Thursday, June 29, 2017

Interagency assessments for fish habitat delay ranchers’ access to federal land (but not the Ra

Delayed Forest Service biological assessments are preventing some Grant County ranchers from turning out their cattle on public lands. Grant County Commissioner Boyd Britton expressed frustration and dismay at the issue and said local grazing permit holders were seriously affected. Britton said turnout dates are typically May 15, June 1 and June 15. The biological assessments are consultations with the National Marine Fisheries for steelhead and United States Fish and Wildlife Service for bull trout. Grant County Stock Growers Association President Alec Oliver estimated some ranchers missed out on roughly 20-30 percent of summer grazing on their alloted land. He said they had compensated by turning out onto fall pastures and feeding cattle hay typically used later in the season...more 

This is in the Malheur National Forest...that kind of rings a bell...oh yeah, that's where up to 30,000 members of the Rainbow Family will be cavorting on July 4th...without a permit.

California says key ingredient in Roundup weed killer can cause cancer

One of the most popular herbicides in the world can cause cancer, California health officials say, and they might demand warnings saying so. That herbicide, glyphosate, will be added to California's list of chemicals that can cause cancer, the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment said this week. Glyphosate is the key ingredient in weed killers such as Roundup. California keeps a list of carcinogenic chemicals because of a law commonly called Proposition 65, which "requires businesses to provide warnings to Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm."...more

Feds determine no endangered species jeopardized, approve Delta water tunnels

California Governor Jerry Brown’s plan for two massive tunnels to divert water from the state's largest river, the Sacramento, to the farm-rich Central Valley and populous Southern California, won’t threaten endangered species, federal agencies say. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced Monday that federal agencies responsible under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) have given the project first approval after concluding that the proposed tunnels would not jeopardize the existence of endangered species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a central hub of the state’s water system. In their biological opinions, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) both concluded that the project “is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence” of endangered or threatened species or “destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat” for those species. The $15.7 billion proposed project, dubbed “WaterFix,” calls for the construction of two massive 35-mile-long tunnels to carry water from the Sacramento River to existing pumping plants in the south Delta. The project has been in the planning stages for more than a decade...more

Western governors back Endangered Species Act, with changes

The Republican-dominated Western Governors Association endorsed the aims of the Endangered Species Act on Wednesday but asked Congress to make changes, including giving states a bigger role and clarifying recovery goals for species protected by the law. The governors said Western states benefit economically from healthy species and ecosystems but bear the burden of land-use restrictions that usually come with species protection, as well as some of the cost of recovery programs. The 22-member association approved a resolution giving qualified backing for the act during a meeting in Whitefish, Montana. The governors include 14 Republicans, six Democrats and two independents. The vote count wasn’t released...more

 The WGA resolution is embedded below

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1877

Let’s have a little Gene Autry - Be Honest With Me. The tune was recorded in Los Angeles on August 20, 1940.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Rosemont Mine one step closer to reality with Forest Service approval

The proposed Rosemont Mine in the Santa Rita Mountains has moved closer to approval with the U.S. Forest Service signing off on a key step in the process. The Forest Service released its Record of Decision, lending approval to the project after more than a decade of research and public feedback. But Hudbay Minerals, the Canadian company that hopes to open the mine, still needs approval of a permit related to its impact on the region’s watershed from the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has been critical of the proposed plan. The site, 30 miles southeast of Tucson, spans more than 5,400 acres of private, state and federal land in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. Proposed facilities include an open pit mine more than a half-mile deep and roughly a mile wide and associated processing and disposal facilities. Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals Inc. will extract copper, molybdenum and silver from the mine...more

Beef Company: Settlement With ABC 'Vindicated' Firm

Four years after Beef Products Inc. (BPI) filed a defamation lawsuit against ABC News for smearing its lean finely textured beef (LFTB) as “pink slime,” the two have reached a settlement. The $1.9 billion case against ABC News finally went before the jury June 5, 2017 and was settled June 28. While the terms were confidential, BPI spokesperson Tom Becker told The Media Research Center it was “a great point for the company. They’ve been vindicated.” According to Becker, the timing of the settlement “is telling.” It came as BPI was outlining to the jury the specifics of its $1.9 billion losses. The case might have meant even more money to ABC if it had lost because South Dakota law allows for triple damages in cases like this -- or potentially $5.7 billion. The fallout from the series of stories was horrendous. Prior to ABC’s reporting in March 2012, BPI employed roughly 1,350 employees at four facilities. But just 30 days after ABC’s attack, BPI lost 700 employees and had to close three of its four facilities...more

