Saturday, June 25, 2016

There Are Now More Bureaucrats With Guns Than U.S. Marines

There are now more non-military government employees who carry guns than there are U.S. Marines, according to a new report. Open the Books, a taxpayer watchdog group, released a study Wednesday that finds domestic government agencies continue to grow their stockpiles of military-style weapons, as Democrats sat on the House floor calling for more restrictions on what guns American citizens can buy. The “Militarization of America” report found civilian agencies spent $1.48 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment between 2006 and 2014. Examples include IRS agents with AR-15s, and EPA bureaucrats wearing camouflage. “Regulatory enforcement within administrative agencies now carries the might of military-style equipment and weapons,” Open the Books said. “For example, the Food and Drug Administration includes 183 armed ‘special agents,’ a 50 percent increase over the ten years from 1998-2008. At Health and Human Services (HHS), ‘Special Office of Inspector General Agents’ are now trained with sophisticated weaponry by the same contractors who train our military special forces troops.” Open the Books found there are now over 200,000 non-military federal officers with arrest and firearm authority, surpassing the 182,100 personnel who are actively serving in the U.S. Marines Corps...more

According to the report, the federal land management agencies spent over $24 million for guns & ammo.

Next Shutdown, Feds Can Take Their Government Guns Home With Them

President Obama on Wednesday signed into law a measure that will allow federal law enforcement employees to carry their service weapon during a government shutdown or other forced, unpaid time off. Obama signed the 2015 Federal Law Enforcement Self-Defense and Protection Act after it cleared the Senate last week. The measure -- which allows federal law enforcement to retain their weapon during any furlough period -- did not receive any dissent in either chamber of Congress. Lawmakers pushed the bill after the 2013 government shutdown left agencies unsure whether law enforcement personnel could carry their official firearm while the employees were sent home. At least three federal agencies forbid their law enforcement officers from carrying their government-issued firearms while on furlough status during the last shutdown, proponents of the bill said...more

Road warrior, champion rider meets family at Rodeo de Santa Fe

Taos Muncy is now riding for four.The 28-year-old saddle bronc rider from Corona, N.M., has seen his life change in oh-so-many ways since he started on the rodeo circuit in the mid-2000s. Where he once was a prodigy, Muncy now is a star on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit, having earned more than $1.5 million and become a two-time saddle bronc world champion. But Muncy is more than just a name that stands apart in a crowded field of cowboys. He is also a father, twice over. The latest addition to the family of Taos and Marissa Muncy was born in May when they welcomed Shooter Muncy to the world. His family was at the Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds on Friday night, as Taos Muncy made his annual appearance at the 67th Rodeo de Santa Fe. It was the one day Marissa, Shooter and daughter, Marley Muncy, could see him as he continued his road trip that will hit roughly 50 to 60 rodeos over the summer as he maintains his perch among the sport’s best riders in his chosen event. .. Still, Muncy knows that when the calendar hits June, he won’t see much of home for a while. In the past week, he and his team of four cowboys traveled from Reno, Nev., to Pecos, Texas, to Springville Ark., to Santa Fe. Moments after he rode Double Valley to an 80.50 score that topped the leaderboard at that point in the saddle bronc competition, Muncy and his group hopped into his van and took off for Reno again, where Muncy led that rodeo earlier this week. He’s making up for lost time since Shooter’s birth. Even with the late start to his season, Muncy is 12th in the PRCA saddle bronc standings with more than $25,000 won so far. He said he will be on the road for the most part until August, and then … “I’ll be home for the rest of the year,” Muncy said with a smile...more

Billion dollar Gila diversion off the table

This week the state agency in charge of building a controversial diversion on the Gila River has reined in earlier – and costlier – plans for capturing the river’s water. The agency’s decision might mean good news for project critics who feared its environmental consequences and high cost. But many questions remain around how much money the state has to build the project, the location and scale of the diversion, and who would buy the water once it’s built. At a meeting on Tuesday, the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity, or NMCAPE, directed its engineering contractor to continue studying only those projects that would cost $80-100 million to build. That’s how much funding New Mexico anticipates receiving from the federal government to develop water from the Gila and perhaps its tributary, the San Francisco River. With that vote, the NMCAPE officially rejected earlier large-scale plans, including one with an estimated billion dollar price tag. By tamping down the budget, the board also acknowledged that the project will be smaller – and not one capable of delivering all 14,000 acre feet of water the state has rights to under federal law...more

Friday, June 24, 2016

House Republicans Chastise Interior Department for Ethics Issues

House Republicans repeatedly attacked the Interior Department Thursday as having "a culture of corruption" because of numerous instances of ethics violations and sexual harassment allegations. "There is an overwhelming amount of disturbing information the Inspector General has delivered in the last few weeks," Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., said during the meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee's oversight subcommittee. Misconduct allegations have been reported in the National Parks Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, to name a few. The committee has expressed concern that the Interior Department isn't taking action quickly enough against employees involved in the misconduct. Steve Guertin, deputy policy director for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said at the hearing that his agency recently terminated Stephen Barton, a top official in the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. The IG's office had found that Barton failed to disclose outside employment at an organization that receives funding from the agency. He also used more than $90,000 to fund trips to Washington, his reported place of residence, from his actual residence in Idaho. The Office of the Inspector General will refer cases of misconduct it believes warrant criminal prosecution to the Justice Department. The committee took issue with the fact that the Justice Department decided not to prosecute 17 of 29 criminal cases presented by the IG's office. Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall noted there were fewer than 80 investigators in her department, which limits her ability to address "more systemic issues within the department and its bureaus."...more

Feds Won’t Prosecute Gov’t Employee Quietly Taking Money From A Lobbying Group

A U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service (FWS) employee was caught secretly working for a prominent environmental lobbying group while also working for the government, according to an Interior Department inspector general investigation. Stephen Barton did not disclose being on the payroll of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) from 2004 to 2014, earning more than $377,000 during his last six years with the eco-group. During Barton’s time at FWS, the agency awarded WAFWA about $3 million in taxpayer grants. Surprisingly, the U.S. attorney’s offices in Eastern District of Virginia and the District of Idaho both declined to prosecute Barton despite evidence he lied to Interior Department officials about taking a salary from WAFWA. “This investigation determined that Barton received income from WAFWA each year between 2008 and 2014, with the largest amount being $109,242.74 in 2013,” the inspector general reported Monday.
“Records revealed that Barton did not disclose his WAFWA position or salary in any of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) financial disclosure reports that he submitted to FWS in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015,” the IG reported. “According to WAFWA records, Barton was paid a total of $377,363.18 between 2008 and 2014.” Barton also admitted to “using a Government office phone, cellular phone, and email account, along with Government office space, to perform WAFWA business,” according to the IG. He also signed federal grant applications on behalf of WAFWA using the name of another group officers — remember, WAFWA got about $3 million from taxpayer during this time. But that’s not all. The IG’s office also found Barton booked more than 100 flights between 2011 and 2015 on the taxpayer’s dime to Boise, Idaho where his wife lived — even though he was supposed to be working in Washington, D.C. Those trips cost taxpayers $96,087...more

