Saturday, October 22, 2016

REPORT: EPA Delayed Helping Flint Fix Lead-Tainted Water

by  Michael Bastasch

EPA had the legal authority to intervene in the Flint, Mich., water crisis months months before it actually did, according to a report by the agency’s inspector general.

EPA IG Arthur Elkins said, “the EPA’s Region 5 had the authority and sufficient information to issue an emergency order to protect Flint residents from lead-contaminated water” under the Safe Drinking Water Act as early as June 2015.

“However, we found that EPA’s Region 5 did not issue an emergency order because the region saw the state’s actions as a jurisdictional bar,” Elkins said in a podcast, summarizing his investigation into EPA’s handling of the Flint water crisis. “In other words, people at the federal agency believed they were unable to do anything because the state was already taking action.”

The IG’s report found EPA could have intervened to ameliorate Flint’s water problems months before. The IG’s office said the agency can intervene “if the state action is not protecting the public from the contaminants in a timely fashion.”

Michigan officials admitted the problem in November 2015 after months of denying anything was wrong with Flint’s water. EPA officials had known for months Flint’s water had elevated lead levels before state officials admitted any wrongdoing.

EPA issued an emergency order over Flint’s water in January 2016 — but only after news reports came out showing EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman downplayed findings that Flint’s water was tainted.

...The EPA IG’s findings reflect those of the Flint Water Advisory Task Force from earlier this year. The task force criticized EPA for not acting fast enough to fix the problem.

“EPA failed to properly exercise its authority prior to January 2016. EPA’s conduct casts doubt on its willingness to aggressively pursue enforcement (in the absence of widespread public outrage),” the task force found.

Ag leaders band together to protect farmers, ranchers

As the 2015 fiscal year officially ended Oct. 1 for the federal government, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture John Block spoke of pros and cons about the future of the agriculture industry. "In these times of low farm prices, it is encouraging to see farm associations and leaders stepping up to protect our farmers and ranchers," he said. The CEOs of CropLife America, the National Corn Growers Association, and the American Soybean Association became a powerful ag industry leadership team, including the American Farm Bureau, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, and many more, Block said. "The leaders met with policy representatives of both Trump and Clinton campaigns," he said. "Farm leaders of different crops and different priorities spoke in unison. Stop the regulatory overreach. Trade is important to us. We need labor to pick the strawberries. Regardless of who gets elected as President our industry needs to be heard." According to Block's email, the Ag CEO council of leaders has also been meeting with Secretary Tom Vilsack. They have argued that the Obama administration (and the EPA) has been too quick to regulate, that it has ignored sound science, forced new rules on states and rewritten the definition of waters of the U. S., and more. Block and six other former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture have urged Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. "We have seen and experienced the value of other trade agreements that we have supported," Block told me over lunch during the annual National Association of Farm Broadcasters convention in Kansas City, Missouri, last year...more

Ethanol mandate for 2017 nears finalization

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said Thursday that it received from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the final volume mandate for fuel refiners to blend ethanol and other biofuels into traditional oil-based fuels like gasoline. The OMB review is the final step before the EPA can formally make the volume mandates final. It is required by law to establish the mandate by Nov. 30 of each year, but it has rarely met that deadline in recent years. The EPA proposed in May to require that 18.8 billion gallons of biofuels be blended into the fuel supply in 2017, up to 14.8 billion gallons of which can be basic, corn-based ethanol. The proposed level was higher than the expected ethanol production volume for 2016 but still lower than the amount that Congress asked the EPA to set when it wrote the renewable fuel standard in 2007. The agency used a waiver provision written into the law to propose the level...more

HSUS’s “Future of Food” Looks Bleak, Bacon-less

The weekend before last the Humane Society kicked off its “Future of Food “conference in Washington D.C. The event was held in a large hotel ballroom and promised to revolutionize the way you think about food. We, of course, went so that we could report back on what we observed. The excitement was palpable as guests arrived early to receive their HSUS goody bag as well as partake in a cocktail hour before the main event of Friday night: Keynote speaker Peter Singer. The excitement for Mr. Singer was quite noticeable as the largely affluent guests sipped their cocktails and discussed what this could mean for the “Future of Food.” For those who don’t know who Singer is, he is the author of Animal Liberation, a bible of sorts for those in the animal liberation movement, which seeks to end the moral and legal distinction between humans and animals. HSUS’s choice of Singer as their keynote speaker, is just another indication of their march towards a complete moratorium on modern animal agriculture. The calling out of heretics continued during Day 2 as speaker after speaker laid out their condemnation of those who hadn’t completely abdicated their preference for meat-based protein. Several speakers like Susie Weintraub of Compass Group echoed Mr. Singer’s vision of a meatless world by suggesting a plan to “start with the progressive open minded people and then bring it into the mainstream. Begin it with meatless Monday and eventually let it morph into getting us all off meat.” Weintraub even offered a more technological alternative to getting people to eat a meat alternative (“meat” grown in a lab with no animal products) by suggesting that they “push it into the supply chain and you don’t even tell people that it is a clean meat, basically grown in a lab.”...more

Beef from Brazil to soon arrive in United States

Several news sources recently reported that two Brazilian meat companies have sent fresh beef to the United States. According to Reuters News Service, Brazilian meatpacker Marfrig Global Foods SA announced in mid-September that it had shipped its first cargo of fresh beef to the United States. JBS SA, whose U.S. branch, JBS, is one of the largest meatpackers in this country, sent a container of beef to the United States the next day, according to the Reuters story. The United States had banned fresh beef from Brazil since 1999 until August 1 of this year when the USDA announced that its Food Safety and Inspection Service had approved a rule to allow Brazil to ship 64,800 tonnes of fresh beef per year to the U.S. duty free. In return, the U.S. can export beef and beef products to that country. A JBS spokesman said in the Reuters story that even when the duty-free limit is reached, the company will still profit from beef exports to the United States. “When the quota is over, deals will still be made on a regular basis,” Miguel Gularte said. He then explained that prices might need to be adjusted to account for the 26.4 percent tax to be charged. “The official, who is in charge of meatpacker JBS SA’s division for the trade bloc formed by Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, believes the United States will be among the five key markets for Brazilian fresh beef as soon as 2017,” the story reported. JBS, Minerva and Marfrig are on the list of eligible plants certified to export meat from Brazil to the United States, Schwartz said. According to USDA, Brazil is home to almost three times as many cattle as the United States, and has about two-thirds the number of people as the U.S. The three main cattle organizations in the United States, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund-United Stockgrowers of America and the United States Cattlemen’s Association have all voiced opposition to the rule to allow fresh beef from Brazil, citing serious concern over Foot and Mouth Disease...more

Friday, October 21, 2016

Study raises hopes for a Castner Range National Monument (El Paso)

