Saturday, June 11, 2016

‘The American West’ gets the stories right (Series starts tonight on AMC)

Wyatt Earp. Sitting Bull. Jesse James. Crazy Horse. Doc Holiday. Billy the Kid. All of these names are massive historical figures in the United States. This is what inspired Stephen David to film the eight-part miniseries “The American West,” which begins at 8 p.m. today on AMC. The series spans the years 1865 to 1890 and shows how, in the aftermath of the Civil War, the opportunity of land transforms the United States into the “land of opportunity” and creates modern America. The series will also feature exclusive interviews with notable names from classic Western films, including James Caan, Tom Selleck, Kiefer Sutherland and Ed Harris. “No one has told the story of the whole picture,” David said. “Wyatt Earp, Crazy Horse, Billy the Kid. All of these people lived during the same time period. Their paths crossed.” Although David didn’t bring production to New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment is featured heavily in the storytelling. “New Mexico was the hub for many of these stories,” David said. “It’s very rich in history of the West.” David teamed up with New Mexico resident Robert Redford’s Sundance Productions for the project. The idea began three years ago and research was done from institutions across the country. “It was a two-year process of research,” David said. “We filmed for about 60 days, and the film is a hybrid of scripted and a documentary. When you watch it, it feels like you are watching a scripted genre.” The biggest challenge was getting the stories right...more

Here are the Memorandum Opinion & Preliminary Injunction on NMG&F v USDI

The two documents are embedded below for those at the blog, or the link for others.

NMG&F v USDI Opinion (link)

NMG&F v USDI Preliminary Injunction (link)

video - Witnesses Say Man Lassoed Suspected Thief at Eagle Point Walmart

EAGLE POINT, Ore. -- A man on a horse chased down and lassoed a suspected thief at the Eagle Point Walmart, according to witnesses. Police say that a woman was yelling about her bike being stolen and a nearby man unloaded a horse from a trailer, lassoed the man and pulled him back toward the store. They say that the man grabbed onto a tree and wouldn't let go. Eagle Point Police arrived on scene and arrested the man, identified as 22-year-old Victorino Arellano-Sanchez. He was lodged in the Jackson County Jail.

Here is the KDRV-TV report:

And from a more complete article:

Eagle Point rancher Robert Borba was loading dog food and a camping tent into his truck and cattle trailer Friday morning at Walmart when he heard a woman screaming that someone was stealing her bicycle. "I seen this fella trying to get up to speed on a bicycle," said the 28-year-old Borba, who was planning on helping brand cattle in California that afternoon. "I wasn't going to catch him on foot. I just don't run very fast." Borba quickly brought out his horse, Long John, which he'd brought to help him with the cattle, from the back of his trailer. The cowboy and his horse then chased after the alleged thief as the man, struggling with the gears, ditched the bike and attempted to flee on foot. Borba said he grabbed his rope and let it fly, lassoing the man around his legs and causing him to tumble to the ground, dragging him like roped cattle to the end of the parking lot. Borba said the man then grabbed a tree near Carl's Jr. and attempted to break free, but Borba and Long John kept the rope taut. The suspect's look of surprise at being chased by a man on horseback was priceless, Borba said. The man asked him, "Do you have a badge to do this?" Borba said. Borba called 911 and sat with the lassoed suspect for about 15 minutes until Eagle Point police arrived...

Friday, June 10, 2016

NM Senators push for wilderness within OMDP monument

Almost a half-million acres in southern New Mexico were designated as a national monument two years ago. Now, members of the state’s congressional delegation are pushing for portions of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area to be set aside as wilderness. While praised by environmentalists, the effort is reigniting the concerns of local law enforcement about their ability to access the area to fight crime. The legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, would set aside more than 376 square miles — or nearly half of the monument — as wilderness. The senators say the legislation strikes the right balance between border security and conservation...more

ABQ judge temporarily halts wolf releases

An Albuquerque judge on Friday granted a preliminary injunction to the state of New Mexico prohibiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from releasing any more wolves in the state until court issues are resolved. The injunction is in effect until federal authorities obtain a state permit, according to the ruling. New Mexico’s Department of Game and Fish sued the federal agency for releasing two wolf pups in Catron County in April, part of the ongoing effort to reintroduce Mexican wolves into the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. Game and Fish, which has opposed to the reintroduction program in recent years citing concerns about how the program has been managed, filed a lawsuit to block any more wolf reintroductions until the federal agency develops a species management plan and remove the two pups from the wild...more

Woman Fined for Removing Free-Roaming Horse from BLM Land

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has fined an Idaho woman for removing a free-roaming horse from public lands in Utah. The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 protects wild horses and burros and places them under the BLM’s jurisdiction. The act states that it is unlawful to remove a mustang or burro from public lands without authorization from an authorized officer of that agency. In social media posts, Cynthia Guild Stoetzer said she was riding her horse near Justesen Flats, an informal camping area in south-central Utah when she came upon a brown and white mare that appeared to be malnourished. Stoetzer attempted to call the BLM via cell phone, but could not make contact, her post said. As a result, she loaded the animal into her trailer and transported it to the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, her post said. “I did try to call them for more than a day,” Stoetzer said in a June 5 post. “I was trying to help out, actually.” On June 1, Stoetzer was fined $275 by the BLM for removing the animal without permission...more

There two and a half times more wild horses today than there was in 1971 when the act protecting them passed; while herd size doubles every four years but adoptions are down from 8,000 to 2,500 per year; there are 46,000 horses in corrals or pastures costing $50,000 per animal over their lifetimes, meaning BLM will spend over a billion dollars on these horses alone; and they fine this lady $250 for trying to help one of them? 

Then there is this from the article:

And while Warr said it is generally dangerous to approach a horse in the wild, he said Stoetzer might have been able to load and trailer the mare because she might have become accustomed to interacting with humans. “For example the Onaqui herd in Utah has become very used to seeing cars and photographers, and has gotten used to people feeding them,” Warr said. “Perhaps as a foal this horse had some interaction with people at some point.”

I've seen quite a few horses that were "accustomed to interacting with humans", but you would play hell loading them in a trailer.  What a stupid thing to say.  Many can relate to one of my favorite cartoons:

Ranchers invited to special meeting - How the Governor does it in Utah

The Governors Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office, Department of Agriculture and Food, and the Department of Natural Resources will be holding a special meeting to discuss grazing issues on public lands on Wednesday, June 15, at 7 p.m., in the Search & Rescue Building at the Kanab Airport. The discussion will include looking for specific solutions for obstacles ranchers face when dealing with federal agencies. The state will also be asking grazers who are willing and able to attend meetings the following day (June 16) to meet one-on-one with state and federal agencies in the same meeting area (8 a.m.-4 p.m.). We would appreciate your attendance to discuss all things associated with public lands grazing. For more information, call Land Use Authority (435) 644-4951.  Southern Utah News

And in NM the Governor does...what?

