Saturday, August 27, 2016

University Of Iowa Professor Deeply Worried Because Mascot And Logo Look TOO SCARY

The mascot and the logo for the University of Iowa’s sports teams are terrifying and promote aggression and violence, according to a deeply concerned medical school professor at the taxpayer-funded school. The pediatrics professor, Resmiye Oral, is urging the Big 10 school’s athletic department to modify the logo and the various facial expressions of the mascot, Herky the Hawk, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen. “I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages,” Oral wrote in an email to the athletic department this week. “And our campus community is doing a great job in that regard when it comes to words. However, Herky’s angry, to say the least, faces conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence are not compatible with the verbal messages that we try to convey to and instill in our students and campus community.”...more

Obama creates largest ocean reserve, takes heat for new federal decrees

President Obama, with the stroke of a pen, created the world's largest ocean reserve on Friday off Hawaii, days after designating a massive federal monument in Maine – moves that have angered local lawmakers who accuse the president of disregarding the impact on residents. Obama used a presidential proclamation to expand the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii by over 400,000 square miles. The preserve now stretches 582,578 square miles, the world's largest marine protected area. "The expansion provides critical protections for more than 7,000 marine species ... [and] will allow scientists to monitor and explore the impacts of climate change on these fragile ecosystems," the White House said in a statement, citing the support of Sen. Brian Schatz and "prominent Native Hawaiian leaders." But the decision drew sharp criticism from the fishing industry and even fellow Democrats, as it will drastically expand the area where commercial fishing and drilling is banned. Former Democratic Gov. George Ariyoshi said at a rally last month that it came down to the question of who actually owned the ocean. “The ocean belongs to us,” Ariyoshi reportedly said. “We ought to be the ones who decide what kind of use to make of the ocean.”...more

Ret. Lt. Gen. Flynn: Terror-Linked Nations ‘Cutting Deals’ with Mexican Cartels to Enter U.S.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), tells Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM that countries that are known to support radical Islamic terrorism are “cutting deals” with Mexican cartels for access to human smuggling routes into the United States. Citing photos from the U.S. Border Patrol component of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency on Friday, Gen. Flynn also told Washington Political Editor Matthew Boyle, host of Breitbart News Daily, that there are signs in Arabic posted along human smuggling routes at the section of the border that lies in Texas providing directions for how to sneak into the United States. Moreover, the former DIA chief said that the Shiite Lebanese narco-terrorist group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, is illegally trafficking humans, drugs, and other contraband into the United States...more

Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill banning state funds for coal projects

Gov. Jerry Brown took a strong stand against coal on Friday, approving an East Bay lawmaker's bill to ban state funding for coal-related projects. In signing state Sen. Loni Hancock's bill, the governor also praised the Oakland City Council for voting to ban transportation of the ore through its city and encouraged other cities to do the same. "Other localities should follow suit -- and the state should, too -- to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate the shipment of coal through all California ports, Brown wrote in a signing message. "I believe action on multiple fronts will be necessary to transition away from coal," Brown wrote. "In California, we're divesting from thermal coal in our state pensions, shifting to renewable energy and, last year, coal exports from California ports declined by more than one-third, from 4.65 million to 2.86 million tons. That's a positive trend we need to build on."...more

China and US to ratify landmark Paris climate deal ahead of G20 summit, sources reveal

China and the United States are set to jointly announce their ratification of a landmark climate change pact before the G20 summit early next month, the South China Morning Post has learned. Senior climate officials from both countries worked late into the night in Beijing on Tuesday to finalise details, and a bilateral announcement is likely to be made on September 2, according to sources familiar with the issue. President Xi Jinping will meet his US counterpart Barack Obama for the G20 summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, two days later on September 4. “There are still some uncertainties from the US side due to the complicated US system in ratifying such a treaty, but the announcement is still quite likely to be ready by Sept 2,” said a source, who declined to be named. If both sides announce the ratification on the day, it would be the last major joint statement between the two leaders before Obama leaves office. China and the US account for about 38 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Resources Institute. By ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change, Beijing and Washington could generate momentum for the accord to come into effect as a binding international treaty...more

U.S. considering speed-limit device rule for trucks, buses

Trucks and buses in the United States may have to be equipped with devices to limit their speed under a proposed rule issued on Friday by the U.S. Transportation Department which said the move could save both lives and fuel. The department will weigh setting speed limits at 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour for heavy commercial vehicles, but said it will consider other speeds based on comments from the public. Speed limits on interstate highways vary across the United States, with some states allowing vehicles to drive as fast as 85 mph (137 km per hour), though many states have lower maximum speeds for trucks. "There are significant safety benefits to this proposed rulemaking," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "In addition to saving lives, the projected fuel and emissions savings make this proposal a win for safety, energy conservation, and our environment." Under the long-delayed proposal, all new U.S. trucks and buses weighing more than 26,000 pounds (11,793 kg) would need to be equipped with a speed-limiting device. The department said the maximum allowable speed would be decided after the agency receives public input. Publication of the proposal kicks off a 60-day comment period...more

Friday, August 26, 2016

National Park Service Turns 100, With Billions Needed for Repair Backlog

The National Park Service turned 100 on Thursday, but ongoing funding challenges have created a maintenance backlog that threatens to tarnish what famed documentarian Ken Burns calls "America's best idea." The National Park Service currently oversees 409 sites, 60 "wild and scenic" rivers and 23 national trails — all of which combined to establish a record attendance last year with about 307 million total visitors. Unlike other government agencies, the National Park Service also enjoys general public support. But despite the seeming bipartisan support, funding for the National Park Service has fluctuated in recent years: the Obama administration's request for $860 million in funding for 2017 — the service's centennial year — has yet to be approved by Congress. The maintenance backlog is also piling up, with the total cost of necessary repairs and improvements a hair beneath $12 billion. Many of the roads in Yellowstone National Park have not been upgraded since the 1930s and 1940s. It would cost between $800 million and $1.2 billion to make the necessary repairs. The pipeline that brings water into Grand Canyon National Park needs replacing — it's 20 years past its prime. The cost to replace it: $150 million. The park's annual budget is $20 million. In addition to infrastructure costs, day-to-day operations also require increased funding. NPR produced a segment earlier this year about how staff cuts at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have led to sanitation issues, as workers struggle to empty trashcans and keep toilets clean. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who oversees the park service, addressed the backlog in a speech earlier this year. She warned that budget crunches "have left our national parks and public lands understaffed and struggling to keep up with day-to-day operations."...more

Interior secretary: ‘What do the next 100 years look like?’

