Saturday, February 21, 2015

Historian seeks death certificate to put Billy the Kid tales to rest

An Arizona historian wants to put an end to claims of true believers who doubt whether Billy the Kid was really killed by Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881 after he escaped from jail. The historian hopes to do so by persuading the state of New Mexico to issue a death certificate for the legendary outlaw. Most historians believe that Garrett shot the Kid, also known as Henry Antrim and William Bonney, in Peter Maxwell’s bedroom in Fort Summer, N.M., late on July 14, and that he died soon thereafter of a massive hemorrhage. Garrett later collected a $500 reward, indicating that territorial officials accepted the lawman’s account. But others say the Kid did not die that night. One story has him adopting a Navajo boy with his New Mexico wife and taking up ranching and later farming. And Ollie “Brushy Bill” Roberts of Hico, Texas, claimed he was the real Billy the Kid. In 1950, he sought a pardon from Thomas Mabry, then New Mexico’s governor, who denied it. Roberts died the same year. Such tales would go away if the state issued an official death certificate, according to Robert J. Stahl, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University and longtime member of the nonprofit Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang. In July 2013, his article on the fate of Billy the Kid’s trigger finger, floating in alcohol in a mason jar, was featured in True West Magazine. Stahl has written a 29-page petition containing a detailed account of the documentary record and extracts from the testimony of eyewitnesses that he believes show beyond any doubt that the Kid died by a bullet from Garrett’s pistol. On Wednesday, Stahl went to the New Mexico Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics in Santa Fe, which registers births and death in the state. There, he was told that he would have to get a court order for a death certificate to be issued. Stahl drove immediately to the state District Court in Fort Sumner, getting there near closing time. The clerk accepted his document and forwarded it to District Judge Albert Mitchell. Mitchell, in court in Las Vegas, N.M., on Thursday, has not yet had time to act on the matter, according to clerk Kerri Webb. Stahl’s petition says that within hours of the Kid’s death, a coroner’s jury was appointed and determined that the dead man was indeed William H. Bonney and that he died by a bullet from Garrett’s pistol. The report was handwritten in Spanish and signed by the men, all of whom knew the Kid. In order to claim the reward, Garrett had the document translated into English and signed by the same jurors. The petition includes Peter Maxwell’s account of lying in his bed at about midnight and seeing Garrett fire two shots at the Kid. It also includes a story published in the Las Vegas Optic on July 18, 1881, that quoted a recently discharged Pvt. George Miller, who heard the shots, saw the Kid’s body and helped dig his grave, as well as an account in another paper by the jury foreman, who said he knew it was “the Kid’s body that we examined.”...more

Time to Ride Challenge Returns

The Time to Ride Challenge returns in 2015 as a grassroots campaign to grow the horse industry by introducing new enthusiasts to horse activities. The Challenge, scheduled for May 30 through September 30, offers a unique opportunity for horse professionals to grow their businesses while competing for $100,000 in cash and prizes. In 2014, its inaugural year, the Challenge provided more than 25,000 people with first-time horse experiences through 702 beginner-friendly Time to Ride hosts in 49 states.

Registration for the Challenge begins March 1 at and is open to stables, clubs, veterinarians, feed stores, businesses and organizations dedicated to welcoming newcomers to horse activities. Hosts are organized into small, medium and large divisions and are encouraged to be creative in providing fun, safe and educational horse events that encourage attendees to become further involved in horse activities.
The hosts who provide the greatest number of newcomers an introductory horse experience, as calculated by contact information collected, will win awards. A post-Challenge survey in 2014 found that 92 percent of the 25,281 newcomers who attended a Time to Ride event said they wanted to participate in more horse activities.

Industry statistics show that current horse owners are an aging population and identified parents with children as a prime audience to help them discover horses. Many of the stables hosted events to introduce children to horses and to offer parents information on how to get their families involved with riding.

The 2014 medium division winner, Corvin Performance Horses of Canyon, Texas, partnered with homeschool groups, day cares, church groups and other youth activities to bring horses to a new sector of the community. Their most successful event was a partnership with “I Heart Canyon,” hosted by the city, where more than 400 enthusiasts met a horse for the first time. Owner Melissa Corvin reported that the biggest reward was “giving people a positive first experience with horses and building their confidence. Kids were thrilled to touch and ride real horses.” Within one week of the event, six people called to sign up for lessons. Corvin Performance Horses reached 876 newcomers in 100 days. As a result, the facility won $15,000 cash in the medium division.

Updates for 2015 include more cash prizes, with grand-prize winners receiving $10,000 and cash awards given through 10th place in each division. The Challenge will also feature a completely redesigned website and improved user experience launching March 1. Participating hosts will receive free marketing resources, including a toolkit, guide of event ideas, customizable ads and posters, media templates and more.

Registration for the Challenge is open March 1 to May 26. To learn more about the Challenge, please visit or email

Friday, February 20, 2015

Editorial - Obama shakes down ConocoPhillips

By Andrew Jensen, Managing Editor

Nice little oil project you’ve got there, Conoco. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it.

The $8 million exacted from ConocoPhillips in order to receive its permit to construct the Greater Moose’s Tooth-1 project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska is a rather elegant combination of old school protection rackets and third world government kickbacks.

In the Record of Decision issued Feb. 13 authorizing the GMT-1 project, the compensatory mitigation section states that the permittee “must contribute” $1 million to the Bureau of Land Management within 60 days to develop a Regional Mitigation Strategy for the northeastern NPR-A. After that, C-P must pay $3.5 million after laying the first gravel and another $3.5 million after completion of the road, pad and pipeline.

Even if ConocoPhillips decides not to move forward with GMT-1, it still has to fork over $1 million to BLM by April 13 in exchange for its preferred road route being selected.

George Orwell would have appreciated the doublespeak of calling a mandatory payment a “contribution,” but perhaps not as much as Mario Puzo would appreciate ConocoPhillips being forced into a decision to either “contribute” the $8 million to BLM or see its permit application rejected and tens of millions if not more in engineering work go down the memory hole.

Talk about an offer you can’t refuse.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell doesn’t see what the big deal is. After all, ConocoPhillips is a major oil producer and has plenty of money lying around to grease government palms. It’s a striking revelation of an authoritarian mentality that believes the private assets of a company engaged in lawful activities are subject to the appropriating whims of the federal government that controls the permits.

To be clear, this $8 million “contribution” goes above and beyond what ConocoPhillips is already obligated to spend for mitigation measures directly related to its activities and in fact goes further into potentially being used to clean up the federal government’s mess of legacy wells in the NPR-A.
The ROD acknowledges this fact, stating that the mitigation measures may include “cleanup of previously disturbed sites that pre-date the production phase of NPR-A” such as “legacy well reserve pits.” Put another way, Jewell would make ConocoPhillips pay for damage it hasn’t done in order to clean up damage the federal government already has.

The ultimate irony of this petty graft is that ConocoPhillips has paid billions upon billions in royalties and taxes over the years that have benefited Alaska Natives far more than anything Sally Jewell can come up with, and it willingly gives millions more in actual contributions to successes such as the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program.

If we hadn’t already lived through six years of an administration whose hypocrisy is only outdone by its disregard for the rule of law, this “pay-to-play” scheme could be considered a new low.

Unfortunately, it’s only the new normal.

