Monday, May 31, 2004


Fire Damages Fire Research Center A fire caused about $1.5 million in damage to a building at the Fire Sciences Laboratory west of here, a rural fire department said. No one was injured. The metal building housed offices, a small maintenance shop and a laboratory. Investigators believe the fire started in the lab and have ruled the blaze accidental. The Fire Sciences Laboratory is an arm of the U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station based in Colorado. The lab researches the behavior, chemistry and effects of wildfires.... Canada reviews Tre Arrow's refugee claim A Canadian immigration panel began hearings Monday to decide if one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives is a terrorist or not before allowing him to apply for refugee status in Canada. Tre Arrow is wanted for his alleged role in the 2001 firebombing of logging and cement trucks in Oregon. The FBI claims he is associated with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), its number one domestic terrorist priority.... Ranchers face tough times during drought Six years of drought have forced the Bureau of Land Management to tell local ranchers they won't have as much forage for their cattle this summer on public lands in southwest Montana. Livestock producers south and west of Dillon are asked to cut back by as much as 40 percent and ranchers grazing cattle on the BLM east of Dillon are asked to cut back by up to 20 percent. ‘‘These are tough times for livestock operators,'' said Tim Bozorth, Dillon Field Manager. ‘‘At BLM we want to thank our local permittees for their cooperation and willingness to do what is right for rangeland health.''.... A no-holds-barred owl war The barred owl has what you might call a serious image problem. It is known in the Northwest as an invading bully that has tossed one heckuva monkey wrench into efforts to save the northern spotted owl. As loggers were shut out of most of the region's public forests to let the spotted owl be, the barred owl had a different idea. It moved in. Fearlessly. Decisively. And spotted owls fled. Barred owls loom about 20 percent larger than spotted owls. They don't much care that their smaller cousin is protected by the Endangered Species Act. And they don't take kindly to company.... Liability: The Silent Player In The Water-Bomber Debate The Forest Service cancelled air-tanker contracts in part because it was afraid of being sued if any of them crashed, according to a report in the Billings Gazette. In a remarkably candid interview (for a government official concerned about liability) Tony Kern, the Forest Service's assistant director of aviation management, said the safety of air crews and people on the ground was the first consideration but liability was also a concern. In late April, an NTSB report on two air-tanker crashes said many of the planes are potentially dangerous and, because they are "public use" aircraft, they are outside the FAA's certification jurisdiction while fighting fires. That put all the responsibility on the Forest Service and it responded May 10 by canceling contracts for 33 large tankers. Kern noted the decision was made a little easier by the unnamed mayor of an unnamed Rocky Mountain city who wrote a letter saying she expected the federal government to "guarantee" that the planes flying over her city "will not come apart over the heads of the public." Kern said her letter brought the issue home for the Forest Service. "This could end up with a plane landing on a school," Kern said. "You are talking about the potential for negligent homicide." Officials at Neptune Aviation, an air-tanker operator, told the Gazette they were shocked by Kern's admission of liability and said the comments could open up the Forest Service to lawsuits resulting from the 2002 crashes.... More species threatened by climate change The Bufo periglenes, the golden toad of Costa Rica, vanished from its habitat in 1987 in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica. It is the first animal species credited with being driven to extinction by climate change. Biologists do not expect it to be the last. Camille Parmesan, a professor of conservation biology at the University of Texas, called the golden toad "a very rare prized endangered species, which has always been very restricted, only ever known from Monteverde, and that's been linked with climate change." "One extinction of an entire species has been solidly linked to climate change," Parmesan told United Press International, "and lots and lots of population extinctions.".... Colorado conversion? A 47-year-old lawyer who grew up on a Colorado ranch, herding sheep, Raley is arguably the nation's most powerful water broker. He and his boss, Interior Secretary Gale Norton, have their fingers on a federal faucet that feed cities, farms, hydropower plants and rivers across the West. But Raley also harbors a little secret that might surprise some of his environmental foes, and alarm those on the other side. According to boatmen and associates I've interviewed, Raley has contracted river fever - a mildly euphoric, somewhat mystical devotion to the canyon that comes from spending several days in its belly. John Wesley Powell caught the fever when he explored the canyon in the 1800s. Raley is now severely infected, having run the river three years in a row.... Va. Sting Targets Trade in Bear Parts, Ginseng His wife had been stricken with breast and colon cancer, and in August 2002, Soo Kil Seo turned hopefully to the possibilities of Asian folk medicine. The 59-year-old Alexandria dry cleaner drove to a rural hunting store that had advertised bear for sale in Korean newspapers, paid $1,200 for two bear carcasses and removed the prized and supposedly curative gallbladders for his wife. The home-style prescription proved far more costly, though, than he had ever imagined. Seo and dozens of other Koreans from the Washington area have been charged with multiple felony counts for alleged violations of wildlife protection statutes, all swept up in a sting operation run from a sham hunting supply store in the Shenandoah Valley. Investigators say they were aiming to stem the illegal trade in wild ginseng and black bears.... Feds win most competed jobs; contractors troubled Federal workers won nearly 89 percent of 17,595 jobs subjected to contractor competitions last year, according to new data from the Office of Management and Budget. OMB predicts the result of those job contests, aimed at driving market-based competition into the government, should save taxpayers an estimated $1.1 billion over the next three to five years as employees reorganize into more efficient organizations and adopt new technology. Still, there is room for improvement in achieving better value when competing government jobs against the private sector, said the study, “Report on Competitive Sourcing Results,” posted on the OMB Web site May 25.... Editorial: National parks are hurting financially The Bush administration should be honest about our national parks' finances. Instead, officials who oversee the nation's 382 parks and historic sites want to paint a happy face on an increasingly serious problem. Actually, the U.S. Park Service's bosses might win public understanding if they were upfront about how grave the situation has become. For years, the parks have had a $1 billion maintenance backlog. Now, annual revenues may fall $600 million short of what's needed to provide basic services, says The National Parks and Conservation Association, an environmental group.... Editorial: Lands in Need of Care t was clear from the moment they took power that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were determined to greatly accelerate oil and gas drilling on the public lands of the West. Driven by a belief that energy independence could be achieved by aggressive exploitation of the public domain, the administration set its sights on doubling the number of wells on lands controlled by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management and urged the environmental community not to block its efforts with frivolous lawsuits. The truth of the matter is that nobody, including conservationists, challenged the government's right or need to look for oil and gas, given the tight markets for both. All anyone asked for was a balanced approach that would broadly respect the requirements of nature and spare particularly fragile landscapes. To the dismay of some Western governors, fish and game commissioners, ranchers and hunters — many of them lifelong Republicans — the administration has not produced a balanced policy. Both Washington and the regional B.L.M offices have repeatedly made clear their belief that extraction of oil and gas trumps all other uses of the public lands. This being an election year, the administration is making noises about a more nuanced approach, and has begun to reach out to its critics among the ranchers and sportsmen. There are 90 different land use plans or leasing proposals on the table. Four are especially controversial. How they come out will tell much about whether the administration has had a genuine change of heart.... Riders, ranchers seek common ground The debate over the future of the Owyhee Mountains was barely on the Wells family's radar as they spent Sunday enjoying their main weekend pastime, riding motorcycles in Owyhee County. They and the few riders at the popular Hemingway Butte trailhead Sunday morning either supported an effort to protect wilderness, ranchers and motorized access called the Owyhee Initiative, or said they were unaware of it. Motorized users have a seat at the table of the Owyhee Initiative talks, organized by the Owyhee County commissioners to seek a resolution to federal land disputes in the 4.9 million-acre southwest corner of Idaho. Other participants include ranchers, environmental groups and outfitters.... Column: Get serious about energy Oil is the lifeblood of our industrial society. But it's been under attack since the early 1970s. Environmentalists told us we'd all choke from the exhaust fumes back then. Then they lied to us about the dangers of nuclear power and succeeded in shutting down plants and averting the construction of new ones. Then they lied about global warming. Then they lied about the ozone hole. Then they complained about oil drilling in Alaska. Then they complained about drilling for natural gas. Then they complained about oil drilling offshore. Then they complained about reliance on foreign oil and told us we must conserve.... Most Federal Oil, Gas Leases Unproductive Nearly three-fourths of the 40 million acres of public land currently leased for oil and gas development in the continental United States isn't producing any oil or gas, federal records show, even as the Bush administration pushes to open more environmentally sensitive public lands for oil and gas development. An Associated Press computer analysis of Bureau of Land Management records found that 80 percent of federal lands leased for oil and gas production in Wyoming are producing no oil or gas. Neither are 83 percent of the leased acres in Montana, 77 percent in Utah, 71 percent in Colorado, 36 percent in New Mexico and 99 percent in Nevada. How much exploration has occurred on the nearly 30 million acres of non-producing public land leases is difficult to say. BLM officials could provide no details on the number of exploratory wells drilled on those leases, despite repeated requests for that information over the past two months.... EPA weighs new fuel ratings The Environmental Protection Agency is weighing changes to the way it calculates fuel economy ratings posted on new cars and trucks to better reflect real-world driving conditions. The review, which comes as concerns rise over escalating oil prices, could result in lower posted fuel economy ratings and potentially impact sales of profitable but gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs.... Climate disaster 'upon us' Humans have done so much damage to the atmosphere that even if they stop burning all fossil fuels immediately, they risk leaving an impoverished Earth for their descendants, a giant of research in the field will say this week. James Lovelock, who detected the build-up of ozone-destroying CFCs and formulated the Gaia theory now widely adopted by environmentalists and biologists, will tell a conference in Devon: "We have not yet awakened to the seriousness of global warming." The Gaia hypothesis is that life itself regulates the chemistry of the atmosphere, the oceans and the bedrock for life's collective benefit. Any disturbance of the process could have dramatic consequences.... Column: Forget gasoline prices, Texans need to talk water But tell that to the Texans who jammed into a conference room there two weeks ago to listen to representatives of Boone Pickens' water company present their plans for shipping water to the Dallas-Fort Worth area from the Panhandle. Lawyers. Ranchers. Hydrologists. Planners. Environmentalists. They all came. And for a good reason. The marketing of water is central to the lives of North Texans and Panhandle residents.... Sentinel chickens on guard against West Nile virus They cluck, peck at the ground and lay eggs like other chickens. But three flocks of Klamath County fowl are actually undercover agents of public health. Every two weeks, a few drops of blood are drawn from each "sentinel chicken" and tested for three mosquito-borne viruses, including West Nile.... Americans put cash above environment More Americans prefer healthy wallets over protecting the environment, according to a poll by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. Of 1,000 persons polled, 54 percent said that protecting the environment is important, but it is more important to keep the economy growing. Broken down by groups, 52 percent of men and 55 percent of women agreed, as did 59 percent of senior citizens. Republicans topped the group with 67 percent, and Democrats split 48 percent to 45 percent who said protecting the environment should be a top priority, even if that means higher consumer prices. Those who identified themselves as environmentalists were almost evenly divided within the 3 percent margin of error, 43 percent choosing the economy to 46 percent preferring the environment.... Rancher's battle casts shadow over Scripps For five years, Charles Vavrus has watched his ranch near the end of Northlake Boulevard become overrun by exotic trees. The drainage ditches are so covered with brush, he claims they no longer work properly. And birds roost on about 27 miles of neglected fence. The ranch owner was ordered in 1999 to halt most of the agricultural operation on the 4,763-acre tract, after the city filed suit against him for chopping down trees. Just over a third of the ranch is slated to be part of The Scripps Research Institute's biotech village. Vavrus' five-year legal battle with the city has complicated the project, which will transform the ranchland into a village of homes and research-related businesses with a town center.... Ballot issues call for electing game managers Colorado's principal wildlife managers should be elected by voters, not appointed for political reasons, say the authors of two petitions filed with the state for inclusion on the November ballot. Voters, not legislators, also should have the last word on setting resident hunting and fishing license fees. Those are the hopes of a self-described "grassroots" group of sportsmen that believes state wildlife management has grown too much under the thumb of politics and profit.... Drought burns change into farm life A nearly decade-long drought is changing the way Frank Martin does business at Crooked Sky Farms. He still grows organic lettuce, beets, bok choi, cabbage and cauliflower on his 26-acre farm in Glendale, Ariz. But growing water-intensive crops like sweet corn is a thing of the past. The drought is forcing a transformation at many Western farms. Like Crooked Sky, they're shifting to different crops. They're also scaling back their acreage, implementing conservation measures and installing water-saving devices.... Mad Cow-Resistant Bovine Developed Japanese and U.S. scientists have genetically engineered a bovine embryo that is resistant to the deadly mad cow disease and they plan to breed several of the cows to use them to make medicines to treat human diseases, an official said Monday. The embryo was implanted in a cow and is expected be born early next year, said Kumi Nakano, spokeswoman for Kirin Brewery, which diversified recently into pharmaceuticals and jointly conducted the research with U.S.-based biotechnology company Hematech. The cows will not be bred to produce mad-cow-free meat. Instead, blood and milk extracted from them will be used in drugs to fight pneumonia, hepatitis C and rheumatic diseases such as arthritis, for the U.S. market by 2013, Nakano said.... Mexican cowboy tradition taking hold in North Texas The charros were in Wilmer on Sunday to ride horses and bulls, and twirl and toss the lasso. They were also there to preserve and perpetuate the cultural tradition of Mexican cowboys. "We don't want to lose our heritage, especially those of us who're second-generation," said Roberto Silva, the son of Mexican immigrants and secretary and treasurer of the Dallas Charro Association. "The sport is barely starting to grow in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Twelve years ago, we had five charro clubs. Now we have 14.".... The cowboy way Cowboy Roundup USA is a celebration of the area's ranching heritage and the people who made the cattle business what it is today. Keeping in line with its mission, Cowboy Roundup USA will begin recognizing the Rancher of the Year. The recipient will be honored during the Saturday performance of the Coors Ranch Rodeo at the Amarillo National Center, said Quien Stapleton, Cowboy Roundup USA president.... Final-run victory caps Windy Ryon Roping Teddy Johnson pulled off a come-from-behind victory over Rope Myers in the Steer Wrestling Challenge and Guy Allen won his fifth steer roping title as the 30th annual Windy Ryon Memorial Roping came to an exciting conclusion Sunday. Johnson, the reigning world champion, stole the crown when Myers, the 2001 world champion, couldn't hold on to his steer on the final run, taking a time of 30 seconds. Johnson dogged his final steer in 4.8 seconds to finish with 77.1 seconds on eight head to take the win. It was the first time he had led during the match.... It's All Trew: Horse manure stunk up Fort Sumner politics While visiting a museum in Fort Sumner, N.M., I saw a leather license plate with tooled numbers on its face. The curator related this story about the unique item. Back in the horse and buggy days of Fort Sumner, there were a lot of horses tied at the hitch rails on the main street, especially in front of the saloons. In summertime, the odor from droppings became overpowering and drew flies by the cloud. The city fathers forced the town buggy and delivery wagon owners to buy a parking permit using the leather license plate for identification. This income was used to hire a local man to take shovel and wheelbarrow and clean the streets once a day. This was the first city tax enforced....

