Friday, June 03, 2016

Monument plan a grass-roots movement, supporters say

Tragedy and betrayal populate the history of the Navajo people, who were forced from their homeland in the 1860s by a federal government that treated them as a conquered people rather than native citizens. A century of abuses followed the tribe's return to a reservation straddling the Four Corners, but for generations a beacon of hope jutted up on the northern horizon, according to Willie Grayeyes, a Navajo who leads the grass-roots nonprofit Utah Dine Bikeyah. In English, the twin land forms became known as Bears Ears Buttes, because of their resemblance to the furry nubs rising off an ursine head. "My elders and medicine people point to the north at social gathering, ceremonies, chapter meetings, reference Bears Ears and say, 'That's where my great-great-grandmother and grandfather used to live, or hunt or sweat.' That psychological attachment is still there. It never has been damaged by weather, rain or wind. And that's what I understood the attachment is, like mother to child, more closer than anybody else," Grayeyes told a gathering of about 70 people Wednesday at the Urban Indian Center in Salt Lake City. The people came to hear about his group's proposal, endorsed by a multitude of tribes, for a 1.9-million-acre national monument protecting these twin buttes and surrounding public lands, including Cedar Mesa, Grand Gulch, White Canyon, Comb Ridge and the Abajo Mountains — a scenic landscape rich in archaeology and held sacred. Four other Utah Dine Bikeyah (UDB) board members addressed the meeting, part of a tour around Utah and neighboring states to discuss with Native Americans their monument proposal, which has become deeply controversial...more

You must have respect for the Elders.  But were they pointing at the whole 1.9 million acres or just to the twin buttes?

Getting 'High on Life' lands Canadian men in hot water for Yellowstone stunt

Authorities in Yellowstone national park are urging a group of Canadian men accused of tramping off trail and dabbing in a delicate hot spring to turn themselves in, after images were posted on social media of their reported antics there and across a string of American “national treasures”. Federal warrants have been issued in Wyoming for the arrest of the four friends, who market themselves under variations of their Vancouver-based clothing and entertainment brand High on Life. The men were recorded on video last month striding out of bounds across the fragile, psychedelic landscape at the spectacular Grand Prismatic Spring in the heart of Yellowstone. Some of them could be seen dipping their hands in the large thermal pool. The incident followed an earlier episode where they went wake-boarding behind their bright blue touring vehicle across the world famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah during the spring wet season. But the Bonneville and Yellowstone incidents were just the latest in a series of stunts that have garnered the men both fans and withering contempt online for, variously, allegedly swinging on a rope from Corona Arch in Utah, which is banned; going into prohibited areas at Machu Picchu in Peru; and climbing on the Holocaust memorial in Berlin...more

Hunting the hunters

ROBLIN, Man. — Gary Fletcher looks exactly how a cattleman should look. 
 With a greying mustache and the eyes of someone who has spent countless hours peering into the distance looking for cattle, Fletcher wore cowboy boots, spurs, chaps, a black hat and a scarf on a stormy afternoon in late May. 
 Fletcher, manager of a community pasture near Roblin, Man., chooses to dress in the customary cowboy gear, but he also carries a traditional tool for the job: a rifle. 
 The gun isn’t a decoration. He has used it more than 20 times to shoot wolves that attacked cattle in Manitoba’s Parkland region.
 Fletcher was a pasture manager near Ethelbert, Man., for 17 years before taking a position at the Roblin community pasture this year. Standing by a corral at the pasture, Fletcher said there’s been an upsurge in wolf attacks over the last five to 10 years near Manitoba’s Duck Mountain Provincial Park.
 “There was the odd kill (17 years ago, but) it gradually started increasing…. This past season there were certain areas of the (Ethelbert) pasture where we were having one kill a week,” Fletcher said inside a shed next to the corral as hail hammered down on the metal roof.
 “That’s a 350 to 400 pound calf on a weekly basis until we were able to target that one (wolf) and got him.”
 However, the increase in wolf attacks isn’t limited to cattle ranches adjacent to Duck Mountain and Riding Mountain National Park. Wolves have also moved well outside their traditional range and now populate southern and western parts of Manitoba, Fletcher said.

Interior Dept. expands offshore wind program to New York

The federal government is expanding its offshore wind energy program to New York, the Department of Interior announced Thursday. More than 81,000 acres of the Atlantic Ocean off the New York coast will be available for wind energy leases, the department announced Thursday. The section of ocean is in the New York Wind Energy Area, a portion of the outer continental shelf 11 miles south of Long Island. The department will publish a sales notice in the Federal Register on Monday, opening a 60-day public comment period. "These are significant steps for our federal offshore renewable energy program," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. The leasing sale of the 81,130 acres of ocean will be done online and go to the highest bidder...more

Families of two killed with stolen ICE and BLM agent’s guns file complaint against agency

The families of two people killed with guns stolen from federal agents are seeking to hold those agencies accountable for the crimes committed with their weapons. The family of Antonio Ramos, a 27-year-old artist shot and killed while painting an anti-violence mural in Oakland last year, filed a complaint against U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement on Thursday because the gun used in the shooting was stolen days earlier from an ICE agent’s car. The law firm representing the Ramos family — Burlingame-based Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy — also filed a federal lawsuit last week on behalf of the family of 32-year-old Kate Steinle, a woman shot and killed in San Francisco last summer with a weapon stolen from a federal Bureau of Land Management agent’s car...more

Still no word on what that BLM agent was doing in San Francisco.  See our previous questions on this here and here.

Canadian Man Pleads Guilty To Picking Up Bison Calf, Given Six Months Probation

A French Canadian received six months of probation after pleading guilty Thursday to putting a bison calf in his car at Yellowstone National Park because he thought the animal was cold. Shamash Kassam should pay $500 to the Yellowstone Park Foundation Wildlife Protection Fund, federal magistrate Mark Carman ordered at the Yellowstone Justice Center. Kassam will also serve six months of unsupervised probation, as well as pay a $200 fine. Park officials cited Kassam on May 17 for disturbing wildlife. According to the citation, Kassam put the bison calf in his car because it was “wet and shivering” and drove to a ranger station. Yellowstone officials later euthanized the bison calf after the human interaction caused the animal to be rejected by its herd. Kassam told a park ranger he saw the baby bison in the middle of the road near Buffalo Ranch, according to the citation. He said he did not see any other bison in the vicinity and he waited 20 minutes to see if any adult bison would come back for the calf. Kassam said the animal appeared to be seeking warmth from his car’s engine...more

Meteor sightings in New Mexico caught on camera

ROSWELL, N.M.(KRQE) – Around 5 a.m Thursday, a huge fireball shot through the sky, visible from Arizona all the way to here in New Mexico. It’s a sight that caught a lot of people waiting for the sunrise off guard. “I saw was a bright light, I turn around and I see another bright light and then I just see it go down,” said Tony Rodriguez, who saw the light in Alamogordo. Rodriguez was working this morning when he saw the bright flash of light. Making sure his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him, he checked this video on his work’s security camera. “You just don’t know what to expect.. You kind of think all kinds of silly things,” said Rodriguez. Astronomers believe the fiery flash was most likely a meteor hurtling through the sky. Some of the flashes were so bright they lit up the sky like midday...more

