Friday, September 09, 2016

Ranchers beware: The war over water will only grow more intense


 ...humans have known from the dawn of time that who controls the water controls their destiny. As more and more productive ag land becomes converted from growing grass and grain to sprouting houses and lawns, convenience stores and strip malls, the argument over who will control the water and how it will be used will only grow more strident.

But now, the war is fought with lawyers and checkbooks instead of clubs, spears and guns.

Into this environment jumps The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), which released a report summarizing a survey of irrigated agricultural producers in the Columbine state about leasing their water.

Colorado’s state-wide water plan estimates Colorado's population of 5.4 million could nearly double to 10 million by 2060. The plan estimates that the increased demand for water could result in the loss of as much as one-fourth of Colorado’s irrigated agricultural land through the purchase and transfer of water rights from agriculture to urban areas. Such large scale dry-up of irrigated agriculture would have permanent adverse economic, environmental and food security impacts, CCA says.

Ranchers huddle to solve cattle price crisis

The U.S. cattle industry is circling its wagons in Billings, Mont., today in an effort to bring a halt to what has been a wild but mostly depressing ride for futures prices. As many as 200 ranchers are expected to be joined by USDA officials, market analysts and others for two days at the Big Horn Resort to discuss a spectrum of possible changes, ranging anywhere from moderate transparency measures to moving cattle futures to a whole new market, reports Pro Agriculture’s Ian Kullgren, who will be filing from the scene. Not on the guest list: Meatpackers and their allies, who critics say are benefiting from the low prices and therefore have little interest in changing the status quo. Some cattle rancher groups have even suggested processors are exerting too much control over the market, a charge the processors strongly reject. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate, though the GAO hasn’t said when it will release its findings. Others in Congress are taking an interest, too. Montana Sens. Steve Daines (R) and Jon Tester (D) have sent staff to the Billings event, and North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) is also keeping tabs. If the market doesn’t correct itself, “we’ll have to take more directive action,” Heitkamp says. Pro readers should stay tuned for Kullgren’s dispatches from Montana later today...more

Judge rejects tribe's request to block ND pipeline construction

A federal judge on Friday said construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline can move forward despite a tribe’s objections to the project. In a 58-page ruling, District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled that federal regulators and pipeline developers covered their bases during an assessment of the $3.8 billion pipeline’s impact on cultural sites in North Dakota. “The [Army] Corps [of Engineers] has likely complied with the NHPA and that the Tribe has not shown it will suffer injury that would be prevented by any injunction the Court could issue,” Boasberg wrote. “The motion will thus be denied." The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has accused the Army Corps of Engineers of failing to properly consider whether the 1,170-mile pipeline poses a threat to important areas in North Dakota. It sued the Corps in July, asking for an injunction against further pipeline construction while lawsuits over it move forward. Opposition to the pipeline has grown from tribal protests on the North Dakota prairie to a national fight over fossil fuel development and pipeline projects generally. Earthjustice represented the tribe in its lawsuit against the Army Corps, and other environmentalists have looked to pressure President Obama into rescinding construction permits for the project. The pipeline’s developer, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, has hoped to get the pipeline up and running by Jan. 1, 2017. It says it has completed 90 percent of the clearing process in North Dakota and that the project itself is about 50 percent complete...more

County discusses meadow jumping mouse habitat

Former Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) employee Dan Abercrombie discussed the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse during the scheduled residents communications portion of the commission’s regular meeting Thursday morning. According to the United States Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service, the New Mexico jumping mouse is a rare subspecies found primarily near streams and wetlands in parts of New Mexico, eastern Arizona and southern Colorado. New Mexico listed the species as threatened in 1983 and upgraded it to endangered status in 2006, where it remains today. On March 16, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated critical habitat for the jumping mouse, with an effective date of April 15, 2016. Abercrombie said he felt irritated with the current habitat for the mice and felt the need to educate commissioners on the species and their habitat. “We wrote a letter recommending that the meadow jumping mouse be listed when I was still with NRCS 10 years ago because it’s a meadow jumping mouse. We recommended that 160 acres of every section be cut and I didn’t hear anything else on the meadow jumping mouse for the next 10 years,” Abercrombie said. “This species has experienced 82 percent reduction in population due to loss of habitat. Part of that is forest fires and part of that is because the forest has 10 times more trees now than we did in 1983.” Abercrombie said the species is thought to have been more widespread in the past during more mesic climate conditions and environments with dense vegetation. He said in his 37 years as a federal employee, he has never found small creatures in these environments. “This species has a fairly tight requirement for moist habitats and has little dispersal ability. It’s associated with permanent waterways that contain dense vegetation. I don’t understand the science behind it, I have a degree in range management. In my 37 years in federal employment I always noticed there was more rats, quail, rabbits and other rodents in overgrazed areas,” Abercrombie said. “I never-ever found little critters in overgrown areas with dense vegetation. They hide there, but they don’t live there. It’s kind of like that spotted owl, it can only live in that dark timber so long then it has to come out and eat.”...more

Some calling for cancellation of Calf Scramble

Some people want to put an end to a long-standing tradition at the New Mexico State Fair. This year's Calf Scramble at Tingly Colosseum is set to take place during the rodeo next Wednesday. Teens will be chasing down and catching calves to win money which they can then spend on raising other livestock. "This, in my mind, entails terror for the animals, an unpleasant situation where they feel that they are in danger,” said Patrizia Antonicelli, who opposes the event. “It's not a happy way of teaching kids how to deal with animals." Antonicelli, and some others, think it's time to end the Calf Scramble. She posted a message on Facebook calling the tradition “cruel” and “irresponsible.” She is encouraging her followers to contact the State Fair and ask the event to be canceled. "I respect this state. I love it. I moved from my country to be here,” she said. “I don't want to hurt anybody. I would just like to bring to the attention of people what could be changed for the better." “We believe that fringe groups like PETA are behind this effort to spread misinformation about a rodeo tradition that goes back many, many decades,” said Erin Kinnard Thompson, Deputy Manager/Communications Director for New Mexico State Fair/EXPO New Mexico. “Here at the State Fair, we ensure that the animals are safe, and we have veterinarians on site as a precaution. Furthermore, qualifying in the calf scramble event gives farm and ranch kids from all over New Mexico the ability to further their agricultural endeavors which can often lead to scholarships for college and other educational benefits.” The State Fair said it has no plans to cancel the event but will listen to feedback from the public.  KOB

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day

This is a repeat of a number my cousin Pat likes
Sam Nichols & The Melody Rangers have some good advice for us with Keep Your Motor Hot.  The tune is on the CD Hillbilly Bop, Boogie & The Honky Tonk Blues, Vol. 1.  The Westerner

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Obama finally receives an honor he justly deserves

