Saturday, June 27, 2015

Kenji Kawano: 40 Years with the Navajo

Kenji Kawano is perhaps best known for his photographs of the Navajo code talkers recruited by the Marines to communicate military orders in their own language in World War II, baffling the Japanese. Around 400 young men, who had never been away from the reservation, served in some of the bloodiest battles in the South Pacific and are credited with helping win the battle of Iwo Jima. As a Japanese native, and thus a “former enemy,” Mr. Kawano might have seemed an unlikely candidate to tell the code talkers’ story. But his background is what helped him bond with the Navajo veterans who had remained silent for so many years. Soon after he had settled into the Navajo Nation in 1974 to work on a project, he was struggling to learn the language. While he was hitchhiking in 1975, a big camera bag on his shoulder, he was given a ride by Carl N. Gorman, one of the original 29 code talkers. Mr. Gorman invited him to a Navajo Code Talkers Association meeting, and Mr. Kawano began to photograph them at functions and parades. He quickly realized they were the same age as his father, who served in the Japanese Navy during the war and trained as a human torpedo for a potential suicide mission. “My father said the war ended early so he could come home,” Mr. Kawano recalled. “That’s why I was born and I came to America, taking pictures of the former enemy. He came to see me back in the ’90s; he met Mr. Gorman, and I have a picture of the two of them. So life is very interesting.” Those images are among four decades of work included in a two-part retrospective, “40 Years With the Navajo,” which will be exhibited through Jan. 30, 2016, at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Ariz. The second part of the exhibit opens today.

Video: Tallest cow ever - Guinness World Records pays tribute to Blosom

Guinness World Records today pays an emotional farewell and tribute to the adorable Blosom, who sadly passed away recently but will live on in the record books as the world’s tallest cow ever. The Female Holstein, pictured above towering over her American owner Patty Meads-Hanson at a staggering height of 190 cm (74.8 in) – over 6ft tall - was first recognised as the tallest cow living after Guinness World Records visited Blosom and her owner at her home in Orangeville, Illinois, earlier this year. Sadly Blosom passed away last month after sustaining an irreparable leg injury. Following further research, Guinness World Records can today confirm that Blosom is now recognised as the title holder for Tallest Cow ever. Having owned Blosom since she was eight weeks old, the cow’s continued growth led to Patty’s father suggesting Blosom’s height should be checked out by Guinness World Records. Following confirmation that she had indeed set a new world record for Tallest cow living, Guinness World Records sent a film crew and photographer over to the US. Sadly Patty’s father passed away before the record was officially allocated to Blosom. In our poignant video, published for the first time below, our crew capture the incredible animal in her open and lush green farmland, where she enjoyed 13 healthy and enjoyable years with her adoring owner...more

Appeals court: Jemez Pueblo may have claim to Valles Caldera

A federal appeals court on Friday revived Jemez Pueblo’s lawsuit claiming rights to the Valles Caldera National Preserve, an 89,000-acre former ranch that includes sprawling meadows, mountain peaks and one of New Mexico’s largest elk herds. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said a U.S. District Court in Albuquerque should take another look at whether an 1860 land grant extinguished the pueblo’s rights to the large swath of the Jemez Mountains west of Los Alamos. The ruling says the pueblo may still have a land-title claim against the U.S. government, which had awarded the land grant to the heirs of Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca. The property was later acquired by the Dunigan family of Abilene, Texas, which in 2000 sold it to the federal government for $101 million. Judge Stephanie K. Seymour wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel that the ownership issue remains unresolved. When the case goes back to the District Court, he wrote, “the Jemez Pueblo will have to prove that it had, and still has, aboriginal title to the land at issue in the case.” The ruling comes on the heels of federal legislation late last year that established the Valles Caldera National Preserve as a new unit of the National Park Service system. The tribe sued in 2012, claiming the land belongs to tribal members because their ancestors were the primary occupants of the area, and members still continue to visit it for religious ceremonies, initiations and hunting. They use hot springs for healing purposes. Ancient trails, home sites, fields, hunting traps and sacred areas have been identified on what is now the preserve, which encompasses the collapsed remains of an ancient volcano. The pueblo argues that the tribe holds the original land title and that the 1860 land grant didn’t extinguish that title...more

Friday, June 26, 2015

There’s a giant hole that’s draining a lake on the border of Oklahoma and Texas like it’s a bathtub

But despite how crazy it looks, there's a perfectly normal explanation for the spooky hole: The water is being drained. "Just like in your house when you fill a bathtub full of water and [open] the drain, it will develop a vortex or whirlpool," BJ Parkey, assistant lake manager at Lake Texoma, told Business Insider. One of the largest reservoirs in the US, Lake Texoma lies on the border of Oklahoma and Texas and is formed by the buildup of water at Denison Dam on the Red River. When the water levels get too high, as they have in recent weeks, the Army Corps opens sluices, called floodgates, at the bottom of the lake to drain the water into the river. The flowing water creates cyclonic action, much like a tornado, which is widest at the top and tapers down at its tip, said Parkey. If the whirlpool were large enough, it would be easy for a boat to be caught up in it, Parkey said. To avert a watery disaster, the Army Corps has marked the area with buoys and signs to keep people away. He said the entire area is off-limits for boats. The size of the vortex depends on a number of factors, including the lake's elevation and how wide the floodgates are opened. Although the video description says the hole was 8 feet wide, right now it's probably more like 2.5 to 3 feet, said Parkey...more

9 foot tall brown bear shot and killed in Kodiak after it charged man

A Kodiak man shot and killed a brown bear Sunday night after it tipped a nearby trash can, returned to the area and charged him, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Nate Svoboda, Fish and Game biologist, said he met with the man Tuesday night and they "walked through the whole scenario." Around 11:45 p.m. Sunday, the man said he was in bed when he heard a loud crash outside his window. He went outside and found a garbage container on its side. Trash covered his yard, Svoboda said. "So the individual grabbed his pistol and started cleaning up the trash," Svoboda said. Then, "he went to go inside and out of the corner of his eye, saw a bear coming at him." The bear was roughly 9 feet tall and started its charge at about 20 yards away. The man shot the bear by the time it moved half that distance, Svoboda said. "It all happened in really tight quarters," he said. "He shot at it five times before it finally stopped and then once it was on the ground, it was still moving. So he shot it one more time and then it died." Alaska State Troopers said the shooting occurred near a home off Sharatin Road in the city of Kodiak. Troopers identified the man who shot and killed the bear as Hamilton Long, 49. Fish and Game received the bear hide and skull. "Hamilton shot and killed the bear in defense of his life at close range," troopers said.

Report: It Would Take Three Years to Read All the Federal Government's Rules

Patrick McLaughlin of the Virginia-based Mercatus Center released a report recently on the Code of Federal Regulations, which compiles all the rules and regulations promulgated by all the federal government's departments and agencies. McLaughlin says it is impossible to understand the rules by reading them. He concludes that since the average adult reads at a rate of 250 to 300 words per minute, it would take nearly three years (5,727 hours) to read the entire 103 million word code (2012 edition, updated annually). “The American regulatory system has no working, systematic process for reviewing regulations for obsolescence or poor performance,” McLaughlin said in an email. “Over time, this has facilitated the accumulation of a vast stock of regulations. Regulatory accumulation can negatively affect GDP growth, labor productivity, innovation, and safety — perhaps explaining why every president since Jimmy Carter has recognized it as a problem. But so far, none of them has been able to solve it.”...more

Calif.'s quirky water rights system is showing its age

Debra Kahn, E&E reporter

California's method for distributing surface water is under siege as a historic drought strains supplies and nerves.

