Monday, September 24, 2018

Hope ranchers worry BLM resource plan at odds with ranching culture

Adrian Hedden

H.C. “Hotshot” Hendricks ranched in the Hope area for almost his entire life. He has about 3,500 acres where he raises 1,200 head of cattle. The land was in his family since the 1920s, six generations. But with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) revising its resource management plan (RMP), Hendricks worried he could lose his way of life. Much of his land could be subject to wilderness characterizations, which Hendricks worried could restrict his acreage from commercial uses such as farming or ranching. The BLM hosted a public meeting, Wednesday at the Village of Hope’s Community Center, to solicit feedback from the public on the RMP’s revision. The Hope community of about 100 residents posed concerns unique to the area due to its reliance on the ranching industry. While attendees at a similar meeting in Carlsbad flocked to booths pertaining to mineral extraction, Hope residents stuck to wilderness characterizations and the impact on grazelands. Jim Stovall, BLM Pecos District Manager, said it was important to hear a variety of responses, from the oilfields to the ranches. “This is part of the field office where we don’t have a lot of mineral activity,” he said. “But they’re a good community. It’s important for us to come out here and hear their concerns.” Stovall said the biggest issue on the minds of the people of Hope appeared to be the wilderness characterizations. Lewis Derrick, a former Eddy County commissioner who owns a small ranch of about 50 head near Hope, said it’s about more than preserving the business of ranching. For most of Hope, he said, it’s a way of life. “(Ranching) is the socioeconomic culture of this community,” Derrick said. “It’s been here for maybe 100 years. It’s a way of life, and a way to make a living. They don’t want it interrupted.” The ranching industry is already burdened by government regulations, a market constantly in flux and a region often suffering from drought, Derrick said. Anxiety is already high in the industry, and he said the RMP revision’s potential outcomes could be a problem for many local ranchers...MORE

In December of 2010, during the Obama administration, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar issued Secretarial Order 3310 which instructed BLM to inventory “lands with wilderness characteristics” on a regular and continuing basis, and further to protect these lands through land use planning. This created a huge controversy among stakeholders and members of congress. 

For instance, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) wrote to Salazar saying, “The policies set forth by Secretary Salazar will increase uncertainty for Utah businesses that involve federal lands, and also hinder energy production at a time when developing domestic energy sources is so critical,” and, “This order will result in lost jobs, investment and revenues at a time when we can least afford it." Idaho Governor Butch Otter testified, “I urge Congress to take back its authority and prevent further development and implementation of Secretary Salazar’s Order. This Order exempts stakeholders, threatens the spirit of collaboration and cooperation, weakens the process, discounts state sovereignty, and sends the message to the citizens of Idaho that the federal government will continue to treat the valuable and diverse open spaces of the West not as lands of many uses, but rather as lands of no use and no access for the people who live and work in Idaho and other western states.” 

As a result, Congress prohibited the use of federal money to carry out the order and in June of 2011 Salazar revoked Secretarial Order 3310. That, however, has not stopped the BLM from continuing to implement the policy. 

In August of 2012 the Congressional Western Caucus wrote to Secretary Salazar: 

Today, Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), joined 18 Caucus Members in sending a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressing opposition to the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) efforts to re-establish Wild Lands through new guidance manuals.
Caucus Members Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) discovered Bureau of Land Management guidance manuals that resurrect the controversial Wild Lands policy killed by Congress in April 2011.  The manuals include language directly lifted from Secretarial order 3310 and its supporting documents, known as the DOI’s Wild Lands memo, illustrating how BLM employees are to identify and manage lands with wilderness characteristics.
“The Department’s recent actions greatly undermine both your commitment to working with us, your duty to follow both the letter and spirit of the Congressional mandate to withhold funding for the Wildlands policy, and the Obama Administration’s commitment towards being the ‘most transparent’ in history.  We urge you to withdraw BLM Manuals 6310 and 6320 immediately, and create a public process for crafting these manuals that are so vital to the management of western public lands,” Caucus members wrote.

