Friday, February 12, 2016

Oregon refuge searched for evidence, explosives after occupiers leave

Police and federal agents searched a U.S. wildlife refuge in Oregon for explosives and evidence on Friday, a day after the last holdouts in a protest over federal control of Western land surrendered to end a six-week armed standoff. Federal authorities said the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon would remain closed for several weeks as agents secured what is now considered a crime scene. After their surrender on Thursday, protesters told authorities they had left behind booby traps but did not say whether the trip wires and other devices would trigger explosions, a law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters. Materials to create explosives could be found on the refuge, the official said, because workers there previously performed controlled burns. The final four protesters had enough food on hand to last them for many months, the official said...more

FBI ‘felt it was time’ to end Malheur occupation

The FBI held a press conference Thursday regarding the arrests of the four holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing confirmed all four occupiers were arrested without incident and with no shots being fired from either side. Reverend Franklin Graham and Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore were at the refuge gate and greeted them as they left the encampment. Bretzing said they were both crucial to the resolution of the standoff. Bretzing said law enforcement will continue to man checkpoints at the edge of the refuge because it is considered a crime scene. Both Bretzing and Harney County Judge Steve Grasty, who also spoke at the press conference, reiterated that armed occupation of federal property is a crime and will be treated as such. While Bretzing said negotiations with the four remaining occupiers, David Fry, Sean and Sandy Anderson, and Jeff Banta, had been going on for many days, the pressure was put on them Wednesday night. “We felt it was time, both for the safety of those on the refuge and officers, to up the pressure on the refuge folks,” said Bretzing...more

Woman whose family inspired Oregon standoff hopes more challenge govt

The wife and mother of two men whose imprisonment in January precipitated a 41-day standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge told Reuters on Thursday she hopes the peaceful outcome will spur further activism to curb the reach of the federal government. Speaking exclusively to Reuters, Susan Hammond, who did not participate in the standoff, said that she hoped the attention brought by the occupation would galvanize Americans to pursue legal avenues for weakening federal government control of millions of acres of land. "I don't think it's over. I think it's just beginning," she said in a telephone interview. "We have hopes that possibly this will be the beginning of a change in the overreach of federal government, but it's only the beginning." Members of the Hammond family hold differing views on the Bundy’s methods, Susan Hammond said. Hammond said she did not know the Bundy family well, but had met Ammon Bundy on more than one occasion. She suggested that the Bundys were being targeted by the government and expressed her support in the wake of Cliven Bundy’s arrest. "I cannot imagine why they would pick up an old man at the airport and charge him with something like that,” Hammond said. "It's just piling on of government bureaucracy onto the Bundy family.”...more

Supporters of Cliven Bundy say they are not surprised agents moved in on him

The Bundy Ranch without Cliven Bundy is quiet. The man that once led a self-proclaimed ranch war against Bureau of Land Management agents is now seen in a courtroom sketch trading the Constitution in his pocket for the blue uniform of an inmate. He is physically miles away from where he made his stand but in jail because of it. Supporters of the Bundy patriarch tell me they aren't surprised agents moved in on Cliven when he landed at the Portland airport. "the way it went down," his bodyguard Skipper went on to say, "There's tension and frustration." Cliven went to Oregon to support the last armed men and women holed up in a federal wildlife refuge. He was arrested upon arrival, charged with organizing what the Department of Justice calls a "massive armed assault against federal law enforcement officers." His Bunkerville bodyguard tells me, that was a mistake. "He told me he was led by God." Skipper said on the Bundy Ranch. "I advised him not to go. I even told (Assemblywoman) Michelle Fiore 'I don't like this, something is going to happen'." Cliven Bundy now faces 6 charges related to his 2014 armed standoff with BLM over unpaid grazing fees. If convicted, he faces a minimum of 7 years in federal prison and as many as 42.  John Treanor, 3News, Las Vegas.     

Cliven Bundy to stay in jail until next week; 9 more charged; refuge to remain closed

A leader in the movement against federal land policy will stay in jail until his second court hearing next week. Cliven Bundy will be behind bars in the same jail housing his sons, the leaders of an armed group that occupied an Oregon wildlife refuge. The elder Bundy was arrested Wednesday night when he arrived in Portland from Las Vegas to visit sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy. Cliven Bundy was charged Thursday with leading a tense 2014 armed standoff with federal officials near his ranch in Nevada. At his first court appearance, he asked for a court-appointed attorney. U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart said she wanted to see financial documents first. She set a detention hearing for next Tuesday, and Bundy will stay in jail until then...Federal prosecutors say nine additional people from six states have been charged in connection with the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Oregon says seven of them were arrested Thursday and two remain at large. That means a total of 25 people have been charged with the standoff. They all face the same felony count of conspiracy to interfere with federal workers. The newly charged include: Blaine Cooper of Arizona; Wesley Kjar of Utah; Corey Lequieu of Nevada; Neil Wampler of California, Jason Blomgren of North Carolina, and Darryl Thorn and Eric Flores, both of Washington state. The names of the two being sought haven't been released. Prosecutors say those in custody are scheduled to appear in federal court in the different states Thursday and Friday...The FBI says the Oregon wildlife preserve that was occupied by an armed group will remain closed for several weeks as authorities inspect the area and gather evidence. The last four occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge surrendered Thursday. The occupation began Jan. 2. At a news conference, Greg Bretzing, FBI special agent in charge in Oregon, said authorities would examine buildings at the refuge to ensure nobody else was hiding out. After that, he says specialized teams would look for "explosive-related hazards." He said that could take several days. Bretzing says the FBI's evidence team would collect material about any crimes that may have been committed during the occupation. Also, a special team would work with a local tribe to document any damage to artifacts and ancient burial grounds at the property...source

We must dispel myths surrounding protest

By Clint Siegner

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown sat in her office Jan. 20 and drafted a letter to the U.S. attorney general and the director of the FBI. She wrote that negotiations with the “radicals” occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge had failed and insisted on a “swift resolution to this matter.”

Local officials, including Harney County Judge Steve Grasty, made similar demands. On Jan. 26, they got what they asked for.

Authorities, including the FBI, ambushed and arrested Ammon Bundy and others on their way to a meeting in neighboring Grant County. They shot LaVoy Finicum dead. He was not holding a weapon.

Awful. Grasty and Brown knew what might happen should the FBI decide negotiations had failed. Few have forgotten the stand­offs at Waco and Ruby Ridge and that “swift” federal action often means people die — in many cases, indiscriminately.

It’s ironic, but the behavior of the judge and the governor goes a long way to make the refuge protesters’ case for them. Blind devotion to federal authority is terribly dangerous to lives and to liberty.

The protest in Harney County will certainly not be the last over federal overreach. Here is hoping people find reason next time, before demanding dangerous federal intervention.

To that end, it is time to dispel a few myths about what is going on.

Siegner dispels five myths and also catches Governor Brown in a huge inconsistency when it comes to state vs. federal power. 

A good read.

