Friday, August 21, 2015

Navajo Nation seizes EPA tanks after spill, claims water is unsafe

Navajo Nation police have seized water tanks delivered to the Shiprock community in the wake of a devastating Colorado mine spill. Many Navajo farmers and cattle ranchers use the San Juan for crops and livestock. The Navajo Nation has yet to lift water restrictions on the river, so the EPA has been delivering water to communities and storing them in large tanks. However, President Russell Begaye believes that some of the water that the Navajo Nation is getting is not up to snuff. Several reports have surfaced from farmers saying that the tank water is oily. Begaye and other Navajo Nation leaders visited one of the tanks in Shiprock on Wednesday. A photo of Begaye holding a cup of water from the tank and with a black hand was taken and has spread across the Internet. "I reached my hand into the tank and felt my hand getting oily," Begaye said. "There are these black beads in the water, and when you rub them, black streaks go down your hands." It's unclear what the substance is. Begaye ordered three water tanks delivered by the EPA seized by Navajo Nation police for evidence gathering...more

Ranching from the sky

In the not too distant future, ranchers will use the information gathered by an unmanned aerial vehicle to count their cattle, identify where a water line breaks and figure out the moisture content of their soil and plants. On Thursday, area farmers and ranchers were offered free lunch and an opportunity to learn more about integrating unmanned aerial vehicles — drones — into their business. “You remember when they first introduced ATVs and everybody thought there wouldn’t be any use for them, but now we’re upset when our second one needs to be fixed?” queried Ruth Evelyn Cowan during the “community perspectives” segment. “That’s what these drones — I’m sorry — UAVs, will be like in a few years.” Ranchers can use the technology to count the number of cattle in a given area, identify weed patches on their property, improve water conservation and conduct surveillance for protection, Soto said. After a brief demonstration of a UAV outside the hangar, the crowd listened to Mary Darling of Darling Geomatics for the second presentation. Darling said her company used a drone to map one mile of the Horseshoe Draw on the John Ladd property in Palominas. The drone was programed to gather survey information, providing the detail for a three-dimensional illustration that is accurate up to two-inches. For a manned team to complete the same survey of the draw — which Darling said took the drone about an hour to complete — it would require three people three days to accomplish...more

Thursday, August 20, 2015

2 Dona Ana County women, Valencia County man have West Nile

Health officials say two women from Dona Ana County and a Valencia County man have been diagnosed with the West Nile virus. The New Mexico Department of Health says all three are hospitalized with neuroinvasive disease, which is the more serious form of the illness. A horse from Valencia County also has been diagnosed with West Nile and is recovering. Health officials say August and September are typically when the highest number of West Nile cases are reported in both people and horses around New Mexico. They say the mosquito populations are very high this year because of the extensive rainfall in many areas of the state. In April, a 12-year-old girl from Valencia County was diagnosed with West Nile virus infection. She was hospitalized with neuroinvasive disease, but recovered.  AP

Severe drought fades away in New Mexico

It's been more than four years since New Mexico's drought picture has looked this good, and parts of the state are gearing up for more moisture-bearing storms this weekend. The U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday shows severe drought has disappeared from the state, leaving behind lesser levels of dryness in the western half of New Mexico. The last time drought levels were this low was in January 2011. Just one year ago, severe and extreme drought conditions covered more than two-fifths of the state...more

Three Firefighters Killed in Washington as Wildfires Spread Across West

Three firefighters were killed and four others were injured Wednesday afternoon in central Washington fighting one of the more than 100 wildfires burning more than 1.1 million acres in the West, authorities told NBC News. The firefighters were killed when winds shifted unexpectedly near the towns of Twisp and Winthrop and turned back on crews fighting a small new fire, Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said. The firefighters were involved in a vehicle accident when the fire overtook them. All residents of both towns — almost 1,000 people — were ordered to evacuate immediately...more

Farmer, author of viral post, blasts federal government over Soda Fire

The author of a viral Facebook post criticizing the federal government for its land management practices blasted the Bureau of Land Management in an interview Tuesday. Alan Davis, owner and operator of Greybell Farms near Marsing, scorched federal officials for their failure to manage Idaho lands properly, which he said contributed to the Soda Fire’s massive size. “We have a bunch of people making decisions on wildlife, habitat, grazing and land management, and they have no practical experience,” Davis said. “They have no clue how the world really works.” Davis’ comments came as firefighters worked vigorously to fully contain the massive blaze, the nation’s largest this year. The fire burned more than 283,000 acres and the federal government lists the blaze as 95 percent contained. Nearly 900 firefighters, aided by helicopters, air support, bulldozers and water trucks, fought the catastrophic fire. It didn’t have to be this bad, Davis suggested. “If Bureau of Land Management is not going to take an active management role … then they need to get the heck out of the way and let ranchers or somebody take care of the land,” he said. He criticized federal officials for letting fuel loads, or burnable material, pile up. “If you leave this land alone, the Russian thistle is going to take over,” he said. “When it continues to compound year after year, it stays standing up until something eats it or burns.” Davis, using the Greybell Farms Facebook page, complained about federal mismanagement in a post that has since gone somewhat viral. “Tell your college kid wizards of smart to get out from behind their desks and come out to get some practical education from the men and women who live here,” Davis railed in the post, shared more than 1,800 times on Facebook. Davis is one of the lucky ones, if anyone involved could be so described. The Soda Fire came within two miles of Davis’ small swine operation. He said a friend, a rancher, suffered greatly. “He was hoping he’d only lost half his herd of cattle,” Davis said. He’s not the only party complaining, though. The Idaho Cattle Association blasted federal shortcomings in its own Facebook post last week. “These fires are largely a result of the federal government’s management framework,” the group said. “We will never be able to stop all wildfires, but we can curb catastrophic fires in the future through grazing.” That post, shared 763 times, described what the association identifies as a core problem in land management. “In times of drought, ranchers are asked to reduce grazing herds, but that flexibility does not exist when a wet spring creates late summer fuels,” the association wrote. “In those circumstances ranchers are not asked to increase grazing herds to utilize excess fuels.”...more

Ranchers: Grazing could have impacted size of Soda Fire

BOISE-- Just over a week after the Soda Fire first sparked, it was listed at 95 percent contained Wednesday morning. A Burned Area Emergency Response team is now assessing damage and creating a plan for what happens next in the 285,361 acres burned. Some Owhyee County ranchers believe the Soda Fire would not have grown to that size if more grazing had been allowed across the rangeland. Wyatt Prescott, executive vice president of the Idaho Cattle Association, said if cattle could graze more land, there would be less fuel for fires. "Graze it, don't blaze it," Prescott said. He explained that in times of drought when there is limited grass growth in the spring, ranchers are limited in where and how much cattle can graze. He says, however, the opposite is not true. This past spring, southwestern Idaho experienced above average rain fall, thus causing more growth than years' past. "There was never any notice saying 'There is going to be a lot of feed out there, go utilize that feed' which later becomes fuel that really spreads these wildfires," Prescott said.  The state director of the Idaho Bureau of Land Management, Tim Murphy, said the weather is to blame for the Soda Fire's spread. "It was driven by extreme weather that we haven't seen in this part of the country in almost 90 years," Murphy said. Murphy cited high winds, triple digit heat, and low humidity values as the cause of fire growth. "That's a sweeping statement. Absolutely, there has been so much fuel out there because of the high moisture event we had this spring. Obviously, wind helps accelerate (the fire, but) without the fuel, the wind could not accelerate there," Prescott said...more

Drought panel told there’s forage on Nevada range

Northern Nevada ranchers told a panel studying ongoing regional drought on Wednesday that there's a bumper crop of grass on the open range, and they want to be allowed to turn more cattle out to graze on it. Accounts of rains in recent months bringing wildflowers to northern parts of the state surfaced during a Nevada Drought Forum hosted by the state Department of Agriculture in Sparks. Ranchers also aired complaints about federal land managers sticking to national drought plans instead of letting ranchers graze their full allotment of permitted cattle. "We're not drought-deniers," Eureka County natural resources manager Jake Tibbitts said. "A lot of old-timers and folks talk about abundant forage and nothing to drink for the cows." David Stix Jr., a Fernley rancher and president-elect of the Nevada Cattlemen's Association, said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies move too slowly to adapt to changes in the weather. He said wildfires could end up claiming what cows don't eat. "No one would have predicted that we'd have the amount of rainfall we did," Stix conceded. But, "they won't let us go back and increase our numbers to permit limits to take care of the vegetation. Fires are probably going to consume that."...more 

Why doesn't BLM issue a temporary permit to increase grazing?  

