Saturday, February 07, 2015

Mexico - Border TV station suffers grenade attack

A Tamaulipas state official says a Televisa station in the border city of Matamoros suffered a grenade attack that injured two guards, one seriously. State spokesman Rafael Luque says the two men were at the parking lot entrance late Friday when they were hit by shards of an exploding grenade. Luque said Friday that accomplices blocked roads after the explosion so attackers could escape. They detonated another device but it did no damage. The attack came after a week of violence in the city across from Brownsville, Texas. Enrique Juarez Torres, editor of El Manana in Matamoros, was kidnapped and released on Wednesday, a warning he said from the Gulf Cartel for reporting on gunfights that killed nine people. Fifteen people reportedly have died since last weekend in cartel violence.  AP

FBI searches for two Americans missing in Mexico as cartel violence surges in border town

Two brothers from Brownsville, Texas have gone missing in an area of Mexico that has witnessed a sudden rise in cartel violence. The two brothers vanished after driving to Matamoros, in the state of Tamaulipas, on Sunday to visit their grandmother, according to the Brownsville police. The wife of one man, Ernesto Garcia, filed a missing persons report earlier this week and Mexican police have been searching for the vehicle the men were traveling in. The FBI has also become involved in the search. “I don’t understand what it is going to take for the administrations in Mexico City and Washington, D.C., to take action to address the violence in Tamaulipas,” U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville told the Houston Chronicle. “More killings? More kidnappings? More missing Americans?” This week, Matamoros and the towns along the Rio Grande north to Reynosa have been put on edge by rolling gunbattles between the rival cartel factions. A total of 15 people have reportedly been killed. Among the injured was a local newspaper editor...more

Mexican editor flees after gunmen abduct and beat him

The editor of a Mexican daily in Matamoros has fled the city after gunmen abducted him from his office on Wednesday and beat him, prompting the paper to say it will stop covering violence. The abduction came after the newspaper published stories and photos on drug cartel violence near the U.S.-Mexico border, according to news reports. Enrique Juárez Torres, editor of the privately owned daily El Mañana in Matamoros, was abducted at about 4 p.m. on the same day the paper published the front-page headline, "Confrontations: Nine Dead." Three gunmen stormed the building and headed for his office, sister newspaper El Mañana in Reynosa reported. (No news of the abduction appeared in papers in Matamoros.) Juárez tried to defend himself with a knife but was forced into a gray van, hit in the head and stomach, and threatened with death, according to the story by El Mañana in Reynosa. His captors dumped him outside the newspaper offices a short time later. After the attack Juárez fled Matamoros, according to news reports...more

Matamoros newspaper drops drug violence coverage

A newspaper editor from a Mexican border city considered his future Thursday, a day after three armed men dragged him from his office, beat him and threatened his life before letting him go. Enrique Juarez Torres, editor of El Manana in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, said his kidnapping was a warning from the Gulf Cartel over publishing reports in Wednesday's newspaper about gunfights in the area that killed nine people. Thursday's edition of El Manana in Matamoros carried no mention of Juarez's kidnapping nor the dummy grenade tossed at the door of city hall. Both stories appeared in its sister paper, El Manana in Reynosa. This week, Matamoros and the towns along the Rio Grande north to Reynosa have been put on edge by rolling gunbattles between the rival cartel factions. The U.S. Consulate in Matamoros issued a warning to U.S. citizens on Wednesday of a "likelihood of increased violence in the Matamoros vicinity, reportedly between the Matamoros and Reynosa factions of the Gulf cartel." Unlike its sister paper in Reynosa, which published stories Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday about the violence, El Manana in Matamoros had published nothing until Wednesday. Juarez, who has been editor of the newspaper for five years, said the cartel had gotten his attention previously over stories related to drug activities. He said he now considered himself a "marked" man and left Matamoros Wednesday night. The Matamoros paper will once again avoid publishing stories that could upset the cartel, he said...more

Clashes Leave Nine Dead In Mexico Border Cities

The U.S. Consulate in Matamoros warned on Wednesday that gun battles between Mexican government forces and gunmen on roads between that border city and Reynosa were likely to continue. The death toll from fighting in the area stood at nine. The consulate had warned on Tuesday of "rolling gun battles" in the area in northern Tamaulipas state and advised its employees to stay off the streets. On Wednesday, it distributed an emergency message for U.S. citizens, warning of a "likelihood of increased violence in the Matamoros vicinity, reportedly between the Matamoros and Reynosa factions of the Gulf cartel." The warning noted numerous reports of large convoys of armed members from what it called transnational criminal organizations, or TCOs, driving through Matamoros...more

Violence in Mexico Changing Driving Habits for Some

HIDALGO - Several Mexican nationals are taking extra precautions before heading across the U.S. – Mexico border. They said they have changed their driving habits because of the violence. A parking lot near the McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge has no shortage of business. CHANNEL 5 NEWS talked to Mexican nationals who work in the U.S. and park their vehicle in the lot on the U.S. side then return to Reynosa on foot or by taxi. One man said, “It’s just not worth it. You don't feel comfortable with people looking at you. There's a lot of people watching you, and you don't feel comfortable. You get stopped and followed, so you take precautions.” Orlando Guerra said, “I get a taxi or someone will pick me up. … I just leave it here most of the time.” Perla Castillo said, “We just park here and go over there because we're insecure over there. … Because of the violence over there.”...more

Drug Violence Leaves a String of Ghost Towns in Mexico

Cerro del Águila, which two centuries ago was a refuge for independence fighters in Mexico, is now a stronghold of organised crime groups engaged in turf wars for control of the prosperous poppy trade and trafficking routes, which have left a string of ghost towns in their wake. From Águila mountain – “cerro” means hill in Spanish – it’s possible to see who is coming and going from a number of villages down below in this region known as Tierra Caliente, which is in the Balsas river basin in the impoverished southern state of Guerrero, and in neighbouring municipalities in the states of Michoacán and México. These states are hotbeds of organised crime and drug trafficking, and made the headlines in 2014: Michoacán, as the state that armed paramilitary forces known as “self-defence” groups; México, where the army killed at least 15 civilians; and Guerrero, where municipal police ambushed and forcibly disappeared 43 students from a rural teachers college. In Santa Ana del Águila, a town of 748 people at the foot of the hill which belongs to the municipality of Ajuchitlán del Progreso, over half of the population has fled in the last few weeks. There is no longer a sheriff, a priest, or anyone to run the shop where people buy food at subsidised prices as part of the government’s National Crusade Against Hunger anti-poverty programme. The windows of the houses are closed and barred and local businesses are shuttered. The doors to the health clinic and schools have chains and padlocks. Only the middle school dared open after the year-end vacations, but at a high cost: on Jan. 12, the second day of classes, the teacher was kidnapped, and his family has not been able to scrape up the ransom money yet...more

White House: Climate change threatens national security

The Obama administration looks at climate change as a threat to national security on par with terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and disease outbreaks. President Obama’s national security strategy released Friday updates the previous plan published in 2010, with focuses on Russia, Islamic militants and health. “Climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water,” the White House says in the 35-page strategy document...more

Friday, February 06, 2015

Russia's economic turmoil: Nightmare or opportunity for beef operation?