Obama to designate new national monuments in the California desert

President Obama has set aside more of America’s lands and waters for conservation protection than any of his predecessors, and he is preparing to do even more before he leaves office next year. The result may be one of the most expansive environmental and historic-preservation legacies in presidential history. On Friday, Obama will designate more than 1.8 million acres of California desert for protection with the creation of three national monuments: Castle Mountains, Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow. The new monuments will connect three existing sites — Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks and the Mojave National Preserve — to create the second-largest desert preserve in the world...more 

Endangered Mexican gray wolves could be introduced to Utah

The Federal government proposed to release a subspecies of wolf in southern Utah and Colorado. This has raised concerns among local ranchers and the Utah Farm Bureau. Conversely, wildlife advocates are fighting to introduce the Mexican gray wolf into Utah. The Mexican wolf is a threatened species found in the Southwest region of the United States. There are only 110 species left in the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has surveyed the region along southern Utah and believes the habitat is suitable for the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves. Kirk Robinson, executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy, expressed his concerns about the Mexican wolf not being discussed during the legislative season. “Nobody is talking about reintroducing the Mexican wolf,” Robinson said. “Our government officials are really upset about this. They don’t want Mexican wolves or any other wolves for that matter. That is why there is such a big conflict.” Robinson shed some light as to why southern Utah needs a wolf population. “Wolf populations will help control the number of deer and elk,” Robinson said. “So those populations won’t get larger.” Robinson said a sub-population of the Mexican wolves will help boost the ecosystem in southern Utah by preying on old and sickly deer and elk, which will help with big game population control. Although wildlife advocates are making preparations for the reintroduction, not all Utahns are willing to welcome the Mexican wolf with open arms. Sterling Brown, vice president of the Utah Farm Bureau, expressed his concerns with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal. “(Mexican gray wolves) are not native to southern Utah,” Brown said. “The Federal government has written a policy that an endangered species cannot be transported or transplanted in non-native areas. Yet the U.S Fish and Wildlife Services want to expand (Mexican gray wolf territory) into southern Utah. That’s going against their own policy.”...more

A look at Western ranchers' issues with the feds

Ranchers' issues with the federal government over land is not a new phenomenon. Many ranchers on Western lands have felt the government's hand has been too heavy for years. KTVB talked to a regional ranching family and their attorney, who have been in and out of the courts for decades, fighting against what they call lawlessness on the part of the feds. Many might recognize the last name, Hage, for their historic case in Nevada highlighting deep-seeded problems in the ranching industry, and for taking on the federal government. The Hage family is still fighting that battle, after decades of trial and tribulation. "It takes an awful lot to force somebody to take that extraordinary step that you saw out there in Oregon- whether we agree with it or not- we need to step back and look at what pushed them to that extent," Ramona Morrison, E. Wayne Hage's daughter, said. What Morrison believes pushed those ranchers to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for the last 41 days is the tyranny of federal agencies. "Things were different in Central Nevada and the forest service there really did not like the ranchers," the Hage family attorney, Mark Pollot, told KTVB. Pollot says as soon as the late "Hage Senior" bought his ranch in the 70's, those administrative agencies started to throw every road-block in his way. "They started on a campaign to make it impossible for us to run that ranch through the use of administrative powers," Morrison added. Eventually, the family had to sell their cattle after the government charged them with trespassing by grazing cattle without a permit on BLM and U.S Forest Service land. The family filed a takings lawsuit under the Fifth Amendment, and after 21 days of trial, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones said the federal government entered into a conspiracy, and ruled in District Court of Reno, Nevada that the Hages deserved compensation. "Our defense was: we have rights of way, we have easements, we have water rights that are out in the federal lands," Pollot said. But, on appeal to the 9th U.S Circuit, a court reversed that decision. "The sad part of it is these federal agencies are ignoring their own laws," Morrison told KTVB. Morrison says the law requires federal agencies to recognize pre-existing rights of ranchers, like easements, forage rights and vested water rights. So what is the solution? What might fix the underlying issues for ranchers in the West and for the former occupiers in Oregon?...more

BLM: Sage grouse habitat eliminates airport sites

Representatives from the BLM told the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority board Tuesday that the federal agency’s plan to protect sage grouse eliminates many of the replacement airport sites selected in a 2008 environmental impact study conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration. During the board’s monthly meeting at the old Blaine County courthouse in Hailey, BLM biologist Ammon Wilhelm and Shoshone Field Manager Codie Martin passed around copies of a map outlining sage grouse protection areas overlaid by proposed airport relocation sites. Many of the proposed sites are on land designated as sage grouse habitat. Wilhelm said a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to not list sage grouse as endangered is part of a plan intended to prevent an endangered listing in the future...more

Environmental Group Sues Over Cabinet-Yaak Grizzlies

This week an environmental group filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in federal court in Missoula, saying that grizzly bears in the Cabinet-Yaak area of northwest Montana should be listed as endangered species. Right now the federal agency estimates there are about 50 grizzlies in the Cabinet-Yaak. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies says that number is actually closer to 40, and that the minimum number of bears necessary for the population to recover is one hundred. Therefore, the Alliance says, the bears should be up-listed from “threatened” status to “endangered” Endangered status would give the bears additional protections. The Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but Spokeswoman Serena Baker says agency biologists carefully considered which status is appropriate. "Because the population is increasing and really has been stable for a number of years, the threatened status really was the appropriate status," Baker says...more

Here’s Why EPA Could Face Criminal Charges For Gold King Mine Blowout

by Michael Bastasch

A new report details how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may have violated at least two federal laws by spilling millions of gallons of mine waste into U.S. rivers, which would trigger criminal charges against private companies.

But so far, the EPA has launched no criminal investigation into the Gold King Mine incident, despite mounting evidence it acted negligently when it caused the mine blowout — the bar EPA uses for bringing criminal prosecutions against private parties.

“The government, for whatever reason, is treating itself more favorably than it would a private party,” Paul Larkin, a former federal attorney who now works for the conservative Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Federal officials aren’t immune to criminal prosecution,” Larkin said. “If these were private parties they would have opened a criminal investigation.”

 A new House natural resources committee report claims EPA officials potentially violate at least two federal environmental laws — the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. And based on EPA’s past enforcement tactics, officials could be held criminally liable for polluting waterways across three states.

New Mexico official blasts EPA over Colorado mine spill

The head of the New Mexico Environment Department is blasting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, saying federal officials are downplaying the long-term effects of the Gold King Mine spill. The head of the New Mexico Environment Department blasted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday during a legislative committee meeting in Santa Fe, saying federal officials are downplaying the long-term effects of the Gold King Mine spill. Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn told members of the House agriculture committee that the agency has been pressuring communities to get behind a proposal that calls for monitoring water quality for only a year. Flynn also argued that the proposal would look at whether the water is safe for recreation. State officials fear that heavy metals from the spill could affect crops, livestock and wildlife in the years to come. Flynn told New Mexico lawmakers that the spill could have been avoided and accused the EPA of not holding itself to the same standards set for private industry...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1562

Here's one by Louis Innis and the String DustersJug Band Boogie.  The tune is on his Bronco Buster CD Skip, Hop & Jump Country Style

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Final Oregon occupiers surrender to authorities, ending the refuge siege

The armed occupation of a rural Oregon wildlife refuge ended peacefully here Thursday after 41 days as the last four anti-government activists surrendered to FBI agents, following a dramatic and emotional hour-long negotiation with the final holdout broadcast live on YouTube. After repeatedly threatening to shoot himself, complaining that he couldn’t get marijuana, and ranting about UFOs, drone strikes in Pakistan, leaking nuclear plants and the government “chemically mutating people,” the last occupier, David Fry, 27, lit a cigarette, shouted “Hallelujah” and walked out of his barricaded encampment into FBI custody. “I don’t want to be put behind bars,” he said at one point. “I don’t want to take that risk…. I didn’t kill anybody.” The FBI said it arrested David Fry at about 11 a.m. without incident. Before he was taken into custody, agents arrested Sandy Anderson, 48, of Idaho; her husband, Sean Anderson, 47; and Jeff Banta, 46, of Elko, Nev. They were taken to Portland to face federal charges. Fry’s surrender, which had an audience of more than 30,000 people listening live, capped an extraordinary 18 hours in which America’s growing and extreme anti-government movement morphed into something that more closely resembled a strange and nerve-racking reality TV show. And it brought an end to a bitter, five-week standoff at the snowy Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in the remote high desert of eastern Oregon, that drew international attention to anti-government extremist sentiments along with long-simmering anger over federal land-management policies in the American West...more

Ammon Bundy Moved Out of Solitary Cofinement

Jailed rancher Ammon Bundy has been moved out of solitary confinement in a dark, windowless, six-by-six cell after his plight was featured on Newsmax TV’s “Dennis Michael Lynch: Unfiltered” show. In a text message to Lynch, Bundy’s wife Lisa wrote: “I just talked to him and he said he wants you to know how grateful he is. Thank You!”  Lynch has closely followed the story of Bundy and other ranchers involved in the armed seizure of an Oregon wildlife refuge on his Newsmax TV show which airs weeknight at 9pm ET...more