Where is the Proclamation? State cattlemen's association 'disheartened' by Browns Canyon designation

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association is disheartened to learn of the upcoming announcement of a presidential declaration defining 21,000 acres along the Arkansas River, known as Browns Canyon as a national monument. “We worked in good-faith with former Senator Udall and others, to find a way to prevent a presidential declaration,” says Tim Canterbury, chair of the Public Lands Council. “Now, all we can do is ask for a seat at the table, and hope that the voices of ranchers will be heard and respected in the designations implementation process.” “We stand by the fact that a presidential declaration is not in the best interest of the agricultural community; and we sincerely hope that the President and his administration have heard our concerns and will ensure that the rule-making process addresses the concerns of landowners and ranchers, allowing ranches that have been in operation for generations to continue,” states Canterbury. He emphasizes that the CCA and PLC will keep pushing for legislation that will clarify grazing permit rights for this and any future designation. “We must avoid the confusing language that exists in many current designations and change the administrative approach, which in the past has resulted in severely limiting sustainable resource management.”...more

 UPDATE:  The proclamation for Browns Canyon is now available here.  More on the grazing language later.

When I do a search for Presidential Proclamation - Browns Canyon National Monument at all I get is this:

The proclamation language for the Pullman National Monument is there, but not Browns Canyon.  According to the White House schedule he signed the Browns Canyon Proclamation in the Oval Office then flew to Chicago to sign the Pullman Proclamation.  Why is one available to the public at this official website but not the other?  Has the website staff just not completed their work or is something being done with the language?

Republicans aim to curb Obama's monument designations

While the Obama administration celebrated naming three new national monuments on Thursday, the Republican-led Congress signaled it could move to limit the president’s authority to designate large swaths of land unilaterally under the 1906 Antiquities Act. Obama has used the Antiquities Act 16 times to declare public land as national monuments, ranking him above all other presidents since the law was enacted except for Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, who designated 18 national monuments, and Bill Clinton, who named 21. But many Republicans believe Obama’s frequent designations constitute a federal land grab executed without local input. The designation, they say, increases federal regulations and restrictions and will impact ranchers and hinder full recreational use of the land. But Republican lawmakers believe Congress, or at least the public, should have a say in which areas of the United States are turned into national monuments. Republican lawmakers have proposed legislation to curb unilateral executive authority they say Obama has abused. “President Obama has sidelined the American public and bulldozed transparency by proclaiming three new national monuments through executive fiat,” House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said Thursday. Rep. Raúl Labrador and Sen. Mike Crapo, both Republicans from Idaho have introduced legislation that would require Congress and affected state legislatures to approve new monument designations. Crapo and Labrador authored the bill in anticipation of Obama's designation of close to 700,000 acres of Idaho’s Boulder-White Clouds area as a national monument. “It’s on the short list,” a Republican aide told the Washington Examiner. Labrador and Crapo oppose the move and the local community appears divided on whether it wants the designation. Local ranchers fear they will no longer be able to use the land if it is declared a national monument, which would make it easier for the federal government to prohibit grazing. “They're going to force us out of business,” Doug Baker, whose cattle graze on the land, said in a video posted on a site opposed to the national monument designation. Recreational use would also be limited under a national monument designation, with restrictions on the use of motorized vehicles and even mountain bikes, say opponents. Last year, Bishop introduced and passed legislation in the House to update the Antiquities Act so that large-scale national monument declarations would first require environmental and economic impact studies. Aides say Bishop is likely to introduce the bill again this year and it stands a much better chance of passage, now that Republicans control the Senate Majority. “It’s a priority for the committee,” an aide said...more

I'll say it again...Why didn't the Republicans move this when they controlled both Houses of Congress and the White House?  Will they really push this if they control all three after 2016?

Can't help but notice all these proposals are about future designations.  Congress can also amend any existing designations.  Will they offer any relief to those who are already suffering under this designation?

Arizona Strip monument opposed

Four Republicans in Arizona’s U.S. House delegation are going on record as opposing a push to create a national monument near the Grand Canyon. Reps. Paul Gosar, David Schweikert, Trent Franks and Matt Salmon are among lawmakers who signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to not designate the Grand Canyon’s watershed as a national monument. The proposed monument would lie between two other national monuments north of the Grand Canyon and include some forest land to the south...more

New Mexico lawmakers want to create 500-mile statewide trail

A group of New Mexico lawmakers wants to create a 500-mile, statewide recreation trail that stretches from Colorado to Texas and weaves through majestic vistas, monuments and cultural areas in the Land of Enchantment. Called the Rio Grande Trail, the pathway is envisioned as being similar to the Appalachian Trail or the Continental Divide Trail. Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, introduced a bill Thursday to create a commission to define the best routes and reach necessary agreements to designate a path. Commission members would include cities, counties, tribes, federal agencies, conservancy districts, and private citizens. The trail would only cross land accessed through voluntary agreements with owners and would link pathways that already exist along the Rio Grande, including the Bosque in Albuquerque, Taos, Elephant Butte and Las Cruces. The existing pathways comprise just 10 percent of the proposed trial. If the bill passes, a fund would be created with seed money for initial staff to begin work at the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. The fund would accept private foundation money and other donations...more

They will eventually name this the Mexican Gray Wolf Trail.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nevada Congressman expects to see action on federal land issues

Freshman 4th Congressional District Rep. Cresent Hardy, whose district covers the southern half of rural Nevada, foresees considerable debate and action coming during this 114th session of Congress on various issues concerning use and control of federal public lands...He added that the state taking control of public lands would provide opportunities for the citizens of the state be “like the Founders expected us to be, laboratories of industry, and let us take control of our public lands ourselves.” Hardy cited the Equal Footing Doctrine — under which all states are promised to be treated equally with the original 13 states — as an argument for states taking control of federal land. He noted that in 1828 the states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida used that argument to convince Congress to release control of most federal land within their boundaries. Today various federal agencies control roughly half the 11 westernmost states in the lower 48 and Alaska and about 85 percent of Nevada, the highest percentage of any state, while only 4 percent of the rest of the states is under federal dominion. The congressman said he also hopes the Nevada Legislature acts on a report from its Nevada Public Lands Management Task Force recommending that the state take control of millions of acres of federal land and forwards it to Congress for its action. “I’ll tell you what is happening back here. I think people from the East Coast, we’re actually educating folks back here,” Hardy said of the lands issue. “They didn’t understand for all these years the damage that they’ve caused to the West by keeping control of these state lands, like the rights they have and the opportunities they have by having control of their own lands. We need that opportunity, like I said, to be laboratories of industry.”...more