How They Handle Problem Wolves In Wyoming

A wolf pack near lander is killing livestock, causing concern for ranchers in the area. The pack has seven wolves, more than half are targeted for elimination. Fish and Wildlife Deputy Field Supervisor Tyler Abbott said “we’ve authorized up to four wolves to be legally taken.” One rancher who wants to remain anonymous is frustrated he can’t protect his cattle by himself. A Lander cattle rancher wishing to remain anonymous said “we don’t have the option to protect our livestock by keeping the wolf numbers down and the financial cost of the added surveillance of our cattle and checking on them.” News 13’s Landon Harrar reported “ranchers told me their biggest concerns aren’t just the killings but also that the wolves are stressing out their livestock which affects how much they eat. That means when they go to be sold they aren’t as valuable because those livestock don’t weigh as much as they should.” Officials hope killing part of the pack will persuade the wolves to leave. Abbott mentioned “often times you can take out a portion of those and that’s enough to disrupt the social structure of the group and cause them to disperse and leave the area.”...more

And in NM?...sorry.

No new mining, drilling at Owyhee?

The Southeastern Oregon Mineral Withdrawal and Economic Preservation and Development Act also calls for creating and expanding programs meant to support communities in that region “so they can grow their traditional economies and build on their strengths,” according to a news release. Those programs would include grants to develop efficient water storage systems for livestock; to improve roads for farmers and agriculture businesses; and to train veterans and young people for farming and ranching jobs. The bill also seeks to establish the Agriculture Center for Excellence in Malheur County to expand local agriculture research. The bill comes as debate heats up over a separate proposal from conservation and recreation groups to permanently protect about 2.5 million acres of the Owyhee Canyonlands. That proposal prompted a state legislative committee hearing last month in Salem and has sparked intense opposition from cattle groups that charge that it will eventually lead to a loss of ranching in the area...more

This is how the Organ Mountains in NM should have been protected. 

New radios to help Cochise ranchers along border

A pilot program in Cochise County is helping ranchers report dangerous activity in remote areas. The Howard G. Buffett Foundation donated $35,000 to purchase 40 Motorola hand-held radios and signs ranchers can place on their property indicating they are part of the Ranchers Network and Patrol Partnership, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office said. So far, 31 ranchers have been given radios with predefined frequencies to contact each other or the sheriff’s office. “The specific purpose of the program is to allow ranchers working in the most remote areas of Cochise County to be an extension of our eyes and ears and to be able to immediately and directly report any suspicious or unusual activity in their respective areas, most of which do not have cell service,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. The radios also will “cut out the middle man” during emergencies, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas. Rather than have the sheriff’s dispatch center relay information, ranchers will be able to speak directly with helicopter pilots and direct them to the site of suspicious activity. John Ladd, whose family ranch sits along 10 miles of the international border, said the radios will come in handy when he’s out in remote parts of his property. Ladd said the illegal immigration landscape has changed in the past decade. He used to see hundreds of illegal border crossers on his land daily, but that number is down to nearly zero now. Instead, it’s the drug smugglers and their lookouts who travel through his ranch. His house has been burglarized repeatedly, he says. “If you live in the rural area, that’s your big concern every day. You still have to realize that I can’t just walk into my house any more. I gotta look around and see what’s going on,” Ladd said...more

How the West nurtured eco-minded agriculture

by Peter Carrels

...In the broad region straddling the 100th meridian, where land use shifts from grain farming to livestock grazing, the discussion of new farming and ranching practices has been percolating for years. Meanwhile, lucrative corn profits and federal aid had tilted the advantage to grain over the last two decades, as millions of prairie acres in the Northern Plains were plowed and broken.

But in the late 1990s, about a dozen farmer-ranchers formed the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition, in an attempt to find a less destructive way to farm. The coalition now boasts close to 300 members, and similar grassland groups have sprung up in North Dakota and Nebraska. When I first learned about this developing movement, I figured its protagonists were mostly newly minted hobby farmers, or maybe small organic growers. I was wrong.

The coalition consists of second-, third- and fourth-generation farmers and farmer-ranchers – established, respected operators, with large operations of up to 5,000 acres and more.

One coalition member I visited, a visionary farmer-rancher named Jim Faulstich, runs an 8,000-acre Hyde County spread just east of the 100th meridian. This sweeping landscape, interrupted by well-placed shelterbelts, stretches out as flat and far as the eye can see. As we toured his place, he surprised me with a simple statement: “We watch birds to monitor how we’re doing with the land.” Then Faulstich rattled off the birds he looks for – bobolink, grasshopper sparrows, sharp-tail grouse, greater prairie chicken and ring-neck pheasant.

“If the birds aren’t doing well, we’re not doing something right,” Faulstich said, sounding more like an environmentalist than a farmer. “When you run your operation in tune with nature, wildlife prospers and the land prospers, too.”

He described how he plants more cover crops, pays attention to soils, picks cattle breeds that conform to his landscape and climate, and tries to carefully use and safeguard surface water.

On adjoining properties, there were piles of rock heaped up along road ditches and fence lines, evidence of grasslands that had been transformed into grain fields. The Corn Belt has rapidly pushed west, gobbling up native prairie in its path, but my host – like many others in the Grassland Coalition – is doing exactly the opposite. Faulstich pointed from his pickup to hundreds of acres he has already removed from grain production and restored to prairie...

GPS mapping doubles size of Arizona brush fire

A brush fire burning outside an Arizona town near where 19 firefighters died in a 2013 wildfire has been mapped as being twice as large as previously estimated. Fire officials on Thursday put the fire near Yarnell at roughly 2 square miles, up from the square mile estimated late Wednesday. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Delores Garcia says the fire continues to burn but that the doubling in its estimated size is a result of GPS mapping. Containment remains at 10 percent, and Garcia says the fire continues to burn away from Yarnell. She says authorities now believe State Route 89 through Yarnell can be reopened...more

Effort to place all of Española in Rio Arriba County hits a hurdle

Santa Fe County and the city of Española have scheduled meetings this month in the wake of what may be a stalled effort by some residents to have the Santa Fe County portion of the city annexed into Rio Arriba County. About three-quarters of the city lies within Rio Arriba County. The southeast portion of Española, however, is part of Santa Fe County and a group of residents there petitioned to have county lines redrawn so that it would be made part of Rio Arriba County, along with the rest of the city. The petition – turned in by George Martinez of a group called Citizens for Accessible and Representative Government and signed by 717 people, a number that would represent 53 percent of the 1,346 registered voters living in the affected area – stated that “it will be more convenient and economical for Rio Arriba County to render governmental services” than currently is the case. Some residents of the affected area have complained that Santa Fe County collects their tax money, but provides little in return in terms of services, including health care facilities, solid waste disposal, 911 emergency services and parks...more

Cloudcroft seeks to educate after elk cow incident

Cloudcroft residents are channeling their sadness over an elk cow being killed hours after giving birth into educating the public. "We've had elk and deer come through here for years," Cloudcroft resident Gerry Sass said. "We've lived here almost 40 years, my parents owned cabins in the 60s before this was ever developed. We're used to the deer and the elk – we're always delighted to see them but we know to stay our distance." Sass and her neighbors watched an elk cow in awe from their homes as she gave birth, hid the calf behind a neighbor's propane tank and proceeded to graze in the nearby forest Monday. "While she grazed up and down the canyon, there was one high school girl that was walking on the road that was chased," Sass said. Sass's neighbor, Martha Wilcox said the girl didn't see the elk as she was walking and was startled. "When she moved the way she did, the elk rushed her – that's what they do when they're protecting their babies," Wilcox said. Hours later, the neighbors said they watched local law enforcement and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish officers speed up their road.  Cloudcroft Chief of Police Matt Flotte said they had reports that the elk had chased a woman walking her dog Monday morning but hadn't been able to locate the elk. Late Monday afternoon, Flotte said Cloudcroft police received more complaints that two young boys had been chased by the elk...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1631

Another fiddle tune today.  Buck Ryan was a premier bluegrass fiddler for over 40 years, mostly with Bill Harrell & The Virginians.  He was also a regular on Jimmy Dean's TV show and also recorded with country star Jim Reeves.  Today's selection is Fiddler On The Rocks from his 1974 album with the same name recorded for the Rebel label.  (sounds a whole lot like I'll Be There to me)

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Widely criticized BLM security agent gets promoted


No bureaucratic bungling shall go unrewarded.