A new species of blood fluke was found infecting the lungs of turtles in Malaysia. This parasitic flatworm has been dubbed Baracktrema obamai, in honor of the President of the United States (who is the fifth cousin twice removed of one of the discovering scientists). B. obamai is described in the August issue of the Journal of Parasitology as having a long, thread-like body. So far, it’s shown up in two freshwater turtles, the black marsh turtle (Siebenrockiella crassicollis) and southeast Asian box turtle (Cuora amboinensis). The scientists found clusters of tens to hundreds of fluke eggs in the turtles’ lung alveoli, the tiny sacs where blood receives oxygen and gets rid of carbon dioxide. How these eggs get outside to hatch and infect new hosts isn’t clear, although making the turtles cough is probably involved...more

Company discovers 3 billion barrels of oil in West Texas

The Houston oil exploration company Apache has made one of the biggest U.S. oil and gas discoveries in years, finding the equivalent of more than 15 billion barrels of oil in a relatively unknown quadrant of West Texas's Permian Basin, the company said Wednesday. Depending on how much oil and gas can be recovered, the discovery could rank among the top finds of the last decade, including the Marcellus shale in the Northeast, which has recoverable natural gas reserves estimated at the equivalent of 47 billion barrels of oil, the Eagle Ford in South Texas, with recoverable crude estimated at 23 billion barrels of oil equivalent, and Wolfcamp, also in the Permian, with recoverable crude and gas estimated at 9 billion barrels of oil equivalent, according to the research firm IHS Markit. Apache said it's new field holds more than 3 billion barrels of oil - nearly the equivalent of an entire year of U.S. crude production - and 75 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, making it the company's biggest U.S. discovery ever and one of its most important worldwide. The field, which sits in the western subsection of the Permian known as the Delaware Basin, surpasses Apache's gas finds in British Columbia of more than 50 trillion cubic feet in 2012 and of about2 trillion cubic feet in Egypt's Qasr field in 2003. Apache's find is in the far southern section of the Delaware, primarily in Reeves County, south of the eastern corner of New Mexico near the Davis Mountains. The company is calling the field Alpine High...more

Editorial - Road's open, case closed

Wilderness groups have won what should be the final chapter in a 15-year lawsuit by the federal government against John Carpenter, the Jarbidge Shovel Brigade and Elko County. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du last month rejected a settlement agreement between the Forest Service and the county involving the legal status of South Canyon Road.

Even though locals lost their case, the effort to preserve access through federal lands was greatly improved by this battle, and the outcome does not change the fact that the road is open.

“The decision in the Elko County case does not affect public access or limit the U.S. Forest Service’s ability to manage the South Canyon Road,” Forest Supervisor Bill Dunkelberger told The Associated Press.

Since the Shovel Brigade removed “Liberty Rock” on July 4, 2000, the only thing keeping vehicles out of that portion of the canyon is the fact that much of it remains obliterated by the cataclysmic flood of 1995. Gone are the nice campsites along the road and the federally installed outhouse at the end of it, nor are they likely to ever return like the bull trout did.

It was a fish advocacy group that originally put a halt to the Forest Service’s plan to rebuild the road, claiming bull trout would be harmed by dust drifting from the road, but it was two wilderness groups that called foul after the Forest Service agreed Elko County owned the right of way.

Earthjustice attorneys put up a big fight on behalf of The Wilderness Society and Great Old Broads for Wilderness. Despite their names, let’s remember that South Canyon Road is NOT located in any federally designated wilderness area. This conflict was centered around half of a mere 2.4-mile road leading from the tiny town of Jarbidge to the trailheads of the Jarbidge Wilderness.

Even in boasting about their victory, Wilderness Society attorney Alison Flint conceded that the decision changed nothing on the ground.

BLM sage grouse guidelines will bury land users in paperwork


The Bureau of Land Management this past week issued eight guideline memos instructing federal land managers in 11 Western states as to how they are to carry out policies intended to protect greater sage grouse — a move that threatens to bury ranchers, miners, oil and gas explorers and construction companies under a mountain of paperwork and impose lengthy delays, while doing little to actually protect the birds.

The move comes a year after the Interior Department declined to list sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act but instead issued reams of land use restrictions meant to protect the grouse, even though the number of male grouse counted in leks across the West had increased by 63 percent between 2013 and 2015, according to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

Restrictions are being imposed even though sage grouse are legally hunted in many Western states, including Nevada.

Like the record of decision on sage grouse management issued this past September, the memos largely ignore one of the biggest threats to the colorfully plumed, ground-dwelling grouse — predators, primarily ravens and coyotes — and address almost entirely human economic endeavors. The 90-page record of decision used the word predator only once.

The memos, signed by BLM Deputy Director Steven Ellis, open with statements of purpose that say they are to provide guidance for analyzing and establishing thresholds for land use, with separate memos addressing grazing permits and general surface disturbances.

...If there is a bright spot in any of this micromanaging from Washington, D.C., bureaucrats, it is that two days prior to the memos being sent out the Interior Department inked a deal with Newmont Mining and its ranching subsidiary to jointly manage sage grouse habitat so the company can continue mining operations and exploration, as well as grazing, in Nevada. Wildlife and natural resource agencies of the state helped broker the deal.

...Though the BLM guideline memos envision grazing restrictions to protect grouse, the Newmont deal specifically notes that one of the first pilot projects to be implemented under the agreement will use targeted grazing to reduce cheatgrass, an invasive species that contributes to the frequency and intensity of wildfires.

The Newmont deal also makes a vague reference to implementing “practices to reduce human-induced advantages for predators of greater sage-grouse” — presumably fewer fence posts and power line poles from which ravens can scout for nests with eggs.

New Study Details Endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Habitat and New Threats

A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey shows, for the first time ever, detailed habitat information on the entire range of a federally listed endangered bird allowing officials to take a scientific approach to helping protect the species. The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher – a small songbird currently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act – breeds in lush, dense vegetation along rivers and streams in the southwestern U.S. from May through September. In 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 1,975 stream kilometers as critical flycatcher habitat, located in six states and 38 counties. “The satellite model provides us with new capabilities to locate and monitor potential flycatcher habitat within individual watersheds and across its entire range” said James Hatten, Research Biogeographer with the USGS and the report’s author. “The satellite model also revealed how the quantity of flycatcher habitat is affected annually by drought conditions, with habitat declining in California from 2013 to 2015, while increasing in New Mexico and Texas.” A secondary objective of the project was to identify how and where the recently introduced tamarisk leaf beetle is affecting flycatcher habitat in the southwestern United States. In 2001, tamarisk leaf beetles were released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at 10 sites in six states (California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Texas) to control invasive tamarisk, an introduced plant that occurs adjacent to rivers and creeks. Beetles have now spread into the upper Colorado River Basin in southern Utah and Nevada, the main stem lower Colorado River in Arizona, and the Rio Grande in New Mexico. Beetles pose a threat to flycatchers by defoliating tamarisk during nesting, exposing their young to increased temperatures and predation. The model found that beetles decreased flycatcher habitat 94 percent from 2010 to 2015 along the lower Virgin River, with only 6 percent remaining. The model also predicts that the beetle will destroy 36 percent of flycatcher habitat along the lower Colorado River and 55 percent along the upper Gila River in the next decade...more

