Friday, June 23, 2017

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1874

TGIFF! Its Fiddle Friday and time for Spider Bit The Baby by Kenny Baker. The tune is on his 1972 album Kenny Baker Country,

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Washington Notebook: Pearce asks Zinke to reduce monument by 88%

By Michael Coleman / Journal Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON – A day after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he might not alter the size of two of New Mexico’s newest monuments, Rep. Steve Pearce implored him to dramatically shrink the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in his southern district. At a Senate hearing Wednesday, Zinke, who is reviewing more than two dozen national monuments for possible reductions in size, said he was open to keeping New Mexico’s newest monuments unchanged. “If it’s settled and people are happy with it, I find no reason to recommend any changes,” Zinke said. But at a House hearing to consider the Interior Department’s budget Thursday, Pearce said that’s not the case. He lifted up a stack of papers that he said contained the signatures of “800 businesses and individuals” who want to reduce the nearly 500,000-acre federally protected area by 88 percent, to 60,000 acres. “The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is a very highly volatile issue in the district,” Pearce told the interior secretary. “Even when the Democrats owned the House and had a filibuster-proof Senate and Mr. Obama was in the White House, they still could not get this passed through law because it was so contentious.”  Pearce said he and those who signed the petition he gave to Zinke would like to see the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument be “not revoked, but taken back down to the smallest footprint.” New Mexico’s Democratic representatives in Congress support the monuments in their current configurations. Zinke, who is planning to visit New Mexico in two weeks and will make his recommendations on the monuments in August, did not comment on Pearce’s remarks at the hearing...more

USDA Halts Beef Imports from Brazil

By Wyatt Bechtel

Imports of fresh beef from Brazil are being halted into the U.S. The announcement was made by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue after inspections by USDA-Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) revealed concerns over safety issues. "Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is one of our critical missions, and it’s one we undertake with great seriousness," Perdue says. Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture self-suspended the shipment of beef from five packing plants after U.S. officials found "irregularities" in the processed carcasses this past week. However, the move by Perdue and USDA will supersede the self-suspension. A statement from the Brazilian Association of Beef Industry Exports says the self-suspension happened "after the detection of [bovine] reactions to the vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease, that in some cases can provoke internal, and not externally visible abscesses." The voluntary halt by Brazil appeared to be temporary while the vaccine manufacture attempted to find a solution for the abscesses. Now it could be much longer before fresh Brazilian beef enters the U.S.

New Mexico Water Official Moves to Clarify Ranchers' Rights

New Mexico's top water manager has fired the latest salvo in a battle with the federal government over the protection of an endangered mouse and the barring of livestock from certain streams and watering holes on national forest land. State Engineer Tom Blaine is offering licenses to ranchers that clarify their water rights and allow them to use all sources of surface water on their grazing allotments. Access to watering holes on the Lincoln National Forest has been an issue since federal managers began ordering closures and installing fences in the Lincoln and Santa Fe forests in 2014 after the mouse was listed as endangered. That spurred criticism that the federal government was trampling on property and water rights in New Mexico as it had in other Western states. Forest officials have maintained that they have a responsibility under the federal Endangered Species Act to protect the jumping mouse, which is found in New Mexico, Arizona and a small portion of Colorado. In an order issued earlier this month, Blaine recognizes livestock watering rights that are more than a century old but were not considered when the stream systems on the Lincoln National Forest were adjudicated decades ago. The state engineer's office has granted only one license so far, but New Mexico ranchers say they're encouraged. Regional forest officials say they have been reviewing Blaine's order but they have not commented on how the state's move might affect the closures on the Lincoln forest. According to the order, ranchers who want a license must own what are called stockwatering water rights that were established before 1907, when New Mexico's comprehensive water code was adopted. They also must prove beneficial use through documentation of their historical ranching practices...more

The order is embedded below:

Pearce raises NM issues during Zinke hearing

Washington, DC (June 22, 2017) Congressman Steve Pearce today voiced New Mexico land and resource priorities at the House Committee on Natural Resources hearing with Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

“New Mexico is rich with natural wonders and abundant resources. From natural resource production, to the management and maintenance of federal lands, New Mexican’s are greatly affected by decisions that come out of the Department of the Interior. Today, I was able to highlight a number of issues that affect New Mexico jobs, our economy, and the overall well-being of folks in rural communities with Secretary Zinke. I look forward to continuing my work in Congress and with the Department of the Interior to create more opportunities for success in New Mexico.” 

