Friday, September 02, 2016

Contractor mauled by wolf at Cigar Lake mine

A contractor working in northern Saskatchewan is recovering in hospital after he was mauled by a wolf. The 26-year-old victim was on his lunch break at Cameco's Cigar Lake uranium mine Monday morning when the wolf made the unprovoked attack. The incident ended when a security guard scared the animal away. "We were very fortunate the security guard was in the place where she was," said Rob Geraghty, Cameco spokesperson. "She took a number of steps to not only get the animal away, but also to administer first aid." Geraghty did not release details on the worker's injuries, but he said they were serious enough the man had to be airlifted to hospital. The worker remains in a Saskatoon hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. Meanwhile, employees on site have been put on alert. All personnel have been told they must use vehicles to get around the area until further notice...more

Northern Saskatchewan mine worker recovering in hospital after wolf attack

A 26-year-old man is recovering in hospital after he was attacked in northern Saskatchewan by a lone wolf. The man, a shift worker at Cameco's Cigar Lake uranium mine, was walking between buildings shortly after midnight on Monday when the attack occurred, said Cameco spokesman Rob Gereghty. “He is a kitchen worker, on lunch break at that time. He may have been headed back to his room.” That's when the wolf made what Gereghty called an “unprovoked attack.” “A single wolf basically pounced on him. The injured contractor received immediate medical attention from a security guard who interrupted the attack and scared the lone wolf away...more

Wolf expert says human habituation likely reason for Cigar Lake attack

After a mine worker was sent to hospital following a wolf attack in Northern Saskatchewan earlier this week, experts say it's likely the animal had ceased being afraid of humans. The 26-year-old man at the Cigar Lake mine had taken a break just after midnight Monday when he was attacked by the predator less than 100 metres from the permanent camp. He was rescued by a security guard and airlifted to Saskatoon. CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning talked to two wolf experts about what may have caused the attack. Valerius Geist is a zoologist and professor emeritus at the University of Calgary and has written extensively about wolves. Lu Carbyn is an internationally recognized expert on wolf biology and an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta. While both researchers say it's difficult to pinpoint exactly why the wolf attacked, Geist said it was notable that the wolf was alone, apart from any pack. "The wolf was almost certainly hungry," he said. "For instance, when they grow old and are starting to lose teeth, and their efficiency in hunting goes down, that can be an issue." Carbyn said it's very likely the animal was lured to the area by the smell of garbage generated at the mine. "Wolves are attracted to garbage sites, and in the process might actually lose fear of people, because they're constantly in close proximity with people," he said. For its part, Cameco said it hired experts after a 2004 incident where a man was killed by a wolf at Points North Landing. It educates staff on dealing with large predators, and surrounds its garbage dump with two fences, one which is electrified...more

Causes unclear as wolves kill a record number of Wisconsin hunting hounds

The number of hunting hounds killed by wolves hit a record high of 28 so far this year, the Department of Natural Resources confirmed Tuesday. The state’s wolf population has grown while regulation of hunting dogs has been relaxed, but it’s not clear what factored into the increased dog deaths, said DNR large carnivore specialist David MacFarland. “It’s too early to say what’s causing it, or if it’s really a significant difference or not,” MacFarland said. “It could be just one pack being more aggressive than in the past.” The wolf population estimate this year is the highest yet for the endangered species, but little growth has occurred in northern areas where almost all of the dogs were killed, MacFarland said. Eleven of the 28 dogs killed this year, including four since Aug. 21, died in Bayfield County, according to DNR data. After a wolf attacks a dog being trained for hunting, there is a high probability of further attacks involving its pack, MacFarland said. The DNR tells hunters the farther they keep dogs from those packs, the lower the risk to their dogs...more

The Case for Mass Slaughter of Predators Just Got Weaker

Wildlife officials in Washington State recently green-lit a controversial plan to kill a pack of wolves fingered as the culprits behind a spate of attacks on cows there. The way the state sees it, taking out the carnivores could help prevent more livestock losses. The United States used this justification to kill thousands of coyotes, wolves, bears, and other predators last year. Other nations, including Canada and Finland, have also authorized predator hunts for this reason. But these killings might not solve any problems after all. A new study published Thursday in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment found that there's little scientific evidence that killing predators actually accomplishes the goal of protecting livestock. "We know anecdotes and perceptions don’t get us very far when we’re dealing with a problem like livestock predation," says Adrian Treves, a conservation biologist from the University of Wisconsin who co-authored the paper. "The science of predator control has been slow and not very advanced." Treves and his colleagues reviewed previous research attempting to measure the effectiveness of various predator-control methods in North America and Europe. Some studies looked at whether killing predators meant fewer livestock deaths, while others examined the success of nonlethal deterrents, such as the use of guard dogs and flag-lined ropes or wires. The scientists found that most of the research doesn’t hold up scientifically. Only two of the studies were deemed top notch because they took into consideration the possible effects of things like disease, weather and other elements that could influence livestock deaths. But neither study focused on the effectiveness of killing predators...more

Colorado's Anti-Fracking Crackup

by Michelle Malkin

...This week, two anti-fracking initiatives backed by deep-pocketed environmental lobbying heavyweights, such as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, failed to gather enough signatures. The more draconian of the efforts, Initiative 78, would have imposed a mandatory 2,500-foot setback around all oil and gas operations -- essentially halting drilling in upward of 95 percent of Colorado's energy-rich land area.

These drastic attempts to sabotage the oil and gas industry didn't just miss by inches. They missed by a mile high and wide.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced that supporters of the two measures surpassed the required signature threshold but not by enough to compensate for the number of signatures that were rejected during a random sampling. One of the initiatives garnered 77,000 signatures out of about 98,000 needed to qualify for the ballot; the other, 79,000. Every other state initiative campaign (on issues ranging from primary election reform to cigarette taxes to assisted suicide) this year hit the mark.

Worse for eco-activists, the secretary of state reported that the petition for the de facto fracking moratorium included "several potentially forged signature lines" and has been referred to the state attorney general for investigation. At least one hired signature gatherer told KUSA-TV that homeless men in Denver filled out forms with "bulls---."

Election fraud? What election fraud? Yep, that election fraud.

BLM issues long-awaited sage grouse implementation plans

Scott Streater

The Obama administration today finalized guidance documents outlining exactly how federal land managers will implement provisions in sweeping greater sage grouse conservation plans covering 67 million acres in 10 Western states.

The seven instruction memorandums (IMs) issued today by the Bureau of Land Management come nearly a year after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in September 2015 finalized the federal plans, which amended 98 BLM and Forest Service land-use plans to include grouse protection measures.

The IMs will guide BLM as it implements the sage grouse conservation measures that will affect how livestock grazing, oil and natural gas drilling, mining, renewable energy development, and other activities are carried out on federal lands across the West.

The IMs also include procedures to help BLM field offices track man-made disturbance activities in grouse habitat and collect data that will allow land managers to assess habitat conditions "at the local, regional and rangewide scales," the agency says.

One goal of the memos is to "show that there are some concrete actions" that, if applied consistently across the grouse's enormous range, will "provide certainty that conservation will take place," Sarah Greenberger, a key adviser to Jewell on sage grouse, said in an interview.

Greenberger and BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis outlined details of the IMs yesterday to Greenwire.

The federal plans were instrumental in the Fish and Wildlife Service's decision not to list the greater sage grouse for protection under the Endangered Species Act. But proper implementation of the plans is critical, Greenberger and Ellis said, and federal agencies need to coordinate and have the support of state and local partners.

...The exact language for how BLM will manage livestock grazing in grouse habitat is also likely to stir up controversy.