Sunday, May 30, 2004


Drought, beetles may trump artificial forest thinning Even as the nation devotes billions of dollars to artificially thinning crowded forests, a stressed-out Mother Nature is taking matters into her own hands on a catastrophic scale humans can't hope to match, scientists say. An epidemic of bark beetles is killing untold millions of trees from Alaska to Arizona. And an eight-year drought across the Southwest is killing many of the trees the beetles don't get.... Forest-Edge Communities Take Precautions, But Many Still at Risk Prescott, a town of 34,000, is hardly alone this fire season. The Agriculture and Interior departments identified 11,376 communities across the United States in 2001 that were highly susceptible to damage from a wildfire on federal land. Since that time, many communities have gotten more aggressive about reducing underbrush and other fire hazards near homes, said fire and forest officials. But they also agree the job isn't done.... Oregon company faces barrage of letters, phone calls over Alaska mill The well-connected environmental organization, with more than a million members, in its February newsletter called for a letter-writing campaign against Timber Products. The goal: to stop Timber Products from buying and restarting a bankrupt veneer mill in Ketchikan, Alaska. The NRDC worries that restarting the mill would lead the U.S. Forest Service to open roadless areas of the nearby 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest to logging. The NRDC sought, at the very least, a public pledge from Timber Products that the company would not use Tongass timber if the firm decided to buy the mill. The Tongass is the country's largest national forest, with almost a third designated as wilderness.... Grizzlies may lose threatened status U.S. officials are making plans to take grizzly bears off the endangered species list, where they have been listed as threatened since 1975. The bears were put on the list that year when the number of grizzlies in the lower 48 states had plummeted to between 200 and 250. Pressure from hunters, ranching and development made their numbers drop precipitously from the early 19th century, when as many as 50,000 roamed the West, ranging as far south as Mexico. But since coming under strict federal protection, the number of grizzlies in the lower 48 states has bounced back to between 1,200 and 1,400, the Washington Posted reported Sunday, along with 35,000 in Alaska, where the grizzly has never been listed as threatened.... Editorial: In the end, it's about wild fish Comparing the Bush administration's new hatchery policy with its old one is like examining a hatchery salmon and a wild one swimming side by side. There are significant differences, but they are hard to see on the surface. In interviews Thursday, the top administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the agency's leader in the Northwest said all the right things about wild salmon, habitat and the future role of hatcheries. "The object of the policy is naturally spawning wild salmon runs -- that's the ultimate goal of the Endangered Species Act and that's what we intend to enforce," said Conrad Lautenbacher Jr., the NOAA administrator.... Those lion sightings could have some teeth From Beaver to Bradford counties and scattered locales between, have come recent reports of mountain lion sightings. Though the Pennsylvania Game Commission does not acknowledge the existence of wild free-ranging lions in Pennsylvania, the state has yielded more panther reports since 1990 than any other state in the East. Not far behind are the reports from West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. It does seem that some kind of feline phenomenon is unfolding in the eastern mountains. It's easy to understand why eastern states are less than enthusiastic about embracing the possibility of naturally reproducing eastern panther populations. As a listed endangered species, the return of the eastern panther could complicate public land management, recreational development and even private land use in the areas where cats were deemed to occur.... Sagebrush under siege after years of drought After six years of drought in much of the West, sagebrush lands -- critical to wildlife, agriculture and underground water supplies -- are dying. "The drought probably rang the bell on these sites," said A.J. Martinez, natural resources specialist for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). "Ecologically, some of these sites have crashed.".... Panther removed from preserve Wildlife officers removed a Florida panther from Big Cypress National Preserve on Friday after the Miccosukee Tribe complained the cat was spending a frightening amount of time near homes and occupying the site of the tribe's annual Green Corn Dance. State and federal wildlife officers tracked down the panther with dogs, treed it just south of Tamiami Trail and darted it with a tranquilizer gun.... Critics Say Clean-Air Plan May Be a Setback for Parks The Cherokee called the lush Appalachian upheaval "the land of blue smoke," in homage to the steamy billows that roll up from the valleys of Great Smoky Mountains National Park after summer thunderstorms. The summertime haze that often swallows up the majestic views of forested ridges these days is something else entirely: a pollution-rich brew of sulfates that scatter light and small particles that obscure it. Not only can one often not see clearly in the park, the most visited in the nation, one often cannot breathe cleanly. Nitrogen oxide cooks in the sun with other chemicals to form ozone pollution, which discolors leaves and pains lowland lungs.... Rancher, Newcomer, BLM Fight Over Water A bitter legal battle has erupted in the remote back-country of Southwestern Utah. This battle pits a rancher and a federal agency against a newcomer who moved there, ironically, to get away from neighbors and the government. This is ranching country we're talking about so you can probably guess what they're fighting about -- it's water. Dave Brown claims God led him to a spring. But the legal question is: Does he have a right to use it? Bill Hall and his in-laws have run cows here for nearly a century. When he drives across the Hamlin Valley, the antelope play, and wild horses romp in the distance. Nothing is more important here than water.... Buying the Ranch It's been more than five years since Earl Boardman hauled out his shotgun to greet a coalbed methane representative at his ranch. The move earned Boardman a sit-down with the Johnson County Sheriff and changed the way landowner disputes get settled in the gas fields. Now the cankerous relationship between the industry and those surface owners who don't care to host the activity has evolved from a show of firearms to a show of property deeds. At least three of the industry's top producers have opted to buy ranchland property rather than try to balance their regulatory obligations with a rancher's existing operations.... Elko motocross racetrack a go Backers of a plan to build a motocross racetrack near Elko have won a five-year special recreation permit from the Bureau of Land Management. The Elko Riders and Racing Club hopes to begin construction at the end of a 30-day public appeal period. Appeals must be filed by June 28th. The BLM conducted an environmental assessment before approving the project for a reclaimed gravel pit on Bullion Road three miles southwest of Elko. BLM officials say the motocross area, including parking for about 100 vehicles, would be located within the ten-acre gravel pit area.... Law enforcement agencies seek border-crossers inside refuge The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge apparently isn’t just for birds and butterflies anymore. Multiple law enforcement agencies joined forces last weekend to watch for undocumented immigrants using the popular nature preserve as a border crossing zone. U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers, U.S. Border Patrol officers from the Weslaco station and Hidalgo County deputy constables joined forces May 22-23 to scour the wildlife preserve — situated along the Rio Grande, seven miles south of Alamo — for any undocumented immigrants who might try to take refuge there.... Governor is greener than was expected They didn't support him during last year's recall campaign, but a growing number of California environmental leaders say Schwarzenegger is turning out to be greener than they anticipated. They still grumble regularly that he owns gas-guzzling Hummers -- though he has sold four of the seven and is retrofitting one to run on hydrogen. And they say his administration has major tests ahead. Yet on issues from coastal protection to his staff appointments, from air pollution to water supply, Schwarzenegger has taken actions that environmentalists are cautiously cheering. "Arnold is green," said John White, a veteran Sacramento Sierra Club lobbyist. "He's a throwback to the old days when Republicans were good on these issues.".... Low water limits Colter Bay to canoes Low water will prevent water-skiing, cruises and other motorboat activities at Jackson Lake's Colter Bay Marina this summer. Services including 100 boat slips and buoys, a fuel dock and cruises to Elk Island will be unavailable. Only canoe rentals and a store will be open at the marina in Grand Teton National Park. Jackson Lake is expected to fill only 3 feet above the boat ramp at Colter Bay -- too low for most boats, according to Bob O'Neil, director of guest activities for Grand Teton Lodge Co....