Wyoming Senate stalls fed land transfer bill for ‘management’ study

A Wyoming House bill demanding the transfer of vast tracts of federal lands to Wyoming could die after being assigned to a Senate committee that’s known as a graveyard for legislation. Assignment to its Journal Committee is the second indication from the Senate about how that body feels about joining an improbable Western movement to take over federal property. The Senate had rejected the “transfer” idea earlier in the 2015 legislative session when it amended its own transfer bill SF-56 — Study on management of public lands. Instead of demanding ownership of federal property, the Senate bill now would study Wyoming only managing federal lands, not owning them. The Senate’s management bill provides $100,000 for the research. Whoever undertakes that review might start with an existing example of failed state management of federal property, a Wyoming history professor said. The Senate’s bill would allocate $100,000 to the Office of State Lands and Investments for the study. Research would probe what it would cost and gain Wyoming to manage all but wilderness areas and lands administered by the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, departments of energy and defense and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Of Wyoming’s roughly 98,000 square miles, more than 48 percent or some 30 million acres, is public land owned by the federal government. The BLM alone manages more than 17.5 million acres in Wyoming. The study would develop a plan to administer and manage federal property under a sustained-yield, multiple-use principle. Management would include “a pledge to maintain public access to the lands for hunting, fishing and recreation subject to closure for special circumstances including public safety and environmental sensitivity,” the bill says. An economic review would add up management costs and compare them to federal costs. Minerals — oil and gas and coal — would remain under federal ownership. The study would identify a source of revenue to manage the federal property “including appropriate fees to charge the federal government for management of the specified lands,” the bill says. The study also would compare what revenue state and local governments get from federal property today, compared to what they might get under state management. Talk of trying to take over federal lands stirs emotions, Rep. Marti Halverson (R-Etna) told constituents in an email about House Bill 209 — Transfer of federal lands. State representatives passed it 36-22 on Feb. 6. As a co-sponsor, she’s gotten a lot of comments, she said. “To those of you that didn’t send a civil note, or called me names, please re-think your approach,” she wrote Feb. 8. In a 3,000-word essay she laid out why it’s time for Wyoming to take over federal property. “According to the Sutherland Institute, with assistance from Dr. Tim Considine, an economist at the University of Wyoming, on average over 12 Western states, the federal government loses 62¢ per acre it manages; states earn over $6 per acre,” she wrote. “And, THAT, my friends, is how we can possibly ‘afford’ to manage the land. Whether it is energy, minerals, timber, agriculture, tourism, hunting, fishing or recreation, public lands offer vast economic opportunities that, when managed wisely, can significantly improve the economy, and the lands, of Wyoming.”...more

Local management of Idaho lands: Is there a better path forward?


The discussion of federal lands in Idaho is a national issue which is problematic because the federal government “owns” over 50 percent of the land in the states west of the Great Plains.

In contrast, less than 5 percent of the land in the rest of the country, land in the Midwest, South, East, is federally owned. At 62 percent, Idaho has one of the highest percentages of federal ownership.The “nationalization” of the federal public lands debate in the West has tilted the political balance in favor of the current status quo – top down federal control from Washington, D.C. Idaho residents who support federal control have their clout amplified by national support for federal control. That has drowned out voices calling for local control of Idaho lands.

The “nationalization” of the federal public lands debate in the West has tilted the political balance in favor of the current status quo – top down federal control from Washington, D.C. Idaho residents who support federal control have their clout amplified by national support for federal control. That has drowned out voices calling for local control of Idaho lands.

This political balance was on display at the Idaho Capitol last week on back-to-back days. Small-scale dredge miners supported House Bill 51 with the hope that its passage would provide relief from heavy-handed federal oversight of their tiny operations. They don’t want to pick a fight with the federal government; they just want to earn a living.

The very next day, a coalition including the Idaho Wildlife Federation and the Idaho Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council held a rally on the Capitol steps under the banner, “Keep Your Hands Off Our Public Lands.”  The rally centered on the notion the state and its residents could not be trusted to manage the federally owned public lands and access for hunting and recreation would be constrained or eliminated without federal control.

Not mentioned in the pamphlets they handed out, but conceded privately: the federal government is doing a poor job managing Idaho’s lands.

The key problem is urban and out-of-state land users get the benefit of access to these lands without the economic penalty faced by those living adjacent to them, who can’t earn a livelihood from them in the traditional sense; timber harvesting and mining...

...The problem is that time is not on the side of rural people in Idaho. The economic devastation wrought by federal mismanagement is visible to anyone who travels to our small towns.

Federal prosecutors deny cover-up in Moonlight fire case

Federal prosecutors in Sacramento have launched a blistering new attack on Sierra Pacific Industries and its lawyers, accusing the timber giant of “deception” and “scandal mongering” in its efforts to reverse a $100 million settlement it agreed to pay over the 2007 Moonlight fire, which burned huge swaths of the Plumas and Lassen national forests. In more than 3,500 pages of court filings made late Tuesday, prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento rejected claims by Sierra Pacific that it was the victim of fraud and corruption by government officials who eventually gained a massive cash and property settlement in 2012 from the company, which was blamed for starting the fire. “In the seven years since the fire, Sierra Pacific has devoted itself tirelessly to avoiding responsibility, employing a campaign of scandal mongering and unscrupulous legal tactics which continues to this day,” says a 127-page legal brief filed in U.S. District Court by U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner’s office. The government contends Sierra Pacific’s efforts to overturn the settlement “lack integrity” and are based on false accusations, and that the company “only pretended to settle” the lawsuit it faced.  The filings are the latest development in an epic legal battle that has been waged for years between the government and Sierra Pacific, the state’s largest private landowner...more

Read more here:

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Fire remains vital management tool

Every spring, the ritual continues. Farmers, stockmen and landowners continue to use fire as a range management tool while maintaining the economic viability of the Flint Hills. Viewed up close or at a distance, prairie fires are riveting. Across the vast, open grasslands we call the Flint Hills, fires can be seen for miles. The flames lick at the blue Kansas sky as the brown, dry grass crinkles, crackles and bursts into orange. These fires aren't recent phenomena, and they aren't strictly for the viewing pleasure of those traveling up and down our highways. Long before civilization invaded the prairie, fires were ignited by lightning storms and the charred prairie restored the health of the native grasses. Native Americans were the first practitioners of prescribed fires. They used the fire to attract the buffalo for easier hunting. The artificially ignited controlled burning of the tall-grass prairie in east-central Kansas is an annual event designed to mimic nature's match. It has become a tradition, part of the culture of the communities and the people who inhabit this region of our state. Fire is an essential element of the ecosystem. Burning these pastures is one of the best management tools for maintaining the native prairie. This annual pasture burning only occurs for a few days each year. It is not a procedure that is drawn out and lasts for weeks. However, weather conditions dictate the length of the burning seasons most years. Not every cattleman burns his pastures each and every year as is sometimes portrayed. Instead, individual ranchers and landowners survey and decide each spring, which pastures will benefit and produce a healthier, lush grass for livestock after burning occurs. Often neighbors plan and burn together, giving them more hands to ensure a safe, controlled burn...more

Sinking village on the front lines of climate change debate

Residents of the remote coastal village of Kivalina gave Interior Secretary Sally Jewell a glimpse into what life is like when your community is slowly sinking. On Monday, the secretary met with villagers, and toured the area from the back of a pickup truck. Ella Leavitt was one of the residents who showed up at the McQueen School in Kivalina to ask for help from the federal government in relocating the village. "Every fall, I'm so afraid that, you know, while I'm sleeping maybe a big wave will come and shoo the old house away I live in," said Leavitt, balancing a child on her knee. In Kivalina, climate change isn't a distant theory. Residents are faced with new challenges every spring. Some estimates show by 2025, the village will be completely wiped out by rising sea levels, and residents are already starting to see the effects...more

