virginia, and worked with yet another great, T. Texas Tyler. After high school graduation, he followed Tyler to Indianapolis, where the former “Jimmie the Kid” was first called “Little Jimmy Dickens.” In 1945, Dickens took solo work at WLW in Cincinnati, where a last growth spurt at age 24 brought him to his final height of 4 feet 11 inches. Following a year’s stint in Cincinnati, Dickens headed to Topeka, Kansas, and continued working as a single performer. In 1947, his next stop was Saginaw, Michigan, where he put his first band together. Former Grand Ole Opry network radio host Roy Acuff came through Saginaw on tour and was so impressed with Dickens’ talent and showmanship that he offered to help him find work on Nashville’s WSM and the Opry, a move Dickens made in 1948 (actually living with Acuff during and after the music veteran’s unsuccessful gubernatorial race that year). In August 1948, Dickens became an Opry member following work on WSM and several Opry guest appearances, and his first recordings were for Acuff’s label, Columbia, in January 1949. That year, he scored two career-building hits, “Take an Old Cold ‘Tater (and Wait)” and Boudleaux Bryant’s “Country Boy,” the former supplying his own nickname of “Tater” (given him by Hank Williams) and the latter naming his new band, the Country Boys, which he formed that summer. Soon Dickens was one of the Opry’s most beloved and entertaining acts and one of the field’s busiest road warriors, for years racking up tours of some 200-plus days out and more than 200,000 miles. Even without a lot of charted hits in the years just ahead, his showmanship was the envy of bigger hit-makers, and his band’s musicianship became the goal or target for many aspiring rural musicians. Dickens was one of the first stars whose band released instrumentals in their own right, such as “Buddy’s Boogie,” “Red Wing,” Raisin’ the Dickens” and “Country Boy Bounce,” released on Columbia singles or LPs in the mid-1950s...more

Quotes: Opry, musicians remember Little Jimmy Dickens

"Little Jimmy Dickens has long been a musical hero of mine and one of the finest entertainers to ever step on any stage. I was deeply honored to call him a friend and will always remember the time I got to spend with him. The music world has lost one of our greatest treasures. Rest in peace, my little friend. You were loved by so many of us!"
— Country musician Charlie Daniels

"The Grand Ole Opry did not have a better friend than Little Jimmy Dickens. He loved the audience and his Opry family, and all of us loved him back. He was a one-of-kind entertainer and a great soul whose spirit will live on for years to come."
— Pete Fisher, Opry Vice President & General Manager

"The music industry has lost one of it's biggest treasure's. He continued inspiring me from our first meeting over 35 years ago up until just recently while visiting with him backstage at The Grand Ole Opry.
"He always made me feel like a kid in his presence..with his passing I suddenly feel a little older. I loved being around him whether at his home, at the Opry or on the road doing shows. I will miss him greatly as well as everyone else who was honored enough to have known him. In my eyes he was the tallest man I've ever known. He might have been small in stature but was truly a giant to those that knew him."
— Country singer T.G. Sheppard

"Rest in peace Little Jimmy. Thanks for all the smiles, great music and your big loving heart."
— Reba McEntire, on Twitter

"Much will be said and written about his incredible and unique place in country music history. Which could fill a book. But that isn't how I'll remember him. I will remember the human being that best check-marked all the boxes of a complete and wonderful life. My hero. Do not mourn Little Jim. Celebrate him. Relive and share the memories. Aspire to be like him. And above all, laugh at the punchlines, the craziness and the way he so gracefully made this planet a funnier, better, richer place while he was alive. And in doing so, will continue to for years to come."
— Brad Paisley, on Twitter


New diet guidelines might reflect environment cost

For years, the government has been issuing guidelines about healthy eating choices. Now, a panel that advises the Agriculture Department is ready to recommend that you be told not only what foods are better for your own health, but for the environment as well. That means that when the latest version of the government's dietary guidelines comes out, it may push even harder than it has in recent years for people to choose more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and other plant-based foods — at the expense of meat. The beef and agriculture industries are crying foul, saying an environmental agenda has no place in what has always been a practical blueprint for a healthy lifestyle. The advisory panel has been discussing the idea of sustainability in public meetings, indicating that its recommendations, expected early this year, may address the environment. A draft recommendation circulated last month said a sustainable diet helps ensure food access for both the current population and future generations...more

Been warning you Michelle O's whole nanny state nutrition program is anti-meat.  Now it may become official government policy to discriminate against meat.  All of the feds' resources (regulatory, spending & media) will be arrayed against your product.

A dietary pattern higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods is "more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact than is the current average U.S. diet," the draft said. That appears to take at least partial aim at the beef industry. A study by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year said raising beef for the American dinner table is more harmful to the environment than other meat industries such as pork and chicken. The study said that compared with other popular animal proteins, beef produces more heat-trapping gases per calorie, puts out more water-polluting nitrogen, takes more water for irrigation and uses more land.

Two biggies mentioned:  land and water.  Will the government cease issuing grazing permits in order to protect our and the environment's health?  Ask Michelle O's Forest Service and BLM.  Will government cease leasing water for the same reasons?  Ask Michelle O's Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers. 

Am I pushing this too far?  Maybe.  But notice their rationale is to protect us "and future generations."  Expect to hear more about how all of this is to protect our children and grandchildren.

So what's next?

Once the recommendations are made, the Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments will craft the final dietary guidelines, expected about a year from now. Published every five years, the guidelines are the basis for USDA's "My Plate" icon that replaced the well-known food pyramid in 2010 and is designed to help Americans with healthy eating. Guidelines will also be integrated into school lunch meal patterns and other federal eating programs.

I say hold it right there.  Before issuing anymore guidelines or edicts one thing needs to be determined:  what is the environmental footprint of the U.S. Congress?  And I don't mean just the D.C. buildings, field offices and travel by the Congressmen and their staff.

Since everything undertaken by the feds is authorized by a congressional statute and annually funded by congressional legislation, we need a complete environmental footprint of everything the feds do.  Once we have the footprint, let's line them all up, weigh the environmental benefits and costs of each and then decide where to take action.  That would be a reasonable and fair approach.

And in the meantime, quit picking on ranchers and schoolchildren.  

Friday, January 02, 2015

Donna Douglas, aka Elly May Clampett, passes away at age 82

Family members say Donna Douglas passed away at the age of 82. Douglas was an actress, best known for her role as Elly May Clampett, the only daughter of Jed Clampett, in the CBS television series The Beverly Hillbillies. The series ran for nine years, ending in 1971. Charlene Smith, Douglas' niece and former mayor of Zachary, says her aunt passed away Thursday, Jan. 1 in her Zachary, LA home, with family members by her side. She says pancreatic cancer was the cause of death and only learned she had cancer three months ago. Douglas was born Doris Smith, near Pride, LA. Her family was poor, but they moved to north Baton Rouge when her father, Emmett Smith, got a job with Esso Oil Company. She married at age 17 and a baby boy came along, but the marriage split. Her parents, Emmet and Elma Smith, kept their grandson while Donna moved to New York to try and make as much money as possible to send back home. "I believed if I believed with all my heart that if I did the best I could do, that God would take care of me," said Douglas in a 2009 interview with WAFB. "Then I didn't have to be afraid. And the other thing was that Mom and Daddy trusted me enough to let me go and was gonna help me with my little boy, because he was gonna stay. Then I was gonna be worth of their trust." Donna then moved to Los Angeles where she landed the coveted role of Elly May Clampett...more

Wildfire lawsuit claims sound far-fetched but are hard to dismiss


Is the state to blame for the wildfires that destroyed hundreds of homes in north-central Washington last summer?

