Saturday, May 02, 2015

Lucy Jane Schafer 1933-2015

Lucy Jane (Lewis) Schafer began her journey here on earth on November 21, 1933 and entered into the next leg of her journey on April 25, 2015. She was born to Eldo and Opal (Walker) Lewis and her roots run deep in the Weed and Crowflat areas. Lucy Jane married John Gilbert Schafer on April 28, 1956 in Anapra, NM. Around 1960 they moved to the Lewis family ranch on Crowflat. Lucy Jane was active in the ranching industry. She was a devoted member and officer of the Otero Cowbelles, member and board member of New Mexico Cattle Grower's Association, member of Farm Bureau, and a founding member and officer of the Otero County Cattleman's Association. She received many awards for her dedication and service to all aspects of the industry. She loved the ranch, country people, horses, a good fiddle tune, and dancing.

Lucy Jane was preceded in death by her husband John, her parents Eldo and Opal, one sister Millie Dodge, and her Aunt Cordelia Lewis. She is survived by her three daughters Jonna Lou Schafer & Dale Leith of the family home, Sheri & Ken McCain from Beaumont TX, Rhonda & Earl Mitchell from Clovis NM, one grandson Jason Mitchell from Clovis NM, one sister Ruth Tanner from Pinon NM, one brother Harvey Lewis (Pow Wow) from Las Cruces NM, a brother-in-law Tom Rogers of Kingman AZ and numerous nieces and two nephews.

Services will be conducted at a later date. Memorials may be given to a charity of your choice or to:

Otero Cowbelles
Opal Lewis Memorial Fund
[%] Estelle Bond
PO Box 427
High Rolls New Mexico 88325

Otero County Cattleman's Association
PO Box 595
Weed New Mexico 88354

Professional care and arrangements are being provided by Steed-Todd Funeral Home, 800 E. Manana Blvd., Clovis, New Mexico 88101 (575) 763-5541. You may sign the online guest registry at

Friday, May 01, 2015

Dog Infects Humans With Plague for First Time in US

A plague-infected dog spread the dangerous disease to four Colorado residents, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials told ABC News that this the first report of a dog infecting a human with the plague in the U.S. The dog, a 2-year-old American pit bull terrier, became sick last summer with a fever and jaw rigidity, among other symptoms. The dog's health declined so quickly that it was euthanized the following day at a local vet's office, health officials said. Four days later, the dog's owner entered the hospital with a fever and a bloody cough that became worse over the next few hours, but an initial blood culture was misidentified, according to the CDC report. As the patient's symptoms grew worse, the test was redone and he was found to have been infected with pnumonic plague, according to the CDC report. The remains of the dog were also tested and were found to be positive for the plague bacteria. "Frankly one of the biggest surprises of this outbreak is the source," said John Douglas, of Tri-County Health Department in Colorado and one of the study authors. "Primarily ... dogs don’t get sick at all or they get a minor illness," after being infected with the plague. Janine Runfola, of the Tri-County Health Department in Colorado and lead author of the report, explained that cats are more likely to infect humans with the disease than dogs because they exhibit more symptoms.  ABC

video - BLM, ranchers at odds over cattle grazing in Escalante national monument

Utah ranchers and their Republican allies are rekindling an old battle that began almost 20 years ago when President Bill Clinton designated the vast Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Members of Utah's congressional delegation have teamed up to sponsor legislation aimed at expanding cattle grazing inside the 1.9 million-acre monument. Environmental groups are already waging a fight against the bill. The issue is how much grazing is enough for the ranching families whose businesses stretch back more than a century — and how much is too much for the health of the land. Kanab rancher Hal Hamblin's ancestors have been running cattle in areas that are now within the monument since the late 1800s. "My forefathers and myself and every rancher out here has protected this land," Hamblin said as he piloted his truck past a monument boundary sign and headed toward his government-approved cattle allotment. He worries that government policies have been slowly pushing cattle off the land — ever since Clinton's controversial monument declaration in 1996. He believes it violates promises Clinton made at the time and that it's unfair to ranchers. Environmentalists and the BLM, though, have documented a changing rangeland over the last decade or two. "The grasses are very stunted," said Jim Catlin, of the Sierra Club, as he walked across a cattle allotment inside the monument. "The grazing was at too high an intensity." The deteriorating conditions are a problem in much of the monument, according to Laura Welp, of the Western Watersheds Project, a botanist who previously worked on the monument staff. "They're not going to do anything that's going to cause this to erode or to be destroyed in any way," Hamblin said. Most parties in the controversy agree there's been a serious decline in forage, the nourishing grasses that cows — and some wildlife — depend on. But there is serious disagreement about the causes of the decline and the prescriptions for addressing the problem. Cattle grazing has declined sharply in the years since Clinton designated the monument. According to statistics provided by environmental groups, in 2012 and 2013, ranchers used only 37,028 AUMs (animal unit months) in spite of the fact that the BLM has long permitted up to 76,864 AUMs. (One AUM means that one cow — or a cow and calf — is permitted to graze on BLM land for one month) But the cutbacks are not due to government edicts. Ranchers themselves — in consultation with the BLM — agreed to reduce their cattle grazing within the monument.  With such arguments boiling, Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch are sponsoring legislation that sides with the ranchers. In an interview, Hatch said the bill is intended to reverse the declining trend in grazing that has created worries for many families in southern Utah.  "You're taking away the very livelihood and the very life of these people who pioneered these areas, who understand them better than anybody," Hatch said.  The bill directs the BLM to improve rangeland health and to return grazing to pre-monument levels that were the norm before 1996. Kane County Commissioner Jim Matson strongly supports the bill.  "It's setting a limit that — over time — if you could manage toward and get back to, would really be desirable," Matson said.  Both sides say they want better management, but they don't agree on what that is...more

Here's the KSL video report:

The roots of Western attitudes 
regarding control of public lands

By Rick Wagner
In analyzing recent remarks in The Dailey Sentinel I find it gratifying to see that the good old “Sagebrush Rebellion” is still active. Comment has been spurred by the actions of some in the Legislature to figure out ways to force the federal government to relinquish control over lands in Colorado.

