Friday, July 22, 2016

GOP platform supports transferring western public lands to states

The newly approved Republican platform expands the party’s support for turning over federal lands to the states — creating a new flashpoint in the presidential campaign. The call for sweeping land transfers comes largely from Republicans in Oregon and other western states with huge tracts of federal forests and grasslands. They have long argued that the federal government is a poor land manager that puts too many restrictions on logging, ranching and mining. But critics say it would damage the environment, and they frequently demonize the idea by saying it’s aligned with the kind of sentiment that led to the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. “It caters to the worst elements out there,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It’s out of touch with mainstream America.” The sweeping proposal comes as the Republicans are nominating a candidate, Donald Trump, who appears to have major doubts about the idea. He criticized one of his rivals, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, for embracing the idea during the Nevada caucuses in February. One of Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr., was more explicit in a June appearance hosted by Forsburgh’s group. “This is where we’ve probably broken away from a lot of the traditional conservative dogma on the issue, in that we do want federal lands to remain federal,” said Trump Jr., an avid hunter who frequently advises his father. The younger Trump added: “That’s not to say that the states shouldn’t have a larger role perhaps in managing some of those lands.” Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., speaking to the same group on behalf of Hillary Clinton, said the presumptive Democratic nominee “doesn’t believe we should be selling public land. She’s been very straightforward about that.” The new language in the platform, approved Monday, states: “Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to states. We call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands, identified in the review process, to all willing states for the benefit of the states and the nation as a whole. The residents of state and local communities know best how to protect the land where they work and live.” The language is stronger and more sweeping than it was in 2012. Donna Cain, an Oregon member of the Republican National Committee and a member of the platform committee, said the intent is to encourage major land transfers. “The states are going to take better care of the land,” said Cain, arguing that the federal government is particularly failing to actively manage its timberlands...more

Mojave Desert at stake in far-reaching federal energy plan

In its final months, the Obama administration is racing to complete a far-reaching environmental initiative that could forever alter one of the wildest places left in California. A giant energy plan for the Mojave Desert attempts to reconcile two contradictory goals: fast-tracking big solar and wind installations across 10 million acres of public lands to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change, and preserving the region’s natural beauty and ecological integrity. Solar and wind developers say they will need broad expanses of public land to build their big installations. But scientists say those large-scale developments will permanently scar the desert landscape, destroy native plants and wildlife, and, to top it off, may not do for the environment what they were intended to do. More than seven years in the making, the joint state-federal Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan is driven by President Obama’s promise to install 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy on federal land, and by the state’s ambitious new effort to get half of California utilities’ electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The administration’s goal is to deliver the equivalent of nearly a quarter of California’s current electrical generating capacity. That’s enough to provide power to 3.28 million homes, according to solar industry estimates...more

Fossil Fuel Industry Finds a New Way to Stymie Protests

Much has been said about the pros and cons of online activism, but when it comes to keeping fossil fuels in the ground, having protesters on location during leasing auctions has been key in recent years. This tactic could soon be rendered obsolete if the fossil fuel industry, along with many in Congress and the federal government, get their way and make oil and gas leasing auctions exclusively online affairs. Earlier this month, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed a bill that would require lease sales for offshore oil and gas drilling to be held online. At the same time, the Obama administration is helping to shift onshore public lands auctions online after years of unwelcome confrontation with environmental activists—the most familiar of these being a 2008 act of civil disobedience by Tim DeChristopher during an oil and gas drilling rights auction in Utah. DeChristopher entered the auction and started winning bids to drilling rights on more than 150,000 acres of publicly owned Utah wilderness. After winning more than a dozen leases worth more than $2 million—leases he never planned to pay for—DeChristopher was eventually sentenced to two years in federal prison for criminal fraud. The media attention his actions brought to the issue helped make oil and gas leasing one of the main confrontation points between environmentalists and the Obama administration throughout Obama’s time in office. Tim Ream, Climate and Energy Campaign Director with WildEarth Guardians, told me that Obama’s “public lands and energy policies completely undermine his climate policy.” “The administration doesn’t like us shining a light on Obama’s biggest climate failure,” he said. “That’s what we do at auctions.” Ream said that since last November, “Keep It In The Ground” protesters—a campaign to protect public lands from drilling—have been at every public lands and waters fossil fuel auction trying to raise awareness for the cause and pressure the administration. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), one of the authors of the bill to mandate online auctions for offshore oil and gas leases, said the primary reason for his bill is to “modernize” the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s offshore leasing process. “Internet-based oil and gas leasing will open investment opportunities and competition for additional businesses, improve the transparency and efficiency of the process,” he said during a legislative hearing...more

Nebraska cattle rancher heads Trump’s ag council

Little is known yet about Donald Trump’s new agriculture and rural area task force, but the agriculture industry met its national chairman on Wednesday at the Great American Farm Luncheon in Cleveland. Charles Herbster is the owner of Herbster Angus Farms and The Conklin Company, in Falls City, Neb., and has been a personal friend of Trump’s for more than a decade, according to his company website. Herbster considered entering the 2014 Nebraska gubernatorial race as a Republican, but chose against it a year before because his wife was recuperating from heart surgery, according to Ballotpedia. In an interview with KWBE, a Nebraska radio station, Herbster said that after defeating Hillary Clinton, his biggest focus would be rural development, eliminating the “death tax,” growing the economy and re-negotiating trade deals...more

EPA chief: US, negotiators nearing new emissions deal

International officials, including the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), say they’re nearing a deal to reduce the use of a refrigerant chemical and potent greenhouse gas. During a round of meetings in Vienna on Thursday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said negotiators are closing in on an international agreement to reduce the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs, used in air conditioning and refrigeration, have climate change potential far greater than carbon dioxide. Officials say an agreement to reduce the use of HFCs — something McCarthy said Thursday is “a huge loophole right now, frankly, in the international effort to address climate change” — would help prevent 0.5 degrees Celsius of warming around the globe by 2100. “We are seeing all countries coming into this meeting with an incredibly positive and collaborative energy level,” McCarthy said at a press conference Thursday morning. “There is no country that appears to be standing on the sideline in this discussion.”...more

'Security Cows' Will Guard This Hawaiian Cannabis Farm

To keep his licensed medical cannabis crop safe, Hawaii farmer Richard Ha is going beyond the security measures — surveillance cameras, an alarm system — mandated by the state. He’s hired cows. Security cows. It’s not quite what neighbors had in mind when they asked whether guards would patrol the grounds of his new grow site, one of the first to be awarded a state license. But Ha believed that armed guards would do more harm than good. “We’re not going to have armed guards,” he told his neighbors, “because we’d end up shooting ourselves.” Enter the cows. The grow site for Ha’s medical cannabis venture, Lau Ola, sits on a 40-acre plot lush with branches and undergrowth — ideal camouflage for burglars. The cows, he says, will act as enormous bovine lawnmowers, clearing brush and increasing visibility. “We know cattle ranchers,” Ha said. “It’s a win-win for us and them. They get to raise their animals, and we don’t have to do the weeding and maintenance, grass-cutting and things like that.” Ha knows the cows aren’t exactly watchdogs. So to up the intimidation factor, sometimes Ha refers to the cattle as “wild bulls.” He even plans to post signs to that effect...more

GAO says feds should strengthen federal-land methane accounting

The Interior Department needs to take numerous steps to improve the way it measures methane emissions from oil and natural gas wells on federal land, a watchdog report found. The Government Accountability Office found numerous problems and inconsistencies in the instructions the Bureau of Land Management gives to companies to report their methane emissions. “As a result of these limitations, Interior may not have a consistent accounting of natural gas emissions from onshore federal leases, and does not have the information it needs to reasonably ensure it is minimizing waste on these leases,” the report said. For example, around 90 percent of the requests that companies submitted to deliberately vent or flare gas did not meet the agency’s standards for documentation, though most were approved. Furthermore, the BLM offices have inconsistent policies regarding whether companies should pay royalties for the vented or flared gas...more

