Friday, September 23, 2016

Since 2010, the Sage Grouse Initiative has enrolled 1,300+ ranchers to conserve over 5 million acres of sagebrush country, benefiting 350 species

One year ago today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the greater sage-grouse did not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. This historic decision was due in part to unprecedented voluntary partnerships like the USDA's Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) that are working to conserve America’s vast sagebrush country. To mark the anniversary, SGI released an online report tracking sagebrush conservation outcomes across 11 western states over the past year. The results show that conservation efforts for the sage grouse also benefit 350 other species that depend on healthy sagebrush habitat -- including people."We're in this for the long haul," says SGI coordinator Thad Heater. "We look forward to maintaining momentum through our $211 million sage grouse investment strategy, dubbed SGI 2.0, that will protect an estimated 8 million acres by 2018."  Heater also notes that the collaborative conservation model launched with SGI is spreading. Private landowners across the nation are now putting in place practices that benefit all sorts of at-risk species as well as agricultural operations through NRCS’ Working Lands for Wildlife. Conservation initiatives are underway for turtles, fish, and rabbits, as well as sage grouse.Since 2010, SGI has worked with dozens of partners and 1,300+ ranchers to conserve over 5 million acres of prime wildlife habitat and agricultural rangeland...more

With respect specifically to the sage grouse, its a real stretch to call this "voluntary". Its the threat of a listing that has forced most landowners to participate.
If you threaten somebody and they respond, was their response voluntary? Or was their response caused by the threat.

Benefit concert to raise awareness on ranching industry

ALAMOGORDO – Ranching Truth, a non-profit organization that consists of ranchers, cowboys and agriculture professionals is organizing a benefit concert Sunday, Sept. 25, to inform the public of the positive side of the ranching industry in America. Ranching Truth aims to make accessible information that accurately describes the practices of the ranching business. They believe every American is a stakeholder in the beef industry so they take an active stand against the negative misinformation by providing positive conversation and facts. Colt Howland who is one of the founders of Ranching Truth said one of the purposes of the concert is to raise money to go out and advocate for the cattle industry. “Several of us have started this Ranching Truth non-profit, we’re trying to raise money to go out and advocate more for the cattle industry. That’s our main goal to educate for the industry,” Howland said. He said in the past few years there has been a lot of negative information, that’s when Ranching Truth was born to educate people on the actual practices they do. “We noticed there was no real voice pushing back on that. We have the science and data on our side to kind of counter these attacks,” Howland said. “We started this Ranching Truth non-profit and we realized we have to have money to get the message out.”...more

Fate of tainted Fukushima cows takes scientific twist

In an abandoned Japanese village, cows grazing in lush green fields begin to gather when they hear the familiar noise of the ranch owner’s mini-pickup. This isn’t feeding time, though. Instead, the animals are about to be measured for how they’re affected by living in radiation — radioactivity that is 15 times the safe benchmark. For these cows’ pasture sits in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, a name now synonymous with nuclear disaster. The area was once a haven for agriculture with more than 3,500 cattle and other livestock. Ranchers who refused a government order to kill their cows continue to feed and tend about 200 of them. The herds won’t be used as food; now science is their mission. Researchers visit every three months to test livestock living within a 20-km (12-mile) radius of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, where three reactors had core meltdowns after the facility was swamped by a tsunami in March 2011. It is the first-ever study of the impact on large mammals of extended exposure to low-level radiation...more

How Hampton Creek sold the Fake-Mayo miracle

In April employees at Hampton Creek, in San Francisco, received a stunning e-mail. With Earth Day coming up, Sofia Elizondo, vice president for business operations, wanted colleagues to know about some changes in the vegan-food company’s sustainability profile. For years, Hampton Creek had trumpeted its environmental credentials, crafting a story that had produced a cultlike following among green-minded foodies and a wave of excitement among Silicon Valley investors. The company’s Facebook page said a 30-ounce jar of Just Mayo, its signature product, saved 80 gallons of water, a full bathtub’s worth. It also makes vegan cookie dough and cookies: A Cookie Calculator on the company website showed that a single egg-free, dairy-free Hampton Creek chocolate chip cookie saved 35 grams of carbon emissions and almost 7 gallons of water, compared with a nonvegan cookie.

Except, the e-mail said, that was wrong. Hampton Creek had hired a consulting firm, Lux Research in Boston, to do a full audit of the environmental impact of its products. Lux found that, as a colleague of Elizondo’s said in a later e-mail, “the numbers look pretty different to the ones we’ve previously been using.” Lux had examined the footprint of all of Hampton Creek’s ingredients, not only the egg and dairy replacements. Employees were told to trash the old numbers and start limiting claims to individual ingredients. “You can say something like: ‘Pea protein saves 1.3 gallons of water for every jar of 30 oz Just Mayo,’ ” Elizondo wrote.

Hampton Creek never publicly admitted its numbers were wrong. It scrubbed its site of sustainability claims, and the Cookie Calculator vanished. Such quiet backpedaling might be forgivable at many young companies—overeager math isn’t unheard of in Silicon Valley. But at Hampton Creek, it fits a pattern of mistaken or exaggerated claims that may prove to be deliberately deceptive.

In August the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department launched probes of Hampton Creek for possible securities violations and criminal fraud. The investigation follows an Aug. 4 Bloomberg article that revealed the company deployed a national network of contractors to secretly buy back Just Mayo from grocery store shelves. Hampton Creek denies any wrongdoing.

...Every entrepreneur has a story. Tetrick’s was eggs. In 2011 his company—essentially just him and a vegan chef, operating out of Los Angeles—landed $500,000 in seed funding from Khosla Ventures to develop a plant-based substitute for chicken eggs. His pitch: He would liberate billions of hens from the fetid misery of overstuffed cages—and in the process save water and grain and cut carbon pollution. Profane, charismatic, and built like the linebacker he once was, Tetrick became a tenacious evangelist for eliminating animal protein from the world’s diet. (It’s “Just” Mayo as in “righteous,” not “simply.”) At the same time, he billed Hampton Creek as more than a food company. What it was learning in the lab and through computational analysis about plant-based proteins would make it a sustainable-food power, not just a company with a handful of niche products.

China to Resume Imports of U.S. Beef, Premier Says

China’s premier promised to resume Chinese imports of U.S. beef soon, calling it a sign of Beijing’s sincerity to improve commercial ties with the U.S. Speaking to U.S. business groups in New York on Tuesday night, Premier Li Keqiang said China would soon allow imports of U.S. beef. “We also recognize that the United States has very good beef, so why should we deny Chinese customers this choice?” Mr. Li said, in one of several less scripted moments during his remarks. Though the premier didn’t give a specific timetable, trade groups have previously said imports may resume before the end of the year. China has had a ban in place on most U.S. beef imports since 2003, partly due to concerns over the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or “mad cow” disease, after a cow with the disease was found in Washington state . The World Animal Health Organization considers the risk of the disease “negligible.” But bans on U.S. beef from countries like China and Brazil, which have built up their own livestock herds in recent years, persisted until this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and officials from Brazil announced an agreement in August to drop bans on each other’s beef earlier this year. U.S. cattle producers this year have urged agriculture officials to make reopening export markets a top priority, as prices have tumbled to the lowest levels in six years because of rising domestic meat supplies...more

Anti-monument rally: 'Please don't take this land from us'

Utah's congressional delegation, Gov. Gary Herbert and some Navajo residents from San Juan County made a direct plea to President Barack Obama on Wednesday to refrain from designating the Bears Ears region a national monument. The press conference Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol was live-streamed on Sen. Mike Lee's Facebook page, generating hundreds of simultaneous comments as monument opponents urged that the southeastern Utah region be left alone by the president. "Native Americans have given up enough of their ancestral lands for national monuments," said Susie Philemon. "President Obama, we the local native residents of San Juan County, Utah, have managed to protect this enchanted place and will continue to do so. Please do not take this land from us. … Please don’t break more promises … not again." Philemon paused with emotion in her direct appeal and spoke of the sacred nature of the rugged country to Native Americans. "President Obama, if you take this sacred place from us and make it a national monument, you are not only taking the center stone but you are also taking a sacred homeland from us. It puts a heavy burden on our hearts to think it will be a decision of one person to forever deprive us from having a physical connection to our spiritual sites," she said. A reporter at the press conference asked if Utah's political leaders believe the ink is already drying on the presidential proclamation and if their pleas are too little, too late. "I don't think it is inevitable," Herbert said. "That is why we are here." Herbert is to meet with the Bureau of Land Management's national director, Neil Kornze, on Thursday and emphasized that if the federal government believes the area needs greater protections, the agency should respond with stepped up management in lieu of a unilateral decision. "If you really care about protections, there are ways to do it with the Bureau of Land Management," he said...more