Moscow and the IMF agree that the Russian economy will shrink by 3% this year. For some, though, the crisis brings new opportunities. In Bryansk, 400km (249 miles) south-west of Moscow, young cows are being herded by ranchers on horseback. The 7,000 cattle represent just a fraction of a huge new cattle-breeding venture, involving tens of thousands of animals sprawled across farmland the size of England. Alexander Linnik and his brother Viktor were already the country's biggest pork producers when their firm, Miratorg, started breeding prime Aberdeen Angus beef cattle (imported from Australia and the US) in 2010. It is now the biggest such plant in Russia and Europe. Last year, the complex was processing 100 head of cattle per day. Next year, the company says it will process up to 1,000. But such rapid growth would have been impossible without Western sanctions - Moscow's counter-sanctions shut off Russia's domestic market to foreign food exporters, eliminating much of the competition. Then the rouble crashed, making meat very cheap to export. "We need the rouble to stay cheap for our exports - so the sanctions have been useful," says Linnik...more

Editorial - Endangered Species Act created environmental industry

When it comes to environmental groups, extremism pays. A review of the tax forms filed by many of the most active — and radical — groups operating in the Western U.S. shows that the top 10 groups received nearly $1 billion in contributions and legal fees.

That’s billion, with a “B.”

If they wanted to, those groups could fully fund the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species programs — for five years.

Instead, they go for the money. They snipe at the federal government and, as importantly, at farmers and ranchers. Many prefer to drag their targets into court instead of seeking compromises that would help species and allow farmers, ranchers and others to stay in business.

In fact, the litigation precludes such compromises.

“When you’re litigating something, you almost can’t really talk to anyone,” said Don Stuart, former American Farmland Trust Pacific Northwest director. He wrote a book about the clashes over the ESA.
The reasons for suing the government and ranchers are clear. Many environmental groups don’t like animal agriculture. They want a vegetarian lifestyle. And they don’t like large-scale farming. Anything they can do to get rid of ranching and large farms would be a feather in their cap.

But there’s more to it. Environmental organizations cannot raise money if they solve problems. They must make sure the problem remains, or they can’t produce the glossy ads and pamphlets and hold fund-raisers.

You’ll never hear an environmental group announce to its donors, “Well, we’ve solved that problem. Thanks for your help, and we’re now going to dissolve the group.”

Environmental groups need a perceived problem — preferably one that’s “getting worse and that, through your donations, we can make a difference.”

Here’s the format they use:

“The (insert an animal, fish or insect) needs your help. We will fight to save the (insert an animal, fish or insect). With your donation, we can save the (insert an animal, fish or insect) for our children and generations to come.”

The environmental groups came up with this formula decades ago, when Congress wrote the Endangered Species Act and President Richard Nixon signed it into law.

With its deadlines and protection not of species but of specific populations, the ESA was a gift to the environmental movement.

Coyote hunt this weekend in Ruidoso

Ruidoso apparently will be the site of a coyote contest hunt this weekend. The hunt comes at the same time members of the New Mexico State Legislature are considering Senate Bill 253, sponsored by Sens. Mark Moores, a Republican from Albuquerque and Jeff Steinborn, a Democrat from Las Cruces, that would ban staging or participating in hunt competitions that offer prizes. A group called Antlers Obsession Outdoors circulated information about the rules of the local hunt and how winners will be determined. On the Antlers website, Rusty Silva is listed as the guide and outfitter of the business, but the Ruidoso News was unable to contact him for comment. The notice specifically states that no Calcutta, which is illegal in New Mexico, will be allowed where betters gamble on how well a particular contestant will fare. Preston Stone, a rancher and chairman of the Lincoln County Commission, said he's not against the contest hunts. While he doesn't find much in the current legislation that is objectionable, he said he's worried that passage of the bill would set a precedent and the next bill introduced would be more detrimental to the ranching industry. The next bill also might further restrict or remove the predator control services now used heavily by ranchers in Lincoln County, he said, adding that the licensed predator control trappers already have seen many of their weapons for controlling coyote removed...more

Nevada BLM extends comment period for controversial management plan

The Bureau of Land Management is giving the public an extra month to review its sweeping new resource management plan for Southern Nevada, but that isn’t likely to satisfy those with concerns about the document and the agency behind it. Clark County officials initially suggested the public comment period should be extended for a year, while some commissioners in Nye County seem to want nothing at all to do with the plan — or the BLM. Amy Lueders, the bureau’s state director for Nevada, announced the time extension Wednesday. The comment period for the Las Vegas and Pahrump Field Offices Draft Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement was set to close Friday but will now remain open until March 9. At a special meeting Jan. 21, Clark County Commissioners approved a resolution requesting a one-month extension, though the original version called for the comment period to remain open until Feb. 5, 2016. One day earlier, the Nye County Commission narrowly passed what it called “A resolution saying ‘no’ to the Bureau of Land Management.” In it, Nye County condemned the BLM, declared the resource management plan “repugnant” and said it threatens to cause “further economic and environmental damage” to the rural county. Though the county was a cooperating agency in the development of the plan, its comments and requests were “largely ignored by BLM,” the resolution states...more

Wyoming legislators advance interstate livestock branding bill

The House Agriculture Committee on Thursday advanced a bill that would simplify livestock brand laws near the Cowboy State's borders. House Bill 203 would allow ranchers operating in neighboring states to register brands with the Wyoming Livestock Board. The bill's proponents say it would simplify brand laws near the state's border and move Wyoming closer to agreement with neighboring states. "If you have a Wyoming brand and you want to take it into Montana, they have no reciprocity agreement," said Rep. David Northrup, R-Powell. "Someone has to budge first, or there won’t be a chance for an agreement in Montana. I’m putting the first foot forward, hoping for that invitation." Northrup said an agreement would allow ranchers operating under a brand that does not conflict with other brands in a region to register with the Wyoming Livestock Board. The 10-year brand registration could save operators from neighboring states more than $1,000 per brand over 10 years...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1374

Jim Reeves - Wagon Load of Love, recorded in Dallas, in 1952 and released on the Abbott label.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Transfer of federal lands issues in Montana

The Nature Conservancy late last month closed an $85 million deal for 117,152 acres along the Blackfoot River, building on nearly a decade and a half of work securing long-term protections for parcels formerly held by Plum Creek Timber. Wildland advocates, sportsmen and elected officials hailed the purchase as a boon for conservation, public access and economic opportunity. But those same voices have grown increasingly concerned that a political movement gaining momentum throughout the West could result in a major backslide for public land ownership. Over the past few years, Republican lawmakers in a number of western states have expressed a desire to see Congress transfer tens of millions of acres of federal lands into state hands. The movement is spearheaded largely by the American Lands Council and its founder, Utah Rep. Ken Ivory, who in 2012 authored the first and so far only transfer of public lands bill to pass into law. In Montana, the idea has caught on not only among some county governments but a number of state legislators as well. The Montana Republican Party last year voted to include transfer of public lands as a plank in its official platform. “The folks that understand the issue support it pretty broadly,” says Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls, whose agenda for the 2015 Montana Legislature is in part focused on exploring the transfer of public lands. “There’s resource specialists, there’s county commissioners, there’s general citizens, sportsmen. We see what’s going on on the landscape out there and it’s not good. Federal lands are being locked up, they’re being mismanaged. The policies coming out of Washington, D.C., have basically failed.” The issue became a flashpoint for the legislature’s Environmental Quality Council over the past two years as it conducted an interim study of federal land management in Montana. Hundreds of state residents submitted comments expressing everything from outrage to embarrassment that a takeover of federal lands was even being considered. Fielder says the study highlighted a host of problem areas in federal management, from wildfire control to public access. She adds the study’s findings prompted her to request several bills in 2015, including a measure to launch another interim study, this one aimed specifically at transfer of public lands. In response to Fielder’s proposals and the movement in general, the Montana Wilderness Association plans to hold a rally outside the state Capitol Feb. 16 opposing the transfer of public lands. The nonprofit is one of many voices arguing that the financial burden resulting from such a move would inevitably force the state to sell off vast acres of property. U.S. Sen. Jon Tester stands firmly against the transfer idea for that very reason, as does Gov. Steve Bullock...