Cowboy heritage still strong in Grant County

The National Day of the Cowboy, celebrated annually on the fourth Saturday of July, will be observed this year on July 23. The day is dedicated to celebrating the hard work and cultural contributions of cowboys. Although there is not a major organized observance of the holiday in Silver City this year, there are still plenty of regional cowboys who appreciate a special day of recognition has been set aside for them. Many Grant County residents still proudly embrace and perpetuate the area’s western heritage. The National Day of the Cowboy is a time to remember those who have worked to maintain the traditions and legacy of cowboy, ranching and western culture. The Silver City area, like all of New Mexico, is steeped in the colorful and often turbulent history of the American west. The expansion of the American frontier into New Mexico resulted in cowboys and other settlers from diverse locations and backgrounds settling in Grant County and shaping its history. One group that helps keep cowboy culture alive in Grant County today is the Southwest Horseman’s Association. Their annual rodeo brings an influx of rodeo competitors, fans and vendors to the area. “The National Day of the American Cowboy commemorates the rich legacy of our country and cattle ranchers,” said Kim Clark, president of the Southwest Horseman’s Association. “For many, the local rodeo is the only place they get to experience the excitement of the Old West. The Wild Wild West Pro Rodeo and its predecessor, the Grant County Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo, work diligently to host a local rodeo each year to honor the American cowboy, as well as to celebrate the enduring spirit of our western heritage.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1665

Yesterday's tune was from 1977.  Wasn't much else in the top 50 that I cared for, except good ol' Mel Tillis with I Got The Hoss.  The tune is on his 1977 album Love's Troubled Waters.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Grand Canyon Trust adapting cattle grazing to climate change

A new climate change adaptation plan from the largest grazing leaseholder on the Kaibab National Forest will help the Forest Service accelerate its own work on local climate change goals, according to the forest’s climate change coordinator. The plan, released this week, was created by the nonprofit Grand Canyon Trust, which holds grazing leases on 830,000 acres of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land north of the Grand Canyon. It calls the area the North Rim Ranches. Since it acquired the grazing permits in 2005, the Trust has practiced conservation-oriented livestock management and promoted collaborative science and restoration on the land. The climate change adaptation plan aims to help the Trust create a more sustainable operation into the future, said Ed Grumbine, land programs director with the Grand Canyon Trust. The document projects that by mid-century, the North Rim Ranches will see up to a 5.6-degree increase in average annual temperature and as much as a 19-millimeter decrease in average annual precipitation. It identifies certain areas and resources most vulnerable to those climate changes and then suggests strategies to help the ecosystem adapt. For land managers on the Kaibab National Forest, the Trust’s plan brings climate change to the “front and center” of the conversation, said Ariel Leonard, the Kaibab’s forest planner and climate change coordinator. The Trust has already begun working on one of the adaptation plan’s recommendations that calls for surveying springs across the landscape and prioritizing them for restoration based on their vulnerability to climate change. Grumbine said other plan-related work he could see happening in the near term would build off the Trusts' previous research about prescribed burning and forest thinning as well as the use of native grass and specific grazing practices to reduce the spread of invasive cheatgrass. The next step, he said would be to use climate modeling to figure out the places most in need of forest treatments or cheatgrass reduction based on their climate change vulnerability...more

The Grand Canyon Trust has long been active in the various buy-out proposals and in acquiring grazing leases.  But what is the real agenda behind this global warming stuff?

The nonprofit’s work also provides an opportunity and an impetus for the Forest Service to test out climate-conscious grazing management strategies for future use on a larger scale, Leonard said...

...Many if not all of the actions proposed in the Trust’s plan require the cooperation of federal agencies, and it's better that way, Grumbine said.Many of the document’s recommendations align with a climate change checkoff list the Kaibab already has developed, Leonard said. That list includes reducing energy and fuel usage and planning projects that anticipate climate change impacts and make ecosystems more resilient to them.What makes the Trusts’ plan unique, however, is that it lays out a specific prescription for climate change adaptation that the local Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management offices have so far failed to develop, Grumbine said. He said he hoped the Trust’s work might provide a model or an impetus for the federal agencies to develop something similar. "I'd like to see it as a spark," he said.

It's a spark alright, designed to use climate change/global warming as the impetus to limit or restrict livestock grazing in the southwest, based upon "climate modeling".   Best be keeping an eye on this one.

21 Year-Old Travis Cox Becomes 9th Refuge Occupier To Plead Guilty

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupier Travis Cox on Wednesday became the ninth defendant to plead guilty to charges that he conspired to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs. Prosecutors recommended Cox serve eight months of home detention for his role in the occupation. They also said they would like him to receive credit for the two months of pretrial detention he already served. U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown, who’s overseeing the trial, has ultimate say over Cox’s sentence. He’ll appear before Brown in December for sentencing. “You’ve capped your exposure,” Brown told Cox as the proceeding came to a close. “It’s critical that you don’t do anything between now and sentencing to jeopardize it.” Cox is the ninth person to plead guilty in the case. Defendants Eric Flores, Geoffrey Stanek, Wesley Kjar, Corey Lequieu, Jason Blomgren, Brian Cavalier, Blaine Cooper and Ryan Payne have all pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge...more.

Business Coalition profiles Caren Cowan

Business Highlight- The New Mexico Stockman magazine

Caren Cowan was born in Arizona to a family that has been in the ranching business since 1884. She attended the University of Arizona where she obtained one of the first ever degrees in agricultural communications in 1975.

In 2003 her book, No Home on the Range, the diary of an executive cowgirl was published. In 2009 she purchased the New Mexico Stockman magazine and the Livestock Market Digest, a monthly newspaper. Based in Albuquerque, these monthly publications reach more than 40 states.

Not only does the Stockman contain NMCGA news and items of interest to the ranching and agricultural community, it also covers the issues that are impacting all New Mexicans. Topics like water, private property rights, wildlife, endangered species and much more are covered by the magazine. Past and current issues of the Stockman and the Livestock Market Digest are available - see below for contact information.

Caren currently serves as the Executive Director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association in 1997 and the New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc. 1990. She is active in legislative, regulatory and litigation issues ranging from the Roundhouse in Santa Fe to Capitol Hill. Caren is also involved in numerous organizations and activities through New Mexico and the West.

Advertising space and subscriptions are available by calling 505.243.9515 ext 21, via email at or on the web at

NMBC is proud to profile these hard working New Mexicans and the great businesses they run providing jobs, products and services that improve the quality of life for all New Mexicans.

Agreement protects Arizona's cut of Colorado River water, for now

California and Nevada won't be able to take any of the water that Arizona has been storing in Lake Mead at least through the end of this year, a top U.S. Interior Department official said this week. In a letter to U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor wrote the department won't release any water that one of the three states in the Colorado River's Lower Basin has left unused in the lake "without the consensus of all three Lower Basin States. . ." Flake had been pushing for such a commitment for some time, and trying to get it inserted into legislation. The Interior Department and the other two Lower Basin states had opposed putting it in legislation. But Connor agreed to commit administratively to keeping the water stored in Mead. His letter was sent to Flake on Tuesday. Connor wrote in his letter to Flake that the department hopes that its current commitment will help clear the way for a multi-year agreement among the Lower Basin states to come up with solutions for the lake's declining levels. Such an agreement would require the three states to take large enough cuts in river water to prevent the lake from falling far enough and fast enough to require much more severe cutbacks. The three states are currently negotiating a draft agreement in which Arizona would cut its CAP use by up to 600,000 acre-feet, or 40 percent of the project's total supply, when the lake drops to 1,025 feet below sea level. The other states and the reclamation agency would take smaller cuts. In his letter to Flake, however, Connor repeated his past warning that if an agreement isn't reached, "it appears clear that additional actions, including potentially by the Secretary of the Interior, will be required to protect the basin from the adverse consequences of worsening drought and declining reservoir storage."...more

Lawyers Make Millions Off Taxpayers, Endangered Species Act as Ranchers Try to Live With Rare Bird

by Kevin Mooney 

Feathers are flying over whether the federal government is overprotecting a rare bird in Colorado, in what critics grouse is an example of lawyers making millions while abusing the Endangered Species Act.