This is a re-emergence of an old argument, the central question being: If, when territories entered into the United States as states, did they agree to forever relinquish control over vast amounts of land to the federal government?

This question has clear geographic boundaries with the dividing line between states mostly managed by the federal government existing west of the border of Colorado and Kansas.

This is a bigger question than most are aware. Of the 10 states that have the least amount of property managed by the federal government, all lie east of Kansas and average about 1.3 percent of their acreage under this type of control.

To the west of Kansas, the top 10 states for federal land ownership, including Alaska and of which Colorado is 10th, average 58 percent under explicit federal control.

...Was there something special about the way Eastern states were brought into the Union versus those on the other side of Kansas? The answer is: not really.

The American Land Council compares the language of the enabling legislation that brought North Dakota into the union in 1889 with the same congressional action that brought Utah into the United States in 1864. There is practically no substantive difference in the language used to bring each into statehood but there is a difference in the result.

When North Dakota was brought into the union around 49 percent of its land was under federal control, that amount is now around 3 percent.

When Utah was subjected to the same process, federal authorities had control of about 86 percent of the state’s lands and still control around 67 percent.

Utah had clarified that it was the state’s position that the federal government agreed to maintain control over this property lands only until they could be reasonably disposed of through private transfer or conveyed to the new state through a resolution to Congress in 1915 — so, not exactly a new position.

Western states continued to be restive over the idea that they were not being allowed to acquire lands controlled by the federal government in their states at anything like the rate done in the Midwest and eastern part of the country.

Defense calls just one witness in trial of Utah’s Recapture Canyon riders; closing arguments Friday

Attorneys for four men charged with conspiracy after organizing a motorized ride up Recapture Canyon a year ago put on a simple defense in court Thursday — calling just one witness. The accused conspirators — San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, blogger Monte Wells, Shane Marian and Franklin Trent Holliday — did not testify in their own defense. Instead, their attorneys called a single witness — San Juan Water Conservancy District water master Ferd Johnson. Johnson testified he gave Lyman and 50 protesters permission to drive up a road that goes about a mile or two into the section of the archeologically significant canyon the Bureau of Land Management had closed in 2007. Federal land managers had granted the local water district a right-of-way to maintain a pipeline that runs along the canyon bottom for a few miles below Recapture Dam. Then, the defense rested. Much of the four-day trial's testimony has focused on the writings and interviews of the accused conspirators before the May 10 ATV rally — both in traditional media and on Facebook. Prosecutors submitted into evidence a 2014 opinion piece Lyman wrote for the Deseret News before the protest. At the time, Lyman wrote on his Facebook page that he was disappointed the newspaper did not publish his invitation to the protest. U.S. attorneys also used recordings from San Juan County Commission meetings to show Lyman talked about the protest as a public official. And they included an interview with KUTV Channel 2, when Lyman told a reporter, "I'm only breaking the law from a federal standpoint."...more

Time to Move on from the Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) in its current form has been around since 1973.  Supposed environmental legislation from the early 70’s (the ESA, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the EPA itself) was pushed and passed by the Nixon administration and has been the foundation for environmental activism ever since.  In 1973 there were 137 species listed under the Act and by August, 2014 the number had grown to 1,560 with over 757 additional species under consideration by 2018. Lately the ESA has been used to limit energy development, or at least make it more expensive.  But it is far more than energy development that is affected.   Agriculture and personal property rights are targets as well.   The overreach by the federal government reaches across the country. The ESA and the other Acts mentioned above come with impressive titles, but the results are not very impressive.  The federal government has gained control of more and more private property, and worked with environmentalists to slow and stop economic development in vast areas of our country costing taxpayers millions of dollars.  And after all of that, the record of saving “endangered species” is incredibly poor. For a good background on the ESA see “It’s time to Endanger the Endangered Species Act”  by Taylor Smith of the Heartland Institute...more

Sister bills address Red River dispute

WICHITA FALLS, Texas - Bills to resolve the border dispute between Texas landowners and the Bureau of Land Management were filed by federal lawmakers on Thursday.
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, introduced House Resolution 2130, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced Senate Bill 1153. The Red River Private Property Protection Acts outlines specific measures to protect Texas property owners’ rights.
Those include:
  • Commissioning a survey of the entire 116-mile stretch of contested area along the Red River using the gradient boundary survey method developed and backed by the Supreme Court to find the proper boundary between Texas and Oklahoma.
  • Ordering that the survey be conducted by Licensed State Land Surveyors chosen by the Texas General Land Office, and the final survey must ultimately be approved by the State.
  • Allowing landowners who hold the proper right, title, and/or interest in the contested area to appeal any further public domain claims by BLM through an Administrative Law Judge.
  • Preventing any contested land from being included in the Resource Management Plan until the survey is complete and private land is no longer subject to an appeal.
  • Requiring BLM to sell off the surface rights of the remaining publicly owned land at fair market value after the proper boundary line is located and settled. The bill also explicitly states that the interest of the states and the sovereignty rights of the federally recognized Indian tribes north of the Texas State boundary line will not be affected.