And that is where we are today. Those manuals still exist and are being implemented by BLM field staff.

These lands were originally inventoried under Section 603 of FLPMA and found to be unsuitable for wilderness. So how is the BLM getting around that? By lowering the standards. Lands with wilderness characteristics (LWC) do not have to have the mandatory wilderness characteristics, which means that more lands can be designated under this new criteria.

The article says the preferred alternative, which includes the LWCs, will allow things to continue as presently managed. Don't believe that for an instance. Let's say you have an LWC and one of it's wilderness characteristics is Solitude. Then a rancher wants to bring in a CAT to clean out a dirt water tank. Do you believe the BLM will allow a noisy, dust raising CAT into an area they are managing for Solitude? That's just one example, but their are many others where a standard ranching operation will be in conflict with the management restrictions placed on LWCs.

And let's not forget the long-term plan here. The enviros will first get these LWCs administratively designated, and then they will go to Congress and ask they be placed in the Wilderness Preservation System or in some other Congressionally designated restrictive area, such as a National Conservation Area. 

What you are seeing here is just step 1.

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Its Swingin' Monday and we have Oklahoma Twister by the Original Texas Playboys. THE WESTERNER Ranch Radio on Facebook

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Park Service rounds up and pens NM cattle

Just A Reminder...Frank
I was contacted by rancher Ivan Trujillo from Jemez Springs the Valles Caldera rounded up about 200 head of cattle belonging to various livestock owners that graze cattle on bordering allotments on the north and west sides of the VC. To my understanding they are penned up at the San Antonio Valle Pipe Corral.   I was told by Mr. Trujillo that the VC wanted the cattle trailered out and not herded out.  I find this to be an extreme inconvenience and expensive proposition for all the ranchers involved that must travel 120 plus miles each way from Canones, Coyote, Youngsville, Canjilon, and Medanales when the VC has failed to maintain the fences.  Parts of this fence burned down completely during the Las Conchas Wildfire and no attempt to date by the VC has been made to erect new fence where it burned totally to the ground, and fix where clusters of burned trees have fallen on the fence, or where the elk have damaged the fence.  The VC has taken no action to remedy this fence situation.  I raised this issue of fence maintenance at several meetings while the transfer from the Forest Service (FS) to the Park Service was transitioning.  I was told this would not be an issue!  I know several ranchers this year attempted numerous times to herd their cattle out but to no avail.  

Ms. Rachael Suazo of the FS,  Espanola and Coyote  Ranger Districts is well aware of the fence issue problems we are faced with.  We talked to her about it because it takes time to go from the north end and west side allotments into the VC to find and herd these cows out.  If the VC can hire folks to round up this cattle why didn't they do the same to get the fences fixed, and then advise the livestock owners to remove the cattle on their own terms.   I believe the VC has to be a good neighbor and let folks remove there cattle through trailering or herding.  I believe rounding up the cattle should have been the last resort.  I'm also asking they fix the fence immediately so our efforts of removing the cattle are not futile.  These cows will be in these allotment through the end of October 31.  

I suggest the NM Livestock Board (NMLB) intervene in this matter and mandate ranchers be afforded the opportunity or choice to trailer or herd their cattle out, especially since the fences are in such disarray.  I'm requesting this also from a safety issue because of the extreme steep hills that must be negotiated with trailering cattle out of the VC whether you go through Los Alamos or Jemez Springs.  Most ranchers in the bordering allotments can easily remove the cattle from the San Antonio Corral back into their respective allotments within 2-3 hours versus 3-5 days or more as only one trip per day can be made because of the distances.  Most folks trailers too are capable only of moving safely 10 head per load because of the dangerous road conditions.  I have copied other folks for assistance to get resolution to our concerns with how to remove the cattle and address the fence maintenance issues.

If anyone has questions please call me at home at 505-685-4541, or 505-927-9818.

Carlos Salazar

President-Northern NM Stockman's Association


This post has created quite a few shares and comments on Facebook, so perhaps I should clarify a few things.