Judicial Watch takes EPA to court over social media campaign on WOTUS

The conservative group Judicial Watch is taking the Environmental Protection Agency to court over failing to hand over documents detailing its use of social media to promote the Obama administration's Waters of the U.S. Rule. The group filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the EPA to release internal documents and emails related to its use of the Thunderclap social media platform after the Government Accountability Office found its use to be an illegal form of propaganda. The group pointed out in announcing the legal action Wednesday that the GAO report issued in December 2015 concluded that the EPA's use of Thunderclap to send out messages to raise support for the Waters of the U.S. Rule "constitutes covert propaganda" prohibited by law. Judicial Watch gave the EPA until May 3 to divulge internal communications related to its use of Thunderclap, which the agency failed to do. It is now suing the agency in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to force it to release the documents. The lawsuit was filed late last week, but it only announced the lawsuit Wednesday, spokeswoman Jill Farrell told the Washington Examiner. "That the EPA is being sued over this flagrant nonsense is the news," Farrell added in an email. "That they are willing to go to court usually means something unsavory is lurking about, but that's just correlation, not necessarily causation." The lawsuit was announced as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced he has begun the process to repeal the Waters of the U.S. Rule. It also comes during the administration's "Energy Week," which is meant to underscore President Trump's push to unravel burdensome regulations such as the water rule to spur increased energy development...more

Former UN Climate Chief: Only Three Years Left To Save The Planet

The United Nation’s former global warming czar has published a paper claiming humanity only has three years left to avert dangerous global warming and meet the goals of the Paris climate accord. To do that, Christiana Figueres says governments and businesses need to pony up $1.3 trillion a year by 2020 earmarked for “climate action” to decarbonize the global economy. That’s on top of boosting green energy and phasing out fossil fuels, mostly coal. “[S]hould emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain level, the temperature goals set in Paris become almost unattainable,” Figueres, the former head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, wrote in an article published in Nature. “The UN Sustainable Development Goals that were agreed in 2015 would also be at grave risk.”...more

Violations prompt 8 arrests, numerous citations at Rainbow Family Gathering in eastern Oregon

This year's Rainbow Family Gathering hasn't officially started, but already law enforcement is cracking down on the event, which the U.S. Forest Service characterized on Tuesday as "unauthorized" and "unsanctioned." In their daily update on the festival, the Forest Service reported that more than 2,600 people already had converged on the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon. As many as 20,000 campers are expected for the July 1-7 event. So far, 8 arrests have been made, and 192 warning notices and 47 violation notices have been given out. In anticipation of more citations and arrests, federal prosecutors and judges are setting up a temporary court near the gathering site, which is happening in the Flagtail Meadow about 20 miles northwest of Seneca. The remote court will be able to handle everything from parking violations to drug offenses to minor assaults that arise at the festival. It's not clear how the federal prosecutors will handle marijuana use at the event. Recreational marijuana is legal in Oregon but remains an illegal drug under federal law, and the national forest is federal land. The gathering is organized by The Rainbow Family of Living Light, and according to the Forest Service, participants began arriving two weeks ago. More attendees are expected in the coming days, with crowds reaching a peak on July Fourth...more

State and local politicians blame the spread of the Brian Head fire on environmentalists