Farmers whose water rights go back 100 years or more are being forced to cut withdrawals to help other farmers and imperiled fish.

"I've been in this region my entire life. I've never seen anything like this before," said Rick Gilmore, general manager of the Byron Bethany Irrigation District, which supplies farms and suburban water users in the San Francisco Bay area. "I believe the state of California's heading toward a catastrophic disaster, which could change California forever."

State regulators cut water rights for the Byron Bethany district and 100 or so other water users in Northern California on June 12. Some of those rights go back as far as 1903 (Greenwire, June 15).
Gilmore is considering filing a lawsuit against the state over withdrawal cutbacks and scrambling to find enough water for his district's 12,000 residents and 30,000 acres of farmland, which include almonds, cherries, tomatoes and alfalfa.

The Stanford Vina Ranch Irrigation Co. has already filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court, alleging the State Water Resources Control Board has overstepped its authority by interfering with historic rights in order to protect fish. That district traces its water rights to an 1844 land grant secured by a California settler who asked the Mexican government for permission to farm.

"If the state keeps marching down this path, certainly it's going to shake the very foundation of private property rights in the state of California to the core," said Darrell Wood, a cattle rancher who depends on the Stanford Vina's access to Deer Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River. "There's a lot at stake here."

Deer Creek is among dozens of tributaries whose diversions, the state has determined, constitute "waste and unreasonable use" and violate a state constitutional amendment that voters approved in a severe drought in 1928.

The Stanford Vina district, which amended its lawsuit last month to reflect the new water cutbacks, accuses the water board of taking private property without just compensation when it clipped rights in May 2014 and again last month to benefit the Central Valley spring-run chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead. Both fish species are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.

But the senior water users are opposed by those who argue that shaking up private water rights is exactly what's needed.

How do you "shake up" a private water right?  Let's see what they are saying:

"If you were to start out today to develop a system for allocating water during periods of shortage, you would under no circumstances come up with the system that California has adopted," said Barton "Buzz" Thompson, a Stanford University law professor and director of the school's Woods Institute for the Environment. "It is largely an accident of history. It might have worked well in the mid-19th century, but it is not a system designed for the early 21st century."

It was an "accident" that their forefathers recognized a property right in water?  It was based on mining law, or maybe that was an "accident" too?  Those property rights are now interfering with a fish, so they have to go.  How dare they claim a human right trump an animal right?  We moderns must move beyond those laws created in the "mid-19th century."  Of course professor, Stanford University was founded in 1885.  Perhaps that was an accident that also needs correcting. Let's just condemn it and dedicate all the proceeds to saving fish.

But with more farmland devoted to high-value crops, endangered species protections instituted over the past 25 years and water supplies dwindling to record lows the past two summers, water users are increasingly coming into conflict with each other and depleting groundwater. A water transfer deal between junior and senior users on the Sacramento River, for example, is currently in jeopardy because endangered salmon also need the water for spawning (Greenwire, June 17). "We do a worse job of administering water rights than any other Western state," said Michael Hanemann, an agricultural and resource economist at the University of California, Berkeley. "We need to reform water rights and get ourselves in shape to deal with future water scarcity resulting from climate change."

Another professor, this time who looks at the water law in this situation and nothing else and says they need reform.  He totally ignores the federal law which is the primary creator of this problem.  The federal Endangered Species Act is what needs reform.  Reform that first and you may see that your state water law is just fine as it is.

U.S. agency denies protection for rare Crater Lake butterfly

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday that a butterfly species only known to inhabit one small tract of land in Klamath County will not receive protection under the Endangered Species Act. In May 2010, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Oregon Wild petitioned the USFWS to give Leona’s little blue butterfly ESA protections. Three years later, in 2013, both organizations filed another complaint against USFWS, this time including the U.S. Department of the Interior as well. The complaint stated Leona’s butterfly was in danger of becoming extinct. According to a news release, wildlife managers evaluated the species for threats such as wildfire, climate change, timber management, fire suppression, invasive plants, timber encroachment and effects associated with small and isolated populations. Based on the best information and data available, the USFWS concluded the threats do not warrant giving the species protected status. “Since 2010 we’ve worked with landowners and partners to complete additional surveys, increasing our understanding of the distribution and habitat needs for Leona’s little blue butterfly,” said Laurie Sada, field supervisor of the Klamath Falls USFWS office. Documents now say the species range is 12.8 square miles, and its population estimate has increased from about 2,000 individuals to approximately 20,000 individuals...more

NM Appeals Court Rules Farm/Ranch Workers Comp Exclusion Unconstitutional

From an email:

The agricultural community in New Mexico got some terrible news out of the Court of Appeals this morning.  The press release below states the news concisely.  The opinion attached gives the full story.

Not only did the court rule that the farm/ranch exemption is unconstitutional, but that made that decision retroactive to March 20, 2013.

Not only did the Court not take into account that this nation has had a cheap food policy for closing in on a century, but the put small businesses and families at risk. Agriculture has relied on the law. It is unfathomable that the Court would open up farmers and ranchers to claims back three years.

Representatives of the ag community are now working together to determine future courses of action as well as the immediate and long term impacts to ranch and farm families.  As soon as we have a plan, we will let you know.  If you have suggestions, please share them with us.

New Mexico Court of Appeals Declares
Farm/Ranch Exclusion Unconstitutional

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Monday, June 22, 2015, the New Mexico Court of Appeals declared that the provision of the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act, NMSA §52-1-6(A), excluding farm and ranch laborers from mandatory coverage is unconstitutional. In a ruling on consolidated appeals brought forth by two agricultural laborers, the Court ruled that its decision will apply to any workers’ claims that were pending as of March 30, 2012 (the date that the Second Judicial District Court ruled the exclusion unconstitutional in Griego v. New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration), and that were filed thereafter. Absent further case law, the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration intends to fully enforce the Court of Appeals’ decision by requiring coverage for farm and ranch laborers by their employers.  

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1442

Ranch Radio is back.  Here's a whoop'em up instrumental by Raymond Fairchild with his banjo version of Whoa Mule.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

EPA to Study Impact of Pesticides on Endangered Species

A settlement between an environmental advocacy group and federal regulators will require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate two common agricultural pesticides.  The Center for Biological Diversity said that under the terms of the settlement, the EPA will study the impact of glyphosate and atrazine — the most common pesticides in use in the U.S. — on some 1,500 endangered plants and animals by June of 2020.  The group alleged that the EPA for decades enabled the use of pesticides while disregarding its legal obligation to consider their impact on endangered species. “This settlement is the first step to reining in the widespread use of dangerous pesticides that are harming both wildlife and people,” said the CBD's Brett Hartl.  Glyphosate is an ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup and other herbicides; its use increased in recent years as more crops were genetically engineered to resist it.  Atrazine, meanwhile, harms reproduction in frogs, according to CBD, and is linked to serious health issues in humans. The analysis will also propazine and simazine, which are chemically similar to atrazine.  "The EPA should have banned this years ago," Hartl said of atrazine...more

They couldn't get these products banned under the federal pesticide law, FIFRA, so now they are using the ESA to accomplish their goal.

