Saturday, February 14, 2015

U.N. Official Reveals Real Reason Behind Warming Scare

The alarmists keep telling us their concern about global warming is all about man's stewardship of the environment. But we know that's not true. A United Nations official has now confirmed this.

At a news conference last week in Brussels, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism.

"This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution," she said.

Referring to a new international treaty environmentalists hope will be adopted at the Paris climate change conference later this year, she added: "This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history."

The only economic model in the last 150 years that has ever worked at all is capitalism. The evidence is prima facie: From a feudal order that lasted a thousand years, produced zero growth and kept workdays long and lifespans short, the countries that have embraced free-market capitalism have enjoyed a system in which output has increased 70-fold, work days have been halved and lifespans doubled.

Groups sue EPA seeking livestock air quality standards

A coalition of environmental, animal rights and citizen action groups filed two lawsuits Wednesday alleging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is failing to address air pollution problems from large-scale livestock farms. The lawsuits, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, say the EPA has not responded to petitions filed in 2009 and 2011 by the Environmental Integrity Project and the Humane Society of the United States. Those petitions asked the agency to categorize large-scale livestock farms as sources of pollution under the Clean Air Act, set air quality standards for new and existing facilities and set health-based standards for ammonia. Joining the EIP and Humane Society in the lawsuits are citizen groups including Clean Wisconsin, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the California-based Association of Irritated Residents. They claim ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and other manure-generated contaminants in livestock-heavy states such as Iowa and North Carolina — the nation’s top two pork producers — make people sick. Tom Frantz, a farmer and President of the Association of Irritated Residents, noted that the San Joaquin Valley has seen the number of dairies jump in the last decade. “Ammonia emissions from factory farm dairies are causing the highest fine particulate matter levels in the United States, which seriously harms our health while EPA has done nothing,” he said...more

How Green Cronyism Ended Oregon’s Governor

by Michael Bastasch

Just one month after beginning his fourth term, Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber announced he will be resigning from office. The final moments of Kitzhaber’s tenure have been marred by scandals involving his fiancee and environmental interests vying to push green energy policies on Oregonians.

...Cylvia Hayes has been the at the center of controversy since she admitted to being paid to marry foreigners in order to get them greencards– an act that is highly illegal. That was years ago, however, and more recent scandals involving green energy have caused her fall from power.

She often referred to herself as the “first lady” and used the governor’s mansion to hold meetings and push green energy policies. None of her payments by environmental interests were reported on her tax forms or on Kitzhaber’s ethics filings. While in the governor’s mansion she pushed green energy policies supported by clients and environmental groups that gave her money.

Newspapers reported that Hayes was paid $118,000 by an environmental group in 2011 and 2012 to lobby for global warming regulations on transportation fuel, called a low-carbon fuel standard — all while she was engaged to Kitzhaber and served in his office as an unpaid policy advisor.

The D.C.-based Clean Economy Development Center (CEDC), which paid Hayes while she was in the governor’s office, actually had its tax exempt status pulled by the IRS for failing to file tax returns in 2014 after Hayes’ fellowship had ended. Another group, the San Francisco-based Energy Foundation, directly hired Hayes in 2013 to create a green energy communications strategy. Her contract with the Foundation was reportedly worth $40,000.

The Energy Foundation had also funded part of Hayes’s fellowship at CDEC, and is connected to San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer, a prominent environmentalist who has also been pushing global warming policies in West Coast states.

Kitzhaber’s signature green policy has been the low-carbon fuel standard, a law aimed at fighting global warming through regulating transportation fuels. This policy was backed by Hayes’ clients who likely benefitted from making fossil fuels more costly.

Steyer, in fact, has been pushing similar policies in California and Washington, giving huge amounts of money to politicians and environmentalists who are willing to lend their voice to the issue.

Big Government and Corruption Are Inextricably Intertwined

by Daniel J. Mitchell 

When I write about the “inbred corruption of Washington” or “Washington’s culture of corruption,” I’m not merely taking pot-shots at the political elite.

trying to make a very serious point about the way in which big government enables immoral behaviorby both elected officials and various interest groups.

Heck, in many ways, government has morphed into a racket designed to enrich the lobbyists, insiders, contractors, bureaucrats, and politicians.

They play, we pay.

Jay Cost of the Weekly Standard has an entire new book on this topic and he highlights how big government-enabled corruption harms the middle class in a column for National Review.

...If we think of corruption merely as illegal activity, we’re defining it too narrowly.…the better way to understand it is as James Madison might have. InFederalist 10, he worried about the “violence of faction,” which he defined as a group “united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”This is all too common in public policy. From farm subsidies to Medicare, regulatory policy to the tax code, and highway spending to corporate welfare, our government does violence to the public interest by rewarding the interest groups that lobby it aggressively.

Cost then explains that this corruption-fueled expansion of government is very damaging for the middle class.
…corruption is a loser for the middle class. Middle-class Americans do not have the money to pay for lobbyists to make sure they are getting a piece of the action. They don’t usually contribute to political candidates, and when they do, it is typically for a presidential candidate whose ideas they think are sound. They do not subsidize the otherwise obscure subcommittee chairman with oversight on a critical policy. And, of course, they cannot offer politicians seven-figure employment opportunities for post-government life. And yet the middle class foots the bill. Average Americans pay higher taxes to subsidize this misbehavior…

Friday, February 13, 2015

USDA approves first genetically modified apples

Apples that have been genetically modified so they don’t turn brown when cut or bruised were approved for planting in the U.S., a product designed to expand the market for fresh-sliced fruit and reduce food waste. The non-browning apples created by closely held Canadian developer Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk or to have a significant impact on the human environment, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on its website Friday. The fruits will be marketed as Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden. Crop developers are increasingly using genetic engineering to appeal to consumers rather than focusing solely on farmer benefits, such as corn and soybeans that survive weed killers. In November, J.R. Simplot Co. won approval of a potato designed to resist black-spot bruising, which like Okanagan’s apples are expected to reduce food waste and increase consumer appeal. Consumers will have to wait several years until enough Arctic apples are available for wide distribution. Test-market quantities will be available starting in 2016, followed by a “slow but steady market introduction,” Neal Carter, founder of Summerland, British Columbia-based Okanagan, said in a statement Friday. “Our focus is working with growers to get trees in the ground,” Carter said in the statement. Okanagan reduced the apple’s expression of an enzyme responsible for browning, the company said. The fruit is nutritionally equivalent to conventional apples, Carter said. Okanagan is working with the Food and Drug Administration on a voluntary safety assessment of the engineered apples, the USDA said...more

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber resigns amid ethics scandal

Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber submitted his resignation Friday amid allegations that his fiancée Cylvia Hayes used their public positions for private gain, accepting money from private environmental nonprofits to pursue green policies in the state. The announcement has not yet been made public but sources with direct knowledge of the matter told local news station KOIN 6 that Mr. Kitzhaber met with administration officials Friday morning to make his plans known. The resignation will take effect 10 a.m. Wednesday. Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is expected to assume the office and become the nation’s first openly bisexual governor...more

Privatization of public land not a success

It is no secret that some state legislators in the West want to boot federal land management agencies from their states. They argue that agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service cost too much and are too detached from local values, and that states could make money by running their vast open spaces like a privately owned business. The Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian think tank, is of that opinion and has developed models to replace federal agencies with private interests. What many people don’t know is that Congress implemented one of the Cato Institute’s ideas in 2000, on the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico. For some critics of the federal government, this was the experiment in land management that would signal the end of the BLM and Forest Service in the West. The Cato experiment in New Mexico, however, failed, chewed up by the friction between monetizing the “services” that landscapes provide – recreation, timber, grass, wildlife – and fulfilling citizens’ expectations for public access and protecting natural resources...more

Where did they get the idea this was "privatization"?  The lands in question remained in federal ownership, none were privatized. None of the primary interest groups wanted this model to work and they doomed it from the get-go:

Privatization supporters may say that if Congress had waived all federal natural and cultural resource protection laws for the trust – as Sen. Domenici had urged back in 2000 – the staff could have been a fraction of its size, and the trust could have made money developing lodges and putting thousands of cattle on the high-altitude meadows without public review or bureaucratic process.  Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., however, refused to excuse the trust from environmental laws. 