Be it at the State Department, Veterans Affairs, Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department, Immigration or the Bureau of Land Management.

The man who was in charge of security for the BLM during the botched Bundy ranch cattle roundup two years ago — which resulted in the agency spending $1 million to round up a couple hundred head of cattle, only to release them when confronted by armed supporters of the rancher — has been promoted to a newly created position.

Dan Love, who was in charge of BLM security forces in Nevada and Utah, will now serve as the BLM’s agent in charge of security, protection and intelligence nationwide.

The intelligence part of the job reportedly includes gathering information on emerging threats, such as from websites and online social media.

Why a land management agency should have what amounts to its own law enforcement division is a question to begin with. Even the Nevada Test Site uses private security firms. Aren’t actual law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and U.S. marshals, as well as local police and sheriff agencies, sufficient to protect these public servants?

As for intelligence? Why does a federal land agency need a spy?

I found this part of the column of particular interest:

 Though he said rancher Cliven Bundy must be held accountable for defying federal court orders and grazing cattle on federal land without proper permits, then-Sheriff Doug Gillespie was critical of the tactics and behavior of the BLM security forces for creating a situation that threatened to turn into a bloodbath.
Speaking at an editorial board of the Las Vegas morning newspaper a couple of months after the roundup, Gillespie said he had a tense meeting with some of Bundy’s sons a few weeks before the agents moved in with armed vehicles, heavy weapons, snipers and attack dogs. He feared emotions would boil over.
“I came back from that saying, ‘This is not the time to do this,’” he told the editors. “They (the BLM) said, ‘We do this all the time. We know what we’re doing. We hear what you’re saying, but we’re moving forward.’”
He noted that a video of one of Bundy’s sons being Tasered went viral on the Internet, prompting self-styled patriots and militia to pour into the ranch, an outcome for which the BLM was unprepared.
Gillespie added, “You’ll have a hard time convincing me that one person’s drop of blood is worth any one of those cows,” adding that the BLM had no place to take the cattle it had gathered anyway...

ESA Delisting Process is Failing According to Testimony

Witnesses at a U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in April testified the Endangered Species Act (ESA) lacks a proper process for delisting species, which they say results in many species remaining on the Endangered Species List when they do not belong there. There are currently 2,258 species protected under ESA, and only 63 have been delisted since the law’s enactment in 1973. Joel Bousman, the vice president of the Western Interstate Region of the National Association of Counties, testified at the hearing, saying, “When a species is put on the Endangered Species Act list, it’s a bit like checking into the Hotel California. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” Two reasons cited for the ESA’s poor track record of delisting species by several of those testifying were strict deadlines for making listing decisions and ESA’s citizen-suit provisions. Maryland attorney Lowell E. Baier testified, “[ESA’s] citizen-suit provision … has made federal courts a venue where extreme organizations … can twist the Endangered Species Act and bend the federal government to their will. Part of their agenda is to always increase the number of species and amount of land protected under the Endangered Species Act, and so they have used the courts to oppose delisting of recovered species.” Ron Arnold, executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, says ESA’s citizen-suit provisions have been used as part of a backdoor effort to control land use. “Contrary to what people may think, the ESA has nothing to do with animals,” said Arnold. “Instead, it is a land-use control bill that declares if you disturb the habitat of an ESA-listed animal, you can get one year in jail and a $50,000 fine for every violation. “The whole thing boils down to using the ESA’s regulatory power to control industry,” said Arnold. “Delisting harms anyone who gets foundation grants to expand the ESA’s reach, so it’s in their interest to make sure no species ever gets delisted from the ESA.” Wyoming rancher and attorney Karen Budd-Falen focused in her testimony on how lawsuits force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to focus their attention on listing decisions and deemphasize delisting...more

Mexican gray wolves need rescuing from politics

By Michael J. Robinson / Center for Biological Diversity
 This spring saw two steps forward for securing the future of the endangered Mexican gray wolves.

 Two captive-born pups were introduced into a wild wolf family in the Gila National Forest in late April. And the same week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally agreed to complete a legally required Mexican wolf recovery plan. But the agreement, submitted to a court almost 40 years to the day after Mexican wolves were protected under the Endangered Species Act, came only because a lawsuit by conservationists forced the agency to follow the law.

Now, two new developments highlight why it’s critical that the upcoming recovery plan – as well as current wolf management – be anchored in science, not politics.

First, a court will soon decide whether to grant the request of Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration to order removal of the new pups in the Gila and to enjoin future wolf releases.

And in the meantime, in late May, federal trappers captured yet another Mexican wolf.

The circumstances surrounding removal of one of only 97 wolves living in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona reflect an issue central to the recovery effort: requiring reasonable steps to deter wolves from becoming habituated to livestock...

And Robinson concludes: 

The service should extricate itself from state politics driven by the livestock industry, stop removing wolves from the wild, release five or more family packs into the Gila as scientists recommend, and write a recovery plan that will ensure the Mexican gray wolf contributes to the natural balance in the Southwest and Mexico forever.

Dem's appoint “leading environmentalist” to platform committee

This week, in a concession to Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, the Democratic National Committee announced that one of his five appointees to the party’s platform committee would be “leading environmentalist” and co-founder Bill McKibben, a noted climate change theory evangelist and leader in the “keep it in the ground” movement. Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress said the movement should be called, “put people in the ground,” as these policies will directly lead to incalculable premature deaths. According to the non-partisan Energy Information Agency, world energy consumption in 2040 will be 30 percent petroleum and other liquid fuels, 26 percent natural gas, and 22 percent coal. Secretary Jewell is right, this stuff is not going away anytime soon. The EIA predicts 16 percent of energy consumption will be renewables and nuclear will account for about 6 percent in 2040. By the way, the EIA also recently announced that energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell in 2015 and are now 12 percent below the 2005 levels, mostly because of changes in the electric power sector. The problem is that the facts do not support the President in this regard. In a recent hearing House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said that the president attempts to justify his actions with “scare tactics, worst-case scenarios and biased data.” Specifically, statements that attempt to link extreme weather events to climate change are unfounded. Smith said, “The lack of evidence is clear: no increased tornadoes, no increased hurricanes, no increased droughts or floods. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that there is “low confidence” that drought has increased in intensity or duration. The same lack of evidence can be found in the IPCC reports for almost every type of extreme weather...more

