Monday, March 31, 2008

Sierra Club removes leadership of its Florida chapter The Sierra Club's national board voted March 25 to remove the leaders of the Club's 35,000-member Florida chapter, and to suspend the Chapter for four years. It was the first time in the Club's 116-year history that such action has been taken against a state Chapter. The leadership of the Florida Chapter had been highly critical of the national board's decision in mid-December 2007 to allow The Clorox Company to use the Sierra Club's name and logo to market a new line of non-chlorinated cleaning products called "Green Works." In return, Clorox Company will pay Sierra Club an undisclosed fee, based partly on product sales. The Clorox Company logo will appear on the products as well. A 2004 report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund named The Clorox Company as one of the nation's most chemically dangerous. The Clorox deal has angered and embittered Club members all across the country, not just in Florida. Since the deal was announced in January, 2008, the Club's national leadership has deflected many requests by Club members to see the text of the legal agreement signed with
Clorox....
'Lights Out' for Earth Hour From Rome's Colosseum to the Sydney Opera House, floodlit icons of civilization went dark Saturday for Earth Hour, a worldwide campaign to highlight the threat of climate change. The environmental group WWF urged governments, businesses and households to turn back to candle power for at least 60 minutes starting at 8 p.m. wherever they were. The campaign began last year in Australia, and traveled this year from the South Pacific to Europe in cadence with the setting of the sun. Several U.S. cities also planned symbolic blackouts or dimmings of monuments, including at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Earth Hour officials hoped 100 million people would turn off their nonessential lights and electronic goods for the hour. Electricity plants produce greenhouse gases that fuel climate change....
Evangelicals Like It Hot SUPPOSEDLY GLOBAL WARMING IS the wedge issue that will peel evangelicals away from their conservative voting habits and their ostensible preoccupation with sexual mores. So when the president of the conservative-led 16 million member Southern Baptist Convention signed a Global Warming statement, headlines blazed, and the evangelical left cheered. But the church's president has since attempted to clarify. And the head of the denomination's official public policy arm is publicly opposing congressional legislation mandating increased carbon caps. The March 10 "Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change" was organized by 25-year-old seminary student Jonathan Merritt, the son of a former Southern Baptist president. His father and another former church president signed the statement, along with prominent seminary faculty, adding nearly 50 notable signatures. Richard Land, head of the church's official Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, conspicuously declined to sign, disagreeing that the church had been "too timid." He also explained that endorsing a stance at variance with the church's official position would be "misleading and unethical." Land was referencing the church's 2007 resolution "On Global Warming," which was notably skeptical about human-induced climate change. It declared that "global temperature has risen and fallen cyclically throughout geologic history" and that the "scientific community is divided regarding the extent to which humans are responsible for recent global warming." It also warned that "forcing developing countries to comply with Kyoto will significantly inhibit their economic development and the development of the international economy" and that "proposed carbon offset programs will have little impact on reducing rising temperatures if human activity is not a significant cause of recent global warming."....
World governments start talks on halting greenhouse gases Governments from 163 countries will launch discussions Monday on forging a global warming agreement, a process expected to be fraught with disagreements over which countries should take the lead to reduce greenhouse gases by as much as half by 2050. The weeklong, United Nations climate meeting in Bangkok comes on the heels of a historic agreement reached in December to draft a new accord on global warming by 2009. Without a pact to rein in rising greenhouse gases in the next two decades, scientists say warming weather will lead to widespread drought, floods, higher sea levels and worsening storms. "(There is a) very cooperative and constructive mood, a great enthusiasm to take this work forward," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is hosting the Thailand meeting. However, de Boer also said Sunday it would be "incredibly challenging" to craft such a complex agreement over the next two years....
Gore Launches Ambitious Advocacy Campaign on Climate
Former vice president Al Gore will launch a three-year, $300 million campaign Wednesday aimed at mobilizing Americans to push for aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, a move that ranks as one of the most ambitious and costly public advocacy campaigns in U.S. history. The Alliance for Climate Protection's "we" campaign will employ online organizing and television advertisements on shows ranging from "American Idol" to "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." It highlights the extent to which Americans' growing awareness of global warming has yet to translate into national policy changes, Gore said in an hour-long phone interview last week. He said the campaign, which Gore is helping to fund, was undertaken in large part because of his fear that U.S. lawmakers are unwilling to curb the human-generated emissions linked to climate change. "This climate crisis is so interwoven with habits and patterns that are so entrenched, the elected officials in both parties are going to be timid about enacting the bold changes that are needed until there is a change in the public's sense of urgency in addressing this crisis," Gore said. "I've tried everything else I know to try. The way to solve this crisis is to change the way the public thinks about it." Private contributors have already donated or committed half the money needed to fund the entire campaign, he said....