Tracie Sullivan

State and local politicians are blaming the Brian Head fire in part on environmentalists who, they said, are responsible for the quick-growing fire that in just a week has destroyed nearly 50,000 acres of forest and several structures. “When we turned the Forest Service over to the bird and bunny lovers and the tree-huggers and the rock-lickers, we turn our history over,” Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, said during a news conference Monday in Brian Head. “And the fire is going to do more damage because we’re going to lose our watersheds. We’re going to lose our soils. We’re going to lose our wildlife. We’re going to lose our scenery – the very things you people (environmentalists) wanted to protect. It’s just plain stupidity.” The Utah representative pointed fingers at “The Friends of the Dixie National Forest,” for stopping the logging in 1993 via a lawsuit in U.S. District Court and in turn, Noel said, allowed the beetles to overtake the forest. “The Friends of the Dixie National Forest,” was an environmental group that stated its goal was to protect the natural and scenic values of the forest. However, many locals now blame the organization for the fire. “Where are the Friends of Dixie now?” Noel asked. “Where’s the Grand Canyon Trust? Where’s the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance? They’re not here when this disaster happens.” Echoing Noel’s sentiments, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said he agreed that the inability to manage the forests has “led to more destruction.” The cost of the Brian Head fire is quickly approaching $10 million but could rise as high as $20 million, possibly making it the most expensive fire in the state, Cox said. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are sharing the costs since some of the fire is not only on state and local lands but also federal lands. However, Cox admitted that price tag does not include future costs that may result from the fire’s aftermath. “Then there’s the costs that come after that (the fire),” Cox said. “The erosion that happens, the landslides that happen. The roads … So yes, yes, it’s absolutely correct that we’ve mismanaged our forest and it’s leading to more of these catastrophic fires.”...more

Excessive Litigation Diverts Interior from Core Mission, Congressional Mandates

Washington, D.C. Today, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing examining how excessive litigation is draining taxpayer resources and preventing the Department of the Interior (DOI) from fulfilling its core statutory functions and responsibilities.

“Special interests repeatedly exploit our legal system to further their own agendas and sidestep the legislative and regulatory processes,” Vice Chairman Mike Johnson (R-LA) said.
Mark Barron, an attorney focused on natural resources litigation and environmental law, testified to the frequency with which special interest groups abuse both administrative and legal appeal processes to prevent DOI from fulfilling those requirements.  

“These lawsuits divert already limited resources away from the core functions of the agency, [but] they also have significant implications for energy producers and the communities in which the producers operate,” Barron stated. “Oil and gas producers are unable to rely on statutorily prescribed timelines when planning projects and committing investment capital. Projects instead are held in limbo for indeterminate amounts of time until BLM can commit the necessary personnel and resources required to perform essential functions.”

The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) is a decades-old law designed to allow individuals with limited resources to sue the government on a level playing field. However, in practice, EAJA has been consistently exploited by national special interest groups to delay and encumber all types of government actions and reap taxpayer-financed attorney fees, regardless of the outcome.

“EAJA is a taxpayer funded meal ticket for environmental groups to collect attorney’s fees at enhanced rates,” Executive Director of the Western Resources Legal Center Caroline Lobdell claimed. [It] is an incentive to sue the Department of Interior and other agencies and is a funding source for expansion of the staff and offices of groups that want to halt environmentally and economically beneficial natural resource projects.”

“Originally intended to ease the burden on individuals and small businesses that contest government actions, activist groups now leverage [litigation] as a weapon to paralyze agency actions, finance endless lawsuits, and drain taxpayer dollars away from important programs,” Rep Johnson added.

Many of the groups taking advantage of EAJA already boast multi-million dollar budgets and use their activism to raise even more money at taxpayers’ expense.

“[T]hey offer a fundraising request every time that there is a lawsuit filed,” Barron said. It has been prevalent in the media that [these groups] intend to challenge every approval, every permit processing, every implementation of environmental policy under the new administration.”

“If one lawsuit does not succeed, there’s another outfit right around the corner to bring a similar one,” Lobdell added.

Click here to view full witness testimony.


Figure-8 Roping is unique to San Benito County

Leslie David

 Rodeo aficionados love the Figure-8 because it's challenging and authentic

A fantastic event at the Saddle Horse Show and Rodeo that is truly “San Benito” is Figure-8 roping, which is a method for roping cattle originally used by the early California vaquero. The cowboy can rope the animal and give it medicine or treat an ailment out in an open pasture. This tricky move catches the steer over the head and crosses in front of its chest (making the figure eight shape) and then goes around its two front hooves. This catch will slow the steer up and bring it under enough control to treat with medicine.  “It is still used at brandings today,” said Mike O’Connell, who was a scribe for the San Benito Horse Show and Rodeo eliminations. The Figure-8 is a source of pride for local cowboys and it authentically is still done out in the field...more

Women of the West – Timmy Lyn DeLong

Interview and photograph by JENNIFER DENISON

 In Northern Nevada, the name DeLong is well-established in ranching and horse roping circles—even for a cowgirl.