House panel report slams EPA for Animas River spill, accuses administration of concealing details

A House committee investigative report released Thursday slammed the Environmental Protection Agency for the Animas River spill, attributing it to the crew’s sloppiness and accusing the Obama administration of deliberately concealing information about the accident. The House Natural Resources Committee majority staff investigation accused the EPA and Interior Department of “incompetence and willful efforts to evade consequences,” the result being that they “cannot be trusted to spearhead remediation of sites like the Gold King Mine.” “[I]t is clear that there is more to the Gold King Mine story than EPA and DOI have chosen to reveal,” said the report by the Republican majority staff. In addition, the committee faulted the three reports issued by the Obama administration, including the EPA’s own internal review and the Interior Department’s technical evaluation, saying that the reviews “offer shifting accounts of the events leading up to the spill and contain numerous errors, omissions, and inconsistencies.” Some of those “are not attributable to error or incompetence alone,” said the report’s executive summary...more

Oregon Occupiers Delay Surrendering

The occupiers of the federal wildlife refuge in Oregon did not immediately surrender to law enforcement at 8 a.m. local time Thursday, as had been tenuously agreed to the night before. Instead, they waited for Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and the Rev. Franklin Graham be there to accompany them when they surrendered. Fiore and Graham were preparing to make their way to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge to help escort out the remaining occupiers Thursday morning...more

Michele Fiore, the gun-toting, calendar-posing politician who negotiated the Ore. occupiers’ surrender

It was the most cinematic of moments, and Michele Fiore was not going to miss it.

As helicopters swirled overhead and heavily armed FBI agents crept ever closer, the four frantic, fearsome anti-government occupiers still inside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge heard a familiar voice on the telephone line.

“We’re putting our big-girl panties on now, and we are taking America back.”

Michele Fiore to the rescue.

From the floor of the Portland airport five hours away, Fiore, 45, proceeded to act as the occupiers’ de facto negotiator, at times agreeing with their radical views and at others, calming them down. The Nevada state assemblywoman and occupation supporter said she had spoken to the FBI and received assurances that the Feds wouldn’t kick down the door Wednesday night. And when one of the occupiers worried that government snipers were going to kill everyone inside the cabin, Fiore insisted everything would be alright.

“We’re going to make it through this, and we’re going to write about it,” she said on the occupiers’ live-streamed conference call, monitored at one point by about 64,000 people.

By night’s end, the occupiers had tentatively agreed to turn themselves in Thursday morning, largely thanks to Fiore’s intervention, although that deal conceivably could be in jeopardy after the arrest of Cliven Bundy.

“Fiore has really given the holdouts a sense of purpose,” tweeted John Sepulvado, a reporter covering the standoff for Oregon Public Broadcasting. “Regardless of what you think of her politics — [she] clearly diffused the situation.”

The brash, blond Las Vegas grandma is one of the most colorful, controversial political characters in the country. She has posed in racy wall calendars with an assortment of semi-automatic rifles. She once wrote, produced and starred in her own movie.

She is a staunch Republican who wears cowboy boots and packs a pistol at all times — even in gun-free zones, she says — yet she also backs gay marriage and marijuana legalization. She is a fiscal conservative who at one point owed the IRS more than $1 million. And she is a congressional candidate who keeps saying outrageous things, often about shooting people in the head.

Don’t Fence Us In: Western States Seek Return of Land From D.C.

According to the United States Geological Survey, nearly half the land in the Western United States is owned by the federal government. This includes 84.9 percent of land in Nevada (hiding UFOs requires lots of space), 64.9 percent of Utah, 61.6 percent of Idaho, 61.2 percent of Alaska, 52.9 percent of Oregon, 48.1 percent of Wyoming, and 45.8 percent in California. Meanwhile, the federal government owns only about 5 percent of the land in states east of the Mississippi River. Altogether, Uncle Sam owns roughly 640 million acres of land.  In March 2012, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed the Utah Transfer of Public Lands Act into law, which instructs the federal government to relinquish more than 20 million acres of land to the State of Utah. Although Utah has yet to bring forward a suit in an attempt to enforce the law, a move that is expected to bring strong opposition from the federal government, similar legislation is being considered in nine other Western states. These states are arguing if the federal government turns over its property in the West to the states, it will result in better environmental stewardship of the land, lower management costs, and an increase in productivity. Environmentalists, support federal government land ownership in Western states because they say these lands contain the most biologically and environmentally valuable ecosystems in the nation that need to be protected by federal officials from less environmentally concerned states.  “If not for federal policies for public land management,” University of Wyoming professor Debra Donahue told the New York Times, “America would lack a world-class system of national parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas.” This is undeniably true; however national parks, national monuments, wildlife refuges, and federal wilderness areas (FWAs), essentially the only parts of the West tourists ever lay their eyes on, would be excluded from any future land transfers. Most of the land held by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, excluding national parks, monuments, and FWAs, is the result of historical accident, not environmental concerns. During the Progressive and New Deal Eras, Congress created federal agencies to control Western lands under the belief central authorities would dispassionately apply science to determine the best use of natural resources. But as Montana State University professor of economics Holly Fretwell writes, “Science cannot determine whether hiking, biking or timber harvest is a higher-valued use. Instead, management decisions—regarding recreation use, commodity production or restoration activities—depend on budget appropriations and special interest battles.”  Fretwell says this leads to gross mismanagement of public lands, leaving Western communities at risk of wildfires, soil erosion, and other environmental problems that impose steep economic costs...more

Hammond Family: Ranchers or Terrorists?

...When the Fish and Wildlife Service diverted water to create a wetland that forced out the lower ranchers, the Hammonds legally reinforced their claim they had to those water rights. When there was an attempt to withdraw Steen Mountains as a “Monument”, the Hammonds refused to sell. When the federal land agencies in collusion with the environmentalists attacked ranching for destroying the health of the land, the Hammonds built a file comparing wildlife numbers on livestock land verses the areas actively managed by the bureaucrats. Even more threatening was the success for legally defending their water rights in court when the agencies attempted to fence off access to a vital spring. In a county full of people very close to being regulated out of business, a property rights win against the aggressive tactics of the federal agencies indeed does become a threat. What transpired next was the BLM making a case to put away the Hammonds for good. The many years of regulatory cut backs in grazing and then subsequent years of building excessive dry fuel ready to catch fire became a perfect storm. In a video from 2015, there is an example of ranchers in the surrounding area who watch as their cattle and homesteads are burned out. (see video link at end of article) Fire is nothing to mess with in the high winds that constantly blow across the desert. Like in 2006, the ranchers had submitted to cutbacks and followed BLM management plans. They were now in danger of being burned out of business. The Hammonds took action. During a major wildfire, they started a controlled back fire, a common and legal practice used in ranching to save the major part of their feed and put the fire out. It worked. By this time their file with the BLM was thick. Bureaucrat after bureaucrat had made claim that the Hammonds were dangerous, threatened violence, and were aggressively hostile. Since again, all these federal employees have immunity from making false allegations. This file is very suspect. But the allegations were enough to an uninformed jury and were entered into evidence by a US Attorney in a Federal District Court, away from neighbors and friends who could testify to their falseness. The BLM had the Hammonds arrested and charged with 18 counts of arson. They used every instance they could find of the Hammonds using controlled burns to help maintain the land, a common practice among ranching for centuries and accepted, to characterize them as dangerous arsonists. The allegations were filled with criminal intent. They were enough to create the appearance that it was not common practice to start back fires on private land. In fact, it is not even illegal if the fires get away from you. In these same years the BLM and Forest Service had burned thousands of acres, the Hammonds, 140. This is the desert, not suburbia; this is ranching, where the rancher is financially motivated to protect the land he uses, pays his taxes on, and makes his living on. What is worse is how they were charged. It is troubling that a US Attorney out of the Department of Justice felt that prosecuting them on a Domestic Terrorism Law was appropriate. It is troubling that the judge in the case retired the day after Steve and Dwight were plead down to only two counts. It is troubling that despite that same judge being so moved to reduce the mandatory 5 year minimum on the grounds that the 8th Amendment protects against cruel and unusual punishment, that a vindictive bureaucrat could find another US Attorney to appeal to another judge and send them back to prison. It is troubling that they were due to pay $400,000 in fines by the end of 2016 and that part of their deal, if that payment isn’t made, will involve giving the government first right of refusal if they ever have to sell the ranch...more

Are states better than the feds at protecting endangered species?

