Saturday, May 09, 2015

Plans to turn old Roswell dairy into medical marijuana farm

The Roswell plant used to process milk may now be used to process marijuana plants, but not everyone is on board. For decades, Nature's Dairy on South Main Street in Roswell produced local milk. It closed its' doors last year. Now, the building might become a medical marijuana production facility. Next week, county officials will consider rezoning the property. It has a lot of people in Roswell talking. "I think it's awesome," said Eleanor Johnson. "I'm sure once it gets going it will probably provide some jobs. Marijuana has been a miracle in my life. The medical cannabis, it is a miracle. The pain relief that I get, I was just telling someone the arthritis I have. I can go outside and smoke a small - basically the amount of one inhale off a cigarette - and have instant relief." "I'm not in favor of that," said Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh. "I don't think it's a good thing for Roswell. I think any activity like this puts anyone associated with it at serious civil liability, and I believe it is just a matter of time until there is some type of lawsuit, and it's not going to go well. Because this substance is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration yet; it's supposedly being used to treat medical conditions - that will not go well." Some say its location near the city is an issue, too...more

Alright, we can head to Roswell, get high, sit under those golden arches and chomp down on a McHorse burger.

Poor Roswell.  The left doesn't want a slaughter plant and the right doesn't want a marijuana facility.

Seventy-five years ago you could have started either business and success or failure would have depended on consumer satisfaction.  Now it depends on gov't and the result is you can't even get started.

That's too bad for Roswell and for me.  Roswell will do without businesses, jobs, incomes and increased revenues.  And me, I won't be able to lay under those arches and contemplate the world, all while munching on some barbequed Chaves County cayuse.

You folks better get with it   Otherwise, Obama is liable to turn the whole darn place into a National Monument.


Friday, May 08, 2015

Senator Heller testifies on Endangered Species Act

The following comments are from a recent Senate committee hearing on Nevada Sen. Dean Heller’s bill titled “Common Sense in Species Protection Act of 2015.”

...While not a cure all, my bill is a simple reform aimed at modernizing the ESA and making the listing process more transparent.

When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes a listing decision, it not only aims to protect the species, it also affords some protection to the ecosystems that those species rely upon. They frequently make what is called “critical habitat” designations, which are lands that are essential for the conservation of a species.

Activities on these lands are heavily restricted. In states like Nevada, where mining, ranching, energy production and outdoor recreation all serve as a central component of our local economy, these restrictions can be devastating.

My bill does not take away the Interior’s authority to limit these types of activities. It simply requires the Department of Interior to report the full economic impact of any proposed critical habitat designation to the public before it can make a decision. Specifically, rather than the very limited economic analysis they currently conduct, the Service must determine the effect a designation would have on property use and values, employment, and revenues for state and local governments.

Additionally, it requires the Service to exclude areas from critical habitat designations if the benefit of keeping it in multiple-use far exceeds the benefits a restriction would have for wildlife.

Access to all lands, particularly public lands, is vital to Nevada’s character and economy. Restricting the multiple-use of those lands in a nontransparent and irrational fashion is not an option for Nevadans who rely heavily on them for their livelihood. Whether it is the greater-sage grouse, the long-eared bat, the lesser prairie chicken, or any other species the agency is making a decision on, it is critical that at a minimum we add this simple, commonsense step to the process.

The ESA has expired and hasn't been reauthorized in years. It only exists because Congress, now controlled by Republicans, keeps funding it. Want the abuse stopped? Quit funding it. If the R's refused to fund the ESA, then the enviros and other proponents would have to come to them for reauthorization. All the leverage would then switch to those who want reasonable reform.

UPDATE:  Mea culpa. I was less than precise in my hurried comments.  All of the statute has not expired, just that section that authorizes appropriations.  Both the Senate and the House have rules that prohibit appropriating funds which have not been authorized, but does so for the ESA anyway.  I'll provide a further explanation on Sunday and try to slow down in the future.

Nev. congressman says document points to massive designation

President Obama is planning to designate a 700,000-acre national monument in rangelands of east-central Nevada, according to a document obtained by Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.) and shared with Nevada media. The six-page draft proclamation was prepared by the White House and has been circulating among federal agencies the past week, Hardy's spokesman said, according to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  If true, the so-called Basin and Range National Monument in portions of Lincoln and Nye counties would be Obama's largest land-based designation yet under the 1906 Antiquities Act, a conservation law that has been a target of Republicans in Congress including Hardy. In January, Hardy co-sponsored a bill by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) to prohibit the president from designating national monuments in Nevada without approval from Congress. Hardy said the Basin and Range monument would lie under the airspace of the Nevada Test and Training Range and include one of the most heavily used military operating areas in the country. The Air Force and its partners flew nearly 20,000 aircraft sorties in the area last year, exercises that would be "drastically impaired as a result of this monument designation," Hardy said...more

The proclamation for the Organ Mtns.-Desert Peaks National Monument contains the following language:

Nothing in this proclamation shall preclude low level overflights of military aircraft, the designation of new units of special use airspace, or the use or establishment of military flight training routes over the lands reserved by this proclamation.

At least the Nev. rep and the public have an opportunity to see and possibly influence the language.  We were denied that opportunity in NM.  In Colo., the two Democrat Senators intervened for the Cattlegrowers organization, our two Democrat Senators did neither.  No transparency and no help.


Petition Urges Interior Secretary To Intervene Over Killings Of Denali National Park Wolves

A Care2 petition drive urges Interior Secretary Jewell to intervene in wolf killings near Denali National Park/Care2 Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is being urged by more than 100,000 petitioners to intervene to halt the killings of wolves that wander out of Denali National Park in Alaska. Trappers and hunters have reduced the wolf population in and around the park and its adjacent preserve from 143 to 48 over the past seven years, according to the petition drive launched on Care2 by Marybeth Holleman, an Alaskan and author of Among Wolves. The petiton asks Secretary Jewell to see that a permanent, no-kill buffer zone is established along the park's boundary.  “I've lived in Alaska for nearly 30 years. I saw my first wild wolves in Denali my first summer here, when I was working at the park,” Ms. Holleman told Care2. “I raised my son here. He saw his first wild wolf in Denali 20 years ago, and it set him on his career as a photographer. Denali was one of the best places in the world to see wolves in the wild. But not anymore.” But five years ago Alaska’s Board of Game removed a no-trap, no-kill buffer zone on state land adjacent to the park. Ms. Holleman believes this move is driving wolf decimation. “Unlike most national parks, hunting and trapping is allowed on many Alaskan national parks,” she says. “In addition, as wolves and other wildlife cross invisible park boundaries onto state lands, they are hunted and trapped for 'sport' by a few local residents.”...more

Lincoln NF fences spring to protect jumping mouse

A special closure order affecting 15.3 acres on the Sacramento Ranger District (Order No. 08-273) is in place until November 30, 2015, unless rescinded sooner, for the Mauldin Spring in Wills Canyon riparian area within the Lincoln National Forest, Sacramento Ranger District. The specified area encompasses occupied habitat for the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse (NMMJM), which has been listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The special closure prohibits going into or being upon the areas of ‘occupied habitat’ (15.3 acres), described as the Mauldin Spring riparian area, including both the existing barbed-wire fenced areas and the temporary electric fenced areas...Livestock watering lanes are provided in order to allow permitted livestock to access water. These watering lanes are considered to be outside of the restricted area...more