Here's are some reasons:

° The higher-ups in BLM would disapprove

° Its safer (as in career) to stick with the national plan

° BLMers figure the eviros will sue and prevent the increase, so why do all the work?

Truth be told, the entire regulatory regime is not set up for short term decisions. There are too many environmental clearances and other hoops to run through.  Unfortunately, flexibility and reason are not built into the system.

Obama's Toxic Environmental Pollution Agency

by Michelle Malkin

Here in my adopted home state of Colorado, orange is the new Animas River thanks to the blithering idiots working under President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency.

It's just the latest man-caused disaster from an out-of-control bureaucracy whose primary mission is not the Earth's preservation, but self-preservation.

As always, the government cover-up compounds the crime -- which is why the agency's promise this week to investigate itself has residents across the Rocky Mountains in stitches. Or tears.

Are you wondering why Michelle doesn't trust the EPA?  Here's some of the reasons on her list:

--BP oil spill data doctoring. Former White House Director of the Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy Carol Browner and the EPA suffered no consequences after they repeatedly lied and cooked the books in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. Browner, who pulled the puppet strings of then-EPA head Lisa Jackson, misled the public about the scope of the disaster by falsely claiming that 75 percent of the spill was "completely gone from the system." Then she falsely claimed that the administration's initial report on the disaster was "peer-reviewed."

The Interior Department inspector general also singled out Browner for misrepresenting the White House's blue-ribbon science panel, which opposed a six-month drilling moratorium, and exposed how she butchered their conclusions to justify the administration's preordained policy agenda.

Browner, an inveterate left-wing crony lobbyist/activist, left office without so much as a wrist slap. Brazen data doctoring and destruction are her fortes. As EPA head during the Clinton administration in the 1990s, she was held in contempt by a federal judge after ordering a staffer to purge and delete her computer files. Browner had sought to evade a public disclosure lawsuit by conservative lawyer and author Mark Levin's Landmark Legal Foundation.

--Email evasion and transparency trouncing. While Browner was doing her dirty work as Obama's unaccountable eco-czar, Jackson busied herself creating sock-puppet email personalities to circumvent public disclosure rules as the agency crafted radical climate-change policies in secret. She learned the tricks of the trade from Browner. Jackson admitted to using the pseudonym "Richard Windsor" on one of at least two separate secret government accounts. Competitive Enterprise Institute fellow Christopher Horner discovered the elaborate ruses in 2012. The agency had stonewalled Horner's FOIA requests on the use of alias accounts at the agency; CEI sued to force the administration to comply.

In December 2012, Jackson resigned amid multiple investigations. Not a wrist slap. Not a scratch. In March of this year, a federal judge blasted the agency for avoiding a separate FOIA request by Levin's Landmark Legal Foundation related to sock-puppet email accounts created by Jackson and others "who may have delayed the release dates for hot-button environmental regulations until after the Nov. 6, 2012, presidential election."

--Enabling sex predators and porn addicts. Last month, the EPA inspector general finally testified on Capitol Hill about the agency's chronic mismanagement of alleged sexual perverts on the payroll. One employee "engaged in offensive and inappropriate behavior toward at least 16 women, most of whom were EPA co-workers," the IG reported. Supervisors "were made aware of many of these actions and yet did nothing."

Well, not exactly "nothing." The employee was actually promoted to assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Homeland Security -- a position he used to harass six more women.

Two other EPA workers were caught binging on porn during work hours; one was observed getting his X-rated fix by a minor who was at the office during Bring Your Child To Work Day. EPA allowed one perv to retire with full benefits; the other is still on leave collecting a $120,000 yearly salary.

Where Bundy cows roam, desert damaged by pipes, ATVs

A large water tank, a trough and pipelines have been illegally installed on public lands in southern Nevada near the site of the Bureau of Land Management's ill-fated roundup of Cliven Bundy's cows, according to a new report by the conservation group Friends of Gold Butte. The report, shared exclusively with Greenwire, also documents what are believed to be several new all-terrain vehicle tracks that have damaged sensitive desert soils, unique red sand dunes and rare plants. Users have cut fences and torn down "road closed" signs, inviting future illegal ATV use, according to the report. All of the incidents are believed to have occurred over the past year at the Gold Butte Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, a 350,000-acre chunk of remote, scenic desertlands about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Conservationists and KEEN Inc., an outdoor footwear company, are campaigning for President Obama to protect the area as a national monument. But doing so would likely spark a backlash from Republicans and could mobilize anti-federal government activists who rallied to Bundy's defense in April 2014 when BLM tried to impound his cattle. Friends of Gold Butte Executive Director Jaina Moan said the report highlights grave threats to the area's historic sites, Native American petroglyphs and delicate desert habitats, and underscores an urgent need for protections.  The report by a half-dozen Friends of Gold Butte volunteers documents damage observed from November 2014 through last month...more

Greens: End federal fossil fuel production to cut emissions

Ending fossil fuel production on federal lands in the United States would prevent up to 450 billion tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere, according to a study released Wednesday. The analysis, from the group EcoShift and commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth, found that the untapped supply of fossil fuels on U.S. federal lands represents between 349 and 492 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, or about half the potential emissions from all U.S. fossil fuels.  By contrast, the U.S. emitted more than 6.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2013, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Most federal fossil fuels are in areas the government hasn’t leased for development, according to the study. The vast majority are in oil shale and coal stores around the country. The groups behind the study said the U.S. should not allow those fuels to be developed in order to cut carbon pollution enough to meet scientific standards for preventing global warming. “Our climate can’t afford the pollution from more federal fossil fuel leasing,” said Taylor McKinnon, a campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The natural place for President Obama to start leading the global fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground is on our public lands and oceans.”...more

Grizzly bears attacking more livestock

Growing numbers of grizzly bears venturing east from the Rocky Mountains are attacking more domestic cattle and sheep. Montana's livestock-loss program has reimbursed ranchers for 42 animals killed by grizzlies so far this year — eight more than in all of 2014. That total does not include the 22 cattle lost this year to bears that have not yet been claimed. One report came from as far east as Floweree, Mont., about 100 miles northeast of Helena, George Edwards of the Montana Livestock Loss Board said Tuesday. Montana's Northern Rockies Wildlife Manager Graham Taylor said measures taken during the last few years to electrify fences and fortify food storage have helped to reduce the number of bear-livestock conflicts in parts of Montana despite a growing number of grizzlies. But other state and federal officials say that trend doesn't hold true for ranches surrounding the grizzly population in the Yellowstone National Park region of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Idaho officials did not return calls for comment Tuesday. Yellowstone sees most of Wyming's grizzly-livestock interactions, DeBolt said. Conflicts have ranged from 77 reports in 2011 and 135 in 2012 to 113 in 2013. The state recorded 130 grizzly encounters with livestock in 2014 and, although Wyoming has used similar mitigation tactics as Montana, DeBolt said he expects an increase this year. "We've made headway, but overall it's increasing and I think it's more of a function of bear numbers and distribution," DeBolt said.  Scientists estimate about 1,000 grizzlies live in Yellowstone and another 1,000 live in the northern Rockies...more

New Mexico will investigate mine spill

Gov. Susana Martinez has added the state Environment Department to the list of agencies investigating the Aug. 5 spill of millions of gallons of toxic gold mine wastewater into the Animas River. Most of the heavy metals in the water have settled to the bottom of the river, which flows from the spill site in Silverton, Colo., into New Mexico, where it joins the San Juan River, and flows through the Navajo Nation and on to Utah. The EPA and Interior Department are both investigating. The Navajo Nation launched its own plans for a lawsuit. And, on Wednesday, Martinez said the state Environment Department will do its own investigation into the spill. “New Mexicans deserve answers as to why this catastrophe happened and why the EPA failed to notify us in a timely manner,” the governor said in a statement. An appropriation of $400,000 that is already in place for litigation will fund the state investigation, NMED spokeswoman Allison Scott Majure said Wednesday. “As New Mexico’s lead agency for the initial response to the Gold King mine spill, the New Mexico Environment Department encountered multiple data gaps and operational miscues in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s handling of the spill event,” Majure said in a statement. NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn and the agency’s chief counsel, Jeff Kendall, will lead the investigation. “The results will help us to ensure that EPA is held accountable and that New Mexico is fairly compensated,” Majure said...more