Trial lawyers who collect taxpayer-funded fees under the law file so many suits that they undermine local conservation efforts in Western states, according to government officials, industry advocates, and legal analysts familiar with the situation.

In Colorado, the situation prompted Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, to sue the Obama administration early last year.

Over 25 years, Colorado officials spent more than $40 million to preserve the habitat of a paunchy, ground-dwelling, chickenlike bird known as the Gunnison sage grouse.

Colorado officials worked in partnership with ranchers in Gunnison County, who voluntarily entered into conservation easements on their property that protected the bird while allowing for robust ranching activities.
In the past few years, the Gunnison sage grouse population not only has stabilized but increased in the part of southwestern Colorado where they’re concentrated, local government figures show.

Even so, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service saw fit to list the species as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in November 2014.


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day 1664

We move forward to the seventies with Emmylou Harris and her wonderful cover of the Carter Family tune Hello Stranger.  The tune is on her 1977 album Luxury Liner

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ryan Bundy's 15-foot 'escape plan' comes up short

Ryan Bundy told a judge that the braided bedsheets, extra food and clothes that deputies found in his jail cell in April weren't part of any escape scheme. That's probably for the best. His 15 feet of makeshift rope wouldn't have gotten him too far down the nearly 228-foot-tall Justice Center building that holds the maximum-security jail. "It's a high-rise tower, so it's not insignificant," said Multnomah County Sheriff's Office spokesman Steve Alexander. Breaking out of the maximum security jail and scaling down the building would be a considerable feat, Alexander said. At a hearing on Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Barrow said prosecutors believe Ryan Bundy tried to escape from the detention center on April 8. Deputies found 12 to 15 feet of braided sheets hidden under Bundy's mattress, as well as a chair, two strips of torn sheets, extra towels and pillowcases and extra food and clothes in his cell. Bundy said he was just a rancher trying to practice braiding rope...more

Committee hears from USFS on Meadow Jumping Mouse

ALAMOGORDO – State legislators gathered to listen to both sides of the Meadow Jumping Mouse issue and discuss the impact on the ranchers at the Tays Center Thursday. A group of local ranchers went before the state Legislature's Water and Natural Resources Committee to discuss their side of the issue. "For us, the fences have impacted our operation," said Kelly Goss, of the Sacramento Grazing Association. "They are situation directly across from the pins...the proximity does not allow us to work the cattle and prevents them from encroaching on the enclosures. The electric fences take up a larger area that what we were told they were going to." Another concern Goss discussed was water access. "The federal government has been taking our water for years without due process," she said. "Temporary is never temporary, as we've seen over the years. The federal government is going to continue to take more water in the future. It's going to be difficult in the spring and impossible in the fall to work our cattle. We have continually stated that we must have full use of the Penasco Trap in the fall." Goss said the U.S. Forest Service has stated it is their intent to impede the flow of water in order to spread it out and create habitat. "This is a diversion of water under New Mexico state law," Goss said. "This water belongs to the Sacramento Grazing Association, not the Forest Service."...more

GOP platform proposes turning EPA into a commission; sue & settle; land transfers

The Republican Platform 2016 offers a fresh plan for an old GOP target: it calls for converting the EPA into a bipartisan commission. As Pro's Alex GuillĂ©n writes, the platform says that air and water has been getting cleaner over the last few decades, and that trend will continue with no further regulatory action. Republicans are proposing a "modern approach to environmentalism ... We propose to shift responsibility for environmental regulation from the federal bureaucracy to the states and to transform the EPA into an independent bipartisan commission, similar to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with structural safeguards against politicized science."  Stopping work on climate change: The platform also calls for an end to most of the Obama administration's work on curbing climate change. It demands an "immediate halt" to funding for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, including the Green Climate Fund, which is intended to help poorer nations stave off the effects of climate change. The platform opposes "any carbon tax," and it says the party "will do away" with the Clean Power Plan. It also dings renewables, notably leaving solar and wind out of a key sentence: "We support the development of all forms of energy that are marketable in a free economy without subsidies, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, and hydropower." Wind and solar get the party's backing only when funded through private capital. Ending 'sue and settle': The platform also calls for the end of what it calls the practice of "sue-and-settle" litigation, which is when "environmental groups sue federal agencies whose officials are complicit in the litigation so that, with the taxpayers excluded, both parties can reach agreement behind closed doors. That deceit betrays the public’s trust; it will no longer be tolerated." The lawsuits are typically brought by environmental and public health groups to force the agency to meet statutory deadlines. And so much more: Republicans also call for a streamlining of permitting for power transmission lines, and they'd like to revise the National Environmental Policy Act, the law that requires environmental reviews for those projects. And the platform seeks to drastically reduce federal property holdings, calling for transferring "certain federally owned land" to the states...more

Ranchers have held up their end of wolf bargain

By Todd Nash and Rusty Inglis

Oregon’s ranchers want to set the record straight on wolves.

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and the Oregon Farm Bureau Federation opposed wolf reintroduction from the beginning, knowing the toll it would take on our livestock producers. Nevertheless, the ranching community worked with environmental groups and state regulators and agreed to the conditions of the Oregon Wolf Conservation & Management Plan in 2005. This cooperation came at a significant expense to producers who expended resources to reduce the risk of attack on their animals.
The wolf plan has worked. In fact, it worked extremely well. State wolf populations have exploded since reintroduction, with a 36 percent increase in 2015 alone, bringing Oregon to a population of 110 wolves and 11 breeding pairs.

To put this in perspective, the threshold in the plan for consideration for removing wolves from the state’s list of endangered species is four breeding pairs for three consecutive years. Populations are currently well above that level.

Ranchers worked hard to live up to their obligations in the plan. Unfortunately, instead of doing the same and applauding Oregon’s rural communities for their efforts in promoting wolf recovery, Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild and out-of-state environmental litigation groups have once again filed a lawsuit — this time over a decision that in no way impacts wolf management in Oregon.

This is what these groups don’t want you to know: Delisting does not change current wolf management or conservation requirements for wolves. Wolf management is governed by the wolf plan, which is up for review this year. Wolves in Oregon have always been and remain one of the best-protected species in the state, and their population will continue to increase.

This begs the question: Why are environmental activist groups suing on the delisting decision? In short, they want to use this lawsuit to force changes to the Wolf Conservation & Management Plan. And these groups want these negotiations to take place in confidential settlement discussions instead of through a public forum.

We believe that the public discourse of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, the legislative process and the upcoming Wolf Conservation & Management Plan review are the correct places for these important decisions. Private settlement negotiations that cut out the public and policymakers from the discussion and subvert transparency most decidedly are not.