Domenici made two mistakes:  First was caving on the issue and supporting federal acquisition of these lands; and second was the options model.  Not the management model, but the options available after trying the experiment.  The options were succeed or return to federal management.  That gave all the leverage to the opponents of the management model.  If the options had been succeed or the lands will be privatized, you can be damn sure they would have made it work.

And if the issue was really public access, they should have left it with the Forest Service.  Everyone knows the Park Service is anti-grazing and anti-hunting and is far more likely to restrict public access or charge high entrance fees.

Ranchers crucial to saving sage grouse -- USDA

Federal partnerships with private landowners across the West have resulted in protecting millions of acres of greater sage grouse habitat, according to a new report that underscores the critical role ranchers play in ongoing efforts to save the imperiled bird. The report released today by the Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service shows that since 2010, NRCS has spent $296 million on programs partnering with ranchers and other private landowners that have resulted in restoring 4.4 million acres of sage grouse habitat. The report notes that the Sage Grouse Initiative -- a partnership led by NRCS that includes ranchers, academicians and representatives from state and federal agencies -- has secured an additional $128 million from private landowners and other partnerships, underscoring the commitment to keeping the bird off the ESA list. Tim Griffiths, NRCS's coordinator for the Sage Grouse Initiative, said that money has been used to purchase conservation easements on private lands covering 451,884 acres, according to the report. More than a third of those easements are in Wyoming, which is home to nearly half the remaining grouse population.  The money also has been used for numerous projects, such as removing conifer trees that can harm sagebrush steppe and attract grouse predators. In Oregon, for example, NRCS has invested $18.4 million through the Sage Grouse Initiative to help more than 100 ranchers remove conifers from 200,000 acres of key nesting and wintering habitats...more

Commercial coyote hunt in Lincoln County a success

The coyote hunt staged last weekend in Lincoln County occurred completely on private ranch land where owners had reported a growing problem with the predator, the hunt coordinator said this week. Rusty Silva said he's been guiding hunting parties for 25 years and operating his own outfitting and guide business, Antler Obsession Outdoors, for the past five to six years. He lives in the Brady Canyon area just outside the limits of the village of Ruidoso, he said. Twenty-two, two-man teams participated, with the winning team being one of two that bagged eight coyotes, Silva said. From there the number of kills per team dropped with one at seven, a few at six and lower numbers from there, he said. A few of the teams met at his home and that's where the teams returned at the end of the hunt, he said. The coyote hunt staged last weekend in Lincoln County occurred completely on private ranch land where owners had reported a growing problem with the predator, the hunt coordinator said this week. Rusty Silva said he's been guiding hunting parties for 25 years and operating his own outfitting and guide business, Antler Obsession Outdoors, for the past five to six years. He lives in the Brady Canyon area just outside the limits of the village of Ruidoso, he said. Twenty-two, two-man teams participated, with the winning team being one of two that bagged eight coyotes, Silva said. From there the number of kills per team dropped with one at seven, a few at six and lower numbers from there, he said. A few of the teams met at his home and that's where the teams returned at the end of the hunt, he said...more

Land Trust Alliance Cheers U.S. House Passage of America Gives More Act of 2015

The Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization working to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America, today applauded the U.S. House of Representatives vote to pass the America Gives More Act of 2015 (H.R. 644). The bill, which contained a key incentive for land conservation, passed 279-137, reflecting 67% support. The America Gives More Act includes the Conservation Easement Incentive Act (H.R. 641), a bill championed by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) to make permanent a crucial tax incentive encouraging landowners to place conservation easements on their land to protect important agriculture, natural and scenic resources. The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, where Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) earlier this month introduced an identical version of the Conservation Easement Incentive Act (S. 330). The Obama administration supported making the easement incentive permanent in its fiscal year 2016 budget request and the incentive has had strong bipartisan support...more

Sally Jewell: ‘Plenty of time’ for energy plan comment

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell had a message this week for critics of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan: Your input is valuable, but you don’t need more time to submit your comments. State and federal agencies have spent six years working on the plan that would lay the ground rules for the next quarter-century of solar, wind and geothermal development across 22.5 million acres of California desert. Jewell visited the Coachella Valley in September to announce the release of a 10,000-page draft that she called “a major milestone” in the state’s effort to fight climate change. State and federal officials have said the plan will speed up the permitting of renewable energy projects in the desert, while protecting threatened species and minimizing the environmental impacts of development. But criticism of the draft plan has been mounting, with renewable energy advocates and conservationists alike questioning whether it would accomplish either of those goals.Those frustrations boiled over last month, when a coalition of energy companies and environmental organizations criticized the plan’s “pervasive lack of clarity” and called for a significant overhaul. The groups also asked state and federal regulators to extend the draft document’s public comment period, writing that the plan’s “extremely complex framework and confusing organization” have made it “difficult to comprehend even the most basic information necessary to understand the draft plan."...more

A defeat for group opposing Christo's 'Over the River' project

The primary group opposing Christo's plan to drape fabric panels over nearly 6 miles of the Arkansas River suffered a defeat in court Thursday but vows to keep fighting the artist's elaborate project. The Colorado Court of Appeals denied an appeal filed by Rags Over the Arkansas River that argued Colorado State Parks violated its own special permit regulations when it approved the "Over the River" project planned between Cañon City and Salida. While the three-judge court agreed the proper procedures weren't followed, it ultimately decided to let the approval stand because the parks agency had strong evidence to support its decision. "At bottom, ROAR's disagreement with the authorization of the project is a disagreement with the project itself - not the process used to approve the project," reads the ruling. "But that is not enough to establish the prejudice necessary to invalidate an agency action." Christo intends to spend $50 million on the project. Installation, which involves drilling steel anchors and erecting frames to suspend more than 900 silver fabric panels 8 feet to 25 feet above the river, is expected to last 27 weeks. The temporary project then would be on display for two weeks, and Christo believes it would attract about 560,000 visitors...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1380

Roots Week brings you Down By The River by Uncle Dave Macon.  The tune was recorded in New York City on July 11, 1924.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