API: Even EPA Said Fracking Is Safe

The American Petroleum Institute pushed back against the Environmental Protection Agency and its regulations targeting hydraulic fracturing on Wednesday, saying government reports have already proven fracking to be environmentally safe. The EPA began implementing hydraulic fracturing regulations in order to establish public health and environmental safeguards. Concerns associated with fracking include the possible contamination of drinking and surface waters and air pollution. API Director of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito pointed to two separate reports: a 1999 Energy Department report finding advanced oil and gas production technology, including hydraulic fracturing, provides environmental benefits such as lower waste volumes and fewer wells drilled; and a 2015 EPA report which concluded fracking could potentially impact drinking water resources, but “did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”...more

Threats, Assaults against Land Management Employees Increase

Threats and actual assaults against federal employees involved in land management increased substantially last year, especially among those working in rangelands and national forests, according to figures compiled and released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “Security is a rising concern for scientists and other specialists working in the remote Western outposts. Higher law enforcement costs are cannibalizing already thin refuge budgets; meaning that some refuges are effectively closed to better protect others,” the group said in a statement. Threats and attacks against Forest Service employees rose from 97 to 155, while at the Bureau of Land Management the increase was from 15 to 28...more

Hundreds evacuated as wildfire rages near Arizona town

Hundreds of people evacuated their homes Wednesday as a wildfire raged near the north-central Arizona town of Yarnell — the scene of a 2013 blaze that killed 19 members of an elite firefighting crew. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Dolores Garcia said 250 to 300 people left their homes in the town, about 60 miles northeast of Phoenix. There have been no reports of any injuries, Yavapai County sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said. The fire grew to 600 acres, but crews expected it to ease somewhat during the overnight with cooler temperatures and higher humidity. Garcia said three out buildings have burned but no homes have been lost. About 140 firefighting personnel were battling the blaze, supported by three air tankers and two helicopters making blaze suppression drops. The cause of the blaze was being investigated, but Garcia said crews had ruled out lightning...more

BLM grassland restoration treatments to begin in Southern NM

SILVER CITY — Starting the second week of June 2016, and continuing for approximately two weeks, the Bureau of Land Management Las Cruces District and other partners will begin herbicide treatments of mesquite at several locations in Hidalgo, Grant, and Sierra counties in New Mexico. Approximately 9,000 acres of federal, state, and private lands will be treated as part of the BLM’s Restore New Mexico initiative. Restore New Mexico is an aggressive partnership between land owners and land management agencies to restore the state’s grasslands, woodlands and riparian areas to a healthy, more productive condition. Large areas of desert grassland in New Mexico were lost to shrub invasion, beginning in the mid-to-late 1800’s. Invasive shrub treatments are being conducted across the state to reduce the density of brush species, such as mesquite and creosote, which have encroached on historic desert grasslands. Once invasive shrub densities are reduced, more desirable native grasses and forbs can reestablish themselves. General project locations are 15 miles north and 10 miles northwest of Lordsburg; 5 miles south of Silver City Airport; and 7 miles south of Engle in Sierra County. The primary objective for these proposed herbicide treatments is to enhance watershed function by improving ground cover and decreasing erosion and storm runoff, while retaining soil moisture. The treatments also improve habitat that will support more diverse and prolific wildlife communities...more

Inslee gives final approval to Spokane Tribe's casino

Gov. Jay Inslee gave final approval on Wednesday to a $400 million gaming and retail development proposed by the Spokane Tribe that critics have argued could adversely affect Fairchild Air Force Base and severely undercut a nearby casino. Since 2006 the tribe has been seeking approval for the Spokane Tribe Economic Project, a mixed-use development on 145 acres in the West Plains of Spokane County, land the federal government has set aside in 2001 to benefit the Spokane Tribe economically. The proposed project will include a casino, a tribal cultural center, a resort hotel and other amenities. The tribe has stressed that the project would create thousands of jobs and pump millions into the local economy.  Since the tribe floated the idea, it’s steadily drawn opponents, such as downtown business interests and much of the region’s political class including U.S. Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane) and the Spokane County Board of Commissioners. Opponents have voiced concerns that the development’s proximity to Fairchild Air Force Base could result in a catastrophic plane crash or cause the closure of the base, a significant source of jobs and economic activity for the region...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1630

Its past time for some Country Roots.  Here are the Kessinger Brothers (Clark - fiddle, Luches - guitar) with the fiddle tune Everybody To The Punchin'.  The tune was recorded in New York City on Thursday, September 18, 1930 and was the next-to-last song they recorded together.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Reimagining the Western town

The 1862 Homestead Act promised 160 acres of public property to settlers willing to stake their dreams on Western migration and by 1900 the act had led to the distribution of 80 million acres of federal land. The West was transformed. Yet the U.S. government also had the foresight to reserve vast expanses of frontier in national parks, wilderness areas and national forests, securing protected lands for all Americans in perpetuity. Today, however, public lands in the Rocky Mountains are feeling the burden as surrounding communities grow rapidly, applying unprecedented pressure on these spaces. Few examples better reflect this than Bozeman, Montana. This university town, the population nexus of southwest Montana’s Gallatin County, is seeing explosive growth. The county holds more than 100,000 residents and if current trends persist that number will double by 2040. The attraction to Bozeman, like other Western mountain towns, is clear. Exceptional skiing and mountain biking, blue-ribbon fly fishing, and abundant open space to view or hunt wildlife are just a few of the opportunities spurring a modern migration to this part of the country. But unchecked outward growth risks jeopardizing the very open spaces, wildlife corridors and unfettered opportunities for solitude that draw the contemporary American pioneer to the new American West. If Bozeman fails to maintain the qualities that draw new settlers—and keep the old—it could risk becoming another Denver by the turn of the next century. Some developers are looking to other models for answers: a way to build from the inside out. Nearly 700 miles to the east of Bozeman, one city is being reimagined with vitality in mind. Sitting on the banks of the Red River and known as the “Gateway to the West,” Fargo, North Dakota, is experiencing a resurgence in its historic downtown led by the efforts of Doug Burgum and the Kilbourne Group...more

video - Ranchers claim the U.S. government is stealing their water and using an endangered animal to do it.

CLOUDCROFT, N.M. (KRQE)- A battle is brewing in New Mexico over water. Ranchers claim the U.S. government is stealing their water and using an endangered animal to do it. The forest service has fenced off land where the Goss family says they own the water rights. They say it’s all to protect the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, an endangered species but many people believe it’s about more than a mouse. “It’s not about the species and the water specifically, it’s the fact the federal government is using these animals as tools to get us off the land,” said Megan Richardson with Protect Americans Now. The Goss family says that by fencing off these areas, the forest service has made running their cattle operation nearly impossible, because their cows now have to walk way too far for water. “They really have no clue of a cattle operation and how my husband runs a cattle operation and how this is going to impact it,” said Kelly Goss. The Goss family says the forest service has made them promise after promise that they would work with them but that hasn’t happened. They are taking legal action in hopes of getting these fences taken down and are calling on the governor to help them. “We would like to have the State of New Mexico step forward ,and most particularly the state engineer and help us with this, not only do the Goss’ have the rights to these waters. They also have the right to access these waters,” said Michael Van Zandt, the Goss’ attorney. The forest service insists it’s been working with the ranchers for a solution to make sure there’s water for their cattle. KRQE

Here is the KRQE video report:

Trump Letter On The BLM 1/28/2016

by Donald Trump

The United States of America is a land of laws, and Americans value the rule of law above all. Why, then, has our Congress allowed the president and the executive branch to take on near-dictatorial power? How is it that we have a president who will not enforce some laws and who encourages faceless, nameless bureaucrats to manage public lands as if the millions of acres were owned by agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Energy? In Nevada, the lack of enforcement of immigration laws and the draconian rule of the BLM are damaging the economy, lowering the standard of living and inhibiting natural economic growth. The only way to change these circumstances is to bring to Washington a president who will rein in the federal government and get Congress to do its job. It’s not that we don’t have talented people in D.C. It’s that we have no leadership there.