Go to the link for the KRQE video report.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1625

In 1927 Jimmie Rodgers recorded a song he had written titled simply Blue Yodel.  The song was a huge hit and is better known today as T For Texas.  Thirty-six years later Grandpa Jones recorded the tune and it was a hit all over again.  Here's Grandpa's 1963 version.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Former BLM chief pushed deal favoring his future firm

Former Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey was "personally and substantially" involved in the sale of federal lands in Nevada that would have earned his future consulting firm $528,000, in violation of an ethics pledge he signed, the Interior Department Office of Inspector General said in a report released today. The report also concluded that Mike Ford, a consultant and former BLM employee who was Abbey's business partner before and after Abbey's tenure as BLM director, leveraged his connections to agency leadership to gain insider knowledge of the land sale and expedite its approval. The joint investigation by the IG and FBI was requested by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Interior's solicitor and former House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.). It sought to determine Abbey's level of influence in the 2012 sale of 480 acres of federal lands in Henderson, Nev., to Christopher Milam, a developer who had signed a deal with the city to build a stadium on the land for professional basketball, soccer and hockey teams. Ford's firm Robcyn LLC had signed agreements with Henderson and Milam to provide consulting services to help them navigate the BLM land sale process, the IG said. If the land sale was successful, Ford's firm -- which Abbey planned to rejoin -- was to receive $528,000. The sale eventually fell apart after Milam reneged on his promise to build a stadium. "Abbey was personally and substantially involved in the presale process for the land," the report found. "Abbey stood to benefit personally from the sale because he and Mike Ford, a former BLM employee and Abbey's onetime business partner, had arranged for Abbey to resume his role as a partner in their private consulting firm after he left BLM."...more

Jewell’s all hands, all lands vision draws strength from Interior employees

Tell Interior Secretary Sally Jewell public land is controlled by top-down edicts from Washington, and she will push back immediately.

“I don’t think that’s accurate,” Jewell says.

“I would say that I’ve not been witness to a situation where we’ve had a thoughtful discussion about where something needs to go and then someone in Washington makes an arbitrary decision to change it. That’s a dialogue people like to talk about but I don’t think is accurate,” she said in an interview with the Idaho Statesman.

But whether it’s getting 173 million acres of sagebrush habitat sufficiently protected from development to keep sage grouse off the federal endangered species list, or siting a high-power transmission line through Southern Idaho, she’s ready to stand up even if it’s unpopular.

“There has to be voices who speak up for benefit of the intangible value of the landscape, and that’s part of what we do,” Jewell said.

As Jewell enters the final eight months of her tenure as Obama’s Interior secretary, she’s taking on a more forceful role as defender of the federal government’s place in the West and the value of federal employees in their work and their communities.

Jewell seeks to counter the perception that led Utah and other Western states to promote the idea of transferring federal lands to the states. Anti-federal rhetoric hit its peak earlier this year when a band of militia led by Emmett’s Ammon Bundy occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Oregon for 41 days.

Jewell calls her collaborative vision “all hands, all lands.” The idea is that wildlife depend not only on public land but private and state lands and that states have the lead role in managing wildlife. It has guided her effort to develop a sage grouse plan across 11 Western states, including Idaho, where oil and gas drilling, renewable energy development, livestock grazing and population growth all take place on much the same landscape.

Instead of drawing lines on a map with zones that dictate different uses, Jewell has sought to look at the landscape like the wildlife that uses it — without paying attention to lines or artificial barriers.

Along a Desert River, A New Breed of Rancher

“I don’t know what I pump and I don’t care – and that’s crazy,” says Paul Schwennesen, a fit, energetic rancher in his late thirties who might outcompete Clint Eastwood for most handsome cowboy. On his modest-size ranch, the Double Check, located in the lower San Pedro River Valley of southeastern Arizona, Schwennesen raises cows to supply grass-fed beef to farmer’s markets and seventeen restaurants in Phoenix and Tucson, both cities about an hour-and-a-half away. Schwennesen’s ranch abuts one mile of the San Pedro, and, as an irrigator, his pumping of groundwater contributes to the depletion of the river’s base flow, the current that keeps the river wet and connected during the dry season. In contrast to most irrigators in the West, Schwennesen wants to be made to care how much groundwater he pumps. A decade ago, he took over operations at Double Check from his father, who now raises cattle in the high country near the Arizona-New Mexico border. Schwennesen is a successful rancher and businessman, but cares about the river, too. In his mind, free water is no friend to the river or the long-term health of the community, and he wants to see water better valued. “I am a free-market devotee,” Schwennesen said. “Markets are the best way to allocate scarce resources. We’d love to see a market established for water.” Schwennesen is among a new cadre of farmers and ranchers that brings a more holistic, ecological way of thinking to land management. “Water is the salient variable in these environments,” he said, as we examined one of his experimental fields on a warm, late-May morning. “Anything you can do to alter the water regime is going to have the biggest effect. And the more organic matter we can squeeze back into the soil, the more water.” It’s a belief backed by science, and it’s at the core of Schwennesen’s mission. “Well managed land can give back more than it consumes,” he added. “That’s the miracle of it.”...more

‘For the Record’: Rancher’s Death Turns Border Security Personal

Border security has been one of the most hotly debated issues of the 2016 campaign, but for the ranchers who live and work along the border, it can be a matter of life and death. Rob Krentz, a rancher from Cochise County, Arizona, was shot and killed while working on his property in 2010. His killer was never caught, but evidence left behind at the scene led investigators to believe an illegal alien was responsible. Now, Krentz’s family and friends are renewing their fight to protect the border and prevent that tragedy from happening to someone else. For the Record investigates “Forsaken Land” Wednesday, June 8, at 9 pm ET, only on TheBlaze TV.  The Blaze

The wool truth


Sara Lillegard is the gallery coordinator for Sierra Nevada College’s art galleries. Previously, she was the arts director at the Holland Project in Reno. She’s also an artist. Research for her art led her to recently attend the sheep shearing school at the University of California Research and Extension Center in Hopland.
Tell me about the artwork you’ve been doing the last few years and how it led to this sheep thing.
Over the last at least four years, it’s been transitioning to more fiber-based work—so there’s been a lot of embroidery and other quilting techniques. How it relates to what I’m doing—an overarching theme is exploring how people create a sense of belonging, particularly within the narrative of the American West, so different ways that we identify ourselves within groups, so that’s led me down this obsession with jackets, because the backs of jackets have been an ongoing cultural identity point—whether that’s bowling teams or motorcycle gangs. … The jackets are an easy reference point, but they’re also clothing so there’s a history of fashion and materiality.
And functionality.
Exactly. It’s a protective garment, which you can take on a metaphorical level, with the sort of clan identity. So, through that, I’ve been doing lots of different jacket projects. Doing different motifs and images and playing with the jacket as a sculptural object. … How that led to sheep shearing is just an interest in fiber materiality and the history of making fiber. Two years ago, I ended up going to the Wool Symposium in Point Reyes, California, and it was just a day-long symposium, and I left there overwhelmed by the audience and the conversations that were happening because the audience was made up of a combination of rangeland managers, ranchers, particularly sheep ranchers, artisans, fiber artists, people who do natural dyes, and they were all in the same room sharing conversations about soil restoration and how to rotate pastureland and quality of wool, and what sort of sheep you should be raising based on the region you’re living in, how to manage predators, particularly coyotes. … There were also scientists talking about pollinators. So it was a very interdisciplinary discussion that was happening, and I saw that being a room that was fusing agriculture and artisanship in a way that I hadn’t seen before. … It’s really importat that we make a farm to fiber connection just as much as we’re making a farm to fork connections now. This is where clothing can come from. This is where it used to come from. Now it’s being outsourced and there are environmental impacts...more