American West Heating Nearly Twice As Fast As Rest Of World The American West is heating up more rapidly than the rest of the world, according to a new analysis of the most recent federal government temperature figures. The news is especially bad for some of the nation’s fastest growing cities, which receive water from the drought-stricken Colorado River. The average temperature rise in the Southwest’s largest river basin was more than double the average global increase, likely spelling even more parched conditions. “Global warming is hitting the West hard,” said Theo Spencer of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “It is already taking an economic toll on the region’s tourism, recreation, skiing, hunting and fishing activities. The speed of warming and mounting economic damage make clear the urgent need to limit global warming pollution.” For the report, the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) analyzed new temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for 11 western states. For the five-year period 2003-2007 the average temperature in the Colorado River Basin, which stretches from Wyoming to Mexico, was 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the historical average for the 20th Century. The temperature rise was more than twice the global average increase of 1.0 degree during the same period. The average temperature increased 1.7 degrees in the entire 11-state western region....
A Wolf Saved From Extinction but Snared in Politics The uncertainty surrounding the Mexican gray wolf, also known as el lobo, highlights the challenge of meshing conservation with politics. While biologists and zookeepers have saved the Mexican wolf, the most genetically distinct subspecies of gray wolf in North America, federal managers are struggling to translate this success into a working recovery program in the field. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Fish and Wildlife Service paid a trapper named Roy McBride to capture several Mexican wolves south of the border. That group of five, which has expanded in captivity to more than 300, is the source of every Mexican wolf that now exists in the United States, posing a genetic challenge for biologists hoping to help the species recover. At first glance, there is no reason that Mexican wolves should not make the same sort of robust recovery that gray wolves have made in the northern Rockies. But the northern wolves have more than three times as much quality habitat as the wolves in the Southwest. And a trickier problem government officials face is that the politically influential ranching community in the Southwest has opposed the wolves' reintroduction, and the officials, in seeking to accommodate those interests, have satisfied no one. Early in the process, federal officials created what Oakleaf called "artificial boundaries where wolves can be present or not" -- if a wolf goes beyond the official Blue Range Recovery Area, which spans 9,290 square miles, it is relocated. In addition, in 2005, Fish and Wildlife put into place "standard operating procedure 13.0," which calls for the permanent removal of wolves that come into conflict with livestock....
Wolves Delisted, Local Rancher Is Still Worried It's official, wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are no longer on the endangered species list. This means each state is preparing for a fall hunt, the first of it's kind in decades. One Challis Rancher says almost 50 of his head of cattle have been killed by the growing population of wolves and he's not convinced the delisting will make a dent in the growing population. "We are sustaining tremendous losses as a result of the wolves," says Rancher Gary Chamberlain. Chamberlain started his Challis ranch in the late 60's, back when wolves were virtually extinct in Idaho, "I fell in love with the country," he says. He says it's unfortunate that the wolves love the country around Challis too. "Problem we've got is as numbers of wolves have gotten to be so many they've moved into area that now effect those people that are grazing." Right now Chamberlain's cows are in his pastures, where they're safe. The danger comes when they move into the range in the mountains come May. "In 2006 we lost 18 calves and 11 cows out in Morgan Creek," recalls Morgan. In 2007 he says he lost 11 calves and 6 cows. The grand total of deaths between the two years is 46. A number of kills Chamberlain had never seen before wolves were reintroduced. Interestingly, of all the cows killed Wildlife Services was only able to confirm one as a wolf kill. Chamberlain says that's because it's difficult to prove. "Problem we get is if it's been a day or two, they have the animal cleaned up to the point that you have troubles. Unless you can find wolf scat, or tracks its difficult to determine if its a wolf kill."....