Senate bill aims to lure Dems unhappy with Obama water rule

Senate critics of President Obama's hot-button water rule unveiled legislation today that would send U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers back to the drawing board. The bipartisan "Federal Water Quality Protection Act" was crafted with hopes of wooing moderate Democrats who've been getting an earful on the rule back home but are reluctant to oppose the president. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) filed S. 1140 with the backing of Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia and eight Republican co-sponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The bill would require the agencies to propose a new rule defining which streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. The law's reach has been muddled for 15 years by two confusing Supreme Court decisions. Under the legislation, the new rule would have to adhere to a series of principles relating to what types of waters can and cannot be covered, and what types of factors can be used to justify federal oversight. The measure would also require that the proposal be subject to a broader range of regulatory reviews than the current rule went through, including ones for impacts on small businesses and unfunded mandates...more

Lake Mead water level falls to a landmark low, and is likely to get worse

For Western states enduring a debilitating drought, the news is bone-dry bad: Anemic Lake Mead has hit a historic low level. The surface of the sprawling reservoir outside Las Vegas late Tuesday afternoon fell to 1,079.76 feet above sea level — nearly 140 feet below capacity — as the prolonged drought continues to evaporate the beleaguered Colorado River system. Mead’s chalky white shoreline is advancing as the waters quickly recede. For California, Arizona and Nevada, which draw water from Mead, a grim situation is about to get worse: Officials estimate that Mead will drop to the unprecedented low elevation of 1,073 feet as the hottest summer months bear down, with less snowpack in the Rocky Mountains to recharge the Colorado River. “We’re only at 38 percent full. Lake Mead hasn’t been this low since we were filling it in the 1930s,” said Rose Davis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Las Vegas. “All the way around, this is bad news. There’s not much good to say about 15 years of drought, no matter how you look at it.” Lake Mead, which meanders miles into the parched Nevada desert, held back by the Hoover Dam, is drawing closer to the 1,075-foot level, below which officials would declare a water emergency and begin rationing water allotments to Nevada and Arizona. The more the water level drops, the greater the chances that Hoover Dam’s hydroelectric output might be seriously affected, federal officials say. Federal forecasters originally predicted that the Colorado River would flow at 71 percent capacity this summer, but they now say the figure could fall to 50 percent or lower...more

Wyoming congressional delegation co-sponsors bills to block protections for sage grouse

Wyoming’s congressional delegation is supporting a legislative effort to block federal protection of the greater sage grouse. U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso are co-sponsoring a bill by Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado that would retain state oversight of the species for six years — regardless of an upcoming decision on whether the birds warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. “The last thing states need are more one-size-fits-all regulations from Washington that won’t help species and will devastate local economies,” Barrasso said. Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis is co-sponsoring a similar bill in the House by another Republican, Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah. Another recent move by Congress accomplishes nearly the same thing though for less time. The Senate late last year passed a budget rider that will keep the greater sage grouse under state oversight by withholding funding from Fish and Wildlife to implement a threatened or endangered listing for the birds...more

Wildlife Corridor would stretch from the Everglades to the Gulf

With Florida now passing New York in population, there's a push for a new corridor right up the center of the state. It's not a highway, but some believe it's even more critical to the state's future. It's called the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Supporters made a 70-day trek on the proposed route to bring attention to the idea. It would be a continuous stretch of green from the Everglades to the Gulf. They say it could aid the success and survival of species like the Black Bear and Florida Panther that thrive by ranging across hundreds of miles. "This is a real opportunity that we can still achieve," says Carlton Ward, a Tampa wildlife photographer who helped lead the expedition earlier this spring. They want the legislature to buy endangered land for preservation and negotiate conservation easements with ranchers to keep millions of acres in cattle and crops, rather than houses and roads...more

Reps say wolf management should be turned over to states

U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse of Washington, Greg Walden of Oregon and Chris Stewart of Utah introduced legislation in April that would take gray wolves off the federal endangered species list in their states and turn management of wolves over to state agencies. In a separate letter to Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Newhouse and 36 other representatives, all but one Republicans, asked that gray wolves be delisted nationally, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed in 2013. At that time, the wildlife service said gray wolves didn’t warrant listing because they are not a distinct species as defined in the Endangered Species Act. The ruling has not been implemented. The letter to Jewell said the “uncontrolled and unmanaged growth of wolf populations” has had a devastating effect on ranching and hunting. The failure of USFWS to follow through on its 2013 proposal has decreased the “social tolerance” for wolves and hurts states’ ability to manage wolves, Newhouse said in the letter. “We believe that state governments are fully qualified to responsibly manage gray wolf populations and are better able to meet the needs of local communities, ranchers, livestock and wildlife populations,” Newhouse said. The legislation and letter indicate the continuing political, social and economic strife that accompany government efforts to recover species on the brink. In the West, wolf populations have rebounded and spread rapidly since the mid-1990s, but ranchers believe they’ve unfairly shouldered the burden through attacks on livestock and the cost of non-lethal defensive measures...more

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Colorado preschooler barred from eating Oreos at lunch

A Colorado mother said her daughter's preschool teacher barred her from eating the Oreo cookies packed in her lunch because they are not "nutritious." Pearson said Natalee still had the cookies, which had been packed along with a ham and cheese sandwich and a stick of string cheese, along with a note from her teacher. The note read:

"Dear Parents, It is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch. This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable, and a healthy snack from home, along with milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it. Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack. This is a very important part of our program and we need everyone's participation."

"I don't agree with it at all," Pearson told KMGH-TV. "They don't provide lunch for my daughter. I provide lunch," Pearson said. "It's between me and the doctor in terms of what's healthy for her." An Aurora Public Schools spokeswoman said Natalee was offered a healthy alternative to the cookies...more

I just sent Sharon to town to get some...

Protecting sage grouse could hurt military, report says

Efforts to protect the greater sage grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act could hurt training operations at numerous U.S. military facilities in the West, according to a new report by the Army. The report looked at the impact of protecting sage grouse on the Yakima Training Center in Washington; Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada; the Wyoming National Guard; Tooele Army Depot and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. It found that protecting the birds would restrict the availability of training lands; limit the size of training lands and ranges; restrict the use of firing points; and impose restrictions on future development and construction. The greatest impacts would occur at the Yakima Training Center, a 327,000-acre facility in central Washington that provides desert-like training conditions for the U.S. Army that includes live fire of ammunition and maneuver training. The Yakima center supports one of four populations of greater sage grouse in the state, within a 77,000-acre preserve, and already operates in a way to minimize impacts on the birds, according to the report released this week by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment. But a listing under the Endangered Species Act would impact "the ability to meet the training mission," the report said. If the greater sage grouse is listed, 11 gunnery ranges would be shut down from Feb. 1 to June 15 of each year, among numerous other restrictions, it said...more

Would grouse protections hurt national defense?