Herbert fully backs Bishop lands bill after aide suggested setting it aside

Gov. Gary Herbert says he fully backs legislation by two Utah congressmen to preserve parts of the Bears Ears region as a top Herbert aide attempted to clarify comments he made that there might be a better solution. Cody Stewart, Herbert's policy director, spoke at a public meeting in Bluff on Saturday about efforts to protect millions of acres in southeastern Utah and suggested that it might be worth setting aside both the proposal of a national monument, as well as legislation by Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz to preserve some areas and open others to development. There might be another option, he hinted. "We have four or five months," Stewart, a former Bishop aide, told the crowd. "We can do it." The comments suggested that perhaps the governor's office wasn't fully on board with the Public Lands Initiative, a bill three years in the making that had originally sought to bring all sides together to find consensus on setting aside parts of the region for protection and openly other swaths for development. But Herbert this week rejected any notion of starting over — "heavens no," he said — and that the legislation introduced last week is the best path forward...more

Navajo Council members support Bears Ears coalition in Washington

On July 6, Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates, Council Delegate Davis Filfred, and Council Delegate Walter Phelps accompanied the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition delegation to meetings in Washington D.C. to continue petitioning the Obama administration to designate the Bears Ears area as a national monument. "We had several productive meetings this past week, and were able to share with high level federal officials why the Navajo Nation firmly supports a Bears Ears National Monument designation," Filfred said. He represents the majority of Navajo Utah chapters...more

President Obama, make Bears Ears a national monument

A desert landscape not far from here called Bears Ears could be the most historically significant site in the United States that most Americans have never heard of. Spread out over 1.9 million acres in southeastern Utah are tens of thousands of cliff dwellings, ceremonial “kivas,” pit houses, granaries, towers and rock art panels, along with countless pots and other artifacts of the first Americans going back more than 10,000 years.

Bears Ears represents the most important and intact array of unprotected cultural resources on federal land. And those resources are increasingly at risk — from looting, vandalism, off-road vehicles, grave robbing and the occasional carelessness of visitors. Assigned to patrol and protect this huge area are two full-time rangers.

Named for two buttes rising dramatically from the desert landscape, Bears Ears is especially important to the Indian tribes and pueblos of the Southwest that trace their ancestry to the area and the ancient sites it contains. Twenty-six tribes support protecting lands within Bears Ears, and some of them — led by the Hopi, the Ute Mountain Utes, the Zuni Pueblo, the Navajo Nation and the Ute Tribe of Unitah and Ouray — have formed an unprecedented Inter-Tribal Coalition to advocate the permanent protection of their ancient and sacred homeland.

The coalition emphasizes its deep spiritual connection with Bears Ears, “where tribal leaders and medicine people go to conduct ceremonies, collect herbs for medicinal purposes, and practice healing rituals stemming from time immemorial. . . . Our relationship and visits to Bears Ears are essential for healing, and ruining the integrity of those lands forever compromises our ability to heal.”

There is virtually unanimous agreement on the unique cultural significance of Bears Ears — there is nothing else in the country even approaching it — yet there is no agreement on the need to protect it. 

Why These Rare Species Are Targeted by the GOP


While fights over convention rules and the authenticity of Melania Trump’s speech have dominated the headlines, this week's Republic National Convention is also the party’s time to debate and approve a new platform. And this year, among discussion of immigration, terrorism, and the economy is a section on the environment and endangered species.

The GOP's platform calls out three species in particular: the sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chicken, and the gray wolf, saying:

"There is certainly a need to protect certain species threatened worldwide with extinction. However, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) should not include species such as gray wolves and other species if these species exist elsewhere in healthy numbers in another state or country."

The main objection to species conservation is that it might cost money in the short term and limit property rights. "To upset the economic viability of an area with an unneeded designation costs jobs and hurts local communities," the statement says. (Check out our voter guide on climate and energy.)
The platform adds, "over the last few decades, the ESA has stunted economic development, halted the construction of projects, burdened landowners, and has been used to pursue policy goals inconsistent with the ESA—all with little to no success in the actual recovery of species."

But there are over 2,200 species listed by the ESA. The three singled out in the GOP platform embody the conservative arguments against protections.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1663

Johnnie & Jack and the Tennessee Mountain Boys figured it out over 50 years ago with Country Music Has Gone To Town.  The tune was recorded in Nashville on August 20, 1960 for RCA Victor.  The Westerner

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

1957: John Prather Loads Guns, Awaits Next Move

Bill Montgomery
El Paso Times -
Deputies Fail To Get Rancher Off Range Area

Prather’s Ranch, N.M. – John Prather loaded up his 30-30 Winchester and .38 automatic pistol late Tuesday to face up to a new day’s battle with the U.S. deputy marshals he refused to let take him off his ranch.

Meanwhile, two Ft. Bliss colonels, and five military policemen were reported ready to join the marshals at daylight. The later news leaked out after newsmen’s automobiles finally were allowed through roadblocks after being sealed inside the vast McGregor guided missile range by Army roadblocks.

Presence of Col. H.T. Baughn, Ft. Bliss judge advocate and Col. Allison T. Leland, base provost marshal, seemed to put a question mark on an earlier Ft. Bliss official statement that the Prather eviction was “entirely up to the court.”

U.S. District Judge Waldo Rogers in Albuquerque Tuesday morning issued a writ of assistance which deputies of U.S. Marshal George Beach were supposed to use to force the fighting rancher from his home.

But it didn’t work. The deputies failed to lay a hand on the 82-year-old Prather, who warned if they ever touched him he would fight until they killed him. Col. Baughn, who also was at the ranch Tuesday afternoon, told newsmen late Tuesday that he was coming back at dawn and would bring the military policemen with him, but failed to say for what purpose.

Soldiers at Roadblock – Regular soldiers manned roadblocks in the area Tuesday. “I’m going to stay here, dead or alive,” Prather said with the same rugged determination which has held off the U.S. Army for taking his range home for two years.

The judge’s order – apparently anticipated by the U.S. marshal who ordered three deputies into Alamogordo Monday night – came as a flat turnabout. Judge Rodgers was quoted Monday as saying he “had serious doubts” about whether he had done the right thing in giving Prather’s land to the Army, because it appeared the Army might not need it.

...“I’m stout enough that they’ll never haul me to town in a car alive,” he said. “I’ll guarantee you that.” Never, throughout the long and rugged day did the indomitable rancher waiver from his stand that he would die rather than leave or be moved.

“I’d like to live a while yet,” he told the solemn-faced peace officers, “but I’m not moving, by damn, and if it’s time for me to die I’m ready. Let’s get on with it.” At one point the nearly-blind rancher – who used to shoot crows off fenceposts from a moving automobile with a pistol – issued a direct challenge to one of the marshals for a personal shoot-out in the finest Old West tradition.

“Just let me get my gun and we’ll square off and have at it,” he said. “I’m ready any time you are.” The marshal, already bemoaning their fate at being assigned to the job, wanted no part of it.

Also see  John Prather Stood His Ground | American Cowboy

John Prather: Life with New Mexico's Mule King

Federal judge declines to release Ammon Bundy, brother Ryan Bundy from custody

U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones ruled Tuesday that Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan Bundy must remain in custody pending trial, saying he was concerned they might ignore court-imposed conditions, not return to court or recruit others to stage another unlawful standoff if released. In a three-page written ruling, the judge found there were no conditions that he could impose that would "reasonably assure their appearance in court or the safety of the community'' if he were to grant them pretrial release. The ruling followed a three-hour hearing Monday afternoon in which the Bundy brothers and Ammon Bundy's lawyer argued that they're not violent, were engaged in a peaceful political protest to stake claim to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and were never ordered to leave the refuge. They both said they're eager to fight the government's indictment in court. Jones noted that the Bundy brothers conceded that they were the leaders and instigators of the refuge occupation, under a group they called "Citizens for Constitutional Freedom.'' The Bundys organized supporters to come armed to resist intervention by federal authorities, and controlled access to and from the refuge. They set up "military-style armed personnel'' to patrol the perimeter and stand guard in a watchtower, and the Bundys ignored requests to disperse, Jones wrote in his ruling. "While I find they do not pose a risk of fleeing the country, I find their participation in the armed standoff in Nevada and the fact that they condoned the use of an arsenal of weapons at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge demonstrate they believe they are justified in refusing lawful federal orders,'' Jones wrote. "Furthermore, they believe that placing an armed force between officials seeking to enforce lawful orders and themselves is justified by their interpretation of the Constitution. '' Jones, as he said in court on Monday, found that the Bundys' attempt to take over the federal wildlife sanctuary through an adverse possession claim isn't legally possible against the federal government. Adverse possession is the occupation of land to which another person has title with the intention of possessing it as one's own. "They based their actions on their misinterpretation of adverse possession law and their misguided interpretation of criminal and constitutional law,'' Jones wrote...more


Congress has adjourned for 7 weeks.  When that occurs, and all the lobbyists leave town, my readership declines about 20 percent.  This usually means the news cycle on the issues I cover winds down, so I will use this occasion to do a little winding down of my own.