Sheep Ranchers Look to Latinos, American Muslims to Buy More Lamb

Once a regular dining option, a mix of cultural and economic factors pushed lamb off the American dinner table. To put the meat back on the menu, ranchers and retailers are being encouraged to reach out to a more diverse set of consumers, specifically American Muslims and Latinos. Sheep ranchers, feedlot owners, and processors in states like Colorado, Nebraska and Illinois are banking on America becoming a more diverse place. Without more Muslim and Latino communities embracing local lamb, the industry fears this niche meat could slip even further off the dinner plate, or be completely usurped by foreign producers like Australia or New Zealand. Today, the average American eats roughly a half-pound of lamb per year. That number has been dropping for decades. Compare that to the more than 50 pounds of beef and almost 90 pounds of chicken each American eats every year. Megan Wortman, executive director for the American Lamb Board, the industry’s producer-funded promotional arm, says lamb is saddled with perception problems.  A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Research Center puts it bluntly: “The majority of U.S. residents do not consume any lamb.” The agency adds that for the most part the growing ethnic populations in the northeast and on the West Coast have kept the American lamb industry afloat...more

 Got to love that barbacoa.

Missing New Mexico cows could be the result of cattle rustlers

Cows are disappearing from a New Mexico ranch. One cow was found butchered on the side of the road. Now, deputies are on the case. It’s like a crime from the Wild West, cattle rustling, but it could be happening on a ranch near Carlsbad. The Eddy County Sheriff’s office is investigating. “These cows are being taken, either being butchered and taken or just flat out taken from the pasture,” said Sgt. Matt Hutchinson with the Eddy County Sheriff’s office. Eighteen cows have disappeared. At roughly $4,000 per head of cow, that’s more than $70,000. Deputies want to find whoever is responsible for these missing cows. “It’s a felony case in the state of New Mexico we are looking very much into this incident and we are attempting to obviously hold people accountable that are involved in this crime,” said Hutchinson. The sheriff’s office says that other ranchers may be losing cows to rustlers these days as well, they just don’t report the thefts to deputies.  KRQE

Funding to help New Mexico’s acequias as drought persists

Some of the hand-built communal canals that have been funneling water to farmers and ranchers in New Mexico for centuries will be getting an infusion of more than $1 million as managers look to combat the effects of drought. Federal officials visited a northern New Mexican village on Thursday to tour what they described as the oldest acequia in the nation. They heard from locals about what it takes to keep the traditional irrigation canal flowing and how acequias around the state can be improved. Jason Weller, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said the idea is to make acequias more efficient so they can continue to deliver water to the communities that depend on them for raising livestock and growing crops. He said through previous engineering work, several acequias districts are ready to begin construction. The proposed work ranges from replacing diversion structures made of rocks and logs to installing pipelines along stretches of the canals that are too sandy to maintain. The earliest acequia dates to 1597. The structures were introduced to the region by Spanish settlers, and they’re still celebrated by those working to keep Hispanic and indigenous traditions alive...more

Federal Appeals Court Rules NSA Spying Illegal

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of billions of U.S. phone records is illegal, dealing a startling blow to the program just as Congress is weighing reforms to the government's expansive surveillance authorities. A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals deemed that dragnet collection of American call data does not constitute information relevant to terrorism investigations under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The controversial program, exposed publicly nearly two years ago by Edward Snowden, "exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized," Judge Gerard Lynch wrote in his decision.  Two other appeals courts have in recent months heard arguments considering the legality of the NSA bulk telephone program, but neither has issued a ruling yet. Any split among the courts likely will prompt a Supreme Court review. The NSA's domestic surveillance of phone metadata—the numbers, time stamps, and duration of calls, but not their content—came under intense scrutiny following the program's disclosure by Snowden, a former NSA contractor, in June 2013...more

The Senate's GOP Leadership Is Dead-Set on a Complete Patriot Act Extension

Even the federal courts won't stand in Mitch McConnell's way as he barrels ahead to renew the expiring surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act. That much was clear Thursday as the Senate majority leader and a flock of defense hawks vigorously argued on the Senate floor in support of the National Security Agency's vast spying powers just hours after a court ruled its phone dragnet illegal.  To McConnell and his cohort, the ruling will not change their strategy: to renew the Patriot Act and oppose virtually any reform to the government's sweeping surveillance program. And even a short-term reauthorization to the law's expiring surveillance authorities may no longer be on the table.   Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican who is cosponsoring McConnell's effort to pass a "clean" reauthorization of the Patriot Act's surveillance authorities due to expire on June 1, was also undeterred. He argued that the phone snooping might not have passed the test of a three-judge court panel, but that it still met the standards of two politically divergent administrations and the NSA legal team. "We all agreed with what we were trying to do, but somehow we wrote the law that didn't provide the statutory language," Burr told National Journal. "I think that's a joke." During a policy luncheon Thursday, Republicans engaged in a debate about the best way forward, considering the new court ruling. Burr said many of his colleagues were still in an "educational mode" about how the program works and how to move forward...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1421

Here's some old time fiddlin', Gene Clardy & Stan Clements - Sleeping Time Waltz.  The tune was recorded in Memphis on Feb. 18, 1930 and is on the CD Mississippi String Bands, Vol 2 by Document Records.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Hidden Cact-Eye: Paradise Valley installs cameras in cactus

The City of Paradise Valley has added cactus with cameras in them over the past few days, but residents have no idea why, and the city doesn't want to talk about them. About two dozen fake cactus already serve as cover for cell towers, but some people were alarmed to see cameras being place in cactus around town. While town leaders didn't initially want to talk with us about the cameras, we did end up getting some explanation. If you look close enough at the cactus as you drive through Paradise Valley and you might see some "cact-eyes" looking back. "I've lived here for 30 years, and I've never seen cameras in a saguaro before," said Randy Evans. Residents are now curious what the cameras will be used for. "Your guess is as good as mine," said Evans. "I thought maybe y'all knew what it was," said Chamberlain. FOX 10 asked Paradise Valley Police about the cameras, but they said they were not prepared to make a statement at this time. At City Hall people were also hesitant to talk with FOX 10 about the cameras, saying they wanted to wait until all the cameras were installed, but eventually the Town Manager answered some of the questions. "The town is embarking on the installation of license plate readers," said Kevin Burke, Paradise Valley Town Manager...more

A FOX 10 video report is at the link provided.

California and Nevada sage grouse protections disappear into hot air

By Erik Molvar

This past Tuesday, the citizens of Reno, Nev. were treated to an impressive act of political sleight of hand. Based on a series of voluntary conservation efforts affecting only 3.4 percent of grouse habitat, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell nevertheless determined that 11 major threats to the tiny remnant populations of the Mono Basin sage grouse no longer threaten the species with extinction, as if by magic. The result is a political hijacking of the Endangered Species Act process that is required by law to render decisions based on facts and science. Wildlife loses, healthy lands lose and bureaucrats declare victory.