Oil Companies Sit on Hands at Auction for Leases

HOUSTON — With oil prices collapsing and companies in retrenchment, a federal auction in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday attracted the lowest interest from producers since 1986. It was the clearest sign yet that the fortunes of oil companies are skidding so fast that they now need to cut back on plans for production well into the future. The auction, for drilling leases, attracted a scant $22.7 million in sales from five companies, but energy analysts said that came as no surprise on a day when the American oil benchmark price plummeted by more than 4 percent. For the first time since the recession, it is approaching the symbolic $40-a-barrel level. Last summer, it was above $100 a barrel. A glut on American and world markets is to blame for the depressed prices, but the unusually large daily decline occurred after the Energy Department, in a report, lowered its oil price projections and showed a considerable increase in inventories...more

U.S. government, police working on counter-drone system - sources

As concerns rise about a security menace posed by rogue drone flights, U.S. government agencies are working with state and local police forces to develop high-tech systems to protect vulnerable sites, according to sources familiar with the matter. Although the research aimed at tracking and disabling drones is at an early stage, there has been at least one field test. Last New Year's Eve, New York police used a microwave-based system to try to track a commercially available drone at a packed Times Square and send it back to its operator, according to one source involved in the test. The previously unreported test, which ran into difficulty because of interference from nearby media broadcasts, was part of the nationwide development effort that includes the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Defense Department, the source said. The number of unauthorized drone flights has surged over the past year, raising concerns that one could hit a commercial aircraft during landing or take-off, or be used as a weapon in a deliberate attack, the sources said. Drones have flown perilously close to airliners, interfered with firefighting operations, been used to transport illegal drugs into the United States from Mexico, and sparked a security scare at the White House, among other incidents. A system capable of disabling a drone and identifying its operator would give law enforcement officials practical powers to block the flights. At crowded venues such as Times Square or the Super Bowl, police want to be able to take control of a drone, steer it safely away from the public and guide it back to the operators, who can then be identified, the sources said...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1471

The Sons of the Pioneers sing about Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The tune was recorded in Hollywood on Nov. 24, 1947 for RCA Victor.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Homeland Security racks up $30,000 Starbucks bill

Employees at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spent $31,413 at Starbucks in 2013, according to an audit by the department's inspector general released Aug. 11. The audit identified 66 transactions with government charge cards at the coffee franchise, for an average transaction cost of over $475.  The review found that 61 percent of the transactions were “supported, allowable, and reasonable,” while 24 percent were not properly documented. The remaining 15 percent of charges were “fraudulent” and made by “unauthorized users.” The DHS put more than $400 million a year on charge cards from fiscal 2012 to 2014, the report said...more

On U.S. Farms, Fewer Hands for the Harvest

Last year, about a quarter of Biringer Farm’s strawberries and raspberries rotted in the field because it couldn’t find enough workers. Samantha Bond was determined not to let that happen again. Early this year, Ms. Bond, human resources manager for the 35-acre farm in Arlington, Wash., offered 20% raises to the most productive workers from the last harvest. She posted help-wanted ads on Craigslist, beside highways and on the bathroom-stall door at a church. She also successfully lobbied local high schools to broadcast her call for workers during morning announcements. Despite Ms. Bond’s efforts, Biringer again faced a worker shortage and typically drew fewer than 60 of the roughly 100 employees it needed on harvest days. “There was definitely hair-pulling going on,” she said. Ms. Bond’s travails reflect a broader struggle by U.S. fruit, vegetable and dairy farms to secure farmhands as illegal immigration from Mexico declines and a strengthened U.S. economy makes it easier for people to find less backbreaking work, often in areas with cheaper housing costs. In an industry notorious for poor working conditions, farm companies are wooing employees by raising wages faster than inflation and enhancing medical and other benefits. Even so, many farms say these efforts have failed to meaningfully address their worker shortfalls. Overall in the U.S., the decline in workers is reducing fruit and vegetable production by 9.5%, or $3.1 billion, a year, according to a recently published analysis of government data by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a nonpartisan group that supports a looser immigration policy. The problem started years ago and was temporarily exacerbated this summer by a glitch that snarled processing for seasonal-worker visas and delayed the arrival in the U.S. of thousands of legal farm laborers, leading to millions of dollars of crop losses in California and other states. More broadly, growers say they are bearing the brunt of the federal government’s crackdown on illegal immigration, as they lack a suitable alternative workforce. U.S.-born workers unaccustomed to farm labor abandon the job after just days during harvest, farm owners say, and the supply of mostly Mexican laborers that made up for them has shrunk in recent years. That is partly due to tighter U.S. control of its southern border and a declining Mexican birthrate that has decreased the number of young workers heading to the U.S...more(subscription)

Ranchers, USDA spar over forest management

As wildfires rage throughout the West, two ranchers’ groups are engaging in finger-pointing with federal officials over what the cattlemen call the “gross” mismanagement of forests and rangelands. In an Aug. 17 letter, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council officials urged President Barack Obama to “streamline regulations that will allow for active management” of federal lands and stop closed-door settlements with environmental groups that seek to block such efforts. Further, NCBA president Philip Ellis and PLC president Brenda Richards voiced support for legislation that would require the Forest Service to treat at least 2 million acres a year through mechanical thinning or prescribed burns. But Robert Bonnie, the USDA’s under secretary for resources and environment, countered the groups should instead support a wildfire funding bill by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, which has widespread bipartisan backing and is similar to language in Obama’s proposed budget. Simpson’s Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would treat catastrophic wildfires the same as other disasters when it comes to funding and end the practice of “fire borrowing,” in which the U.S. Forest Service has to raid its management coffers when it exceeds its budget for firefighting. The NCBA and PLC are promoting the Resilient Federal Forests Act by Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., which passed the House of Representatives by a 262-167 vote in July. A similar bill by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., had a hearing last month in the upper chamber’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “Despite the increasing evidence that mismanagement of forests and rangeland is to blame for the higher occurrence of catastrophic wildfires, Washington seems to believe that allocating more money to fire suppression is the answer,” Ellis and Richards told Obama in the letter. “We encourage you to work with the ranching communities across the West to ensure lands are actively managed and thereby reducing future catastrophic fire and reduce the ever-expanding fire costs impacting the agencies,” they wrote...more

Why sage grouse could become the next spotted owl

On the vast fields of sagebrush across the West, more male members of a uniquely American bird called the greater sage grouse are performing a dance that went out of style for humans long ago: the funky chicken. Scientists who undertook a glorified head count of the troubled chicken-like sage grouse found that the number of males shaking their tail feathers to attract females on wide open clearings in the brush called leks increased by more than 60 percent since 2013. A survey released Monday by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies counted more than 80,000 males in a census earlier this year. This was hailed as good news by the wildlife agencies and various groups working to conserve the sage grouse, which suffered dramatic population declines as humans invaded its habitat. But as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prepares to determine whether to list the animal as threatened or endangered by Sept. 30 — a designation that 11 states that cover the 165-million-acre sagebrush habitat oppose — there are questions about the timing of the positive development, and its influence on that decision. States fear that sage grouse will become the new northern spotted owl. That animal’s 1990 listing as threatened in the forests of Washington, Oregon and California impacted logging, in much the same way that a similar listing for the grouse could impact ranching, farming and energy development in those three states, as well as Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming...more

Forest Service 'borrowed' from panoply of programs since '02

Shortfalls in wildfire funding have hampered the Forest Service's ability to repair the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, maintain grazing fences and protect bats from white-nose syndrome, but they've had relatively little effect on the agency's ability to thin hazardous trees that could fuel the next mega-fire, according to budget data obtained by Greenwire. The data reveal which programs suffered the most as a result of wildfire "borrowing" over the past 13 years and which are most at risk of future borrowing if Congress is unable to overhaul the agency's wildfire budget. But the data also seem to undercut a key talking point of the Obama administration, lawmakers and conservationists that wildfire borrowing has impeded the agency's ability to make forests less fire-prone. Since 2002, the Forest Service has transferred $3.2 billion from non-suppression accounts to help it combat wildfires, but only $10 million of that came from the wildland fire hazardous fuels program used to thin dense trees and brush from the forest, according to data. Over a dozen years, the agency has transferred to its wildfire program nearly half a billion dollars from the National Forest System, the account that funds everything from timber sales to invasive species control on 193 million acres of forests and grasslands, according to the data. It has also borrowed $382 million from an account to maintain recreation sites, roads and research facilities; $300 million from accounts to acquire new lands for wildlife and recreation; and more than $130 million from a program that provides technical and financial aid to private forest owners...more