The BLM controls over 85 percent of the land in Nevada. In the rural areas, those who for decades have had access to public lands for ranching, mining, logging and energy development are forced to deal with arbitrary and capricious rules that are influenced by special interests that profit from the D.C. rule-making and who fill the campaign coffers of Washington politicians. Far removed from the beautiful wide open spaces of Nevada, bureaucrats bend to the influence that is closest to them. Honest, hardworking citizens who seek freedom and economic independence must beg for deference from a federal government that is more intent on power and control than it is in serving the citizens of the nation. In and around Clark County, the situation is even worse.

Because the BLM is so reluctant to release land to local disposition in Nevada, the cost of land has skyrocketed and the cost of living has become an impediment to growth. Where are the city and county to get the land for schools, roads, parks and other public use areas if they have to beg Washington for the land and then pay a premium price for it? How are people who see a future in Nevada to find housing and employment if the federal government is inhibiting economic development? How are businesses to find the employees to fill the jobs that could be created if there were better leadership in Washington? Unfortunately, many of the jobs are filled by those who came to this country illegally.

Above, Mr. Trump is critical of the BLM because they are "so reluctant to release land to local disposition."  However, in an interview with Petersen's Hunting just 10 days later, Trump comes out firmly against land transfers.  Which Trump will we get if he's President?  His and his son's interview with that mag indicate the Boone & Crockett boys will be in and the cowboys will be left out on the street with their hats in their hands.

Not long after receiving my appointment at Interior, the NRA invited me to a business lunch.  Given their position on gun control I figured I'd be with friends.  The first issue they brought up was they wanted more BLM lands for target shooting.  The second issue was their concern that livestock grazing was damaging millions of acres of wildlife habitat.  Things tensed up a bit.  When I got through sharing my thoughts, they dropped the issue immediately.

My point is these east-coast, D.C. hunting groups are no friend to advocates of multiple-use.  Generally, they are in favor of environmental designations solely for the benefit of wildlife, and in their minds that means excluding other uses...except for hunting.  Mr. Trump's son is on the board of Boone & Crockett, appears to be cut from that cloth, and his dad thinks he would make a great Secretary of Interior.

'Save the Ranchers' protester escorted from Trump rally

The security detail for presidential candidate Donald Trump is expected to apologize to Oregon standoff defendant Darryl W. Thorn for carrying him out of a May 7 rally in Spokane, his defense lawyer, Laurie Shertz, informed the court Tuesday. "It turns out they were making a mountain out of a molehill," U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones told Thorn, who listened on a speaker phone for the brief hearing. "All you were saying was 'Save the Ranchers.' '' In early May, Thorn was released from custody on pretrial supervision, allowed to live and work in Spokane pending trial on federal conspiracy and weapons charges stemming from the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County. Thorn had attended a Donald Trump rally at the Spokane Convention Center on May 7 and was escorted out. A YouTube video showed two security guards carrying him out of the rally, but it was unclear what prompted his removal. Later, Thorn was interviewed and said he attended the rally to "bring awareness to my brothers who are incarcerated'' in Oregon or Nevada...more

Salt Lake City attorney seeks to assist in Ammon Bundy's legal defense in Oregon

Another Utah lawyer is seeking to help Oregon standoff defendant Ammon Bundy in the federal conspiracy and weapons case against him set to go to trial in early September. Attorney Marcus Mumford has applied to represent Bundy in his Oregon case, assisting Utah lawyer J. Morgan Philpot, according to court records. Mumford has a private legal practice in Salt Lake City and has specialized in white- collar criminal defense work and commercial litigation. He nearly was held in contempt of court in federal court in Utah in February for straying into forbidden testimony during his cross-examination of a witness during a  fraud case, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. But his client ended up being acquitted of all charges. Late last month, Bundy's previous lawyers, Eugene-based attorneys Mike Arnold and Lissa Casey, announced they were no longer going to represent Bundy. Arnold cited his desire to spend more time with his family and focus on his Eugene firm as reasons...more

Park Service leaders break rules but skate by

by Corbin Hiar, E&E reporter

Just before becoming superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park, Dave Uberuaga sold his home to the head of a concession company operating in the park for three times its assessed price and then repeatedly failed to disclose the deal.

The Interior Department inspector general uncovered the wrongdoing by 2008. But instead of being demoted, Uberuaga was named superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park in 2011.

Since then, a scandal has exploded over a 15-year pattern of sexual harassment and workplace hostility at the Grand Canyon, which Uberuaga had done little to stamp out. And the park's aging water systems have continued to crumble while employees who attempted to fix them were forced out.

NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis last month decided a change in leadership at the park was necessary -- but offered Uberuaga a new position in Washington, D.C. He opted to retire instead.
Uberuaga's troubled tenure is just one example of the management failures that plague the 100-year-old National Park Service, critics say. The problems, they argue, stem from both flawed hiring practices and, more importantly, a lack of accountability that is pervasive throughout the agency -- up to and including Jarvis.

...The director is far from the only Park Service official to violate agency policies and keep his job. More than a dozen NPS employees singled out in publicly released IG reports or internal investigations of park mismanagement during Jarvis' time in office are still employed at the agency, according to the agency's online directory.

Massive ranch becomes Washington wildlife area

The assets of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department’s latest major land deal were on display last week. Some guests arriving for the dedication of the 4-O Ranch Wildlife Area at the old Mountain View town site overlooking the Grande Ronde River reported spotting elk, deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, cougars, golden eagles, wild turkeys and more. Others said they’d been scouting fishing hot spots. And that was just driving to the event. Much more was out of sight among the timber, basalt cliffs and talus slopes, meadows, creeks, thickets and ag fields on the 10,502 acres sweeping up from the river to the Umatilla National Forest. After a decade of meetings, surveys and grant applications followed by five acquisitions since 2011, the agency has taken ownership of a cattle spread featuring standout wildlife diversity. The 4-O Ranch was acquired for $19.1 million, with 62 percent covered by state grants and 38 percent covered by federal endangered species programs. The federal funding owes to the area’s value for nourishing threatened stocks of steelhead, fall chinook and bull trout, along with wildlife including goshawks and eagles.  “My family has been here since 1954,” said Mike Odom, who sold most of the ranch to the state. “I’ve always appreciated the ranch and growing up with the wildlife. “The cooperative agreement benefits both the public and my family. I’m glad for everything that occurred.” Odom kept some of the 4-O Cattle Ranch land and has agreements to continue grazing and farming in portions of the public wildlife area...more