The Fish and Wildlife Service does not consider livestock grazing one of the top threats facing the bird, though overgrazing can reduce the height of the grasses and broad-leafed plants that sage grouse need to eat and find cover from predators.

Two of the IMs finalized today deal with setting priorities for reviewing grazing permits and allotments in grouse habitat and establishing thresholds that would trigger a set of actions when "habitat objectives" are not met.

The first says that BLM field offices "will prioritize the review and processing of grazing permits" in grouse habitat, as well as monitoring compliance with the terms of the permit.

"The decision to prioritize in this way does not indicate that grazing is more of a management concern than other uses of the public lands, or that grazing is an incompatible use in any given area, but rather reflects a decision to prioritize limited resources to ensure grazing is properly managed in those areas most important to the Greater Sage-Grouse," the IM says.

The IM directs field offices to "develop an [grazing] allotment priority list," with a special focus on so-called sagebrush focal areas that are considered critical to the survival of the grouse.

In addition, grazing allotments in areas with "large, contiguous areas of sagebrush cover" will be a higher priority for BLM review, as well as areas "with declining sage-grouse populations," the IM says.

It's not clear how the livestock and ranching communities will receive BLM's instruction memos...

Wolf advocates rally to move cows off public lands

Wolf advocates rallied Thursday outside the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, calling on the state to immediately stop shooting wolves and for livestock to be removed from public lands. Meanwhile, across the state, ranchers in northeastern Washington were trying to prevent depredations on cattle over a wide swathe of the Colville National Forest. “We do everything we can to protect the cattle. The only other thing we could do is not turn them out,” said Justin Hedrick, co-owner of the Diamond M Ranch, the most high profile of the cattle operations losing cattle to livestock in the forest this summer. “We’re not the only ones affected. We’re the ones getting the media on it,” he said. “Nobody wants the attention, but we feel we have to put ourselves out there for there to be remedies.” As of early Thursday afternoon, WDFW had reported shooting six wolves in the Profanity Peak pack. WDFW was due to break its week-long silence and issue an update in the afternoon on the hunt for the pack’s remaining five wolves. Since WDFW’s last update, emotions have risen. Hedrick said his family, which has grazed cattle in the Colville for 73 years, have been threatened. “We’re getting death threats every day,” he said. “It’s very troubling. They call all day long, all night long.”...more

Madeleine Pickens' losing battle with the BLM

A $25 million eco-sanctuary meant to be a tourist attraction for rural Nevada is closed and may never re-open. The Mustang Monument in Elko County was created as an alternative for the troubled wild horse program, but the Bureau of Land Management has stopped the project from moving forward. The I-Team has obtained internal documents which show that what the BLM said in public is much different from what it thought in private. The wild horse program is through by many to be the worst program in the federal government. Bad for the horses, bad for the range, bad for the taxpayers. Every two or three years, the feds pay for an expensive study, and every study concludes that BLM needs to try something different. BLM always reacts the same. It ignores the recommendations. Mustang Monument was going to be a public private partnership -- a radical change good for the horses, the range and the taxpayers. The public records request shows it never had a chance. An obscure road is an example, Pickens planned to use it to transport tourists from her guest accommodations to deeded property on the other side of her range for cookouts and to see the herd of horses that was living out there, that is, until vandals cut the fences and the horses either died or ran off. BLM won't allow the use of the rarely traveled access road. "BLM has given her four or five pages of questions about what she would do on the road which include, where would people go to the bathroom? The answer is, it's a short enough drive they wouldn't go anywhere but they don't want to know where, they want to know how many times would they stop, how many times would they need to use a facility. Silly questions," Reynoldson said. A road that's been trod for a century by cows, sheep and horses can't be used to transport visitors because someone might have to pee. BLM is making sure they keep putting their foot out and tripping me up every time," said Mustang Monument founder Madeleine Pickens. "I keep getting up, they stop me." Pickens spent $6 million for two sprawling ranches because she was encouraged to do so by BLM. She offered to get other investors to buy another 2 million acres, and take all 30,000 wild horses the BLM had in storage, a plan which BLM admits would save the taxpayers more than $100 million in just five years. In public statements, BLM said it wanted to work with Pickens, but privately, it's another matter. Public records obtained by the I-Team show that BLM staff plotted the demise of Pickens plan from the beginning. A 2008 white paper discusses how the law could be used to prevent the project. BLM blacked out the details as being privileged information...more

$2.3 million Navajo Beef Program benefits 23 local families

The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, in conjunction with Labatt Food Service and Navajo Nation Leadership, is celebrating the continued expansion of the successful Navajo Beef Program three years after its launch the end of 2012. The program now features 23 local Navajo ranching families raising high quality beef, Labatt Food Service distributing it and NNGE purchasing it to serve in its resort, casinos and restaurants. Since its launch November 2012, the program has grown in revenue for local Navajo ranchers, product distributed and customer base and by the end of 2016 is projected to produce $2.3 million in revenue. In its first year (2012 to 2013), the Navajo Beef Program—through Navajo ranchers—produced 545 head of cattle and generated more than $500,000 of revenue back into the local Navajo community. Growth during its second year (2013 to 2014) increased by approximately 15 percent. Revenue generated back for Navajo Ranchers was approximately $750,000 for year two. In year three, additional Navajo ranchers and their families in Arizona and New Mexico are participating and together will earn a projected $2.3 million with 1,998 total head of cattle. The program involves local Navajo ranchers like Travis Platero and family. The Platero family lives on the H-P Ranch in Haystack, New Mexico, where producing premium quality livestock is a way of life. Platero recalled, “My grandpa gave my dad two cows and two sheep and told him to do something with them. That’s still what’s going on to this day. I’m very excited to be part of the program and to have my dad’s name and brand recognized in different places–from the feedlots to the restaurants.”...more

Killing of wolf pack leads to death threats, protest

The killing of a pack of wolves in northeastern Washington to protect cattle is producing death threats and protests. Researcher Rob Wielgus of Washington State University this week declined further comment on the pending elimination of the Profanity Peak pack by hunters for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, citing the death threats. “My friends in WDFW have received death threats. It’s gone too far,” Wielgus wrote in an email to the newspaper. Last week, state Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, told the newspaper that cattle producers also were receiving death threats in the wake of the controversy. Wielgus said last week the conflict with wolves was inevitable because one of the ranchers involved had turned out his cattle on top of a known wolf den. Wielgus was challenged on that claim Monday afternoon by Conservation Northwest, a nonprofit environmental group, which said it heard the cattle were turned out five miles away from the den and that the den was not in use. Asked to respond Monday, Wielgus wrote in an email: “I can’t understand this. of course the den was in use and I have many photos of cattle on den. What gives?” In a later email, he wrote that Donny Martorello, the state’s wolf-policy lead, told him the cattle were turned out five miles away and moved to the den site later. Officials for Washington State University on Wednesday issued a statement disavowing Wielgus’ original comments regarding the wolf den. “Some of Dr. Wielgus’ statements in regard to this controversial issue have been both inaccurate and inappropriate,” Washington State University said in the press release...more

County considers drone rules: Officials studying policy as more drones take to the skies

As more and more drones are taking to the skies, San Mateo County officials are starting to look at ways to regulate them. The Board of Supervisors will conduct a study session Tuesday on their effects related especially to being used around two county-owned airports and in county parks. There is concern that the device’s users are increasingly losing control of the remote-controlled aircraft, said Supervisor Don Horsley. Complaints about their use come from all around the county but especially on the coast near farms, marine preserves or in the mountains where peregrine falcons nest, Horsley said. Some users like to fly their camera-equipped drones near falcon nests that could prove detrimental, Horsley said. “They could have a negative impact on future populations,” he said. People are also using drones to capture images of nesting shorebirds along Devil’s Slide trail and to spy on harbor seals where they breed and raise young, said county Parks Director Marlene Finley. Permits are required to fly a drones in a county parks, she said. Some cattle ranchers have also complained that people use the drones to scare their livestock, Horsley said...more 

