Tuesday, September 30, 2003


Editorial: Hope for healthy forests While wildfires have been consuming large swaths of the West, a bipartisan group of senators have been consumed with finding a way to reduce the risk of such fires through an agreement on the president's Healthy Forests Initiative. The deal has not been set because a few details still need to be settled. However, the senators appear to have done so, following a long series of negotiations that began after the Senate Agriculture Committee passed the bill in July...The basic agreement is apparently based on trading greater protection for some forest acres in return for expediting the thinning of others. It provides the first-ever statutory protection for old growth trees, rather than the protections they have had by regulatory interpretation and presidential directive... Studies favor keeping Forest Service jobs in-house A first round of "competitive sourcing" studies has concluded that several types of maintenance jobs in the Forest Service should continue to be done by federal employees, the agency announced Tuesday...Column: Burn the Forest for the Trees The war in the woods has become the fight over the fire line. Before, timber interests, federal officials, and environmental advocates fought over which trees to cut. Now they fight over which fires to suppress, which forests to try to make "fire safe," and - it all comes around - which trees to cut, ostensibly to make sure they don't burn. That fight has become the latest flashpoint environmental issue as the Bush administration strives, under the rubric of "healthy forest" preservation, to undo a Clinton forest plan that drastically reduced cutting on federal land, where most of the remaining old growth is, and to undo three decades of environmental rules...Acting district ranger no stranger to Glenwood Jacque Buchanan is the current acting Glenwood District Ranger, replacing Larry Raley, who recently transferred to the Santa Catalina ranger district in Arizona. Buchanan is in her first days of a 120-day detail that started Sept. 21, but she is not new to the Glenwood Ranger District... Environmentalists sue over logging near Northern California wilderness An environmental group sued the U.S. Forest Service Tuesday over logging plans in a remote area of the Mendocino National Forest, saying the planned timber cut illustrates problems with the Bush administration's Healthy Forests initiative...Agreements give protection to rare frog in Nevada State, federal and local governments joined conservation groups on Tuesday in pledging to work together to save a rare, spotted frog from extinction in Nevada. The unlikely coalition agreed to a 10-year plan to monitor the Great Basin and Toiyabe subpopulations of the Columbia spotted frog and develop plans to ensure its survival...Group looking to protect springs in Burro Mountains Protection of springs and wetlands in the Burro Mountains, and limits on off-road-vehicle use, are the goals of a project sponsored by the Upper Gila Watershed Alliance...Quicksand found in recreation spot Forest officials put out about a dozen signs at Sabino Canyon warning visitors about quicksand accumulating on the side of the bridges along a creek. The quicksand can be traced to this summer's Aspen fire, which charred 85,000 acres on Mount Lemmon and destroyed more than 300 homes, cabins, and businesses...Group: Old-growth forest neglected An environmental group here says the U.S. Forest Service is intentionally neglecting old-growth forests and the wildlife that lives in those areas. The Ecology Center, which has been embroiled in a lawsuit with the federal agency over logging in northwestern Montana, said it has compiled a report on forest management in Montana and northern Idaho... Environmentalists call for protection of Black Hills snail A species of snail in the Black Hills National Forest of southwest South Dakota and northeast Wyoming should be protected under the Endangered Species Act, environmental groups said...Forest service leads Agenda 2020 western forestry research A partnership among industry, government, and the forest products industry is working to help the United States reduce its dependency on fossil fuels, increase carbon sequestration, and help promote sustainable development of global economic competitiveness in rural communities. In 1994, forest products industry leaders created a vision of the industry in 2020 and called it Agenda 2020. A collaborative research partnership also was formed by the Department of Energy and the American Forest and Paper Association to make the vision a reality. The Forest Service joined the partnership in 1999...Mother Nature messing with spawning ritual It's probably the warm temperatures keeping the kokanee salmon from making their yearly exodus from Lake Tahoe to Taylor Creek to spawn. Or it could be a bum year in the salmon cycle, said Jeff Reiner, an aquatic biologist at the U.S. Forest Service. But the 14th Annual Kokanee Salmon Festival will happen this weekend whether or not fish show up...Wasatch officials slam Forest Service When Forest Service officials attempted to calm Heber Valley residents last week by apologizing for the "inconvenience" of an intentional burn that exploded into a wildfire, some citizens felt it was exactly the wrong tack. The Cascade II fire that spread from a planned 600 acres to 8,000 acres before it was fully contained Monday night blanketed three counties in smoke and resurrected Heber Valley residents' memories of a 1990 conflagration when a Wasatch Mountain wildfire overran two volunteer firemen and destroyed homes... BLM standoff divides Kanab This town's fight over management of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is creating tension between those who say the issue has made Kanab a laughingstock and those who say the federal government is meddling. Kane and Garfield counties and monument officials have been at odds over grazing and road issues in the nearly 2 million-acre southern Utah monument since it was created by former President Clinton in 1996...Editorial: Forest invasion A silent but deadly invasion is underway, creating one of the gravest threats our national forests and other public lands have ever faced. Humans have introduced, deliberately or accidentally, new species against which natural ecosystems have no defense. Invaders include noxious weeds, foreign insects, contagious tree diseases, predators from other countries and even domestic animals gone wild...Endangered Species Act anniversary brings focus to conference In recognition of its 30th anniversary, the Endangered Species Act will take center stage at this year's Public Land and Resources Law Conference. Presentations Thursday and Friday at the University of Montana will examine the ecological, economic, legal, political and social consequences of the act over three decades of implementation in the West...Hunter mistakenly kills griz in Flathead A bowhunter shot a grizzly bear south of Kalispell last week, mistaking the animal for a black bear...Judge rejects dismissal of environmentalists' lawsuit A federal judge ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday to propose critical habitat for the endangered willow flycatcher within a year. U.S. District Judge C. LeRoy Hansen rejected the government's motion to dismiss the case, filed by the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity in March 2002...Hillary Clinton Says Bush Is Reversing Essential Regulations Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) accused the Bush administration of attempting to "undo the 20th century" by rolling back federal environmental regulations that she believes are essential for a healthy planet. Speaking at the League of Conservation Voters dinner in Washington, D.C., on Monday night, Sen. Clinton told a crowd of about 550 environmental activists that the Bush administration is determined to reverse more than just environmental regulations...Report finds strengths, weaknesses in Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered species program Congressional investigators generally approve of the way the Fish and Wildlife Service is putting science into its endangered species program but say improvement is needed in decisions to protect habitats needed for species to recover...Some areas losing wilderness status New guidelines issued Monday by the Bush administration could allow oil and gas companies and off-road vehicles on federal lands that had been off-limits to protect their natural qualities. The policy directives implement an agreement Interior Secretary Gale Norton struck with Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt in April to resolve a lawsuit the state filed against the department...New natural gas reports urge more access Environmentalists Tuesday challenged the validity of new reports urging greater access for the energy industry to public lands in the Rocky Mountains. The Wilderness Society and other green organizations told reporters they had objections to the methodology used to come up with the amount of natural gas the National Petroleum Council and other "industry representative" groups say is locked up by environmental restrictions...Rehberg pursues Breaks bill Montana Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg on Tuesday renewed his effort to pass legislation removing private property from the Missouri River Breaks National Monument. "The federal government's decision to include more than 80,000 acres of private land in the Monument's boundary sends one clear and unmistakable message to the families involved: Washington wants your land,'' Rehberg said...Ranchers forced to shoot hundreds of cattle Some Canadian ranchers are finding it cheaper to shoot their animals, or send them to slaughter at cut rates, than having to feed them during the winter while hoping for a rebound on prices ravaged by mad-cow disease...Disease destroys elk ranch Judith Harrington is giving up on her dream of raising elk in Colorado and moving back East. The reason is chronic wasting disease. She can't sell her animals because several states ban elk from Colorado. She is looking for people to shoot the animals for meat: $500 for a cow and $1,000 and up for a bull...
Accusations of Collusion with White House over Junk Science Lawsuit Absurd

The Competitive Enterprise Institute today rejected charges of collusion with the White House Council on Environmental Quality in a legal challenge to a Bush administration global warming report.
“This started as a suit against a Clinton administration global warming report,” said CEI President Fred L. Smith, Jr. “The accusations of collusion are absurd and just an attempt to divert attention from the real issue—that junk science is being used as the basis for climate change reports, which could lead to policies that cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars with little, if any, benefit.”...