Watch Rep. Pearce at today’s House Committee on Natural Resources Hearing here.


It's nice to see Pearce back on the Resources Committee.

Trump administration removes protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears

The Trump administration is removing Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears, after they spent more than four decades on the threatened list. The Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service announced the delisting decision Thursday, which immediately drew rebukes from conservationists and Democrats. Officials said that conservation efforts for the bear, a more than fourfold increase in its population and state policies designed to protect the bears show that the delisting is warranted. The Yellowstone grizzly bear lives in and around Yellowstone National Park in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Other segments of the grizzly bear population are not affected by Thursday’s regulation and will continue to be protected as before. The bear’s population is now around 700, compared with 150 when it was first listed. Its range is 22,500 square miles, more than double the range of the mid-1970s...more

Violence in Mexico Hits 20-Year High

Mexico witnessed a record-breaking number of homicides and murder investigations in May, according to government data published Wednesday. Last month, 2,186 murders were committed surpassing 2011’s record, statistics that go back two decades show. The number of murder investigations also peaked in May dating back to 1997. Several probes likely include multiple homicides. “Pretty grim. Not shocking, because we’ve seen this for months,” Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said. Mexico recorded 9,916 murders since the beginning of 2017, roughly a 30% increase over the same period last year, underscoring the country’s struggle to deal with escalating organized crime groups. The deadliest state was Guerrero, in the south, a hotbed for Mexico's war on drugs where 216 people were killed. In the western state of Sinaloa 154 people were killed - the highest number in six years -due to violence driven by rival groups vying to fill the void left by the arrest and extradition of drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Mexico launched a militarized offensive to fight drug trafficking in 2006. Since then, over 200,000 people have been presumed dead or missing as rival cartels wage war on each other and the army. The country’s escalating violence has hit journalists especially hard claiming most recently the life of well-respected drug trafficking reporter, Javier Valdez Cardenas...more

Extreme heat making wildfire battle tougher in Southwest US

An extreme heat wave in the Southwest U.S. made the fight against a series of wildfires more difficult Wednesday, including one that has destroyed at least four homes in an Arizona town known for its wineries, authorities said. Temperatures in parts of Arizona, California and Nevada soared to nearly 120 degrees (48.9 Celsius) this week, creating problems for firefighters. In California, two firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries as they battled a blaze in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles. In New Mexico, authorities say a brush fire destroyed sheds and vehicles on private property and sent two residents and a firefighter to the hospital for smoke inhalation and other minor injuries. In Arizona, about 100 firefighters battled a 2-square-mile (5-sq. kilometer) blaze believed to have been ignited by lightning Tuesday in triple-digit temperatures in Sonoita, 45 miles southeast of Tucson. None of the wineries dotting the area was threatened. “The heat is a major factor not only for us getting overheated but heat will rise up our embers, which will cause more fires to pick up,” said Joseph De Wolf, chief of the Sonoita-Elgin Fire District...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1873

Jerry Jeff Walker is gonna tell us all about Charlie Dunn. The tune is from his 1972 self-titled album.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Udall Demands Answers from Zinke On Interior Dept. Reorganization Plans and National Monuments

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding for the Department of the Interior, demanded answers from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about his plans to make sweeping personnel changes at his agency, including suddenly reorganizing senior career officials and taking the first steps toward drastically reducing the agency workforce as called for by the agency’s budget request. Udall blasted Zinke's move to make such large-scale and ill-advised staffing changes without informing Congress and even before Congress has acted on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. It has been reported by The Washington Post and other media outlets that among the dozens of the department’s Senior Executive Service staff being moved to new assignments in other bureaus or regions of the country are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) State Director for New Mexico Amy Lueders, Southwest Regional Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service Benjamin Tuggle, and newly installed Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Bruce Loudermik. Udall also expressed deep concern that — in response to his questions — Zinke declined to say if he would maintain protections for New Mexico's two new national monuments, Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. The two are among the slate of national monuments designated by presidents in both parties since 1996 that are now under review by the Interior Department. Udall asked Zinke, "Will you commit to me today that you will respect the wishes of the vast majority of New Mexicans and maintain the existing boundaries of these two monuments?"...more

