Friday, May 22, 2015

Energy, Water Appropriations Bill Headed to Senate Floor Without Clean Water Rider

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a $35.4 billion spending bill for water and energy on Thursday, after Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced -- but then withdrew, at the urging of his colleagues -- a controversial amendment that would have blocked the Obama administration from modifying the Clean Water Act (CWA). The bill now heads to the Senate floor.  The bill includes $10.5 billion for energy programs, $610 million for energy research and development, $6 billion for environmental management activities at the Department of Energy (DOE), and $5.5 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). It also allocates funds for nuclear and science programs.  Republicans and some supporters of the oil and natural gas industry believe efforts by USACE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt a new Clean Water Rule (CWR) amount to an overreach by the federal government. They claim that the rule -- which is currently under review by the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB), with final authorization expected later this spring (see Shale Daily, April 7) -- would harm domestic oil and gas production, increase permitting delays for wells and increase drilling costs. Hoeven introduced an amendment to the FY16 Energy & Water Development Appropriations Bill that called for defunding a proposal by USACE and the EPA to redefine the "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule. "For our farmers and ranchers, this is a huge problem," Hoeven said. "The EPA has gone beyond the statutory authority it has, and instead of limiting its regulation to navigable bodies of water, it now says that it can, in essence, regulate any water. They argue that under the legal theory of 'significant nexus' that they can go from navigable bodies of water to regulating any water. "It's clear infringement of private property rights, creates tremendous uncertainty for our farmers and does exceed their authority and it is problematic not for just for agriculture but across virtually every industry sector."  Hoeven touched on S 1140, a separate bill that calls for USACE and EPA to issue a revised WOTUS rule and would limit the scope of federal oversight. Specifically, it would include traditional navigable waters, interstate waters and certain streams and wetlands, but it would exclude groundwater and isolated ponds, among other things. "I think there's a good chance that we may be able to get 60 votes to de-authorize WOTUS on the Senate floor, but at the same time I think that we have to work to defund it," Hoeven said. But Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that while he also wants to block USACE and EPA from finalizing the rule -- quipping "I don't think we should be regulating mud puddles from Washington, DC," -- he urged Hoeven to "exercise some restraint." Alexander chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which passed the appropriations bill on Tuesday (see Shale Daily, May 20). "There are other ways to deal with this issue," Alexander said. "The energy and water appropriations bill in the House contains the language that you're suggesting. The Interior appropriations bill might be able to contain that language. Or we may be deal with it in conference. So I wonder, even though I agree with the senator and will vote with him, if he might be willing to withdraw his amendment in the committee and either offer it on the floor or bring it up in any of these other forums where we might be able to act on it. That way we may be able to get a result on this very important bill." Hoeven relented and agreed to withdraw the amendment "on the basis that I believe we have strong support to bring it back and work further when we address the EPA budget. But I think it's very important that we do defund this rule...more

This is Senator Alexander up to his tricks again.  He wants Hoeven to withdraw the amendment because Alexander 1) has long been in the environmental camp, and 2) doesn't want anything to jeopardize or complicate his ability to spend money.  After all, $35 billion dollars is at stake.  Can't risk that over a piddly little water and property rights issue, now can we.  Hoeven complies because he doesn't want to jeopardize any of that spending in his state.  No, he will amend the EPA budget.  EPA doesn't spend much in North Dakota, you see.  

And so goes things in DC, and in the Republican Senate.

House Bill Would Give DOI Power to Approve NatGas Pipes on National Park Land

Legislation that would establish “national energy security corridors” on federal lands, streamlining the right-of-way approval process for natural gas pipelines crossing National Park Service (NPS) lands by removing Congress from the process, was the subject of a hearing Thursday of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. "The National Energy Security Corridors Act will empower the Secretary of the Interior to make decisions about natural gas pipeline projects on federal lands instead of having to go through Congress every time," said Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA). "By streamlining that permitting process, we'll create jobs, give a much-needed update to our energy infrastructure, and reduce power costs for families on the East Coast." Currently, congressional approval is required for each natural gas pipeline project seeking right-of-way across federal land. "Since the late ‘80s, there have been five bills to grant this approval. It should not take an act of Congress to get this done," said subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO). Both America's Natural Gas Alliance and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America support the legislation.  But DOI isn't among the bill's supporters. Most of the authorizations in the legislation are already within the agency's purview, according to Timothy Spisak, senior adviser for energy, minerals and realty management at DOI's Bureau of Land Management. "The department strongly opposes the bill's provisions that would authorize the Secretary to issue natural gas pipeline rights of way on NPS lands," Spisak said in testimony Thursday. Two years to designate at least 10 new eastern U.S. corridors "is too short a timeframe to adequately coordinate with states, tribes, other federal partners, and the public," he said. And DOI questions the significant role it would be given in designating corridors in the eastern United States, where it "manages very little multiple-use land and has a significantly different role than it does in the western United States. "Furthermore, the department opposes the bill's provisions declaring that energy corridor designation and incorporation into a land use plan shall not be treated as major federal actions under NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act]and that approvals are required. This NEPA waiver is unnecessary and counterproductive as it would only complicate the deliberative process necessary for the appropriate consideration of specific authorization decisions."...more 

 A Dept. that doesn't want additional authority?  How unusual.  In this case DOI doesn't want pipelines through the parks so the longer and harder the process the better they like it.

Can't help but notice the agency opposes the NEPA waiver as it would "complicate the deliberative process."  What a laffer that is.  It would take the enviros primary legal tool, the NEPA process, away from them and speed up the final decision.  That's why DOI opposes the waiver.

Oath Keepers standing down at Sugar Pine Mine

Armed guards are standing down from an Oregon gold mine after an administrative law judge put on hold any plans by a federal agency to enforce an order to stop mining. Mary Emerick, spokeswoman for the Josephine County chapter of Oath Keepers, said Thursday the guards are leaving the Sugar Pine Mine outside Galice, where they have been for five weeks. But they will maintain a staging area in Merlin. Guards moved onto the mine to assure owners get their day in court after the U.S. Bureau of Land Management ordered miners to stop work until they got the proper approvals. The Interior Board of Land Appeals put enforcement on hold after both sides agreed not to press the issue while the appeal is heard.  AP

