Friday, April 24, 2015

Proposed Public Land Transfer Denounced by Recreation Businesses

More than two dozen Grand Valley businesses have joined up with an environmental lobby organization to denounce any transfer of federally controlled public lands to the state. The local businesses have signed onto a letter heading to lawmakers in Denver. The letter argues that “the huge cost to the state of managing these lands would lead to greatly increased development and a loss of access that would put our businesses at risk.” The debate over public land ownership is heating up this week as a proposed law moving through state legislature hopes to take away the federal government’s ultimate control over hundreds of thousands of acres of area currently watched over by the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. A vast majority of the letter’s signatories are businesses with an invested interest in recreation and tourist opportunities. Some say they've come out in support of the status quo, citing fears that any shake up in control could create instability in the economy. Co-owner of Rapid Creek Cycles in Palisade Scott Winans said although he doesn’t always agree with BLM decisions, he believes their management is currently the best course of action. Senate Bill 15-039 was introduced by Republicans in January and passed through the state senate this week. It seeks to give Colorado concurrent jurisdiction over federal lands...more

If your whole business model is based on the public having access to federal lands, you are in deep doo doo and should be praying that these lands are transferred. 

Armed Oregon protesters gather at Bureau of Land Management office over mine dispute, report says

More than 100 demonstrators, some of them armed, reportedly surrounded the Bureau of Land Management’s Medford, Oregon district office Thursday to protest the agency’s regulations against a rural gold mine. Supporters of the Sugar Pine mine tell the Mail Tribune that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials lied when they said mine owners George Backes and Rick Barclay needed to file a plan with the agency for what they called previously unknown mining activity. The agency told Backes and Barclay that they had to file a plan or remove their equipment. Some of the protesters who congregated in the agency's parking lot were members of the Oath Keepers movement, an organization made up of former and current law enforcement personnel who vow to disobey government orders they deem unconstitutional. Mary Emerick, a spokeswoman for the Oath Keepers, told the Mail Tribune that volunteers from the organization have been guarding the mine. She said those volunteers came from various parts of the western U.S. The armed volunteers started showing up last week after Barclay called upon them because he was afraid the agency would seize the equipment. The miners contend they legally control all of the land and resources within the claim, which they say has been continuously mined since the 1800s. The agency has said the land belongs to the federal government and the miners have to file a plan of operations if they want to continue working in the area. "(The miners) have a particular interpretation of the Constitution that has not been recognized by any federal court," BLM spokesman Tom Gorey told the Mail Tribune. Although Barclay did call upon the armed volunteers, he is looking to distance himself from any actions that could replicate what happened in Nevada last year...more

Alaska Miners Dispute Jewell's Claim That ‘Much’ Of Alaska’s Federal Lands Are Open To Mining

Alaska mining advocates are taking issue with something Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said last week, while defending federal resource management in Alaska. Here’s what Jewell said: “We are in no way preventing development of Alaska’s resources on public lands. We’re facilitating development in a number of areas. Much of the mining in Alaska is on public lands.” The Alaska Miners Association has written a letter to Jewell disputing that “much” of Alaska’s mining is on federal lands. Alaska has six big mines. Two, Kensington and Greens Creek in Southeast, are on federal land. The others are on state and Native land. Deantha Crockett, executive director of the mining group, says Alaska has more than 400 placer mines, but only about 80 are on federal land. “I think our concern is when you say “much” you’re talking about 18 percent of placer mines, and two out of six large-scale mines,” Crockett said. “I guess I don’t consider that to be ‘much.'” Crockett says the lack of mining activity on federal land didn’t happen by accident. More than 60 percent of the state is federal land, but Crockett says too much is closed to mining. “And the then the acreage that is administered by the federal government that isn’t closed to mineral entry, frankly, there are tremendous permitting delays and a whole bunch of bureaucracy that’s affecting these operation from moving forward,” Crockett said...more

Study: Oil and gas drilling consuming millions of acres

Drilling for oil and gas, which has increased substantially in many parts of the country over the past decade, has impacted millions of acres of agricultural and range land, according to researchers. A study published today in the journal Science found that between 2000 and 2012, about 7 million acres – the rough equivalent of three Yellowstone National Parks – was given over to well pads and related roads. About half of the acreage was rangeland, and roughly another 40 percent was cropland and 10 percent forestland. A very small amount was wetland. The researchers calculated that crop production lost due to drilling amounted to 130 million bushels of wheat, about 6 percent of the wheat produced in 2013 in the region under study. In addition, land clearance for drilling over that period destroyed about 7 million animal unit months (an animal unit month is the forage required for one animal for one month.) The range land taken out of production over that decade is nearly equivalent to all range land managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, according to the study...more

Heinrich proposes feds have final say over power lines

Sen. Martin Heinrich wants to give the federal government the power to override state and local decisions on siting new power lines as part of an effort to help build grid capacity and boost renewable energy, but his proposal is drawing fire from Republicans concerned about federal overreach. Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, introduced legislation this week that would allow the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, to step in and approve “new priority” lines when local and state authorities can’t or won’t grant approval within a year of a project’s application. Current law allows the federal government to use eminent domain proceedings for construction of natural gas lines when local jurisdictions won’t approve them, but cities and states still have final say on electricity lines. Heinrich’s bill would change that. The senator said his legislation would only give FERC “narrow authority,” but state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn Jr., Gov. Susana Martinez and Rep. Steve Pearce – all New Mexico Republicans – told the Journal they oppose giving the federal government more say over state and local land use decisions...more

Folks shouldn't be surprised that Martin "The Federales Friend" Heinrich would introduce legislation such as this.  He doesn't believe that individuals, local gov't or state gov't have the knowledge, expertise or power to impose the environmental agenda upon us.  Put another way, he's afraid local government will pay too much attention to you and your neighbor's concerns and not enough attention to the latest national fad, in this case renewable energy.  Just pay your subsidies to the solar and wind industry, let them trounce your property rights and let Heinrich's feds have the final say.  

Still don't think he's the fed's best friend?  Just look who is exempt.  The articles says, "The expanded FERC authority would not apply to transmission lines crossing federal lands such as military bases or Indian reservations."  Your property isn't exempt, state property isn't exempt, but certain federal lands are exempt.  Their friend is watching out for them, but not for you.