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1691

Today we present a side of Red Foley you may not have heard:  a cowboy singer.  This is Montana Moon which was recorded in Chicago on March 4, 1941.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Professors tell students: Drop class if you dispute man-made climate change

Three professors co-teaching an online course called “Medical Humanities in the Digital Age” at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs recently told their students via email that man-made climate change is not open for debate, and those who think otherwise have no place in their course. “The point of departure for this course is based on the scientific premise that human induced climate change is valid and occurring. We will not, at any time, debate the science of climate change, nor will the ‘other side’ of the climate change debate be taught or discussed in this course,” states the email, a copy of which was provided to The College Fix by a student in the course. Signed by the course’s professors Rebecca Laroche, Wendy Haggren and Eileen Skahill, it was sent after several students expressed concern for their success in the course after watching the first online lecture about the impacts of climate change...more

Lawsuit cites 
climate as 
reason to halt
 energy leases

A sweeping new lawsuit challenging hundreds of federal oil and gas leases in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming seeks to build on the success environmental groups have had getting the Obama Administration to account for the impacts of climate change when it comes to coal mining. WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility last week sued the federal government to challenge nearly 400 leases covering almost 380,000 acres in the three states, citing a failure to disclose the direct, indirect and cumulative climate-change impacts of those leasing decisions. Jeremy Nichols of WildEarth Guardians this week cited the progress groups like his have made when it comes to getting the government to acknowledge climate-change impacts related to coal production and consumption. “We feel like it’s high time to spur the same kind of progress when it comes to oil and gas,” he said. “We’re bringing a big case because this is a big issue.” WildEarth successfully sued to challenge expansions of the Colowyo and Trapper coal mines near Craig, and the expansion of the West Elk Mine in the North Fork Valley into a roadless area as well as a Colorado roadless rule exemption that would allow for it. Court rulings in those cases resulted in the government doing new environmental reviews that include projections of climate-change impacts. Nichols also noted that the federal government has imposed a moratorium on new coal leases nationally as it reviews its coal program, including the climate-change considerations of mining and coal combustion. Yet the government seems unwilling to similarly acknowledge the climate-change impacts of oil and gas development, he said. “That’s a problem. It’s what we call a major blind spot,” he said...more

If it worked on coal, then why not oil & gas?  If it works on oil & gas and coal, then why not on livestock grazing/

Editorial: Rich County strikes right balance with grazing plan

If it seems like the wrangling over public lands in Utah is intractable, a handful of people in Rich County are showing us what success looks like on the ground.

And success looks pretty normal. It's not doing things as they've always been done, but it's also not the posturing and fist shaking that passes for political discourse these days. It's not a federal government calling all the shots from Washington, and it's also not cows and sheep chewing everything down to the dirt. Instead, success is some talking and a willingness to try something different. 

In the case of Rich County, that something different means putting up a few fences and keeping more cows in a smaller area so the rest of the range can have more chance to bounce back.

If that seems too simple, then recognize that the ranchers have been doing things a certain way since the 1800s. Then as now, the ranchers didn't own the land, but they were pretty much left to their own. 

Since then, layers of government and changing priorities have brought 29 ranchers to a point where they sat down with the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration and the Rich County Commission to work out a system that leaves 70 percent to 80 percent of the land without cows at any time during the grazing season.

Even the Utah Department of Environmental Quality has been pulled in, providing a $1 million grant to improve water quality and wildlife habitat by redirecting water to keep the cows out of streams. 

It's enough government to make Cliven Bundy's head explode.

 In their rush to take a slap at the Bundys and endorse collaboration as the answer to current controversies, the Salt Lake Tribune fails to note the rest/rotation system was originated by the ranching industry, the agencies have historically discouraged innovation, and the system will not work on all types of allotments in all areas of the West. .  

Climate Craziness of the Week: “Climate Anxiety Counseling” enters the lexicon with a ‘practitioner’

I’m scared for the effects of climate change on the world I love. Rather than try to think about, save, or mourn for the whole world, I decided to think about my city and state, and the living creatures — including other humans — who share it with me.

The first round of Climate Anxiety Counseling ran in Kennedy Plaza (outside Burnside Park), Tuesday-Friday 3-6 pm, Saturday 3-5 pm, May 13th-June 7th, 2014. Opposite the bus terminal, and just outside Burnside Park, I sat with a Lucy-from-Peanuts style booth (thank you, Charles Schulz):
When people stopped to talk with me, I asked them what they were most worried about — whether it was related to climate change or to something else — and if I could write down what they said. With permission, I’ve shared on this site some of what people said to me.

If you come to the booth, you can share your anxiety–climate or otherwise–with me, and respond to someone else’s anxiety in the form of an Alternate History, to help imagine a different set of futures (more about how and why here). You can also take away a little drawing of a living creature that shares the state with you. I’ve since set up the booth at AS220’s Foo Fest, the Washington County Fair, the Sankofa World Market, and the Providence International Art Festival.

Borderlands Cat - Can Mexico Save the US Jaguar?

by Richard Mahler

...So why am I here? Because this is where the infinitesimal population of US jaguars almost certainly comes from – and if they stop breeding in this corner of the Sierra Madre the species will likely lose its precarious Southwest foothold forever. I’ve been writing about jaguars for over 20 years, following their saucer-sized paw prints from US borderlands south to Panama’s Darien Gap. On this balmy evening my journey has taken me deep into the Mexican state of Sonora, which borders Arizona and New Mexico.

The presence of jaguars in the United States would likely surprise most Americans, who may reasonably assume that Panthera onca, the biggest felid species in the Western hemisphere, is exclusively a jungle critter. While it’s true that most of the estimated 15,000 remaining jaguars are, indeed, found in the Amazon and other tropic zones, they also have been part of the natural order in the US since long before the pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock. The majestic cat is a holdover from the millennia when it and other megafauna – including now-extinct mastodons and giant sloths – roamed a cooler, wetter, and largely human-free North America. Smaller than its ancestors, modern jaguars nevertheless rank among grizzly bears, mountain lions, and timber wolves as the New World’s most formidable predators.

Except they are no match for the wiliest predators of all: humans. Over the past two centuries, jaguars have been eliminated from more than half of their historic range, which spans the US Southwest and Central and South America. Today, they are listed as “near-threatened” on the IUCN Red List.

In Teddy Roosevelt’s day jaguars roamed across most of Arizona to the rim of the Grand Canyon, into southwestern New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness, and over the Río Grande into the Big Bend of Texas. But about a hundred years ago, US jaguars were targeted for extermination as part of a government-sponsored program of livestock-predator removal. Bounty hunters were paid to eliminate all large carnivores, including wolves, grizzlies, and mountain lions, another of the four so-called “big cat” species. The grizzlies and wolves were wiped out – though wolves have been reintroduced, they are struggling to gain a foothold here. But mountain lions and a few jaguars survived.

This northernmost jaguar is so rare and so secretive that almost no one ever sees one. During the past 136 years, fewer than one hundred jaguar sightings have been confirmed in the US, virtually all in the Southwest and most by trophy hunters accompanied by scent-trained dogs. For decades, jaguars were thought to be extinct in the US, but in 1996 two of these cats were treed by hunters’ dogs. Since then, a total of five individuals have been verified: two in southwestern New Mexico and three in southeastern Arizona. A sixth was spotted just across the border in Sonora.