Endangered Species Act

Colorado Governor Bill Owens, just installed as chairman of the National Governors Association announced that he plans to use that platform to seek changes to the ESA consistent with ESA policy adopted by the Western Governor’s Association this month. The WGA was remarkably active in September, adopting several policy positions on ESA. The ESA Delisting Policy pushes for quantitative goals established at the time of listing, that when met result in delisting. The ESA Reauthorization and Amendment Policy is more ambitious and comprehensive. While recognizing that bipartisan support is the only way legislation will pass, the agenda the policy sets is huge. The three areas it focuses on are: increasing the role of the states; to streamline the act; and to provide technical support and certainty for (private and public) landowners and water users. (Water is specifically mentioned.) The policy then goes on to a long list of specific recommendations for change.
It calls for a fundamental shift in the relationship between the feds and the states, with a delegated authority program to allow states to regulate endangered species.

This is from the September 29th edition of The Western Waterfront
BLM sued over Robbins deal

Two conservation groups filed a lawsuit last Thursday in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia against top officials of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) -- objecting to a unique settlement in favor of a Thermopolis-area rancher. Western Watersheds Project of Hailey, Idaho and American Lands Alliance of Washington, D.C., filed suit last week alleging unlawful actions and failures of action by the top leadership of the BLM, "who have overridden the scientific and professional judgment of BLM staff in order to favor a wealthy and politically powerful rancher, Harvey Frank Robbins, granting him grazing privileges and preferences in violation of the nation's laws and regulations governing public lands grazing."
The lawsuit is not aimed at Robbins, only his settlement with the BLM and the BLM officials who authorized the settlement: allegedly Kathleen Clarke, director of the bureau and Francis Cherry, her deputy director. The settlement, achieved after years of lawsuits and counter lawsuits between Robbins and the BLM, stayed all regulatory action against Robbins, even though grazing violations have allegedly continued...
Groups Appeal Salvage Project

Three Santa Fe environmental groups filed an appeal this week in an attempt to halt a salvage-logging project in Santa Fe National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service proposal would allow loggers to cut down blackened trees where the Lakes and BMG fires burned in the Jemez Mountains two summers ago.
"It's like mugging a burn victim for spare change," said Sam Hitt, director of Wild Watershed. "It's the last thing our forests need. Salvage logging has zero ecological benefits."
Wild Watershed, Forest Guardians and Santa Fe Forest Watch say such salvage-logging projects prolong the forest's recovery from fires by creating more erosion in streams, compacting soils with heavy machinery and removing large burned trees that are used by wildlife.
The Forest Service proposal would allow loggers to take up to 4 million board-feet of blackened timber on 890 acres. The Lakes Fire burned 4,600 acres near Seven Springs and Fenton Lake in June 2002. The BMG Fire burned about 500 acres north of Cuba the same month. No new roads would be built, and cutting live trees would not be allowed at either logging site.
Hitt said the groups plan to appeal a similar timber salvage proposed for the burned area of the Borrego Fire, which scorched 13,000 acres of federal and private land near Truchas in 2002...

Sunday, September 28, 2003


Editorial: Forest compromise sounds good It's been clear to most Montanans since the fires of 2000 that better forest management is overdue, particularly where civilization meets the woods. No program will have the resources to thin out more than a tiny fraction of overgrown western forests, but continued political paralysis is no longer acceptable. We hope Congress fine tunes this tentative compromise and quickly passes it... Climbers appeal Forest Service climbing ban at Tahoe A new US Forest Service ban on rock climbing at a popular Lake Tahoe site has been appealed by a group of climbers... Spotted owls in trouble Despite a 15-year recovery effort that reshaped how forests are managed and eliminated thousands of timber industry jobs, the northern spotted owl population is in free fall in this state. After the owl was listed as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1990, millions of acres of federal forestland -- including 2.4 million acres of old-growth forest in Washington state -- were spared the ax under the Clinton administration's Northwest Forest Plan... Mysterious marbled murrelet status under review In many respects, the marbled murrelet lives in the shadow of the northern spotted owl. The tiny, tenacious seabird nests in the same old-growth forest habitat that is home to the more notorious owl... Tamarisky business When wildlife lovers look along the Colorado River near Silt, they see towering cottonwood trees housing nests from which herons survey their domain. It's a threatened domain, however, under attack by an invader that is drawing increasing attention from local to federal governments. The tamarisk, a water-loving plant imported from Eurasia, has been gradually taking over riverbanks since its introduction to the Colorado Plateau early in the 20th Century. Recognized for years as a scourge of river ecosystems, the thirsty tamarisk is now a prime target for eradication due to the recent drought...Editorial: Forests face fresh threats Our national forests are under attack, but not from the threats the public usually hears about. The public debate must focus on today's fights, not yesterday's feuds... Hearing set on Breaks bill Montana's Rep. Denny Rehberg is again working to redraw the boundary of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, at the request of people whose land is within the boundary. Rehberg sponsored a bill on April 3 that would change the boundary to exclude nearly 81,000 acres of private land now reserved to become part of the monument if the government eventually acquires it. The House subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands is holding a hearing on the bill Tuesday...Some say BLM land valued low for latest auction The Bureau of Land Management has appraised more than 2,700 acres of undeveloped desert land to be sold at its November land auction for $361.2 million -- far less than what some developers had expected...Lawsuit over water on hold? The lawsuit is over fish, and how much water they need to migrate. A closed-door meeting was held among water users and environmentalists at the Statehouse in hopes of finding common ground on the issue. Up for discussion, ways to provide adequate river flows for migrating fish without leaving Idaho irrigators dried up... Road Leads to Alaska-Size Standoff Pilgrim's passage on the Caterpillar D4 has resulted in an edgy standoff between his well-armed family and the federal government. The National Park Service has shut down the bulldozed road to his property, dispatched armed rangers to assess park damage and is pursuing criminal and civil cases against him and members of his family. The brouhaha over the bulldozer -- a drama still unfolding inside the largest U.S. park -- has made the Pilgrims actors in a national dispute over private access to federal land. National environmental groups are demanding that the Park Service prosecute the Pilgrims to the fullest extent of the law, while land-rights activists have embraced them as heroic victims of overzealous federal bureaucrats... When nice words hide a bad environmental record There were few surprises at Tuesday's Senate hearing on Gov. Michael Leavitt's nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency. The governor stuck closely to the White House playbook, using code words like "collaboration," "balance," and "sound science," and talking up voluntary compliance and industry's need for "clearer" regulations when answering the softball questions he got from most senators. These are exactly the words that Republican pollsters advise their clients to use when hiding bad environmental records, as President Bush did when he visited one of the country's dirtiest power plants recently to talk up "Clear Skies."... 2,000 sheep run through Bayfield on fall trek home BAYFIELD Visitors and residents lined the Buck Highway here on Saturday to witness the ovine equivalent of runners in the homestretch of a long race. Two thousand Rambouillet sheep that Houston Lasater was bringing home from summer range in Crazy Woman Gulch above Electra Lake kept him and several herders at a trot... Old kinenos' culture rides into the sunset It's not quite daybreak as cowboys gather at the Laureles division of King Ranch. Men climb from their trucks and buckle on chaps as they call out morning greetings. It's time to wean calves from their mothers, and recent rains will make the job a muddy one... Three more gray wolves found dead in the West Three Mexican gray wolves that were part of a federal reintroduction program have been found dead in New Mexico and Arizona. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service would not say how the wolves died, but the carcasses are being tested, said acting program coordinator Colleen Buchanan. "All of them are under investigation," she said. "It's definitely a blow to be losing all these animals."...

Friday, September 26, 2003


I will be travelling this afternoon, and won't return till Sunday evening. So check in Monday!


There’s nothing that kids would rather read than comics, especially ones that feature lots of colorful illustrations and heartwarming stories with happy endings. That’s why People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is sending copies of its newly released comic book "A Chicken’s Life"—free of charge—to the Alma Public Library, which intends to hand out a copy of the comic book to each child visiting the library.
"A Chicken’s Life" demonstrates the basic concepts of compassion and respect for others, which are the pillars of character education. It focuses on the lives of three chickens who were rescued from the misery of modern factory farms—like the ones that dot Arkansas’ landscape—and a group of inquisitive and kind children who learn how they can help stop the suffering...

And the consumers respond in Billings, Montana

"Can I, like, go out there and eat my chicken in front of them?" asked Ryan Combs, a teen who eats at KFC a couple of times a week. He scoffed at the protest.
"It's just food. They're just chickens," he said...