Interior Lab Forced To Close After ‘Disturbing’ Data Manipulation

Nearly two decades and $108 million worth of “disturbing” data manipulation with “serious and far ranging” effects forced a federal lab to close, a congressman revealed Thursday. The inorganic section of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Energy Geochemistry Laboratory in Lakewood, Colo. manipulated data on a variety of topics – including many related to the environment – from 1996 to 2014. The manipulation was caught in 2008, but continued another six years. “It’s astounding that we spend $108 million on manipulated research and then the far-reaching effects that that would have,” Rep. Bruce Westerman said at a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing...more

Bluegrass Patriarch Ralph Stanley Dead at 89

Bluegrass music pioneer and Grand Ole Opry star Ralph Stanley died Thursday (June 23) at his home in Coebun, Virginia, at age 89 following a long battle with skin cancer.

Initially recognized as the high-tenor, banjo-picking half of the Stanley Brothers bluegrass act (1946-1966), Stanley went on to build a distinguished and honor-filled career as a vocal stylist and leader of the Clinch Mountain Boys band.

His stature as an American musical treasure grew enormously following his appearance in the soundtrack album for the 2000 Coen Brothers movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? The album earned him the first two of his three Grammy awards.

Ralph Edmund Stanley was born Feb. 25, 1927 in Stratton, Virginia, not far from the Kentucky border. He learned the basics of banjo picking from his mother and much of his intensely forlorn singing style from the Primitive Baptist Church his family attended. He and his 2-year-older brother, Carter, were also drawn to the high harmony, acoustic string band music of Grand Ole Opry titan Bill Monroe.

Both brothers were called into military service near the end of World War II. Carter was discharged first, and when Ralph returned home in 1946, the two began performing as the Stanley Brothers, first at radio station WNVA in Norton, Virginia, and soon after at the more powerful WCYB in Bristol, the border town that straddled the state line between Virginia and Tennessee. Over the next few years, the Stanleys starred in radio shows in Raleigh, North Carolina; Shreveport, Louisiana; Huntington, West Virginia and Versailles, Kentucky.

The Stanley Brothers began recording in 1947 on Rich-R-Tone Records. Those early sessions produced their first regional hit, “Little Glass of Wine.” From 1949 to 1952, they recorded for Columbia, where they created such classics as “The Fields Have Turned Brown” and “The White Dove.”

The Stanley Brothers produced some of their finest music during their 1953-1958 stay at Mercury Records, a period during which Ralph’s high tenor voice became increasingly prominent. The brothers’ only Billboard hit — the novelty “How Far to Little Rock” — came in 1960 when they were signed to King Records.

After Carter died in 1966, Ralph took command of the Clinch Mountain Boys and installed teenager Larry Sparks as the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist. In the years that followed, Stanley drafted into his band and mentored such major talents as Roy Lee Centers, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Charlie Sizemore and his son Ralph II.

Stanley toured and recorded relentlessly, often racking up as many as 250 concerts and two albums a year even in the twilight of his career. He not only became a favorite on the bluegrass festival circuit but also established his own annual Memorial Day gestival in 1970. Plagued by declining health, he made his last stage appearance at the 2016 festival.

...The singer and banjoist was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014 in a class that also included actor and director Al Pacino, novelists John Irving and Annie Proulx, cartoonist Jules Feiffer, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and oceanographer and discoverer of the Titanic, Robert Ballard.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1642

Mi Amigo Tick says he was born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas, so he requested Oklahoma Hills by Hank Thompson be a part of Hank Week.  The Woody Guthrie tune was recorded by Thompson in 1961.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

How about a robot helper on the farm?

You’ve heard about UAVs – better known as drones – but what about a UGV? That’s an “unmanned ground vehicle,” and Milrem and Leica Geosystems recently announced the debut of what it says is the first UGV for off-road use, giving it possible applications in the agriculture industry, including surveying, security and monitoring. The Pegasus:Multiscope and Pegasus:Two models can follow a pre-programmed route, detect disturbances and take thermal imagery. It is also easily able to cross potentially dangerous or difficult areas. Kuldar Vaarsi, CEO of Milrem AS, says farmers and ranchers could potentially use UGVs to collect real-time data on large-scale operations. Orchards and vineyards could use it to check ripeness of fruit, as one example. Or, row-crop farmers could more smartly monitor field drainage, he says. It supports a variety of attachments, such as a snow blade, fork lift or spray tank...more

I guess now we'll have drones spying on robots.
John Deere robots are next.
Is this what Baxter Black and Julie Carter will be writing about in the future?

Judge refuses to overturn Oregon grazing plans

A federal judge has rejected environmentalists’ arguments that grazing along Oregon’s Sprague and Sycan rivers unlawfully harms bull trout habitat where the fish doesn’t live. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke has held that grazing plans for 10 federal land allotments comply with the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws. Several ranching families, who had intervened in the case to defend the grazing plans, are relieved by the judge’s ruling, said Scott Horngren, an attorney with the Western Resources Legal Center, who represented them. “An adverse decision would have been very disruptive and harmful to their grazing plans this year,” Horngren said. If the judge had found the grazing plans were unlawfully approved, the environmental plaintiffs likely would have sought to curtail grazing at a time when the ranchers are preparing to release cattle onto public land, he said. Horngren noted that ranchers already face restrictions on grazing duration and grass stubble height, among other factors. “This isn’t uncontrolled grazing,” he said. Last year, Oregon Wild, Friends of Living Oregon Waters and the Western Watersheds Project filed a complaint against the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approving the grazing plans in the Fremont-Winema National Forest...more