The House Armed Services Committee will vote today on a defense authorization bill with contentious Republican language to postpone Endangered Species Act protections for the greater sage grouse, sparking debate over whether wildlife protections are a threat to military readiness. Language from Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) in the National Defense Authorization Act would block a Fish and Wildlife Service decision on whether the sage grouse needs federal protection in any states that have their own plans in place to protect the bird's sagebrush habitat. It would also stymie a broad effort by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service to bolster sage grouse protections across tens of millions of acres of Western rangelands. The land-use plans aim to convince FWS that the ground-dwelling bird -- whose population of breeding males has dropped by more than half over the past several years -- needs no additional protections. Bishop said his grouse rider would block Obama administration restrictions that are undermining national security. "Almost unbelievably, sage grouse restrictions, based on dubious or outdated science, are currently costing the Department of Defense millions of dollars and impacting critical training and support activities at numerous installations across the country," Bishop said in a statement yesterday. "If the Obama administration lists the bird under ESA, the needs of our military will be subordinate to an extreme environmental agenda. Our military personnel, who we ask so much of, deserve better." That view was echoed Monday in an op-ed in Roll Call by three former servicemen who warned that a federal listing for sage grouse would "significantly impair the readiness and effectiveness of a number of military installations, and the military units assigned to these sorts of camps and bases."
Wildlife advocates are challenging those claims. Dozens of environmental groups yesterday sent a letter to House members warning that Bishop's grouse rider is "one of the most egregious political attacks on the ESA in this Congress" and would do nothing to enhance military readiness. They're backing an amendment by Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) to strike Bishop's language from the bill...more

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Attorney calls easements a 'government land grab'

In recent years, conservation easements—agreements between landowners and nonprofit organizations—have gained popularity as a way to protect wildlife, provide various kinds of tax exemptions as well as prevent land and mineral development with an eye toward permanent preservation. At the same time, there has been concerns these easements have caused erosion of local tax bases and property devaluations, along with imposed management restrictions, arbitrary contractual language and fears of close relationships between multinational environmental groups, federal agencies and land trusts. Hageman, as keynote speaker, said there needs to be more public discussion about the value of conservation easements and the implications they bring to counties in terms of taxation and long-term property management issues. Those issues include partial ownership of the land by the grantor of the easement while relinquishing the right to use the land for development. “It often limits all development,” Hageman said. “That includes mineral development and that sort of thing.” Easements are contracts, and the language that is used, Hageman said, will dictate how the contract is enforced. Often, the easement can be transferrable by the grantee, and sometimes, the permission of the landowner-grantee is not needed. “That means you may very well find yourself as the landowner being a partner with someone you never entered into that contract with. That can be the federal government, it can be another land trust, all different things,” Hageman said. If the land is sold, the easement remains in perpetuity. “It doesn’t matter who the land is sold to. It runs with the land,” Hageman said. “It is held in perpetuity. In Wyoming, we interpret that to be 999 years. All future landowners are bound by the terms of that deed.” There are tax incentives associated with easements and disasters, too, Hageman said. Hageman said easements devalue the largest single holding farmers and ranchers have. “The reason there is a tax consequence is that there is a difference between the value of the before the easement is granted as compared with the value after it’s granted,” Hageman said. “Easements are intentionally designed to devalue your property.”...more

Some 10 million acres are now held in easements by 1,700 different land trust organizations around the nation.

BLM: Lack of precipitation a bad sign for horses, cows

Diminishing water on the range could spell disaster for wild horses this summer, according to a Bureau of Land Management representative. Speaking to the county’s natural resources board, Rich Adams, BLM Tuscarora Field Office manager, said it’s not the lack of feed that has staff concerned, but the drying creeks and springs. “I think we’re going to be reaching some really critical issues with water and horses,” he said. “… If it really turns bone dry, we’re probably going to end up tipping horses over because of a lack of water.” BLM has continued hauling water to guzzler troughs and rounding up horses in overcrowded areas, though a lack of space in short-term and long-term facilities has made gathers problematic. Regardless of wild horses, the drought has affected ranchers, many of whom have already voluntarily reduced their grazing on public land this season. Some allotments are up to 70 percent nonuse, according to Adams. “Later this summer, we may be facing one of those points where there just ain’t enough water to support the number of head out there and we’ll have to work with permittees to deal with that accordingly,” Adams said. Ron Torell, president of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, said operators in northeastern Nevada have been forced to export or sell cattle and he expects that trend to continue so long as the drought persists. “It’s getting to be an ugly situation,” he said. “… Our numbers are lower than they’ve ever been.” Torell said cattlemen have taken voluntary nonuse because it’s good for the land, but also because if there’s little feed on the ground it can’t sustain many cows...more

Environmental groups spar over wind energy, prairie chicken protection

As dozens of birders from across the country attend an Oklahoma festival intended to bring attention to the plight of dwindling prairie grouse populations, a difference in views on wind energy between the local Audubon Society and the Sierra Club has come into focus. Via email to Oklahoma birders, John Kennington, longtime Tulsa Audubon Society Chapter president and an organizer of the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival underway in Woodward and Pawhuska through Sunday, challenged the Sierra Club’s position presented recently in state electric utility upgrade hearings and on its Beyond Coal Campaign website. “If the proposal outlined (by the Sierra Club) is approved, we will see an exponential increase in the number of wind turbines across Oklahoma. The impact on lesser prairie chickens, eagles, other raptors, migratory birds and other wildlife, particularly bats, will be devastating,” Kennington wrote. “I really hate to see people who care about our environment disagree, but many of us feel this is a very misguided position.” While he said he appreciates concerns about pollution and climate change, he argued that grasping with both hands for wind or solar technologies without pushing for mitigation of the negative aspects of those developments is not the answer, either...more

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Water reality grim for Owens Valley ranchers