Utah sues feds, demanding removal of horses from trust lands

The state of Utah is asking a federal judge to force the Bureau of Land Management to remove wild horses from state-trust lands, particularly from a big tract in Iron and Beaver counties. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court, the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration alleges years of failed management has led to population explosions of the protected animals, even though BLM wranglers scoured the Blawn Wash area last summer, removing every horse they encountered. "SITLA has provided the BLM with notice of the presence of and damage from wild horses on these 'school section lands' but wild horses and their depredation of rangeland resources on these lands continue unabated." Meanwhile, state lawmakers emphasized their unhappiness with the situation, introducing a resolution before the Utah Senate that echoes the allegations in the SITLA suit. BLM officials declined to comment on the suit, but they said Blawn Wash has been the subject of numerous horse gathers back to 2000, around the time SITLA acquired a 26,000-acre block in a large west desert land swap. On Thursday a Senate committee will hear a resolution calling on the federal government to transfer the management of "feral" horses and burros to the state and urging the governor to draft a management plan. "Excessive feral horse and burro populations in Utah are damaging range and water resources, consuming forage allocated to livestock and wildlife, abridging multiple-use principles applicable to public lands, and otherwise impairing the natural ecological balance on impacted lands," states SJR7, sponsored by Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City...more

Lawsuit Filed to Bring Montana Grayling Back From Brink of Extinction

The Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, Butte resident Pat Munday and former Montana fishing guide George Wuerthner filed a lawsuit today challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's latest decision to deny Endangered Species Act protection to a unique population of Arctic grayling in Montana. These river-dwelling relatives of trout and salmon now inhabit less than 5 percent of their historic range, with a last refuge in one short stretch of the Big Hole River. The groups are represented by Earthjustice in Bozeman. The Service first determined the grayling warranted endangered status in 1994 and reaffirmed that conclusion in 2010, but reversed course in August 2014 withholding protection from the rare and beautiful relative of trout and salmon. In denying the grayling protection, the agency argued that voluntary efforts by private landowners and the state of Montana, guided by a conservation agreement in place since 2006, have alleviated threats to the fish's survival. Although many individual projects to improve habitat have been completed under the agreement, the grayling continues to face numerous threats, including excessive water withdrawals for irrigation, non-native trout and ongoing habitat degradation...more

Utah's public lands initiative to be unveiled March 27 (and a comparison to how we were treated in NM)

The much-awaited, much-touted public lands initiative dubbed the "Grand Bargain" is slated to be released in draft form March 27, along with a map that carves out land-use designations for a huge chunk of eastern Utah. Utah's congressional delegation announced Wednesday they are putting the final touches on the massive proposal, which involves a geographic blueprint covering 18 million acres of federal lands and 1.6 million acres of wilderness study areas in the state. On Feb. 15, participants in the process will mark a three-year milestone of negotiation, bartering, compromise, concessions and begrudging acceptance as they have worked through more than 60 detailed proposals. "The goal then was to bring land-use certainty, economic development, land conservation, and enhanced land models to eastern Utah counties," according to a letter sent out Wednesday by Utah's congressional delegation. "We're pleased to report that our goals are still very much attainable and we're on track to move forward in the near future." Seven counties — Carbon, Daggett, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Summit and Uintah — are seated at the table, as well as 120 interest groups that include the oil and gas industry, archaeological associations, environmental organizations, sportsmen clubs and conservation interests. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, has been at the forefront of the effort, joined in large measure by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and the rest of Utah's congressional delegation. So far, the congressional offices have hosted nearly 1,000 meetings, with employees logging more than 50,000 miles and spent hours upon hours dissecting maps and rewriting proposals...more

And there you see how politicians, if they really want to reach a consensus on land use, set up a process that includes all stakeholders and all approaches to conservation.

Instead, in southern New Mexico, Senators Bingaman-Udall and then Udall-Heinrich, would entertain only one proposal, that being the one of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.  No putting all the stakeholders together, no discussion of other proposals or approaches.  Just here's our proposal, feel free to comment, and then wham! - legislation is introduced.  This "ram it down your throat" approach to land use designations was unsuccessful, however, as none of their bills made it to the Senate floor for a vote.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and others have said they've had assurances by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell that any new monument designations for Utah are on hold pending the success of the process.

In Utah, where a legitimate, consensus-seeking process is underway, national monuments are off the table.  In New Mexico the exact opposite occurred.  Knowing they didn't have local consensus and unable to convince their colleagues to vote for their legislation, Udall-Heinrich went running to the rammer-in-chief, President Obama.  And even though a national monument designation based on the failed legislation was opposed by the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Dona Ana County Sheriff, Dona Ana SWCD, EBID, Mesilla Valley Sportsmen's Alliance, etc., the hammer came down.

There was no opportunity to comment on the language in the proclamation, to recommend revisions or for "negotiation, bartering, compromise, concessions" as the people of Utah were afforded.  

No consensus, just one man's signature on a piece of paper. 

What a shameful way to treat the local citizenry.

Proposed EPA Water Rule Is Terrible For Urban, Suburban, And Rural Citizens Alike

by Todd F. Gaziano

One sign of how misguided the proposed regulation redefining “waters of the United States” is that approximately 900,000 people submitted comments in the rule-making record. At least some of those were activists who applauded the extraordinary power grab by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to regulate puddles and hundreds of millions of acres of land where water may sometimes flow.

But most Americans don’t write to agency bureaucrats to say “please subject my land to extremely expensive, confusing, and subjective regulatory restrictions.” Instead, many thousands raised legal objections or expressed grave concerns about the impact of the rule.

The public can’t evaluate most comments to the controversial draft rule, however, because EPA and the Corps have claimed that “only” 19,353 of them are substantive enough to merit placing on their rulemaking website. Even if that is right, it is hard to believe that the agencies can seriously consider and fairly address even 19,353 “substantive” comments in the few months that would allow a final rule to be issued this spring. Some comments contain over 100 pages of technical and hydrological information. The Pacific Legal Foundation, among others, pointed out in its comments opposing the rule how the agencies’ interpretation of their jurisdiction violates the Clean Water Act and would be unconstitutional even if the Act did authorize it.

Such procedural concerns, including a lack of meaningful consultation with state and local officials, as well as the agencies’ substantive overreach will be examined this Wednesday at a rare, joint hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee. The House Transportation Committee conducted three previous hearings on the controversial draft rule. The joint hearing on February 4 will pay special attention to the concerns raised by state and local officials.

That focus will help highlight that the proposed rule is not just horrible for farmers, ranchers, and rural residents — who have borne the brunt of the current rule’s overreach, but for urban and suburban residents as well.