First, the image of Heinrich and the Preserve were put there by me, not Carlos. It was just to remind everyone Senator Heinrich was responsible for having the Valles Caldera transferred to the Park Service. I wrote about this in July of 2015, explaining what the legislation really said and expressing my concerns about the future for the people of the north:

Valles Caldera

Recall that Senator Heinrich got these 89,000 acres transferred from the Santa Fe National Forest to the Park Service as part of a political deal in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act. 

The Park Service is now holding public hearings on management of the area, and we are beginning to see what the native folks and traditional users are up against –  limited access in general and a slow phasing out of most hunting and grazing.  Yes, I know the legislation says there "shall" be grazing, but it also says,"at levels and locations determined by the Secretary to be appropriate."  Read Park Service policy on its website and you'll find this:  "The Service will phase out the commercial grazing of livestock whenever possible and manage recreational and administrative uses of livestock to prevent those uses from unacceptably impacting park resources."  Apply the general policy to the legislative language, and if you are seeking "commercial" livestock grazing, forget it.  The whole thing is being set up to allow grazing for the "interpretation of the ranching history of the Preserve", and that will probably mean Park Service cows managed by Park Service employeesSimilar limitations are placed upon hunting and trapping.

Does anyone consider the NPS to be pro-hunting?  Pro-grazing?  Not exactly.

Members of the group Caldera Action have spent years advocating for National Park Service management because, their spokesmen says, the Park Service will police “wayward cattle”, they didn’t want it “treated like a piece of multiple-use land where you have…cows and litter”, but that “hiking and cross-country skiing” are less destructive.

A huge preserve has been set aside for the elite to camp, hike and convene with nature.  The traditional uses made by the folks native to the area will be eliminated over time.  That, I'm afraid, will be the final outcome of this Udall/Heinrich legislation.
As far as the Park Service being a good neighbor to locals, I posted this in February of 2016

Park Service denies renewal of contract to Carlsbad nonprofit

After nearly 60 years of working with local national parks, the contract between the Carlsbad Caverns/Guadalupe Mountains Association and the National Park Service has not been renewed. On Feb. 17, the bookstores run by the association at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and a Guadalupe Mountains National Park cleared their shelves and packed away their inventory. "I really love the Caverns," store employee Dorry Batchelder said, tears welling up in her eyes as she stood behind the cash register. "I really loved this job." Batchelder, one of 11 full time employees who are now out of work, said she was not having any luck finding a new job as of last week. The association has run a bookstore out of Carlsbad Caverns National Park since 1957 and out of Guadalupe Mountains National Park since the 70s, according to the organization's board chair Steve West. West also said they have donated more than $3.5 million to the two parks during that time. West claimed the National Park Service has not been fair in its dealings with his organization, citing poor communication and working conditions, which has only made the relationship worse. "Maybe the next people that come in, they’ll treat with a little bit of decency and respect," West said...more

Senators Udall & Heinrich were successful in transferring 95,000 acres in northern NM (Valles Caldera) to the Park Service, and over time, the locals there can expect similar treatment.


Here is another thing that bothers me. If you go to the Park Service website they have Climate Change Response Program which states, "Responding to climate change is the greatest challenge to the National Park Service today", and a Planning Document stating the NPS is working "to incorporate climate change considerations and responses in all levels of NPS planning" (underlining is mine) and yet insist on a plan that will require the heavy use of fossil fuels, when a more natural and efficient alternative is available?

Cowgirl Sass and Savvy (revisited)

Dirt roads, rough hands and sweat-soaked Stetsons

Julie Carter

Something wholesome radiates from a person who lives in the realm of cowboy.

Show a photo of a young rodeo hand or a seasoned veteran of the cow wars to a city-folk type and one of their first comments will be to point that out.

There are a number of things that promote the wholesome image of ranch and rural living. Some of them come with their own deeper meanings of life and have infinite depth beyond face value.

A few of those things are dirt roads, rough hands and sweat-soaked Stetsons.

Dirt roads lead to good things. They slow down life and often end at the open door of a welcoming neighbor.