The numbers tell the story. The listing of Owens Valley water uses indicates a reduction across the board, but none as draconian as the 66-percent reduction in irrigation water provided to area agriculture, down from 49,000 acre-feet in a typical year to 16,500 acre-feet this runoff year. “We can’t beat up on the city,” said Lone Pine cattleman Tom Noland. “It just doesn’t look like the water’s there.” Ranchers dependent on surface water will be hit the hardest, county Water Department Director Bob Harrington told the Water Commissioners at their April 23 meeting. Besides praying for rain, area ranchers’ hope for survival may well depend on the Supervisors’ workshop as they have cut their herds to the quick. As Scott Kemp put it, ranchers are trying to preserve the genetics of their cattle. Rebuilding a herd is a multi-year process; having a proven breeding program is the beginning. Kemp and Noland agree on what has to be done. “Take water off the Owens Lake,” Noland told the Water Commissioners. “What do people here value? We can put up with a little dust.” In an earlier phone conversation, Noland acknowledged that reducing the base flow on the LORP could free up irrigation water, provided the Memorandum of Understanding partners could agree to a one-year change. Kemp is more blunt. “The EPA will sue if they (LADWP) don’t meet the standards (on the dry lake); everybody else will sue if they don’t meet their obligations on the Lower Owens…. The only people who come out on top are the attorneys…. There are a lot of good ideas, but getting everybody to agree….” The reality for ranchers is grim. Herds have been cut by as much as 70 percent. Kemp’s were cut 40-percent prior to this year; now he’s looking at cutting that number in half. Mark Lacey’s operation had private lands near Bridgeport and Crowley Lake as safety valves, but now those grazing fields can’t support significant numbers...more

Back to bloggin'

The Cowboy Reunion and the NMSU rodeo are over, so will get back to postin' later today.

We had a great turnout for the reunion...folks came from California, Utah, Oklahoma and Texas.

Colorado sues federal government over fracking

Colorado has joined Wyoming and North Dakota in challenging the US federal government’s rules to regulate fracking on federal public lands, which were issued in March. The lawsuit argues that the new rules supersede the state’s authority and “invade” the jurisdiction of the state regulatory bodies. Colorado follows Wyoming and North Dakota in opposing the federal government’s legislation, all three states have questioned whether the BLM has the authority to impose a regulatory framework over the states for hydraulic fracturing. “Colorado has robust regulations on oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracturing, and our agency regulators are doing a good job implementing them,” said the state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. “I believe it is important to test BLM’s novel assertion of regulatory authority in an area that has been traditionally — and in this case expressly—reserved for the states. “To be clear, this case is not about whether hydraulic fracturing should or should not be regulated. It should be regulated, and Colorado is doing so,” Coffman explained...more

Dam Removal Petition Delivered to White House

Last year, the award-winning film DamNation swept through the river-running community, asking us to rethink the utility of over 40,000 aging dams across the U.S. Meanwhile, in August 2014, the final blasts took down the last portion of the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam on Washington’s Elwha River, completing the largest dam removal project in American history. Within weeks, Chinook salmon were spotted above the former dam site. The successful removal of the Elwha dams was a testament to DamNation‘s thesis: if you free them, rivers will heal. Now the filmmakers have taken the next step, joining activists and employees of Patagonia to deliver a 70,000-signature petition to President Obama and his top environmental advisers, including Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell. The petition asked the White House to remove obsolete dams, starting with four dams on the lower Snake River, which are particularly harmful to salmon populations. Learn more about DamNation‘s trip to Washington D.C. by watching the video above, or visit their websiteSource

Drilling Deeper For Water Amid Drought

SANTA MARIA VALLEY, Calif. - The drought is keeping local drilling companies busy called out to drill drying up water wells deeper. Farmers, growers and ranchers in the eastern Santa Maria Valley are feeling the effects of the drought. "Dry farming doesn't grow strawberries", says local grower and farmer Randy Sharer, "if we run out of water, we've got a whole bunch of people that work for us who are going to be looking for jobs." Water wells in the eastern Santa Maria Valley are running dry and that means drilling deeper to get that precious resource. "We have to have water to farm, we manage every gallon as efficiently as possible, but when you have wells that go dry, you need to", Sharer says, "its just more improvement, more capital investment that we need to make to be modern agriculturists in a competitive market." Sharer says says government, the public and agriculture should use this historic dry period to work together to adopt more efficient water use and storage policies...more

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

You cain’t miss it

By Julie Carter

Whether is dark or light, day or night, cowboys have an unerring sense of direction.
Seldom will you find them walking but their inner GPS serves them well as they navigate by horse or by pickup.

Not long ago, a cowboy was set to go to a roping in a town about 400 miles from home. He called a friend in that same town to get directions to the arena.

“No problem,” was the response, “You just take one of them roads just outside of town, go down couple miles, and it’s right there. You cain’t miss it.”

There is no telling how many miles, for decades, have been traveled on that very same reliable information. The topography of the land is always figured into the information given and is clearly thought to be helpful.

In the flatland farm country where there are miles and miles of wheat, the driving instruction will almost always include: “You just go down to that wheat field, turn west, and it’s right there. You cain’t miss it.”

In that same part of the world, directions could include “You go down past the elevator, down to where that feller was changing a tire last time I was down that way, and take a hard left. You cain’t miss it.”

Rodeo cowboys are no exception to this phenomenon. One set of ropers had a plan to go to the million-dollar roping in Las Vegas. Their directions were to head to El Paso and take a right, with the guarantee they couldn’t miss Las Vegas.

Another likely pair went to a roping down the road a ways. They had gotten safely to the correct town but had no clue as to the whereabouts of the arena. They, collectively, as it took both of them to form a reasonably intelligent thought, hit on the idea of just finding a pickup and horse trailer on the move and follow that rig to the arena.

It wasn’t long until a suspiciously authentic looking rig with just the right specifications came by. The semi-lost duo pulled out from the local Dairy Queen parking lot and fell in behind the authentic looking cowboy rig.

The targeted rig stopped at the Quik Stop, stopped at the tire store, stopped at the feed store, the bank, the Co-op, and then finally headed out of town. The trailing ropers were quite relieved because it was nearing time for the roping to start. They followed him along until he pulled off the highway and up to a ranch gate.