Glacier National Park’s disappearing glaciers provide a great way to alert the nation to the effects of climate change, Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Thursday while visiting here as part of her tour for the National Park Service’s centennial birthday. Jewell met with park representatives at Logan Pass to hike the Hidden Lake Overlook trail and discuss the effects of climate change both within the park as well as on a global scale. “I’ve been going all around the country to celebrate the breadth and depth of the national parks,” Jewell said. “Their biggest threat is how do we fulfill our obligation given to us 100 years ago without impairing them? What do the next 100 years look like? Right now, we’re doing a good job impairing them with climate change.” Dr. Dan Fagre, research ecologist and climate change research coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey, pointed along the ridgelines surrounding Logan Pass to express the severity of climate change. When the park was first established, there were 150 active glaciers. Today, there are only 25. “Glacier is a model,” Jewell said. “I think the fact that this is Glacier National Park, and it may not have glaciers anymore is an incredible opportunity to tell the story. This provides not only a great opportunity for scientific research, but a chance to tell a story that captivates the nation. That is exactly what needs to be done.” Interpretive ranger Teagan Tomlin sees Glacier as an opportunity to reach out to the public about warming climates and the trickle-down effects. More than 50 percent of research done within the park relates in some way to climate change...more

National monument designation triggers clashing political reactions

President’s Obama’s creation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument drew passionate responses on all sides Wednesday from political leaders in Maine. Two members of the state’s congressional delegation, Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree and independent Sen. Angus King, expressed support for Obama’s designation of about 87,600 acres in the Katahdin region as the latest national monument. Roxanne Quimby, the co-founder of Burt’s Bees who has amassed considerable land holdings in Maine’s North Woods, recently donated the land to the federal government and it became part of this week’s 100th anniversary celebration of the National Park Service. Critics of Quimby’s proposal have often expressed concerns about the loss of access to land for hunting, snowmobiling and ATV riding, as well as potential ramifications for the region’s forest products industry. King had joined Maine’s two Republican delegation members, Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Bruce Poliquin, in expressing strong reservations last year about a potential monument designation in a letter to federal officials. King subsequently helped organize a visit to the region by National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, but had not publicly endorsed the monument proposal. On Wednesday, however, King said he believes the designation “will be a significant benefit to Maine and the region” based on the binding commitments built into the deed transfer from Quimby. Poliquin, a monument opponent whose 2nd District includes the Katahdin region, cited non-binding votes in several Katahdin region towns as well as the state Legislature opposing the national monument. But he urged the Obama administration to work to support the state’s forestry industry and pledged to work with federal officials on job creation. “While opposed to a unilateral decision, ignoring the votes in the local towns, the Maine Legislature, and Congress, I will continue to work with everyone to move this project forward...Similarly, Collins charged that the president had bypassed Congress, adding, “He should not have used his executive authority given the objection lodged by the Maine Legislature, the lack of consensus among Mainers who live in the area, and the absence of congressional approval.” “These questions and many more will have to be addressed over the months and years ahead. This is typical of designations under the Antiquities Act, and is one of the reasons I have twice voted to express my concern with this unchecked presidential authority,” Collins said in a written statement...more

North Dakota Oil Pipeline Battle: Who’s Fighting and Why

This week, an impassioned fight over a 1,170-mile oil pipeline moved from the prairies of North Dakota to a federal courtroom in Washington. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation lies just south of the pipeline’s charted path across ranches and under the Missouri River, has asked a judge to halt construction. The American Indian tribe argues that a leak or spill could be ruinous. It may take until Sept. 9 for a federal judge to decide whether to allow the Dakota Access pipeline to move ahead, or grant an injunction that would press the pause button on construction. Here is a look at how the battle over the pipeline has become an environmental and cultural flash point, stirring passion across the Plains and drawing hundreds of protesters to camp out in rural North Dakota. American Indians have been gathering since April outside Cannon Ball, a town in south central North Dakota near the South Dakota border, to protest the Dakota Access pipeline as construction commences. Starting with members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the protest has since grown to several hundred people — estimates vary — most of them from tribes across the country. The protesters have encamped in a field belonging to the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Each day, they march a mile up a highway to a construction site where preparatory work is being done for the pipeline. While the protesters say they are peaceful, there have been reports of heated confrontations with law enforcement officers and construction workers, and 20 people have been arrested. Construction on a road to the pipeline has stopped for the moment. The pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, has sued several protesters, claiming they have threatened and intimidated contractors and were blocking work at the site...more

NAU Team Finds Endangered Jumping Mouse In Arizona, New Mexico

A research team from Northern Arizona University confirmed the presence of the endangered New Mexico meadow jumping mouse in parts of Arizona and New Mexico. It’s the first regional survey in a decade, and the team is using ink to find the mice. They’re using what’s called a “track plate.” It’s a box with an inkpad in the entrance. The mice leave distinct long-toed footprints when they enter the box to eat the bait. “Because the species are listed as endangered, we are very concerned about the population sizes and we’re looking hard this summer to try to find the animals in as many locations as possible,” said Wildlife ecologist Carol Chambers, who leads the projectt. The NAU team found jumping mice in the Santa Fe and Apache Sitgreaves national forests. The mouse lives near riparian areas and hibernates most of the year. It was listed as endangered in 2014. The new data will be used to develop a model of the mouse’s preferred habitat, which will inform land management decisions. The U.S. Forest Service has tried fencing off some sensitive riparian areas to keep cattle and elk out. Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 14,000 acres in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado as critical habitat for the speciesKJZZ

Controversy at Henry's Creek community fire meeting

There was some controversy at the Henry's Creek community fire meeting Thursday night. Some local ranchers expressed concern over how the Bureau of Land Management is fighting the more than 52,000 acre fire. It's an argument that's been brewing on social media the past few days. Some believe the fire would be out if it wasn't for jurisdiction issues. "My frustration is that we're not working together as a team. The BLM says they have their rules. Idaho Falls says they have their rules. Each division has their own rules instead of banding together to get the job done," said local rancher Bart Stolworthy. "It's the same politics every time there's a fire up there." He claims the BLM sent multiple fire crews home when the fire first started. However, BLM officials said that isn't true. "Obviously everyone is upset when you have such a disastrous fire and it affects your livelihood and your way of living.," said Joel Gosswiller with the Idaho Falls BLM. The BLM said there's been significant improvement when it comes to fighting fires with land owners. On Thursday night, officials said one way to better those relations is rangeland fire protection associations. "Rangeland fire protection associations are when a group of private landowners with concerns over land with fire protection on those lands," said Gosswiller. A group of private landowners can become part of a rangeland fire protection association. The BLM and other agencies provide training that allows landowners to help them fight fires safely. Officials said there are grants available for landowners who chose to create a rangeland fire protection association...more

Coyote America--How These Small Western Wolves Have Adopted and Survived

Dan Flores, author of ten books on western U.S. history, calls coyotes "an American original," having evolved in North America over five million years ago. Many people tried to kill them off as late as the 1960s, but they have bounced back and are now found in all states except Delaware and Hawaii. Flores' new book is "Coyote America; A Natural and Supernatural History." (Basic Books) The author told us that the wily small wolves survived over mammoths, mastodons and saber-toothed cats. Fifteen-thousand years ago when the first people crossed over into North American, he says they were intrigued with the animals and impressed that the coyotes were shrewd enough and adoptable to survive. "To the Indians, the coyotes were elevated to deity status, an avatar for human beings and their stand-in for the natural world," Flores told Charity. "Later, European-Americans were also surprised to encounter the small wolves, in fact in 1804 William Clark (of Lewis and Clark) thought at first that it was a type of new fox, but he later called them Prairie Wolves." We also learned from the author that most of the American public called coyotes "prairie wolves" until about 1915. From that point on, the animals faced a very difficult time as major eradication efforts began, often using poison, because farmers and ranchers believe that coyotes killed livestock...more

Can wolves and ranchers coexist in Washington state?