Did the bureaucrats who run the Department of Natural Resources purposely let fires burn until they were beyond control, destroying homes and communities, in the hopes of bolstering their budgets? Were the ruinous effects of these fires – characterized as the worst in the state’s history – actually foreseeable, preventable consequences of a decision to keep state firefighters on the sidelines, literally watching as flames spread?

The state says no, and it sounds, on its face, too conspiratorial for prime time. But those questions – which form the backbone of a lawsuit that is headed for court – are harder to dismiss than they should be.
In mid-July, four lightning strikes started four fires in the Methow Valley. Within three days, the fires merged and turned into the largest wildfire in state history, burning more than 256,000 acres and costing the state $60 million to fight. Around 300 homes were destroyed, including the town of Pateros. Damage to livestock and agricultural land was devastating.

From the moment the fires started burning, people in the area began complaining about unresponsive DNR crews. Crews sat and watched as community volunteers fought home fires in vain, homeowners claimed. Volunteers said they were sent away by DNR personnel, who then let the fires burn. According to the attorney preparing the case, Alex Thomason, one homeowner asked a card-playing DNR crew for help, without success.

...Thomason said he has interviewed Forest Service smokejumpers who were turned away from the fire. He said he has interviewed former DNR firefighters who have told him it was “absolutely inexcusable” that the fire was allowed to grow so big, and who told him that the state’s policy on lightning strikes is to let them burn until they burn out or get big enough to draw more resources.

“The only ones saying it was an act of God are the bureaucrats,” Thomason told the Capitol Press last month. “Everyone else believes it was a disaster that didn’t have to happen, that it was caused by DNR not letting people fight the fire.

“We think there is evidence that will show DNR stood to benefit financially (in government resources) from letting these fires grow. They just got bigger than they wanted them to.”


The Mountain Bike Invasion of Wilderness Areas


The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) brought some early Christmas presents to the mountain biking community at the expense of wilderness.

Buried in the Act was a boundary adjustment to the Wheeler Peak Wilderness of New Mexico. The existing boundary had been put into place 50 years ago with the signing of the Wilderness Act. Since mountain biking (and any mechanical advantage) is not permitted in official Wilderness, technically mountain bikes were excluded from the Wheeler Peak Wilderness.

Approximately a mile of trail was removed from the wilderness protection to allow legal access (mountain bikers had already been illegally using the trail). The deletion of wilderness status allows the creation of a 15 mile long trail, much of it above 10,000 feet, that links the East Fork to Lost Lake and Middle Fork drainages to create what biking enthusiasts describe as a “ripping-fast single track”.

The change in the wilderness boundary was part of the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act that permanently protects 45,000 acres of the Carson National Forest in Northern New Mexico near Taos. The Columbine-Hondo was a wilderness study area since 1980.

Mountain bikers in the area consider this a small concession to balance out the loss of 75 trails they had been using in the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Study Area. But that attitude is part of the problem created by the Forest Service’s lax approach to mountain biking in the WSA (as they do nearly everywhere else).  Instead of banning bikes from WSAs as they should, the agency allows this incompatible use to flourish, thus creating a constituency that frequently opposes new wilderness designations.

This was not the only concession to mountain bikers in the NDAA. The proposed boundary of a 22,000 acre addition to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness was also adjusted to accommodate mountain bike use along the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River.

Similar exclusions and revisions to wilderness proposals in the Hermosa Creek Wilderness in Colorado. The original roadless area was more than 148,000 acres, and for decades conservationists had sought to protect about 100,000 acres as wilderness. However, due to active opposition from mountain bikers, the wilderness boundaries were shrunk to 37,000 acres with 70,000 acres being designated a “Special Management Area” to permit mountain biking to continue.

Idaho wolf derby set to start at sunrise today

A hunting derby offering $1,000 each for whoever kills the most wolves and coyotes is scheduled to start at sunrise today in east-central Idaho. Idaho for Wildlife’s three-day Predator Hunting Contest and Fur Rendezvous is planned on private ranch land and U.S. Forest Service land around Salmon. “I think we’re going to have a good turnout,” said Steve Alder, organizer of the contest. He didn’t have an estimate on the number of hunters, though, due to the remoteness of the area. The group this year received permission to include land administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, but the agency withdrew the permit in November after two lawsuits by environmental groups. Losing the 3.1 million acres of BLM land cut the area for the derby in half and eliminated lower-elevation areas likely to have more coyotes and wolves. A coalition of environmental groups, as well as Democratic U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, tried but failed to get the Forest Service to revoke the permit it issued. “The world is looking at this with a lot of dismay,” said Amy Atwood, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re not going to go away, and we’re going to keep fighting.” She said the group has a litigation strategy to prevent another derby but declined to go into details. The derby last year drew 230 people, about 100 of them hunters, who killed 21 coyotes but no wolves. Alder said the BLM’s revoking the group’s permit might have prompted more hunters to take part this year. He said 40 hunters from outside Idaho have committed. He said ranchers have been contacted in advance so hunters can use that land. Also, he noted, possible wolf sightings are being tracked. “We’ve heard some reports, and we’re trying to pinpoint where those are so we can put in hunters,” he said. Besides the $1,000 prizes, Alder said, fur buyers will be available. The potential pay for a black wolf pelt is as much as $600. “People love the black ones,” Alder said. “And the pure white. If you can find a big white pelt, that’s beautiful. That’s worth quite a bit.”...more

New Mexico water project comes up short

For the first time its four-decade history, the San Juan-Chama Project has fallen short on the amount of water it has delivered from the mountains of southwest Colorado to central New Mexico. Water managers say the effect on Rio Grande Valley water operations was small, but the implications are significant. They say it demonstrates that a supply once seen as dependable backup to a faltering Rio Grande might not be as reliable as once thought. “It’s one of those things that was always a theoretical possibility, but nobody thought it would come to pass,” David Gensler, water manager for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, told the Albuquerque Journal. This year’s shortage amounted to 10,000 acre-feet. One acre-foot is about enough to serve two average households for a year. The first-ever shortfall comes after three consecutive years of bad snowpack. Federal officials had warned last year that shortages might be possible and that climate change would mean less reliable supplies from the project as temperatures throughout the region warm.  AP