In honor of Groundhog Day, WildEarth Guardians released its annual report card for federal and state management of prairie dogs. Unsurprisingly, the environmental group isn’t too fond of PLF’s victory on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners (PETPO). Yet it’s judgment of the relative quality of federal and state management suggests that it should reconsider that opposition.

As you’ll likely recall, we obtained a groundbreaking ruling in late 2013, holding that the Commerce Clause does not permit the federal government to criminalize all human action that affects the Utah prairie dog — a species found only in Utah with no appreciable connection to interstate commerce. As a consequence of that decision, the Utah has had exclusive power to manage the species ever since. It has substantially reformed its prairie dog management program, in the hopes of simultaneously protecting property rights and recovering the species. Perhaps the biggest change is that property owners are given an incentive to allow the state to safely and humanely capture prairie dogs on private property, so that they can be moved to conservation areas on state and federal lands.

In a brief supporting PETPO in the Tenth Circuit, Utah explained that this plan will “gradually transition prairie dogs from human conflict areas that will never secure their future to preserve areas where they are unconditionally protected from take and can flourish without human interference.”

WildEarth Guardians’ opposition to the case is (slightly) surprising because it grades Utah’s prairie dog management higher than most federal agencies. It awards Utah mostly “A”s and “B”s for its management of the Utah prairie dog. In fact, it appears that WildEarth Guardians’ only criticism of the state’s management has nothing to do with outcomes for the Utah prairie dog. Instead, it faults the state for not restricting private property use and private activity as much as possible.

Prior to the case, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was charged with protecting the Utah prairie dog. WildEarth Guardians awards it a “C” for its prairie dog management. Perhaps WildEarth Guardians should reconsider its opposition to the case responsible for transferring prairie dog management from the C-student Service to the more highly-graded Utah.  link

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo hopes Mexican gray wolves will find love

Moments after a Cheyenne Mountain Zoo keeper set out a couple clumps of ground meat, LightHawk emerged from a small snow shelter nestled next to a pine tree. The zoo's newest edition sniffed around for a few minutes Wednesday morning then made her way to the food, nibbling the morsels as male wolf Leopold kept his distance. Leopold eventually took a bite, then retreated back up the snow-covered hill in the Mexican gray wolf exhibit. Kristen Cox, an animal keeper at the zoo for the last decade, said the pair were "doing real well, actually" after their introduction less than a day before. LightHawk was flown from Scottsdale, Ariz., on Tuesday to fill the void left when her sister, Weeko, died of cancer in January. She was named for LightHawk Conservation Flying, the volunteer organization that brought her to Colorado Springs. LightHawk was brought to Cheyenne Mountain to pair with Leopold in a last-ditch effort to continue their genetic lines. According to the Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan, which tracks genetic lines of wolves in human care, both Leopold and the new female have under-represented genes in the remaining wolf population...more

 Let's hope she gets the cross legged colic instead.

Dog killed in suspected wolf attack

A dog was killed Tuesday near Duluth’s Brighton Beach, and authorities said the evidence suggests a wolf may be responsible. A medium-sized golden retriever mix was walking off-leash on a trail with its owner Tuesday near the park in far eastern Duluth when the dog was killed by another canine that authorities suspect was a wolf, said Brent Speldrich, a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The owner didn’t see what happened, but tracks of another canine were found near the dog, he said. Wolf interactions in the area are common occurrences, Speldrich said. “We live in a wolf range,” he said, noting this would be the second incident in recent weeks in which a wolf killed a dog in the area. Speldrich said Duluth residents should keep dogs leashed and should accompany dogs outside at night, keeping pets close...more

Fish and Game Kills 20 Wolves in Northern Idaho

According to new numbers from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Lolo elk population in northern Idaho has declined from 16,000 animals 25 years ago to fewer than 1,000 today. The biggest factor limiting elk population, the agency stated, has been predation, including by wolves.  In an effort to help bring up elk numbers, Fish and Game—with help from USDA Wildlife Services—killed 20 wolves from a helicopter last week.  Along with the wolf kill, Fish and Game upped the number of available black bear and mountain lion hunting permits, reduced rifle hunting of bull elk by half and eliminated rifle hunting of cows. The agency said it prefers to rely on hunters and trappers to manage wolf populations, but if the harvest isn't meeting management goals Fish and Game must shoot or remove the wolves itself.  Hunters and trappers have taken 20 wolves in the Lolo zone so far in the 2015-2016 season but steep, rugged terrain and winter conditions make the area difficult to access...more

N.C. County resolution opposes potential wilderness area

Mitchell County’s Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Feb. 1 voicing its opposition to the potential for land in the county to be designated, and protected, as a wilderness area. The U.S. Forest Service is in the middle of a years-long process to revise its land management plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Much of Mitchell County is within the 500,000-acre Pisgah National Forest, which covers large swaths of western North Carolina. Part of the revision process involves inventorying land within forest boundaries to be evaluated to see if it meets criteria to be designated as wilderness - the highest level of protection that can be given to land managed by the federal government. Basically, the designation means the land is left in its natural condition with restrictions to human traffic. Dozens of areas within the two forests were inventoried for evaluation. Read more: Mitchell News-Journal - County resolution opposes potential wilderness area. In its resolution, the Board of Commissioners gave two reasons for its opposition: concerns that a wilderness designation will negatively impact future search and rescue efforts by limiting necessary maintenance of roadways and trails. And that a designation could result in the county missing out on funds from the Secure Rural Schools Program. Currently, Mitchell gets around $33,000 a year from the program, which provides funds to counties that contain land managed by the Forest Service. The funds, used for schools and roads, are a percentage of the receipts from timbering done on managed lands in the county. Timbering and mining are not allowed on land designated as wilderness. Nor are motorized or mechanized vehicles. Read more: Mitchell News-Journal - County resolution opposes potential wilderness area...more


Point Reyes cattle ranches targeted in environmentalists’ lawsuit

It's all here:  cattle, oysters, wilderness, national parks and a supposed deal with Congress.

A year after an oyster farm was forced to shut down at Point Reyes National Seashore, sparking a bitter controversy over the role of farming in national parks, a coalition of environmentalists on Wednesday filed a lawsuit over a bigger and more explosive target: thousands of dairy and beef cattle in the park. Many of the cattle ranches in the iconic park have been operated by the same families since the 1860s. And park service officials say they have no plans to remove them. The suit against the National Park Service, filed by three groups in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, claims that the cattle are causing erosion, polluting waterways with manure, harming endangered salmon and other species and blocking public access. The groups say park service officials are violating federal law because they are moving forward with a plan to renew 20-year leases to the ranchers without conducting adequate environmental studies on how the thousands of cows are affecting the seashore’s scenic resources, including its tule elk. Nor have officials updated their 36-year-old park management plan to consider other options, like reducing the number of ranches in the park or the size of the cattle herds, the lawsuit contends...more