Counterintuitive Energy Truths Election-time reality check

Like the deafening din of the cicadas every 17 years, each election season brings "energy-policy" proposals---wealth-redistribution schemes — to the front pages. We now have a congressional conference committee attempting to concoct a House/Senate compromise on yet another energy bill, justified as always on the basis of substantial analytic error and misguided conventional wisdom. That the same old nostrums every election cycle are promoted with other peoples' money should give pause, as public officials offer erroneous arguments, perhaps sincerely, while citizens are left to scratch their heads amid attempts to separate wrongheaded assertion from fact. Herewith, a few counterintuitive truths...


September 25, 2003
End All Grazing on Public Lands? - "Voluntary" Buyouts Are
First Step by Radical Environmental Groups Supporting Effort
Dear Colleague:
Recently, you received a Dear Colleague from Rep. Shays (Connecticut) and Rep. Grijalva (Arizona) asking you to consider signing on a bill to allow the voluntary retirement of grazing permits in Arizona. I urge you to very closely consider and do not cosponsor such a measure, for several reasons.
First, look at the groups backing this proposal. While I do not doubt that my Colleagues introducing this measure have forthright goals, you should be aware of the goals of some of the groups pushing these "voluntary" retirements. According to Greenwire and statements in other press sources, the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign (NPLGC) overall goal is to eliminate all cattle grazing on public lands. (Brian Stembeck, "Grazing: Enviros trying to end public lands grazing, ranchers say range improving." Greenwire, Feb. 8, 2002).
Second, these groups backing the legislation also have vigorous and well-funded legal teams that bankrupt ranchers while delaying and obstructing extensions of their grazing permits. So, if a rancher doesn't accept a "voluntary" buyout, they may become the unfortunate victim of lawsuits by well-funded groups targeting their grazing permits subject to renewal - potentially cutting off their ability to use these permits for years while the courts address the lawsuit against the BLM or Forest Service, to which they are only a bystander.
Third, many communities in the West are heavily dependent on ranches and public lands grazing, so eliminating grazing on public lands or similar steps toward that goal disproportionately impact the West. With all respect to my Colleagues, a bill that is the first step toward eliminating grazing on public lands championed by a member from the Northeast is a lot like me introducing a bill eliminating fishing in public waters off the New England coast.
Fourth, this proposal turns grazing policy on its head. The grazing permit is not a property right, and cannot be separately sold. Currently, if a rancher chooses not to seek to renew the permit, that permit is then offered to other interested ranchers for grazing, subject of course to NEPA and other requirements. Allowing a single rancher who may have suffered an unfortunate string of bad years and drought to dictate the future use of public lands forever is a radical change in our public lands policy - and an abdication of Congress' and agencies' responsibility to make public lands use decisions.
Like fresh water, blue skies and big mountains, cattle ranching is an unmistakably important part of our heritage throughout the West. But like so many other important pieces of our western heritage, this way of life has come under withering assault by narrow-minded interest groups devoted to nothing less than building a wall between the American people and their federal lands. Ignoring over 150-years of evidence, these well-funded interest groups argue, wrongly, that grazing has no place on our public lands because of the damage they claim it does to our natural environment. I ask you to reject their radical view, and beware the first step along the path toward their ultimate goal of forcing cattle grazing -- and therefore American cattle ranchers -- off of the public lands.
If you have any questions, please contact me or my Public Lands staffer, Melissa Simpson (#5-4761). I hope you will consider these points closely before making any decision to support legislation soon to be introduced by Reps. Shays (Connecticut) and Grijalva (Arizona).


Scott McInnis

Member of Congress

P.S. - To offer some perspective about regional sensitivities, perhaps you should ask Representative Shays what his reaction would be to a Westerner introducing a bill with the ultimate goal of ending fishing in public waters off New England.