What's next for Wolves? George Edwards doesn't work for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the agency now in charge of managing wolves in the state. But his work will play a large role in maintaining a viable wolf population in Montana by building public acceptance of the wolf, particularly in the ranching community, state officials said. Edwards, who works for the Department of Livestock, is the state's first livestock loss mitigation coordinator. Beginning next month, livestock producers will submit their financial claims to Edwards for animals hunted and killed by the state's now thriving wolf population. Wolves, which number more than 400 in Montana and 1,500 in the Northern Rockies, came off the federal endangered species list Friday, turning management over to the states. The price tag for reimbursing ranchers, as well as funding guard dogs and other conflict prevention efforts, is expected to cost more than $200,000 annually. The money won't just come from the state, as federal funding also will be sought. One of Edwards' main jobs will be fundraising. Edwards noted that some of the state's most prominent residents, such as cable TV mogul Ted Turner, will be asked to contribute....
Family sues state, feds over deadly bear attack In the moments after a black bear hauled off her 11-year-old son in American Fork Canyon last June, Rebecca Ives said she clutched her other son until help, summoned by her husband, arrived. Rescuers placed yellow tape around the family's campsite and took them to safety. What makes her angry is that such markers should have been placed around the site before the family arrived. The bear that killed Sam Ives raided campers earlier that morning and authorities were notified. The question she asked Friday after she and her family filed federal and state lawsuits: Why weren't they warned? "We would have known something was up if there was just yellow tape up there, and I would still have my son," a tearful Ives said at attorney Allen K. Young's Provo office. Their suits are seeking $2 million from the U.S. Forest Service and $550,000 from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), which is protected by a state-mandated damages cap. The suits - they name Ives, husband Tim Mulvey, and Sam's natural father, Kevan Francis, as plaintiffs - take the agencies to task for not warning campers that a dangerous bear was on the loose and failing to close the campground until officials could locate and kill the bear....
State, wildlife advocates spar over cattle grazing issue He's just a Kittitas County cattleman trying to make a living, but controversy swirls all around Russ Stingley. On one side are the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington Cattlemen's Association, brought together by the governor's office to allow grazing on large swaths of state wildlife land. On the other side are critics who oppose letting cattle graze on land specifically purchased for wildlife and question its benefits. One Idaho-based conservation group has even sued, saying the state took shortcuts in order to fast-track cattle grazing. In the middle stands Stingley, awaiting state approval to put his cattle out on 18,500 acres over six pastures of rolling shrub-steppe land known as the Skookumchuck, located east of Ellensburg and home to thousands of elk. The state Fish and Wildlife Commission is expected to sign off on the grazing permit in the next two or three weeks. But every day he waits costs money. Like many Eastern Washington cattlemen, Stingley has more cattle than land and relies on lease permits to graze his livestock on state, federal and private land....
Government scientists look askance at an administration logging proposal for Oregon's Coast Range A Bush administration proposal to accelerate logging in Oregon's Coast Range faces new criticism by the government's own scientists, who say the plan probably underestimates the environmental harm it would do and may exaggerate how much timber could actually be cut. The scientists, including state and federal experts on forests, fish, wildlife and economics, also said the logging blueprint issued last year by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management did not use the most recent and relevant science on subjects such as wildlife habitat and water quality. The blueprint affects about 2.5 million acres of federally managed forestland rich in timber and wildlife. Logging in the region dropped sharply more than a decade ago amid extra protection for such species as the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet, and coastal counties have pressed to push logging levels back up. The Bush administration struck a 2003 legal deal with the timber industry to look at eliminating permanent wildlife reserves on the land -- a move that would promote more logging. The BLM issued a draft proposal advancing that approach last year and asked the panel of state and federal scientists to review it. The opinion of the scientists, posted on a BLM Web site about a week ago, fills nearly 100 pages and is very critical. It suggests that the BLM used simplistic models to examine the effects of logging on fish and wildlife habitat, and generally ignored major environmental issues such as climate change, which could contribute to more wildfires that leave fewer trees to cut....
Officials: 'Trans-Texas Corridor' a taboo, but need real