They signify a way of life that has not yet fallen to the asphalt and concrete of a white-collar world.

I have lived down a dirt road most of my life. It is a world unto itself no matter what decade it is. Weeks are without weekends as everyday is the same.

Childhood memories are of endless summers with homemade ice cream, digging for fishing worms and camping along the creek.

When I turn down a dirt road headed to anywhere, I get a "right at home" kind of feeling knowing when I get to where I'm going, it'll be good. A dirt road drive is often a step back in time.

Rough hands of the men and women who work on the land command a deep respect. Those people come with a firm handshake and wisdom born in the sweat equity of life.

The calluses are badges of determination that tell a story matched by the lines around the eyes.

Years of physical work and suppressed worry leave their mark.

There are truly fine people attached to those hands that could sand a board smooth without sandpaper. Like their hands, they are hard as steel at first glance but found to have a gentle nature within. The burdens of life have been worked out through their hands.

And those sweat-soaked Stetsons - that band of dark dirty grime that builds up at the bottom of the crown and spreads out onto the brim - is a cowboy's emblem of never-ending toil.

My dad wore what was my first memory of that icon of the West. Some years after he passed away I wrote a poem about him and included mention of his hat that was so much part of who he was.

He lived in the days when a contract was a man's handshake.

Too far to town, so you made do with what you could make.

Denim shirts, bags of Bull Durham, and rollin' your own,

A sweat-soaked Stetson, shotgun chaps, and a saddle were home.

Those toil-marked hats come in many shapes, colors and sizes. When they have reached the sweat-soaked stage, they take on a common out-of-shape look. They have creases and curls where there should be none and they droop in places not intended for "style."

Often they have a hole or two rotted completely through the brim or the crown.

They wear a little windmill grease, manure and a few blood spatters from a long ago cow-in-the-chute incident.

As time goes by, the hat uncannily takes on an appearance that very much matches the personality of its owner.

Dirt roads, rough hands and sweat-soaked Stetsons - all things so very much more than just what they are.