Study warns of mega drought to come

The longest drought in any living Texan's memory lasted seven years in the 1950s. Without rain, the state lost 100,000 farms and ranches as the rural population moved into cities, unable to make a living off the dry land. But there could be worse to come. A recent study led by a NASA scientist found a substantial likelihood for a decades-long drought later in the 21st Century. "We found that global warming is very likely to lead to long-term drying in Western North America," said Benjamin Cook, a researcher with NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "Not only drier than the 20th Century--it might be drier in the future than really extreme periods in the 12th and 13th centuries."...Tree rings tells scientists about the past, and ancient trees and tree stumps in the American West clued researchers into Medieval mega droughts that are thought to have turned much of the region's grassland to the desert it is today. Seager said thousand-year-old trees are easy to find in the American West, but three or four thousand-year-old ones are exceptionally rare, providing little insight into whether disastrous droughts happened deeper in the past. However, he said fossilized dunes give evidence of a giant dusty desert between Texas and Canada four to six thousand years ago. Those dryspells trump Texas' recent damaging droughts, and Cook said human activities have made them more likely to strike again. "We analyzed a situation for the future that assumes greenhouse gasses continue along their current trajectory," Cook said. "The models for the Southwest pretty much uniformly show this strong drying trend in the late half of the 21st Century."...more

Colorado mountain snow is bright spot during drought in West

Snowpack in the mountain valleys where the Colorado River originates was only a little below normal on Wednesday, marking one of the few bright spots in an increasingly grim drought gripping much of the West. Measurement stations in western Colorado showed the snowpack at 90 percent of the long-term average. By contrast, reporting stations in the Sierra Nevada range in drought-stricken California showed snowpack at 50 percent or less in early February, the most recent figures available. Some detected no snow at all. Mountain snow in Colorado is closely monitored because a half-dozen Western waterways, including the 1,400-mile Colorado River, start in the area. The river and its tributaries supply water to millions of people in seven states and Mexico. Much of the river comes from mountain snow that accumulates during winter and melts in the spring. "It's looking pretty dismal over much of the West, but there are some areas where we're OK," said Mike Strobel, manager of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Snow Survey, which uses about 2,000 reporting stations in the western U.S. and some in Canada to measure snow. Mountain snow depth usually peaks in early April across the West. However, it's unlikely many of the hardest-hit mountains will get enough precipitation by then to recover, Strobel said...more

Government Whistleblowers Say Klamath Irrigators Misusing Federal Funds

Two government biologists say millions of dollars in federal funds intended to secure water for fish in the Klamath Basin were instead used to directly compensate local farmers and ranchers. Irrigators have long come up against the water needs of fish and wildlife in the drought-prone region of Southern Oregon and Northern California. There isn’t enough surface water to go around, and efforts are underway to find other irrigation sources for agriculture. Bureau of Reclamation whistleblower Todd Pederson said he first became suspicious of a contract between the Bureau and irrigation interests about 1.5 years ago. He saw invoices from the Klamath Water and Power Agency, the group responsible for securing water supplies for Klamath Project irrigators. “There were invoices for office space, for salaries, for KWAPA employees, for water pumping, for land idling,” he says. “I’d like to see that those people responsible for this contract being in place for this long are held accountable.” But that’s not what the funds are for, says Pederson and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the group he’s working with to make the complaint. They say those funds are intended, at least in part, to pay for a study to see if farmers can use groundwater instead of pulling water from the rivers. Two government biologists say millions of dollars in federal funds intended to secure water for fish in the Klamath Basin were instead used to directly compensate local farmers and ranchers. Irrigators have long come up against the water needs of fish and wildlife in the drought-prone region of Southern Oregon and Northern California. There isn’t enough surface water to go around, and efforts are underway to find other irrigation sources for agriculture. Bureau of Reclamation whistleblower Todd Pederson said he first became suspicious of a contract between the Bureau and irrigation interests about 1.5 years ago. He saw invoices from the Klamath Water and Power Agency, the group responsible for securing water supplies for Klamath Project irrigators. “There were invoices for office space, for salaries, for KWAPA employees, for water pumping, for land idling,” he says. “I’d like to see that those people responsible for this contract being in place for this long are held accountable.” But that’s not what the funds are for, says Pederson and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the group he’s working with to make the complaint. They say those funds are intended, at least in part, to pay for a study to see if farmers can use groundwater instead of pulling water from the rivers...more

The Fear of Running Out of Farmers

By Stewart Truelsen

A demographic study of farming and ranching in Wyoming forecasts there will be no operators under the age of 35 by the year 2033. The study in Rangelands, a publication of the Society for Range Management, found that the average age of farmers has increased in every county in Wyoming since 1920, and will reach 60 by the year 2050. Based on these results, the authors predict a bleak farming future for Wyoming and the rest of the country where trends are similar.

Believe it or not, the fear of not having enough farmers and ranchers has been around as long as the first county Farm Bureau, founded a little over a hundred years ago in Broome County, New York. The concern back then was that too many young men were leaving the hard life of farming to seek gainful employment in the big cities. Farm Bureau was formed out of a desire to make farming more socially and financially rewarding.

The exodus from farms and ranches continued, however, but became far less worrisome because of mechanization and the tremendous increase in farm productivity. In fact, the pendulum swung the other way. During much of the 20th century there were too many people trying to make a living from farming, and too much land was in production.

The aging of the farm workforce became noticeable in the 1950s and has continued relatively unabated ever since. The average age of farmers was 48.7 years in 1945, the first year it was officially reported in the Census of Agriculture. The average age now is 58.3 years. The share of farmers age 65 and older was 14 percent in 1945: It is now 33 percent. Only 6 percent of farmers are under the age of 35.

Do all these numbers spell big trouble for the nation’s agriculture? Not necessarily. The entire American workforce is aging. By the year 2020, 25 percent of the labor force will be over 55, up from 12 percent in 1990. Agriculture, real estate and education are the three employment categories with the highest number of workers over 55. An older agricultural workforce is nothing new, at least not in the last half century.

Koch family at heart of N.M.’s rise up slopes


Jamie Koch of Santa Fe has had a front-row seat to New Mexico’s rise as a skiing center.

 In 1935, his father and Daniel Kelly, president and vice president, respectively, of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, made a presentation to the membership about its recent trip to New England, where members had been introduced to the new sport of skiing. Could skiing be the key in New Mexico, they asked, to making tourism a year-round economic force?

Ferd Koch was asked to bring in an expert on the topic, and he settled on Graeme McGowan of Denver, who helped launch Berthoud Pass in Colorado. McGowan arrived in February 1936 and surveyed the possible skiing terrain above the town.

He produced a remarkable leather-bound prospectus — complete with a fascinating map and black and white photos — for the newly formed Santa Fe Winter Sports Club, whose members included Koch (serving as president), Kelly, T.B. Catron, Hunter Clarkson and other community leaders.