Judge Strikes Down Plan to Open California Lands to Fracking

A California judge struck down a bid Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to expropriate more than 1 million acres in central California for oil drilling. Judge Michael Fitzgerald found that the BLM failed to consider the dangers of fracking, which is part of the formal application process. Two environmental groups, the Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres ForestWatch, brought the lawsuit against the BLM. "The bureau failed to take a 'hard look' at the environmental impact of the resource management plan, when, under the RMP, 25 percent of new wells are expected to use hydraulic fracturing," Judge Fitzgerald said in his ruling. "The bureau is therefore obligated to prepare a substantial EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] to analyze the environmental consequences flowing from the use of hydraulic fracturing."...more

Editorial - Forest Service to stimulate economy with another fire

The Forest Service will apparently attempt to stimulate the local economy by starting more fires in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area this fall.

After disastrous decisions in 2011 and earlier this year, the Forest Service is using the 1999 blowdown as justification for four more “prescribed fires.”

These used to be called controlled burns but when the agency continued to lose control, the name was changed to prescribed.

We still don’t know what has changed since the decision was made to pour 1,700 gallons of jellied gasoline on a 135 acre fire up the Fernberg. This monumental SNAFU cost taxpayers $22 million, caused people to be evacuated from their homes and burned over 92,000 acres.

The people responsible for this mess are no longer working here. Screw up at the federal level and you get promoted to somewhere similar to Siberia we hope. Now we have new folks who will hopefully learn from their predecessors’ mistakes.

We don’t have to go back to 2011 to find evidence of fire burning the Forest Service’s best intentions.
In May of this year the agency set fire to land just north of Wolf Lake Road. The goal was 78 acres, the end result was the 1,000 acre Foss Lake fire. Again the taxpayers were soaked and the ground was scorched.

We must not put aside concerns of controlled burns getting out of control. One of the areas the Forest Service is planning to burn this fall, near Crab Lake, is not far from some very nice homes on Burntside Lake. If this one gets away, homes and lives could be lost.

Even Prairie Portage could turn out to be a dangerous fire. With the right winds that fire could roar down the Fernberg and head straight for Ely.

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. What we have learned is Mother Nature is not controllable and you can’t prescribe the weather.

The only good thing to have come from these fires is a boost to the local economy. When hundreds of firefighters are brought in after a fire gets out of control, they have to be fed and sheltered. Our local businesses benefitted from these fires, no doubt about it.

With fewer people going into the BWCA, this may be the best economic stimulus the Forest Service can produce...

Trail of Tears damage may top $1 million (Bulldozed by Forest Service)

Federal investigators with the Office of Inspector General may soon be called upon to determine who was responsible for bulldozing a section of the historic Trail of Tears in southern Monroe County. U.S. Forest Service officials admit that the work was done by their own personnel but without proper authorization or approval. One of two employees said to be involved in the bulldozing has since retired from the Forest Service. The other employee is believed to still be with the department. The Forest service has refused to name the employees who could face federal charges. Almost a mile of the original Trail of Tears was bulldozed. Thirty-five trenches were cut across the trail, most measuring three to four feet deep. Some officials have labeled the trenches “tank traps” due to their similarity to World War I trenches used in Europe to stop military tanks. Forest officials say that the excavation work was ordered by one of their own forestry hydrologists for the purpose of “erosion control.” They refer to the piles of dirt created by the bulldozers as “berms,” which they say were also intended to stop recreational vehicles from accessing the 460-acre tract. An estimated $28,000 was reportedly spent on the bulldozing. The cost of returning the trail to some semblance of what it was, is estimated to be more than $1 million since no further use of heavy equipment is expected to be permitted at the site and the work may have to be done by hand, officials say. An inspection by another federal agency, the National Park Service, seemingly refutes the “erosion control” explanation. Their archeologists noted that with only one exception, they found “no major signs of erosion observed anywhere” along the section of trail in question. Most of the trenches span the width of the original Trail of Tears. Forest officials also found that the flow of a stream had been altered, in further violation of federal law. Forest officials say the work on the stream was for “channel restoration and stabilization” but now say it “resulted in extensive adverse effects to the Trail of Tears.”...more

Massive forest die-off for CA & OR

California and southwest Oregon are in the midst of a massive forest die-off, with an estimated 66 million trees killed in CA during 2015 & 2016. Drought, pests, and disease have taken a destructive toll on the region’s forests. Dying trees are fuel waiting to feed a fire, and when forest managers and loggers can’t remove them, the consequences are deadly. Concerns are mounting that the die-off is creating an abundance of fuel likely to trigger costly and damaging wildfires. CA Governor Jerry Brown, and CA Sens. Feinstein and Boxer, wrote to US Forest Service Chief Tidwell, requesting that the US Forest Service to respond to the tree mortality crisis. Rep. Walden (R-OR) is the lone Oregon government representative to pursue urgent remedies to this problem with the USFS...more

Forest Service land deal blocks controversial Tahoe development

A deal to sell 120 acres overlooking Lake Tahoe near Brockway Summit has halted controversial plans for a campground development. On Wednesday Sierra Pacific Industries and Mountainside Partners announced a plan to sell the property they had planned to develop into a private campground. The deal hasn’t yet closed. But, working through the California Tahoe Conservancy, Sierra Pacific and the Forest Service have agreed in principle to a sale. “Although an improved campground is permissible under current zoning and would provide significant recreational benefits, we have listened to the community and have decided that the parcel should be permanently protected through a sale to the Forest Service,” said Blake Riva, managing partner of Mountainside Partners. Once the sale is complete the land will be included as part of the Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1694

Time for some Country Roots.  Here's the Mobile Strugglers with one of my favorite tunes - Memphis Blues.  The tune is on the CD Violin, Sing The Blues For Me:  African-American Fiddlers, 1926-1949.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

An Army of Advocates Descending on Washington in Support of The Upcoming SAFE Food SAFE Horses Rally