World’s first ‘highway’ to protect endangered bees

I have previously posted about an underground toad road and speculated on turtle turnpikes and frog freeways, and now we have a bee highway.  The bee highway, though, looks like a pretty cool, voluntary program to benefit the pollinators.

From flower emblazoned cemeteries to rooftop gardens and balconies, Norway’s capital Oslo is creating a “bee highway” to protect endangered pollinators essential to food production.  With its sunflowers, marigolds and other nectar-bearing flowers planted by bee-loving locals and school children, Abel’s Garden was until recently covered only in grass but is now a floral “feeding station” for bees. Oslo’s “bee highway” aims to give the insects a safe passage through the city, lined with relays providing food an shelter — the first such system in the world, according to the organizers. Participants in the project — state bodies, companies, associations and private individuals — are invited to post their contribution on a website, which maps out the bees’ route across the city...more

FEMA, Floodplains and Fish

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is mostly viewed as a way of providing assistance to property owners to rebuild in the wake of a flood. But the program has always been intended to do more. Established in 1968, the goal of the program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was to reduce the risk of flooding to life and property by discouraging new development in areas susceptible to flooding. However, in many ways, the NFIP has actually done the opposite by providing subsidized flood insurance and other incentives that arguably encourage people to live in floodplains. So while the NFIP has helped many people recover from devastating floods, it has also failed to discourage floodplain development, putting more people in harm's way. This not only endangers people, but also wildlife. The NFIP's development-inducing effects have led to the destruction of floodplain habitat for endangered species, increasing the possibility of extinction. Changing the tide to reduce the cost of flood damages, increase public safety and safeguard wildlife will require changes to the NFIP to protect and maximize the benefits of undeveloped floodplains...more

Gunmen Murder Mayor-elect, Two Others In Central Mexico

The mayor-elect of Jerecuaro, a city in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, and two of his employees were murdered by gunmen, officials said Wednesday. Rogelio Sanchez, a member of the Mexican Green Party, or PVEM, was gunned down when he arrived at his business at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, a Guanajuato Attorney General's Office spokesman told EFE. Sanchez, owner of the Eclipse bus company based at the Los Fresnos ranch, was shot by gunmen riding in an SUV. The mayor-elect and his two employees, identified as Gustavo Patino and Andres Rodriguez, were pronounced dead at the scene, the AG's office spokesman said. The PVEM released a statement condemning the killings and calling on officials to conduct a thorough investigation to prevent "this climate of violence from continuing." Guanajuato Gov. Miguel Marquez said in a Twitter post that the AG's office was "carrying out an investigation." Sanchez, who served as mayor of Jerecuaro from 2009 to 2012 while a member of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, was to take office in October in the city of 50,000...more

Violent Uptick in Opposite Parts of Mexico: 22 Dead in Nuevo Leon, 21 Dead in Guerrero

Twenty-two people were killed or found dead last weekend in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, raising concerns over another uptick of violence in the wealthy northern state and posing an early challenge to its independent governor-elect, Jaime "El Bronco" Rodriguez. On the other side of the country, in the troubled southern state of Guerrero, 21 people were killed or found in clandestine graves between Friday and Monday, centered mostly around the coastal resort city of Acapulco. The violent weekend in Nuevo Leon began on June 19, when gunmen stormed a beer depot in the suburb of Garcia, near the state capital of Monterrey, leaving 10 people dead. State prosecutor Javier Flores Saldivar called the shooting a dispute between organized crime groups for drug-selling territory, since the depot is thought to be a distribution center for former members of the Zeta drug cartel. Weapons and 15 pounds of marijuana were found inside.  In Guerrero, most of the violence was centered in Acapulco, where shootouts and executions claimed five lives on Saturday, six on Sunday, and five more on Monday. In addition, five people were found in separate unmarked graves across the city. One of the victims, according to reports from the scene, was female. The violence in the Monterrey area alarmed residents and officials. On Friday, two dead bodies were found near a road in the municipality of Apodaca, within the Monterrey urban area. The corpses, presumably belonging to a couple, received gunshot wounds to the head. Authorities said the victims were likely abducted from their home, murdered, and then left off the road. That same day, a shootout between police and a group of armed men in the Vallecillo municipality, in northern Nuevo Leon, left one dead man. Another attack took place on June 20, when four people were murdered inside a house located in the southern Independencia district of Monterrey. The victims, three women, one of them pregnant, and one man, died of gunshot wounds.  Adding to the violence, five men were found dead in the metropolitan area on Sunday. Three of the corpses, all of them with bruises and gunshot wounds, were found in Del Valle, an exclusive area located inside the upscale San Pedro municipality. One of the corpses appeared outside the house of Marcial Herrera, the recently appointed chief of security for San Pedro...more

Former Governor Of Mexico's Most Violent Border State Charged With Money Laundering in Texas

Texas unsealed a five-page criminal indictment against Mexican politician Eugenio Hernández, former governor of the border state of Tamaulipas, one of Mexico’s most violent states. Hernández is affiliated with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s PRI party. Hernández, along with his brother-in-law Oscar Gómez Guerra, was charged on Friday with conspiracy to engage in a money laundering scheme aimed at hiding bribes paid by cartel leaders who are known to bribe politicians in Tamaulipas in return for being allowed to freely carry out their criminal activities. The indictment seeks the forfeiture of three properties in McAllen and one in Austin with a total value of nearly $5 million. It also seeks a judgment of $30 million against Hernández and his brother-in-law. In a telephone interview Saturday with the Mexican daily Reforma, Hernández stated that his real estate properties in the U.S. “are completely legal.” Hernández, 56, said that before becoming a politician he saved $4 million in a U.S. bank account earned in a 25 year career in the construction industry. The San Antonio Express News reported that Hernández had been under the microscope since 2014 when his name turned up in money laundering investigations in Texas. In particular, he was singled out by prosecutors in the case of Mexican businessman Guillermo Flores Cordero, who was arrested in mid 2013. In Flores’ plea hearing, prosecutors said Hernández had been identified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as receiving bribes from the Zetas drug cartel, the daily reported. Considered Mexico’s most violent criminal group, the Zetas Cartel is currently waging a bloody war against the Gulf Cartel in Tamaulipas. Hernández is the second former Tamaulipas governor to be indicted in Texas. Tomás Yarrington, Hernández’s predecessor, was charged with racketeering and money laundering in late 2013. Yarrington allegedly took large bribes from drug trafficking groups in Tamaulipas, including the Gulf Cartel, in return for letting them operate freely during his administration (1999-2004). Yarrington, who denies the charges, remains a fugitive...more

Mexico Deporting More Illegals Than U.S.