The case of an Arizona man barred by Arizona officials from using his private property because of assertions by American Indians that his land is sacred, was argued today before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Dale McKinnon of Holbrook, Arizona, challenges a January 2003 ruling by an Arizona federal district court dismissing his lawsuit against Arizona officials because the regulation that they used is “facially constitutional.” McKinnon, whose company, Cholla Ready Mix, has been unable to extract aggregate for use in roads and bridges from Woodruff Butte, which McKinnon owns, argues that Arizona’s application of the regulation violates the Constitution’s Establishment Clause.

“The question before the district court was whether Arizona applied its regulation in an unconstitutional manner, not whether the regulation was, on its face, constitutional,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation, which represents McKinnon and his tiny company. “There is no question that the lawsuit should have been allowed to go forward; we are hopeful that the Ninth Circuit will agree and Mr. McKinnon will have his day in court. When that day comes, we are confident that a trial court will find that Arizona officials acted in an unconstitutional manner when they barred Mr. McKinnon from using his property because third parties think it is sacred. If the Establishment Clause bars anything, it bars such state action.”....

The Day After Tomorrow: Liberal utopia

So what will life be like this Saturday -- the day after "The Day After Tomorrow" opens?

Will Bush's reelection campaign be finished and John Kerry guaranteed the presidency, as the Guardian newspaper has predicted?

Will environmentalists seize their "teachable moment", harness a fearful and outraged public, and strongarm Congress into "seeing the light" and resuscitating the Kyoto Protocol?

In other words, will liberals get their fairy tale ending?

In a word: Nope....

For more views on the movie see Storm Warning, Will Tomorrow Ever Come? and Thank Poor Al Gore.

Putin Hits Russia’s Economic Future, Let’s Hope Senate Doesn’t in the U.S

Russia’s Academy of Science declared early last week: “The Kyoto Protocol has no scientific foundation.” Andrei Illarinov, economic adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been quite vocal in warning of the ill economic effects for Russia if that nation signs on to Kyoto.

Nonetheless, on Friday, May 21, Putin declared: “We are in favor of the Kyoto process, we support it.” The treaty, though, still has to be approved by Russia’s parliament. Putin chose to ignore his economic and science advisers. Why?

Well, it does not seem to be some deep commitment to the global warming cause. Instead, it was a case of political horse-trading. Putin wanted Western Europe’s support to gain entry into the World Trade Organization. Indeed, Putin declared on Friday: “The fact that the EU has met us halfway in negotiations on the WTO entry could not but have helped Moscow’s attitude to the question of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.”

While gaining entry to the WTO is important for Russia’s economy, so is avoiding the restrictions that would come with Kyoto. Putin’s best hope must be that without the U.S., Australia and all developing countries reducing and capping CO2 emissions, the Kyoto Protocol will amount to nothing more than mere symbolism, without any actual impact, in the end....

Are We Out of Gas?

With gasoline oil prices seemingly rocketing to Jupiter, and with newly-published books like "Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil" and "The End of Oil," it seems fair to ask if the world's fuel tank needle isn't finally tilting towards "E."

Let's get a little historical perspective. In 1914, the U.S. Bureau of Mines predicted American oil reserves would last merely a decade. In both 1939 and 1951, the Interior Department estimated oil supply at only 13 years. "We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade," declared Pres. Jimmy Carter gloomily in 1977. In fact, the earliest claim that we were running out of oil dates back to 1855 -- four years before the first well was drilled!

Certainly supply isn't declining yet. "Proved" oil reserves increased from 677 billion barrels in 1982 to 1048 billion in 2002, a 55 percent increase. ("Proved" means quantities that with reasonable certainty can be recovered from known reservoirs under existing economic and operation conditions.) Meanwhile worldwide consumption increased only 13 percent.

That's not a particularly scary trend....

Advertising Wars in the Washington Post: Anti Fish Ad Blasted

Last week, Washington Post readers were exposed to old line bait and switch. The misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) ran an ad designed to scare consumers—hook, line and sinker—away from eating fish. Today the Center for Consumer Freedom exposes PCRM’s fishy claims with its own Post ad, exposing the self-described medical charity as a front group for the animal rights movement. PCRM has undeniable ties to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the radical group that wants to end all consumption of beef, chicken, pork, eggs, dairy food -- and even fish, one of the healthiest foods on Americans’ plates.

“Legitimate medical authorities like the American Heart Association and the American Dietetic Association recommend eating fish for better health,” said Center for Consumer Freedom Executive Director Richard Berman. “But PETA’s extremists care more about fish than people, so their pseudo-medical front group is muddying the waters with animal-rights arguments masquerading as medical science.”....

The Domino Theory, Redux

Exactly 50 years ago, the idea of the "domino theory" first found its way into popular discourse in the context of Communist aggression in Southeast Asia. While it sounds a bit like a Cold War relic today, the phrase remains useful to explain certain events. Consider the activist Rainforest Action Network's (RAN) recently concluded four-year campaign against Citigroup, one of America's most respected financial institutions.

In 2000, RAN accused Citigroup of loaning money to economic development projects that were purportedly destroying the world's "remaining old growth forests" and "accelerat[ing] climate change." When Citigroup disputed the charges, RAN strategists went to work. Over the next four years, RAN staged dozens of anti-Citigroup stunts, including student rallies and boycotts, anti-Citigroup TV ads, and street protests. RAN activists also hung banners in front of Citigroup's New York headquarters and demanded that Citigroup not make loans to economic development projects in undeveloped regions of the world, to ensure that they remain pristine.

Last January, Citigroup gave in--it sued for peace. In exchange for an end to RAN's campaign, Citigroup promised to "promote higher environmental standards through its business practices," particularly in the areas of "endangered ecosystems, illegal logging, ecologically sustainable development, and climate change." Translation: Citigroup will no longer help finance projects that environmentalists don't like. It will help NGOs start drawing what an activist once referred to as "green lines" around poor countries, setting them off-limits for conventional forms of intense development....

Measuring Santa Monica's Feet

Back at the turn of the month Santa Monica City Council proudly announced that they had reduced the ecological footprint of their pleasant urb by 167 square miles. As the city occupies only 8.3 square miles, perhaps a little investigation is in order?

The concept of such footprints comes from a paper in PNAS in 2002, edited by one Edward O. Wilson of Harvard (a name and place to send shivers down the spines of the economically literate). In essence, an attempt is made to add up all the land needed to support various lifestyles and then compare that to the amount of land on the earth. As always with the ecologically correct the answer is that we ran out of land a decade ago and will all be dead by next Tuesday. Amazingly enough they do reach one vaguely correct conclusion via a series of woeful misunderstandings.

Their first error is that they regard resources as something that exist ab initio. There is great play made of the fact that there is only so much arable land to go around, and that it is this land that tends to get built on. This whole idea is of course completely ignorant. Resources are created by human beings via technology. As arable means "suitable for ploughing" it is obvious that before we invented the plough and agriculture some 10,000 years ago there was no such thing as "arable land." There was just "land. " Further, we increased the supply of arable land with the invention of deep ploughing methods by varied tribes and the associated deforestation of northern Europe, again with the invention of the cast iron plough which allowed the prairies to be farmed and did it yet again last decade in opening up the Brazilian Cerrado with acid resistant strains of crop....

Polls Show Little Interest in Green Agenda

American voters are generally happy with the condition of their local environment and the performance of their elected representatives on environment issues, according to several recent public opinion polls. As a result, the polls show, environment issues rank near the bottom of concerns for American voters this election season.