Ponce de Leon left future Clay County cattle ranchers a gift

When Calusa Indian warriors attacked Ponce de Leon and his settlers in 1551, they hastily decamped leaving behind a tiny herd of cows and a bull or two from the mountainous Andalusian region in Spain and cattle have been a significant part of Clay County and Florida history since then. For decades, those tough little Spanish cows almost raised themselves reproducing steadily while wandering free wherever forage took them. Roundups in the spring meant hard work branding calves and separating out those for sale and getting them to market. Overhead was low and productivity high. Florida’s climate produces lush growth of vegetation to support cattle but it also provides the perfect environment for both diversity and profusion of insects. Horseflies were a curse for man and beast alike. Locals tell of seeing cows huddle together and whip their tails for protection both from swarms of horseflies and mosquitoes. But the Texas tick invasion on the horizon would prove a different matter.  Florida ranchers, ever an independent bunch, were not initially convinced that the Texas tick was a problem or that the new scientific solution of dipping cattle in arsenic was the answer. They particularly resented Tallahassee’s compulsory dip law passed in 1923. In Central Florida, 15 dipping tanks were blasted out of the ground with dynamite. Clay County ranchers did not go to that extreme, they just dragged their heels until it became clear that it was going to cost them more not to cooperate. Georgia installed two lines of four-strand barbed wire fence, 15 feet apart for 200 miles from the Chattahoochee River to the St. Marys River. They stationed armed patrols every 20 miles along the Georgia side and threatened to shoot to kill. No cow could be transported into the state unless it was dipped and certified. Quickly other states endorsed the quarantine – that got their attention. Between 1910 and the 1950s the state government built more than 3,000 dipping vats in Florida. Thirty-eight of those were in Clay County. A vat was made of concrete three feet wide, seven feet deep and 30 feet long. It was filled with a solution in a formula prescribed annually by state authorities then bid, purchased and distributed to the sites. All livestock were to be dipped every two weeks...more

Wyoming beef reaches Canadian markets coast to coast

Cody beef producer Wyoming Authentic Products continues to expand its foreign market reach thanks to a Canadian tradeshow the company has attended the past two years. Wyoming Authentic Products met sales brokers in 2014 and obtained over 100 customer leads in 2015 at the Canadian Health Food Association East trade show in Toronto. Buyers were impressed with the company’s line of high-quality steaks, jerky and beef sticks. Company owner and founder David Fales — a fourth-generation Wyoming rancher — expects sales derived from the show to top $100,000. Wyoming Authentic Products’ expansion into Canada arrives on the heels of the company’s arrival in 7-Eleven stores throughout Florida. The new markets bolster an existing customer base in 40 other states. According to Jessi Larsen, Wyoming Authentic Products’ quality assurance manager, Wyoming Authentic Products is dedicated to providing the highest quality. “We realize that to provide the best product, we must treat the means to our product with utmost care,” she said. “Although we believe that cattle should be used for a source of delicious meat, we feel strongly that the live animal ought to be treated with dignity and respect.” To that end, Larsen said the company only uses “carefully handled cattle” from ranches that have been specially audited by the WBC. In order to pass the audit, ranchers must meet benchmarks as set forth by the Wyoming Beef Council Quality Assurance Program. These benchmarks indicate assessment of several different parts of animal handling and husbandry, including proper and adequate nutrition, properly maintained livestock facilities (fences, chutes, etc.), access to appropriate shelter for environmental conditions, proper animal health practices, proper handling of animals during movement, and humane management practices...more

Another apparent wolf sighting in California brings delight, fear

One of the most revered predators in North America — the big, bad wolf — has been spotted in Lassen County, the latest in what appears to be a steady procession of the wild canines crossing the Oregon border into California, giving hope to wildlife advocates and striking fear in ranchers. Over the past year, four trail cameras captured photographs of what appears to be a lone male gray wolf in the rural county of roughly 31,000 people in northeastern California. If confirmed, the wolf would be the ninth documented in the state, a strong indication that the carnivores are finding good habitat in the Golden State, where the species was exterminated more than 90 years ago. “It’s a very good sign that we continue to have more visitors in the state that hopefully will stay here,” said Amaroq Weiss, the West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “California is in the infant stages of hopefully wolf recovery. It’s very exciting. Each one of these individual animals that comes into the state is important.” The California Department of Fish and Wildlife took the four photos at different times between August and May, and in one case collected a hair sample. DNA tests were inconclusive, though, meaning the animal could be a dog or wolf-dog hybrid. Wildlife experts, however, believe the creature is the celebrated Canis lupus because it remained in the remote woods through the winter, an act of endurance that would be nearly impossible for your average Fido...more

Utah militia leader planned to bomb US-owned cabin, FBI says

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal authorities say a Utah militia group leader with ties to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has been charged with trying to blow up a federally owned cabin in rural Arizona. Prosecutors say in charging documents Thursday that 57-year-old William Keebler planned anti-government actions to retaliate against federal grazing restrictions on ranchers. Authorities say Keebler went to the cabin Tuesday with militia members and undercover FBI employees. The bureau says an inactive explosive was placed against the door and Keebler was handed a remote detonation device that he pushed several times. He was arrested Wednesday in Utah. Keebler doesn’t yet have a listed attorney but is scheduled to make a court appearance Thursday. The FBI says Keebler was at Bundy’s ranch during a 2014 armed standoff with federal officials over unpaid grazing fees.  AP
Terrible, off and on internet connection.  Hope to start posting later today.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1641

Today on Hank Week we have Hank Locklin - Baby, You Can Count Me In.  The tune was recorded in Nashville on June 25, 1954. Tomorrow, stay tune for a special Hank Thompson request.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Federal Court Strikes Down BLM Fracturing Rule

In the latest rebuke of the Obama administration’s expansive view of executive power, a federal judge has struck down the Interior Department’s effort to regulate fracking for oil and natural gas. Judge Scott Skavdahl of the District Court of Wyoming already had put a hold on the regulations last year, and in a decision released late Tuesday, he ruled that Congress did not give Interior the power to regulate hydraulic fracturing, indeed it had expressly withheld that power with some narrow exceptions. “Congress has not delegated to the Department of Interior the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing,” Judge Skavdahl wrote in deciding a lawsuit brought by industry groups and a number of Western states. The “effort to do so through the Fracking Rule is in excess of its statutory authority and contrary to law.” The judge dismissed particularly the claim by the Interior Department and its Bureau of Land Management that it had inherent broad regulatory authority to pursue the public good on federal and Indian lands, the only place the regulations would have applied. “Congress‘ inability or unwillingness to pass a law desired by the executive branch does not default authority to the executive branch to act independently, regardless of whether hydraulic fracturing is good or bad for the environment or the citizens of the United States,” wrote Judge Skavdahl, whom Mr. Obama appointed to the bench in 2011.  Washington Times

 What refreshing language to come from the pen of a federal judge.  Just savor the following:

[The Supreme] Court consistently has given voice to, and has reaffirmed, the central judgment of the Framers of the Constitution that, within our political scheme, the separation of governmental powers into three coordinate Branches is essential to the preservation of liberty.