New Mexico bill calls for study of controlling federal land

As lawmakers across the West question the federal government's ability to manage public lands under its care, New Mexico has taken the first step toward a study of the feasibility of the state assuming control of millions of acres. Legislation that would establish a commission to study the issue cleared a New Mexico House panel Wednesday on a 9-1 vote, with only one of five Democrats on the committee voting in opposition. The vote marks the first time in three years that any federal land transfer measure has made it passed its first legislative hurdle in New Mexico. The dynamics have changed since Republicans assumed control of the House, and disputes over property and water rights on federal forest land in rural areas have helped drive the debate over the past year. Most of the lawmakers on the committee that took up the legislation Wednesday are from rural areas. "I do want answers. I want to know, where do we go from here, because folks we can't allow the status quo to go on," said committee chair Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell. She spoke about the threat of wildfires and the declining health of the drought-stricken state's watersheds. While no legislation calling for a transfer has been introduced, sportsmen and environmentalists recently rallied outside the capitol in opposition of the idea. They pointed to polls that show people in New Mexico and other western states oppose assuming full control of federal lands and absorbing the associated costs. Ranching organizations, local government groups and some state land managers voiced support for the bill, saying it would not change anything, only clear the way for New Mexico to study the matter...more

SMAP satellite to help Arizona ranchers, farmers

SMAP satellite will help farmers, ranchers and state planners make better informed decision. Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite, or SMAP, is successfully in orbit. Designed to measure moisture in the soil, SMAP will make a big difference in the way people around the world make decisions, including right here in southern Arizona. Ranchers and farmers across southern Arizona have been dealing with drought conditions for years. The SMAP satellite orbiting overhead will help map those drought conditions and help farmers with their day-to-day decisions. John Rueb owns and operates Forever Yong Farm near Arivaca, producing everything from carrots to garlic to be sold at local markets. “There isn't a day that goes by where I don't think about water, said Rueb. "It's my lifeline here growing in the desert.” Rueb checks the soil moisture content around his farm every day. This is vital to his daily operation. “That type of information would be important for me to know when to irrigate and when the moisture levels are proper for planting certain crops,” he said. SMAP's instruments will help farmers like Rueb by producing high-resolution global maps of soil moisture, while giving scientists a better understanding of Earth's carbon and water cycles. Susan Moran is on NASA's SMAP Science Team. She said that understanding these cycles are extremely important for daily life. “They are important because they are related to almost every application and decision that's made on the earth,” said Moran...more

This whole thing is being portrayed as primarily benefiting the private sector, but I'm doubtful.  It was all kicked off by a request from NASA, NOAA and the USGS, all government agencies.  Wikipedia says that users other than ag would be "climate scientists hazard and flood disaster managers, disease control and prevention managers, emergency planners and policy makers."  All those are positions or programs usually associated with government.

What really is the need for this?  Rueb doesn't need it, as he is already checking his soil moisture daily.  This would give him a map.  Please remember it was a government map that resulted in all livestock being removed from a national forest.

I'm all for science and a dynamic and growing economy, which I believe means the government should make not only better decisions but also fewer decisions.  No doubt this will be used to tout government expertise and justify more, not less, government planning and decision making.

The way things are going, you might just as well let them map your testicles while they're at it.

Limiting access to Wilderness "hot spots" successful in other national forests

The changes the White River National Forest is considering to minimize crowds in wilderness areas have been successful in other forests. Last week, Forest Service officials began an informal outreach effort around how to bring back solitude to busy trails and backcountry camping. As Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports, their ideas have been tried in other wilderness areas. Aspen Sopris District Ranger Karen Schroyer is delivering a presentation to a packed house in Aspen. She’s working to educate people about problems in the forest and solicit feedback. “As we go through this slideshow together, I’d like you guys to think about this one question I have. What would you like the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness to look like 50 years from now?” Her slide show focuses on the 183,000-acre Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness. The popular area is seeing overcrowding at spots like Conundrum Hot Springs, the Four Pass Loop and on a short trail from Maroon to Crater Lake. “In two separate days in September of 2014, we had over 1200 people a day, hiking that trail. Now, if you’re going to wilderness to experience solitude, that’s probably not where you want to go.”  The crowding leads to ecological degradation. Campers leave behind trash, human waste and illegal campfires. Some don’t store food adequately. “In August of 2014, we were forced to close all of the sites, the camping sites around Crater Lake, and we were forced to close them for the remainder of the season because there had been so many bear-human conflicts up there. It was becoming a very serious, dangerous situation.”...more

The anti-human philosophy of wilderness rises to the fore again.  How can you have solitude when other humans are around?  Limit those humans who can enter.  This raises the issue of wilderness visitors.  According to the gov'ts own studies, the typical wilderness visitor is an upper income white male with a higher education.  The enviros are aware of how vulnerable they are on this issue, which is why you see them falling all over themselves to court hispanic groups.  Right now, only the elite are entering.

Other humans may disrupt your solitude, but according to Little Tommy YouDull and his sidekick Marty, noise and machines won't.  They have introduced legislation to designate wilderness where 80 trains a day run by its boundary, and the traffic will soon double.   With 160 trains a day, that means one will go by every 9 minutes.  You can enjoy your solitude and sing Kumbaya to the clickety clack of the railroad tracks all at the same time.  Come to think of it, only a spoiled, white, trust fund baby would enjoy that.

As for me, I'd be with the let's get naked and swim crowd.

Utah county demands involvement in grazing plans - video

Washington County Commissioners have signed a resolution demanding federal cooperation concerning grazing rights on the Dixie National Forest. The resolution requests the U.S. Forest Service immediately cease any action to limit grazing on DNF. The action comes about year after the U.S. Forest Service and the Grand Canyon Trust, Inc. began working to gather and analyze data on cattle grazing on the Dixie, Fishlake, and Manti-La Sal National Forests. Washington County commissioners claim they should be involved in any such processes in the future...more

Feds pledge $200 million to sage grouse conservation

Sage grouse conservation should receive another shot in the arm during the next four years. The Natural Resources Conservation Service will devote about $200 million to sage grouse projects across the West, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will announce Thursday. The money will be added to the nearly $300 million the conservation service has already spent on projects in 11 Western states. Much of the work has also been done on private land, particularly working ranches. “The effort you’re seeing here is unprecedented on private land,” said Robert Bonnie, undersecretary for natural resources and the environment. “When we have good incentives with a common-sense approach, landowners are willing to step forward.” The USDA will also release a report Thursday detailing the millions of acres of land in Wyoming and other states conserved in easements or improved since 2010. About 4.4 million acres of sage grouse habitat has been restored through the USDA and its partners in the Sage Grouse Initiative, said Jason Weller, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service...more

Denver water use dips to 40-year low in 2014

Maybe it is projects such as replacing 10,000 toilets in Denver Public Schools. Maybe it is Denver Water's ceaseless "Use Only What You Need" campaign. Or maybe residents seeing scarcity are self-motivated. Whatever the reasons, water use in metro Denver has dipped to 40-year lows. The total amount residents used in December decreased to 3.19 billion gallons, and in January to 3.36 billion gallons — down from previous winter highs topping 4 billion gallons, utility officials said. The last time December use dropped this low was in 1973 when Denver had 350,000 fewer people. "Our customers are responding. ... Conservation has been successful and will be an integral part of meeting our future water needs — along with reuse and new supply," Denver Water manager Jim Lochhead said. The low use this winter continues a trend of declining water use despite a growing population. Denver residents use 82 gallons a day per person for all indoor and outdoor purposes, utility data show. That's down from 104 gallons in 2001 and puts Denver ahead of other Western cities that are counting on conservation to avoid running dry...more