For those of you on Facebook, I've got a new gig with the Linebery Policy Center, doing their social media and some legislative analysis.  For the last couple of days I've been experimenting with a new page to see if it works better.  Will let everyone know when I make a final decision.

My body has been telling me a winding down has been in order for some time, so we will see how all this comes out in the end.  I am excited about the work for the Linebery Policy Center, as all the proceeds go to the DuBois Western Heritage Foundation, which means more support for the NMSU Rodeo Team and for journalism about our rural heritage and culture.

Stay tuned!

Editorial - PLI revisions are welcome but time is running out

The best news to come out of a revised Public Lands Initiative announced this week by Utah Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz is that it omits language that would have made seven counties in eastern Utah exempt from any monument designations under the Antiquities Act.

Despite our dislike of the Antiquities Act, that exemption, a part of the original bill announced earlier this year, would have guaranteed the initiative’s defeat — if not in Congress, then certainly under a presidential veto.

Beyond that, the bill’s release, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s visit to the state this week, highlight just how quickly the clock is ticking on finding solutions to vexing land-management issues in the southeastern part of the state. The implication of Jewell’s comments at various meetings is that either the state’s representatives and the stakeholders involved find and pass a solution through Congress soon, or the president will summarily create a new national monument in the Bears Ears region.

The former clearly is preferable to the latter. Unfortunately, some stakeholders have more to gain from a monument designation than a brokered deal that would give them less than what they want.
That isn’t to say the Public Lands Initiative is a perfect solution. If anything is clear after many years of trying to broker a grand compromise, it is that the myriad land-use issues in that part of the state are complicated and intertwined.

But it’s also true that more is at stake here than just one bill. A successful compromise solution, passed by Congress and signed by the president, would stand as a powerful template for resolving the many other land-use issues in the West.

Bears Ears: False choice vs. real solution

by Matthew Anderson

...Her writing focuses on two likely outcomes: (1) President Barack Obama unilaterally designates an almost 2 million-acre national monument and incites armed insurrection in the process, or (2) we sit by and watch as priceless artifacts, ancient dwellings and sacred sites are plundered. This is a false choice that keeps us a long way from a real solution.

Like so many other similar pieces, Eilperin’s narrative fails to recognize the views of the Navajos of San Juan County — who actually live close to the Bears Ears. They believe that a monument designation would put the Bears Ears at risk as never before.

Last month I traveled to Bluff and met with members of the Aneth and Oljato chapters of the Navajo Nation. Unlike other Native Americans who have involved themselves in the national monument debate, these people call this area home and have an unparalleled connection with it. For them, the Bears Ears is more than just a place to hunt, collect firewood and gather pinyon nuts in the fall.

“The Bears Ears is part of life. That’s the place where our people, our ancestors, even us today, we still go up there and do our offerings and prayers,” Denton Ben, a leader in the community, told me. “It’s part of our heart and our mind. It’s really sacred to us.”

While Ben and other local Navajo residents are not oblivious that looting has occurred on and around their sacred mountain, they believe that public opinion and federal laws have evolved enough to mitigate the problem.

Chester Johnson of the Aneth Chapter told me, “I have read the National Historic Preservation Act — these types of ruins, special sites and trails are already protected. To impose another national monument is not necessary; it’s not going to offer more protection.”

Johnson is right. The National Historic Preservation Act enables archaeological sites to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, providing them further federal protections. There are also at least five other federal laws, along with a multitude of state laws and court rulings, that protect our nation’s archaeological and Native Americans’ cultural resources. A national monument designation will not significantly change the protections afforded to the Bears Ears.

What will change, however, is the number of hikers, campers and tourists who visit the area. National monument supporters acknowledge as much when they describe the proposed monument as an “economic asset.” The source of those potential economic benefits is increased tourism driven by a national monument designation.

But what will that mean for the Native Americans’ interests? This increased traffic will put the cultural resources of the Bears Ears at an increased risk of destruction and desecration — especially considering that the federal government can’t afford to provide additional law enforcement to the area.

Sally Jewell Visits Bears Ears, Says Obama Will Decide on National Monument Before Leaving Office

President Barack Obama could decide whether to designate the 1.9 million–acre region known as Bears Ears as a national monument by the end of the year, according to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. If not by then, Obama will definitely decide before he leaves office, Jewell told Indian Country Media Network during a three-day tour of the area. Five tribes are asking for the designation under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives the President signing power to create such monuments on federal land. The proposal drew criticism and support as its creators and the opposition had a chance to speak directly with Jewell and other top federal officials at a public hearing in Bluff, Utah. People spoke passionately about the area and its history, which dates back thousands of years. “We have not made up our minds on what way to go,” said Jewell during the hearing. “We’re here to listen.”...more

Cantwell, Reichert lead bipartisan effort on LWCF, critical federal funding for parks

You may have never heard of the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), but you've most likely benefited from it. Odds are some of your favorite parks are a result. Since Congress started the fund in 1964, Washington has received a total of $660 million, which has gone to projects like turning an old Naval air station into Magnuson Park. On Monday Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell and Republican Representative Dave Reichert gathered at Gasworks Park in Seattle to call for permanent full funding of LWCF. Secretary of the Interior and former REI CEO Sally Jewell joined them at Gasworks Park, which was renovated from an old abandoned industrial site 40 years ago with money from LWCF. When it expired last year, Senator Cantwell was able to push an extension through Congress; A bipartisan conference put together the plan to fully fund LWCF at $900 million per year nationwide. Congressman Reichert called the LWCF a common sense project and is confident it will pass by the end of the year...more

 Yes, spending money to grow the size of government always seems to be bipartisan.

U.S. House passes bill that prevents a Malheur County national monument

An Interior Department funding bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives includes a provision that blocks a proposed national monument in Malheur County, Ore., that is strongly opposed by local ranchers and farmers. The bill passed 231-196 July 14 and is headed to the Senate.
It includes a proposal by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., that prevents funds from being used to create a national monument in Malheur County. Oregon Natural Desert Association, a Bend, Ore.-based environmental group, has proposed creating a national monument on 2.5 million acres in an area of the county known as the Owyhee Canyonlands. It would cover 40 percent of the county and encompass about 33 percent of the county’s total grazing land. County residents voted 9-1 against the idea during a special election in March. Walden said in a news release that the House vote sends “a strong message to the president that the overwhelming majority of local residents and the People’s House oppose a monument.” The vote was applauded by Jordan Valley rancher Mark Mackenzie, vice president of the Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition, which was formed this year to represent ranchers, farmers and others who oppose a national monument designation. Regardless of what happens to the bill in the Senate, “it’s sending a loud message ... that, hey, we’re not happy with this proposal,” Mackenzie said. He said if a monument is created, a completely new set of rules would have to be drawn up for it and that unknown is concerning to ranchers. “It’s very, very upsetting for the industry because we don’t know what we’re going to get,” he said. Malheur County is Oregon’s No. 1 cattle producing county with about $134 million in farm-gate receipts annually...more