USDA lays out broad climate change mitigation plan

...USDA rolled out 10 "building blocks" that will use partnerships and other resources to work with farmers in implementing new ways to farm more efficiently. USDA plans to offer technical assistance and financial incentives to participating producers.
Soil health: Soil resilience and productivity will be promoted through no-till and conservation tillage; the effort aims to increase the use of no-till systems to cover more than 100 million acres by 2025.
Nitrogen stewardship: Focus on the right timing, type, placement and quantity of nutrients to reduce nitrous oxide emissions and provide cost savings through efficient application.
Livestock partnerships: Encourage broader deployment of anaerobic digesters, lagoon covers, composting, and solids separators to reduce methane emissions from cattle, dairy, and swine operations, including the installation of 500 new digesters over the next 10 years.
Conservation of sensitive lands: Use the Conservation Reserve Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to reduce GHG emissions through riparian buffers, tree planting, and the conservation of wetlands and organic soils. The effort aims to enroll 400,000 acres of lands with high greenhouse gas benefits into the Conservation Reserve Program.
Grazing and pasture lands: Support rotational grazing management on an additional 4 million acres, avoiding soil carbon loss through improved management of forage, soils and grazing livestock.
Private forest growth and retention: Through the Forest Legacy Program and the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program, protect almost 1 million additional acres of working landscapes. Employ the Forest Stewardship Program to cover an average of 2.1 million acres annually (new or revised plans), in addition to the 26 million acres covered by active plans.
Stewardship of federal forests: Reforest areas damaged by wildfire, insects, or disease, and restore forests to increase their resilience to those disturbances. This includes plans to reforest an additional 5,000 acres each year.
Promotion of wood products: Increase the use of wood as a building material, to store additional carbon in buildings while offsetting the use of energy from fossil fuel.
Urban forests: Encourage tree planting in urban areas to reduce energy costs, storm water runoff, and urban heat island effects while increasing carbon sequestration, curb appeal, and property values. The effort aims to plant an additional 9,000 trees in urban areas on average each year through 2025.
Energy generation and efficiency: Promote renewable energy technologies and improve energy efficiency. Through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program, work with utilities to improve the efficiency of equipment and appliances. Using the Rural Energy for America Program, develop additional renewable energy opportunities. Support the National On-Farm Energy Initiative to improve farm energy efficiency through cost-sharing and energy audits...more

Key facts about the drought that’s reshaping Texas

Summary: Texas agriculture suffers from a severe drought as it exhausts its groundwater. Activists (as usual) blame our burning of fossil fuels. What do scientists say? How severe is the drought? What are its causes? How will this reshape Texas?  {1st of 2 posts today.}

The media overflows with debates asking do you believe in climate change? As with evolution, much of America remains in denial: some on the Right deny that it’s happening now; some on the Left deny that it’s omnipresent in history. Both use science as magicians use their wands, to confused us. But we have reliable sources to guide us. How to find them is the subject of many posts on the FM website,.
Today we look at the Texas drought. The New Republic gives us a well-written example of how not to do it: “Fear in a Handful :Of Dust by Ted Genoways — Excerpt…
Climate change is making the Texas panhandle, birthplace of the state’s iconic Longhorn, too hot and dry to raise beef. What happens to the range when the water runs out? … Soon, environmental activists and reporters {ed: not scientists} began to ask whether “drought” — a temporary weather pattern — was really the right term for what was happening in the state, or whether “desertification” was more appropriate.
… In fact, hydrologists estimate that even with improved rainfall, it could take thousands of years to replenish the groundwater already drawn from the South Plains.
… “If climate change is the real deal,” {Linden Morris} said, “then the human race as we know it is over. And I don’t believe that.”
Climate change is the “real deal”, but someone should tell Morris that few scientists believe we are “over”. Genoways ‘confusing article mixes together several trends, most seriously conflating three important but largely unrelated trends: groundwater depletion, the current drought, and climate change.
Farmers and ranchers have been draining the Ogallala Aquifer (a finite store of water, part of a system underlying about 80% of the High Plains) at an ever-faster rate since the 1940s. The current drought in Texas has further accelerated their pumping. As scientists have warned for generations, at some point we will exhaust this great aquifer network and then the Midwest economy will irrevocably change. Much US agriculture relies on unsustainable methods. It’s a phase in our history, like the California and Alaskan gold rushes. (For more information see this by the USGS; also seen the graph showing depletion levels here.)

But despite his apocalyptic language, Genoways doesn’t show that many climate scientists (let alone a consensus) believe that climate change, natural or anthropogenic, is largely responsible for the Texas drought. Let’s see review the evidence, and see what they say about the Texas drought.

Yavapai County ranchers appeal tax court ruling on grazing land values

A huge alliance of Yavapai County ranchers is appealing portions of a tax court ruling about the value of the county's grazing land. Even though a tax court judge lowered the value of their grazing lands for property tax purposes, the judge didn't consider the values of federal and state grazing leases, which generally are lower. "In order for anybody to be in the cattle business (here), we have to have state or federal leases," said plaintiff Andy Groseta, a Verde Valley rancher and the immediate past president of the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association that joined the Arizona Tax Court appeal of the county assessor's values. Only 25 percent of the land in Yavapai County is private, according to government statistics compiled by the Western Rural Development Center. Groseta said he fears the higher tax rates will push ranchers out of business, along with the open space and wildlife waters they provide...more

Coyote urban: String of sightings in Manhattan this year

One moseyed around Manhattan's East Village. Another was caught in trendy Chelsea. Yet another rambled through a Hudson River park this week. Tourists? Hipsters? Coyotes. A string of recent sightings in Manhattan has drawn new attention to the wily critters that have been spotted periodically in New York since the 1990s. Experts say New Yorkers should expect to see more of them as they become more comfortable adapting to city streets and parks. Call it coyote urban. "I would say that this is going to be a new normal: that coyotes are going to continually show up in downtown New York City," says Daniel Bogan, a coyote researcher at Siena College. At least four coyotes have been spotted around Manhattan so far this year, and one was seen clambering around on the roof of a Queens bar before disappearing, says Sarah Aucoin, the director of the city's Urban Park Rangers program. Three of the animals were captured in Manhattan and released in Bronx parks with established coyote populations, she said. Police chased after the fourth on Wednesday in Manhattan's Riverside Park, even using a helicopter  until the animal secreted itself in deep brush near Grant's Tomb...more

Oh, how I hope they proliferate.

Work to remove dangerous dead trees in the Carson National Forest closes Canjilon Lakes area

A chunk of the Carson National Forest, including the area surrounding the popular Canjilon Lakes, will be closed for at least the next year while officials decide how best to safely remove uncounted numbers of dead and dying trees. “More than 70 percent, 80 percent of the mature spruce, fir and aspen have been dying because of insects, diseases and drought,” said Kathy DeLucas, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service. The two popular fishing lakes are about 40 miles north of Española. The closure will cover about 1,100 acres, with the most significant damage in an area of about 250 acres. That includes the fishing lakes and a 48-site campground. “We’re closing it for at least this year, maybe longer for safety reasons,” she said. “We have concerns about trees falling on fishermen, picnickers and campers.” The western tent caterpillar is the main culprit as it eats the foliage – particularly of aspens – denuding the trees and leaving them susceptible to disease during periods of drought, DeLucas said. Concerns over the infestation have been growing in recent years, with the Forest Service cutting down about 5,500 stricken trees last year alone, she said. But the problem has gotten so widespread that the Forest Service is reluctant even to send in its own employees, DeLucas said. In the coming years, the closures could spread to the equally popular and nearby Trout Lakes...more

Illegal immigrant deportations plummet as amnesty hampers removal efforts

Deportations have plummeted by another 25 percent so far this year, with the government even struggling to find enough criminals to kick out of the country, according to the latest statistics that suggest President Obama’s amnesty has hampered removal efforts. That could undercut Mr. Obama’s legal justification for the deportation amnesty, where the pace of deportations has been raised as a key way of judging whether the president is complying with the law by trying to grant “deferred action” to millions of illegal immigrants. The numbers for the first six months of fiscal year 2015, which began Oct. 1, are striking: The government has deported just 117,181 immigrants, which is just three-quarters of the 157,365 immigrations kicked out during that same period a year earlier, according to figures provided to Congress. “This is a stunning free fall in enforcement activity, not just deportations but arrests too,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports stricter immigration limits. “It turns out that even criminal arrests and deportations have dropped, including those of the ‘worst of the worst’ Level 1 felons, and the huge numbers of criminal releases continues.” Overall, deportations are down a stunning 41 percent in the last three years — and the drop began almost exactly at the beginning of Mr. Obama’s 2012 temporary deportation amnesty for so-called Dreamers...more