U.S. Seed Plan Aims To Protect Land After Natural Disasters

Federal authorities announced a plan Monday to produce massive quantities of seeds from native plants that can be quickly planted to help land recover from natural disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes. The program will make landscapes more resilient and healthier, especially Western rangelands where massive wildfires have been an increasing problem, the U.S. Department of the Interior said. "We've learned a lot based on where we have had successes and where we've had failures," said Steve Ellis, deputy director for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, as he announced the plan at the agency's regional seed warehouse in Boise. "It isn't as simple as we grab some seed off the shelf and go out there."  Officials hope to create a national network of seed collectors, growers and storage facilities so enough native seeds are available immediately after disasters to avoid erosion and prevent invasive species from moving in. The window to plant desirable species after a disaster can be less than a week and involve hundreds of square miles. The strategy targets Western rangelands, where drought-stricken terrain fuels huge wildfires that have destroyed homes and key animal habitat. A blaze on the Idaho-Oregon border had consumed by Monday nearly 450 square miles of rangeland needed to feed cattle and habitat for sage grouse, a bird being considered for federal protection...more

A project to remap Alaska reaches its halfway point

An effort to remap Alaska celebrated its half-way mark Tuesday during a ‘skybreaking’ ceremony in Anchorage. The remapping initiative is a significant undertaking for the state. Alaska is 57 percent mapped. That’s the milestone celebrated today at the FedEx hangar in Anchorage. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell gave the keynote by telecast, and a handful of GIS big-wigs flew in for the event. Nick Mastrodicasa with the Department of Transportation is one of the project’s leaders in Alaska: “When this whole thing started in 2006 — it’s been 10 years almost — I found out that Mars was better mapped, and more recently mapped and more accurately mapped, than Alaska,” Mastrodicasa says. A lot of the current mapping data used in Alaska is 40 to 50 years old. It was collected using manual cartography techniques that are now obsolete. One of the big drawbacks of that old data is that it isn’t always accurate. Forty-one million dollars have been spent on the project so far, and that money is coming from a multitude of different state and federal agencies...more

Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig Review

...Over the course of a 36-year literary career, Doig, who died at age 75 last April, painted as detailed and complete a picture of the American West as any writer of the last century. Though he’s known best for the visual and pastoral quality of his writing, Doig remained, at heart, an old-fashioned storyteller. He populated his vision of the West not with gunslingers but with workaday ranch hands and dam builders and miners, frontier-town bartenders, itinerant schoolteachers, newspaper editors and Rocky Mountain Front kids from cobbled-together families like his own. Doig wrote about Scottish immigrants homesteading and sheep-ranching in Montana in the 1880s; teaching in a one-room schoolhouse during a miners’ strike in 1919; catching on with the Fort Peck Dam Public Works Administration project in the 1930s; growing up in a Rocky Mountain Front barroom in the 1950s; and a grandfather traveling Montana with his journalist granddaughter to celebrate and editorialize the state’s centennial in 1979. Doig didn’t live through all those times, of course, and (as he described memorably in his 1978 memoir, This House of Sky) he chose to leave behind sheep ranching at a young age. But Doig grew up among people who built the West, and witnessed decades of growth and dramatic changes in the land and economy of the region. His death marked the passing of a vital connection to the people and the world and times he wrote about. Fortunately, he bequeathed to us all a bountiful body of work that’s not just Doig’s own legacy, but an evocative and definitive document of the world he came from. Ivan Doig’s last book, the appropriately titled Last Bus to Wisdom, is an unpredictable and boisterous road novel about 11-year-old boy in the summer of 1951, cast adrift on the Greyhound “dog bus.” Last Bus to Wisdom offers a fresh take on several familiar Doig themes: nontraditional families, deep connection to the land, the West as a hardscrabble world of work and the profoundly (and often humorously) interwoven nature of everyday individual lives and political and social history. As the book begins, adolescent Donal Cameron’s grandmother and guardian, a ranch cook in the Two Medicine country of Montana, packs him off to Manitowoc, Wisconsin to spend the summer at her sister’s house while she undergoes an operation. Donal makes a last-minute plea to arrogant ranch owner Wendell Williamson (who appears in a number of Doig books) to keep him on to drive the stacker team to no avail. Thus begin Donal’s adventures on the Greyhound bus...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1470

Today's selection is Ann Jones - Hi Ballin' Daddy.  The tune is on the Ace label CD Hillbilly Bop 'n' Boogie - The Roots of Rockabilly.

Cartoons - EPA Spill

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Culture Clash Over Guns Infiltrates the Backcountry

Shooting Violations in National Forests
America’s cultural divide over guns has gone into the woods. As growing numbers of hikers and backpackers flood national forests and backcountry trails searching for solitude, they are increasingly clashing with recreational target shooters, out for the weekend to plug rounds into trees, targets and mountainsides. Hiking groups and conservationists say that policies that broadly allow shooting and a scarcity of enforcement officers have turned many national forests and millions of Western acres run by the Bureau of Land Management into free-fire zones. People complain about finding shot-up couches and cars deep in forests, or of being pinned down by gunfire where a hiking or biking trail crosses a makeshift target range. It is a fight playing out from the pine forests of North Carolina to the Pacific Northwest to the Lake Mountains here in central Utah, where hillsides with thousands of images of prehistoric rock art have become a popular shooting spot. Officials in the Croatan National Forest in North Carolina issued an emergency halt to target shooting after receiving hundreds of complaints. In New Mexico, homeowners upset by the crackle of gunfire are fighting a proposal to renew the permit for a gun range that has long operated on national forest land. The federal agencies that manage national forests and open lands have tallied a growing number of shooting violations in the backcountry in recent years. The Forest Service recorded 1,712 shooting incidents across the country last year, up about 10 percent from a decade ago. More than a thousand of those reports ended with a warning or citation, but in some, Forest Service officers did not find the shooters or evidence of a violation after investigating a complaint...more

BLM Sets 'Model' Leasing Plan in Utah, Jewell Says, But Industry Wary

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell last Friday called out a new Bureau of Land Management (BLM) master leasing plan (MLP) for federal lands in east-central Utah as a model for how communities can balance oil/natural gas development with protection of iconic landscapes such as the lands around Moab, UT. The plan begins a 90-day comment period Friday, but some industry sources are already calling the MLP redundant. Separately, Jewell and BLM noted they planned to initiate two other Utah MLPs -- San Rafael Desert (524,854 acres) and Cisco Desert (320,000 acres) -- this fall, which will bring the federal agency's completed MLPs to nearly a dozen in the resource-rich states of Colorado and Wyoming, in addition to Utah. This is BLM's first MLP in Utah, although the planning process was developed five years ago as part of what the Obama administration has labeled as "sweeping" oil/gas leasing reforms that at the time were needed to reverse sustained community protests and litigation that were threatening to undo the BLM leasing program...more

Like it or not, more wolves are coming

by Don Martin

KINGMAN - Mexican gray wolves are a highly controversial species of predators that are the subject of much discussion and litigation over just how many of these alpha predators should be on the landscape in Arizona.

At a recent Arizona Game and Fish Commission meeting in Flagstaff, Mohave County Supervisor Gary Watson and I attended the meeting specifically to hear a presentation by Jim DeVos, who is a special assistant to the director. DeVos gave an update on the department's status as it pertained to the introduction of wolves in Arizona.

...Game and Fish is not opposed to the reintroduction of the wolves. It's is the number of wolves proposed for the Arizona landscape that is the subject of the many lawsuits that have been filed.

DeVos made it clear that the agency is actively working to assess and help in the reintroduction effort, but at the same time he cautioned commissioners that if too many of the wolves are in the state, and without state management jurisdiction, Arizona's other wildlife species could be in danger.