Nun who stood up to Billy the Kid to be subject of TV series

An Italian-born nun who once challenged Billy the Kid, calmed angry mobs, opened hospitals and schools in the American Southwest and is now on a path toward possible Sainthood soon will be the subject of a TV series. Saint Hood Productions based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, announced Wednesday a new project around Sister Blandina Segale — a 19th-Century nun whose clashes with Old West outlaws and work with immigrants has been the stuff of legend. “At the End of the Santa Fe Trail” aims to be a fictional account based on Segale’s life and largely will use material from her 1932 book with the same name. That book consisted of Segale’s letters she wrote to her sister about the lawlessness in Trinidad, Colorado, and in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. She also discussed working with immigrants and prisoners. Her encounters with Old West outlaws later became the subject of an episode of the CBS series “Death Valley Days,” titled “The Fastest Nun in the West.” According to one story, she received a tip that Billy the Kid was coming to her town to scalp four doctors who refused to treat his friend’s gunshot wound. Segale nursed the friend to health, and when Billy went to Trinidad to thank her, she convinced him to abandon his violent plan...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1662

Jimmy Martin would eventually form his own band, The Sunny Mountain Boys, but this classic 1954 recording of Save It! Save It! was with the Osborne Brothers.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Headlines from Jewell's Utah visit and my 7 takeaways

Jewell Wraps Up Utah Visit with Hot, Sometimes Heated Listening Session in San Juan County Hundreds of people descended on the tiny town of Bluff over the weekend to have a voice on public-lands decisions being made in Washington. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell got an earful during her hours long listening session Saturday here in southeastern Utah. But she thanked everyone who endured the summer heat and crowding at the Bluff community center...

Jewell 'shocked' at lack of protection for Bears Ears cultural resources"What I have seen on this trip and especially here is this incredible treasure trove of cultural resources" that she said stretched far beyond her expectations. "It's beyond imagination. I am also shocked at the lack of protection for many of these assets."...

 Emotions run hot as nearly 2,000 plead their case over potential monument designation For many of these residents who live in San Juan County, they know this federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service is not something they own, but they live on it, feel it, breathe it and work it. And yes, they say they care for it. Just as strongly, a majority of Native American tribal members who live in the Four Corners region claim ancestral and modern-day connections to the land, and they're tired of the looting, the vandalism, weary of oil and gas development that threatens their landscape, of potash or uranium mining that may alter the land...

Tribune Editorial: Public Lands Initiative is too little, too late But it wouldn't create a monument in San Juan County, and that is what's behind Jewell's high-profile journey through southeastern Utah. Indian tribes and environmentalists have coalesced around the idea of a national monument in the sacred lands surrounding the Bears Ears that would give Native Americans a unique management role to preserve both the heritage of their past and their traditions still practiced. With Bishop and Rep. Jason Chaffetz unwilling to go there — in large part because their PLI process was driven by county commissioners in San Juan and elsewhere — the Indians have turned to President Obama to declare the monument under the Antiquities Act...

Before a packed meeting, Interior Secretary Jewell sees harm visitors are causing at proposed Bears Ears monument  Jewell crammed in two more stops Saturday before the meeting, ending a whirlwind four-day tour in which she tried to understand the diverse landscape — to the extent that it's possible when consistently dogged by reporters, photographers, conservationists and congressional aides. Later, on the way to view the stark relief of the Wolfman Panel in Butler Wash — on which the artisan uncommonly portrayed the panel's namesake with musculature, instead of the usual stick limbs — Ewing showed where a C-shaped Pueblo shrine had sat in recent years. Hikers have taken rocks to make cairns until nothing was left, he said, reiterating the need for better education as visitors continue to increase in the region...

Movement to create Utah monument leads to another Western land fight Laminated sheets of paper held in place by rocks rest inside ancient cliff dwellings nestled underneath a spectacular red rock overhang in southeastern Utah. “Don’t erase the traces of America’s past,” the signs read. “Please do not enter interior rooms.” The weathered signs and a similar warning at the trailhead are the only protections in place for these easily accessible ruins along a canyon hiking path. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visited the area this week to meet with proponents and opponents — the latest indication the Obama administration is giving serious consideration to the “Bears Ears” monument proposal. The issue has become the latest battleground in the debate over public lands in the West...

Archaeological center calls for protection for Bears Ears The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center announced on Friday that it supports increased protection for the Bears Ears area, a day before U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and other high-ranking Obama administration officials held a public meeting in Bluff. “The archaeology community supports the tribes in asking for increased protection for the Bears Ears area,” stated Deborah Gangloff, president and CEO of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center...

House effort to block monuments faces veto threat Republican Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah added a provision to an Interior Department spending bill that blocks money for any new monuments in portions of eight states, including 17 Utah counties. The House passed the bill Thursday, but the measure is expected to run into a filibuster from Senate Democrats and the White House veto threat...

Here are 7 quick takeaways:

° One mayor is quoted as saying a new President could "rescind" the monument designation.  That is incorrect.   A 1938 AG's Opinion says that while the Antiquities Act grants the President the authority to "proclaim" a national monument, nothing within the Act grants the authority to revoke or eliminate a monument.

° How ironic is it that the Salt Lake Tribune feels the Public Lands Initiative fails because it was so influenced by locally elected officials.

° Utah's Governor says there is still time for a legislative fix.  He's right, but Senate Democrats and Obama would have to get on board, and that is highly unlikely.

° There are many tools the administration could use to administratively protect these areas.  The current BLM Director is quoted as saying no matter the outcome of the visit, more resources should be devoted to the effort.  However, these tools require time - public input and NEPA documents - which the Obama adm. doesn't have.  And besides, they aren't as flashy as a Proclamation and won't add to Obama's "legacy".

° During her confirmation hearings and at previous "visits" of this type Sally Jewell has always said there must be a "consensus" in favor of a monument.  I don't believe she even whispered consensus on this trip, and I wonder why?

° The public relations groundwork has been done to establish resources are being damaged, and all points still lead me to believe a Proclamation is forthcoming.  It may not be as large as the proponents wish and probably won't contain the same co-management language supported by the Native American proponents, but one is on the way.

° Enviros are using the race card successfully.  The typical visitor to a Wilderness area, for instance, is an upper-income white male with an advanced degree. But in the case of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument one of their more effective lobbying tools was the involvement of Hispanic groups and leaders, and for the Bears Ears surely the voices of the Native Americans are the most appealing.  It's amazing how the enviros have turned one of their greatest weaknesses - the lack of minorities in the movement and their low visitation rates - into one of their greatest assets in placing more restrictions on federal land.

The Hillary Treatment for Climate Fraudsters?

by Paul Driessen

This past March, 17 attorneys general launched a coordinated effort to investigate, pursue and prosecute companies, think tanks and other organizations that say there is little credible evidence that human “greenhouse gas” emissions are causing “dangerous” or “catastrophic” manmade climate change.

The AGs said their targets’ actions constitute “fraud” – which they described as using “polished public relations campaigns” to “muddle the truth,” “discredit prevailing climate science,” and “mislead” people about threats from higher temperatures, rising seas, floods and more severe weather. Their real goal is to intimidate and silence targeted groups, and bankrupt them with legal fees, court costs and lost funding.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, Heartland Institute, ExxonMobil and other “climate denier” organizations fought back vigorously, refusing to surrender their constitutional rights to participate in this vital public policy debate. The AGs’ bravado and prosecutions began fraying at the edges.

But one wonders: How will these intrepid protectors of the public interest respond to Real Climate Fraud? To intentional misrepresentations of material facts, with knowledge of their falsity, and for the purpose of inducing persons or institutions to act, with resulting injury or damage.

Will those AGs – or other state AGs, Congress, state legislatures or the Justice Department – investigate the growing list of highly questionable actions by scientists and others who receive billions in taxpayer and consumer funds for renewable energy programs and research into manmade climate cataclysm scares … to justify policies, laws and regulations that raise energy costs, destroy fossil fuel companies and jobs, force layoffs in other industries, and harm poor, minority and working class families?