Utah voters split on Bears Ears monument as leaders dig in to fight it

Utah's elected leaders and some members of the Navajo Nation argued Wednesday against presidential action to name a Bears Ears National Monument, saying the communities that will be impacted in the southeastern corner of the state are tired of federal overreach. "We don't want it. We don't need it," Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said outside the U.S. Capitol, surrounded by five members of Utah's federal delegation and three American Indians from San Juan County. "It will, in fact, not bring us together; it will, in fact, pull us apart." The pushback against a monument designation comes as a new Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows Utahns are split over a new national monument, with about 43 percent opposing the idea and 40 percent backing it. About 17 percent were unsure. Utahns younger than 35 favored a monument by clear majorities, while a plurality of older residents opposed it. The debate is intensifying as President Barack Obama's tenure nears an end. An Interior Department official this week told The Tribune that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told Gov. Gary Herbert she feels an "urgent" need to protect the area and its tens of thousands of archaeological sites. The comment may hint at action in the coming months by Obama, who has unilateral power to name a monument under the 1906 Antiquities Act...more

Pheffer Amato demands better security in park following Karina Vetrano murder

One week after the release of private security camera footage showing Karina Vetrano moments before her murder, the NYPD has received 104 tips, including some with new information, but the case remains unsolved. The video captures the 30-year-old Howard Beach jogger near Spring Creek Park Aug. 2, just before 6 p.m. where she was beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted, according to police. Now a candidate for the state Assembly is calling for increased security measures at the Gateway National Recreation Area just to the south. Stacey Pheffer Amato is taking the National Park Service to task for “inadequate” safety infrastructure, asking them to install security cameras and emergency blue lights in Gateway National Recreation Area, the vast urban park that includes the Jamaica Wildlife Refuge with many deserted trails. “Security cameras are an essential law enforcement tool that help to deter illegal activity and aid local law enforcement in criminal investigat­ion,” Pheffer Amato said. “It is unthinkable that in this day and age, in an urban park like Gateway, we don’t have cameras and other infrastructure to keep an eye on the area and aid visitors in distress. I urge the National Park Service to recognize the unique needs of our urban parkland and install the infrastructure that will keep our families safe.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1705

Confederate Railroad has a new CD titled Lucky To Be Alive.  This is their seventh studio recording, but their first in nine years.  Is pretty standard Confederate Railroad stuff till I got to the last cut, which is done bluegrass style.  Here is Don't Feel As Young As I Used To.  The Westerner

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rancher copes with growing wolf conflict

Spring Gulch rancher Terry Schramm opened up the headgates Monday enough to wet the soil in an agricultural ditch so he could see what lurked in the night to feed on his most recently depredated cow. The tactic had the desired effect — imprinted into the mud Tuesday morning were clear-cut wolf tracks. Lots of them. “Look at the size of that f-----g dog track,” Schramm said later that day, gazing down at the ditch. The impressively wide pad prints of one large lobo stood out in particular amid the dozens of tracks around it. “There were 11 wolves on this carcass on Sunday,” he said. “That’s not all of them, because they were all gray and I know there’s at least two blacks and a white one that we’ve got on trail cam and video.” After a two-week lull in the canine-bovine clash in Spring Gulch, the wolves, likely from the Pinnacle Peak Pack, came back. The latest round of conflict between Walton Ranch cattle and the well-known wolf pack, which dens on the National Elk Refuge, started up the weekend of Sept. 10-11 when a calf was found dead, according to federal wildlife officials. 
Then, late last week, Schramm was awoken to a herd that smashed through a buck-and-rail fence and a maimed cow 186. It was the full-grown animal whose rank, mostly consumed carcass he stood over Tuesday near the wolf tracks. Fumbling with his iPhone, he pulled up a video of when he found the still-live cow Thursday morning. Innards protruding from its torn-up back end, the cow was still on its feet. A bullet shortly thereafter ended its misery. “It’s just been heartache for me,” Schramm said. “The politics of this just suck. I call up and say, ‘Give me a kill permit so I can protect my livestock.’ They say, ‘We can’t do that, you’re not allowed to shoot them.’” At least three cows and six calves from the Walton Ranch and other nearby livestock producers have been confirmed wolf-killed since spring. Many more, Schramm claims, have been bitten and sustained some degree of injury...more

Congressional hearing on wolves - New Mexico testimony

On Sept. 21, the House Natural Resource Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on The Status of the Federal Government's Management of Wolves.  Part of the hearing was on the mexican wolf, and giving testimony on that topic was Alexandra Sandoval, Director of the NM Game & Fish Dept.  If you have an interest in endangered species, the mexican wolf or the proper role of the states in managing wildlife, including endangered species, you will find her testimony embedded below of great interest.

You also may find the testimony of Thomas Paterson interesting, as his family runs cattle on both sides of the NM/Az border.

Norway’s wolf hunt catches foreign flak

An announcement late last week that Norwegian authorities would approve the hunting of 47 wolves this autumn and winter has been met with a barrage of criticism from abroad. Local environmentalists and conservationists are upset, too. The large British newspaper The Guardian reported how the Norwegians were planning to kill off two-thirds of their wolf population, because of the threat the wolves pose to free-grazing sheep and other livestock. Norway’s biggest newspaper Aftenposten reported how The Guardian’s story generated reaction from around 22,000 readers, as did stories in Le Monde of France, Zeit of Germany, Russia Today and media in many other countries from Canada to India. The Daily Express in England called the wolf hunt a “massacre.” Jens Frølich Holte of Norway’s government ministry in charge of environmental and climate issues told Oslo newspaper Aftenposten that the wolf hunt was a “challenging” issue for Norway. He admitted that most of the international reaction was negative, while trying to explain that the once-endangered wolves in Norway have bred more quickly than expected and are spreading to areas not viewed as “wolf zones” by wildlife authorities...more

Interior Department touts effort to protect sage grouse

A broad effort to save the greater sage grouse across the West without resorting to the Endangered Species Act is making progress, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday. “There’s some really good work going on,” Jewell said during a visit to a national wildlife refuge outside Denver, where she announced a year ago that the rare bird wouldn’t be listed as endangered or protected. Instead, conservation agencies are relying on cooperation among federal, state and local governments as well as help from oil and gas companies and ranchers. Endangered Species Act protection would have meant stricter restrictions on oil and gas exploration, grazing and other human activities. Greater sage grouse live in 11 Western states including Oregon. About 200,000 to 500,000 remain, down from a peak population of about 16 million. The Interior Department released a report Wednesday listing steps taken so far to save the birds. The report includes a study by the federal Bureau of Land Management and the University of California-Davis on the effects of the noise of oil and gas exploration and wells on the birds. Other steps include protecting ecosystems, fire suppression and allowing habitat exchanges with energy companies.  AP

Appeal delays massive coal sale planned for central Utah

A massive coal sale in central Utah exempted under a national moratorium on any new mining on federal land was delayed Tuesday after environmental groups filed an appeal. The Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust and WildEarth Guardians appealed the Bureau of Land Management's decision to go ahead and offer the Green Hollow Tract in Sanpete and Sevier counties, citing concerns about sage grouse habitat. The action now prompts the Interior Board of Land Appeals to take another look, staying the sale planned for Tuesday for a review period that could take 45 days. BLM offered the tract of 6,175 acres despite a three-year moratorium announced by the Obama administration in January as part of sweeping reforms. The tract was covered under exceptions granted through the moratorium because an environmental review had already been performed...more

Ferret Return Successful

Meeteetse – A rare mammal species was returned to Meeteetse this summer. Black Footed Ferrets were discovered there in 1981, when biologists thought they were extinct. Wyoming’s Game and Fish biologists are looking for the ferrets there now, to determine if they survived. A ferret’s bark hasn’t been heard on the Pitchfork and Hogg ranches since the mid-eighties, when all of the remaining wild Black Footed Ferrets were trapped and put in breeding facilities. Only 18 ferrets were left. Although ferrets were reintroduced to 24 other sites in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, it literally took a federal law, and years of research to bring the little predators back here this summer. Wyoming Game and Fish researchers used an experimental vaccine loaded peanut butter bait to slow down the plague, which had wiped out the ferrets favorite food: prairie dogs. And, the new federal 10J rule that protected ranchers and their neighbors from punishment cleared the legal hurdles, so ranchers Lenox Baker, and Alan Hogg could volunteer. On July 27th, townspeople applauded their return, and the Hogg family got the honor of releasing the first ferret back on the land where they were discovered in 1981. But, the 35 ferrets released here were just kits. They had never lived in the wild. Many ferrets die after reintroduction. So, six Game and Fish Teams have been searching for the ferrets at night since last week. The ferrets are only active after dark, so it takes hours of driving, scanning the ground with a spotlight...more