As bison grow more popular, 2 views on how to treat them

Turner just rounded the corner on 77. The billionaire they used to call the Mouth of the South is a much quieter version of himself these days, thinking less about the 24-hour news cycle he invented and more about his 1.9 million acres of ranch land and what he did to nudge bison — of which he owns more than anyone else on the planet — onto the American plate. When Turner started on his quest to bring bison back, the meat showed up mostly as supper on private ranches or as a gimmick in game-centric restaurants that did not care if they were selling rattlesnake or yak. By the 1990s, his interest had driven prices up, and dozens of other ranchers had joined him. Then a mix of market conditions and bad weather contributed to a crash. Bison meat began piling up in freezers, and ranchers went bankrupt. So Turner came upon a concept Alice Waters and her Slow Food followers understand well. To save something special like the American bison, you have to eat it. He opened his first Ted’s Montana Grill in Columbus, Ohio, in 2002 with George McKerrow Jr., the Atlanta restaurateur who founded the LongHorn Steakhouse. After some stumbles (the company had to close nine of its 57 outlets in 2010), Turner’s restaurant business is back on a path of expansion, and so is bison. The average American eats about 55 pounds of beef a year, while per capita bison consumption barely adds up to a couple of burgers. But a side of bison can bring in twice as much money as beef these days, and processors say they can’t keep up with demand...more

AZ delegation: Fire Grand Canyon workers for sexual harassment

Members of Arizona's U.S. House delegation rarely agree, but when it comes to complaints of sexual harassment at the Grand Canyon, they have one demand: punish or fire guilty employees. The state's nine U.S. House members sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Wednesday, spearheaded by Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, seeking discipline for National Park Service workers who have engaged in harassment and violence. After complaints from 13 current and former employees in 2014,the Inspector General recently concluded there was "evidence of a long-term pattern of sexual harassment and (a) hostile work environment." Employees reported supervisors and coworkers drinking heavily, pressuring women for sex and retaliating when women refused or reported the behavior...more

Conservationists Ask Lawmakers to Scrutinize New Mexico Game Commission Actions

New Mexico conservation groups are calling on state lawmakers to look into recent actions taken by the New Mexico Game Commission. In a letter [attached] sent to members of the Senate Rules Committee, the Sierra Club and Southwest Environmental Center said they were concerned that actions taken by the Game Commission over the past year “do not appear to be fiscally sound, responsive to the public, based on good science or in the best interests of New Mexicans.” The groups specifically cited the Commission’s rejection of a plan to conserve the state’s most vulnerable species, its dismissal of public concerns on controversial topics such as cougar trapping, its failure to base decisions on good science, and its jeopardizing of a longstanding partnership with Ted Turner in which the media mogul has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in conservation of New Mexico’s wildlife. “By rejecting the revised 10-year State Wildlife Action Plan, the Game Commission not only threw away $800,000 in annual federal funding for conservation of New Mexico’s most vulnerable species, it made it more likely that some of those species will end up on the federal endangered species list,” said Kevin Bixby, executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1561

Here's a pretty tune by Tommy DuncanWalkin' In The Shadow Of The Blues was recorded in 1954 for the Coral label and is available on his CD Dog House Blues.

Occupiers at Oregon refuge say they'll turn themselves in

The last four armed occupiers of a national wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon said they would turn themselves in Thursday morning after the FBI and other officers in armored vehicles surrounded them in a tense standoff. The four occupiers yelled at officers to back off and prayed with supporters over an open phone line as the standoff played out on the Internet Wednesday night via a phone line being livestreamed by an acquaintance of occupier David Fry. Fry, 27, of Blanchester, Ohio, sounded increasingly unraveled as he continually yelled, at times hysterically, at what he said was an FBI negotiator. "You're going to hell. Kill me. Get it over with," he said. "We're innocent people camping at a public facility, and you're going to murder us." "The only way we're leaving here is dead or without charges," Fry said, who told the FBI to "get the hell out of Oregon." Fry and the three others are the last remnants of a group led by Ammon Bundy that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 to oppose federal land-use policies. The three others are Jeff Banta, 46, of Elko, Nevada; and married couple Sean Anderson, 48, and Sandy Anderson, 47, of Riggins, Idaho...more

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy arrested by FBI in Portland

Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who touched off one armed showdown with federal authorities and applauded another started in Oregon by his sons, was arrested late Wednesday at Portland International Airport and faces federal charges related to the 2014 standoff at his ranch. Bundy, 74, was booked into the downtown Multnomah County jail at 10:54 p.m. He faces a conspiracy charge to interfere with a federal officer -- the same charge lodged against two of his sons, Ammon and Ryan, for their role in the Jan. 2 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns. He also faces weapons charges. The Bundy Ranch Facebook page reported Cliven Bundy was surrounded by SWAT officers and detained after his arrival from Nevada. He was arrested at 10:10 p.m., authorities said. The Bundy patriarch had traveled to Portland with plans to go on to Burns, where four occupiers had been the remaining holdouts of the refuge occupation...more

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

FBI moves in on last occupiers

The FBI on Wednesday evening moved in on the last four occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, apparently placing armored vehicles around their camp...

UPDATE: FBI agents in armored vehicles moved in Wednesday night on the last four occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, hemming them into their rough camp and insisting they put down their guns and surrender.  The occupiers rejected the demands for hours before one of them said they will turn themselves in at a checkpoint once a national religious figure and a Nevada state legislator arrive. It was scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday, but it wasn't clear if the deal involved all of the four occupiers. The standoff played out for hours through an open phone line being streamed to YouTube. At one point, an estimated 60,000 people listened as the occupiers displayed anger and panic, prayed with those on the phone and yelled at the FBI agents surrounding them...more

Australia Cuts 110 Climate Scientist Jobs, "The Science is settled"

Because the science is settled there is no need for more basic research, the government says.

With an ax rather than a scalpel, Australia’s federal science agency last week chopped off its climate research arm in a decision that has stunned scientists and left employees dispirited. As many as 110 out of 140 positions at the atmosphere and oceans division at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) will be cut, Larry Marshall, the agency’s chief executive, told staff Friday. Another 120 positions will be cut from the land and water program. Across the agency, 350 climate staff will be moved into new roles unrelated to their specialty.

Well, if the "science is settled" as they say, then this is the logical conclusion to their argument.  When can we look forward to the same layoffs here?

The Supreme Court Just Delivered A Crippling Blow To Obama’s Global Warming Agenda

by Michael Bastasch

The U.S. Supreme Court just delivered a major blow to President Barack Obama’s global warming agenda by halting the implementation of a key Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation on carbon dioxide emissions.

The court won’t allow the EPA to implement its so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent by 2030. This is a big win for the 29 states suing the federal government to stop a rule expected to cripple the coal industry.

“Five justices of the Supreme Court agreed with North Dakota and other parties that EPA’s regulation would impose massive irreparable harms on North Dakota and the rest of the country and that there was a substantial likelihood EPA was acting unlawfully,” Paul Seby, an attorney with law firm Greenberg Traurig representing the state of North Dakota, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
States asked the Supreme Court to halt implementation of the CPP after a lower court rejected their appeal in January. Now, Morrisey and the Obama administration will make their oral arguments on the merits of the law in front of federal judges in June.

 “Make no mistake – this is a great victory for West Virginia,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who’s leading the states against the EPA, in a statement on the announcement.