Candlelight Vigil for "Buff-Love" in Montana

It's about "buff-love" for Valentine's Day in Montana. That's how organizers characterize a week of action to raise awareness about wild buffalo - also called bison. There's a march and candlelight vigil tonight in Gardiner. Stephany Seay, media coordinator with the Buffalo Field Campaign, says hundreds of the animals are killed each year just for moving beyond the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park and her group wants that to stop. Seay's organization reports 425 animals have been killed so far this winter and more than 200 are being held in a trap inside Yellowstone National Park. She says it's expected they will be sent to slaughter. Many ranchers and some property owners object to the animals roaming outside of the park because of concerns of possible disease transmission to livestock and other damage...more

White House plan would ramp up wildlife trafficking enforcement

To ramp up the fight against wildlife trafficking, the Obama administration today rolled out a new defense plan mainly focused on increasing U.S. and global enforcement efforts. The three-pronged implementation plan for the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking also aims to reduce demand for endangered species and products made from them as well as to increase international cooperation to address the growing challenge. The strategy to reduce the multibillion-dollar illicit market was announced by the White House last year (E&ENews PM, Feb. 11, 2014). Some of the notable enforcement objectives include working with Congress to increase penalties for wildlife trafficking and to direct proceeds from the illegal trade into additional enforcement. The plan specifically highlighted S. 27, a bipartisan bill to prosecute wildlife trafficking under federal racketeering and money laundering statutes...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1379

The next selection for Roots Week is Tom Darby and Jimmie Tarlton performing Alto Waltz.  The tune was recorded in Atlanta on April 12, 1928 and released as Columbia 15314-D. That's Darby on the standard guitar and Tarlton on the steel.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

FWS urges protection of 16.5M acres for sage grouse

The Fish and Wildlife Service advised its fellow land management agencies to impose the most stringent protections on roughly 16.5 million acres of high-value sage grouse habitat in order to save the bird from the threat of extinction. The recommendation came from FWS Director Dan Ashe in an Oct. 27 internal memo to the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service that was obtained by Greenwire. It will likely inform BLM as it finalizes land-use plans covering 67 million acres in the bird's 11-state Western range in hopes of preventing its demise. The areas FWS mapped in the Great Basin, western Wyoming and north-central Montana are "a subset of priority habitat most vital to the species persistence, within which we recommend the strongest levels of protection," Ashe wrote in the memo to BLM Director Neil Kornze and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. The recommended sage grouse "strongholds" have been found to contain the highest densities of birds, are the most resistant and resilient to stressors like invasive species and wildfire, and are least susceptible to climate change, Ashe said. They're also predominantly located on federal lands. They are a subset of the 75 million priority areas for conservation (PACs) that Fish and Wildlife identified as key to the bird's long-term survival and worthy of the government's limited conservation resources. Conservationists privy to FWS's internal sage grouse work are calling the areas "super PACs." "Strong, durable, and meaningful protection of federally administered lands in these areas will provide additional certainty and help obtain confidence for long-term sage-grouse persistence," Ashe wrote. "The attached maps highlight areas where it is most important that BLM and Forest Service institutionalize the highest degree of protection to help promote persistence of the species." BLM's land-use plan amendments, set to be finalized in late summer, will be a key factor in September when Fish and Wildlife scientists decide whether the charismatic, chest-puffing bird is in need of federal protections. More than 63 percent of the bird's 165 million acres of habitat is on federal lands, most of it managed by BLM. Ashe yesterday told Greenwire that protection of strongholds, or lack thereof, will be a criterion in FWS's listing decision. But they're only recommendations...more

Montana lawmaker presents bill transferring federal land management to state

The contentious issue of transferring management of federal lands to the state got its first airing at the 2015 Legislature Monday, as a Republican senator presented her bill to prevent the state from selling any transferred land. Sen. Jennifer Fielder of Thompson Falls, a leading proponent of the transfer, said her Senate Bill 215 counters the argument from opponents that the transfer would lead to a sell-off of federal public lands. “There is no question in my mind that the public lands would remain public,” she told the Senate Natural Resources Committee. “This would put into law a prohibition to sell (these lands).” Fielder also said SB215 is the first of three bills she plans to offer on the federal lands debate – including one creating a task force to study the possible transfer of federal land management to the state. Yet while Fielder said SB215 should placate opponents claiming the transfer would lead to a public land sell-off. But conservation groups – and the Bullock administration – still opposed her bill Monday...more

Wolf Hunting Season Approaches Final Month in Montana

The state’s hunting season for wolves is nearing its conclusion. The trapping season ends Feb. 28. The general rifle season ends March 15. Rifle and archery hunters have taken 124 wolves and trappers have reported taking another 56, for a total of 180 this season, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks statistics.  Last season, which was shorter than this year’s, hunters and trappers killed 225 wolves.
Since the summer of 2014, landowners have reported shooting six wolves since the state allowed them to kill the animal if it potentially threatened livestock...more

Feds Laud Solar Project Near National Park, Forget to Mention Park

There's something unusual about the Interior Department's PR blitz to mark the formal launch of the massive Desert Sunlight Solar Farm next door to Joshua Tree National Park: Interior doesn't mention the Park anywhere in its press release. The 550-megawatt solar project, approved in August 2011 on Joshua Tree NP's 75th birthday, is surrounded on three sides by the popular desert park's remote and wild eastern sections. The project's eastern fence runs within about a mile of the park boundary in the Coxcomb Mountains. But you won't learn that from the Interior Department's press release celebrating the formal opening of the plant, which doesn't mention the 1,234-square-mile National Park even in passing.  The Interior Department's press release lauding the project does take pains to describe its location, but neglects to mention the local landmark most likely to be recognized by Southern Californians...This isn't the first time national parks have gone curiously unmentioned in discussion of solar facilities proposed for their fencelines. The proposed Soda Mountain solar project in San Bernardino County, whose fate is expected to be determined by a BLM decision this month, would be within a mile of some of the wildest parts of the 2,400-square-mile Mojave National Preserve. Nonetheless, early detail maps of the project prepared for public scoping meetings by BLM staff omitted the Preserve...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1378

At his first recording session after Bristol, Jimmie Rodgers recorded his first Blue Yodel.  And that was the title of the song, Blue Yodel...later to be known as T for Texas.  Recorded in Camden on November 30, 1927 and released as Victor 21142.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Obama prepares for divisive veto

President Obama is just days away from issuing the biggest veto of his tenure, with Republicans poised to send him legislation that would authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Obama’s veto — just the third of his presidency and the first since 2010 — is expected to come with little fanfare, with even opponents of the pipeline arguing the White House should avoid further angering Democrats and unions who want Keystone to be built. "We just want to see it get it rejected. Our work doesn't end with the veto, we need to make sure votes are there to sustain that veto," said Melinda Pierce, Sierra Club's legislative director. Republicans are eagerly awaiting Obama’s stroke of the pen, believing every veto he makes will help them make the case that job-creating legislation is being blocked by a president of “no.”...more

Rep. White calls land transfer unrealistic, but does advocate for greater local control