Mark McConnell, man driving Jeep before Ammon Bundy's arrest, was informant, testimony reveals

Mark McConnell, the driver of the Jeep that Ammon Bundy was riding in before his arrest on Jan. 26, was a government informant who had tipped off law enforcement about the occupation leaders' trip out of the wildlife refuge, according to court testimony Wednesday. Oregon State Police Trooper Jeremiah Beckert said that McConnell provided information about the occupiers' vehicles, their location and a basic threat assessment, leading to the high-risk traffic stop on U.S. 395 about 4 p.m. that same day. Beckert was in an unmarked police pickup truck, waiting in a Sno-Park off the rural road, when he saw a white Dodge pickup belonging to occupation spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum and a Jeep go by, northbound. He activated the lights on his truck and hit the siren a few times as he moved in behind the Jeep. Beckert, testifying in the federal trial against Ammon Bundy and six co-defendants stemming from the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, described the traffic stop, and the arrest of Ammon Bundy and Brian Cavalier from the Jeep. He also spoke of the subsequent arrests of Ryan Bundy and Shawna Cox after Finicum's truck sped off to avoid a police roadblock and crashed into a snowbank down the road. Before the trooper took the witness stand, U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown repeatedly warned the defendants and their lawyers that the circumstances surrounding Finicum's death were "off limits." Brown went as far as telling Ryan Bundy that he was forbidden from raising the subject before jurors, and that she would have him removed from the courtroom if he didn't follow her order. Yet that didn't stop some on the defense side from attempting to raise the matter. The trooper testified that the occupants of the Jeep — Ammon Bundy, McConnell and Brian Cavalier — complied with orders to step out of the vehicle and walk backward to waiting officers. The only one armed in the Jeep was McConnell, who had a handgun. After Cavalier was taken into custody, Beckert drove north to the police roadblock. He saw Finicum's truck in a snowbank. "I saw a white male with a cowboy hat laying on his back,'' Beckert testified, estimating that the man's body was about 30 yards south of the Dodge truck. Beckert also testified that he saw police firing plastic canisters from 40mm launchers into Finicum's truck near the road block, releasing a powdery irritant similar to pepper spray or tear gas. After some delay, he watched as Ryan Bundy, Victoria Sharp and Shawna Cox, in that order, emerged one by one from the back of Finicum's truck. He later learned that Ryan Bundy had been taken to a hospital for treatment, possibly for shrapnel, Beckert testified. During cross-examination, Ammon Bundy's lawyer Marcus Mumford established again that Beckert learned that Finicum had been killed by law enforcement. Mumford followed up, "In fact, he was shot three times in the back...'' The prosecutor objected, and the judge immediately asked the jurors to disregard Mumford's question. Mumford later brought up Ryan Bundy's wound. "That was based on another shot from law enforcement into the truck..,'' Mumford began. Again, Mumford was cut off, and the judge told the jury to disregard his remarks. "Jurors, again, we are not litigating here what happened to Mr. Finicum or the extent of the shooting,'' Brown said. When it was Ryan Bundy's chance to cross-examine the trooper, he was more direct. "So the round that was shot into my shoulder, was it lethal or not lethal?'' he asked. The prosecutor objected, and the trooper didn't answer the question. Out of earshot from the jury, Ryan Bundy had urged the court to allow jurors to learn that he was shot "by federal snipers who picked up their brass and lied repeatedly" about their shooting. He argued that the FBI's actions and alleged coverup of the shooting goes to the bias of the federal agency that was allowed to investigate the refuge occupation. Ryan Bundy accused the government of "trying to control the narrative" by "barring discussion of FBI deception and what went on there." Gabriel countered that the information was irrelevant since the prosecution team is not calling any of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team agents who are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice's Inspector General's office. "Bias goes to an individual,'' Gabriel said. "It does not go to an entire institution in this case.'' After taking some time in court to review the evidence and her prior court ruling, Brown denied Ryan Bundy's request. "Whatever happened with Mr. Finicum — whether it was justified or not," did not bear on defendants' mental state and their decision to do what they did, which occurred before Finicum was killed, the judge said from her bench. "The righteousness of it or not remains irrelevant in this case," Brown said. She further noted that the actions remain under investigation. The judge added that the "great weight of evidence" the government has presented in this case so far are from the defendants' own statements. "It's Ammon Bundy himself in front of a microphone. It's Ryan Bundy himself in front of a microphone," Brown said...more

HT: Marvin Frisbey

Ammon Bundy had $8,031 in cash when arrested, talked on cell en route to jail

After his arrest on Jan. 26, Ammon Bundy was found with an envelope containing $8,000 of cash in his jacket, a receipt from a Jan. 1 purchase of nearly $200 in ammunition from a BiMart in Idaho and a withdrawal slip in his wallet for $6,000 from a Chase Bank Fred Meyer in Idaho visited the day before, an FBI agent testified Tuesday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel told the court the evidence indicates that Bundy planned to remain at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for a long time. During transportation to jail by van after a cursory search of him, Harney County Sheriff's Sgt. Lucas McLain heard Bundy talking on a cell phone. Lt. Brian Needham turned on the overhead light in the van, and they could see Bundy, who was handcuffed, balancing a cell phone between his shoulder and ear, McLain testified Tuesday. They stopped the van at the Bureau of Land Management office west of Burns along U.S. 20, and Bundy, along with co-defendant Ryan Payne and Victoria Sharp, were removed from the van to be searched. McLain said he searched the van and found a cell phone in the crook of the seat where Bundy had been...more

Banning The Entire State of Idaho

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1704

Dwight Yoakam is out with a new CD and like so many in the country field, he's cut a bluegrass album. The CD is Swimming Pools, Movie Stars...and the tune we've selected is Free To Go.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Steyer ups ante in fall elections

STEYER’S WAY TO (ELECTORAL) HEAVEN: Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer is pledging an additional $15 million to a super PAC that he co-founded earlier this year with several unions, he tells Pro’s Andrew Restuccia in an interview. Steyer had previously promised to give $5 million to the For Our Future PAC, bringing his total contributions to the group to $20 million. "The measure of this will not be the dollars, the measure will be the impact, whether we change people’s thinking, people’s engagement and people’s participation," Steyer said. Feeling good about November: Steyer told Andrew he feels no obligation to compete with conservative donors like Sheldon Adelson, who is reportedly forking over $45 million for Republicans. Instead, his group, NextGen Climate, is working on a series of state-based ground operations focused on driving climate-minded voters to the polls. Steyer said that he last spoke with Hillary Clinton about two or three weeks ago, but avoids close contact with the campaign to avoid the perception of inappropriate collusion. He said he sees his friends in Clinton World "very, very occasionally and talk to them occasionally, but I don’t coordinate with them." Staying out of Exxon probe: Steyer also insisted he isn't playing a central role in the face-off against ExxonMobil over allegations that it misled the public and its investors about internal research detailing the threat of climate change. Despite a New York Post report that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's staff tried to reach out to Steyer over the AG's investigation into the company, Steyer said he's largely staying out of the Exxon fight. "We’re definitely not pushing this thing," he said, adding, "We are not part of this effort.” Any thoughts on 2018? And he brushed off questions about whether he'll run for governor of California in 2018, as many people suspect. "I don’t know what we’re going to do," he said, explaining that he won't make any decisions until he analyzes the outcome of this year's election...more