The Trans-Texas Corridor is now so controversial, merely uttering the words in most political circles is taboo. "We're calling it a 'regional loop' because you can't say 'Trans-Texas Corridor' in the state of Texas anymore," said Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. "The Trans-Texas Corridor is a lightning rod," he told visiting state representatives this week while explaining how the corridor would connect to regional highways by 2030. Opposition to the proposed construction of a $184 billion network of toll roads during the next 50 years is so strong statewide that lawmakers now question whether it's wise for the Texas Transportation Department to continue planning the huge project in its current form. But transportation officials say they must press on. While opposing views must be respected, the state can't afford to ignore its growing traffic problems, Texas Transportation Commissioner Ned Holmes of Houston said this week. "Clearly the Trans-Texas Corridor name has developed some controversy in and of itself," Holmes said. "That does not diminish the need for mobility in the state." In the past two years, the Metroplex region and the Houston region both have created more jobs than any state in the union, he said. Despite Morris' hesitation to mention the Trans-Texas Corridor by name, North Texas leaders generally back the plan. Most are desperate to fix the region's growing traffic problems, clean up the air and keep the economy going in the nation's fourth-largest metropolitan area. Elsewhere in Texas, common criticisms are that the corridor plan would take too much property out of the hands of private landowners, impose tolls in rural areas where drivers don't want them and turn over control of Texas roads to private, often foreign-owned companies....
Bison killing rumors whisper through Fairplay It is whispered maybe a dozen times a day in this tiny former gold mining town plopped in the middle of a lot of central Colorado nothingness. It is a fairly odd statement that at first makes the head spin. "The Indians did it." It is always said in an under-the-breath, highly conspiratorial way, the speaker at first shifting his or her eyes this way and that, before leaning back and nodding. "The Indians," they whisper, tapping your hand. It is the talk of this town of 752 souls, the horrific slaughter two weeks ago of rancher Monte Downare's 32 bison by at least 14 men, the majority of whom were caught standing over or not far from their kills. What appears clear, townsfolk and lawmen here say, is that the slaughter is but the latest chapter in the long-running feud between Monte Downare (pronounced Dawn-ARE-ray) and Texas high-tech exec Jeff Hawn, whose ranches abut each other southeast of Hartsel near here in southeastern Park County. "The men who did this are lucky the sheriff, and not the men in here, caught them first," Duke Marsh, 68, bellows while standing in the middle of the crowded Silverheels Truck Stop just off U.S. 285 near the entrance to the town. "They would still be hanging by their (genitals)," he spits to the nodding approval of the others. "No feud should end with the killing of any man's livestock."....
Family Study Associates Pesticide Use With Parkinson's Risk
Parkinson's disease has been linked to exposure to pesticides in a new study comparing people with the neurological disorder and their unaffected relatives. The study, published online in the open-access journalBMC Neurology, found the strongest ties to the use of herbicides and insecticides, such as organochlorides and organophosphates. Drinking well water or living or working on a farm, two common experiences for pesticide exposures, did not appear to be associated with Parkinson's. Many Parkinson's disease cases are thought to be due to an interaction between genetic and environmental factors. By studying related individuals who share environmental and genetic backgrounds, researchers said they could identify specific differences in exposures between individuals with and without the disease....
Farmers consider how much corn to plant
As spring planting nears, farmers are making a choice that could affect what Americans pay for everything from car fuel to chicken wings. If they choose to plant as much corn as possible, prices that have soared to record highs above $5 a bushel could stabilize. But if many farmers rotate their plantings to other crops such as soybeans, or the season is disrupted by bad weather or drought, the price of this key ingredient could soar even further. That would leave other food producers — especially poultry, beef and pork companies, where corn feed comprises up to three-quarters of their operating costs — with little choice but to raise their prices as well. Livestock producers typically blame higher corn prices on demand for the crop from ethanol plants, saying the alternative fuel drives up costs for everyone. But ethanol makers say the rising corn prices hurt them as well....
Willie Nelson protests dairy and cow treatment
Country singer Willie Nelson has joined a campaign targeting Dublin-based Challenge Dairy for using products that come from a calf ranch that "violates state anti-cruelty laws," according to a lawsuit filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. An online petition urges the Dublin facility as well as St. Paul, Minn.-based Land O'Lakes to stop using milk from calves raised at the Mendes Calf Ranch in Tipton in the Central Valley. "As a cowboy, I must stand up for cows," Nelson said in a cover letter for the petition, which now has more than 23,000 signatures. "It's a tragedy to see the small-town farmer, who cared deeply for his backyard animals, is rapidly being edged out by huge facilities that look more like factories than farms -- and treat animals no better than machines." The petition was started in October. In June 2006, the ALDF filed lawsuit against Mendes for allegedly isolating and confining newborn calves in crates, which they say is illegal....Any comments on Willie calling himself a "cowboy"?