A FIFTH-GENERATION northern Nevadan of ranching and Basque heritage, Timmy Lyn DeLong lives and works on her family’s cow-calf operation in Imlay, where they raise Charolais-cross cows and DeBrukyer Charolais bulls. She not only is involved in the day-to-day operations, but also manages the records and finances. She has been on the winning team-branding team at the prestigious Elko County Fair 10 times, and she and her younger sister, Rita, are the only women to have won the Jordan Valley Big Loop.
ALL OF MY dad’s siblings still ranch. There are nine of us in my generation, and most of us still ranch.
THE ONLY TIME I left Nevada was for five years to attend the University of Montana in Missoula. The only reason I went there was because I could college rodeo as a walk-on.
I WILL DO about everything on the ranch except climb to the top of the windmill.
WE KEEP OUR cattle outside in the winter and summer them by the Humbolt River. We have to feed hay maybe once every five years if we get a lot of snow. We have a lot of cheat-grass in the high desert. I don’t care what anyone else says, where there’s good cheat-grass, there’s fat cattle. We run eight to 10 windmills with a submergible pump in the bottom of each. All we do in the winter is pump water, while in other areas of Nevada all the ranchers do is feed cattle.
WHEN MY SISTER and I won the Jordan Valley Big Loop [in 2004], she had just graduated from the University of Nevada’s law school on Friday, and we won the Big Loop on Sunday. It was a crazy few days. I hauled the horse trailer from Nevada to Jordan Valley, Oregon, on Thursday, so we’d have a place to stay. Then I flew to Las Vegas to watch her graduate. She, her husband and I arrived back in Jordan Valley at 2 a.m. on Saturday. Dad showed up Sunday morning with the horses. She’s an amazing header. She won on a borrowed horse, with her husband’s rope.

What is the future of the Texas cowboy?

It’s spring roundup time here on Texas’s Spade ranch, when calves are branded and castrated and given their shots. In a time of big ranch conglomerates using drones and helicopters to move herds from above, the Spade cowboys pride themselves on being an old breed. They still gather their cattle by horseback, and they rope and drag their calves with tight, practiced loops. Their branding irons are still heated over a mesquite fire dug out of the red sand. And when it comes to their horses, each man can ride like a bandit.But the past year had been particularly harsh. In March, wildfires spread by heavy winds ravaged over a million acres across five states. Here in the Texas panhandle, it wiped out ranches and farms and overtook four people, along with thousands of cattle...But on this first night of the roundup, as the sun sank low over the Canadian river breaks, the cowboys discussed a more pressing topic as they finished their chuck wagon supper. “I tell you, it’s hard finding a good hand these days,” said Josh Ownbey, as he tucked into peach cobbler scooped from a Dutch oven. Everyone agreed, especially here in Texas.The oil and gas boom had lured away many a skilled cowboy and sent him threading drill pipe or pushing buttons on a frac truck. The money was fast and furious for small-town boys and vanished on Super Duty pickups, Easley trailers and diamond engagement rings. Many sold off their horse tack, convinced they’d never punch calves again. Out of the eight cowhands assembled near the chuckwagon fire, only four have the pleasure of doing it full time. The Spade operate six divisions across the state, totaling nearly 300,000 acres, and the men live and work on its biggest ranch near Colorado City. The rest had found other jobs close to the trade and took day work to keep their skills sharp.

The person who’d hired them for the annual “spring works” is an old archetype, a cowboy they all admired. Jason Pelham is 6ft, 200lbs, and wears a standard bushy mustache. As foreman of the Panhandle Spade, his job is to oversee 22,000 acres of mostly rough terrain and care for the 600 cows who call it home. At 52 years old, Pelham had been cowboying for most of his adult life. He’s divorced with three grown daughters and lives alone in a small cabin on the ranch, removed from civilization by 30 miles of bone white caliche road. His only companions most days are his horses and a tank full of live rattlesnakes that live on his porch, which he catches along the roads and pastures to show visitors from the city. Come winter, when temperatures plunge below zero, he shelters calves in his living room under a framed portrait of John Wayne clutching his pistols. As a cowboy, Pelham is widely known around these parts. Last February, he and his trusty roan Ninety (named for the brand along his hindquarters) had astonished the neighbors by chasing down and roping one of the wild Barbary sheep that live along the steep canyon walls – an accomplishment akin to lassoing a hummingbird. Pelham had taken video on his phone as proof.