Thursday, April 23, 2015

US to announce plans to reduce agricultural carbon emissions

Federal agricultural officials are planning to announce voluntary programs and initiatives for farmers, ranchers and foresters meant to build on President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat global warming — and don’t require congressional approval. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is expected to unveil plans Thursday at Michigan State University, where Obama signed the sweeping farm bill into law last year. The efforts, many of which have their roots in that law, aim to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions, boost carbon capture and storage and come with various enticements, including grants, low-interest loans and technical assistance. Vilsack said the agriculture industry accounts for about 9 percent of U.S. emissions, adding that compares favorably with the rest of the globe but can be improved. Obama administration aides have said the issue of climate change became even more attractive after the November election, because the Democrat has considerable leverage to act without Congress. Such actions, though, have drawn fierce objections from Republicans and the energy industry. Specific actions to be announced Thursday include reducing the unnecessary use of fertilizer and methane emissions from cattle and swine, reforesting areas damaged by wildfire and disease and encouraging tree planting in urban areas. For methane reduction in particular, the federal program promotes installing more anaerobic digesters, which use naturally occurring bacteria to break down organic waste to produce biogas, a fuel similar to natural gas...more

Feds plan to improve resilience of four regions around US to impacts from climate change

Three federal agencies announced April 21 that they'll begin collaborating with state, local and tribal partners to restore four areas around the country that are now vulnerable to climate change and other ecological problems such as sea-level rise, wildfires and invasive species. The Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the goal is to ensure that long-term conservation efforts in the selected areas in southwest Florida, Hawaii, Washington state and the Great Lakes region take climate change into account, according to a combined press release from the agencies. "Climate change is impacting every corner of the nation – from the Everglades to the Arctic – which has ramifications for our natural and cultural heritage, public health and economic activity," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in the statement. "Through increased collaboration, we can pool resources and bring the best available science to bear as we take a landscape-level approach to make these treasured lands and waters more resilient to the impacts of climate change." Over the next 18 months, the work will address specific strategies that will "benefit wildfire management, mitigation investments, restoration efforts, water and air quality, carbon storage and the communities that depend upon natural systems for their own resilience," the release added.  The initiative is part of the Obama administration's plan to improve America's natural defenses against extreme weather, protect biodiversity and conserve natural resources. Obama recently said that climate change is the biggest threat facing the planet...more

Earth Day: 22 Ways to Think about the Climate-Change Debate


Reasonable people can disagree about the nature and extent of climate change. But no one should sally forth into this hostile territory without reason and reflection.

“Some scientists make ‘period, end of story’ claims,” writes biologist and naturalist Daniel Botkin in the Wall Street Journal, “that human-induced global warming definitely, absolutely either is or isn’t happening.”

These scientists, as well as the network of activists and cronies their science supports, I will refer to as the Climate Orthodoxy. These are the folks who urge, generally, that (a) global warming is occurring, (b) it is almost entirely man-made, and (c) it is occurring at a rate and severity that makes it an impending planetary emergency requiring political action. A Climate Agnostic questions at least one of those premises.

Trying to point out the problems of the Climate Orthodoxy to its adherents is like trying to talk the Archbishop of Canterbury into questioning the existence of God. In that green temple, many climatologists and climate activists have become one in the same: fueled both by government grants and zealous fervor.

Room for debate

But the debate must go on, even as the atmosphere for dialogue gets increasingly polluted. The sacralization of climate is being used as a great loophole in the rule of law, an apology for bad science (and even worse economics), and an excuse to do anything and everything to have and keep power.
Those with a reasoned agnosticism about the claims of the Climate Orthodoxy will find themselves in debate. It’s April 22nd — Earth Day. So I want to offer 22 ways to think about the climate-change debate. I hope these points will give those willing to question man-made climate change some aid and comfort.

1. Consider the whole enchilada
First, let’s zoom out a few orders of magnitude to look at the Climate Orthodoxy as a series of dots that must be connected, or better, a series of premises that must be accepted in their totality.
  • The earth is warming.
  • The earth is warming primarily due to the influence of human beings engaged in production and energy use.
  • Scientists are able to limn most of the important phenomena associated with a warming climate, disentangling the human from the natural influence, extending backward well into the past.
  • Scientists are able then to simulate most of the phenomena associated with a warming earth and make reasonable predictions, within the range of a degree or two, into the future about 100 years.
  • Other kinds of scientists are able to repackage this information and make certain kinds of global predictions about the dangers a couple of degrees will make over that hundred years.
  • Economists are able to repackage those predictions and make yet further predictions about the economic costs and benefits that accompany those global predictions.
  • Other economists then make further predictions based on what the world might be like if the first set of economists is right in its predictions (which were based on the other scientists’ predictions, and so on) — and then they propose what the world might look like if certain policies were implemented.
  • Policymakers are able to take those economists’ predictions and set policies that will ensure what is best for the people and the planet on net.
  • Those policies are implemented in such a way that they work. They have global unanimity, no defections, no corruption, and a lessoning of carbon-dioxide output that has a real effect on the rate of climate change — enough to pull the world out of danger.
  • Those policies are worth the costs they will impose on the peoples of the world, especially the poorest.
That is a lot to swallow. And yet, it appears that the Climate Orthodoxy requires we accept all of it. Otherwise, why would the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publish a document called “Summary for Policymakers”?

2. Models are not evidence

The problem with models is that they are not reality. Whenever we try to model complex systems like the climate, we’re only getting a simulacrum of a system, designed to represent projected scenarios. So when a climatologist presents a model as evidence, he is playing a kind of game. He wants you to think, by dint of computer wizardry, that he has drawn for you a picture of the world as it is. But he hasn’t. And if observation of surface temperatures over the last 18 years has shown one thing, it’s that climate models have been inadequate tools for forecasting complex natural phenomena.

3. Forecast is not observation 

In the first IPCC assessment of 1992, the authors wrote, “Scenarios are not predictions of the future and should not be used as such.” Whether one views the models as predictions or as scenarios, the evidence is barely within the most conservative of these in the most recent assessment, which is essentially designed to hide good news.

When one attempts to forecast — that is, to tell the future — one is not engaging in observation. That is not to claim that prediction isn’t a part of the scientific enterprise; it’s simply to say that when one’s predictions (or scenarios) are off, one’s theory is suspect, and it must be modified and tested again. Any theory, and any forecast scenarios on which it’s based, have to be tested in the crucible of observation. The Climate Orthodoxy has thus far failed that test.

NMSU Cowboy Reunion 1966-1967 Houston, Reeves, Brown, Stewart

Here's two tunes each from 1966 and 1967:  David Houston - Almost Persuaded, Jim Reeves - Snowflake, Jim Ed Brown - Pop A Top, and Wynn Stewart - Its Such A Pretty World Today.

