Thursday, August 17, 2017

Secretary Zinke Requests Public Comments on all DOI Regulations

By Karen Schumacher

...The Secretary has asked for public comments on all DOI regulations. That means if you have issues with any DOI regulation, you can now submit your comments on those that need to be eliminated. This is a huge opportunity for the public to provide feedback on regulations that are destroying the way we live. The large landscape cooperatives are administered by US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Go to:
  1. Enter the Docket number In the Search box.
  2. On the Docket comment page, type in your comments, or copy/paste your comments into the Comment box.
  3. Follow instructions for submitting your comments.
  4. You may submit as many comments as desiredthere is no current deadline for comments.
Bureau of Land Management DOI–2017–0003–0003
Bureau of Reclamation DOI–2017–0003–0005
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement DOI–2017–0003–0006
National Park Service DOI–2017–0003–0007
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement DOI–2017–0003–0008
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service DOI–2017–0003–0009
U.S. Geological Survey. DOI–2017–0003–00010
Bureau of Indian Affairs. DOI–2017–0003–0002
Other Interior agencies and offices DOI–2017–0003–00011
Take the time, submit your comments, as many as you want, and pass this information to others.

Last-Minute Push for Feds to Leave UT Nat'l Monuments Alone

Many Utah business owners and tribes are making a last-minute push to save the state's national monuments, under threat from a federal review that ends one week from today. U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has until August 24 to make recommendations on whether to shrink or rescind Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument - which has been in place for decades. Some state legislators oppose the monument, saying it has cost the area jobs. But Blake Spaulding, who employs 50 people at the restaurant she co-owns in the area, said the monument actually has created a boom. "Every construction crew, every school, every restaurant is looking for employees,” Spaulding said. "So, the idea that the monument needs to be damaged in order to create jobs is unequivocally a false narrative. Without the monument, our business wouldn't exist." Zinke already has called for dramatically reducing the size of Bears Ears National Monument, but said the final recommendation will come next week. Almost 3 million Americans have made public comments on the monument review, overwhelmingly in favor of keeping them intact...more

How did $100 million de Kooning painting end up in a home in tiny Cliff, New Mexico?

SILVER CITY — Now that a $100 million stolen painting is back at the University of Arizona, authorities are still tackling the question of who took the valuable work by Willem de Kooning 31 years ago. And just as mysteriously, how did the abstract oil painting of a nude woman end up in the home of a quiet, retired couple in Cliff, New Mexico, population 293? H. Jerome "Jerry" and Rita Alter, the deceased couple who owned the ranch-style home where the painting was found, were an unassuming pair who kept to themselves and loved to travel to exotic places, said people who knew them. They co-authored three books, one about traveling, another about poetry and a twist on Aesop's Fables. Cliff is a "blink and you miss it" town 225 miles east of Tucson, with an elementary school and high school, a gas station, restaurant, post office and laundromat. The Alters' ranch-style home sits just north of Cliff. Property records show the couple purchased the 20-acre parcel in 1974, and the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home was built in 1979. Ruth Seawolf, a broker at My Real Estate Company in Silver City, said a man contacted her to put the property up for sale after his aunt passed away a little over a month ago. She declined to name the aunt or nephew because the FBI is investigating the painting's disappearance and recovery. But she said he told her there was a lot of stuff in the home, and he was looking for help with the contents. "The email he sent me said, 'Ruthie, I've gone through the home, and I don't think there is anything of value, but help yourself.' "...more

350 outdoor business leaders urge Zinke to keep national monuments intact

In one of the strongest displays of solidarity in the outdoor industry, more than 350 American outdoor businesses large and small have sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke urging him to keep the country’s national monuments unchanged and intact. The fight to protect public lands has galvanized the outdoor industry, which employs 7.6 million Americans and stirs $887 billion in annual spending, generating $125 billion in local, state and federal taxes. Bolstered by its economic strength, the industry has rallied around the push to keep public lands public. The fight has grown as the Trump Administration directs Zinke’s review of 27 national monuments. Zinke’s interim report issued in June supported the downsizing of Utah’s Bear Ears National Monument, riling outdoor entrepreneurs and innovators who count public lands as the fonts of inspiration and economic growth that fuel their swelling industry...more

Trump administration won’t downsize Sand to Snow National Monument, an official says

The Trump administration won't shrink or eliminate Sand to Snow National Monument near Palm Springs, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Wednesday — but elsewhere in the California desert, Mojave Trails National Monument may still be on the chopping block. Zinke has been reviewing 22 national monuments created or expanded by presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, with plans to submit final recommendations to President Donald Trump by next week. Sand to Snow is the sixth monument for which Zinke has said he'll recommend no changes, following Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado, Craters of the Moon in Idaho, Grand Canyon-Parashant in Arizona, Hanford Reach in Washington and Upper Missouri River Banks in Zinke's home state of Montana. "The land of Sand to Snow National Monument is some of the most diverse terrain in the West, and the monument is home to incredible geographic, biologic and archaeological history of our nation," Zinke said in a statement...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1900