After a series of attacks on livestock, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) authorized state officials to cull the wolf pack responsible – a decision that has prompted backlash from conservation groups throughout the state. The WDFW has linked six cattle deaths to the Profanity Peak pack, a group of 11 gray wolves near Kettle Falls. State wildlife officials had shot two pack members earlier this month, but suspended removal efforts after livestock killings ceased. The dispute is just one of many that pit cattlemen against conservationists in the Pacific Northwest. But there are compromises which could satisfy officials, ranchers, and environmentalists alike. In Washington, the Profanity Peak pack is one of just eight packs with successful breeding pairs. There are fewer than 20 total wolf packs in the state, and a total of 90 individuals. Conservationists aim to preserve these populations, which play an important role in both national heritage and local ecosystem flow. But to cattlemen, the gray wolf is a menace. Many of these livestock owners have used the same business practices for generations – practices that didn’t account for wolves, which were virtually nonexistent at the time. Now, wolf populations are growing and brushing up against open range ranchers. The resulting attacks are financially devastating, as cattle can cost up to $2,000 per individual. And since only federal officials are allowed to kill wolves legally, many livestock owners feel that their livelihoods are not adequately protected...more

Thieves caught in Coquihalla cattle corral caper

A trio of thieves were caught red-handed Wednesday (Aug. 24) after a string of thefts along the Coquihalla Highway had ranchers at a local cattle company shaking their heads. Six cattle corrals on Coquihalla Cattle Company land had been taken down and the boards stolen since Aug. 21. More than 1,000 wooden boards have been taken, said Marilyn Cooke, owner of the ranch. “We realized one corral was done Sunday. Yesterday, my husband was driving home and the next underpass was taken. This morning, he drives the Coquihalla and the third underpass was all gone, so they worked all night last night taking it,” she said on Aug. 24. With the police notified about the theft, Sgt. Norm Flemming and the Merritt RCMP began to hatch a plan to catch the thieves on Wednesday afternoon. Anticipating that the men might return during the night or early morning hours, police set out to set up security cameras in the afternoon ahead of the planned sting. Only it turned out the sting wasn’t necessary. “Yesterday around two o’clock, one of constables was driving out there to set up some cameras, and lo and behold, they were there cleaning that lumber up,” said Flemming. “We quickly set up a perimeter and a couple of them attempted to dash up hill and hide in the trees, but that became problematic… So they pretty much gave themselves up without any incident.” Three men were arrested on scene, all around their late forties to early fifties, said Flemming, adding that all three men were from Surrey and known to the RCMP in the Lower Mainland. The thefts represent not only a major headache for the ranchers, but also a potential safety hazard for motorists along the highway, as without the corrals, the cattle could find their way onto the road...more

R-CALF USA’s Attorneys Seek Quick End to Beef Checkoff Lawsuit

In response to the government’s August motion to dismiss or stay the lawsuit R-CALF USA filed against the national beef checkoff program (Beef Checkoff) in May, late yesterday R-CALF USA’s attorneys asked the court to award R-CALF USA summary judgment and immediately end the program’s unconstitutional taxation of ranchers. The group’s lawsuit alleges the government, represented by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is operating the Beef Checkoff in a manner that violates the U.S. Constitution. According to the lawsuit, the Beef Checkoff, which compels producers to pay $1 per head every time cattle are sold, is a federal tax that funds the private speech of the Montana Beef Council. The group states that the council’s private speech is objectionable because it promotes the message that there is no difference between domestic beef produced under U.S. food safety laws and beef produced in foreign countries. Compelling citizens to subsidize private speech violates the First Amendment, the group says. In its August motion, the government barely contested R-CALF USA’s claim that the checkoff had been an unconstitutional, compelled subsidy. Instead, USDA argued the subsidy was no longer compelled because the agency is currently promulgating a new rule that would allow producers in most states to petition their respective state beef councils to redirect checkoff dollars away from those private state councils and to the federal Beef Checkoff program, which is operated under the direct supervision of the USDA. Citing the proposed rule, the government moved to either dismiss or to stay the case, saying it believes the disputed tax distribution will be resolved through its rulemaking process. In R-CALF USA’s motion it states that the government’s proposed solution is woefully inadequate. The group asserts that a violation of the Constitution cannot be remedied by imposing an additional burden on independent cattle producers though an opt-out scheme. Instead, the Constitution requires the government first obtain the affirmative consent from those who are required to pay the federal cattle tax before it can use those taxes to fund private speech...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1687

 A little bluegrass today with Bill Clifton & The Dixie Mountain Boys performing Are You Alone.  The tune is on his CD The Early Years 1957-1958.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Attorney named to spearhead Finicum, Bundy lawsuits

Southern California attorney who has gained national recognition as a legal analyst for media outlets announced this week that he will represent the family of slain Arizona Strip rancher R. LaVoy Finicum and imprisoned Southern Nevada rancher Ryan Bundy in anticipated civil rights lawsuits against law enforcement officers involved in ending an Oregon wildlife refuge standoff earlier this year. Brian Claypool, the owner and managing partner of Pasadena’s Claypool Law Firm, was hired by LaVoy’s widow Jeanette and her 12 children to pursue the lawsuit Jeanette has previously said will redress what she calls the “murder” of her husband during a standoff with state police and federal officers near the refuge Jan. 26. Claypool will also represent Ryan Bundy in a similar lawsuit stemming from the gunshot wound Bundy received, allegedly by law enforcement officers, minutes before Finicum’s death. And Claypool will reportedly serve as co-counsel in defending Bundy against criminal charges arising from the alleged conspiracy to defy federal authorities in an armed occupation of the Malheur National Forest refuge during the month preceding Bundy’s arrest. In addition to his legal work, Claypool is known as a “TV, legal, social and entertainment commentator,” according to his website. This month, he has made appearances on Fox News and CNN to discuss a number of legal cases as well as controversy surrounding Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte’s arrest in Brazil...more

Ammon Bundy Jury Pool - 90-Plus Potential Jurors Already Eliminated; Evidence discussed

More than 90 potential jurors for the upcoming trial of rancher Ammon Bundy for his alleged role in the 41-day occupation of an Oregon bird sanctuary have been excluded from the jury pool, leaving prosecutors and defense lawyers with about 200 more to assess until 12 are selected to serve on the jury. 1,500 juror questionnaires were sent out and 350 were received back ahead of the Sept. 7 trial. About 25 percent of the people who filled them out were eliminated from the jury pool due to alleged bias or hardship, according to The Oregonian. Bundy, of Emmett, Idaho, will face trial with seven other defendants who wanted the federal government to relinquish control of Western public land and free two imprisoned ranchers. The eight are charged with conspiring to impede Interior Department employees from doing their jobs during the group’s bird sanctuary occupation. Some of those excluded wrote on their questionnaires that they thought Bundy and the others were guilty, while one wrote of thinking about “joining them … or a state or national militia group.” Besides jury selection, Monday also included the first of what are expected to be days of pretrial conferences to determine what evidence will be allowed. Prosecutors said they plan to call seven Interior Department employees to testify. Defense lawyers argued that prosecutors should not be allowed to discuss an April 2014 armed standoff between Bundy followers and federal officers over grazing rights on public land near Ammon Bundy’s father’s ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada. In the Oregon case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel defended being allowed to introduce evidence about the Bunkerville standoff, saying details would provide the jury with context about why the Bundy brothers and their co-defendants took over the Oregon refuge. Prosecutors plan to use statements from defendant Pete Santilli referring to the Oregon refuge occupation as “another Bunkerville,” Gabriel said. Defense attorney Matthew Schindler argued that the Bunkerville standoff should not be mentioned and that hundreds of prosecution exhibits on guns and ammunition should be reduced to weapon exhibits that can be tied to each defendant...more

Nevadans, not DC bureaucrats, should regulate our backyard

by Rex Steninger 

The op-ed by Brian Sexton ("One View: Keep public lands in public hands," Aug. 8) demands a response. I, too, was at the recent Interim Legislative Committee on Public Lands held in Elko and can’t begin to understand how Mr. Sexton could have been “appalled” at how the federal land managers were treated. They were treated with the utmost respect and I am sure that the Nevada Legislature has transcripts for those who want to check for themselves.

The main cause for concern at the hearing was the exploding number of horses on the public lands. Several grazing allotments in Elko County currently have 10 times the number of horses deemed the appropriate management levels by the BLM. Several ranchers have been forced to take “nonuse” on their allotment because the horses have consumed all the forage. Some allotments haven’t been used by cattle for 10 years and the lack of forage also affects wildlife.