Food safety and equine advocates are joining together in the nation's capital to protest American horse slaughter, and show support for the SAFE Food SAFE Horses Coalition's march on Washington, DC. The rally will be held on September 22nd beginning at 10 AM in front of the USDA Whitten Building at 12th Street and Jefferson Drive, SW and proceed down Independence Avenue to the Capitol, From the Center for Food Safety to wild horse advocates, the mission is to warn the public about the health risks associated with US-sourced horsemeat which enters the global food chain, as well as the indecent treatment the horses receive in route to slaughter outside our regulated borders. These issues go hand-in-hand with the current plight of America's wild mustangs who are also ending up in the slaughter plants in Mexico as the brutal war of extinction is being waged against them. Over 80% of America is in the dark that our horses are still being slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands every year, and over 70% of the medications our horses receive are not FDA approved or are BANNED for food animals. This represents a grave threat to the food supply in light of escalating trends of global food adulteration & food fraud. A variety of speakers from the coalition, which represents over 1.5 million people, will give voice to this movement along with other equine supporters who are assembling, wearing purple shirts to demonstrate their support of the SAFE ACT S1214/HR1942 and a Ban on Horse Slaughter, asking Congress to cease the unregulated export & slaughter of American horses, which would prevent contaminated, non-FDA approved meat from entering the global food supply. Currently 226 members of Congress support HR1942/S1214 the Safeguard American Food Export Act. An estimated 150,000 American horses are shipped long distances across US borders to slaughter...more

EPA conducted toxicity experiments on humans

by Paul Driessen

 So EPA needed additional studies, to back up its expansive, bogus epidemiological assertions. The new studies, director Steve Milloy discovered, involved human test subjects. They raised numerous new legal, ethical and scientific problems.
Not only do US laws, the Nuremberg Code, the Helsinki Accords and EPA Rule 1000.17 make it unethical or illegal to conduct toxicity experiments on humans. When California, Washington, Rutgers and other University researchers explained the experiments to their volunteers, they generally failed to advise them that EPA says the pollution they were going to breathe was toxic, carcinogenic and deadly.

Instead, volunteers were told they would face only “minimal risks,” the kind they would ordinarily encounter in daily life, in performing routine physical activities. Others were told they might experience claustrophobia in the small study chambers, or some minor degree of airway irritation, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing. There is no way such advisories can lead to “informed consent.”

Moreover, the people who EPA claims are most at risk, most susceptible to getting horribly sick and even dying, from exposure to these particulates were precisely the same people recruited by EPA and its EPA-funded research teams: the elderly, asthmatics, diabetics, people with heart disease, children. And to top it off, the test subjects were exposed to eight, thirty or even sixty times more particulates per volume – for up to two hours – than they would breathe outdoors, and what EPA claims are dangerous or lethal.

How can it be that PM2.5 particulates are dangerous or lethal for Americans in general, every time they step outside – but harmless to human guinea pigs who were intentionally administered pollution dozens of times worse than what they would encounter outdoors? How can it be, as EPA-funded researchers now assert, that “acute, transient responses seen in clinical studies cannot necessarily be used to predict health effects of chronic or repeated exposure” – when that is precisely what EPA claims they can and do show?

If PM2.5 is lethal and there is no safe threshold, shouldn’t EPA officials, its researchers and their institutions be prosecuted for deliberately misleading volunteers and conning them into breathing the poisons? Shouldn’t they be prosecuted for experimenting on children, in direct violation of EPA’s own rules banning such experiments – and for deleting evidence describing those tests?

Thankfully, none of the test subjects died, or the charges would be much more serious.

But if no one died, doesn’t that mean EPA is lying when it says there is no safe level, that all PM2.5 particulates are toxic, that its regulations are saving countless lives, and that the direct and ancillary benefits vastly outweigh their multi-billion-dollar annual costs? And if that is the case, shouldn’t EPA officials be prosecuted for lying to Congress and public, and imposing all those costs for no real benefits?

And now, during the past few months, EPA has been trying to use the prestigious National Academy of Sciences to cover-up and whitewash the agency’s illegal experiments on humans. In secret, and with no public notice or opportunity to comment, the agencies held meetings and issued a draft report.
Milloy got wind of what was going on. He and four other experts sought and received an unprecedented opportunity to testify before the NAS on August 24. Their presentations and other information used in this article can be found herehere and here. Will their efforts bring change?
Up to now, EPA has said and done whatever it deems necessary or convenient to advance its regulatory agenda. The health, environmental and societal costs are unjustified and can no longer be tolerated.

Ranchers, environmental group settle trespass lawsuit

A group of Wyoming ranchers and the environmental group they were suing for trespassing have reached a settlement, with both sides claiming victory. Fifteen landowners from Fremont, Sublette and Uinta counties alleged in a 2014 lawsuit that a Western Watersheds Project researcher had illegally crossed their property to collect water samples. The settlement prohibits the group’s employees from going onto the landowners’ property in the future and makes it easier for the ranchers to seek punitive damages if future trespassing occurs, plaintiff’s attorney Karen Budd-Falen said. “We are very happy,” Budd-Falen said. “The settlement gives the landowners even more than they could have gotten if Western Watersheds Project had allowed the case to go forward.” But watersheds project interim director Greta Anderson said the settlement represented a positive outcome for the organization under the circumstances. “Her claims didn’t actually win anything that didn’t already exist,” Anderson said, noting that while the settlement explicitly bars watersheds representatives from trespassing on private land, those same restrictions apply to all members of the public...more

Ethanol is the Wrong Solution

By Marita K. Noon

University of Michigan’s Energy Institute research professor John DeCicco, Ph.D., believes that rising carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming and, therefore, humans must find a way to reduce its levels in the atmosphere—but ethanol is the wrong solution. According to his just-released study, political support for biofuels, particularly ethanol, has exacerbated the problem instead of being the cure it was advertised to be.

DeCicco and his co-authors assert: “Contrary to popular belief, the heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas emitted when biofuels are burned is not fully balanced by the CO2 uptake that occurs as the plants grow.” The presumption that biofuels emit significantly fewer greenhouse gases (GHG) than gasoline does is, according to DeCicco: “misguided.”

His research, three years in the making, including extensive peer-review, has upended the conventional wisdom and angered the alternative fuel lobbyists. The headline-grabbing claim is that biofuels are worse for the climate than gasoline.

Past bipartisan support for ethanol was based on two, now false, assumptions.

First, based on fears of waning oil supplies, alternative fuels were promoted to increase energy security. DeCicco points out: “Every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan has backed programs to develop alternative transportation fuels.” Now, in the midst of a global oil glut, we know that hydraulic fracturing has been the biggest factor in America’s new era of energy abundance—not biofuels. Additionally, ethanol has been championed for its perceived reduction in GHG. Using a new approach, DeCicco and his researchers, conclude: “rising U.S. biofuel use has been associated with a net increase rather than a net decrease in CO2 emissions.”

How to feed the masses in small-town America

by Leah Todd

Ten years ago, plagued by equipment failures and increasingly sluggish sales, the only grocery store in tiny Walsh, Colorado, closed its doors. But the town’s 600 residents, suddenly facing a 40-mile round trip for food, didn’t despair. Instead, they pooled their money and reopened the historic Walsh Community Grocery Store, a fixture in their town since 1928, as a community-owned store.