Thursday, September 25, 2003


Environmentalists want to stop Catron County ranchers A coalition of environmental groups wants to stop Catron County ranchers Kit and Sherry Laney from grazing their livestock on national forest land without a permit. The groups filed for an injunction in federal court Wednesday in Albuquerque, seeking a halt to what they call illegal grazing that has been ongoing for at least six months...Senate Allows Harmful Grazing Practices to Continue Indefinitely Harmful public lands grazing could continue for four more years without any environmental review under provisions adopted Tuesday by the U.S. Senate. By unanimous consent, the Senate voted to accept measures that attempt to exempt federal agencies until 2008 from conducting environmental analysis of grazing permits under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)... Internal Review Panel Plans to Investigate Fire Did the U.S. Forest Service misjudge the danger that a prescribed burn in the Cascade Springs area might get out of control? An internal review panel plans to take a look at that question--and what could have been done early on to contain the blaze...Study puts cost of Colorado's worst-ever wildfire at $238 million The cost of the largest wildfire in Colorado history, which destroyed 132 homes and blackened 138,000 acres in 2002, is approaching $240 million, the U.S. Forest Service said in a study released Thursday...GAO weighs in on firefighting GIS Agencies that fight wildfires on public lands suffer from many common incompatibilities among data and systems that could hamper firefighting efforts, according to a new report from the General Accounting Office... From Conquest to Conservation Charles Wilkinson of the University of Colorado makes this salient point in the forward of From Conquest to Conservation: Our Public Lands Legacy, leading him to ponder a key question: "Why has the Forest Service never embraced Aldo Leopold as its guiding light?" The answer to that question -- as well as a set of principles that would bring the Forest Service closer in line with Leopold's vision -- are found within the pages of this eminently readable history of America's relationship to its public lands. Indeed, Leopold's presence permeates From Conquest to Conservation, which chronicles the history of the nation's 463 million acres that lie under the auspices of the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management...Nationwide Outdoors Pass: A one fee covers all proposal for public lands The Interior Department is proposing creation of a nationwide outdoors pass to standardize fees in national parks, forests and recreation areas and at dams and other federally owned public lands. Department officials envision something like an expanded National Park Service Golden Eagle pass, which costs $65...Real-time 'movies' will predict wildfire behavior for one hour Someday fire fighters will be able to manage wildfires by computer. Rochester Institute of Technology recently won a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to translate remote-sensing data about wildfires into real-time "mini-movies" that fire managers can download on laptop computers at the scene of a blaze. The model and visualization will predict the fire's behavior for the following hour... The path to healthier forests The Senate agreement with the White House on a landmark bill to protect the nation's public forests from fire and disease is as welcome as a good rain falling on a dry Oregon forest. Finally, here is a reasonably balanced, carefully written plan to counter the fires that have swept across millions of acres of thick, sick and dying forests in Oregon and across the country... The battle over Cave Rock The Highway 50 tunnels are a perfect metaphor for the way most people experience Cave Rock. As Tahoe visitors zoom through those roadway shafts, they can zip right through the heart of Cave Rock without seeing it well, or touching it at all. So, this striking monolith on Lake Tahoe's east shore has grown quite familiar while remaining almost entirely unknown...Pickers plunder plants The harvest of wildflowers for their medicinal properties is becoming so widespread that some forest rangers are starting to worry about overzealous pickers...Prescribed burns aim to prevent disaster Firefighters have known for more than a century that once a forest fire gets big, human efforts are powerless to stop it. That was illustrated in 1988 in Yellowstone National Park. As a result, the U.S. Forest Service has aggressively put out forest fires before they get big -- 98 percent of all fires are put out early, said Uinta National Forest Supervisor Pete Karp...Wildlife 'linkages' targeted Looking down from a single-engine plane, it all seems very clear. Spruce and fir trees, powdered by a late September dusting, sparkle in the brilliant sunshine. Sinewy fingers of forested land stretch north and south as far as the eye can see. But directly below, the forest is cut off abruptly by a shimmering asphalt snake: Interstate 70, where it climbs across Vail Pass, in the very heart of the Southern Rockies...Simpson's wilderness deal hits a snag The road to wilderness designation is no easy path, but recently another curve has come up and Congressman Mike Simpson is taking a "wait and see" attitude. The Custer County Farm Bureau chapter has withdrawn any support for a wilderness deal until environmental groups permanently withdraw from legal action on upper Snake River dam releases...NWF Pursues Legal Action to Ensure Wolf Recovery in the Northeast Charging that the Bush administration's decision to abandon wolf recovery efforts in the Northeast violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) announced today that it intends to take legal action. In its 60-day notice of intent to sue, NWF explains that the final Wolf Reclassification Rule that was issued in April effectively terminates federal wolf recovery efforts in the Northeast, where PLF may sue over plover designation suitable wolf habitat exists and wolves are apparently beginning to return... PLF may sue over plover designation The Pacific Legal Foundation, a property rights legal group, has filed a notice of intent to sue the federal government to force it to review a request to remove the threatened designation of the Western snowy plover. The PLF, which represented Coos County earlier this year in its effort to compel the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to overturn critical habitat designations for the plover, filed the notice on behalf of the Surf Ocean Beach Commission... Dry year? No, it's not; yes, it is; no, it's not The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has again switched the water-year type classification for Upper Klamath Lake - it's "below average" again. An early September rainstorm brought more water into the lake, and that caused the Bureau to redefine the year, said Dave Sabo, Klamath Reclamation Project manager. As a result, the Bureau is sending more water downstream...Build it ... but will they come? Drainage around Tucson inconveniences drivers in rainy weather and we all complain about rush-hour traffic in a city that could certainly use better planning. But for some species, such as our little hopping friend the toad, the rains and roads mean even more dangerous travel... Driving 350 Miles, Traveling 400 Years America's internal compass has historically pointed westward. But out in New Mexico, where thunderstorms can be seen for miles and eternity feels like a next-door neighbor, history has traveled on a northward road. It is El Camino Real, the Royal Road, once the footpath of Indians and officially blazed in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors - a hellish 1,800-mile trail extending from civilization in Mexico City to the wild, remote reaches of the "tierra nueva" north of Santa Fe. Twenty-two years before the Mayflower, the road carried European colonists to what is now the United States. Led by Juan de Onate, the aristocratic son of a Spanish silver baron, the settlers brought along Christianity, the wheel, horses, sheep, written language and gunpowder for subduing the Indians..BLM says up to 500 wells could be drilled on Colorado plateau The Bureau of Land Management says up to 500 natural gas wells could be drilled on western Colorado's Roan Plateau over the next 20 years, though it doesn't plan to allow such dense development. The scenario was outlined in an internal bureau document, but a BLM official downplayed the possibility Wednesday...Drilling the Wild Rod and gun in hand, and backing the Second Amendment right to own firearms, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have won the hearts of America's sportsmen. Yet the two men have failed to protect outdoor sports on the nation's public lands. With deep ties to the oil and gas industry, Bush and Cheney have unleashed a national energy plan that has begun to destroy hunting and fishing on millions of federal acres throughout the West, setting back effective wildlife management for decades to come...BLM mediates gas and coal agreement The Bureau of Land Management has mediated an agreement between two companies to allow underground coal development to continue near Farmington. San Juan Coal Company and Dugan Production Company reached an agreement that will protect the coal mine while allowing Dugan to develop as much gas as possible...Directional drilling called "infeasible" A state recommendation to use directional drilling on the top of the Roan Plateau is probably not practical, according to a U.S. Bureau of Land Management document...Town's former residents recall losing fight "The Bureau of Reclamation bulldozed everything below the water line," said Milestone. "They took out all the trees. They scraped it clean. There's not much left." People were devastated. The headline in True West magazine said it all: "Uncle Sam sobers Whiskeytown."...Backwoods bard: Ferguson's book chronicles remote season Gary Ferguson knows wilderness. And he knows what it does to people, how it brings out both their worst behavior and best attributes. And although he is one of the nation's top chroniclers of the wild, he admits the struggle it takes to put wilderness -- and our messy relationship with it -- into words...Advisers recommend expansion of drilling U.S. consumers could save $300 billion in lower natural gas costs over 20 years if more federal lands and offshore waters are opened to drilling, said a report to U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham today. The report, written by the National Petroleum Council, composed mostly of energy executives and Energy Department officials, forecast U.S. demand for natural gas will increase 50 percent in the next two decades as more natural gas-burning power plants are built... Grazing-for-wildlife project under way After a decade of butting heads, ranchers, resource agencies and researchers are coming together to ask a question suited to this area: Can grazing cows on a plot of land help wildlife?...Bighorn rancher booted off allotment A long-established Wyoming ranching family has been evicted from a Bighorn National Forest grazing allotment after a series of grazing violations...Cowboy's blue jeans no longer made in Texas Levi Strauss, the maker of denim jeans, is closing its remaining factories in the US and Canada. The Levi plant at San Antonio, Texas, is set to shut down before the end of the year and others will close by March next year... Is it High Noon for the western? The western movie is 100, but it is in truly appalling health. Hollywood released no cowboy films in 2002, so will audiences flock to the spate of big-budget westerns due out soon? The end came not with the swoosh and crack of a six-shooter being drawn and fired, but with the rumble of bulldozers. This summer, Laramie Street - the dusty film set of saloons, sheriffs' offices and shacks featured in countless Hollywood westerns - was levelled to make way for more useful movie backdrops at Warner Brothers studios...

Leavitt Versus the Leviathan

Mike Leavitt deserves to be confirmed as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, not so much because he's a famous consensus-builder but because, in trying to be one as governor of Utah, he learned that environmental organizations can never, ever be satisfied.
Knowing this, as incoming EPA administrator, Leavitt is relieved of two burdens: first, of spending too much time trying to satisfy a constituency - the largely left-wing environmentalist movement - that can never be pleased, and, second, of the expectation that he'll ever get credit from environmentalists for doing any good, even if he does a top-notch job.
As Ronald Reagan used to say, there's no limit to the good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit. Or, as is inevitable in this case, the blame...

The Mounting Threat of Eco-Terrorism

As we combat Islamic terrorism abroad, we must recognize the deadly threat posed by a homegrown source--one that since 1997 has been responsible for over 600 attacks and has inflicted more than $100 million in property damage. The attacks have become bolder, fiercer: in August a 206-unit apartment complex near San Diego was firebombed, resulting in $50 million in damage. And just days ago, also in San Diego, four upscale homes under construction were torched.
This growing danger is: environmental terrorism. It is time that we reflect on the scale of the danger we face--and the ideology behind that menace.
From Alabama to Michigan, from Pennsylvania to California, underground cells of eco-terrorists have been waging a campaign of tree-spiking, industrial sabotage, arson and bombing. Last year the most prominent eco-terrorist group, the Earth Liberation Front, proudly claimed responsibility for more than 130 attacks. What is their goal? According to the ELF, our Westernized way of life "comes at the expense of . . . the natural environment." By seeking a safer, longer, happier life--by seeking more than a bare, primitive subsistence--mankind, they say, is guilty of crimes against nature. Accordingly, they wish "to inflict economic damage on those profiting from the destruction and exploitation of the natural environment"--hoping eventually "to speed up the collapse of industry."...

American terrorism, environment-style

Terrorists are loose in America. Eco-terrorists. In August radical environmentalists apparently burned down an apartment complex under construction in San Diego.
A couple of weeks later eco-terrorists attacked four SUV dealerships in West Covina, a Los Angeles suburb. Federal agents have arrested for the crime a 25-year-old member of an organization supposedly dedicated to peace and environmentalism.
These attacks were likely perpetrated by the Environmental Liberation Front, which has boasted of committing arson and bombings. Early last year ELF issued "an open call for direct action." It later took responsibility for torching a Forest Service lab in Pennsylvania...