Elk are the preferred food of wolves, but they are adept at killing deer and they also have been known to take cattle and sheep, which is a concern of the Arizona livestock industry.

And despite the testimony of some of the wolf advocates, there have been documented cases of threats by wolves to humans.

...Game and Fish suggests that wolf numbers could increase to as many as 300 or so without damaging Arizona's other wildlife populations.

DeVos also said that the department is not recommending the expansion of the wolf recovery area to include other areas on Arizona where wolves do not currently live.

DeVos noted that the department is actively working with officials in Mexico, where the wolves were native, to increase the numbers of animals there, which would help in the recovery effort.

...Watson presented the commission with a proclamation from the Board of Supervisors in opposition to expanding the wolf recovery area to include Mohave County.

I read a statement from the Mohave Sportsman Club, which believes that Game and Fish should determine how many wolves should be in Arizona.

The department also should establish the wolf recovery area boundaries, while considering all of Arizona's wildlife.

Angst over sage grouse decision deepens as deadline looms

The concern over a possible endangered species listing for the greater sage grouse in 11 states is deepening in anticipation of a Sept. 30 agency decision, with Utah officials urging that state plans be allowed to prove their conservation successes. Protecting the greater sage grouse and bolstering its West-wide range lies at the heart of what all sides say is an unprecedented effort to stave off threats to the chicken-size bird, which has seen the majority of its habitat ruined from a variety of problems including wildfire and the onslaught of invasive species. In a discussion with the Deseret News and KSL editorial boards this month, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell called the range-wide conservation effort "epic." "It is the biggest, most comprehensive collaborative conservation effort to ever take place in the United States in terms of its complexity, size and potential impact," she said. "I think there has been epic cooperation from all the states through this process." But Utah's top wildlife and land management authorities say that collaboration began to break down a year ago when the head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service abruptly sought "more" restrictions in plans designed to manage and protect bird populations. "Negotiations have broken down," said Kathleen Clarke, director of the Utah Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office. Clarke said the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service plans for Utah and the other Western states go too far and aim to protect habitat that is already compromised or "marginal" for grouse populations. "The plans are not comforting," she said.  Mike Styler, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, said species improve through active management of habitat, not through regulation. "Any wildlife species will be better taken care of under state management rather than federal management," he said...more

EPA to Propose Rules Cutting Methane Emissions From Oil and Gas Drilling

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday will propose the first-ever federal regulations to cut methane emissions from the nation’s oil and natural-gas industry, according to people familiar with the move, which is part of President Barack Obama’s climate agenda. The EPA is expected to propose regulations aimed at cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40% to 45% over the next decade from 2012 levels, said a person familiar with the plan. That was the goal the agency said earlier this year it would pursue when it first unveiled its plans. The move is part of a broader regulatory agenda Mr. Obama is pursuing as he seeks to make addressing climate change a legacy of his time in the White House. Earlier this month, the EPA issued final rules cutting carbon emissions from power plants 32% by 2030 based on emissions levels from 2005. Meanwhile, with the onset of the fracking boom, concerns over methane, a potent greenhouse gas, have grown within the administration. Methane has a warming effect on the planet more than 20 times greater than carbon dioxide, according to the EPA. The plan is sure to draw fire from some energy companies who argue that new regulations will require the installation of costly mitigation systems, as low oil prices pinch profits across the industry. Companies will be required to install technology that prevents methane from being inadvertently leaked and to monitor their operations for possible leaks. Many companies are already using this kind of equipment, according to industry executives and the EPA. Thanks largely to hydraulic fracturing, since 2005, domestic oil production has nearly doubled and natural-gas production has risen by about 50%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration...more

video - Toxic spill causes hardship for the Navajo farmers, ranchers


JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s been 12 days since an accident at a defunct Colorado gold mine fouled rivers in three states.
Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery has an update on the impact the spill has had on Native Americans and others in Northwest New Mexico.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: The sunflowers in Upper Fruitland, New Mexico, are drooping.
LORENZO BATES, Speaker, Navajo Nation Council: When you look at them now, they’re all hanging over because they haven’t — they need water.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: On LoRenzo Bates’ farm, it’s not just sunflowers in trouble. The alfalfa, key for feeding his animals, is stunted.
LORENZO BATES: This is right now 12 days behind. This hay has to get me through the winter season.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Bates, the speaker of the Navajo Nation, tallied his losses so far at $1,000 in just one week, no small amount in this poor region. It’s all because Bates and thousands of others here couldn’t pull water from the San Juan River, which abuts his land. Irrigation ditches were shut down after the mine accident earlier this month 100 miles north in Silverton, Colorado.
Efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up one mine resulted in a breach at another, the Gold King Mine, which has been inactive since 1923. A three million gallon toxic stew of heavy metals poured downstream, turning the Animas River a shocking yellow.
The Animas flows south and meets the San Juan in Farmington, New Mexico. Then it snakes north into Utah, where it skirts the upper edge of the Navajo Reservation. Eventually, it turns south into Arizona and ends up in a branch of Lake Powell, a journey of nearly 500 miles.
Among those hardest-hit are the Navajos, the nation’s largest Native American tribe; 300,000 of them are spread out on a reservation larger than 10 states. The chapter in Shiprock, named for its enormous rock outcropping, has issued warnings to its members...more

The  PBS News Hour report is below:

California plans taking land for huge water tunnels (300 farms)

State contractors have readied plans to acquire as many as 300 farms in the California delta by eminent domain to make room for a pair of massive, still-unapproved water tunnels proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, according to documents obtained by opponents of the tunnels. Farmers whose parcels were listed and mapped in the 160-page property-acquisition plan expressed dismay at the advanced planning for the project, which would build 30-mile-long tunnels in the delta formed by the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers. "What really shocks is we're fighting this and we're hoping to win," said Richard Elliot, who grows cherries, pears and other crops on delta land farmed by his family since the 1860s. "To find out they're sitting in a room figuring out this eminent domain makes it sound like they're going to bully us ... and take what they want." Officials involved in the project defended planning so far ahead regarding the tunnels. "Planning for right-of-way needs, that is the key part of your normal planning process," said Roger Patterson, assistant general manager for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, one of the water agencies that would benefit from the twin tunnels.   Restore the Delta, a group of farmers, fishing associations, environmental groups and other opponents, released the property plan that was obtained with a request made under the state open records law. The plan targets public and private land in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties to be acquired for the project. Under the plan, landowners would have 30 days to consider and negotiate a one-time state offer, while officials simultaneously prepare to take the land by forced sale if owners declined to sell. "Negotiations to continue in parallel with eminent domain proceedings," the plan notes. Contractors also appear to call for minimal public input...more

Kids Sue Feds Over Global Warming

Continuing to burn fossil fuels violates the Ninth Amendment rights of future generations and today's children, according to a lawsuit filed by prominent NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen and nearly two dozen children. The plaintiffs are represented by Julia Olson with Wild Earth Advocates in Eugene, Ore. Olson underscored the gravity of the case. "This is a landmark case being filed to save the climate system for these kids and for future generations, and it's on par with cases like Brown v. Board of Education and Obergefell v. Hodges in that it seeks to uphold the plaintiff young people's Constitutional rights to life, liberty and property," Olson said in a phone interview. The kids say the government has known for over 50 years that "continuing to burn fossil fuels would destabilize the climate system on which present and future generations of our nation depend for their well-being and survival." "Defendants also knew the harmful impacts of their actions would significantly endanger plaintiffs, with the damage persisting for millennia," the children continue. "Despite this knowledge, defendants continued their policies and practices of allowing the exploitation of fossil fuels."...more

Bruce Allen: Redskins won't change name in order to build new home

Washington Redskins president Bruce Allen said the team will not reconsider changing its name -- even if it's a political barrier to a potential new stadium. The Redskins have started the process of finding a new home, exploring potential sites in Maryland, where they now play; Washington, D.C., where they used to play; and Virginia, where they train. But Allen supplied a short answer when asked about changing the name stance to build a new home. "No," he said. In reaction to Allen's comment, the organization Change the Mascot released a statement criticizing the team. "The team and its leaders are so obsessed with clinging to a dictionary-defined racial slur that they are willing to abandon their hometown and local fans in order to continue degrading Native Americans," said Joel Barkin, spokesman for the grassroots campaign...more