Obama looks to forge ‘climate-smart economy’ with budget

President Obama is proposing significant funding increases to environmental regulators and clean energy research as part of his final budget offered as president.  The centerpiece of Obama’s proposal is a plan to green the transportation sector through a $32 billion, 10-year pan to invest in mass transit, clean vehicle research and lower-emission transportation sectors on the local and state level. He would pay for the plan by assessing a $10 per barrel tax on oil produced in the United States.  Obama is also looking to double the federal government’s investment in clean energy research and development, from $6.4 billion in 2016 to $12.8 billion in 2021, according to the budget proposal. About 76 percent of the funding for research and development will go toward Department of Energy research programs. Water programs get a boost in the budget, which would increase conservation programs and research work by $62.9 million over 2016 levels. Climate change resilience measures are also built into the budget. It provides $2 billion over 10 years for coastal areas susceptible to sea level rise, $311 million for a flood insurance program and new investments in anti-drought and wildfire programs. Obama also looks to use his budget to support the recent international climate agreement reached in Paris by pumping $1.3 billion into international climate change programs, including a $750 million investment in the Green Climate Fund for developing countries...more

Obama proposes new approaches to Western water shortages

Spurning dams for research in water technology, President Obama laid out a striking contrast Tuesday to the strategies adopted by California lawmakers in both parties on how to remedy Western water shortages. In a final budget plan that was dead even before its arrival on Capitol Hill, the administration’s vision of investing $269 million in research on water desalination, recycling and efficiency will find little traction in the Republican-controlled Congress. But it does lay out an alternative to the dams, water tunnels and other giant building projects that Gov. Jerry Brown, Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Central Valley House Republicans have embraced to varying degrees. Building on the model the administration used to boost solar and wind power early in Obama’s presidency, the budget calls for “an aggressive two-part water innovation strategy.” The first step would be to wring more water out of the existing system by increasing efficiency, reuse and conservation. The second is to invest in research to reduce the cost of desalination and recycling until they reach “pipe parity” with water drawn from rivers...more

Obama looks to increase budget for public lands

Obama’s budget provides $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in 2017, making the program permanent and shifting some of its funding to mandatory accounts, the White House said on Tuesday. It also boosts funding to support the National Parks Service, which turns 100 years old in 2016, including an $860 million program to upgrade facilities across the system. A separate $235 million would go toward programs to support further NPS upgrades. The budget bumps funding for several climate-related programs, including wildfire prevention, water conservation and climate change resilience for communities along the oceans. Renewable energy development gets about $97 million in the budget, and a Bureau of Land Management onshore oil and gas program would see a 17 percent funding increase to “oversee safe, environmentally-sound resource development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers.” In total, Interior is looking for a $200 million increase in discretionary funding from 2016 levels...more

Why Obama wants to spend millions relocating entire U.S. communities

When President Barack Obama visited Alaska last summer, he did not stop in tiny Kivalina, a village of about 400 that has become a poster child for climate vulnerability. But he did fly over it, and the view from Air Force One revealed just how exposed the community truly is. Located on a thin barrier island well above the Arctic Circle, and facing severe erosion as declining sea ice exposes its coast to large waves, Kivalina needs to relocate - which could cost well over $100 million. And now, Obama's budget request to Congress includes a proposed $400 million "to cover the unique circumstances confronting vulnerable Alaskan communities, including relocation expenses for Alaska Native villages threatened by rising seas, coastal erosion, and storm surges." The funding would be through the Department of the Interior, whose secretary, Sally Jewell, visited Kivalina last year. It's part of a larger $2 billion coastal climate resilience program proposed in the agency's budget...more

Wolverine case being heard in Missoula court asks if FWS made rational decision

In a room packed with wolverine legal experts, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen may have had the best brief. He actually saw the rare carnivore on three separate occasions. “I don’t know what the odds are of seeing a wolverine three times,” Christensen told the attorneys, “but there’s no reason for any of you to explain it’s a member of the weasel family with large feet that eats marmots. I’ve seen that.” Christensen added he also had read the scientific reports on the wolverine’s habitat and population, was aware of how elusive the animal is and how hard it is to study. What he wanted to know in the case of Center for Biological Diversity et. al. v. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was whether an agency decision denying Endangered Species Act protection to wolverines was reasonable or arbitrary. Everybody in the Missoula courtroom agreed about 300 wolverines remain in the continental U.S., mostly in Montana. And they agreed that a 2011 study by Rocky Mountain Research Station scientist Kevin McKelvey was a solid block of evidence showing how climatic changes would affect where wolverines can live. What they disputed was whether McKelvey’s study was enough to warrant federal protection for wolverines. The Fish and Wildlife Service decided it wasn’t, and ruled there was not sufficient evidence that wolverines might near extinction without agency action. Preso and Bishop argued there was, noting FWS used the same research in a draft decision granting wolverines protection in 2013, only to reverse course and deny it in the final decision a year later...more

A new and more dangerous Sagebrush Rebellion

by Jonathan Thompson

At first, as the armed occupation in Oregon's High Desert unfolded in January, it looked like a widescreen version of the flare-ups we've seen in the West ever since the Sagebrush Rebellion erupted in the 1970s. Recall the so-called "oppressed ranchers," their anti-federal rhetoric and the sight of cowboy-hatted heroes riding to their rescue.

But a closer look, and the episode's violent culmination, reveal a bigger and more sinister problem than your run-of-the-mill local-control scuffle.

For starters, precious few locals or even ranchers were among the couple of dozen occupiers of Oregon's Malheur Wildlife Refuge. The lead occupier, Ammon Bundy, may look the part, but he actually owns a truck-fleet maintenance business in Phoenix. At one of his press conferences, Bundy said that he wasn't just sticking up for "the ranchers, the loggers and the farmers," but also for the "auto industry, the health-care industry and financial advisors." That remark, which ignored the federal largesse those industries receive, revealed the crusade's true scope.

Whereas the Sagebrush Rebellion of old was driven largely by pragmatic, grassroots concerns, today's version is purely ideological –– a nationwide confluence of right-wing and libertarian extremists. Many of them have little interest in grazing allotments, mining laws or the Wilderness Act. It's what these things symbolize that matters: A tyrannical federal government that activists can denounce, defy and perhaps even engage in battle. This movement, which has grown increasingly virulent since President Barack Obama's election, has created a stew of ideologically similar groups, ready to coalesce around each other when necessary.

LaVoy Finicum’s death, a watershed moment?

by Bryan Hyde

...It was this conviction that federal authority was becoming more aggressive and more harmful in consolidating unconstitutional power that led him to make his stand to educate others about properly limited government.

..Regardless of whether one agrees with the tactics of Finicum and others who peacefully occupied an empty wildlife refuge to air their grievances, there’s no doubt that they had real impact.

...Without pointing a single gun at anyone or firing a single shot in anger, Finicum was successful in personally educating hundreds of citizens about the nature of proper government, their natural rights and the need to stand for liberty.

Thousands more have become aware because of his efforts.

The Thomas Jefferson Center for Constitutional Restoration makes this essential observation about the difference between actual terrorists and protestors:
The fact that the protesters didn’t fire a shot gives immense power, validity and innocence to the cause of the protestors. It gives them the moral high ground in every way.
That they were able to do this in the face of the most concentrated media and government smear campaign of our time makes this even more remarkable.

...LaVoy Finicum’s life may have been ended by frightened men acting under the color of law but the resulting awakening in the minds of ranchers and citizens alike is only beginning.

Education, rather than bloodshed, is now a far more credible threat to the power of those denying our liberties. It will be interesting to see how far they’ll go to try to stop an idea that is bulletproof.

Courage can be contagious...

Sheriff Palmer's stance in LaVoy Finicum shooting draws opposition

Militant leader Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, armed, angry and facing arrest, shouted again and again to police who had stopped him outside Burns that he needed to go see "the sheriff." He felt only one man could protect him — Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer. Finicum, 54, never reached John Day, where Palmer was waiting to share the stage with the anti-government protesters who had taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in neighboring Harney County a month earlier.  In the days since the Jan. 26 shooting, Finicum's final words and Palmer's response to the deadly confrontation have focused attention on the sheriff who has openly challenged federal authority in his own county. Palmer took to social media to say he knew nothing about plans that day to stop the occupation leaders and that he had not been at the "ambush site." His words drew a rebuke from the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association, concerned that his description would "only inflame an already tense situation and incite further violence." The association's executive committee is considering a citizen request that it investigate Palmer.  Judy Schuette, a 30-year Grant County resident and retired school secretary, bought an ad in the Blue Mountain Eagle weekly newspaper demanding Palmer explain his actions. Schuette and others then organized a demonstration against him and the refuge occupiers outside the community meeting. "His actions have been irresponsible with the very real danger of more violence," she wrote in a post. Another indication that Palmer's conduct is dividing the community: His former undersheriff announced last month that he would challenge Palmer, who is seeking his fourth term...more