JBS Swift Merger Plan Sparks Opposition In Cattle Country The Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) joined with over 70 organizations to ask the Department of Justice to block acquisition of Smithfield Beef and National Beef by JBS Swift. In a letter to the department, the groups asked the Antitrust Division to “scrutinize the merger, issue a second request, and strongly consider blocking the deal.” The organizations stated the proposed merger “will harm price, choice, innovation and competition in the beef industry.” The groups’ main concern is with the buying market for cattle. The organizations also noted that fewer major meat processors would likely have adverse effects on consumers. JBS Swift, a Brazilian company, announced plans in March to buy the companies, two of biggest U.S. meat packers. If approved, the merger would make JBS Swift the largest meat packer in the U.S. and the world. The acquisition would reduce the largest meat packers in this country from five to three. Many Western ranchers have long been concerned with the consolidation of the meat packing industry and its impact on family-based livestock producers....
Revolution on the Range: The Rise of a New Ranch in the American West Courtney White. Island, $25.99 (218p) ISBN 978-1-59726-174-6 In a time when environmental reporting has become justifiably gloomy, this book is a refreshing breath of pragmatic optimism. Environmentalist White highlights quirky, visionary individuals and their innovative methods to improve the quality of the ranges and mountains of the West, such as biologist Bill Zeedyk, who restores riparian areas and water tables using sticks and rocks to simply and cheaply mimic a creek’s natural meandering, and activist Dan Dagget, who has been able to unite environmentalists and ranchers by focusing on common goals (open space, wildlife, restored streams). White promotes implementation of the “New Ranch,” operating “on the principle that the natural processes that sustain wildlife habitat, biological diversity and functioning watersheds are the same processes that make land productive for livestock... where erosion has diminished, where streams and springs, once dry, now flow, where wildlife is more abundant, and where landowners are more profitable as a result.” White’s vision of stewardship, openness to new ideas, giving as well as taking, and flexibility will inspire anyone who loves humanity or the great outdoors. (June)
Cattle dogs, owners compete to see who is the best It takes more than just bark to move a full-grown steer into a holding pen, it takes courage. “They have to have a lot of courage because of what their job is. They might have to move a 1,200-pound cow. Sometimes the only way they can get across what they are doing is with a bite,” said Jon Gamble, trials director for the sixth annual Billy Hindman Memorial Cattle Dog Trials. The event is a two-day cattle dog competition at Nine Mile Ranch, just south of Touchet. In the competition, master and dog team up to drive cattle into various holding pens. At the heart of the competition is the chance to show your dog’s stuff. “It’s a chance for ranch people with working dogs to show their dogs to see who is the best,” Gamble said. But nowadays you don’t have to be a rancher to be into cattle dog competitions. “You get people from all walks of life, people who are carpet layers, people who aren’t ranchers,” Gamble said. “People who are there for a love of the sport.” This weekend some 60 owners entered the cattle dog competition, which includes various classes from pro class to nursery class (younger dogs). Last year’s purse came to around $2,000 for the winner. Gamble had yet to tabulate what this year’s winner will take home, but he did add that winning here can lead to an even bigger payoff at the national competition in Red Bluff, Calif, where dogs are know to sell for $16,000 or more....
Story of Carlsbad's cowboys now published A book highlighting some of Carlsbad's cowboy days will be the subject of an upcoming local presentation by the novel's two authors. "A Red Howell Fit," written by Beth Smith Howell Aycock and Jorga Riggenbach, is a historical novel based on the life of southwestern rancher Lewis "Red" Howell — Aycock's father. "These people were all real," said Aycock, 88. "Of course I embellished it. You are not writing a history, but that's the way we lived during that era." Aycock was born on a ranch near Lakewood, in Eddy County. "I lived there until around 1929, then we moved to Weed, New Mexico," she said. "A Red Howell Fit" includes references to Queen, area rodeo grounds and nearby ranches, she said. Aycock said she still has family in the area....
Doctor made house calls — by parachute More than 60 years ago, before helicopters were used for mountain and wilderness rescues, Helena’s Dr. Amos “Bud” Little was making rescues from the sky. In 1944, Little, then 27 and serving as an Air Force “paradoctor,” gained national recognition for one of the most daring parachute rescues in U.S. history in a remote region of the Colorado Rockies known as Hell’s Half Acre. “Shortly after midnight on June 14, 1944, a B-17 Flying Fortress out of Rapid City, S.D., bound for Greeley, Colo., had crashed on the north side of Crown Peak in the Roosevelt National Forest, just below the snow and timberline at 10,800 feet,” according to a July 1999 Wildland Firefighter magazine article titled “The Savior Who Fell From The Sky” by Mark Matthews. Three of the bomber’s 10 crew members were killed instantly. Another died the next morning. Two survivors were able to walk down from the mountain. The other four were injured too badly to leave the site, including one with a broken back. Little’s heroics were reported in three national magazines — Time, Coronet and Reader’s Digest. “Soon, a bomber, with an Army doctor aboard, was on its way to the rocky ledge where the four injured men lay,” stated the Time article of July 10, 1944. “The doctor first dropped a parachute load of supplies from the circling (UC-54), then jumped himself. When the main rescue party arrived by land, nearly four hours later, the patients had been fed, bandaged and drugged to ease their pain....