If the public was expecting Jewell to pull a rabbit out of her hat with an announcement of new local protections, they were surely disappointed. The same threats loom, the same scarce populations hang in the balance, the same absence of habitat protection applies across most of the bird's range. The administration, it seems, simply changed its mind that Mono Basin grouse declines are a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Throughout the press conference announcing withdrawal of the proposed "threatened species" listing, each speaker tried to eclipse the last in praise of the collective, voluntary effort to protect sage grouse. In vapid platitudes, speaker after speaker praised the $45 million spent to improve habitat or secure conservation easements on some 44,800 acres of grouse habitat, neglecting to mention that these measures do not apply to most private lands with sage grouse habitat.

Don't get me wrong. It's great that conservation-minded landowners and agencies are willing to take positive steps to protect sage grouse.

But these voluntary efforts can't make up for the current absence of mandatory protections on the rest of this population's 1.8 million acres of critical habitat, originally proposed for protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service...more

Molvar is the Sagebrush Sea Campaign Director for WildEarth Guardians

We don't get you wrong.  You're preaching the same old environmental gospel:  voluntary okay, coercion the best.  We don't have the time nor the inclination to get involved in on-the-ground planning on a site-specific basis, so send in the jack-booted thugs to do our bidding.   You can't control the site-specific stuff through the courts, but you have great success in court-mandated, top-down thuggery.  Yes, we hear your gospel.  We're just non-believers.

Robert Redford in Santa Fe: ‘Our opportunities are shrinking’ to stop climate change

A sold-out crowd packed into the Lensic Performing Arts Center on Tuesday night for a one-on-one about the arts, activism and the environment between Mayor Javier Gonzales and legendary actor and environmental activist Robert Redford. Redford, dressed in blue jeans and a blazer, captivated the audience, sharing stories about his youth, the origins of the Sundance Film Festival in Utah and movies that have made him one of the most recognized actors in American cinema. While the mood was light, Redford, who owns a home in Santa Fe, also sounded an environmental alarm, saying the planet is changing and that “our opportunities are shrinking.” “The energy companies are not going to go quietly into the night,” Redford said when Gonzales asked him how to influence policymakers or at least counter the view that “cheaper is always better” when it comes to coal, drilling and fracking. “They’re going to fight, and they have the money to do it — I’ve been struggling with that imbalance for a long time,” Redford said. Redford touted the advantages of moving to alternative energy. Not only is it clean, he said, but it creates jobs. But that story needs to get told, Redford said. “In looking at New Mexico, I’m thinking here’s this rich country, and if it continues going in the way that’s been in the past, which is oil, gas and coal, they [energy companies] have the power to keep the word out like that’s the way to go,” he said. Redford described that view as short-sighted. Energy companies are selling their message “without looking down the road and saying, ‘OK, what about tomorrow, and is there an alternative so we don’t have to rip up our Earth?’ ” he said. Redford said he is committed to looking at New Mexico as a “rich possibility for the future” that strikes a balance and “saves some of the land that would be lost” to development...more

Study: Torrance County among best places to raise kids in NM (Don't tell Redford)

A new study from Harvard University says an Albuquerque resident hoping for a better economic future for her children should leave for Torrance County. Now. Torrance County, population 15,611, where the major communities are Moriarty, Estancia and Mountainair. Torrance County, where agriculture is the dominant industry and, according to the Mid-Region Council of Governments, Sandia Tobacco and Tagawa Greenhouses are the major private employers. Torrance County, which with a poverty rate of 28.6 percent is significantly more impoverished than Bernalillo County, where the poverty rate is 18 percent. Torrance County, with a median household income of $31,161 a year, compared with Bernalillo County’s $48,801. That Torrance County. Economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren report that a child in a poor family who grows up in Torrance County will earn 7 percent more than the average American child growing up in a poor family by the time he is 26 years old. A similar child growing up in Bernalillo County will earn 8 percent less. Chetty and Hendren found that 87 percent of the 2,478 counties they studied offer a child better economic mobility than does Bernalillo County. Torrance County is better than 68 percent of the other counties. The sooner you move to Torrance County, the better. Chetty and Hendren found that “every extra year a child spends in a better environment, as measured by the outcomes of children already living in that area,” improves his economic future. The reason, they say, is that a child’s economic mobility – the ability to move up the ladder from a disadvantaged beginning – improves if he grows up in a place that, compared with the average community, has less racial and income segregation, lower levels of income inequality, better schools, less violent crime and more two-parent households...more

Please don't show this study to Robert Redford, as he is much too busy addressing the elite in Santa Fe and proposing policies that hurt people in Torrance County.  Luckily, fewer people are dancing to the dark and cloudy tunes spun by the Sundance Kid.

video - Boatloads of bass dropped into Elephant Butte Lake

Thousands of fish have been moved from a fish farm in Ada, Oklahoma, and were carefully dropped into Elephant Butte Lake Wednesday morning. This first re-stocking in years is designed to help bring the lake back to its glory years with 20,000 large mouth bass moved to the Butte. “I’m a fisherman. I like to catch whatever bites,” said Ken Swaim, an avid angler. “I’ve been fishing this lake since 1980,” he said, as KRQE News 13 rode along on his boat, as he helped drop 400 black bass out of the 20,000 black bass that were purchased to go into the Butte. “We’re going to come into this little pocket. We’ve seen bass spawning in here,” he said. The fish were transported in plastic bags. “Oh baby, I see them, headed to the bottom,” he noted. “We put the water they came in with the lake water, and gave them a few minutes to acclimate to that, and gradually as they acclimate, more and more you just gradually turn them loose and they just took off,” he said. “When that lake dropped, it’s changed the fishing,” Swaim noted, referring to lake levels. Ron Gilworth, an avid angler, said, “Those fish cost a dollar and a nickel a piece.” He said a community donation effort raised $21,000 in only two months. The Elephant Butte Lake Fish Fund originated with an anonymous donation of $10,000, according to New Mexico State Parks. “The turnout this morning was so unbelievable,” Gilworth said, indicating about 40 boats went out on the water to release the fish...more

Here's the KRQE report:

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1420

Hard Times is some great, early bluegrass pickin' by the Stanley Brothers & the Clinch Mountain Boys.  The tune was recorded in Nashville on August 29, 1954 for the Mercury Label.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Voters elect conservative-backed candidates to Doña Ana soil, water board

Voters backed conservative candidates in Tuesday's election for three positions the Doña Ana Soil & Water Conservation District board. The unofficial results, which came into the Sun-News offices shortly after 9 p.m., showed Jerry Schickedanz and David "D.J." Martinez easily retained their positions on the board and Melissa Gorham took an at-large position. All three candidates were backed by conservatives. A battle between progressive and conservative voters underpinned turnout in the election with progressives backing three candidates and conservatives backing three candidates. The volunteer, seven-member soil and water district board in the past has been staffed by mainly conservative farmers and ranchers. County election officials kept the votes lines flowing, and wait times hovered about 30 minutes throughout the afternoon at the Doña Ana County Government Center, 845 N. Motel Blvd., Las Cruces. The flow of voters at the only two other polling places — in Radium Springs and in Anthony — was faster, county officials said...more

Ain’t had any reason to celebrate for quite a spell, but I do now.  Better stand back, ‘cause when I paint the town I give it two coats.

Look who just defeated the liberal/environmental coalition (Progressive Voters Alliance):

These are the folks who successfully opposed the various Bingaling-YouDull-Heiny bills to create Wilderness on the border.  OH NO!