Review of Public Broadcasting Nature film The Sagebrush Sea

This past week, Public Broadcasting’s Nature film series featured the Sagebrush Sea. The film’s main focus was on the Greater Sage Grouse which is the emblematic creature found in this vast landscape that covers the bulk of many western states including substantial parts of New Mexico Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, California, Montana and Idaho...While the movie’s producers did mention fragmentation of habitat resulting from oil and gas development as one major threat, it failed to articulate the greatest threat coming from livestock production. Like everyone from Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell on down to some conservation organizations, there is a disconnect between the proximate causes of sage grouse decline and the ultimate cause. For example, the movie did mention cheatgrass wildfires as a threat to the grouse. Cheatgrass is an annual grass that dries out early and becomes highly flammable fuel for fires. While sage brush ecosystems are adapted to fire, the historic fire regime burned these landscapes at intervals of decades to hundreds of years. This gave sage brush plenty of time to recover from any fire. However, with the advent of cheatgrass fires, the interval has shortened dramatically with some Sagebrush Sea sites burning every few years so that the only plant that can survive on cheatgrass infested sites is cheatgrass. Where the film failed, however, is making the connection between livestock grazing and the spread of cheatgrass. Cheatgrass does not magically appear. Its spread is exacerbated by livestock production. The natural sage brush grassland is dominated by perennial bunchgrasses that are widely spaced with the intervening soil covered by lichens, mosses, and algae collectively called “biocrusts”. These biocrusts serve many purposes. By capping the soil, they prevent wind and water erosion. They capture atmospheric nitrogen and transfer it to the soil, enriching the site for all plants. However, what might be the most important factor in the health of the Sagebrush Sea ecosystem is these biocrusts hinder the establishment and germination of cheatgrass seeds. So when the biocrust is intact and healthy, cheatgrass has a difficult time becoming established and competing with the native grasses on the site. Livestock hooves, however, trample and break up the soil biocrusts giving cheatgrass the added advantage it needs to colonize the landscape. Cattle further tip the balance in favor of cheatgrass by selectively grazing the native perennial grasses. Heavy grazing can reduce the production of seeds by such natives, and reduce their vigor. Over time the loss of perennial grasses favors even greater colonization by cheatgrass. It must be mentioned that historically over most of the Sagebrush Sea ecosystem bison or other large herding herbivores were absent. The dominant hoofed animals were highly migratory bands of pronghorn and deer so the soils of these sagebrush ecosystems are not adapted to concentrated heavy trampling by native wildlife. Finally if the annual cheatgrass burns, its seeds, buried in the soil, quickly germinate, and outcompete the native perennial grasses which tend to produce successful seed crops and germination at irregular and long intervals...more

Conservation group criticizes BLM fire plan for ignoring grazing

By ignoring the effect that livestock grazing has on the spread of cheatgrass, a rangeland fire-management plan released by the U.S. Department of the Interior on Tuesday will not adequately protect sage grouse habitat, Hailey-based conservation organization Western Watersheds Project contends. The plan states that increasing livestock grazing at the proper seasons and locations can help reduce fine fuels, and suggests that the department provide technical support and incentives for ranchers to work with federal and state partners to implement targeted fuel treatments. However, nowhere does the plan suggest that livestock grazing be reduced. “Science shows that ungrazed lands are more resilient to devastating large-scale fires,” said Ken Cole, Western Watersheds Project’s National Environmental Policy Act coordinator. “The land management agencies can sink all of the hundreds of millions of dollars into this strategy, but none of it will have any effect until land managers address the destruction caused by the sacred cows.” Cole said the Department of Interior should pay ranchers to retire grazing permits...more

Chuck Wagon Gathering

Cattle herd finally enters expansion phase

The Jan. 1 cattle inventory came in at 89.8 million head, up 1.3 million head or 1.4 percent from a year ago. From the 2007 peak to Jan. 1, 2014, the cattle inventory had declined 8 million head to 88.5 million, the lowest total since 1952. The liquidation phase of this cycle was extended at least a couple of years by drought and high feed costs. However, signs of a transition to expansion began to emerge in mid-2013 and extended throughout 2014. As pasture conditions improved and forage supplies increased, producers sharply reduced cow cull rates and began to hold back heifers to place in the cow herd. And that impact was evident in the upturn just revealed, occurring sooner than most analysts expected. In part, the surprisingly large increase in cattle numbers was due to a nearly 800,000-head upward revision to the 2014 inventory to 88.5 million head. The majority of the increase was in calves under 500 pounds, adding 533,000 head to that category. Overall, the 2014 supply of feeder cattle outside feedlots was revised up 1.3 percent to 25.1 million. In addition to the year-ago revisions, the report shows a larger than expected increase in the cattle inventory during 2014. While most of the various categories of cattle were higher than a year ago, the increases were concentrated in the number of beef cows and heifers for beef replacement. The beef cow herd as of Jan. 1 totaled 29.7 million head, a 600,000-head or 1.8 percent increase from a year ago, driven largely by an 18 percent yearly decline in the number of beef cows slaughtered during 2014. This follows a 6 percent decline in 2013...more

Retaliation threat against U.S. meat-labelling real, but Ritz hopes it won't be needed

CALGARY -- Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says it's time for the United States to come to terms with country-of-origin labelling rules. The World Trade Organization ruled Monday that the U.S. labelling requirement, known as COOL, violates that country's trade obligations. It said the labels put Canadian and Mexican livestock at a disadvantage and rejected a U.S. appeal following a similar ruling last year. "The rules have been adjudicated, the U.S. was found offside and now it's up to them to find the fix that makes us happy," Ritz said Thursday. "We're now driving the bus. We're not under it anymore, so we'll see at the end of the day." A committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has already voted to repeal the law, which requires labels that say where animals were born, raised and slaughtered. Canada will probably be able to impose retaliatory tariffs against the United States by late summer or early fall if Washington doesn't repeal COOL rules. "If they don't come up with the fix to COOL, like repealing it, then that's our Plan B," said Ritz. The extent of retaliatory tariffs would depend on what the WTO would allow, Ritz said. There are 38 commodities already listed that Canada could put tariffs on and the list could grow even higher...more

House Ag Committee approves COOL repeal bill

The House Agriculture Committee approved H.R. 2393, a bill to repeal Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for beef, pork and chicken. The panel amended the Agriculture Marketing Act of 1946, on a 38-6 vote. While repealing the labeling requirements on beef, pork and chicken, it leaves intact the requirements for all other covered commodities. The bill was approved on May 20, just two days after the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body ruled against the United States’ COOL requirements for meat. Canada and Mexico had challenged the rule for muscle cuts of meat at the WTO, arguing that COOL has a trade-distorting impact by reducing the value and number of cattle and hogs shipped to the U.S. market. H.R. 2393 was authored by House Ag Committee Chair K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), and co-sponsored by 68 Democrats and Republicans. Conaway pledged to work to get the bill to the House floor as quickly as possible. When WTO finalizes the ruling by the end of the month, Canada and Mexico can formally request permission to retaliate against the United States. Retaliation will be determined by how much the two countries can raise tariffs to address their losses under the U.S. meat labeling requirement. A panel will have 60 days to review the tariff amount, although the United States, Canada and Mexico could discuss a settlement before the 60-day clock runs out. Without a settlement, the United States could see retaliatory tariffs by late summer or fall. Canada has already issued a preliminary retaliation list targeting a broad spectrum of commodities and manufactured products. Mexico has not yet announced a preliminary retaliation list, but has implemented retaliatory tariffs in the past, which may be indicative of future tariff actions...more

Quarter Horse great Bobby Adair dies at 71

Robert Adair, the leading rider at Los Alamitos for much of the 1970s and one of Quarter Horse racing’s leading all-time jockeys, died on Saturday after a lengthy battle with cancer, according to a statement released by Los Alamitos.

Adair was 71. He died at his home in Southern California.

Adair won 1,705 Quarter Horses races at Los Alamitos, including 114 stakes. He won his first race at a recognized racetrack in 1962 and rode until 1984 when he sustained d a shoulder injury in an accident at Los Alamitos. Adair later worked as an outrider at Los Alamitos in the late 1980s and 1990s.

In a six-year span at Los Alamitos from 1968 to 1974, Adair won riding titles at nine of 11 race meetings, and won a then-record 103 races in a single meeting in 1969.