ACLU Defends 1st Amendment Rights Of Refuge Occupier Pete Santilli

The ACLU of Oregon has come to the defense of Pete Santilli, one of the 16 people indicted by federal prosecutors last week for organizing an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. “While many people might disagree with statements made by those involved in the Malheur takeover, Americans have a fundamental right to freedom of speech,” wrote Mat dos Santos, the legal director for the ACLU of Oregon, in statement posted to the group’s website Tuesday. Santilli is the host of an Internet radio show, which for weeks broadcasted hundreds of hours of live footage from the refuge and around Harney County. Santilli was arrested in Burns, Oregon on Jan. 26 along with militant leaders. Santilli’s lawyer has argued for his pretrial release and said repeatedly in court that Santilli is an independent journalist. But last week, U.S. District Chief Justice Michael Mosman affirmed a decision to keep Santilli in jail, ruling some of his statements posed a risk to the community, specifically law enforcement. In its statement, the ACLU said despite the fact that Santilli is “politically polarizing and, to many, downright offensive,” the radio host has protected First Amendment rights to make those statements. “We can all agree that we should not hold members of the media or protesters in jail without bail simply because they have shocking or abhorrent views,” dos Santos wrote. “These are principles that we must stand by, even when we disagree with the message of the speaker.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1560

Bill Clifton - Pal Of Yesterday is our selection today.  The tune is on his The Early Years 1957-1958 CD.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Lisa Bundy to NewsmaxTV: Authorities Trying to 'Break' Ammon

The heartsick wife of jailed rancher Ammon Bundy says authorities have locked her husband in a cramped, pitch-black cell, in a misguided bid to "break" his spirit and force him to cooperate with their probe into his armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in Oregon last month. "It is a 6x6 cell. No mat to sleep on, just pretty much a board. He's got a small toilet and a small sink to wash his hands and that's pretty much it. There's no sunlight, there's no window," Lisa Bundy said Tuesday in an exclusive interview on Newsmax TV's "Dennis Michael Lynch: Unfiltered." "There's a small tiny [space] they feed the food through. He's supposed to have one hour [outside], but it's been cut. One day he only had 15 minutes … And they're also taking time out of visiting [privileges] with his lawyer. So that's not right." Lisa, a mother of six, said her husband does not deserve solitary confinement. "I think that they are trying to — many have said — break him and the others to the point of where he might not be thinking straight. But it's important to note that he hasn't even been convicted of a crime," she said, adding that a court has so far refused him bail. "We own an orchard … [and] have a lot of work to do here as a family and what he's done, he's done. He educated, which is what his plan was — to get people that study the Constitution, learn their rights, learn of their freedoms, and that's it." Lisa Bundy told Dennis Michael Lynch she and her husband should not be written off as crazy, right-wing radicals. "We're not at all. In fact, we have a family of six children, we love our family, we would prefer to just focus specifically on them," she said. "But we also love our neighbor and when we see these wrong things happening, we have to act, we have to help our neighbor. We're not crazy." Lisa also said she's gratified by a huge showering of support from people across the country...more

Here's the NewsmaxTV interview:

Ammon Bundy urges elected officials to support their imprisoned constituents

Ammon Bundy, the leader of the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, continues to make his voice heard while sitting in jail on a federal conspiracy charge -- his latest call urges elected officials from eight states to support his co-defendants. "This is a call to action for any elected representative in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, the state of Washington and Ohio,'' Bundy says. "You have constituents in federal custody. Please visit and contact them to voice your support for free speech, the right to assemble and civil disobedience.''  Bundy made the recording Saturday. It was released Monday by his lawyers, Mike Arnold and Lissa Casey of the Eugene-based Arnold Law Firm.  Here's a transcript of Bundy's latest statement:

Ammon Bundy, February 6, 2016. This is a call to action for any elected representative in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, the State of Washington, and Ohio.  You have constituents in federal custody.  Please visit and contact them to voice your support for free speech, the right to assemble, and civil disobedience. It is your duty to hold federal agencies at bay, protecting the people in your state.    And to those who disagree with my speech, or our civil disobedience, and may dislike our ideas regarding that the land belongs to the people:  Please remember that you do not want free speech to be retaliated against by government officials.  If you do not advocate for government to tolerate ideas that it hates, then the First Amendment and free speech mean nothing. Arm yourself with ideas. Arm yourselves with education. Argue and disagree.  Be free.  Thank you...more

Cliven Bundy is coming to Burns, Ore., Portland

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is coming to Oregon to demonstrate on behalf of his sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, as well as the four remaining armed occupants of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Nevada State Assemblywoman Michele Fiore confirmed to OPB that she, along with other state lawmakers from Western states, will be traveling to meet Bundy in Burns and in Portland. Fiore said the final details of the trip are still being planned, but she expects to be in Portland on Thursday night to protest the jailing of Ammon and Ryan Bundy. “There is a Nevadan (Ryan Bundy) sitting in jail, and as an office holder, I will be there to demand his release,” Fiore said. “If that Nevadan can’t leave Oregon, we will bring Nevada to him. Peaceful, of course.”...more

Nevada Assemblywoman heading to Oregon to support Bundy’s cause

Assemblywoman Michele Fiore is answering the call of Ammon Bundy, who, in a recording released today, asked elected officials from across the West to come to the aid of his supporters. Fiore will travel to Oregon Wednesday to meet with legislators from across the West to advocate for Bundy and the 15 others who were indicted last week on counts of conspiracy and threatening officers during their armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Assemblywoman Shelly Shelton, a Las Vegas Republican, will travel to Oregon as well for a Thursday news conference, along with a possible third Nevada legislator, Fiore said, though she declined to specify which one. One of Fiore’s demands is that the authorities release any body camera or dash camera footage of the traffic stop that ended in the death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, an Arizona man who had acted as a spokesman for the group. The FBI has released video footage of that traffic stop, but the video does not have any sound and is poor quality, shot at a distance.  This will be Fiore’s first trip to Oregon since the standoff began in early January, though she has had phone and Skype meetings over the last several weeks with standoff participants, she said. She extended the invitation for Cliven Bundy to attend the meeting, but she said it was primarily for legislators...more

Ammon Bundy's lawyers deny breaking legal ethics rule with refuge visit

Militant leader Ammon Bundy ended up hiring a Eugene law firm less than three weeks after its lawyers went to the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to offer their services for free. The earlier trip to the refuge has now led to two complaints filed Monday with the Oregon State Bar against the law firm, contending the lawyers violated Oregon State Bar ethics rules. The complaints – one filed anonymously and the other by a Eugene woman – cite a report Friday by Oregon Public Broadcasting, which first raised the ethical questions. The state bar's Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3 says a lawyer shall not solicit professional employment in-person, by phone or through electronic contact "when a significant motive for the lawyer's doing so is the lawyer's pecuniary gain.'' Arnold said his lawyers did nothing inappropriate. They offered their legal advice for free because they felt a duty to potentially help resolve the ongoing conflict at the occupied refuge. "It was fairly obvious that a group holed up at a refuge probably should have an attorney available to answer any questions, particularly since their grievance appeared to be legal – or constitutional – in nature," Arnold said. "We offered to be available by phone over the next couple of weeks to answer any questions for free, assuming we were not otherwise unavailable.'' The state bar's Client Assistance Office attorney will review the two complaints, seek an account of what happened from Arnold's lawyers and determine if possible violations occurred, said Kateri Walsh, a state bar spokeswoman. The bar attorney then will determine if enough evidence exists to ask the bar's Disciplinary Counsel's Office for a formal investigation. Here's what the bar will hear from the firm, Arnold said. He, other lawyers and staff in his office were talking about the occupation of the refuge in early January, he said. They spoke about how it's their duty to take on controversial clients and discussed how they might help defuse the standoff and offer legal advice pro bono, he said. "We saw a conflict – a political protest -- going on in our backyard," Arnold said. "We wanted to be a resource." "Believing that our firm had skills and experience to bring to bear to help resolve this, we contacted ethics counsel to confirm how to appropriately contact them," Arnold said. "Lawyers shouldn't just sit in their offices billing clients 24-7." Their ethics counsel was Portland attorney Peter Jarvis, who specializes in lawyers' professional responsibilities...more

Editorial: Governor puts Jewell's credibility on the line

Gov. Brian Sandoval has thrown down the gauntlet in the battle over hardrock mining’s future in Nevada, taking the bold step of calling out Sally Jewell over management of agencies she oversees as Secretary of the Interior.