Under a crystal blue sky Thursday morning, naturalists and elected officials came together to celebrate what makes Castner Range worthy of national monument status. With the brown, layered rocks of the lower slopes of the Franklin Mountains in the backdrop, the Frontera Land Alliance, the El Paso Community Foundation and the Franklin Mountain Wilderness Coalition introduced the first comprehensive study of the archaeological and historical sites in Castner Range. The findings include extensive collections of petroglyphs, remnants of failed tin mining operations and small stone structures and pottery. "This is the last of the open spaces in El Paso," said Elia Perez, who authored the study. "Let's be honest: The West Side is gone, so this is all we have left. The West Side had a whole bunch of archaeology, but because it's private property they can do with the land pretty much what they want." The hope is that President Barack Obama will designate Castner Range as a national monument. In 2014 under the Antiquities Act of 1906, he designated the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in Doña Ana County. Castner Range is 7,081 acres of land that goes from the northeast quadrant of the Franklin Mountains to the far west, almost to the top of North Franklin, the tallest peak of the Franklin Mountains, which is about 7,192 feet above sea level. The western boundary of Castner Range is the eastern boundary of Franklin Mountains State Park. "The efforts to preserve Castner Range, all 7,000 acres of it, is at its strongest point," said U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso. "We have over 30,000 El Pasoans who have written letters to the president asking that he preserve it."...more

Also see  El Pasoans continue to push for national monument designation

Industry Groups: Administration Ignoring Legal Process on Dakota Access

Twenty-two industry groups criticized the Obama administration’s temporary block on construction of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline in a letter made public on Friday. In September, the administration called for a pause in construction on federal land as it reconsiders its process of soliciting input from Native American tribes. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe opposes the pipeline for environmental and historical reasons. The temporary ban, after the Army Corps of Engineers had previously approved the project, was a decision “to effectively ignore the rule of law in an attempt to halt infrastructure development,” the letter says. “The previous decisions now being ‘reconsidered’ were properly considered and made through a fair and thorough process on which the company and others are entitled to rely,” the letter says. “In our ‘nation of laws,’ when an established legal process is complete, it is just that — complete.”...more

Jury deliberates in Malheur standoff case, as land use questions linger

As the jury began deliberating Thursday in Portland, residents of the region were left wrestling with the political and economic questions central to the Malheur occupation saga – particularly whether the federal government, which owns a majority of the land in Oregon and other western states, should cede more control of these forests and grazing pastures back to the states. Ammon Bundy, who led the ranchers to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was merely protesting what he considered tyrannical federal land-management policies, argued his defense attorney, Marcus Mumford. Last year, some 37 bills favoring local land control were introduced in 11 state legislatures. Assistant US Attorney Ethan Knight, arguing for the prosecution, said Mr. Bundy had broken the law and armed the wildlife refuge as a type of "fortress" from which he pressed a political agenda. Mumford contended that his client was defending freedom. "You are the heart and lungs of liberty," Mumford told jurors during a nearly four-hour-long presentation. "Only you can make clear that Mr. Bundy is not a conspirator and none of these men and women are conspirators." While the ranchers may be imperfect messengers, they highlighted the point that poverty in the west has been rising even as it has fallen in the south – a message that could garner public support, as the Monitor's Patrik Jonsson reported in January:
... the plight of poor, mostly white Americans languishing under the thumb of federal land managers provides a poignant insight into recent economic trends as well as a centuries-old fight over land use in the west, one which could, some say, provide these Western range riders common cause with other groups of marginalized Americans.
The prospect that the occupiers might find a sympathetic audience grew, some observers said, when law enforcement shot and killed LaVoy Finicum, an Arizona rancher who had previously promised not to surrender without a fight, as he reached inside his jacket after police stopped one of the group's vehicles. "The risk here is that you had people who were basically perceived by the public as clowns, and now an incident like this can shift that perception and give them what they wanted, which is the status of martyr and victim," Michael German, a former FBI agent who infiltrated white supremacist groups in the 1990s and is now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, told the Monitor in January. Mumford, the defense attorney, cited evidence that nine government informants were present at the refuge during the occupation, providing information to federal law enforcement while also influencing the course of events. He argued that federal officials were trying to manipulate both the occupiers and public perception...more

Wolf attacks frustrate Fort Klamath rancher

A Fort Klamath rancher who had four steers killed by wolves in less than three weeks is frustrated by the lack of protections for cattle, especially in the Wood River Valley. “This valley, with so many cattle, is going to be like a smorgasbord for the wolves. They’ll take the animals that put up the least resistance,” worries Bill Nicholson, third-generation owner of the Nicholson Ranch, where the deaths, verified by state Fish and Game biologists as wolf kills, took place. The most recent confirmation was received Thursday from Roblyn Brown, Oregon State Department of Fish and Wildlife acting wolf program coordinator, for a steer believed to have been killed either Sunday or Monday night. Its partially eaten carcass was found Wednesday after Butch Wampler, who oversees the ranch’s cattle, spotted large numbers of circling crows and rode to the scene. In addition, a steer that had been attacked by a wolf several days earlier died of its injuries either late Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. “You feel helpless when you don’t have a means of protecting your animals,” Nicholson said, referring to the status of wolves. During the spring and summer, upward of 35,000 head of cattle are trucked to the Wood River Valley to graze on the nutrient-rich grasslands. Most have been trucked out of the area to winter grazing areas, predominately in far northern California. The Nicholson Ranch, pastures about 1,300 cattle from DeTar, a ranch in Dixon, Calif., each summer. Nicholson said there are still about 300 to 400 steers on his ranch and estimates about 5,000 cows, calves and yearlings are still in the enclosed valley. While the focus has been on the wolf killing, Nicholson said a potentially more serious problem stems from stress caused by the attacks, noting, “You’re losing a lot of pounds with the stress. Cattlemen estimate the average steer will gain about 3 to 4 pounds a day feeding on irrigated pasture known for its nutritious blend of sedges, rushes, grasses, forbes and clover. Because of the presence of wolves, Nicholson and Wampler said that instead of bedding down over relatively wide areas, cattle have been bunched up in groups, often standing. “The stress on the herd is another factor, and probably more costly,” Nicholson said, noting stress impacts weight gains and could reduce values for leased lands. Nicholson was told that wolves repeatedly bite cattle, which causes them to hemorrhage, go into shock and then die. “They can be still alive but the wolf eats them until they die,” he said. “They (wolves) go right inside to the chest cavity and the first thing they eat are the heart and the lungs.” “It’s death by a thousand bites,” Collom said of deaths caused by wolves, which typically relentlessly bite soft tissue areas...more

Most popular Halloween treat by state? Contentious candy corn

Candy corn lovers, you're not alone. In a survey of more than 40,000 people around the USA to determine the most popular Halloween candies, candy corn claimed the top honors in the most number of states. Oregon, Wyoming, Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina all picked the polarizing treat as their favorite candy. Elizabeth Scherle, co-founder and president of Influenster, the website that surveyed its users to determine the top candies by state, said candy corn's victory surprised her. "It’s such a divisive candy that many people love to love or love to hate during trick-or-treat season — I guess it has more lovers than we thought," she said. Other top treats included Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kat and Butterfinger — the only candies to receive votes in all 50 states. Scherle advised folks to stock up on Reese's classic peanut butter candy since it got the most total votes across the USA. The Hershey's brand also won big, taking the top spot in 10 states with its iconic candies including Hershey's Kisses, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Almond Joy, Whopper Malted Milk Balls, Twizzlers and Jolly Rancher. A full list of the winners by state:...more