Feds bypass protection for Sierra sage grouse

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell reversed the government’s proposed federal protection for a type of sage grouse specific to California and Nevada on Tuesday, and said it shows it’s still possible to head off a bigger, looming listing decision for the greater sage grouse across 11 Western states. Jewell joined Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and others in announcing she’s withdrawing the government’s 2013 proposal to declare the bistate, Mono Basin sage grouse a threatened species along the California-Nevada line. The bird found only along the Sierra’s eastern front no longer faces the threat of extinction thanks to voluntary conservation efforts and range improvements initiated by ranchers, local governments, private land owners and public land managers, she said...more

NMSU Cowboy Reunion 1965 - Mack, Louvin, Reeves, Wright, Wheeler

We heard quite a bit from Buck & Roger in 1964, so here's some other artists with hits of 1965:  Warner Mack - The Bridge Washed Out, Charlie Louvin - See The Big Man Cry, Del Reeves - Girl On The Billboard, Johnny Wright - Hello Vietnam, Billy Edd Wheeler - Ode To The Little Brown Shack

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Court - Road trumps mouse in wildlife refuge

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district judge’s decision that allows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to transfer land within the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge as an easement for a road that will encircle the Denver metropolitan area. WildEarth Guardians, an environmental group, pursued the lawsuit by claiming the roadway will jeopardize the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse, an endangered species. But the court noted that the federal law that created the wildlife refuge at the site of a former nuclear weapons facility specifically foresaw its use for a road. link

A copy of the decision is here

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Editorial - The Incredible Raisin Heist

Stealing is illegal, unless the government is the thief. On Wednesday the Supreme Court will hear a case on whether the government can seize a chunk of a business’s product to regulate prices. This is a big one.

Like much government mischief, Horne v. USDA has its roots in the Great Depression and federal programs to prop up the price of goods by controlling supply. To create raisin scarcity, the government established a Raisin Administrative Committee that manages the supply of raisins through annual marketing orders. Raisin handlers must set aside a portion of their annual crop, which the feds may then give away, sell on the open market, or send overseas.

The Hornes refused to participate, and in a letter to the Agriculture Department they called the program “a tool for grower bankruptcy, poverty, and involuntary servitude.” The raisin police were not amused. The Raisin Administrative Committee sent a truck to seize raisins off their farm and, when that failed, it demanded that the family pay the government the dollar value of the raisins instead.

The Hornes say this raisin toll is an unconstitutional seizure of their property. Under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, “private property” shall not “be taken for public use, without just compensation.” That clause is typically understood to make it illegal for the government to grab houses, cars or even raisins.

The Federal Circuit, which hears many takings cases, as well as the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Tenth and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeal have all held that the full protection of the Takings Clause does apply to the government seizure of personal property. A farmer should have no less right to the raisins growing on his land than he does to the land itself.

...The Horne case is one of the most significant property rights cases in years—probably since the Court’s infamous 5-4 ruling in 2005 in Kelo v. New London, which allowed the government to take Susette Kelo’s home so a developer could replace it with condos and stores near a Pfizer Corp. office. The majority Justices in Kelo have a lot to answer for. This is a chance to make partial amends.


Navajo, Ute tribes restaking a claim to their homeland with proposed Bears Ears conservation area

Even some Native Americans don't know about the archaeological riches their ancestors left in Cedar Mesa.  A week ago, on a tour of the area, a member of the Hopi Tribe was shocked to find his family's Flute Clan symbol in a rock pictograph.  "It was a very powerful, very emotional tour," said Mark Maryboy, a Navajo elder. "A lot of them didn't realize how much history and how much evidence their people left behind. There are many generations." In a campaign to reclaim the place from Anglo grave robbers, off-roaders and benignly ignorant campers and hikers who have traversed the region since state and federal leaders carved it up to distinguish public from private land, Utah's Navajos are leading a push to create the Bears Ears National Conservation Area in the southeastern corner of Utah.  Their proposal stretches from the southern edge of Canyonlands National Park to the San Juan River and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in the south to approximately U.S. Highway 191 on the east and the Colorado River on the west. The tribe's 1.9 million-acre proposal is larger than three other plans to expand federal land protections in the region — including the Greater Canyonlands notion from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, four conservation areas pitched by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and another from Friends of Cedar Mesa...more

I wonder how the writer knows that all the past, present and future grave robbers are "Anglo"?

UN Chief Wants Action on $100 Billion Climate Fund

More than five years after President Obama and other leaders agreed on a 2020 goal of raising $100 billion each year from public and private sources to help developing countries deal with climate change, the United Nations wants to see action. Ahead of Earth Day on Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is pointing to a meeting next month in New York where he says he will be looking for clear indications from governments and investors as to how the ambitious goal will be reached. “Climate change is the defining issue of our times,” he told a conference hosted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance last week. “It is also an enormous economic opportunity.” On Saturday Ban again tackled the subject, at an International Monetary Fund event in Washington. “We need a credible trajectory for realizing the $100 billion goal per year by 2020, as well as the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund,” he said...more

Feds publish final plan for Owyhee Wilderness

Federal authorities have made public the final management plan for six wilderness areas and 16 wild and scenic river segments in southwestern Idaho, starting a 30-day appeals process. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Monday published on the Federal Register the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Management Plan. The process allows for appeals to be made during the next 30 days concerning the state’s newest wilderness areas that include about 518,000 acres and 325 miles of wild and scenic river in Owyhee County. The six rugged areas became federally protected preserves in 2009 after U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, cobbled together a coalition of ranchers, wilderness advocates, outdoor enthusiasts and others in an effort called the Owyhee Initiative. “This is certainly a milestone, and we’re looking forward to reviewing the document and seeing if it’s captured the intent of the Owyhee Initiative,” said John Robison of the Idaho Conservation League. “It’s the kind of wilderness area we’re going to keep as it is. Come if you’re up for it.” The 99-page federal document contains rules ranging from floating on rivers, hunting and grazing livestock. “The purpose is not to have improvements,” said MJ Byrne, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management’s Boise District, who emphasized visitors need to be self-sufficient. “The purpose is to keep its wild, wilderness character.” The sweeping land-use package added six wilderness areas and opened other previously off-limits areas to motorized recreation, livestock grazing and other activities. It also provided ranchers with cash and federal land in exchange for giving up private land and giving up grazing rights on some public land. Grazing remains on portions of the wilderness, and there are both private and state land inholdings. Byrne said ranchers during the last five years have sold property that’s been added to the wilderness. Numbers weren’t available Monday. Byrne also said Idaho and federal officials are working on a land swap to trade state land within the wilderness for federal land outside of it. But she described that process as in its formative stage. While wilderness designations generally prohibit mechanized equipment, it will be allowed in some areas associated with pre-existing rights, the plan says. The final plan also prohibits goats as stock animals and domestic sheep grazing to protect California bighorns in the wilderness from potential diseases...more