Their response will reveal whether the proposed mineral withdrawal is more about helping the sage grouse or harming the state’s mining industry.

The Bureau of Land Management’s comment period closed three weeks ago, and Nevadans could learn by the end of the month whether the current two-year ban will be extended to 20 years. If it is, there will be no exploration along the northern edge of our state, nor in much of Idaho and southeastern Oregon.

Sandoval submitted the state’s official comments by the Jan. 15 deadline, including a revision that followed his talks with Jewell in early December. “Secretary Jewell committed to robust collaboration on the mineral withdrawal process,” he announced at the time. “The Secretary understands the national security and economic development importance of the mineral potential in Nevada.”

The deal outlined by our governor would preserve mining exploration on most of the proposed withdrawal area, while protecting critical sage grouse habitat in other areas. But it may be in jeopardy, because on Jan. 28 Sandoval issued a press release putting Jewell on the spot.
“I have always taken the Secretary at her word but if her agencies refuse to implement her publicly stated policies, the state cannot assume our negotiations are happening in good faith and my administration will consider the other legal options we have identified in the past,” he wrote.

One of “her” agencies, the BLM, is currently run by Neil Kornze of Elko. When questioned about the governor’s proposal by The Associated Press, Kornze’s Nevada spokesman gave an ambiguous response.

A Persistent Ground Game (as in "keep it in the ground")


Going forward, we know what the new year of environmental activism looks like. Activists have told us. They’ve made it perfectly clear. They call it: “Keep it in the ground.”

The campaign is about all fossil fuels: oil, gas, and coal. Instead of an “all of the above” energy policy, when it comes to fossil fuels, they want “none of the above.” A big part of the effort is focused on preventing the extraction of fossil fuels on public lands — which is supported by presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton. The recent moratorium of leasing federal lands for coal mining, announced by Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, is considered a great victory for “keep it in the ground.”

I wrote about the movement in December. Last month, the Los Angeles Times published an opinion editorial for one of its leaders, Bill McKibben: “How to drive a stake through the heart of zombie fossil fuel.” In it, McKibben states: “In May, a coalition across six continents is being organized to engage in mass civil disobedience to ‘keep it in the ground.’”

While big news items fuel the fight, smaller, symbolic wins are part of the strategy. Introducing the plan late last year, the Hill states: “It stretches into local fights, over small drilling wells, coal mines and infrastructure.”

Here’s what keep it in the ground looks like in the real world — in “local fights” and “over small drilling wells.”

In a suburb of Albuquerque known more for computer chip-making than crude oil extraction, the anti-fossil fuel crowd is doing everything it can to prevent a “small drilling well” from being developed.

In Rio Rancho, New Mexico, the major employer is Intel. It is also home to several call centers — though the Sprint call center just announced it is closing and cutting 394 jobs. New Mexico has the nation’s highest jobless rate: 6.8%.


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1559

I love this version of Sittin' On Top Of The World by the Shelton Brothers (Bob and Joe), and check out the excellent fiddle work by Curley Fox.  The tune was recorded in Chicago on Tuesday, August 20, 1935, and is on their The Shelton Brothers, Vol.2 collection on the British Archives of Country Music label.  The Westerner

Monday, February 08, 2016

Donald Trump Sr & Jr interviews cover Interior Secretary, land transfers & 2nd amendment

Petersen's Hunting recently posted an interview with Donald Trump.  Mike Scoby writes:

Donald Trump and the Second Amendment

On Second Amendment issues he was spot on—essentially echoing what gun owners have been saying for years. Gun-free zones create easy targets for criminals. If citizens were armed, there would be fewer casualties in mass shootings, and under his watch there would be no new federal gun laws. If that wasn’t enough, he agreed unequivocally that law-abiding citizens should be allowed to buy, sell, and trade firearms and ammunition with other Americans without registrations and regulations imposed by federal agencies. This is in direct contrast to many politicians who commonly refer to this as “the gun show loophole” and look to regulate these private transactions.

Trump’s Take on Federal Land Sales

When it came to hunters’ rights and federal land sales, Donald Trump didn’t waffle, stating that a USFWS Director appointed by him would “ideally be a hunter” and under his watch there would be no sale of public Western lands. This is in direct opposition to Sen. Ted Cruz who filed an amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsman’s Act of 2014 that would force the federal government to sell off a significant portion of its holdings in the West. This includes national parks, forests, and BLM and wildlife management areas that would be sold to states or private companies, likely for mining, logging, and drilling.

You can watch the interview here.

There is also an interview with Donald Trump, Jr.  Again, Scoby writes:

MS: One of the biggest threats hunters are facing is the sale or transfer of “excess” public lands in the West. Sen. Ted Cruz filed an amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsman’s Act of 2014 to do just this in states where over 50 percent of the property is owned by the federal government. Would you or your father support any federal land sale?

DT Jr: In my opinion, Ted is 100 percent wrong to have Congress mandate a blanket approach to sell any percentage of federal lands to the states. Clear back to Teddy Roosevelt, our federal lands were the American public’s greatest treasure. They are where our people love to hunt fish, hike, camp, snowmobile, and recreate. Some advocates of selling don’t understand the millions and millions of recreation days and billions of dollars in tourism, hunting, fishing, and the outdoors generally bring in to the coffers. There is a lot of value in these lands to be kept public, and we need to care for them properly. In rare cases—for example, if there was 1,000 acres of federal land around, say, Las Vegas, that was no good for wildlife or recreation and we could sell it for $500 million, where that money is funneled back to wildlife and conservation—we could do a lot of good, even buying a few private ranches for sale, and open lands currently closed to public access. That would be a win for sportsmen, but again, this would be a rare exception. I would never want to do this for true wilderness.

MS: When it comes to transferring land to the state, on the surface many sportsmen are initially in favor of the idea until they realize that the state has no intention of keeping the land or managing it for public use, such as hunting, fishing, or recreation. Some misguided legislators, such as Utah State Representative Ken Ivory and Montana State Senator Jennifer Fielder, are pushing this flawed logic. Will these individuals fool the Trump administration?

DT Jr: I would never support selling our federal lands. As we know, many citizens out West are completely frustrated with federal overreach and lawsuits that hurt our federal lands and sportsmen.
Rather than transfer the lands, I want to change some laws and better invest current money to make our lands more productive, while having fewer wildfires. Well-managed lands, with thinned timber, food plots, and habitat improvements that help animals would be the goal. The solution is to make our lands better and give people that live in these areas a say. Wade Boggs, a great baseball player, once said something to the effect of “the people of New Mexico don’t want to manage New York and the people in New York probably don’t know the lands as well as the people who live, work, and hunt or fish in New Mexico.”

MS: Proponents of federal land sales claim it will help balance the budget when in truth it is being pushed through at the state level by large multinational business interests who stand to profit off the sale. If balancing the budget were the goal, wouldn’t it be more effective to balance our budget by reducing our spending instead of raping our natural resources? I mean, if we sell off our assets now and don’t change our spending habits, what will we do in a decade when we have no land and still have a massive deficit?

DT Jr: Never do this. It’s like selling your gun to buy a deer tag! There are plenty of places to cut billions of dollars of waste in all forms of the federal budget. We have to. We simply can’t have $20 trillion of debt. What we want to do is take current money being wasted on endless studies or lawsuits. Big portions of the Department of Interior’s multibillion annual budget is fighting lawsuits, filed by radical environmental groups, just to pay attorneys. Let’s take this money, make our federal lands productive, increase our herds and flocks, and have more hunting.

You may be listening to our next Secretary of Interior, so I would encourage you to watch this interview here.