Delays possible in Sardine Canyon as ranchers move 7,000 sheep

Motorists driving through Sardine Canyon Friday morning may encounter delays, as ranchers move a herd of sheep through a part of the canyon to a winter pasture. Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Lee Perry said the ranchers will be moving the heard along the highway from Mantua into Brigham City. It’s expected to begin around 8:30 a.m. along the southbound lanes of US-89/91. Troopers will be in the canyon warning motorists to watch for ranchers and the sheep. Perry said moving the sheep through the canyon will last about an hour and should primarily only slow traffic heading south. The sheep will then be herded through Brigham City, to a pasture in Corrine. Perry said it is quite a site to see, as the herd of about 7000 sheep, is herded through the canyon.  LINK

Horse mutilated in Sioux County

The North Dakota Stockmen's Association and the Sioux County Sheriff's Department responded to a report of a horse shot and "mutilated." Julie Ellingson, executive director of the association, said investigators found the animal sliced from its shoulder to its nose, with the hide pulled back and its head skinned. The horse, valued at $3,000, was killed in the same pasture where other animals have been attacked over the past couple of weeks. The same rancher has had two animals injured and five killed, and 30 others have gone missing. Another rancher in the area has reported several bison killed...more

Jury completes day one of deliberations in Oregon refuge trial

A federal court jury completed its first day of deliberations without reaching a verdict on Thursday in the trial of six men and a woman charged with conspiracy for their roles in the armed takeover of a U.S. Wildlife center in Oregon earlier this year. The 12-member panel was expected to return to U.S. District Court in Portland on Monday to resume deliberations. The trial is dark on Friday. The occupiers say they acted out of solidarity for two Oregon ranchers they believed were unfairly punished in an arson case, and to protest their larger grievance against federal control over millions of acres of public land in the West. Bundy and others, including his brother and co-defendant Ryan Bundy, cast the takeover as a legitimate and patriotic act of civil disobedience. The government has countered that the defendants engaged in a lawless scheme to seize federal property by armed force. Prosecutors also argued that defendants' own claims that they sought to confiscate the refuge under an obscure doctrine of property law called "adverse possession" was itself an admission they were conspiring to prevent federal employees from returning to their jobs...more

Refuge occupier to jurors: ‘Stand for freedom’

National wildlife refuge occupier Ryan Bundy twice referenced the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during his closing argument Wednesday, and he told jurors to “stand for freedom” and find him not guilty. Bundy, 43, is among seven defendants being tried on a charge of conspiring to impede federal workers from doing their jobs during last winter’s occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. Jurors are expected to begin deliberations Thursday, capping a six-week trial. Acting as his own attorney, Bundy quoted the civil rights leader at the beginning and toward the end of his hourlong argument, saying injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Bundy said that explains why he joined the protest in support of two ranchers he believes were wrongly imprisoned. He said federal government overreach not only put ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond behind bars, it imperils the economies of places such as Harney County, where the Hammond ranch and the refuge are located. He said the county — nearly 10 times the size of Rhode Island — has gone from a jewel to “the biggest weed patch in the country,” and it’s because the federal government controls most of the land and restricts logging and ranching. AP

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1727

Here's a pretty one by Gene Autry:  Rainbow On The Rio Colorado.  The tune was recorded in Hollywood on Feb. 24, 1942.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Arizona Ranchers See A Lot To Like In Trump's Border Plan

Ranchers who live near the border fence in southern Arizona have to deal with Mexican drug smugglers and migrants cutting illegally through their property. One of those ranchers is John Ladd, who owns San Jose Ranch outside Naco, Arizona, about two hours south of Tucson. The smugglers tear down cattle gates and bust up pipes to get clean water in the desert. Many believe Donald Trump’s border security plan — building a bigger wall, creating a deportation force and increasing the number of federal agents who work in the area — is the best solution to their problems.

Interview Highlights: John Ladd

On how drug smugglers interact with the border fence
"This is, because of that corridor coming through here, they cut the fence to start with, and then you fix it everyday, and they cut it the next morning. And so when they really want to make you aware that they're coming through here, they just break the posts.
"And this is their way of telling me, 'We want this area. Don't fix it.' I did, for 20 years. But I can't do it, I've got other things to do besides fixing fences every day."
On his personal experiences with border security
"I think if there is one story, it's these people come through me every day and do this kind of damage, but they go live in other parts [of the country] — they're in every city in America now. So welcome to America — if that's what you really want, these people coming in and living next to you, so be it. They do a lot of damage getting here."
On Trump's proposal to build a border wall
"I think it's a play on words. I think he's gonna do it with economic sanctions — he's going to wall the U.S., Mexico, and what he says, 'Make Mexico pay for it?' It's going to be in a tariff, and that goes back to all the American companies that have moved into Mexico because of cheap labor. So I don't believe he's gonna build a 50-foot wall. I don't think that's what he really means."

Here's the interview

Hat Ranch stays true to ranching past

WILLIAMS Ariz. — The road winds in and out of thin stands of Ponderosa Pines and showy yellow oak trees across a landscape dotted with grazing cattle and rusty barb-wire fences. Ahead lies the ranch, unassuming in most ways, sprawling across the landscape with commanding views of Bill Williams Mountain to the east and the rolling grasslands and pinyon-juniper forests to the west. Many residents of Williams are unaware of the beautiful ranch that lies within a stone’s throw of their town, and fewer yet know of the rich history that lies between the walls and among the rafters of the rustic ranch. Now run under a conservation trust, the ranch is being operated as a bed and breakfast but has stayed true to its fascinating past. Now known as Hat Ranch, the ranch was built in the early 1900s and has also been called Quarter Circle Double X Ranch and the Greenway Ranch, as it passed through the hands of two remarkable women, Isabella Greenway and Ruth “Bazy” Tankersley. Many Arizonans know of Greenway as the first U.S. congresswoman from Arizona and close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. But Isabella was also a charismatic business woman and philanthropist and played numerous roles in the development of Arizona during the Great Depression, which included restoring the economy, developing the copper industry and creating jobs for veterans. Greenway was born in Boone County, Kentucky, but spent much of her youth in rural North Dakota, where her family became close to Theodore Roosevelt. Although already rising in politics in Washington, Roosevelt had come to North Dakota for adventure and befriended Greenway’s father Til Selmes, who was doing the same. The Selmes family divided their time between St. Paul and North Dakota and often went on treks in the Badlands with Roosevelt. According to the book “Isabella Greenway: An Enterprising Woman,” by Kristie Miller, Roosevelt admired the Selmes family for their dedication to the frontier lifestyle and their similar intellectual interests.
Following her father’s death, Isabella moved to New York to live with her uncle Frank Cutcheon and attend the elite Miss Chapin’s School, where she was introduced to Theodore Roosevelt’s niece, Eleanor Roosevelt. Eleanor was a year older but struck up a friendship with Isabella and they spent summers going back and forth to from the Roosevelt home and her uncle’s farm on Long Island. Eleanor and Isabella stayed close following their schooling and both became engaged in 1903. Eleanor fell for her distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1903, while Isabella grew close to one of Theodore Roosevelt’s Roughriders, Bob Ferguson. Both married in 1905 with Isabella being a bridesmaid at Eleanor’s wedding. Isabella’s marriage to Bob was difficult as he spent the majority of it sick with tuberculosis, which likely developed during his time in Cuba with the Roughriders. The couple had two children, and in 1910 the family moved to Silver City, NM where Bob hoped to recover. Isabella’s foray into politics began shortly after the family’s arrival in Silver City. During that time, Franklin Roosevelt was elected to the New York State legislature and Theodore Roosevelt was making his second run at the White House. Bob, along with family friend and fellow Roughrider John Greenway, encouraged Isabella to get involved with the campaign. Despite losing the bid, Isabella enjoyed her time touring with Roosevelt and she became hooked on politics. After the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, Isabella’s first official position was to head the Women’s Land Army for the State of New Mexico, where she organized women to do farm work for men who were called to the battlefields. She then was asked to chair the Land Service Committee to increase food production and was selected to the State Labor and Reconstruction Board... more