Big Cattle, Big Gulp

...We’d do better to look at what we eat when casting about for villains of the water drama. Food production consumes more fresh water than any other activity in the United States. “Within agriculture in the West, the thirstiest commodity is the cow,” says George Wuerthner, an ecologist at the Foundation for Deep Ecology, who has studied the livestock industry. Humans drink about a gallon of water a day; cows, upwards of 23 gallons. The alfalfa, hay, and pasturage raised to feed livestock in California account for approximately half of the water used in the state, with alfalfa representing the highest-acreage crop. In parts of Montana, as much as 90 percent of irrigated land is operated solely for the production of livestock feed; 90 percent of Nevada’s cropland is dedicated to raising hay. Half of Idaho’s three million acres of irrigated farmland grows forage and feed exclusively for cattle, and livestock production represents 60 percent of the state’s water use. In Utah, cows are the top agricultural product, and three-fifths of the state’s cropland is planted with hay. All told, alfalfa and hay production in the West requires more than ten times the water used by the region’s cities and industries combined, according to some estimates. Researchers at Cornell University concluded that producing one kilogram of animal protein requires about 100 times more water than producing one kilogram of grain protein. It is a staggeringly inefficient food system. One obvious and immediate solution to the western water crisis would be to curtail the waste of the livestock industry. The logical start to this process would be to target its least important sector: public lands ranching. The grazing of cattle and sheep on hundreds of millions of acres of federally managed land has been a fact of western rural life for over 100 years. It is considered an almost sacred profession. Yet its impact on the economy is actually quite small...more

Pork Passes Beef for First Time in 63 Years

Beef may be king in Texas but for the first time since 1952 pork production in the U.S. has passed beef.
Texas cattlemen are still feeling the pain from the droughts of 2011 and 2012, as well as the high price of feed.  Those factors have pushed beef to record high prices due to low production and small herds.  Beef production for 2015 is expected to hit a 22-year low.Pork production was decimated in 2014 following the deaths of millions of piglets due to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus.  But, since pigs have litters or 6 to 8 piglets with only a 120 day gestation period, farmers were able to rebuild their numbers quickly.  Compare that to cattle that only have one calf with a gestation period of nine months, it will still take some time for ranchers to rebuild their herds...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1373

Today's selection is George Morgan's 1955 recording of Ain't Love Grand

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Alaska’s congressional delegation vows fight after federal moves on ANWR, OCS

If tickets could be sold to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s hearings in March on the Interior Department’s annual appropriation, it would be a sell-out crowd as Secretary Sally Jewell is sure to come in for a roasting. The Secretary has blocked a medical evacuation road for King Cove, in southwest Alaska, placed large areas of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off limits to oil and gas exploration, and has recommended wilderness status for the bulk of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, including its coastal plain that has potential for large new oil and gas discoveries. Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, an agency of the Interior Department, is reported to be pressing costly mitigation measures on ConocoPhillips on the company’s planned Greater Moose’s Tooth-1, or GMT-1, oil project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. If BLM’s actions make the project uneconomic it will lose the 30,000 barrels per day of oil production that GMT-1 could produce for the trans-Alaska pipeline system, currently running three-quarters empty. The ANWR decision, however, had truly inflamed Alaska leaders and the state’s congressional delegation...more

Greens fume over Obama’s bid to divert restoration funding

National environmental groups today blasted an Obama administration proposal to divert more than $3 billion in future oil and gas revenues due to Gulf Coast states to pay for land conservation, rural counties, wildlife grants, coastal restoration or other "national priorities," warning that such a move would stymie coastal restoration projects in Louisiana. The proposal tucked within Obama's $4 trillion fiscal 2016 budget request has set off a firestorm of opposition among Gulf Coast lawmakers and drew a scathing review this morning by the editorial board of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Today it was opposed by the Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, groups that have invested heavily in restoring the eroding Gulf coastline. Other environmental groups appear ambivalent about the proposal. Numerous conservation and sportsmen's groups are pushing for dedicated funding for LWCF, but they have yet to articulate a way to pay for it. The $3 billion that would be diverted from four Gulf states -- Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas -- would fund accounts like LWCF, which acquires and preserves lands nationwide, as well as state and tribal wildlife grants and payments in lieu of taxes (PILT), a major priority for rural counties with federal lands, but not so much along the Gulf Coast...more

Great Salt Lake at near-record low level

There's a new normal at the Great Salt Lake. Hundreds of square miles of lakebed are exposed. Boat marinas are nearly landlocked. Islands have become peninsulas connected to the mainland. Salinity is rising in the south arm — endangering biodiversity and the brine shrimp and minerals industries. Water-sucking plants are growing on the shore. And mercury and other toxic metals normally trapped deep in the lower layers of the lake are swirling closer to the surface and drying into dust on the shore. A combination of persistent drought and profligate use of water threatens to drive the lake level to a new low — shattering a record set more than 50 years ago. An environmental catastrophe is not imminent for the Great Salt Lake. But if it is to be preserved as a functioning ecosystem, experts say, Utahns could face tough choices in coming years, particularly about their water use. Leland Myers, who manages the Central Davis Sewer District, puts it this way: "I could have more habitat for birds, protection from dust storms and lake industries — or I could have more green lawn."...more

Keystone XL letter from EPA says oilsands development will lead to 'significant' emissions hike

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said developing Canadian oilsands would significantly increase greenhouse gases, a conclusion environmental groups said gives President Barack Obama reason to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. “Until ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of oilsands are more successful and widespread,” developing the crude “represents a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions,” the EPA said Tuesday in a letter to the State Department, which is reviewing the project. The proposed pipeline has pitted Obama’s allies in the environmental movement against the U.S. energy industry. Obama has said he’ll reject TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone if it would lead to a significant increase in carbon pollution...more

“Green Decoys” Lure Sportsmen Into Deceptive Trap

by David Codrea

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary gives two definitions for “decoy,” the first being “a wooden or plastic bird (such as a duck) that is used by hunters to attract live birds,” and the second, more relevant to the discussion being offered here, is “a person or thing that attracts people’s attention so they will not notice someone or something else.” In either case, it involves a premeditated deception to accomplish an agenda that ends up victimizing whatever, or whomever, is lured into falling for—no offense to you hunters—a fraud.

What hunters should be offended by is an attempt to trick them into supporting “progressive” political goals, inevitably hostile to the right to keep and bear arms, by adopting the guise of being “sportsmen’s groups.” Responding to that, the Environmental Policy Alliance is out to expose what it calls “Green Decoys.”

“Funded by liberal foundations, these groups use sportsmen to camouflage their extreme anti-gun and anti-energy agenda,” the ironically (cleverly)-named EPA warns. “For example, the Joyce Foundation, major funders of the Izaak Walton League of America and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, has given millions to anti-Second Amendment groups like the Violence Policy Center.
“They have also given 6-figure grants to support Mayors Against Illegal Guns, anti-gun ‘messaging research,’ and efforts to increase regulation on firearm ownership,” the EPA advisory continues. “They even tried to make gun violence prevention a primary focus of the American Medical Association.”

To establish their case, EPA has produced a “Green Decoys” video (posted on the YouTube video-sharing website under that title, and also on the group’s website,, and a report on financial backers, “How Radical Environmentalists are Using ‘Sportsmen’s’ Groups as Camouflage.” In it, they flesh out their claims about the recipient groups and the donors behind them, including background information like how the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation included Barack Obama on its board before he became president.

Employing a “divide and conquer” strategy against gun owners, often pitting sport shooters against those who own firearms for the primary purposes of protection and freedom, is hardly new. It’s been tried before with other well-funded shill groups established by those who can’t push citizen disarmament edicts through if they’re up front about their intentions, so they instead package them in a way to induce well-meaning but poorly informed gun owners to take the bait.