Today, the store is turning a profit, and has just one payment left on a $160,000 loan it used to restock and remodel. The shop’s strategy of combining smart community organizing and traditional business acumen is a model for other tiny towns struggling to maintain local grocery stores, even as dollar stores and their frozen wares take over main streets throughout rural America. Roughly 6,000 dollar stores have opened in the U.S. since 2010, according to the retail research firm Conlumino. For at least one chain, Dollar General, the large majority are in towns of 20,000 people or less — places too small for big box stores, like Wal-Mart, but perfect for a dollar store’s slightly smaller shop.

In rural communities, grocery stores — part economic driver, part community builder, and part food supplier — are key institutions, according to an analysis by the Center for Rural Affairs. But keeping them alive isn’t easy. Profit margins are low in the grocery business, and most chain stores accumulate earnings through volume. At small-scale stores like the one in Walsh, the limited clientele means limited sales and, perhaps, bankruptcy...

Ammon Bundy's lawyer argues for his client's right to wear cowboy boots at trial

Before prospective jurors file into Courtroom 9A in the federal courthouse in downtown Portland Wednesday morning, the judge is expected to rule on whether the defendants in the Oregon standoff case who are in custody can wear neckties, belts and boots at trial as requested. Ammon Bundy's lawyer J. Morgan Philpot, argued that his client is innocent until proven guilty, and should be allowed to wear the civilian clothes that he chooses. "We would prefer our clients not look like disheveled slackers in front of the jury,'' Philpot told the judge during Tuesday's last pretrial conference hearing. Philpot added later in the day in a written motion, "These men are cowboys, and given that the jury will be assessing their authenticity and credibility, they should be able to present themselves to the jury in that manner.'' Ammon Bundy remarked in court that he's never even worn slip-on shoes or loafers before court on Tuesday. On August 27, the U.S. Marshal's Service sent an email to defendants, alerting them that certain clothing items won't be permitted at trial: "Ties, Bows, Belts, Handkerchiefs, Cuff Links, Steel toe boots/shoes, Shoe laces, Shirt tie down straps, Safety pins, Shirt pocket pen protectors." As a result, Ammon Bundy arranged to wear non-steel toe boots but was informed those aren't allowed either. U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown Tuesday afternoon asked Barbara Alfono, the deputy U.S marshal in charge of the Bundy trial, about the dress code. Alfono said the defendants who are in custody cannot wear ties, boots or belts as safety precautions. Those accessories could be used as weapons against deputy marshals or the defendants themselves, she said. Further, the defendants will be wearing shackles around their ankles when they're taken to and from the courthouse, and boots would interfere with them. Those shackles, however, will be removed once the defendants are in the courtroom. Philpot pressed further in court Tuesday, asking if he could provide boots for his client to change into once he's led into the courtroom, and before the jury is brought in...more

Trial for Ammon Bundy, 6 others in Oregon standoff set to begin

Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the federal conspiracy case against Ammon Bundy and six others will spend the next three days picking 12 Oregon residents to sit on a jury and eight alternates for a trial that could last two months or more. The sheer number of defendants, the volume of evidence and the turbulent politics of public land ownership make the trial one of the highest-profile proceedings to land in a Portland courtroom in years. The federal judge, in an acknowledgement of the complexities of trying so many people at once, has taken remarkable measures to try to manage a case that has riveted the West this winter and for much of this year: the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. The court initially sent juror questionnaires to 1,500 people across Oregon. Of those, 350 responded. Lawyers whittled the jury pool last month to 263 based on prospective jurors' answers to everything from what they know about the case to their personal beliefs about the Second Amendment. About 60 people were eliminated for either bias or hardship...more

Feds drop charges against Pete Santilli in Malheur case

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Just one day before he was set to stand trial for his role in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover and occupation, prosecutors dropped all Oregon charges against Pete Santilli. The Internet radio host from Cincinnati, who was with the occupiers throughout the takeover, still faces charges in Nevada for his alleged role in the Cliven Bundy case. In a filing on Tuesday, US Attorney Billy J. Williams said prosecutors decided not to pursue charges against Santilli because of “this Court’s pretrial evidentiary rulings excluding evidence against” him. The charges were dismissed without prejudice, which means it is as though the action had never been filed. “It’s been our position since the beginning that Pete had innocent intentions here,” Santilli’s lawyer Tom Coan told KOIN 6 News. “He never encouraged anyone to go out and stay at the refuge.”...more

Federal judge denies Oregon standoff defendant Ryan Bundy's motion to ditch his standby counsel

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown on Tuesday denied Oregon standoff defendant Ryan Bundy's last-minute attempt to ditch his standby counsel. "I do not want her to represent me. I do not want her assistance,'' Bundy said, standing before the court during its last pretrial conference hearing, a day before jury selection is set to begin. Bundy, who chose to represent himself in the federal conspiracy case stemming from the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, said he does not trust standby counsel Lisa Ludwig in front of a jury. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Wednesday, and Bundy is one of eight defendants set for trial. The judge reminded Bundy that he chose to serve as his own lawyer, and the court appointed Ludwig to assist him should he change his mind, or in the event that the court must exclude Bundy from the courtroom. "You don't have any right to choose who that is,'' Brown reminded Bundy. Only defendants who retain counsel, "as your brother did,'' can choose who will represent them, the judge said, referring to Bundy's younger brother Ammon Bundy, who has retained two attorneys. "You're insinuating,'' Bundy continued, that because a defendant may have fewer funds, "I have less rights than another?'' Brown told Bundy the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that defendants seeking court-appointed attorneys don't get their pick of who will represent them. "You can't have it both ways. You gave up that right,'' the judge continued. In other action, the judge heard further argument about the government's error in sharing raw data from 11 Facebook accounts belonging to 10 defendants with all 26 alleged conspirators after the information was deemed irrelevant to the case and should have been kept under seal. Brown said she was still dissatisfied with the government's explanation of how the error occurred, after receiving written declarations from those involved and additional explanations Tuesday from Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Bradford...more

Water Symposium

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Imperial Eagle wins the All American Futurity

RUIDOSO, N.M. - Trainer Tony Sedillo has been involved in the sport of horse racing since he was a teenager growing up in Albuquerque, N.M. On Monday afternoon, he realized one of his dreams when Imperial Eagle rallied to win the Grade 1, 440-yard, $3 million All American Futurity for two-year-old quarter horses at Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino in front of 24,515 fans. "I started crying the final 100 yards of the race, it's an emotional time for me," the 58-year-old Sedillo said. "My two biggest supporters, my mom (Christine) and my dad (Leddie) always encouraged me, always told me I'd win this race one day. I've had a couple of horses in this race before but it didn't go as well as we'd hoped with them, they had problems. There were no problems for Imperial Eagle. He came back from the trials for this race and he was in good shape. He was fantastic. Everyone involved in quarter horse racing wants to win this race. It feels good." Imperial Eagle won the race in a time of 21.478 seconds, edging The Marfa Lights by a neck. Fifty-eight-year-old jockey Larry Payne was looking for his first-ever All American Futurity win with The Marfa Lights. Coronas First Diva also ran a good race and ran third. Imperial Eagle, who has now won four of six starts, earned $1,500,000 for owner Charles Robinson of Southern Pines, N.C. Imperial Eagle was the post time favorite and returned $8 to win, $4.40 to place and $3.60 to show...more