Here's One Controversy You May Not Hear About In The Final Clinton-Trump Debate

When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet for their third and final debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday — the only one held in the West — they'll be sparring in an important swing state where six electoral votes are up for grabs.

But there's another number you should know about that likely won't get much attention, even though it's hugely important to many Westerners: 81 percent. That's the amount of land in Nevada that's currently owned, operated and controlled by the federal government.

Like in much of the Mountain West, the federal government's ownership and management of public lands in Nevada is hugely controversial — in Nevada, the government owns 58 million acres. Decisions about who gets to do what on those lands are almost always political and the subject of bitter fights, in large part, because in rural areas, many people's livelihoods are at stake — whether they be federal employees, outfitters, tour guides or ranchers.

So this past summer when the Republican National Committee quietly included a provision in its 2016 platform calling on Congress to transfer federal public lands to states, the move didn't go unnoticed out West.

"Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to states ... The residents of state and local communities know best how to protect the land where they work and live," the RNC wrote.

In rancher Stanton Gleave's home state of Utah, more than 70 percent of the land is owned by the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service or the National Park Service.

"The last thing our Founding Fathers wanted was for a federal government to be out here in our business," Gleave says. He says he's frustrated with bureaucrats in Washington making top-down decisions and would rather see locals in charge of the land.

"I could make a good living if I didn't have to comply with all the government rules, if we could just be left alone to ranch," Gleave says.

...The so-called land transfer movement had been gaining national momentum — until recently.

Nevada was the site of a dramatic, armed standoff over cattle grazing between Bureau of Land Management agents and rancher Cliven Bundy in 2014. Earlier this year, Bundy's sons staged the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. The Bundys and other militants are currently facing federal conspiracy charges and possible lengthy prison terms.

Many conservative state lawmakers and members of Congress who originally backed transferring the land now find themselves in an awkward political position.

Jennifer Fielder, a state lawmaker from Montana who heads a pro-transfer group called the American Lands Council, recently told The New York Times that the Bundys drew attention to the land issues, "but in some ways, it was very negative attention, unfortunately. The majority of us are committed to a civil process that is going to be peaceful and isn't going to get anybody killed."

This might also explain why the issue of federal lands has received scant attention among Republicans on the campaign trail, even as nominee Donald Trump has spent extensive time in Western states like Nevada and Colorado.

Local Bloc Seeks to Counter Bid for Australian Cattle Empire

CANBERRA, Australia—Nationalist lawmakers have teamed up with local ranchers to try to counter a bid involving Chinese buyers for the S. Kidman & Co. cattle empire, in what would be one of Australia’s biggest agribusiness deals. Independent and small-party lawmakers courted by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to backstop his one-seat majority, threw their influence Thursday behind a potential “all-Australian” offer for the Kidman ranches, which cover an area larger than Ireland. The bid by the BBHO syndicate, yet to be formalized, is expected to value the ranches at $385 Australian dollars (U.S. $295 million) and would pit some of Australia’s wealthiest ranchers against mining billionaire Gina Rinehart and China-based partners Shanghai CRED Real Estate Stock Co. They have offered A$365 million for Kidman. The cattle empire includes the world’s largest cattle ranch—Anna Creek Station, located beside a strategic missile range. Surging Chinese investment in housing and trophy agriculture assets is triggering a backlash in major economies from Europe to the U.S., as well as Australia. The government has repeatedly stated the country’s openness to foreign, and specifically Chinese, investment, but Mr. Turnbull has faced pressure from within his conservative coalition and from fringe lawmakers to oppose any foreign farm takeovers...more

Mariposa County Ranchers: Succession Plans Can Assure Farms Stay in The Family

...Attorney John Guth of Yuba City, who specializes in estates and trusts, said being without a succession plan "could be disastrous for heirs when it comes to control of the assets and taxes." That's especially true, he said, if dividing the estate could lead to conflict. "Saving taxes is one thing," said Guth, who has developed estate plans for 44 years, "but to allow your children to be in a fight or litigation with one another is about the worst thing you can do." Sib and Margaret Fedora—who farm walnuts, run a custom harvesting and hulling and drying operation with their sons, and own property in Colusa and Sutter counties—are very familiar with the estate planning process. Sib served as executor for several estates and Margaret worked for years as a legal secretary in an office that handled probate cases. The Fedoras developed their first estate plan more than 20 years ago, to protect the future of the farming business and secure assets for their sons Brian and Chris—and now, for their four grandchildren. "This is the biggest challenge that people have to face, because they don't want to give it away; they've worked hard," Margaret Fedora said. "I've seen lots and lots of tears because estate planning was not done, it wasn't done timely or correctly a lot of times, and the people suffered." The Fedoras have set up a generation-skipping trust, in which assets are passed down to grandchildren rather than children, although the children may earn income generated by the trust's assets. With this type of trust, Guth said, the children may change the terms of the distribution. "In our case, Brian and Chris have full control of the assets after we are gone, but then there are no taxes at that point until it goes to our grandchildren," Sib Fedora said. For children who are working and contributing to the farm, it is important they have the control they need to avoid disputes. Sib Fedora said he knows of a situation where one brother remained working on the farm, while siblings worked off the farm. "The parents thought assets should be split up equally, so when they died, the sisters said, 'We want our share,' and the farming brother had to sell everything," Sib Fedora said. "You need to consider these things." For parents who want their children to be treated equally, but to keep the farm operational, Guth suggested the family set up the property in a corporation, a limited liability company or LLC, or a partnership, in order to establish who is the general partner, who has the majority interest and who is operating manager. Another way to make non-farm children equal is through purchase of a life insurance policy. By purchasing an irrevocable life insurance trust, Guth said, the proceeds remain outside of the estate; parents would feed the trust every year with enough money to pay the premium, but when that is paid off after their death, it would be outside of their taxable estate and not subject to the 40 percent tax. People should also be aware of portability of the federal estate tax exemption between married couples. This means, Guth said, if the first spouse dies, and the value of the estate does not require the use of all of the deceased spouse's federal exemption from estate taxes, the amount of the exemption not used for the deceased spouse's estate may be transferred to the surviving spouse's exemption. That way, he or she can use the deceased spouse's unused exemption plus his or her own exemption when the surviving spouse dies. The Fedoras said it is worth it to hire a qualified estate attorney who is certified by the State Bar of California. "If you have a lot to lose, you have a lot to gain by getting it situated correctly and having it updated," Margaret Fedora said...more