Obama proposes new agency to make Americans' food safer

President Barack Obama wants to create a new government agency dedicated to keeping the nation's food safe. The proposal in the president's budget released Monday comes after outbreaks of illnesses linked to chicken, eggs, peanuts and cantaloupe in recent years. More than a dozen federal agencies oversee food safety, and consumer advocates have long called for bringing all those functions together in a single home. Currently, the Department of Agriculture oversees the safety and inspections of meat and processed eggs and the Food and Drug Administration oversees safety of most other foods. The split oversight is often complicated — the FDA would be responsible for the safety of a frozen cheese pizza, for example, but USDA takes over part of the duties if the pizza has meat on it. USDA inspects meat daily as it is processed, while the FDA generally conducts inspections every few years. The two agencies share inspection duties at the border. The budget proposes consolidating the Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service and all of FDA's food safety oversight into one new agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The new agency also would coordinate with state and local health departments, a job that is now mostly handled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The budget says the current system's "fractured oversight and disparate regulatory approaches" cause confusion. Consolidation "is an essential step to reforming the federal food safety system overall," Obama's budget says. The administration said the agency would be based at HHS because food safety and foodborne outbreaks are public health concerns, which are consistent with the larger mission of the department...more

Injured eagle shows risks of trapping, Missoula raptor researcher says

A maimed golden eagle highlights what could be a growing problem with improperly placed animal traps. On Saturday, members of the Raptor View Research Institute captured an adult golden eagle in the Bitterroot Valley whose left leg was so badly mutilated it will probably need amputation, if the bird survives. “Clearly its leg had been caught in a leg-hold trap and then it was released by the trapper,” said Raptor View director Rob Domenech. “This isn’t the first time. We captured one last year that had three of its four toes sheared off. And two of our birds with satellite transmitters were trapped – one in Ringling and one in British Columbia.” The eagle was caught as part of a research project placing satellite tracking devices on migratory birds of prey. The Missoula-based institute has placed 38 such transmitters, and tracked Montana eagles migrating as far as the Brooks Range in Alaska. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 2 wildlife manager Mike Thompson said trappers are required to set traps at least 30 feet away from exposed bait. They may place their sets closer to bait that’s covered from birds’ view by branches or a cubby hole...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1372

Here's the Ernest Tubb tune that was in the Top 100 for 1958:  Half A Mind

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Lawmakers postpone vote on bill forcing public-lands lawsuit

After years of debate over control of Utah's public lands, one state lawmaker wants to settle the argument by giving the attorney general's office a hard deadline to sue the federal government for control. Sen. Jim Dabakis, a Salt Lake City Democrat, has said he doesn't think Utah has a claim to the land, but the issue needs to be put to rest after years of dispute. Organizations and officials on both sides have been able to "feed off" the ongoing debate and use it to stir up their supporters and raise money, Dabakis said. "There's kind of institutionalized slowness in not really solving this," he said Monday. "It's time it's over. It's time to get it solved. It's time to move on with our state's life." Dabakis has introduced a bill that would have required Attorney General Sean Reyes to file a federal lawsuit by the end of this summer. But Republican leaders on the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee said Monday afternoon that they'd support the bill if Dabakis pushed the deadline back a year to June 30, 2016. Utah's Republican-controlled Legislature has begun preparing for a possible lawsuit, but it has not laid out a timeline. Lawmakers set aside $2 million to prepare a legal fight for the state attorney general to pursue...more

I believe this will be resolved politically, with an administrative solution being made to transfer part of these lands to the states.  I would be happily surprised if a federal court would mandate such a transfer, although the threat of an adverse court ruling may bring a friendlier administration to the negotiation table.  Then of course, there are politicians like this:

If the U.S. Supreme Court or a federal court rules against Utah, Dabakis said, "then we sit down, roll up our sleeves and move on."

If the courts rule against us, then he better sit down because the feds will continue to stick it up his ying-yang into infinity.  Who wants to roll up their sleeves for that?

Budget battles ahead

If the Republicans are going to have any impact this year it will be through the appropriations process.  Everything else is just political theater.  So keep a close eye on the budget.

Obama budget boosts climate agenda

President Obama dropped a 2016 budget proposal that gives a big boost to his climate change agenda despite the fact that he is now facing a hostile Republican-controlled Congress. But his Cabinet had his
back on Monday, swearing to "defend" the proposal before Congress. Let's crunch the numbers:

$8.6 billion for the EPA, which is $450 million above last year's approved budget.
$4 billion for a new initiative called the Clean Power State Incentive Fund, which will reward states that go beyond the carbon pollution reduction targets set by the administration's regulation on existing power plants.
$7.4 billion for clean energy technology programs to promote the growth of solar, wind and low-carbon fossil fusel across the U.S.
$239 million for the Environmental Protection Agency to assist with its efforts to tackle climate change, $25 million of which will help states craft a strategy to meet targets set by the climate rule.
$29.9 billion for the Energy Department, $2 billion more than Obama requested last year.
- $13.2 billion for the Interior Department, an increase of 8 percent, or $959.2 million, over what Congress gave it for 2015.
$500 million for foreign climate aid -- the United Nations Green Climate Fund -- to help countries mitigate climate change impacts. The administration wants a total of $1.29 billion to help the international climate push, and eventually $3 billion specifically for the climate fund...more

President’s 2016 budget would reinstate timber payments, sets aside funds for largest wildfires, sage grouse conservation

The 2016 budget released Monday by the White House calls for the reauthorization of timber payments, funds sage grouse conservation efforts and treats the largest wildfires as natural disasters. The spending initiatives are all familiar to Central Oregon. The Secure Rural Schools program, which compensated timbered counties for harvest declines on federal lands, led to more than $2.8 billion in payments to Oregon counties from its creation in 2000 until it lapsed at the end of September. Earlier this year, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell issued an executive order, instructing federal land managers to work with local officials to develop a science-based strategy for minimizing the destructive effects of rangeland wildfires on the sage grouse’s dwindling habitat. And members of Oregon’s congressional delegation have introduced legislation that would pay to fight the top 1 percent of wildfires — which account for 30 percent of suppression costs — through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, just as is done with hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. The White House also included the wildfire proposal in last year’s budget, but neither effort made much headway. The plan hopes to end “fire borrowing,” the practice within U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management in which the agencies raid other programs’ accounts when fire-suppression funds run out during increasingly intense fire seasons. While the other accounts are often backfilled, the work, including fire-prevention efforts involving removing hazardous fuels from overburdened forests, is often delayed or postponed...more

Obama budget would reallocate offshore royalty payments for Louisiana and other Gulf states to 'entire nation'

President Barack Obama is proposing that offshore revenue sharing -- slated to begin in 2017 -- be scrapped with a plan that would provide "broad natural resource, watershed and conservation benefits for the entire nation." The proposal is part of the president's $4 trillion budget, unveiled Monday (Feburary 2). The revenue sharing, part of 2006 energy legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., was expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually for Louisiana for coastal restoration. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, who defeated Landrieu in the 2014 Louisiana Senate race, immediately promised a fight on the two Senate committees with jurisdiction over the revenue sharing legislation -- Appropriations and Energy. Last year, Landrieu chaired the Energy Committee. "I will do everything in my power to use my seats on these committees to not only block the President's raid on oil and gas revenues, but fight to increase Louisiana's share of offshore revenue," Cassidy said. "Funding for coastal restoration must remain a promise to Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states." The 2006 energy law allocates 37.5 percent of revenue from many outer continental shelf leases -- up to $500 million annually -- be distributed to the Gulf States. But the administration said that it should benefit the entire nation...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1371