A native of Hagerman, N.M., Adair won with such notable stakes runners and champions as Band of Angels, Charger Bar, Don Guerro, Easy Treasure, Kaweah Bar, and The Plan. Aboard Kaweah Bar, Adair won a remarkable 32 races, including the 1969 Los Alamitos Derby and the Los Alamitos Championship in 1970 and 1972.

Adair won the prestigious Champion of Champions twice – with Don Guerro in 1974 and Mr Doty Bars, a 22-1 shot, in 1979.

“I thought I could ride anything that had hair on it,” Adair once said. “And, there’s no thrill that can compete to riding in a 10-horse race. I get a thrill every time I win a race.”

In the late 1970s, Adair was instrumental in advising Bob Baffert to ride at Los Alamitos at a time when Baffert was riding on the Arizona fair circuit. Years later after Baffert turned to training Quarter Horses, Adair rode a stakes winner for Baffert in New Mexico. Earlier this month, Baffert dedicated his victory with American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby to Adair.

Friday, Los Alamitos announced that the track will run the $60,000 Bobby Adair Stakes for Quarter Horses at 350 yards, beginning in April 2016.

Adair’s survivors include his wife, Linda, and daughter, Julie Adair-Stack.

Gimble's Swing

For a shorter documentary but with better music, here's a 1981 profile of Johnny Gimble and his life in Western Swing.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1432

We'll wind up our tribute to Johnny Gimble with Twinkle, Little Star + Darling Nellie Gray.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hispanic ranchers cite discrimination in grazing suit

It’s up to a federal judge to decide whether to let a case move forward in which a group of Hispanic ranchers is suing the U.S. Forest Service over a decision to limit grazing on historic land grant areas in Northern New Mexico. The ranchers claim the agency is discriminating by trying to push them from land that has been worked by their families for centuries. U.S. District Judge James Browning heard arguments Thursday on a motion by the Forest Service to dismiss the case. He’s expected to make a decision by September. At stake, ranchers say, is a piece of Hispanic culture and the economic viability of several Northern New Mexico communities that depend on access to surrounding lands for everything from grazing to firewood. Simeon Herskovits, an attorney for the ranchers, argued that the Forest Service was using the motion to short-circuit a full-fledged discussion of the issues raised by the case. He also suggested that the agency failed to understand the intrinsic cultural connection the ranchers have to the land. “There’s a very special relationship, history and heritage that exists in parts of Northern New Mexico. This must be considered carefully,” he said. The lawsuit centers on a 2010 decision to cut grazing by 18 percent on the Jarita Mesa and Alamosa grazing allotments, which are part of an area recognized by the federal government for special treatment aimed at benefiting land grant heirs. The Forest Service has argued that management practices by the ranchers contributed to overuse of meadows in the two allotments and that fences were either poorly maintained or in disrepair. The ranchers disputed those claims, pointing to what they called the agency’s failure to manage wild horses and elk grazing in the area. They said the decision to curb livestock grazing was retribution for them speaking out about Forest Service management practices...more

California no longer going with the flow on water

In the fourth year of the most severe drought in state history, Californians are finally starting to turn away from arcane rules and practices that have allowed them nearly unlimited use of water since the era of the Gold Rush. This week, a group of farmers who enjoyed a so-called riparian right to as much water as they needed from the San Joaquin River sought to strike a bargain with state officials: They would voluntarily cut the amount they use by 25 percent in exchange for keeping the remaining 75 percent for irrigation, even as the drought continues. The director of the State Water Resources Control Board is expected to decide Friday whether to accept the proposal. Meanwhile, the city of Sacramento, which for decades resisted a basic step to conserve water — putting meters on homes to measure use — is scrambling to finish a $390 million project to install them at every home and business. The city also draws water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The delta is so dry that young chinook salmon die trying to migrate 90 miles from the San Joaquin River in the Sacramento area to the San Francisco Bay. State officials are in the middle of an effort to truck 30 million of them to the bay from several hatcheries in a dozen 35,000-gallon water tankers. The hatcheries would normally release the young fish in the San Joaquin basin, but the water in some places has dried up; in others, it is too warm and shallow. Sacramento's dated infrastructure — and thinking, some critics say — is emblematic of the challenges California faces in its push to carry out the order by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to cut statewide water use by 25 percent. The Golden State has been lax about its water use since it was founded in the mid-1800s, experts said. State lawmakers passed legislation requiring all cities to gradually install water meters just a decade ago, and only last year took steps to start measuring the amount of groundwater taken by homeowners, ranchers and farmers.

video - Rural Residents Thank NM Officials For Wolf Decision

This is a NMCGA video made at Tuesday's rally, and reminding folks to call Governor Martinez at 505.476.2200 and thank her for the Game Commission decision.

PLF sues over feds’ regs for ‘phantom jaguar’ in New Mexico

The designation of tens of thousands of acres as “critical habitat” for the jaguar is illogical — and illegal — because the species hasn’t been present in the region for years

Albuquerque, N.M.; May 21, 2015: Attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) have just sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for illegally designating tens of thousands of acres in New Mexico’s Hidalgo County as “critical habitat” for the jaguar even though the species has not been sighted in the county, or anywhere else in New Mexico, for years; indeed, the state doesn’t even have any environmental features that are essential to jaguar recovery. 


M. Reed Hopper
Principal Attorney

Tony Francois
Senior Staff Attorney
Donor-supported PLF is a watchdog organization that litigates nationwide for limited government, property rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations.  In asking the court to overturn the designation of jaguar critical habitat in New Mexico, PLF attorneys represent three broad-based organizations with members who are harmed by this reckless and unjustified expansion of federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations in the region — the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, and New Mexico Federal Lands Council.

PLF represents these organizations free of charge, as with all its clients.

Reckless regulating:  Roping off “critical habitat” for a species that isn’t there


The jaguar’s global population is estimated to be at least 30,000; 90 percent live in tropical, jungle, and swamp habitats in Central and South America.  According to the FWS Recovery Outline for the species, there are no jaguar populations in New Mexico — or anywhere in the United States.

The jaguar has been listed as “endangered” under the ESA since 1972; but the FWS did not designate any terrain as “critical habitat” for the species until more than 40 years later (in 2014), and then only in response to a lawsuit by environmental activists.  This long practice of not designating jaguar habitat reflected a basic biological reality, at least in New Mexico:  The state has not been occupied by jaguars in many decades, and it is not home to any environmental features that are essential to the future of jaguar recovery.  Indeed, the closest jaguar population to New Mexico is a small one (100 animals or fewer) living fully 130 miles south of the border, according to the FWS’s Recovery Outline.

Hurting landowners and wasting environmental resources


“Habitat designations mean significant — sometimes crippling — restrictions on property owners and managers, both private and public,” said PLF Senior Staff Attorney Tony Francois.  “They also compete for the limited money and resources available for environmental protection.

“Clearly, the government doesn’t have the luxury of careless overreach when it comes to roping off property as critical habitat,” he continued.  “But that’s exactly what we see with the jaguar habitat designation in New Mexico.  The bureaucrats have cordoned off tens of thousands of acres for a phantom species.  This amounts to reckless regulating, and a heavy-handed power play against landowners.

“At most, only two jaguars have been credibly sighted anywhere in the state over the past four decades,” Francois noted.  “There are no breeding pairs or evidence of resident jaguars in the state.  This species’ connection to New Mexico is a matter of distant memory, not recent reality.  There is no justification for bringing down the regulatory fist on property owners, and wasting scarce environmental resources.”