Utah Delegation All Out Against Bears Ears Monument

On Wednesday, September 21, Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert will join his state’s congressional delegation to offer several resolutions opposing another, proposed National Monument in the Beehive State. Scheduled for 2pm Mountain Daylight Time at the Senate “swamp” in Washington, D.C., the press conference is considered a last-ditch effort to deflect the very real possibility of another National Monument designation in Utah by President Obama. The President would use the provisions of the 1906 AntiquitiesAct to do so. A list of the resolutions and petitions to be delivered Wednesday by Herbert and Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee includes the work of many local officials from San Juan County, one of Utah’s most impoverished areas, with a population of 14,746 residents (ref 2010 census). The county is nearly equally divided between native Navajo (Diné) and mostly white descendants of Mormon pioneer families. A list to be discussed at the Wednesday press conference includes – Resolutions from the Blue Mountain Dine’ and the Aneth Chapter of the Navajo Nation in opposition to the new National Monument as proposed by the Diné Bikéyah 12-tribe council. – A petition from the Descendants of Kaayelii in opposition to the Monument.. – Resolutions from the cities of Blanding, Monticello (the San Juan County seat) Utah and the San Juan County Board of Commissioners and Utah’s state legislature, all opposing the designation of the Bears Ears National Monument. – A letter from the Utah Wildlife Board opposition to the designation. Additionally, Utah Senator Mike Lee has previously introduced the “Utah National Monument Parity Act” which seeks to amend the Antiquities Act of 1906 to halt further use of the executive branch’s conservation law in Utah without congressional approval...more

IG report faults Forest Service hazardous fuels priorities

An Inspector General’s report finds the U.S. Forest Service lacks a consistent way to pick high-priority wildfire fuels reduction projects, doesn’t use scientifically based risk assessments to choose them and has been over-counting the number of acres it has treated to reduce wildfire risk. The report followed up on a similar audit of the Forest Service’s Hazardous Fuels Priority Allocation System in 2006, and found that changes recommended then still weren’t being met. The report and its responses from the agency were released on Aug. 16. The Forest Service "has identified almost 100 million acres of NFS lands that have at least moderate risk for wildfire potential, of which more than 58 million of the acres are at high risk,” the IG report stated. “Due to its limited resources, FS completes hazardous fuel reduction treatments on only about 2.9 million acres annually, of which about 1.5 million acres are in wildland-urban interface areas. From fiscal years 2012 to 2014, approximately $600 million was allocated to regions for their high priority hazardous fuels projects. According to Washington Office officials, even if its hazardous fuels budget doubled, the Forest Service would still not be able to treat all of the acres most at risk for catastrophic wildfire.” The report found Forest Service officials frequently “count(ed) the same acreage multiple times when the project consisted of more than one procedure. One unidentified Forest Service region overstated its accomplishments by 16.3 percent. “Four of the six projects we reviewed were incorrectly identified as occurring completely within WUI areas when they were not actually within WUI areas at all,” the report authors wrote. “When this acreage is combined with the errors caused by (reporting software) limitations previously discussed, the total amount of treated WUI acreage over-reported by these six projects was 67 percent.”...more

2016 Public Lands Council Meeting wraps up; Utah rancher takes the reins

On Sept. 10, the annual Public Lands Council meeting wrapped up with a high desert range and operation tour in Southern Idaho. The meeting drew more than 150 public lands ranchers along with affiliate representatives to engage in the grassroots policy process, hear from agency officials and discuss critical issues that are impacting the West. This year’s PLC meeting focused on top issues for public lands ranchers including preserving and enhancing sage grouse habitat through land stewardship, managing wild horse and burro populations at appropriate levels, and fighting regulation that threatens multiple use and vibrant western communities. “We had a successful meeting this year, and we are pleased with the turnout of not only our members, but agency officials that took to time to meet with us and hear our concerns,” said Ethan Lane, PLC executive director. At the conclusion of the business meeting, Dave Eliason, a fifth-generation rancher from Utah, was elected serve the two-year term as PLC president, succeeding Brenda Richards, who will serve as immediate past president. Bob Skinner of Jordan Valley, Oregon, was elected to serve as vice president, and Nels Hansen of Rawlins, Wyoming, is the new secretary/treasurer...more

South African ranchers are dehorning rhinos. But is it the right thing to do?

The large bull rhino was about a hundred meters away. The jeep carrying the darting team moved closer, there was a popping sound and the bull twitched and moved off with a dart clearly visible in his upper leg. Within two minutes he was down on his knees. The dehorning team approached quickly, attached blinkers to cover his eyes as a group of ranch hands held him down and attached a rope to his back leg. Once the measurements were done, a line was carefully drawn around the large front horns and the smaller rear ones leaving about four or five centimeters below the cut line to ensure growth would continue and there would be no damage to the horn bed where it joins the skull. A battery driven saw was then used to cut through the horn, which took little more than a minute. Someone sprayed cold water on to the horn to prevent over-heating and burn injuries. Then the horn was off. The team cleaned up the edges of the horn stump and gathered up any shaving or horn dust and sealed them in marked bags. The two horns were measured, weighed and marked with indelible ink. When a rhino is first dehorned DNA samples are taken for future identification. The main horn from the first rhino I saw dehorned weighed 565g, the smaller horn 67g and the shavings 45g. This would be worth an estimated US$40 000 in Vietnam and China, the main markets for poached ivory horn. That's according to rhino owner John Hume and Kruger Park Chief Ranger Nicholus Funda, who gave me the latest estimates of horn prices. The horns and shavings from dehorned rhino are kept in a bank safe or secure depository. Dehorning is practiced on many South African private reserves and is seen as a way of deterring poachers. It has even been used on some parks and conservancies in Zimbabwe and Namibia, according to a study on the effects of dehorning. Dehorning itself is not hugely controversial - what is, is whether the harvested horn should be sold. This will be debated, with vehement arguments on both sides, at the CITES conference in Johannesburg in September 2016...more

U.S. Senate Tells EPA/Army Corps to Back Off Farmers re: WOTUS Clean Water Act

A report issued TODAY by a U.S. Senate committee documents how federal agencies overreach their authority to regulate farmland, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF), which said the report underlines the need for congressional action to reform the agencies’ practices, particularly regarding the WOTUS Rule. The report from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee describes numerous incidents in which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have tried to expand their authority to regulate what crops farmers grow and how they grow them, based on the agencies’ interpretation of the Clean Water Act. “A disturbing number of the cases described in the Senate report came from California,” CFBF President Paul Wenger said. “Farmers and ranchers here have seen firsthand that the abuses outlined in this report aren’t theoretical—they’re real.” One case in California is particularly troublesome. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) ordered John Duarte, a farmer and nurseryman to cease farming his land after he plowed 4-7 inches deep to plant a wheat crop in his field. Duarte, in turn, filed a lawsuit to vindicate his right to farm his land. The U.S. Department of Justice fired back with a countersuit. Duarte has spent over $1 million in legal fees to date, yet the government is seeking $6-8 million in fines and “wetland credits.” Duarte now faces a costly appeal and legal battle, the outcome of which will set precedence on important issues affecting farmers and ranchers nationwide. Landowners’ concerns stem from a rule the agencies finalized last year, known as the “Waters of the United States” or WOTUS rule, which would bring more waterways under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. Although a federal court has temporarily halted enforcement of the WOTUS rule, landowners and their representatives say the Corps continues to enforce the act so narrowly that, as a practical matter, its actions mirror the intent of the new rule. U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released an EPW Majority Committee report titled “From Preventing Pollution of Navigable and Interstate Waters to Regulating Farm Fields, Puddles and Dry Land: A Senate Report on the Expansion of Jurisdiction Claimed by the Army Corps....more

Grazing and fire behavior

By Wendy Pratt

We summer cattle in the mountains of Southeastern Idaho, and last week after checking the herd, we took the long way home through Bone and toured the area of the Henry’s Creek Fire. Ouch! The devastation along Willow Creek is hard to grasp. This once dense thicket of willows looks like a bombing range.

Fire is, from time-to-time, a natural occurrence, and there will undoubtedly be some beneficial effects of this fire as time goes on, but it will hardly offset the costs of fire-fighting to the taxpayer (in the millions) and the cost to wildlife through short term habitat destruction, nevermind the cost in private property damage. Worse yet is the nagging fear that this fire will be followed by more to come if drier, hotter summers become the norm. The desert west of us is where they have to worry about devastating range fires … right?

We drove to a vantage point where you can see where the Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area abuts private ground. It’s easy to observe the fence line contrast between the total annihilation of plant life caused by dense fuel loads (years of ungrazed grass) on the wildlife management side, and the much-reduced effects of the fire as it entered a landscape that had been grazed and consequently had less fuel. Is this difference significant to the recovery process?

The Wildlife Management Area, originally acquired as mitigation for the Ririe and Teton dams, encompasses some 34,000 acres. It provides vital winter habitat for 8,000 to 10,000 elk, deer and moose. We’ve yet to hear what percentage of the area burned, but we know it was significant.