 The document produced a flurry of activity, and on Jan. 21, 1937, skiing commenced at Hyde Park, which then lay at the end of the mountain road. Bus service and temporary food concession was provided, drawing an enthusiastic response. That summer, the stone lodge that still graces the park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

 In 1947, the road was extended to Big Tesuque, and two rope tows were installed, with engines donated by Koch, Clarkson, Charles LeFeber and Clarence Via. By September 1948, the road was pushed still higher, to its present terminus. In March 1949, Ferd formed an investment company, Sierras de Santa Fe, to finance construction of a chairlift at the new site. A used cable from the Eureka Mine in Silverton, Colo., was secured, B-59 seats retrofitted, and a diesel engine donated by Ferd produced the state’s first chairlift.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1385

Just released in Jan. is Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver's new CD In Session.  From that I've selected I Told Them All About You.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Obama to declare Browns Canyon in Colorado a national monument

President Barack Obama this week plans to name Browns Canyon, in central Colorado, a national monument, a designation that adds a new layer of federal protection to the popular spot for whitewater rafting. About 21,000 acres around the Arkansas River will be included in the listing. Obama will make the announcement Thursday in Chicago, where he'll also declare a site in Illinois and one in Hawaii to be national monuments, according to the White House. News of Colorado's coming designation spread quickly through the state's wilderness circles. Bill Dvorak, who runs an outdoor-expedition business near the Arkansas River, called the region a "sanctuary for wildlife" and said it was about time the government preserved its beauty. "I've been working on this for over 20 years, and I'm so damn thankful it's happening," he said. "It will do a good thing for the economy. It puts a star on the Rand McNally maps." The White House move comes on the heels of a failed effort last year by two Colorado Democrats to protect Browns Canyon. U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and then-U.S. Sen. Mark Udall tried to pass legislation that would have preserved a similar area near Salida, but the bill failed to advance through Congress.  In response, Bennet and Gov. John Hickenlooper urged Obama to take executive action.  Specifically, the two Democrats recommended Obama use a law known as the Antiquities Act, which dates back to the administration of Theodore Roosevelt.  Obama has used the Antiquities Act 16 times, including the latest three in Colorado, Hawaii and Illinois. The one in Hawaii will preserve a site where Japanese-Americans were held in internment camps; the one in Illinois will honor the Pullman area in Chicago, a locale important to the labor civil rights movements.  In all, Obama has put more than 260 million acres of land and water under federal protection — more than any other president, according to administration officials.  It's that use of executive power, however, that drew the ire of Republican U.S. Reps. Ken Buck of Windsor and Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs. "My message to the president is cut it out. He is not king. No more acting like King Barack. That is not how we do things in the U.S.," Buck said in a statement. Lamborn struck a similar tone. "I am outraged," he said in a statement. "This is a top-down, big-government land grab by the president that disenfranchises the concerned citizens in the Browns Canyon region." He said residents have raised concerns about how designating Browns Canyon as a national monument would affect the area — especially its effect on grazing rights and water rights. "It is also important for people to note that national monuments created by presidential executive order under the Antiquities Act almost always become underfunded, neglected properties," he added.

 Too bad you Republicanos didn't take back that authority when you controlled both Houses of Congress and the White House, now isn't it?

Murkowski, Jewell tangle over threat of Interior Department budget cuts

Alaska leaders continued to pressure U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at a rare event in Northwest Alaska on Tuesday, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski saying that reducing the budget of the Interior Department is just one of the tools she has to control the agency. Jewell took the threat seriously, saying jobs in Alaska are on the line if that happens. One way to head off the Interior Department is by squeezing the agency’s funding, Murkowski said, a possibility now that Republicans control both houses of Congress and Murkowski is chair of the Senate Energy Committee that oversees Interior’s budget. Jewell said she hopes the Energy Committee and Murkowski recognize that the agency and its various departments play an important role in Alaska, including providing jobs. She said she hopes she can have a thoughtful dialogue with the committee about the budget. “I’m very hopeful she doesn’t hurt the men and women that are working hard on behalf of all Americans and Alaskans, who require the support from Congress to do our work in the various federal agencies, whether it’s the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey,” which is currently doing aerial mapping of Alaska. Murkowski shot back to say she is fighting for access to land. “Well, if budgets are reduced and people lose their jobs, then that is an outcome,” Murkowski said. “But the land is the land, and that’s what I am here to protect, and the people of the state of Alaska and their right to access the lands,” she said. “This is what we need to be fighting for. I’m not going to be fighting for some short-term job for a bureaucrat.”...more 

This little spat probably means nothing.  Here's what will happen:  The House will pass their version of Interior's budget and Murkowski will take the lead in ADDING MONEY BACK into the budget.  You just hide and watch.

Backcountry pilots land status in Forest Service planning rule

The biggest challenge to backcountry flying is having a place to land your airplane. That’s why small-plane pilots around the country were celebrating last week when they got official notice that recreational aircraft are now a recognized part of the U.S. Forest Service’s planning process. While the change doesn’t bring any new resources, it does mean planes get considered along with horse corrals, bike trails, snowmobile routes and other backcountry user needs. “Our discovery when dealing with the Forest Service was that most of them aren’t pilots,” said Ron Normandeau, a Polson pilot and member of the Recreational Aviation Foundation which fought for the recognition. “Therefore, they lack an appreciation for our training, of the requirements for licensing and maintenance of our aircraft. They’re familiar with four-wheelers and snowmobiles. They deal with them every day of the year. Aircraft are a little different. They only deal with us when they come across one of us at an airstrip.” About a century ago, Missoula-area pilots and Forest Service staff pioneered backcountry air use as a way to fight forest fires and resupply remote ranger stations...more 

Planes in Wilderness?  In the areas written about the landing fields existed prior to Wilderness designation and were grandfathered in.  

But it also contains this info about Wilderness which I want to share:

But that doesn’t mean the fields are universally accepted. A wheelbarrow at Schafer Meadows has drawn controversy because visitors have used it to haul rafting gear to the nearby Middle Fork of the Flathead River – in violation of the wilderness prohibition on wheeled equipment.

This reminds us of the Wilderness legislation introduced by Senators Udall & Heinrich.  Their legislation exempts military overflights and one of the proposed areas will have 160 trains a day running next to it's boundary.  These aren't light planes like the above, but jets that break the sound barrier.  Military jets above, trains to your east every 9 minutes.  Now that's a wonderful way to experience “outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation” as required by the Wilderness Act.

But no wheelbarrows.  No sir, they would ruin your solitude.

Even light use of federal lands affects wildlife

Over the last five winters, scientists have been trapping and fitting GPS collars to wolverines in Idaho and now in Wyoming while also affixing them to snowmobilers and those backcountry skiers. Then they’ve tracked the movements. Preliminary findings show that wolverines move faster and more often on weekends when people are playing in their mountain habitat. That may mean trouble for these animals during the brutal winters of the high Rockies, where every calorie counts. When we think of injuring nature, it is easy to point an accusing finger at mining companies and their strip mines or timber barons and their clear-cuts. But could something as mellow as backcountry skiing or a Thoreauvian walk in the woods cause harm, too? More and more studies over the last 15 years have found that when we visit the great outdoors, we have much more of an effect than we realize. Even seemingly low-impact activities like hiking, cross-country skiing and bird-watching often affect wildlife, from bighorn sheep to wolves, birds, amphibians and tiny invertebrates, and in subtle ways. Impacts from outdoor recreation and tourism are the fourth-leading reason that species are listed by the federal government as threatened or endangered, behind threats from nonnative species, urban growth and agriculture...more

This was in the NY Times, so you know the DC Deep Thinkers have read it.  Can you guess what this will lead to?  You hikers and birdwatchers are next.  Instead of NO MORE MOO BY '92 it will be NO MORE YOU coming soon to your "public" lands.

How Billionaires Run Solar Plant Scams

by Mitchell Tu & David Kruetzer

At the recent inauguration of the Desert Sunlight solar farm, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell stated, “This is the beginnings of a renewable energy future.”