Jaguar regs’ threat to fire prevention


A significant portion of the New Mexico habitat designation lies within the Coronado National Forest — creating an impediment to fire-prevention and fire-fighting initiatives in that region.

Indeed, the FWS’s “Final Critical Habitat Designation” for the jaguar admits that the designation of critical habitat creates new regulatory hurdles for forest-fire management strategies, such as “fuels-management activities, and some prescribed fire.”

“Over and above the legal issues, it’s simply poor public policy to designate a fire-prone National Forest as critical habitat for an animal that isn’t there,” said Francois.  “Important projects to reduce fire risk will be impeded by new layers of bureaucracy and a time-consuming approval process.  It will be harder to implement effective, flexible fire-prevention strategies.  This means increased danger of catastrophic wildfire, with potentially devastating impacts not just for people, property and natural resources — but also for species.  That’s right:  The environment is at greater risk because of unjustified regulations by the very bureaucrats who are paid to protect the environment.

“The jaguar habitat designation can also impede development of community infrastructure like road improvements and pipelines, and range improvements for cattle ranches that are important to the local community and economy,” he noted.

Statement from the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau


“Food producers in New Mexico are under the gun as the federal government continues to endanger their livelihood,” said Chad Smith, CEO of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau.  “The designation of tens of thousands of acres of prime New Mexico ranch lands as critical habitat for endangered jaguars is one more example of how endangered species have taken precedence over people.  We must restore balance, and members of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau ask the federal government to ensure a successful future for ranchers in Southern New Mexico by overturning the designation of jaguar habitat.”

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, the lawsuit is New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, et al. v. Jewell.  More information, including the complaint, may be found at PLF’s website:

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation is the leading legal watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts across the country.

Press Release

My apologies to the news hawks

I spent much of the a.m. figuring out which songs of Johnny Gimble's I would play, and then making the video.  I then made the "mistake" of watching documentaries on his life and music.  I'll share one of those today and one tomorrow.

I like swing, especially Western Swing, and I love the way Gimble played it.

So the news hawks must take a back seat today and I'll get back to regular business tomorrow.

Waco Remembers - Johnny Gimble (Produced by The City of Waco)

 This is the most complete documentary I've found so far.  Will have shorter one from 1981 tomorrow.

Uploaded on Dec 9, 2011
Johnny Gimble shares his life story and talks about the road that led him to become "American's Greatest Fiddler".

Department of Interior draws ire of Siskiyou County supervisors

The rift between the United States Department of the Interior and Siskiyou County may have widened over a recent letter from DOI representative John Bezdek. Bezdek has been the point of contact for DOI regarding two Klamath River agreements. The first, the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, allows for the possible removal of four dams on the river, and the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement allows for the funneling of federal funds to numerous restoration projects in the basin. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors has long expressed its opposition to the removal of the dams, but the way Bezdek characterized that opposition stoked an impassioned response earlier this month. Bezdek, who has met with individual supervisors behind closed doors in recent weeks, mailed a letter April 24 in order to update the board on events related to the two agreements. He noted in his letter that legislation required to authorize execution of the agreements – Senate Bill 133 – now includes language that would allow for compensation to property owners if dam removal occurs and depresses their property values. The specific language states that the costs of dam removal would include “reasonable compensation for property owners whose property or property value is directly damaged by facilities removal, consistent with State, local and Federal law.”  The bill states that those additional costs would have to fall within the $450 million cap on funds raised through a California bond measure and through dam-owner Pacificorp’s surcharges on customers’ bills. Bezdek notes other possibilities for future changes to the bill, including safe harbor provisions under the Endangered Species Act for landowners in the Shasta and Scott valleys. “As discussed in our meetings, we believe there is the potential for real benefits to Siskiyou County regarding lands, water, and power resources as part of the overall package with the Klamath Agreements. These benefits are real, they are meaningful, and they will add to the quality of life in Siskiyou County,” he stated in the letter. Bezdek went on to state that he believes the county would like to maintain the status quo for Klamath River resource management, drawing the ire of the board in a follow-up letter on May 12. The board’s letter calls Bezdek’s characterization “simply inaccurate,” stating that for “the past two decades, Siskiyou County has supported and implemented a multitude of actions to improve water quality, water supplies, and aquatic habitat in the Klamath River watershed.” The letter notes that the board’s biggest objection has long been tied to dam removal, noting that potential negative impacts to the county are part of the push for “more focused and pragmatic resource management alternatives for the Klamath Basin.”...more

Wild `teddy bear` of Louisiana no longer endangered

The Louisiana black bear, which inspired the popular stuffed animals known as teddy bears, is no longer an endangered species, US officials said Wednesday. After more than two decades of conservation efforts, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove the bears from the endangered list because their numbers have rebounded. "Across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, we have worked together with our partners to protect and restore habitat, reintroduce populations and reduce the threats to the bear," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. "Today`s recovery of the bear is yet another success story of the Endangered Species Act." The Louisiana black bear, a subspecies of black bear that lives in certain areas of the American south, rose to fame in the early 20th century after one bear`s encounter with the president. In 1902, president Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was on a hunting trip in Mississippi. He was unable to find any bears to shoot until the third day, when aides found a black bear that had been chased and attacked by dogs and tied it to a tree for Roosevelt to shoot. The US leader decided he could not shoot the bear, but ordered that it be put down to end its suffering. The story spread in US newspapers and editorial cartoons, and inspired the creation of stuffed animals named "teddy bears" by a Brooklyn candy store owner...more

One might question the timing on this announcement. Right when the Republicans are organizing to amend the ESA, Jewell finds a "success", and one that involves a former Republican President?  "Obama saves the cuddly 'teddy bear' and Republicans want to gut the law that made this happen" will be their battle cry.  Are we to believe the timing on this is just a coincidence?

Calif. House bill in works could portend wider Western drought legislation

House Republicans from California are readying legislation to address their home state's ongoing drought by focusing on water transfers and storage while attempting to avoid the most controversial proposals to roll back environmental regulations that sank earlier legislative efforts.

A bill is expected to be introduced as soon as next month, after lawmakers return from their upcoming weeklong Memorial Day recess. Details are being closely guarded, but sources familiar with the effort say the California-specific legislation would likely become part of a broader bill addressing drought conditions across the West.

A draft bill circulating among stakeholders would tweak Endangered Species Act protections for fish that inhabit the state's main water delivery system in order to send more water south, similar to bills that passed the House last year. But a GOP aide said the proposal was not a reflection of the "current state of play" on a California water bill, which would focus primarily on delivering water south and increasing storage capacity.

Rep. Jim Costa, a moderate Democrat who represents parts of California's agriculture-heavy Central Valley, said he has offered Republicans some suggestions for their bill but that the authors have been "understandably" tight-lipped about its contents. He said he expects a bill to be introduced the week of June 1, following the congressional recess, and added that action is even more necessary this year as conditions continue to deteriorate because of the drought.

"Just as last year we were attempting to deal with both short-term and long-term solutions, we were not successful, and things have not gotten any better," Costa said.

The goal of the California Republicans writing the bill is to arrive at a proposal that could win support from at least six Senate Democrats whose votes would be needed to avoid a filibuster in that chamber and to win President Obama's signature, these sources say. But it remains to be seen whether such consensus would be possible.