This wildlife refuge, combined with Conservation Reserve Program lands in the vicinity, meant plenty of ground in the path of the fire was “set aside” from grazing. Did this have an impact on fire behavior? Is it time to consider adding domestic grazers to the management scheme of the Wildlife Management Area?

I’d like those two questions to quietly sit in the minds of wildlife managers.

How the Windmill Won the American West

The iconic windmill has been a part of western landscape since the mid 1800s. Tanya Meadows at the American Wind and Power Center in Lubbock, Texas, and Jim Stark at the Kregel Windmill Factory Museum in Nebraska City, Nebraska share their passion for the iconic windmill that transformed the American West. It was the windmill that allowed settlers to farm and ranch large tracks of land. And it was also the windmill that allowed trains to travel across the empty plains and mountains. A steam engine needed to refuel their water tanks every 20 or 30 miles, and it was the windmills that pumped the water from wells to the water towers at the depots and refueling spots. The American Wind and Power Center, also known fondly as the Windmill Museum showcases more than 100 historic windmills. There's also historic signage, ephemera, and photographic displays that showcase the vital role of the windmill. At one time more than 700 U.S. windmill manufacturers supplied ranchers, farmers and railroads. Today, just two windmill manufacturers remain in business. The circa-1903 Kregel windmill factory remains intact exactly as it stood back in the mid-1930s. Kregel’s windmills were regarded by some as superior to the leader of the pack—the ubiquitous and almost bulletproof Aermotor—which is still manufactured today in San Angelo, Texas...more

Committee Memorandum on Federal Management of Wolves

See the memo below:

Ranch Radio Song of The Day #1703

Here is some early Ferlin Husky with his 1953 recording of I Wouldn't Treat A Dog Like You're Treatin' Me.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Central California wildfire becomes costliest ever to fight at $200 million (and its still burning)

A wildfire burning for nearly two months on California's scenic Big Sur coast has surpassed $200 million in firefighting costs, becoming the costliest to fight in U.S. history, according to date released Monday. The fire has cost $206.7 million to fight so far, the National Interagency Fire Center said in a report. And with the blaze at only 67 percent containment, there could be weeks left before the firefight is done. That puts it well past the previous high of $165 million established by a blaze that burned in California and Oregon in 2002. The figure does not include the actual damages done by the fire like destroyed homes, only the costs of extinguishing and containing it. It also is not adjusted for inflation, which would put the 2002 fire and others ahead of it. The cost is mostly attributable to the long duration of the fire, and the need to pay thousands of firefighters for their daily work, the U.S. Forest Service said. The daily costs got as high as $8 million at the fire's peak, though they've settled at closer to $2 million as it has calmed. The fire burning in the Los Padres National Forest wrought havoc on the summer tourist season in the area after it broke out because of an illegal campfire on July 22. It led to the death of a man in a bulldozer accident. At 185 square miles it is does not even approach the largest in size in American history and does not crack the top 10 in the state...more   

Watchdog Demands Probe of U.S. Forest Service’s Trail of Tears Desecration

A Washington, DC-based oversight group is demanding a federal probe into how a nearly a mile long section of the Trail of Tears was ripped up during an unauthorized construction project at the sacred site. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a complaint with the Department of Agriculture’s Secretary and Inspector General, calling for an investigation into the US Forest Service, which oversaw the damage to the historic trail. “This is one the most blatant official desecrations of a sacred site in modern American history,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch in a statement Monday. “Jaw-dropping incompetence mixed with abject dereliction of duty coated in an impenetrable mantle of bureaucratic self-preservation spawned this debacle,” he added. Documents recently obtained by the group revealed that a Forest Service official approved a nearly $30,000 contracting job in 2014 to modify landscape along the Trail of Tears in order to alleviate erosion in nearby areas. Heavy equipment was brought into to dig three deep trenches across the trail, along with a series of 35 artificial embankments. The construction was performed, according to PEER, “without conducting the required historic or cultural resource reviews.” The group added that the land modifications also “illegally altered the course of a stream and was done in violation of federal law requiring environmental review for any such project.” The extent of the damage to the trail wasn’t fully realized until roughly a year later, when US Forest Service officials invited Cherokee Tribe representatives to the location to develop an “interpretive plan” for a portion of the trail. PEER reported that the group was “astounded and perplexed by the work that was done.” Months later, the US Forest Service issued an apology to affected tribes. “Many of you have told me about the great harm this has done to the tribes, emotionally and spiritually,” said Regional Forester Tony Tooke. “On behalf of the US Forest Service, I sincerely apologize to each and every member of your respective tribes and to each of you individually for this incident.”...more

Have you ever seen an apology like that issued to a rancher or ranching group, or a timber or energy company?  Me neither.

This happened almost two years ago.  Has any action been taken against the responsible federal employee(s)?  Fat chance.

PEER noted, however, that the agency did not launch a full internal investigation into the matter, nor did it hold anyone accountable for the illegal operations that damaged the Trail of Tears. In fact, the watchdog reported that shortly after the project, the district ranger who oversaw it was swiftly promoted, and then retired the following year. “This sorry episode shows a Forest Service leadership allergic to any notion of accountability,” PEER’s Jeff Ruch said.

Sources: Oil executive on Trump's short list for Interior Secretary

An oil industry executive who has spoken out against animal rights is a leading contender for Interior secretary should Donald Trump win the White House, two sources familiar with the campaign’s deliberations told POLITICO on Monday — a prospect that drew immediate condemnation from environmental activists. Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil, is well-known in his native Indiana, where in 2006 he won the naming rights to Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts football team, for a reported $121.5 million over 20 years. He and his wife have given a combined $50,000 to the gubernatorial campaigns of Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, according to Indiana state records. Lucas’ company, California-based Lucas Oil, is a fast-growing manufacturer of automotive oils, lubricants and other additives used in everything from cars to heavy-duty trucks. One person briefed by the Trump campaign said Lucas is a “front-runner” for the Interior secretary job. The person, who was granted anonymity to talk about private discussions, added that Trump wants a “more business-friendly and business experience-heavy cabinet.” But environmentalists quickly excoriated the idea of an oil industry executive leading the department that oversees national parks and wildlife refuges, along with decisions about offshore drilling, fracking regulations and protections for endangered species...more

Refuge Employees, Occupation Supporter Take Stand In Malheur Refuge Trial

The testimony of two Malheur National Wildlife Refuge employees on Monday offered firsthand accounts of how work on the refuge was affected during the 41-day takeover of the grounds. Fish biologist Linda Beck testified that the occupation of the refuge delayed work she was doing to deal with invasive carp. Testifying for the prosecution in the trial of seven occupiers, Beck said she and other U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service workers planned a large operation to reduce the carp population in Malheur Lake and its tributaries at the end of January 2016. But Beck, who works at the refuge and lives on a family ranch in Harney County, said she could not get onto the refuge to perform the removal duties because of the 41-day takeover. Prosecutors showed photographs of Beck’s office that appeared in the media. Several photos showed Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy and Shawna Cox using her space. There were also several photos of people holding weapons in her office and guns leaning against the wall in her workspace. Prosecutors asked Beck whether the weapons were hers. Her response: “I’m not allowed to have guns in my office.” She also described her return to the refuge on Feb. 17 after the occupation ended: “I would describe it as completely trashed,” she said. Also taking the stand for the prosecution was Carla Burnside, an archaeologist at the refuge. The focus then shifted from refuge employees to another group — the Burn Paiute tribe, whose artifacts are stored on the refuge. Burnside said an unwritten agreement between the refuge and the tribe had been in place since she arrived at the refuge in 1990. As artifacts are discovered, they are stored at the refuge because the tribe wants the items to remain in the Harney Basin, Burnside said. The prosecution had shown video of occupiers Robert “LaVoy” Finicum and David Fry going through artifacts. One of the day’s final witness, however, was not a refuge employee, but instead a soft-spoken, 23-year-old Harney County resident who participated in the occupation. Nick Bleuler, who has not been charged in connection with the takeover, told the court that his fiancée drove him to the refuge during beginning of the occupation. As the couple pulled up to the refuge in a Ford Crown Victoria, a car often used by law enforcement, Bleuler said a circle of men pointed their guns at them. Bleuler said he thought the group reacted that way because of the model of the car — they thought he was law enforcement. Bleuler’s fiancée backed up the car and the two left the refuge...more