According to Gallup's annual Earth Day poll, 35 percent of Americans fret over the current state of the environment. The number of Americans who worry a "great deal" or "fair amount" about the environment has dropped 15 points since Gallup's 2001 poll.

According to Gallup, fewer than half of poll respondents felt environmental protection should take priority over economic matters. A "record low proportion of Americans have chosen environmental protection over economic growth," reported Gallup.

Gallup's Lydia Saad, one of the architects of the Earth Day poll, noted, "for whatever reason, the public doesn't see the environment worsening, and that's why it's not getting a lot of attention."....

Small Businesses Fear the day after "McCain-Lieberman"

The idea that the United States Senate would even consider voting on legislation that would dramatically raise U.S. energy costs for small businesses and consumers seems rather outlandish, right? Why would the U.S. Senate vote on legislation that would reverse the progress made on our economic recovery and hurt U.S. competitiveness? At the same time that our political leaders are concerned about the future of our job creating capacity and jobs “going overseas” why would they advance policies that result in sending more abroad?

If you are similarly concerned -- as small businesses are -- about a future of high energy costs, losing U.S. jobs and making our small businesses less competitive in the global marketplace, we urge you to vote against the Climate Stewardship Act (S. 139).

The Senate wisely rejected this measure in October 2003, and should do so again....

Saturday, May 29, 2004


The following is a list of my observations on the Peppin Fire in the Capitan Mountains:

May 14, 2004 - There was no fire observed.

May 15, 2004 - There was a small plume of smoke coming from a fire half way up the side of the Capitan Mountains, on the south side. This was North of the turn off to Fort Stanton. At this point the fire could have been put out by a couple of drops by the small tanker planes that were being used later.

May 16, 2004 - The fire had grown to approximately 5 acres (my estimation) and was growing (still could have been put out). I observed a sign along US 380, in the morning, between Capitan and Lincoln that said CONTROL BURN. This sign looked like a stop sign. It was painted red with white lettering. It had been removed by the evening. We watched the smoke from the Billy the Kid Pageant Grounds, in Lincoln, all of this day.

May 17, 2004 - The fire was still small but had grown to approximately 10 to 15 acres (my estimation and still could have been put out).

May 18 thru 21, 2004 - Could see smoke coming over the top of the Capitans from our home North of the mountains.

May 22, 2004 - Watched the fire top out and start down the North side of the mountain and expand East and West.

May 23 thru 28, 2004 - The rest is history and recorded in various news stories.

This is what happens when the US Forest Service “observes” a fire during hot, dry and windy conditions.

Lloyd Maness

Neptune Aviation defends its performance Regional Forester Gail Kimbell spent 90 minutes late Friday afternoon touring Neptune Aviation's hangar in Missoula, seeing firsthand the airtanker company's maintenance and training regimen. "And we're just getting started," Greg Jones, Neptune's director of maintenance and operations, said at tour's end. Kimbell, who oversees the Forest Service's Northern Region, had seen enough - for the time being. "Your care for your ships, as well as for your employees, is very evident," she said. "I appreciate what I've seen here today.".... Cabin Owners Mourn Homes Lost In Peppin Fire Landowners who recently lost their cabins in the Peppin fire are upset, blaming the Forest Service for letting the blaze burn and grow to become the nation's largest wildfire. They claim this all could've been prevented. Some cabin owners are angry because they say they weren't properly forewarned. The Forest Service said its property was a priority, but safety in a dangerous area came first. Cabin owner Michael Francis said despite the loss, he hopes to rebuild, and so do the others in the area, but that could be tricky. Some cabin owners are angry because they say they weren't properly forewarned. The Forest Service said its property was a priority, but safety in a dangerous area came first. Cabin owner Michael Francis said despite the loss, he hopes to rebuild, and so do the others in the area, but that could be tricky. The land is leased from the government, and it's up to the Forest Service to decide if the owners can rebuild.... Scientists Focus Research on Understanding Causes of Changes in Western Mountains A group of federal and university scientists today announced the launch of the Western Mountain Initiative, a 5-year effort funded by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to better understand ongoing changes in the mountains of the western United States. Their aim is to unravel the causes of sudden, often unwanted changes in mountainous areas, such as the recent die-off of trees on millions of acres in New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California. The consortium will bring together more than a decade of research conducted in national parks and other protected areas in the west. Because these areas have experienced minimal direct intervention by humans, national parks and other protected areas are ideal laboratories for detecting the effects of climatic changes.... Experts clash over stolen petroglyphs in U.S. court in Reno Expert witnesses disagree about the value, age and authenticity of American Indian petroglyphs two men are accused of stealing from national forest land bordering a Reno subdivision. One scientist testifying for the defense Friday suggested federal prosecutors had not done the proper scientific homework to establish the age of the rock art that local tribal leaders say is at least 1,000 years old. But archaeologists for the Forest Service and the state of Nevada said they are confident the etchings of an archer and bighorn sheep are older than the 100 years required to prove they are a federally protected archaeological resource.... Vandals damage logging equipment in salvage area Vandals damaged five pieces of logging equipment being used in a controversial timber salvage operation in south Baker County, authorities said Friday. The FBI has joined the investigation. Between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, someone poured metal shavings into the engines, fuel tanks and hydraulic systems of the logging machines, which belong to J&D Logging of Prairie City, said Baker County Undersheriff Ken Draze. He told the Baker City Herald repair costs would be about $100,000.... Public Outcry Follows Calif. Lion Shooting Police in Palo Alto, California recently shot and killed a mountain lion that wandered into a highly populated neighborhood. Sightings and even attacks by mountain lions have shot up in recent years throughout the western United States. But despite the threat that the big cats pose to humans, reaction to the Palo Alto shooting surprised a lot of people, especially the police who were trying to protect the public. The killing unleashed a flood of angry complaints. One letter said, "I hope you all rot in Hell.".... Hatchery Salmon Plan Announced The Bush administration announced here on Friday a plan to consider hatchery salmon, which are bred in concrete pens, when deciding whether wild stream-bred salmon deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act. In explaining the new policy, which caused a regional uproar when it was leaked last month, the regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service said that hatchery fish will be used to "contribute to the rebuilding" of endangered wild runs of salmon. But Bob Lohn emphasized that hatchery fish will not, by themselves, become "the solution." Hatchery salmon are pumped into regional rivers by the hundreds of millions each year.... Proposal to Stop Protecting Yellowstone Grizzlies Meets Opposition Word leaked out last week that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is ready to submit a formal proposal to take grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park off the federal Endangered Species List next year. According to agency officials, recovery efforts for Yellowstone's grizzlies, which began in earnest in the 1980s, are now complete, with the population having doubled in the last two decades. But others, including some agency biologists as well as many environmentalists, disagree with the delisting proposal, citing on-going threats to Yellowstone's grizzlies, including the lack of suitable food sources to maintain the population at its current size.... Federal District Court judge rules goshawk not endangered in Southeast, but orders a review for Canada A federal District Court judge has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted appropriately in not listing a Southeast Alaska species of goshawk as threatened or endangered. But Judge Ricardo Urbina's ruling keeps the issue open by mandating a study of the Queen Charlotte goshawk's habitat and protection on Canada's Vancouver Island. Environmentalists said Wednesday the ruling keeps the 10-year-old court battle alive because the study could conclude that Canadian habitat protection is insufficient and that restrictions on logging in the Tongass National Forest are required.... Dogs, vehicles shut out of Gold Beach on plover concern A pair of snowy plovers has been found on Gold Bluffs Beach north of Orick, and Redwood National and State Parks has imposed a 30-day ban on vehicle traffic and dogs to protect them. The plovers, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, are rearing their chicks. It's the first time in more than 20 years that a nesting pair of birds has been known to use the beach. The chicks can't fly for 30 days, and the park, after consulting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists, is imposing strict temporary restrictions for that time.... Feds not told of killings of three grizzlies Three grizzly bears were illegally killed in the Swan Valley last year, and federal officials only learned of the killings after investigations concluded recently. The three deaths adjusted the 2003 mortality count from 13 to 16 in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, a 6-million-acre recovery zone for grizzly bears, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Chris Servheen, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's grizzly bear recovery coordinator, mentioned the killings at a meeting of land and wildlife managers charged with grizzly bear recovery last week in Kalispell.... Defense Department to take migratory birds? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose a rule that will allow the Department of Defense (DOD) to incidentally take migratory birds during military readiness training as directed by the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act. The proposed rule will print in the Federal Register on June 2, 2004. The proposed regulations require the Department of Defense to assess the adverse effects of military readiness activities on migratory birds in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. They also require the DOD to develop appropriate conservation measures if a proposed action may have a significant adverse effect on a population of migratory bird species of concern. In addition, the proposal requires the Department of Defense to monitor the effects of such military readiness activities on migratory bird species of concern and the effectiveness of conservation measures.... Service's role in bison issue questioned An official with the Humane Society says the National Park Service had enough cause to stop transferring bison to the Three Affiliated Tribes at least two years before it did. Dave Pauli, a member of Montana's humane bison review committee and regional director of the Northern Rockies Humane Society, said Theodore Roosevelt National Park continued to give bison to the tribes in 2002 even though the tribes had at least twice as many bison as the pasture could support under federal stocking standards.... Judge imposes restrictions on Alaska leases Oil companies may bid next week for rights to explore in a frontier region of Alaska's North Slope, but no work may be allowed that disturbs the ground for at least several months, a federal judge ruled late Friday. U.S. District Court Judge James Singleton stopped short of granting the ultimate request of environmental groups that had sued the federal government -- the postponement of Wednesday's much-anticipated lease sale for the northwestern third of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.... Column: Wilderness shouldn't be off-limits to firefighting We were called to a lightning-caused fire just a half a mile from our captain's home. The strike had started a burn just inside of a "wilderness study area" on the south side of the Centennial Valley. Initially the fire was only 5 to 10 trees and stayed at this stage for several hours. During this time, due to the amount of down and standing dead trees in the area, we were not allowed to go and fight the fire. We just sat there and watched it burn while it was being determined whether or not we could even use engines and other equipment (including chain saws) in the initial attack on this fire. This whole wilderness area had the basic issue tied up in knots. It was finally determined that fire retardant could be used in the wilderness. I have two points to make about the Winslow fire. First, when private property is in immediate harm's way, the wilderness or roadless area designations should have a clause that allows any fire control methods needed to quickly and safely control these fires. It will not eliminate the huge fires that take millions of dollars to put out, but a clause like this would definitely allow for quick control of most forest and range fires.... Mexico City faces water crisis as demand spirals Standing with her feet in a tangle of hose pipes, shantytown dweller Belen Hernandez prepares for the twice weekly ritual of siphoning precious water up the steep hillside to her breeze block home. The mother of three is among more than a million residents of the Mexican capital and surrounding area who depend on a roving fleet of water trucks, or "pipas," to meet their basic need for water as the capital faces a deepening crisis. Once a thriving Aztec citadel set on a broad highland lake, Latin America's largest city is threatened with outages, rationing and an angry population as the water needs of its growing population outstrip hard-squeezed supplies.... U.S.-Central American trade pact signed The U.S. trade representative and ministers of five Central American countries Friday signed the U.S. Central American Free Trade Agreement. The agreement will eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers and expand regional opportunities for the workers, manufacturers, consumers, farmers, ranchers and service providers of all the countries, a USTR statement said.... Farm groups divided on effect of CAFTA on agriculture CAFTA will immediately eliminate tariffs on more than 80% of US exports of consumer and industrial products, phasing out the rest over 10 years. The Central American countries already enjoy duty free access to the US for more than 75% of their exports, according to the USTR. The agreement expands their opportunities. USTR says CAFTA has been endorsed by every national business association and "virtually every" farm association. "The American Farm Bureau Federation believes that the US-Central American Free Trade Agreement will provide a substantial competitive advantage to US agriculture," AFBF president Bob Stallman said in a statement Friday.... USDA steps up efforts to track livestock Every cow in the United States may someday have a unique ID number. "We want to allocate an individual identification, just like you and I have Social Security numbers," said Bill Hawks, an undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.... Where the Racing Is Down to Earth HERE are three great passions in south central Louisiana: spicy food, Cajun music and horse racing. It's a tossup which comes first. Most people know about gumbo and zydeco, but to pick up on the horseracing fever, you have to go to Evangeline Downs, just north of Lafayette. The racing at Evangeline is strictly minor league. The purse money is a pittance compared with racetracks like Santa Anita, Churchill Downs or Belmont, and it's a pretty safe bet that not too many of the local horses are headed for the Kentucky Derby. Lots of the horses are trained by their owners, who may race no more than two or three of them in the course of a season. This is racing at the grass roots. It's not glamorous, but like the local cuisine, it has savor and spice. The Daily Racing Form is filled with surnames like Desormeaux, Guidry, Bourque, Lanerie and LeBlanc, and most of their owners come from the heart of Acadiana, where boys as young as 8 or 9 ride in match races at the bush tracks scattered all over the area. Even the names that don't sound French often turn out to be Cajun. Shane Sellers and Robby Albarado, two of the country's top riders, come from little towns near Lafayette, and like most of their fellow Cajun jockeys, they started their careers at Evangeline, the only track in America where, when the starting gate opens, the track announcer doesn't say "They're off!"; instead, he says, "Ils sont partis!"....