McDonald's Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot final report

...Another was its scale. The project numbers are significant. As one of Canada's largest beef purchasers, McDonald's Canada followed nearly 9,000 head of Canadian cattle, or, as the company news release puts it, 2.4 million patties. One hundred eighty two operations in total including 121 ranches, 34 backgrounding operations, 24 feedlots, two beef processors and one patty plant. A third was the success of the producers who put their name on the line to be guinea pigs in the test verification process. This is the first program to put the GRSB principles and criteria to work across the entire beef value chain. By all accounts producer assessments within that effort were very successful, a solid endorsement of the frequent industry claim that Canada's beef farmers and ranchers are already doing many of the things the modern consumer thinks they should. "As a progressive burger company, we are changing the way we source and serve food in our restaurants. We have an important role in helping build a more sustainable food system globally through initiatives such as the sustainable beef pilot in Canada and we're committed to continuing this important work around the world," says Steve Easterbrook, president and CEO, McDonald's Corporation. "The McDonald's Pilot has provided us with new insights that will support our thinking and direction as we advance existing and new sustainability efforts within the Canadian beef industry," adds Cherie Copithorne-Barnes, rancher and chair of the CRSB who in many ways has become the face of the industry efforts.The McDonald's Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot final report and other information about the pilot is available at www.mcdvsb.comLINK

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1624

Hawkshaw Hawkins - If It Ain't On The Menu was recorded in Nashville on October 6, 1955.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A small but significant victory for landowners at the Supreme Court

This morning, the Supreme Court issued a single opinion in an argued case that should be of particular interest to private landowners and administrative law aficionados: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes. In Hawkes, a unanimous court concluded that private landowners may challenge a federal agency’s conclusion that a given piece of land is subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA) once such a “jurisdictional determination” has been made. With this ruling, the court handed private landowners a small but significant victory.

Here’s some background. Under the CWA, it is illegal to “discharge” a “pollutant” into the “waters of the United States” without a federal permit. These terms are defined quite broadly, so that the deposit of soil, dirt or clean fill may constitute the “discharge” of a “pollutant.” This means that a private landowner who seeks to build on his or her property, perhaps by building a home, must obtain a federal permit if (and this is the key part) that land is considered part of the “waters of the United States.” How would a piece of land be considered “waters”? Because the federal government has defined the “waters of the United States” to include wetlands. If such lands are sufficiently connected to other waters, such as rivers and streams, they are subject to the CWA’s permitting requirements.

For an individual landowner, it is not always clear whether a given piece of land is subject to the CWA regulation. For this reason, landowners may seek a jurisdictional determination from the federal government (specifically, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), in order to find out whether federal regulators believe a permit is required. If the Army Corps says “no,” then the landowner is in the clear (at least under the CWA). If the Corps says “yes,” then the landowner must obtain a permit before, say, placing fill on the property.
Under today’s decision, a jurisdictional determination is a final agency action that is subject to judicial review. This is because once the Army Corps determines that a given parcel is subject to regulation under the CWA, it has reached a final conclusion about its jurisdiction, and this decision has clear consequences. If the Corps concludes it has no jurisdiction, the landowner can be sure the he or she will not risk federal prosecution for developing the property without a permit. If the Corps concludes it does have jurisdiction, then the landowner knows that developing the property without a permit is, in the view of the agency, illegal. Further, the court concluded, once an affirmative jurisdictional determination has been made, a landowner has no meaningful alternative to judicial review to contest the agency’s decision.

What this means, in practical terms, is that landowners have greater ability to determine whether their property is subject to federal regulation and to challenge potentially overbroad assertions of jurisdiction...

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the court. Three other justices wrote concurrences: Justice Anthony Kennedy (joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas), Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Elena Kagan.

Kennedy’s concurrence stressed that even with the court’s decision (and its prior decision in Sackett, which I discussed here and here), the application of the CWA to private property “continues to raise troubling questions regarding the Government’s power to cast doubt on the full use and enjoyment of private property throughout the nation.”

I guess we've reached the point where just being able to go to court to defend yourself is a victory.

Forestry Company Sues Greenpeace Under Anti-Mafia Law For Conspiracy

A forestry company filed a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) lawsuit against Greenpeace Tuesday for misrepresenting the company’s environmental record to raise funds and promote its agenda. Greenpeace knowingly and deliberately made false claims about the company while fundraising, and fabricated evidence of Resolute’s alleged environmental malfeasance, according to the forestry and paper company Resolute Forest Products. RICO is an anti-mafia law designed to combat organized crime. “‘Greenpeace’ is a global fraud,” states the 124-page legal complaint. “For years, this international network of environmental groups collectively calling themselves ‘Greenpeace’ has fraudulently induced people throughout the United States and the world to donate millions of dollars based on materially false and misleading claims about its purported environmental purpose and its ‘campaigns’ against targeted companies. Maximizing donations, not saving the environment, is Greenpeace’s true objective.” Resolute alleges Greenpeace outright fabricated and digitally modified photos to damage the company and increase fundraising efforts...more

Poll: 73 Percent of Idahoans Want State Control Over Federal Lands

According to a poll from Idaho Politics Weekly, a majority of Idahoans want federal lands handed over to the state. The poll, conducted on 603 Idaho residents April 8-19, showed 73 percent of them would like to see management of federal lands given to the state of Idaho. It also showed 23 percent of Idahoans would like federal lands to remain in the hands of its current managers and 5 percent don't know. The poll has a 3.99 percent margin of error. Federal lands constitute the bulk of many Western states. In Idaho, they make up approximately 64 percent of the Gem State's acreage and for years there has been a push in several state legislatures to find ways of placing control over those lands in the hands of states. In 2013, House Concurrent Resolution 21 cropped up in the Idaho Legislature, which would have created a committee to study and report on a process for "acquir[ing] title to and control of public lands controlled by the federal government in the State of Idaho." The debate over who should own public lands has made headlines—and in some cases sparked violence—with increasing regularity this year.  The Idaho Politics Weekly poll revealed partisan divides over support of state land takeovers, with 87 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of independents and 47 percent of Democrats approving of state takeovers...more