Cowboy life firmly entrenched on Babcock Ranch

WHILE DAWN STRUGGLES TO POUR ITS first ghostly light through the stubborn shadows of a new March day, Dalton Boney lowers his long form onto a narrow bench in the open-ended pole barn of the old Babcock Ranch. He’s already bridled and saddled his horse, securing his rope from the pommel in front and tying his rain slicker behind the cantle, in the rear. Slipping a small tin from his jeans pocket, he pushes a pinch of tobacco into his cheek. Then he answers a reporter’s question about moving cows. “Yessir, I’ve been doin’ this most all of my life,” he says. The same is true of the men around him, generally in their 20s or 30s: Casey King, Dustyn Whitmir, Clint “Catfish” Davis, Carl Langford and his cool, capable cousin, Babcock cattle manager Elton Langford. The old man of the bunch, Mr. Langford is also a DeSoto County rancher and an elected county commissioner, to boot. He turned 47 in May. An old adage — the more things change, the more they stay the same — is no longer true at Babcock. Now, the more things change, the more the things that haven’t changed become remarkable. For that reason, Florida Weekly has come to see cowboys work cows roughly the way it’s been done for a century on the Babcock Ranch...“It’s all these guys do,” says Mr. Langford, describing his “day riders,” men who also manage or work other operations on a busy, rotating basis. “It’s all they’ve ever wanted to do.” And it’s what they hope to keep doing on Babcock, even though major change is imminent. Come July, there will be two ranches stretched across the 91,000 acres of the original Babcock Ranch. One will carry on under the ownership of the state of Florida, which will contract cattle or crop leases with ranchers and farmers on parts of the state’s 73,000 acres, where about 2,000 head of cattle still remain. The other ranch is owned by Kitson & Partners, developers of the planned solar-powered town. There, on roughly half of Syd Kitson’s 18,000 acres, Steve Smith and his cowboys, led by Elton Langford, will run about 1,200 head of cows...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1629

In 1964, as a junior in high school, I purchased an album that has remained one of my favorites ever since.  The album was Country Hits...Feelin' Blue by Tennessee Ernie Ford.  There's just him, a standard guitar and a stand-up bass.  From that album I've selected a song written by Hank Williams:  There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight.  Now just listen to Ford sing.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Wolf advocates intervene in NM lawsuit against Feds

Advocates for the endangered Mexican gray wolf filed a motion this week on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, intervening in a lawsuit brought by New Mexico against the federal agency. New Mexico’s Department of Game and Fish sued the Service for releasing two wolf pups in Catron County in April, part of the Service’s ongoing effort to reintroduce Mexican wolves into the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. Game and Fish has been adamantly opposed to the reintroduction program in recent years, citing concerns about how the program has been managed. In filing its suit, the state wants to block any more wolf reintroductions until the Service develops a species management plan — due in 2017 after years of failed attempts to produce one — and remove the two pups from the wild. “Should the State of New Mexico prevail in this litigation, the Conservation Groups’ interests in ensuring the survival and recovery of the Mexican gray wolf will be harmed,” according to the motion. The groups that filed the motion include the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance...more

Forest Service getting a new, $110,000 sign

The U.S. Forest Service is spending $110,000 to replace the sign at the entrance to the David J. Wheeler Federal Building in Baker City. The building, which includes the Post Office and the headquarters of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, is at 1550 Dewey Ave. Forest Service officials requested the sign after employees from the Whitman Ranger District moved from offices on 11th Street to the Wheeler Building in December 2013, said Sally Mayberry, a public affairs officer for the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal agency that owns and maintains the Wheeler Building. “The USFS had a temporary wood sign previously but asked GSA to place new signs to better help visitors find the new Forest Service location,” Mayberry stated in an email. Although the Whitman District staff moved in in 2013, the building has housed the Wallowa-Whitman headquarters for more than 30 years...more

All we hear about is how firefighting costs are eating up more than 50 percent of the Forest Service budget and doing damage to other programs (see here and here).  Yet they can spend $110,000 on a sign??

Keep ranchers on the land, and the land stays open

By Andy Rieber

...And for those of us who would rather see ranches instead of condo developments that swallow up open spaces, a recent study (“The Disappearing West”) funded by the left-leaning Washington, D.C., nonprofit Center for American Progress, found that between 2001 and 2011, a staggering 4,300 square miles of natural areas in the West were lost to development. The study found that “development on private lands accounted for nearly three-fourths of all natural areas in the West that disappeared.”  If the study has a moral, it’s this:  To preserve the natural splendors of the West, we must find ways to keep undeveloped private land from residential, commercial and industrial development.

How?  One way is to support public-lands ranching.  The 250 million acres of federal grazing lands are integrally tied to the economic livelihood of individual ranches, which apart from their federal grazing allotments comprise 100 million acres of mostly natural, undeveloped private lands.  If these ranches are able to stay in business, that’s 100 million acres of open space, habitat and ecosystems spared from the developer’s bulldozers.  Put a price tag on that, if you can.

Today, many environmental groups understand the critical role that ranchers play in the conservation of the West.  The World Wildlife Fund’s Sustainable Ranching Initiative, Audubon’s Working Lands effort and The Nature Conservancy’s numerous partnerships with ranchers all show that the custodianship of ranchers is highly valued. Teamwork and collaboration have come to define 21st century conservation on Western rangelands...

Land donation would provide access to Sabinoso Wilderness east of Las Vegas, NM

By Mark Oswald

The Bureau of Land Management is proposing to accept donation of the Rimrock Rose Ranch in northeastern New Mexico from The Wilderness Land Trust, to provide public access to the Sabinoso Wilderness.

The BLM also will purchase some of the ranch property. As part of its deal with the Wilderness Land Trust, the BLM will eliminate two grazing allotments in the area.

In a news release, the BLM said the donation would provide — for the first time — public access to the Sabinoso Wilderness, a roughly 16,000-acre area currently landlocked by private land about 40 miles east of Las Vegas, N.M.

...The ranch property, recently acquired by The Wilderness Land Trust, consists of about 4,176 acres adjacent to the designated wilderness. Of the total acreage, about 3,576 acres are proposed to be acquired through the donation, while the remaining acreage is proposed to be acquired by the BLM. The agency’s news release did not say what the purchase price would be or whether a price has been arrived at.

As part of this action, the BLM also is proposing to make two BLM livestock grazing allotments for which the ranch served as base property unavailable for grazing going forward, in order to protect riparian areas.

This part of the proposal, involving two allotments totaling 6,260 acres, is a condition placed on the donation by The Wilderness Land Trust.

“Therefore, in order to consider removing the availability of grazing from the allotments, an amendment to the Taos Resource Management Plan must be prepared,” says the BLM’s news release. “The remaining 16 (grazing) allotments in and around Sabinoso Wilderness would not be affected by this proposal."

This is from February 9, 2016: 

The Wilderness Land Trust and the Wyss Foundation today announced a major milestone in the effort to unlock public access to the 16,000 acre Sabinoso Wilderness in New Mexico, an area that is currently impossible for the public to access without trespassing on private property. 

 Thanks to a $3,150,000 contribution from the Wyss Foundation, The Wilderness Land Trust has purchased the Rimrock Rose, a 4,176 acre property adjacent to the Sabinoso Wilderness that includes the remote and beautiful Canyon Largo. The Wilderness Land Trust will now work to transfer the Rimrock Rose to public ownership by donating it to the Bureau of Land Management so that it may be added to the Sabinoso Wilderness area to create public access. 