The Mexican government is boasting about capturing 58,000 Central American migrants, while deporting more than 51,000 during the first quarter of 2015. That's a 79% increase over last year. Mexican authorities say they've have cracked down on illegal aliens crossing their southern border since last year's surge. “Its ironic that Mexico has actually departed more illegal Central American migrants than the United States is,” says Jessica Vaughan at the Center for Immigration Studies. “We are not, in fact, removing any of the people who have come in the surge.” Vaughan calls it a good first step, but Mexico's involvement doesn't solve the real problem, “They keep coming because our policies provide such a huge incentive for them to keep trying to get here.”...more

12,000 Undocumented Children Caught In Mexico Trying To Cross U.S. Border

The Mexican National Immigration Institute (INE in Spanish) has informed that 11,893 underage migrants have been detained between January and May 2015. At least half of them were traveling alone or with a smuggler. The Press release revealed that Mexico deported over 49% of the minors in the first months of 2015. Mexican officials say that two-thirds of the juveniles were between 12 to 17 years old, while one third were 11 years old or younger. The INE announced that it was taking care of the increased number of children through the country’s child welfare agencies before they were deported. This comes after last year's scandal with the child migrant crisis, where accusations of inadequate facilities to handle all the minors in custody rose, while thousands of minors were being caught trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border...more

Truck Carrying US Visas Hijacked in Mexico

A group of suspected cartel gunmen hijacked a cargo truck in Northern Mexico, which carried visas intended for the U.S. Consulate offices in Monterrey and Guadalajara. The hijacking took place on June 7. The stolen cargo included Visa crossing cards for Mexican citizens who had requested visas in Monterrey and Guadalajara, a prepared statement by the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey revealed.  A group of suspected cartel gunmen hijacked a cargo truck in Northern Mexico, which carried visas intended for the U.S. Consulate offices in Monterrey and Guadalajara.  The stolen cargo included Visa crossing cards for Mexican citizens who had requested visas in Monterrey and Guadalajara, a prepared statement by the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey revealed. As Breitbart Texas previously reported, U.S. Congressmen have expressed their concerns about the security conditions around the consular offices in Mexico. In a letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry, two leading congressmen asked not only what steps the U.S. is taking to safeguard its consular officials, but also if consular offices should remain open amid worsening cartel violence. As Breitbart Texas previously reported, since February the border cities of Reynosa and Matamoros have been ground zero for a raging cartel war as two factions of the Gulf Cartel fight for control of the region. The constant fighting has set off a series of fierce gun battles and gruesome executions...more

Sage grouse could evade endangered status

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told Western governors Wednesday she is confident an Endangered Species Act listing of the greater sage grouse can be avoided, but that any additional delays in that decision would be counterproductive. Speaking at the annual meeting of the Western Governors' Association at Lake Tahoe, Jewell criticized congressional action that put off any potential listing until after 2015. A court-ordered decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as to whether a listing is warranted or not is due by Sept. 30. "The last thing you want is uncertainty," Jewell said. "We have uncertainty now. If we delay, we will continue uncertainty." Last April, Jewell visited Reno to announce that a unique subspecies of sage grouse that lives only along the Nevada-California line, the bi-state sage grouse, does not need listing as a threatened or endangered species due to successful efforts to preserve bird habitat. The coming decision affects a much larger population of greater sage grouse that lives in Nevada and 10 other Western states. Concerned a listing could come with crushing economic consequences, Western governors have worked to develop conservation strategies to avoid that outcome. Plans to conserve the bird and its habitat on federal land were recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service and are now under review. Jewell said the decision not to list the bi-state grouse could well set the stage for a similar decision on the greater sage grouse. "That's what we can have if we keep working together on the greater sage grouse," Jewell told governors from Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota and Guam. "I will remain optimistic … a not-warranted listing is a clear possibility. I think we can get there together."...more

Otter tells Jewell she needs to fix BLM sage grouse plan

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter meets today with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in Reno and based on his recent letter it could be tense. In a letter June 18 Otter told Jewell he was protesting the Bureau of Land Management’s plan for protecting sage grouse. Idaho had been a partner in the writing of the plan and it appeared the two sides were moving toward an agreement on the plan.  Otter even told me in May he thought they were “close.” But then he went on his annual ride with the Idaho Cattle Association and he got an earful about the delineation of “Sagebrush Focal Areas” first unveiled in February. “A significant concern is the fact that this eleventh-hour top down direction was not properly vetted through the state or my task force,” Otter said in his letter to Jewell obtained by the Idaho Statesman. These strongholds, which are the places sage grouse are still doing alright, included new language about grazing, lek buffers and also withdrew from mineral entry thousands of miles of habitat. “Unfortunately, with the exception of some minimal changes to the livestock grazing component, there has not been a genuine commitment from the Department of Interior to work with us to resolve these issues,” Otter said...more

Wolf problem, program problem or both?

By Howard Hutchinson

...From the beginning of animal husbandry, humans have had to deal with predators. As a result, predators developed a fear of humans and most often avoided contact. Under the current management programs, wolves are protected from take under the Endangered Species Act. Take is defined as harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. The definition has recently been expanded by defining harm as modification or destruction of habitat. A take can result in a $10,000 fine and/or five years in prison.

Mexican wolf management has created another problem. Wolves introduced under the program have been captively raised and exposed to human scent, food source and contact. This has resulted in human habitutation of the wolves. In essence, these wolves are more akin to feral dogs. Not only do they associate humans with feeding, there is no opportunity to enstill fear of human contact.

When Mexican wolves roamed their historic habitat south of the border, there was far less human density. There weren’t many wolves, either. With the arrival of the Spanish and their livestock, Mexican wolves had more easy and tasty prey.

Today, wolves are being introduced into settled landscapes with the attendant competition with humans for hunting and ranching pursuits. So now we mix an appex predator habituated with human contact with what, up until this point, were lawful pursuits and a right to protect private property.

Habituated wolves have threatened children on their way to school, killed domestic pets and exhibited aggressive behavior to persons hiking and on horseback. The fear of years in prison and large fines, phone and social media threats and heavy-handed government investigations has added another level of stress for people having to live with wolves.

Environmentalists make their claims of benefits to the environment. Pull back the curtain on their motives and a much more sinister agenda is revealed. Rural residents worldwide are facing a juggernaut that, if carried out to the end, will result in an unprecedented cultural cleansing. Most, if not all, environmental organizations are aligned with the view that humans are a blight on the planet and need to be destroyed or severely restricted through government regulation.

This view is referred to as ecocentrism and the practitioners pursue their agenda with messianic furvor. The long-term goal for the Americas are unimpeded corridors for wildlife movement from the tip of South America to the Arctic. These corridors will connect wilderness core areas with restricted human presence surrounded by buffer zones with limited human activity. The end goal, as stated by the Wild Lands Project, envisions seas of wilderness dotted with islands of human populations.

 Howard Hutchinson is the executive director for the Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties for Stable Economic Growth

Attorney General pledges support for local border efforts

After meeting with the leaders of several local law enforcement agencies and city officials, Arizona’s top prosecutor has vowed to cooperate as much as possible to help mitigate border-related criminal activity in Cochise County. Chiefs of police from Sierra Vista, Douglas and Bisbee, along with Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, urged Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to leverage the resources of his office to help with the consequences of failed federal border efforts. Specifically, local law enforcement officials asked Brnovich help coalesce the state’s leadership to speak with one voice to call on federal officials to fix a broken system. “Our folks who live in the rural parts of the county, they’re usually armed, for their own security. There’s always someone at the house or ranch, because they’re afraid they’re going to be burglarized or victimized,” Dannels said, describing the impacts that failed border policy and resource allocation has had on Cochise County residents. “It’s a way of life now for us, and it shouldn’t be,” he said. While tons of drugs pass through the border into Cochise County, most of it does not stay here. Instead, stash houses hold the illicit goods until they can be transported farther north, said Sierra Vista Police Chief Tom Alinen. Interim chief of the Douglas Police Department, Lt. Kraig Fullen, described the city as a hub of human and drug smuggling, with perpetrators constantly finding new ways to skirt the law...more