West's governors gather, vow to fix global warming The governors of California, Washington and Oregon, accusing the Bush administration of "foot-dragging" in the fight against global warming, announced Monday they plan to develop a joint strategy to reduce pollution. California Gov. Gray Davis and Washington Gov. Gary Locke, joined by environmental activists, unveiled the pact at a state park offering smog-shrouded views of Los Angeles. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who was unable to attend, endorsed the plan in a statement...Senators strike forest accord Under the proposal, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management would be authorized to limit environmental analysis required by the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act. It also would require lawsuits to be filed at the beginning of the process and require courts to re-evaluate preliminary injunctions every 45 days. Preliminary injunctions stop action on a project until the litigation is completed, which due to appeals can often be months or years. The expedited process could be used on up to 20 million acres of federal lands. Environmentalists, who opposed the House bill, were upset to learn that the Senate was likely to follow in the other body's footsteps...Panel urges environmental fast track IN A 90-PAGE REPORT, the group calls on several federal agencies to create categories of projects, using broad criteria, that would be deemed to have no environmental impact. If a project fit into one of those broad categories, no further environmental assessments would be required, officials said. Other recommendations include drafting new federal regulations for managing fisheries, forests and other resources and creating a citizen's guide to help people better understand the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act...NOTE: you can see a copy of the NEPA report here. Wildfire Continues to Burn; 3000 Acres So Far A fire set on purpose in Utah's Wasatch County, has become a nagging headache for the Forest Service. The controlled burn jumped the fire line and raged out of control last night. And today,smoke from that fire poured out of the canyons, and left a smelly blanket over the Salt Lake Valley...Memorandum signed to improve access The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has joined the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and 17 other public and private partners in signing a Memorandum of Understanding dedicated to improving and maintaining access to public lands for hunters and anglers. "This is an important effort for our nation's sportsmen and women," said Service Director Steve Williams. "There are some locations in the United States where the Federal government is the single largest land owner. Public access is critical to allow hunters and anglers to fulfill their vital role in responsible management of our fish and wildlife resources."...Bingaman measure would keep forest thinning, fire-fighting funds separate To reduce such threats, U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced an amendment, on Monday, to the 2004 Interior Appropriations Bill. The amendment gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture Department up to $250 million annually in additional forest fire fighting funds. (The U.S. Forest Service is under the USDA' auspices.) "(This) is intended to put an end to the Forest Service's practice of borrowing funding from key forest thinning programs” and failing to restore those funds"in particularly harsh fire seasons," Bingaman's release stated...Federal agencies sued over mountain water A group of property owners in the Sacramento Mountain Watershed Restoration Corporation filed suit Friday in federal district court against the U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies over authorizations for municipal water projects on forest lands. The group of property owners filed the lawsuit so it would require federal agencies to consider the effects of municipal water diversions on the Sacramento Mountain community, Rick Warnock of SMWRC said. Joe Garcia of the U.S. Forest Service had not been notified of the lawsuit yet and had no comment...Proposed Tongass sales limit survives vote U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, has scotched efforts to kill his proposal to put time limits on lawsuits against certain Tongass National Forest timber sales. An attempt by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to remove a Tongass timber sale amendment in a budget bill failed Tuesday by a vote of 52-44... Wildfire leaves hidden hazards Falling trees and hidden holes are just some of the dangers on the thousands of acres that remain closed in the mostly contained B and B Complex fire area. And it's not clear when the land will be cleaned up and fully available again to public access. "This fire is so huge, it's hard for us to make an impact," said Kris Martinson, community relations team leader for the Sisters Ranger District... Park County commission plans more action on wolves Park County commissioners are planning to send a letter to the federal government supporting Wyoming's controversial wolf management plan under review. The three-member board also vowed Tuesday to approve its third resolution stating its concerns about the future of wolf management in northwest Wyoming...Regulators focus on monitoring plan U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials in Wyoming and Montana are preparing to roll out a massive monitoring program for coalbed methane gas development in the Powder River Basin...Earthjustice Makes Citizens' Case for Wilderness Protection at Supreme Court Earthjustice filed papers with the US Supreme Court today opposing Bush administration efforts to strip citizens rights to protect wild public lands. The conservation group asked the court to let stand a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling finding that average American citizens have the right to enforce laws that protect public lands... Klamath River salmon run a smooth one A year after 33,000 salmon died in the Lower Klamath River, things seem to be flowing along smoothly for this year's return of chinook salmon spawners - a run that appears to be slightly above average...Feds to review A-LP cost overruns The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has undertaken a detailed internal review to determine why the Animas-La Plata Project is now expected to cost nearly 50 percent more than the bureau once projected. U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis raised the possibility that the cost increase might involve lawbreaking. While the entire increase might be legal and justified, McInnis said in an interview, the U.S. Justice Department should become involved if the bureau's review reveals any criminal behavior... Mad cow scare traps U.S. calves in Canada One month ago, Asmussen effectively lost an entire herd of healthy prime yearlings, $1 million worth, to a disease that terrifies an industry even as it sounds like a Saturday morning children's cartoon: mad cow. And he did so without a single infected animal. His situation has governments, ranchers and politicians in two countries offering sympathy but little else... Schneeberger finishes first, second to earn $10,549 Jerome Schneeberger pocketed a record $10,549 in Tuesday's Open Division competition to highlight the opening day of the $500,000 United States Calf Roping Association National Finals at Lone Star Arena. Schneeberger, currently ranked fourth in the PRCA tie-down standings with year to date earnings of $84,448, won first and second in the Showdown Finals to earn the big paycheck. The Ponca City, Okla., professional had a four head time of 37.65 seconds to capture first, and 38.94 seconds to finish runner-up...

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Wolf Friendly Beef

Since the reintroduction of wolves to the Southwest, many ranchers in that area are up in arms about the government program that brings predators onto the same land where ranchers keep their cattle. "Why in the world would I welcome a predator that could wipe me out of business?" asks Daisy Mae Cannon, President of the Greenlee County Cattle Grower's Association. "It just makes no sense," she says. Cannon says every rancher she knows agrees with her. She says ranchers are losing cattle right and left to wolves that eat them. And, she says, ranchers on public lands can't do anything about it; the government imposes a steep fine and jail time for anyone who gets caught shooting a wolf...
But not all ranchers see wolves as a problem. Will and Jan Holder are infamous among their colleagues of ranchers in Greenlee County, Arizona. Will's family has been in ranching for generations, in fact, his grandfather shot the last known wild wolf in the area. But Jan is a self-described "city girl" and when the couple started their own ranch, they set out to do things differently. The Holders run Ervin's Natural Beef, one of a handful of ranches working with environmental group, Defenders of Wildlife in the "Wolf Country Beef" Program. In order to be allowed to use the Wolf Country Beef label on their products, ranchers must sign an agreement with Defenders of Wildlife. They agree to eliminate the use of lethal and non-selective methods of controlling predators (like leg-hold traps and aerial gunning). They also agree to allow wolf re-colonization on their private lands and agree to cooperate with wolf project personnel...



A non-profit watchdog group today filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service against Greenpeace, accusing the organization of illegally soliciting and transferring millions of dollars in tax-deductible contributions.
In a report titled "Green Peace, Dirty Money: Tax Violations in the World of Non-Profits," Public Interest Watch (PIW) accused Greenpeace - one of the world's most recognizable and visible non-profits - of knowingly and systematically violating United States tax laws.
"At the heart of the matter is the way in which Greenpeace's complex corporate structure masks its misuse of tax-exempt contributions," claimed Mike Hardiman, Executive Director of PIW.
"The IRS very clearly differentiates between taxable and tax-exempt contributions, and the ways in which they can be used," Hardiman said. "Greenpeace has devised a system for diverting tax-exempt funds into non-exempt organizations within its empire and using the money for improper and illegal purposes. It is plainly a case of money laundering."
The report details how during a three year span, one Greenpeace entity diverted over $24 million in tax-exempt contributions. Such contributions are supposed to be used for charitable, educational or scientific programs, but instead financed advocacy campaigns...

Senator Refutes Global Warming Hypothesis: Part 1 in a Series

The Science of Climate Change
Senate Floor Statement by
U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Oklahoma)
Chairman, Committee on Environment and Public Works
...But in fact the issue is far from settled, and indeed is seriously disputed. I would submit, furthermore, that not only is there a debate, but the debate is shifting away from those who subscribe to global warming alarmism. After studying the issue over the last several years, I believe that the balance of the evidence offers strong proof that natural variability is the overwhelming factor influencing climate...

Energy Realism Overtaking Energy Alarmism

In the 1970s and 1980s, energy policy debates in the U.S. were mostly over the regulation of oil and natural gas prices and allocation. Energy shortages and price spikes led many to adopt an “energy-is-bad, energy conservation is good” position.
In the early 1990s, the energy policy debate shifted to energy “sustainability.” Depletion, pollution, reliability (security), and anthropogenic (man-made) climate change are the four sustainability issues. The last, climate change, is by far the most important of the four for the future of carbon-based energies.
Where does the energy sustainability debate stand as of mid-2003? The intellectual momentum has shifted to the optimists who see environmental progress as the norm and who believe that the market’s improvement process will effectively solve new problems along the way.
What has changed to mute energy alarmism? Six trends have been especially important...