 ...“We are proud to be able to help local leaders and The Wilderness Land Trust as they expand access for fishing, hunting, hiking, and recreation in New Mexico’s prized backcountry,” said Molly McUsic, President of the Wyss Foundation.  “Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the wonder of the Sabinoso Wilderness and all of our nation's public lands.”

...Over the coming months, The Wilderness Land Trust will work with the Bureau of Land Management to donate the lands to public ownership so that the public may explore one of New Mexico’s newest and most stunning wilderness areas.  Before the lands may be donated to public ownership, the Bureau of Land Management will need to conduct and complete a review of the areas to determine whether they are suitable for addition to the Sabinoso Wilderness and meet the agency’s criteria for accepting a donation.

And just in case you are interested: 

Founded in 1998, the Wyss Foundation has long supported locally-led efforts to conserve public lands in the American West for everyone to experience and explore.  The Foundation’s philanthropy has helped conserve and restore public lands from the Crown of the Continent in Montana and the Hoback Basin in Wyoming to the coastline of California and the rivers of Maine.
The Wilderness Land Trust is a small, highly specialized nonprofit organization established to buy and protect wilderness land.  Since founded in 1992, the Trust has preserved 432 parcels comprising more than 47,000 acres of wilderness inholdings in 93 designated and proposed wilderness areas across 9 states.  The Wilderness Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) organization, has offices in California and Colorado.  For more information visit our website

Concerning the partnership agreement above, Senators Udall & Heinrich  and Rep. Lujan issued a statement:

 Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján welcomed a partnership between the Wyss Foundation and the Wilderness Land Trust to open up the Sabinoso Wilderness for public access.

Senator Udall said, "I'd like to thank the Wyss Foundation and the Wilderness Land Trust"; Senator Heinrich called the two organizations "dedicated partners" and said this was a "great achievement; and Rep. Lujan thanked them for their "efforts".

Concerning the outlawing of ranching on two allotments, do they "welcome" this requirement of the Wilderness Land Trust?   Will Senator Udall and Rep. Lujan still "thank" them?  Does Senator Heinrich still believe this is a "great achievement" by his "dedicated partners"?

Gold King Mine Report Botched By The Mine’s Federal Part-Owner

by Ethan Barton

A botched “independent” review of the Gold King Mine spill was led by the Department of the Interior (DOI) – a federal agency that owned part of the mine, among other conflicts of interest, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation has found.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – the very agency DOI was investigating for causing the spill – once considered holding Interior liable for pollution, likely for decades of acid waste leaking from Gold King’s lower level. EPA and DOI also frequently collaborated on projects at Gold King Mine and across the region.

...The EPA selected DOI’s Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to lead the review despite the latter’s long involvement at the site and elsewhere across the mine-rich region. Also, DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was active in the area and often worked closely with the EPA, and even owns a portion of the Gold King Mine’s lower level.

“The Gold King Mine blowout is no mystery to Interior,” House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop told TheDCNF. “They have pretended to play an insignificant role, but nearly all of DOI’s bureaus, and especially the Bureau of Land Management, actively worked on this and related mines in the region.”

...In a further twist, internal emails obtained by TheDCNF show EPA considered holding BLM at least partially liable for pollution in the region under the Superfund law last year, though the bureau ultimately was let off the hook.

Greens Fight Feds for Idaho's Wolves

More than 600 wolves have been strangled, shot from the air and trapped illegally in Idaho, five environmental groups say in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Western Watersheds Project and others say USDA Wildlife Services has been killing the wolves without legally required determination that the slaughter is justified to protect livestock and increase elk populations. "The agency killed at least 72 wolves in Idaho last year, using methods including foothold traps, wire snares that strangle wolves, and aerial gunning from helicopters," the groups say in the June 1 federal lawsuit. "The agency has used aerial gunning in central Idaho's 'Lolo Zone' for several years in a row — using planes or helicopters to run wolves to exhaustion before shooting them from the air, often leaving them wounded to die slow, painful deaths." Elk hunting in Idaho is managed in 28 elk zones. The Lolo Zone, in north central Idaho, begins at the Idaho-Montana Border and includes part of the Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness, north across the North Fork Clearwater drainage. Twenty-one gray wolves in the Lolo Zone were shot from the air on Feb. 10 this year, bringing the toll 657 wolves killed by Wildlife Services in Idaho since 2006, the groups say. They expect other zones to be added to the slaughter. The program to hunt, trap and kill wolves is the product of a March 2011 Environmental Assessment (EA) and Decision/Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The 2011 EA "claims to evaluate the environmental impact of killing wolves that may have predated upon domestic livestock, as well as expanded wolf-killing meant to boost elk herds," according to the complaint...more

12 defendants seek separate trials in Nevada standoff

LAS VEGAS — Twelve of 19 defendants want separate trials in the federal criminal case in Las Vegas involving southern Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy stemming from an armed standoff near his Bunkerville ranch. The 70-year-old state sovereignty figure and three of his adult sons are among those whose attorneys have filed documents in recent weeks seeking to sever their cases from the rest. All 19 have pleaded not guilty to various conspiracy, obstruction, weapon, threat and assault charges stemming from a gunpoint standoff that stopped government agents from rounding up cattle on public land. They’re charged together in a single 63-page indictment. Bundy attorney Joel Hansen argues in a May 27 filing that a group trial could confuse a jury into finding defendants “guilty by association.” Cliven Bundy didn’t carry a gun, didn’t threaten government agents, wasn’t at the scene of the standoff and “was not in control or in charge of anything,” Hansen said. “It is extraordinarily difficult for a jury to follow admonishing instructions and to keep separate evidence that is rele­vant only to co-defendants.” Attorney Chris Rasmussen, representing Peter Santilli, said in a document filed May 25 that Santilli had a First Amendment right to cover the events at the Bundy ranch for an internet talk show he hosts. The lawyer calls Santilli “a new breed of journalist that offers an alternative news channel” to the public...more

Lyman Appeals Trespassing Conviction

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman has appealed his federal trespass conviction to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. In court documents, Lyman calls his prosecution, ”a modern day witch hunt.” Eighteen Utah counties, including Kane, have filed briefs supporting Lyman. Lyman claims he struck an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management about how far his protest ATV ride could penetrate Recapture Canyon, which has been closed to mechanized traffic for nearly a decade. Lyman said he terminated his ride at that exact spot. A recording of a telephone conversation Lyman had with BLM state director Juan Palma was submitted as part of the appeal. In the recorded conversation Palma allegedly assured Lyman no one would be arrested for the protest ATV ride through Recapture Canyon. Lyman served 10 days in jail earlier this year. He is acting as his own lawyer in the appeals process. link

Black-footed ferrets to return to former Wyoming stronghold

Wildlife officials hope this summer to restore a population of black-footed ferrets to a pair of western Wyoming ranches where the species, for a time believed extinct, was rediscovered in the wild 35 years ago. The 35 ferrets released will be among as many as 220 captive-bred ferrets released in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and Kansas this year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service breeds the ferrets at a facility outside Fort Collins in northern Colorado. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department plans to release its allocation of young ferrets July 26 on the adjoining Pitchfork and Lazy BV ranches in western Wyoming. They live in vast colonies of prairie dogs, upon which they prey and depend on for food. Typically cattle ranchers out West do their best to poison off prairie dogs to prevent pasture damage. That hasn’t been the case lately on the Pitchfork and Lazy BV. There, Wyoming Game and Fish has been experimenting with feeding prairie dogs a plague vaccine and dusting the rodents’ burrows with insecticide. Plague, a disease carried by fleas, is among the top killers of prairie dogs...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1628

Today we have Spade Cooley & Tex Williams with their 1945 recording of Troubled Over You.  The tune is on their 2CD compilation Swingin' The Devil's Dream

Monday, June 06, 2016

EPA Pollutes River, Uses Scare Tactics To Take Control Of A Colorado Town

by Ethan Barton

A decades-long battle between federal environmental officials and a small Colorado town is about to end in the government’s favor, thanks to the agency-caused Gold King Mine spill disaster, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation has found.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representatives have focused intently on Silverton, Colorado since the mid-1990s, accumulating evidence — and sometimes using scare tactics — to persuade residents to drop their opposition to a Superfund designation for the surrounding region.