© Julie Carter 2007

Feds pay $4.4 BILLION to enviro lawyers

The Lights are On
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            “The lights are on!”
            That image was always preceded by a trip in the dark. The mornings started as early as 3:30 as in the case of my grandparents. The glimpse of lights on in the bottom of Sacaton, or the mouth of the Mangus, or even above the box in Nine Mile, though, always created goose bumps of anticipation.
            It was especially so for a young cowboy anticipating the events the promised day.
            It meant the folks at home and at the destination were awake and waiting for daylight. Arriving under those conditions meant something important was going to happen. It might be the smell of horses being groomed or a branding pen by midday. It might be the sound of rolling rocks and the smell of gunpowder as soon as there was enough light to see, or it might be the sound of a now extinct David Bradley chainsaw. Every one of those meaningful experiences was couched in adventure and outdoor wonderment.
            Lights on also meant the presence of a most important albeit brief social exchange that has more impact than ever given credit. As the car lights led the way through all the expanse, the big surroundings remained out of sight. They existed only by past experiences and in your imagination. The place where the lights blazed was a hugely important point of reference. It was a haven for many things. When the walk to the front door was in freezing cold, the kitchen upon entry was always warm and friendly. If it was grandparents’, the greetings were always affectionate. If it was an aunt and uncle’s, they were joyful and loud with greetings.
            It was always a safe and welcome place. Perhaps those little snippets of time before the sun came up contributed more to the customs and culture of a way of life than any other single period.
            It was then that family recipes were the central theme of a meal without mention. Home produced butter, milk, biscuits, preserves, chile rellenos, eggs, and venison were not novel or new at all. They were standards. Discussions invariably reverted to stories of times past where now departed loved ones were present and participating. Even when we had never known them they were made part of our lives and our knowledge of our history.
            Another fact of image was that those welcoming elders were ready to perform. They were always dressed, groomed, and ready. There was never a suggestion of leisure or day of rest. They were up and going. Their lives were intertwined with their surroundings largely without condition.
            And, they went forward with gusto and intent.
            They had no reason or desire to change the where they were. They were part of everything that was real and preferred in their lives. It was the basis of who we became and how we lived. All of those things became traits and images in which we found normal and basic … as long as those lights served as navigational beacons long before the sun came up.
            Last week we learned that the average back room settlement hush money payouts by the Department of Interior to the various and sundry environmental cartels between January, 2012 and January, 2017 was $9,565,217.
Yes, you read that right.
There haven’t just been a few of these gaspers, either. There have been 460 of
them. It all equates to over $800 Million annually or a whopping $4.4 Billion over the course of five years. Put in a different context, about $3.9 Billion was paid in cash out of your taxes for issues the majority of you have absolutely no idea of and another $.5 Billion was billed to you in borrowed funds because that is the current ratio of federal spending to shortfalls in revenues collected (the marginal rate of shortfall was greater throughout those years).
            Of course, this was all for the good of the environment, or … was it?
            Henry Kissinger wrote it:
            The weak grow strong by effrontery … the strong grow weak by inhibition.
For those of us who didn’t attend a prestigious prep school, effrontery, of course, means insolent or impertinent behavior. The genesis of the word, though, is much more colorful and appropriate. It comes from the French word effronterie which is based on the Latin effrons which means shameless or barefaced which will be the basis of our concluding environmental musings for this morning.
As the political grist mill continues to churn in the press, the realization that Kissinger’s words are not true at all starts to mount. In fact, they are contradictory. The crises that we face constantly may be couched in a form of weakness or vulnerability, but the substance and promotion is simply a decoy. The polarization of all these issues is not a game plan or the honest drive toward a logical remedy for anything. Rather, it is a planned action to divide and profit. The real outcome is that the large powerful forces that are coordinating the skirmishes are simply growing in power and might.
We are being taken for fools and it is our dollars that are fueling the fires. The real version of Kissinger’s theorem is this:
The strong grow stronger by effrontery … the weak grow weaker by inhibition.
These political witch hunts and uprisings are not spontaneous. They are well financed, rehearsed, and coordinated to the highest degree. Only one of the battle fronts is represented in the payouts from the Department of Interior, but, in our case, it is the one that affects our well being to the greatest extent. We still operate under the misguided belief there are remedies that government can impose that will fix these issues, but those are hallucinations.
Right now, we are on our own.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “There need to be more pinpoints lights before dawn in big western country.”

Baxter Black: I Should’a Brought a Raincoat

As Noah said when he went out on the deck to check the windshield wipers, "I should'a brought a raincoat."
Paul's day started out with a drumroll. Every morning for months as he went into the machine shed he noticed the rusty gate hinge on the door jam. It was shoulder high and stuck out like a rhino horn. 'Could be dangerous,' he often thought.
That morning he was in a hurry and listed just enough to starboard to catch his shirt sleeve on the hinge. It jerked him hard to the right! As he swung around he stepped on the weed hoe. It stood smartly to attention and saluted him across the eyebrow!
He stumbled across the grain room holding his eye and stepped into the cat's dish. It slid out from under him. He did the splits and straddled the door jam into the big shed. Looking up from the floor he noticed his tractor leaning, like it had its foot off the curb. On closer inspection he found the lean was the result of a flat tire.
Back at the house to get a Band Aid he discovered they had no water. The well pump was out. Well houses in this part of Iowa are usually circular, concrete, twelve feet in the ground and have a lip not much above the ground level.
Paul loaded up the dog and went to town for parts. Backing out in front of the hardware store, he stuck his elbow out the open window. The protruding door lock slipped up under his sleeve. When he leaned out looking back he mashed the door lock down and pinched a thumbful of skin! He reacted by stomping the gas and nearly blindsiding pore ol' Bud who was on his way to the sale barn in Moville.
When Paul finally got home he saw that his cows were out. Probably in search of water...