A federal agency is a creature of statute and derives its existence, authority and powers from Congress alone. It has no constitutional or common law existence or authority outside that expressly conveyed to it by Congress.

Although the Secretary asserts FLPMA delegates to BLM broad authority and discretion to manage and regulate activities on public lands, nothing in FLPMA provides BLM with specific authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing or underground injections of any kind; rather, FLPMA primarily establishes congressional policy that the Secretary manage the public lands under principles of multiple use and sustained yield. ...At its core, FLPMA is a land use planning statute. administrative agency's power to regulate in the public interest must always be grounded in a valid grant of authority from Congress.

...the Court holds the Fracking Rule is unlawful, and it is ORDERED that the BLM's final rule related to hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands, 80 Fed. Reg. 16,128 (Mar. 26, 2015), is hereby SET ASIDE.

The above is from a judge appointed by Obama!  Astonishing.

And given the court's differentiation of planning and regulating, one must wonder what other programs this may affect.

Federal-lands ranching: A half-century of decline

by Tay Wiles and Brooke Warren

One of the prime drivers of the 45-year-old Sagebrush Rebellion, the movement to take control of public lands from the federal government, is the sense that rural Western ranchers are bullied by forces beyond their control. That narrative remains compelling, in part because it’s true. Since the 1950s, the ranching industry has been battered by market consolidation, rising operational costs, drought and climate change. Meanwhile, the amount of grazing allowed on federal lands has dramatically fallen. Bureau of Land Management livestock authorizations dropped from over 18 million animal unit months in 1953 to about 8 million in 2014.

Political rhetoric often blames the decline entirely on environmental regulation. But while the 1970s legislative changes have had an impact, there’s a more complex set of forces at work. The market for materials like lamb and wool fell after World War II, for example. Urban development became a factor as the feds sold off land to private buyers. Feedlots proliferated, squeezing smaller ranchers out of the market, and grazing fees rose. Then the advent of range science — which aims to use a coherent scientific method to determine how much grazing the land can sustain — changed everything.

You may not agree with their thesis on why the decline has occurred, but go to the link above for very interesting maps and charts on the decline, including one which shows the decline by each administrative district.

US To Mexico Pipeline: Unfinished Business In Ranch Lands Of West Texas

By  Lorne Matalon

MARFA, Texas---Six landowners in west Texas have won a series of awards totaling in the millions of dollars against a company building a controversial natural gas pipeline. A seventh case was adjudicated in favor of the company. The landowners are part of a group of approximately 40 people or landholding entities that are contesting compensation offers from Trans Pecos Pipeline, LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas.

The pipeline has been designated by state regulators as a "common carrier," meaning it will transport, in this case natural gas, for any natural gas producer willing to pay for the service. 

 With "common carrier" status comes the notion that a given project is in the public interest. With that designation comes legal power of eminent domain, the power to seize private land. Companies that exercise that power are obligated to pay compensation to affected landowners in recognition, in this instance, of the change to their lands that construction and installation of a 143-mile pipeline implies.

...Project supporters say local governments will earn millions in property taxes paid by the pipeline company and that the state’s natural gas producers will gain access to a new market during a natural gas glut. Additionally, the small Texas town of Presidio has said previously it will attempt to use the arrival of natural gas on the border to attract industry.

It is against that backdrop six landowners have rejected what they believe are offers that fail to adequately compensate them for the negative environmental impact that construction of a natural gas pipeline using 42 inch diameter piping will have on working ranch land. None interviewed for this story suggested the project can or will be stopped.

But they reason that does not mean they should not be fairly compensated.

Jeanne Simpson is one of the six. "I received this $18,000 offer and was told I had a week to accept it," she said as we rode in her truck across the Barreno Ranch where generations of her family have lived since the 1880s. 

...Simpson and five other landowners rejected the company’s compensation offers. So the company took the landowners before a Special Commission in early June in the west Texas town of Marfa. The commission awarded six landowners a total of around 30 times what the company had offered. 

...In her case, the offer to Simpson of $18,000 was amended and raised by the commissioners to close to $700,000. Another landowner who was offered $16,000 was awarded close to $500,000. Another was offered $33,000 and received close to $1 million.

"My immediate goal is to receive fair compensation for the damage that's going to be done to my ranch," Simpson said.

...In 2011, Austin attorney Bill Christian won a rare victory for landowners opposing another pipeline. But in an example of the energy industry's power in Texas, the pipeline company was still allowed to build while its appeals went through the courts. That case will be heard by the state's Supreme Court this Fall. With respect to this case, Christian said the pipeline will be built.

"In terms of the ultimate result of having a pipeline running across their land, that's still going to happen," he said.

...Back at Barreno Ranch, rain is falling and hailstones dance on a metal shed.
The downpour is welcome in a land where drought ruins lives. Jeanne Simpson said she often thinks of the generations of family who have lived here and endured nature's challenges in a rugged, hauntingly beautiful landscape.

"I owe their memory some courage," said Simpson.

Republicans give more regulatory power to EPA?

Given these recent headlines:

 Interior Appropriations Bill addresses EPA-funded billboards attacking agriculture

Senate spending bill trims EPA spending, blocks regs - Udall opposes

Spending bill blocking EPA regulations heads to the House floor

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

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

EPA, Army Corps of Engineers Violate Law, Oppress Farmers in California and Elsewhere, Farm Bureau Tells Congress

Why would a Republican Congress give us this headline?

EPA gets new powers to regulate toxic chemicals

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1640

Up next on Hank Week is Hank Penny - Someone Moved The Ladder.  The tune was recorded in Nashville in November of 1947 and is available on his CD Hillbilly Be-Bop, The King Anthology

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

With Cliven Bundy In Jail, BLM Moves To Reassert Authority Over Disputed Land

The federal Bureau of Land Management has announced it plans to return to work, clean up and access the Gold Butte region near Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch for the first time since Bundy and his brigade led a standoff against BLM officials in 2014. "Due to safety and security concerns, BLM employees have not conducted field work in the Gold Butte area in northeastern Clark County since early 2014. With the support of the local community, BLM officials have determined that the conditions are now right to resume work," a release from the agency stated. "BLM archaeologists, law enforcement officers, and local agency leadership have all visited the area over the past month." The list of to-dos for the BLM include "assessing the damage to cultural heritage sites," which may have been damaged after the standoff or related illegal grazing in the area. The BLM will also be "partnering with the National Park Service on critical repairs to communications infrastructure" and conducting road maintenance...more 

And this Salt Lake Tribune article notes:

The release says BLM Director Neil Kornze was among a group that visited the popular Whitney Pockets area — on the eastern edge of Gold Butte next to Virgin Mountain — where some of Gold Butte's distinctive red sandstone formations had been vandalized and a felled Joshua tree had caught the attention of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who shared a photo on the Senate floor. The group saw evidence of overgrazing and trampling by cattle, the release said.  Reid has called for President Barack Obama to use his executive powers to designate the Gold Butte area a national monument.