Auction nets $ for Utah schools, sells off part of land in Bears Ears struggle

The president of a Utah farming corporation outbid Mormon history buffs and conservation groups to snatch up nearly 400 acres of school trust lands in an area that could become enveloped in a Bears Ears national monument should it happen. The Comb Ridge parcel sold for $500,000 — $200,000 above what defeated competitors offered — to Lyman Family Farm's Joe Hunt, who responded, "What Bears Ears?" when asked. Lyman Family Farm prevailed in a number of bidding wars at Wednesday's Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands auction that garnered $5.5 million for the benefit of the permanent school trust fund, which distributes money to Utah schools. The Hole in the Rock Foundation wanted the 391-acre parcel at Comb Ridge adjacent to federally managed lands to lead youth groups on historical and cultural tours of an area that was blazed by Mormon pioneers over the winter of 1879-80 in a treacherous journey. Groups like Friends of Cedar Mesa prize the area for its abundance of cultural artifacts and stunning sandstone scenery. Both groups reacted with disappointment to the auction's outcome, but they are hopeful some "arrangement" can be made with the new private property owner. "I personally don't anticipate any difficulty in working out something that is acceptable to us," said Lynn Stevens with the Hole in the Rock Foundation. Stevens said an important part of the trail crosses the school trust lands property, which is why it was so important to the foundation...more

20th anniversary of Utah monument stirs strong emotions

As Utah waits to see if President Barack Obama will designate a new national monument in the state, this weekend's 20th anniversary of another national monument rekindled memories of an event that ignited simmering western frustrations about federal ownership of public land. President Bill Clinton created the Grand Staircase Escalante-National Monument on Sept. 18, 1996, by signing a declaration at the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It was lauded by environmentalists, with actor and Utah resident Robert Redford appearing at the ceremony with Clinton. But in heavily Republican Utah, he move was viewed as a sneaky, stab-in-the back example of federal overreach. About 70 miles (112.65 kilometers) north of Clinton's ceremony in the Utah town of Kanab, just outside the new monument, flags flew at half-staff, residents wore black ribbons of mourning and high school students released 50 black balloons as a sign of protest. More black balloons were hung around town, along with signs that said "Shame on you Clinton." The monument and the way it was created remain a sore spot for many Utah Republicans and local residents, who say it closed off too many areas to development — including one of the country's largest known coal reserves — that could have helped pay for local schools. They also argued it was too large — enveloping about 1.9 million acres — the largest national monument in the contiguous United States and an area about the size of Delaware. Many of those same people who now oppose the proposed Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah cite Grand Staircase as proof of why monuments are bad news for rural residents. In 2015, Garfield County declared a state of emergency for falling school enrollment, and county commissioners laid some of the blame on Grand Staircase. "That is the worst thing that has ever happened to this county," Garfield County Commissioner Leland Pollock said Friday. Pollock said the monument put the kibosh on a planned coal mine that would have brought 1,100 jobs to the area. Tourism to the monument has only created seasonal, low-paying jobs and families have moved away, Pollock said. "You can't do anything on a monument," he said...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1726

Here's a modern era song I like, especially the fiddle work:  Burning You by Bo Cox. You will find the tune on his CD Rich Man's Gold

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The bid for Bears Ears

...Bluff, population 400, is anything but quiet, however. Cars, including a silver sedan with #RuralLivesMatter soaped on the window, haphazardly line the dirt streets around the town’s little community center. Alongside a dusty, weed-choked ballpark is a row of shiny black SUVs with government plates. On the other side, hand-drawn signs jut from a chain-link fence like corn from a dryland field: “National Monument, Dooda, Dooda,” reads a yellow one, repeating the Navajo word for “no.” “PROTECT,” proclaims another, above a drawing of a bear’s head.

Over the next few hours, more than 1,000 folks trickle into the center’s grounds to give Interior Secretary Sally Jewell a piece of their minds. She’s here to gauge sentiment regarding five regional tribes’ proposal for a Bears Ears National Monument on 1.9 million acres of nearby federal land. As participants arrive, they’re offered color-coded T-shirts: Baby blue for monument supporters, brown for opponents. It’s a visual cue that demonstrates how the “Native Americans and environmentalists vs. white Mormon land-use militants” trope falls apart here. Local Utes and Navajos, as often as not, wear brown shirts, and many are also devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the hours before the hearing starts, folks congregate in whatever shade they can find and converse, sometimes spiritedly. A brown-shirted young Navajo woman, with a baby on her hip, confronts a group of baffled teen-aged blue-shirts, and outlines the reasons so-called traditional, on-reservation Navajos aren’t fit to manage any more land. One Navajo man says that a monument is the best way to keep the oil companies from ravaging the mesas and canyons that the tribe holds sacred; another warns that a monument will lock Navajos out of those same areas.

It is difficult to untangle all the threads of the debate, which has been raging in various forms for years here, and is reaching its climax now, during President Barack Obama’s final months in office. But listen for a while, and an underlying, constant theme is revealed: The notion of home, and who should have control over it when it happens to overlap public land.

“This is my home,” Brooke Lyman tells Jewell. “We aren’t vacationing here. San Juan County is America to me. For you to come in and make a monument and take our freedoms, it’s like taking America from me.” Brooke is the daughter of Phil Lyman, the local county commissioner best known for protesting “federal overreach” by leading ATV-riding protesters into the archaeologically rich Recapture Canyon a couple of years back. They, along with most other monument opponents, hold to the Sagebrush Rebel ideology of local autonomy, the belief that San Juan County residents — not environmentalists from Salt Lake City, not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., not backpackers who trek through the canyons once a year — are the best stewards of this place. “Outsiders,” including Native Americans, shouldn’t be allowed to determine the land’s fate, which is why, when Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, wearing a suit in spite of the heat, tells Jewell that his people relate to the Bears Ears like an Anglo does to a family member, monument opponents respond with boos, and chant, “Go home!”

This story is featured in an upcoming package in our printed magazine that includes additional reporting exclusive to subscribers. Subscribe now to get the full package upon its release.

High Country News contributing editor Jonathan Thompson is a longtime resident of the Four Corners.

Monuments, Native American culture, FLPMA, Sagebrush Rebellion, Bishop's Public Lands Initiative...there's something of interest here to just about everyone.