Drug firms sway vets on antibiotics in food animals

In 2016, a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy will give veterinarians a key role in combating a surge in antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that infect humans. For the first time, the agency will require veterinarians, not farmers, to decide whenever antibiotics used by people are given to animals. Medical doctors issue antibiotics by prescription only. Yet farmers and food companies have been able to buy the same or similar drugs over the counter to add to feed and water. The drugs not only help prevent disease but enable livestock to grow faster on less feed. The new directive is meant to guard against the overuse of the drugs in American meat production. But by enlisting the help of veterinarians, a Reuters examination found, the FDA will be empowering a profession that not only has allegiances to animals, farmers and public health, but also has pervasive and undisclosed financial ties to the makers of the drugs. The relationships between medical doctors and the pharmaceutical industry are subject to strict rules that require the public disclosure of payments for meals, trips, consulting, speaking and research. No laws or regulations — including the new FDA directives — require veterinarians to reveal financial connections to drug companies. That means veterinarians can be wined and dined and given scholarships, awards, stipends, gifts and trips by pharmaceutical benefactors without the knowledge of the FDA or the public. Of the 90,000 veterinarians who practice in the United States, about 11,000 — or one of every eight — work in food animal production, according to a 2013 workforce study. Livestock and poultry specialists advise growers on health issues from insemination to birth to weaning to fattening to euthanasia. They also treat a variety of illnesses and injuries. Many train farmhands how to spot disease and administer drugs. Veterinary medicine is a little-regulated corner of the medical profession, more dependent on industry funding than its human counterparts, and Reuters found that drug companies support veterinarians at every stage of their careers. Sometimes the payments are small — $10 for a meal or $250 for an hour’s talk. But larger funding arrangements — $100,000 for research, for example — are not uncommon...more

Crappy Predicament - Poop Map Of San Francisco To Track The Homeless

Want to know where the homeless relieve themselves in San Francisco? Lucky for you, there’s now an interactive poop map that pinpoints which Golden City streets people defecate on. Jennifer Wong, a web developer, created the map — dubbed “Human Wasteland” — to find where the homeless dwell in the West Coast city, according to Reuters. Her efforts got a boost thanks to the growing problem with people using Frisco streets as commodes. The city received over 5,000 complaints about feces and urine from June to November 2014. Wong used this data for her map that depicted where there’s the most crap happening. The Tenderloin district received the most share of dung reports, followed by a high concentration of number 2 in the northeastern area of the city and in the former hippie mecca of Haight-Ashbury.” Fortunately for Wong and the entire Bay Area, the city is also trying to curb this fecal epidemic and has distributed several port-a-pottys since last summer. Complaints have dropped since the “Tenderloin Pit Stop” program was launched. Whether the city is fine with the port-a-pottys becoming a permanent fixture of the area is unclear....more

Interactive poop maps?  Fecal epidemic?  Dung reports?

We've long had a BS detector here at The Westerner...but do I now need a DuBois Dung Detector?  Please help me with design ideas.  Email your version of a dung detector device to

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1345

Our final old 78 this week is Asa Martin & Doc Roberts - Hot Corn.  This version was recorded in 1935 and released as Champion 45065.  They had a 1932 version, Champion 16520, and two versions recorded in 1936.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year

Russia to Build World's Largest DNA Depository

The oldest book of the Bible, Genesis, has God commanding Noah to round up males and females of every animal on Earth to ensure the survival of such species after the global calamity He was set to unleash. Now, with the help of data modeling and cryongenics, Russia’s Moscow State University (MSU) has received an enormous grant to collect the DNA of every single living and extinct creature on Earth. The massive DNA collection is hoped to preserve the heritage of life on this planet despite any future calamities. MSU’s rector, Viktor Sadivnichy, unabashedly calls the project “Noah’s Ark.” A depository will be created, he said, to store the DNA “of every living thing on Earth.” This includes currently living as well as threatened and extinct organisms. MSU’s “frozen zoo” comes at possibly the most critical time in Earth’s biological history. Habitat destruction, pollution, disease and climate change have drastically increased the number of threatened and endangered species. Schemes to ensure their protection have become critical. The venture will be built at one of the university’s campuses and, projected for completion before 2018, will be physically enormous. To house the amounts of desired material and data, the facility, it is said, will require 166 square miles of land. By comparison, the country of Liechtenstein is 62 square miles. Russia’s updated Noah’s Ark will not be the first attempt at salvaging DNA on a global scale. The Svalbard Seed Vault, whih is built into the permafrost of Norway is a depository intent on storing representative seeds of all of the food plants in the world. According to the Kingdom of Norway, the installation was developed to ensure the “genetic diversity of the world’s food crops is preserved for future generations.” The vault “is designed to store duplicates of seeds from seed collections around the globe.” The Svalbard Seed Vault opened in February, 2008 and is said to currently house 1.5 million specific seed samples of food crops and can ultimately store 4.5 million. Much of the planning for Svalbard has come from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which is funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation...more

Sage-Grouse Rider Frustrates Conservation Efforts

The debate over federal protections for the Sage-Grouse species we discussed in “FWS Announces ESA Protection for the  Gunnison  Sage-Grouse” continued this month with the passage of the FY15 appropriations bill, which includes a rider prohibiting the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) from using the Department of the Interior’s funding to issue new rules concerning the birds.  Introduced by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), the rider provides that “[n]one of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used by the Secretary of the Interior to write or issue [pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA)]—(1) a proposed rule for greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus); (2) a proposed rule for the Columbia basin distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse; (3) a final rule for the bi-state distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse; or (4) a final rule for Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus).”[1The rider, which was championed by grazing, mining, and oil and gas interests, effectively bars FWS from proposing ESA protections for the Greater Sage-Grouse, a bird whose habitat spans several western states with developing conventional and nonconventional energy sectors.[2]  The Gunnison Sage-Grouse, a related species, was listed as threatened on November 12, 2014, and although the rider does not alter that determination, it does prevent FWS from amending the listing in response to new developments.  Because the birds’ habitat ranges across several western states that are considered to be prime locations for oil, gas, and coal extraction, as well as wind, solar, and transmission line projects, FWS’s inability to list the Greater Sage-Grouse under ESA or to issue new rules concerning the Gunnison variant is a welcome development for many in the energy sector. The rider will, however, also have the unintended effect of preventing FWS from issuing a 4(d) rule intended to relax protections for the Gunnison Sage-Grouse in Gunnison County, Colorado, where it had planned to ease restrictions due to local progress in conserving the species.[3]  According to FWS, the rider “prevents the Service from finalizing a rule that would provide certainty to landowners, giving them assurance that they can continue economic activities compatible with the conservation of the species, such as properly managed livestock and ranching activities.”[4]  Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell likewise expressed disappointment in the rider, noting that some Congressmen are “more interested in political posturing than finding solutions to conserve the sagebrush landscape . . . [r]ather than helping the communities they profess to benefit, these members will only create uncertainty, encourage conflict and undermine the unprecedented progress that is happening throughout the West.”[5]  But even as the likelihood of ESA protection for the Greater Sage-Grouse wanes, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is revising approximately 100 land-use plans covering millions of acres in states where the bird is indigenous.  ESA-related funding restrictions notwithstanding, BLM’s land-use plans could bolster Greater Sage-Grouse populations by limiting oil and gas development and requiring developers to establish buffer zones around the bird’s breeding grounds.  BLM’s proposed land-use plans in Utah, for example, include a 4-mile buffer around new oil and gas projects, while draft plans in Oregon would discourage development throughout approximately 5 million acres of “focal” Sage-Grouse habitat.[6]...more