Thursday, May 27, 2004


Drought, bugs may be permanently killing forests Western forests may be on the brink of epochal change, driven to permanent retreat in lower elevations by years of drought and decades of fire-suppression that has made them vulnerable to a scourge of insects, scientists warned Wednesday. The die-off in turn is resulting in uncontrollable wildfires of the sort that swept Southern California last fall, and Arizona and Colorado the previous summer. A hundred of the West's top scientists are gathered by invitation only for a three-day Lake Tahoe conference to share the latest studies on global warming and its impact, and to plot what research is needed over the next five years. "There's stuff dying all across the montane forests of the western U.S.," said Craig D. Allen of the U.S. Geological Survey. "It's a big deal -- socially, environmentally and economically." Other researchers compared the current drought and rising temperatures to a similar episode 13,000 years ago. Mountain forests died off or were wiped out by fire, to be replaced by woodlands, grasslands and desert scrub that had been prevalent at lower elevations or farther south.... Lawyers for men accused of petroglyph theft blame Forest Service Lawyers for two men accused of looting American Indian artifacts said Thursday that the real culprit is the U.S. Forest Service because it failed to mark the site on the edge of Reno as culturally significant. Federal prosecutors urged a U.S. District Court jury to hold the two men responsible for stealing three boulders with artwork etchings that tribal leaders say are priceless and more than 1,000 years old. But the defense lawyers said John Ligon, 40, Reno, and Carrol Mizell, 44, Van Nuys, Calif., removed three boulders with the petroglyphs from national forest land and placed them in Ligon's front yard to protect them from an encroaching subdivision. "He would have never taken them and displayed them in his front yard if he thought they were government property," said Scott Freeman, Ligon's lawyer.... Reid promises help on Jarbidge U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has agreed to look into helping Elko County resolve the South Canyon Road issue at Jarbidge in light of questions arising from the latest court opinion. Elko County District Attorney Gary Woodbury, who was in the meeting with Reid, said today the county is looking at congressional action to back up the agreement the county and federal agencies already signed. "We need something to keep us out of 9th Circuit Court, which we thought the agreement did," Woodbury said.... Environmentalists Sue Over Forest Policy Environmentalists sued the Bush administration on Thursday, objecting to recent changes in the Northwest Forest Plan that they say endanger salmon and clean water. The suit, filed in federal court in Seattle, follows a suit filed last month objecting to another change in the forest plan that eased restrictions on logging of old-growth forests. The administration announced the new rules in March, completing changes that had been in the works for more than a year. One change relaxes a rule requiring that forest managers look for rare plants and animals before logging; another allows agencies to meet clean-water goals on a broad, watershed-wide basis rather than through evaluation of individual projects.... Editorial: Reasonable approach sought on off-road use The U.S. Forest Service and recreationists should look for common ground on road usage rather than resort to heavy-handed regulations. The Forest Service is expected to release a report for public comment within days that will address inconsistencies in how forest roads are managed for off-road use. But some off-roaders are rightfully wary whether the report is actually a route to reducing availability of roads. If the proposal focuses on uniformity and helps educate off-roaders about which trails are open, season availability, etc., then this will be a positive addition for all trail users. If the regulations are a smoke screen used to decrease the number of trails available for off-road use, then the Forest Service could be acting arbitrarily against a particular segment of the public.... Fencing off Spawn Creek could reduce whirling disease Cattle and trout have coexisted in the West for more than a century, with mixed results. Members of Cache Anglers have come up with an idea to help protect a vital native Bonneville cutthroat trout spawning area and slow the spread of whirling disease in Logan Canyon without affecting free-range cattle in the area. The plan to line 1 1/2 miles of aptly named Spawn Creek with fencing has, however, encountered resistance from some grazing-permit owners who worry the $80,000 project could set a precedent.... Owens taps $1.3 million to hire firefighting aircraft Gov. Bill Owens released $1.3 million from the state's Disaster Emergency Fund on Thursday to contract two additional air tankers and a helicopter to help fight wildfires. "As the drought continues, the wildfire potential is something we will have to confront aggressively all summer," Owens said. The U.S. Forest Service grounded federal air tankers recently because of safety concerns.... In about-face, Army scraps plans for environmental cutbacks The Army scrapped plans on Thursday to curtail some environmental protections and contracts after learning from Pentagon budget officials it could make do with cuts elsewhere. The about-face came after a report earlier Thursday about an Army memorandum directing base commanders to shift money out of environmental programs. The Army later said it would carry out other measures — such as a hiring freeze and lower spending for travel and conferences — to help pay for costly military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maj. Gen. Anders Aadland, in a May 11 email, had ordered garrison commanders worldwide to "take additional risk in environmental programs." He told them to "terminate environmental contracts and delay all nonstatutory enforcement actions" until the beginning of the government's next fiscal year in October.... State offers prairie dog management plan The state of South Dakota has drafted a prairie dog management plan that would establish buffer zones aimed at preventing prairie dogs on federal land from encroaching onto adjacent private land. The plan would also establish an emergency interim process to help private landowners next to federal lands control prairie dogs until the U.S. Forest Service can begin action in the buffer zones on federal lands, possibly next year. The plan, which state officials hope to finalize by early July, drew criticism both from grazing interests who say it doesn't do enough to control prairie dogs and from wildlife advocates who say the buffer zones would hurt recovery efforts for black-footed ferrets.... Red-legged golf lawsuit? Two environmental groups are threatening to sue Morgan Hill and The Institute Golf Course if they don’t comply with the Endangered Species Act, according to letters sent to two government agencies. In a letter sent Thursday to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society and the Committee for Green Foothills noted its intention to sue after 60 days if the city and The Institute don’t comply with the Endangered Species Act. “The (city and Institute) are causing illegal ‘take’ that harms and harasses the California red-legged frog, a species listed as ‘threatened’ under the ESA,” the letter said. “The ESA prohibits all activities that cause a ‘take’ of an endangered species.”.... Biologists move to protect Mojave rare plant habitat The Center for Biological Diversity (Center), Utah Native Plant Society (UNPS) and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) today noticed the Bush administration Interior Dept. -- Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) of an intent to sue over their failure to designate critical habitat and to implement a recovery plan for two endangered Mojave Desert plants, the Holmgren milkvetch and the Shivwits milkvetch, as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).... NOAA expects no big change in salmon runs under draft policy The federal government's new draft plan for counting hatchery fish alongside wild salmon in determining whether some runs need protection could create some confusion among salmon fishermen, but it won't immediately change much else. "There is no lightning bolt," said Commerce Undersecretary Conrad Lautenbacher Jr., who oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "Nothing here is going to change that much." This morning, NOAA officials will release their response to a 2001 court ruling that said the government had wrongly excluded fish reared in hatcheries when deciding whether salmon should be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).... Groups' lawsuit seeks lamprey protection The Pacific lamprey deserves protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, according to a lawsuit filed by a dozen conservation groups. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Portland, asks the court to require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take legal steps to protect the Pacific, river, western brook and Kern brook species of lamprey. The eel-like fish once numbered in the thousands in West Coast rivers, but numbers on the Snake River declined from 50,000 in the early 1960s to fewer than 1,000 in the 1990s.... Plan would use hatchery salmon to boost wild stocks Stung by criticism from federal judges, property-rights advocates and environmentalists, the Bush administration today plans to propose allowing salmon produced in hatcheries to boost struggling wild populations -- some to the point they could lose federal protections. The decision is bound to set off another round of lawsuits over one of the prickliest and most complicated factors in struggles over how to restore the iconic salmon of the Pacific Northwest. But it may satisfy Native American tribes, who say hatcheries could help wild salmon rebound if the rivers where both kinds of fish live are protected. The policy foresees allowing Native Americans and others to keep catching hatchery-produced fish so long as they're not needed to help wild stocks rebound.... Tests show hatchery-raised salmon, trout aren't free of chemicals Atlantic salmon and trout raised in five federal hatcheries are safe to eat, but have high enough levels of dioxin and other pollutants to trigger advisories limiting consumption, according to tests done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency commissioned the tests on the brood stock fish to determine whether they were picking up PCBs and other contaminants from feed. The tests came after other researchers found that farm-raised salmon, fed the same diet, had higher levels of the chemicals than wild fish.... Park Retirees: Hidden Cuts at National Parks at Odds With Bush Administration Assurances of 'Outstanding Visitor Services' A new national survey based in part on information from 12 representative U.S. national parks reveals a combination of significant cuts in budget, staff and visitor services at all of the parks, a finding that casts into doubt the truthfulness of March 24, 2004 testimony by National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, who told angry members of Congress that Americans would not see major park cuts this summer and that "outstanding visitor services" would be provided. Compiled by the 250-member Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees, the new report, which is entitled "Pretending to Protect the Parks: Mainella and Norton's Legacy of Neglected National Parks in Decline," finds:.... BLM still doesn't have power to cite underage drinkers Proposed new rules to give U.S. Bureau of Land Management rangers authority to cite people for alcohol-related offenses won't be in effect this Memorial Day weekend - the busiest weekend of the year in terms of visitors. Churchill County District Attorney Arthur Mallory isn't so sure the BLM should ever have that power. "My theory is government that is closest to the people is the best for the people," Mallory said.... Greenpeace sets up in Josephine Greenpeace, the conservation group best known for its work with whales, is planning to open its first mobile "forest rescue station" in Josephine County. The station will be an education and campaign center for the group, which has called for an end to logging on federally-owned lands. The exact location of the station, a solar-powered facility which consists of several giant domes, will be revealed next Tuesday.... Endangered Forests Rally at White House Conservation and religious groups rallied at the White House today at noon to call on the Bush administration to protect the nation's remaining old growth and endangered National Forests. The Endangered Forests Rally marks the "Summer Kickoff" (May 27 to June 4 - during which environmentalists from Oregon to Virginia will be speaking out to expose the truth regarding the Bush administration's policies that hand over our National Forests to corporate special interests. "The stage is set for the next big showdown over America's endangered National Forests. The Bush administration has derailed sensible and balanced protections for National Forests, and the summer of 2004 may bring ancient forest logging and more development in roadless wildlands," stated Jake Kreilick, Endangered Forests Project Coordinator of the National Forest Protection Alliance. Editorial: BLM needs to heed wishes of the people The obstinate U.S. Bureau of Land Management is asking for it. And Gov. Bill Richardson, and a growing and potent group of local and national conservation organizations, should give the disrespectful federal bureaucrats and the Bush administration all they deserve. New Mexico should fight to protect Otero Mesa from oil and gas drilling, in the courts if necessary.... Disaster film has scientists laughing Slouched in their seats and munching popcorn, a group of climate scientists from the University of Washington pronounced their verdict on the Hollywood blockbuster "The Day After Tomorrow" with giggles and guffaws. When star Dennis Quaid, playing a hunky paleoclimatologist, solemnly warns that a massive storm unleashed by global warming is going to plunge the Northern Hemisphere into a new Ice Age — within days! — the real experts nudge each other and snicker. When helicopters freeze midair and the Atlantic Ocean swamps Manhattan, peals of laughter erupt.... If owl rules roost, center gets boot: Native bird may force nature haven to migrate A bird on New Jersey's threatened species list is threatening plans to build a $3 million environmental center where children would learn about such imperiled animals. The fluffy barred owl was spotted in a wooded area of Roseland where Essex County wants to build the 8,900-square-foot center. The Department of Environmental Protection has now refused to approve construction until it can determine if the new center will jeopardize the owl's habitat.... Feds may investigate Canadian beef imports The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General is considering opening an investigation to determine why the agency violated its own policy and allowed the import of millions of pounds of Canadian processed beef products that were banned due to concerns about mad cow disease, United Press International has learned. If the OIG proceeds with an investigation, it would be the fourth inquiry it has launched involving mad cow disease-related issues since the first case of the deadly disease in U.S. herds was discovered last December....