Ranchers tense during round-up in wolf country

Right now, ranchers across the state are rounding up their cattle. For those ranching near wolf packs, it's a tense time. For three decades, Sam Kayser's family has grazed cattle in Central Washington. But something changed a few years ago when the herds started getting aggressive with dogs. It was the first sign for Kayser that wolves had moved far enough west that his cattle were now living among them. Now, the Teanaway pack is the closest wolf pack to the Cascades. The winter round-up is typically when Kayser finds out who survived. "It makes me real nervous that we have some cows coming in without calves and I have one that had its butt chewed on and half its tail chewed off," he said. A couple weeks ago, one of Kayser's calves turned up with a huge bite mark in his inner right leg. "They'll usually go for the hamstring, the back of the leg," said Bill Johnson, a range rider. Range riding is one of the non-lethal methods used to steer cattle away from wolves to reduce conflict. It's a method that didn't work earlier this year with the Profanity Peak Pack in Northeast Washington. After more than a dozen cattle attacks, the state authorized the killing of the entire pack. It's a move that prompted death threats toward ranchers and state wildlife managers. "I think the wolves have a place, but when there's too many in one area, that's what's going to happen," Kayser said. Both Kayser and Johnson wonder if reducing the size of wolf packs would also reduce conflict. "We are the stewards. We really need to step in and take charge," Johnson said. "If we're going to have a wolf program, we need to manage it properly."...more

Fires destroy millions of dollars in equipment at Dakota Access Pipeline

by Jazz Shaw

Despite the fact that two different courts have settled the matter in terms of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, we’ve been keeping an eye on the ongoing protests. There’s been more than free speech taking place near the disputed stretch of land where the crews are currently working and previous incidents of violence have had the local authorities on edge. But now they’ve got a new problem to be concerned with. Someone has set fire to several pieces of construction equipment and the damage is in seven figures. (Reuters)
Dakota Access LLC, operator of the controversial pipeline carrying oil from North Dakota to the U.S. Gulf Coast, said on Monday that construction equipment burned by unknown individuals over the weekend cost millions of dollars.
Authorities suspect arson in the fire, which took place in Reasnor, Iowa, along the construction of the pipeline route, according to an AP report.
Fox News interviewed the local Sheriff’s deputies and obtained some additional details. The gear they’re talking about here doesn’t come cheap.
The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office says the blaze late Saturday near Reasnor, Iowa, caused about $2 million damage to an excavator and three bulldozers. The equipment is operated by a contractor for Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners.
Opponents have for months been protesting the $3.8 billion, nearly 1,200-mile project pipeline, warning its construction could jeopardize water supply and damage cultural artifacts.
Thus far there have been no arrests. One might assume that the authorities are already checking out the camps of the protesters, but which group? As we discussed previously, there are two different sets of protesters. One is composed of the representatives of the tribes and they have largely been peaceful and lawful. The other are imports from the radical environmental movement, including those who oppose all fossil fuels. We’ll have to wait for a full investigation, but which of those groups do you suppose decided to torch the sit

Lawyers present starkly different portraits of refuge occupation in closing arguments

Prosecutor Ethan Knight urged jurors to use their common sense as he framed the federal conspiracy case against Ammon Bundy and six others as strikingly simple: "These defendants took over a wildlife refuge, and it wasn't theirs.'' It's not about land use, he said Tuesday. It's not about their objections to more prison time for Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, nor is it about what happened during the 2014 standoff with federal agents in Bunkerville, Nevada. "They decided to pick and choose the rules and laws that apply, and take over property that didn't belong to them,'' Knight said of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. "This space does not belong to these folks, and they treated it as it did,'' Knight said. Ammon Bundy's lawyer Marcus Mumford countered that it's the federal government that doesn't play by the rules, manufactured fear and misinformation in Harney County during the refuge occupation, and overstepped its bounds by charging Bundy with a criminal conspiracy charge more suited for a "mobster.'' Mumford argued that Bundy's intent was to stake claim to the wildlife sanctuary because he felt there was a legitimate dispute regarding the ownership of the land. He had hoped to end up in civil court to argue that the federal government lacked jurisdiction to control the property, his lawyer said. He argued that Bundy didn't enter into any agreement with anyone until Jan. 2, when he proposed taking over the refuge with others at Ye Old Castle restaurant in Burns. He said the "hard stand'' that Bundy referred to while addressing supporters on a snowbank later that day before driving to the refuge amounted to a "peaceful'' but "determined'' stand. He needed to take action that would draw attention to his cause after local and state officials repeatedly ignored his "Redress of Grievance,'' Mumford argued. "Is it illegitimate to tell the government to respect its limits? Is it illegitimate to tell the government to respect the Constitution?'' Mumford questioned, leaning his two arms on a lectern set up in front of the jury as he spoke. "The object and aim of Mr. Bundy was to rectify a wrong. Whatever the effect was of an adverse possession claim – or any other – is not relevant.''...more

Fracking Wastewater Is 96% Natural Says Duke University Study

Up to 96 percent of wastewater from fracking is from naturally occurring salts and brines, not man-made fracking fluids, a new study published Monday by Duke University concluded. Duke researchers found that between 92 and 96 percent of wastewater coming out of fracking wells was comprised of naturally occurring brines and salts which were extracted along with the gas and oil. Only about 4 to 8 percent of the wastewater included man-made chemicals. “Much of the public fear about fracking has centered on the chemical-laden fracking fluids—which are injected into wells at the start of production—and the potential harm they could cause if they spill or are disposed of improperly into the environment,” Dr. Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke University, said in a press statement. “Our new analysis, however, shows that these fluids only account for between 4 and 8 percent of wastewater being generated over the productive lifetime of fracked wells in the major U.S. unconventional oil and gas basins.” Fracking wastewater disposal is one of the biggest objections to the process from mainstream environmental groups like The Sierra Club, which claims that fracking can “contaminate drinking water, pollute the air, and cause earthquakes.” “Most of the fracking fluids injected into these wells do not return to the surface; they are retained in the shale deep underground,” Vengosh said. “This means that the probability of having environmental impacts from the man-made chemicals in fracking fluids is low, unless a direct spill of the chemicals occurs before the actual fracking.” Dr. Vengosh points out that many of these brines have the potential to be incredibly useful. There are already methods to distill wastewater used in the fracking, and purify it so that it can be reused or discharged. These techniques separate out and re-sell the various brines and salts for use in the chemical manufacturing industry. Some of the fracking components are even used as rock salt to treat local roadways in the winter...more

Russia thinks a 6-month freeze is the cure for the global oil market

Freezing global crude oil production for six months with an option for an extension would be the most appropriate and efficient way to rebalance the market, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in a TV interview the ministry published on Monday. Moscow is continuing its consultations with companies operating in Russia, and hopes that everyone will take part in an agreement on freezing output, the minister added. At the end of last month, OPEC producers agreed to discuss a deal to limit production to a range of between 32.5 million barrels per day and 33 million bpd. Oil prices rallied after that announcement then, but later lost steam amid growing skepticism if OPEC would be able to agree to quotas and more importantly, to stick to its decisions...more

Do you notice how the Socialists want to protect Big oil while sticking it to the lowly consumer?
Clearly, funding the state comes first.

‘Global Warming Be Damned’ Says Climate Scientist As US Sees Record Crop Yields

by Michael Bastasch

 There’s little to no evidence man-made global warming is hurting U.S. crop yields in corn belt states, according to a climate scientist who’s spent years consulting on the issue.

In fact, it’s unclear the U.S. corn belt has gone through any statistically significant warming since 1960 despite climate model predictions the region would warm about 1.5 degrees Celsius over that period.