Boulder-White Clouds: The Northwest’s next great protected wilderness

...A massive proposed molybdenum mine would have gouged the mountain and destroyed a lake at its base. Then-Gov. Don Samuelson was gung-ho for the mine. Challenger Cecil Andrus described the project as “a crime” and, in 1970, bounced Samuelson from the governor’s office. Forty-four years later, it appears that Castle Peak will be the centerpiece of the Pacific Northwest’s next great protected wilderness — the Boulder-White Cloud region north of Sun Valley. “By the end of next year, it will be a national monument or we will have passed a wilderness bill, one of the two,” Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said recently. Simpson has labored for a decade to work out a deal between conservationists and motorized recreationists. He came close in 2006, and saw Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, back off from a deal at the last minute in 2010. The Obama administration, urged on by Cecil Andrus — an early Obama endorser in 2008 — hints strongly that it will use the president’s authority and designate a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument before the 44th president leaves office. If Congress does not act to protect key wild places, “the president has his pen and intends to use it,” White House counselor John Podesta told a September dinner marking the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Simpson was in the audience. Thanks to the 1906 Antiquities Act, Obama has the authority to designate monuments on federal lands. The law was first used by President Theodore Roosevelt, more than a century ago, to protect the Grand Canyon as well as the Olympic Mountains. Both were to become crown jewels of America’s national park system. The endangered elk of the Olympics now thrive, and bear Roosevelt’s name. Obama has lately shown a desire to channel Theodore Roosevelt. He designated a 955-acre San Juan Islands National Monument after Congress failed to move protection legislation. He has protected a portion of California’s vastly scenic Mendocino Coast. The president recently created a monument in the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles, an area contested since actors James Garner and Steve McQueen championed its protection nearly half-a-century ago. Simpson has asked the Obama administration to hold off on designating a monument for a few months. The incoming chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, is a critic of the Antiquities Act. But he is viewed as more open to locally produced compromises than his predecessor, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash...more

Eagle Mountain legal battle settled after 15 years

A longstanding legal battle over land around the old Eagle Mountain iron mine has been settled in a deal that some activists hope could bring the mine one step closer to inclusion in Joshua Tree National Park. The old mine has been the subject of fiery debate in recent years, with several groups fighting over its future. The owners have been trying to sell the land to another mining company, while a separate company has obtained federal approval to build a hydroelectric power plant at the site. Conservationists, meanwhile, want to see the area absorbed by Joshua Tree National Park, which surrounds it on three sides. The legal settlements signed last month don’t directly address any of those possibilities. Rather, they require Kaiser Eagle Mountain, which owns the mine, to return to the federal government certain lands surrounding its property, which the company received as part of a land exchange 15 years ago. Regulators say that Kaiser still has the right to mine those lands, and that the partial reversal of the land exchange is more of a technicality than anything. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Dana Wilson said the land’s return to federal control “doesn’t in any way relate” to the possibility of the area becoming part of the national park...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1344

Another 78rpm, Patsy Montana, Prairie Ramblers - Old Black Mountain Trail.  Recorded on March 1, 1935 for ARC and released as Conqueror 8695.  Tex Atchison, fiddle; Chick Hurt, mandolin; Salty Holmes, guitar; Jack Taylor, base.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ranchers v bison-huggers

THE most original political book of early 2015 is not formally about politics at all. Instead “The Battle for Yellowstone” by Justin Farrell, a young scholar at Yale University, ponders venomous rows that have shaken Yellowstone National Park in recent decades, and why they are so intractable. The rows turn on such questions as wolf re-introduction, bison roaming-rights and snowmobile access to that lovely corner of the Rocky Mountains. It is nearly half a century since biologists first asked Congress to re-introduce wolves into Yellowstone, so that they might usefully eat some of the elk then lumbering about in over-large herds. Getting to the point of releasing wolves in the mid-1990s involved executive actions and directives from six presidents, debates in dozens of congressional committees, 120 public hearings, more than 160,000 public submissions to federal wildlife bosses and at least $12m-worth of scientific research. Pro- and anti-wolf types drew up competing technical reports about the value of wolves as “apex predators”, economic costs to cattle ranchers, tourism benefits and elk ecology. This techno-rationalist arms race bought no peace: the wolf-wars blaze as fiercely as ever. Yellowstone’s wild bison trigger ferocious rows, too, each time they amble outside the national park. Let them roam, cry fans of these last genetically pure survivors of the vast herds that once filled the West. Stop them, bellow ranchers who fear the bison will infect their cattle with brucellosis, a nasty disease. Tottering stacks of brucellosis research have not resolved the dispute. Since 1997 more than 5,000 volunteers—many of them young, affluent outsiders, some adopting such “forest names” as Chipmunk, Grumble or Frog—have catalogued countless allegations of bison-bullying outside park boundaries, but changed few minds about the rights and wrongs of it. As for snowmobilers and their right to roar along Yellowstone trails when winter descends, millions of dollars have been spent on lawsuits in Wyoming and Washington, DC since the late 1990s, backed by studies of engine-noise, exhaust-pollution and wildlife behaviour. Some wrangling continues. All this puzzled Mr Farrell, a sociologist at Yale’s school of forestry and environmental studies, whose book is due out this summer, under the full title “The Battle for Yellowstone: Morality and the Sacred Roots of Environmental Conflict”. He spent two years asking folk in and around Yellowstone why they are so cross. Beneath debates about science and economics he found arguments about morality and the proper relations between humans and nature—though those involved often do not, or will not acknowledge this. In short, all sides purport to be weighing what is true and false, while really arguing about right and wrong...more

Rhea Suh leaves Interior to become president of NRDC on Jan. 1

Rhea S. Suh will soon be leaving the Department of the Interior to become the head of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the largest environmental advocacy groups in the world. As of Jan. 1, 2015, she will officially take on the role making her the third president of the organization in its 44-year history. Additionally, as a Korean American, she will also be the first non-white woman to lead an environmental group of this magnitude. “It has been an unparalleled privilege to work for [President Barack Obama] and Interior Secretaries Ken Salazar and Sally Jewell,” she said at a press conference in September. “Now, I’m honored to join NRDC, our nation’s intrepid defender of clean air, safe water, and wild places.” While Suh was working for the Department of the Interior, she oversaw a $12 billion budget and approximately 70,000 employees. As the daughter of two Korean immigrant parents, she was born and raised in Boulder, Col. where she developed a love and appreciation for the outdoors. Suh decided to pursue her interests further when she studied environmental science and education at Columbia University. She graduated in 1992 and also went on to get her master’s in education at Harvard University. Since then she has working for notable environmental groups and initiatives including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which have all played roles in her becoming the head of the NRDC...more