...Experts who wish to see jaguars return to the US agree that saving the northernmost jaguars means protecting and expanding the small breeding population of these cats that persists in Sonora’s Sierra Madre Occidental, a jagged spine running north to south from the international border. It is from this redoubt – about 125 miles from where Sonora, Chihuahua, Arizona, and New Mexico intersect – that El Jefe and his ilk almost certainly derive, and where I spent part of last February trying to understand what these wandering outliers are up against.

“This is the ecological heart of the northern jaguar population,” according to the Northern Jaguar Project (NJP), the nonprofit group working hardest to save prime Sonoran habitat. Since its 2003 founding, the Tucson-based NJP has documented more than 50 individual jaguars in an area where experts believe as many as 120 jaguars may remain.

Operating in partnership with the Mexican conservation organization Naturalia, NJP has established an 86-square-mile reserve in Sonora for the protection and study of jaguars. This protected area is believed to be critical for the animal’s survival in northwestern Mexico and the southwestern US because the Sonoran jaguar population, too, is seriously threatened by habitat loss, reduced prey populations, and hunting. (Although killing a jaguar in Mexico is illegal and punishable by fines or jail time, poaching and retaliatory killings by ranchers are seldom reported or prosecuted.)

...Most importantly, NJP contracts with a dozen large ranches to pay for any camera-trap photos taken on these lands of jaguars, as well as mountain lions, bobcats, and ocelots. Dubbed Viviendo con Felinos (Living with Felines), the 55,000-acre effort involves placement of dozens of motion-activated cameras on these properties, which are monitored monthly by NJP’s “jaguar guardians” and scientists for evidence of cats and their prey.

“We understand that the local economy is based on cattle,” explains Javier Valenzuela Amarillas, a Sonora native and one of the NJP employees who checks cameras. “We respect that, and try to help ranchers and wildlife coexist.” Besides supplementing rancher income with cash (around $270 per jaguar photo), Viviendo con Felinos guardians suggest ways to minimize big cat depredation, such as keeping cattle away from areas frequented by jaguars and mountain lions. In addition, the NJP helps ranchers obtain Mexican government insurance policies that compensate cattle owners for proven livestock losses to jaguars.

As a result of these cooperative efforts, visiting Mexican biologist Miguel Gómez Ramírez told me, “the population of cats here is healthy and there are plenty of prey animals” for jaguars...

United Way Worldwide Delivers Otero County to the Gun Control Wolves

 by Jenn Jacques

Do you donate to the United Way? You need to read this before you write your next check.

Who knew one law-abiding group of people trying to raise money for their community could be so hated?

When the Otero County (NM) United Way started their 2017 Calendar Gun Raffle with the hopes of raising $150,000 for their community, the backlash was swift… and highly suspect. Intent on shutting down a fellow New Mexico United Way campaign, the President-Elect of the Santa Fe United Way, Miranda Viscoli, wrote a letter to the United Way Worldwide (UWW) urging them to shut down Otero County’s campaign.

Viscoli said, “It’s unconscionable. It has nothing to do with what United Way is about. They’re paving the road for other United Way branches to hold raffles.”

Interesting, since over a dozen other United Way chapters also hold gun raffles to raise money for their communities. Of course she knows this, but that doesn’t fit her agenda… so onto the spin we go.

After United Way Worldwide suspended the Otero County gun raffle, Viscoli told KRQE, “There seems to be a disconnect between their mission and their fundraising tactics. The very items that they are choosing to raffle will go back into the communities already hurt by gun violence against women and children.”

Ultimately, United Way Worldwide reviewed the facts of the case and concluded Otero County was operating within their bylaws and New Mexico state laws, prompting them to lift their suspension on August 13th.

“For Ms. Viscoli, jeopardizing funding for charity and wasting law enforcement resources were no hurdles to pursuing her own personal anti-gun vendetta,” a representative from the NRA-ILA commented.

United Way Worldwide spokesman Ryan Powers said, “It’s an internal membership discussion. I’ve seen the statement and we don’t have anything more to add to the statement. It’s an internal membership discussion and we’d prefer to keep it at that.”

But since this is a story of how gun control supporters won’t stop until they get their way, it doesn’t end there…

Ms. Viscoli seems less interested in protecting “the United Way brand” as she claimed publicly, and more interested in promoting the other cause she’s affiliated with personally: New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence.

HT: Marvin Frisbey

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day (replay)

Ranch Radio will close out the week with a tune about our old cartoon buddy Snuffy Smith.  That's Johnny Acton doing the singing and you'll find the tune on Vol. One of the High On The Hog series by Cactus Records.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Proving Them Wrong: How The U.S. Oil And Gas Industry Survived

The Saudis counted them out. So did the Russians, even many domestic analysts said North American shale and tight oil and gas production would decline in the face of low prices and that investment would dry up and output would fall. Well, guess what? They have all been proven wrong. Sure, rig counts have dropped and there have been painful layoffs of workers, but the industry is surviving and against all the “experts” advice, production of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales of the U.S. Northeast is averaging 22.63 billion cubic feet per day in August, according to a Financial Times article. That is up 2 percent from July and the most since February’s all-time high of 22.78 billion cu-ft/d. Despite earlier U.S. government forecasts that combined gas output from the two shale areas lying beneath Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia would decline, producers have managed to maintain volumes by tapping inventories of drilled but uncompleted wells and burrowing deeper, longer wells that yield more gas. Even though the number of drilling rigs has declined, technological developments have helped producers increase output. New production per rig now averages about 11.4 million cubic feet of gas in the Marcellus, an 18 percent improvement from a year ago, according to the article...more

Free Speech Being “Stifled” in Bundy Standoff Case

The “Bundy trials” begin in a few days.  And the lawyer who is representing the Las Vegas Review-Journal and other news media filed court papers on Monday which accuse the government of trying to “stifle” free speech in the criminal case stemming from the 2014 Bunkerville standoff. The filings by Attorney Maggie McLethcie are part of an effort to overturn the protective order signed last month by U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen. The protective has been called “too broad and a blow to transparency” as it withholds the bulk of the government’s evidence from the public in this case. According to The Las Vegas Review-Journal:

The order prohibits defense teams for all 17 defendants from publicly disclosing grand jury transcripts, FBI and police reports, witness statements and other documents the government collected during its investigation into the April 2014 armed standoff between Bundy family forces and law enforcement. Leen issued the order without a public hearing and in the face of opposition by most of the defendants, including Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy and his four sons, and the news organizations represented by McLetchie. “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. Federal prosecutors filed court papers last week supporting Leen’s decision, arguing she followed proper legal standards. But in court papers Monday, McLetchie argued that the government’s biggest fear in keeping its evidence confidential is public criticism...more

HT: Marvin Frisbey

Natural resource investing gets a federal jump-start

The new Natural Resource Investment Center at the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is making strides toward using market-based approaches and innovative public-private partnerships to tackle natural resource and conservation issues. For years, the nation slowly has been coming to terms with aging water infrastructure, dealing with water shortages in the West and attempting to revamp species and landscape conservation efforts. This center is the newest actor coordinating large-scale private capital into a sphere that historically has been funded by the government. To balance these issues against modern day urbanization pressures, population shifts, climate change and constrained budgets, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell launched the center in December. The center was inspired by President Barack Obama’s infrastructure and economic growth-focused Build America Investment Initiative. It seeks to facilitate the formation of deals between stakeholders to attract private capital into natural resource and conservation investing...more