Federal judge temporarily halts BLM fracking rule

A judge in Wyoming’s federal district court has issued a temporary stay against implementation of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's hydraulic fracturing rule that would have gone into effect June 24. Following a Tuesday hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction, Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled that the final rule’s effective date would be delayed at least until after the U.S. Department of Justice filed an administrative record in the lawsuit. After the administrative record is filed on July 22 under the current schedule, all parties in the lawsuit will have seven days to supplement their legal papers. The court is expected to issue a final decision on the preliminary injunction motion in August. Earlier this month, North Dakota filed a request in Wyoming’s federal district court for a preliminary injunction against BLM to stop its hydraulic fracturing rule from going into effect. Wyoming, Colorado and Utah also filed requests to block the rule, along with the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), the Western Energy Alliance (WEA) and the Ute tribe in Utah...more


"Nations crumble from within when the citizenry
asks of government those things which
the citizenry might better provide for itself. ...
[I] hope we have once again reminded people that
man is not free unless government is limited.
There's a clear cause and effect here that
is as neat and predictable as a law of physics:
As government expands, liberty contracts."
-- Ronald Reagan

"As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions."
-- James Madison

Roam, Roam on the Range

On a cool, sunny May morning, Hilary Zaranek set out on horseback from her log house in southwestern Montana with one thing on her mind: wolves. Zaranek lives in the Centennial Valley, an immense expanse of grass- and wetlands ringed by the ragged peaks of the Centennial and Gravelly mountain ranges. The handful of people, mostly ranchers, who call this place home are vastly outnumbered by animals. Trumpeter swans and sandhill cranes are among the more than 260 bird species that inhabit the sweeping landscape, along with river otters, deer, elk, and, of course, loads of cattle. As grizzly and gray wolf populations have recovered in Yellowstone National Park (about 20 miles away), predators have been joining the ranks in increasing numbers, too. Cattle ranchers have traditionally been hostile to large carnivores; wolves were nearly hunted, trapped, and poisoned to extinction in the Lower 48 a few decades ago, due in part to the threat they posed to livestock. Zaranek, who has done wolf research in Yellowstone and Canada and now works for the Centennial Valley Association, is trying to ease that relationship. She is testing whether range riders on horseback and ATV can minimize conflicts between livestock and predators. Zaranek and two other riders she oversees are looking out for cattle from a half-dozen ranches in the area, including the J Bar L, a 30,000-acre operation where her husband works. These cowboys, who all happen to be women, are just one of the ways J Bar L is trying to manage its grass-fed beef operation to benefit livestock, people, wildlife, and habitat. To figure out how best to do that, the ranch works with numerous partners, including NRDC (disclosure), the Nature Conservancy, and the Sage Grouse Initiative. Scientists are studying, for instance, whether structures that mimic beaver dams, installed to rehabilitate stream channels, may benefit Arctic grayling, a rare native fish that sports flamboyant, turquoise-spotted dorsal fins. And on two greater sage grouse leks, biologists are investigating what factors enable populations of these iconic—and possibly soon-to-be-endangered—birds to nest successfully. But the ranch’s primary focus is moving the herd along in a way that mimics how bison once roamed: regularly rotating grazing to allow pastures to recover for months or even years between munching sessions, and ensuring the animals don’t cause lasting harm to sensitive areas, like springs and leks. As the herd chomps along, the ranchers put up portable, wildlife-friendly electric fences to keep them from wandering...more

Rail Runner: Vandals to blame for cow's death

The New Mexico Rail Runner was headed north on its first Tuesday morning route when a cow tried, unsuccessfully, to cross the tracks. There was no way the train could stop in time. “At a rate of 78 miles an hour, it’s very hard to stop a train on a dime,” said Rail Runner spokeswoman Augusta Meyers. Meyers said someone cut a fence along the tracks, which allowed the cow to get out and go near the tracks. The train is down for repairs, and damages are expected to cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000. Rail Runner will also have to pay the cow's owner for his or her loss. "With today's beef market, anything is worth $1,000 just about, and if that was a mother cow that was either fixing to have a calf or has a baby calf, then you're looking at a market value today of $2,000 to $2,500, and perhaps more than that," said Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Grower's Association. Cowan said fence cutting is a serious problem in New Mexico that costs ranchers thousands of dollars in lost livestock...more

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jellyfish-lamb Hybrid Ends Up as Meat at French Slaughterhouse

A lamb that was genetically modified with jellyfish genes for advanced research was sold to a slaughterhouse for meat in France, according to European news accounts. An investigation to find out how the genetically-altered animal ended up as meat is underway, according to Le Parisien, the French newspaper that broke the story. “Rubis, the lamb, was found on a plate. Who ate her? No one knows. All that’s known is the meat left a French slaughterhouse in November 2014,” according to Le Parisien. The story states Rubis came from a program started in 2009 called “Green Mutton” within the scientific research group INRA. The lamb was created with jellyfish genes intact to turn cells fluorescent, in the interest of visually studying heart disease, according to the French newspaper. INRA said in a statement that the sheep express the gene to better show grafts onto hearts damaged by myocardial infarction. However, the lamb in question did not express the gene...more

Most illegal immigrants from border surge skipped court date after release, records show

Tens of thousands of illegal immigrant women and children streamed across the U.S. border last year seeking asylum and protected status, claiming a "credible fear" of going home to the violence in Central America. President Obama addressed the crisis through increased border enforcement, more detention beds, more immigration judges and pressure on political leaders in their home countries. But a year later, new data obtained exclusively by Fox News shows the policy isn't stopping the influx. Not only are illegal immigrant women and children continuing to cross the border in large numbers, but the majority charged with crimes aren't even showing up for court. "That strategy is obviously a complete failure because such a high percentage of these people who were not detained have simply melted into the larger illegal population and have no fear of immigration enforcement," said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies. Statistics released by the Department of Justice Executive Office of Immigration Review show 84 percent of those adults with children who were allowed to remain free pending trial absconded, and fewer than 4 percent deported themselves voluntarily...more

Obama extending amnesty to illegals in prisons, jails

The administration has ordered agents to begin ignoring many of the illegal immigrants they encounter in prisons and jails, as President Obama begins to implement a lesser-known part of his deportation amnesty policy — though his program isn’t sitting well with either side of the immigration debate. In a nod to so-called sanctuary cities, the president’s policy prohibits U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from targeting most illegal immigrants for deportation, including most of those who come into contact with state and local police. Agents can still troll jails and prisons, but are told to no longer go after illegal immigrants with offenses such as drug possession, theft or fraud if it involved stealing an identity to try to further their unlawful presences in the U.S., according to details of the policy released Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee. Even some illegal immigrants who are charged with serious felonies but are released by local authorities won’t be picked up by immigration agents until they are convicted, the committee said. Mr. Obama announced the policy as part of his Nov. 20 amnesty, but details of what the Homeland Security Department dubbed the Priority Enforcement Program are just emerging...more

New study: Electric cars may be worse for the environment than gas-powered

Electric cars are worse for the environment per mile than comparable gasoline-powered cars, according to a new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. This contradicts the common assumption that electric cars are cleaner. In spite of this, the federal government still pays $7,500 for every electric car purchased — a subsidy the nation would be better off without, say the authors. Although the typical assumption is that electric cars are cleaner than gasoline-fueled cars, the power for electric cars has to come from somewhere, and it's often from coal-fired power plants. "Rather than simply accepting the assertion of environmental benefits from electric vehicle use, this paper conducts a rigorous comparison of the environmental consequences of gasoline and electric powered vehicles, specifically by quantifying the externalities (both greenhouse gases and local air pollution) generated by driving these vehicles," the authors write...more