NASA - Delaware-size gas plume over NM

The methane that leaks from 40,000 gas wells near this desert trading post may be colorless and odorless, but it’s not invisible. It can be seen from space. Satellites that sweep over energy-rich northern New Mexico can spot the gas as it escapes from drilling rigs, compressors and miles of pipeline snaking across the badlands. In the air it forms a giant plume: a permanent, Delaware-sized methane cloud, so vast that scientists questioned their own data when they first studied it three years ago. “We couldn’t be sure that the signal was real,” said NASA researcher Christian Frankenberg. The country’s biggest methane “hot spot,” verified by NASA and University of Michigan scientists in October, is only the most dramatic example of what scientists describe as a $2 billion leak problem: the loss of methane from energy production sites across the country. When oil, gas or coal are taken from the ground, a little methane — the main ingredient in natural gas — often escapes along with it, drifting into the atmosphere, where it contributes to the warming of the Earth. Methane accounts for about 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and the biggest single source of it — nearly 30 percent — is the oil and gas industry, government figures show. All told, oil and gas producers lose 8 million metric tons of methane a year, enough to provide power to every household in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. As early as next month, the Obama administration will announce new measures to shrink New Mexico’s methane cloud while cracking down nationally on a phenomenon that officials say erodes tax revenue and contributes to climate change. The details are not publicly known, but already a fight is shaping up between the White House and industry supporters in Congress over how intrusive the restrictions will be...more

FDA on the farm - regulating irrigation water

Complaints from farmers nationwide have encouraged the Food and Drug Administration to take the almost unheard of act of revising landmark food safety laws that were scheduled to take effect soon, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service food safety expert. The act was signed into law by President Obama in 2011, but growers now have a second opportunity to provide input that might change the language on specifics before it is enacted. “The new federal regulations would set standards for the growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce for human consumption,” Dr. Juan Anciso, a horticulture specialist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, said. “Of great concern to producers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley were those rules that dealt with irrigation water, because they irrigate from the river and there are microbes in it.” According to the proposed rules on irrigation water, the FDA wanted to set an upper limit of 235 colony-forming E. coli cells per 100 milliliters of water, he said. Irrigation water sampled to have more than that would render the produce inedible and trigger a mandatory remedy for the water source. While such rules might be workable for well water, they could not be fairly applied to surface water from the Rio Grande and canals that deliver it to fields, Anciso said. Instead of arguing whether 235 units made for good or bad irrigation water, Anciso and others from Texas and California presented scientific research showing that E. coli counts varied widely in water, but most importantly that after five days in a field, those E. coli counts dropped dramatically...more

Transfer Of Federal Lands - video

Published on Feb.28, 2014.

March 2012, Governor Herbert signed HB148, Utah's Transfer of Public Lands Act, which demands that the United States extinguish title to Federal Lands and turn them over to the state to manage by the end of 2014. There are a number or resources on the internet to get more background on the ACT and find out what other western states are doing at

This week on the County Seat we ask, What is the status of Transfer of Public Lands in Utah?

A number of organizations such as, National Association of Counties, The National Republican Committee, and a number of States have passed resolutions in favor of Transfer of Public Lands.

We also had an opportunity to talk to two professors from the University of Utah about the constitutional and political issues involved in a transfer of public lands.

Tune in to ABC4Utah Sunday Morning at 8:30 to dive into some of the finer points on the movement in the West demanding that the federal government keeps the promise it made to states at statehood.

Disasters and Triumphs: 10 Major Environmental Stories in Indian Country During 2014

A list provided by Indian Country Today.

San Luis Valley - The pioneering Trujillo family ranch near the Great Sand Dunes

Ranching and mining put food on the table for many diverse groups. Over the span of time, rich grass, abundant water and accessible passes have drawn herds and hunters to the northern San Luis Valley (SLV). Smithsonian archeologists Pegi Jodry and Dennis Stanford uncovered the remains of mammoth bison and a kill site where humans processed the animals 11,000 or so years ago northeast of the Great Sand Dunes. The Ute and other native groups in the region ventured to the rich SLV to hunt on an annual cycle. Some early settlers mistook the American Plains Buffalo for water buffalo and tried to domesticate them. Around 1600 early Spanish explorers and settlers reached the SLV. Searching for gold, meat and religious converts, a group of these vaqueros, impressed by a Ute display of bison hunting, set out to round up a herd of buffalo. They managed to stampede a herd of some 500 of the angry bison. Many men and horses were killed in this debacle and the idea of domestication was given up. Winter hardship broke down precarious good relations with the Ute and other natives. The need for food and shelter led to the commandeering of corn and enslavement of native people. For nearly a century the citizens of Spanish Mexico enslaved native people and some native groups enslaved Spanish people. The native slaves in the SLV decided they had enough and rebelled, driving the settlers down from the mountains and across the sand dunes to board make-shift rafts to escape south on the Rio Grande. Francis Torres, a Catholic Jesuit missionary, was
mortally wounded in the uprising. As he expired trying to make it to the relative safety of a raft, his dying vision was of the mountains to the east tinged a blood-like red in the light of the setting sun. In great pain he cried out, “Sangre de Cristo” (Blood of Christ) and the steep range was named. In the early 1800s New Mexicans began herding flocks of sheep up the Rio Grande for summer grazing. If you go for a soak at Stagecoach Hot Springs north of Taos and southwest of Arroyo Hondo you can see some of the steep and precarious trails up the Rio Grande Gorge these early ranchers took with their dogs and flocks. Mexican independence from Spain in 1821 and encouragement from the government led to the settlement of the SLV in the then-northern reaches of Mexico. Mexican sheep rancher, Teofilo Trujillo was born in Rio Arriba County in northern New Mexico around 1842. He moved north and began running cattle and sheep in the area of the Great Sand Dunes and Blanca Peak. Seeing the way the political tides were turning, Trujillo became an American citizen in 1848, right after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo made the SLV part of the USA. The Trujillos broke from the traditional agricultural practices of their forbearers: the majority of settlers from NM in the SLV lived and worked the land communally. They lived in adobe brick homes built around a central plaza, cultivated common land, and shared water resources. The Trujillo family founded an independent ranch away from other settlers...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1343

Another 78:  Pie Plant Pete - Farming By The Fire.  Bet you know someone like that too.  You can learn more about these two by going to

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Editorial - Pope Francis Errs In Linking Church To Green Movement

Pope Francis' recent leftist statements should trouble Catholics and non-Catholics alike, but even more disturbing are the pope's latest declarations on the dramatic action needed to fight climate change.

The Vatican apparently now has been infiltrated by followers of a radical green movement that is, at its core, anti-Christian, anti-people, anti-poor and anti-development. The basic tenets of Catholicism — the sanctity of human life and the value of all souls — are detested by the modern pagan environmentalists who worship the created, but not the creator.

At its core, Big Green believes that too many human beings are the basic global problem. People, according to this view, are resource destroyers. Climate change, they say, is due to the overpopulation of Mother Earth.

The head of the Catholic Church should denounce — not praise — such anti-human thinking. It violates Pope John Paul II's famous letter reminding us that creative human beings are a resource, not a curse.

Instead, the pope unwittingly has linked arms with the people who have provided finance, intellectual credibility and applause for radical and immoral population-control policies including eugenics, millions of forced abortions and sterilizations, and one-child policies, all in the name of "saving the planet."

Francis is reportedly preparing a lengthy encyclical message for early 2015 to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics on the need for decisive action on climate change. He may even be preparing a U.N. speech on the topic.