On top of that, there is no immediate plan to address the problem and the horse herds typically double every four years. The allotments currently hold more than 4,000 horses and, with no action, that number will double to 8,000 in four years. The ranchers will be forced off the range and the wildlife and horses will die horrible deaths from starvation and thirst.

Those are cold, hard facts, not “half-truths” or “political rhetoric directed at making the BLM and USFS seem incompetent” as Mr. Sexton charged. The forest service did come under criticism from the committee because it still had not determined the appropriate management levels on the public lands it administers, even though Congress had ordered it to do so 40 years ago. It is easy to see how that criticism makes the agency seem incompetent, but that certainly isn’t the fault of the legislative committee.

Why Yellowstone runs low on water


The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department closed the Yellowstone River to all water-borne recreation in response to a growing epidemic that has killed thousands of fish. The culprit is proliferative kidney disease, which can cause up to 100 percent mortality.

The disease is exacerbated by low water flows and high temperatures.

...Neither FWP nor the governor are willing to name the major factor creating low flows or “do everything” to stop the disease. There is a sacred cow they are afraid to name. In naming low flows and high temperatures, they are ignoring the ultimate cause of low water and high temperatures — which throughout Montana and the rest of the West is livestock production.

Livestock trample the riparian areas along streams which are the sponges that hold and release water, especially late season flows. Throughout the West, especially on public lands, cattle grazing is the No. 1 cause of riparian damage.

All those green hay fields one sees along the Yellowstone River? Well, that’s the river spread over those fields. Throughout the West, those green patches of exotic water-thirsty grasses are only possible by degrading our rivers through water withdrawals.

Irrigation causes stream dewatering and it's the reason many stream segments fail to meet state water quality standards.

When fish are crowded together, it increases competition for food and resting habitat and thus is a factor in stress. Low flows also mean any pools of water heat faster contributing to higher temperatures. Furthermore, even if the water diverted from a stream or river is subsequently returned to the stream, it is typically much warmer, which is another factor in high temperatures.

But here’s the catch. The water in Montana rivers, as well as the rest of the West, does not belong to ranchers. It is owned by the citizens of the state. Any use, including the removal of water, is subject to citizen approval. A water “right” is really a water privilege. We, the people of Montana, allow ranchers to use our water for their private profit. But this is subject to our approval.

Ranchers Must Have Veterinary Directive For Medicated Cattle Feeds

Beginning the first of the year, cattlemen who regularly use medicated feed for performance enhancement will be limited. That’s the “meat” of the message from Dr. Michael Apley, professor of clinical sciences at the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine, Manhattan. More than 170 ranchers were informed at the Beef Producers Information Seminar, hosted by WIBW and coordinated by longtime farm director Kelly Lenz. Apley discussed meaning of the Food and Drug Administration’s new Veterinary Feed Directive as highlight of a two-part seminar kicking off the Flint Hills Beef Fest at Emporia. Tracy Brunner, Ramona rancher who serves as president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, also reviewed activities of that group on behalf of Flint Hills ranchers’ profitability. The Veterinary Feed Directive, or VFD, was originally enacted under the existing Animal Drug Availability Act of 1996. It labeled certain drugs as Veterinary Feed Directive Drugs, which are antibiotics that are also used to treat human illnesses. The VFD is enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and only applies to feed grade antibiotics, medicines administered to animals in or on feed, and will ultimately rule out its use in growth promotion and feed efficiency. “The biggest change is you’re going to have to work with a veterinarian before feeding these medicated feeds,” Apley said...more

State decides to kill entire wolf pack in northeast Wash.

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- State wildlife officials say an entire wolf pack in Ferry County will be killed after two calf carcasses and an injured calf were found. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife says it has confirmed a wolf attack on the injured calf and that the dead calves were probably killed by wolves. The wolves have killed or injured six cows or maybe five others since mid-July. Jim Unsworth, director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, authorized field staff to remove the remaining members of the Profanity Peak wolf pack to prevent additional attacks on cattle between Republic and Kettle Falls. State wildlife officials shot two pack members Aug. 5, but ended the kills after two weeks passed without any more attacks on cattle, "At that time, we said we would restart this operation if there was another wolf attack, and now we have three," said Donny Martorello, department wolf policy lead. "The department is committed to wolf recovery, but we also have a shared responsibility to protect livestock from repeated depredation by wolves."...more

Taking a Stand at Standing Rock

Near Cannon Ball, N.D. — It is a spectacular sight: thousands of Indians camped on the banks of the Cannonball River, on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Our elders of the Seven Council Fires, as the Oceti Sakowin, or Great Sioux Nation, is known, sit in deliberation and prayer, awaiting a federal court decision on whether construction of a $3.7 billion oil pipeline from the Bakken region to Southern Illinois will be halted. The Sioux tribes have come together to oppose this project, which was approved by the State of North Dakota and the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The nearly 1,200-mile pipeline, owned by a Texas oil company named Energy Transfer Partners, would snake across our treaty lands and through our ancestral burial grounds. Just a half-mile from our reservation boundary, the proposed route crosses the Missouri River, which provides drinking water for millions of Americans and irrigation water for thousands of acres of farming and ranching lands. Our tribe has opposed the Dakota Access pipeline since we first learned about it in 2014. Although federal law requires the Corps of Engineers to consult with the tribe about its sovereign interests, permits for the project were approved and construction began without meaningful consultation...more

A Bad Day?

Animal rights activists to protest NM rodeo

ALAMOGORDO – Local animal rights advocates with the help from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) will be peacefully protesting the Otero County rodeo events today. A Village of Tularosa resident and animal rights advocate, Katherine Reiser, will be organizing a peaceful demonstration outside the rodeo entrance at the Otero County Fairgrounds to educate rodeo goers on what Reiser and her group believe is the unethical treatment of animals at rodeos. “We’re just going to be holding up some signs. We’ll have some literature to pass out for anyone who is willing to take it. It exploits the cruelty at what happens at rodeos,” Reiser said. “We’re not trying to cause any confrontation with the public whatsoever. The goal is strictly education. We just want to have a presence out there.” Reiser, who used to reside in New York, said she has been a resident of Tularosa for a couple of years now but she never realized the county fair also featured a live rodeo. She said when she found out through a radio commercial then her radar went up and she wanted to raise awareness on animal cruelty...more

Ranchers put skills to the test during 3rd Range Days Ranch Rodeo

It's a chance for those usually behind the scenes in the horse community to get a chance to shine.
Merritt says, "There's people that can rope calves and steers; this is an all-around showcase of what you do every day. There's a rodeo community and a ranching community, and they don't always overlap. This is a good excuse to get the ranching community involved." The goal is speed for teams of ranchers putting their day-to-day tasks to the test during the 3rd Range Days Ranch Rodeo at the Central States Fair. Rodeo organizer Kevin Schmidt says, "The winner of the CSF Ranch Rodeo is seeded to the final performance to the night of the 2017 BHSS. It's tough to make the qualifying round because we usually have 80 teams." And it's a unique style of rodeo that's growing.
Contestant Sergio Mirelas says, "It's blooming. It's getting bigger and bigger."...more