Key targets include Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tom Udall of New Mexico, an aide involved in the process said. But House Republicans are largely writing off the chance of securing support from more liberal Westerners such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada or California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who objected to earlier drought bills over proposed changes to environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act.

Barack the Bee Savior, President's Pollinator Protection Plan, US to be'Honey Heaven'

Drastic honeybee deaths are threatening ecosystems and food production across the United States, and the White House now has a strategy to cater to the bees' needs. The number of honeybee colonies has been cut in more than half since the 1940s, according to the White House's "National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honeybees and Other Pollinators." That's significant considering that pollinators, which includes the imperiled monarch butterfly, increase U.S. crop values by $15 billion. "[The strategy] focuses on both immediate and long-term changes that can be made to improve the well-being of pollinator populations. Consequently, the strategy addresses the many factors impacting pollinator health, including certain land-use practices, declining forage and nesting resources, pests and diseases, pesticides and bee biology," the White House said in the report...more

Just Another Bee Bailout by the DC Deep Thinkers, this time by El Presidente himself, otherwise known as Barack the Bee Keeper.  General Motors survived it, let's hope the bees do too.

This is just an Obama slick trick to control more land and spend more money.

Personally, I wish he would quit cross-pollinatin' this country.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1431

We lost Johnny Gimble last week, so the rest of this week will be a tribute to his great music.  Today, using some cowboy magic, we've spliced together Fiddlin' Around + Quick Step Annie

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Obama: Climate Change an ‘Immediate Risk’ to National Security

President Barack Obama will once again highlight the “immediate risks to our national security” posed by climate change as part of his commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., on Wednesday. “I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country,” the president is expected to say, according to excerpts from his speech distributed by the White House. “And so we need to act, and we need to act now.” The speech, accompanied by the release of a new White House report outlining the varied security threats of global warming, marks the latest stage in the president’s efforts to make climate change a top national and international priority. 
“No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,” the White House said in a statement, echoing remarks in Obama’s State of the Union address in January. “Climate change does not respect national borders and no one country can tackle climate change on its own.” In February, a report on the administration’s national security strategy declared climate change “an urgent and growing threat to our national security,” and this December the U.S. will join more than 190 nations at a U.N. summit in Paris where the administration hopes to achieve an international agreement addressing global warming...more 

When it comes to national security, he should pay a little more attention to ISIS and a lot less to ice caps

Western Ranchers Sustain Big Grazing Victory at Appeals Court

Two ranching organizations, an Arizona ranch, and an Arizona rancher today won a major victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit when a three-judge panel affirmed a ruling by an Arizona federal district court that granted them summary judgment over a demand by environmental groups that grazing permits be revoked and then subjected to lengthy federal environmental review. The groups claimed the U.S. Forest Service violated federal law when it reauthorized permits that allow ranchers to graze their livestock on nearby federal lands as they have done for generations by not issuing full environmental impact statements (EISs) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) prior to reissuing the permits. The Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, the Public Lands Council, Orme Ranch, Inc., and Bert Teskey, all represented by Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), maintained that Congress made clear that no EISs are required. After the two groups dropped challenges to seven Forest Service decisions, the matter was briefed and argued. The district court upheld the agency’s ruling as to seven of the eight decisions. “That the panel ruled without oral argument shows how one-sided was the ruling in our clients’ favor,” said William Perry Pendley, MSLF president. In fiscal years 2005 through 2007, the Forest Service, without conducting environmental reviews pursuant to NEPA, reauthorized several grazing permits on lands managed by the Forest Service. On August 15, 2011, the Western Watersheds Project and the Center For Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit alleging that 17 of the reauthorizations—seven in the Coconino National Forest in Arizona, three in the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona, six in the Prescott National Forest in Arizona, and one in the Coronado National Forest in New Mexico—violated NEPA. The lawsuit was filed despite the clear intent of Congress that the Forest Service is not required to do the reviews. Beginning in 1995, Congress enacted legislation to address its concern that the inability of the Forest Service to complete NEPA analyses on expiring term grazing permits would delay renewal of the permits to the detriment of the western ranchers involved. Specifically, Congress sought to reduce the amount of documentation and expense required to conduct NEPA. In 2003, Congress strengthened these protections of ongoing livestock grazing by directing that term grazing permits shall remain in effect pending compliance with NEPA. Then, in 2005, Congress directed that reauthorization of grazing permits is “categorically excluded” from documentation under NEPA if the Forest Service makes certain determinations. The total number of allotments reauthorized under the provision may not exceed 900.  link

Feds, states on last leg of massive sage grouse conservation planning

...When conservation groups sued, a judge ordered in 2010 that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reconsider and decide by Sept. 30, 2015, whether to keep the “warranted” status quo or declare the bird’s status as an Endangered Species Act candidate “not warranted.” At stake is whether to invoke or prevent the powers of the act to limit energy development, livestock grazing and other activities in the bird’s habitat across 11 states. For five years the great-grandsons and great-daughters of the pioneers that first plowed through the sagebrush have worked on a massive conservation effort aimed at keeping the sage grouse off the endangered species list. “We’ve got the federal government and 11 states working on an ecosystem that’s been abused or ignored for 100 years,” said Paul Rutledge of the National Audubon Society...Still, Connelly and others have worked with states, ranchers and others to make the plans strong enough to turn around the bird’s slide. These conservation measures include preventing energy development in the best grouse habitat, stopping fire, reversing the invasion of cheatgrass and junipers into sagebrush and halting the plowing of more sagebrush for farming and subdivisions. They also include new standards for livestock grazing. “There’s nothing that even resembles the size and scale of the sage grouse conservation effort,” said Tim Griffiths, national coordinator of the Sage Grouse Initiative for the Natural Resources Conservation Service...But because the Fish and Wildlife Service must act before Oct. 1 to meet the deadline set by U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill of Boise, it has limited options:  •  It could keep the current “warranted” status. •  It could downgrade the bird’s protection across the range by deciding listing is not warranted. •  It could keep the current “warranted” status on a portion of the range, while saying listing is “not warranted” on other parts. The goal of federal and state leaders is to develop an approach that will persuade listing officials that plans in place will protect the bird and a listing is not needed. To do that, they need enough conservation measures in place or reasonably certain to be in place to support a scientific judgment not to list. To meet the “not warranted” goal, federal and state leaders have developed a largely three-pronged conservation approach: upgrading federal management plans to include stronger conservation measures on public lands; upgrading state plans to conserve sage grouse on private and state lands; and developing the fire plan unveiled Tuesday by Jewell to address the greatest threat to the bird in the Great Basin of Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Oregon...more

Read more here:

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell discusses wildfire strategy

Collaborating with ranchers is essential to fighting wildfires as climate change increases fire danger, U.S. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell said Tuesday at an event in Boise. “2015 could be a tough one,” Jewell said. “We have climate change impacting landscapes across the country.” Jewell joined Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officials to sign a new firefighting strategy for the Great Basin region, including Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California. It focuses on protecting the sagebrush steppe ecosystem, home to the potentially endangered sage grouse and an array of other species. Jewell said the new strategy makes the sagebrush steppe ecosystem the No. 1 natural resource priority in the Great Basin, while focusing on four points: Working collaboratively to reduce the size, severity and cost of rangeland fires; addressing the spread of invasive species; positioning resources for the most effective response; and focusing on protecting the life and safety of firefighters. She praised Otter’s work to establish range fire protection associations in Idaho allowing ranchers to coordinate with wildland firefighters and be first responders to fires on or near their ranching operations. Otter said there are five fire protection organizations representing 230 ranchers...more