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Proposed NCA for the Peloncillo Region: Trying to Preserve Wild Land

From: Keeler Ranch
Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2008 7:08 PM
To: Undisclosed-Recipient:;
Subject: Proposed NCA for the Peloncillo Region: Trying to Preserve Wild Land

Every once in awhile it's good to reach back into the past and pull up some information that may have previously slipped by unnoticed. So here's an article - originally published in the Albuquerque Journal in June of 1997 - that needs to be repeated. Unfortunately, the article can not found on the web, it was written before such items got posted to the internet. I still have the original article if you care to view it!!

The newly proposed National Conservation Area (NCA) for the Peloncillo Mountains has its roots in this article. I was sending this information to a gentleman I met yesterday and thought I'd better pass it along for your review too. Perhaps it will lend some understanding as to what is being planned for our area.

Please note the Wildlands Project, as stated in this article, calls for using conservation biology.... "The idea is to design natural areas for the benefit of animals requiring the most space -- bears, wolves, bison and jaguars, for example." Conservation biologists call these "umbrella species." The theory on which the Wildlands Project is based claims that protecting these species will result "automatically in protection for other plant and animal species."

The Wildlands Project, as published in 1992, calls for "wilderness areas" to become the "core areas" - home to "unfettered life, free from industrial human intervention .... Vast landscapes without roads, dams, motorized vehicles, powerlines, overflights, or other artifacts of civilization" that must be designed to "save biodiversity." Although the land-use restrictions in the buffer zones and corridors "would be less restrictive than in the core areas", the plan does call for these areas to be managed by federal agencies to protect their "wilderness qualities". Within the preserve design would be "wilderness core areas", with "buffer zones around those cores and corridors connecting the core areas".

The Wildlands Project is based on the concept that large preserves such as "the "Greater Gila Sky Islands" are needed to protect large "umbrella species". Initially, it was planned to "encompass 40,000 square miles, roughly half of which would be in Mexico". Just a few years later the preserve design had grown to "70,000 acres". It's anybody's guess how many acres it has morphed into today.

The Wildlands Project, as acknowledged in this article, is a "theory" folks - an experiment that will be performed on us, the local landowners!!

I've attached the map for the proposed "Peloncillo Coordinated Management and Protected Area Planning Boundary". It came with the "Executive Summary" for the NCA. If you'd like to read the executive summary, drop David Hodges, Sky Island Alliance, a note: dhodges@skyislandalliance.org

Feel free to pass this along!! I believe everyone who will be impacted by this agenda should get a heads up on what the Sky Island/Nature Conservancy is proposing for our area. Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, all the NCA will do is take away the private property rights of the people living within its boundaries. Everyone needs to know what is being planned for their property.

Why do I include the Nature Conservancy? In my opinion, they are inextricably involved in this planning process. Other areas all over our nation are already being impacted by this HUGE agenda.

Do your homework. If you would like to read what a NCA did for landowners in California - please read this article:
http://www.rangemagazine.com/archives/stories/fall99/strange_equality.htm
Maybe it's time for a congressional investigation into how the Wildlands Project is being used to determine land-use planning in the New Mexico and Arizona, as well as the other states in our nation.

Judy
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Albuquerque Journal

June 15, 1997

TRYING TO PRESERVE WILD LAND
Mike Taugher Journal Staff Writer

WILD NEW MEXICO: A Delicate Balance

* Conservationists and biologists are working together on a plan to design vast nature reserves

Think of those most lightly touched of western lands -- the national parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas -- as islands in a sea of civilization.

To a growing number of conservationists and biologists, that's exactly what they are.

And in the field of conservation biology, where scientists agree that steps must be taken to preserve biodiversity, the view is that those islands are not only necessary but may have to be expanded for the survival of numerous plant and animal species.

Conservationists and biologists are working together on a plan to design vast nature reserves around these protected islands.

The Wildlands Project is highly ambitious, if not radical, because it would remap chunks of North America from a conservation biologist's point of view. Today, it has a small paid staff based in Tucson and a budget of about $500,000, mostly from grants and some individual donations.

Co-founded by Dave Foreman, an Albuquerque resident who in 1980 co-founded the radical environmental group Earth First!, the Wildlands Project shows how over the last few decades wilderness advocates have shifted some of their emphasis on wilderness as a place for scenery and recreation to wilderness as a place for preservation of plant and animal species.