Or will they respond the way FBI Director Comey did to Hillary Clinton’s reckless disregard for national security secrets: ignore the bad conduct, and reward transgressors with more money, prestige and power?

The case for widespread misconduct by members of the $1.5-trillion-per-year Climate Change & Renewable Energy Complex grows more compelling, and disturbing, by the day. A complete listing and analysis would require books, but these few examples underscore the seriousness of the global problem.

Let's not forget this:

The coalition of 17 inquisitors are calling themselves “AGs United for Clean Power.” The coalition consists of 15 state attorneys general (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington State), as well as the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Sixteen of the seventeen members are Democrats, while the attorney general for the Virgin Islands, Claude Walker, is an independent.

Yes, New Mexico's AG, Hector Banderas, has joined in with Al Gore and the other extreme environmentalists on this witch hunt.  Banderas says

Attorney General Hector Balderas announced today that New Mexico has joined Attorneys General from across the nation in an unprecedented coalition of 17 top law enforcement officials to protect and expand progress the nation has made in combatting climate change. The states agreed to work together on key investigations, such as ongoing or any potential investigations into whether fossil fuel companies misled investors and the public on the impact of climate change on their businesses.

“We have been impacted by climate change, and we see its drastic effects in New Mexico---extreme drought, increased risk of severe forest fires, and the ruin of our wildlife and natural habitats,” Attorney General Balderas said. Our efforts will ensure that progress is made on climate change and that the public is fully aware of the effects on the health and well-being of New Mexico families.”

 See my previous posts, AGs subpoenaed over prosecuting climate change skeptics, Massachusetts AG Demands Docs From More Conservative Skeptic Groups, and the post AGs Use Exxon Probe To Target Dozens Of Conservative Groups And Scientists, which reports:

 Democratic attorneys general (AG) are using the investigation into ExxonMobil’s global warming stance to target communications between the company and 142 conservative groups, skeptic scientists and other academics...The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained an unredacted version of the subpoena sent to Exxon containing the names of 88 organizations and 54 scientists, academics and other experts. Exxon’s countersuit to Walker’s subpoena says “three-quarters” of the organizations Walker is targeting “have been identified by environmental advocacy groups as opposing policies in favor of addressing climate change or disputing the science in support of climate change.”

New Mexico Senators Udall and Heinrich, and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan have long done the bidding of the enviro-left, and now we have NM AG Banderas doing the same.  Are you starting to feel surrounded?

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1661

It's Swingin' Monday and here's all 5 minutes of Billy Mata & The Texas Tradition performing Roll 'Em Floyd.  The tune is on their 2006 CD Domino Effect. It's Swingin' Monday and here's all 5 minutes of Billy Mata & The Texas Tradition performing Roll 'Em Floyd.  The tune is on their 2006 CD Domino Effect.  The Westerner's Swingin' Monday and here's all 5 minutes of Billy Mata & The Texas Tradition performing Roll 'Em Floyd.  The tune is on their 2006 CD Domino Effect.  The Westerner

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Judge orders key Bundy evidence in Bunkerville case withheld from the public

Choosing secrecy over transparency, a federal judge has issued a protective order withholding the bulk of the government’s evidence from the public in the Bunkerville standoff case. The four-page order, written by U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen, prohibits defense teams for all 19 defendants from publicly disclosing grand jury transcripts, FBI and police reports, witness statements and other documents the government collected during its investigation into the 2014 armed standoff between Bundy family forces and law enforcement. Leen issued the order without a public hearing and in the face of opposition from most of the defendants, including Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy and his four sons, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal and other media. “This decision kills an ant with a sledgehammer,” Review-Journal Editor Keith Moyer said Saturday. “As a result, the tax-paying public will be in the dark, and the news media will be severely hampered in doing its job.” In a 23-page decision filed late Friday, Leen explained that the government was within its constitutional authority to obtain a protective order from her because of security concerns in the high-profile case. Among the concerns Leen cited was a death threat against the prosecutors. “The government has made a sufficient threshold showing of actual and potential threats, intimidation and harassment to victims, witnesses and law enforcement officers to show good cause for a protective order restricting dissemination of pretrial discovery,” Leen wrote. She also said the media and the public do not have a “common law or First Amendment right” to access pretrial evidence obtained by the government. Leen, however, said all materials the government obtained through “open sources,” during its investigation, including statements made by the defendants on the internet or social media, will not be covered under the protective order and can remain public...more

HT: Marvin Frisbey

Federal judge: Possible misconduct by FBI in LaVoy Finicum shooting irrelevant to defense in Oregon standoff case

The investigation into alleged misconduct by FBI Hostage Rescue Team officers at the scene of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum's shooting in Harney County isn't relevant to the defense in the federal conspiracy case pending against Ammon Bundy and co-defendants, a federal judge ruled Friday. Prosecutors last month revealed that the federal investigation into an FBI agent's apparent firing of gunshots at Finicum on Jan. 26 and the alleged FBI tampering with evidence at the scene had gone to a grand jury for review. They objected to any sharing of the evidence with defense lawyers. Defense lawyers urged the judge to compel the government to turn over the investigative records regarding the FBI's alleged misconduct. They argued that prosecutors must share any evidence that could benefit the defense, including any material that could damage the credibility of a prosecution witness. Federal prosecutors countered that they won't call law enforcement officers involved in the investigation as witnesses in the case.  The judge also found that the investigative details of the FBI's actions were not relevant for co-defendant David Fry and three other refuge holdouts who were the last to surrender on Feb. 11, since they didn't learn of the alleged FBI coverup until after their arrests.
In related action, the judge denied defendants' motion for a change of venue. While acknowledging that the media coverage during the refuge occupation and since has been extensive, she found no showing that it's been prejudicial, Brown said...more

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Mule stories abound

by Julie Carter

If you ask around a little amongst the rural set of folks in America, a good percentage of them will have a mule story to share. It seems that particular beast of burden has influenced lives throughout the ages.

Solomon Cordova was a classic cowboy, now deceased but his legend lives on in his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons. And so do his stories.

Many decades ago, Sol and some other cowboys were riding home after dark from a branding. Somewhere along the way, the crew had managed to lubricate their day’s adventures with a little whiskey.

In those days, superstition was more the norm than not. The night sky was lit with a full moon, so finding their way home in the dark was doable, but it also gave license to seeing things that may or may not actually be there. Also par with the era, they were all packing pistols.

The cowboys were riding along telling tall tales embellished by the accents of alcohol, when out of the black of night came a woeful wail that stopped them in their tracks.

Ol’ Sol looked toward what he thought to be the devil himself, horns and glowing eyes included, as it came out of the shadows headed directly toward the cowboys.

Backlit by the soft glow of the moon, the form drew threateningly closer as Sol pulled his pistol and fired a shot. The bullet hit the devil right between his fiery eyes and he was silenced and still.

The cowboys, not knowing for sure what really happened but not in a state of mind to process it, rode on until they hit home.

About a week later, they learned that a local fellow had reported that the new mule he’d bought and just turned out to pasture was found dead, shot in the head. Somehow, a full moon and bellyful of rotgut hooch turned a braying mule into Satan.

Mule or burro racing, while not actually the sport of kings, has been a popular competition for as long as anyone can recall.

One year, a farmer along the Rio Grande decided to enter the annual mule race that ran 25 miles along the river route. To get his mule in shape, every day for a month he’d have his wife haul him to the starting point and he’d ride the mule home. Home was seven miles short of the fairgrounds which was the official destination for the race.

Come race day, the farmer and his mule were delivering a serious butt kicking to the competition. That is, until they got to the gate leading into the home place. The mule turned in and had no intention going one step further. They never made it to the finish line at the fairgrounds.

Many years ago, a rancher/dairyman south of Marfa, Texas used a sweet little burro to carry glass bottles of milk seven miles across the mountain to Shafter, Texas, where he delivered it to residents there.