Residents surrendered to federal demands only after an EPA work-crew turned the nearby Animas River bright yellow for nearly a week by releasing a three-million-gallon flood of acidic mine waste under extremely questionable circumstances in August 2015.

Suspended in the flood was 880,000 pounds of toxic metals, including lead and arsenic, that poured into the river that supplies drinking water for people living in three states and the Navajo Nation. The mine is just upstream from Silverton.

...The disaster was the last straw that convinced locals to reverse their decades-long opposition and allow the EPA to go forward in designating the region for Superfund listing – a designation the agency reserves only for the nation’s most polluted sites.

Once the designation becomes official, EPA will assume vast new powers throughout the region. But EPA has been encroaching on residents’ lives going back to at least 1994, with more than a few memorable episodes along the way.

...How EPA has used Superfund authority against Silverton exemplifies the inability of local residents to resist the federal agency when it is determined to have its way.

The first goal of the Animas River Stakeholders Group that was formed in 1994 to protect the environment from abandoned mines was to “keep CERCLA out.” The EPA not only blocked accomplishment of that goal, it also thwarted local efforts to cleanup the region’s environment.

“It definitely has taken the wind out of our sails,” group official Peter Butler told The Denver Post in May. “It’s uncertain what the Animas River Stakeholder Group’s future will be.”

Swickard column: My time to talk writing

“Storytelling was the first human occupation beyond finding food, shelter and a mate.” Michael Swickard

by Michael Swickard, Ph.D.

 I’ve written weekly newspaper columns much of my adult life. A couple of months ago I published my first novel, Hideaway Hills. This Saturday, June 11th I will be signing my novel at the Coas Bookstore in the Downtown Mall in Las Cruces from ten to noon.
            I am a writer because I love storytelling. Luckily for me over the years I’ve been around many good storytellers. Some were just normal folks with an entertaining way around a story while others are professional storytellers.
            Americans are big on stories as is evident by Hollywood. The best part of being a writer is that whatever is happening to you, it might end up in a story. Example: lightning hit a couple of houses away and went through the cable lines burning out my computer and television.
            I took the dead cable boxes to the local Comcast office. The representative told me they were not going to replace my computer and television. I never even considered it. They said it was an “Act of God.” I said, “So I can quote you.” They nodded. Then I added, “Major corporation Comcast affirms there is a God.”
            Until now it hadn’t made it into a column. As a writer I have lots of scraps of paper with those kinds of oddball thoughts waiting for the right moment. The novel came about because over the last decade I daily took care of my uncle to keep him out of a nursing home. One year ago at age 89 he passed away.
            So from 24/7 care of a relative, especially every night, I suddenly had lots of time. Therefore, I started Hideaway Hills from story ideas I had while living in Lincoln County in the early 1980s. Every day I would write. Then came the happy day a couple of months ago when I typed THE END and set about to publish it which in today’s world is relatively easy.
            Hideaway Hills is the first book in a trilogy about New Mexico. It is set in 1985 in the Sierra Blanca area. People have told me stories all of my adult life. I have used some of them in columns and kept the rest in a box. This book let me use some of those stories.
            For instance: one day in a Lincoln County coffee shop one of the old men who told great stories was asked about the nearby Native Americans. He said, “They’re fine folks though when I was just a button on the Bonita me and three friends were attacked while we were camping. They were shooting at us and we were shooting at them. Then we realized we were running out of bullets.”
            The old man paused and sipped his coffee. One of the youngsters at the table impatiently asked, “What happened?” This old man smiled and said, “Son, the Indians killed us all.” He got up and left to our applause.
            Writing is interesting since once it is published it may last for generations or not. I like that I have captured a time in a small community. None of the characters are real but after a year of writing they seem real to me. I laugh with them and cry with them and in the silence of my head I listen to what they have to say.
            I have been asked how to become a novelist. The answer is easy and the work is difficult. You sit and write every day. Many people have told me of their desire to be a writer. They say they have a story but often they have a vision but sadly do not write it down.
            Augusten Burroughs wrote, “The secret of being a writer is that you have to write. It’s not enough to think about writing or to study literature or plan a future life as an author. You really have to lock yourself away, alone, and get to work.” Amen.
            If you are in Las Cruces Saturday, I’ll be at Coas Bookstore in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall ten to noon. Hope to see you there.

Africanized bees kill two dogs in West Texas, injure owner with more than 50 stings

A swarm of Africanized bees killed two dogs in Midland and injured the dogs’ owner, stinging the man more than 50 times in a frenzied attack. James Roy of Midland went outside to check on his dogs on Thursday and thought the two dogs were fighting, but they were in fact being attacked by a swarm of bees. The two dogs, Susie and Sammy, were stung more than 1,000 times, according to News West 9, and the dogs later died at a veterinarian’s office in Midland. The swarm then attacked Roy, chasing after him as he ran for help. The bees ultimately stung him more than 50 times, the West Texas TV Station reports. A neighbor and some contractors were nearby and helped him by using a water hose to douse the bees on his body. Africanized honey bees, or killer bees, descend from southern African bees imported to the Americas in 1956 by Brazilian scientists trying to breed a honey bee that can adapt better to the South American climate, according to DesertUSA. The website reports these types of bees are super sensitive to noise and vibrations, with some even responding viciously to random triggers, such as stimuli from vehicles, equipment and pedestrians...more

The Many Unreported Dangers of America’s Slaughterhouses

Slaughterhouses, which rank among the most dangerous places to work in the United States, have grown safer in recent years. But there’s still progress to be made: A new report by the Government Accountability Office reveals that many injuries and illnesses sustained by meat and poultry workers go unreported.  Rates of injury and illness among slaughterhouses and processing plants dropped between 2004 and 2013. But much of the data we rely on to track the hazards of the job may be inadequate, the report notes, citing a lack of paid sick leave at some slaughterhouses and processing plants, and efforts to keep workers’ compensation or insurance premiums low. The Department of Labor also only collects injury or illness data when the incident involves days missed from work. Poultry and meat industry workers also often underreport any illness and injuries, for fears of losing their jobs, the report found. “Our findings raise questions about whether the federal government is doing all it can to ensure it collects the data it needs to support worker protection and workplace safety,” the authors of the report write...more