Sunday, September 30, 2007


Still experiencing some problems, but doing better. Will see the Dr. Tuesday, and hope to spend more time blogging tomorrow.
Back Door Bureaucrats

by Lee Pitts

Reprinted with permission from the publisher of Livestock Market Digest, P.O. Box 7458, Albuquerque, NM 87194, 505-243-9515 ext 23.

I love my country as much as any man but sometimes I think she cheats on me.

You’ll recall that in April 2005 the USDA called for mandatory registration of livestock premises and individual animal identification. The plan, known as NAIS, required that the movement of any animal must be reported within 48 hours. That plan caused such a backlash that in November 2006 the USDA backtracked and said, “We must emphasize that NAIS is a voluntary program at the Federal level, and USDA has no plans to make participation in any component of the program mandatory.”

So why is the USDA using innocent kids to implement its pipe dream?

Mandatory Volunteers

In the fall of 2005, Morgan County Colorado Extension Agent Marlin Eisenach summoned a meeting of the fair board in which the State Veterinarian and CSU professors extolled the virtues of NAIS. After hearing the presentations the fair board members decided to require mandatory enrollment in USDA’s ID scheme if a kid wanted to show at the Morgan County Fair. In the 2006 Morgan County Fair all 79 market beef animals, 117 market goats, 169 market pigs, and 149 market lambs were identified with 15-digit individual ID numbers.
In September 2006, the Colorado 4-H Livestock Task Force, composed of 15-20 extension agents, recommended to the state 4-H Director, Dr. Jeff Goodwin, that Colorado 4-H encourage premise registration. On March 28, 2007, Dr. Goodwin issued a directive to Colorado extension agents that all 4-H livestock project animals MUST HAVE a premises registration for participation in 4-H and FFA projects after October 1, 2007. An eight-page list of talking points was sent out to extension agents to help sell the new policy. David Morris, a USDA vet said at the time that showing in 4-H was no different than Little League or joining the ballet company. “If one doesn’t accept the rules, one doesn’t have to participate.” The Colorado Cattlemen's Association, Colorado Livestock Association, National Pork Board and Colorado's dairy farmers leant their support to the new policy.

Keep in mind that the NAIS has not been mandated by Congress and the USDA is on public record assuring livestock producers that the program remains VOLUNTARY!

Let The Backlash Begin

Besides mandatory ID for fair animals, there was another bad joke going around the fair circuit this summer in Colorado: Do you know the difference between a mad grizzly bear and a 4-H mom fighting mandatory premises registration? The lipstick.

When Dr. Goodwin issued the directive he assured the county agents that if they stayed the course, in two years this will be a non-issue. Quicker than you can say “railroad job” The Colorado Coalition Opposing Mandatory 4H Premises Registration was formed and letters to the editor began appearing in newspapers all over Colorado.

"I will not teach my children to bow down to big government. I will no longer put money into a program that mandates to our children. It is not fair to our children," said Kimmi Lewis, a 16 year 4-H mother and rancher from Kim, Colorado.

Richard Kipp of Pleasant View said, “Their denial of the mounting resistance to this mandate across the state is problematic in itself. I suggest that these folks get out of their air-conditioned offices and into the country to visit with real producers where they'll get a clear understanding of just how unpopular their policy mandate is."

Kenny Fox wrote, “Children should not be forced to register their parents’ property in order to show livestock, and national organizations should not be trading their membership lists for cash.”

In yet another misjudgment, Dr. Goodwin seems to have underestimated the opposition to his mandate. He called the coalition a “fringe group.” If they are, they certainly are a well organized one. Thirteen Boards of County Commissioners in Colorado have now taken action in opposition to mandatory premises registration.

The Fair Ultimatum

Many 4-H members do not have the facilities at home to house an animal, so they find a landowner willing to help. During an April 9 meeting of the Lincoln County Fair Board, Dr. Goodwin was asked what a kid should do when their animal is kept at a location different from their own. Goodwin’s alleged response was to find another location or register the landowner’s premises without his knowledge or consent. John Reid, President of the Coalition says that “advising children to lie and sign up for a premises registration when they don’t own the premises defies the imagination, particularly when the advice comes from a director of a state youth development program.”

The ID issue came to a head at this year’s Colorado State Fair. The fair decided to make premise registration in NAIS a requirement to sell at the junior livestock auction. Initially, a dozen youngsters who had qualified for the sale were told they would not be able to sell their animals because they failed to get a number. On the eve of the sale, families were given a last-minute choice: either enroll their property in the premises registration system on site, leave the fairgrounds within 24 hours or be escorted off the grounds by the Sheriff’s Department. After being threatened 10 of the 12 kids went ahead and registered their premises but two refused to do so. They were bought off and their animals were purchased outside of the auction environment.

“Needless to say,” said John Reid, “This is not a proud moment for Colorado State Fair, 4-H and the Colorado Department of Agriculture.”

The incident raised several flags. According to Reid, two of the families had submitted the premise ID number for their county fairgrounds. Both families say they received permission from state fair officials to do so. Keep in mind that the reason the USDA says we need national ID is for animal traceback in case of a health issue. The numbers are only supposed to be accessed by the state veterinarian and only in the event of an animal health crisis. No one else was to have access. Clearly this was not a health issue, so how did officials at the Colorado State Fair access the NAIS database to verify the identification numbers of the two kids? Also, fair officials claim it took 30 days for them to identify and weed out the alleged offenders of their ruling. How is a 30 day response time going to assure a 48 hour traceback in a health crises? And since when don’t breeding animals get sick? Premises registration was not required at the 2007 state fair for breeding animals; only terminal animals.

“4-H and FFA animals are tracked and recorded in more ways than any other livestock in this nation,” says Kimmi Lewis. “Why are they using these children? I believe that these children are being “picked on” because of the numbers and because of money. Over 2 million dollars have come into the state of Colorado from our very own USDA to push premises registration and the NAIS these last two years. This money has funneled through our own Extension offices and the Colorado Farm Bureau as well as the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. This money is used to pressure people into a premises registration whether they want it or not.”

Take A Number

The NAIS is a Trojan Horse and inside the bowels of the pony are all sorts of bureaucrats ready and willing to control your life and further their goal of a centrally planned farm policy. Thus far NAIS has been a big dud. Less than 25% of livestock production operations nation wide have registered for premises registration. The most current information we could find shows that 408,500 premises have been registered. (We don’t know how many of that number have been registered without the owner’s knowledge or coerced into registering, like the kids in Colorado.) The USDA has stated that it wants every single person who owns even one animal to be involved by 2009. Clearly they could not achieve this goal through voluntary registration so the USDA instead is trying to sneak in through the back door and what better way to do it than tie premises registration in with federal programs? Don’t forget that the 4-H program is a part of USDA and that the FFA is also overseen by the feds.

Between the 4-H and FFA it is estimated that there are 1,700,000 members enrolled in beef and dairy cattle, sheep, swine, goat, poultry and horse projects. The USDA simply decided to fund mandatory and coercive programs in these programs to pad the numbers. The bureaucrats have other ways to coerce too.

It is estimated that the USDA has spent $100 million the last four years on animal ID. Just recently the USDA announced the availability of $6 million more for more cooperative agreements. In addition to funding programs on Indian reservations the USDA gave the National Milk Producers Federation a grant of up to $1 million, cut a deal with the National Pork Board and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the American Angus Association to facilitate the registration of up to 15,400 new Angus premises. It is not just some accident that most cattle marketing programs and ALL animal health programs require a mandatory NAIS premise number. Want to participate in Angus Source or Pfizer vac? Get a premise number.

The Big Business Exception

Are we just being paranoid? What’s not to like about animal identification?

To find the answer you have to look at who is pushing the idea. It all started in 2002 when the National Institute of Animal Agriculture initiated meetings that led to the development of the ID plan. The NIAA is a private organization whose membership reads like a who's who of big agribusiness: Cargill, Monsanto, the National Livestock Producers Association, the National Pork Producers Council, drug companies such as Pfizer and Schering Plough and manufacturers of tracking systems.

These people are pushing mandatory ID to protect the agricultural export business and to strengthen factory farming. The USDA says mandatory ID is necessary to control disease but Charles Sylvester, who knows about livestock shows, (he was CEO of Denver’s National Western for many years) thinks that’s a bunch of hooey. “Running cattle in two states that have brand laws, I’ve had opportunity to visit with brand inspectors and state vets about such things as tracking and vaccine. It’s very clear that they’ve had a solid hundred plus year history of being able to handle crisis just by simply “communicating” with one another and using the brands. Having an additional step of “federal” would slow down and encumber the entire process. The federal government does not have a first responder (within 48 hours) vaccine plan in place. There's absolutely, positively, no need for a federal data base.”

The real issue is not health as USDA Undersecretary Bruce Knight accidentally admitted in a press interview years ago when he said that “the government needs this information as the United States slides into economic integration with the rest of North, Central and South America.”

Now here’s the real slap in the face to those 4-H and FFA kids and smaller ranchers: While they have to tag each and every animal factory farmers don’t have to! You read that right. The USDA says that when animals "stay together" as they do in a factory farm, individual identification of each animal in the group is not necessary.
The NAIS has the potential to drive small and medium-size farmers and ranchers out of business and increase the consolidation of our food supply into fewer hands. If you still doubt that it’s a ploy to aid factory farmers consider that the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board, huge advocates of factory farming, have a goal to register 100% of swine producers’ premises by December 31, 2007. It’s estimated that 60% of swine premises are already registered.