Tyson Closes Beef Processing Plant Due to Lack of Cattle

“We believe the move to cease beef operations at Denison will put the rest of our beef business in a better position for future success”, Stouffer said in the release. The company said it will offer financial incentives to hourly workers who are eligible for openings at a separate plant in Nebraska. Cargill Inc, one of the country’s largest beef processors, on July 30 announced the closure of its Milwaukee, Wisconsin, beef-processing plant due to cattle shortages. On a different note, The Company has disclosed insider buying and selling activities to the Securities Exchange, Tyson John H, director officer (Chairman of the Board) of Tyson Foods Inc, unloaded 335,550 shares at an average price of $41.3 on August 5, 2015. Tyson Foods Inc. has six other beef plants in the U.S. He added that the company has to adapt to the “realities of the beef business” for them to continue to be successful. Tyson Foods said its beef business lost money in its latest fiscal quarter because cattle costs were up and supplies decreased, which meant it couldn’t sell as much beef. “Right now cattle producers are trying to regrow their herd”, he said. Officials are working to help Denison cope with the closing of a Tyson Foods plant there that employed about 400 people. Shuttering the beef slaughtering facility was hard, said Steve Stouffer, president of Tyson Fresh Meats. A rival beef packer opened in Dennison in November 2014 with a, 1,100 cattle per-day slaughter capacity. The Crawford County Beef processing plant is the second largest employer in Denison, but Friday, 400 people learned they no longer have a job there. “My guess would be that a lot of the cattle that were going to Denison will probably be going to Dakota City”, Reemstma says...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1469

Here's some early Roger Miller with his recording of Poor Little John.  The tune was recorded in Houston in October of 1957 and released on the Mercury label.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Federal judge denies injunction in New Mexico drilling case

A federal judge has rejected an effort by environmental groups to stall oil and gas development in northwestern New Mexico while they fight the approval of dozens of drilling permits issued over the past two years by a federal agency. U.S. District Judge James Browning issued his ruling late Friday. An environmental group said Monday it plans to appeal. The judge said the groups put forth enough evidence to cast doubt on the thoroughness of permit decisions made by the Bureau of Land Management but did not provide enough evidence to show the agency failed to take a hard look at the environmental effects of its actions. The judge also said the preliminary injunction sought by the groups would not be in the public interest. "The public would gain more from reaping the gains — an influx of jobs and capital and an increase in royalties paid to the state and federal governments — from opening up the Mancos Shale formation to economically viable drilling now, rather than waiting until the resolution of this case," Browning wrote. Jeremy Nichols with the group WildEarth Guardians said he was disappointed with the decision. "While our environmental harms are dismissed as speculative, the speculative claims of lost profit and economic destruction from industry were accepted with open arms," he said. Browning's decision stems from a court filing in May that sought to stop the BLM from approving permits to drill in the Mancos Shale formation. Environmentalists say the BLM's Farmington office has approved 265 permits since 2013 and more than 90 wells have already been drilled and fracked — the practice of high-pressure injection of water, sand and chemicals underground to free deposits of oil and gas. The groups have said in court filings and letters to federal officials that increased development in the San Juan Basin has led to more truck traffic and dozens of new well pads over the past year, and that's harming the region that includes Chaco Culture National Historical Park...more

NM is Pueblo-chile free, Whole Foods says

Pueblo chile may be the hot new item at Whole Foods in the Rocky Mountain region, but the grocer still will peddle New Mexico-grown peppers across the Land of Enchantment. A Denver Post story last week fanned the flames of the New Mexico-Colorado chile debate, reporting the chain’s plan to replace Hatch chile with Pueblo chile in some regional stores — but most definitely not in New Mexico. Nick Martinez, a marketing specialist for Whole Foods in Albuquerque, said the decision in Colorado was part of the region’s push to highlight local produce — “even ‘hyper’ local products,” he noted via email. “This does not affect the New Mexico stores, which will continue to source green chile from New Mexico only,” he added. “In fact, all (New Mexico) stores will be free of Pueblo, Colo. chile.” Martinez said Whole Foods in New Mexico — two stores in Albuquerque and two in Santa Fe — currently sell peppers from Seco Spice out of Berino, N.M. He said the store also has identified a new source, Los Lunas’ Armijo Farms, and will also get some from Hatch growers. While some New Mexico customers have inquired about chile changeover via social media, those who actually visit the stores will see signage indicating the veggies’ local provenance. In other markets, though, the Pueblo produce will take precedence. Whole Foods is planning to distribute 125,000 pounds to stores throughout most of the Rocky Mountain region, including Colorado, Kansas, Idaho and Utah...more

Horrific footage shows man being gored to death during Spanish bull run as death toll reaches seven

Horrific footage has emerged of a 36-year-old man being gored to death during a bull run in Spain after the animal turned on the crowd. Town councillor Jose Alberto Peñas Lopez was mauled while taking part in a fiesta in Penafiel on Saturday morning. In the video the street is filled with hundreds of people running away from the bulls as they gallop through the narrow streets. Mr Lopez appears just as a bull runs past and suddenly it turns on him. He is gored in the stomach and then the bull picks his entire body up and throws him onto the pavement. Since the beginning of July a total of seven people have been gored to death by bulls during summer festivals in Spain...more

Camper deaths, presence of plague darken summer at Yosemite

The deaths of two young campers killed when a tree branch fell on their tent and a campground closure because of plague cast a pall over California's Yosemite National Park at the height of the summer tourist season. The large limb from a black oak fell on the tent of the two young campers as they slept in the heart of the park Friday, Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said. The campers, described only as under 18, were both dead when rangers arrived at the crowded Upper Pines Campground in response to 911 calls, he said. What led to the limb falling, and its exact size, were not immediately revealed. Large fallen limbs are a common occurrence at Yosemite, and they have occasionally led to deaths. The most recent was in 2012, when a park concession employee died when his tent cabin was hit. Two tourists were killed and nine were injured in 1985 when a 25-foot branch fell onto an open-air tram. Meanwhile on Friday, park officials said they will temporarily close another popular campsite after two squirrels died of plague in the area...more

Forest Service to allow Rainbow Family to camp in Rio Grande National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service is allowing hundreds of people to camp in the Rio Grande National Forest, despite the fact that the gathering violates strict limits on the number of people allowed in those areas. Forest officials said it's almost impossible to enforce the limits because the campers have no leaders and no one who can give orders. Normally, any group of more than 75 people wanting to use the National Forest would be required to sign a group permit. Instead of a permit, the Forest Service developed an operating plan that outlines its expectations for how the Rainbow Family of Living Light will utilize National Forest resources. The plan includes parking only in marked-off areas, maintaining cleanliness and sanitation in kitchens and latrines, and not disturbing archaeological resources such as "wickiups," remnants of Ute shelters that can be difficult to distinguish from firewood. Angie Krall, acting district ranger for the national forest in southern Colorado, said the Rainbow Family was allowed to camp there because the group is exercising its constitutional rights to gather and exercise its religious beliefs...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1468

Its Swingin' Monday and here's Darryl Worley with Too Many Pockets.  The tune is on his 2003 CD Have You Forgotten

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Story of Mexican Coke Is a Lot More Complex Than Hipsters Would Like to Admit

Just as lots of people wanted to buy the world a Coke, as the classic 1970s ad goes, a big chunk of the population today yearns for nothing but "Mexican Coke," seemingly the same brown fizzy liquid in the classically curvaceous bottle—but with one important difference. Coca-Cola that is hecho en México (made in Mexico) contains cane sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup, the current whipping boy of the food world. Hipsters and the trendy restaurants they patronize have known about Mexican Coke for some time now, and bodegas in Los Angeles have stocked it to appeal to their Mexican-American customers. But in recent years, Mexican Coke has been appearing in the wide aisles of Costco, signaling a broader interest. American Enterprise, a new exhibition at the National Museum of American History, features the slender glass bottle, and curator Peter Liebhold says there’s more to the story of Mexican Coke than a simple preference for one kind of sweetener over another. Mexico and the United States have long been engaged in a trade war over sugar. Sugar is big business in Mexico, as it is in many parts of the world. In an effort to protect its sugar industry, Mexico has repeatedly tried to inhibit imports of high-fructose corn syrup, which the U.S. had been exporting to Mexico and was being used in place of Mexican sugar to make Coke as well as other products. Many foodies and soda lovers swear there’s a discernible difference between Coke made with sugar and Coke made with high-fructose corn syrup—a truer, less “chemical-y” taste; a realer real thing. And they’re willing to pay the higher prices that Mexican Coke purchased in the U.S. commands...more