Let’s have some Gene Autry today. Here he is with Sioux City Sue. The tune was recorded in Hollywood on April 8, 1946 for the Columbia label.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Another example of enviro deception - this time on livestock grazing in OMDPNM

Embedded below is a July 14, 2017 Congressional Research Service memo from Carol Hardy to Senator Udall. The memo was prepared at the request of Senator Udall and is fairly straightforward recitation.

However, in an opinion piece today for The Hill , Brett Myrick of Gila, NM and a former Navy SEAL, states his case on why Secretary Zinke should "recommend no changes" to the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. (For grant-funded involvement of veterans see the Vet Voice Foundation) In his piece, Myrick writes:

In fact, a recent Congressional Review Service memo found that “there have been no changes to livestock grazing on the ground as a result of the establishment of the monument.”
And if we go to the website of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, we find the following:

In July, 2017, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a memorandum on livestock grazing in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. CRS is works [sic] exclusively for the U.S. Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. It has been a valued and respected resource on Capitol Hill for more than a century.
The memorandum found that in Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument,

“there have been no changes to livestock grazing on the ground as a result of the establishment of the monument, according to BLM. For instance, there have been no changes to terms and conditions of grazing leases and permits, or the number of acres grazed, as a result of the monument proclamation, according to the agency.”
What they don't quote, however, is the following  language which is in the paragraph immediately preceding the language they do quote:

The proclamation for Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks calls for the development of a management plan for the protection and restoration of identified objects, but no management plan for the monument has been developed to date. BLM also has not issued interim guidance regarding livestock grazing within the monument. The agency has indicated that such guidance is not necessary, as livestock grazing on lands in the monument is being managed under existing authorities. (Underlining is mine)

What any novice can see is the following: The management plan to implement the proclamation has not been written, therefore there have been no changes in guidelines, terms and conditions of permits, or acres grazed. No plan, no change. The memo states since there is no plan, livestock grazing is being managed using "existing authorities", i.e., they are being managed just as they were before the monument was designated. So of course there has been no significant change.

Nothing in the memo addresses what will happen to livestock grazing once the plan is completed and the anti-grazing language in the proclamation is implemented. No one can say with one-hundred percent certainty exactly how that management change will affect the ranching families involved. But with more than forty years experience dealing with these issues, including experience in both the administrative and legislative side of government, I have a definite opinion which I have most recently shared here.

What I do know with certainty is that flaunting this memo to try and convince the public these ranching families will not be harmed by this designation is a clear distortion of the contents of the memo and a disservice to reasonable dialogue on the issue.

Drama closes Nevada trial: Bundy case defense lawyers stay mute

In a dramatic end to a contentious trial, defense attorneys declined Tuesday to make closing arguments on behalf of four men accused of wielding assault weapons against federal agents in a 2014 standoff near Nevada anti-government figure Cliven Bundy's ranch. The move left defendants Eric Parker, Steven Stewart and Ricky Lovelien of Montana and Oklahoma essentially mute in answer to 10 felony charges including conspiracy, weapon possession and assault on a federal officer. Acting U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre was left Tuesday with nothing to rebut, so he abandoned his plan to have the last word before the jury of eight women and eight men began deliberations. The panel heard five weeks of prosecution testimony. They resume deliberations on Wednesday. Each defendant could face decades in prison if convicted. Myhre and attorneys for Drexler, Parker and Stewart, all of Idaho, each declined outside court to comment. Attorney Shawn Perez, representing Ricky Lovelien of Montana and Oklahoma, said he didn't think the government proved its case, so he felt no closing argument was needed. The jury on Tuesday heard a three-hour recitation by prosecutor Nadia Ahmed of the charges, retrial evidence and instructions from the judge. Ahmed relied heavily on photos and videos showing each defendant carrying an assault-style weapon during the protest to stop a roundup of Bundy family cattle from public rangeland in a vast Gold Butte area that has since been made a national monument. Proving conspiracy is crucial for prosecutors ahead of a next trial, expected later this year, for the Bundy family patriarch, his two eldest sons and two other defendants. They each face 15 charges. Six other defendants, including two other Bundy sons, are slated for trial next year...more