Passports For Hogs

The USDA says your identity will be protected but please keep in mind that this is the same USDA who told us for years that the beef checkoff was a producer-run organization and then years later told the Supreme Court that it is a government program. Things change. When we all voted for the checkoff the NCBA didn’t even exist. Now they get the lion’s share of the money! Likewise, down the road we’d guess you’ll pay an inventory tax based on ID numbers and have to get approval every time you need to move an animal. The factory farms won’t have to. And we can easily see the USDA demanding premises registration to participate in any federal aid programs.

The most bizarre aspect of this whole mess is how does our government reconcile pushing individual ID when they are opposed to country of origin labeling? They want to know about a 4-H hog in Colorado but not one of the Chinese variety!

It’s a joke. The USDA thinks it can trace the whereabouts at any minute of 63 million hogs, 97 million cattle, 300 million laying hens and 9 billion chickens. And this is only three of the 29 species covered by NAIS. We are talking here of the same government that currently takes three months to process a passport and can’t even keep track of this nation’s illegal aliens. If 75% of the people haven’t voluntarily gotten a number by now how many do you think will flatly refuse? As Darol Dickinson says, “You will have to build incarceration facilities in every county to house the offenders.”

As one critic said, “the NAIS is a program that somewhat resembles an expensive plan to use baseball bats to kill mosquitoes . . . when we haven't found the mosquito---and the plan was proposed by a bat manufacturer.”
Sally is a good ole girl
Cowgirl Sass And Savvy

By Julie Carter

Cowboying isn't just about riding a horse, swinging a rope or looking fine in Cinch jeans and a new George Strait straw hat

Sally is a good ole girl. She's the kind you just like having around. Besides being beautiful, she is fun, rides well, and can sometimes catch both feet. She is also a favorite heeler for a number of headers in the team roping game because of those attributes.

She has an honest job and a little acreage of good grass for her practice cattle. Roping is her hobby and her cattle business has always been limited to however many cattle she needed for practice.
Last week, she was one head short when she did a cursory count of her holdings. She rode all the fences, rode the neighbors' country, called around and then finally rode her grassland again. All this handled on her high-dollar blue roan heeling horse.

She finally found the heifer hiding in an grove of oaks, head down and slobbering.

Any cowboy would have immediately diagnosed this condition as the ingestion of some weed that gave her a bellyache, put her in the pen, given her some hay and wished her well.

Sally hit the panic button. She called her favorite vet, a fun-spirited guy, who told her to give the heifer 30 cc of penicillin.

His phone diagnosis was that she probably had rabies and would be dead within the week and then they could send her head to the vet college. Additionally, everyone in the family and surrounding country would have to get rabies shots and likely quarantined. Not thinking she would really believe him, he went on his innocent way.

Sally believed him. She went back to the pasture to get the heifer and bring her to the pens but couldn't get her to move. Finally she roped her, thinking this would be incentive to head the right direction. No luck.

She drug the heifer until the roan got tired. Then she tried again to tail her up and then had to drag her a little more. Finally, they got to the pens - the horse, the heifer and Sally were worn smooth out.

At this critical point in exhaustion, Sally's smart 12-year-old son shows up, looks over the situation and falls in with the vet. "Mama, I touched her. I have mad cow disease. I'm going to die."

After 30 cc of penicillin plus 15 cc of B12 just because, Sally had done all she could do for this poor, terminally ill heifer. By morning the medication has worked, the heifer is up, eating and walking the fence. Her neck was a little sore and she had a few grass stains on her sides, but otherwise, her life has been saved.

After such a successful doctoring event, Sally decided to worm all her practice cattle. Counting is also a critical cowboy skill, one that seems to have eluded her.

As she is telling her favorite team roping header about the event, she related that she had brought either 12 or 14 head in from a lease pasture, 7 or 8 from the roping catch pen and another couple from the trap at the house.

She wormed them, gave them all a B12 shot since that worked so good on the heifer and put them all out to winter grass.

As the tale is related, the cowboy listening does the mental math and comes up with 22-24 head of roping cattle, which Sally confirms to be "about right."

Wanting to check the numbers he says, "How many are left in the catch pen?"

She thinks, about 11.

"How many are in the house trap?"

She thinks, about 15.

"How many are in the lease pasture?"

She is sure she took back the ones that were there in the first place and this either 14 or 16.

She is beautiful and she is a good heeler. However, just not everybody is cut out to handle the "cowboy" part of the job.

Visit Julie’s Web site at She is a new member of Western Writers of America and her book is getting rave review across the West. It is being offered by such prestigious places as the Hubbard Museum of the America West and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in OKC, Oklahoma.


By Welda McKinley Grider

The newest among us ranchers are those who buy a part of the old American West and come out to shoot, root and toot on their own piece of Glory in a subdivision. I’ve had many amusing stories about the “new ones”. The one who thought a bull had a belly ache cuz he was bellering, the one who thought the calf couldn’t get milk because he was nudging his mother in the belly but a couple of weeks ago….I got one that takes the cake or the pie in this instance (as in cow pie).

The gal who called me is one of the most intelligent people I’ve met and retired from a very prestigious job. She has come to our area and has fit in very well.

But she called and said some of our cattle “broke into her house”. Damaged a door and some stuff. We didn’t deny this could happen but cattle seldom will get on a porch and hang out if the house is occupied. But as any rancher knows….it could happen. Cows are known for eating electric wire off trailers and various other obnoxious things so it could happen.

She called back and wondered if it might have been horses? I said that makes better sense to me. Horses, certainly pet horses have no qualms about porches and the people who might live there.

She asked if I could tell by the poop? I said certainly. She said well I swept off the porch so it’s lost its integrity. I grinned to myself. I had never heard poop had “integrity” much less “lost integrity”.

I went to her house and on the way to the door could tell by the tracks it was horses. At least two horses, one shod and one not. I could easily tell the poop was horse droppings.

I showed her the tracks and how they differ from cow tracks. I said this is horse manure by the way it’s made. We didn’t have to go far out in the pasture to find a dried up cow patty and then as luck would have it I showed her where a bull had passed. She asked how I could tell bull manure from cow manure? I said something BAD happens in a bull digestive track and the end result is usually propelled out.

I explained horse poop is hard and round. Cow pop is usually wet and flat. I said you obviously don’t know poop. She had to agree. I said from now on – in meetings when you talk, I can honestly say she doesn’t know poop – don’t listen to her. I found it amusing that with her level of education and my lack thereof – I was educating her in poop. I asked her if she wanted to know the moral of this little story?

If you don’t know poop, don’t talk poop.

A pretty good moral for all of us to live by.

Welda McKinley Grider – local rancher who knows her poop.

It’s The Pitts: Tool Fool

My name is Lee and I’m a tool-a-holic. I admit it. Going into a tool store for me is like a woman making a pilgrimage to Nordstroms. I belong to the Tool of the Month Club, the Craftsman Club and own gadgets whose purpose is still unknown to me. This more than qualifies me to answer the question... “What does every rancher need in a well stocked tool box?”

First of all, you don’t need a tool box, that is what the bed of the pickup is for. Unless you own a flat bed truck, in which case you are considered upper management and won’t be using tools. For the rest of us, here is a list of the tools of the trade and their intended purpose.

Tape Measure- For social climbing ranchers to wear on their belt when they go to the hardware store in hopes someone will mistake them for a carpenter.

Crescent Wrench- Primary use is for nailing nails, staples and small screws.

Pipe Wrench- For pounding larger screws, lag bolts and spikes. If they still won’t budge, don’t force it, just get a bigger wrench. That’s why they come in all sizes.

Fence Stretcher- On rainy days she can ride in the cab of the truck with you.

Shovel- To lean on as you supervise the fence stretcher.

Claw Hammer- For tightening and splicing barbed wire fence.

Vise Grips- For attaching your truck’s battery cable to the battery.

Level- To settle arguments at the pool hall on whether the table is level or not.

Punch- Will add holes in your belt as you grow older and wider.

Pocket Knife- For whittling, scraping rust, cutting calves or picking teeth when a hoof pick is not available.

Hoof Rasp- A versatile kitchen tool that will peel potatoes, grate cheese and remove baked-on grease.

Paint Brush- I’m told they’re good for dusting furniture.

Hay Hooks- Used to break metal wires on hay bales when wire cutters are someplace you can’t find them. Like, attached to your belt.

Box End Adjustable Wench- The lady at the tool store who won’t extend me any more credit and kicks me out at closing time.

Bald Pein Hammerhead- Her husband.

Bolt Cutters- For opening locks and cutting chain when accidentally locked out.

Horn Scoops- For pruning small shrubbery.

Hack Saw- Will saw horns off cattle if your horn scoops are dull.

Socket Set- For tractor repair and reminding you that you never learned fractions in school.

Hatchet- Alternate tool for working on tractor if you don’t have a socket set.

Allen Wrenches- Wrenches that belonged to your wife’s first husband, Allen.

Digging Bar- A misnomer. Real job is to stop animals from backing up in a chute.

Screw Driver- Good for stirring paint, chiseling or as a small pry bar.

Chisel- Used on screws in place of a screwdriver which probably has wet paint all over it.

Pick Ax- I have no idea what it’s used for and don’t want to find out.

Fence Pliers- For opening bottles and cans.

Extension Cord- To plug in your electric drill. Should be at least a mile long.