Ec Jet One wins the All American Derby

RUIDOSO, N.M. - Trainer Judd Kearl has had quite a meet this summer at Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino with a strong winning percentage and several other horses hitting the board. On Sunday afternoon, the 41-year-old trainer earned arguably his biggest win of his career when Ec Jet One rallied for a half-length win in the Grade 1, 440-yard All American Derby, which was worth $2,414,691. The All American Derby is for three-year-old quarter horses. The 10-horse field was full of talent and many said any of the 10 could win it. It was a close race throughout, but Ec Jet One finished strong and won in a time of 21.490 seconds. "It's a great win and Ec Jet One gave such a great effort," said Kearl, who has been training for 15 years. "We give some time off earlier this year and he came back and ran a great trial for this race. He finished strong to earn the win. He's a big, strong horse. "Ec Jet One earned $1,014,336 for owner Enrique Carrion of Veracruz, Mexico. The Texas-bred son of the Louisiana Cartel has now won eight of 10 starts. He was the second fastest qualifier for the All American Derby and also owns wins in the South Florida Derby and Hialeah Derby at Hialeah Park in Florida. ...more

Alaska’s emergency wildfire crews are burning out

Wildfire is part of life in Alaska’s rural interior. During summer, it’s not uncommon for more than 2,000 lightning strikes to touch down in a single day, igniting the dry, hot lowlands. Emergency Firefighter Type 2 crews, consisting primarily of local Alaskan Natives, typically serve as the first line of defense against conflagrations. “Most people here have fought wildfire in some form throughout their lives,” says Alexander, who served eight years with the Denali Hotshots and is now the Yukon Flats Center coordinator at the University of Alaska. Yet more and more would-be-firefighters are seeking economic opportunities elsewhere, leaving remote villages vulnerable to wildfires made more intense by climate change. Many wonder how much longer Native villagers can be protected from flames and smoke before they’re forced to flee for good — a new wave of climate refugees. Alexander is based out of Fort Yukon, an Alaska Native village, population 600, at the junction of the Yukon and Porcupine rivers, about 145 miles northeast of Fairbanks. It epitomizes the challenges facing local communities...more

Group pushes to expand Southern Oregon monument lands

A group of scientists, local leaders and Oregon's two U.S. senators are calling for an expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, saying the borders drawn during its creation 16 years ago fail to protect its unique biological diversity — particularly in the face of climate change. The current borders around the monument don't take into account full watersheds, fail to protect the headwaters of Jenny Creek and other streams and don't include high-elevation public lands needed for the monument's unique flora and fauna as they react to climate change, the group says. Supporters claim that not doing so threatens the so-called "spectacular biological diversity" and the rare plants, animals and other "objects of interest" cited in the presidential proclamation that created the now-66,000-acre monument in 2000. "The borders now don't do the job that the proclamation intends," says Dave Willis, chairman of the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council and one of the original leaders of the effort to establish the monument. "It's to protect the biological diversity and connectivity and make it more resilient to climate change," Willis says...more

US judge: Government can keep killing salmon-eating bird

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Army Corps Engineers can continue killing double-crested cormorants that prey on Columbia River salmon and steelhead in a move that shows just how complex the debate has become over how to best sustain imperiled fish species emblematic of the Pacific Northwest. Following the ruling made public Thursday, the Audubon Society of Portland on Friday called the decision “deeply disappointing.” Along with other groups, it contends that hydroelectric dams pose the greatest threat to the fish and says it is unnecessary to reduce the number of fish predators by shooting thousands of cormorants and spreading oil on thousands of nests to prevent cormorant eggs from hatching. Bird conservationists have said repeatedly that attempts to reduce the number of salmon killed as they pass through a complex system of hydroelectric dams and reservoirs on the Columbia and Snake rivers would help the fish more than shooting their predators. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife in 2015 authorized the Corps to kill about 11,000 cormorants — or 5,600 breeding pairs — and put oil in 26,000 nests on the island. In 2015 and 2016, the Corps culled 7,086 adults birds and applied oil on 6,181 nests, according to Corps documents. The Corps stopped in May because large numbers of birds left the colony. Sallinger believes the 16,000 cormorants left because of the killings, but Fredlund said no one knows the reason or reasons...more

Killing one fish to save another in Yellowstone

White-breasted gulls are following a slow-moving boat in Yellowstone Lake. The crew on board is up to something fishy. It’s four fishermen letting out an awful lot of net. The net sinks into the lake’s deep depths in a large S-curve created by the swerve of the captain’s turns. The crew manages up to 40 miles of netting. That netting collects 300,000 lake trout every summer. “We are aggressively netting non-native lake trout in Yellowstone Lake to reduce their predation on our native cutthroat,” says Todd Koel, Yellowstone National Park native fish conservation leader. An angler turned in an unusual catch in 1994. It was a fish that wasn’t supposed to be in Yellowstone Lake — a lake trout. The surprise catch hooked biologists with an unexpected problem. They had an invader in a fishery carefully monitored for the persistence of the park’s coveted native fish, Yellowstone cutthroat trout. “We’re not going to allow that in Yellowstone National Park,” Koel says. “This place is much more than that. We’re way better than that.” Lake trout have aggressive appetites. They made quick work of eating native swimmers. By mid 2000s, 90 to 95 percent of the native Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake were gone. “The problem is lake trout are like large wolves on the landscape, only in the lake,” Koel says. “Large, highly predatory, fish-eating machines essentially.” The park’s fisheries biologists are fighting those fish-eating machines with intensity. The goal is a lake trout population crash. That’s what the commercial fishing boat from the Great Lakes region is for. The crew, with gulls in their wake, put out gillnets as fast as they bring fish in. They work the waters from May to October. They fill stacks of black bins with dead lake trout. Cut open any of the dead fish and there’s up to eight cutthroat trout inside...more

Federal Rule Set to Speed Renewables on Public Lands

More wind turbines and solar power plants could be coming to vast tracts of public lands in the West if the Obama administration finalizes a new rule this fall aiming to streamline how federal lands can be developed for renewable energy. But the rule, hailed by environmental groups and the Obama administration as way to fast-track zero-carbon wind and solar projects on federal lands, is being criticized by the renewables industry, which says it won’t do enough to reduce the cost of developing renewables on public lands...more