Judge's rulings lead to tense moments in Bundy case in Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Restrictions placed by a federal judge on what defendants can say about being at Cliven Bundy's ranch in April 2014 are leading to tense moments in the Las Vegas retrial of four men accused of wielding assault-style weapons to stop federal agents from rounding up cattle belonging to the anti-government figure. Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro refused Monday to order a mistrial sought by the defense attorney for Eric Parker, a defendant who Navarro ordered off the witness stand last week before telling the jury to disregard his testimony. Such a dramatic step involving a defendant in the presence of a jury is unusual and might draw scrutiny from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, said Robert Draskovich, a Las Vegas lawyer who said he had never heard of such a move in more than two decades practicing in federal courts. Draskovich is not involved in the Bundy case. Navarro ruled that defendants can't argue this time that they were acting in self-defense or in the defense of other protesters. They can't say they were motivated to drive to southern Nevada from Idaho and Montana after hearing about scuffles involving unarmed Bundy family members and Bureau of Land Management agents using dogs and stun guns. They can't refer to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and other elected officials criticizing federal agents for creating what the Republican governor called an "atmosphere of intimidation" in the days before the standoff. They can't point to so-called "First Amendment zone" corrals set up for protesters well away from the Bundy ranch; they can't cite claims of infringement on free-speech and Second Amendment rights; and they can't refer to the decades in prison they might face if they're convicted. "Just because law enforcement is pointing a gun doesn't mean you get to point one back," Navarro said Monday...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1899

We’ll slow things down just a little with Rex Allen’s 1955 recording of L-O-N-E-S-O-M-E Letter Blues.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Settlement reached in federal case of Modesto-area farmer fined $2.8 million for plowing his field

Northern California farmer John Duarte spent years fighting the federal government after being fined for plowing over protected wetlands on his property. He attracted a nationwide army of conservative supporters who saw it as government overreach and hoped the Trump administration would order federal officials to back off. But just before his trial was set to start Tuesday, Duarte settled. Duarte became a cause célèbre among property-rights activists, farmers and other conservatives after running afoul of environmental laws in 2012. A judge ruled in 2016 that he violated the “Waters of the United States” provision of the Clean Water Act by “deep ripping” a Tehama County field without a permit. Duarte said he just planted winter wheat, as the previous property owners had done. But government officials said the field hadn’t been plowed in more than two decades, and he needed a permit before tearing up seasonal wetlands known as vernal pools that serve as habitat for plants and animals. Duarte and his allies, including the leader of the American Farm Bureau and Republican members of Congress, called it a classic case of government meddling with agriculture. The Trump administration already has moved to relax the WOTUS rules that the Obama administration had sought to expand, and the congressmen were pressing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to drop the case against Duarte altogether. Despite settling for far less than they were seeking, federal officials said the agreement shows the law must be obeyed...more 

The Pacific Legal Foundation released the following statement: 

  “Duarte Nursery, its president John Duarte, and Pacific Legal Foundation and their co-counsel announce that Duarte Nursery has agreed to a settlement with the United States in the federal government’s nearly five-year enforcement action over Duarte’s routine action of plowing its property to plant wheat in late 2012,” said PLF Senior Attorney Tony Francois, who represents Duarte free of charge.

“Under the agreement, Duarte would admit no liability, pay the government $330,000 in a civil penalty, purchase $770,000 worth of vernal pool mitigation credits, and perform additional work on the site of the plowing.

“This has been a difficult decision for me, my family, and the entire company, and we have come to it reluctantly,” said John Duarte. “But given the risks posed by further trial on the government’s request for up to $45 million in penalties, and the catastrophic impact that any significant fraction of that would have on our business, our hundreds of employees, our customers and suppliers, and all the members of my family, this was the best action I could take to protect those for whom I am responsible.”

“John would have preferred to see this case through to trial and appealed the court’s liability ruling, which holds that plowing a field requires federal permission — despite the clear text of the Clean Water Act and regulations to the contrary,” said Francois. “John and his counsel remain concerned that legal liability for farming without federal permission undermines the clear protections that the Clean Water Act affords to farming and poses a significant ongoing threat to farmers across the nation.”...

An interesting comment...

An interesting comment on my post Farmer Must Defend Plowing His Wheat Field 

I understand Duarte has decided to settle and I will post about that soon.

Anonymous said...

 I walked the neighboring parcels to the north of Duarte's in 2010, when looking to buy, and remember seeing cattle grazing on Duarte's.

First, this parcel and Duarte's were previously going to be covered by 3,500 homes - no CWA concerns over that.

The CWA exemptions include ranching and rotation of crops - forage for grazing is a crop - so being that Duarte's land was grazed since the last time a crop was grown
(1985, I think), it qualifies as an on-going farm use.

-- the neighboring parcel also has only been grazed for that same time period, timeline photos will show back as far as 1998.

-- the cattle owner also told me of the same farming history when I was there.

-- Also, Duarte plowed 4"-7" deep for wheat - if he deep-ripped, the seedlings would never see the light of day.