Brace and Bit- You’ll need this when the extension cord isn’t long enough and the rechargeable batteries are dead in your portable drill. Which is always.

All In One Tool- Ads on TV claim that this tool will perform all the functions of every tool found in a tool box, allowing you to lose all your tools at one time.

Baling Wire- An acceptable substitute for screws, clamps, bolts and glue.

Duct Tape- Used when baling wire is not available.

The Next Wave in Superhighways, or A Big, Fat Texas Boondoggle?

To see the future of transportation in Texas, you have to drive out to the prairie north of Austin, past the sprawling plants of Dell and Samsung, to the farthest suburbs, where wild grass and cornfields nuzzle up to McMansions with their perfect green lawns. There, giant earthmovers, their wheels taller than a Texan in his boots, are ripping up the gummy, black soil to lay a 49-mile stretch of concrete tollway. State Highway 130, at a cost of $1.5 billion, is the biggest highway project under way in the U.S. today. It is also the first test in concrete for the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC)--a radical rethinking of the nation's Eisenhower-era roadways. The brainchild of Texas' Republican Governor, Rick Perry, the TTC would, if built, completely transform the state's highways over the next 50 years, creating a 4,000-mile network of multimodal corridors for transporting goods and people by car, truck, rail and utility line. Each corridor would have six lanes for cars, four additional lanes for 18-wheel trucks, half a dozen rail lines and a utility zone for moving oil and water, gas and electricity, even broadband data. The corridors could measure up to a quarter of a mile across. The projected cost, at least $183 billion, is more than the original price tag for the entire U.S. interstate system. But Texas, going it alone, is seeking private companies to take on the mammoth job of constructing, financing, operating and maintaining the network. To pay for the roads, developers will rely on a familiar but long-neglected method of financing: tollbooths. Opponents of the corridor range from environmentalists (the Sierra Club has called it "evil") to the Texas Republican Party, which has urged the legislature to repeal it. Texas, which is losing more land to sprawl than any other state, would need more than 9,000 sq. mi. of right-of-way for the corridors, affecting critical wetlands and pristine prairie lands. The Big Thicket National Preserve, considered "the biological crossroads of North America" for its mix of habitats, was put on the list of most-endangered parks by the National Parks Conservation Association this year, in part because of the threat from the Perry plan. Environmentalists have found an unlikely ally in traditionally conservative landowners worried about property rights. David Langford, an activist for the Texas Wildlife Association, is organizing farmers and ranchers whose land could be cut in half or condemned by the Trans-Texas Corridor. An early plan for central Texas showed a corridor passing near the homestead Langford's family settled in 1851. With the state's new "quick claim" ability — granted under TTC legislation — his family homestead could be gone in 90 days, he says, transferred to private investors operating the corridor. Though he would be compensated financially, he's still steamed. "I can't believe Rick Perry's grandfather would want his house and ranch taken and turned over to Paris Hilton's family to build a hotel on one of these roads," he says....

1 mile equals $595,625, jury decides

When Canal Winchester offered Richard "Pete" Stebelton $9,249 for a 1-mile strip of his property, Stebelton thought the payment was too low. Boy, was it ever. This month, a Franklin County Common Pleas jury decided the village should pay the farmer and used-car dealer $595,625. Canal Winchester wants the land to link a bike path between Rager Road and the village swimming pool. It used eminent domain to take a strip of Stebelton's 80-acre property and hired an appraiser who determined that the $9,249 would be enough compensation. "It wasn't fair at all," Stebelton, 75, remembers thinking. Stebelton was the only one of eight property owners who didn't agree to sell his land to the village for the path. Instead, he went to court to challenge the village's valuation. The jury decided Sept. 20 that the land the village wants, along the northern edge of his property, is worth $37,000. But the jury also decided that by taking it, the village was closing off a back entrance to the property and damaging the value of the rest of Stebelton's land by $558,625. "I was thrilled. I would have to be," Stebelton said of the victory, adding that the trial "put me through one hell of a miserable week." Stebelton lives in a home built in 1825. He grows hay and raises horses on the land he bought 21 years ago for $300,000....

Landowners' options for challenging pipeline limited

South Dakota law appears to give TransCanada the right to exercise eminent domain in building the Keystone crude oil pipeline from its proposed entrance in the state at the North Dakota border to where it would exit across the Missouri River near Yankton. If TransCanada is indeed free to compel easements from landowners, the only way it might be prevented from using them for a pipeline is if the federal government or the state Public Utilities Commission refuses to issue permits for Keystone. The South Dakota statute on energy transmission facilities requires "that a facility may not be constructed or operated in this state without first obtaining a permit from the commission." The PUC is holding public hearings on the pipeline in December, and the U.S. State Department also expects to decide late this year whether to issue a permit to allow Keystone to cross the U.S. border. TransCanada officials say they hope to begin construction in South Dakota next year. The proposed pipeline has become a contentious project for several reasons. Among them: Environmental concerns are associated with building it across wetlands, and it proposes to carry as many as 590,000 barrels of crude oil per day beneath the state to oil refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma. Also, TransCanada's plan to use eminent domain has infuriated some landowners and others who question whether a Canadian company should be able to condemn land in the U.S....

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Swell Swine(subscription)

North Carolina's global-warming activists are in hog heaven. Late last month, Gov. Mike Easley, a Democrat in his second term, signed legislation mandating that more electric power in his state come from "green" sources such as wind, solar energy, and hog and chicken waste. Today, North Carolina gets about 2% of its electricity from "renewable resources." By 2021, under the new mandates, Progress Energy and Duke Energy will have to find 12.5% of the power that they sell to Tar Heel residents from renewables. Hog-waste-generated power -- as required by the new law -- will nearly triple to 0.2% of the electricity used in the state over the next decade as farmers capture and sell the methane gas given off from tons of decomposing manure. It's gone largely uncovered outside the state, but there is an energy revolution underway in the Tar Heel State that will cost residents more for the energy they use in the name of cutting greenhouse gases. Even while they make little headway in Congress, advocates of heavy-handed regulations to head off global warming are working to enact laws on the state level. They're succeeding in North Carolina. The immediate cost to consumers will be higher electric bills. For residential customers, an annual fee will eventually reach $34, and for industry the annual fee will grow to as much as $1,000. The new hog mandate is only the beginning. The state has set up a special commission -- the Climate Action Plan Advisory Group -- to study ways to cut CO2 emissions. It's already adopted a list of 53 recommended new mandates and is drafting a report for the state legislature. A few ideas the commission will recommend in its report next month include mandates for "higher-density" housing developments, something thought to reduce suburban "sprawl," and, of course, new subsidies for farmers to produce biodiesel. It will also recommend imposing new costs on the driving public. One thought is to force drivers who put more miles on their odometer to pay higher car-insurance premiums than those who drive less. And it will recommend a CO2 tax or a cap-and-trade system, assuming such a system could be worked out on a state level. These ideas don't come out of thin air. They are in part the product of a five-year effort by the Center for Climate Strategies -- a global warming group funded by several well-known foundations -- that first got active in North Carolina under the auspices of a law enacted in 2002 aimed at reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants. Under that law, the state's Division of Air Quality was required to study ways to reduce CO2 emissions. That mandate led to the creation of the special commission that will soon hand over its list of recommended new mandates to the legislature. To conduct its studies, the Division of Air Quality turned to the Center for Climate Strategies....

Friday, September 28, 2007

Report touts nature over energy

he Rocky Mountains' natural amenities are more important to the regional economy than the booming oil and gas industry, according to a new report compiled by an environmental group and supported by some regional economists. The report released by The Wilderness Society Thursday says the oil and gas industry accounts for less than 2 percent of the region's total personal income. Parts of the economy dependent on the quality of natural surroundings -- recreation, tourism, influx of retirees -- have become more important, it says. "The Marlboro cowboy economy is a consistent myth," Walter Hecox, an economics professor at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, said in a teleconference. Income from investments and retirees makes up nearly a quarter of the region's economy, according to the report "Natural Dividends: Wildland Protection and the Changing Economy of the Rocky Mountain West." Recreation and tourism generate hundreds of millions of dollars, it says. The report covered Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming....Go here to view the report.
Environmental Radical Guilty in Calif.

A federal jury found a 29-year-old environmental activist guilty Thursday of conspiring to burn down or blow up a northern California dam, a genetics lab, cell phone towers and other targets. McDavid and two others were arrested in January 2006 after buying bottles of bleach, a car battery, potassium chloride and other items prosecutors said were being used to build plastic explosives. The Nimbus Dam on the American River near Sacramento and the U.S. Forest Service's Institute of Forest Genetics in Placerville, in the foothills east of Sacramento, were among the suspected targets. McDavid's two co-defendants pleaded guilty last year and testified against McDavid. Jurors listened to them and testimony from an FBI informant before deliberating for 11 hours and returning the guilty verdict....

Prairie Pothole Region: At the Current Pace of Acquisitions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Is Unlikely to Achieve Its Habitat Protection Goals for Migratory Birds. GAO-07-1093, September 27.

Highlights -

Chemical Regulation: Comparison of U.S. and Recently Enacted European Union Approaches to Protect against the Risks of Toxic Chemicals. GAO-07-825, August 17.