Lee Pitts: Everybody Looks Better In A Cowboy Hat

When I taught myself how to engrave silver conchas I practiced on coins. Most of it was foreign coinage but occasionally I'd practice on U.S. coins. And yes, it's legal as long as a person doesn't try to defraud anyone. Turning nickels into quarters would be a good example. This is why little kids who squish pennies on railroad tracks aren't arrested and thrown in the slammer.
Back when homeless people were called "hobos" some tramps used nails to engrave on buffalo nickels and produced remarkable art they'd then trade for a meal. Today such coins are called "hobo nickels" and they can be quite beautiful and very valuable.
While the hobo artists turned the faces on nickels into remarkable likenesses of Marylin Monroe, clowns, skeletons, cats and self-portraits, I turned my nickels into cowboy coinage. You should see the look on people when I hand them one of my coins with the head of a horse where Abraham Lincoln (penny), Thomas Jefferson (nickel), FDR, (dime) or George Washignton (quarter) should be. My favorite coins to engrave on are newer dimes because they haven't been made of real silver since 1964 and if you scratch one your mark will turn to copper and you can get remarkable two-tone effects.
In the course of turning George Washington and his cronies into cowboys I made a rather remarkable discovery: all I had to do was engrave a cowboy hat on all the former Presidents and every single one looked much more handsome. This was especially true of Abraham Lincoln who, let's be honest, had a face that could keep the crows out of 100 acres of corn.
I was mesmerized by how much better people look in cowboy hats. I gathered up all my wife's magazines and drew cowboy hats on everyone from Queen Elizabeth to the entire Kardashian clan and they all looked better. Even Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Nancy Pelosi, who both need extra large shopping carts when they shop in the beauty-aid aisle of a drugstore, looked better. And if that isn't conclusive proof that everyone looks better in a cowboy hat I don't know what is.
I even went to the store and bought some magazines for men and drew cowboy hats on all the males which were surprisingly few and far between because most male magazines are filled with photos of guns, trucks and naked women. Everyone from Snoop Dogg to Miss January looked better in a cowboy hat. And I hope this isn't blasphemous but may I say that even the Pope looked better in a Stetson.


Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Our gospel tune today is Evil Tempt Me Not by Eddy Arnold. 1950 THE WESTERNER Ranch Radio on Facebook

Friday, September 21, 2018

Democrats promise to investigate Zinke if House flips


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will face a barrage of congressional inquiries into his business dealings, travels, political activities and relations with industry if Democrats win the House in November, according to lawmakers who hope to lead the chamber next year. Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, has already unsuccessfully demanded a hearing this month on a “Culture of Corruption” surrounding the Cabinet secretary, including Zinke’s taxpayer-funded travels to political fundraisers and handling of an American Indian casino project in Connecticut. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who would be in line to chair the House Oversight Government Operations Subcommittee, listed a litany of possible starting points for probes by his panel, including a Montana real estate deal linked to the chairman of Halliburton that POLITICO first reported in June. "Zinke is one the most ethically challenged members of the Cabinet and maybe one of the most ethically challenged secretaries of the Interior we’ve had in living memory," Connolly said in an interview. "[There’s] rich material here to look into his behavior and his fitness for continued service in the office." An Interior spokeswoman said Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, is ready for whatever Democrats throw at him. “In his 23 years of military service, and continued public service after that, Ryan Zinke has dealt with far more formidable opponents and never quit,” Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift told POLITICO. She did not answer specific questions. Democratic leaders are still weighing the oversight priorities they would pursue if they seize control of the chamber, but they say Zinke stands out in an administration that has already seen a flood of officials resign amid scandal in its first two years...MORE

Well, I might as well admit it...

They've got me on a new drug to help with the myoclonic seizures and spasticity in my legs, and it is kicking my ass. The work I usually get done on my laptop in bed is not happening. I'm even falling asleep sitting in front of my desktop.

This will pass I'm sure, but just thought I should explain the paucity in my posts.

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

TGIFF! Its Fiddle Friday and we have Johnny Gimble withe Nellie Gray. THE WESTERNER Ranch Radio on Facebook