Utah Sheriffs Threaten To Arrest Rangers If They Try To Close Public Lands

Clashes between ranchers and federal land managers over grazing rights are continuing. In southern Utah, things have gotten so bad lately that some local sheriffs have threatened to arrest federal rangers who try to close forest roads and cut off access to ranchers and other users. Garfield County is roughly the size of Connecticut, and it’s up to Perkins and a half dozen deputies to patrol all of it. “The country’s big and it’s vast,” Perkins says. “I mean it’s like this for miles and miles and miles.” Federal land makes up 94 percent of this county, so you’d think that Perkins would welcome the help of federal authorities. Think again. In the sage brush hills outside the one-stoplight town of Panguitch, he pulls off the highway and points to a dirt track. “This is a conflict, and you’re gonna see just a little bit of it. Here’s a road right here, that was put here with teams and wagons,” Perkins says. “We’re talking pioneer wagons here. Boulders lie in front of it and a bulldozer chewed it up so pickups or ATVs can’t drive up it anymore. Federal rangers did this recently,” he says. Locals have had access here for generations. “There is an agenda — and don’t kid yourself — there’s an agenda to get rid of the grazing, there’s an agenda to shut down our roads,” Perkins says. There are a few dozen or so sheriffs mostly in rural Western states who refer to themselves as “Constitutionalists.” It’s not really a movement, but they are outspoken and rarely do they hesitate to get in very public fights with the Obama administration — over everything from gun control to whether the BLM should have law enforcement powers. He talks openly about detaining, or as he says “Mirandizing,” federal rangers. He recalls one case recently. “I told the Forest Service ranger that if he went out and closed a road that Garfield County has jurisdiction on, I would arrest him,” he says. And then there was the time that his deputies did arrest a BLM ranger they said was illegally issuing citations to campers...more

Predation by wolves is grief for ranchers

On May 23 Jackson Hole rancher Russ Lucas went to his pasture to investigate his bellowing cows. As he approached the herd he could see they were riled and agitated. They were gathered around the bloody carcass of one of their calves and were vocally upset. A pack of wolves had killed and eaten the week-old calf during the night. The ground around the carcass was all torn up where the cows had milled about, trying to get courage enough to drive the wolves away. All they could do was watch. The mama cow had been bitten on the hind end, undoubtedly during heroic efforts to save her calf. Wyoming Game and Fish investigated and determined there were at least three wolves, probably more. The kill site is 3.5 miles from downtown Jackson. Russ is missing other calves, evidenced by a mama cow that will wander around the pasture, bellowing for her calf that cannot be located. Two days after the kill I went with Russ and G&F officials to examine the wound on the mama. Russ had her in a holding pen with a new calf, a twin from another cow. To get the mama to adopt the calf, Russ uses the ingenious method of tying the dead calf’s hide to the new calf. He reports it works very well. The mama was still extremely agitated and we had to quickly back off. Russ said the herd remains traumatized from the experience. He no longer can take his dog to check the cows, as they attack it. Thousands of livestock are lost to predation each year in Wyoming. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that in the past month there have been quite a number of young calves killed by wolves. It is not only a financial loss to livestock producers but also expensive to taxpayers who foot the bill for reimbursement and predator management. It is also a very sad event because owners consider livestock as family. These wolves are negatively impacting our traditional Wyoming way of life...more

Betting the Ranch on Rain and Regulators

by Bob Hagan

The abandoned houses are still there, strung out along the back roads where New Mexico touches the Oklahoma Panhandle. Classic images for black and white photography, sagging porches and wooden siding warped and weathered gray in the Western sun, silent windmills silhouetted against the sky, fieldstone chimneys likely to endure as long as the ruins in Chaco Canyon.

Most are relics of the Dust Bowl, others date to the “Big Dry” of the 1950s or perhaps the 1970s drought. The people are mostly gone. Harding County is least populated in the state with fewer than 800 residents; DeBaca has just 1,828 and Union 4,201.

The good news is that the grass is coming back, and the people who remain are a stubborn breed. It’s not unusual to meet a rancher whose family has been on the land three or four generations.

There are about 7,000 ranches and 18,000 farms in New Mexico. Some are big – Ted Turner’s Vermejo Park spread is 590,823 acres, or 920 square miles – but the average is only about 2,000 acres and many are considerably smaller in deeded land. Almost all depend on grazing their cows on the public lands. The majority are family-owned and operated. Three-quarters of the farms and ranches in New Mexico report annual sales of less than $100,000.

“A man has to be numb on both ends to make his living on a horse,” according to the old rodeo joke, but nobody slow-witted lasts long in the cattle business. You do have to be a mule-headed optimist with a high risk tolerance, since you’re betting your livelihood on the uncertain confluence of local weather and distant commodity markets. You breed your cows in summer, calve in the spring and ship in the fall, always guessing what the graze and beef prices will be like next year.

This year the drought is officially over, green-up left the range in most places looking better than in a long time, and ranchers are rebuilding herds in hopes of a decent monsoon.

But beyond worries over weather and market, ranchers today are set upon by bureaucrats and lawyers representing a dizzying array of state and federal agencies and advocates championing everything from the Mexican Gray Wolf to the Lesser Prairie Chicken. The feds are backpacking wolf pups into the Gila country in defiance of the state’s demand they present an actual plan before re-introducing a major predator into the local ecosystem. (Where’s the line between “not enough” and “too many”?) Up north the Forest Service is fencing off miles of stream to protect the Jumping Meadow Mouse, in violation of pastoral rights first granted by the King of Spain.

Pearce, state lawmakers issue joint statement on water access limits resulting from species’ protective order

A group of U.S. and state representatives from New Mexico have released a joint statement concerning the U.S. Forest Service’s recent closure of portions of the Lincoln National Forest due the presence of an endangered species.

Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., and a bipartisan group of several state lawmakers, including Reps. James Townsend, R-Artesia, Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, and Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, and Sens. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, Carroll Leavell, R-Jal, and Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, along with Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, released the statement following a press conference during which Pearce discussed the recent action and its affect on water rights in the area.

Earlier this month, the USFS announced that due to the endangered listing of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, small portions of Agua Chiquita, Silver Springs, Rio Penasco and Wills Canyon in the Sacramento Ranger District would be closed through Oct. 31 of this year and from May 1 – Oct. 31 2017 due to those areas’ containment of critical habitat considered necessary for the recovery of the species.

The legislators’ statement was issued to New Mexico State Engineer Tom Blaine and concerned prohibited access to water sources for the livestock of area ranchers.

“The New Mexico State Engineer is essentially the sheriff when it comes to managing claims for water rights in the state,” the statement reads. “However, Mr. Blaine’s office has been able to do little while the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) has interfered with local citizens’ access to water for their cattle. Stopping this is within Mr. Blaine’s jurisdiction yet – he claims to have no standing. In a joint effort between Congressman Pearce’s office, along over 50 New Mexico state legislators have engaged Mr. Blaine’s office on this issue.

“This is not acceptable. The ESA’s assault on water rights is harming how local citizens make their living – and their cattle cannot access water. This means mother cows cannot feed their baby calves – all of this during the heart of the cattle season. This intrusion is morally wrong.

“Action should be how we respond to our citizens’ cries for help. Congressman Pearce’s office sent a letter to Governor Martinez and are confident she will agree that New Mexico should stand up for its people and will take the side of local ranchers and the local economy. We will continue to bring awareness to this issue, fight for New Mexicans, and ensure the protection of property, water, and states’ rights.”