Park Service plans to open up area beneath the Lincoln Memorial

Plans are in the works to open up to visitors the cathedral-like space two stories beneath the Lincoln Memorial. The National Park Service is launching environmental studies and looking at design plans to expand what visitors see at one of the nation’s most beloved memorials. The space beneath the Lincoln Memorial has been closed to most visitors since the early 1990s. The Park Service is considering four different plans that would allow dramatic views of the memorial’s undercroft — the large concrete foundation space beneath the statue chamber. The most robust of the proposed plans calls for an expanded underground viewing area featuring a glass wall that exposes the undercroft. Work could include expanding doorways, adding an elevator, adding new restrooms and relocating and expanding the gift shop from the chamber to the new viewing level. An $18.5 million donation from philanthropist David Rubinstein will be a major resource for rehabilitating the memorial, according to the Park Service...more

Dona Ana County Commission supports keeping OMDP intact

Diana Alba Soular 

As President Donald Trump's administration is carrying out a review of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and other monuments across the country, Doña Ana County commissioners reiterated support for the public lands designation Tuesday. After five hours of debate, the County Commission, in a 4-1 vote, passed a measure expressing continued support for the three-year-old monument and opposing any reductions in its size. County Commissioner Ben Rawson was the dissenting vote. The measure and a second monument-related item drew roughly 300 people, one of the largest crowds at a County Commission meeting in the past decade. County Commissioner Billy Garrett proposed the measure that passed. "To me, it's a clear statement of support for where we are with the monument," he said after the meeting. "It's been designated by a president. The way forward is through the management plan. We really don't want to go backward." Most of Tuesday's attendees were supporters, for wide-ranging reasons, of the national monument and backed Garrett's resolution. A contingent of opponents to Garrett's resolution mostly expressed support for a second monument-related item proposed by Rawson. Representatives from U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both D-N.M., stated support for Garrett's proposal. A representative for U.S.Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., reiterated support for a much-smaller national monument that would cover the Organ Mountains only, not four other mountain ranges now included in the boundaries. Tuesday, the second monument-related item, proposed by Rawson, sought for the Interior Department to also review private lands that are surrounded by monument territory for possible effects to them. That measure died for lack of a second to Rawson's motion. Several ranchers, including 39-year-old Wes Eaton, who have grazing allotments on public lands in the monument and own private acreage, addressed county commissioners. Eaton said he has a parcel of private land that's enveloped by national monument land in the south county. The heart of his concern is that the national monument — though it does allow for existing rights-of-way — doesn't allow for new ones. So, if he wanted to extend electrical utilities to his private parcel from the nearest El Paso Electric Co. line, he wouldn't be able to get the right-of-way approved. "We don't have any way to get utilities to it anymore," he said. Eaton said he's not opposed to a national monument, but prefers that it cover the Organ Mountains only. And he backs the federal review of the monument "to look at it from a different set of eyes."...more

NM ranchers seek to shrink new monument

Desert ranchers in New Mexico are hoping the new GOP administration in Washington will dramatically shrink a recently designated national monument in the south of the state where outlaw Billy the Kid and Apache leader Geronimo once sought refuge. The review is rekindling a fierce debate about oversight of lands marked by ancient petroglyphs and towering mountain spires. President Barack Obama designated the monument in 2014, emphasizing the need to preserve the area’s unique past, and ensure opportunities for outdoor recreation and hunting. Cattle-grazing has continued undiminished within the monument boundaries, but many ranchers fear that gradual limitations might eventually drive them out, said Tom Mobley, who operates a ranch with about 150 cattle under a federal grazing permit within the monument. A leading voice in a coalition that resisted the monument designation, Mobley believes Obama failed to comply with the federal Antiquities Act by focusing on an overarching area rather than specific objects of historical and scientific interest. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce has called the monument on the outskirts of Las Cruces just one example of federal interference with a struggling rural economy. While mulling a possible run for governor in 2018, Pearce has jumped back into a yearslong effort to limit any new wilderness or monument designation at the jagged Organ Mountains and nearby lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. “The local population said protect, but also don’t overreach,” said Pearce, the lone Republican lawmaker among New Mexico’s five-member delegation to Washington. “The economy in our rural western states is just choked down by the federal government.” Pearce last week urged Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to reduce the outline of the monument from 775 square miles to about 95 square miles and hopes to accompany Zinke on a promised visit to New Mexico in coming weeks...more