Cow Fart Regulations Approved By California’s Legislature

California’s Legislature has approved regulations on cow flatulence and manure – both blamed for releasing greenhouse gases. The measure was approved shortly before the end of the legislative session Wednesday after its author, Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens, agreed to give dairy farms more time to comply. The legislation seeks to reduce methane emissions associated with manure to 40 percent below their 2013 levels by 2030. Methane is one of several gases known as short-lived climate pollutants that don’t persist for long in the atmosphere but have a huge influence on the climate...more

Actually, Raising Beef Is Good for the Planet

This Driverless Tractor Might Be the Future of Farming

It takes a very special tractor to turn heads in Iowa, but this one drew crowds. This week at Iowa’s Farm Progress Show, Case IH debuted their remote controlled tractor prototype, the Case IH Autonomous Concept Vehicle. The futuristic tractor, which sort of looks like an ATV on steroids, is designed to make modern farming as efficient as possible. Instead of driving the tractor in a cockpit, farmers control the machine’s routes via an app on a tablet computer. The tractor can plant crops, collect real-time crop data, monitor harvests and take pictures — all via remote control. The vehicle can also work with existing non-remote tractors, or together with other driverless tractors as a fleet. You can see more of the tractor in action in the video below. Like driverless cars, driverless tractors aren’t quite ready to hit the market. According to Bloomberg, the biggest legal hurdle is whether or not Cash IH and similar corporations can collect and own the harvest data from the tractors. And if they do, what regulations be in place to control how they use it? Another concern has to do with how it would fit under current automobile laws. If you’ve ever lived in or driven through a small farm town, you know that tractors have to drive on the roads with other motorists from time to time. How would a driverless tractor, or car for that matter, be regulated? The legality remains foggy.  link

 The video:

Tom Ford’s style applauded in sale of his $75 million ranch

If you go by coverage in publications around the country (and Great Britain), the biggest news out of Santa Fe over the past several weeks is the potential sale of designer and film director Tom Ford’s 20,000-acre “ranch” south of Santa Fe. The “Manhattan-sized” estate and its reported $75 million price tag have provided fodder for publications ranging from Maxim to the U.K.’s Daily Mail to World Architecture. The big attraction, in addition to Ford’s celebrity and the high asking price, are the sensational (if you consider architecture sensational) pictures released to promote the sale. Variety’s site posted a gallery of 22 pics. Ford’s Cerro Pelon Ranch is a high-desert, ultra-modern Xanadu, designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando in nothing approaching Santa Fe Style. It also features an Old West movie set. Headlines around the world proclaim the place “insane,” “mind-blowing,” “stunning,” “humongous” and “bonkers.”...more

The Storied Hashknife


With the arrival of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad in 1881 Holbrook, located at the junction of the Rio Puerco and Little Colorado River in northern Arizona would soon become one of the wildest cow towns in the West.

By 1887, the town had about two hundred and fifty residents. Businesses included five or six rowdy saloons. Contrary to popular myth, Holbrook never boasted a “Bucket of Blood” saloon. That was a woeful sobriquet given by the cowboys to any rough and tumble drinking establishment.  

The socially elite of the town included the wide gamut of colorful frontier types: filles de joie, gamblers, sheepherders, cowboys and railroaders. 

Holbrook in those days was, to paraphrase those immortal words of Mark Twain, “no place for a Presbyterian………”so very few remained Presbyterians, or any other religion for that matter.  In fact, the town had the unique distinction of being the only county seat in the United States that had no church until 1913.  And that was only after Mrs. Sidney Sapp cajoled her husband into organizing a building fund to build one.

TV's Wyatt Earp, Hugh O'Brian, has died at 91

Hugh O'Brian, who shot to fame as Sheriff Wyatt Earp in what was hailed as television's first adult Western, has died. He was 91. A representative from HOBY, a philanthropic organization O'Brian founded, says he died at home Monday morning in Beverly Hills. Until "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" debuted in September 1955, most TV Westerns - "The Lone Ranger," ''Hopalong Cassidy," the singing cowboys' series - were aimed at adolescent boys. "Wyatt Earp," on the other hand, was based on a real-life Western hero, and some of its stories were authentic. (The real Earp, who lived from 1848 to 1929, is most famous for his participation in the 1881 "Shootout at the O.K. Corral" in Tombstone, Arizona.) Critics quickly praised it, and it made O'Brian a star. "If we were doing Westerns with the chase and the fights that last endlessly, and the sheriff's daughter in sunbonnet and calico and the Wanted posters ... we wouldn't reach the audience we reach each week," O'Brian once said. "Gunsmoke," which debuted just a few days after "Wyatt Earp," became an even bigger hit, and by 1956-57, both were in the top 20 shows. In the 1958-59 season, Westerns accounted for an incredible seven out of the top 10 U.S. television series, including No. 1 "Gunsmoke" and No. 2 "Wagon Train," with "Wyatt Earp" at No. 10. "Wyatt Earp" remained a Top 20 hit until 1960, but it was canceled the following year after being supplanted by the avalanche of other adult Westerns. O'Brian, meanwhile, continued to work frequently in movies, television and theater through the 1990s, although he never again achieved the prominence he enjoyed as Wyatt Earp...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1693

It's a Swingin' Tuesday and we have a good one.  It meets the tastes of renowned western cartoonist A-10 Etcheverry, as it is one of those "blue" recordings, full of sexual innuendo.  I like it because we get to hear an unissued recording with some great breaks by fiddler Jimmy Thomason and pianist Moon Mullican. The tune, Fruit Wagon Gal, was recorded in Hollywood on March 3, 1942 and you'll find it on the CD You Oughta See My Fanny Dance:  Previously Unissued Western Swing, 1935-1942.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Cowboy loving ways

by Julie Carter

I’m not going to say it’s just cowboys that do it, but it’s just cowboys that I know that do it. They have an uncanny knack for making a day of celebration that belongs to someone else into a plan to get something done they want or need done or simply to shortcut the effort into something less than first valiantly planned. My narrative will explain.

They weren't newlyweds by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, just days after this birthday event I'm going to tell you about, they celebrated their 35th anniversary.  They are now, amazingly enough on year 41. Keeping that in mind, these tales will give a glimpse of the depth of love and tolerance honed over that period of longevity.

It was his bride's birthday and since her favorite thing was to go somewhere and see something notable, preferably historical, he offered a blank check in the "travel" department. 

"Where would you like to go?" he asked, knowing she understood that didn't include destinations that required travel agents or airports. She wasn't caught off guard with the request but truly didn't have a burning desire to visit anywhere in particular. So he decided for her. Also not a surprise.