Artesia Daily Press

Young horses are making their mark

SILVER CITY — For every great veteran athlete, there is always a young gun with potential and promise ready to be the next big thing. There are some outstanding veterans in the mix for Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, with outstanding athletes in Dirty Jacket, Big Tex, Real Deal and River Boat Annie. All have been recognized as the best bucking horses in ProRodeo over the years, and they are a key piece of the puzzle for Carr. But the next generation of top-tier athletes is growing strong on Carr’s ranch near Athens, Texas. The mixture of talented veterans and youthful exuberance will be a major attraction at the Wild, Wild West Pro Rodeo, set for 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday at Southwest Horseman’s Park. “We’re pretty excited in our young horses and have liked the way they’ve developed,” said Pete Carr, owner of the Dallas-based stock contracting firm. That development begins with a mixture of true talents. The Carr crew has bred top-notch mares with proven stallions to create the next generation of bucking horses, and those animals are already being recognized. Painted River, the first ranch-raised colt out of River Boat Annie by Korczak, was selected to buck at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo this past December...more

Sutherland’s Rise Together

This was a film that I’ve been dreaming of making for 30-some-odd years,” Kiefer Sutherland told the audience when Forsaken premiered at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, California. In Forsaken, he is directed by his cohort from Fox’s 24, Jon Cassar, who remembers, “We worked together for almost nine years. Between set-ups, we always talked about the kind of movie we’d love to work on together. And he always wanted to do a Western.” Considering their previous success with 24, for which they both earned Emmys, you might expect a high-tech, edgy Sci-Fi Western from the pair. But you would be dead wrong. “I was taking a chance,” Cassar admits, “looking backwards rather than forwards with the Western.” Kiefer plays John Henry Clayton, a Union soldier coming home from the Civil War. But he has taken a decade to return, years he spent as a gun-for-hire. He gives up the guns, but arrives home to find his mother dead, his father, Rev. Clayton (played by Kiefer’s real father, movie icon Donald Sutherland), unforgiving and the love of his life, Mary-Alice Watson (Demi Moore), married and a mother. The hometown where he planned to settle down is under attack by land baron James McCurdy (Deadwood’s Brian Cox), whose gunmen are systematically driving out settlers who refuse to sell land so he can profit from the incoming railroad. Kiefer’s Western roots run deep. He earned his spurs playing “Doc” Scurlock in 1988’s Young Guns I and in the 1990 sequel. He took a couple of years off from acting to become a rancher and rodeo cowboy, and not just for show: Kiefer and partner John English won the U.S. Team Roping Championship in 1998...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1623

Our selection today is Les Paul & Mary Ford's 1953 hit Vaya Con Dios

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

BLM agent who clashed with Bundys takes broad new post

Dan Love, the Bureau of Land Management agent who oversaw security during the agency's failed roundup of Cliven Bundy's cattle in April 2014, has started a new position overseeing the security of BLM facilities nationwide. Love, who was BLM's special agent in charge for Nevada and Utah, this week was named BLM's special agent in charge of security, protection and intelligence, a newly created post. Love, who requested the reassignment, will remain in Salt Lake City but will be working for the agency's national law enforcement office headquartered in Washington, D.C...more

A new position requested by Love?  LOL!

You have to read down to the very end of the article to get a kernel of truth:

Sheriffs, county commissioners and Utah members of Congress said Love lacked the gravitas to handle the delicate politics of public land management in the rural West. Allies said Love deserves credit for helping deter illegal looting and trading of artifacts from public lands and for ensuring nobody was injured or killed during the Bunkerville, Nev., standoff with Bundy. "The biggest problem with Dan is nobody trusted him," said Garfield County, Utah, Sheriff Danny Perkins. "It sounds to me that they gave him a better job than he had." Perkins added, "I think BLM has a lot of fence mending whether Dan is there or not. It looks like the ball's in their court."

Remember the request for VIP facilities at Burning Man?  The request included "trailers, flush toilets, washers and dryers and vanity mirrors. Also included was a 24-hour, full-service kitchen with a menu of "10-ounce steaks, 18-ounce pork ribs, poultry, ham, fish, vegetables, potatoes, bread, salad bar with five toppings and three dressings and desserts." And those desserts?  Specifically they had to include "assorted ice cream flavors, Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches, as well as cakes, cookies, pies, cobblers, puddings and pastries." See here and here

That was Dan Love.

And the overreaching, bungled fiasco with Cliven Bundy?  That was also Dan Love.

This is from May 11

One former government official familiar with the issue said that Utah's congressional delegation wants Love relocated from his post and that BLM leadership appears amenable to making that happen. "It's unfortunate that Dan has become something of a political pawn," said the official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation. "There are clearly elements in the agency who would prefer he simply fade away, in part to appease Hill critics." Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in March introduced H.R. 4751, a bill to eliminate BLM and Forest Service law enforcement and transfer policing powers on federal lands to local sheriffs. Chaffetz said his constituents want to see a "little more Andy Griffith and a little less Rambo" from BLM law enforcement officers. He's not a fan of Love. "There's one common denominator where things have gone wrong: It's Dan Love," Chaffetz said in an interview. "The Department of Interior knows how to solve this problem; thus far, they've decided not to do that." A Chaffetz spokeswoman declined to elaborate on what that solution is. Sheriffs in Utah don't like Love, either. They see him as heavy-handed and dismissive of local authority.

He was an embarrassment to the BLM and the Congressional delegation wanted him out.  So what did the BLM do? They promoted him up and out.

This is another example proving one of the DuBois Laws of Government.

Whereas in the private sector - cream rises to the top,
In the government sector - shit floats to the top.

Sandoval urges relaxed grazing restrictions as drought wanes

Gov. Brian Sandoval is urging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to reconsider livestock grazing restrictions in northeast Nevada, saying that may now be unwarranted given a wet winter that has drought conditions on the mend. The Republican governor who recently called for expedited roundups of wild horses in Nevada says the agency's current management scheme wrongly prioritizes mustangs ahead of ranchers — a matter of much debate for decades in the 10 western states where the mustangs roam from California to Colorado. Sandoval said widespread precipitation has provided healthy forage and water resources in areas stung by five consecutive years of drought. "Drought conditions in 2015 were a very different story and decisions based on that timeframe need to be revisited — especially decisions that drastically affect an industry and the livelihoods of many hardworking Nevadans," he said in a letter last week to BLM Nevada State Director John Ruhs arguing against grazing restrictions anticipated this summer based on last fall's assessments. Sandoval said he's concerned about the growing over-population of horses, "the negative impact they have on our rangeland, and the burden of the proposed solution being solely put upon the livestock industry."...more

So that's what it's like to have a Governor engaged in federal land issues.  We haven't experienced that in NM. 

EPA Gave Convicted Climate Expert Service, Salary Awards While He Defrauded Agency

The senior Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official who scammed the agency out of nearly $1 million in pay without working got service and salary awards throughout his lengthy career as a climate policy expert, according to records obtained by Judicial Watch. His name is John Beale and he’s on the verge of completing a 32-month prison sentence for defrauding the government by claiming, while employed at the EPA, to be a “secret agent” for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and going on long vacations that he said were CIA missions. While he committed the fraud the EPA regularly rewarded him with “Special Act or Service Awards” that included cash and time off, the records obtained by JW reveal. From 1991 through 1998 Beale received thousands of dollars in bonuses for his performance as well as a “Time Off Award” in 1998, the records show. In 2001 he was rewarded yet again with a promotion to work at the White House as a “Senior Policy Advisor.” It’s not like Beale was a lowly employee at the EPA. He was a senior level official who actually worked in the agency’s most powerful office, Air and Radiation (OAR), under President Obama’s current EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy...more

Editorial: Seek consensus before establishing more federal control of canyon lands

The Owyhee canyon country of southern Malheur County is the largest undeveloped and unprotected area in the lower 48 states, and a century from now Americans would be grateful to their ancestors for keeping it that way.