These are the folks who opposed the 500,000 acre Obama land grab.  OH NO!

These are the folks who want to build and maintain dams to protect your property from flooding.  OH NO!


Cowboys, Conservation & Conservatives:  May Ye Rule Forever!

A PhD, a farmer and a realtor…Talk about diversity! 

DJ gave them a Chope Chop.

Schickedanz shanked’em.

Gorham gored’em.


Kurtz hurts tonight!

OK, celebratin’ is over, but I sure did enjoy the ride.  Thanks to Jim Harbison, Jerry Clark, Jeffrey Isbell and the many others who made this little celebration possible.

video - Ranchers in Catron County worry about wolf-coyote hybrids

Folks in Catron County are worried about a new aggressive predator turning up their community: A wolf-coyote hybrid. Wolves have long been a thorn in the side of ranchers in the county, killing and injuring dozens of livestock every year. It's a highly controversial and politically-charged issue. Now the new fear is fueling the debate. "My concerns are for my children primary," said Anella Russo, who moved to Catron County from Atlanta a few years ago. After spotting a wolf near her property, the mother of seven built a wolf shelter to protect her kids at the bus stop. Experts say wolf attacks on humans are extremely rare, but she's not taking any chances. "My biggest fear is that I'm going to go outside one day in my yard and not have my firearm with me," she said. According to the government, at the end of last year, about 109 wolves occupied the Blue Range Wolf recovery area in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. Word is now spreading through the county about wolves possibly mating with coyotes. "There are coyotes everywhere,” said Russo. “I've seen wolf tracks in my yard. So if the wolves and coyotes are mating, then we're going to have huge populations of an aggressive canine right in my backyard, right where I live with my kids." Russo was so concerned she contacted her county commissioner, Anita Hand. Hand is also worried about a hybrid breed turning up in the county. "They're more aggressive,” she said. “They're definitely more aggressive. They start going after cattle. They go after livestock. We have some concerns about them going after the children or going after human beings." KOB was there a few weeks ago as county leaders met with state officials to discuss the issue. Hand says a rancher was recently bitten, possibly by a wolf-coyote hybrid. While some, like the commissioner, believe a wolf-coyote hybrid could be more aggressive, others, like one expert we spoke to, aren't so sure. "In my opinion, I don't think you can find an animal that's going to be more severe than a wolf itself," said Jess Carey, the county’s wildlife investigator. This year he's already confirmed 20 cases of wolves attacking and killing livestock, and he worries a wolf coyote hybrid could make the problem worse. We reached out to the Fish and Wildlife Service for a response. A spokesperson says they've already been testing canine DNA found in the wilderness, and while there have been three confirmed cases of dog-wolf hybrids, there are no confirmed cases of a wolf-coyote hybrid here in New Mexico. They will continue testing...more

Here's the KOB report:

Chipotle's Non-GMO Push Is Based on Bad Science


Last month, several fast-food chains announced that they would be eliminating the use of antibiotics in their chicken products. This week, genetically modified organisms (GMO) are the cause de rigeuer in the food industry as Chipotle announced that it successfully eliminated all GMO ingredients from foods served in its U.S. restaurants. The move, a first for a nationwide chain, is the latest step in a push against farmers and ranchers using science to alter our foods. But should we really be worried about GMOs? Are there legitimate health concerns? Or is this simply rooted in too many viewings of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes?... 

But what are the health risks from eating genetically modified food?

There aren't any. Twenty-five years worth of scientific studies have shown no evidence of harm from the use of GM crops. A recent report from the European Union found that "the main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky [to consume] than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies." These findings are backed by the American Medical Association, the US National Academy of Sciences, and the World Health Organization — along with other respected scientific research based organizations worldwide. Nevertheless, popular resistance to the product continues to grow. As a result of this, all of the countries in the EU and dozens of other countries worldwide restrict or ban the production and sale of genetically modified foods.

In the United States, genetically modified foods are overseen by the US Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Food and Drug Administration. Prior to entering the commercial market, GM plants undergo safety testing. This rigorous testing determines whether the foreign DNA poses a risk to human health, and whether new known allergens have been introduced to the food. Labeling is, at this point, only mandatory if the GM product has nutritional or safety properties different from what consumers expect from a specific food. If the two are "substantially equivalent," no labeling is federally required. Currently three states have passed mandatory labeling laws — all at different stages of implementation — with ballot initiatives in place in more than 25 others. But labeling proponents may have a fight on their hands: Just last week, the House of Representatives, led by U.S. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack, will hear a bill that will make GMO labeling a federal consideration, potentially invalidating already-passed state laws.

GMOs have been a part of the American diet for decades, and science suggests it is safe to eat. But the public's documented fear of GMOs is based on claims propagated by convincing bloggers like the Food Babe, who reject scientific evidence in favor of fear mongering. Supermarkets and restaurants are increasingly pandering to these vocal activists by actions like identifying products as containing GMO ingredients or, as is the case with Chipotle, removing them entirely. (On its ingredients website, Chipotle proclaims that while "the meat and dairy products we buy come from animals that are not genetically modified... it is important to note that most animal feed in the U.S. is genetically modified, which means that the meat and dairy served at Chipotle are likely to come from animals given at least some GMO feed.")


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1419

That syrupy, uptown Nashville Sound was a big hit yesterday, so here's another one:  Cleve Jackson - Does A Chicken Have A Leg.  The tune is on the White Label Boppin' Hillbilly series, Vol. 2.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Editorial - NM can’t get caught up in plan to expand cruel traps

Today marks the second of five public meetings on a proposal to allow trapping of mountain lions on public lands, and it continues what appears to be the New Mexico Game and Fish Department’s standard operating procedure of ignoring vetted science and reliable data in favor of unsubstantiated anecdotes and histrionics. 

Because if New Mexico is indeed being overrun by cougars, why are hunters killing only around 225 each year when 750 kills are allowed? Moreover, why would a state that finally said goodbye to strapping razors on roosters for death matches decide the best way to address an alleged overpopulation of a species is a device that can lead to a slow, painful, terrified death for anything that comes in contact with it? 

Game and Fish spent 1 million New Mexico tax dollars on a comprehensive, peer-reviewed cougar study that did not support the claims of livestock predation. In fact it showed the opposite, that cougars prefer to dine on mule deer, antelope, rabbits, coyotes, skunks, small rodents, birds and reptiles. And Game and Fish has admitted that attacks on humans are extremely rare. Yet the department instead is proposing more, and more grisly, kills because some ranchers and farmers around the state have voiced concerns about predation. 

If there is in fact a cougar-livestock predation problem, why aren’t those ranchers and farmers making a loud, public outcry for help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which spends $100 million a year killing bears, wolves, coyotes and mountain lions to protect livestock? In fact, a USDA booklet says almost twice as many lambs and goats are killed in New Mexico by eagles than cougars. 

...Most of the United States has moved on from using this savage practice for wildlife control. The Game Commission should look at the data, dismiss this proposal and move New Mexico forward as well.  

Whether you agree or not with the Albuquerque Journal's viewpoint on any particular issue, you can usually rely on reading a well-written and even-handed opinion.  Not on this one.  Trapping is described as "cruel", "slow, painful, terrified death", "grisly", "archaic", "like land mines", "more pain and suffering", "cruel and random" and a "savage practice".