FBI agent indicted for alleged false statements in LaVoy Finicum shooting - video

An FBI agent has been indicted on federal accusations that he lied about firing at Robert "LaVoy" Finicum last year as police arrested the leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation. The agent will face allegations of making a false statement with intent to obstruct justice, according to sources familiar with the case. The indictment stems from a more than year-long investigation by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Justice. The agent will be identified when he's summoned to appear in U.S. District Court in Portland at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Investigators said a member of the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team fired at Finicum as his 2015 Dodge pickup truck crashed into a snow bank at a roadblock on U.S. 395. Finicum had just sped away from a surprise traffic stop on the rural highway as the occupation leaders traveled off the refuge to a community meeting Jan. 26, 2016. The agent's bullets didn't hit Finicum, 54, an Arizona rancher who was the spokesman for the armed takeover of the federal sanctuary near Burns in Harney County. Moments later, state police troopers shot Finicum three times after he emerged from his white truck and reached for his inner jacket pocket, where police said he had a loaded 9mm handgun. One bullet pierced his heart, an autopsy found...more

Here is the slo-mo video of the shot

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1876

Craving some flatpickin', so here's my favorite flatpicker, Doc Watson with his son Merle on Black Mountain Rag. The tune is on their 1972 Guitar album.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Upper Missouri Breaks will keep its national monument status, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says

Cutting off public campaigns by proponents and opponents, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Tuesday he plans to recommend the Upper Missouri Breaks retain its status as a national monument, effectively taking it off the list of monuments nationwide that could lose their status. “My likely recommendation will be to leave the Missouri Breaks as is,'' Zinke said. "I think it’s settled to a degree that I would rather not open up a wound that has been healed.'' Zinke made his remarks at a press conference following his appearance at the Western Governors’ Association meeting. The announcement shocked people on both sides of the issue. Nicolle Fugere, owner of Missouri River Outfitters in Fort Benton, was featured in one of four billboards erected in Flathead County, by a group called Hold Our Ground, which opposes the review. "I honestly did not think it would go in this direction, so it was a bit of a shock," she said. A recent Headwaters Economics report was cited by Hold Our Ground, which found that communities around the monument saw a "23 percent increase of real per capita income from 2001 to 2015." Chuck Denowh, who represents the United Property Owners of Montana in the Legislature, said the monument has had a "terrible impact" on the area's economy, not a benefit. "Especially for those many Montanans with property inside those boundaries," Denowh said. "That's 81,000 acres of private land." Denowh called Zinke's announcement "deeply disappointing," but he and Fugere aren't completely sure that the review has been dropped given Zinke's phrasing in the announcement that he would "likely" recommend leaving the monument as it is now..more

Zinke calls for fewer barriers to development on public land

Removing bureaucratic obstacles to development on federal land can create jobs and offer hope to nearby communities, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Tuesday in hinting at long-term changes in store for federal agencies, including the Interior Department. Promising reorganization “on a scale of 100 years” but without offering specifics, Zinke said the Interior Department and other land management agencies need to better cooperate. Right now, agencies that evaluate the same project often end up providing conflicting opinions, he said at the Western Governors’ Association annual meeting in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana. “Jobs matter. There’s a social cost of not having jobs. And we love environmental regulations fair and equitable, but it takes wealth to make sure that we can maintain those regulations and improve,” Zinke said. The Interior Department has begun reviewing its practice of requiring developers to offset the harm of their projects by paying for conservation elsewhere, he said. “Some people would call it extortion. I call it un-American,” Zinke said of that policy. ..more 

One hopes this will also bring a halt to BLM''s occasional practice of requiring ranchers to share water or grant easements across their property as a condition of receiving a permit to graze. You won't find a better example of extortion than that. Not only should it be stopped, it should be expunged from any existing permits.  