If Obama were to designate it as a national monument, what do you think the grazing language will say?

VIDEO - ‘For the Record’: The Growing Danger of Life on the Border

Ranchers who live near the southern border of the United States say they’ve seen dramatic changes to the area they call home over the past decade. The flow of illegal immigrants north from Mexico across their properties, which once consisted almost exclusively of poor workers looking for a better life, now includes large numbers of criminals and drug cartel smugglers. For the Record traveled to New Mexico to see evidence of the cartel invasion of the United States. You can see the full story in “Forsaken Land.” It’s available on-demand at

 This For The Record Short is with the Elbrocks in Hidalgo County, NM:

After years in the making, FAA rules will clear way for routine flights of small commercial drones

After years of struggling to write rules that will both protect public safety and free the benefits of a new technology, the Obama administration is on the verge of approving routine commercial use of small drones. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to announce as early as Tuesday the creation of a new category of rules for drones weighing less than 55 pounds (25 kg). The long-anticipated rules will mean drone operators would be able to fly without special permission. Currently, they have to apply for a waiver from rules that govern manned aircraft, a process that can be time-consuming and expensive. Since 2014 the FAA has granted more than 6,100 waivers and another 7,600 are waiting for approval. Many more small companies have been using drones without FAA permission, say industry officials. Unless those operators make a serious mistake that brings them to the FAA’s attention, there is not a lot the agency can do to track them down. The new rules will provide an easier way for those businesses to operate legally. The rules also will effectively lift the lid on flights by other potential operators who have held off using the technology — real estate agents who want bird’s eye videos of properties, ranchers who want to count their cattle and a multitude of other businesses...more

USCA encouraged by New Mexico governor's outreach on water, ESA issues

Following the producer-driven success of the non-listing of the greater sage grouse, the United States Cattlemen’s Association remains actively engaged on issues concerning species and livestock interaction. USCA is encouraged by a recent visit from New Mexico Gov. Susan Martinez’s to local producers in order to discuss solutions on both water policy issues and endangered species concerns affecting the state. Recently, Gov. Martinez, State Water Engineer Tom Blaine, State Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte and Director of Game and Fish Alexa Sandoval met with New Mexico producers to discuss the ranching community’s concerns regarding the listing of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse as an endangered species and associated water use concerns that result from critical habitat designation. USCA Public Lands Committee Chair Bert Paris commented on the issue, “USCA encourages Gov. Martinez and state officials to continue the conversation, and involvement, of the livestock sector on issues affecting both public and private land users. New Mexico’s current concerns regarding the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse are similar to those of the greater sage grouse and lesser prairie-chicken. We are confident that there are ways to protect critical habitat without limiting livestock watering, nor affecting private water rights. “Through working together on the ground, knowledgeable parties can develop solutions that balance these multiple interests. Successful conservation of species habitat starts with on-the-ground users, including ranchers. However, it is difficult to create solutions that fit each impacted sector when working in an office far removed from the issue. Through hard work and cooperation, we are confident a solution can be reached. It is critical that people not only work together, but that they do so with an objective of reaching solutions that work for both habitat and land users...more

Learning center says it’s ‘penned in’ after NM Supreme Court decision on pueblo road dispute

The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled that it is “settled federal law” that Indian tribes enjoy immunity from lawsuits, even when access to what had been a public road is at issue. The doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity “is a wholesale bar to suit against a tribe in New Mexico for any relief — be it monetary, declaratory or injunctive,” the high court held in an opinion issued last week. The doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity “is a wholesale bar to suit against a tribe in New Mexico for any relief – be it monetary, declaratory or injunctive,” the high court held in an opinion issued last week. The ruling has left Hamaatsa, Inc., an Indian-run, nonprofit learning center with a farm that offers indigenous story camps and other programs in Sandoval County, with no way in or out of its property adjacent to San Felipe Pueblo, said Hamaatsa’s Deborah Littlebird. She said that, Monday afternoon, cattle-guard gates across a disputed access road had been locked. “We are trapped in here like wild animals,” Littlebird said. “They just penned us in.” Hamaatsa’s 320 acres is next to land that the federal Bureau of Land Management conveyed to the pueblo in 2001. In the conveyance, the BLM reserved a 40-foot-wide easement along an existing road for “full use as a road by the United States for public purposes.” But, in 2009, San Felipe notified the nonprofit that it had no right to cross pueblo property and that use of the road was trespassing. In filing suit, Hamaatsa said the land crossed by the road had belonged to the BLM since 1906 and the road had been a public road since at least 1935. Hamaatsa said the road provides its only access. The pueblo asserted sovereign immunity, but both District Judge John F. Davis and the Court of Appeals refused to dismiss the suit. The appeals court said San Felipe offered no evidence “of any property or governance interests whatsoever in the road or that the road, concededly a state public road, would threaten or otherwise affect its sovereignty.” If simply asserting sovereign immunity constituted grounds for dismissal, the appeals court maintained, a pueblo could acquire any land crossed by a public road and “immediately deny the motoring public and all neighboring property owners access.” But the Supreme Court said the “unequivocal precedent” of the U.S. Supreme Court is that the only exceptions to tribal sovereign immunity are congressional authorization and a tribe’s own waiver of immunity. The argument that the doctrine deprives Hamaatsa of legal recourse isn’t sufficient, the state Supreme Court said. “We commiserate with the less-than-ideal situation Hamaatsa now finds itself in,” the opinion written by Justice Barbara Vigil said. But, she added, “The beneficial aspects of tribal sovereign immunity in advancing the welfare and self-sufficiency of Indian tribes demand its application in all cases where Congress does not otherwise provide.”...more