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


As Fire Season Approaches, Dread Grows in the West The Lower South Fork fire, which carved a black scar in the mountainside north of here three weeks ago, never became a monster. No homes or lives were lost. But it frightened many of the seasoned firefighters who responded to it because it did not behave the way fires in the high Rockies in early May are supposed to. Lower South Fork surged and crowned - flames leaping from tree to tree - and it ran up the steep alpine slopes, burning like a fire in the driest, hottest days of July and August. "Most of the people on that fire, including myself, were pretty alarmed by the fire behavior - it doesn't bode well for the rest of the fire season," said Kelly Rogers, an assistant district forester for the Colorado State Forest Service.... Forest Service admits flaws in job competition effort The Forest Service has acknowledged several significant shortcomings in its competitive sourcing program that were uncovered in a congressional report, and is working with the Office of Management and Budget to correct them. In the meantime, agency officials have decided to hold off on initiating any new public-private contests in fiscal 2004. A bipartisan congressional report issued Tuesday revealed a variety of flaws in the Forest Service's implementation of President Bush's initiative to let contractors compete for federal jobs.... Grazing Resolution: Rancher, Forest Service reach agreement Intervention and mediation by local elected officials resulted in an agreement signed Tuesday between the U.S. Forest Service and Elko County rancher Mike Riordan, ending a conflict over grazing rights on the west side of the Ruby Mountains. "We have more than we had at the beginning of the process," Riordan said. "I sure appreciate all the people that came together to help.".... Feds pledge a decision on prairie dog by August U.S. Department of Interior officials have pledged to decide by August whether to remove the black-tailed prairie dog from the candidate list for protection under the Endangered Species Act, according to Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D. The Interior Department promise came as a result of Daschle's meeting with Interior Secretary Gale Norton last week, Daschle spokesman Ted Miller said Tuesday. "Common sense tells us that the prairie dog should be removed from this list, so I am hopeful that's the decision the Department will announce in August," Daschle said.... Editorial: Folly of tanker decision already clear Well, it didn't take long to demonstrate the folly of the Forest Service's decision this month to fight wildfires without all the right tools. In southern New Mexico, the Captain fire is burning more than 23,000 acres and has sent dozens of homeowners fleeing. "I was shocked to be told this fire could have been held to a single acre if the heavy air tankers had been available at the beginning," New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. But, of course, air tankers weren't available at the beginning. And it doesn't look as though they're going to be available at the beginning of the next fire, or the ones after that.... Forest Service stands firm on grounding of air tankers The Forest Service official in charge of aerial firefighting said Wednesday that the agency would not reverse its decision to ground the nation's fleet of air tankers. "People keep talking about a near-term, stroke-of-the-pen reversal," said Tony Kern, Forest Service assistant director of aviation management. "That will not happen. This will be a data-driven decision. At the end of the day it will not be an emotional decision." Executives at Missoula-based Neptune Aviation Inc. were furious and promised to fight to get their planes back in the air.... Court strikes down USFWS decision to not list the Queen Charlotte Goshawk under the Endangered Species Act In a long awaited legal ruling, the D.C. District Court yesterday issued new hope in the longtime effort to save the Queen Charlotte goshawk from extinction at the hands of the U.S. and Canadian timber industry. Though the species has lost millions of acres of its old growth forest habitat, and will lose more under government logging plans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled in 1997 that the species is not yet endangered. The court struck down this decision, ordering the agency to assess whether the areas of past and planned logging constitute a significant portion of the species total range. Though the Endangered Species Act clearly requires such an analysis, the Fish and Wildlife Service purposefully avoided it because the goshawk is clearly endangered in over two-thirds of its range.... Drought hurting ranchers’ efforts at saving arctic grayling The ongoing drought is thwarting local ranchers' efforts at keeping arctic grayling off the endangered species list at the same time an Arizona group is seeking an emergency listing for the fish. The Big Hole Watershed Committee has worked for years to keep enough water in the Big Hole River to help preserve the last native population of arctic grayling in the lower 48 states. But after five years of drought, rancher Harold Peterson is beginning to wonder if there's much else that can be done, even with a proposed $1 million federal conservation payment to help offset ranchers' costs to keep additional water in the river.... Interior secretary signs conservation pact with International Paper U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton signed a landmark agreement with International Paper Co. to conserve freshwater ecosystems in nine Southern states. The environmental partnership covers 5.5 million acres owned by International Paper in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The partnership between the scientists and researchers at International Paper and those of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will allow unprecedented monitoring of aquatic species across the Southeast, officials said.... Feds seek comment on toad 'safe harbors' The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on a plan to expand the habitat of the endangered Wyoming toad by using ranch land. Wyoming toads currently live only at Mortenson Lake southwest of Laramie. Wildlife biologists, however, say the lake has grown too salty and alkaline due to the drought and could be hindering reintroduction. Under proposed "safe harbor" agreements, ranchers who allow toad releases on their properties would be protected if they fail to thrive. The ranchers can continue traditional irrigation and grazing practices.... BLM plans meetings in Tonopah, Pioche on Yucca Mountain rail plan The federal Bureau of Land Management is scheduling two open-house meetings in rural Nevada about a proposal to build a new rail line to haul radioactive nuclear waste across the state to Yucca Mountain. The BLM is collecting comments on a DOE request to withdraw from public use a mile-wide swath of land for the 319-mile rail corridor. It would run from a rail head near Caliente, 150 miles northeast of Las Vegas, to a national nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.... GOP says no to Young act Alaska Republicans again rejected one of U.S. Rep. Don Young's favorite initiatives, a bill to put more than $3 billion a year into public land purchases, recreational facilities and projects loosely related to coastal conservation. The state Republican Party, at its convention this past weekend in Soldotna, passed a resolution opposing Young's proposed Get Outdoors Act. Young, a Republican, announced the bill's introduction last month with co-sponsor Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. They were backed by sports celebrities, outdoor and recreational gear manufacturers, and public land advocates.... Residents oppose BLM enforcement Do not allow additional police powers for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. That was the message directed to the Elko County Public Land Use Advisory Commission Tuesday night from every member of the public who spoke to the board. PLUAC was reviewing a proposal by the BLM to increase its law enforcement authority over use of drugs and alcohol on public lands.... New Information Documents Bush Administration's Land-Management Shift Although Federal law requires that public lands be managed to balance environmental protection and commercial exploitation, new information released today by The Wilderness Society (TWS) shows that the Bush administration has used a series of arcane and interrelated administrative decisions, and the settlement of a key "friendly" lawsuit, to make oil and gas development the dominant use of federal public lands. For example, a BLM instruction memorandum issued in August 2001 instructed BLM state directors to issue oil and gas leases and drilling permits on lands where new land use plans had not yet been completed. Another memorandum, issued in February of this year, in effect required BLM state directors to issue leases on demand to the oil and gas industry(Go here to see the report).... Utah farmers are told to use water or lose it With Utah in its sixth year of drought, the Utah Legislature has given farmers an ironic ultimatum: Use all your water, or what's not used may be taken away. In 2002, the Legislature modified provisions of Utah's water law to address the problem of what's often referred to as "partial" forfeiture — when people aren't using their full water allocation. What had been a long-standing right, allowing people to keep their water rights as long as they use at least some of it over a period of five years, is no longer the case. Now, water users are under enormous pressure to use their entire water allocation because if they fail to use some of the water for five years without notifying the state, their right to it is automatically forfeited. The unused portion of that water right then reverts to the public.... Community sees auction house fade into the past Down in Central Point, they're tearing down the Rogue Valley Livestock Auction and putting up a franchise Dutch Bros. drive-through coffee shop. Some people think change means something better is on the horizon. But a lot of folks in Southern Oregon are sad this week as employees of the auction house clean out the buildings that have seen a lot of cows, horses, pigs, sheep and goats trade hands in the past half-century. To say nothing of the social life that revolved around the place. "Everybody used to go there every Thursday," says Teresa Rippey, a longtime customer who raises horses outside Gold Hill. "Millionaires rubbed elbows with cowboys. It was just a treasure."....