Oregon miners call for peaceful protest after enlisting armed guards

Owners of a gold mining claim in southern Oregon who enlisted armed activists to guard the mine amid a land dispute with the federal government plan a peaceful protest this week but want to avoid a standoff. A co-owner of the Sugar Pine Mine, Rick Barclay, called in armed guards from the conservative Oath Keepers activist group after federal officials served him with a stop-work order last month for failing to comply with federal regulations. Federal officials said in a letter to the owners they needed to file plans for the gold mining and equipment on the land or cease operations. The miners argue they have exclusive surface rights and do not have to follow federal regulations. Mine spokesman Kerby Jackson said the miners were now calling for a "peaceful protest" at local Oregon Bureau of Land Management offices around Oregon on Thursday. Jackson said the owners were meeting with their attorney on Monday. "We are calling on all miners, loggers, farmers/ranchers and freedom lovers everywhere who are tired of government abuse to tell the BLM ... that they are sick to death of the way that they have been conducting themselves," the Sugar Pine Mine website said...more

Coalition urges BLM to protect desert targeted for large project

A group of former Interior Department officials, conservationists, scientists, and local business and government leaders is asking the Bureau of Land Management to reject a controversial proposed solar power project near the Mojave National Preserve in the Southern California desert.  Instead, the diverse group wrote in a petition letter delivered late Friday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell that they want BLM to permanently protect the area where the agency is considering approval of the 358-megawatt Soda Mountain Solar Project, which would sit on 2,500 acres of federal land in San Bernardino County.
The photovoltaic solar project has drawn heavy fire from conservation groups and some federal and state agencies because of its location adjacent to the Mojave National Preserve and its potential impacts on sensitive wildlife species and habitat. BLM is expected in the coming weeks to issue a final environmental impact statement (EIS) that could advance the project. The letter to Jewell -- signed by 120 individuals, including three former Mojave National Preserve superintendents -- asks that BLM designate the proposed site of the solar plant, as well as additional areas among the North and South Soda Mountains, as a formal area of critical environmental concern (ACEC). They want it off-limits to a commercial-scale solar project due to sensitive habitat for a host of species, including bighorn sheep, kit fox, burrowing owl and the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise. The letter follows the submittal last month by the National Parks Conservation Association of a formal petition to designate the site as an ACEC...more

Obama administration moving new tribal recognition rules

The Obama administration is on the brink of making new federal tribal recognition rules – a move that could be a boon to several Connecticut tribes — and opponents are making 11th-hour attempts to stop or slow the process. The Bureau of Indian Affairs said late Monday that its long rule-making process is nearly over. The new regulations are on their way to the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for final review "after...numerous tribal consultations and as part of President Obama’s commitment to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship with Native Americans." The “Part 83” process, named after a section in the federal code, was established in 1978 to give tribes a structured way to seek federal acknowledgement. Kevin Washburn, the Interior Department's Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, wanted to make the Part 83 process more transparent and quicker. In a draft proposal unveiled about a year ago, he proposed modifying certain requirements. For instance, current tribal recognition rules require a tribe to prove it has been a community with a continuous political authority "from historical times." Washburn’s proposal would change that to allow a petitioning tribe to demonstrate it has maintained a state reservation or a tribal authority since at least 1934. Washburn said the changes were overdue because the regulations have only been updated once since they were created...more

Photographer turns seasonal cattle work into ... Cowgirl art

Even in Creede, Colo., Dina Smith says, it’s not ev­ery day that the folks in town see a cow­boy. “I walk into town in chaps and ev­ery­thing, and I get some strange looks,” Smith said. “Our first year there, my hus­band got off his horse, jumped into the truck and headed into the bank. Peo­ple looked at him like, ‘What are you do­ing?’ ” Smith, of Blair, and her hus­band, Steve, work sum­mers tak­ing care of 2,500 cat­tle for the Colorado Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion on U.S. For­est Ser­vice land near Creede. Steve Smith has been work­ing as a cow­boy for three years. Dina started rid­ing with her hus­band last year af­ter tak­ing over for a sick cow­boy. “A lot of peo­ple want that job, so I was lucky,” Dina said. “That was great for me, be­cause I loved it.” The Smiths work for four ranch­ers, who lease the land from the U.S. For­est Ser­vice. “The peo­ple you see in my pic­tures are the ranch­ers, their sons, grand­sons,” Dina said. “They come and help us.” The Smiths take care of the cat­tle on about 10,000 acres of For­est Ser­vice land. They ride about 20 miles a day, main­tain­ing fences and drink­ing ar­eas, mak­ing sure the cat­tle are where they are sup­posed to be and tak­ing care of the 100 or so calves that are born on the range, Dina said. “I started tak­ing pic­tures of what we were do­ing, and I just loved it,” Smith said. The Smiths stay in a cabin on forestry land. Elec­tric­ity comes from a gen­er­a­tor and so­lar pan­els, and the wa­ter is grav­ity fed from a stream above the cabin, which is be­tween Creede and Lake City in the San Juan Moun­tains. “It’s in the mid­dle of nowhere,” Dina said. The cou­ple is pre­par­ing for an­other year on the range, and Dina said she is get­ting pro­fi­cient at pho­tog­ra­phy from the sad­dle. “I’m very, very clumsy,” she said. “But I’ve got­ten pretty good at tak­ing pic­tures on a horse.” The Smiths pro­vide their own horses and equip­ment. They are due to start in the mid­dle of June, but they go out early so they and the horses get used to the el­e­va­tion...more

NMSU Cowboy Reunion 1964 Part Two

For the NMSU Cowboy Reunion, here are some more top hits on the country charts for 1964:  Buck Owens - I Don't Care, Roger Miller - Dang Me, Johnny Cash - Understand Your Man, Lefty Frizzell - Saginaw, Michigan, Ernest Ashworth - I Love To Dance With Annie.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Defends Federal Land Management

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today defended the federal government’s land management and brushed off calls from legislators in Alaska, and other states, to seize federal lands. Jewell spoke at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, to a standing room only crowd, many from a nearby conference of the outdoor recreation industry. It was a room strongly in favor of preserving federal land. Jewell urged them to make their views known at every level of government. “These are lands that belong to all American people. Just because they’re in the boundary of a state does not mean they belong to the residents of that state. They belong to all American people,” she said. The Alaska House last week passed a bill demanding the federal government turn over its lands in Alaska to the state. Similar measures have passed in other western states. Speaker of the Alaska House Mike Chenault, like other Republican legislators, says it’s a just cause. “I’m not afraid of a fight, and I’m not afraid of doing what I think is right,” he said, in supporting the bill in Juneau. Jewell doesn’t sound too worried. “While there has been a fair amount of rhetoric and even some laws passed in state legislatures, there’s none of them that have been found to be constitutional with regard to a takeover of federal public lands by states,’ she said. “So there’s a lot of talk but there hasn’t been a lot of action.” The talk in Alaska grew louder this winter, when the Obama Administration announced a series of anti-development measures in the state...more

Legislation to "seize" federal land? Most of the bills are calling for a study on the possibility of transferring some of these lands back to the states.   Does Jewell believe it is not "constitutional" for the states to conduct these studies?  She knows it is, but like many in the enviro community Jewell is doing her best to mislead and distort the issue.  Why are they working so hard to prevent these studies?  The feds do a study before they acquire lands, why shouldn't the states?  Let's get the facts out there first and then debate the issue.  What are they afraid of?