New Mexico teen paralyzed after bullfighting accident

MAXWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – His dream was to be in the rodeo. But a 17-year-old New Mexican is now in the hospital, paralyzed, after a devastating accident doing what he loved.  Jeremiah Gouin lives for the rodeo. He was even training to be a rodeo clown. “He’s one of the guys that saves the rider when they come off the bull,” said Shane Sena, Gouin’s Cousin. But Memorial Day weekend, the 17-year-old from Las Vegas was at a rodeo clown training in Maxwell when something horrible and unexpected happened. “Everybody knows that it’s a pretty bad accident,” said Sena. Sena said his cousin was trying to distract a bull away from a rider who had fallen, when the animal charged him. “From there, they brought him to UNM and they gave us a report that he broke seven of his eight vertebrates on his neck,” said Sena. Sena said his cousin is still in the hospital and was told he would never walk again. “It’s hard I mean, it’s shocking to see a kid that young, just lying there helpless,” said Sena. His family said the teen still has a long road ahead, but they all remain hopeful that he’ll walk again some day. They’ve started an online fundraiser for his recovery...more

Mystery Fiction Features Western Culture and Morality in the Nineteenth Century

Book author Andrew Burch presents a book that is heavily influenced by his deep interest in Western culture and concept of morality in the 19th century. Cactus Jumpers is a fiction that tells the story about the mysterious murder of a woman in the peaceful town of Emerald, California. With the help of a town minister and a group of nonconformists, Marshal Mason Boydette strived to solve the mystery. Along the way, they discovered the existent yet hideous political power struggle between the head of the Rancher’s Association and a local business tycoon who owns almost half of the town. The book is heavily inspired by classic Western trope. Kirkus Reviews states, “The book succeeds in developing a strong sense of place that evokes Bonanza and John Wayne movies… A traditional Western that embraces the clear division between right and wrong, the role of the hero, and the power of redemption…” Burch focused predominantly on character development. He spent enough time to foster each character’s back story while improving the physical and emotional interaction between. As the story progresses, he integrated moral lessons in the plot and setting. Moreover, Burch advises readers that even if they don’t like westerns, they won’t regret reading Cactus Jumpers. His faith statement is, “I believe that if you read the first 30 pages of this novel, you will want to read more.” release

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1639

Let's have a Hank Week.  First up is (I Wished Upon) My Little Golden Horseshoe by Hank Snow.  The tune was recorded in Nashville on October 22, 1950.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Archaeologists petition Obama for monument

FARMINGTON — How a 1.9 million-acre parcel in southeast Utah dotted with archaeological and historical sites is managed has been a source of contention for years. Now, with less than one year left of Barack Obama’s presidency, multiple groups have petitioned him to declare the land — known as the Bears Ears region — a national monument. The latest push comes from a group of more than 700 archaeologists who have signed a letter to the president asking him to create a national monument if Congress does not pass a bill adequately protecting the area’s fragile archaeological sites. The monument proponents cite looting and vandalism as a reason to create the national monument. But San Juan County (Utah) Commissioner Phil Lyman argues that those issues are minimal, considering the large amount of land involved. Archaeologist Bill Lipe said he wants to see the region protected, whether through national monument designation or through congressional action. Two congressmen have drafted a bill to protect 1.1 million acres in the Bears Ears region. The main difference between the proposals is that the draft bill works to balance economic development and preservation while the monument status would be more oriented toward preservation, Lipe said. “Either approach would be better than what’s out there now,” he said...more

Woman played dead during bear mauling at Valles Cadera

A marathon runner from Los Alamos played dead after getting mauled by a mother bear protecting one of her cubs Saturday in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. “I have a fractured right orbit from the mean left hook,” victim Karen Williams wrote in a Facebook post late Sunday night. “I’m missing parts of (my) eyelid and eyebrow, injury to the belly of my left bicep and a lot of punctures and lacerations. But I am alive.” The attack occurred in the mid-afternoon as Williams crossed Redondo Meadow about 23.5 miles into the marathon portion of the Valles Caldera Runs, she wrote. She was “coming up a little rise just before that terrible off-trail uphill,” Williams wrote. “There was some sort of seep or pond or mucky area at the top of that little hill and when I topped it a bear was charging me.” The bear was too close to do much of anything, she wrote. “She was about 15 (feet) away,” Williams wrote. “I raised my arms and yelled ‘NO!,’ then saw the cub. Then I was on my ass and being raked with claws and bitten. I cried out in pain and Mama bear did not like that so she hit me with a left hook and bit my neck and started to try to shake me. I rolled into a ball and played dead.” The cub had scampered up a tree, and the bear went to check its offspring...more

Kiefer Sutherland Discusses the Appeal of ‘The American West'

Denny Gentry introduced me to Sutherland at a team roping in Albuquerque. He seemed like an ok guy, and he certainly has some interesting things to say in this interview.

by Kimberly Potts

AMC’s new docu-series The American West details the stories of American legends like Jesse James, Wyatt Earp and Sitting Bull, who factored heavily into the development of the country during the period between 1865 and 1890, the time frame the Robert Redford-produced miniseries covers.

The network couldn’t have chosen a person more passionate on the topic than actor and musician Kiefer Sutherland, who narrates several segments throughout the eight-part series.

Sutherland, the Young Gun whose iconic 24 character Jack Bauer is arguably the modern pop culture cowboy, talked to Yahoo TV about growing up in Canada and idolizing American Westerns; the very personal reasons why he loves the lifestyle of the American West; his rodeo days; how his next TV project, ABC’s buzzed-about drama Designated Survivor, has its own Western themes; and how his affinity for Westerns and great storytelling led him to his new career as a songwriter and singer (his debut album, Down in a Hole, will be released in July, and his first single, “Not Enough Whiskey,” is available now).