When they walked up to his truck and asked him if he was headed to the roping, the man advised them he had just taken his horse to the vet and was now on his way home.

However, he did give them directions to the arena. “You just go on back up this here road a ways, take that left by that big oak tree and go on down a couple miles. You cain’t miss it.”

Do you think the fellas at NASA in Houston told the astronauts something similar?

 “You just strap this rocket to the backside of your spacecraft, and just point that sucker toward Mars. It’s right up there a ways. You cain’t miss it.”

Julie can be reached for comment at

The snakes are crawling

The rise of Beasts
The snakes are crawling
Of hitches, conures, shoulder bands, and loving flies
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Leonard has been sick so it has been me and the iron horse the last several days.
The water storage at our Monterrey Well has been drained and repairs have been underway so it can be refilled before rotating cattle arrive. We poured concrete around the base last week and I was trying to finish an internal protective coating to extend the life of the old water storage built in 1940. I shot the inside with a nasty asphalt paint and was proceeding to shoot the outside with our color preference when Matt Matsler arrived. He had come out to check on Leonard and was making a water run at his request when he found me.
I was cussing the airless sprayer.
Matt helped me make several moves around the tank and was in the process of leaving when we saw the snake. He was 60 yards away when we spotted him. He stretched nearly half the width of the county road coming by the well and corral. He was going somewhere in a hurry.
Matt stopped to look at him as he drove away. The snake proceeded on his journey and I went back to work. We protect bull snakes and welcome their presence.
Rattlesnakes are another matter. After the subzero freeze of 2011, rattlesnake encounters dropped significantly. From an average of 55 or 60 a year, the number dropped to eight the summer of 2011 and recovered stepwise to about two dozen last summer. This spring has been an indicator that things might be changing yet more. A total of five have already been encountered and they have been big snakes. One of them might be as big as any snake we have ever seen on the ranch. Two big snakes were also seen at Alamo Basin with one of them having 13 rattles and a button. Another snake Leonard found coming off the divide above the Homestead rivaled the big snake.
This has all taken place with morning temperatures in the low ‘40s with one morning dropping below 27 that nipped grapevines, Leonard’s garden sets, and the pecans at the headquarters. It was cold.
In any case, the Crotalus sightings suggest it is again time to hang the felts and start wearing summer straws. That will last, of course, until the next big wind.
Then, it will be time to remember why felt hats are appropriate … regardless of season.
            Back to Henry
            I continue to be amazed at how little we learned in American history.
            Tell me your high school version of Ms. Strackbein taught you about Federalists andAnti-federalists and I’ll put Cholula on one of my straw hats and eat it. We never learned the real story, but we were served up canned rhetoric as if it was packed off the mountain engraved in stone.
            Yes, I continue to study Patrick Henry.
            He was one of the Anti-federalists that didn’t trust big government. In his scarlet cape and black suit, he would take the floor and confound the opposition with his logic and his forceful arguments. His stance on states’ rights stood in stark juxtaposition to the Federalists led by Hamilton, Madison, and Washington.
            Suspicion is a virtue as long as its object is the public good, and as long as it stays within proper bound … guard jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel,” he counseled.
            He didn’t trust the coronation of a federal government that posed a threat to the states. He didn’t trust monarchs regardless how they arrived. And, he wouldn’t support a Constitution that left the citizen out of the pillars of its foundation. The words he trusted were his own, and those that remain in record are haunting reminders of his distrust for any federalized government.
            As one of the big states, his home state of Virginia was critical to the ratification of the Constitution. His influence was key to its success or failure. In fact, his influence was so profound that Hamilton and Madison exchanged letters urging the prayerful need for his earthly departure.
In the end, Madison’s influence and campaign for ratification succeeded. The fear Henry had has come to fruition. It was justified. The bureaus and federal Privy Council agencies created by the ruling monarchs of the federal government long ago arrived and helped diminish the influence of the states.
In fact, it was the states he held in such high regard and referenced when he spoke … “United we stand, divided we fall, let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.”
That brings us to Henry’s most famous quote. If he were alive today, would he change a single word in the phrase of which we were incorrectly taught as being implicit in the constitutional process?
His words were … “Give me Liberty or give me death!
Of hitches, conures, shoulder bands, and loving flies
The current crop of Crotalus, rattlesnakes for you city folks, isn’t all that will require watchful vigilance as the weather warms. A whole ark of esoteric species is hitting the endangered charts this summer.
In her quest to maintain surveillance of the Federal Register and its unexpected threats to lingering liberty of folks who have to use natural resources, Rachel sent a summary of ten new species being swept along in the endangered species avalanche and expanding fiefdom this week. In the announcement of 90 day findings of various petitions to list eight new species, reclassify one, and delist one more, the public is again told that actions provided by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are fully warranted.
The list includes species that school children will likely be told have equal rights to their existence. It includes the clear lake hitch, the Egyptian tortoise, the long-tailed chinchilla, the golden conure, the Mojave shoulder band snail, the northern spotted owl, the relict dace, the San Joaquin Valley giant flower loving fly, the western pond turtle, and the yellow cedar. In addition to those organisms, the Center for Biological Diversity announced its intention to sue over climate change threats to another natural wonder, the glacier stonefly.
Hold on just a second another announcement just arrived … Hmmm.
Well, okay, it seems the glacier stonefly has more company. The latest report this hour serves notice to reset the habitat footprint for the blue headed Zuni sucker. That must be what Piscado Creek must claim as a fish when it has enough water to flow by the quaint village of Ramah, New Mexico.
The rise and care of Beasts
Does anyone not think that Patrick Henry would be floored if he learned of the stranglehold of ESA? Likewise, how would he react to the colossal danger the network of federal agencies now poses to the Union? His take might be like so many of us. Not only have the promises of basic liberty been undermined, but the American experiment is in jeopardy.
We continue to try to act objective and adult about our plight while the tyrannical forces around us expand and become more powerful. There is no comparison to this debacle and what the Federalist or Anti-federalist actually debated 232 years ago. The thing they agreed upon was that the proper role of government was to scrutinize and govern the state of the citizen. What they disagreed upon was the center stage for proper governance. In that matter, Henry’s demand to avoid centralized power seems to be correct.
His warning continued, “It is natural for man to indulge in the illusion of hope and pride. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren (federalism) till she transforms us into beasts.”
Like it or not the Hamilton, Madison, and Washington’s promises of checks and balances have become false promises. Ultimately, the federalist siren lured us into modern calamity and the jewel of liberty was ransacked. The independent citizen has been extracted from the model and, in his place … the greatest body of governing elite in the history of the world has emerged.
Today, we are going to get our hands dirty again.
We are rebuilding a loading chute in order to handle cattle with more ease. Our concern is for both the cultured beasts of our charge and ourselves. As ranchers, we stand in the spotlight and criticism has become part of the package. We know it all too well.
Like Henry, though, we trust our words more than a body of bureaucrats who make qualitative assessments of our existence. As we go about our day, our attention will be directed at our work, but … we will guard jealous attention toward the snakes that might harm us.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “I am not paranoid about rattlesnakes, but … I don’t like them.”