Highlights -
Bush Outlines Proposal on Climate Change

Seeking to dispel the widespread impression that his administration is isolated on the issue of global warming, President Bush said today that the world’s biggest polluters can limit damage to the atmosphere while still promoting prosperity. “Our guiding principle is clear,” the president said at a conference on climate change and energy security. “We must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people.” Mr. Bush proposed the creation of an “international clean technology fund,” to be supported by contributions from governments around the world, that would help finance clean-energy projects in developing countries. The president said Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. would lead discussions with other countries on starting that fund. “No one country has all the answers, including mine,” Mr. Bush said. “The best way to tackle this problem is to think creatively and to learn from others’ experiences and to come together on a way to achieve the objectives we share. Together, our nations will pave the way for a new international approach on greenhouse emissions.” The White House pulled out all stops today to reinforce the message that, as Mr. Bush put it, the United States will be “good stewards of the environment” while also meeting ever-increasing energy needs. A White House “fact sheet” declared, for instance, that the United States has invested more than $2.5 billion in clean-coal technology since 2001, and that the administration is committed to helping to build more nuclear power plants without compromising safety. On Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged that climate change was a real global problem, and that the United States was a major contributor. She said the United States was willing to lead the international effort to reduce emissions of gases that had led to the warming of the planet, with the attendant ill effects. But she repeated President Bush’s insistence that the solution could not starve emerging economies of fuel or slow the growth of the advanced nations. “Every country will make its own decisions,” she said, “reflecting its own needs and interests.”....
Bluetongue declared an outbreak

A protection zone has been set up in Suffolk after government vets confirmed bluetongue disease was circulating in the UK and was classed as an outbreak. Deputy chief vet Fred Landeg said test results had shown the disease, which is transmitted by biting midges, was passing between livestock. So far there have been five confirmed cases of the disease. All the animals which tested positive have been culled. The zone will be a minimum of 150km (93 miles) around infected premises. A stricter 20km control zone has also been set up around the known bluetongue cases, with restrictions preventing animals being moved out of both zones. Mr Landeg told a news conference that laboratory results and the number of cases of bluetongue in Suffolk indicated the disease was circulating in the animal and the midge populations in the county. He said it had probably entered the country through midges from northern Europe. There have been nearly 3,000 cases of bluetongue in the region - including the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany - since July, which had fuelled fears of its arrival in the UK....

Art or Bioterrorism: Who Cares?

On May 11, 2004, 911 received a call from SUNY Buffalo University professor and artist Steve Kurtz reporting the death of Kurtz's wife Hope from heart failure. The responders entered the home where Kurtz worked on his projects for Critical Arts Ensemble (CAE) — projects which explore and critique bio-issues like our contemporary use of biotechnology for weapons programs, reproduction, and food. The responders noted a table with scientific equipment and peculiar substances that are an essential part of Kurtz' work. The FBI detained and questioned Kurtz for 22 hours. His house — and his wife's body — were confiscated. Kurtz' entire street was quarantined while agents from numerous agencies, including Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, descended on his home in hazmat suits. Everything was confiscated – computers, books on bioweaponry, garbage, posters with "suspicious" Arabic lettering on them… everything. After about two days, the authorities had tested the biological materials and declared that no toxic material had been found. On May 17, Kurtz was allowed to return to his home. So did the authorities apologize to the grieving professor before busying themselves with pursuing real crimes and threats? Not on your life! Despite the Public Health Commissioner's conclusions about the safety of Kurtz's materials, and despite the FBI's own field and laboratory tests showing they weren't harmful to people or the environment, the Justice Department still sought charges under the U.S. Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, as expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act — Prohibitions With Respect to Biological Weapons. A federal grand jury rejected the charges, but instead handed down indictments with two counts each for "mail fraud" and "wire fraud." According to the CAE, the charges "concern technicalities" about how Kurtz obtained "$256 worth of harmless bacteria for one of CAE's art projects." (Robert Ferrell, former head of the Department of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Public Health, and a collaborator on several of CAE’s projects, now facing charges along with Kurtz) In this interview, Kurtz characterizes the charges even more bluntly. "The Department of Justice can drop a major felony on someone for filling out a warranty card incorrectly and mailing it."....

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I'm experiencing complications from the surgery. Where they inserted the catheter in the spinal cord, I'm having leakage which causes neurological headaches. So, I'm on my third day of laying flat in bed hoping it will heal. Not sure how many more days this will take.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


The D.C. Gun Ban: Supreme Court Preview

On September 4, the District of Columbia government asked the Supreme Court to reverse a federal appellate decision in Parker v. District of Columbia, 478 F.3d 370 (D.C. Cir. 2007), which upheld a Second Amendment challenge to D.C.'s ban on all functional firearms. The six D.C. residents who brought the lawsuit — although they won in the lower court — agree with the city that the Supreme Court should revisit the Second Amendment for the first time since 1939. A four-square pronouncement from the High Court is long overdue. The entire nation, not just Washington, D.C., needs to know how courts will interpret "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." Sometime before yearend, the justices will decide whether to review the case. If the Supreme Court chooses to intervene, a final decision will probably be issued by June 30, 2008. D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and attorney general Linda Singer, in their petition to the Supreme Court and in a Washington Post op-ed ("Fighting for Our Handgun Ban," September 4), raise four arguments in support of the city's ban. Their first argument is that the Second Amendment ensures only that members of state militias are properly armed, not that private citizens can have guns for self-defense and other personal uses. That contentious question has been debated at length on these pages. See Dennis Henigan, "The Mythic Second," March 26, 2007; and Robert A. Levy, "Thanks to the Second Amendment," April 16, 2007. The city's remaining three arguments — two legal claims and one policy claim — have received comparatively less attention. First, declares the mayor, even if the Second Amendment protects private ownership of firearms for non-militia purposes, a ban on all handguns is reasonable because D.C. allows possession of rifles and shotguns in the home. Second, the Amendment restricts the actions of the federal government, but not the states, and D.C. should be treated the same as a state for Second Amendment purposes. And third, "handgun bans work"; the streets of the Nation's Capital are safer as a result. Let's consider each argument in turn....
Global Warming "Is Good And Is Not Our Fault"

Global warming is an entirely natural phenomenon and its effects can even be beneficial, according to two leading researchers. Recent climate change is not caused by man-made pollution, but is instead part of a 1,500-year cycle of warming and cooling that has happened for the last million years, say the authors of a controversial study. Dennis Avery, an environmental economist, and Professor Fred Singer, a physicist, have looked at the work of more than 500 scientists and concluded that it is very doubtful that man-made global warming exists. They also say that temperature increase is actually a good thing as in the past sudden cool periods have killed twice as many people as warm spells....Hat Tip to Bhuvan Chano
Federal court upholds Illinois law banning horse slaughter

The nation's last horse slaughtering plant could be forced to permanently close after a federal appeals court Friday upheld an Illinois law prohibiting the slaughter of horses for human consumption. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals cited measures banning bullfights and cockfights to help explain why it was upholding the law. “States have a legitimate interest in prolonging the lives of animals that their population happens to like,” the panel wrote. “They can ban bullfights and cockfights and the abuse and neglect of animals.” At Cavel International Inc.'s plant, located in the northern Illinois town of DeKalb, about 40,000 to 60,000 horses are slaughtered each year. Except for a portion sold to U.S. zoos, the meat is shipped to be eaten by diners overseas. The plant has been forced to close twice since late May, when Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed into law a measure banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption, or the import, export or possession of horse meat designated for human consumption. The plant was allowed to reopen during various court challenges to the law....