NM rally calls for government to protect Grand Canyon

On Wednesday, Roth and Neuhaus joined fellow Environment New Mexico organizers Sarah Lukins and Hannah Perkins and Environment New Mexico state director Sanders Moore in urging President Obama to protect Grand Canyon National Park from uranium mining by creating a national monument out of 1.7 million acres around the park. Supporters of the proposed national monument maintain that old mines around and inside Grand Canyon National Park have contaminated water in the area and that new mines could do more harm to the Colorado River, which provides drinking water to more than 25 million people downstream. Mining is not permitted within Grand Canyon National Park itself, and a 20-year moratorium, initiated by the Obama administration in 2012, prohibits new mining in the area outside the park. But Environment New Mexico said recent increases in uranium prices has mining companies working for the abolishment of the moratorium. Moore likened the threats posed to the Grand Canyon by uranium mining to potential damages caused by the proposed extraction of oil and gas near New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Environment New Mexico; its parent organization, Environment America, and other state affiliates are citizen-funded groups whose mission is a cleaner, greener future. The organization chose this week to push the proposal because today is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The Grand Canyon is the country’s 15th-oldest national park. More than 50 organizers focused campaign efforts in Albuquerque and eight other cities in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. Roth said efforts in Albuquerque had resulted in 600 petition signatures and 100 calls to the White House. When added to numbers generated in other cities, Environment America said the push produced 4,350 petition signatures and 1,300 phone calls. “We’ve seen this week how thousands of young people want President Obama to say, ‘Yes We Canyon,’ and create this national monument,” Perkins said...more

Which will come first, Arizona or Utah?  
Will they be designated before or after election day?

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1686

We like country here at Ranch Radio and you don't get much more country than Jimmy Work - When She Said You All.  The tune is on the CD Dot Hillbilly Vol. 1.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Obama creates 87,500-acre national monument in Maine’s North Woods

With the stroke of a pen, Obama created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument – the second national monument in Maine history after Acadia National Park’s precursor – on land east of Baxter State Park in an area facing severe economic uncertainty. The move is likely to delight conservation activists and infuriate local opponents fearful the designation is trading potential industrial-based opportunities in the Katahdin region for mostly seasonal tourism jobs. The designation is a substantial yet partial victory for Roxanne Quimby, the wealthy co-founder of the Burt’s Bees product line whose nonprofit, Elliotsville Plantation Inc., donated the land to the federal government this week. Quimby has pushed for years for a full-fledged national park in the North Woods but sought a lesser monument designation because it did not require congressional approval.
Quimby and Obama timed the land donation and monument designation to coincide with Thursday’s 100th anniversary of the establishment of the National Park Service...more

Bull Report: Sue, Settle, and Sue Again

Washington, D.C. (August 24th, 2016)The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is approaching the end of a five year, 757 species work plan dictated by a court order drafted behind closed doors because of lawsuits brought by litigation happy groups like the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). Now the CBD is threatening to sue again on an additional 417 species, including 87 plants and 235 invertebrates such as snails, mussels, and beetles. The FWS had hoped the 2011 settlement would finally relieve them of the endless litigation it has faced since 2007, but it has only emboldened the CBD and other serial litigants.

The CBD has mastered its bullying tactics to the point where it now has full control over federal endangered species policy. The playbook is clear—flood the agency with petitions to list as many species as can be found under every rock and in every crevice, and then sue when the FWS is unable to meet rigid, artificial deadlines under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for reviewing those petitions. This time, the CBD is cutting right to the chase, demanding that the FWS negotiate with them and them alone to set policy for the next several years. And if FWS refuses they will face a massive lawsuit with no chance of winning. Once a bully gets what they want the first time, what’s to stop them from coming back again and again?

These sue and settle tactics do nothing to actually recover species, which the FWS has accomplished for less than two percent of the species on the endangered list. The CBD playbook serves only to drive the ESA through courtrooms instead of driving recovery through science and the on-the-ground conservation practitioners working to balance the needs of species and people.  For this, we give the CBD four bulls, with an honorable mention to the Obama Administration for failing to recognize the need for ESA improvements to bring the law into the 21st Century.

Press Release

Campers tearing down fences of Lincoln National Forest

A little mouse is the source of a big controversy in one part of New Mexico. The government has been fencing off areas in the Lincoln National Forest to protect the endangered species but now some campers have started tearing those fences down. The forest service is trying to protect the endangered animal’s habitat by fencing off parts of the forest near Cloudcroft. “It’s to try to keep livestock out so that we can have more vegetation there that is required by the mouse, they need quite of vegetation to have forage and then also cover,” said Ciara Cusack with the Forest Service. It seems that not everyone is okay with these fences. People have spoken out against them, saying they are causing problems for local ranchers. Now, the Forest Service says it’s campers who are taking down the fences. “There have been plenty of times where over the weekends people have put the fence down and driven over it to camp in these areas,” said Cusack. New warning signs mark the latest step in the fight over access to the public land. It is a necessary step according to the forest service. “Having these fences up will help the critical habitat by reducing the impact of both camping and livestock grazing in the areas,” said Cusack. The forest service thinks there’s enough room for campers and the meadow jumping mouse to co-exist. “We try to do where we won’t affect people’s experience out here and there’s still places to camp and for people to enjoy the forest,” said Cusack. The forest service also says people caught taking down the fences can be fined up to a $1,000 but they hope it won’t come to that.  KRQE

Ranchers struggle with grizzly numbers

It’s a rancher’s worst fear when you do your morning livestock check and find dead animals. That sickening feeling when you find the first dead ewe sits with you and weighs heavy on your mind. The first thought that crosses your mind is the coyotes must have hit again. Conflict rises as you think about the situation further, thinking coyotes usually don’t take down a ewe. You think maybe you have a lion problem. Concern grows as you find six more ewes and three lambs spread over the 1,200 acre pasture. Then you find the grizzly tracks and five pound scat and think, “We need a bigger trap.” The fact that this was all found within a half mile of the family home alarms you. Due to the fact that this was a livestock depredation, USDA Wildlife Services (WS) was contacted first. The WS specialist promptly arrived and after hours of thorough investigation, tracks, kill patterns and scat confirmed these were indeed grizzly bear kills. The grizzly bear is a threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act, therefore limiting the rancher’s ability to protect their livestock and livelihood. Over the next three days, there were three more ewes and one lamb found dead and confirmed to be grizzly kills as well. According to the rancher and the WS Specialist, only one of the animals had been eaten. The WS Specialist, by protocol, notified Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) of the grizzly kill. While FWP did send a representative to the site to assess the situation, the FWP Head Grizzly Bear Specialist was not available to report to the kill site until five days later due to personal activities. Wildlife Services worked alongside the rancher to set traps to try and catch the bear (or bears) for five days with no luck....more

Interior chief makes climate change a part of parks' centennial

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will make climate change a focus of the celebration of the National Park Service's 100th birthday on Thursday. Jewell is celebrating the centennial of the park service by spending the morning in Montana's Glacier National Park. She will spend much of the morning hiking around the peaks of the park, learning about how climate change is affecting the mountain glaciers that give the park its name. Many of the park's glaciers have shrunk over the last few decades. Scientists predict the park will be glacier-free by mid-century if the current rate of global warming persists. Many scientists blame the burning of fossil fuels for causing climate change and the subsequent warming of the globe...more

Greens' massive lawsuit aims to force FWS deadline deal

The Center for Biological Diversity today threatened legal action against the Fish and Wildlife Service to jump-start the stalled Endangered Species Act status reviews of 417 imperiled species — a move that could set the stage for another major legal settlement between the conservation group and the agency. The species listed in the notice of intent to sue were all flagged for ESA protection by CBD and other nonprofits over the past eight years. They include coastal flatwoods crayfish, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, panhandle lilies and hundreds of other species. After 90-day reviews, FWS found that all of the conservation groups' ESA petitions presented "substantial scientific or commercial information" that the animals or plants should be added to the endangered or threatened species lists. But the agency then failed to complete more rigorous 12-month reviews of the imperiled species to determine whether listing is not warranted, warranted or warranted but precluded by other priorities. "You are in violation of the law and have abrogated your duty to ensure that protection of endangered species occurs in a timely manner thereby avoiding further decline and increased risk of extinction," CBD said in today's notice...more

Been working on my Stockman column. Hope to get some posts up later today.