Oregon standoff trial: Monday's highlights, what's next

  • ...Also Monday, prosecutors showed jurors video taken during the occupation. In one, Ammon Bundy speaks from the refuge on Jan. 4. "We feel we have exhausted all prudent measures and have been ignored,'' he says in the footage. He tells reporters he spent the previous two months trying to get the attention of state and county officials to the plight of Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steve Hammond. 
  • In a video independent broadcaster Pete Santilli filmed the next night of co-defendant Jon Ritzheimer, dressed in full combat fatigues and holding a rifle, at the refuge entrance. Ritzheimer says, "We got word they're coming out here,'' referring to law enforcement.
  • Federal prosecutors also played a video from co-defendant Jason Patrick's camera of a meeting led by co-defendant Ryan Payne in the refuge bunkhouse Jan. 7. During the meeting, Payne relayed the message from Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward that the sheriff had offered to escort them out of the county and state. "He should be telling the feds to get the hell out of this county,'' Payne told the crowd of about 25 people assembled.
  • Refuge archeologist Carla Burnside testified about finding the door to her locked office opened, and documents missing from her file cabinet. She said someone used her PIN to log onto three refuge computers on Jan. 2. She said no Native American artifacts were damaged, and refuted occupiers' claims that they were infested by rat feces and cobwebs.
  • Defendant Neil Wampler, on Monday, wore a light blue jail scrub shirt over his plaid shirt in the courtroom. He said he found the shirt at a thrift shop and wore it "in solidarity with Ammon.'' A man attending the trial, seated in the public gallery, wore an identical blue jail scrub shirt.
  • Ammon Bundy chose on the second day of testimony in the trial to wear his jail scrubs in order to look like "the political prisoner'' he said he is, refusing to dress in a suit and dress shirt.

Coming Tuesday:
  • Prosecutors said they plan to call two more employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to testify Tuesday.
  • They also plan to call as witnesses Harney County Sheriff's deputy Lucas McLain, Deschutes County Sheriff's deputy Ron Brown, two state police troopers and two FBI agents...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1702

How 'bout a pick me up song for everybody today?  I'll bet you remember Mac Davis and his 1980 recording of It's Hard To Be Humble.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Stock up: Grocery prices have fallen for eight straight months

Grocery prices in the USA have fallen for eight straight months, underscoring an ongoing food deflation that has supermarkets at war while shoppers reap the benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index showed food-at-home prices fell by 1.6% in July from the same month last year, as CNBC reported. The price of a dozen eggs has dropped by about a dollar on average, according to CBS, with a gallon of milk dropping by about 40 cents and a pound of ground beef dropping by roughly 50 cents. The reason: America keeps producing and stockpiling food even while the demand for it overseas tapers off. This is especially true in places like China, the network noted, where the increasing strength of the U.S. dollar makes American goods more expensive. As a result, the USA could see the longest streak of falling food prices in 50 years...more

Testimony enters 4th day in Malheur occupation trial

Monday marks the second week in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation trial, and more witnesses are expected to testify. Harney County Sheriff David Ward testified last week that occupiers warned of an organized invasion if he didn’t protect locals from the federal government. Ammon and Ryan Bundy were among those who took over the refuge after calling on Sheriff Ward to protect 2 local ranchers facing additional prison time for setting fires on federal lands. During opening statements, occupiers said it was their goal to help local landowners deal with an overreaching federal government that abused their rights for decades. Seven occupiers, including Ammon and Ryan Bundy, pleaded not guilty to impeding federal employees from carrying out their work at the refuge. Defense attorneys used Facebook evidence in court Friday to show other occupiers had little to no contact with the Bundys prior to the occupation. KOIN

Malheur Refuge Employees To Testify About Life During The Occupation

Prosecutors in the trial of seven people who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have one main goal: to prove that the defendants conspired to obstruct federal employees from doing their jobs through force, intimidation or threats. During the first week of the trial, the prosecution focused on the build up to the occupation and the initial takeover. Through testimony from Harney County Sheriff David Ward and occupation sympathizer Butch Eaton, the prosecution laid out their series of events up to and during the first moments of what would become a 41-day seizure. As the trial enters its second week, the prosecution turns to the occupation itself. To do so, the government will rely on the testimony of refuge employees, several of whom are scheduled to testify Monday. While this may seem boring on the surface, it’s arguably the most important part of the government’s case. The seven defendants are accused of preventing federal employees’ from doing their jobs. Prosecutors aim to illustrate just how the occupiers did that...more

Ammon Bundy's Facebook posts revealed: 'I would never show up to a rally without my arms'

FBI agents on Friday took the witness stand to reveal some of the hundreds of thousands of Facebook posts and private messages that defendants in the Oregon standoff trial made in late December and throughout the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Testimony focused on many of Ammon Bundy's Facebook posts in late December and January, including his "Call for Action" in Burns on behalf of a pair of local ranchers poised to return to federal prison, and how his comments were interpreted. Co-defendant Joseph O'Shaughnessy's response was a private message sent Dec. 26 to co-defendant Jon Ritzheimer: "I need all patriots here on or before Jan. 2 for the wink...wink...emoticon...rally." Some followers said they were confused about the type of event Bundy was planning on Jan. 2 and urged him to be clearer. Among them was Gavin Seim, who on Dec. 30 wrote to Bundy asking him to clarify whether the Jan. 2 event was a rally or a call to action. "I would never show up to a rally without my arms," Bundy responded. The next day, Brandon Thomas wrote to Bundy that he was "seeing a contradiction from the patriot railroad'' about the Burns event. "I think you ought to make it more clear that people should not take this as a green light to stand against the FEDS,'' Thomas wrote. "It is much more than a protest,'' Bundy responded. A day after the Jan. 2 takeover of the federal refuge in Harney County, co-defendant Jason Blomgren messaged Bundy. "We are coming,'' he wrote on Jan. 3. "Keep your heads down. You have a lot of worried patriots brother. JokerJ." "We are staying strong and know what we are doing is right," Bundy wrote back. On Jan. 18, about two weeks into the takeover of the refuge, Bundy posted publicly on his Facebook page a commercial photo of a man in combat fatigues, his face completely masked by a sand-colored cloth, wearing dark sunglasses, kneeling on his right knee and holding a .308-caliber military-style assault rifle in his right hand. Above the photo it read: "But they drew first blood...,'' and then "FORGIVE ME FATHER...'' and the words "FOR I WILL SIN,'' below the photo. Bundy's lawyer Marcus Mumford argued to keep that photo out of the jury's view, insisting it was prejudicial. As the judge ruled she would allow it because it spoke to the defendant's state of mind at the time, Ammon Bundy sat at the defense table, shaking his head...more

Senate candidate rips Nevada Democrats for linking her to Cliven Bundy

In a hotly contested race that could determine control of the Nevada Senate, the state Democratic Party is painting GOP Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman as a supporter of Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy, now jailed awaiting trial on federal charges for a 2014 armed standoff with law enforcement. “I am accused of being a supporter and I had nothing to do with Cliven Bundy,” Seaman said. She called the flier deceptive. At quick glance it appears to come from the candidate herself. The fine print shows it was paid for by the Democratic Party of Nevada. The mailer features images of Seaman and Bundy side-by-side and the message, “Cliven Bundy and Victoria Seaman for Nevada’s Future.” “When local rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters staged an armed standoff in Nevada with federal and state law enforcement, Victoria Seaman worked to push his agenda,” the mailer reads. “Seaman supported Bundy and other militia members in their fight to protect our liberty against the United States government.” Seaman is in a tight race with Democratic candidate Nicole Cannizzaro, a deputy in the Clark County district attorney’s office, for the open seat in Senate District 6. “Victoria Seaman is in panic mode right now, because she’s lying about some simple facts,” state Democratic Party spokesman Stewart Boss wrote in an email. “She participated in a rally supporting Cliven Bundy in Carson City, sponsored Bundy’s unconstitutional public lands bill with other far-right-wingers, and has openly embraced dangerous extremists like the Oath Keepers. “Victoria Seaman stood with Cliven Bundy until he became a political liability, it’s that simple,” Boss wrote. Seaman, elected in the 2014 GOP red wave when her Democratic opponent was found ineligible by a judge, was a sponsor of Assembly Bill 408, a measure to wrest control of public lands in Nevada from the federal government. The bill was deemed unconstitutional by legislative lawyers and gutted before dying in the lower house...more

Looks like the Bundys have become a political liability and some Republicans are running for cover.