One day the man fell ill and was unable to make the trip himself, so he simply sent the burro by herself. She went all the way, stopped at every house, and returned home. This true story, shared by the family, included the fact that not one bottle of milk was broken and the little burro even brought home the empties.

I’m always a little cautious about asking for burro, donkey or as most people will say, “jackass” stories. I always try to clarify that I’m speaking of the four-legged variety.

However, without fail, someone will have their mind set on a particular annoying version of a “jackass,” but to qualify for the narrative, will add, “Well, then, think of it as him and Earl holding hands. There you go. Four legs.”

Julie can be reached for comment at


Hearth and Home
The Fulcrum
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            On a trip to Germany many years ago, an historic farmhouse was witnessed.
            The bottom level was a barn of sorts with hay cribs and pens for the family’s animals. The family lived in the second level of the rambling structure. We were told during the teeth of German winters all the animals were gathered into the home and the doors were locked. Hay and fodder was stored and dry for the cows, sheep, and horses. The family was safe and secure with their stores of food and fuel. Everything that was needed to survive was contained within the family compound.
            What a feeling of security that must have been. By the size of the structure, it must have been a multigenerational effort. Surely, the effort that went into its construction was the work of many hands. Experience and the exposure to the elements altered or expanded the concepts of its features.
            It was a fortress against the rest of the world. It kept the bad out and the good in. It was home.
            Hearth and Home
            Adams, Madison, Jefferson and Washington all devoted enormous energy in developing their rural holdings. Statesmen, businessmen, leaders, and family patriarchs they were all men of the land. There are abundant writings and records describing their interest in improving their lands, selecting fruit and crop varieties, and improving the methods of their agrarian endeavors.
Washington was perhaps the most capable steward, but all of them stand head and shoulders above vast majority of the citizenry today in seeking the natural benefits that developing and controlling our surroundings provide. Our first president was an astute businessman. He observed the limitations of a single crop enterprise, tobacco, and altered his entire program to concentrate on cereal grains. From that he built infrastructure to enhance his cropping patterns. He became a miller, a distiller, a fisherman, as well as a stockman. He added thousands of acres of undeveloped lands to the expansion of Mt. Vernon and he systematically embarked on a plan to develop those lands.
Mt. Vernon evolved from being a residence for his older half brother to an agricultural fortress of George’s vision and design. His orchards, his gardens, his fields and his improvements were all planned with the idea his home was the focal point. Even his fishing enterprise out his back door in the Potomac was part of the enterprise mix.
He savored his surroundings and they became much dearer to him than his accomplishments on the field of battle, the limelight of the presidency, or the social spotlight that never dimmed. His last active hours were spent horseback checking on the progress of his ideas.
He was finally at peace.
Certainly, the headquarters of my youth were not on the scale of Washington or his Founding Father colleagues, but they offered the same aura of security and home. As a kid, Ma Rice’s place fit that model perfectly. Grandpa Rice was gone when I came along, but I remember Ma. In her white dress and apron and sturdy black shoes, she was the resident steward of her domain. Her orchards, one north of the house by the cottonwood plank barn and one on sloping ground south from the house, were renowned for the quantity and quality of fruit. In season, they provided summer bounty, and from that point on they provided canned ingredients for some recipe every day of the year. We were raised on such continuing staples of apple sauce and pear preserves.
The big garden was guarded from intruding milk cows and pigs just south of the north orchard. It was there we learned the magic of a salt shaker and sundown stroll through a garden wonderland. We delighted in the first corn-on-the-cob of the year and fresh tomatoes. We knew it, too, from canned green beans, tomato preserves, and dill or bread and butter pickles through the winter.
Without a sprinkler system on an unleveled yard mostly upslope from the house, Ma had a system of canales from which she watered her yard. We loved to look for fish that came in from the ditch and got trapped in her system when the water was shut off.
Grandpa Rice built a granary that was an engineering marvel. It was there he stored, processed, fed, and or traded grain.
He also had his blacksmithing equipment, his milk pens, and his red gravity metered gas pump by the old catalpa tree. He had farrowing huts, milk pens, and working corrals. His garage was both a place to park the car as well as a maintenance center. Hugh and Jim got in a fight one day there and rolled one over the other into the grease pit in the middle of the floor. They were both screaming and yelling until they hit the bottom and couldn’t talk from the absence of air.
The barn was a kid’s delight. We swung from ropes attached to the rafters and we built forts in the baled hay stacks. We rode pigs and milk pen calves outside, and stood in line for whippings for various infractions when things got out of hand.
What a great place it was.
Joe and Ethel Hooker’s place was similar. Ethel was the only daughter of Grandpa and Ma Rice. She married Joe Hooker whose family preceded her family’s arrival in the Gila River Valley by six years in 1878. She was the grandmother of more cousins and her house and lands on Bear Creek were another wonderland for folks and kids alike. Dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, horses and an assortment of vehicles and equipment were all fair game for adventure.
David and I shot BBs by the pound at fish in the creek never knowing if we hit a single one. We ate green apples until we were sick, we saddled horses at the corral on whims, and we went home dirty, sweaty, sunburned and tired. The Hooker headquarters was an oasis of joy in the midst of a big two fisted land. Outside of its perimeter, it was hard work, strife, and perpetual management of drought, but inside it was a safe place where multi-generations mingled.
It served as the model for hearth and home.
At the mouth of the Mangus, Uncle Hap and Aunt Mary McCauley’s was no different. Permanence was displayed by another great orchard and a yard with actual sprinkled grass. Fish ponds were filled by engineered diversion of the Mangus, and the big garden was enhanced by the first green house I ever saw. It was the place we learned to eat hot chile and speak a little Spanish. It was also the scene of the last branding we ever experienced with Grandpa Albert. He was 80 and he roped.
The meaning of generosity is what the McCauley headquarters offered. It was always filled with people and chatter. Never once in my memory do I remember harsh words from either of this couple. It was a place you could count on if you needed a cup of understanding. It was there I learned the logic of two speed rear axles and discing counter to prevailing winds.
Each realization had more importance than ever meets the eye.
The Fulcrum
 There were other headquarters that exhibited similar, temporal permanence, and, for each of those memories, there are blessings. They all provided food, water, shade, human interaction, joy, security, and hope. Not a single one had television. They represented immense human efforts of creation and maintenance. Each was multi-generational, but nearly every one of them is now gone from original form. The orchards are dead or unattended. The descendents of the animals are largely gone or reduced, and the mix of the human generations is no longer continuous.
The symptoms of change can be debated, but the common thread is that the original forces of stewardship are mostly gone. Gone is the individual who started the process. Gone is the couple who worked together on a life’s struggle of starts and stops. Scattered are the offspring that resulted in the union, and disruption of the steadying forces that kept it all intact is complete. There are a few exceptions, but they are few and far between.
Perhaps the conditions that allowed the genesis of these special places will never be recreated, but the contributions of their existence shouldn’t be forgotten. Every person who experienced the social structure of them concedes they contributed to the best of times. They also continue to serve as the basis to measure many things. They were a fulcrum of conditions and events that produced self reliance.
Their revival could benefit … our America.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “As Christians, we must herald the opportunity for men and women to create from their surroundings. We must remember the servants of the master were judged critically by the results of their handling of his treasury. Are we any different?”

Wilmeth's column today reminds me of the great sociologist Robert Nesbit. In his The Quest For Community he writes of intermediate institutions that buffer the individual from the state. Primary among these intermediate entities are family, church and community.  As these institutions decline, the state moves in to fulfill their function.  Thus the attacks on the family and the church by the left serve one principal function:  to increase the power and authority of the state.  

Wilmeth is calling for a revival of these intermediate buffers and the resulting decline of the state.  We need more "headquarters" and fewer government hindquarters.