Critics - NM Game commission puts predators in 'bull's eye' like never before

Jan Hayes, founder of the 2-decade-old nonprofit Sandia Bear Watch, said for years she had a decent working relationship with the state Department of Game and Fish, even when she didn’t agree with the agency or its commissioners. Then Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration arrived and everything changed, she said. “They don’t listen to any common sense, or reason or anything else now,” Hayes said from her home in Tijeras. The opposite viewpoint comes from Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association. She says the Game Commission is finally doing something to protect livestock and agricultural interests, especially from cougars. “We know there are too many and we need to find a way to reduce them,” Cowan said. “We don’t want to get rid of all of them.” In the last five years, the seven-member State Game Commission appointed by Martinez has made decisions that some sportsmen and animal rights groups say have put predators in the bull’s-eye like never before, even as ranchers and other sportsmen cheered those changes. The makeup of the commission is once again in the spotlight as it considers the department’s controversial recommendation to increase kill limits on bears and cougars, a move opponents say is shortsighted and lacking in updated science...The commission’s reversal on the wolf program has been stark. In 2011, under new Game and Fish Department Director Jim Lane, the state pulled out of the multiagency team working together on New Mexico’s wolf recovery program. In September 2013, one month before Lane quit, the Game Commission voted to rejoin the team. This year, the Game Commission declined to renew a wolf facility permit for billionaire Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch in Southern New Mexico. The commission also refused to give the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a permit to release wolves into the wild on U.S. Forest Service land. Four dozen conservation groups and wolf facilities in 13 states have asked Martinez to overturn the commission’s decision. The federal government and Turner are appealing the denials...more

Hayes, Smith, VeneKlassen and Lewellen are critical, poor Caren Cowan is the only positive.  She must feel awful lonely on the pages of the Santa Fe New Mexican.  

Changes "loom" and are "stark".  Cowan gets 170 words of coverage, the critics get the title and over 2600 words.  Yes, she's one lonesome lady.  You all give her a thumbs up the next time you see her.

GOP hopefuls join Basque Fry barbecue on Nevada ranch

Four Republican presidential candidates rallied hundreds of voters at a Basque-themed barbecue in Nevada on Saturday, a sign the state is coming into its own as a relatively new hotspot for campaigns. About 1,500 people, many wearing plaid shirts, cowboy hats and boots, noshed on chorizo and Basque stew while taking in speeches from retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former tech CEO Carly Fiorina, Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The event on a ranch in rural Gardnerville took a cue from events like Iowa's Harkin Steak Fry, which attracted top-tier Democratic candidates for four decades. Candidates donned cowboy boots and jeans and tweaked their campaign pitches to the rural Nevada audience. Fiorina referenced one of the menu items — a Basque stew featuring "lamb fries," or lamb testicles — in a riff about sexism against female candidates.  The speakers also urged more local control of public lands and natural resources. It's a hot-button issue in Nevada, where the federal government manages more than 80 percent of the land and where rancher Cliven Bundy was involved in a high-profile showdown with federal officials last year over grazing rights. "It was exactly the event we could've dreamed of," said Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a Republican who modeled the barbecue after events his Basque grandfather, former Sen. Paul Laxalt, held in Washington...more

President Obama’s Eleventh-Hour Conservation Efforts

By Robert B. Semple Jr.

 Shortly before leaving town for the summer, Congress approved – and President Obama happily signed into law – three bills that, taken together, will preserve as permanent wilderness roughly 275,000 acres of spectacular mountain terrain in Idaho known as  Boulder-White Clouds.  This was a rare moment for a Congress that has been far more interested in  party infighting than environmental stewardship, and a tribute to the perseverance of one person, Congressman Mike Simpson, Republican of Idaho, who spent years engaging with local officials, ranchers,  hunters, tribes, off-road vehicle enthusiasts and other stakeholders.

What has not been widely noticed, however, is that the bill’s success also owed something to widespread fears in Idaho (and in Congress) that if Congress did not act, Mr. Obama would use his powers under the Antiquities Act to declare Boulder-White Clouds a national monument. Such a declaration would offer fewer protections than wilderness designation but would cover a much larger area, greatly reducing access to trails beloved of Idaho’s motorcyclists and snowmobilers.  So great was this threat that the off-roaders and others in deeply conservative Idaho who despise federal intervention of any sort were persuaded to accept Mr. Simpson’s more modest scheme.

It is heartening to see Mr. Obama making more use of the Antiquities Act in his final years in office (if only as a threat), much as Bill Clinton did near the end of his presidency. It is an excellent conservation tool.  The Act, first used by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, allows a president on his own hook to protect endangered areas of great natural or historic significance when Congress is unlikely to act. Originally at the urging of John Podesta, who functioned for a while as his chief adviser on environmental matters, and lately at the urging of Sally Jewell, his Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Obama has now established 19 monuments, three short of Mr. Clinton’s tally. His most recent designations cover 700,000 acres in east-central Nevada, 330,00 acres in Northern California and a small site of archeological significance in Texas.  There are at least two more monuments we would recommend to Mr. Obama before he retires.  One, known as the California Desert, would add more than a million acres to already-protected lands in southeastern California. This is likely to be relatively uncontroversial since it has the backing of both California senators.The other one,  which would cover 1.9 million acres of in the so-called Bears Ears region of southeastern Utah, could be hugely controversial and will take a good deal of preparation and Presidential courage to pull off...more

New Mexico, Utah drop water restrictions after Colorado mine spill

New Mexico officials on Saturday night dropped San Juan County's restrictions on using the Animas and San Juan rivers for drinking water following a ban after a major mine wastewater spill in Colorado this month. The New Mexico Environment Department and the state's Game and Fish Department are also reopening the rivers for recreational use after the Aug. 5 spill at the Gold King Mine near Silverton. Ryan Flynn, New Mexico's environment secretary, said the bans were lifted "because the waters of the Animas and San Juan Rivers are now meeting all applicable water quality standards." "Recreational users of the Animas and San Juan rivers may notice some discoloration in the sediment along the river banks due to the spill," according to a state news release. "While there is continuing concern by New Mexico officials for long-term river health and for that of aquatic life, the environment and health departments do not anticipate adverse human health effects." he Navajo Nation, through which the San Juan runs 215 miles between New Mexico and Utah, has not lifted its recreational and agricultural water use restrictions...more

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

A boy and his hat

by Julie Carter

It was black, floppy, completely misshapen and the brim had torn away from the crown in a few places. The hat band was long gone and so was the sweat band inside.

The boy was only 4-years-old, but already he identified his look with that sad looking little “cowboy” hat. He’d outgrown his first one, the one with an actual shape and look of a cowboy hat. It didn’t have time to wear out but then it also didn’t get the high mileage that its successor endured.

I wasn’t quite sure if he would ever part with that pathetic excuse for a cowboy hat but I vowed it would have a decent burial as soon as he gave it up. Offers to kidnap it were considered, but I knew it would just come crawling home.

His hat and the way he wore it indicated much of his personality at each stage in his life.

There were not many days in his early years that he didn’t have some sort of hat on his head. The occasional cap sufficed when the wind made that a better choice.

At the onset of his teen years, a cap that stated an allegiance for a sports team or matched his camouflage wardrobe garnered equal time with the classic cowboy version.

Similar to the day he deemed he was too cool to allow his mother to cut his hair and instead insisted on a barber, the same professional touch is now required for the shaping of a new felt hat. It has almost made me yearn for that original piece of limp felt that passed for a hat so long ago.

Giving credence to the priority of a hat in a cowboy’s life, much has been written about the reverence required for it. There is an aura of authority that comes with the man in a cowboy hat. United States presidents have worn them, even when it was followed by the “all hat, no cattle” insult.

The cowboy hat exudes power and macho like no other piece of clothing. Those with the ability to do so, keep a special “wedding and funeral” hat, usually the once-in-a-lifetime buy off the top shelf.

While created to be, and remains so today, a functional, utilitarian piece of a cowboy’s wardrobe, his hat is almost as individually identifying as his name.  The sport of rodeo produced a fashion in hats with event-specific shapes to them.  A bull rider’s hat has a completely different style to it than a roper’s or a bronc rider’s.