This one goes out to Rocky Mountain Rose, for we have Benny Barnes performing Go On, Go On.  Recorded in Nashville, 1961.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Cliven Bundy: More Problems On The Ranch

This week, one of the sons of activist rancher Cliven Bundy was arrested in Utah. Ryan Bundy spent a night in jail in Cedar City, on charges that he resisted arrest when Iron County Sheriff’s deputies tried to serve him a warrant related to a 2014 incident. He was released without bail on Wednesday. Cliven Bundy talked with KNPR's State of Nevada about his son's legal issues. “They don’t seem to have any cause except harassment," Bundy said, when asked whether the charges stem from disputes with law enforcement. Bundy said when his son went before the judge, the judge apologized and didn't charge with him with anything. Another one of Bundy’s sons, Cliven Lance Bundy, was arrested on parole violations related to 2013 felony burglary and weapon theft charges earlier this month. According the Bureau of Land Management, Cliven Lance Bundy was arrested on federal land after a ranger found him driving a commercial tour group vehicle at Jean Dry Lake. The elder Bundy said that unfortunately his son is paying the price for mistakes he has made in the past. “My cattle are still grazing, but they’re not grazing on federal land. They’re grazing on state of Nevada land. And the people Clark County land,” Bundy said...more

There are two years left in the Obama administration.  Will they move against Bundy this year, an off-year in the election cycle?  Would they take action next year during the Presidential election cycle?  Will they just pass it on to the next administration?  Or, are they waiting for a Bundy blunder to create the right political atmosphere for the feds to take action?  Finally, will it be the BLM or some other federal agency that presses charges (IRS, BATF, etc.)? 

NM land commissioner says his office could manage federal lands

State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn says his office would have no problem managing federal lands if they were transferred to the state. And he says the public would have more access to them if that happened. Dunn made the comments today at a budget hearing before the House Appropriations and Finance Committee — a day after sportsmen and others rallied at the Capitol opposing any such land transfers. The idea of shifting federal public lands to state control has been around for several years, and opponents expect it to surface again in this year’s legislative session. Asked about it at the hearing, Dunn said the State Land Office could easily take on managing the current federal lands. “I personally think there would be more public access should the state be in control, versus the federal government,” Dunn also told lawmakers...more

I-Team finds serious problems in Nevada's public land report

A task force believes Nevada could reap hundreds of millions of dollars annually if it can wrest control of vast chunks of federal land. Nevada legislators armed with the report from the Nevada Land Management Task Force are expected to ask Congress for more than 7 million acres, and that's just for starters. What this potential change could mean for hunters, hikers and others who have had unfettered access to public land remains unknown. But is the report slanted? Nevada has tried many times before, either through requests, demands or threats, to gain control of more public land from federal agencies that oversee more than 80 percent of the acreage within state boundaries. Other western states have done likewise, but the heat has really been turned up in recent months. A closer look at the task force report shows that it uses many of the same arguments and specious evidence that have been advanced across the West. While some arguments in favor of the land swap are persuasive, the 8 News NOW I-Team found serious problems with the study...more

Horse hunters use darts to reduce herds

Hunters in western Colorado are using darts to manage the fertility of wild horses. The Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Area Darting Team shoots mares with darts that deliver a contraceptive that has helped control the size of the herds and earned recognition from the Bureau of Land Management. Team members have injected 325 doses of fertility drugs since they got together 13 years ago. According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the result has been smaller, more manageable wild-horse herds.  AP

BLM and Forest Service Announce 2015 Grazing Fee

The Federal grazing fee for 2015 will be $1.69 per animal unit month (AUM) for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.69 per head month (HM) for lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The 2014 fee was $1.35. An AUM or HM – treated as equivalent measures for fee purposes – is the use of public lands by one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month. The newly calculated grazing fee, determined by a congressional formula and effective on March 1, applies to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and more than 8,000 permits administered by the Forest Service. The formula used for calculating the grazing fee, which was established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act, has continued under a presidential Executive Order issued in 1986. Under that order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per AUM, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1370

Its Swingin' Monday and here is Neal McCoy performing Head South.  The tune is on his 2005 CD That's Life

Young Ricky Skaggs & Earl Scruggs live on stage

Ricky Skaggs at 7 years old, picking and singing with Flatt & Scruggs on The Martha White Show.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Convenient forgetfulness

by Julie Carter

Men, in general, have a built-in gene making them masters at forgetting to mention important details that often dictate the outcome of a situation, up to and including the moment they could lose their lives or an important part of their anatomy.
The obvious incidents include forgetting to mention the existence of a wife, or some wild tale about why they didn't arrive home until the day after they were expected.

Cowboys, however, have different types of "Did I forget to mention that?" stories.

Ranch stories of this nature will sometimes involve a simple request to the wife along the lines of "Could you go get our black bull out of the neighbor’s pasture today?"

What the head cowboy may have forgotten to mention is that once she finds the black bull in the four-section brushy pasture, she will likely have to break up a fight between him and the neighbor's resident bull.

Then she will have to persuade the black bull that he would prefer to leave the neighbor's young heifers so she can drive him back to his ranch home. On the way out, she'll have to repair the fence that he tore up running away from home.

Being a sensible wife, she will know that the black bull, which is usually cooperative, will need to come to the pens at the headquarters, to discourage the same scenario from happening all over again.

These kinds of projects are common to the status of "ranch wife" who is not usually surprised by the omission of the finer details of the request.

Instead, a fair amount of get-even plotting will occupy the span of time it takes for the ride over to the neighbors, as well as the return trip.

When calves are shipped from the ranch, a permit from a state brand inspector is part of the process. The inspector in this case was about 5 feet tall and wore a pistol that came down almost to his knees. His demeanor indicated that he failed to recognize he was not God.

The ranch boss asked his wife to go help the brand inspector count and sort the calves, penning the heifers and steers separately.

The calves, at one end of a long corral alley, began to file by the little woman so she could determine their male or female status before directing their destination.

As the calves peeled away from the bunch, their speed of departure picked up, making the "viewing" considerably more difficult. The brand inspector suspected he would have to come to her rescue.

The cowgirl wasn't the least bit nervous about this assignment, and expeditiously called to the inspector, "In," for the heifers and "By," for the steers.

A couple of hundred calves were sorted very quickly this way, with no slowing of the steady stream of cattle down the alley. When it was all done, the inspector told the cowgirl he'd never seen anybody, male or female, sort cattle that quickly.

What he had failed notice was that all the heifer calves were specifically earmarked. To make her call, all she had to do was glance at their heads as they came toward her. She figured it was information he didn't particularly need, so she "forgot" to mention it. Thereafter, she enjoyed a reputation as a very astute and competent cattle woman.