But the federal government, which manages nearly all of the Owyhee region on behalf of its citizens, has a long way to go before it can add protections to the area’s wild character. Any new protective designation, such as the current proposal for a national monument, should come with local acquiescense, and preferably support, which is now lacking.

Last year 90 percent of Malheur County voters opposed a national monument in a non-binding advisory election. In some precincts the vote was 100 percent against the idea.

Such opposition makes it unlikely that Congress would approve a wilderness designation for the area, as occurred in 2009 with the creation of the Owyhee River Wilderness in Idaho.

A national monument designation, which President Obama could approve without congressional action, would be greeted in Malheur County as an abuse of federal power, which helps explain why the Department of the Interior, whose Bureau of Land Management has jurisdiction over most of the Owyhee area, has taken no position on the idea.

The grievances of those who make a living in the arid regions of the Intermountain West burst into the open earlier this year with the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in neighboring Harney County. The tactics of the occupiers were generally rejected, but one of their central complaints — that increasingly restrictive federal land management policies threaten the livelihoods of high desert ranchers — is widely shared.

The anxieties of people who live in the area are real. Jordan Valley, the only town of any size in southern Malheur County, has shrunk to 175 residents in 2013 from 475 in 1980.

It’s easy to see why development restrictions such as those that would accompany a monument designation would be opposed as putting an end to any hope of a rebound.

Green Energy Doesn’t Work Without Energy Storage That Doesn’t Exist Yet

Scientists from the University of East Anglia found wind and solar power can’t compete with conventional electricity without economical energy storage systems that don’t exist. The research published Friday concludes without economical energy storage systems, wind and solar power simply aren’t that useful due to their unreliability and intermittent nature. The study argues the money used to financially support wind and solar power should be spent supporting research into bringing down the costs of energy storage. The research highlights the fact that it is currently impossible to economically store power for times when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Purchasing enough batteries to provide just three days of storage for an average American household costs about $15,000, and those batteries only last for about five years and are very difficult to recycle. This is true for home power storage as well, even with the latest batteries which were invented to make rooftop solar panels and wind turbines economically viable for consumers...more

Organic farming: The best choice for our environment and growing world?

by Suzy Friedman

Organic, locally grown food: Better for your family and for our hungry world – right?

Heading to the farmer’s market in the warm spring sunshine, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing everyone on Earth a small favor. But like with so many things in life, it depends.

The truth is, there is no silver bullet when it comes to solving food security and environmental challenges in a world that will count 9 billion people by 2050.

So rather than asking which system comes out ahead, we must focus on how farms perform. In some cases, conventional methods will have higher yields as well as a smaller environmental impact.
That’s why we can’t afford to shut the door on either strategy. Let me explain why.

US (CA): Drought could cause farmers $1.5 bln in losses

A new bank report has revealed that persistent drought conditions in California could cause farmers and agribusinesses up to $1.5 billion in losses. In “California Drought and its Economic Impact on Agriculture 2016,” CoBank posits the drought’s lingering effects will lead to another round of water restrictions for producers through the remainder of the growing year and beyond. While Northern California saw the most precipitation during the rainy season, much of the state is still blanketed by severe drought, especially in the central and southern regions. Government agencies in the state will again need to enforce water restrictions, allocating less than 60% of the state’s contracted water supplies. These restrictions will result in a 5% to 7% loss in net cash income for growers, ranchers, and agribusinesses across the state. “Some sectors will feel the effects of these water restrictions more so than others,” Sahling said. “Crops that yield the highest returns on investment, like permanent plantings of tree crops and vines, should be impacted the least. At the same time, we expect a large reduction in acreage for field crops that require significant amounts of water, including corn, wheat, cotton and alfalfa.”...more

Seeing the forest through the trees?

Lots of things about the Trinchera Blanca Ranch are big. Sitting on the east side of the San Luis Valley near La Veta Pass, its 176,000 acres are believed to make it the biggest ranch in Colorado. Its owner, hedge fund manager Louis Bacon, ranks among the richest people in the country. And, after decades of fire suppression and a recent prolonged drought, its forest health problems are huge, too. Overgrown and insect-infested forests aren’t unique to the Trinchera Blanca Ranch, known locally as simply the Trinchera. But its response has been uncommon. Last fall the ranch began seeking state and local approvals for a timber mill that could take wood off its ailing forests. It’s currently under construction and slated to open for test runs this fall. If it opens according to plan, the mill could help improve the health of the Trinchera’s forests and boost the struggling economy of Costilla County, where it could become the largest private employer. The mill’s influence could also extend down the Sangre de Cristo Mountains into New Mexico and to a small part of the San Juan Mountains thanks to its capacity to handle both small diameter timber and larger-scale timber sales...more

NM woodcutters pitch in on forest health

by J.R. Logan

...In the mid-'80s, Lopez joined the U.S. Forest Service and got assigned to the office in Peñasco. Locals had the instinctual habit of giving the finger to anyone driving a green government truck. They didn't trust the feds. They had no faith that they were acting in the community's best interest.

Lopez managed to get past some of that wariness and used his understanding of local culture and needs to create a nationally recognized program now known as “Collaborative Stewardship.” Instead of offering big timber sales to outside contractors, Lopez helped craft a program to offer small plots of forest — a couple acres called a “stewardship block” — from which locals could gather wood and feel a sense of forest ownership. At the same time, the Forest Service was being paid a small fee to get some much-needed tree thinning finished.

Today, with the Rio Grande Water Fund aiming to restore hundreds of thousands of acres of forest while benefiting local communities, Lopez's program could be a useful tool in building grassroots support.

The innate distrust of outsiders among Peñasqueros comes from a long, sordid history of chicanery and exploitation.

Most of these tiny hamlets in the rolling foothills of the southern Sangre de Cristos were settled hundreds of years ago. Hispano pioneers relied on land grants — vast tracts of land presented by the Spanish crown — for their survival. Rivers for irrigation. Valleys for farming. And the mountains for firewood and building materials. In many cases, residents shared common access to these resources.

But when the territory became part of the U.S., many land grants were cut up and sold off. Anglo outsiders often logged the best timber off the mountains. By the early 1900s, much of the land had been absorbed by the Forest Service, which strictly regulated access to resources.

Local Hispanos still feel a deep sense of betrayal for the loss.

Paris auction house cancels sale of Acoma shield

The planned sale of an Acoma tribal treasure Monday was canceled after a Paris auction house withdrew the item from bidding. The EVE Auction House’s decision to cancel the sale of a shield used in Acoma religious ceremonies came after a week of intense lobbying by New Mexico’s Acoma tribe and high-level federal government officials, including Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “It was withdrawn this morning pending further investigation,” Ann Berkley Rodgers, an Albuquerque-based attorney for the tribe, told the Journal on Monday. Rodgers said she and tribal officials were delighted to see the religious artifact pulled from the auction. But she said the battle is not over. “For Acoma, it is not going to be a victory until the shield is returned,” she said...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1622

We'll start this week off with a Swingin' fiddle tune, Blue Flame, by Hoyle Nix & His West Texas Cowboys.  The tune is on his British Archives of Country Music CD A Big Ball's In Cowtown

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Moonlighting cowboy-style

by Julie Carter

You don’t have to own yearling cattle that get out on the highway after you have gone to bed at night to appreciate this story. What you will understand is first the humor and then the rancher’s gratitude for the little things.