Earlier this year, he said: "The monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness."

The science behind this is bunk...

How Obama's immigration plan is expected to roll out

President Obama's new set of immigration policies could affect as many as 5 million people, including the possibility of a three-year reprieve from the threat of deportation for parents of children with legal status. The new year will see those policies coming into effect, potentially creating dramatic changes for those who are in the U.S. illegally. Also ahead in 2015 are important shifts in how agents will enforce immigration laws to focus more on deporting people with lengthy or violent criminal records and less on people whose only crimes are immigration offenses. The new approach will end the dragnet system that enlisted police in blowing the whistle on immigrants. These policies won't apply to most of the 11.2 million living in the country illegally. And don't expect this to roll out without a fight. Republicans in Congress already have vowed to try to undo the new policies. "This is a serious breach of our Constitution. It's a serious threat to our system of government," House Speaker John A. Boehner said as the plan was unveiled. But practically speaking, there is little they can do. Republican governors in states affected by the new deportation policies have called out the lawyers. At least 24 states have filed suit to block the plan, and that case is expected to play out in the courts throughout 2015.
Here's a look at the plan and what we can expect...more

Farmers brace for labor shortage under new policy

Farmers already scrambling to find workers in California — the nation's leading grower of fruits, vegetables and nuts — fear an even greater labor shortage under President Barack Obama's executive action to block some 5 million people from deportation. Thousands of the state's farmworkers, who make up a significant portion of those who will benefit, may choose to leave the uncertainty of their seasonal jobs for steady, year-around work building homes, cooking in restaurants and cleaning hotel rooms. "This action isn't going to bring new workers to agriculture," said Jason Resnick, vice president and general counsel of the powerful trade association Western Growers. "It's possible that because of this action, agriculture will lose workers without any mechanism to bring in new workers." Although details of the president's immigration policy have yet to be worked out, Resnick said the agricultural workforce has been declining for a decade. Today, the association estimates there is a 15 to 20 percent shortage of farmworkers, which is driving the industry to call for substantial immigration reform from Congress, such as a sound guest worker program. "Hopefully there will be the opportunity for comprehensive immigration reform," said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. "That's the right thing to do for this country." California's 330,000 farmworkers account for the largest share of the 2.1 million nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas comes in a distant second with less than half of California's farmworkers...more

New Republican-led panel will focus on energy and environment

House Republicans next year will use a new oversight subcommittee to examine the Obama administration’s energy and environmental policies. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), future chair the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced that he would form the new panel to watch over the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the departments of agriculture, energy and interior. Responsibility for those agencies previously fell to two panels — one that focused on energy and the other on regulatory affairs. Chaffetz appointed Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) to head the new subcommittee. “Each of the incoming chairs brings valuable knowledge and experience to the subcommittees they have been selected to lead,” the congressman said in an announcement. Lummis’s appointment will likely cause environmentalists to cringe. Earlier this year, the Republican lawmaker sponsored legislation to overhaul the Endangered Species Act, arguing that the law relies on faulty science and strips property owners and states of valuable land and water rights...more

With Bishop at Resources and Chaffetz at Oversight, Utah will be ruling the roost on environmental issues.

Forest Service betrays its heritage, assaults water rights

By Tony Francois
For the Capital Press

As many American farmers and ranchers are aware, these days the U.S. Forest Service is no friend to privately held water rights.

Right now, for instance, the agency is proposing broad new restrictions and controls on groundwater rights in and near national forests. These mandates would apply wherever the exercise of water rights would affect forest resources (a vague concept that allows regulators maximum discretion to pick and choose which water-rights owners they will target).

Under the proposals, when property owners need a permit from the Forest Service, they could be forced to surrender groundwater rights as the price of receiving it. And water-rights holders will be subject to onerous construction, operating, and reporting standards for wells and water pipelines — which many smaller groundwater users will have difficulty meeting.

Many private property owners have weighed in against what amounts to a sweeping attempt to transfer private water rights to public ownership or control.

To the extent these regulations would lead to the confiscation of water rights without compensation, they violate the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Water rights are a form of private property, after all. But there is another basic problem — and fundamental irony — as well: The proposed rules are in tension with the historic mission of the Forest Service itself.

Indeed, the agency’s current adversarial stance toward private water rights represents a 180-degree reversal from its original purpose and objectives. It is time to restate those objectives — and to demand that the agency recommit itself to them.

In this context, there are two important facts to keep in mind about the national forests and the Forest Service.

First, by the time they were established, most of the land within them that was available for farming had been settled and was under private ownership, and the water resources necessary for agriculture had already been largely developed and subject to privately held water rights.

Second, one of the principal purposes of the establishment of national forests was to ensure that these water resources, which had been previously developed, could be effectively used by farming communities — by “securing favorable conditions of water flows,” as the founding statute put it.

Tony Francois is an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation. He authored PLF’s comments to the U.S. Forest Service in opposition to the agency’s proposed new mandates on owners of groundwater rights.


Cliven Bundy enters 2015 unbowed, still grazing cattle in disputed lands

Unbowed and unapologetic, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is still running his cattle on disputed grazing land eight months after his highly publicized standoff over public lands, but that doesn’t mean his feud with the federal government is over. In a tense confrontation that generated international headlines, the 68-year-old Mr. Bundy won that round last spring: Bureau of Land Management officials agreed to leave the property and release his impounded cattle after hundreds of armed supporters descended on the Southern Nevada ranch in April. He says he hasn’t seen any sign of federal agents since. “[W]e’ve really enjoyed some liberty and freedoms out here,” Mr. Bundy told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last month. “Since the standoff, we haven’t seen one BLM vehicle on any of these country roads around this ranch. We haven’t seen one BLM ranger. We haven’t seen one [National] Park Service ranger. We haven’t really seen any undercover-type people,” he said. “We haven’t seen snipers on top of our hills. We haven’t seen high-tech communication equipment. We haven’t seen any of those things.” Still, the victory came at a high cost. Mr. Bundy, a newcomer to the media spotlight, was vilified in the media and lost the backing of many prominent conservatives after he said at an April press conference thThe BLM did not respond to a request for comment on the status of its dispute with Mr. Bundy at deadline. Meanwhile, the FBI is reportedly conducting a criminal investigation into possible weapons violations and intimidation tactics against federal agents that occurred during the standoff at the Bunkerville ranch. And Mr. Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, says the federal government is treating him as a “domestic terrorist,” which is what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Cliven Bundy and his supporters at the height of the April standoff. Ammon Bundy said he was detained and questioned Nov. 1 by the Transportation Security Administration when he and his daughter tried to board a flight from Phoenix to Salt Lake City. He followed up by having a background check conducted at Cabela’s, a federally licensed firearms dealer, which came up as “delayed.” A day later, the FBI lifted the “delayed” status, enabling him to buy a gun, he said in a post on the Bundy Ranch website...more