Let’s hope she is wrong, because the Desert Sunlight project is cronyism at its worst. This project involves $1.5 billion of subsidized loans. It also mandated purchases of overpriced power, all to benefit the project’s owners. And don’t think those owners are struggling mom-and-pop operations. Instead, they’re three of the world’s largest corporations—GE (market capitalization of $247 billion), NextEra Energy (market capitalization of $47 billion) and Sumitomo Corporation (market capitalization of $13 billion).

Here’s how the scam works. It begins with proposing to build a solar plant. But solar plants take up a lot of land. Gosh, that can be expensive. So, the government rents them the land at bargain prices.

The next problem is that solar plants are outrageously expensive, which is why real capitalists tend to shy away from solar energy. Luckily for the aspiring political crony, the government will help you get a loan guaranteed by taxpayers. (Just like the $500 million dollar loan they gave Solyndra, before it went bankrupt. Oops!) Added to all this, the federal government is willing to offer a 30 percent solar investment tax credit, a deduction of 30 percent of your cost from your taxes.

Now that there is money and land for the plant, what next?

Well, even with those unconscionable subsidies solar is still too expensive: utility companies prefer cheaper, more reliable energy. So then, the state government steps in to rig the market even more.

Of course, if renewable energy were already competitive there would be no need for the mandate. But it’s not.

 So helpfully for companies like Desert Sunlight, California requires utility companies to meet “renewable portfolio standards,” which mandate that at least 33 percent of their energy come from renewable sources.

Oregon Chub Becomes the First Fish to Be Taken Off the Endangered Species List

Making history, the Oregon chub became the first fish ever removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Animals on Tuesday.  The minnow, unique to the state’s Willamette River Basin, was listed in 1993, when the population dipped below 1,000. Today the number has climbed to over 140,000 and the minnow can be found in more than 80 locations, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release...more

Great work!  The ESA has been on the books for 40 years and they've saved one little fishy.  "One Fish Every Forty Years" is their battle cry.  The ESA has been a success - at land use control - not saving species.

California drought cutbacks may include water at restaurants

California residents may have to ask for water at restaurants and for fresh towels and sheets at hotels as the drought drags on. These are among the new restrictions mulled by the State Water Resources Control Board at an informational hearing Tuesday as the board considers extending and expanding mandatory water-use rules. The board last summer imposed emergency regulations prohibiting Californians from washing their cars with hoses that don’t shut off and limiting how often they can water their lawns. Board members on Tuesday appeared ready to extend those rules and add new ones. “I find it galling when whole sets of water glasses end up on a (restaurant) table, even in Sacramento,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the board. “The key is to get away from very light mandatory restrictions.” The board has the sweeping power to define when water use is unreasonable, and it could eventually expand the definition to include using drinking water to maintain golf courses and cemeteries. Marcus said the board would likely take smaller steps first, such as prohibiting decorative outdoor water fountains. For homeowners, possible new rules being considered also include prohibiting lawn watering during cold and rainy periods. Existing emergency regulations also authorized agencies to fine water wasters up to $500 a day, though such stringent enforcement has been rare...more

Should Farm Animals Have More Legal Protections?

See what The Learning Network is teaching our kids.

Ranch Diaries: A New Mexico cattle company is born

by Laura Jean Schneider

Note from the editors: This essay marks the first installment of a new series to highlight the experiences of Laura Jean Schneider and Sam Ryerson, members of a younger generation of cattle ranchers. Making a living in an industry that faces an ever-evolving host of obstacles like drought, climate changes, political forces, and a volatile cattle market, is challenging. In Ranch Diaries, Schneider will give us a peek into what it’s like to take on those challenges during the first year of Triangle P Cattle Company, a new LLC in southcentral New Mexico. This first installment brings us up to speed with how the author arrived at where she is now.

Since October my husband and I have been living in a solar-powered camper on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation southeast of Ruidoso, New Mexico. We’re managing 1,000 head of cattle on 90,000 acres of leased range. It’s beautiful, wild country, reaching high into the Sacramento Mountains to the west and sloping down to the east in big rolling ridges dotted with juniper. After 30 inches of rain during the last growing season, there’s a strong and diverse forage base.

Our journey here was unconventional, but we’re proud of it. We weren’t ranch kids, or even from the West. Sam’s from Cambridge, Massachusetts and I’m from outside Hinckley, Minnesota. Some people wonder if two people who studied architecture and English have what it takes to run a ranch, but that doesn’t bother us. Like Sam says, everyone’s family came from somewhere else originally.  

...By the fall of 2013, we decided it was time for us to try to put our own deal together. In April our friend and current partner, a long-time rancher from Springer, New Mexico, discovered an available pasture lease on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation. He introduced us to a few potential partners who have many years of experience in the cattle business, and after drafting a solid business plan, we decided to form an LLC together: Triangle P Cattle Company.  

After five months of negotiating terms, we signed a one-year lease. We put our entire savings on the line and signed two big bank notes to purchase cattle and pay for operating expenses. The company purchased a 320 square-foot camper and we drove it out to the reservation. It’s our home as long as we’re here. Sam and I own a 20 percent stake in the company. We’re the only co-owners on-site; he’s paid a salary as the full-time manager and I help on a part-time basis.

Lincoln County War

On March 6, 1853 John Henry Tunstall was born in Hackney, a suburb of London, England. William Henry McCarty, Jr., according to some scholars was born at 70 Allen Street in New York City two years before the Civil War. There is no documentation to prove this. His mother, Catherine McCarty, is thought to have emigrated to New York during the Great Famine. It is not documented if McCarty was Catherine’s married name or her maiden name. In 1868, Catherine moved to Indianapolis, Indiana bringing little Billy and his brother Joseph with her. In August of 1872, Tunstall emigrated to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and worked in a store his father had an interest in. Catherine McCarty met William Antrim and after several moves the couple was married in 1873 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but settled in Silver City, New Mexico. The following year when Billy was apparently 14 years old, his mother died. Billy lived in at least two foster homes before he was arrested the first time in April of 1875. In September of 1875 he was arrested for the second time and escaped from jail within days. He worked for a time as a ranch hand, but apparently thought stealing horses was easier. He was known at this time in Arizona as Kid Antrim. In February 1876, John Tunstall moved from Canada to California searching for ranching property. Six months later he moved on to New Mexico. In Santa Fe he met Alexander McSween, a prominent lawyer, who steered him to Lincoln County where the two men became partners. Tunstall bought property on the Rio Feliz about 30 miles south of the town of Lincoln. He became a cattleman, opened a mercantile store, and a bank. Tunstall and McSween linked themselves with John Chisum who owned more than 100,000 head of cattle on a large ranch.  Unfortunately, there already was an established bank and a store. Several years earlier James J. Dolan, Lawrence G. Murphy and John H. Riley started these two enterprises. Their store was known informally as “The House”. They ran the entire county as a personal kingdom. They controlled the court, the sheriff, and the beef contracts with the government...more

"But on this day Feb. 18, 137 years ago, the Lincoln County War began"

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1384

Here's another 2015 release:  Annabelle by Darin & Brooke Aldridge.  The tune is on their Snapshots CD, just released yesterday.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Despite rhetoric, Utah is quite capable of managing federal lands

By James V. Hansen

In a Jan. 31 op-ed written in the hyperbolic tone of a Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance fundraising letter, former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt accuses Utah leaders of a "crusade against America's public lands" to the detriment of the outdoor economy. 