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bush to host climate-change conference Global-warming specialists and international government climate-policy officials are gathering this week in Washington at the invitation of the White House, to hash out a plan to reduce greenhouse gases, which are thought to cause global warming. The Bush administration — which has been criticized for not doing enough to slow the process of global warming, for failing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases — is hoping to move the process forward and demonstrate to the international community that it's serious about dealing with global warming. "At this meeting, [the U.S. will] seek agreement on the process by which the major economies would, by the end of 2008, agree upon a post-2012 framework that could include a long-term global goal, nationally defined midterm goals and strategies, and sector-based approaches for improving energy security and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions," said Harlen Watson, a senior climate negotiator for the United States at a global climate workshop in Vienna, Austria, late last month. Critics of the Bush administration on global warming are cautious. Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said this week's meeting "brings together the right group of countries," but is skeptical about the plan the Bush administration hopes to set up. The administration will host a Meeting of Major Economies on Climate Change and Energy Security on Thursday and Friday in Washington....
Climate Pact Needed Now to Avoid Disaster, Ban Says A new global commitment to cut greenhouse-gas emissions is urgently needed if the world hopes to avert the most dire affects of human-caused climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. ``The message is quite simple,'' Ban said today at a special UN session on climate change in New York. ``We know enough to act. If we don't act now, the impact of climate change will be devastating.'' The one-day summit, with about 80 heads of state or government attending, is the largest gathering ever of world leaders focused on the subject. The meeting is intended to set the stage for negotiations on a global climate agreement scheduled to begin in Indonesia in December. A ``real breakthrough'' will be needed to reach a new treaty before the current Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, Ban said. A potential major sticking point is President George W. Bush's continued opposition to mandatory limits on carbon dioxide. Scientists say carbon dioxide is one of the main emissions causing temperatures to rise, which may lead to potentially irreversible climate shifts and rising sea levels that would threaten world economies, ecosystems and human health. World leaders as well as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger indirectly ramped up the political pressure on Bush today by stressing the need for the world's major emitters to agree on greenhouse-gas reductions. Bush is set to address the annual UN General Assembly tomorrow....
Legislation that Would Enrich Select Special Interest Groups to be Voted on This Week This Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee will vote on a bill that would funnel over $135 million of federal pork to special interest groups in select members' districts. The "Celebrating America's Heritage Act," put forth by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), would create six new national heritage areas, including the controversial Journey Through Hallowed Ground. It would also increase congressional funding for nine existing heritage areas by 50 percent. This self-dealing is indicative of a Congress that has little interest in reforming ethics or earmark abuse, says the National Center for Public Policy Research. National heritage areas are creations of Congress in which special interest groups, whose work at times has been funded through secret Congressional earmarks, team up with the National Park Service to influence decisions over local land use previously made exclusively by elected local governments and private landowners. For instance, the special interest group lobbying for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground heritage area (which has been quietly slipped into the Grijalva bill) received an anonymous one million-dollar earmark in the 2005 transportation bill. Incredibly, the group wasn't even incorporated at the time. This is an instance where one pork-barrel earmark was distributed to bolster support for another pork-barrel earmark. Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has observed: "[O]nce a federal line is drawn around property for a heritage area, the door for annual federal earmarks and grants is opened." According to figures from the National Taxpayers Union, the Celebrating America's Heritage Act's $135+ million price tag is equal to the annual federal income taxes paid by 33,276 middle class Americans. Ironically, it is the middle class that stands to lose the most, as heritage area interest groups are typically hostile to property rights and frequently use their muscle to restrict land use and make housing more expensive for middle-income buyers....
Mountain Lion Warning Issued in Santa Barbara County Santa Barbara's Sheriff's Department is warning residents in the Buellton area to be aware of mountain lions. Over the weekend there were sightings of two mountain lions near River Park, including a rancher who claims they killed small livestock Saturday morning. The rancher reported the deaths of small livestock and it is believed that the mountain lions are still at or above the River Park area. The Sheriff's Department is now urging residents to call 9-1-1 if these animals are sighted. State Fish and Game officials have been notified of mountain lions in the area as well.
Group: Wyo can limit fire risk More homes built near fire-prone forests mean ever higher firefighting costs for local, state and federal governments. And with 50 to 90 percent of wildfire-fighting costs spent to protect these homes, it's uncertain who's going to pick up the tab, says a new study by Headwaters Economics in Bozeman, Mont. Blending census and economic data with geographic information system maps, Headwaters Economics found that only 14 percent of the available “wildland/urban interface” in the West is currently developed, leaving tremendous potential for new home construction in the remaining 86 percent. The potential for growth in Wyoming is even greater: Only 4.1 percent of the Cowboy State’s wildland/urban interface has been developed, meaning 95.9 percent could still be developed. Other states are far worse off. The highest percentages of developed lands near forests are in Washington (21 percent) and Colorado (20 percent), while Wyoming and Utah have the smallest at 4.1 and 4.8 percent, respectively....
Outgoing chief says wildfires consume most of his budget The retiring chief of the U.S. Forest Service's Intermountain Region says the days of unrestricted cross-country travel on public lands are quickly coming to an end. Jack Troyer will empty his desk Oct. 3 in Ogden, where he took charge of 32 million acres of national forests and grasslands in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, California and Colorado. His replacement, Harv Forsgren, now regional forester for the Southwestern Region in New Mexico, will take over in December. Troyer, 60, is retiring as the Forest Service deals with growing conflicts on forest land and a buildup of forest debris blamed for causing more catastrophic wildfires. ''One of my greatest hopes is: We've got billions of tons of fuels out there, and we are a country that says we have an energy issue,'' said Troyer, who believes the forest debris could be turned into ethanol for transportation fuel. Troyer said 50 percent of his budget is being consumed by controlling wildfires, up from 13 percent in 1991. That has left less money for other programs, he said....
Nature has own 'let it burn' policy The Rocky Mountain Front's Ahorn and Skyland fires, which firefighters fought from the beginning, racked up expense sheets of more than $16 million a piece. Fool Creek, the third large fire on the Front this summer, which initially was allowed to burn in the wilderness under a policy called "fire use," cost just under $6 million to fight. The results were the same — each grew to between 50,000 and 60,000 acres. Forest Service experts say the similar outcomes — despite the $10-million gap in suppression costs — illustrate the futility and expense of trying to extinguish some of the large fires that are becoming the norm in tinder-dry forests across the West. At the same time, they add that fire management can be just as effective — with less risk and cost — if they strategically pick their spots and manage blazes long term, as they did with Fool Creek. Officials note that, in the future, the agency's response to fires needs to acknowledge, as does the public, that a bigger policymaker is at work in today's extreme fire environment. "It's Mother Nature's 'It's gonna burn' policy," said Mike Munoz, the ranger in the Rocky Mountain Ranger District, playing off the so-called 'let it burn' policy that has drawn fire for decades....
What Does Bison Restoration Look Like? One Rancher’s View n autumn 2006, the Wildlife Conservation Society held a landmark conference in Denver on the future of North American bison. Among the questions being pondered by the large gathering of conservationists, scientists, wildlife officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and representatives from the commercial bison industry was this: Should bison be listed as a federally-protected species in the U.S. and moreover, do they warrant placement on the IUCN’s Red List as an imperiled animal in need of global focus? While no one in attendance disagreed with the fact that bison, when numbering in the tens of millions, were once keystone species on the Great Plains, shaping the health and structure of plant, animal, and human communities, there is a divergence of opinion about whether buffalo can ever be restored to such large numbers that they again fulfill their historic role. Is the Buffalo Commons achievable or is it a post-pleistocene pipe dream? Would listing of bison enhance the goals of bison recovery or would it alienate private ranchers who far and away are responsible for stewarding most of the bison in the world?....
Global plan to save endangered horse and livestock breeds Rare livestock breeds are becoming extinct at a rate of one per month, prompting 108 countries to agree on a global plan of action to save the animals, including horses. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization called the extinction rate "alarming". "Wise management of the world's animal genetic resources is of ever greater importance," said FAO Assistant Director-General Alexander Muller, addressing participants at the first International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Interlaken, Switzerland, earlier this month. "The options that these resources offer for maintaining and improving animal production will be of enormous significance in the coming decades," he said. "Climate change and the emergence of new and virulent livestock diseases highlight the importance of retaining the capacity to adapt our agricultural production systems." Livestock breeding is crucial in this respect, FAO believes....
Recovery aid not helping rancher who lost millions Two years after Hurricane Rita claimed 10,000 head of cattle in Vermilion Parish, the industry still is struggling to recover. "The cattle industry was probably the most severely hurt industry in our parish," said Andrew Granger, Vermilion Parish county agent with the LSU AgCenter. Charles Broussard, 83, of the Flying J Ranch in Forked Island figures he suffered about $2.5 million in losses from Rita's storm surge. He lost four bulls worth about $50,000 total and about 90 head of cattle in all. Some died after the storm from drinking the salt water that flooded their land and sent them scurrying to the levees for survival. Miles of fencing was destroyed, several tractors, trucks and diesel-power units were ruined, protection levees were destroyed and eight houses on his property were flooded. Broussard also farmed rice and crawfish before Rita. But the salt water Rita pushed in from the Gulf of Mexico soaked into his fields and ponds, rendering them useless ever since, he said. All those federal and state programs that are supposed to help have not done Broussard much good. "FEMA turned me down because I'm in agriculture. SBA turned me down because I'm (in) agriculture," Broussard said....
Smaller ranches begin to produce smaller cattle Ranchettes have replaced working ranches in much of California, and now there are pint-sized cows to match. In the past two years, Bev Boriolo, 72, and her husband, Don, have built a herd of 12 miniature Hereford cattle, all well under 4 feet tall. The couple, who live on a grassy 30-acre parcel near Plymouth, Calif., are raising animals for a small but growing niche in the livestock business: little cattle for little ranches. The smallest of the miniature breeds stand less than 3 feet tall, fully grown. They're cute, they keep the weeds down and, as Bev Boriolo says, "They're as sweet as the dickens" -- something she attributes to their small stature. For now, the money in micro-beef is in breeding: raising adorable cattle and selling them -- for $3,500 and up -- not as meat, but as the parents of another herd-to-be....
Polo for the T-shirt set Eight horses and riders thunder down a grassy field, mallets cracking against balls and hooves beating the turf in a Texas-style take on a sport sometimes dominated by the rich or royal. Most weekends from now through mid-November, equestrians gather at this neatly manicured, 300-yard-by-200-yard pasture to practice their own brand of polo. If you're envisioning a champagne-sipping, caviar-nibbling crowd that's more interested in who's wearing what than what's happening on the field, you don't know the folks of Spencewood Ranch Polo Club. "We're more the beer-and-chips crowd," says David Crea, 47, polo manager for the club. "We play just for the love of the game." While a few of the 35 or so members of the polo club are just learning the sport, which they fondly call "ranch polo," others spent years honing their skill at the now-defunct Retama Polo Center in San Antonio. The players, who range in age from 15 to their 60s, include a television news anchor from San Antonio, a mother of three, a dentist, a high school student and a rancher....
Saddle up! This pony's a smooth ride "Once you go Icelandic," said tall, blond-haired Jelena Ohm, who recently came from Iceland to train horses here, "you usually never go back." OK, people of Icelandic descent have been saying that ever since they arrived in 1875. What else is new? Actually, Ohm, is talking about Icelandic horses. You can say the same thing about Icelandic horses that they do about cars: it's one incredibly smooth ride. Even for the duffer horse rider. That's why people become so fanatical about the breed. The ride is so smooth there are events where riders race around a track while holding a mug of beer. "And they don't spill a drop," said Brett Arnason, one of the largest Icelandic horse ranchers in Canada, who has participated in the race. The reason is, Icelandic horses have a special gait called a tölt. Most horses trot by transferring their weight from two legs -- the front right and back left -- to its other two legs -- the front left and the back right. That bouncing back and forth makes it feel like your entrails are being rearranged, for the amateur rider. The Icelandic horse's tölt, which is very fast at 20 kilometres per hour, is a running walk where one foot is always on the ground. So, an Icelandic horse gait is 1-2-3-4 and repeat, like smooth dance steps....
Quirky old-style contraptions make water from wind on the mesas of West Texas As rows of towering, high-tech wind turbines become a common sight on the windy mesas of West Texas and beyond, a modest, far older cousin is making a quiet comeback here after decades of decline. While the sleek, three-bladed modern turbines — many Asian-made, stuffed with computer chips and costing millions — generate green electricity, the machines built here according to 19th-century designs serve a more basic need. Simply put, these quirky contraptions of wood, steel gears, iron casing and galvanized metal make water from the wind. And for about $6,000 installed, you can buy one — well hole not included. According to one noted Texas historian, more so than the Colt revolver, the Winchester repeating rifle or even barbed wire, it was the water-pumping windmill that tamed the American West. Bennie Hazelwood Jr. places a sticker on a vane that will go on a windmill at the Aermotor Windmill Corp. in San Angelo. Aermotor started making windmills in 1888. "Our parents, and most everybody else out here, grew up with windmills. You could not come to this part of Texas and live without one," said Coy Harris, director of the American Windmill Museum in Lubbock. "In 1900, every house in town had its own windmill. If you wanted to live here, you had one. Otherwise, you were just passing through," he said. Until the late 1800s, when affordable and efficient windmills became widely available, settlers in arid parts of Texas and the Great Plains prospered only near sources of surface water....
It's All Trew: New Deal art provided hope Whether considered a curse or a blessing, the "New Deal Programs" of President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl helped provide food and money for millions of people during these hard years. In all walks of life, old timers recall their time spent working for the WPA in various public works projects or the lifesaving CCC serving young men offering food, board and practical training in many fields. Lesser-known New Deal Programs to aid smaller special groups came into being in 1933 when the U.S. Treasury launched a program called the Public Works of Art Project. Funds were allocated to help artists, writers and photographers to record current history, the mass migration of the people and to try to bring some beauty into a drab existence. There were no shortages of artists or subjects. The first problem was where to display the art? Since a part of the Public Works Program was to build much-needed government or public buildings providing work for the people, many new post offices and federal buildings were constructed and chosen to display the artistic murals created by the artists. The term "mural" comes from the Latin word murus, meaning wall. Thus artwork appearing on walls or extended areas are called murals. Often, the new buildings had areas that were odd-size or had windows or doors in the selected mural site challenging the artists further. By the end of the program in 1934, about 15,660 works of art including 700 murals, painted by 3,750 artists were displayed throughout the nation. Later the program was extended from 1938 to 1943, creating many more....