"We'll go to East Texas," he announced helpfully. "Pick a town in East Texas." The only town she could think of was Jefferson, selected because it had a rich history and would not require six months of travel time. They loaded up and headed east, getting as far as Fort Worth. After lunch at Joe T. Garcia’s and $7 margarita for the birthday girl, they were back on the road. 

"Any place in Fort Worth you'd like to see?" he asked her. She remembered the Fort Worth Water Gardens downtown and suggested that she would like to see that again. "It is truly beautiful," she recalled. "A waterfall, a river, a stream, a pond, a cascade and anything else you can imagine doing with water.”

Aiming to please, the cowboy headed the pickup that way. He drove around the block a half dozen times looking for a place to park and finding none, he quickly lost interest in this particular destination. His bride heard it coming as much as saw it. Knowing that when he's about to turn to a "silver-tongued devil," the timbre of his voice changes. So she takes a deep seat because what is next is always a "suggestion."

"You know baby, you have this wonderful memory, actually an amazing memory," he said with a glib smoothness to his words. "Since you have already seen this water display once before, how about you just remember it."  

Being married to a cowboy for 35 years will teach a gal how to say with a straight face, "It was a wonderful birthday." However, he did end her day by going to a roping, winning a  dinner-plate- sized buckle and presenting it to her with the endearing words, “It’ll keep you from getting gut shot.”

This year’s celebration involved a mission to a bar in Grapevine but not for the reasons one might seek out a bar on a birthday, anywhere. The cowboy has collected rocks for most his life and finally found someone with a rock saw to cross section them and reveal the formations inside. 

That led to the need to make a table top with these dissected rocks embedded in epoxy and lit from the underside. Said bar in Grapevine had a bar top with rock chips in epoxy and the cowboy deemed that worth viewing. Only a coincidence the trip happened on his bride’s birthday.

They navigated the overpasses and traffic jams through Fort Worth and Dallas to get to Grapevine. The trip was redeemed with a wonderful lunch ending in a chocolate truffle cake, after which they visited a couple of rock-embedded bar tops and headed home.

The topper for the day was the skunk in the feed room that greeted them as they went to do chores. Evicting him involved moving a pallet of feed, locking up the dog who wanted to help, a pistol and of course, none of it happened without everybody and everything getting a good dose of polecat perfume. 

Eventually, the skunk was disposed of, the clothes in the washer, everybody cleaned up and a cocktail on the patio. The cowboy went to refresh his drink and called to his bride to come to the kitchen. She complied; he put his arm around her and pulled her tight to his chest.

She was about mid-sigh of contentment and thinking “what a perfect ending to a beautiful birthday,” when he says, “Do I still smell skunky?”

Julie can be reached for comment at

Remission of Regulatory Burden

‘Oh, Yea, Sure’ Archives
Remission of Regulatory Burden
In God we Trust
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            The revelation that the Constitution is not taught in the majority of law schools should leave us all incredulous.
            The 10th Amendment alone (The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people) is a study of expansive rights reserved to the people. It should constitute a year of mandatory study. It forms a cornerstone of our system, and, yet, it is relegated to the “oh, yea, sure” archives.
            In its state of dominion, the federal government has largely rendered the 10th Amendment inert with its interpretation of Article 1, Section 8, and Clause 3 which is commonly referred to as the Commerce Clause. In original form, the clause gave Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes”. In its evolution from originality to current form, it, more often than not, is the usurped extralegal tool of authority over the activities of the states and the citizenry. It essentially trumps the 10th Amendment duly ratified under the auspices of the Constitution and bundled with the rest of the first ten amendments (which we should know as the Bill of Rights). A current best example is to try to find the authority of the federal government to pass and enforce Obamacare in an original reading of the Constitution.
            It can’t be done.
            The only way the Commerce Clause can be the guiding authority granting the federal government the right to pass and enforce such legislation is through the maze of case law that now constitutes the basis of the interpretation of the Constitution and the resulting instructional foundation of law taught today. The interpretation of other clauses is similarly corrupted. In reality, this has long been a meandering process of reinvention that has rendered the Constitution mute and exhausted. The genius of the original words is lost.
For all intents and purposes in the manner in which it is now referenced, the Constitution is a relic of the “oh, yea, sure’ archives.
            Moral release
            It is time to apply biblical principles to our state of regulatory exhaustion. The current Congress is the case in point. In their infinite wisdom, this Congress is allowing unelected bureaucrats to install about 59 new regulations for every law that they pass. Notwithstanding the cost of the legislation itself, the cost of these regulations is costing us $1.885 trillion per year.
            There is no end to this nonsense. It is a compounding process whereby regulations are stacked upon us without any mechanism of eliminating past regulations before new ones are invented. We are becoming frantic with regulatory insolvency. Although our God recognized no man can serve forever without relief, our government has no such moral equivalency. God never allows us to obey his law without immediate compensation. Blessings are always attached to obedience to Him, whereas our government only demands more. We are not getting a just return for our investment in this government.
            We aren’t just talking about the cost.
            We are talking about the principle of new chances, the hope for new opportunities, and the promise of fresh beginnings if we are capable of structuring such things in our lives. Such regulatory release can only be accomplished by moral processes and government demonstrates it is incapable of defining those processes. Deuteronomy 15:1-2 offers the gleaming example of how we should deal with compounding regulations.
            At the end of every seven years you shall make a release. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel the loan he has made to his fellow man. He shall not require payment from his brother, because the Lord’s time canceling debts has been proclaimed.
            In this case, the cancellation will not be aimed at debt, but, rather, regulatory burden. The text would read:
            At the end of every seven years which is proclaimed the acceptable year by this nation, all regulations created in a manner extralegal to the authority vested by the Constitution, and which, by their nature, lay repressive restraint on the American citizenry shall be cancelled. Any and all regulations deemed finite, necessary, and or prudent on the basis of future legislation shall and can be crafted, but will enjoy a sunset on this day seven years hence.
            In God we Trust
            It should pain every one of us that the blessings of liberty defined in the Constitution have been eroded and redefined to fit political expediency. If change is indeed necessary, the document sets forth the means for change but that change cannot come by the migration of agenda forces through the courts. That course will and has altered the intent and the form of the Law of Our Land to a point unrecognizable to the Framers and to the diligent reader who is given great power in the 10th Amendment, the last of the amendments which constitute our Bill of Rights.
            It is also time to reset the clock and the intent of all law schools. No longer is it acceptable to fund these factories of liberal doctrine without at least a full year of Constitutional study. There was no intent to create our foundational document on the basis of code and innuendo. What is says is what was intended. If there is confusion, then it must be fixed but only through the legal process that is defined in its content not the corrupted maneuvering of radical agendas. That is why we found it intolerable to bow to the east and King George III.
            Indeed, in our Constitution we find words of wisdom amid all the black print of the law of man, but only … In God (do) we Trust.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Doesn’t it offend you the Constitution is relegated to the ‘Oh, yea, sure’ archives?”