Watch for the enviro/left to continue tarring all approaches to transferring federal lands with the Bundy label.

Editorial - Land Grab

The federal government already controls about 85 percent of Nevada. Now the U.S. Air Force wants to further block activity on a large chunk of real estate.

The Defense Department announced last week that it seeks to add more than 300,000 acres to the Nevada Test and Training Range, which currently spans about 2.9 million acres in Clark, Lincoln and Nye counties. Much of the expansion would occur in a rural corridor running west of U.S. Highway 93 and to the north of Las Vegas.

The Air Force says it needs the land for training activities and exercises.

Some outdoor enthusiasts worry that the land grab will limit access to parts of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. “I’m kind of astounded,” local conservationist John Hiatt told the Review-Journal. “This is some of the most pristine land in Southern Nevada in terms of human impact. This would completely change that area forever.”
Ironically, environmentalists usually applaud efforts to restrict the use of public lands — just ask ranchers, loggers and miners, to name a few. Not so much, though, when they’re the ones facing the restrictions.

But Mr. Hiatt’s concerns are justified.


A UN and tribal takeover?

A massive 792-page Senate Energy Committee bill threatens to authorize federal bureaucrats to cede extensive control over western state water and property rights, energy development and forest management to Native American tribes, local UN sustainability councils and radical environmentalist groups. Certain provisions could undermine the foundations of our nation from within our nation. S.2012, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2016, incorporates some 393 amendments. Incredibly, it is being driven forward by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and other members of Congress behind closed doors. Probably very few have read the bill in its entirety. Virtually none understand its likely impacts on western and other rural land, water and property rights, potentially throughout America, or on the families and communities whose lives will be upended. This secretive approach – with no opportunities for meaningful public examination or comment, even by those who will be most affected – is almost unprecedented. It could well become another example of "we have to pass it to find out what's in it." But numerous people will have to live with the consequences, while the authors and implementers walk away exempted, unscathed and unaccountable...more

FDA seeks input on judicious use of medically important antimicrobials

The Food and Drug Administration is seeking public comments regarding the establishment of targeted durations for the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs for therapeutic purposes administered in feed or water for food-producing animals. FDA wants to obtain additional information on:
♦ The underlying diseases requiring these drugs for therapeutic purposes, and periods when livestock or poultry are at risk of developing these diseases;
♦ More targeted antimicrobial-use regimens for these diseases and husbandry practices that may help avoid the need for these antimicrobials, or that may help make more targeted antimicrobial use regimens more effective; and
♦ Strategies for updating affected labeling of drug products that do not currently include a defined duration of use.
Earlier, FDA issued Guidance 213 which when implemented would limit the use of drugs to therapeutic-only use under the oversight of a veterinarian. [link]

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1701

Its Swingin' Monday, and from the 1987 compilation album Walking The Line, here is Merle Haggard - Big Butter & Egg Man

Five Ways You Are Subsidizing Big Meat Without Knowing It

Many people think of the USDA as a kind of FDA for farm products—dedicated to protecting the public’s health against sloppy or even sleazy practices. But actually the USDA, created when America was agrarian, primarily serves rural America and food producers not consumers. Its mission is “helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve our Nation’s natural resources through conservation, restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.” Key word private. More than one hundred and twelve of the USDA’s yearly budget of $139.7 billion goes to Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly “food stamps”) which “support American agriculture by providing an outlet for surplus products and encouraging consumption of domestically-produced foods” at schools, food banks and needy households, stabilizing prices. But more than $20 billion of the yearly USDA budget unashamedly serves private food producers with Federal Crop Insurance, animal and crop research, wildlife services/predator elimination and even aggressive food product marketing, sometimes in conjunction with unhealthy fast food operations. Here are some of the ways you are involuntarily supporting Big Meat.  1. Pushing More Cheese The USDA and its food pyramids may caution people about eating too many high-fat foods that contribute to obesity but that did not stop it from helping Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s and Domino’s to conspire to sell more high-fat foods that contribute to obesity. In fact, the USDA created an entity called Dairy Management, with 162 employees to help fast food giants “cheesify” their menus says the New York Times. “If every pizza included one more ounce of cheese, we would sell an additional 250 million pounds of cheese annually,” rhapsodized the Dairy Management chief executive in a trade publication. Dairy Management, while mostly funded by farmers, received $5.3 million of our tax dollars from the USDA during one year observes the Times—almost equal to the whole $6.5 million budget of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion which tells the public to avoid fatty foods… like cheese....more

America’s Wildlife Body Count

Until recently, I had never had any dealings with Wildlife Services, a century-old agency of the United States Department of Agriculture with a reputation for strong-arm tactics and secrecy. It is beloved by many farmers and ranchers and hated in equal measure by conservationists, for the same basic reason: It routinely kills predators and an astounding assortment of other animals — 3.2 million of them last year — because ranchers and farmers regard them as pests. To be clear, Wildlife Services is a separate entity, in a different federal agency, from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, whose main goal is wildlife conservation. Wildlife Services is interested in control — ostensibly, “to allow people and wildlife to coexist.” My own mildly surreal acquaintance with its methods began as a result of a study, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, under the title “Predator Control Should Not Be a Shot in the Dark.” Adrian Treves of the University of Wisconsin and his co-authors set out to answer a seemingly simple question: Does the practice of predator control to protect our livestock actually work?...more

Liability burden shifted away from livestock owners

Owners of animals in Missouri that cause property damage are no longer liable unless negligence can be proven in court. The new law took effect Wednesday when the House and Senate overrode Gov. Jay Nixon's veto. Senate Bill 844 was sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, who's also running for lieutenant governor. "If the farmer or rancher is neglectable in keeping up his fences or not taking care of his property, he's still liable," Parson said during floor debate. "The majority of the time somebody runs through a fence, and either the car is still there or they leave, and if the livestock get out then all of a sudden the farmer is liable for all of the damages that should occur … but simply what this says (is) if he absolutely did nothing wrong he should not be held responsible for that simply because he owns livestock." In his original veto message, Nixon said that nothing in the old law prevented livestock owners from pursuing action against a third party. Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph sided with the Democratic governor and opposed the measure. Schaaf read from Nixon's veto letter, "Under Senate Bill 844, the victim of the animal rampage would be left without recourse, despite playing no role in causing the damage, unless negligence on the part of either the owner of the animals or a third party can be proven," to which Schaff added, "that's going to be hard to do." "Even if the farmer was negligent, it may be difficult to prove it under the standard of (what) the court would require," he said. "There will be people that are denied justice as a result of this bill." Supporters argued that livestock owners should not be held liable if their cattle escape because a motorist crashed into their fence, which they said happens often. The bill also sparked heated debate among fellow Republicans on the Senate floor before the override vote was taken...more

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Murphy’s law

by Julie Carter

Sometimes the day just starts out in such a way that you know it's going to be uphill all the way. Doesn't matter if you are a cowboy or a white collar worker in a high rise, there are days when you face a challenge at every turn of the clock.

To refresh your memory about Murphy’s law, it’s an adage typically stated as: anything that can go wrong will go wrong.  What the law doesn’t say is that a good deal of the time, we invite Murphy over only to fall for his misleading ways.

Jess was always ready for a rodeo. However, when it was time for the finer details of leaving the ranch, he began doubling up on a few things so he could take the day off.
Up early and excited at the prospect of some fun, he was first greeted by a flat tire on the horse trailer. That fixed, he went to feed the roping horses.

The skunk that sometimes visited the barn had apparently had a run in with his cowdog and the encounter provided some exotic atmosphere in the tack room. Determined, he decided a saddle that had a little smell to it wouldn't stop him from catching his calf at the rodeo.

Of the "take pride in your ride" philosophy, Jess brushed his trusty rope horse Flint, braided the part of his mane that could get caught in the rope and deemed him ready for the public. Horse loaded, he headed out through the pasture and down the 11 miles of dirt road that would take him to the highway leading to town.

When he got to the first pasture, the cattle that seemed to live in the middle of the road full time were, as expected, in their usual places. He looked them over as they slowly gave way to the truck and trailer and let him pass.

Then he spotted the cow with the tight bag. Her calf was standing as close as she would let him with his nose full of porcupine quills. That was a Murphy thing, and while not life threatening yet, had to be taken care of pronto.