Trump administration to propose repealing rule giving EPA broad authority over water pollution

President Trump’s administration will revoke a rule that gives the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority over regulating the pollution of wetlands and tributaries that run into the nation’s largest rivers, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Tuesday. Testifying before Congress, Pruitt — who earlier said he would recuse himself from working on active litigation related to the rule — said that the agency would “provide clarity” by “withdrawing” the rule and reverting standards to those adopted in 2008. Pruitt, as Oklahoma attorney general, had sued EPA over the regulation, saying it “usurps” state authority, “unlawfully broadens” the definition of waters of the United States and imposes “numerous and costly obligations” on landowners. A withdrawal was expected, based on the executive order Trump signed in February targeting the rule. But this is the first clear signal of how the EPA will act on the president’s order...more

Supreme Court Limits Rights Of Property Owners

 Kevin Daley

The Supreme Court constrained the rights of property owners Friday, establishing a test that favors government officials in assessing the loss of property value caused by government regulations. Writing for a 5-3 court, Justice Anthony Kennedy explained that state and local officials can combine separate parcels of land in assessing whether local government has effectively seized private property through regulation, requiring compensation. Kennedy’s opinion was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a fiery dissent, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The case concerned a Wisconsin family called the Murrs, who argued that the government has unconstitutionally taken their land by refusing to allow them to sell it. “This is an unfortunate decision for the Murrs, and all property owners,” said John Groen, general counsel and vice president of the Pacific Legal Foundation, a public interest group that represented the family. “We are disappointed that the Court did not recognize the fundamental unfairness to the Murrs of having their separate properties combined, simply to avoid the protection of the takings clause.” The Murr family owns two pieces of property on the St. Croix River in Wisconsin. They attempted to sell one of their waterfront lots (called “Lot E”) to finance improvements to a cabin they own on the second plot (called “Lot F”). The value of Lot E had been assessed at $400,000. Environmental officials blocked the sale for violating conservation rules. A county board further declared that state law required the two lots be merged into a single piece of property that could not be broken up and sold in smaller parcels. In effect, the Murr family argues, the government-mandated merger of their properties stripped them of nearly half a million dollars, as they are now unable sell Lot E. They claim that this constitutes a violation of the Constitution’s takings clause, which prohibits the government from seizing private property for public use without “just compensation.”...more

Three artists will portray national monument in their own way

...When she does, Southworth will present this little piece of internal irony to the external world as the monument’s inaugural artist-in-residence employs her artistic eye and steady hand to tell the story of what it’s like to look into, and out of, monument lands. The retired Southern Oregon University botanist and Ashland resident is in the midst of a two-week stint. She’s the first of three artists selected this summer to interpret the monument’s raw essence in their own media. In July, Mabrie Ormes of Ashland plans to create a series of paintings for what she sees along the Grizzly Peak Trail, which is part of the monument’s January expansion to 113,013 acres within a 137,500-acre footprint. In August, photographer Matt Witt of Talent plans to capture images of the wild lands and biodiversity in the monument created in 2000 by President Bill Clinton to protect its “spectacular biological diversity.” They were chosen among applicants from as far away as the United Kingdom to turn creative eyes toward the monument during a summer in which it faces Trump Administration review and two federal lawsuits looking at whether the expansion by President Barrack Obama under the federal Antiquities Act was valid. Artists stay at a trailer parked at the Bureau of Land Management’s Hyatt Lake Recreation Area campground for easy access to the monument. When completed, they each will hold at least one public exhibit of the art they produced during their unpaid term...more

Aw, look at the pretty lady, sitting among the wildflowers, and painting a scene for the BLM.

Not familiar with the BLM's artist-in-residence program? I've previously written about it here and here and their website is here.

I do believe, though, this is the first one I've seen where the artists are being brought in to lobby against the President and the Secretary. True, this program was started in March, while the President's EO on monument review wasn't signed until April. But they must have known something was up, and besides, the lawsuit challenging the expansion of the monument was filed in February.

A judge has put the lawsuit on hold, pending the outcome of the monument review.  Seems to me BLM should put this program on hold...permanently. Okay, at least until the monument review is completed.