Sunday, September 23, 2007


South Florida Ecosystem: Some Restoration Progress Has Been Made, but the Effort Faces Significant Delays, Implementation Challenges, and Rising Costs, by Anu K. Mittal, director, natural resources and environment, before the Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Democracy, and Human Rights, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. GAO-07-1250T, September 19.

Highlights -

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Additional Flexibility Needed to Deal with Farmlands Received from the Department of Agriculture. GAO-07-1092, September 18.

Highlights -

Agricultural Conservation: Farm Program Payments Are an Important Factor in Landowners' Decisions to Convert Grassland to Cropland. GAO-07-1054, September 10.

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Montana Wolf Mystery Revived, Snared Wolf Possible Hybrid A mystery predator responsible for 12 sheep deaths in Eastern Montana last month could be connected to the dozens of similar attacks in late 2005 and early 2006, which some officials blame on a domestic hybrid species of wolf. Montana’s top wolf official said this week that two suspicious animals remain on the loose in and near Garfield County following the sheep deaths in late August. A third animal killed in a coyote snare earlier this month has yet to be positively identified as wild or domestic. “It’s a young female, charcoal gray in color,” said Carolyn Sime, wolf coordinator for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “It looks like something we would see in the Northern Rockies, but I’ve also seen domestic wolves that look the same. It’s unclear what the origin is.” The recent deaths revive last year’s furor in McCone and Garfield Counties over the 100-plus sheep slaughtered, and the subsequent hunt that ultimately left dead a domestic wolf, the product, officials believe, of manipulated breeding in captivity. More than that, the frustration of stockmen, as Hal Herring wrote last year for NewWest.Net, was “not entirely directed at the creature itself (the stockmen here know full well how to handle that problem) but at the federal and state governments, at complex regulations imposed to protect an animal that they despise, and at a far-away society that seems to have lost all respect for them and their constant struggle to remain self-reliant, solvent, and on the land.”...
ATVs and the people who use them My son had been lost for the entire night in the mountains of northeast Oregon when volunteers from the Union County Search and Rescue Team showed up with All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). I was never so glad to see machinery in my entire life. They helped find him later that morning. I was slogging through deep snow near the Malheur River east of Juntura a few years ago in search of chukars when I heard the distinctive growl of ATVs in the distance. I looked up to see two of them cresting the hill above me and continuing out of sight. I had a bad feeling about their presence where there were no established trails. My concern was proven justified a few minutes later when I cut their track. The two machines had simply driven straight uphill from the river, taking advantage of the deep snow to drive on top of sagebrush and bunchgrasses. The weight of the machines broke down the sagebrush and left a trail of shattered branches and trunks. In places where the snow was shallow, their tires had cut through to the soil, gouging it out and spraying it across the snow. By the time I headed back that evening, the ATVs had departed. They had, for the most part, followed the same track down the hill. At least they had not carved a new track across the virgin desert, but their second trip down the hill completed the destruction of the sagebrush, breaking it down so completely that when the snow melted it was no longer high enough to prevent ATV travel. Predictably, ATV drivers began using the track regularly and now it is a steep, deeply rutted scar on the hill from which hundreds, if not thousands of pounds of dirt is washed off directly toward the Malheur River....
Forest Service Wins Next Round on Mount Lemmon Case Goliath has won the next round in the David-and-Goliath battle going on down in Tucson, and the court decision should send a chill down the spine of anybody who uses public land for outdoor recreation. On September 6, U.S. District Judge John Roll convicted Christine Wallace of using public land without paying, and he was quite “nasty” about it, according to Wallace’s supporters. “It was no surprise that she was found guilty,” Kitty Benzar of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition told NewWest.Net in an interview today. “The surprise was how nasty he was about it. He (the judge) treated her like a low-life criminal.” Wallace received the maximum fine, $100, and according to Benzar, “if she goes up there (Mount Lemmon) again and parks along that state highway and goes hiking on federal land, she could go to jail for six months.” And it sounds like that’s what could happen if the case was heard in Roll’s court. “He (Roll) was very favorable to the prosecution,” she said. “He didn’t need to be that nasty about it.” To get background on the recreational fee issue, go to NewWest.Net’s Recreation Fee Chronology. But briefly, Congress attached a rider on a must-pass spending bill in 2004 and the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) became the law of the land without a congressional vote and minimal public input. That’s one reason fee opponents, people who believe public lands are a free tradition, call it Recreational Access Tax (RAT)....Now that recreationists are feeling the sting from the Forest Service and Federal prosecutors, maybe they will have a little more sympathy and understanding for ranchers who are being treated far worse.
Coloradans huddle to map out war on epidemic devastating forests Amid mountains covered by ailing, rust-colored pines, about 100 people pored over maps and discussed priorities Thursday in the battle to slow the spread of forest-killing beetles and clean up the destruction already wreaked. The Colorado Bark Beetle Cooperative is helping shape the U.S. Forest Service’s strategy for dealing with more than 1,000 square miles of trees infested by the bugs that burrow beneath a tree’s bark and sap its life. The result has been huge swaths and, in some cases, entire mountainsides of brown trees. The Forest Service, state agencies and private landowners have sprayed trees and felled others to prevent a buildup of dry fuel for wildfires. The bark beetle cooperative, which includes federal, state and local agencies, business and civic leaders and residents of western and central Colorado, is helping shape how the Forest Service responds to the epidemic....
Ammo more expensive; hunters bearing burden One wonders if legendary trapper Jeremiah Johnson ever had to worry about this. If you’re a hunter, a recreational shooter or a farmer or rancher trying to keep varmints away from your crops and livestock, you might have noticed the escalating price of ammunition. Ammunition prices went up 15 percent across the board on all types in early September, said Jim Hixson, Bears Ears Sportsman Club membership director. By Joe Herod’s estimation, the price has gone up 39 percent this year. Herod owns Craig Sports, which supplies many of the hunters in town with their equipment and ammunition. “Oh, they complain everyday,” Herod said. “There’s nothing I can do about it, though. Because of the war, and the way the prices on zinc and copper have gone up, there’s nothing anyone can do about it.” The raw materials to make bullets have become scarcer recently because of the demand coming from the world market. Industrializing countries such as China and India in particular have started ordering large quantities of lead, copper and brass, said Sam Bobst, a hunter from Wernersville, Pa., who was in Craig for the first hunting season....
Private farmers squeezed by Venezuelan socialism These should be the best of times for dairy farmer Luis Espinoza. The Venezuelan economy is booming, thanks to a flood of oil dollars, and consumer demand for food items including milk and cheese is unprecedented. Overall consumption by Venezuelans is up 10% this year, and vendors of cars, clothing, computers and many other goods are raking it in. But things couldn't be much worse for Espinoza and hundreds of ranchers and farmers like him here in the northeastern state of Monagas. Espinoza's herd is dwindling, his milk output is shrinking and his future is more tenuous by the day. He is a casualty of President Hugo Chavez's Socialism for the 21st Century, as the fiery leader calls his economic plan. Chavez's policies are squeezing out private farms in favor of worker-owned cooperatives that enjoy massive government subsidies and for which profits are of secondary importance. Espinoza's problem is he cannot produce milk at the low price -- 50 cents a liter -- that the Chavez government has set for it. Nor can most private ranchers. Milk is one of 29 basic food items on which Chavez has slapped price controls. Others include cooking oil, flour, canned tuna, eggs, beef and poultry. Espinoza and other producers complain that the artificially low prices are leading them to ruin. The lifelong rancher says he is under more than just economic pressure. In Venezuela's increasingly polarized society, he says, for-profit farmers are made to feel like villains....
Commission says cattle guards will stay Like it or not, the cattle guards are going to stay on Quay Road 70, the Quay County commissioners told rancher Dusty Stone at their Friday meeting. Stone and his dad, Lee Stone, drive a team of horses on the road to check their land and animals. The installation of cattle guards over the summer, at the request of a neighboring landowner, requires them to stop, get off their rig and tie up the horses to open a gate so that they can proceed down the road. Dusty Stone came to the meeting to ask for the cattle guards to be removed. And even though he argued his case for more than an hour, citing various state statues, he did not prevail. "I want the cattle guards out of there," Stone told the commissioners. "The cattle guards stay," commissioner Franklin McCasland said. The commissioners, however, did agree that a better gate, latching system and maintenance of the cattle guards could be provided by the county. After the meeting Stone said, "It was business, I don't want anyone to take anything personal. But anybody who wants to come look at the situation can." Stone also said that horses and a team have the same rights as vehicles on the roads. "If you can't have a gate across a road to make a car stop and open a gate, then you shouldn't be able to have a gate on a road that makes someone driving a team stop and open a gate."....
Johanns' Resignation Letter To President Bush