DuBois column

We have the Bundy Ranch, Smokey's declining badges and the War on Meat…


The confrontation on the Bundy Ranch is back in the news, with enviro groups and a key Congresswoman pushing the BLM to file charges and remove the cattle.

At a recent budget hearing, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) grilled BLM’s Director.  "Mr. Bundy and his band of armed thugs are dangerous. They have committed acts that are criminal by threatening federal employees,” said McCollum.  "They should be held accountable. They should be prosecuted", she continued and then asked, "What steps have been taken to stop this misuse of grazing without a permit and threatening federal employees who are just doing their jobs?"

The BLM can’t directly respond because the current investigation is being handled by the FBI and the Justice Department.

Elsewhere, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has written to the Secretary Of Interior and the U.S. Attorney General saying the fed’s silence has been “both deafening and deeply troubling.”  The letter further states, “Bundy has violated the laws of the legislative branch, ignored the orders of the judicial branch to enforce those laws, and defied efforts by the executive branch to enforce three court orders.”  They requested a public update by April 5, the one-year anniversary of the confrontation.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal is also expressing frustration with BLM’s lack of response to their FOIA requests.  In a recent editorial the paper said they had “submitted multiple public records requests to the BLM under the Freedom of Information Act, but the agency has stalled and stonewalled the newspaper.”  The paper also says, “The longer a government refuses to answer basic questions about public business, the more suspicious taxpayers become.”

It has also been reported that PEER has filed suit because of the non-response to their FOIA requests.

All of this does make one wonder.  Or, as the Nevada paper editorializes, “What is the BLM trying to hide?”

Blue Smokey LEOs

Forest Service law enforcement officers are crying the blues over budget cuts.  As wildfire suppression consumes more of the budget less is left for the non-fire employees.  The Forest Service budget justification for 2016 says the number of LEOs will decline from 813 in 2015 to 680 in 2016.  The documents says the Forest Service will prioritize for life-threatening emergencies with an emphasis on drug trafficking, “particularly in California and along the Southwest and northern borders.”

“We’re basically the police in the woods,” says Matthew Valenta, a union spokesman for the group.  “Our primary focus is resource protection, but we also do vehicle stops, DUIs…recreation vehicle enforcement and crimes against persons,” said Valenta.  In a letter to the U.S. Senate he said the budget issue is affecting their ability to conduct investigations, “from minor infractions to serious felonies such as homicide, rape, assaults,…domestic disputes, robbery, gang activity.”

We find ourselves in a situation where poor management by the Forest Service results in more, larger and hotter fires, which results in more spending for wild fires and less funds for non-fire programs.  One causes the other.  The poor management is not all the Forest Service's fault.  Congress passes the laws, enviros file the lawsuits and judges (appointed by the President and approved by the Senate) issue the decisions.  The whole thing is a mess and instead of fixing the real problems they want to change how fire fighting is funded.

And why is Forest Service law enforcement placing such an emphasis on the Southwest border?  It appears the whole border has or is being designated as Wilderness, Wildlife Refuges or National Monuments where they can’t go at all or have limited access.  Why place an emphasis on policing the border with Mexico when the administration says it’s “safer than ever”?  What does the Forest Service know that the President and his Secretary of Homeland Security either don’t know or aren’t telling us?

The spokesman says their top priority is “resource protection” yet they are involved in all kinds of non-resource infractions both on and off federal property. 

Instead of sticking to business they’ve built a bureaucracy, outside the purview of line managers, with their own chain of command at USDA.  And of course the copycats at Interior are doing the same.
Greenhouse gas from federal land
You knew it was coming sooner or later.  The Wilderness Society and the Center for American Progress have issued a report that says twenty percent of all greenhouse gasses are emitted from federal land and are calling for a full inventory of the sources.  "Any comprehensive strategy to address climate change in this country should account for these emissions and present a strategy to reduce them, as well,” says one of the researchers.
This report is aimed at the oil, gas and coal industries.  But have you heard of methane?  You can guess what’s coming next.
Fizzle on the sizzle
I’ve written before about the War on Meat, primarily through the dietary guidelines and the school lunch program.  Whether you are producing meat animals on federal, state or private lands, these programs affect you.
Now comes EPA to the battle.  Joe Roybal at BEEF magazine has discovered an EPA grant for $15,000 to the University of California at Riverside.  The purpose of the grant is to develop “Technology for the Reduction of Particulate Matter Emissions for Residential BBQs” and is part of the nationwide “National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet.”   Got that?  Actually they are to develop a system for your grill that will prevent fat from catching on fire.  Burning fat causes air pollution don’t you know.
I was gonna suggest you not invite any EPA employees to your barbeque.  But that's probably not enough protection.  I'll bet they've got a whole fleet of EPA Drones outfitted to detect illegal sizzling and if caught you will be fined for the first offense and lose your government permit to cook on your own property for any subsequent violations.  Talk about your Cruel and Unusual Punishment, that would be it.