All that in just a 438 word editorial and they accuse others of "histrionics"?

Their editorial reads more like a PETA piece than a reasoned argument from a respectable paper.

Solenex requests accelerated hearing in Badger-Two Medicine drilling case

After failing to reach agreement in a face-to-face meeting two weeks ago, attorneys for a Louisiana energy company have asked the court to hasten its review of plans to drill for oil in the Badger-Two Medicine area south of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Mountain States Legal Foundation lawyer Steve Lechner filed a request for oral argument and expedited consideration of Solenex LLC v. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on April 30. Interior Department attorneys responded that they do not oppose the oral argument request, but believe there is no need for a quickened process. The case is being heard in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The case involves a 6,247-acre lease for oil exploration in the mountainous area bounded by the reservation, Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. Blackfeet tribal leaders sent Jewell and President Barack Obama letters this spring pointing out the spiritual significance of the area and their opposition to any industrial development there. They also maintain the lease was granted without proper National Environmental Policy Act or Endangered Species Act review and should be canceled. Mountain States officials did not return requests for comment Monday. But Blackfeet Historic Preservation Officer John Murray said the tribe was unable to reach an out-of-court agreement with Solenex...more

Drought-stricken Utah draws visit from top BLM officials

The parched ranges of western Utah and two other states are drawing a visit from top officials with the Bureau of Land Management, who plan to see firsthand the devastating impacts of a four-year drought. The national director of the BLM, Neil Kornze, was briefed on the drought and on what sort of preparations are being carried out for the upcoming wildfire season. He was in Boise to meet with authorities at the National Interagency Fire Center and is determining the extent of measures that will be put into place to protect sage grouse habitat from the onslaught of what is expected to be an active wildfire season. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell issued an order that directs use of the best science to protect sage-grouse sensitive lands from wildfire, which is among the top threats to the chicken-size bird. Kornze is accompanied by his deputy director Steve Ellis. The two are planning to meet with local leaders in both Utah and Nevada. Of the five Great Basin states, Utah, Idaho and Nevada are 99 percent impacted by severe drought...more

Editorial - Bipartisan bill blocks EPA's 'waters' overreach

In his book "Cat's Cradle," novelist Kurt Vonnegut presents Ice-Nine, a substance with the seed-crystal-like power to turn water into a solid—and thereby end all life on Earth.

That's because "everything is connected to everything else," as one of the lessons of 1960s-era environmentalism holds. And as soon as Ice-Nine touches any source of water—including, say, the flow from your faucet—then all would be lost.

For the crystallization would crackle down the pipe, through the sewer, down the river and into the ocean, turning every body of water that it touches (and every person, given that we're mostly water) into a block of Ice-Nine.

Pretty soon, ours would be an Ice-Nine world, as frozen as Pluto and about as inhospitable to life.
A clever concept, right? And a terrific fictional construct for a novel.

And, it seems, an inspiration for policy in the Obama administration, whose Environmental Protection Agency administrators must be Vonnegut fans.

That's because the EPA's proposed Waters of the United States policy reads like Ice-Nine in reverse.
For while the Clean Water Act gives the EPA jurisdiction over America's "navigable waters," the Waters of the United States proposal essentially cuts out the word " navigable" and extends the feds' reach all the way upstream to the ponds in some people's backyards.

                                            READ ENTIRE EDITORIAL


RFD-TV Launches New Political Series

Issues important to rural Americans, farmers, ranchers, and senior citizens will be the sole focus in a new series of live, one-hour, primetime programs featuring presidential candidates leading up to the primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Produced by RFD-TV News, each program will offer individual candidates the opportunity to share their vision for rural America, while answering questions submitted by rural associations, organizations, and commodity groups. Veteran farm broadcaster Orion Samuelson will serve as host. RURAL TOWN HALL will premiere in June and air on Monday evenings at 8pm ET (7pm CT), with a repeat on Thursday evenings at 10pm ET (9pm CT). The program will be delivered to more than 65 million homes through RFD-TV, RURAL TV, and FamilyNet’s distribution on cable and satellite. In addition, RURAL RADIO on SiriusXM channel 80 will simulcast each town hall to SiriusXM’s 25+ million subscribers. Production will originate from the RFD-TV/RURAL RADIO studios on Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee, or remotely at town halls organized with the candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. A complete schedule of each candidate’s appearance to follow. In addition, RFD-TV’s RURAL EVENING NEWS broadcast at 7:30pm ET (6:30pm CT) and repeated at 11:30pm ET (10:30pm CT), the only prime-time nightly news broadcast produced from a rural perspective, will cover political issues on a daily basis from RFD-TV’s dedicated news bureau located in Washington D.C. at the USDA and from reporters and mobile satellite trucks positioned around the countryside...more

1887 quake taught hydrologic lessons

Did you know that Tucsonans felt the earth shake from a Mexican earthquake almost as powerful as the one that struck Nepal on April 25? On May 3, 1887, an earthquake centered about 150 miles away in Sonora sent shockwaves across the border region. The 7.4-magnitude quake ripped a ridge-top cliff from the Catalina Mountains. The clear blue sky turned a murky brown. “When the quake struck the old Santa Catalina Mountains, great slices of the mountain gave way, and went tumbling down into the canyons, huge clouds of dust or smoke ascended into the blue sky, high above the crest of the queenly mountain,” reported the Arizona Weekly Citizen on May 7, 1887. With an epicenter near the village of Bavispe, in the heart of the Sierra Madres, the earthquake rang church bells in Mexico City, almost 1,200 miles away. It cracked a bank’s plate glass window in Albuquerque. If the 1887 earthquake happened today, more than 20 million people would feel it. Observers from engineers to ranchers reported changes in water flow: New springs emerged; some dried up forever. Immediately after the earthquake, the San Pedro River surged and wiped out malarial pools that had plagued St. David. San Xavier’s Agua de Misión spring went dry, and so did the well at the McKay residence in downtown Tucson. Before the earthquake, well diggers could hit water only 20 to 30 feet below the surface in Tucson. But after the earthquake, people had to dig much deeper. The aquifer level began to drop. It dropped by hundreds of feet...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1418

For those who prefer the softer, more modern, orchestra-backed and pop-oriented Nashville Sound, we bring you Country Boy Eddie performing Fodder Fossil's Blues.  The tune is on Vol. 1 of White Label's Boppin' Hillbilly series.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Western towns hard-hit by climate change unite, target coal for funds

Ten Western mountain towns feeling the effects of climate change are launching a campaign that targets the coal industry, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars a year from companies to help communities adapt. The "Mountain Pact" towns in Colorado and neighboring states contend that, because coal is a major source of heat-trapping greenhouse gases linked to climate change, the industry should pay more to help deal with the impact. In a letter being sent this week to federal officials, lawmakers and the White House, the towns demand changes in the federal government's system for collecting royalties from coal companies, half of which flow back to states for local distribution. The federal program already is under internal review. Colorado Mining Association president Stuart Sanderson bristled at the push, saying the industry pays "a very fair chunk" and also is facing increased regulatory burdens. But the mountain town leaders are adamant. Rising temperatures, inconsistent river flows, shrinking snowpack, drought and catastrophic wildfires are among the worsening problems they must deal with at an increased expense. "The squeaky wheel gets oiled. We have to start somewhere in taking on that challenge. Now's the time. We're seeing the impact from global warming," Leadville Mayor Jaime Stuever said. "I'm not blaming it solely on coal. It's fossil fuels in general. But we need to create a diversification of jobs," Stuever said. "If there's no consistent snow, due to global warming, then we need to look at other forms of tourism." Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser said residents and visitors increasingly feel the effects of climate change including blowing dust, which accelerates snowmelt, reduced snowfall and water supply strains. He said the town is motivated partly by politics and that any funds reaching Telluride would be used to install local solar and wind power systems...more

Following their own model, I'm sure these mayors would support:  Western towns who target funds from environmental groups whose lawsuits and other efforts have resulted in job loss, abandoned ranches, increased flooding, damaged resources, increased wildfires and closing school districts.