Officials sign landmark pact to protect Northern Nevada sage grouse

Gov. Brian Sandoval hosted state and federal officials along with executives of a global mining company Tuesday to sign what was hailed as a landmark agreement designed to protect Nevada’s sagebrush ecosystem and a chicken-size bird that depends on it. The agreement with Newmont Mining Corp. covers roughly 1.5 million acres and implements the state’s conservation credit system — the cornerstone of Nevada’s plan devised in an effort to stave off a federal listing of sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. “This agreement brings the sagebrush conservation system from theory to reality,” Sandoval said in a signing ceremony at the state Capitol. Janice Schneider, assistant secretary for land and minerals at the U.S. Interior Department, said the mitigation credit system is “the first of its kind” in the nation and may be used as a model for other Western states as they strive to achieve protections for the bird while allowing mining, ranching and other activities crucial to rural economies...more

The new Malheur occupants: Grazing cattle

Now that the focus has shifted to the upcoming trials of the outlaws who took over Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge offices last January, we might recall that the actual, physical occupation lasted for a total of 41 days. In many ways, however, it never ended, and there is every reason to conclude that the occupiers won. The refuge’s headquarters are still closed, federal cops guard the area, and no one answers the phone. At least six staff members have left, including the fisheries expert and the ecologist. They have not been replaced. Meanwhile, all is not quiet on this Western front. Some or all of the 13 ranchers with grazing privileges on the refuge were going full-bore when my students and I drove north along the refuge on Aug. 12. Thousands of acres of the Blitzen Valley part of the refuge had been mowed. Three huge double-flatbed trailered semis passed us going south, ready to welcome on board the valuable hay bales. Ranchers apparently pay with “in kind services,” which in this case means that the hay is paid for by mowing, baling and hauling it off. Because the mowing is considered beneficial to wildlife, it is considered a “service’ to the refuge and to wildlife, so little or no cash changes hands. So ubiquitous was the haying activity I saw that it is hard to believe that it had only been going on for two days...more

Lawmakers Furious Feds Spent $3.3 Million Paving Over Sacred Indian Burial Grounds

Lawmakers want to know how the Obama administration allowed National Park Service (NPS) officials to spend more than $3 million building an “extensive boardwalk on sensitive American Indian burial sites” they were tasked with protecting. Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop wrote Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell to find out why NPS officials spent taxpayer dollars on 78 projects that damaged sacred Indian sites, including boardwalks and trails over 200 sacred mounds without conducting any sort of impact analysis. Bishop, the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, wants Interior officials to brief committee staff on the situation no later than Sept. 9. NPS disclosed this information in a 2014 report on agency actions at the Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa. The 2014 report found NPS officials “clearly knew what they were doing was against the law” during their decade-long effort building boardwalks and trails over Indian burial grounds. “[T]he report highlighted findings that [Effigy Mounds National Monument] staff ‘failed to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act and/or the National Environmental Policy Act on at least 78 projects, using $3,368,704 in federal funds,’ which included the construction of an extensive boardwalk on sensitive American Indian burial sites,” Bishop wrote in his letter to Jewell...more

How Brexit Will Affect Paris Global Warming Treaty

The fate of the European Union’s global warming commitments negotiated as part of the Paris Protocol may be in jeopardy as result of Brexit. The U.S. on the other hand, should take a page out of the U.K.’s playbook and not only withdraw from the Paris agreement, but also withdraw participation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change altogether. Last December, leaders from around the world convened at the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris. The agreement reached at the end of the Paris conference set a target of achieving a 2 degree Celsius warming threshold with intentions to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To achieve that goal, countries made individual commitments to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, largely centered on shifting away from affordable natural resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas, and toward more expensive, intermittent, subsidy-dependent renewables. Known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, the Obama administration pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025. The EU, on the other hand, submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions on behalf of its member countries, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. How the U.K.’s exit affects the EU’s commitment remains to be seen...more

Albuquerque gun collector suing after federal agents raided his home

An Albuquerque gun collector is suing the Department of Homeland Security after the feds raided his home. Three years ago agents raided Robert Adams’ northeast Albuquerque home saying he was suspected of smuggling guns into the U.S. They said it was part of a scheme to get around tax laws. However, the feds later acknowledged Adams was a licensed gun supplier. According to the lawsuit, during the raid his home and personal belongings along with some his guns were damaged. It says he is also still missing one valuable firearm. “They damaged them. They broke them…scraped them. They took them apart,” said Adams’ attorney. The lawsuit also claims his business of buying and selling guns suffered.  KRQE

Indian-Americans clash with cowboy town over proposed center

The Southern California city of Norco markets itself as “Horsetown USA,” and it’s not unusual for cowboy hat-wearing residents to head out for lunch or run errands on horseback in its Old West-styled downtown. Local leaders celebrate that rural, equestrian lifestyle and are protective of it. Those who build must ensure their property includes Western architectural features such as a metal roof or overhang. But some Indian-Americans are questioning the sincerity of that standard after the City Council rejected a proposal for a hilltop Hindu cultural center on a hilltop partly on grounds that the large, domed building wouldn’t fit in. They think the decision — which came after residents urged the city to keep its culture and questioned why proponents chose the site — is discriminatory. The controversy over the proposed cultural center has focused attention on how Norco can keep its Western theme and rural lifestyle while incorporating newcomers, and how those who arrive in the city can adapt to their surroundings while retaining their culture...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1690

Here's a bluegrass classic, performed by the Stanley Brothers (Carter & Ralph):  Rank Stranger.   The tune was recorded in Cincinnati on July 11, 1960.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Navy Can’t Prove That Green Energy Projects Save Money

The U.S. Navy handed out a $334 million contract for solar power without having a good way to determine whether the project would be cost effective. The Pentagon’s inspector general recently audited three of the Navy’s large-scale renewable energy projects at installations supervised by the U.S. Pacific Command, finding that federal employees tasked with carrying out cost-effectiveness assessments of these projects did not have the documentation to back up their calculations or conclusions. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus made alternative energy a priority in 2009, directing the service to generate half of its total energy from alternative sources by 2020. In 2014, Mabus established an office to identify cost-effective projects for Navy installations to help achieve the service’s energy goals. Measures to determine the cost savings of these projects have been unreliable due to shortcomings in the Navy’s guidance for evaluating the projects, according to the audit. In one case, the Navy awarded a $334.1 million, 25-year contract for solar power at 14 military sites in Hawaii with inadequate procedures for determining that the project was cost effective. The company broke ground on the project in July 2014, but it has yet to generate solar power...more

‘The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies’

In his new book, “The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies,” John Lott methodically dismantles one popular gun-control myth after another. It has been said that a lie told often enough becomes the truth, and a similar phenomenon is overwhelming the gun debate in America. Oft-repeated untruths have formed common beliefs that often sway the debate about firearms. Gun-control advocates have learned that their exaggerated claims are likely to go unchecked by a largely sympathetic media, allowing them to control the narrative and shape public opinion.What is more, as Mr. Lott explains, billionaire elitists like George Soros and Michael Bloomberg are spending hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying legislators, funding conclusion-driven research, developing “grass-roots” organizations, and literally training reporters to cover gun control issues the way they want them covered; the purpose being to negatively distort the public’s view of firearms so that there is less resistance when gun rights are taken away. There is an astonishing amount of money being poured into the gun-control movement, and the success of the movement will ultimately depend on how the public perceives the issues — meaning that facts are now more important than ever. Thankfully, Mr. Lott has set the record straight in “The War on Guns.” In his usual methodical style, he answers the baseless rhetoric and hyperbole of gun-control advocates with facts and statistics. And better yet, in addition to providing an abundance of tables and graphs, Mr. Lott states his case in a way that is easy to comprehend so that the reader, too, can start setting the record straight when confronted with misinformation. The following are among the many common claims that Mr. Lott thoroughly debunks:
• Mass shootings just don’t happen in other “civilized” countries with the same frequency;
• More guns equal more crime and more death;
• Universal background checks reduce crime;
• Congress has banned firearms research;
• Gun registration helps law enforcement solve crimes;
• Australia sets a positive gun control model;
• Gun-free zones prevent (rather than attract) mass shootings;
• “Assault weapon” and “large-capacity magazine” bans reduce crime and reduce fatalities in mass shootings;
• Armed citizens never prevent mass shootings