California Commission Halts Hunting of Imperiled Sage Grouse

The California Fish and Game Commission today voted to prohibit sage grouse hunting during the 2017–2018 season, citing spring surveys that revealed alarming and continuing declines in all sage grouse populations in the state. The Center for Biological Diversity has for years urged the commission to end sage grouse hunting due to declining populations. “The commission did the right thing by prohibiting sage grouse hunting in California this season,” said Lisa Belenky, a senior attorney at the Center. “This is one small step in the right direction. But to truly save this iconic Western bird from extinction, we’ve got to protect its rapidly disappearing habitat.” The California Department of Fish and Game initially proposed allowing a range of hunting limits for each of four hunting zones in 2017. In June the department reversed its recommendation based a spring survey that showed alarming declines in male birds on their “leks,” or mating grounds, where they conduct their spectacular mating-dance rituals...more

Probation sentence expected for Oregon refuge occupier Geoffrey Stanek

Geoffrey Stanek, who pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy last year in the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, should not face a sentence longer than the one-year probation given to three co-defendants who were allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, his lawyer argues. Stanek, 27, wasn't at the refuge takeover from the start and didn't stay until the end, like co-defendants Sean and Sandra Anderson who were among the last holdouts before their Feb. 11, 2016 surrender. The Anderson couple and co-defendant Dylan Anderson avoided a trial by pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge of trespass this winter and were sentenced to one year of probation. "Unlike Mr. Stanek, those three defendants were present from the beginning of the standoff, and were involved in the initial takeover,'' Stanek's lawyer Benjamin Andersen argues in a sentencing memo filed in court on Wednesday...more

EPA just gave notice to dozens of scientific advisory board members that their time is up

The Environmental Protection Agency has given notice to dozens of scientists that they will not be renewed in their roles in advising the agency, continuing a scientific shake-up that has already triggered resignations and charges from some researchers that the administration is politicizing the agency. Members of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) whose terms end in August will not see them renewed, according to an email sent to members and obtained by The Washington Post, though they can reapply for their posts. Moreover, five meetings of subcommittees of the board, planned for the late summer and the fall, will now be canceled because of lack of membership. They will be held once the board is reconstituted, according to EPA officials. “It effectively wipes out the BOSC and leaves it free for a complete reappointment,” said Deborah Swackhamer, the current chair of the board’s executive committee and an emeritus professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Minnesota. That executive committee has only five remaining members, after a number of members whose terms were up earlier this year were not renewed. The board also has five subcommittees, but according to an email from Swackhamer, “with the latest information from EPA, 38 of the 49 remaining subcommittee members will not be renewed at the end of August.” EPA officials said the fact that many advisers’ terms were ending provided an opportunity to reach out to a broad array of applicants and draw on their expertise...more

Cattlemen to urge Trump to reconsider monuments that impact grazing

Tim Hearden

A cattlemen’s group wants President Donald Trump’s administration to reconsider national monument designations in California that have greatly impacted grazing. The California Cattlemen’s Association is preparing remarks to submit during a public comment period, which runs through July 10, that will detail what it sees as negative impacts from the designations under the Antiquities Act.
The organization wants to hear from ranchers with allotments on the lands that have been affected.
“We’re actually going to be advocating for most of the monuments that were listed in the (Federal) Register to not necessarily be rescinded, but to be diminished in size to an appropriate level,” said Kirk Wilbur, the CCA’s director of government affairs...more

Cattle Fever Tick Draining Ranchers' Profits

Local ranchers said the cattle fever tick continues to drain their profits. Many said they’re having a tough time finding the resources to fight the pest as summer gets closer. CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke with Danny Davis, a cattle rancher in Cameron County. He said the costs of keeping cattle clean are forcing small ranchers to get out of business. "Everybody that's been around me, that's gotten the fever tick, they are out of business. They're completely out of business," he said. Davis said the biggest issue isn't just the tick. He said it's the costs to follow regulations when under quarantine. "I’ve spent about $20,000 to $30,000,” he said On top of treatment, Davis said he had to build new facilities, which can not only round up all of his cattle, but help administer the spray. But the costs don't end there. Davis said every time the cattle are sprayed for the tick, they are marked with yellow paint and it's the mark which makes it difficult to sell. "Of a high and a low at a sell yard, your cows are going to get the low end of the price," he said. Recently, Davis said he tried selling some of his cattle but was only getting offered half the price...more