No mention was ever made that she shared the same "forgetfulness" indicative to the male species of her profession. That quiet fame happens at the ranch and stays at the ranch.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Preservation at the expense of History

Management of Values
Preservation at the expense of History
Darlene’s memory
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            New Mexico pioneer, Fred McCauley, was known to say, “I’d rather be a pig farmer in hell than have a farm at Redrock.”
            His contention was not lost among listeners. The narrow valley at Redrock is prone to flooding and years of effort can be wiped out in a single event. As kids, we all knew about the flood of 1941 even though many of us didn’t come along for a decade. The flood was both monstrous and devastating. Accounts of hearing it come were akin to the onrush of multiple trains with the breaking and crashing of trees.
            Although subsequent floods were larger, the 1941 Gila flood impacted more people on the basis of concentration of farming and the absence of protective structures. The interesting thing, though, is the assessment by the descendents of those people who endured the event. It wasn’t the raw exposure to nature that cut short the lives and expectations of those generations.
            It was government and the culprit was not local or state government. The foe was invariably … federal government policies.
            The prelude
            The call came out of the blue.
            “Where are you goin’?” Hank asked without identifying himself.
“All right, where are you and where did I miss you?” was my response knowing immediately who it was.
My childhood friend had seen me on a cross street in Deming as I made my way to the courthouse to visit with the county manager and to declare cattle numbers to the assessor’s office.
“Call me when you finish,” was his short order instruction in a conversation that lasted less than a minute.
I wound up at his kitchen table with his wife Nancy’s extended family eating ribs, beans, potatoes, and fresh tortillas. The meal was right out of ranch history as if it we had broke for lunch at a 1959 New Mexico branding complete with blue skies and bawling calves.
I had never met Nancy’s mother, Mrs. Blakey, but I knew who she was. I knew generally where she and her deceased husband, Bud, had ranched as I knew she was a sister of the second generation McCauley clan from White Signal.
 She informed me it was my grandfather, Albert Wilmeth, who met her family at the depot in Deming with a team of horses and a wagon to haul their possessions to Grant County in 1904. I questioned her about the likelihood of it being Grandpa Albert in 1904 since he would have only been 12 years old and a hundred miles from home by himself with a team and a wagon.
“It was your grandfather, Albert Wilmeth,” was her terse response.
We laughed and told stories of our family and with its extended outcross connections. Mrs. Blakey’s son, Ray, her daughter, Mary Ethel, Mary Ethel’s husband, Randy, and Ray’s daughter, “little” Nancy held court as Hank and I smiled and filed conditional interrogatories. It was a homecoming of sorts predicated on pioneering New Mexicans who are forever linked to the nebulous government term “history value”.
We are a true and original family of Grant County history.
When the Gila River McCauleys were discussed, Mrs. Blakey suggested she would claim unconditional ties to “Uncle Fred” and “Hap’s bunch” and then (one must assume) conditional ties thereafter. She then informed the gathering that Albert and Sabre Wilmeth’s only daughter, Mary Effie, had wed Hap and that Mary was my aunt.
Peace and tranquility were further assured.
Nearly all stops were pulled as we discussed successes and failures, killings and marriages, births and deaths, humor and darkness, family and enemies, and then and now. Central to it all that captivated the dreams that gave rise to seven generations was this big land. We are forever linked to its singular foundation.
If that isn’t the value of history … nothing is.
Preservation at the expense of History
There is a problem, though.
The entire premise of federal land agency management has been limited to the condition of current production or less. That is a devastating standard to stake lives and futures.
On a broader scale, there is not a business venture anywhere that has thrived when locked into the status quo with changing growth restraints. In New Mexico, that condition has been created by the endemic, utter fascination of the federal government’s zeal for land ownership and its resulting and crippling management tactics.
In state ownership, market place relationships exist and mutually beneficial relations have been created and perpetuated. That relationship is at arm’s length. On the whole, state government hasn’t stifled enterprise development nor has it thrust itself into dominion status. The relationship is not normally even discussed and land stewards would most likely fight for its continuation. Both parties benefit from mutual successes.
The federal relationship is completely different.
 Ranchers universally equate their relationship with the federal government on a scaled basis. That scale, measured from bad to good, does not reveal mutually beneficial outcomes. The measure plots oppression and our eventual destruction.
That is a terrible predicament.
This matter will emerge from every conversation within historic family meetings. It wasn’t the floods, or the massacres, or the deaths of infants that incur the most vigorous wrath. Those matters were issues of life and the need to simply overcome. They are placed in simple juxtaposition to the humor, the skill, or the respect assigned to those who have gone before us.
The tyranny of the federal land agencies is expansive. The lack of market conditions and any foundational mandate to honor private property rights has given rise to their self assigned mission to protect. That "protection" has created indecision, decadence, misuse of resources and environmental chaos. For many years they have disallowed the private capitalization of improvements, barred parallel enterprise development, and splintered customs and culture.
This has also contributed directly to the devastation of historic families.
The service and the reminder
Yesterday, we gathered to celebrate the life of Uncle Hap and Aunt Mary’s second child to survive infancy.
Darlene McCauley was born March 6, 1940 and she now rests on hallowed ground at the Mesa Cemetery at Cliff. She is the third of the Albert and Sabre Wilmeth grandchildren to mark the conclusion of full life. Her obituary describes in written form the events of her life that were discussed and shared in expanded words among family and friends following the internment.
Darlene brought us together.
She brought us home to that wonderful country that attracted our great and great-great grandparents over a century ago. A number of us drove south along the Gila River to the mouth of the Mangus to revisit where, arguably, Darlene spent the happiest days of her life as a child. We remembered many things both directly and through recollections of others.
We reached out and touched each other.
I know Darlene would agree that being part of this historic family is one of the few earthly things that have lasting significance. In our various endeavors, it remains.
In our journeys, our relationship with God has become ever more important, but there was an immoveable connection between Him and where he placed us. Perhaps we suffered a bit of misconception of equating Him with our surroundings, but, nonetheless, that relationship formed a bridge to Him that now stands paramount.
There are consequences.
We have an unabashed assessment that our stewardship and impact on our surroundings is important. We reject the notion that an absentee owner knows more than we do and must continually guide, moderate, and direct our actions in order to save these surroundings.
How dare them, or, it, as the matter pertains!
There are too many that now suspect that the value of history has been morphed from its original premise and has little to do with the blood, effort, and lives of our founding predecessors. We are absent from the process. Federal resource management plans are being formulated accelerating the constraints that have already crippled an entire, epic way of life. History is being transformed through administrative action from being a managed value to being a nebulous corruption of generational displacement. It now constitutes whatever a special interest wants and leaves in its wake contempt for its true meaning.
What we are learning, though, is that our earthly salvation rests solely within families, the locals who actually have a stake in the outcome of lives.
We must make the value of history come alive in our midst and in the actions of Congress. No longer can we rely on someone else to do it.
We are important, and we must assure future generations an opportunity to make these surroundings as fruitful and healthy as God promised and … intended.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “’Nearly all stops’ was conditional on avoiding discussion of a particular shooting!”

Baxter Black: Only take a minute

In my travels I have been on lots of family farms where the whole family is involved in the work. During calving season it is not uncommon for the “rancher” to allow his wife to take the 10 p.m. heifer check.

It’s a practical decision because she’s fixed supper, done the dishes, helped the kids with their homework, got ‘em off to bed, returned the phone calls, is workin’ on the books and she’s up... and away! And he’s been asleep in the Barcalounger since 8:30 p.m. Of course, this obligates him to the 2 a.m. heifer check. Which is also a practical decision, ‘cause if he’s over 50, he’s up anyway!

I wrote a poem about a rancher who needs his wife’s help in the middle of the night. Many wives relate to the story. Melody has her version. She said her favorite part in the poem comes after he wakes her up and explains how easy it will be, “It’ll only take a minute, you can leave your nighty on!”