The transfer of federal lands to the state of Montana is too technically complex to be realistic, according to state Rep. Kerry White, R-Bozeman, although he does support more local input on how federal lands are managed. White sits on the Environmental Quality Council, a subcommittee of which has been examining ways to better coordinate state and federal communication on federal lands projects. As one of the members of that subcommittee, White said the group has gathered some great information that will be forwarded to the full Legislature. The subcommittee is led by Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls, who has aligned herself with out-of-state federal land repossession advocates. That has raised Democrats’ fear of a push for a federal land takeover, especially since the Montana Republican Party built the idea into its platform. “I don’t know where that’s going to go,” White said. “The discussion is going to continue.” Political science professor Jeremy Johnson, of Carroll College, sees the GOP's endorsement of the language in its platform as one way to unite a factionalized party on a single issue and against a common opponent — the Democrats. For now, White would like to see increased federal and state cooperation to allow more logging on federal lands to lessen fire danger and feed timber mills while creating local jobs. “I’m encouraged in talking to the agencies, the Forest Service,” White said. “They’re excited about it. They’re looking for help. They’re hamstrung right now.”...more

State Rep. White may think he has staked out the middle ground on this issue, but he hasn't.  He is clearly siding with the feds.  He says it is too "technically complex".  Let's see.  Acreage is now owned and managed by the feds.  A transfer occurs and the acreage will be owned and managed by the state.  Wow, that really is complex!

White says the feds are "excited".  Of course they are.  This would take their sand box and toys away from them.

White says the feds are "hamstrung right now".  Geez, that's why a transfer would benefit the resource and the people.  Is that too "complex" for him to see?

Expense of Montana takeover of federal lands difficult to define

Determining the cost to the state of Montana to take over management of roughly 25 million acres of federal land within its borders is no easy task, but a back of the envelope calculation puts such a deal at close to half a billion dollars. “There’s a whole new sector of land management that would be needed to manage public lands,” said John Grassy, information officer for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. “We’re being asked to project how we would staff and program an additional 25 million acres. It’s something we’ve never done before.” Despite the difficulties, the DNRC is still trying to come up with some figures, possibly by this fall. Gov. Steve Bullock has made it clear that he does not endorse a takeover of federal lands in Montana, calling such public property the birthright of state residents...more

It's something you've never done before? You're still trying to come up with some figures on the costs of managing an additional 25 million acres?  Let me give you a hint.  According to your website you currently have 5 million surface acres under your jurisdiction.  Now take what that costs and MULTIPLY IT BY 5!  Do you think you could do that before this fall?  

Federal land grab, management getting more pushback in Wyoming

The Sweetwater County Commission has joined sportsmen's groups in opposing state management or ownership of federal lands. Meanwhile, on Thursday lawmakers received a handout from the Wyoming Sportsmen Alliance, which represents nine outdoors organizations, urging them to vote against two federal land bills in the Legislature. The alliance represents about 50,000 hunters and anglers across the state, said Steve Kilpatrick, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, a group member. But lawmakers who support state management or ownership of federal lands are unmoved. They believe Wyoming has a legal right to the land because the federal government has turned over acreage to other states. They say state officials would be more responsive and flexible to people’s concerns than the federal bureaucracy...more

Editorial - Discussion needed on state land use

Wyoming is a set of invisible lines drawn around some of the best outdoor adventures on Earth.

According to economists, energy production is the engine that powers that state. But we Wyomingites know that the recreational opportunities in our mountains, streams and basins are powerful draws that attract visitors and keep us here. So we certainly understand that some hunters, anglers and other outdoors enthusiasts are concerned that replacing federal management of federal lands with state oversight could cause problems. Some sportsmen groups are opposing a couple of pieces of legislation that either demand what is essentially a surrender of federal land or would create a legislative study considering state management of federal lands.

We think the seizure legislation goes way too far. It ignores some serious legal and fiscal challenges and waves away concerns from some stakeholders. That's why we support Senate File 56, the bill that would set up a study of the matter. Even if the study doesn't result in future legislation, we think it's clear the state needs to have a straightforward conversation with sportsmen and women who feel their recreational opportunities are limited on state-owned land.

Some outdoor groups are concerned such a study is a prelude to an attempted land grab. They're not entirely crazy to think so. Wyoming lawmakers have shown themselves regularly in love with the Sagebrush Rebellion thinking of old that would reject federal management of federal land within state borders. Of course, such thinking hasn't resulted in much, because federal title to federal land is pretty clear and even enshrined in the Wyoming Constitution. Yet that hasn't stopped state lawmakers from being convinced the feds need to pack up and leave.

Pushing Farmers Under ‘Waters’

...In 1972, building on previous laws regarding discharges of waste materials into waterways, Congress passed the Clean Water Act to set strict guidance as to pollutants released into “navigable” waterways. Rivers were literally catching on fire, the Cuyahoga in Ohio being the most famous example. “Navigable” was understood to mean rivers,  lakes, bays, and larger bodies of water. But over the course of the next two decades, that definition of “navigable” became ever more marginal as the environmental movement pushed to bring more and more land under federal regulatory control.

...A battle has commenced over just what “navigable” means, and just what the EPA and ACE could regulate under the Clean Water Act. The stakes were high, especially for farmers and ranchers, who rely so heavily on water and often find their most productive lands coming under the scrutiny of regulators.

The question this raises is straightforward: Did Congress intend, in passing the CWA in 1972, that the federal government regulate every potential waterway — navigable, adjacent to a navigable waterway, isolated from other bodies of water, etc.? The environmental movement and the federal government said yes, it did, and created a tortured series of justifications for the regulation of marginal wetlands: the “glancing goose” theory, for instance, according to which the possibility that migratory birds might land in an isolated wetland could trigger regulation; or, in interstate commerce, the “fur and meat” theory that federal authorities could claim that animals living in “navigable waters” triggered that the area fell under their jurisdiction. (In the criminal prosecution of James Wilson for Clean Water Act violations, the federal government produced an expert to testify on the interstate trade in “muskrat meat” and beaver fur, in order to establish that an interstate-commerce nexus existed.)

These bizarre assertions of authority have meant that farmers and ranchers — already facing a competitive disadvantage on the world market owing to a massive regulatory burden– have had to face an illogical maze of rules and permitting in order to engage in the important work of bringing food to the marketplace. The reality is that no farmer has been safe. You could be in the High Desert of Nevada, requiring gallons upon gallons of water in order to make dry land arable, and still face the onerous requirements of section 404 of the Clean Water Act. You could be miles from a navigable waterway, farming in an isolated area, and the EPA and ACE could force you to spend time and money on a baffling series of permits, with no guarantee of approval, no timeline as to an answer, and the potential of having to engage in “wetland mitigation” or “banking,” whereby you are required to create wetlands on your own land or buy land elsewhere to create them.

In a series of challenges to the federal government’s interpretation, the Supreme Court said that the Clean Water Act did not give the federal government the power to regulate isolated wetlands. It ruled that there had to be a “substantial nexus” to interstate waterways or interstate commerce. That, one would think, would settle the argument, at least vis-à-vis the issue of requirement of “navigability.”

Undeterred, however, the Left immediately set about the audacious effort to remove the concept of “navigability” from the Clean Water Act — if “navigability” is a confusing term, simply remove it from the statute, and the EPA and ACE can move forward in their effort to regulate ever more marginal wetlands. It didn’t work legislatively, however, as its congressional champions were never able to muster enough support against the voices of America’s farmers, ranchers, and small-business owners who saw just what this plan might add to their already hefty regulatory burden.