Pearce introduces access to federal lands bill

Washington, DC (June 20, 2017) Congressman Steve Pearce today introduced a bill to increase access to public lands for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. The Make Public Lands Public Act will amend the Land and Water Conservation Fund to increase public access to federal lands by maintaining and restoring existing roads, trails, and rights of way.
“In New Mexico and across the west, private, state, and federal lands are intermingled, resulting in a checkerboard issue that diminishes access to public lands for hunting, fishing, and shooting sports,” stated Rep. Pearce. “These lands belong to the people, and we must ensure that sportsmen and women have the ability to participate in outdoor recreation as their parents and grandparents did before them. This bill will not only bring greater recreational enjoyment and economic growth to New Mexico, but will increase conservation efforts that are funded by these activities.”
Rep. Pearce’s bill is supported by the Boone and Crockett Club, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).
"The Boone and Crockett Club applauds Congressman Steve Pearce’s efforts to improve public access to more public lands for hunting, fishing, and shooting sports,” stated Club President Ben Hollingsworth. “Increasing access to our public lands for sportsmen and women will foster economic growth and increase jobs, while improving conservation through the fees paid by hunters and fishermen. This bill will ensure that outdoor enthusiasts will be able to enjoy public lands for generations to come.”
“The National Shooting Sports Foundation strongly supports Congressman Pearce’s legislation that would provide sportsmen and women, hunters and recreational shooters greater access to the lands they invest in to continue their traditions,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF’s senior vice president and general counsel.  “This legislation, along with the initiatives of Secretaries Ryan Zinke and Sonny Purdue, demonstrate the commitment Americans can expect from their government in supporting their outdoor and shooting sports heritage and preserving the ability to access public lands for future generations.  We look forward to this legislation moving forward and eventually becoming law.”
“Research tells us that a lack of access to public land is one of the primary barriers to participation in hunting. Federal lands that are technically ‘open’ but inaccessible to the public, often due to the fact that the Federal lands are ‘landlocked’ by private property, contribute to this problem. We applaud Congressman Pearce for his efforts to address this issue by securing public hunting, fishing and recreational shooting access for current and future generations, and thereby truly ‘Making Public Lands Public,’” stated Jeff Crane, CSF President.


The bill number is H.R. 2950 but the text is not available yet.

Zinke: Maine monument’s foes and fans will be ‘enthusiastic’ about recommendation

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke once again hinted Tuesday that he won’t advise President Donald Trump to get rid of Maine’s national monument. Speaking this time to U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Zinke predicted that both Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument’s supporters and its opponents will be “enthusiastic” about the recommendations he will make to President Trump on Aug. 24. “I am sure you are going to be enthusiastic about the recommendation as well as the governor,” Zinke said Tuesday. “I have talked to the governor, and I think we have a reasonable approach with the recommendation that all parties will be satisfied with.” King supports the monument, which was created last year by President Obama. Gov. Paul LePage is a vocal opponent...more

Interior Secretary Advocates For Cutting Up To 4,000 Jobs At Agency

Thousands of federal workers at the Interior Department could soon find themselves out of a job as the Trump administration looks to reorganize the agency and cut its funding by 12 percent. In written testimony submitted Tuesday to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke noted that President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget request would slash funding by $1.6 billion — to $11.7 billion — and support just shy of 60,000 full-time staff, a reduction of roughly 4,000. “To accomplish this, the Department will rely on a combination of attrition, reassignments, and separation incentives,” Zinke wrote. “Actual attrition rates and acceptance of separation incentives will determine the need for further action to reduce staffing.” Zinke, who’s tasked with managing some 500 million acres of federal land ― roughly one-fifth of the United States — told the Senate committee Tuesday he supports Trump’s proposal, which he said is “what a balanced budget looks like.” The Interior workforce, he said, is “too heavy in middle and upper management,” and his plan is to shift those assets out into the field, including America’s national parks...more 

That's only a 6 percent reduction in staff.

The Zinke testimony is embedded below:

EPA plans to buy out more than 1,200 employees this summer

The Environmental Protection Agency plans on shedding more than 1,200 employees by early September through buyouts and early retirements, as part of a broader push by the Trump administration to shrink a government entity the president once promised to eliminate “in almost every form.” The departures would amount to about 8 percent of the current 15,000-person workforce of the EPA, where a hiring freeze also remains in effect. The Trump administration has proposed a 31 percent cut to its budget, the largest percentage reduction of any agency and one that could mean several thousand job losses. In an email to EPA union leaders this week, an agency attorney said the EPA plans to make buyout offers to as many as 1,228 employees. “As of now,” the message read, “the last effective date for employee separations is September 2, 2017, so any applications would have to be in before that date.”...more

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1872

Here’s a great Cindy Walker tune done up just right by Leon Rausch – I’m A Music Man.  The tune is on his 1999 tribute album to Walker titled Close To You.