Melody married Dusty with her eyes wide open. They were both from a cattle family and students at Dixie College. They were heading home on a break and had made arrangements to stop by a neighbor’s calving lot while the neighbors were at a Farm Bureau meeting up north. There was an abandoned cowboy shack where they could spend the night. Though it was not furnished, it had running water.

The young couple arrived in a driving rain. Afoot, they pushed the handful of heifers into the calving lot, sloshing through the mud, splashing through puddles, slashing, slushing, sliding and slipping through the organic sea floor sludge.

Dusty threw them some hay and they trudged to the singlewide.

Livestock Grazing in National Monuments - What A Mess

by Frank DuBois

Several days ago I posted that Senators Hatch & Lee of Utah would be introducing the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Grazing Protection Act.

They did, in the interim, introduce an amendment to the Keystone Pipeline legislation then being debated in the Senate.  Here is the language in their amendment:

SA 44. Mr. HATCH submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 2 proposed by Ms. MURKOWSKI (for herself, Mr. HOEVEN, Mr. BARRASSO, Mr. RISCH, Mr. LEE, Mr. FLAKE, Mr. DAINES, Mr. MANCHIN, Mr. CASSIDY, Mr. GARDNER, Mr. PORTMAN, Mr. ALEXANDER, and Mrs. CAPITO) to the bill S. 1, to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

    At the appropriate place, insert the following:
    (a) In General.--Notwithstanding any rule or regulation of the Bureau of Land Management, within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, in areas administered by the Bureau of Land Management, any grazing of livestock that was established as of September 17, 1996, or the date that is 1 day before the designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in accordance with Presidential Proclamation Number 6920 (whichever is earlier), and any grazing of livestock that has been established since that date, shall be allowed to continue subject to such reasonable regulations, policies, and practices as the Secretary of the Interior considers to be necessary, on the condition that the Secretary shall allow the grazing levels to continue at current levels to the maximum extent practicable.
    (b) Permits.--In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary of the Interior may issue new permits (or renew permits) for the grazing of livestock in the areas described in subsection (a).
I've highlighted the important language.

Its disturbing to see they are having these problems in this Utah monument, when they have friendlier grazing language than New Mexico has in its two new national monuments.

On Sept. 18, 1996 President Clinton issued Presidential Proclamation 6920 creating the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  The relevant grazing language in that proclamation is:

Nothing in this proclamation shall be deemed to affect existing permits or leases for, or levels of, livestock grazing on Federal lands within the monument; existing grazing uses shall continue to be governed by applicable laws and regulations other than this proclamation.

That's the standard, boiler-plate language for grazing, i.e., the proclamation was to have no impact upon grazing.

Let's move forward to March 25, 2013, when Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation designating the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument with this grazing language: 

Laws, regulations, and policies followed by the BLM in issuing and administering grazing permits or leases on lands under its jurisdiction shall continue to apply with regard to the lands in the monument, consistent with the purposes of this proclamation

Notice the language I've highlighted.  This ties grazing directly to the purposes section of the proclamation.  Clinton's says "Nothing in this proclamation" affects grazing, while the Obama proclamation does just the opposite.

Then on May 21, 2014 Obama signed a Presidential Proclamation designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and with the following grazing language:

Laws, regulations, and policies followed by the BLM in issuing and administering grazing permits or leases on lands under its jurisdiction shall continue to apply with regard to the lands in the monument, consistent with the protection of the objects identified above.
Again we see the move from "Nothing in this proclamation" affects grazing to tying grazing directly to provisions in the proclamation. And instead of a generic tie to purposes, the consistency language is for each object identified in the proclamation.

Why the interest in these consistency languages?  Because they are highly discriminatory against livestock grazing, placing it a tier below any of the objects or purposes listed in the proclamations.  If the BLM plans an action to protect an object and there is a conflict with a grazing practice, grazing will be diminished.or eliminated.  If a current ranching practice is determined to be in conflict, it will have to be discontinued.  If a rancher proposes a range improvement project or any other new activity which is determined to be in conflict, it will be disallowed.  This is confirmed now by the BLM's own planning documents.  The Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument's scoping report lists the following as the first three grazing issues to be resolved in the planning process:

What are the potential impacts of livestock grazing on the Monument objects? How can any adverse impacts be avoided or otherwise mitigated?

Should any areas within the Monument be made unavailable for livestock grazing?

Should voluntarily relinquished grazing permits be allocated to other uses?

Under the Clinton language, grazing is on an equal footing with the other uses when management decisions are made.  Under the Obama language, grazing is subservient to the other uses or objects.

No doubt this has been a goal of the environmental community for some time.  I would like to know when the consistency language was first put in a proclamation and did an agency push for the new language or did it come from outside interests? 

We now have one agency, BLM, with at least three different grazing languages in national monuments.  Congress has the authority to fix this.  Its time for some "consistency" of our own.

It's Only Fair to Pay People to Protect Endangered Species, Argues Reason Foundation Study

An incisive new study, Fulfilling the Promise of the Endangered Species Act: The Case for an Endangered Species Reserve Program, by Reason Foundation research fellow Brian Seasholes deftly outlines a win-win-win strategy for protecting endangered species in the United States. The current dynamic in which private landowners and threatened species both lose is illustrated by the case of Missouri farmer Craig Schindler. Underneath Schindler's fields is a cave that harbors the grotto sculpin which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may soon declare "endangered." As the Reason Foundation study explains:
Based on an economic impact analysis carried out for Fish and Wildlife, the 18 acres Craig estimates he will have to sacrifice for the sculpin is worth some $90,000 and produces approximately $7,000 in crops annually.
“They’re cutting my living down,” Craig told the local Perryville News, “I have cattle and grow crops, but if you take 18 acres away from a guy, that’s quite a bit."
Fish and Wildlife also proposed to place buffer zones around sinkholes that lead to caves with sculpins. Under the listing, Craig could face up to $100,000 and/or a year in jail for killing or injuring just one sculpin, or even harming its habitat. So, in addition to losing the use of 18 acres, he will have to spend thousands of dollars to fence the buffer zone in order to prevent livestock on the rest of his ranch from inadvertently harming the sculpin. “I’m going to have to pay for this fence out of my pocket, and lose the ground for cattle to graze on,” he said. But even that will not immunize him from prosecution under the ESA because local Fish and Wildlife personnel have the power to decide if his uses of other land, such as fertilizing crops and grazing livestock, harm the sculpin.
What must the government pay for demanding that Schindler give up the use of his land and protect the sculpin? Not a cent.
Seasholes continues:
With the proposed listing of the grotto sculpin, Craig Schindler discovered the upside-down world of the Endangered Species Act. In return for harboring rare wildlife, he was to be punished by having his property turned into a de factofederal wildlife refuge but paid no compensation.
This situation is in stark contrast to most other government “takings” of private property. For example, when the government wants to convert private land for a public good, such as a highway or military base, it pays landowners the market value for the land taken. It is legally required to do so because of the “takings clause” of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution which states, “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” The takings clause seeks, “to bar Government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole,” according to a 1960 Supreme Court decision. But in a 1994 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that “partial” takings of the sort that Craig would experience as a result of a listing of the grotto sculpin are not protected by the Fifth Amendment. To add insult to injury, if the grotto sculpin were to be listed under the ESA, Craig would still have to pay taxes on the land he would not be able to use.
So what's the solution?...more