Been working on my Stockman column.  Hope to get some posts up later today.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1685

Here's an early tune by Don Gibson: Walkin' In The Moonlight.  The tune was recorded in Nashville in 1951 for the Columbia label.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Legal teams begin putting together jury for Malheur trial

Some people claimed to believe in “guilty until proven innocent” with an unshakeable bias toward law enforcement. Others wrote of their disdain for the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Still, others said they had a two-week vacation scheduled at the end of September, didn’t speak English well enough to serve on a jury (despite having served on one in 2011) or said that their children are leaving for college. Those are just some of the challenges defense attorneys and prosecutors grappled with Monday as they took the first step toward piecing together a jury for those accused of conspiring to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January. The hearing was a view into the public’s perception of the occupation and the upcoming trial. It also underscored the challenge of seating a jury willing to keep an open mind after one of the most publicized events of early 2016. Earlier this summer, federal court officials sent 1,500 summonses out to prospective jurors throughout Oregon. The courts followed up with a detailed questionnaire. It’s those responses that were the subject of Monday’s pretrial conference, which U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown read aloud in court. “I only feel contempt for such individuals who arm themselves,” wrote one potential juror. “U.S. Fish and Wildlife has one political agenda and that is to inflict as much hardship on ranchers,” stated another potential juror. “They are no longer land managers, but political pawns,” the same person wrote of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The potential jurors who remain in the pool will be selected at random, 30 at a time, to appear for jury selection starting Sept. 7. Brown dismissed dozens of jurors over challenges raised by defense attorneys and the government. Others, Brown said, would need to provide more information about their views before deciding whether or not to excuse them from service. The identities of the jurors are kept secret, but defense attorneys, the court and prosecutors know the people who submitted questionnaires. “I do not believe any individual has any right to seize public lands,” one potential juror wrote in the questionnaire. “Although it is my civic duty, I do not like to sit in judge of another,” stated another. Defense attorneys for the group of eight going to trial in September worked as a team. At times, Assistant U.S. attorneys Ethan Knight and Geoff Barrow and defense attorneys were in agreement over the dismissal of a potential juror...more

Evidence list against refuge occupiers contains arsenal of weapons, ammo

The U.S. government has filed a 34-page list of 707 exhibits it plans to use in next month’s trial of Ammon Bundy and other Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers. The Friday, Aug. 19 court filing includes an extensive list of weapons and ammunition that the government intends to use as evidence against the occupiers, who took over the refuge for 41 days just after the beginning of this year. The document discloses that the government has seized thousands of rounds of shotgun, handgun and rifle ammunition as evidence. It has also seized as evidence at least 60 guns by KATU’s count. Those guns include semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and handguns. The court filing also includes items like computers, phones, cameras, media storage devices, interviews with the media, phone calls between negotiators and occupiers, emails, text messages, Facebook messages, aerial surveillance and photographs. The list could become longer. “If new exhibits are identified they will be promptly disclosed to the Court and to defendants,” wrote Billy J. Williams, a U.S. attorney, who filed the document...more

The evidence list is below:

The political crusades targeting national parks for drilling and exploitation


The boom in cheap natural gas has led to drilling and flame flaring just outside the boundaries of the 110 square mile national park, located in North Dakota’s badlands. There is virtually nowhere in the park in which its 600,000 annual visitors cannot see a drilling rig, an oil pump, a highway or a cellphone tower in what was once a sleepy rural area.

Ross said she is bombarded by letters and messages on Facebook from tourists over these eyesores. She frets that the park’s special status for clean air will be ruined by pollution and that a new oil refinery, planned for an area just two miles east of the protected area, will heighten this clash between nature and mining.

“The visitor experience is impacted by this type of structure,” Ross said. “These proposals all add up, they have a cumulative impact. There’s a perception that we are trying to shut down the energy industry but we just want responsible placement of these things.”

The challenges facing Theodore Roosevelt national park are emblematic of a fresh struggle for the soul of national parks. The parks, “America’s best idea”, have to define what they are for and whom they serve. Once-simmering tensions are starting to pop.

“The attacks on public land have become more visible and increasingly agitated, it’s got more muscle in recent years,” said Lynn Scarlett, chief operating officer of the Department of the Interior through George W Bush’s presidency.

“My discussions with Congress used to be about practical things, whether funding was enough,” she said. “It wasn’t like this. I didn’t find this general tenor of discussion that was anti-federal land and certainly not sentiments that were anti-national parks.”

There is a new crusade by some lawmakers, dubbed the “anti-parks caucus”, to unlock more public land to drilling and other development. This is a sharp divergence from the broad consensus forged since Roosevelt, a Republican, spurred the expansion of America’s network of national parks almost 110 years ago. This network now spans 412 federally protected places, including 59 national parks such as Yellowstone and Yosemite as well as hundreds of battlefields, monuments and historical trails.

A long piece, but an excellent example of how the left is portraying recent land-use and land ownership issues.  

For a rancher's perspective, see the next post

Leviathan in the Desert

...Are we overrunning the land in the name of saving it?

Never underestimate irony. In 1996, President Bill Clinton designated nearly two million acres in nearby Garfield County, Utah. During the last twenty years, vandalism has increased at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. In 2015 alone 1,400 cases of rock defacement were documented. In comparison, twenty-five cases of vandalism were documented in the Bears Ears area between 2011 and 2016. Increased visitation has led to greater deterioration of archaeological and geological resources in Utah’s national parks.

The problem is one of scale. As ranchers, we understood the connection between scale and stewardship. The size of a herd, the use of a pasture, the distribution of water had to bend to the limits of the environment. But the sheer size of this monument complicates stewardship, for everyone. Instead of a land that is parceled among many groups of stewards, the area becomes a single space governed by a single entity. And what it lacks in manpower it will make up for in regulations.

Not even minimal improvements to the land, such as planting grass, clearing small areas of brush and trees, grading roads, or cleaning ponds and springs will be allowed. A monument designation will implement a new travel-management planning process to decide which roads and sites may be accessed. Native Americans will be able to gather wood, nuts and ceremonial herbs only from approved roads.

Though existing grazing and mineral rights will be preserved, the logic of regulation tends toward its own growth. Again, the experience of Garfield County is instructive. Since the designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, grazing has decreased by 31 percent, mineral extraction has been restricted, and the county recently had to declare an economic state of emergency. Regulated out of viability. Tourists come for a season, but residents are relocating for good.

If Bears Ears must be designated a national monument, then a more natural, manageable size for it would be a quarter of what is proposed. The real jewels of the area are the canyons and ruins of Grand Gulch and Cedar Mesa. If this were the extent of the proposal, more locals could stomach it. But the proposed boundaries violate all sense of proportion, swallowing two whole mountain ranges, huge swaths of rangeland, native land allotments, and watersheds of entire towns. The park service already has a deferred maintenance backlog of 12 million dollars. How can it manage still more?

In rural life there’s a human scale too. People work with people they know. Everyone has a family, a history, and, for better or worse, a reputation. Park rangers are cordial but largely unknown entities, rotating in and out. Relationships break and heal, hearts listen and learn, only when the social scope is small. A bigger land boss from Washington would disrupt this exchange by elevating itself as the arbiter. Rural folks see themselves as actors shaping the world around them, not spectators watching things happen.