"A lot of this stuff, it's always been there. It's just that as we become more and more aware of the extinction crisis going on and the importance of wilderness in preserving that, the ecological values became more and more emphasized," said Foreman, who has long since disassociated himself from Earth First! because "they turned into a bunch of left-wing, counter-culture radicals."

In the 1960s and 1970s, wilderness advocates concentrated on high mountain areas that were typically pretty, attractive to users of the outdoors and where wilderness designation was not too objectionable to commercial interests, Foreman said.

The result was that wilderness areas were designated in scenic, high-altitude areas that were beautiful but not necessarily rich in trees, minerals or grazing land.

"We've done a really good job of protecting alpine tundra but we've done a really poor job of protecting riparian areas. Most of that is due to a recreational bias. Part of it is entirely a practical matter. There hasn't been a lot of conflict over alpine tundra, but there has been a lot of conflict over riparian areas," Foreman said.

One of the Wildlands Project's first proposals would be in southwestern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona and northern Mexico.

In its preliminary form, the "Greater Gila Sky Islands" reserve would encompass 40,000 square miles, roughly half of which would be in Mexico. Within that area would be wilderness core areas, buffer zones around those cores and corridors connecting the core areas. Land-use restrictions in the buffer zones would be less restrictive than in the core areas.

The organization for the most part is keeping its cards close to the vest, but it plans to release detailed maps for the Greater Gila Sky Islands project in about a year.

"This is going to be a very political thing in the future," said Jack Humphrey, program coordinator for the Sky Islands Alliance, an organization formed to design the biological reserve.

"This is the most ambitious thing the conservation movement has ever thought about, and it's in its infancy still," he added. "If it takes 200 years, it takes 200 years. This land isn't going anywhere."

Humphrey pointed to the bison that were shot after they migrated out of Yellowstone National Park as an example of the need for such designs. Many of those bison were shot because of ranchers' fears that they might bring disease to their cattle. The Wildlands Project's cores, buffers and corridors would take into account the space bison need.

The idea is to design natural areas for the benefit of animals requiring the most space -- bears, wolves, bison and jaguars, for example. Conservation biologists call those "umbrella species." The theory on which the Wildlands Project is based says that protecting those species will result automatically in protection for other plant and animal species.

The theory is that if animals at the top of the food chain are protected, the lower species also should flourish. That theory, Foreman and Humphrey said, never has been tested.

Once the maps are completed, wildlands supporters would try to implement the plan by purchasing private land or conservation easements on private land, by influencing planning processes for public lands and through congressional action, for example.

"In some cases it's going to be just a tweaking of a management plan. In other areas, it's going to take wilderness designation," Humphrey said.

As proof that the Wildlands Project may not be as pie-in-the-sky as it seems, supporters point to an effort in Florida to protect about half of that state's land for wildlife. The state Legislature there appropriated $3 billion for the effort, according to Wildlands Project supporters.

Supporters say they may have an advantage in western states that doesn't exist in Florida: There is a lot more public land out here.
Horse trading isn’t just for horses
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Julie Carter

The cowboy stood at the door in what, at one time, in some other lifetime, might have been a red canvas jacket.

Today it was more on the aged side of pink, fringed with very raveled seams, and had a pocket that was holding on only by a creative thought. He was headed to town.

After some verbal exchange with his wife, who knew he owned a better coat and reminded him of that, he drove off.

His rationale was that he was on his way to bargain for something and it was politically incorrect to go horse-trading (a term used for any kind of bartering in the West) in new or even salvageable clothes.

It is the nature of the work to be done that drives the appearance.

There is a cowboy on the east side of the state that has a ranch, free and clear of mortgages and enough money in the bank to stock cattle on it without the banker's permission. At shipping time, he would always appear at breakfast dressed the same as rest of the cowboys. He would stay that way until the cattle were penned.

Sometime just after the gate closed on the last steer and the cow buyer who had been waiting at the road with the cattle trucks showed up, this rancher would transform into a pitiful creature.

He would be clad in a sweater with holes at the elbows, cuffs hanging by a thread, a hat that had been through the big war and boots with more holes than a prairie dog patch.

The cow buyer would arrive clean and shiny with creases in his jeans like George Strait, driving a new Lincoln, a white, new out-of-the-box Stetson, and wearing a big pinkie ring with a diamond the size of a robin's egg. The contrast was always appreciable.

And even though the actual numbers for the trade had been signed for months before and were not questioned, it never failed to come up in a conversation that the next time the buyer would have to do a little better.