It has been a great honor to serve you and the American people as Secretary of Agriculture for nearly three years. After careful thought and difficult deliberation, I am writing to inform you that I have decided to pursue a new opportunity to serve this great Nation. Please accept my resignation effective today, September 19, 2007 and my gratitude for the distinct privilege to serve in your Cabinet. Under your leadership and vision, American agriculture is stronger than ever before in history. Your presidency has had a profoundly positive impact on the lives of Americans in both rural and urban communities. Farm equity, now at $2 trillion, has increased $200 billion per year for the past several years. The debt-to-asset ratio is the lowest in more than 45 years. Projected 2007 net cash income is a record high $86 billion. The average farm household income is projected at $81,500 this year, nearly $20,000 above the average household income in the U.S. Overall farm balance sheets reveal a strong and growing farm economy. Agricultural exports are expected to set a fourth consecutive record this year, with a projected value of $79 billion. The strong stance you've taken with international leaders in relation to beef trade has led to the re-opening of more than 40 key markets to U.S. beef. This year, U.S. beef exports have increased 18 percent over last year and negotiations are underway to achieve additional market openings....

Chuck Conner Named Acting Secretary Of Agriculture

Charles F. Conner was sworn in as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture on May 2, 2005, by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. Mr. Conner's love for agriculture goes back to his childhood, growing up on his family's farm in Benton County, Indiana. There, he worked with his father and brother raising corn, soybeans, and cattle. Mr. Conner's brother, Mike, still operates the family farm. Since coming to the Department, Mr. Conner has worked tirelessly to develop and promote the Administration's farm policy. Along with former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, Mr. Conner led farm bill listening sessions around the country, hearing first-hand from farmers and other stakeholders about their likes and dislikes with the current farm bill. He also led the Department's review of over 4000 comments which were used to develop a sound policy direction for the future of American agriculture. Mr. Conner continues to lead the Administration's efforts for farm policy reform. Prior to his tenure at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Mr. Conner served on the National Economic Council beginning in November 2001 as a Special Assistant to the President for Agricultural Trade and Food Assistance, focusing primarily on Farm Bill issues. From 1997 to 2001, Mr. Conner was President of the Corn Refiners Association, Inc., a national trade association representing the corn refining industry. Prior to his tenure with the Corn Refiners Association, Conner held several staff positions with the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry....

Johanns Resigns as Agriculture Secretary

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns resigned Thursday amid reports he will run for the Senate in his home state of Nebraska. Johanns has not officially announced that he will run for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel, but Bush hinted strongly that such a bid is in the making. He sad “there’s no question in my mind that Mike loves Nebraska, and he’s serious about going home and possibly serving the nation in a different capacity.” The president said he offered Johanns his support and encouragement and added, “If it’s Mike’s decision and Nebraska’s choice, he would make an outstanding member of the United States Senate. There is no doubt in my mind.” Many Republican insiders see Johanns as their party’s strongest possible contender, with the best hope of holding the seat if Democrat Bob Kerrey, another former Nebraska governor (1983-87) and U.S. senator (1989-2001), jumps into the Senate race. Kerrey is president of The New School in New York City. Johanns may have to fight for the GOP nomination. Already in the field for the May 13 primary are state Attorney General Jon Bruning, former U.S. Rep. Hal Daub (1981-89) and investment banker Pat Flynn. Bruning, who was planning to challenge an incumbent senator, and Daub, who just entered the race, have no plans to drop out. Johanns would be the early Republican front-runner in a GOP primary, however. Bruning’s own poll has Johanns up by about nine points in a matchup of the two....
Save a piece of history
Cowgirl Sass And Savvy

By Julie Carter

For whatever reason, the fall season always makes me nostalgic.

I find my thoughts often wander to memories of this time of year in a place far away and a time long ago on a high mountain ranch where summer ended abruptly, usually just after Labor Day.

It was a big outfit by mountain-ranch standards that pastured 4,000 yearlings from spring until fall. The yearlings arrived small, waspy, and left fat and sassy.

Mental images re-main of a long line of cattle trucks waiting their turn at the loading chute, dust boiling high above the pens as the cattle milled, and the profile of a cowboy horseback looking like a picture postcard with the rising sun behind him and the dust forming a filter of light around him.

The sounds of the banging of the scale gate as each bunch passed through to be weighed for the final tally, a cowboy hollering at each bunch as he drove them down the alley and the deafening sound of cattle bawling that never stopped until the last truck pulled away.

It wasn't history at the time. It was life. The stories told by my dad and granddad back then were their history. It was about life lived in a different era. An era when they still rode horses to a one-room school house, an era when babies were birthed at home and maybe the country doctor got there, but usually not.

It was a time when owning a pair of shoes was almost a sign of wealth and a dime might mean the difference between eating or not.

Back then, a cowboy wasn't an icon for what had been. He was what he was. Later he became that which is memorialized in stories, in books and movies.

We in the West have a history that is a chapter about the immigration and emancipation of this country and yet a story unto itself for there is nothing else like it.

The best tell-it-like-it-was stories are from the old guy sitting under the shade of his hat watching what he can no longer do. He will tell you stories of cow herds so big you couldn't recognize the cowboy on the other side. He recalls horses that bucked, horses that could run like the wind and horses that died in the line of duty.

He will detail cattle markets of that day and speak of a day's wages that wouldn't buy a cup of coffee in today's world. He will recall droughts, floods, and winters of record-breaking cold and snow. He will share stories about great friends, fine men of character and heartbreaking losses.

He remembers the time before there were fences and cattle that ran on ranges the size of three counties. He watched the West be surveyed with a wheel that delivered an accuracy that still astounds men today. He was entertained with music and song by the campfire, or better yet, at the good-eats of an ice cream social.

Now when I write my stories of my childhood, my daughter tells me, "Mom I have learned more about your life from those stories than I ever knew before."

Case and point. It is important to listen to the stories from those that went before us. It is equally as important to take the time to tell our stories. They are part of history that, for most of us, won't get written in a book.

Tell your story to someone and save a piece of history.

Taking off from Julie's story, I would like to make a place here where people can tell their story and save a "piece of history". If you have a fond rembrance of country life, be it about Mom, Dad, a horse, cow, tractor, gathering, branding harvesting, hunting, etc. email it to me and I will post it. I doesn't have to be professionally written, can be as short as a paragraph (for example, see Panhandle Poet's comment here)or as long as it takes to tell the story, but please contribute and help us "save a piece of history" and have a good time doing it.

I've been saving all the articles I've posted about ranching and country living. They will be transferred to disc and will be added to my official papers at the NMSU library. I will do the same with these stories.

Monday, September 17, 2007


There will be a - hopefully - short hiatus in The Westerner.

Those who are long time readers know I have multiple sclerosis. On Tuesday I will have surgery to implant a baclofen pump to help with the spasticity and clonus in my legs.

The surgery will be in El Paso, and then I will spend an undetermined amount of time at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico. I've been there before, I will have my laptop, and they do have WiFi. The kicker is though, the farther you are from the nurses station the slower the connection. So we will see how lucky I am in the room I draw.