It fits the model perfectly.  They could call themselves the "Enviro Pact" and I'm sure the "Mountain Pact" mayors would support them.  Seems they'd have to.

Split verdict in ATV protest case

A jury convicted a southern Utah county commissioner and a blogger and acquitted two others accused of knowingly breaking the law during an ATV protest ride last year through a canyon home to Native American cliff dwellings. The jury on Friday found San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman and blogger Monte Wells guilty. It acquitted Shane Marian and Franklin “Trent” Holliday. Prosecutors said Lyman and the others knew the trail was off-limits to ATVs. Defense attorneys countered that the men had permission from a local water district official. Lyman and Wells were found guilty of misdemeanor charges of illegal use of ATVs and conspiracy. Each carries a potential penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine of $100,000. Sentencing is set for July 15. Prosecutor Jared Bennett of the U.S. attorney’s office in Utah said Lyman was the ringleader for a public protest ride where participants had no doubt they were breaking the law. Lyman and the others were warned on multiple occasions by Bureau of Land Management officials that the trail was closed and that they would face consequences, Bennett said. Lyman even changed the date of the ride from a Thursday to Saturday to get more participants, Bennett said. He pointed the jury to an email Lyman sent Bureau of Land Management state director Juan Palma asking Palma to make legal an illegal ride. “Why would you have to ask BLM to make something legal if it wasn’t illegal?” Bennett said. “This wasn’t an accident. They acted knowing this was a violation of the law.” Defense attorney Nathan Crane, Wells’ lawyer, said the openness in which Lyman promoted the ride proves he believed they weren’t doing anything wrong. He pointed out that federal agents testified during trial that they knew about the ride ahead of time. “Normally, if you are conspiring to break the law, you don’t tell the feds,” Crane said. They rode the part of the trail that San Juan Water Conservancy District water master Ferd Johnson said they could take their ATVs on, Crane said. Jared Stubbs, Lyman’s attorney, told the jury to remember that Palma acknowledged under oath during trial that he told Lyman by phone there wouldn’t be any arrests for the ride. Palma clarified during his testimony that he meant no arrests would occur the day of the ride, and that his words were not an approval for the illegal ride...more

Bill calls for sale of a third of Forest Service and BLM property

Potentially about one-third of national forest and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property could be sold to finance transportation infrastructure, under new legislation. Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) introduced the American Land Act (H.R. 1931), which would require the United States Forest Service (USFS) and BLM to auction off for sale to the highest bidder eight percent of their real estate per year over the next five years, starting in FY 16. The bill became available online on the congressional website on Saturday, May 2, 2015. The bill would allow the agencies to put restrictions on the sales that they deem in the “public interest.” But the bill assumes buyers would be interested in the mineral rights. The agencies would have to structure sales to maximize “marketability,” though the language puts some restrictions on the mineral rights for sale. Buyers would have to be American citizens or American corporations or partnerships. All proceeds from the sales would go to the Highway Trust Fund. Poe says that the sales could pump billions of dollars into repairing the decaying roads and bridges across the country. And, of course, Poe says that the sales would create jobs and boost the economy...more

That's right!  Cuz we don't want all those wore out roads damaging those shiny little electric cars, now do we?

Federal court hearing continues in forest road fight in Nevada

Elko County’s lawyers head back to federal court today with century-old newspaper clippings and mining claim maps from the 1890s that they say prove they’re in charge of a road on a national forest near the Idaho border. The county, U.S. government and environmentalists have been arguing for two decades over the South Canyon Road and protection of a threatened fish in the river next to it. The government first sued the county and leaders of a group called the “Shovel Brigade” in 1999, accusing them of violating the Endangered Species Act with the unauthorized reconstruction of the washed out road along the Jarbidge River. Legal arguments center on an 1866 law that established so-called RS 2477 roads by granting states and counties the right of way to build highways on federal lands. Congress repealed such rights of way in 1976 but grandfathered in roads established on lands before national forests were formed or the land was placed into federal reserve. Elko County maintains their road enjoys such status because miners and ranchers regularly traveled the route before the area first was reserved in 1905, then designated a national forest by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1909. The government denies such a right of way exists. But under political pressure, the Forest Service signed a settlement agreement in 2003 with assurances it no longer would challenge the county’s claim. The Wilderness Society and Great Old Broads for Wilderness sued to block the deal, saying U.S. officials lacked the authority to cede control of the road and shirked their responsibility to protect the bull trout. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and tossed the agreement out in 2005, before the agency signed a similar deal in 2011 and conservationists sued again...more

BLM unveils dart-injection birth-control plan for Utah horses

Later this month, the Bureau of Land Management will begin administering contraceptives to free-roaming mares in Tooele County, this time using dart guns to avoid rounding up these wild horses. Horse proliferation across the Western range is among the most vexing challenges facing the federal land agency, which is obligated under federal law to both protect the animals but also ensure forage remains available for public-lands grazers. Contraception is viewed as a promising alternative to the usual practice of rounding up excess horses, which has largely been panned as a costly failure. Few horses are adopted and thousands will spend the remainder of their lives in corrals. Meanwhile, free-roaming horse populations grow, putting pressure on a range already depleted by drought and cattle. In a decision released Friday, BLM's Utah office will administer the contraceptive Porcine Zona Pellucida, or PZP, with darts to mares roaming the Onaqui Mountain Herd Management Area, a 207,000-acre patch of public land 60 miles southwest of Tooele. It currently is home to 317 wild horses, far above what BLM has determined to be an "appropriate management level."...more

Wyoming congresswoman presses for national wolf delisting

Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis and others in Congress continue to push the U.S. Department of the Interior to end federal protections for wolves nationwide. Lummis, a Republican, and others in Congress this week wrote to U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell calling on them to implement a stalled federal plan to end protections for wolves under the federal Endangered Species Act. The lawmakers claim healthy wolf populations justify ending protections. In response to environmental challenges, federal courts recently have reinstated protections for wolves in Wyoming, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. State appeals of the court rulings are pending while legislation also is pending in Congress to reverse the court decisions. Meanwhile, others in Congress have warned Jewell that bowing to political pressure to strip protections from wolves would undercut the Endangered Species Act.  AP