Hi there,

Kit Laney, having shown himself to be non-violent and no flight risk, has finally been granted release on his own recognizance with the condition that he not stray into Catron County since his father's home is there and there are still cattle being removed from that ranch although they are being moved by family members. There have also been several other good news turn around this week in the case surrounding the Diamond Bar.

Beginning with a very successful concert in Truth or Consequences thanks to the generosity of Michael Martin Murphey. Ending with Kit's release granted yesterday. Other notable events this week is the animal cruelty investigation opened by DA Clint Wellborn, and the granting of discovery to the Paragon foundation case over the Livestock Boards violation of the open meetings act in the approval of a MOU between it's executive director and the USFS.

Laura Schneberger

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Forest Service clarifies ban on ads U.S. Forest Service winter sports experts said they are sticking by a long-standing ban on outdoor advertising and have clarified rules on corporate sponsorships. Despite the ban, skiers and snowboarders will probably see more sponsorship messages with company logos in coming years, especially around base areas and in terrain parks. "This will help us prevent unwanted outdoor ads at ski areas and it explains and validates the good sponsorship arrangements that are out there," said Rob Deyerberg, a New Mexico-based ranger who was part of the team that reviewed the ad policy.... Cashing in on fires: Were Rich lunches worth it? Jack Rich would rather cater to guests at his Seeley Lake dude ranch than bag lunches for firefighters. But last August, with 664 people assigned to attack the 3,550 acre Boles Meadow fire, the state turned to the nearby Rich Ranch to help supply meals. Three generations of the Rich family rolled up their sleeves and went to work, creating 250 to 300 sack lunches a day for the next 10 days. Those lunches were the talk of the fire camp. Those 2,600 lunches also cost the taxpayers of Montana $15 each, more than double the typical state lunch rate and at least $5 a lunch more than any other provider. Accountants at the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation pulled the invoices and set them aside for future discussion.... Neptune takes air tanker fight to U.S. Senate The grounding of the nation's fleet of firefighting air tankers has nothing to do with safety concerns, the CEO of Missoula's Neptune Aviation said Tuesday. "I honestly believe this is all political," said Mark Timmons, whose company had eight air tankers on contract to the U.S. Forest Service. "They're not looking at ways to find solutions. They're not looking at individual operators. They've never even called us. "The only agenda I can figure out right now is to have the private operators basically go away. They want us to go out of business.".... Grizzly migration prompts state to revise management plans, procedures Grizzly bears are moving into parts of western Montana where they haven't been for years, and it is time to update management strategies to reflect the change, said an endangered species specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Bozeman. "It's time to review it (the grizzly bear management plan) and see how it needs to change for the future," said Arnold Dood.... Rancher who shot wolf avoids fine by placing ad A rancher who shot a wolf as it chased her sheep has settled a federal civil suit by agreeing to pay for a local newspaper ad educating others about legal protections for wolves. Laura Mitchell avoided a fine by placing the ad, the text of which filled her requirement to "educate the local populace about the regulations surrounding the experimental population of wolves in our area," according to the terms of the settlement. Mitchell, however, was also allowed in a brief introduction to explain what led to the wolf's death and to note that she does not support federal wolf reintroduction that began in 1994. "This program totally ties our hands to deal with canine depredation because if we shoot it and it turns out to be a wolf, we've got a problem," she said.... Tax breaks for thinning forests set Arizona lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that gives businesses tax breaks to cut and remove trees, shrubs and woody mass from Arizona's drought-ravaged forests. House Bill 2549 lays out a series of property-, sales- and income-tax incentives to get companies to move their cutting and milling operations to Arizona. It would take advantage of long-term contracts authorized by President Bush's Healthy Forests Act. For example, it would exempt machinery and equipment from the retail sales tax.... Washoe orders ordinance to protect `presumed public roads Angered by subdivisions blocking roads to the mountains, Washoe County commissioners Tuesday unanimously ordered new ordinances to protect “presumed public roads.” Commissioner Jim Galloway asked for an ordinance giving five citizens the right to petition for a public hearing over the closure of a road people once used across federal lands before they were sold to private interests decades ago and still can be considered public under federal law.... Cattle grazing aids seasonal wetlands Cattle started trampling some of the rarest, most sensitive wetlands abutting San Francisco Bay on Monday, ripping up grass and scattering hoof prints and cow pies across the landscape. The destruction brought nothing but smiles to the faces of federal wildlife biologists looking on, because it's the only way managers at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge know to preserve and restore their fragile vernal pools. Cattle knock back the weeds, reducing thatch, opening up the landscape not just for the shrimp and salamanders and flowers but also burrowing owls and other creatures.... Record number of whale pairs counted off Piedras Blancas A record number of mom-and-baby gray whales are swimming their way back to Alaska, according to scientists who are completing the annual count at Piedras Blancas. The researchers have counted 450 cow-calf pairs since March. The record count was 501. But this year, because of budget cutbacks, spotters worked fewer days. "So this count is equal to one of 545 on the old schedule," said Wayne Perryman, marine biologist and whale expert from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Service's Southwest Fisheries Center.... More refuge water going down Klamath River to boost flows Water drained from the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is being used to bolster flows in the Klamath River, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials announced Monday. Over the next month, about 8,500 acre-feet of water will be pumped off seasonal wetlands on the Lower Klamath refuge, adding about 150 cubic feet per second to the flows in the river.... Butterfly group calls for Mexico to protect forest Local butterfly preservationists are leading a national campaign to pressure the Mexican government to intervene against increasingly violent loggers they say are illegally deforesting the region of Mexico the group seeks to protect. Bob Small, director of the Alameda-based Michoacan Reforestation Fund, said Monday hostile Mexican mobsters are illegally logging in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a protected stretch of forests 100 miles west of Mexico City, where Monarchs arrive by the millions each winter to roost.... Government worries Illinois plant will pollute Missouri wilderness The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that the new coal-fired Prairie State Generating Station in Illinois' Washington County will damage the Mingo Wilderness in southeast Missouri with pollution haze and acid rain. The Interior Department registered its concerns this month in a letter to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which is considering Peabody's request for an air pollution permit.... Humane Society questions tribal bison management The regional director of the Humane Society of the United States says the rate of death among bison owned by the Three Affiliated Tribes is too high. Dave Pauli, in a letter to Tribal Chairman Tex Hall, said that after he inspected the herd last month he concluded that the death rate is more than double what is considered acceptable.... BLM Announces National Volunteer Award Winners Who Are 'Making a Difference' on Public Lands Seven volunteers, one volunteer organization, and two employees of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will receive a prestigious national award for their public service contributions at a ceremony to be held June 3, 2004 at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C.... The volunteer winners announced today are Carole Adams and George Baland of California, Diane Delano of Florida, Alvin McLane of Nevada, James Hutchins of Oregon, Bob and Kathy Bailey of Utah, and the Raptor Inventory and Nest Survey Group, also from Utah. BLM employees selected for recognition are John Rose of Arizona and Gayle Irwin of Wyoming.... Hanna CBM project tries horizontal wells In the natural gas-rich fields of southwest Wyoming, producers are employing a new kind of drilling technology to minimize surface disturbances as they seek traditional gas. Now they want to see if it will work on coalbed methane. Anadarko Production Company officials are seeking permission to try horizontal drilling techniques in recovering coalbed methane near Hanna. Horizontal drilling is a relatively new oil field technology in which the hydrocarbon-producing borehole is sunk first downward, then across the seam, horizontally. Like directional drilling from a single pad, horizontal drilling aims to eliminate the need for separate well sites, production facilities and access routes.... Column: Symbol of the West Is Being Spurred Toward Oblivion Every Wednesday, a group of protesters gathers on old Highway 395 in front of the Nevada state Capitol in Carson City to draw attention to the plight of wild horses. They carry signs such as "Goodbye Spirit of the West" and "As It Should Be, Wild Horses Running Free." They've been at it since February, when the latest in a series of stealth roundups sponsored by the government sent them to the streets. Every week, traffic slows and horns honk in agreement in the state that has the largest number of free-roaming wild horses in the West. But the question remains: Can the wild horse, pressed into service to blaze our trails and carry us into battle, survive the Bush administration? The war against the wild horse and the federal law that protects it is being waged by cattlemen and ranchers, lone nuts and sagebrush rebels with a copy of the 2nd Amendment tucked in their back pockets. In one way or another, the war is officially backed by government agencies such as the federal Bureau of Land Management and the Nevada Department of Agriculture, by bureaucrats and small-town officials who in essence are stealing wild horses from public lands.... Clint Eastwood urges volunteers to clean up public land Clint Eastwood wants you to