Some welcome review of the Cascade-Siskiyou expansion

By Blair Moody

Many of us in Southern Oregon welcome the Interior Department's review of selected national monuments established under the Antiquities Act. The review includes the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and its expansion under President Obama. For those of us who were shut out of the process, including our own locally elected officials, the review gives our leaders and citizens an opportunity to voice concerns that were previously ignored. The Antiquities Act gives any president the ability to make major federal land use decisions with the stroke of a pen. It does not require public participation. A national monument is often established without analyzing how it would impact local economies, nor does it consider how access and use of public lands will be affected in the future. Such is the case of the Cascade-Siskiyou expansion. It's a political product, put together by special interest groups and Washington D.C. insiders, and driven by our U.S. Senators who are supposed to represent all Oregonians. There continues to be legitimate concerns about how the expansion might affect access and private property rights inside, and adjacent to, the monument. It's unclear how the larger monument affects our ranchers. It's also unclear what the expansion means for future management of Southern Oregon's dry, fire-prone forests that are administered by the Bureau of Land Management...more

Oregon ranch claims grazing prohibition encourages juniper, wildfire

Mateusz Perkowski

An Oregon ranch is challenging the federal government’s decision to eliminate grazing on more than 8,000 acres of public land to study vegetation. Cahill Ranches of Adel, Ore., has filed a complaint alleging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s decision will encourage juniper encroachment and wildfires while harming sage grouse populations. “Eliminating grazing is not necessary to prevent irreparable damage to sage grouse or sage grouse habitat and the best available science shows that eliminating management will increase the risk of loss of habitat from rapidly spreading and intense wildfire and juniper expansion,” the lawsuit said. A representative of BLM said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Rangeland conditions within the 8,282-acre Sucker Creek pasture have been determined to be in good health by the BLM, whose decision to re-authorize grazing in the area for 10 years drew no objections from environmental groups, the complaint said. The agency has also already conducted a juniper research project in the area, the complaint said. Cahill Ranches postponed juniper removal on its property between 2007 and 2014, providing the BLM with a “control area” for comparison with areas where the invasive trees were removed. After the conclusion of the study, which determined sage grouse reproduction and survival improved in areas treated for juniper, Cahill Ranches resumed removing the trees from its property. The BLM’s decision to halt grazing in the pasture to study the natural development of vegetation is thus unnecessary, particularly since it is near two federal refuges where grazing is already prohibited, according to the plaintiffs...more

Ranchers Pay Price for JBS Graft as Giant Buying Less

On the flat green pastures of Brazil’s Mato Grosso state, ranchers are witnessing firsthand what happens when the biggest cattle buyer stumbles. JBS SA, the nation’s meat-producing powerhouse, used to buy almost half of the Mato Grosso cattle headed for slaughterhouses. But since the company’s owners admitted taking part in a sweeping corruption scheme, its finances have been squeezed and purchases have plunged. Even worse, JBS no longer offers cash upon delivery of animals and instead asks to pay ranchers as much as 30 days later. Producers say they fear not getting paid for the cattle delivered to JBS, especially with banks asking ranchers for additional guarantees on loans made against expected sales to the company. Still, no payment delays by JBS have been reported so far, ranchers say. JBS also is seeking to refinance part of its debt with lenders in Brazil amid tighter credit conditions. “If the banks aren’t providing credit to JBS, why should we?” said Alexandre Caiado, 30, a second-generation rancher in Juina, Mato Grosso. “A lot of producers are only making punctual sales, just enough to pay the bills.”...more

Police Stop Self Driving Amish Buggy

Apple Creek, Ohio – Officers with the Apple Creek Police Department and Wooster Ohio State Patrol had to make a very unusual traffic stop when they noticed a runaway horse and buggy with no person inside. The horse and buggy were headed down State Route 250. Knowing that the runaway buggy posed an immediate threat to both human and property, Sgt Smith leaped onto the buggy and managed to pull the horse to a stop. His act of bravery is exceptional for, as one local worded it, “a city boy.” Once stopped, the horse collapsed from exhaustion and laid on the ground while officers searched for its owner. Once the owner was located, he took control of his horse and drove the buggy away. No information is available on the condition of the horse. LINK

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Here's Merle Travis with his November 25, 1947 recording of Get Along Blues.