NM AG's office stonewalling records request on ranch raid

After six years of trying to obtain documents from the very agency that is supposed to make sure New Mexico’s public-records law is enforced, Marcy Britton finally gets her day in court this week. Britton in 2009 submitted a straightforward request for all emails pertaining to then-Attorney General Gary King and his Animal Cruelty Task Force. King’s group raided Hispanic ranches at both ends of the state, claiming it had smashed cockfighting rings. His task force offered sensational accounts of roosters high on illegal steroids to prod police to obtain search warrants. Then it teamed with law enforcement officers to raid poultry ranches. Britton, though, said King and his cohorts actually intimidated ranchers, violated their constitutional rights and broke laws. The task force killed about 4,000 roosters, hens and chicks, and it destroyed countless eggs, all on supposition that the birds had been turned into steroid-enhanced combatants. The birds were not tested for drugs. King’s raiders simply poisoned them. In one raid, a police helicopter and some 30 law enforcement officers stormed a ranch in San Juan County. This show of force might have been fitting for a cartel boss, but the target was two ranchers who owned 700 chickens. Had this army of officers found a cockfight in progress, which it did not, the ranchers would have faced a petty misdemeanor charge. King’s office had thousands of pertinent emails about the raids.  Nonetheless, it stonewalled Britton for years, providing only about 230 emails to her. The ones she received were innocuous, redundant or so heavily redacted as to render them useless. Britton, 65, sued the Attorney General’s Office in 2012. She said the attorney general, sworn to follow the public records law, instead broke it to prevent her from shining light on his operations...more

NM Game Commission considers proposal for cougar trapping

A proposal to allow New Mexico hunters to use traps to kill mountain lions has sparked strong opposition from environmental and animal protection groups. The Game Commission will begin studying the trapping plan – and other proposed changes to cougar and bear hunting rules – at a meeting in Farmington next week. Five public meetings around the state also will be held on the idea over the next month. But a coalition of environmental groups is already speaking out, with eight organizations signing onto a letter sent Friday that urged game commissioners to reject the cougar trapping plan. “Allowing traps for cougars, in addition to all the traps that are now allowed to be scattered across public land for other species, would be irresponsible,” said Mary Katherine Ray, the wildlife chairwoman for the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club. The Game and Fish Department, which is proposing the new hunting rules for mountain lions and bears, described the trapping proposal on its website as one of several “initial ideas” the agency is considering. Currently, New Mexico hunters with a special cougar license can use rifles, handguns or bow and arrow to hunt mountain lions year-round. Trapping is not allowed, except on private land with permission from the Game and Fish Department. In all, the agency allows for about 750 mountain lions to be killed in the state each year, but it says only about 30 percent of that number – roughly 225 animals – are actually shot by hunters. The cougar population in New Mexico is estimated to be between 3,000 and 4,500. Under the proposed rule change, traps and snares would be allowable on public land in certain cougar management zones in which the annual hunting limit has not been met, according to the Game and Fish Department...more

Rio Grande Valley Adds To Border Horse Patrol

MISSION, Texas — Jared Barton has ridden horses since he was a toddler. But rumbling on a Florida cattle ranch isn’t the same as the trails he’ll traverse going forward — the rough terrain of immigrant and drug smuggling trails in the Rio Grande Valley. The Monitor reports Barton is one of the latest members of the U.S. Border Horse Patrol, a specialty group of agents that work on horseback and have been doing so since the early 1920s. The 38-year-old agent was one of seven agents who officially completed a six-week training course to join the group in the Rio Grande Valley sector. The Horse Patrol has 30 agents working the sector, where there are plans to enlist another 10 agents and 10 horses by July. Horse Patrol supervisor Ruben Garcia Jr., who has worked with the Border Patrol for more than 15 years, said the agency needed a new stable to keep its horses after it canceled a commercial boarding contract all while doubling the size of its herd to 30 horses. Border Patrol partnered with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to convert an unused warehouse into the Morillo Banco Horse Patrol Compound. The stable, located about a mile from the Rio Grande, has room for up to 38 horses and features two full-sized barns on a two-acre plot. The Rio Grande Valley sector’s Horse Patrol unit during the 2014 fiscal year caught about 10,500 people — the highest amount of apprehensions nationwide with one of the smallest herd of horses, Garcia said...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1417

Its Swingin' Monday and here's the Red Hot Rhythm Rustlers performing Punchin' Cows, Settin' Posts, Stretchin' Wire.  The tune is on their 2014 CD Too Hot To Handle

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Joe Delk "Western Swing Hero"

Joe Delk was in Mineral Wells, Texas this weekend attending this event:

Where the Cowtown Society of Western Music honored him as a Western Swing Hero!

Congratulations to Joe Delk and a great big Thank You to Joe and his family for providing so many years of good, danceable country music.

And you can order The Delk Band's newest CD here.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Cats and cowponies 
 by Julie Carter
The hallmark of a cowboy is long days, stupid stunts and never forgetting the story. Laughing at themselves is key.
One particularly agitated cowboy was kicking up dust with his boot as he paced a small circle while recalling the day with disgust. His bride had promised to deliver a barn cat to a friend in need of one and his job was to catch it and put it in the pet carrier. No step for stepper, he thought.
The feline was overdue to have a new batch of kittens and the cowboy was sure her cumbersome load would slow her enough for him to get ahold of her and as he promised, carefully place her in the cage that would deliver her to the other side of the county. As far as he was concerned, a good cat was a long-gone cat.
The noise from the barn was a mixture of snarls, screeches and cussing, almost all of which came from the cowboy and only some that came from the cat. Much crashing and banging could be heard but at last the barn door flew open. A flash of fur gave new meaning to "running like a scalded cat."
Moments later the cowboy wandered into the daylight wearing a dazed look and his hat sitting slightly askew. He examined the blood running down his arm and with a cautious hand felt of the claw marks across his face.
"I've been to a hundred county fairs and a goat roping or two," he said, "but I ain't never been as humiliated as I am right now. I've been bit, scratched, hissed at, run over and outsmarted by a cat too stupid to not get pregnant every time she passes by a tomcat.”
His degradation plummeted to rock-bottom when his bride came from behind the house still in her bathrobe and slippers, carrying the cat, petting and cooing goodbyes to her as she tucked her inside the carrier. 
The cat was never mentioned again.
Challenge met
The cowboy was day working the area ranches and not one for wasting any daylight, he decided he was up for a little fun when he heard there was a team roping in town that night. 
With his horse already in the trailer, he headed to the arena just as thunderheads opened up. Even after entries were taken, the downpour continued so the roping was cancelled. Returned entry fee money in their pockets and time on their hands made for prime cowboy mischief. 
The local watering hole filled up fast with the rejects from the rained-out roping. Some lively fun was "fixin' to commence."
Blake walked in still wearing his chaps and spurs from the day's work. The barmaid, a new hire, was a little on the lippy side and not particularly well-versed in cowboys. As Blake headed to the bar, she shouted across the room, "Well cowboy, where's your horse?"
He answered, "Out in the trailer."
"Yea, right!" she said with obvious doubt based on her ignorance of cowboys.
"You'll believe me when I ride him inside the bar," Blake said.
"That'll be the day," she naively challenged. 
That's all it took. Blake walked out the door and directly to his trailer, unloaded his bay cowpony and headed back to the bar. Once inside he stepped up into the saddle.
He began loping slow figure eights around the pool tables while the barmaid stood dumbfounded, mouth open in shock and shaking her head. The yee-haws from the cowboys leaning on the bar only encouraged the show.
With a glance toward the dance floor, Blake's intentions were apparent. Someone handed him a beer as he passed by and the barmaid grabbed a Polaroid camera.
She snapped a picture just as Blake spun his mount around the floor with his beer held high as if to toast the crowd. That photo remained pinned to the wall at the back of the bar for years to come.
It was documented proof that there isn't much you can challenge a cowboy with that he won't make his best, if unwise, effort to try to meet.
Julie, witness to and part of many unwise cowboy moments, can be reached for comment at