USDA weighing your babies

Its not our calves or lambs they’ll be weighing, its our children.

Is this some evil study concocted by a team of bored bureaucrats?  Nope, its Michelle Obama who pushed this, along with your friendly Congressmen.  The study is required by section 223 of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by Mrs. Obama and passed in 2010.  U.S.D.A. will be measuring and weighing children in professional and home childcare facilities.  According to a Federal Register notice, they will also collect data on the “nutritional quality of foods offered, physical activity, sedentary activity, and barriers to” healthy food and exercise in childcare.

All of this fits under the War on Obesity, and based on the government’s own figures, it’s not working.  The Center for Disease Control reports that obesity among adults is 27.7 percent, up from 25.5 percent in 2008. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.  Who were the only ones who made progress?  Those under six who hadn’t entered the government’s clutches yet.  The rate of obesity among 2 to 5 year-olds decreased from 13.9% to 8.4%.

They are attacking our industry and invading family privacy, but its all for naught as their hectoring our citizens with their centrally planned dietary dictates is simply not working.

Till next time, be a nuisance to the devil and don’t forget to check that cinch.

Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner ( and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.

A version of this column appeared in the April issues of  the New Mexico Stockman and the Livestock Market Digest.

Baxter Black - Making Ol' Bay famous

Picture this; a panoramic background, the green Okanogan Valley, pines and quakies with contrasting colors of a splendid autumn springtime. The artistic eye discerns a lone riderless horse, a bay with 4 white socks and a blaze standing, reins hanging down, and a white flag hooked over the saddle horn. As the flag comes into focus, the mind begins to dissect ' is that a pair of tighty whiteys?"

It was one of those days. Craig spotted an old cow that had been evading them. She was crossing the meadow heading back into the woods, Craig dug the spurs into Ol' Bay to cut off the uncooperative cow.

The grass was moist but the meadow was firm ground. The chase was on! She took a turn to the east and disappeared into a drain ditch, then climbed out the other side. Ol' Bay hesitated at the tip of the lip then slid down to the muddy bottom of the ditch. Craig's mind was operating on autopilot, processing decisions in milli-seconds, enacting them in trilli-seconds!

The opposite side was too steep to climb straight up. A trajectory correction was engaged 30 degrees to the starboard, aiming to climb the bank at an angle. The horse went down and rolled back over Craig. Our good cowboy pushed the horse on over his pinned body. Ol' Bay's hooves hit the ground and he fired himself back up-right, unintentionally hooking the saddle horn under Craig's pant leg! Which, of course, in turn, tore itself up through his blue jeans, sliding under his Fruit of the Loom's, ripping out the zipper, and pulling the already stretched underwear through the cavernous gash left by his torn jeans.

During the tumult, the saddle horn snagged the elastic waistband and stretched it till it broke and freed the flopping cowboy! As he fell back he came unhooked, untangled and disrobed and rolled to the bottom of the muddy ditch.


Trail Dust - Spanish passion for noble rank helped king colonize New Mexico

by Marc Simmons

...In centuries past, Spaniards too had a passion for titles, perhaps even more so than Englishmen. Many families first gained noble rank during the medieval wars with the Moors as a reward for extraordinary military service. In the 12th century, for example, two brothers named López led an assault on the Moorish-held Portuguese city of Chaves and captured it.

A grateful king made them knights and ordered that their name should, thereafter, be López de Chaves. The brothers’ descendants long afterward helped explore the New World, and the name Chaves (or Chavez) is a common one now in New Mexico and Chihuahua.

Practically every Spanish commoner hoped someday to advance at least to the lowest noble rank, that of hidalgo. The term comes from the contraction of three words, hijo de algo, meaning simply, “son of something.” Those who could save enough were able to buy the title from the king. But most poor people had to count on winning it through some valued deed.

Hidalgos were exempt from taxes, they couldn’t be arrested for debt, like the common folk, and they could pass on the title to a male heir. Among status-conscious Spaniards, hidalgo rank was much coveted.

...When Juan de Oñate was preparing to march north in the closing years of the 16th century and settle New Mexico, he ran into trouble enlisting colonists. Spaniards well knew the dangers and hardships they would find on the Rio Grande frontier and, hence, were not eager to sign on.

The king lent a hand by proclaiming that every man who joined Oñate and stuck it out in New Mexico for five years would be made a hidalgo. Recruitment sped up after that.

...Such noblemen were permitted to add the title “Don” before their first name, such as Don José on Don Manuel. The usual explanation is that the term Don comes from combining the first letters in the phrase, de origin noble. However, Fay Blake of Albuquerque, a scholar of Jewish history, informs me that it may actually derive from the Hebrew word Adonas, which means “Our Lord.”

Man’s best friend may have been the Neanderthal’s downfall

Why did Neanderthals, our ancestral cousins, disappear from the Earth? There are already plenty of theories, from climate change to lack of intelligence. Now you can add dogs to the list. Pat Shipman, a retired professor of anthropology at Penn State, used new anthropological findings to argue in her new book, “The Invaders,” that the partnership between modern humans and their domesticated wolf-dogs hastened the extinction of Neanderthals.  Modern humans were physically smaller and weaker than Neanderthals, but were still able to push their larger cousins out of the way. Shipman says they did this through cooperative hunting with the wolf-dogs, otherwise knows as canids, in which they shared the tasks of finding prey, chasing it down and killing it.  Cooperation benefitted both partners with more efficient hunting and less risk, she says, which gave humans the edge to outcompete the Neanderthals as the apex predator on land.  The fossils of more than 40 individual wolf-dogs — which can be distinguished from wolves thanks to new research methods — have been identified from various sites of modern human existence in Central and Eastern Europe. None turn up where Neanderthals existed, Shipman says...more

The author is mistaken.  The Neanderthals are not extinct. They've found a home in Washington D.C. and are working full time to bring the wolf back.  So keep your wolf-dog healthy and handy.  You shouldn't need any help in selecting the prey.