-- The neighboring parcel has way more vernal pools than Duarte's, yet was allowed to deep-rip without a permit.

-- the neighbor's deep-ripping is highly visible on Google Earth's 2013 photo (Paskenta Rd & Ohm Rd. & Rawson Ave., Red Bluff, CA).

-- also highly visible, is the much greater number of vernal pools of the neighbor's parcels, which show in 2015 & 2010 photos, compared to Duarte's to the south.

-- the neighbor's land is higher in elevation, (about 30 ft), than Duarte's, so any release of 'soil contaminants' are more likely to come from the deep-ripping of neighbor's land.

-- Neighbor also has a seasonal creek that was deep-ripped and goes from north of Ohm Rd., and joins Coyote Creek east of Duarte's parcel, then on through 11 miles of farmland to the Sacramento River - the neighbor's 'deep-ripped creek' can be seen in 2013 photo.

-- in contrast, there were no permits taken by the Rainbow family for the 18"-36" deep potty holes they dug at Malheur forest, nor were they fined for CWA violations, and with 13,00 attendees, they not taken the required permit for groups over 75.

-----and Malheur Nat, Forest has now declared it a health hazard area.

-- Duarte was told that the fifth amendment rights don't apply, unless the government waives impunity.

That would mean all constitutional rights are null and void, unless the government chooses to waive impunity - which it does only for the enviros by cowering down and handing them a check via the EAJA.

-- ironic that the EAJA, created to help individual citizens financially when fighting gov. overreach, has resulted in increased gov. overreach while financially ruining individual citizens.

10 national monuments Trump is most likely to shrink (Guess who's on the list)

View the USA Today list here.

Feds propose to expand hunting, fishing in 10 National Wildlife Refuges

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week proposed to expand hunting and fishing at national wildlife refuges in eight states. Among the changes would be to open two refuges in North Dakota, the 19,500-acre Des Lacs NWR, and 32,000-acre Souris River Basin NWR, to moose hunters for the first time as well as increasing hunting opportunities at refuges in Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke made the announcement Friday, remarking he was lucky to grow up hunting and fishing and pass the sport to his children. Besides the North Dakota openings, the Savannah River NWR — which straddles Georgia and South Carolina — would see migratory game bird hunting, upland game, and big game hunting expanded as would Minnesota’s Minnesota Valley refuge, and Indiana’s Patoka River NWR. Similar game expansions would take place at both the Horicon and Fox River refuges in Wisconsin. In Oklahoma’s Sequoyah NWR, upland game and big game hunting would be expanded. The Baskett Slough NWR in Oregon would expand their current migratory game bird hunting program while Siletz Bay would open to sport fishing for the first time...more

Farmer Must Defend Plowing His Wheat Field

By Patrick Cavanaugh

John Duarte, a California farmer who gained national attention after the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or Army Corps) sued him for plowing his Tehama County wheat field, will defend himself in a federal courthouse in Sacramento on Tuesday, August 15. “Agriculture is at a very dire crossroads right now,” said Duarte, imploring all farming stakeholders and food consumers across the country “to get loud with their Senators, Representatives and USACE. And if you know how to get ahold of President Trump, give him a call.” In February 2013, with no warning or opportunity to discuss the matter, USACE sent Duarte a cease and desist letter to suspend farming operations, claiming that he had illegally filled wetlands on his wheat field simply by plowing it. “I am being prosecuted for planting wheat in a wheat field during a global food crisis,” Duarte said. “They’re claiming I should have pulled a [Clean Water Act] permit that nobody has ever pulled and conducted practices that nobody has ever conducted to grow wheat.” Duarte who is also the owner of Duarte Nursery, argues that the Army Corps violated his constitutional right to due process. He said the agency came down on him hard and never gave him an opportunity to defend himself against the accusations before levying the fine. Duarte now faces $2.8 million in government fines. “The Army Corps of Engineers is prosecuting us,” Duarte said, “and the Army Corps does not even have subject matter jurisdiction to conduct this prosecution.” In a June 14, 2017, news release, Tony Francois, senior attorney for Pacific Legal Foundation, explained, “Prosecutors and bureaucrats are seeking to establish, for the first time, that farmers with seasonal puddles need a federal wetlands permit in order to plow their own private land—even though plowing is exempt from Clean Water Act (CWA) coverage.” Duarte believes if he were to lose the upcoming trial, it would change the way farmers in America farm. “This battle may never be resurrected in court. Taking this battle to the Supreme Court on several fronts is the only way to give farmers the long-term security they need, the right to farm and property rights protections, to deliver food security to America.”...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1898

Today we feature the Rouse Brothers (They of Orange Blossom Special fame) and their 1938 recording of Bum Bum Blues.