 Enter the Obama administration, eager to step in where, in their view, Congress has failed to act.

Nevada Supreme Court decision keeps water pipeline dry for now

The Nevada Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal of a lower court ruling that effectively stripped the Southern Nevada Water Authority of water rights for its controversial pipeline from eastern Nevada.
In 2013, Senior District Judge Robert Estes ruled that the state’s chief water regulator failed to adequately support a decision two years earlier to allow the authority to sink its wells in four lonesome valleys in Lincoln and White Pine counties. In an unpublished order issued Friday, the Supreme Court declared that Estes’ decision was not subject to appeal, a move that could force State Engineer Jason King to follow through on additional work the judge requested. Specifically, Estes ordered King to recalculate and probably reduce how much the authority should safely be allowed to pump from Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys to avoid draining the basins and causing conflicts with other water rights holders there and elsewhere. He also directed the state engineer’s office to develop a detailed monitoring and mitigation program, with clear triggers for corrective action should large-scale groundwater pumping result in damage...more

Anti-oil sands activists in the U.S. are getting visits from the FBI

Unexpected visitors have been dropping in on anti-oil activists in the United States — knocking on doors, calling, texting, contacting family members. The visitors are federal agents. Opponents of Canadian oil say they’ve been contacted by FBI investigators in several states following their involvement in protests that delayed northbound shipments of equipment to Canada’s oilsands. A lawyer working with the protesters says he’s personally aware of a dozen people having been contacted in the northwestern U.S. and says the actual number is probably higher. Larry Hildes says it’s been happening the last few months in Washington State, Oregon and Idaho. He says one person got a visit at work, after having already refused to answer questions. The other person, Herb Goodwin, was visited at home by an FBI agent and a veteran detective from the local police force in Bellingham, Wash. He said the federal agent told him: “We’re here to ask whether you’ll answer some questions for us about Deep Green Resistance.” That group, DGR, calls itself a radical environmental movement that believes the biggest problem with the planet is human civilization itself. It proposes a shift back from agriculture to a hunter-gatherer horticultural lifestyle. It also proposes a four-step program called decisive ecological warfare, a long-term plan calling for the sabotage and dismantling of planet-harming infrastructure...more

World's largest solar plant opens in California desert

The Southern California desert is now home to the world's largest solar power plant. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined state officials on Monday to open the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight solar project in the town of Desert Center, Calif., near Joshua Tree National Park. Built by First Solar, the project generates enough electricity to power 160,000 average California homes. Desert Sunlight received a federal loan of nearly $1.5 billion, and Jewell called its completion an example of the loan guarantee program's tremendous importance. "When you are stepping out with new technology, when you are trying something that has been untested before, a loan guarantee program from an organization like the Department of Energy is what provides you, as a lender, that certainty that you can step up and support the project," Jewell told The Desert Sun. Conservative lawmakers have derided the loan guarantee program, arguing that it's wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. Critics have pointed to the program's $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, a Fremont-based solar panel manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy in 2011...more

Farm Bureau secures stay in EPA privacy suit

A federal district court in Minnesota has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency not to release farmers' and ranchers' personal information while the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) appeal the court's dismissal of their lawsuit seeking to stop the practice. The court issued its order late Friday. In dismissing the suit, the court ruled that farmers are not harmed when the government compiles and discloses personal information -- including names, home addresses, telephone numbers and GPS locations -- so long as individual bits of that information are somehow publicly accessible, such as through an Internet search or on a Facebook page. AFBF and NPPC appealed the dismissal on Jan. 29...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1377

Let's have a Roots Week.  Here is Riley Puckett performing Old Joe Clark.  The tune was recorded in New York City on March 7, 1924. "In 1924 Puckett accompanied fiddler Gid Tanner to New York, where, on March 7 and 8, they recorded twelve songs and tunes for the Columbia Phonograph Company. They were the first country-music artists to record for that firm. These recording sessions yielded vocal selections by Puckett and fiddle tunes by Tanner. One of Puckett's songs, "Rock All Our Babies to Sleep",(Columbia-#107-D, with "Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane, on the reverse side), established him as probably the first country-music artist to yodel on records."

Monday, February 09, 2015

Soapbox: West’s health depends on sage-grouse plans

by Terry Riley

Much has been reported about congressional action to delay the listing decision on the greater sage grouse. Folded into the 2015 federal spending bill was a rider prohibiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from working on rules related to a sage grouse listing under the Endangered Species Act. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the provision would have no effect on an ongoing effort to manage sage-grouse habitat, and as a wildlife biologist who has studied grouse and other game birds, I support Jewell’s commitment to carry on as promised.

Specifically, I think the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) must use the best-available science to complete its 14 remaining land-use plans that aim to conserve sage grouse habitat while balancing the need for multiple uses of our federal public lands.

Inaction or delaying the completion and implementation of the BLM plans could further compromise not only the sage grouse, but also the many species that make this landscape their home.

You get the drift.  The health of the sage grouse is dependent on a government plan, or put another way, BLM's ObamaCare for Birds.  If that's the case then say bye bye to the birdies.  

With Blue Cross Blue Shield for Birds they might have a chance.  But a government plan?  Might as well grind 'em up and feed 'em to the Wild Horses & Burros who already have a government plan of their own.

Research center aims to improve grazing practices

As far as research centers go, this one is unique. At the UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center, pastures are now called "living landscapes." The act of grazing has slowly shifted from its reputation as a detriment to the ecosystem to a tool that can bolster ecological values — water quality, wildlife habitat, carbon storage — that have risen to prominence in modern society, said director Jeremy James. With a recently donated 41-acre tract of land from Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the footprint of the U.C. Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center is that much bigger, adding to the research capacity of the organization to improve grazing practices. "Most agriculture research centers focus on agriculture production," James said. "Here we can look at how agriculture production can enhance things society values and needs." The new 41-acre tract now within the 6,000-acre footprint of the research center fits into that notion. There's a project that measures the amount of carbon released and stored by pasture land and how rainfall affects carbon sequestration. The long-term goal of that project is to frame how ranchers could participate in carbon cap-and-trade programs and add another revenue stream to their operations, James said...more

I've posted about landscape planning here.

In this case we have "living landscapes".  The set up is they are taking dead ones from the private sector and bringing them back to life.  Private sector = death, Oink sector = life!

Think I'm kidding about ObamaCare and gov't plans again?  No way.  Perhaps you remember this:

Landscape planners are concerned with the 'health' of the landscape, just as doctors are concerned with bodily health. This analogy can be taken further. Medical doctors advise both on the health of individuals and on matters of public health. When individuals take actions injurious to their own health this is regarded as a private matter. But if they take actions injurious to public health, these actions are properly regulated by law. The collective landscape is a public good which should be protected and enhanced by legislation and public administration. If, for example, mineral extraction has a damaging impact on the landscape, this is a proper field for intervention. Negative impacts on the landscape could include visual impacts, ecological impacts, hydrological impacts and recreational impacts. As well as protecting existing public goods, societies are responsible for the creation of new public goods. This can be done by positive landscape planning. There are, for example, many former mineral workings (e.g. the Norfolk Broads) which have become important public goods. Medical doctors are trained in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry etc. before becoming practitioners. Landscape doctors are trained in geomorphology, hydrology, ecology etc. before becoming practitioners in design and planning.