“That plot alone should tell you that something is wrong with the climate models,” according to Dr. Roy Spencer, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Spencer runs a satellite-based temperature data set along with climate scientist Dr. John Christy.

 “It’s not even obvious a statistically significant warming has occurred, let alone attribute it to a cause, given all of the adjustments (or lack of proper adjustments) that have been made to the surface thermometer data over the years,” Spencer recently wrote in a blog post entitled “Global Warming Be Damned: Record Corn, Soybeans, Wheat.”

Global Warming Doesn’t Actually Cause Wars, Scientists Say

by Andrew Follett
New research by Scandinavian scientists claims the link between global warming and war is greatly exaggerated.

Claims that global warming causes war don’t hold up to scrutiny, according to the study. The scientific team, led by Dr. Nina von Uexkull, examined conflict data for Asia and Africa since 1989 and found that ethnic political exclusion, political tensions, proximity to pre-existing violence or other various country-specific risk factors are much better explanations for why wars occur than global warming.

Researchers paid particular attention to the Syrian civil war, which environmentalists typically blame on a drought they say was caused by global warming.

“Calling Syria a climate war, for instance, means ignoring longer-term historical tensions across the region, and lets the humans involved off the hook,” states a summary of the research. “Our well-meaning celebrities and politicians would perhaps be surprised to hear that Uexkull and colleagues found the impact of drought on conflict was generally ‘limited.'”

 The new study concurs with previous research by scientists at the free market Cato Institute, which said that blaming the Syrian civil war on global warming was “absurd” and stated rainfall models that blame global warming for Syria’s drought are “fudged.”

Punishing cow emissions - Loving alcohol emissions


On September 19, 2016, California’s governor, Jerry Brown, signed into law America’s toughest restrictions on “super pollutants” including black carbon, fluorinated gases and methane. Per the press release from Governor Brown’s office, if such legislation is followed worldwide “…these acts would help cut the projected rate of global warming in half by 2050.” In reading through this legislation (SB 1383) I found this head-slapper:
Enteric emissions reductions shall be achieved only through incentive-based mechanisms until the state board, in consultation with the department, determines that a cost-effective, considering the impact on animal productivity, and scientifically proven method of reducing enteric emissions is available and that adoption of the enteric emissions reduction method would not damage animal health, public health, or consumer acceptance. Voluntary enteric emissions reductions may be used toward satisfying the goals of this chapter.
This aspect of the law, poorly written as it is, was aimed specifically at dairy and livestock operations; in which the State of California desires to reduce the methane emitted by cattle via belching and flatulence. Governor Brown, clearly, is so concerned about global warming that he is willing to sign legislation in which a section is targeted at regulating the bodily functions of cattle. However, if enteric fermentation is such a concern, in California, then why isn’t alcoholic fermentation even more so? Of course, the answer is simple in that environmentalists, such as Governor Brown, are hypocrites.

In 2015, California shipped 275.7 million cases of wine within the U.S. and abroad. California is, by far and away, the largest wine producing state in the U.S.; which is great for the California economy considering the estimated retail value of California wine shipped within the U.S. alone, in 2015, was $31.9 billion.

On the flipside, does this not also mean that California’s wine producers are emitting significant amounts of pollution? Carbon dioxide, after all, is a by-product of alcoholic fermentation; and the EPA has designated carbon dioxide to be a pollutant and a dangerous greenhouse gas driving climate change. Having toured wineries in Napa Valley, I can assure you the ones I visited had no equipment capturing their carbon dioxide emissions. If Governor Brown is willing to sign legislation that literally drills down to the concept of reducing enteric emissions from cattle, then why not pass legislation requiring every California winery (and brewery for that matter) to capture carbon dioxide emissions before being released into the environment? Sounds expensive and controversial; but isn’t the future of the planet at stake here?

Tarantula trysts haunt hikers - video

Hikers at the popular Stanford Dish are spending more time keeping their eyes down due to an influx of spiders in the area. The tarantula mating season is in full swing, with male arachnids on the prowl searching for mates. Wildlife experts said the tarantulas are harmless to humans, but warn the spiders do have fangs and carry poison.  NBC

NM gray wolves recovery gets boost

A federal judge has approved a settlement requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to finish a long-overdue recovery plan for the endangered Mexican gray wolf within a year. U.S. Judge Jennifer Zipps in the District of Arizona on Monday approved the agreement reached in April by wolf advocacy groups, the states of Utah and Arizona, and the service. The settlement compels Fish and Wildlife to complete a species recovery plan by the end of November 2017 that sets parameters for its management of the Mexican wolf reintroduction program, including where wolves should be allowed to roam as well as population targets. The service has failed to finish a recovery plan three times since the first plan was adopted in 1982. New Mexico’s Game and Fish Department, which intervened in the case, declined to join the settlement “due to the overly aggressive time frame it specifies,” a spokesman told the Journal in April. Game and Fish has been at odds with the service over the wolf program for years and has urged a new recovery plan. Game and Fish did not respond to requests for comment. The settlement requires the recovery plan to consider “all available scientific and commercial information from appropriate state agencies and other entities,” including from New Mexico, and be supported by “an independent peer review.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1725

Our selection today is Barefoot Nellie by Don Reno & Red Smiley and the Tennessee Cut-Ups.  The tune was recorded in Cincinnati on November 8, 1954.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How assigning property rights to protected species turned a landfill into a conservation bank.

Not far from the city of Benicia in Solano County, California, sits an old hazardous waste dump. The site was once owned by the IT Corporation, whose primary business was the disposal of industrial waste. But today, part of the site is known as Ridge Top Ranch, and it’s home to an innovative conservation project to preserve endangered species. The landfill was capped in 2002, and the state banned development around the facility to protect public health. When the IT Corporation entered into bankruptcy, the LandBank Group, a company that acquires and rehabilitates contaminated properties, obtained ownership of a majority of the ranch. Despite its proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area, the property was devoid of development potential because the ranch is part of a buffer zone established around the hazardous waste site. Most landowners would have considered the property stranded and perhaps donated it to a land trust. But LandBank decided to turn a liability into an asset by creating a conservation bank. How Conservation Banks Work Under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, when a development project impacts a listed species, developers are often required to offset those impacts. Historically, this was done by enhancing and conserving nearby habitat for the endangered species. But this process is time consuming and expensive with no guarantee for success. More recently, a new type of entrepreneur came up with another approach: Create a for-profit conservation bank. The idea is to take over the liability of species and habitat mitigation from developers. Conservation bankers purchase land that can be preserved and managed for the benefit of protected species. Long-term management is ensured through a conservation easement and an endowment fund to pay for habitat maintenance and monitoring...more

Trump met with a leader of the land transfer movement

BY Tay Wiles

The current movement in Western states to transfer federal public lands to state control has ramped up in the past four years, becoming an important campaign issue in state and federal races, and for some voters, in the presidential election. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton opposes a large-scale transfer but Republican candidate Donald Trump’s stance is murkier. But in late August, Elko County, Nevada, Commissioner Demar Dahl, a major figure in the pro-land-transfer movement, met one-on-one with Trump. Dahl told High Country News last week that the two men talked for about ten minutes about the land transfer idea, preceding a dinner fundraiser for the candidate at Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
During that private conversation with Trump, the commissioner drew a comparison between the nominee’s hotel business and federal land management to explain his perspective: “How efficiently would your hotels operate if eight out of every 10 floors were managed by the federal government?” Dahl, a cattle rancher and co-founder of the land transfer group American Lands Council, recalled asking Trump.