Groups jockeying to shape EPA water rule

More than 100 advocates representing dozens of industry groups, companies and environmental organizations are flocking to the White House in a last-ditch effort to influence controversial regulations that would redefine the reach of the federal government’s water pollution enforcement. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has in recent days disclosed 16 meetings about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal since early April, when the OMB started its final regulatory review of the plan. The people lobbying on the rule represented residential developers, utilities, manufacturers, miners, farmers, and environmental and conservation groups, among others. The meetings are a chance for lobbyists to influence development of the EPA’s contentious “waters of the United States” rule, which the Obama administration plans to make final soon. Congressional Republicans want the proposal scrapped. They deride the rule as a massive federal overreach that would put the government in charge of puddles, dry creek beds, ditches, man-made ponds, occasionally wet land and other areas that do not need federal water quality standards. Though many business groups echo that criticism, their participation in the White House meetings signals an effort to help shape the rule’s final language if they can’t stop it altogether. “What we were hoping to get out of the meetings is a clear understanding on the part of the White House staff, the EPA and the Corps of Engineers what the practical implications of this expansion would be,” said Jerry Howard, chief executive officer of the National Association of Home Builders. His group brought construction companies from areas including the Southwest and central Florida to say that expanding federal authority could require federal permits for routine construction activities. “We brought in people with real-world experience to show what the real-world problems would be,” he said. “It’s a very convoluted process to get a building permit in every jurisdiction in America.” Farmers and ranchers, meanwhile, are seeking to protect exemptions for agriculture that ensure ditches, ponds and other common agricultural activities are not newly regulated. On the other side, environmentalists are arguing in favor of the most stringent possible protections for streams, ponds and wetlands to ensure downstream water protection. Navis Bermudez, deputy legislative director at the Southern Environmental Law Center, participated in a meeting with other environmental groups to make sure that certain isolated ponds are covered by the rule, which was not clear in the draft proposal. “We just reiterated to the folks we met with there to make the case that the EPA could go further than they had in their draft rule and there was enough scientific evidence to include these types of waters in waters covered,” she said...more

Owens Valley ranchers and environmentalists brought together by drought

The drought has worked a miracle in the Owens Valley, as environmental activists and ranchers have buried decades of enmity to forge a plan to save ranch land — at the expense of hard-fought environmental protections. The two sides began talking after the DWP announced plans last month to slash irrigation allotments for half of Inyo County's 50 ranches. The utility said the cuts are necessary because the Sierra snowpack, which typically provides a large share of DWP's water for Los Angeles, is just 4% of normal — not enough to irrigate all ranches and meet DWP's environmental obligations in the valley. If the ranches go dry, the owners will lose their livestock at the same time as the natural habitat on their property succumbs to drought. Environmentalists say the loss of habitat would be disastrous to wildlife and vegetation in the valley, 200 miles north of Los Angeles. So to preserve the ranches, environmentalists have agreed to curtail water diversions for restoration of the Lower Owens River and controlling dust on dry Owens Lake, which were drained after construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. "We were driven into each others' arms by the DWP," said Mike Prather, a longtime environmental activist. The new alliance, however transitory, defies decades of battle between the two sides. Environmentalists have long believed the local mountains would be better off without cattle trampling stream banks, polluting creeks with animal waste and eroding fragile meadows with intensive grazing. A decade ago, ranchers used their formidable political influence to derail a proposed conservation easement that would have forever banned development on about 500 square miles of Owens Valley land owned by DWP. The ranchers feared that environmentalists were angling for management plans that would limit their century-old grazing privileges on that land...more

Feds Have No Idea If $4 Billion Farmers Program Does Anything

The federal government has no idea whether a $4 billion U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative for beginning farmers has worked at all, according to the Office of Inspector General (OIG). “USDA can neither ensure that the $3.9 billion of beginning farmer assistance in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 has achieved effective and measurable outcomes nor determine if three decades of beginning farmers assistance has resulted in sustainable farming operations,” the OIG added. The audit pointed to a report from the Government Accountability Office in 1982 that urged the USDA to accurately measure whether the program was beneficial to Americans. Subsequent reports found the agency has not corrected the problem. The 2008 Farm Bill mandated the USDA to create an Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO) “to measure the outcomes of the programs and activities of the Department related to beginning farmers.” “However, after 5 years of existence, OAO officials could not provide us with evidence supporting how they have accomplished four of the seven essential duties mandated by the 2008 Farm Bill,” the audit said. An additional problem, according to the OIG, is that the government does not know what a “beginning farmer” is. “Another major obstacle in measuring the effectiveness of beginning farmer assistance is the Department’s lack of a standard definition of ‘beginning farmers,’” the audit said...more

Come on, let's be fair.  After all, they've only had 32 years to figure a way to measure the programs benefits.  Let's be reasonable...

A better question is:  Why has Congress, for 32+ years, continued to fund a program that neither they or the administering agency have any idea whatsoever is beneficial? 

Wolf supporters, cattlemen face off at Capitol over Turner ranch permit denial

Only a few yards separated supporters of the Mexican gray wolf from ranchers and cattle industry representatives rallying Tuesday outside the state Capitol, but the ideological chasm between the two factions yawned much wider. About 10 members of the livestock industry gathered in a show of support for the State Game Commission’s decision this month to deny a permit for a wolf recovery and reintroduction assistance program at media mogul/philanthropist Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch. Turner’s property borders the Gila National Forest in Southern New Mexico, a gateway for wolves to reach private ranches, according to those who raise livestock for a living. Ranchers looked on skeptically as a much larger group of wildlife conservation advocates, some wearing mock wolf-head hats, tilted their heads upward and howled. They called on Gov. Susana Martinez to overturn the decision by her own appointed commission. Martinez on Tuesday was in Dallas for the Republican Governors Association Policy Summit. Kerrie Cox Romero, executive director of the New Mexico Council of Outfitters and Guides, echoed comments by state game commissioners as to why Turner’s ranch shouldn’t provide refuge for wolves. “This was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s lack of follow-through with the Mexican wolf recovery plan that led to this denial,” she said. “We don’t see a reason to continue captive-breeding wolves if there’s no mechanism for release. Until the Fish and Wildlife Service comes together with a Mexican wolf recovery plan, with concrete numbers in terms of population goals and in terms of delisting objectives, then we completely stand behind the State Game Commission’s decision to deny the permit,” she said. On the other side of yellow “caution” tape placed by Capitol security personnel to separate the groups, Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity disagreed. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has in many respects been doing the bidding of the people who hate the wolves by ensuring that only very seldom are they released into the wild, and by, quite frankly, delaying [renewal] of the recovery plan.” Carlos Salazar, a rancher whose property is part of the Juan Bautista Valdez Land Grant near Abiquiú, hasn’t had to contend with wolf attacks on his livestock. But, he said, the reintroduction efforts represent a potential encroachment on historical property rights. He praised the governor for standing up to advocates for the wolves, saying, “She’s not afraid of them.”...more

5 Ways We Must Regulate Drones at the US Border

There has been much talk about the use of drones by police within the United States and by the military abroad, but a subject that gets a lot less play is the use of drones at the US border. As someone who lives near the border, in sunny Los Angeles, I’m ready for a thorough debate. As a city dweller, I find myself with some unlikely bedfellows, too, because a recent Associated Press video showed cattle ranchers at the border are sick of having government cameras on their land and drones flying over their ranches attempting to find illegal immigrants.