Sound Policy for the Energy Bill

In the aftermath of the worst power outage in the nation's history, Congress is rushing to get a comprehensive energy bill to the President's desk for his signature. To assure consumers that another massive blackout will never happen again, Members may feel compelled to pass an energy bill--any bill--just to demonstrate their concern...
The EIA predicts that total energy consumption will outpace domestic energy production through 2025. It is clear that now, more than ever, Congress must adopt policies that correct this imbalance. To do so, Congress must enhance the nation's domestic resources, and remove regulatory barriers to responsible production, upgrade the antiquated electric grid, and let the marketplace--not political interference--determine fuel winners and losers...

Gluttonous Lawyers Suing Over Fat

In Seattle, there is a popular restaurant called the 5 Spot. Its signature dish is a huge, calorie-laden dessert called The Bulge. Access to it, however, is restricted to those patrons willing to sign a waiver agreeing not to sue the restaurant for making them fat. Although obviously a marketing gimmick, the underlying issue is no joke. Greedy lawyers (pardon the redundancy) have been working steadily on a campaign to make restaurants and food manufacturers legally liable for the spread of obesity. Sadly, they are making progress...

'Lay Values'?

The European Commission is introducing new precautionary procedures for all chemicals produced in volumes greater than one ton per year. The new regulations are known as REACH, which stands for the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of CHemicals. They propose a schedule lasting until 2012 to complete tests on all existing, unregistered substances...
But a focus on narrowly political or economic motives misses the broader cultural trend that drives these matters and that will make the debate over chemicals more, rather than less, central in the coming years. That trend is the growing aversion to risk that is now manifest across society as a whole...

Environmental Litigation Threatens Endangered Species

You know environmental lawsuits have spun out of control when barge activity on the Missouri River must come to a halt to preserve habitat for the nesting piping plover.
A federal district court decision ordering the Army Corps of Engineers to reduce water levels from the Missouri River dams so piping plovers, least terns and pallid sturgeons can breed on sandbars threatens to decimate the river's shipping industry, endanger water quality and reduce water supplies and power for communities in downstream states...
Sadly, nonsensical litigation such as this is not rare. Rather, it is an epidemic that not only compromises human needs but, ironically, compromises the protection of endangered species...

Thanks to Robert Bidinotto at ecoNOT.com for the link to the above story.

The hypocritical environmentalism of celebrities

Supporting and funding alternative means of energy in an effort to eliminate America's dependency on foreign oil and reduce pollution has long been one of the stated causes of progressive politicians, activists and celebrities. But it seems that many of them, so skilled at furthering the case for unconventional energy resources, are unprepared to utilize them in their own backyards...
Is the administration more forward thinking when it comes to energy than a cadre of celebrities tucked away in the exclusive environs of Cape Cod, Massachusetts? Former newsman Walter Cronkite, a part-time resident of Martha's Vineyard, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a well-known inhabitant, are leading a campaign to shut down a proposed $700 million wind farm in the Nantucket Sound that would provide electricity to thousands of homes in the area, contending that the giant turbines would ruin the landscape of one of the nation's most cherished areas...

Tuesday, September 23, 2003


Senate allows new job competitions at Interior, Forest Service Language added Tuesday to the Senate version of the Interior appropriations bill would allow the department to put more jobs up for bids, but also enables lawmakers to monitor the results of public-private job competitions at Interior. Senators approved the language, offered by Sens. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., and George Voinovich, R-Ohio, by a vote of 53 to 43. The amendment requires the secretary of Interior to provide Congress with an annual report including statistics on numbers of competitions conducted, the results of those competitions, money spent on competitive sourcing and estimated and actual savings generated by these competitions...Senators Reach Tentative Forest Bill Deal Senators from both parties said late Tuesday they have reached tentative agreement on a bill to ease environmental restrictions on logging and speed thinning projects in national forests to reduce the danger of wildfire. A final agreement was put off because some participants wanted the Bush administration to agree to support the proposal in a conference committee with the House, which already approved a similar bill...Senate opts not to free up funds for Pacific Crest Trail For the first time in six years, there is no money in the U.S. Senate public-land acquisition budget for the Pacific Crest Trail. The Senate opted not to tap the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund as it has in past years, and trail supporters worry that the House, also in a budget-tightening mode, will follow suit...Senate Increases Funds to Fight Wildfires The Senate increased funds for fighting wildfires by $400 million Tuesday, nearly doubling fire suppression money in a $20 billion Interior Department spending bill...White House to release study on environmental reviews An inter-agency task force tapped by the Bush administration will release a report Wednesday recommending ways to streamline federal environmental reviews, according to an environmental group which circulated portions of the report on Tuesday. But the report falls short of defending some exemptions sought by the administration from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, which requires federal agencies to prepare environmental impact statements before changing regulations, the National Environmental Trust said...Using GPR to estimate tree root biomass USDA Forest Service (FS) researchers are improving the use of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to study tree roots nondestructively. They are refining GPR's processing capabilities by comparing results with those of more invasive methods...Schilling previews Wyoming Forum The Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service will conduct 12 resource management plans in the next seven years that will shape Wyoming's future, Wyoming Business Alliance President Bill Schilling said Monday...Wildlife crossing urged for Tijeras The Wildlands Project, a national conservation group, has a wild cross-traffic proposal for I-40 in Tijeras Canyon. The group wants to establish a corridor along the spine of the continent - from the Yukon into Mexico - for safe wildlife migration and shorter trips by bears, deer, mountain lions and other animals. In a news conference in Santa Fe today, Wildlands Project representatives will announce it has identified five "endangered linkages" in that corridor - including Tijeras Canyon...Project aims to reduce wildfire fuel Clearing dead branches and cutting branches from trees in the space where residential areas and wildland meet will not make an area fireproof, according to local officials, but it will make future fires more manageable. Seasonal workers began work this month on the Portneuf-Westbench Fuels Project, one of 10 pilot projects listed in President Bush's Healthy Forests Initiative...Flag site previously owned by the county After the American flag-burning incident atop Peak 1 this month, a Summit County resident recently e-mailed the Board of County Commissioners to suggest the county acquire the mountaintop for a permanent Sept. 11 memorial. That way, the county could have more control instead of people having to obtain permits through the U.S. Forest Service...Wolf population growth slows as recovery chief says boom is over While more gray wolves are prowling the Northern Rockies, the population's overall rate of growth this year is the slowest it has been since reintroduction efforts were launched eight years ago, a federal wolf expert said Tuesday...Species vs. Species Because loggerhead shrikes on San Clemente Island are critically endangered, the foxes that prey on their nestlings should be controlled. Right? Wrong. The problem is that the foxes are also at-risk. A new analysis shows that instead of pitting the shrike against the fox, both species could have been protected with an ecosystem-wide conservation plan... Environmental safeguards on drilling in wildlife refuges is spotty, GAO report says Amid a new push to open an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil companies, a congressional report said Tuesday the government's track record in protecting refuges where oil and gas are already being pumped is spotty and needs to be strengthened... Home builders organization ads to fill 'void' on pygmy-owl issue The Southern Arizona Home Builders Association is waging an air campaign against what it considers biased media coverage. A radio ad began airing earlier this month that SAHBA hopes will fill an information "void" about a recent federal appeals court ruling about the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl... Amish man uses old fashioned "horse" power to clear forest The modern ways aren't always the best ways. Outside Canon City an Amish man from the San Luis Valley is using his horse to clear dead brush from land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management...Over 7,900 Acres on Ute Mt. Protected (NM) The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Taos Land Trust (TLT) announced today the successful first phase of a multi-year effort to preserve the breathtaking 14,344-acre Ute Mountain property on the New Mexico-Colorado border. TPL, a national non-profit land conservation organization, conveyed to the BLM 7,924 acres of the Ute Mountain property, bringing one of New Mexico's most notable landscapes into permanent protection... Metropolitan Water District board approves Colorado River water-sharing deal The board of the Metropolitan Water District, the largest water broker in Southern California, approved a deal Tuesday to divide the state's share of Colorado River water and officials said they were optimistic they'd win needed support from three other agencies. Metropolitan was the first of the four agencies to vote on the long-awaited pact, which is needed to secure the water future for thirsty and fast-growing Southern California...Commissioners oppose Referendum A Following the lead of dozens of state legislators, La Plata County commissioners approved a resolution Monday opposing Referendum A. Opponents, who also include U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., and Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar, believe Western Slope farmers and ranchers would lose their long-held water rights to supply water to Front Range cities as a result of the referendum...Inspector sees gas drilling behind well problems The problems that ranchers Roland and Beverly Landry have experienced with a home well going dry is an example of coalbed methane companies operating unscrupulously, the Powder River Basin Resource Council claims...Pistol John Wayne used in movie is stolen A pistol that John Wayne used in a movie has been reported stolen from his family's collection on display at the John Wayne Marina building in this Olympic Peninsula town. "They lifted the glass out somehow," assistant harbormaster Tyler Kish said Sunday. "They didn't even take the holster to the gun."...