Ranchers, cattle buyers and stockmen also maintain a uniqueness of style when it comes to the style of their hats. There is also the territory-specific look of cowboy hats. Nevada buckaroos are clearly discernable from a cowboy working the brush in south Texas, or the hot plains of eastern New Mexico and West Texas.

Hats are endlessly useful. Horses have been known to drink from hats, as well as get swatted on the behind when needed or “fanned” with them after a successful bronc ride. Passing the hat to collect money for a specific purpose is part of the culture.

A sweat-stained hat that will stay with you through rain, wind, snow and sun is a valuable tool. Women who have “cowboyed” enough to have their own sweat-stained hats are given all the room they need in a group of cowboys.

Cowboys of all ages are attached to their hats. They will get in a fight over them and at the same time, adhere to an age-old superstition that laying it on the bed brings all kinds of bad mojo.

Take a good look at the man and his hat. You’ll find a relationship that parallels his standards in life. And like the man that he is, it evolved over time, from the little boy notion of “good enough” to the desire for proper perfection.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Living with Tyranny...

 Building Stream Protection
Living with Tyranny
Another federal exemption?
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Was there any difference between the South Carolina delegation seeking to make amends with President Lincoln in the last days before the Civil War and the advocates from across the West that gathered in Phoenix August 5 to discuss actions being taken to bring equity to the people of their respective states?
            Ostensibly, the issues in both cases were and are equal application of personal freedoms and better management of natural resources that are vital to the well being of the citizenry. The basis of the discussion elevated the role of local expertise to address the health of rural economies in the midst of landscape, wildlife, and natural resource destruction by federal management.
            “Gathering some of the greatest constitutional experts in the country”, the forum process seeks remedies to maintain access to our lands with the expectation of better management and a brighter future for our children.
            Nothing but good luck is offered the organizers for future gatherings, but we must all recognize the truth about Lincoln and where this country finds itself today. Lincoln wasn’t interested in extending and strengthening the Jeffersonian model of empowerment of the states much less for the individual. He was interested in consolidating power into the hands of the federal government. In the process, Lincoln eliminated the single most important Constitutional remedy for curtailing the stepwise growth of the federal tyrannical juggernaut … the right to secede when constitutional morons buy their way into power.
            BP missed this one
            FOX and RFD finally started providing coverage of the EPA negligence and poisoning in the upper Colorado River watershed. The reports, however, were a far cry from the national siren serenade of condemnation when British Petroleum suffered its failure in the deep water well in the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly 17% of air time on the first day of coverage was aimed at that event. Everybody knew about the debacle and the accused corporate wrongdoers.
            In this case, the sludge was from the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado and dumped into an Animas River tributary. We can only imagine the accusations that would have been hurled at BP if it had been the culprit rather than the agency in the release of the soup that contained lead, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, copper, and calcium. The press would have revealed the smallest suggestion of fault of BP and its CEO.
            With the shoe on the other foot, try to find any similarity in the character evisceration of Gina McCarthy, the EPA director. McCarthy simply joins an ever expanding roster of federal power brokers who oversee actions that are destructive to rural communities but are never doubted.
            In this case, McCarthy and the EPA are in breach of their own final ‘Water of the U.S. Rule’. This is the recent agency move to dramatically expand its unlegislated authority by simply rewriting the Clean Water Act through arbitrary regulatory decree. The change conveniently eliminates the word “navigable” from the extent of their authority over U.S. waters. That change is akin to that agency altering the Constitution by adding the word “former” to its archived existence.
            In the Animas River incident, the EPA may have outwitted itself. It could well be postured for greater culpability stemming from its self-crafted authority. The investigation should start by demanding to see the federal permit required for the discharge of pollutants in the Gold King slurry that changed the downstream water color from deep Colorado blue to pumpkin soup ochre.
The hypocrisy is stifling.
The EPA finally reported contamination “had not revealed hazardous levels of contamination”, and yet testing the night before had revealed arsenic levels in the river were running more than 100 times the historic levels. Lead was running 3,800 times the amount detected from prior to the plume arrival at the same location. A list of actions taken on the basis of the agency’s related non-hazardous levels of contamination included closing the river to fisherman and recreation users, warnings to farmers not to apply the water to crops, and demands for ranchers to seek alternative sources of drinking water for their livestock. Official warnings came from the president of the Navajo Nation, the Southern Ute Nation, and New Mexico’s Governor’s Office, Environment Department, Department of Agriculture, Game and Fish Department, Office of the State Engineer, and the New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association along with the (San Juan) Lower Valley Water Users Cooperative Association.
What wasn’t reported, though, was the Animas spill per capita impact on communities of the upper watershed of the Colorado (8500 water users in the cooperative association west of Kirtland area alone) … dwarfs the BP oil spill in the Gulf.
The Navajo lead
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye announced he will take legal action against the EPA on behalf of his people and their natural resources. A good place to start would be to review the time line of the BP oil spill and the court of public opinion. A demand for a public apology from Director McCarthy would be action item number one with a parallel demand for her resignation.
BP was treated no differently.
President Begaye should also consider commiserating with the Public Lands Strategy Summit organizers to seek a coalition of support to have his people included in the attempt to bring equity to all affected people in their respective western states. A lawsuit is one of the only remedies local citizenry has to protect their sovereign rights. Any legal argument now has precedence from the Gulf disaster.
BP was scourged in their oil spill involvement.
President Begaye and the summit officials should also acquaint themselves with the expanse of EPA’s jurisdictional drift. One pertinent example by the agency is the matter of “wetlands”. The Clean Water Act does not authorize the regulation of wetlands, but, yet, the agency along with the Corps of Engineers now has a nation wide regulatory regime on wetlands. In fact, that regulatory quagmire, based on the theory that the placement of clean sand in any dry area results in the eventual pollutant discharge into waters of the U.S., essentially circumvents the Supreme Court ruling that once rejected the agency’s efforts to include “neighboring wetlands, minute tributaries, man made ditches and drains, and even isolated water bodies with no hydrological connection to navigable waters whatsoever”. The upshot is the agency has unilaterally expanded its authority to include every puddle of seasonal water as well as “all chemical, physical, or biological integrity of all downstream water”.
Since virtually nothing is now off limits for regulatory enforcement, nothing should be exempt from the liabilities impacted by this blatant example of agency mismanagement.
Stream Protection Rule and the outcome
President Begaye and others are called upon to dictate what that sphere of impact actually is. That premise is emphasized in yet another agency document.
EPA Director McCarthy’s predecessor, Lisa Jackson, joined with then Department of Interior’s Secretary Ken Salazar and the Corps’ acting assistant Secretary, Rock Salt, to sign a memorandum of understanding implementing interagency stream protection rules. Although, the matter dealt with the impact of coal mining on downstream waters, it serves as the model for the EPA responsibilities in the matter of the Animas River breach.
The agencies agreed that any perpetrators of crimes against rivers would be forced to assume responsibility of any material damage to the hydrological balance inside and outside of the permit area. They must also demonstrate where that damage level is reached in both the surface water and groundwater within the sphere of impact. Restoration of all perennial and intermittent streams to a level of preexisting conditions will be required.
There was agreement that the agencies would hold public meetings and encourage local engagement in ongoing environmental assessments. In the case of the Gulf oil spill, that became code talk for offering grant money for the purpose of scientific discovery and finding environmental damage that could be stacked on top of an expanding indictment against BP.
Based on the expanse of the regulatory creep, the agency’s own policies demand that all downstream waters in addition to those peculiar references to “… outside the permit area” must be considered in mitigation and penalty enforcement. By definition, that means all of the tributaries of the Colorado River watershed must be evaluated. That includes scores of endangered species as well as the comprehensive assessment of system health of major areas of the sovereign Navajo Nation, Mexico, and the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California.
The Animas River in addition to the San Juan, the Green, the Little Colorado and others must now be considered within the scope of the debacle. Even the Gila with its tributary system of the San Francisco and San Pedro are part of that greater watershed.

 Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “No condemnation has been registered by the New Mexico environmental and social justice warriors … progressive Senators Udall and Heinrich.”

I'm pleased to see Wilmeth identify Lincoln as the transgressor of our Constitution that he surely was, i.e., The Real Lincoln.