...Mr. Babbitt perpetuates several myths about Utah's land-transfer effort. Here are the facts:
Utah is working through Congress and the courts, as provided in the Constitution, to achieve a transfer of certain public lands. 

Utah has no intention to "sell off" public lands. The Transfer of Public Lands Act provides that only 5 percent of the proceeds of any land sale would stay with the state; the rest would go to the federal government, a disincentive to any sale. In a recent public hearing, the chair of the Utah Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands, the group overseeing the transfer effort, said, "Public lands will be sold off over my dead body." 

The act excludes national parks, national monuments, wilderness areas and wildlife refuges from the proposed transfer. 

...Control of our public lands by a federal government $18 trillion in debt threatens these goals. Increasingly, limits on resources force our federal partners to cut back their management efforts. Our forests are dying and at growing risk of catastrophic fire. The National Parks maintenance backlog is overwhelming. Recreational facilities are deteriorating. Access is increasingly limited in areas important to the outdoor industry. Scarce federal dollars go to defend against a flood of lawsuits and, too often, judges, rather than agency professionals, set public-land policy. The status quo isn't working.

People enjoy Utah's public lands for their character, not because they're federally owned...

James V. Hansen is a former Utah congressman from the 1st Congressional District. He served as chairman of the Committee on Resources and was a member of Congress for 22 years.

Republican Fielder pushing for state to manage federal lands

Republican state Sen. Jennifer Fielder says she sees “a lot of hopelessness” in her northwestern Montana district – and that is why she’s leading the charge in Montana to transfer management of most federal lands to the state. Fielder represents rural, forested Sanders and Mineral counties, where logging and other work in the woods once provided a good living for many. But those days have waned, and Fielder believes it’s largely because of federal land management policies. “It was the pain that I see families experiencing as a result of bad public management,” she said in an interview last week. “Poverty, and loneliness – people who have no family, because relatives have left to find work. … “People just don’t feel like there’s anything that can be done to make it better. I can’t subscribe to that attitude, that there is nothing we can do.” Fielder, elected in 2012, has become the leading figure in Montana for a regional movement to transfer national forests and some other federal public lands to the state for management. She’s pushing several bills at the 2015 Legislature on this issue, including one to create a legislative task force to study the issue directly, with $35,000 in state funds. State management of these lands – some 25 million acres in Montana – would be free of restrictive federal policies and allow more logging and other activity that helps the local economy, Fielder and others say. “The goal is better management, that improves access, environmental health and economic activity,” she says. “The accountability (for the feds) is so far removed from the place that’s impacted by the decisions.” While Fielder says the land transfer is only one idea, and that she’s pursuing other proposals to improve federal land management, it’s the transfer proposal that has stirred a hornet’s nest of opposition...more

500 rally against lands transfer

HELENA – Some 500 Montanans filled the state Capitol rotunda Monday for a rally denouncing proposals in the Legislature to transfer federal lands to state management, which some argue would improve management. "Not on my watch," said Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, shouting into the microphone to thunderous applause and calling the proposal a "silly scheme." About 140 people traveled to the "keep public lands public" by bus from Butte, Billings, Great Falls, Bozeman, Missoula and Livingston. The transportation was arranged by the Montana Wilderness Association and the Montana Wildlife Federation. Supporters of state management of federal lands were on hand during the rally as well, with some carrying their own signs indicating the state would do a better job managing federal lands. They set up an information area in the balcony in the lobby and passed out information. Signs they put on the wall talked about the increasing threat of wildfires and other problems for which they blame poor federal management. "I'd be surprised if they're spreading much factual information down there," Paul Fielder said of opponents of the idea of state management of federal lands. Fielder is the husband of state Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls, who is leading the effort to study state management of federal lands...more

Rural lawmakers back federal land transfer report

BOISE — Rural lawmakers are backing the recent recommendations of a state-commissioned report, calling for Idaho to invest at least $750,000 to continue laying the groundwork for the transfer of federal lands to state ownership. The report, released in late January, included feedback from public hearings and was drafted by an interim legislative committee convened in April 2013. It asserts Idaho could make a legal case that the federal government, which owns 62 percent of land in the state, has breached its contract through poor land management. The federal government spends $392 million per year for wildfire suppression and management of Idaho public lands, according to the Congressional Research Service. By contrast, the report concludes Idaho manages healthier public lands, which also generate an annual return of $23 per acre. “That would be a tax savings to the taxpayers of the U.S.,” said Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, a rancher who chairs the state’s Agricultural Affairs committee. “There’s no question we could take the model we use to manage our state forest lands and apply that same model to the federal government.” The report stops short of suggesting litigation against the federal government, noting Utah will likely test those waters. In the mean time, the report calls for the state to reconvene the interim committee and invest $500,000 for a more in-depth economic analysis of affects on Idaho’s coffers. Furthermore, the report calls for spending $250,000 to fund a permanent working group, with a full-time staff member and administrative assistant, to implement transfer-related policy changes the Legislature may approve...more

Representative wants to cap amount of federal recreational land

The amount of federal recreational land could not be increased if pending legislation passes. Rep Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia) reintroduced the Acre In, Acre Out Act (H.R. 792), which would stop the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, United States Fish & Wildlife Service and the United States Forest Service from increasing their territorial holdings. The bill first became available online on the congressional website on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. The bill would require the agencies to offer for sale an equal amount of real estate whenever they acquire new land. It would not affect acquiring easements to facilitate access to existing public land, however. The government would have to offer land for sale at local fair market value. If it could not make a sale within six months on the market, it could lower the price by 10 percent a month. (The six-month period would not include any days in which the land was withdrawn from the market.) And the agencies could not keep the money from any lands they sell. The legislation says all proceeds would have to go directly to the United States Treasury to lower the national debt...more

Oregon’s Governor and the Grifter(s)