Rancher billboards promote grazing, logging on public lands

Stevens County ranchers are using billboards to raise awareness about public lands issues. The Stevens County Cattlemen are advertising with a billboard on Highway 395 south of Colville, Wash. The billboard depicts the message “Public Lands: Log it, graze it or watch it burn.” A billboard featuring the message “Wilderness: public land of no use — no logging, chainsaws, grazing, mining, bikes, wheelchairs and ATVs,” was located on the highway in Arden, Wash., earlier this year. The group first used the billboards in 2015. “Much of the policy being set for public lands emphasizes conservation and recreation, but shuns good management like grazing and logging,” said Jamie Henneman, spokesperson for the group. “The best management uses holistic tools like grazing and timber harvest to keep wildfire fuel loads down in the forests.” The county wants to see public lands be sustainable and healthy for the benefit of all, Henneman said. “Some of the best recreational benefits — clear trails, healthy stands of trees, reduced brush and vegetation — are because of cows and loggers,” she said. “It may not be politically correct to say right now, but these methods work.”...more

Rancher crew helps control range fire near Idaho border

Firefighters from the Jordan Valley Rangeland Fire Protection Association and the Bureau of Land Management worked through the night Sunday to build a line to slow the spread of the fast-moving Cherry Road Fire. Starting about 4 p.m. Sunday, they completed a 20-mile fireline with burnouts and bulldozers at the southern edge of the fire along Succor Creek Road by 7 a.m. “Last night it was just blazing,” said Kari Clark, a Homedale resident who watched the fire. “You could see the whole hillside lit up.”Clint Fillmore is the leader of the Jordan Valley crew of ranchers who make up the association, the members of which were watching aircraft drop water on hotspots in the canyons around Owyhee Reservoir at 6:30 p.m. Monday, more than 24 hours after they’d started. “Winds pushed it all night,” said Fillmore. “There were a couple of times it almost got away from us.” The fire was reported about 1 p.m. Sunday, at about 3,500 acres. By Monday morning, it was 31,210 acres nearly 10 times that size. About 100 people worked the fire. The cause of the fire is undetermined...more

Farmers Weigh In on Syngenta Deal

ChemChina's takeover keeps China on course to become big supplier to the U.S. Farm Belt For U.S. farmers, China just got a lot closer. The $43 billion deal spotlights U.S. farmers' complex relationship with China, whose economic growth in recent decades has spurred demand for agricultural commodities ranging from pork to soybeans. China is the world's top consumer of both, and Syngenta's sale to ChemChina, a Chinese state-owned enterprise, has provoked both fears and hopes across the U.S. Farm Belt. Some farmers are optimistic that the deal will force China to take a more direct interest in the fortunes of U.S. farmers. But others remain wary of China's regulatory system that some have seen prioritizing national interests at U.S. farmers' expense, and some U.S. lawmakers have warned the deal could pose new food-security concerns.  But competition among the six big companies that dominate the $100 billion global market for seeds and pesticides has become a hot topic at grain elevators and Midwestern coffee shops over the past year as a succession of merger deals promises to reshape the business. In December, DuPont and Dow Chemical Co. announced plans to merge while German pharmaceutical conglomerate Bayer AG, which maintains an agricultural division, has proposed to buy Monsanto for $65 billion, though those companies have yet to agree on a deal. Some farmers prefer Syngenta selling itself to ChemChina versus merging with a direct competitor and further shrinking the field. "If you take the word 'China' out of this thing, the competition is still there," said Ken McCauley, who farms 4,500 acres of corn and soybeans near White Cloud, Kan...more

Editorial: Red-cedar threat to school funding

The eastern red cedar tree can bring benefits to parts of Nebraska in the form of windbreaks and neighborhood landscaping. But in many areas of the state, the species is an unwanted invader.
The trees are highly flammable and can spread rapidly. Red cedar infestation was a central factor behind the wave of nearly 1,600 Nebraska wildfires in 2012 that burned more than 500,000 acres and cost more than $12 million to contain.
Wildfires along the Niobrara River east of Valentine that year destroyed more than 76,000 acres over a 10-day period.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service says that red cedars “can spread across an area and convert prairie into a dense forest.” This transformation displaces existing plants, including native shortgrasses, and reduces habitat for wildlife.
This threat is particularly a concern for the cattle industry. A new report from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln points to how the transformation of rangelands into red cedar woodlands has been particularly damaging to livestock production in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
Additionally, the UNL study notes, the cedar- based degradation of grazing land means Nebraska’s public schools will receive less funding.
The Nebraska Board of Educational Lands & Funds, the largest landowner in the state, owns and manages nearly 1.26 million acres of agricultural land, leasing it to farmers and ranchers. More than 950,000 acres are grasslands that generate income for public schools from grazing fees.
Over the past 15 years, such payments to Nebraska public schools have totaled $573 million.
If the red cedar infestation is unchecked, the UNL report says, “steadily declining profitability will slowly consume school budgets at the rate of a few million dollars a year in the near term.”

'Legal rebel' sets her sights on pipeline projects

As a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission lawyer in the 1980s, Carolyn Elefant annoyed her co-workers by doling out free advice to landowners. "My colleagues would say, 'You know, they should hire their own lawyers. We don't work for them,'" Elefant recalled recently. "No, we do work for them," she would reply, relishing her quiet rebellion. Today, Elefant is a hired gun for landowners battling her former employer and some of the nation's biggest energy companies. The 52-year-old New Jersey native works for small towns, ranchers and farmers fighting pipelines and other infrastructure linked to the nation's natural gas production boom. Her solo law firm in suburban Washington, D.C., is on the rise. "She's the pipeline lawyer. Nationally, she's the first go-to person," said Lynda Farrell, who hired Elefant in the 1990s to keep a gas pipeline from crossing her Chesterfield, Pa., farm. "She's the staunchest advocate for the landowner I've ever met."...more

The Testicle Festival returns

Nine years ago, young farmers looking to raise money for the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau approached the Estrada family with a controversial idea: They wanted to hold a testicle festival. Today, the tradition continues with Loretta Estrada at the helm, cooking and preparing more than 100 pounds of “Rocky Mountain Oysters” for the masses. “They wanted something different, something new and threw the words out, ‘let’s have a testicle festival,’” Estrada said. “We said, ‘that is a very catchy little name.’” For the first three years, organizers tried out different locations, before finally taking it home to the Estrada Ranch in Watsonville. Having bucked it for three years, Estrada said they have held it there ever since and has declared Deer Camp at Estrada Ranch the perfect location. A few years after its inception, organizers began holding a dipping sauce competition complete with a trophy. Bowls labeled “Great Balls of Fire” or something just as catchy now adorn the table for people to judge...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1684

Here's a nice western swing number by Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard & Ray Price from their 2007 CD Last Of The Breed.  The tune is Please Don't Leave Me Any More Darlin'.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ranchers Settle $6.8 Million Wildfire Lawsuit With Federal Government

The owners of a ranch south of Glendo have settled a $6.8 million lawsuit against the federal government for damages during the Sawmill Fire caused by Colorado Army National Guard troops training at Camp Guernsey in 2012, according to court records. Kevin and Susan Rothschild, who have owned the 5,000-acre Bulls Bend Ranch, LLLP, for more than 20 years, demanded the damages from the National Guard and other defendants, according to a lawsuit they filed in May 2015. The lawsuit initially named multiple defendants, but most were dismissed and the United States became the sole defendant. Court records do not identify the specific amount the Rothschilds received. U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson issued the order dismissing the case Monday. The government should have known better, according to the amended complaint filed by the Cheyenne law firm the Kuker Group, which represents the Rothschilds. Despite fire bans authorized by the Platte County Commission because of extremely dry weather, troops used ammunition and explosives at Camp Guernsey that led to the Sawmill Fire that burned over 22 square miles, including 2,000 acres on the Rothschilds’ ranch. “The Defendant, through its negligent supervision of its agents and as a direct and proximate consequence of their acts, was further negligent, irresponsible, reckless, and acted without regard for plaintiff’s property by not having any fire extinguishing equipment or other controls in place to control and minimize the risk of fire from their activities,” according to the amended complaint...more