Report ranks NM No. 1 for methane emissions, lost gas revenues

A national environmental advocacy group says natural gas and the revenue associated with its production at oil and gas wells are wasted at high levels on federal and tribal lands throughout the Western United States, with New Mexico accounting for more waste than any other state. A report commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund and compiled by the consulting firm ICF International drew on Environmental Protection Agency and industry data to measure the amount of methane leaked, vented or burned during 2011. In New Mexico, the report said, that number totaled about 33.7 billion cubic feet, at an estimated cost of about $101 million...more

Rodeo de Santa Fe hopes to saddle crowd

One of the signature stops on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Turquoise Circuit kicks off Wednesday when the 66th annual Rodeo de Santa Fe gets underway on the City Different’s south side. It runs every night through Saturday’s final go ’round. While there’s not much new to this year’s festivities, the underlying theme to the rodeo is that it’s finally doing well on the veritable spreadsheet. That’s what a combination of savvy business planning and good weather can do. Butler cites cooperative weather as one reason that things have gone well lately. The rodeo was traditionally held in early July for years, but moved into June for a few factors — one of which was an attempt to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms that generally hit the state this time of year. “One bad rainstorm in the afternoon can make it a mess for the entire week, but that’s the risk you have to accept when you’re dealing with an outdoor arena,” Butler said. Moving the rodeo to the end of June also keeps it from going head to head with other regional rodeos that force competitors to choose between a trip to Santa Fe and a shot at prize money somewhere else. Next week, for instance, is the popular event in Prescott, Ariz., one billed as the world’s oldest rodeo. There are 466 contestants entered in this year’s rodeo, making it one of the most popular in its history. The usual haunts are back, like saddle bronco riding, team roping, tie down roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, bareback riding and bull riding. Back for a 46th consecutive year is legendary stock contractor Harry Vold. Every year he supplies the livestock used in this PRCA event. The animals are expected to arrive by the truckload beginning Wednesday morning. One of the additions is a Brahma bull competition. Brahmas are younger, smaller bulls and the event is reserved for kids between the ages of 8 and 12. One of the world’s best is Travis Wimberley, an 11-year-old from Los Lunas. He is expected to take part in this week’s rodeo...more

The Demand for Sand is so High There are Illegal Sand Mining Operations

Sand isn't just for beaches. The tiny grains show up in many products of the industrialized world: in the glass and concrete that build cities, in detergents and cosmetics that people use daily, and in the silicon chips and solar panels of advanced technology. But sand comes from rocks that take thousands of years to erode into fine particles, and humans are using it faster than they should, reports Autumn Spanne for Mental Floss. The clamor for sand is so great in fact, that organized crime has sprung up around sand mining. On the fringes of Bannerghatta National Park in southern India, trucks filled with sand mined near the protected forest attempt to sneak their loads past officials in the dead of night. Bosky Khanna reports for the Deccan Herald that park officials sized 17 trucks last weekend and fined each 25,000 Rupees (almost $400). But the demand for sand in the nearby cities is high enough that the illegal mining continues.  This problem arises because not all sand is suitable for human uses. About 70 percent of all the sand on earth is made of quartz grains created by weathering, writes Vince Beiser for Wired, which is the kind our idustries need. Concrete is the biggest gobbler of these grains — which typically come from rivers and beaches because desert sand is too fine and round to hold together well...more

White House makes public health pitch for climate change action

Climate change puts public health at risk and more needs to be done to mitigate that threat, White House officials said on Tuesday.  Longer, hotter summers will lead to longer allergy seasons and more respiratory problems, officials, including Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, warned. Wildfires will send smoke and soot into the air and smog will develop in big cities. Insects will expand their territories and bring diseases with them, and extreme weather will strain emergency health services. “Climate change is not just the biggest environmental challenge of our time, it is the biggest public health challenge of our time,” Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy said at a White House summit on climate change and health.  Officials promoted a handful of EPA regulations as the backbone of the administration’s work on climate change, including a proposed rule on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. But they said more work needs to happen to protect people from health problems induced by climate change. The White House announced an assortment of measures to minimize the public health impacts on Tuesday, including an excessive heat warning system and an emphasis on tracking and publicizing climate change’s impact on people.  The new initiatives, and the White House’s summit, come the same day a medical journal released a major report on climate change’s effects on public health and after the EPA published a study on the economic results of combating it.  Public health, Obama energy and environment adviser Brian Deese said, “is what’s motivating President Obama to put this at the top of his agenda, both domestically and internationally, for the rest of his term.”...more

Interior Department Releases Report Detailing $40 Billion of National Park Assets at Risk from Sea Level Rise

In advance of the two-year anniversary of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today released a report revealing that national park infrastructure and historic and cultural resources totalling more than $40 billion are at high risk of damage from sea-level rise caused by climate change. The report was conducted by scientists from the National Park Service and Western Carolina University and is based on an examination of 40 parks – about one-third of those considered threatened by sea-level rise – and the survey is on-going. “Climate change is visible at national parks across the country, but this report underscores the economic importance of cutting carbon pollution and making public lands more resilient to its dangerous impacts,” said Secretary Jewell. “Through sound science and collaboration, we will use this research to help protect some of America’s most iconic places – from the Statue of Liberty to Golden Gate and from the Redwoods to Cape Hatteras – that are at risk from climate change.”...more

The value of sagebrush: It’s the West’s old growth providing habitat for unique species

Driving from Utah to run Idaho’s whitewater rivers a decade ago, Jennifer Forbey dismissed the sagebrush that lined Interstate 84 as ugly. Since then, however, the Boise State University biology professor has fallen in love with an ecosystem that is iconic to the West. “The way I see sagebrush is as a rugged survivor,” said Forbey, while leading a reporter through a thick stand in Boise’s Foothills. Forbey has gotten to know sagebrush well through her studies of the sage grouse and pygmy rabbit, which actually feed on the bitter-tasting, toxic plant. Her research shows that these two species are completely dependent on sagebrush during the winter and have the ability to find the plants that are least toxic and have more protein and other nutrients. “Sagebrush survives partially through chemistry,” Forbey said. “Chemistry protects it from heat, ultraviolet light and those animals that would eat it.” But its chemistry has not protected it from human development over the past 150 years...more

Rainbow Family Members Setting Black Hills Camp

HILL CITY, SD - Law enforcement officers continue to monitor growing numbers of aging hippies and other free spirits camped in the Black Hills National Forest. They call themselves the Rainbow Family of Living Light. And by early July, they could be eight or ten thousand strong in the isolated woods near Deerfield Reservoir. But early camper Adobe Kochina says Black Hills residents shouldn't worry about the group. "Just t a bunch of hippies in the woods," he says. It's a bunch with a 43-year history of mammoth gatherings in national forests across the country. The stated goal is to pray for peace and harmony, and enjoy time in beautiful forest environments with others of like attitudes. Drugs and crime sometimes follow along, however, and law-enforcement officers have already made drug and driving-related arrests involving people who came for the gathering. "I expect the majority of these people are here to enjoy the Black Hills, to enjoy the beauty of it, but it also always brings in a few people that are going to create the problem," says Capt. Jay Evenson of the Pennington County Sheriff's Office. "And what we've been running into are some of the harder drugs, whether it's methampetamine or speed, as well as marijuana. So we wante for those things." Evenson and other Pennington County Sheriff's officers are at the camp every day. So are resource managers and law-enforcement officers for the U.S. Forest Service. Their intent is to keep things peaceful and clean as possible and prevent damage to natural resources...more