 I'm pretty sure those landscape doctors also take a course in proctology.

And, of course, livestock grazing can only be justified where it enhances "things society values and needs."   I have a sneaky suspicion some of those members of society actually value and need food.

Then there's those "revenue streams" for ranchers.  Let me assure you the primary revenue stream the feds care about is the one that goes from "living taxpayers" straight to their "living landscapes" and one of the biggest problems we face today is those streams have turned into rivers. 

'Just Give Me The Darned Food'

by Freida Marie Crump

Greetings from the Ridge. Herb and I seldom do much fancy dining, but ever so often we'll take in a high-end restaurant just to be reminded of what our high ends taste like. There's nothing like a good meal in a classy place to sort of reward yourself of something you can make up later when you get home.

But I noticed a recent trend in restaurant eating that's a bit off-putting to my digestion. More and more restaurants insist on telling me where my food comes from and how it was raised. I've seen menu items labeled "free range," "organic," and "yarding." Okay, some folks are concerned about the treatment of the animals they're about to chew upon then swallow and more power to them. But in recent years I've seen more and more references to where the animal grew up. "West County Beef." What the heck is that? West County where and what's so special about it? Is this some sort of slap in the face to the poor ranchers raising steers over in East County?  We once ate at an Italian restaurant in Chicago that touted its "Fresh Wisconsin Lettuce." I have many reasons to admire Wisconsin–nice water parks, lovely lakes, good cheese and a decent football team in Green Bay–but I've never heard the state referred to as being the home of great lettuce. And were they implying that Illinois lettuce is limp and watery?  I've seen restaurants advertise their "Pure Argentinian Beef." I can just imagine how this might turn the appetite of a farmer from Iowa, and does this mean that the steak was pure or the cow held a purely legal passport from Argentina?

Yes, yes, I know that locally grown and garden-to-table dining is all the rage and I applaud anyone who tries to make my food as fresh as possible, but just how far are we going to go in this trend to make us well-acquainted with our food? Is it necessary to establish a kinship with a pig before you eat him?

"His name was Bob. Bob was a good steer, and as you dine upon his left rear flank tonight we thought you might enjoy knowing a bit more about this fine fellow. When Bob was born in eastern Kansas on a sunny April morning three years ago his parents, Richard and Wilma (nee: Cowley) Hereford, they saw bright promise in the boy and just knew that some day he'd end up in some fine dining establishment. When most of Bob's class of steers at Immaculate Emasculation Jr. High had their sights set on a McDonald's or Burger King, Bob always wanted to spend his final night on earth laying atop a piece of fine china on New York's Fifth Avenue.  We hope that knowing just a bit about Bob might heighten your eating pleasure. Bon Appetit and thanks, Bob!"

Or perhaps: "Sometimes Free Range Chickens get a bad name, living their nomadic lifestyles, and an existence without fencing or rules, but we'd like to introduce you to the large breast on your plate tonight who was once known as Emma. Unlike most free-rangers, Emma was brought up as a strict Presbyterian pullet, a chick of high moral (and nutritional) fiber, and while in training for your dinner plate this evening swimming in a light garlic wine sauce, Emma has followed a dietary régime free of any artificial flavorings, growth enhancers, or chemical tampering. It's been nothing but bugs, flies and worms for Emma. In other words, Emma is all chicken.  Although we don't read the minds of our chickens we somehow feel that when she reclined in our kitchen this morning with her neck draped so tastefully across our butcher's block, her last thoughts were perhaps of you, the diner who'd drawn her final lucky number. Enjoy Emma!"

In real life, Freida Marie Crump is Ken Bradbury, retired teacher, author, musician and playwright who hangs out in Arenzville.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1376

Its Swingin' Monday and here's Randy Travis & Merle Haggard with the Bob Wills' tune All Night Long

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Glen Campbell’s ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’ Wins 2015 Grammy Award for Best Country Song

Forty-eight years after he won his first Grammy Award, country music legend Glen Campbell won another honor, claiming Best Country Song at the 2015 Grammys (with co-writer Julian Raymond) for ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You,’ the theme song from ‘Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me,’ the documentary that followed Campbell on his farewell tour as he battled Alzheimer’s disease. While the 78-year-old Campbell was not in attendance, his wife Kim took to the podium to speak on behalf of her husband. “I’m so proud of him tonight,” she told the crowd. “It’s been an amazing journey. He’s been so courageous in bringing awareness to Alzheimer’s and caregiving. Sadly, he can’t be here with us because he is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, but he is healthy and cheerful.” Kim Campbell also expressed her belief that her husband’s love of music has helped him survive. “I believe music kept him healthy for a longer period of time and enabled him to enjoy his life and his family,” she said, “even in the midst of living with a debilitating brain disease.”...more

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Some days it’s feathers

By Julie Carter

The commercialism of February has painted the world with red and pink hearts and accented it with chocolate. Dollar signs float through the air like the sugar plum fairies of Christmas.

Some will attest to the theory that Valentine’s Day was invented as a clever ploy to stimulate the economy in an otherwise financially sluggish time of year. Greeting card companies, florists, jewelers and chocolate manufacturers flourish because of it.

Valentine’s Day advertisements, even locally in a rural part of the world, promise evenings of lasting romance and adoration if you will just come dine with them for only $175 a couple. I don’t believe too many pickup trucks will be leaving the ranch for that offer.

However, the ranges of ranch country will not be without their own brand of romantic gestures.  It may not be wine and roses but a cowboy on a Valentine’s Day date will offer his heart’s delight a romantic late night walk through the frosty pastures for a “just once more” check of the expectant heifers. After all, it is calving season.

A memorable demonstration of “true love” at the ranch happened some years ago. The rancher left home in the morning as usual to go make his rounds feeding cattle and checking waters. His faithful sidekick Lilly, the obedient and adoring Border collie, was pleased he was going alone because that meant she got to sit up front and ride shotgun in the feed pickup.

Quite a distance into the feed route and miles from the house, the rancher happened to catch a glimpse of something in his rear view mirror. He stopped the pickup and walked to the rear only to find one of his wife’s beloved chickens on the back of flatbed pickup.

At this point in time, this man had many options before him, none of which would have been good for the chicken. Most men would have, at the very minimum, denied all knowledge of ever seeing the hen and more than likely left her in the pasture to the natural order of the food chain in the wild. Chickens usually rank pretty low on the compassion scale for most.

But knowing how much his wife adored her birds of all kinds and especially her hand-raised chickens; he gathered the hen up and put her in the front of the pickup on the seat between Lilly and himself.

To say Lilly was indignant and completely insulted is a complete understatement. She turned her head, nose in the air, and stared out the passenger window the remainder of the trip trying to her best to pretend there was NOT a chicken in seat next to her.

The rancher finished his feed route and returned home a few hours later with the hen nestled tight against him for warmth. The sight had to be one of those rare moments none of us actually ever see. The visual of this guy driving down the road with his dog and his wife’s chicken in the front seat of the pickup is enough to put anyone into fits of laughter.