Oil Spill You've Never Heard of Has Been Leaking Into Gulf of Mexico for a Decade

When Hurricane Ivan struck the Gulf of Mexico off of Louisiana in 2004, the force of the waves prompted a mudslide that toppled an offshore well platform owned by Taylor Energy. Since then, more than 10 years ago, oil from the undersea wells has been leaking into the Gulf unabated. And the leak is far larger than reported. According to an Associated Press investigation, recent U.S. Coast Guard figures show that the volume of the continual spillage is 20 times higher than figures originally put forth by Taylor Energy. Taylor Energy for years reported that the volume the leak was declining: from 22 gallons per day in 2008, it was said to taper down to 12 gallons per day over the following five years. But the 2,300 pollution reports analyzed by the AP didn't match those figures. Rather than decline, the pollution reports documented a dramatic spike in the size of oil sheens and the volume of spilled oil since September 1, 2014, just after federal regulators began sending government observers on the observation flights with the Taylor contractor that had been reporting spill volumes. A Taylor spokesman declined to comment on AP’s findings. The federally managed effort to stop the flow of oil has been “shrouded in secrecy,” according to the AP. Now, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) is urging the government to release documents related to the spill and mitigation efforts...more

Greens against the poor

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and the whole gang of Democratic leaders claim that one of their highest priorities is to lift up the middle class and reduce the income gap between rich and poor.

That goal collides with what they admit is their very highest priority: stopping climate change. Their agenda is driven by the millionaire and billionaire Democratic donors who make the party possible. But the agenda also involves making energy, home heating, transportation and just about everything else less efficient and more expensive to the middle class and poor. The people who lose their jobs when the climate-change Stalinists prevail are the people at the bottom and the middle of the income ladder.

...For several years now, the environmental conferences in posh places like Aspen, Sun Valley and Rio become parking lots for private jets.  Hillary Clinton requires a private plane when she gives her $200,000 speeches. She and her jolly green friends then opine about why the poor should do their part to help save the planet by giving up coal mining, trucking, welding, construction, pipe-fitting, drilling and other jobs that are vital to their very livelihoods. Farmers in California have to watch the browning of their state and the loss of their property to save salmon and trout. Some 42,000 fewer Americans have jobs thanks to Mr. Obama's decision at the behest of the Environmental Defense Fund to kill the Keystone XL pipeline.

...A Gallup poll found in March 2015 that only 2 percent of Americans perceive the “environment/pollution” as the nation’s “most important problem.” And a Bloomberg poll last year specifically listing climate as an candidate for “most important issue” found only 5 percent of Americans concurring. Polls also show the richer Democrats are, the more they care about climate change. Maybe that’s because green policies hurt the poor and working class — starting most obviously with opposition to modern drilling techniques such as fracking, and with blocking infrastructure projects that would create tens of thousands of high-paying union jobs.

A recent Brookings study entitled “Welfare and Distributional Implications of Shale Gas,” finds that the 47 percent decline in natural gas prices due to the shale gas “fracking revolution” has meant the “residential consumer gas bills have dropped $13 billion per year from 2007-2013.” This has saved gas-consuming middle-class families an average of $200 per year, with some families saving nearly $500 a year.

Another study by John Harpole, president of Mercator Energy in Colorado, finds that because the poor spend far more on utility bills than do the rich as a share of their incomes, “the poor benefit far more than the rich from the shale oil and gas boom.” The savings to the poor have been multiple times larger than the value of the $1 billion a year the feds throw at the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Last month Mr. Obama pledged to cut America’s carbon dioxide emissions up to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. Paul Driessen of the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow calculates this would end up “taking us back to Civil War-era emission levels, 150 years ago.” He adds: “Poor, minority and blue-collar families will have to find thousands of dollars a year for soaring electricity, vehicle and appliance costs. Small businesses will have to find tens of thousands of dollars to keep the heat and lights on. Factories, malls, school districts, hospitals and cities will have to pay millions more.”

Interior moves to raise drilling fees on BLM tracts

The Interior Department kicked off a major rulemaking today that would update fees oil and gas companies pay to drill on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) that requests public comment on potential changes to oil and gas royalty rates, rental payments, lease sale minimum bids, civil penalty caps and financial assurances.
The public has 45 days to weigh in. The ANPR asks the public to suggest how BLM should craft a rule, but it is not a regulation in itself.  Updates to BLM's royalty rate structure would offer the agency important flexibility at a time when oil production has risen on public lands in each of the past six years, Jewell said.  Conservation groups have supported higher fees to produce and maintain leases on public lands. Roughly half of those revenues go to the U.S. Treasury, with the rest going to the states where drilling occurs.  But today's move will generate blowback from energy companies that argue they already pay more to operate on federal lands due to longer permitting times and the persistent threat of lawsuits from environmental groups...more

Obama amnesty granted 500,000 Social Security numbers to illegal immigrants

The administration has granted about 541,000 Social Security numbers to illegal immigrants under President Obama’s original 2012 deportation amnesty for Dreamers, officials told Congress in a letter made public Wednesday. That means almost all of the illegal immigrants approved for the amnesty are being granted work permits and Social Security numbers, opening the door to government benefits ranging from tax credits to driver’s licenses. Social Security officials, in the April 10 letter to Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, said they don’t keep track of how many illegal immigrants have been denied numbers, and defended their process for granting the ones they have doled out. “We will not issue an SSN if an individual has insufficient or unacceptable documentation,” Social Security Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin said in the letter. “In addition, we will not issue an SSN if [Homeland Security] is unable to verify the individual’s immigration/work authorization status.” Social Security numbers are considered one of the gatekeepers for being able to live and work in the U.S., and some experts have said granting them to illegal immigrants makes it easier for them to access rights reserved only for citizens, such as voting. But the Obama administration has ruled that the illegal immigrants it has approved for its temporary deportation amnesty, known as “deferred action,” are here legally for as long as the program exists, and so they are entitled to work permits and Social Security numbers.   Washington Times

No charges yet in Tierra Blanca Ranch case

It was a day that made headlines all over New Mexico and across the country when New Mexico State Police showed up with a search warrant at the Tierra Blanca Ranch in October 2013, checking on the welfare of children living there. A source alleged that many of the children had been abused. No one was there at the time, triggering an Amber Alert for nine boys who were later found safe. Almost 19 months later, the Children, Youth and Families Department still hasn't release much information. “I can really not release any information regarding what was found or what exactly occurred,” said Henry Varela, CYFD spokesman. Last year, the department made a one-year deal with Tierra Blanca to give CYFD access to any kids living there and set up rules for the ranch to follow. During its inspections, the agency said it never found any children there. In a statement, Tierra Blanca owner Scott Chandler said he's reached out to CYFD to renew that deal, but claims he hasn't gotten a response. The agency could not confirm that. Chandler maintains the ranch has done nothing wrong. He said the raid hurt Tierra Blanca's reputation and drew a lot of negative attention to New Mexico. The investigation into the abuse allegations is now in the hands of the Socorro County district attorney. No one has ever been charged. Tierra Blanca is still open and accepting applications for the summer.   KOAT-TV

NMSU Cowboy Reunion 1964 Part One

For the NMSU Cowboy Reunion.  1964 Part 1  Roger Miller - Chug Uh Lug, Buck Owens - My Heart Skips A Beat, Connie Smith - Once A Day, Stonewall Jackson - BJ The DJ, Marty Robbins - Cowboy In A Continental Suit.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