In a country where politicians harp constantly on the need to keep “illegals” out, a cool new toy is hard for them to deny. Border patrol agents have Predator drones at their disposal, and using them has the potential to become a serious breach of privacy—but it also could be a terrific tool for other needs, if it’s done right.

I’ve been writing about drones and surveillance for years, and I’ve discussed these topics with some of the nation’s top experts. When it comes to giving federal agencies like the US Customs and Border Protection some Predator drones for surveillance, one major concern is “mission creep.” That’s when a federal agency decides to loan its drones to a state or local agency to assist with some objective, as seen in North Dakota when the border patrol loaned a Predator B to a sheriff to help him wrangle a few missing cows. It is clear they will lend the drones only to those truly in dire straits. Drones and cattle are becoming inextricably tied.

...Drones can be equipped with “facial recognition technology, live-feed video cameras, thermal imaging, fake cell phone towers to intercept phone calls, texts and GPS locations, as well as backend software tools like license plate recognition, GPS tracking, and facial recognition,” as the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes. And we’ve seen these technologies used by government agencies in similar situations, like when the US Marshals Service used Stingray cell phone surveillance equipment in small planes to capture everyone’s metadata on the ground below. That’s a little concerning, to put it mildly.

...Congress should draw up border drone legislation to protect privacy. To keep drones meant for the border from doing surveillance operations well beyond their intended purpose, we need regulations to prevents mission creep. I do not want to be driving down the highway in Los Angeles and see a CBP Predator drone flying over, attempting to locate some guy who stole candy from a convenience store. Fourteen states have passed laws regulating how police can use drones, and others are considering similar legislation. It only seems right that agencies be restricted to using drones they own, so such laws are not circumvented in any way. Ryan Calo, an assistant professor of law at the University of Washington who has done extensive research on drone technology, recently confirmed for me that this is a top priorities. Here’s what that legislation should do...

U.S. bill to repeal meat labelling laws moves forward after WTO ruling

U.S. legislation to repeal meat labelling laws, which the World Trade Organization found discriminate against Mexico and Canada, passed a congressional committee on Wednesday and moved one step closer to becoming law. The House of Representatives Agriculture Committee approved the bill on a vote of 38-6, clearing the way for it to come for a vote expected early next month. Since 2009, U.S. retail outlets have been required to use labels such as “Born in Mexico, Raised and Slaughtered in the United States” to give consumers more information about the safety and origin of their food. Canada and Mexico are preparing sanctions against U.S. goods after the WTO ruling, and committee Chairman Michael Conaway said swift action was needed. “We must do all we can to avoid retaliation by Canada and Mexico, and this bill accomplishes that through full repeal of labelling requirements for beef, pork, and chicken,” the Republican legislator said. But the committee’s top Democrat, Collin Peterson, said repeal was premature. “I don’t think this is the best way to avoid retaliation and, quite frankly, I don’t think the Senate will be able to pass a repeal,” he said.  link

New strain of rabies found in New Mexico

A new strain of rabies has been discovered in southern New Mexico, federal and state health officials confirmed Tuesday. While it doesn't present any more of a public health threat than the known strains of the potentially fatal disease, the discovery is generating curiosity in scientific circles because it's the first new strain to be found in the United States in several years. "It's exciting. It's related to another bat strain. It's similar but unique, so the question is what's the reservoir for this strain," state public health veterinarian Paul Ettestad said. When scientists talk about the reservoir, they are referring to animals known to host the virus. In many cases, that can be bats, skunks or raccoons. Those animals usually aren't tested because it's assumed they have regular strains of rabies. Tests are done when it shows up in other animals, including dogs, cats, horses and foxes, Ettestad said. That was the case when a 78-year-old Lincoln County woman was bitten by a rabid fox in April. Genetic testing at a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab in Atlanta confirmed the strain was one that never before had been identified. State officials suspect the rabid fox came in contact with an infected bat that was carrying the strain. "It has probably been out there for some time. We just haven't looked that hard for it and by chance we found it," Ettestad said of the new strain. New Mexico health and wildlife officials have been tracking rabies in the fox population since 2007, when a separate strain found in Arizona gray foxes crossed into New Mexico...more

America's biggest ranch goes on sale for $725 million

  • The Waggoner Ranch is the largest contiguous ranch in the United States spanning six counties in Northern Texas
  • Listing marks end of decades-long court battle among heirs of cattle baron W.T. Waggoner who founded it in 1923
  • The estate includes the 510,000-acre ranch with two main compounds, hundreds of homes and 20 cowboy camps
  • Also included are hundreds of quarter-horses, thousands of cattle, 1,200 oil wells and 30,000 acres of cultivated land
  • It reportedly falls within 'super asset class', akin to selling the 'Statue of Liberty' of cowboy culture, it has been said

The biggest ranch in America that stretches over 510,000 continuous acres - that's 796 square miles, making it a plot of land bigger than the island of Oahu - has gone on sale for $725million. Realtors are hoping the Waggoner ranch in north Texas will become the most expensive estate in the world - after slapping the huge price tag on it in the hopes of attracting a Silicon Valley entrepreneur or oil tycoon. Cattle baron Dan Waggoner established the estate in 1849 - and it has operated with its backwards 'D' logo ever since.  The estate includes the 510,000-acre ranch spread over six North Texas counties, with two main compounds, hundreds of homes, about 20 cowboy camps, hundreds of quarter-horses, thousands of heads of cattle, and 30,000 acres of cultivated land, according to Dallas-based broker Bernie Uechtritz, who is handling the sale along with broker Sam Middleton of Lubbock. Oil was discovered on the property in 1902 and there are now more than a thousand wells spread across the property. More than 750 cowboys work the land, and are accommodated in 20 camps when they are out on the range. The ranch, which is spread over more than 800 square miles, has 7,500 cows and 500 quarter horses...more

Below are two videos, the first is a two minute look around the ranch by the broker and the second is an eight minute, AQHA video of the ranch's horse operation.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1430

Recorded in Hollywood on Dec. 2, 1941, Here's Johnny Bond - After I'm Gone.  That's Spade Cooley on fiddle and Hilliard Adler playing some great harmonica.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Obama-allied liberal group wants ATF-FBI merger for stricter gun laws

A liberal advocacy group with close ties to the White House is calling for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to be merged with the FBI, saying it would lead to stricter enforcement of gun laws. The Center for American Progress said its two-year study of the ATF found that the agency can’t keep up with the challenges of enforcing gun laws and regulating the firearms industry. “Too often, the leadership, management, and resources lag behind the dedication of the agents,” said Arkadi Gerney, CAP senior vice president. “With 33 people murdered with guns in the United States every day, it is time to think big about how best to fulfill ATF’s mission.” The report said ATF has suffered from a “leadership vacuum,” going seven years without a confirmed director before the Senate approved B. Todd Jones in August 2013, who recently resigned. In its report, CAP said the gun lobby has worked to keep ATF as an ineffective agency by lobbying Congress to keep it “underresourced.”...more