Shell faces walrus roadblock in Alaska

Green groups are pressuring US authorities to revoke the conditional approval of Shell's 2015 Arctic oil exploration plan because it conflicts with established rules that protect walruses. A 2013 rule implemented by the Fish & Wildlife Service, a bureau of the Interior Department, prevents energy companies from exploring for oil simultaneously at wells in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska that are within 15 miles (24 kilometres) of each other. The rule is meant to protect walrus populations that are sensitive to the noise and disruption of drilling in their habitat, according to a Reuters report. But according to 10 environmental groups, Shell's plan calls for simultaneous drilling in the Chukchi for wells, no two which are more than 15 miles apart. The groups, including Oceana, Sierra Club and Greenpeace, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell pointing out the alleged violation. Interior conditionally approved Shell's plan in May...more

Kelo v. City of New London Ten Years Later

 by Richard Epstein

Ten years ago, on June 23, 2005, the United States Supreme Court dropped a judicial thunderbolt in Kelo v. City of New London. By a narrow five-to-four margin it rejected a spirited challenge that Susette Kelo and her neighboring landowners had raised against the ambitious land-use development plan put forward by the City of New London, Ct. The formulaic account of the holding is that a local government does not violate the “public use” component of the Constitution’s takings clause — “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” — when it condemns property that will be turned over to a private developer for private development. Under the logic of Justice John Paul Stevens, so long as there is an indirect promised public benefit from the development process, the public-use inquiry is at an end, and Ms. Kelo can be driven out of her pink house by the water.

 Ten years later, my reaction is the same as it was at the time: truly horrible. Justice Stevens and the Supreme Court were tone-deaf as to what moves people in dealing with property. Of all the cases decided since the year 2000, Kelo may not be the most important; ironically, it certainly was not the most controversial. But hands down, it was the decision that got more people indignant than any other.

 The bipartisan coalition in opposition was, and is, easy to identify. On the right, there are folks who think that a person’s home is his castle, and thus resent any forced displacement of individuals for the benefit of some supposed social good. And that anger doubles because of the crackpot and visionary nature of the particular plan at issue in Kelo. The communitarians on the left were upset that Pfizer, the company that was going to use the seized land for a research facility, should flex its muscles in ways that prey on individual people.

Anyone who wants to get a sense of the process would be well-advised to real Ilya Somin’s new book, The Grasping Hand, which offers a painful blow-by-blow account of how good intentions for redevelopment were so badly misdirected that ten years later the seized property remains empty. Perhaps the only nice feature about the case is that Ms. Kelo’s pink house was whisked away to another site, so that the newly vacant land can be used to collect debris that washes up on the shore. Yes, the grandiose development plans for the Fort Trumbull neighborhood never got to first base. As it turned out, New London was too slow off the mark, other communities built the ancillary facilities that Pfizer wanted, and the company pulled out of New London once the tax subsidies ran out.

Commentary: Clean Water Act threatens private property rights

by Josh Rolph

As farmers and ranchers, we are stewards of the land and depend on it along with clean water. Now imagine if both of these resources are severely regulated by the federal government to the point where farming is not economically viable. Unfortunately, this is now a reality with the recent redefinition of "waters of the U.S." under the Clean Water Act.

One of our members, a farmer on the east side of the San Joaquin Valley, recently went through a full assessment of an 80-acre parcel of agricultural property to see how it might be regulated under changes to the Clean Water Act.

What he found was downright scary: Under the jurisdiction of an overly restrictive Clean Water Act final rule, he would have to fallow 64 of 80 acres, or 80 percent of his farm, and would therefore be left with only oddly shaped and disjointed areas of his property to farm. In other words, sustainable farming as he knows it—meaning the kind of farming that has supported his family and way of life for generations—would be over. He is not alone. This could be anyone's farmland in the state or nation.

A lot of ink has been spilled in the news media for more than a decade about efforts by Congress, the courts and the Bush and Obama administrations to redefine the Clean Water Act's "waters of the United States" regulation, or WOTUS for short. The overarching final rule will greatly expand the federal government's jurisdiction by radically expanding what it means to be a navigable water.

For years, Farm Bureau and many others concerned about what this would do to the future of farming tried everything to keep this redefinition from happening. Now, however, it's no longer an idea or a proposal. In late May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the final version of its rule redefining and expanding WOTUS.

If only the rule was about clean water. Instead, it's about regulating land use, creating a permitting nightmare, greatly limiting land-use options, requiring mitigation, negatively affecting land values, and making it more difficult to obtain financing. At the end of the day, and as the above real-life example shows, this rule makes it significantly more difficult to farm.

NCBA warns of lawsuit over Waters of the U.S.

Concerns of cattlemen regarding the U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Waters of the U.S. rule released last month are coming true, National Cattlemen's Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall said Tuesday, but that's actually generating more support for repeal efforts. "We just got some more feedback this last weekend that it's the determination of the EPA that any stock tank or pond that runs around in a flooding type event would be considered a 'water of the United States,'" he said. "So the very concerns we've had all along that the administrator has told us we don't need to worry about are coming true. I think that's helped us get the support in Congress." The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a bill to rewrite the WOTUS rule, while the House already has approved a WOTUS withdraw bill with a 261-155 vote. That bipartisan support is for bills in both the House and Senate that would curb the rule's impact on farmers, ranchers, construction industries and more...more

Tribe Urges Federal Court to Block BLM Fracking Rule

An American Indian tribe in southwest Colorado is urging a federal court to stop the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) rule governing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on public and tribal lands from taking effect on Wednesday, joining four states and two industry groups in opposing the rule. On Monday, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado against the BLM and the Department of Interior (DOI). The tribe also filed a lawsuit against both government entities last Thursday. According to the complaint, the BLM's fracking rule is "arbitrary, capricious [and] an abuse of discretion" because it runs afoul of the Indian Reorganization Act, the Indian Mineral Leasing Act and the Indian Mineral Development Act...more

Florida wildlife managers agree to rework panther policy

A controversial proposal to scale back conservation plans for the endangered Florida panther is back on the drawing table. On Tuesday, following five hours of public comments, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commissioners agreed to rework the plan after Commissioner Ron Bergeron raised objections. Saying the agency needs to be “better stewards,” the two-term commissioner said he could not vote for the plan. “We have to keep the same level of protection of the panther until … we are very, very comfortable,” Bergeron said. The policy, drafted by Commissioner Liesa Priddy, a rancher, and Executive Director Nick Wiley, alarmed conservationists by suggesting that state efforts need to shift from expanding the population to maintaining one that could “co-exist” in fast-growing Southwest Florida. Once numbering just 20 to 30, panthers have rebounded to a population estimated at between 100 and 180. The increase has led to a record number of road kills. Ranchers and hunters complain that panthers also are preying on more livestock and deer, a sign they are outgrowing their territory...more