You recently starred in the Western Forsaken with your dad. You’ve done several other Western-themed projects. What draws you to this genre?I think there’s a kind of innocence that we perceive about the West. You were either good or you were bad. Certainly from a storytelling point of view, the American West has provided this incredibly vast canvas. Then the things that were dealt with in the West were perceived to be very simple: The West provided untold opportunity, and it was where men and women could survive by their wits and their strengths, or peril by their weaknesses. It kind of was the beginning of the personification of the American dream, that if you had the fortitude and courage to go forward, you could stake a claim and make a name for yourself. I think in a world that has become infinitely, or at least perceivably, more complicated, there’s something very refreshing about being able to tell a story that is seemingly that black and white, like many of the Westerns that I grew up loving, Shane, Red River … those stories were, in fact, that simple.
You talk in this Saturday’s episode of The American West about Jesse James and his gang. What are some of your favorite true-life Western tales?Certainly with Jesse James, you can go to a film like The Long Riders that explained from their point of view everything they had suffered through with regards to the Civil War, and that terrible divide in this country’s history, and their desire to live outside the fold. As a Canadian, I have to say it’s a very different perspective than I [had] growing up. Someone once tried to define how you would say Canadians are different than Americans. When you take a look at America, certainly in the late 1800s going into the early 1900s, into the industrial revolution, Americans growing up would buy the dime store novels of the American outlaw, whether that was Billy the Kid or Jesse James. There was a real outlaw spirit that helped define the American West. Having grown up in Canada, all of those dime store novels were about the Canadian Mountie. There was no Canadian revolution against the British. There was an American one. I think it was a way of articulating that American spirit and that American love of the people who go outside of what are maybe legal parameters to try and decide for themselves what they think is right or fair. Jesse James and the Youngers certainly fall into that category.
You’ve also competed on the rodeo circuit. You’re about to release your country music album. Is it fair to say that you have an affinity for the Western lifestyle?I do, for a variety of different reasons. I was a team roper and a calf roper, and the team roping was what I would compete in. My understanding of the rodeo is something that is very different than maybe someone from New York City who would watch it on television. I grew up with my mother, a single mom. She raised myself, my sister and my older brother really on her own. I am always amazed when I look back on how little money my mom had, how well fed we were. And when I started doing the rodeo, I realized through the history of the rodeo that there were farms and ranches in the West that would come together and help at very specific times, through hay baling in the summer seasons, branding, cattle delivery. They came and worked together because it was really the only way they could survive. One of the things the rodeo did, and how the rodeo was born, was you would have four or five ranchers come together, and they would do the brandings together. Then the cowboys in these impromptu competitions would show advancements they had made in learning how to break horses, learning how to rope, etc. At the heart of the rodeo, they were learning these skills.
The truth is that America figured out how to feed itself before any other large nation. I really attribute that to the skill of the American cowboy and ultimately translate it into my life in the early ‘70s that my mother, on a very, very little budget, could feed us meat in a way that really you couldn’t do in any other country. I really attribute that fact to the skills and know-how of everything that the American cowboy learned from the beginnings of the rodeo even up until now. Just for that reason alone, to kind of see that impact they had on a national level, working from a series of small ranches in Nevada, New Mexico and Utah, that’s pretty impressive to me. That was the beginning of that mattering to me...more 

Here's The American West trailer with Sutherland:

Interior Appropriations Bill addresses EPA-funded billboards attacking agriculture

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, recently applauded the Senate Appropriations Committee for advancing the Fiscal Year 2017 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill which contains language he sought to halt the misuse of Environmental Protection Agency federal grant funding that supported an advocacy and public relations campaign with the sole purpose of denigrating agriculture. At issue was an advocacy campaign, funded in part by a $20.5 million EPA grant, by the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission in Washington state. The campaign included billboards and a website attacking agriculture and urging state lawmakers to increase regulation over the agricultural industry. The use of federal funds in this instance is not only inappropriate, but may be in violation of federal government lobbying restrictions. The bill directs EPA to update its federal grant guidelines to ensure accountability: “within 90 days of enactment, the agency is directed to update its grant policies, training and guidelines to ensure federal funds are not used in this manner, including an update of the mechanism by which the agency tracks the use of its grants, and to provide the committee with a copy of its updated grant policies, training and guidelines.” The bill also contains other provisions important to farmers, ranchers and rural America supported by Chairman Roberts to block costly and burdensome regulations such as EPA’s Waters of the United States final rule and attempts by the Fish and Wildlife Service to reassess the listing status of the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act...more

Cattle grazing reintroduced to Forest Service land

After a five-year respite, cattle grazing will resume this month on about 43,000 acres in the Upper Hermosa and Elbert Creek areas of the San Juan National Forest. Up to 200 cattle are allowed to graze from mid-June through mid-October each year based on a 2009 decision for the Hermosa Grazing Environmental Impact Statement. The EIS permits grazing in the Forest Service’s Upper Hermosa, Elbert Creek and Dutch Creek allotments. Traffic delays are expected Saturday on Hermosa Park Road (Forest Service Road 578), where cattle will be unloaded and trailed to federal lands behind Purgatory Resort. On June 26, more cattle will be unloaded behind the Needles Country Store on U.S. Highway 550 and moved along the Elbert Creek Trail into the second allotment. Matt Janowiak, district ranger, said the five-year break from grazing on the allotments is owed to a number of factors, including the permitting process and the 2012 drought. “We didn’t feel like we needed to push cattle on the allotments any sooner,” he said. In 2015, San Juan National Forest collected $124,562 in grazing fees, which counted for about 16 percent of fees collected that year. The most current Forest Service records show about 43,000 cattle are permitted or authorized to graze about 1.1 million acres of San Juan National Forest lands. Forest Service officials said cutthroat trout recovery, fishing and water quality were considered in the decision to reintroduce cattle on the two parcels, and measures are in place to protect nearby watersheds, such as Elbert Creek...more

Former "Amazing Race" contestants running for Oklahoma Legislature

Two former “Amazing Race” contestants are in a new kind of competition: a race for the Oklahoma Legislature. Jet and Cord McCoy, brothers and ranchers from southeast Oklahoma, are running for seats in the state Senate and House. The two brothers gained popularity after competing in three seasons of “The Amazing Race,” finishing as high as second place in the reality TV show. Jet, 36, is a Republican from Ada campaigning for Oklahoma Senate District 13. Cord, 35, lives in Tupelo and is a Democratic candidate for State House District 18. Both McCoys are running their campaigns on the back of communication, common sense, decision-making ability and character, the brothers said. “I feel like Jet and I went three times around the world with 30 million people watching of how we could have messed up, how we could have made the wrong decisions, been bad examples for Oklahoma,” Cord said. “It's not like we've been behind closed doors at the Capitol. Our lives have been opened up and shown to the rest of the world how we really are and how we react and the decisions that we make in the spur of the moment.”...more

Current estimated wild horse population reportedly exceeds AML by more than 40,000

Controversy in Southern Utah, including here in Iron County, continues over the number of wild horses on public lands. According to the Bureau of Land Management website, the BLM manages, protects, and controls wild horses and burros under the authority of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (as amended by Congress in 1976, 1978, 1996, and 2004). This law authorizes the BLM to remove excess wild horses and burros from the range to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands. To promote healthy conditions on the range, the BLM determines what it calls the Appropriate Management Level (AML), which is the number of wild horses and burros that can thrive in balance with other public land resources and uses. Wild horses and burros that exceed AML (currently 26,715) are to be removed from the range, in accordance with the 1971 law, as amended. The current estimated on-range wild horse and burro population (as of March 1, 2016) is 67,027, a 15 percent increase over the 2015 estimate of 58,150. That means the current west-wide on-range population exceeds AML by more than 40,000. The BLM's finding is that wild horse and burro herds double in size about every four years. Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators, thus the reason the herd continues to grow. The BLM states that the population of off-range (unadopted or unsold) wild horses and burros maintained in holding facilities is more than 45,000 as of May 2016. Current estimated wild horse population reportedly exceeds AML by more than 40,000..Ranchers are asking the government to apply the same regulations to the wild horses that pertain to cattle on the various ranches and open ranges...more