Inconvenient: Giant Coral Reef That ‘Died’ In 2003 Teeming With Life Again

In 2003, researchers declared Coral Castles dead. On the floor of a remote island lagoon halfway between Hawaii and Fiji, the giant reef site had been devastated by unusually warm water. Its remains looked like a pile of drab dinner plates tossed into the sea. Research dives in 2009 and 2012 had shown little improvement in the coral colonies. Then in 2015, a team of marine biologists was stunned and overjoyed to find the giant coral reef once again teeming with life. But the rebound came with a big question: Could the enormous and presumably still fragile coral survive what would be the hottest year on record? This month, the Massachusetts-based research team finished a new exploration of the reefs in the secluded Phoenix Islands, a tiny Pacific archipelago, and were thrilled by what they saw. When they splashed out of an inflatable dinghy to examine Coral Castles closely, they were greeted with a vista of bright greens and purples — unmistakable signs of life...more

Environmentalists ask park to freeze ranch plan, longer leases

Environmental groups suing the National Park Service over the Point Reyes National Seashore’s ranch management plan asked a judge last Friday to issue a preliminary injunction to freeze the process and prohibit new long-term ranch leases until the park updates its 36-year-old general management plan. The motion—filed in federal district court and brought by the Resource Renewal Institute, the Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity—alleges that the park’s decision to prioritize the ranch plan over a general plan up-date was politically motivated. It also points to what plaintiffs call the “mismanagement” of tule elk as one of the harms resulting from the failure to update the general plan, which the seashore worked on for about a decade in the 2000s. That plan was shelved in a virtually complete draft form, the environmental groups say, when park officials decided to pursue other projects. The seashore, plaintiffs say in their motion, has “intentionally delayed issuing a new or revised General Management Plan and supporting Environmental Impact Statement that gives due consideration to non-ranching or reduced ranching alternatives, while instead pursuing the [ranch plan] to cement existing expanded cattle ranching on the public lands of the seashore for another 20 years.” But the suit argues that it is illegal to issue the ranch plan—which the park has stated would support ongoing ranching and evaluate longer 20-year leases and di-versification, among other things—without an updated general plan that more broadly guides priorities and evaluates changes over the past couple of decades. That argument has led to fears among ranchers and their advocates that the suit could bring the downfall of ranching in the park, which has been ongoing for well over a century. By stalling the ranch plan and long-term leases, the preliminary injunction would burden ranchers who say they need long leases to secure financing for improvements and want to diversify operations to boost their financial sustainability. Ranchers are also eager for new guidelines for how the park will manage tule elk, which eat forage on ranchlands. A group of ranchers, the county and the federal government will respond to the injunction request in court by Sept. 9...more

Keeping ranches in the family

“Ranches have a long tenure. Family ranches want to stay in the family,” said Paul Bottari of Bottari Realty Inc. in Wells. Still, families face struggles to keep ranching. “You are not going to get rich quick,” said Sam Mori of Mori Ranch in the Tuscarora area north of Elko. Clay Nannini, who has the listing for the Winecup Gamble Ranch for Coldwell Banker Algerio/Q Realty in Elko, said family ranches need to grow by acquiring neighboring ranches in order to survive as they pass from one generation to another. “It’s really difficult and rare to see ranches continue beyond three generations,” he said. As families grow, they need more land to support more family members or the surviving family member who wants to keep ranching has to buy out other heirs, and sometimes can’t make the payments, Nannini said. Jan Petersen, a local historian, said she knows of ranches where one of several children stays on the ranch “basically for room and board,” and when the parents die, “the one who stayed with heart strings tied to the ranch has no money to buy the ranch” from siblings so the family is forced to sell. Estate taxes also come into play when families try to hold onto a ranch, she said. Such ranches may be sold to neighboring ranchers or investors, which in northeastern Nevada may include gold producers. “The reality is working ranches can’t compete with other interests and outside money,” said Bottari, who also operates a small ranch. Mining companies acquire ranches for mitigation purposes, water rights, access to mineral resources and for exploration, Jeff White, director of rangelands and vice president of Newmont Mining Corp.’s Elko Land and Livestock Co. told the Elko Daily Free Press for the summer Mining Quarterly. Newmont owns the TS Ranch, the Horseshoe Ranch, IL Ranch and Big Springs Ranch. The company acquired Big Springs Ranch in Elko County as part of its Long Canyon mining project. Barrick Gold Corp. currently owns the Squaw Valley Ranch, the 7H Ranch, Dean Ranch, Hay Ranch and JD Ranch in northeastern Nevada, according to Jorge Esteva, communications director for Barrick Gold of North America. “Mining is a big part of Elko County but ranches are still a large part, and the ranches will be here when mining stops,” said Allie Bear, whose realty company specializes in ranches. Mori Ranch has a grazing partnership with Newmont’s IL Ranch in northern Elko County, Mori said...more

Deadly Bacteria Plaguing Cattle Herds Across Oklahoma

A potentially deadly bacteria is plaguing cattle herds across Oklahoma. Anaplasmosis has been in the United States for about 30 years. It’s common in the summer time when horse flies and ticks are most active. But one Green Country vet says this summer is one of the worst he’s seen in years. “It's actually a bacteria that's transmitted primarily by biting flies, ticks, anything that transmits blood, you can also do it with needles,” Beggs Veterinarian Dr. Gary Bynum said. Bynum says after an infected horse fly or tick bites it transfers parasites that affect the red blood cells and cause cattle become anemic. “Without treatment, they will die,” said Dr. Bynum. “Sometimes, they get so anemic that they don't get enough blood to the brain and they'll kind of go crazy and they'll charge you.” One of King’s infected cows charged her earlier this summer. “She went from looking up at me to full charging and I back up and kind of dodged her a little bit and then she turned around and came after me again,” said King. "In this weather, they're kind of laying around, they're kind of lazy. It's hard to pick up on a sick cow." That cow died, but if caught early enough there are treatments that can save the cattle. Ranchers can also use things like medicated feed mineral and vaccines to keep the animals from getting sick...more

Allegations Of Dysfunction Continue To Plague FirstNet, Our $47 Billion (And Growing) National Emergency Network

When first responder communications networks failed after 9/11, the government decided to build a nationwide wireless emergency communications network that would actually work. It took a decade of general histrionics and dysfunction by Congress, but in 2012 the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act formally created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). FirstNet is an entirely new federal agency tasked with coordinating the build of a 700 MHz LTE-based coast-to-coast emergency broadband network. But since its creation the effort (tell us if you've heard this one before) has been plagued with dysfunction, allegations of incumbent carrier cronyism, and stories of people getting paid a significant sum of money despite not actually producing anything of note. Fifteen years after 9/11 and four years after FirstNet was formally created, the program is showing only modest signs of progress. According to a new report in The Atlantic, completion projections for the project are now reaching $47 billion, without much of anything to show for it so far:
"It took FirstNet two years just to recruit a skeleton staff, only to be hit by an inspector general’s report that found potential conflicts of interest and problems with the awarding of initial consulting contracts. It then took another two years to issue a request for proposal (RFP) asking contractors to bid on the work to build and operate the system."
That RFP finally emerged in January...more