Meet The Startup That Wants To Make Vertical Farming Mainstream

A vacant steel factory in Newark is turning into the world's largest-producing vertical farm. After it begins running later this year, the farm's indoor system of modular, stacked trays will grow around 2 million pounds of baby greens annually. The $30 million building will be the headquarters of AeroFarms, a company that has been developing vertical farm tech for the last decade. But the company sees the project as just the beginning—and hopes to build 25 farms in the next five years. AeroFarms already has eight smaller farms and five in the pipeline. "This isn't about one farm, this is about changing the way we grow food as a society," says CEO David Rosenberg. "So this is a showcase, where it's not just about demonstrating the technology but how we grow and how we get to economies of scale to make the economics work." Rosenberg is convinced that vertical farming will become an important part of agriculture. "It's not going to supplant traditional farming," he says. "But it's going to be part of the picture. By 2050, we need to double our food-growing capabilities. Part of that solution is vertical farming." While the technology doesn't make sense for row crops like corn and wheat, it works well for something like leafy greens, which sell for more in the grocery store—making it feasible to grow them in or near a city. They also often tend to wilt when they travel thousands of miles from a farm in California to a far away place like New York...more

Ryan Gosling Is an Animal Rights Hero

Taking a page out of Taylor Swift’s Tumblr, yesterday, Ryan Gosling wrote an open letter to Costco imploring the wholesale giant to sell cage-free eggs. Gosling wrote to Craig Jelinek, Costco’s CEO, urging the company to stop buying eggs from suppliers that keep their chickens in cages. He also requested that Costco go completely cage-free. In the letter, Gosling writes, “So many corporations are meeting public demand for more humane products and transparency in the food chain. I sincerely hope that Costco will set plans now to go completely cage-free for its eggs.” Gosling has a long history with advocating for the rights of animals. His activism first drew the public’s eye in 2003, when he wrote a letter to KFC on behalf of PETA. He asked the company to consider more humane ways of raising and slaughtering their chickens so that “these animals are afforded a more humane and less painful existence.” He later released a letter he wrote to McDonald’s arguing for those same initiatives. But Gosling’s concerns are not limited to chickens. He’s advocated for better living conditions for pigs, and in 2013, Gosling launched one of his most aggressive campaigns to date. He wrote a letter to the president of the National Milk Producers Federation urging them to stop the process known as “dehorning,” which is when cattle ranchers remove cows’ horns by burning or sawing them off...more

 Don't dehorn them cattle fellers, and you might consider an underground heifer highway.

An Australian cattle dynasty is selling the largest land property on Earth for $325 million

An Australian family cattle business is selling the largest private stretch of real estate on Earth: grazing land that is more than 75% the size of England. The 23,000 square km (8,880 square mile) property is so big that prospective buyers will spend an entire week of flying around in a plane to view it. As many as 30 bidders—other farming families, local and foreign investors, meat companies and global pension funds—are reportedly interested in the real estate, which includes a collection of cattle stations (otherwise known as cattle ranches) in southern Australia. The prospective buyers are from all around the world, though the as The Australian reports (paywall), local lawmakers are calling to ban the sale to any foreign governments or state-owned companies.The company selling the land is S. Kidman and Co—no relation to Australian actress Nicole Kidman—and is the eighth-largest landholder in the world. The owners of a cattle herd of 185,000, S. Kidman produces about 1.3% of Australia’s beef, largely exporting livestock to Asia. China’s increasingly massive middle class is developing quite a taste for beef, much to the benefit of Australian ranchersSource

WEST OF THE PECOS RODEO: Higher stakes bringing quality competition to 133rd annual event

There’s more at stake this year in Pecos. More added money. More total entries. Bigger pots to be claimed. And that’s going to bring even more first-class competitors to Buck Jackson Arena this week. It doesn’t take a life dedicated to the world of rodeo to understand that. Still, Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer Guy Allen knows it all the same. “They go where the money is,” the 17-time world champion said of his fellow competitors. “It’s people trying to make a living. If there’s more money, that’s where you go.” That’s why the 133rd annual West of the Pecos Rodeo should be even bigger and better this year, as cowboys and cowgirls from across the country compete in the latest iteration of what many consider the world’s first and oldest annual rodeo. The rodeo’s committee is upping the ante this year by putting in an extra $27,000 in added money into the event, bringing the bottom-line purse of each of the rodeo’s nine events to $10,000, compared to $7,000 last year — with the pot sweetened with every entry on top of that bottom line. With more money up for grabs, more of the world’s best will be in Pecos competing through Saturday. Evening performances begin tonight, and are scheduled for 8 p.m. each night for the rest of the week through Saturday...more

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Critters and snakes in the news

 by Julie Carter

Along with rains, floods, summer events and flowering gardens, this time of year brings with it the usual onslaught of reports about critters that either crawl or stalk.

Reports of big snakes, mountain lions and coyotes are filtering through the social networks, coffee shops and spit-and-whittle club members.

A few years ago, a news article indicated that snake populations worldwide seem to be declining. My personal view of this was one for celebration; however, a British biologist was calling for a worldwide study to determine what is causing this and how to correct it. The article seemed to have missed the numbers of snakes gone missing in Taiwan and China where they drink snake blood as an aphrodisiac.

If you have ever worked in rural country where one eye was devoted to what you were doing and the other was on guard duty watching for a venomous snake, you tend to have a little different take on the situation. I’m certain that particular biologist never carried a gun so he could first shoot a snake before he could turn the well water on for the cattle.

Local news is warning that the warmer nights along with the rains are bringing out the rattlers and vet clinics are reporting an upswing in the number of dogs bitten by snakes.

Meanwhile in the quiet hilltop city of Los Alamos, N.M., there is a mountain lion that has been brazenly on the prowl in the town for a few months threatening pets and putting residents on the alert while walking the canyon trails. Authorities have launched a trapping plan that has yet to discourage or capture the prowler.

Ruidoso-area residents were put on alert over a rabid fox that attacked a woman and more recently, bears have been very aggressive in the Lincoln National Forest. In two separate incidents, men hunting antler sheds were attacked by a bear.

Time to pay attention!

PawPaw's daycare

When old cowboys go to the house, so to speak, they sometimes take up caring for the grandbabies. In this particular case, the cowboy calls his part in this project “PawPaw's Daycare.”

All was well in the neighborhood until folks around there had their chickens disappearing in broad daylight. A shout from Grandmaw was about to change that.
"Get your gun!" she yelled from the yard.

As PawPaw stepped out the door to see what the commotion was about, he saw a fat, well-fed coyote high tailing it across the pasture. He raised the 30/30, took aim, squeezed the trigger and missed, but shot close enough to spin the coyote's trajectory another direction.

He levered in another live one. The coyote came out of the sage still running full tilt at 200 yards out and this time, ran right into a speeding bullet.

Admitting to the possibility of "luck" in the shot, the cowboy explained that the coyote was a Progressive, one who had been eating his chickens without working for them.

"The capitalist in me just couldn't stand it," he said with a grin. "But, once you make a nice shot, you just go home and live on the legend.”

The neighbors, mostly retirees, were impressed over the excitement in the 'hood' and from porches and rocking chairs everywhere you could hear conversations such as: "Bertie, you want to drive over to the Dusty Canyon outfit, hang around and watch that guy cap another chicken-stealin' coyote?"

Country living brings entertainment in the most basic of ways.

Julie is NOT entertained by snakes of any kind and can be reached for comment at