 Dahl said Trump was receptive to the idea of transferring federal land to state control in Nevada, where 85 percent of the land is managed by the federal government: “He said, ‘I’m with you.’” During his speech at the fundraiser afterward, Trump took an informal audience poll to gauge support for a land transfer, Dahl recalled. The crowd of several hundred cheered loudly for a transfer, Dahl said...

Butchered Livestock Found Near Dakota Access Pipeline Protest Camp

by Kerry Picket

North Dakota authorities say slaughtered and missing livestock have been reported around the area of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp.

The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and the Sioux County Sheriff’s Department, along with other law enforcement agencies, are investigating two specific cases near Cannon Ball, Forum News Service reported.

“The issue is [the protesters] are leaving the peace camp. In fact, in many cases we have situations where they’re not anywhere near that area, and they’re camping out in different areas and there’s guerrilla tactics and warfare that’s implemented. They go out and strike and run and it’s an issue,” North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goerhring told GCN Radio’s Scott Hennen.

Goehring explained, “They’re trespassing on private property, they’re destroying property. Now we’ve been able to confirm numerous animals that are missing, have been slaughtered. We have issues where people can’t even travel out there in the countryside, back and forth to their farms and their ranches, going to the pasture, going to the fields. They can’t get harvest done, they can’t get truck drivers in the haul grain out.”

Defense rests with witness confirming he was FBI informant and ran occupation's shooting range

A flag signed by various occupiers hangs in the common area of a bunkhouse at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Jan. 15, 2016. Thomas Boyd/Staff
Defense lawyers rested in the Oregon standoff case Monday after they called a witness who confirmed he was an informant for the FBI and acknowledged that he infiltrated the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and supervised the shooting range for several days. The man who occupiers initially knew only by his alias "John Killman'' was revealed to be Fabio Minoggio, a Las Vegas resident subpoenaed by the defense to testify after prosecutors declined to confirm if he was a government informant. Prosecutors followed with a quick rebuttal case, calling four witnesses to counter various points made in the defense case. And so ended the evidence phase of the federal conspiracy trial of refuge takeover leader Ammon Bundy and six others after five weeks of testimony. U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown will give jury instructions Tuesday morning with closing arguments to follow. While at the refuge, Minoggio said he was asked to oversee the shooting range, which earlier testimony revealed was by the refuge boat launch. He said he provided training on firearms safety and proficient use of firearms to the occupiers. Minoggio was one of 15 confidential informants who fed the FBI information about the occupiers, testimony showed. Nine of the 15 were at the refuge for various lengths of time between Jan. 4 and Jan. 26, according to a statement that Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel read to jurors. Those nine included the three who have been identified at trial: Minoggio, defense witness Terri Linnell of California and Mark McConnell, who was the driver of the Jeep that Ammon Bundy was riding in when he was arrested on Jan. 26. None of the unidentified other six informants were at the refuge beyond Jan. 23, Gabriel told jurors. Killman, defense lawyer Tiffany Harris pointed out in a written legal brief, was a participant in the firearms and military-style maneuvers training during the occupation and helped train one of the defendants, Jeff Banta, in hand-to-hand combat techniques...more

Federal Appeals Court to Consider Future of Endangered Species Act Protections for Wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan

The Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Tuesday on whether wolves living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan should remain protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Wildlife advocacy groups, led by The Humane Society of the United States, are defending their 2014 legal victory that returned Endangered Species Act protections to wolves in the Great Lakes region after the court found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated and misinterpreted the Act. The appeal, brought by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the states of Wisconsin and Michigan, seeks to reverse a 2014 district court decision that reinstated wolf protections. The district court judge stated that the Service’s decision was “no more valid than the agency’s three prior attempts to remove federal protections for a population of gray wolves” and that sometimes a “court must lean forward from the bench to let an agency know, in no uncertain terms, that enough is enough.” The Center for Biological Diversity filed a “friend of the court” brief in support of wolf release

US Farmers At Odds With Dannon on Sustainability

US - American dairy product company Dannon, a subsidiary of global food company Danone, has come under fire from a number of US farming organisations for its new policy on genetically modified feed. Dannon recently announced that all its cows will be fed non-GM feed by the end of 2018, which will involve the conversion of an estimated 80,000 acres of farmland to produce non-GM crops, according to the company. Dannon says the move will bring greater transparency and choice to customers. However, a number of US farming organisations jointly sent a letter to the head of Dannon, saying that sustainability goals cannot be achieved without the use of modern agricultural practices such as GM technology. In the letter sent to Mariano Lozano, head of Dannon’s US operations, the farm groups said that the company’s strategy to eliminate GM: “is the exact opposite of the sustainable agriculture that you claim to be seeking.” “This is just marketing puffery, not any true innovation that improves the actual product offered to consumers,” said Randy Mooney, chairman of the National Milk Producers Federation, and a dairy farmer from Rogersville, Missouri. “What’s worse is that removing GMOs from the equation is harmful to the environment – the opposite of what these companies claim to be attempting to achieve.”...more


You gotta love this headline:

Yogurt Maker's Non-GMO Stance Curdles Ag Groups

Governor intends to offer the buffer-strip tax break

The governor will ask the Legislature next year to grant tax breaks to landowners who maintain grassy buffer strips along waterways to reduce agricultural runoff, a state government tax official said Monday. Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, had vetoed the same concept at the end of the 2016 session. The original measure came from Sen. Jim Peterson, D-Revillo. His supporters in the House of Representatives couldn’t muster the two-thirds majority needed to override the March veto. Peterson’s legislation called for tax breaks on buffer strips up to 50 feet wide. Daugaard’s legislation would offer tax breaks on wider strips up to 120 feet. The announcement of Daugaard’s formal intent came during a meeting Monday of the Legislature’s task force on agricultural land assessment implementation and oversight. Peterson is chairman for the task force this year and is retiring from the Legislature for a second time. Peterson wanted less dirt, chemicals and manure flowing from farm fields and livestock pastures into the Big Sioux River and other waterways throughout South Dakota. He praised Daugaard on Monday for taking up the cause. “I think the governor’s version is a better version than the one I wrote,” Peterson told the task force...more

Upper Green DEIS offers continued but less grazing

The Forest Service’s Upper Green livestock-grazing draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) “preferred alternative” proposes continued use of six pasture allotments but also maintain ranchers’ reduced turnout numbers of the last several years. Upper Green River Cattle Association president Albert Sommers said Monday after reading the entire DEIS, he has concerns about unexpected “implications.” “It’s 700-some pages,” Sommers said. “It’s very difficult to go through a document of that size and understand all the implications in there.” Alternative 1 is the required “no action” alternative, with grazing eliminated after two years, term permits cancelled and interior fences likely removed, according to the DEIS executive summary...more