Flint had long since become too important for pasture work at least in his mind, and usually in Jess's. He was the fast-time rodeo-roping star. He was noticeably quite offended when he was unloaded and the cinches pulled up. After all, he was washed, polished, full of high-octane feed and had a rodeo to attend.

Nevertheless, they gave chase, caught the calf, pulled the porcupine quills with the needle-nose pliers, and were rewarded with a generous dose of the calf's bodily fluids for their trouble.

Even though Jess was wearing his lucky fast-time shirt, there was always the emergency shirt. His contestant number would cover that faded spot from hanging in the truck. Changed and ready to roll again, off they went.

Once at the rodeo grounds, Jess was greeted by friends who obviously had suspicious motives. They told stories of how he used to ride broncs instead of just roping. After a while and quite possibly some alcohol encouragement, he was inspired enough to find himself on a saddle bronc. He was promptly head first in the dirt as he heard the announcer making his apologies. He blamed it on Murphy.

Since his original intent was to rope, in spite of his minor difficulties throughout the day, he was still determined to do so. He and Flint backed in the box and although he’d drawn a screecher of a running calf, he was able to make a credible run. But credible doesn’t pay too well and again Murphy took the blame, or the credit.

Those same "friends" that encouraged the bronc ride were feeling slightly responsible for previous transgressions, so they invited Jess to go with them to the rodeo dance. The thoughts of pretty girls and buckle-polishing music prompted Jess to ponder the possibilities.

His hope was not just for a good time, but maybe even Murphy would find a pretty girl and leave him the heck alone.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Reserved by the United States

Reserved by the United States
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            We have been working in our Coldiron Pasture.
            It is our southern pasture and its southernmost extension runs along I-10 for a number of miles. The highway traffic is always heavy with DOT data showing something over 15,000 vehicles per day. When the wind is right, you can hear the traffic 12 miles north. When you are off the pavement, though, there is still a sense of solitude in the absence of people with their cars and chatter.
            Yesterday, I needed a shot of that solitude.
            Solitude has always been important to me. It is one of the compelling drivers of wanting to do what I do. As a kid, I remember moments of building euphoria sitting quietly somewhere staring at a big vista or absorbing the nuances of the smells and charm of an old set of corrals. Those were times when solitude contributed to the dreams and hopes of a brighter future.
Today, moments of solitude are spent just hoping there is a future.
            As one of nearly 40 ranches now impacted by the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument, we operate in a world of uncertainty. One thing we know is that the proclamation, designating the monument against any and all objections we had, shall be deemed to revoke any existing withdrawal, reservation, or appropriation and that the national monument unto itself shall arise to be the dominant reservation. All of us, the more than 75 families that rely on these lands to make our living, have been relegated not to the purpose but to the “uses” of the land.
            There are no assurances and that is made more tenuous in a letter by the monument manager indicating our livestock presence would be judged on the basis of biological objects, and, if grazing shall be found incompatible with the protection of those objects, the “Secretary shall retire the grazing allotments pursuant to the processes of applicable law”.
            Those words don’t appear in the proclamation of our monument, but they were signed under signature and communication of the designated BLM manager. They are in the hands of every land steward whose lives depend on these lands.
            Indeed, I needed a shot of that solitude yesterday.
Heinrich, Flake, and ACE
            The argument for the monument was the economic stimulus it would provide to the county and the area. Two years into the designation there is no discernible increase in traffic. We have noticed the installation of signs, but that, too, is a matter of concern. The sign on our ranch is framed against the backdrop of the north side of Massacre Peak, the flat-topped massive north of I-10 at the 116 interchange. The problem with the framing isn’t the view of the mountain as much as it is the parcel of our private land landlocked within the monument.
            As to the mountain, it is not just a physically imposing feature. It is the site of significant historical features including the installation of a signal mirror that General Crooke employed in field communications during the hunt for Geronimo. The peak also overlooks a stretch of the Butterfield Trail and the site of a massacre that occurred before 1880 when a caravan of Mexican traders with their carts pulled by oxen was attacked by Apaches who had escaped from Ft. Sumner and were raiding down the Rio Grande on their way back to Apacheria.
Something is terribly wrong, however, with this monument moment. The lands featured are not just federal lands. They are either private as noted in the former or state trust land as noted in the latter.
The fact is New Mexico state trust lands and our private in holdings are more important than ever. It is only there that we can count on future enhancements that make our ranches more viable in a changing economic landscape. It is there our water improvements must be concentrated.
By Federal law and regulation, it is also there that money can be co-opted into investment infrastructure that benefits wildlife and livestock alike. Too few citizens understand that the rancher and his private land holdings are critical in the flow of money into projects whose genesis came out of the Dust Bowl era. The two critical features for such projects are the private land steward and his private land holdings. They must be in the loop for such projects to be considered and approved.
In New Mexico, state trust lands have formed a strong partnership with private lands for such infrastructure investments. Monument ranchers have long realized that their future rests heavily to exclusively on those trust lands that were set forth in the state’s enabling legislation. In every township, sections 2, 16, 32, and 36 were reserved for funding the state’s educational fund. This distribution of land provides for strategic infrastructure construction that may not be available on private lands because of the minority standing of land ownership footprint across this area. Government dominates our landscape and private lands are normally not dispersed enough for critical water distribution.
The announcement that New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, champion of all national monument expansion, and Arizona’s Jeff Flake were working together to introduce legislation, ACE, that would accelerate trades or the purchase of state trust lands within national monument footprints is becoming horrifying to every rancher who faces the monument avalanche. When I read the overview from Mrs. Thomas on my smart phone, I had to exit the confines of my pickup. That is the reason I shut down in the middle of the pasture and sought solitude upon the grass and the soil that has come to dominate my existence.
Like every rancher neighbor, I toil incrementally everyday seeking opportunities that make our operation more efficient. Over the past several weeks, the target has been water in that Coldiron Pasture. With our whole herd movement, trough space has emerged to be a critical limiting factor and we are working to reduce that constraint. It is not from some RFP that is let to do this work. It is us. Very simply our future relies solely on state and private lands where we can actually affect improvements and cling to staying power.
Most importantly, we are the stewards of significant historical operations that date to the middle of the 19th Century. Surely, someone should recognize that on the basis of water alone!
Heinrich and Flake are touting their legislation for its economic boon to state educational funding. We were told, the public was told, that the establishment of this monument would not negatively impact lands within the new designation(s). Their proposal now clearly discloses the truth that all along there were insurmountable challenges that both public and private land managers face in monument designations, but the state side of the ledger is about to get relief.
Moreover, the state is about to get a mechanism placed in their hands that will make them advocates for more monuments rather than antagonists. The rationale is simple. If the state can trade lands into growth corridors of communities like Las Cruces where they can transact land sales, or, more importantly, gain commercial leases predicated on urban expansion rather than livestock leases of uncertain future, they will back future federal actions every time.
Feature six in the senators’ ACE announcement indicates “Grazing rights are grandfathered and appurtenant water rights may be conveyed with the lands”, but that conveyance will not be into private hands. Rather, that conveyance will be to the every more powerful federal landlord. He will further protect traditional cultural properties on public lands which will require “Tribal consultation”, but any private land protections are silent because there is no prevailing legislative protection.
The state trust lands have been our protection.
 Reserved by the United States
 In my search for solitude after exiting my pickup, turf inspection was the order, but there was more. I hearkened back to the clause in the proclamation, both the actual order by this president for his monument that governs our existence and the proclamation either erroneously or purposely sent by the monument manager from which she will be operating in the short run. It reads, “Lands and interests in lands within the proposed monument not owned by the United States shall be reserved as a part of the monument upon acquisition of title thereto by the United States”.
It is clear the State will be taken care of, but what about us, the private citizens, whose private lands are reserved for future federal acquisition and control. Where is this Union that elevates all government over the rights and privileges of private citizenry?
I must say I have no answer. The only thing that makes any sense to me is the turf on which I live … to improve.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Jeff Flake comes from a ranching family. Doesn’t he understand the negative implications of removing the state buffer from our existence?”

For the press release and a copy of the Advancing Conservation and Education (ACE) Act, go here


In the letter from the monument manager (dated August 5, 2016) referred to by Wilmeth, it mistakenly states “On March 30, 2009, by Presidential Proclamation 7318, the PTNM was established…”.  In fact, the PTNM was established by Title 2 of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.

Presidential Proclamation 7318 established the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, and it is in that proclamation where the language “…the Secretary shall retire the grazing allotments pursuant to the processes of applicable law” is found.