102nd Old Timers' Reunion brings back families, friends far and near every year

One word echoed over and over at the 102nd Deming and Luna County Old Timers' Reunion — "Community." That's the way guests for the annual event this past weekend summed up the appeal for one of New Mexico's long-standing social gatherings. "There's nothing like coming home," said Janet Gardner Barclay, a 1975 graduate of Deming High School. "I come to this whenever I can. It's fun to catch up and visit with old friends every year." The annual get-together is organized each year by the Old Timers' Association of Luna County — a committee that charges a $1 yearly due, or a $100 lifetime membership. Over 472 dinners were served on Saturday at the annual banquet and dance held at the Special Events Center. "It brings back a lot of memories," said Sylvia Coussons who serves as treasurer for the group. "We are a tight-knit community — always have been — and people like to come together once a year to bring back old memories." Sylvia's husband, Jack, served as president of the association back in 2000. Coussons has given service to the Old Timers for the past 40 years. She said some of the founding families of the organization are gone, but the offspring have kept the "fire burning and the legacies continue." She added: "The class reunions for the 1940s, '50s, '60s and '70s held this same weekend in town help to bring more people into our group." The Kreteks handed out the "Oldest Awards" to Dr. Paul Feil, 92, and Cleo Morgan, 93. Cherise Baker (32) and Raymon Farrell, 34, received the "Youngest Awards." Past presidents of the association were introduced and Joe Delk rosined up his fiddle bow and the Delk Band churned out hit after hit of two-steps and cowboys waltzes. "This thing just keeps growing," Coussons said. "We are close to feeding 500 guests each and every year. Who knows, maybe next year we can break past 500 friends."...more

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Just close the gate

by Julie Carter

Gates left open, ones that were found closed on approach, have been an ongoing issue in ranch country for more than a century.

In 1897, a New Mexico state law was written levying a penalty for leaving a gate open. The fine was to be not less than $5 and not more than $10. In 1919, the law was amended and the misdemeanor crime came with a stiffer penalty of not less than $10 and not more than $25.

Obviously the law was put in place because people were as disrespectful about another man’s business as they are today. Somebody was leaving the ranch gates open causing untold issues with escaped or lost cattle. 

Barbwire, sometimes referred to colloquially as “bob wire or bobbed war,” was invented in the late 1860s and followed by as many as 570 patents for additional “improved” versions.

The “devil’s rope,” hated by some, sought after by others, was a highly effective tool that quickly became the fencing method of choice. As it worked its way to the West, it impacted life in that era as dramatically as the telegraph, windmills and the railroad.

With fencing came the necessary gates. Anyone that has ever had to figure how to open a well-constructed barbwire gate can attest to the difficulty that can be built into it.

Generations of skilled fence builders, in my opinion, focused more on making sure the gate was impossible and impassable than on the function for which it was intended. This reasoning comes from years of needing to get through gates that required practically dismantling the gate in order to open the portal it guarded.

However, certainly not all of them earned a reputation for that level of difficulty. And in that was born the problem of the gate left carelessly open by some unknown soul who either didn’t know better or didn’t bother to care. 

And so, a law was written to address the crime but the financial penalty changed nothing.

So 114 years later in 2011, the issue was again before the New Mexico state lawmakers. House Bill 391 was introduced and ultimately signed into law by the governor, thereby enhancing the penalty for leaving a gate open. 

Should outlaws, renegades or thoughtless idiots running the back roads of New Mexico ranch lands leave a gate open, they can be fined not less than $250 and not more than $1,000. However, as in the century preceding, the process of enforcement is almost impossible and/or non-existent.

The litigious society we live in mandates the effort. Livestock let loose as a result of a gate left open can put motorists in a life and death situation.  A collision with livestock causing injury or death to a roadway motorists could result in not just the economic loss of livestock to the rancher, but financial liability for damages for the Department of Transportation. It’s simple economics.

Ranch kids are ingrained from birth to “shut the gate.” No questions asked, no discussion. They walk, talk, eat, breathe and shut the gate. It’s part of life. The penalties for not doing so are quite unpleasant. They often go hand-in-hand with witnessing the destruction or loss caused by that simple failure to follow that cardinal rule.

My suggestion would be, if in fact you can catch the culprit and prove that he did it, to give him the same punishment universal to ranch kids throughout the millennium. 

A good swift kick in the pants is cathartic for the giver, and if administered with proper skill, is quite memorable for the receiver. Instant gratification and not a lawyer in sight.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Wild Cow Hunts