It also makes a good “true love” story. Not many, chicken lovers or not, will miss the depth of the affection it took to agree to cozy up to a chicken, even for the little woman.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Our Foundation is crumbling

Lard and the Food Police
Our Foundation is crumbling
Accessory by Inaction
By Stephen L. Wilmeth
            Tony Ortega and I set aside a few minutes each month to reminisce.
            It takes place when I make the rounds by the hardware and feed stores paying the bills incurred by Leonard from his forays into town buying plumbing supplies, duct tape, a new rope after he broke his lifting a bull with the backhoe, and sweet feed.
It is a monthly ritual. I see Pete and Larry at Johnston’s True Value Hardware, Curtis at Horse and Hound, and Tony at Mesilla Valley Feeds. Each of them is not just a friend. They have a role in our success. Their expertise is relied upon and their words have become matter of importance to the foundation of our business.
Each of us shakes our head as the greetings are concluded and the latest horror story from Washington is dissected. Long ago, our conclusion was that we don’t have an elected representative who defends our businesses. Certainly, our senatorial duo of Udall and Heinrich never promote any business that is founded on local customs and culture.
Their mandates all involve our willingness to give up our money and property for the good of the … collective.
Lard and the food police
With the last stop at Tony’s yesterday, the first order of business was to debate the disclosure that Border Patrol is being forced to ask apprehended illegals if they qualify for this president’s amnesty program. In affect, those illegals are overseeing the process whereby they either declare themselves de facto legal welfare recipients and future Democrats or just run of the mill trespassing lawbreakers.
With the untimely interruption by a customer, our discussion continued with the disclosure of our privileged youth when we got a new pair of shoes, two new pairs of Levi’s, and a couple of shirts to start school each year. Tony remembered when his grade school at Winston competed in a day long baseball marathon with the kids from Monticello. The new brown shoes he had started to school in the previous fall had grown so tight from a growth spurt that they cut his feet. After playing in them all day, he took them off on the way home and noticed blood on his socks.
I remembered the X-Ray machine at Pennington’s where my folks always shopped on credit. We would run look to see if our toes were crammed up against the ends of the shoes whether they were old or new. It was a great way to keep us from being a nuisance while our mothers shopped. There was no telling how many gamma rays we absorbed during those years.
Then, the discussion was on to food.
Both of us were raised on venison. We still crave the meat of our youth. Beef was largely absent or an occasional treat. In Tony’s case, his father sold every calf they raised for family income. In my case, my grandfather would butcher a single calf a year to spread with the immediate family. All other meat was killed, or caught, or bought in the form of hotdogs or fish sticks from the Cliff Trading Company or Mr. Mauldin’s. The first peanut butter I ever tasted came from Mr. Mauldin’s when we moved to town. It was as much a novelty as was Superman and Mickey Mouse. The kids laughed at me at my country innocence.
But, venison ruled supreme.
Tony remembered how his mother fried their venison in lard. He would wrap that hot dripping delicacy in fresh, hot blue corn tortillas and savor the excellence. It went along with the frijoles always simmering in the cast iron pot sitting on the wood cook stove.
My version was similar.
Nana would fry cubed backstrap in butter until it was brown. She would then stir in cream to make gravy. We would then smother that chef-d’oeuvre on her fresh made biscuits along with gathered eggs fried in bacon grease. Butter, fresh from her churn, would be spread on more biscuits, allowed to ooze out in golden richness, and layered with her pear or green tomato preserves.
No king had a more royal feast, and no athlete could toss those hot biscuits out of the hot oven with more dexterity to whoever called for the next one. Successive tosses came with behind the back shots, underhand or overhand tosses, hook shots, and even hoolihans.
As for the alleged health risks we faced with that butter, cream, lard and bacon grease, eggs, and whatever else the food police might now condemn ad nauseum, nobody was fat.
“Nobody … nobody was fat,” laughed Tony.
That is … none of us who started to school each year with one new pair of shoes, two pairs of Levi’s, and a couple of shirts.
Impeachment tutorial
 The United States Congress has impeached only two sitting presidents … Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
The House has the sole “Power if Impeachment”. The protocol starts by publicly investigating and holding hearings into the charges. If that body votes against impeachment at the conclusion of that process, the action is concluded. If the body votes for impeachment, Articles of Impeachment are drawn and the president is impeached as per the authority of the Constitution.
The action then shifts to the Senate where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides. The Senate decides whether to convict or acquit. No president has ever been convicted of impeachment. Both Johnson and Clinton were acquitted.
Starting in reverse order, Bill Clinton was impeached on two articles, perjury and abuse of power. The ‘hope from Hope’s’ misdemeanor failed to discern the technicalities of sexual relations in the Oval Office. His impeachment will be remembered not for his tom cat morals, but for the humiliation he pinned on the Office of the Presidency.
Johnson was different. Johnson’s high crimes and misdemeanors centered on his willful defiance in refusing to uphold an unconstitutional law. Defending the South from a Congress that fully intended to ride roughshod over it, Johnson had the audacity to fire his appointed Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton. With the backing of the congressional majority, Stanton was intent on extracting continued revenge on the South. At issue was the Tenure in Office Act whereby Congress asserted oversight of the Executive Branch’s authority to fire its own appointees. Stanton intended to blister the South which met the desires of the majority party. Johnson intended to put in place an administrator who would support his intentions for reconciliation. He fired Stanton and replaced him. Congress was incensed. Johnson was impeached. The House of Representatives filed 11 articles of impeachment. The Senate convened and acquitted him.
In a twist of vindication in 1887, Congress repealed the Act central to the Johnson impeachment. To further substantiate Johnson’s defense of the Constitution, a similar Act was declared unconstitutional in 1926.
In hindsight, Johnson was impeached for his intention of humanitarian treatment toward the South. Clinton was impeached for his propensity to succumb to a hummer in the closet.
High crimes and misdemeanors … you be he judge.
Accessory by inaction
Curtis, Larry, Pete, Tony and I have something in common. We are profoundly worried about our country. We hail from simpler times that give us a much different perspective of the foundational atrophy we see around us. We are sick of the food police and we abhor the progressive obfuscation of our heritage.
The impeachment of a president for his singular intent to prevent further humiliation of a defeated segment of American citizenry or the wanton humiliation of an impressionable intern by another president are trivial to the unparalleled destruction of our nation today. There is no comparison to the articles imposed on those presidents and the assaults by this administration on our intelligence and us, the tax paying Americans.
All we hear is chattering and endless hyperbole by elected leadership that supposedly stands in juxtaposition to the lawlessness exhibited by this president. With inaction, their leadership has collectively and demonstrably debased their oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Both parties are guilty and flaunt with impunity their Oaths of Affirmation.
There cannot be condemnation without action, and there remains no action. If there are no impeachment grounds for this president in the current state of affairs, there are no grounds for any such actions. Hence, if there are no such grounds, the phrase in the Constitution is meaningless which renders everything meaningless.
That is where we are drifting.
The process starts in the House. Until a single leader steps up and starts defending this nation with courage and intent … every congressman must be subject to recall and or defeat.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “The House has the authority to start a healing process. They have control of the purse strings and the authority to impeach. It is time to act!”

On the impeachment of President Johnson, Wilmeth mentions the "majority party".  That would be the Republicans.  They were hot to trot with impeachment then, but are sitting on a bucket of ice today.