Monday, September 22, 2003


At Leavitt Hearing, a Chance to Vent on Bush Policies The long-running argument over conservation or development of Utah's spectacular and mineral-rich public lands is likely to play out again on Capitol Hill today, when the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee opens confirmation hearings on President Bush's nomination of Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) to succeed Christine Todd Whitman as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Last April, without prior notice, Leavitt signed an agreement with the Bush administration that removes millions of Utah acres, including much of the red rock country near here, from protected status. Industry groups praised the settlement, saying it would provide more certainty about commercial uses of the land. But local and national environmental groups have criticized it, partly because it opens prized land to potential development and mineral exploration, but mainly because of the way Leavitt handled it...Tons Of Illegal Dumping Millions of acres of southern Nevada desert are becoming illegal dumpsites. The local Bureau of Land Management says 250 tons of trash is removed every year. It includes broken glass in a sea of spent ammunition, grills, appliances, landscaping and cars where they don't belong... Wild horses find place in people's hearts On the packed, grayish dirt floor of temporarily erected pens, dozens of wild horses and burros paced or stood calmly on the threshold of their new world, as a similar-size crowd of people inspected them from a distance. These were wild animals up for adoption, collected as part of the federal U.S. Bureau of Land Management's attempts to preserve undomesticated herds on public lands by limiting their numbers to only what ecosystems can support... BLM, Kane meet in secret Kane County's three commissioners, one of whom is the subject of a federal criminal investigation, met behind closed doors with federal land managers Saturday, in apparent violation of Utah's open-meetings law. Assembled in its chambers at Kanab, the County Commission talked for about an hour with Sally Wisely, director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Utah, and Dave Hunsaker, manager of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument... Respect local officials Pat Shea, an ex-Bruce Babbitt era Bureau of Land Management appointee, appears to be the BLM's surrogate spokesman in waging a negative public relations attack against local elected officials. His recent quotations in The Tribune rely on an old attorney's trick: When you can't make your case with the facts, attack the person. His reference to local officials as the "village idiot choir" and "local criminals" clearly infers that local officials are incapable of rational thinking and demeans the validity of local governmental participation in federal planning as provided for by federal law... Utah and Arizona unite via Great Western Trail Officials dedicated the final Utah section of the Great Western Trail on Saturday, in a ceremony representing rare harmony between interests often opposed on public land-use issues... Fire money helps some merchants cope with weak tourist season Sometimes it takes years to see the green after a wildfire. Other times, the green sprouts while the flames are still blackening the earth. That green is the money that is spread to businesses when fire crews roll through a community... Methane lawsuit may be in limbo According to the clerk's office of the District of Montana, Billings Division, a lawsuit filed by environmental groups against the Bureau of Land Management in April has been swamped by applications for defendent-intervenor status from companies involved in Powder River Basin coal bed methane production. The processing of the applications has halted progress on the lawsuit, filed over the Powder River Basin Oil and Gas Project environmental impact statement...Bug-tree wood turned into fuel Trucks loaded with firewood may rumble into the Wounded Knee District of the Oglala Sioux Tribe as early as Thursday to begin delivery of 150 cords of fuel...Outfitters upset over plan to nearly triple boats Outfitters are upset over the Forest Service proposal to increase the maximum number of jet boats on the main Salmon River from 15 to 40 a week. They're calling it illogical and an assault on the wilderness experience. Outfitter Chris Swersey says people go to the river to find solitude... Forest project approved with new exclusions A 700-acre forest thinning project between Ward Mountain and the Lost Horse area south of Hamilton is the first approved by the Bitterroot National Forest under a new "categorical exclusion" that cuts back the amount of required environmental review...Forest Service Changes Rules for Hunters Using ATVs Hunters planning to shoot an elk or a deer in the Uinta National Forest this fall had better be prepared for some heavy lifting... We Must Fight Fire With Fire—Literally ON THE GROUND, we’re sure of one thing: wildfires are getting more explosive and less predictable. The last 100 years of successful containment of natural forest fires (by the Forest Service and its growing army of foot soldiers, bulldozers, helicopters and planes) has allowed an accumulation of brush and young, tightly packed trees that have turned our forests into time bombs. Now they burn too hot, and instead of just scarring the big trees a fire consumes them. I’ve walked through countless areas where the fire has “nuked black,” leaving only limbless, charred poles for trees, and ash six inches deep. This is “bad fire,” so hot that 300- to 600-year-old trees and even veteran firefighters do not always survive them. This summer Rick Lupe, a good, competent fire supervisor with more than 20 years of experience, died when a routine procedure of intentionally burning brush and undergrowth (a “prescribed burn”) turned into an unpredictable bad fire. Lupe died in the face of fire behavior and fire models that we’ve never dealt with before...Family wants farm to stay that way The Jon White family's decision to sell an easement so their 1,600 acres will always be farmed was lauded Saturday as one of the best defenses against the West's greatest natural resource threat: urbanization. Mark Rey, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, said during a celebration of the easement that wild and working landscapes are disappearing fast... U.S. Fish and Wildlife decides Sacramento splittail not endangered The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided on Monday that the Sacramento splittail, a fish found only in the Sacramento River Delta and its tributaries, is not endangered. The agency had listed the splittail as threatened in 1999, but a lawsuit by California water agencies led a federal court to order a reconsideration two years ago...Schwarzenegger reveals ambitious environmental plan With a fog-shrouded coastline behind him, Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled an environmental plan Sunday aimed at cutting air pollution by up to 50 percent within five to eight years. The centerpiece and most specific part of his proposal would promote hydrogen-powered vehicles...Ranchers dispute study that water is ample for S.A. drought plan Spokesmen for a ranching family — the single largest landholder in Victoria, Goliad and Refugio counties — say the results of a study claiming there is plenty of water for San Antonio to draw from the Gulf Coast Aquifer are miscalculated and misleading... Butte tinkerer turns the heat up on new kind of branding Branding cattle can run hot or cold. As ranchers mark their property on the ranges of Montana, cattle can feel the heat of the traditional red-hot branding iron, or the extreme cold of freeze branding... Waiting for Daylight ~ King Ranch: Images From the Past Author-photographer Janell Kleberg, wife of Tio Kleberg of King Ranch, writes of the ranch work she has documented on film over the past thirty years in her newly released book, Waiting for Daylight ~ King Ranch: Images from the Past. Released by Stoecklein Publishing, the book consists of photographs taken while working cattle on horseback on King Ranch in South Texas, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. The book reveals a first-hand experience of King Ranch, pictorially documenting the life of the working cowboy on a day to day basis. The heat and dust of long days on horseback create images of an ever-emerging frontier... Western movies turn 100 The Western movie turns 100 this year. Once the backbone of the film industry, the Western has struggled to stay in the saddle in an era when costumed superheroes, boy wizards and computerized creatures dominate theater screens. The cowboys, the six-shooters, the stagecoaches and the rest of the West seemingly have gone thataway. But those who have done their share of riding the Hollywood plains over the years say the Western isn't quite yet ready for a spot on Boot Hill... $2 million plateau yet another achievement for Mortensen That first check, for riding bulls of all things, is long gone. Most likely spent on gas money and maybe a celebratory drink or two. His first PRCA-sanctioned check came in 1989, after a rodeo in Greybull, Wyo. Dan Mortensen was still on his permit, trying to match his young skills against the world's best...
Senate Vote On Healthy Forests

Date: Mon, Sep 22, 2003
American Land Rights Association - Land Rights Network

You've seen the forest fires. TV almost every day has new pictures of houses going up in smoke. The B & B Complex fire in Oregon is still not out and has burned over 90,000 acres.
And the Senate fiddles.
Hundreds of homes have been lost in Arizona. More have burned in other states. The environmental groups keep stalling trying to head off a vote in the Senate.
And the Senate fiddles.
Thinning our forests, making them healthy again is the answer. It is a huge job that even to be effective next year, must start now.
And the Senate fiddles.
The U.S. Senate is considering the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HR 1904). It deserves a vote this month! There's no time to stall. Catastrophic fires continue to destroy habitat for wildlife, water and air quality. The Senate is still using HR 1904 that passed the House overwhelmingly last spring. The House did their job. It is time for the Senate to do its job.
This should not be a partisan issue. Please support the Healthy Forests Restoration Act now before we devastate our environment even more!....