Oregon’s Governor-for-Life John Kitzhaber, 68, resigned Friday the 13th.  His resignation letter was the usual lawyerly-parsed, blame-the-media/take no responsibility sham we’re used to seeing. He had been governor from 1995-2003 and again from 2011 until now. The basic allegations which forced the rest of the state’s Democratic Party elite – Senate President, House Speaker, State Treasurer and others to join the state’s largest newspaper and call for his resignation – involve influence-peddling by his ten-year girlfriend/fiancée Cylvia Hayes. Hayes, 48, – a woman with a grifter’s history – pretty much publically advertised that her clout with the governor was for sale and cashed in for over $200,000 at the same time she was his advisor on energy policy, working out of the governor’s mansion and using government employees as subordinates. The most damning allegation? She took over $118,000 from a sham non-profit that went defunct without ever filing a report with the IRS. She herself never reported her payments. The entire purpose was to shake loose tens of millions of state subsidies for “Green” Energy projects.
The Energy Foundation – Banksters for the “Green” “Movement.”
It’s all because of something called the 25 by 25 Renewable Energy Portfolio standards that were quietly adopted in Oregon (and many other states). It requires that 25% of the energy mix in Oregon’s grid to come from Renewable sources by 2025. A shadowy non-profit called The Apollo AllianceMission Accomplished!  went state to state pushing the concept. Suddenly, there was a huge pool of tax money to be tapped by private entities with ties to renewable energy.  In 2013, Cylvia Hayes was hired by the Energy Foundation. This San Francisco group, tied to billionaire Democrat sugar daddy and potential California US Senate candidate Tom Steyer, paid her $40,000 dollars and funded part of her fellowship with Clean Economy Development Center, a clean-energy group based in Washington, D.C, though Hayes seems to have been their only paid fellow. Her fellowship salary was the $118,000 she did not report. The CEDC was stripped of its tax status in 2014 for failing to file IRS returns for three consecutive years. The most damning thing for Kitzhaber is that he then hired the guy who arranged for Hayes’ Fellowship as his own highest-paid aide – at a $162,720 annual salary. Somehow, they thought no one would notice!
The “Green” Biomassacre
Number of years the United States could meet its energy needs by burning all its trees: 1
– Harpers List, January 2006
The Apollo Alliance and allies have also been traveling around pushing Biomass projects, greenwashing the forest habitat, species and huge carbon cost of burning trees (let alone trash which they also consider “renewable”) – a process 1.5 times dirtier than burning coal – for small amounts of electrons. There’s a reason for it. After all the tens of millions in wind farm subsidies and other renewables, they make up about 4.7% of the power in Oregon’s grid – power that is useless on its own without coal-powered baseload energy regulating the grid from the Boardman Coal Plant, Oregon’s largest carbon polluter. And, now theBoardman Plant is being forced to go off coal and — you guessed it — switch over to Biomass. Burning our forests is the only way they can possibly meet the 25% target (Though some are trying to get Nukes declared renewables for portfolio purposes!)...
The National Ramifications
While crony capitalism is generally the GOP’s bread and butter; “green” crony capitalism is a gluten-free croissant and almond butter concoction that has taken down one narcissistic Democrat in backwater Oregon. The virus, however, has settled in across the country. Biomass plants are springing up like Starbuck’s near every forest carbon sink. Subsidized “green” energy projects abound...


Alaska lawmakers tell Jewell of frustrations with Obama administration

Declaring that litigation and dialog appear to be getting the state nowhere, several Alaska lawmakers said after a meeting with the U.S. interior secretary on Monday that they’ll be looking to the Alaska congressional delegation for help thwarting a federal government they claim is out of control. Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young, reached late Monday night, said they’re eager to help -- and work with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy Committee, which oversees the Interior Department. The state legislators, led by Senate President Kevin Meyer and House Speaker Mike Chenault, said an hourlong exchange with Sally Jewell in the Northwest Alaska city of Kotzebue was productive. But they suggested in a press conference after the meeting that they want Congress to tighten the Interior Department’s budget and pass legislation to limit executive actions. They’re angered by recent announcements from the Obama administration that the feds will seek to turn the potentially oil-rich coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge into a wilderness area and are removing areas of the U.S. Arctic Ocean from potential oil and gas development...more

Idaho-based Environmental groups file lawsuit against USDA Wildlife Services

A lawsuit has been filed against the US Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in US District Court by five conservation groups in Idaho. According to Western Watersheds Project and four other groups, federal officials in Idaho are violating environmental laws and conducting lethal predator controls without the required reviews. The groups said that FWS is failing in its responsibility when it comes to enforcing protections required by the Endangered Species Act. The agency is illegally allowing Wildlife Services to carry out its operations without fully understanding the consequences. The 40-page lawsuit was assigned to US District Judge Edward Lodge in Boise on February 11. It stated that the agency is killing wolves, coyotes and other wildlife to protect livestock and crops. Federal officials are using aerial shooting, trapping, explosives, poison gas cartridges, poison bait and livestock collars that release poison gas during attacks. The lawsuit also contends that the agency has never prepared an Environmental Impact Statement in order to evaluate wildlife damage management in Idaho. It has instead relied only on an outdated model, which runs contrary to effects of killing wildlife...more

Bloomberg Blocks Footage Of His Calls For More Minority Gun Control

By AWR Hawkins

On February 7 2015 , I reported on a speech by Michael Bloomberg in which he suggested banning young minority males from gun ownership.

He made that suggestion during a February 5 speech at the Aspen Institute and has now asked the Institute not to release footage of the speech to the public.
According to the Summit Daily, “Michael Bloomberg representatives have asked the Institute not to distribute footage of…[the] appearance…where the three-term New York City mayor made pointed comments concerning minorities and gun control.”
Both the Institute and Grassroots TV, “the organization that filmed the event,” are honoring Bloomberg’s wishes and “will not broadcast the footage online or on television as planned.
During the speech, Bloomberg talked about persons who are “male, minority, and between the ages of 15 and 25.” He claimed that “95 percent of all murders fall into this category,” so taking guns from them would not only reduce crime, but would also “keep them alive.”

He said “cities need to get guns out of [the]…hands” of young, male minorities for these reasons.

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins.


Judge Blocks Obama's Deferred Deportation Policy for Undocumented Immigrants

A federal judge in Texas on Monday issued a preliminary injunction blocking the U.S. government from enacting President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration to defer deportations for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants. U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the Southern District of Texas temporarily blocked the federal government from implementing "any and all aspects" of the order, which protected millions of people in the country illegally from immediate deportation. Hanen's ruling allows a lawsuit filed by Texas and 25 other states challenging Obama's executive order to go forward. In a memorandum accompanying his order, Hanen wrote that the lawsuit should go forward and that without a preliminary injunction the states will "suffer irreparable harm in this case."  "The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle," he wrote, adding that he agreed with the plaintiffs' argument that legalizing the presence of millions of people is a "virtually irreversible" action. In his ruling, Hanen said the Obama administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act. The preliminary injunction applies to the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent residents, better known as DAPA, and expansions to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, both of which Obama announced in November. DAPA, part of which was set to go into effect on Wednesday, would grant work permits and defer deportation for three years of undocumented immigrants who are both parents of U.S. citizens and who've been living in the U.S. since 2010...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1383

Here's a sneak preview of the Gibson Brothers' forthcoming CD Brotherhood with the tune Long Time Gone.  The CD will be released on Feb. 24.  Take a listen as they resurrect that great brother sound.

Monday, February 16, 2015

DNA indicates So. Calif. wolf was actually a Mexican gray

The only wolf ever documented in Southern California may have been a victim of mistaken identity nearly a century ago. The 100-pound male wolf was pursuing a bighorn sheep in the Mojave Desert's rugged Providence Mountains in 1922 when a steel-jaw trap clamped onto one of its legs. Based on measurements of its skull, biologists at the time determined that it was a lone Southern Rocky Mountain gray wolf that had wandered out of a population in southern Nevada. But a different story is emerging from a study of that skull at UCLA, where researchers have identified DNA markers indicating it was actually a Mexican gray wolf, the "lobo" of Southwestern lore. Bob Wayne, an evolutionary biologist at the university, said the finding could help extend the historic range of the federally endangered Mexican gray wolf, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contends ranged over parts of central and northern Mexico, western Texas, southern New Mexico and southeastern and central Arizona. "Broadening the species' historical range to include Southern California would allow for an assessment of additional habitats for Mexican wolf reintroduction programs," Wayne said. That, in turn, could enhance its chances of survival. "These results are provocative," Wayne said. "They are also very preliminary and need to be verified by additional analysis." Environmentalists are optimistic that the discovery will help improve programs dedicated to helping the subspecies scientists know as Canis lupus baileyi reestablish residency in old lairs...more