Agriculture closes offices in 5 states after threats

The Agriculture Department said Tuesday it had closed offices in five states after receiving anonymous threats that it considered serious. USDA spokesman Matthew Herrick said the department had received "several anonymous messages" late Monday that raised concerns about the safety of USDA personnel and facilities. He said offices in six locations in the five states were closed Tuesday morning until further notice. Herrick said the threat was one email message sent to multiple employees at all of the locations. "Without getting into detail of the email message, USDA continues to work closely with federal and local law enforcement, including the FBI, to determine whether the threat is credible," Herrick said. The closed facilities are in Fort Collins, Colorado; Hamden, Connecticut; Beltsville, Maryland; Raleigh, North Carolina; Kearneysville, West Virginia and Leetown, West Virginia...more

I've got to quit this

The FS says a bicycle pedal starts a wildfire, a woman high on pills does start one and damn near burns herself up, ranchers who work with agencies "are not Cliven Bundys", a high school bans the American flag at football games.

We're being asked to swallow 417 endangered species in one big gulp.

We can't even figure out the Chisholm Trail.

I'm just getting used to indoor plumbing and now they say indoor farming will keep us from starving.

Proceed with caution, it's crazy out there.

Cyclists incensed after bike pedal blamed in Sierra wildfire

A lot of things can start a wildfire: lawn mowers, gunfire, smoldering cigarettes. It makes sense in a state dried out by drought. But the latest culprit — a bike — is largely unheard of as a source of ignition, and is being met with disbelief in some circles. U.S. Forest Service investigators say a bicycle pedal that scraped a rock and shot sparks on a mountain bike trail was responsible for a 122-acre blaze in the eastern Sierra this month, a finding that unleashed a firestorm of incredulity on the Internet. “There is no chance in hell it happened like this. So absurd to even make this official,” wrote one of the more than 100 skeptics who commented on the Inyo National Forest’s Facebook page since the cause of the fire near Mammoth Lakes was reported last week. “Unless there is clear video of this ‘pedal strike ignition,’ it is 99.999 percent anticyclist BS,” another person posted. A mock image of a fire-starter kit, including a bicycle pedal, began circulating on social media in protest of Wednesday’s fire report. Forest Service officials say they’re surprised by the backlash. But that doesn’t change their verdict on the Rock Creek Fire. Fire prevention technician Kirstie Butler said a comprehensive investigation, which included locating a rock with a pedal scrap on it and speaking to several mountain bikers in the area at the time, revealed conclusively what caused the fire. As unlikely as it may sound, she said, the afternoon of Aug. 5 was so hot and dry that a spark from a bike pedal against a rock, acting like a flint, was able to ignite cheatgrass and spread to brush and trees on the surrounding hillsides...more

Motorist on pain pills starts wildfire and sets her car ablaze as she drives on spark-spewing tire rim

A woman was so high on pain pills in Northern California Sunday afternoon that she didn’t realize her 2002 Kia Rio had a flat tire and that sparks from its rim had set her car and the surrounding forest on fire, according to the California Highway Patrol. Rene Ilene Hogan, 44, has a suspended license and was driving under the influence of a controlled substance when she was unable to explain to police why she was driving a burning 2002 Kia Rio with a rear flat tire, the CHP said. The incident occurred before 2 p.m. as Hogan was driving eastbound on Mountain Ranch Road in West Point, a small town in Calaveras County, according to a CHP arrest report. Hogan’s right rear tire became flat, but she continued driving until the tire wore down to the metal rim, according to CHP Officer Tobias Butzler. As the rim ground against the road, hot sparks flew into the drought-parched grass lining the highway, igniting several fires and ultimately, Hogan’s vehicle, Butzler said. “She knew she was driving, but was oblivious to any of the carnage she was causing,” Butzler said. Another driver on the highway saw her car burning and tried to alert her, but she didn’t respond, authorities said. The motorist ultimately drove in front of her and stopped, forcing Hogan to stop as well, Butzler said. The driver and others in the community who saw the smoke pulled Hogan from the burning car and called police...more

An Inconvenient Truth: Few Signs Of Global Warming In Antarctica

Antarctica is a tricky topic for scientists. It has a long history of chaotic weather and dramatic changes in its ice sheet, and scientists are realizing just how difficult it is to predict future behavior down under. A recent study seemed to sum up what Knappenberger said should be the “consensus” of mainstream scientists: global warming has exerted little to no detectable influence in Antarctica. Scientists with Columbia University’s Earth Institute found there’s been little change in Antarctica’s annual snowfall, which flies in the face of what climate models predicted would happen as the planet warmed. They blamed strong “natural variability” for the models’ failures.  Scientists have also been warning for years that, on net, Antarctica has been losing 147 gigatons of ice per year for the last decade or so, mostly from melting on the northern Antarctic Peninsula and its western ice sheet. There’s seems to be a news story every day about how things are looking worse in the Antarctic. The Washington Post, for example, recently warned a long crack in western Antarctica’ ice was growing. Sounds scary, but sort of obscures what’s happening overall with Antarctica. A 2015 study by NASA found Antarctica’s ice sheet increased in mass from 1992 to 2008. The study found ice gains in Eastern antarctica more than offset ice loss from melting glaciers in the west. Zwally’s study was controversial and challenged years of assumptions about what was happening in the South Pole. But months later another study was published showing a “pause” in warming on the Antarctic Peninsula due to a recovering ozone hole and shifting wind patterns...more

‘We are not all Cliven Bundys’: Rich County ranchers partner with BLM to revolutionize grazing

In one large northern Utah grazing district, fences are expected to play a key role in transforming the way public lands are managed. Cattle and sheep operators in Rich County may soon pool their herds for the summer grazing season in the hills rising west of Randolph under an idea hatched by rancher Alvin Shaul and his neighbors. As a young man, after his dad sold the family ranch, Shaul went to work for Deseret Land and Livestock, which runs a cattle operation just south of Randolph on a large tract of private land. Deseret used a rotational system of pastures that left the range in better shape while producing lots of fat calves. He and his wife went into business for themselves in the early 1970s. "I started with one cow and kept building. Eighty acres came for sale in Randolph and I bought it," said Shaul, who grazes 250 cows in the New Canyon allotment he shares with a dozen other ranchers. Shaul is now putting into practice what he learned at Deseret, and he has the backing of his fellow ranchers, the Rich County Commission and the federal agencies that administer the Three Creeks region where 29 ranchers run livestock from May 15 to Sept. 15. At the request of county commissioners, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service are poised to consolidate 10 grazing allotments into one 135,000-acre management unit. After five years of study, the agencies have released a draft Environmental Assessment of the project and expect to issue a final decision by year's end. The county-driven proposal stands in sharp contrast to the angry rhetoric coming from other ranching communities where public-land users complain federal "overreach" is putting them out of business and destroying the custom and culture of rural areas. "We are not all Cliven Bundys. For people who are just watching the news, it's like all these ranchers don't want to pay their assessments and want to tell the federal government what to do," said Dale Lamborn, president of the Three Creeks Grazing Association. He also runs the local school district, and his ranching roots run deep into Rich County, stretching back into the homesteading era...more