A Matter of Conservation Districts

Progressive versus Legal Conservation
A Matter of Conservation Districts
A continuing Essay of Right Action
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Richard Wetherill approached the matter biblically. The Westerner himself, Francois DuBois, approached the matter horseback.
            Wetherill’s essay on the Natural Law of Right Action reminded the human race to be rational, honest, and morally right thereby enabling human life to continue. His lesson came from the creation of the first man, Adam. God told Adam what to do and what not to do. Adam followed those instructions. A primary instruction was he was told not to eat the fruit of the tree in the center of the Garden or he would surely die. Left to his own devices, Adam obeyed.
            DuBois’ jail house lecture reminded the captive audience that the human race is naturally inclined to stray off the trail and trip into pits of irrationality, dishonesty, and moral corruptness until some force comes along to slap them back into shape.
            Today, certain people and elements are doing their level best to confound the foundation of honest attempts to tend the gardens of which we have long treasured. There is not a better example than the community of Las Cruces, New Mexico. It is there an agrarian influenced economy was started soon after 1598 when Don Juan Onate and his band of Spanish settlers crossed the Rio Grande with several thousand head of livestock and founded the first European settlement in del Norte. It was also there the first major reclamation project was started soon after the turn of the 20th Century on the Rio and the controlled water was captured and distributed from Elephant Butte Reservoir for the stability and benefit of a very unique mixed population and agricultural center.
It is there, too, a noose is now being tightened around the community and at stake are a multitude of factors that collectively form the customs and culture of this special area. Many will argue the war against customs and culture of the community is a violation of natural rights. Others will suggest it is simply a misguided threat to the freedom to grow and eat chile.
The real facts, though, remain. If the dismantling of the community continues, a plethora of unwanted, disagreeable results will take place.
Private property isolation and the looming Triumvirate
The day of May 21, 2014 will live in infamy for the Las Cruces community. That was the day the progressive voter block of the community and its New Mexico congressional representation prevailed upon the President to bypass the legislative process and declare nearly three quarters of a million acres as national monument. Notwithstanding the eight years of unmitigated psychological warfare that was waged upon the citizens who had duties, responsibilities and investments on the lands under the footprint, the progressive secular juggernaut cheered the outcome.
The resulting footprint places immense uncertainty on the management of the lands of the county where private ownership equates to only 13% of the surface and well over half of that total hugs the narrow Rio Grande Valley with its growing floodplain implications. Every point of higher elevation, 100% of the headlands of the surrounding watersheds, is controlled by the government under increasingly restrictive access implications.
All residential development will be confined to the private lands and that will necessarily require the attrition of irrigated farmland to accomplish. The isolation of private lands with accompanying private property rights, the heart of customs and culture of the community, is vulnerable to elimination.
There also looms the specter of yet more governmental intrusion.
In January, the president signed Executive Order 13690. At stake is the demand for agencies to do what they can to preserve the nation’s floodplains. Those areas of consideration are floodplains that are subject to a 1% or greater chance of flooding in any given year based on a 100 year flood plan. The agencies are further ordered to limit development activities in the floodplain where possible and they must incorporate the new definition and risk reduction strategies into their existing programs and regulations. They are also tasked to scope beyond the 100 year flood plan models.
This has huge and debilitating implications for Las Cruces.
With such sweeping expansion of authority, the Las Cruces community may well have been sucked into a vacuum whereby 60% of its already depleted expansion corridor opportunities will become unacceptable for any development and in violation of United States standards for floodplain health and sustainability.
That crisis will be added to the federal agency intent to expand the Waters of the United States rule and the expansion of critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act both of which will have dire implications for the freedom to develop and to source and use natural soil and water resources. At a minimum, the city will face aggregate floodplain operations restrictions equating to additional studies and yet more costly permitting conditions.
A most likely scenario is yet more ominous. It takes in the third leg of this progressive invoked nightmare.
When the disallowance to access surrounding watersheds is added to the confounding situation because of national monument lands that consume all points of higher elevation and critical watershed alluviums, a plethora of unwanted disagreeable results will indeed take place. It relates to destruction of those unique customs and culture, the inability to grow and prosper, and the reckless disallowance to address fundamental matters of public safety, and … human life!
 The election
On May 5, the Dona Ana Soil and Water Conservation District elections will be held.
Three board positions are at stake. The slate of successful candidates will eventually stand for an oath of office and pledge their adherence to the Constitution of the State of New Mexico and their legal responsibilities of the office. The Soil and Water Conservation District Act serves as the guiding statutory authority over their actions. The purpose of the Act is to oversee the management of soil and water resources within conservation district administrative boundaries. Paraphrased, those duties require the board members to develop the natural resources of the district, provide for flood control, preserve wildlife, protect the tax base and promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens.
The slate of candidates stand in stark contrast.
Three candidates interpret the enabling legislation on the basis of original intent. Natural resources must be conserved and developed for beneficial use. Beneficial use means the use of impounded water for irrigation, recreation, propagation of fish and wildlife, and other urban and industrial needs that collectively promote the tax base. Protecting the tax base means protecting those drivers of the economy that fuel jobs, create future for the populous, and provide housing and a path of economic growth that can be sustained when only 13% of the landmass is relegated to the primary benefit of the citizenry.
The other four candidates represent the Progressive Voter Alliance … period.
Their interpretation of board duty is a matter of the structured agenda that hails the permanent withdrawal of natural resources, the expansion of critical habitat for an enumerated future catalogue of creatures, and the supposition that regulatory burdens will support vitality and robust floodplain health. Their agenda doesn’t demonstrate anything but lip service to the tax base and disdain for customs and culture formed over several hundred years.
Indeed, the contrast is stark.
Sustainability to the former slate of candidates is what the law demands. Soil and water resources are basic physical assets and their preservation and development are vital to protect and promote the health and general welfare of the people.
Sustainability to the progressives is the expansion of critical habitat that conflicts with matters of customs and culture, the political support for expanding the definition of waters controlled by the federal government and the reinstatement of watershed health on the basis of originality. That means breaching dams, levees, and minimizing the footprint of man.
Public health and safety
No community can grow and prosper when resources are locked down by regulations and all growth corridors are restricted or closed. Moreover, if all remaining growth is forced into the highest areas of flooding vulnerability, it isn’t just private property that is in jeopardy. Citizen life is put at risk through a contrived agenda.
It will be interesting to see the outcome of this election. The stakes are high. The results will reflect an agenda that is totally contrary to the county’s history and law or any decision to defend customs, culture, and the public health. A lackadaisical electorate has allowed this matter to fester and expand. A robust electorate can demonstrate that within customs and culture is a morally and trustworthy society … enabling human life to continue.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “The Westerner has standards out of the Old Rock. His definition of ‘force’ that is sought to maintain cultural dignity is not government inspired. It comes from conscience, family, community standards, market forces, timely woodshed visits, and … front row pew seating.”