The cowboy’s bride had been trying to fight off a Boone and Crockett-sized head cold for days so she wasn’t in the best of humor and had very little sleep for several nights in a row.

About 9 p.m. on this night she took some cold medicine hoping it would help both the cold and the sleep problems. She tossed and turned, got up at 1 a.m. and took more medication and went back to bed. About 2:30 a.m. the phone rang. That is never a good thing.

It was their neighbor Jim telling her that they had lots of cattle on the highway and they were headed north up the canyon. 

She slapped her still sleeping husband upside the head, mostly to wake him up but more so out of simple frustration. After 30-plus years of marriage she was sure he didn’t know the difference.

Pulling on their cowboy clothes, they stumbled out into the dark, jumped in the pickup and drove to the escapees last known location. Jim had been able to get in front of most of the cattle and had them headed back down the highway towards home. 

The local sheriff was on the scene in his fancy car and was managing to hit the cranky cowboy wife in the eyes with his high powered spotlight whenever possible. When the sheriff wasn’t blinding her, her husband was with his own Q-Beam. She noted that one million candle power in your face at three in the morning is not soothing.

She was leading the cattle with the pickup and Jim was bringing up the rear of the herd. Husband was riding in the back of her pickup in case he needed a fast get away. She was slightly amused that at this point he trusted her driving but then she realized he still hadn’t figured out that she’d slapped him earlier. 

They got the cattle to the gate of the pasture where they belonged and as cattle will do, they came untrained and headed back north up the canyon again.  She wheeled out to go help Jim and both were trying to out run the cattle up the highway. Husband was hanging out the back of the truck telling her something that sounded like “stop” so she hit the brakes. 

He had said “stop” but didn’t intend for a slam-the-brakes kind of stop. He rolled over the side of the truck and recovered on his feet enough to block a side road off the highway. The cattle finally went through the gate on the second try while the sheriff was still waving his spotlight around and trying to figure out who was on first.

They got home about 4:30 that morning. Cowboy wife got up and fixed sandwiches for the crew that would be arriving soon to help them drive those same cattle up the same road they had been running down in the night. But this time it was with some control and with a destination of the mesa top beyond.

Her thankfuls for the night were for good neighbors, gentle cattle and a full moon.

How did Jim know the cattle were on the highway you ask?  He got up sometime after 2 a.m. to go to the bathroom and saw car headlights slowing down and weaving to miss the cattle.

With that revelation, the wife then thanked God for old men with weak bladders.

Julie can be reached for comment at


Socialist low ground versus moral high ground
Mitch Daniels for (future) president
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Ninety eight percent of everything we eat is genetically modified.
            You certainly wouldn’t know that if everything written by the food police is taken to heart. What comes out of their shrill whistles is a continuing litany of warnings of increases in cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal illnesses, kidney diseases, autism and allergies if genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are allowed to touch any parts of your body. They, the elitist clan who rely on computer modeling as if it was one of the cornerstones of their fountain of youth, have convinced 57% of Americans that genetically modified foods pose health risks. Their antics, though, have failed to prove a single long term, specific health problem.
            On the contrary, the benefits from real science that has produced these organisms has done more to enhance human existence and environmental sustainability than anything in the last two decades.
            The manipulation of the sought characteristics of the current crop of GMOs versus the traditional manipulation of genetic tendencies is tied to the transfer of certain genes by cellular intrusion. That differs from a cattle breeder who controls a genetic process by capturing desired characteristics through selective breeding, but the results are the same. It gives the resulting organism traits they would not otherwise have.
            The major benefits are currently associated with plants where genetic alteration is resulting in pest and herbicide resistance. This allows the reduction of pesticides and herbicides without the worry of killing the planted crop. In the field, the result is fewer passes across the land, reduced tillage, and a decreased footprint on our nation’s soils. That is the real benefit, but that is not the message the critics are voicing.
            Depending on which whistle is protesting, they are suggesting the expansion of GMOs is certain to cause many maladies including intolerance to gluten, increased autism, Type II diabetes, obesity, and, perhaps, even the spread of six toed children. Their message is repeated enough that over half of the folks believe the sky is actually falling.
            The truth is … it isn’t.
            The National Academies of Science has finally published a study on the affects of GMOs. The scope of the research considered more than 900 studies over a 20 year period. They found nothing that would suggest pending mass murder through the planting of modified zucchini and summer squash. Alas, GMOs are safe for humans and animals.
            The number of GMOs grown worldwide is low. The United States grows modified cotton, soybeans, sugar beets, corn, canola, alfalfa, and a few fruits and vegetables. The major emphasis is in corn, soybeans, and cotton. Overall, the modified varieties are saving huge amounts of money, but they have not significantly increased yields. They have lowered pests in some cases, and, if there is a negative, there is some herbicide resistance weed expansion (but there is resistance weed expansion everywhere just as there is resistance growing in antibiotics).
            Around the world, about 12% of all cropland has been planted in the new modified varieties, but there is much pushback against their use and especially in the European Union. It was interesting, therefore, that the study found no long term patterns of health patterns from Canada and the United States, where the plants have been planted since the mid ‘90s, to Europe, where GMOs are not widely eaten. An example was the increase of autism in children. The patterns from Europe to the United States and Canada are very similar.
            A Voice in the Cornfield
            The problem is what should we actually believe?
The GMO story is tangible. It is working and the outcome is not indifferent from all the practical application of genetic modification that has taken place for a millennium. The food police and the social groupies, however, aren’t buying the study results. They are stuck within their PC algorithms and cocktail party discussion points, and, as a political force, they are powerful. One anti GMO website alone has 35,000 verifiable non GMO products of which enlightened, civilized folks ought to be feeding to themselves and their day cared offspring.
            The anti GMO groups are attacking the report claiming that the participating scientists are tied to industries and corporations that are vested in sale of the modified crops. The resulting conflicts of interest are contributing to watered down science due to those agricultural influences.
Isn’t that akin to the pot calling the kettle black?
            The fact is politically correct science has captured its own permanent funding sources. The expected outcome is what the funding agents intend to prove hence the problem with this science more often than not is … it isn’t.
Examples are numerous.
In an attempt last summer to replicate 100 published psychological experiments, 65% failed to show statistical significant repeatability. Most of the remainder showed reduced effects. As a result, William A. Wilson revealed that modern psychology research is a house of cards filled with unreproducible results.
             Wilson described a similar effort to duplicate cancer research results. Data from fully 75% of the cases in the review failed to match up with the attempts to replicate them. Such results must mean that either the original findings were false or they were useless. Results that cannot be reproduced in science are, by definition, useless.
            The problem isn’t isolated to psychology or medicine. Climate change is the bell cow of the movement, but the same modeling is spreading to other fields allowing researchers to invent their own virtual realities rather than investigating undisciplined nature.
The measurement of that natural world isn’t clean or clinical hence it is more trendy and socially “heady” to invent computer modeling extra-realities. We have entered a computer driven world of unreproducible results and political driven outcomes. The debacle is huge, and, again, climate change science is leading the way. It alone accounts for 55% of all modeling done in science and 97% of climate change research is computer modeling. More and more we are realizing the outcome isn’t tied to real world observations at all. It is computer driven modeling science and it is being used as a political wedge to demonize opposition in all conflicting issues. To the environmental mobs, it is their higher authority. To the rest of us, it is creating a nearly universal suspicion that all science is suspect.
Of course that shouldn’t be the case, but, in order for it to regain credibility we must also regain a renewed position of strength to fight this battle.
            We might start by watching the leadership of Purdue University’s president, Mitch Daniels. Aside from the fact he has excelled in the world outside of academia and has earned a spot in Fortune’s top 50 world leaders, he is standing toe to toe with the anti GMO foes demonizing our industry. His assessment of the tirade against us is our foes are the stewards of “blatant anti-science”.
            “It (anti GMO forces) is inhumane and it must be countered on that basis,” he preaches.
            The antagonistic coalition, including U.S. organic companies and environmental groups, are stoking a worldwide fear about many things in production agriculture and GMOs are in their immediate crosshairs. Daniels reaches into the heart of the matter and is calling out the tedious environmental indulgence by the rich.
“It (demonization of GMOs) is not just scientifically indefensible, it is morally indefensible,” he preaches.
The world is on a trend line to surpass 9 billion souls within years and could reach 11 billion sometime after mid-century. That represents a lot of hungry folks in our future. President Daniels is shouldering this task on the basis that global agriculture isn’t simply dollars and cents. It is a humanitarian mission. It represents life and death and the avoidance of tragedy. He also thinks we have the moral high ground and … we need to start conducting ourselves as such.
Post Script
As I struggle to finish this day, I am reminded that the real world is neither neat nor tidy. I’ve been in the corral sorting, and, as I look down, I realize my boots are not house worthy. They are covered with earthy, undisciplined nature. They have been with me as the quest for a more perfect cow for our country continues. It is a constant and stepwise process as certain specific traits are sought. Today’s events were more subjective than objective, but the incremental steps toward producing an animal that can convert grass and grow a calf under these desert conditions better than her predecessors is the constant goal. It is in every sense genetic modification.
We aren’t taking a drought tolerant gene from a jackrabbit to bridge a characteristic gap that would make our cattle more tolerant, but, if we could, we would. Hail to the man who has the skills and the intelligence to perform that feat.
He’s welcome at our camp … anytime.
            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Hoorah for GMOs!”