Young wolf mistaken for coyote shot

State wildlife officials have confirmed that a young female wolf was shot and killed in Beaver County, the first documented killing of a wolf in Utah in several years. The men were hunting coyotes when they shot and killed the animal Sunday night near the south end of the Tushar Mountains. They found a collar on it, and wildlife officials said the collar was first attached to the animal for identification and tracking purposes in January 2014 in Cody, Wyoming. The northern gray wolf was about 3 years old, and officials are terming the killing a case a mistaken identity. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said reports of wolf sightings are on the rise in Utah, but biologists have so far been unable to confirm if there are any breeding pairs or an actual pack. In 2010, two wolves were killed after attacking Utah livestock. Most of the sightings have been in counties that border Idaho and Wyoming...more

Saving girls wins medal for BLM firefighter

Justin Hanley, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management firefighter employed at the Miles City Field Office, was recently awarded the Carnegie Medal for Heroism for saving two young girls from drowning in the Yellowstone River in August 2013. The presentation was held Dec. 13 in conjunction with a “Toys for Tots” event at the local Eagles Lodge. The two sisters presented the medal. The Carnegie Hero Fund Awards the Carnegie Medal to individuals in the U.S. and Canada who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others. Some recipients are awarded the medal posthumously, having died in their rescue attempt. Hanley saved Chava L. and Shoshana L. Berry from drowning in the Yellowstone River at Miles City on Aug. 4, 2013. Sisters Chava, 14, and Shoshana, 10, were wading along the bank of the river when the current pulled them in to deeper water and carried them downstream. Hanley, who lived nearby, responded and ran several hundred feet along the bank to a point just beyond the girls. He entered the water, and the strong channel current pulled on him, but he reached the girls at a point about 250 feet from the bank. He held Chava, who was inert, with one arm and then grasped Shoshana with that hand. Using his free arm, Hanley stroked back toward the bank, the current continuing to take them downstream. Fatigued and suffering abrasions, Hanley reached the bank with the girls at a point about 700 feet downstream from where he entered the river...more

This Oil Map Answers The First Question Everyone Asks When Turmoil Hits The Middle East

When turmoil hits the Middle East, one of the first questions everyone asks is: "How much oil is at risk?"  Before prices crashed again, oil was actually rallying for a little while on Monday. News outlets and energy pundits were quick to attribute the early upward moves to Libya, where a rocket attack caused an oil storage tank fire.  In JP Morgan Funds' monthly guide to the markets, David Kelly and his team offer this map showing what percentage of the world's liquid energy is produced by each country or flows through a waterway in the Middle East...more

USDA chief pulls back beef checkoff proposal

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack scrapped a proposal to establish another beef checkoff on top of the existing beef checkoff program. The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association is pleased with Sec. Vilsack’s decision to listen to the outcry from the nation’s cattle farmers and ranchers. “The secretary asked for comments and responded appropriately to the concerns expressed by those of us who invest our dollars into the beef checkoff program. MCA considers this announcement to be good news,” said MCA President Jim McCann, who is a cattle rancher from Miller, Missouri. The new checkoff would have functioned under the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. The Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 governs the current beef checkoff. MCA expressed “vehement” opposition to the creation of a new beef checkoff under the 1996 Act...more

Immigrants entering country illegally becoming more aggressive, Border Patrol official says

Undocumented migrants arrested in the Arizona desert increasingly mount resistance and behave more aggressively during detentions, Border Patrol agents working in the state said. "In recent years, undocumented immigrants' aggressiveness has increased and that is something we face when we patrol the desert," Art Del Cueto, president of the union representing Border Patrol agents in Arizona, told Efe. Del Cueto recalled that when he began his career as a Border Patrol agent 12 years ago, during his first arrest of illegal immigrants he alone stopped 80 people and all of them followed his instructions without objection. "Now, when we stop two or three people, often we find that, at least, one of them is aggressive," he said...more

Rodeo cowboy legend Alvin Nelson dies

Rodeo cowboy legend Alvin Nelson is being remembered as one of the best of his generation, an influence on younger riders and an innovator in the sport. Nelson, of Grassy Butte, a member of half a dozen halls of fame and North Dakota’s only world champion saddle bronc rider for 24 years, died Dec. 23 at a hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, according to Fulkerson Funeral Home. He was 80. His funeral is scheduled for Wednesday in Watford City, North Dakota. Nelson won the saddle bronc world championship in 1957 at Madison Square Garden in New York. He qualified for five Wrangler National Finals Rodeos, winning the saddle bronc riding average at the finals in 1961 and 1962, and also the all-around title in 1961 in Dallas. Nelson told the Minot Daily News in 2004 that he remembered his 1957 title well. “The rodeo lasted three weeks in September, and at that time, it was the world’s largest rodeo according to prize money, number of spectators and the number of contestants,” he said as he was preparing to be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. “There were eight rounds. I split third and fourth on the first horse, won the second round, split first and second in the last two rounds to win $4,234,” he said. “This was the most money ever won in the saddle bronc riding at any one rodeo at the time, and this record stood until 1980.” Nelson was a member of the “six pack,” a group of North Dakota bronc and bull riders who dominated the rodeo circuit in the 1950s. Nelson also redesigned the bronc riding saddle, moving the stirrups closer to the front to make it easier to spur the horse, according to Kevin Holten, executive director of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. “He was revolutionary,” Holten said. “He redesigned the bronc riding saddle, and everybody copied him from that time forward.”...more

A.J. Crawford; rich, shrewd, thrifty and promiscuous

A.J. (Abel Justus) Crawford, once a penniless sheepherder in the late 1800s, became a self-made millionaire who called Carlsbad home for more than 70 years. Today, many individuals, non-profit groups and projects in the surrounding area benefit from his generosity. Crawford came to the area with nothing. He had worked as a sheepherder in West Texas accumulating a small flock he took instead of pay. He later followed his brother, L.S. (Louis Stine) Crawford to Eddy (now Carlsbad). In the late 1890s Crawford grazed 5,000 sheep on beet pulp once the sugar beet factory was operational. It cost him 5 cents per animal per month. A Penasco Valley News article dated Oct. 28, 1910, told of Crawford selling 400,000 pounds of local wool. He had negotiated a price of 12.5 cents a pound that came to around $50,000. The wool purchased by C.H. Webb & Company of Philadelphia required shipment on 14 rail cars. In December 1917 Crawford opened the Crawford Hotel which was said to have an elegant and ornate interior. The Artesia Advocate dated Dec. 7, 1917, reported a $50,000 plus price tag. Other sources report it cost $100,000. He would later build onto that hotel and would later build other hotels in the West Texas area. Crawford had opened the People's Mercantile Company in June of 1910. After offering some of the 500 shares for $100 per share, he and his wife remained primary shareholders with 40 percent. Although his mercantile was in competition with the Joyce-Pruit Store, he established a bank partnership with the Joyce-Pruit Company. Not long after he sold his interest in the Joyce-Pruit Bank. He began building what was to become Carlsbad National Bank. "In the 1920s Crawford watched as the Joyce-Pruit Bank defaulted, while his bank continued to expand," wrote Dr. Jerry Cox in his book "Ghosts of the Guadalupes." Crawford became a dominant figure in the community's commercial activity with major interests in the region's ranching, retailing, real estate, hotels and banking, as reported each year in the Carlsbad Community Foundation Annual Report of Activities...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1342