Presidential aspirations
Wild Cow Hunts
Words or Actions
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            There is a picture of Grandpa Albert Wilmeth on my tack room wall.
            He is probably 18 or so which would make the year about 1910. He is mounted on a little black horse that probably didn’t weigh a thousand pounds. His stirrups extend below the girth line. The horse has shades of mustang about him with a head that modern bridles may not fit. In fact, it looks like he’s fitted with a side pull arrangement with rope reins. Maybe the available bridle at that time didn’t fit either. He had his ears back listening to the rider without any suggestion of more serious intentions.
            Grandpa is wearing a short brimmed black hat that could have been a derby or it was cut down from a wider brim at some point. He has Levi’s and a jumper on and he’s tied hard and fast. In the backdrop there are two horses. One is probably a sorrel with a flaxen mane that has been combed out with some care and the other is a bay. Both look like they are out of a Charles Russell painting with need of a hundred pounds added to their frame. They are ground tied and both are standing and dozing.
            The scene is on a wooded hillside in the Gila. It was winter or early spring.
            It was too early to be working located cattle and the backdrop is not one that I would place my grandfather in his daily life. If I had to guess, I will wager the scene was from … a cow hunt.
            Cow Hunts
            J. FrankDobie chronicled cow hunts in the Texas brush country.
            In one of his accounts, he described how brush country cowboys would stick a needle into the fleshy middle of their saddle skirts for sewing the eyelids of wild cattle shut when they turned them loose to be led home by a neck oxen or another lead animal.
            The process would start with roping the animal. There are many accounts of roping wild cattle and Dobie recounts in vivid description many of them. Among his accounts, the night ropings stand out. The danger and the skill required to get such an undertaking done was incredible. The setting was brush country and the need was to catch cattle grazing in the grassy clearings. The cattle had become so wild they simply couldn’t be caught in the day when they retired to the thickest brush. The cowboys would watch for tracks and move into an ambush with enough numbers shape the cattle for other ropers or to spread out enough that multiple chances at a shot could be afforded.
            With a bit of ranch humor, the stories are fascinating.
            There is a story of a vaquero roping what he thought was black calf. It turned out to be a full grown bear. In another story, the roped animal was thought to be a blond colored calf. Every time the cowboy would trip the animal and get down to tie it, it was on its feet either coming up the rope to him or running in circles away from him. This adventure went on until it was light enough see and it turned out the calf was a lion!
            When the cow brute was successfully caught and snubbed to a mesquite, it was typically left tied for a period of time. The rationale was practical. First, draining off a bit of energy was a safer bet than competing with a fully charged animal that was intent on squaring the deal. The second was to retrieve a lead animal. In south Texas that was usually an ox.
            Onie Sheeran, Atlee Weston, and a five year old pet brindle ox by the name of Pavo once cleared 125 head of cattle off a range for a fee of $5 per head. Pavo led every one of those mavericks to a pen near a windmill where they could be handled and eventually driven away. Pavo shared the cowboy’s camp every night as well as the charred prickly pear fed to the captured cattle.
            The snubbed cattle would be sore by the time Pavo or one of his contemporaries were necked to the roped animal. They would then be turned loose and the necked partner would eventually lead the animal to the place he was used to being fed. In this case, it was that pen near the water source.
This process was also captured brilliantly through the genius of J.R. Williams in his Out Our Way caricatures. In framed snapshots, the daily lives of the characters Curley, Stiffy, Soda, Ick, and Wes were played out. Cowboys, old and young, smiled at the matter of fact skill of the characters. Implicit in them were the real life cowboys who actually lived those moments and got it done.
Both Dobie and Williams witnessed the skill and the courage of those men and their horses.
            As a child, I listened to similar stories with utter fascination of the cowboys of my heritage. Those cow hunts were in the Mogollon Mountains of southwestern New Mexico. In these cases, I never heard any accounts of oxen as neck animals. It was always burros.
            The use of the needles was novel. When I read Dobie’s reference, I thought it was brilliant. The impression was left by my maternal grandfather who delighted in talking about turning yoked pairs loose on the side of a steep hill. There would be a thunderous skirmish as the roped maverick would fight the lead animal. Off the hill they would go, breaking brush with the little burro kicking the maverick every step of the way. After a time, the burro would get the upper hand and the two would head for Sacaton Mesa and the juniper corrals above Rain Creek.
              The south Texas use of the needle, though, would have reduced a great deal of the conflict and danger. Those cowboys would retrieve their needle, jerk a mane or tail hair, thread it, and sew the eyelids of the steer shut. They would then be turned loose, and the oxen would have immediate control of the maverick. The suture would be clipped when they turned the yoked pair loose at the water and the pens of destination.
            Presidential aspirations
            As the executive branch hopefuls commence smiling, start kissing babies, run to the right, and remind all of us it takes money to win elections, I can’t help but envision there is a better way to eliminate the fodder from the single person who has the constitutional head and skill set to lead this country from the precipice. The place to start is to eliminate all but one debate and substitute a series of cow hunts for those cancelled.
            Every aspect of presidential leadership would be fully exposed.
            Although it would be important, the selection process wouldn’t hinge on who collected the biggest pen of cattle. What is most important is to fashion a process that reveals who the person actually is. The need is to gauge and highlight any incremental success as the series unfolds. The candidate who emerges as gaining ground and shaping his or her battleground with the most logic and economy of effort would be judged most favorable.
            Quite frankly, we are all weary of Washington words. What is needed is to strip the wordsmiths from the pack and highlight the leader who has the fortitude to offer his life for the cause of this nation. The marginal details would reveal that leader in every aspect of life and duty.
            Starting with the timing, the need would be to engage not at the convenience or comfort of the cow hunter, but for the success of the outcome. The reliance and care of the only assigned partner, the horse, would be most telling. That interaction would not be just for the hunt itself, but the commitment of devotion the candidate displays to his charge and his ally.
            The use of the lead animal would be optional. The candidate with the heavy conscience might balk at the secular aversion of employing a beast of burden, but his success would be in jeopardy. Decisions to address political correctness or limit greater loss would be observed with clarity.
            That is especially true if the decision is made to employ the most simplistic blindfold approach of the needle and the horsehair suture. As the old time cow hunters found out, it doesn’t take too many death experiences to become realistic in using the few safeguards actually available when self-reliance is the only alternative.
            Smile if you will, but we need brutal honesty and the emergence of fundamental, visceral presidential leadership. Words have been used for couching and perpetuating deception. Action is necessary.
It is time to mount up and … go cow hunting.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Hunting wild cows successfully … will erase pretension.”

The California Drought and the Free Market

By Michael L. Grable

A long story in The Desert Sun (a Palm Springs daily) recently manufactured a lake out of a puddle in California's perennial water problems.  Maybe it's just Governor Moonbeam's gang feeding propaganda to the fourth estate, but it's a good example of how government regulation and media indoctrination so often contrive to strain at capitalist gnats and swallow collectivist camels.
The story's complicated (like everything concerning California water), but it's basically about the Morongo Band of Mission Indians selling its Millard-Canyon water rights to Nestlé S.A., a Swiss food and beverage giant which annually bottles about 200 million gallons of the Band's water as Arrowhead 100% Pure Mountain Water.  Although that sounds like a lot of water, it's only about the amount 400 homes or a single golf course would annually use.

Anyway, the Cabazon Water District, the State of California, and maybe even the federal government are trying to muscle a sovereign nation (the Morongo Band) out of its right to sell its water to a private company (Nestlé), which, after all, only processes the stuff for its highest and best use – drinking. 

Meanwhile, Governor Moonbeam's gang has dumped one-third of a trillion gallons of California mountain water into the Pacific Ocean in its ecological crusade to "save" a two-inch smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  That sounds like a lot of water, too, and it is – enough, apparently, to service the annual needs of 666,400 homes or 1,666 golf courses.

So – unless my arithmetic fails me – Californians donating their California water for delta smelts to swim in is 1,666 times more critical than the Morongo Indians selling their California water for Californians to drink.  This seems a perverse priority in the midst of an historic California drought.  After all, Californians don't drink delta smelts.  Neither do Californians flush their toilets with delta smelts, nor bathe in delta smelts, nor water their lawns with delta smelts, nor wash their dishes, clothes, or cars with delta smelts.  In fact, Californians don't do anything with delta smelts.  The same goes for vernal pool fairy shrimp, Santa Cruz long-toed salamanders, Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs, Colorado pikeminnows, unarmored three spine sticklebacks, desert pupfish, tidewater gobies, and Modoc suckers.  So why would parched Californians prefer the water needs of delta smelts over the water needs of 666,400 California home owners or 1,666 California golf courses and their patrons? 

That's not to mention Californians having demolished 29 of their statewide dams during the last two decades.  Why would drought-prone Californians squander two decades of their winter rains and snows, which they could otherwise have collected as freshwater in the reservoirs behind the dozens of their dams they demolished?

The short answer in both cases is California's governing moonbeamery.  Rachel Carsonism and Sierra Clubism may not directly send too many voters to the polls, but they both spend mountains of money to indirectly influence the cultural climate and the political process.  In no other state has environmental and ecological evangelism succeeded more in distorting free-market decision-making.  And, like every other instance of Left-Coast liberal lunacy, the market distortion eventually spreads eastward to academically, journalistically, and politically infect national decision-making.

Forty million Californians live in a Mediterranean clime, which, without intervention, probably couldn't readily support the water needs of even one fourth as many Californians.  For example, Chile – another of the only six Mediterranean climes on earth – has fewer than half as many people as California living in an area almost twice as big as California.  Moreover, most of California's present water-management and distribution system was initially planned almost half a century ago.  

So what's next for parched Californians – besides a $100-billion bullet train (through uprooted almond groves) to nowhere; several millions more thirsty displaced persons from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras; and an avalanche of new regulators and regulations to effect Governor Moonbeam's 25% water-use reduction order?

In addition to fewer flushes; fewer baths; fewer lawns; fewer golf courses; and fewer dish, clothes, and car washes, the next California crusade will be for fewer steaks, fewer chops, and fewer cheeseburgers.  When Friends of the River and For the Sake of the Salmon meet Farm Sanctuary and Mercy for Animals, Governor Moonbeam and his gang will likely be coming next for Californians' meat.