Click on the title link above to see the entire alert, including Action Items and Talking Points.

The "Rights" of Future Generations The Kyoto postulation is that we have to make a decision today that is quite expensive (reducing emissions and increasing the cost of energy, thus increasing the cost of living) in order to produce a net benefit tomorrow. In other words, the costs that we have to face today will turn into a gain for our descendants -- that is, for people other than us -- tomorrow. This in turn assumes that we know a whole series of preferences that logically and practically cannot be known, neither by those of us living now or by future generations...

Are We All "Damn Fools"? Yet today it is received wisdom that we are all damn fools, because global warming is causing glaciers to melt all over the world. Most of the attention that has been paid to this phenomenon expresses concern about the effects on sea level. On top of this there is a new concern spreading through the environmentalist community about the long-term effect of glacial melt on sources of drinkable water. However, a review of the recent scientific evidence on glaciers suggests that, as is so often the case with global warming, much of the concern is overwrought, poorly based or simply alarmist...

Ecoterrorism a Real Threat to Homeland Security In contemplating how to prevent future terrorist attacks on the United States, we should bear in mind that the Islamic terrorism of Osama bin Laden isn't the only threat to life and property posed by extremist groups. For years, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) have been carrying out acts of violence all across the United States. The FBI believes that the two organizations have committed over 600 acts of terrorism over the past seven years and have caused about $43 million in damages...

Hurricane Isabel a Byproduct of Industry? Upon learning of the World Watch Institute’s claim that Hurricane Isabel was a likely result of global warming, Competitive Enterprise Institute President Fred Smith issued the following response:
“Hundreds of thousands of people have lost power, water and phone service; thousands have had their homes damaged or destroyed, and all the World Watch Institute can do is point the finger at industry,” says Smith. “Hurricanes occurred a thousand years before the first combustible engine—back when the only emissions came from cooking fires. I find it irresponsible, if not reprehensible, that World Watch seizes upon a natural disaster to advance their radical and misleading environmental agenda.”

Organic Hypocrisy Organic farmers' way of using manure — combined with their avoidance of most chemical pesticides and fertilizers — increases risks of E. coli contamination. Yes, non-organic farmers apply far more manure than organic farmers. But the use of animal manure by non-organic farmers is almost entirely on feed/non-food crops (i.e., feed corn, cotton, etc.) where the risks to the consumer from the manure pathogens is zero...Very few non-organic vegetable growers use animal manure on their crops, whereas organic farmers (who produce more food crops than feed crops) are far more likely to use manure on crops eaten raw such as vegetables, in which case the product could come into contact with the manure and pose a pathogen risk to consumers...In the meantime: the Food Standards Agency recently recalled two organic corn meal products because they exceeded the proposed European Commission's fungal mycotoxin levels by 1,000-2,000%. (unfortunately, processing does not destroy carcinogenic fungal toxins the way it destroys pathogenic bacteria). No non-organic products were recalled because of overly high fungal toxin levels. Just another chink in the organic claim of superior food safety.

Leavitt as EPA Administrator? Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, nominated by the White House as EPA administrator to succeed Christie Todd Whitman, may well face an impossible task. In order to be confirmed by a split Senate, he would have to make far-reaching commitments that go counter to President Bush’s declared policies. But if he does so, he and the White House will face the wrath of many conservatives who support him. One wonders why the President would try to fill the position at all at this time and kick off a searing debate about his environmental policies in an election year.
There is little doubt that the confirmation hearings will turn into an attack on the perceived shortcomings of the Bush environmental record. High on the list will be carbon dioxide, global warming, and the Kyoto Protocol. The opponents will hark back to Bush’s campaign promise to limit CO2-emissions from powerplants. I watched his speech on TV and remember that he seemed to stumble over the word, perhaps thinking that it should have been carbon monoxide, a toxic gas already on the EPA control list, instead of carbon dioxide, a nontoxic and essential component of the atmosphere and the compound that provides the indispensable food for the growth of all plants and therefore the basis for life on Earth...

Sunday, September 21, 2003


'A very historic year' Not since 1910 has there been such an array of wildfire in northwest Montana, not to mention the rest of the northern Rockies. It was a fire season that is already regarded as historic...What in the blazes? Two decades back, in the summer of 1983, the unthinkable happened deep in the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Lightning struck, a tree burst into flame, a wildfire crept up a mountainside - and firefighters simply sat back, waiting and watching...Pending bill may tighten fossil rules A bill pending in Congress would make the rules governing fossil collection on federal land more uniform and would tighten restrictions on commercial collecting. The bill, passed earlier this summer by the Senate, now awaits action in the House resource committee...Feds say scientific data being lost Now, some of these creatures are leaving the area in the backs of four-wheel-drive pickups. And some are being taken illegally from federal land by poachers selling their fossilized skeletons. Government and academic paleontologists say fossil poachers, particularly those who are poorly equipped and unskilled, are costing the public valuable scientific information and precious resources...Landowners sign deals for endangered species An ex-computer executive is thinning impassable woods on his weekend retreat west of Blanco to make the black-capped vireo feel at home. Portable stereos play recordings of the endangered bird's calls to invite them to drop in. A Republican Party leader has agreed to let environmentalists cordon off two lakes on his family's property in Bastrop to help save the Houston toad, an endangered amphibian he's never seen. And a Rio Grande Valley rancher plans to plant native brush to benefit the ocelot, an elusive and beautiful wildcat... The Imnaha River serves as a lab for technological solutions for saving salmon Wild and fecund as the place appears, it is, in fact, an intensively managed laboratory for one of the nation's most far-reaching attempts to manipulate nature. Answers gleaned from it will help decide whether technology, costing hundreds of millions of dollars, can help salmon return in abundance to the Imnaha and other Snake River tributaries -- or whether dams must be demolished to save wild salmon runs... Scientists fight spread of plant in the San Marcos Experts aren't exactly sure how it was introduced, but a decade after it was first noticed by botanists, a common aquarium plant that overpowers native species in the wild has commandeered a delicate segment of the San Marcos River... BLM burn will finish job started north of Potomac The Bureau of Land Management will burn 548 acres in the Belmont and Dunnigan creek drainages north of Potomac over the next few weeks. The project began last April, but could not be completed because of unfavorable weather conditions...Hopis seek their Water Rights Arizona's economic future, in part, depends upon its complicated historical relationship with its Indian residents, including the 8,000-member Hopi tribe. The 21 existing Indian reservations in the state compose about 28 percent of the state's land base, and, in an irony that confounds historical theories of Manifest Destiny and the settlement of the American West, Indians could determine which interests - agricultural, municipal, rural, tribal - receive water...IID extends Interior written olive branch The latest effort by the Imperial Irrigation District to reach a negotiated settlement with the Department of the Interior over the district's use of water came in the form of a letter, in which new language was proffered... Agriculture deaths creep upward in 2002 Work fatalities in agriculture increased 2 percent in 2002, while the all-industry average declined by 3 percent according to the National Safety Council. Agriculture ranked second behind the mining/quarrying industry, with 21 fatalities per 100,000 workers, or around 730 deaths...Australia says no to sheep stranded on ship Australia has ruled out taking back a shipload of 57,000 live sheep that has been stranded for weeks in the Middle East after being rejected by Saudi Arabia, and said it was looking for other countries to take the animals...'Outsider' romances cowboy life Groneberg is the author of "The Secret Life of Cowboys," the memoir of his nearly 20-year pursuit of the Western life. "I guess I kind of struggle with that in the book, trying to fit in. The cowboys are the guys in the last chapter, at that branding - the guys that wake up at 4 in the morning and just work and work and work. In a lot of ways, if I were to say I was a cowboy, it takes away from them and what they do."...Wild West road trip displays artist's world What do cowboys, Indians, wily wolves, and dinner in the diner have in common? They're all highlights of central Montana's scenic Russell Trail. It's a Wild West road trip packed with intriguing links between today's Big Sky landscapes and the rough-and-tumble frontier painted nearly a hundred years ago by "America's Cowboy Artist," Charlie Russell... Doing things the hard way is often more fulfilling For the first five years of my practice I followed his procedure and castrated horses in the standing position. It could be compared to changing a fan belt while the engine's running, or standing on a chair and trying to stick your head between the spinning blades of a ceiling fan...