volunteer, punk. The "Dirty Harry" star reprised his role on Tuesday as spokesman for Take Pride in America, an organization of volunteers who maintain public lands. Eastwood, 74, previously promoted the group in the 1980s alongside fellow tough-guys Charles Bronson and Lou Gossett Jr.... Park Service chief downplays cutbacks With homeland security a growing concern, the head of the National Park Service said Tuesday that the 388 parks within the park system will have more law enforcement rangers this summer - but also more self-guided tours and fewer seasonal rangers. Director Fran Mainella sought to dispel concerns among lawmakers and environmentalists that budget considerations might prompt widespread cutbacks in services for summer visitors. During a lengthy interview in her office, she said visitors can expect about the same level of services despite tight budgets this year. "You're not going to see parks closed. This welcome mat is out," Mainella told The Associated Press. She said $1.5 million that had been cut from employee travel spending has helped cover the budget needs of some smaller parks.... Ocean-saving plan passes state Senate A plan by national environmental groups to steer more of California's taxpayer money to Pacific Ocean research and protecting fishing grounds passed the Senate on Tuesday, moving a battle between environmentalists and California fishing associations to the Assembly. The Senate voted 24-12 for two bills to add ocean protection to the mission of California's $3.4 billion Proposition 50 bond, passed in 2002 to restore the state's coastline and wetlands, estuaries and bays. Environmental groups want more money to buy and retire fishing boats, better map the ocean, lease or buy underwater land to restrict fishing and launch pilot projects to put more of the ocean off limits to fishing.... Brazil says foreign media distort Amazon destruction Brazil's government accused foreign media and nongovernmental organizations Tuesday of trying to undermine Brazil's farm boom by distorting the facts and linking it to destruction of the Amazon jungle. Brazil's Agriculture Ministry said the foreign reports of these charges showed a lack of knowledge about the Amazon and that farming there represented a tiny fraction of the jungle's total size. The Amazon's continuous rain forest is just under half the size of the continental United States, but the rate of destruction of the forest jumped in 2003.... Disaster Movie Used to Highlight Environment 20th Century Fox (search) — a sister company to Fox News — releases "The Day After Tomorrow" later this week. The movie depicts worldwide disasters triggered by a massive climate shift brought about by global warming. The movie not only is full of special effects and dramatic license, it has also caught the eye of environmentalists like former Vice President Al Gore (search), who held what was billed as a "town hall meeting" to discuss the topic in connection to the film. Gore admits that the movie uses only a tiny bit of science to back its grand assertions, but that didn't stop him from taking a whack at political opponents and declaring future doom under current environmental policies.... Bill gives military more sway over California growth decisions A key part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's strategy to keep California's military bases from closing next year passed the state Senate Tuesday, as it approved a plan to make cities and counties near military bases notify commanders of local growth plans. The bill passed 24-10 despite opposition from homebuilders, shopping center owners and elected officials in several Southern California counties. It now moves to the Assembly. The notion of letting military leaders comment on nearby growth proposals mirrors efforts by other fast-growing states, including Florida, Texas, Washington and Arizona, to control growth near military bases and below aerial training routes. Officials say the moves are designed to show the Pentagon they're serious about keeping bases viable, as leaders prepare next year to announce more than 100 base closings.... Hearst Ranch plan twists in the wind Covering two and half times the area of San Francisco, the state's largest coastal cattle ranch is an environmental gem local activists say has changed little since the Spaniards first came to California's Central Coast. Now, Hearst Corp., which once proposed building a city of 65,000 here, is offering to give up most of the ranch's development rights in one of the biggest and most complex conservation deals ever. The New York-based company set a May 31 deadline for the $95 million transaction with the state - a deadline no one expects to meet.... 2 states to discuss water dispute Wyoming officials have agreed to meet to discuss Montana concerns about water rights on the Tongue, Powder and Little Powder rivers, but said they don't feel they have any obligation to make more water available to senior water rights holders in Montana. Montana regulators asked Wyoming last week to shut off pre-1950 junior water rights in the Tongue, Powder and Little Powder rivers to provide much-needed drought relief to senior water rights holders in Montana, who Montana officials say have priority based on the Yellowstone River Compact. In a Monday letter replying to Montana's Department of Natural Resources, Wyoming state engineer Patrick T. Tyrrell wrote that state officials there were willing to get together in June to discuss the matter.... Property rights protect owners, not trespassers except in N.D. Private property rights have always been of the utmost importance to us and to my constituents. It makes no difference if that property is a house on a lot or a farm. That is the point of the lawsuit against the state. Over the years, many legislators have offered alternatives to correct this injustice, and they all have been fought by special interest groups, leaving no recourse but to ask the court system for judicial clarification. The question I want answered is simple: Does the executive or legislative branch of government have the authority to give away anyone's private property rights? The North Dakota Game and Fish Department publishes that if land is not posted, anyone can hunt on it. And when the state of North Dakota declares that private property can be used by the public if we owners do not post signs, is that not a "taking," in violation of private property owners' constitutional rights?.... Editorial: Feed starving masses, not irrational fears Some 842 million people — 13% of the world's population — don't have enough food to eat each day. Millions of them face starvation in Africa because of droughts and armed conflicts in countries that include Sudan, Angola and Uganda. In one sense, that's an old story — so old, it makes even sympathetic eyes glaze over. But it could have a new happy ending that, remarkably, has yet to be written. While the script promises a reliable, cheap food supply for all who are hungry, some fear that outcome the way villagers were terrified by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein monster. In fact, fearful environmentalists and their political allies call the solution "Frankenfood," crops genetically altered to resist disease, pests and drought, or staples engineered to add nutrients. Such crops could transform health in the poorest nations, the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization said in a report last week. Biotech rice alone could prevent 500,000 cases of blindness and 2 million children's deaths each year as a result of vitamin A deficiency.... Groups unite over voluntary COOL plan America's cattle ranchers, pork producers, seafood producers and produce grower-shippers, as well as US food processors, wholesalers and retailers, said today they are united behind a proposed approach to implement voluntary country of origin labeling (COOL). They say the effort will create a program to identify domestic and imported fruits, vegetables, beef, pork and seafood with labels showing where they originated.... Equine disease in West Texas causes worry about Breeders' Cup There is a remote possibility that the Breeders' Cup could be moved from Lone Star Park because of an outbreak of a contagious equine disease 500 miles from the site of the race. The disease, vesicular stomatitis, has been found in three horses on a farm near Balmorhea in Far West Texas. The rarely fatal viral disease causes blisters to form in the animal's mouth and on teats or hooves. It can affect horses, cattle, pigs, and occasionally sheep, goat and deer. The Breeders' Cup, scheduled for Oct. 30, is a group of eight races with $14 million in purses held on one day for thoroughbreds from North America and Europe. The race is estimated to have an economic impact of more than $30 million on the area.... No Reports of Human Mad Cow Disease - CDC U.S. health authorities are not investigating any reports of possible cases of the human form of mad cow disease, despite a rumor which sent cattle futures plummeting on Tuesday. The Web site of a Nashville television story earlier on Tuesday posted a story about a U.S. soldier stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, who had developed a case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). The variant from of the disease, vCJD, comes from eating beef infected with mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy.... Report: Animal Antibiotics Pose Threat A new report by the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accounting Office, concludes that the Food and Drug Administration "has determined that antibiotic resistance in humans resulting from the use of antibiotics in animals is an unacceptable risk to the public health." The study, AntibioticResistance: Federal Agencies Need to Better Focus Efforts to Address Risk to Humans from Antibiotic Use in Animals (GAO-04-490), was requested by Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Tom Harkin (D- Iowa). Kennedy and Snowe are sponsors of a bipartisan bill (S. 1460) to phase out the routine use of medically important antibiotics in livestock and poultry that are not sick; the bill also provides funding to help farmers make the transition. Reps. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) are sponsors of the companion bill (H.R. 2932).... Viruses carried by mites damaging Panhandle wheat fields Some Panhandle wheat farmers are battling a double whammy that has taken aim on their fields. Agriculture experts are trying to determine the extent of an infestation of a mite that carries the two viruses - the wheat streak mosaic and the High Plains viruses. Both have been found in fields in several Panhandle counties.... On The Edge Of Common Sense: Windbreaks can be tricky in unregulated New Mexico An excellent question. As you pointed out, cows will eat car parts and baler twine, not to mention nails, staples, wire, tennis balls, bones, prickly pear, lug bolts, the Western Horseman magazine, windmill leathers, stirrups, moldy hay, quilts, diapers, the flag of Honduras, snow cones and apple pie. So eating Arizona Cypress, which sounds like it should be related to the juniper or eucalyptus, would be expected....