As EPA tries to regulate water, ranchers, counties push back

In the eyes of rural Minnesota, the trouble with a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule could be summed up by some ditches on 32-year-old Miles Kuschel’s cattle ranch in Cass County. Most of Kuschel’s ditches were created in the 1930s and they don’t flow anywhere. They’re just pools of standing water in low-level lands where his cattle linger while grazing and take an occasional sip. Kuschel, who stays atop local regulations, says he has no idea whether federal officials would consider these various pools “waters of the United States” — a battle of definitions that has blossomed into a full-blown war on Capitol Hill between environmentalists, Midwestern rural Democrats and counties and ranchers. In writing the rule the EPA was attempting to clarify questions sparked after two Supreme Court decisions in the 2000s about federal water regulations. The agency’s proposal asserts regulatory authority over wetlands, streams, tributaries and other waters that could affect protected waters “downstream.” Kuschel worries the rule may require him to obtain a bevy of permits for maintaining cattle on his property. “We don’t know if a permit would be required for them [cows] to drink out of it, to cross the stream, to graze near the stream, to graze within 100 feet of the stream,” Kuschel said. “We are the ones who have to live and work and abide by these rules. We need clarity.” So many people are up in arms about the proposal — including DFLers Rep. Collin Peterson and Sen. Amy Klobuchar — that EPA officials say they will issue a final rule in coming weeks that attempts to straighten out what they put out before. Environmentalists are pushing back, including camping out in Klobuchar’s office this month to urge her to support the rule. The Natural Resources Defense Council says one in five Minnesotans get their drinking water from sources that rely on small streams that could be vulnerable to pollution...more

EPA officials say they were attempting to clear up confusion caused in 2006, when nine Supreme Court justices issued five different opinions about the federal government’s responsibility for water.

It's time to fire up the B.S. detector.  This wasn't an attempt to "clear up" anything.  It is an unvarnished, blatant move to increase EPA's authority over water.  They tried to get legislation passed to do this and failed, so now they are making the grab through regulations.

“I think a critical component to this is to remember this just applies to water,” said Ken Kopocis, who heads the water office at the EPA. “For most activities, whether it’s a farmer or a rancher or even a developer, unless they’re planning to pollute it or destroy it, the Clean Water Act doesn’t affect them.”

Can you believe he said that?  It "just applies to water".  Don't worry, raise crops and livestock and let EPA control your water.  I guess its hard for Mr. Kopocis to get the big picture when he's operating with such a small screen.   This guy heads the water office at EPA and should serve as exhibit #1 why EPA control of more water would be an unmitigated disaster.

Forest Service To Cut Grazing, Implement Bighorn Sheep Plan in Utah

The bighorn management framework of Region 4 of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is now being implemented in Utah. Utah sheep producers have been informed of the agency's decision to close and reduce sheep grazing allotments by 2017 due to bighorn management. The consequences of the forest service's decision for the ranchers will range from a complete loss of two allotments and drastically reduced grazing days on additional allotments to the loss of other allotments due to "risk of contact" between domestic and bighorn sheep. According to American Sheep Industry Association Executive Director Peter Orwick, "The forest service announced last year that they were implementing a plan for bighorn sheep that was developed in cooperation with the Western Watersheds Project, an anti-livestock grazing group. The plan removes domestic sheep from grazing allotments to keep the two species - domestic and bighorn sheep - separate. The 'occupied bighorn habitat' impacts 7 percent to 10 percent of the nation's domestic sheep. In 'potential habitat,' over 20 percent of the industry is threatened. Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming are in Region 4 of USFS along with Utah." "As feared, the agency announced closure of grazing with no offer of alternative grazing for the sheep rancher," continued Orwick. "Western sheep ranches were built decades ago on the basis of high country grazing in the summer and, if these allotments are not replaced, where do they go with thousands of ewes and lambs? Under a similar scenario on the Payette Forest in Idaho several years ago, thousands of animals were sold and ranches went out of business."...more

ENDANGERED SPECIES: Obama admin proposes major changes in listing process

Corbin Hiar, E&E reporter

The agencies responsible for protecting imperiled species today proposed changes to the way in which outside groups ask the federal government to review the status of plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act.

One proposed change would give states a bigger role in the petition process and increase coordination with federal wildlife officials, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. Petitioners, which are most often environmental groups or animal welfare advocates, would have to solicit information from relevant state wildlife agencies prior to asking the services to review the status of a given species.

The proposal was quickly panned by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), one of the most frequent petitioners of FWS and NMFS, as an unnecessary step and a burden on concerned citizen groups.
But the changes -- along with a raft of planned regulatory updates to the four-decade-old law that were also previewed today -- are likely to be welcomed by Republicans who have introduced legislation that they say would make the law more transparent and efficient.

...Larry Voyles, the president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, added in the statement that "we appreciate the Service's due recognition of, and requirement to, incorporate the data and information of state fish and wildlife agencies for the formulation of listing petitions."

But Noah Greenwald, CBD's endangered species director, said in an interview that "these proposed regulations will make it harder for wildlife on the brink of extinction to get the protection they need."
Greenwald was particularly concerned by a provision that would bar multi-species petitions, which he said are more efficient, and new pre-petition notification requirements. He also argued that the law already allows states to submit data early in the listing review process.

The proposal will be posted in the Federal Register later this week. Public comments on the plan will be accepted for 60 days after its publication.

The Obama administration statement also promised forthcoming proposals to strengthen data disclosure policies and peer-review standards, promote and expand the use of conservation banking and other advance mitigation tools, streamline interagency consultation procedures and habitat conservation plan permitting, and state-federal collaboration policies.

Nevada Legislature approves resolution urging transfer of federal lands

A Senate resolution that asks Congress to convey more than 7 million acres of federal land to state control won final passage Monday in the Nevada Legislature. Senate Joint Resolution 1, which passed the Senate on a 11-10 party-line vote in April, was approved on a 24-17 party-line vote in the Assembly as well with Republicans in support. The measure has generated heated hearings this session, with public lands advocates in opposition and many rural residents and their representatives in favor. The transfer of the public lands being proposed in the measure include lands in the original railroad corridor across Northern Nevada, called checkerboard lands, and lands already identified for disposal by federal agencies, among other acreage that would total 7.3 million acres or about 10 percent of the public lands total in a first phase. About 81 percent of Nevada is under the control of various federal agencies, with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management overseeing the largest share. Gov. Brian Sandoval, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and other Nevada GOP political leaders favor the transfer. But outdoor and conservation groups oppose the idea, arguing that the lands will be disposed of by the state to private interests, reducing the amount of land open to the public across the state. If the lands are retained by the state, the groups argue that it could not afford to maintain them with costs from wildfires and related expenses...more

BLM’s Arizona, NM merger opposed

Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar and other House members are urging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to suspend a proposed merger of the Arizona and New Mexico offices. Gosar joined congressmen from California and Utah plus a congresswoman from Wyoming in sending a letter Monday to BLM Director Neil Kornze. They want the BLM to seriously study the ramifications of the merger, analyze the impacts of previous office mergers by other federal agencies and talk with state and local governments along with impacted stakeholders. The BLM reportedly is considering a merger of the two state offices in an attempt to boost efficiencies and reduce operating costs. The congressional members said the Arizona and New Mexico BLM offices “face uniquely different management challenges that may be exacerbated by a merger.”  AP