Fruit and vegetable industry feeling heat of anti-GMO attacks

The Clif Bar Family Foundation started a website called, which promotes organic food using organic seeds, and it criticizes what it considers “industrial agriculture.” Its spokesman is Mr. Seed, a profane cartoon seed character who tells of the dangers of pesticides, GMOs and big agriculture. “Too many times conventional agriculture takes the white hat approach while food companies like Chipotle and Clif strike with negative retorts in the form of videos and cutting words,” said Randy Krotz, CEO of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, an agriculture advocacy group funded mostly by the beef and dairy industries. The agriculture producers that make up farmers and ranchers alliance need to battle emotion with emotion. The same is true of fresh produce. Whether it’s soothing consumer fears about GMOs as they become more prevalent in the produce department or trying to raise overall consumption, produce marketers have to win an appeal to emotions because that’s how consumers decide what to eat. link

Bear responsible for attack on Valles Caldera marathon runner caught; euthanized

JEMEZ – New Mexico Department of Game and Fish conservation officers tracked and killed an adult female black bear that attacked a woman Saturday afternoon while she was participating in a marathon event on the Valles Caldera National Preserve near Los Alamos. The bear is to be transported to the state Veterinary Diagnostic Services center for necropsy. State law requires any wild animal that attacks or bites a human be euthanized and tested for rabies which is spread when an infected animal scratches or bites another animal or human. Although it is rare, rabies is nearly 100 percent fatal if not properly treated. “It is regrettable when a wildlife encounter results in human injuries and requires we euthanize the animal,” said Department Director Alexandra Sandoval. “We are thankful that the injuries sustained by the victim were not worse and are hopeful that she is able to recover quickly.” The bear was located not far from where the attack occurred and matches the information given by the victim. The bear was part of a study involving wild bears and was collared with a GPS tracking device which helped Officers confirm the bear’s location at the time of the incident. Officers are confident they caught the right bear...more

HT/Marvin Frisbey

Feds: Energy
 biggest player,
 rec growing

Recreation is a growing contributor to the economic benefit created by activities managed by the Interior Department, but extraction of oil, gas and coal continues to be the big player in that regard, even with falling commodity prices. That’s the case both nationally and in Colorado, according to an Interior report released Friday. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell this week particularly highlighted the role lands such as national parks play economically as President Obama headed west late in the week for visits to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico and Yosemite National Park in California. Altogether, the report estimates that activities managed by Interior supported about $300 billion in economic output and 1.8 million jobs nationally during the 2015 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30 of last year. Recreation, including visits to national parks, wildlife refuges, Bureau of Land Management lands and other lands managed by the department, supported about $45 billion in economic output and nearly 400,000 jobs, the report says. That’s up from about $42 billion in fiscal year 2014, as recreation visits in fiscal year 2015 totaled 443 million, an increase of 20 million. Nationally, national parks alone attracted a record 307 million visits last year, 4 million more than the previous year, Jewell told reporters this week in a teleconference. “And this year, 2016, is shaping up to be even higher” for park visits, she said...more

This report, and the timing of its release, helps justify Qbama's vacation in national parks.  It also is aimed at the Appropriation committees in Congress.  Unfortunately, it also provides the rationale for individual Congressmen to add more units to the system.  Its been working well with the local chamber of commerce types.  If only our whole nation were a National Park, just think how prosperous we'd be.

First Family's National Parks Vacation Highlights Obama's Environmental Push

It's not just a vacation as the first family heads out for a long weekend at Carlsbad Caverns and Yosemite National Park. President Barack Obama is hoping to lead by example as the White House tries to encourage families to explore national parks and announces another step to make visiting easier. The visit comes at a time when the century-old National Park Service faces two very series issues: climate change and budget cuts. "Climate change is the single biggest threat to parks and resources," Christy Goldfuss, managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters on a conference call Thursday. conic sites like Ellis Island and the Statute of Liberty could be at risk if sea levels rise and it could cost $40 billion dollars over the next century to deal. Warmer winters are increasing bark beetle infestations at Yellowstone and are killing trees and could eventually destroy forests. Plus, the National Forest Service is also using up 52 percent of its $5,073,246,000 budget to fight forest fires which, some studies show, are exacerbated by climate change...more

Interior chief warns 70,000 employees: Sexual harassment is ‘completely out of line with our values’

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell sent a warning to 70,000 agency employees last week to “comply with the ethical responsibilities expected of all Federal employees” and said she is troubled by reports of sexual harassment in the National Park Service. The unusual email came a day after Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis was lambasted by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill for his response to allegations of sexual harassment at two parks. Lawmakers accused Jarvis — who has been embroiled in his own ethics scandal — of a slow response to what they called a culture of harassment and said they suspect the problem is widespread. The email, obtained by The Washington Post, also refers to other misconduct and lapses in judgment disclosed by the Interior Department’s watchdog. In a report released last week, Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall found that a researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey committed scientific misconduct and data manipulation that affected two dozen research projects worth more than $100 million. But the Park Service’s sexual harassment cases have drawn the most attention from the public. A high-profile investigation by Kendall’s office released in January documented evidence of a long-term pattern of harassment and a hostile work environment at the Grand Canyon, where boatmen and a supervisor pressured female colleagues for sex on long river trips, bullied them, then retaliated against some who rejected their advances or reported the problems, investigators found....more

Roping the sky: Casper holds first drone rodeo

On Saturday, the Casper Air Modelers is teaming with the Casper Sports Alliance, hosting the first Western States Drone Rodeo. “Drones are becoming real popular, obviously. So we wanted to try and hold an event that would expose people to an organized side of the hobby,” said Josh Nelson, president of the Casper Air Modelers. “Also, (we’re) trying to get rid of the stigma that (drones) are dangerous and causing all kinds of problems. If used in a responsible manner, they’re just a lot of fun.” This is the first drone-related event hosted by the Casper Air Modelers, whose outdoor course near the Casper Events Center is mainly reserved for model airplanes. The event will feature obstacle courses, races and more. The idea came from John Giantonio, director of the Casper Sports Alliance....more