An old 78 recorded on March 1, 1933 by the Kentucky String Ticklers and titled Stove Pipe Blues.  That's Silas Rogers on the fiddle, backed up by Bunk Lane on piano and Oddis Burgher on banjo.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Farmers say Christmas trees make great goat snacks

Western Colorado goat farmers say Christmas trees make great snacks for their herds, and they're offering to collect them from homes in the Grand Valley. Nevelle Hopper of the Lil Moo Ranch said Friday the the trees are a natural de-wormer for goats, and pine needles have vitamin C. She says the goats enjoy eating them, too. Hopper's Lil Moo Ranch, the Top of the Hill Ranch and 5-R Ranch want undecorated trees that haven't been sprayed with any chemical. Hopper says the ranches will arrange to pick up trees or accept drop-offs...more

Little Jimmy Dickens hospitalized

Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame icon Jimmy Dickens is in critical care with an undisclosed illness after being admitted to a Nashville area hospital on Christmas. Dickens' wife, family and the Opry are requesting prayers from his friends and fans around the world, according to an press release sent out Sunday. Dickens turned 94 on Dec. 19. Dickens became a Grand Ole Opry member in 1948 and was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983. Among his enduring classics are "Take An Old Cold Tater (And Wait)," "Country Boy," "Out Behind The Barn," and "May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose." He last performed at the Opry on Dec. 20 as part of his 94th birthday celebration...more

They're ruining the annual Possum Drop - My PETA-free Alternative

For most of the past 20 years, a live animal has been used in a small North Carolina town's annual New Year's Eve Possum Drop. But this year, following challenges from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the organizer says he'll no longer use a live opossum — instead, it'll be a road-kill opossum or perhaps a pot of opossum stew. The Brasstown event involves enclosing an opossum in a tinsel-covered plastic box and lowering it to the ground at midnight, then releasing the animal. PETA says the lights, noise and crowd can harm an opossum's nerves and health...more

You can't even drop a possum anymore.

I need to find a PETA-free place...maybe Amarillo.

There I could conduct the annual Amarillo Armadillo Drop.

"I wanna go home with the armadillo
Good country music from Amarillo and Abilene
The friendliest people and the prettiest women you've ever seen"

A good lookin' woman, country music and the world's first armadillo drop...who could ask for anything more?


Young BLM chief faced trial by fire in turbulent first year

Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

Neil Kornze didn't have to look far to find public lands growing up in Elko County, Nev. -- they backed up to his subdivision.

As a high school student, Kornze would travel across his home state by plane, looking down on expanses of sagebrush, salt flats and juniper-dotted mountains.

"Public lands were everywhere in Elko," Kornze said. "It's almost like asking someone to describe the air."

Now that he's director of the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees nearly 250 million acres in the West and more than two-thirds of the Silver State, those lands are under Kornze's care.

It's been a rapid rise for the 36-year-old, who in April was confirmed as BLM's youngest director. Kornze previously worked three years at BLM and several years for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

As director, Kornze has made tough calls over where to allow oil and gas development, grazing, and off-highway vehicles, and which lands to set aside for recreation, wildlife and solitude. He must balance the needs of rural towns dependent on grazing and resource extraction with the demands of some 300 million other Americans, each owning a tiny stake in BLM lands.

From the outset, he's faced one big test after another. Within days of his confirmation, Kornze's BLM faced an angry, armed mob as it tried to round up Cliven Bundy's cows in a Nevada desert. Weeks later, a Utah county commissioner brazenly flouted the agency's closure of a sensitive river canyon. Wyoming recently sued BLM over its management of wild horses.

"He was literally thrown into the fire," said Whit Fosburgh, CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a sportsmen's conservation group.

But Kornze's no stranger to land conflicts given his upbringing in Elko County, a stronghold of the 1970s and '80s Sagebrush Rebellion, in which Nevada ranchers rose up against BLM's domain.

His Western roots run deep, with family in Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Nevada.

The Valles Caldera's grand experiment comes to an end

If the Valles Caldera National Preserve were a person, its epitaph would be: They tried.

What a preserve brochure called an "experiment in public land management" will end with the signing of federal legislation.

In 1997 owners of the Baca Ranch, aboriginal land of Jemez Pueblo and later a Mexican land grant, decided to sell. The 89,000-acre property might have been subdivided and sold but for the movement to keep it whole through a sale to the federal government.

The Baca wasn't just any chunk of real estate. Within its boundaries is the Valles Caldera, a gargantuan volcanic bowl created in the Jemez Mountains by violent eruptions 1.4 million years ago. The caldera's green meadows, streams and ponds are home to a variety of wildlife.

Congress bought the ranch for $101 million in 2000. Sens. Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman fashioned legislation that combined public and private, ranching and recreation in a national preserve governed by an appointed board of trustees. They were to maintain a working ranch but offer recreation, fishing and hunting while protecting the land and its creatures. And they had 15 years to make the property self-sustaining.

It offered something for everyone, and that was the problem.

From day one, the debate began: Ranching vs. Recreation. It was never clear whether the preserve was a ranch that allowed in hikers and hunters or a park with a ranch on it. Whatever the board decided, there was a chorus of second guessers and critics who were often at odds with each other.

For a couple of years, I had a ringside seat as the board's hired note taker. I watched the board step ever so carefully through the thorny underbrush of interest groups while toeing the senators' line. I listened to various parties (usually environmentalists) criticize the board, at times all but calling them morons, while others (usually ranchers) came hat in hand to seek grazing rights.

Trustees decided to focus first on the ranch and a grazing plan, but whatever choice they made, they were hampered by time and money, the usual enemies of grand experiments.

Before moving ahead, they needed environmental studies and an understanding of potential impacts of the various activities but lacked the budget to get all the studies done at once. And the folks conducting those studies operated on academic time, not real time.

Sherry Robinson is a New Mexico journalist who began her career in 1976 and has served as assistant business editor and columnist with the Albuquerque Journal, editor of New Mexico Business Weekly and business editor of the Albuquerque Tribune.

It didn't work because the powers that be didn't want it to work.  A trust run by a board to manage federal land?  The last thing they wanted was for that concept to work.  Look at the precedent that would set and the threat it would be to future land ownership/management by the feds.  No wonder that Heinrich, rushed to get it under the thumb of the Park Service.

Advocacy group doubts quality of BLM data on rangeland

A Washington D.C.-based environmental group this week challenged the quality of Bureau of Land Management data on the health of rangeland allotments in 13 western states. The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, argues in a complaint it filed with BLM that the 2013 Rangeland Inventory, Monitoring and Evaluation report switched from more specific land quality classifications to the binary categories, “land achieving” and “land not achieving.” The data also didn’t distinguish between allotments failing the standards because of livestock grazing versus other causes. Previous reports classified BLM allotments on a spectrum that indicated whether the rangelands met all health standards and whether steps were taken to remedy standards not met. The PEER complaint asks BLM to rescind its fiscal year 2013 report and reissue one based on the historical categories. “BLM is obscuring the very information Congress and the public need to gauge success or failure of rangeland management,” said Kirsten Stade, who filed the complaint on behalf of PEER...more