Baxter Black - Wanted: Cowboy. No experience necessary

WANTED:  Cowboy.   No TV, No phone. If you don’t like dogs and can’t tough it in the mountains, don’t apply – Alamo, Nevada.

I’d like to meet the ol’ boy that wrote  that ad. You can almost picture him in your mind. We’re all acquainted with somebody that fits his description. He might be willing to give you a month off to go see your ailin’ mother but better not ask for every Saturday and Sunday off to go ropin’!

He’s not liable to set down and give you a two hour lecture on his range management theories but work beside him for a year or two and you’ll learn more about protecting the environment and workin’ with nature than you’d read in thousand BLM pamphlets.

He probably wouldn’t have much sympathy if you bucked off one of his colts but if yer wife’s in the hospital he’ll make sure you have everything you need.

He’d look the other way if you got picked up by the deputy for gettin’ rowdy in town but if you don’t get the salt scattered in the right place there’ll be heck to pay!

The person that answers that ad ought to know better than to set down and start askin’ about paid holidays, days off, cost of living escalators and a five-year contract. However, if I don’t miss my guess, he’ll get a day’s pay for a day’s work, good grub, a warm bunk and that kind of “family feelin’” that comes with cowboyin’.

On mesa west of Taos, a grisly story of murder, but still no body

The state police agents steered their vehicle through a maze of unmarked roads and thick sagebrush in a rugged area west of Taos known as Two Peaks. Dotted by off-the-grid homes, the area was an enclave of hippies and survivalists and others drawn to the desolation and freedom of the high-country desert. Among them was Naomi Chaney, a former beauty queen and Marine Corps veteran, who had called the area home for at least a half-dozen years. Until, that is, she suddenly disappeared late one January night. Now, in the late afternoon of May 4, the agents went down one wrong dirt road after another looking for a downed metal post. Guiding them, in the backseat, was Albert Gene Hunsaker III, a more recent arrival to this isolated area atop a sprawling mesa. Just hours earlier, according to court records, Hunsaker, who is known as Alex, had made a startling confession. In eerie detail, he described how he had stood by and even helped as another man wrapped a winch cable from his Jeep bumper around Chaney’s neck and then dragged her in reverse through the sagebrush. As they drove away, leaving Chaney’s body behind, Hunsaker told the agents, they knocked down a metal post. He drew a map for the agents and together, they drove across the mesa, attempting to retrace where he, the other man and Chaney had gone that night months earlier. The agents finally found the post. By then, though, it was too dark to search for the body. Weeks later, Chaney’s body is still missing. But a Taos grand jury indicted Hunsaker on Thursday in connection with the murder. The other man, Clayton Jones, a drifter whom Hunsaker told agents did the killing, has been implicated but not charged in the case. Jones, 40, has been charged in California in the April 29 murder of another woman from the Two Peaks area, Shalon Gheen, 39, who had been an acquaintance of Chaney, 36. The stories the two men have told police, according to court records, depict a saga of extreme violence starting in Taos County and ending in Southern California. The murders have rattled this Northern New Mexico community known for its free-spirited independence but marred by violence...more

Our People: Rodeo queen still in the scene

Wilma Fulgham was born in Farwell and raised within the Clovis area through the depression years. She has been involved in agriculture all her life and comes from a family of hard workers. In 1906, her grandfather, Henry Curtis, came to the Texico area on a covered wagon. Fulgham is recognized for being involved in the western lifestyle. She has worked with the Chamber and Rodeo Pioneer Days committee for many years. Her late husband, Benny Fulgham, was rodeo director for over 20 years. The two were married for a near 63 years before he passed in June 2014. They had four children. She lost a daughter, Patricia, who was a stillbirth, and a son, Garry Fulgham, who died of an aneurysm. She is the director of the High Plains Historical foundation, which deals with preserving the history of the Clovis area and is working towards a museum in Curry County. Fulgham is the president of the Miss Rodeo New Mexico Pageant and co-chair of the Pioneer Days Rodeo Queen Pageant. It all started in 1950 when she won the title for New Mexico State Queen where she represented Curry County. This is where she developed a passion to help other women in rodeo pageantry and she continues to do so today...When you were a kid, what did you think you’d be doing as an adult? I wanted to be a rancher and raise horses and cattle. What’s your idea of a perfect day? To me it’s a day that glorifies God’s creation such as good gentle rains, being with good friends and good people — people who love the Lord...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1621

Robinella & CC Stringband - Hold To God's Unchanging Hand is our gospel tune today.  The tune is on their 2003 CD Robinella.