Rep. Gosar Decries Legal Threats For Endangered Species

Rep. Paul Gosar this week renewed his war with the Center for Biological Diversity, blasting the Flagstaff-based group for filing lawsuits on behalf of endangered species. The Center this week filed a notice that it might file a lawsuit to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to decide whether to list some 417 species as endangered or threatened. The federal agency has 60 days in which to respond. Rep. Gosar issued a release saying “Extremist environmentalist groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), announced their intent this week to unleash several hundred more frivolous lawsuits against the Fish and Wildlife Service. These organizations have a long history of abusing the ESA (Endangered Species Act) in order to force taxpayers to pay millions of dollars in government legal fees defending these arbitrary lawsuits. The truth is that misguided groups like CBD are simply using ‘sue and settle’ tactics to fund and implement their radical agenda. This behavior sets a dangerous legal precedent that must be stopped.” Rep. Gosar has introduced several bills that would limit or eliminate court fees when environmental groups win lawsuits against the federal government...more

Mystery still surrounds Chisholm Trail

ABILENE — As people like to say, never let the facts stand in the way of a good story. When it comes to the 150-year history of the Chisholm Trail, that’s been especially true. “History with a little bit of scandal is fun to read about,” said Stacy Moore, executive director of the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, Okla. “Certainly, there is a little of that with the Chisholm Trail. There is a lot of discussion in Texas whether the Chisholm Trail existed in Texas at all. The Texas historians love to debate that stuff.” One thing is for sure: the trail ended in Abilene. Labor Day weekend, the Kansas cowtown will kick off a sesquicentennial celebration of the infamous trail with Trails, Rails & Tales: Spirit of the Chisholm Trail Celebration. On Saturday, longhorns will be driven through the city streets and loaded onto a rail car, almost like 150 years ago. The trail Texas ranchers used to drive cattle to the railroad at Abilene was known by several names, said Jeff Sheets, director of the Dickinson County Historical Society and board member of the Kansas Museums Association. Black Beaver trail? It was known 150 years ago as the Texas Cattle Trail, McCoy’s Trail or Abilene Trail. Just when it became the Chisholm Trail, named after Jesse Chisholm, who traded with the Indians, is not known. Chisholm was of Scottish and Cherokee descent. He had trading posts near what is now Wichita and in Oklahoma, trading goods for furs. Moore said that Black Beaver, a Native American from the Delaware tribe, showed Chisholm the trail...more

This wealthy farmer is taking on Sacramento: ‘God help you if you disagree with him’

Dean “Dino” Cortopassi, the Stockton-area farmer and food processor who could undermine Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta water project and high-speed rail in California, leaned over a pile of paperwork in his conference room this spring, tossing bread to his black Labrador and pounding on the table. The state Capitol, Cortopassi said, has been overrun by “porkers feeding at the public trough,” and if long-term debt is not constrained, he said his grandchildren’s generation will bear the cost. He called his November ballot initiative – a proposal to require voter approval before the state issues revenue bonds for public works projects costing more than $2 billion – his “moral obligation.” Proposition 53, into which Cortopassi and his wife, Joan, have poured about $4.5 million, is in one way a referendum on Brown’s $15.5 billion plan to build two tunnels to divert water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the south. But to conservative interests in California, the initiative is also regarded as a bellwether. It is a test of the electorate’s appetite for future measures to blunt spending – and of a wealthy but little-known donor’s ability to compete in a heavily Democratic state...more

Indoor farming will be integral to the world’s food security

FARMING will need to shift towards indoor vertical farms and precision techniques that could make use of drones. Just as important will be the planting of drought-resistant crops and even printing meat to secure food production globally. This is according to Ernst Janovsky, senior agricultural economist at Absa, who emphasised that technology will need to be incorporated into farming practices in order to keep up with costs and supply. Speaking at an Absa Agribusiness roundtable in Centurion on Tuesday, Janovsky said population growth would create more demand for food, water and land. By 2050, the global population is expected to reach nearly 10-billion people. But Janovsky and fellow agricultural economist Wessel Lemmer said the adoption of new technology should mitigate some of the food security risks. The use of drones to determine crop yield, diseased plants and even the leaf area index of a tree in an orchard is already benefiting farmers. Lemmer said further advances in agriculture would improve productivity. Another shift in farming would be a move towards urban vertical farms within cities, to mitigate the need to transport crops from farms to where they could be sold. While the production method was already being used to grow kale and lettuce, Lemmer said it could be expanded to other crops. This method involves growing crops on shelves, ensuring that they have the optimal amount of water and light for ideal growth. Lemmer said this method allowed for 23 harvests to be planted in a year compared to the average of three produced by conventional methods...more

Rented land prominent in countryside

Approximately 39% of the 911 million acres of farmland in the contiguous 48 states of the U.S. is rented. More than half of cropland is rented, compared with just over 25% of pasture­land, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s "U.S. Farmland Ownership, Tenure & Transfer" report. Report author Dan Bigelow, an Economic Research Service economist, said rented acreage is much more prevalent in areas with cash grains up and down the Mississippi River and areas of the Midwest where corn and soybeans are grown, with some areas at upwards of 50-60%. There are also higher percentages of rented acres in areas with other cash grains, such as rice, wheat and cotton. Relative to crop farms, livestock producers tend to rent fewer acres overall. The rental percentages for cattle and dairy operations coincide with the fact that pastureland is rented at a lower rate than cropland. Pastureland is often cheaper than cropland, the report noted, making it less financially burdensome for farmers and ranchers to purchase land to begin a new operation or expand an existing one. Second, renting land allows farmers to adjust their land margins in response to changing economic conditions...more

High School bans American flag at football games

There were more displays of American flags at Travelers Rest High School on Monday morning, but no problems reported following a controversy that was spread on social media over a football game. Several social media posts stated over the weekend that students were denied entry to the Travelers Rest vs. Berea High School football game because they were trying to bring Americans flags inside the stadium. American flags were not allowed into the high school football game Friday night. Lavely said in his statement on Saturday that his decision was to “not allow the American flag to be used in an improper ‘taunting,’ unsportsmanlike manner.” Noel released a statement in support of Lavely later Saturday about the decision. Lavely based his decision on past incidents where Travelers Rest students were misusing the flag, but has since reached a different decision after current students requested that he judge them on their own merits and not on the actions of past students. He has decided to allow students to bring the American flag to any and all Travelers Rest High School events...more

Potential Zika-carrying mosquitoes found in Lea County

Make it eight and counting. The Aedes aegypti, a mosquito species that can transmit Zika virus, has been identified for the first time in Lea County, state health officials said Monday. With this latest find, this specific breed of mosquito has been trapped and identified this summer in Lea, Doña Ana, Eddy, Chaves and Sierra counties, and Aedes albopictus was found in Roosevelt County, according to a news release. In past years, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes have also been reported in Otero County, and Aedes albopictus in Curry County. “We are mapping out the areas at risk of Zika transmission in New Mexico,” said Department of Health Secretary Designate Lynn Gallagher in a statement. “With this latest discovery, we are alerting the residents Lea County to do as others in neighboring counties are already doing: eliminate standing water around homes where these mosquitoes can breed and multiply,” she said. “Help your community prevent the devastating consequences of birth defects from Zika virus infection in pregnant women.” So far, there have been no cases of Zika virus identified in Lea County. The state has had six travel-acquired cases of Zika virus this year, the health department said. In each case, the patient was infected while traveling abroad and diagnosed after they returned home...more