I'm fairly confident I'll be back posting next week and possibly before, so check back in.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Adios Wayne, save us a seat up yonder
Cowgirl Sass And Savvy

By Julie Carter

Recently, I was told the way to recognize a cowboy funeral is when you pull up to the church or funeral home, the parking lot is full of pickup trucks.

If times are good, they'll be muddy, some will have hay loaded in the back and others will have a patient cowdog waiting for the return of his cowboy.

Most of the folks are dressed in Wranglers, boots and hats. A branding iron is likely to be standing by the door where they branded the casket - a final brand for the old cowboy.

All the talk, when folks are talking, is about grass and rain and this time of year, mention will be made of calf prices and shipping dates.

In circles over a meal served to family and friends, wonderful stories will be told about the cowboy they'd come to honor and lay to rest.

This week, we lost an icon of the true West - cowboy, rancher, husband, father, grandfather and pioneer.

Wayne Withers proved just how tough he was right to the end, against all odds.

He was 95 when he made the crossover to the big corral up yonder, and for 73 of those years, he'd been teasing and loving his bride, Annie.

I sat with the couple just before their 70th anniversary, and the love between them could have swallowed me up.

They verbally sparred over the stories they told me about an era of hard times that forged their grit and character.

"Do you want to know about the girls I danced with or the broncs I rode?" he would say with a twinkle in his eyes.

Their life's tale exposed the heartbreak of living in a country where the government took not one, but two ranches from them to create what we know today as the White Sands Missile Range.

Wayne was 5 years old when his dad left him and his brothers alone, ages 7 and 10, to tend 700 head of cattle and a herd of horses while he went in search of a new ranch.

By the time he was 11, Wayne had already hired out on a couple of different wagons and worked cattle for other people.

He recalled during one of his $1-a-day jobs down by Three Rivers, he got drug by a horse. He was so skinned up and sore, the only place he could sit that didn't hurt was in the kitchen sink. He took his meals there.

Wayne was in a small plane crash in 1955 and scored a broken leg that laid him up for a year.

His dad, who had a legendary streak of orneriness, was good about putting the boys on horses that would buck. "We'd be leaving out at three in the morning and I'll tell ya, it's a trick to ride a bucking horse you can't see in the dark," Wayne recalled.

And then there was dancing. Next to riding bucking horses, Wayne loved to dance.

He and Annie danced for 60 years. They met at a dance and country dances were their passion for all of those years.

To them, dancing made all the hard times worth living.

When we catch up with Wayne in Heaven, he will, no doubt, be telling stories about horses that bucked, pretty girls that danced and "it was darn sure worth a 9-mile ride to a dance, stay until 2 a.m. and then ride back home, ready to work."

Adios Wayne. When your tales are retold, it will always be with the memory of you with that big grin that just never did hide how ornery you were.

And Wayne, you left the world a better place having been in it.

Visit Julie’s website at

County forest district ready to seize Klein Fen DuPage County Forest Preserve District leaders are poised to vote on dusting off a power they haven't exerted in recent years: condemnation. Commissioners are expected to decide Tuesday whether to take to court owners of a property next to fragile wetlands. The 200-acre site is owned by the Jemsek-Hinckley family, who operate nearby St. Andrew's Golf and Country Club. Forest preserve ecologists have recommended the district buy the land because water from it flows into unusual wetlands known as the Klein fen in the West Branch Forest Preserve. Negotiations between both sides have stalled, and the family has criticized the district for trying to take their property....
Condemnation Could Set Grim Precedent Farmland preservation advocates in Lehigh County have just 60 days to come up with 100 acres of open land suitable for a regional park — or face the historic total condemnation of a conservation easement on a preserved farm. The action came Sept. 6 at a stormy meeting of the Lower Macungie Township supervisors. The supervisors had been scheduled to vote to condemn the easement placed on a 104-acre farm through the private, non-profit Wildlands Conservancy by the late Mary Leister in 1996. The township acquired the farm specifically for recreation by eminent domain in 2005 from farmer-developer David Jaindl, even though officials knew the easement allowed only agricultural uses. Jaindl was paid $700,000. He could sue to buy the land back if it is not used for the purpose it was taken. If an alternate site for a park is not agreed on in 60 days, both sides indicated they are prepared to take the case to court and fight all the way to the state Supreme Court, if necessary....
Branford dealt $12.8M setback A Superior Court jury delivered a $12.8 million verdict against the town Wednesday, finding that officials improperly seized through eminent domain 77 acres on which a developer had sought to build 354 condominiums. Town officials vowed to appeal. The six-person jury in Waterbury needed less than a day of deliberations before it awarded developer New England Estates LLC $12.4 million for lost profits and investments costs and the original property owners about $340,000. Town officials, current and former, reacted to the verdict with a mixture of resignation and disgust. The town is already on the hook for another $4.6 million the judge ruled the land was worth when the town acquired it in 2004, well above the $1.7 million Branford set aside for the purchase. Attorney fees could push that total up by another $1.5 million, driving up the town’s costs — not including its own legal fees — to close to $19 million. The key question at trial was whether the town had a legal right to seize the property by eminent domain. Town officials have maintained that they took the land to protect the interests of Branford, since the property on Tabor Drive abutted the town dump, raising concerns about possible soil contamination and long-term liability for the town. Attorneys for the developer and original owners characterized the town’s intentions as nothing nearly so noble. Rather, they said, the town was dead set against the proposed large-scale development, so its leaders conspired to take the land....
Local government bodies get quick-take powers A new state law gives three local governments the power to purchase property for the Curtis Road project quickly, even if the owners aren't ready to sell. Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed SB 1042 on Tuesday evening, granting quick-take power to Savoy, Champaign and Champaign County. That means they can seize the land needed for the project and move forward with construction while the courts decide how much an owner should be paid for the property. Local governments can already force an owner to sell through eminent domain, but that can take two years or more of negotiations and court hearings. If the communities want to take advantage of a $5.6 million federal grant for the Curtis Road project, they need to move faster than that. Construction has to begin in spring 2009, so the rights of way must be obtained by the fall of 2008....
Kohl's coming to Grand? The Town of Hempstead received proposals last month from three developers vying for a redevelopment project on Grand Avenue and Merrick Road, in what town officials said is a major step toward revitalizing downtown Baldwin. "What we'll do next is determine which bidder will be best for the community," Murray said, adding that the project should get under way in 2008. "Then we'll adopt an urban renewal plan and go right into condemnation proceedings. We're very excited because the project has gone along very smoothly." The redevelopment project was announced early last year, after the town released the results of a blight study conducted in 2005, which found that 50 percent of stores along the west side of Grand Avenue and Merrick Road - south of Prospect Street and ending at Gale Avenue - were empty and in poor condition, and that the area was in need of an economic overhaul. Town officials said they would acquire the roughly five-acre property through eminent domain and turn it over to a developer, who would assume the entire cost of the project, with none of that cost falling to taxpayers, according to Murray and others. ...
Board presses owner to sell land The Blackman Township Downtown Development Authority unanimously voted Wednesday to take "any and all action necessary" to begin the condemnation process on a portion of the property needed for the proposed Northpointe Town Center. Township Supervisor and board Chairman Raymond Snell said discussion has been at a standstill about the property owned by the North family adjacent to Springport Road. "We are sending property owners our last, best offer based on appraisals," he said. "If we get no response or a negative response, at that time we will go to court and ask for the property through condemnation." Family member Doug North declined to comment and referred questions to Flip Reynolds, the family's spokesman. Efforts to contact Reynolds were unsuccessful. The property is needed to build a road to the shopping center. The land for the shopping center is former Jackson County Airport property being sold by the county to developer Ramco-Gershenson....
Ousted Brooklyn Arts Venue Wants Spot In Its Replacement Building Three Brooklyn entrepreneurs were busy preparing to host the November grand opening of their arts and music venue in Fort Greene, until they received notice two weeks ago that the city plans to seize the building they’re leasing via eminent domain. Now, they’re vying for a spot in the high rise slated to take its place. “All we want is to be treated fairly and equitably, and this would be compensating us. Somewhat,” said Todd Triplett, chief marketing officer of Amber Art and Music Space, which leased the vacant three-story building at the corner of Ashland Place and Fulton Street two years ago and have been renovating ever since. The three partners didn’t realize when they signed their 10-year lease that the city had the site earmarked for a project as part of the “BAM Cultural District,” eight blocks in Fort Greene dedicated to cultural programming and mixed-income housing anchored by the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Nearly two years after the lease was signed, last February, the city officially began seeking developers to build a tower on the site that would house Danspace Project, a Manhattan-based dance troupe, and 5,500 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, and 150 units of mixed-income housing. The official request lists the three-story building as vacant, even though at the time of publication, Triplett and his partners Philip McKenzie and Shaun Jenkins were toiling away inside building their dream....
MPEA votes to acquire land for further development of McCormick Place The board of Chicago's Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) has voted to exercise its right of eminent domain, granted by the Illinois legislature, to acquire a piece of land located on 21st to 22nd Streets and Cermak Road, across the street and to the north of McCormick Place. MPEA will file a condemnation action in court before it is able to gain title to the property. Currently, there is not a master plan in place for the property. However, some of the options under consideration include additional hotel expansion or other mixed-use development, more amenities for the convention center, parking or green space....

And there are many more...but you get the picture.