USDA clarifying rule allows ranchers to opt out of beef council checkoffs

The USDA is “clarifying” a little-known policy the agency insists has long been in place allowing ranchers to opt out of allocating half of their checkoff fee payments to qualifying state beef councils, according to a court document. In its Aug. 4 motion in Montana district court, USDA argued that in light of the opt-out policy, the judge should dismiss a case filed by Ranchers-Cattleman Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America challenging the constitutionality of current checkoff fee management. R-CALF alleges the government has forced member cattleman to fund state beef councils that often promote beef in general rather than U.S. beef or beef from their states, in violation of their First Amendment rights. R-CALF has asked that the full $1-per-head checkoff fee paid on cattle sales go to the national Cattleman’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which they agree operates in compliance with the law. R-CALF officials said their suit targets the Montana Beef Council as a test case. Officials of the Montana council declined to comment. USDA believes publicizing the opt-out provision eliminates R-CALF’s “compelled subsidy claim.” “To the extent plaintiff’s members are contributing to the Montana Beef Council against their wishes, they are doing so only because they have failed to avail themselves of this procedure,” the USDA motion reads. Short of a dismissal, USDA requested that the court at least stay the case until after the process of clarifying the policy is complete. Public comment on the proposed clarification rule will be accepted through Sept. 13, and USDA noted R-CALF members are free to participate...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1689

Our selection today is Leon Merritt - Wishin' I Was Kissin' You.  The tune is on the CD Coral Hillbilly Vol. One.  The Westerner

Monday, August 29, 2016

Rebel cowboys: how the Bundy family sparked a new battle for the American west

Ryan Bundy first began starving himself in the third grade. Raised by devout Mormons and lifelong cowboys on a remote desert ranch in Nevada, Ryan had a reputation as a stubborn child, but his hunger strike was unlike anything his family had seen before. It started one lunch period at Virgin Valley elementary school in Mesquite, a tiny rural public school with just a few dozen students in each class. Ryan sat outside alone until the lunch ladies came to the playground and tried to persuade him to eat. He refused. But Ryan’s protest wasn’t about food. It was a political statement. It was around the early 1980s and Jane Bundy had signed up her five children for subsidized school meals – the ranching family had lost money on a group of cattle and cash was tight. But her husband Cliven was livid. As a southern Nevada rancher who had developed a deep mistrust of the government and great disdain for public assistance programs, Cliven had taught his children never to ask for handouts.
Cliven and Jane fought about the lunches – one of many disagreements that eventually led to their divorce. Ryan sided with his dad, and his playground protest was ultimately a success. After three days, Jane returned to preparing homemade meals. “My dad fixed the problem and took us off the program,” Ryan, now 43, recalled. “It was instilled in me that we’re supposed to earn what we have and not to take from others.”  Ryan recounted this early act of civil disobedience during a recent interview in a windowless 8ft by 8ft room in a high-security county jail in Portland, Oregon. He wore a pink undershirt, white wristband and denim blue jail uniform. His latest protest had not gone as planned. Back in January 2016, Ryan and his 40-year-old brother Ammon had led an army of rightwing activists, some of them heavily armed “militiamen”, in an occupation of a federal wildlife center. The standoff, the family’s latest armed confrontation with the government, cemented the Bundy family’s reputation as heroes to ultra-conservatives in the west who have long been critical of federal land-use restrictions – an anti-government movement that has flourished during Barack Obama’s presidency. But today, Ryan and Ammon, along with their father and two other Bundy brothers, are isolated in jail cells awaiting federal trials that could condemn them to spend the rest of their lives in prison...more

What's missing when you hike the California backcountry? People of color


But as the days passed, I grew increasingly troubled by the people we didn’t meet. There were a few Asian hikers, including a couple of hapas like me (I’m half Japanese and half Polish) and one of my friends was half-Iranian, but not a single backpacker who was Latino or African American.

This near-total absence of people of color — which I’ve noticed on past trips as well — was particularly striking because it was such a contrast to my everyday life. I live and work in Los Angeles. The majority of people in my working life are Latino, African American or Asian, and the people in my personal life, including my Mexican American spouse, are reflective of the city’s population. And yet, a few hours’ drive from Los Angeles, there was hardly a person of color to be found. We were on public lands — including Kings Canyon National Park — but the people enjoying them weren’t representative of the public.

This month, as the National Park Service celebrates its centennial, it is publicizing efforts to increase the diversity of its visitors — who according to its own survey are nearly 80% white — as well as its staff. Mainstream environmental groups like the Sierra Club, which recently hired its first director of diversity, equity and inclusion, are trying to counter the impression that the outdoors is a privileged domain for white people. One take on this problem is the biting video short “Black Hiker,” in which Blair Underwood’s nature-loving character is tracked and photographed by whites who are stunned, delighted and a little confused to find a black man in their midst.

...Connecting people of color with nature matters because the very existence of the nation's public lands is threatened if they aren’t enjoyed by a broad cross-section of our population...

As the number of minorities increase in the general population, and as more minority Congressmen are elected, membership in enviro orgs will decline and funding for their favorite programs will be jeopardized.  That is what really has them concerned.                                       

Park Service seeks minorities' support as it marks 100 years

When Asha Jones and other Grand Canyon interns arrived for their summer at the national park, they were struck by its sheer immensity, beauty and world-class hiking trails. Soon, they noticed something else. "It is time for a change here, specifically, at Grand Canyon and in the National Park Service in general, to get people who look like me to your parks," said Jones, a 19-year-old black student at Atlanta's Spelman College. The National Park Service, which oversees more than 131,000 square miles of parks, monuments, battlefields and other landmarks thinks it's time for a change, too. As it celebrated its 100th birthday Thursday, the agency faced some key challenges. Among them is reaching out to minority communities in an increasingly diverse nation and getting them to visit and become invested in preserving the national parks. The NPS doesn't track the makeup of its visitors, but commissioned studies have shown about three-quarters are white. The agency's workforce is less diverse, at 83 percent white, a figure that can fluctuate with temporary employees. Minorities are expected to eclipse the country's white population before 2050...more

Visitor misbehavior abounds as U.S. parks agency turns 100

Tourist John Gleason crept through the grass, four small children close behind, inching toward a bull elk with antlers like small trees at the edge of a meadow in Yellowstone National Park. “They’re going to give me a heart attack,” said Gleason’s mother-in-law, Barbara Henry, as the group came within about a dozen yards of the massive animal. The elk’s ears then pricked up, and it eyed the children and Washington state man before leaping up a hillside. Other tourists — likewise ignoring rules to keep 25 yards from wildlife — picked up the pursuit, snapping pictures as they pressed forward and forced the animal into headlong retreat. Record visitor numbers at the nation’s first national park have transformed its annual summer rush into a sometimes dangerous frenzy, with selfie-taking tourists routinely breaking park rules and getting too close to Yellowstone’s storied elk herds, grizzly bears, wolves and bison. Law enforcement records obtained by The Associated Press suggest such problems are on the rise at the park, offering a stark illustration of the pressures facing some of America’s most treasured lands as the National Park Service marks its 100th anniversary. From Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains to the Grand Canyon of Arizona, major parks are grappling with illegal camping, vandalism, theft of resources, wildlife harassment and other visitor misbehavior, according to the records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. In July alone, law enforcement rangers handled more than 11,000 incidents at the 10 most visited national parks...more