Trading, bartering and making a deal, whether buying or selling, keeps a cowboy's heart pumping strong the same way riding a good horse following fat cattle in belly-deep grass does.

There is an art to "horse trading" that is passed down through generations. It is honed to a sharp edge, practiced constantly, even on the wife and kids, and often has nothing to do with a horse.

But if it is about a horse, the trading will often go beyond the monetary value of the animal. It is not unusual for the dickering conversation to go on for hours when the transaction involves something other than cash.

When a prospect shows up at a trader's place with a trailer hooked to the pickup, it puts a spring in the step of the man with the merchandise for sale. It is a wiser, more-common practice to leave the trailer parked a couple of miles away, maybe at the truck stop, and arrive with only any other tradable goods to start the transaction.

Before the discussion of cash floats into the conversation, there may a considerable amount of time given to offering other livestock, horse trailers, saddles, pasture leases, colt breaking, day working or pick of the new litter of blue heeler pups as part of the "deal."

It is pinnacle entertainment to listen to horse traders while standing out in a dusty lot watching one "trader" pit his wits against another. A true regret to this unheralded talent is the increase of horses being bought and sold over the Internet, losing the tone and the visual of the transaction.

An entire art and language is being lost on the cyber highway. Without it, the Western world will be a less colorful place.

More than ever, the "buyer beware" phrase needs to be pasted to the pickup windshield or perhaps to the computer monitor.

Visit Julie at her website at www.julie-carter.com
FLE

Every bank transaction triggers snooping The web of snooping in which federal investigators and regulators are now able to ensnare any person who engages in any form of financial transaction has become so complex and pervasive that almost no person anywhere in the world can escape its clutches. The ability of the government to manipulate this vast power is magnified many fold by virtue of the manner in which our laws and regulations require the active complicity of the entire cadre of persons working in, or in some manner connected with, banks and other entities that provide or facilitate financial transactions. The seeds of this modern-day Orwellian financial web were sown in the late 1960s and early 1970s when such expansive federal laws as the Bank Secrecy Act were enacted with bipartisan support. Designed as tools to ferret out organized crime figures, major drug traffickers and international money launderers, this family of far-reaching regulatory-cum-criminal laws initially was used largely as intended. During this era also, many of the “Suspicious Activity Reports” (or SARs) required by the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, for example, were largely ignored by investigators and prosecutors, who viewed them as burdensome and difficult to catalog and utilize. Bank employees were not pressured to file such reports as an operative component of their job descriptions. Two events have conspired to change all that. First, the advent of digital technology has elevated dramatically the ability of the government to gather, analyze, manipulate, retrieve and disseminate the SAR data. In the digital age, there are virtually no limits on the ability of agents to use high-speed computers to identify, correlate and retrieve the data in ways limited only by imagination. The second factor changing the power of using SARs and the reporting requirements in the sister “Currency Transaction Report” (CTRs) and other federal reporting instruments, was, of course, the events of 9/11 and the ensuing USA Patriot Act. These two things institutionalized fear as the driving force in virtually all federal policies, including those relating to financial reporting....
Spy drones in demand by U.S. police departments A small pilotless vehicle manufactured by Honeywell International, capable of hovering and "staring" using electro-optic or infrared sensors, is expected to be introduced soon in the skies over the Florida Everglades. If use of the drone wins U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval after tests, the Miami-Dade Police Department will start flying the 14 pound, or 6.35 kilogram, drone over urban areas with an eye toward full-fledged employment in crime fighting. "Our intentions are to use it only in tactical situations as an extra set of eyes," said Detective Juan Villalba, a police department spokesman. "We intend to use this to benefit us in carrying out our mission," he added, saying the wingless Honeywell aircraft, which fits into a backpack and is capable of vertical takeoff and landing, seems ideally suited for use by SWAT teams in hostage situations or dealing with "barricaded subjects." And the Miami-Dade police are not alone. Taking their lead from the U.S. military, which has used drones in Iraq and Afghanistan for years, law enforcement agencies across the United States have voiced a growing interest in using drones for domestic crime-fighting missions. Known in the aerospace industry as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, drones have been under development for decades in the United States. The CIA acknowledges that it developed a dragonfly-sized UAV known as the "Insectohopter" for laser-guided spy operations as long ago as the 1970s. And other advanced work on robotic flyers has clearly been under way for quite some time. "The FBI is experimenting with a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles," said Marcus Thomas, an assistant director of the bureau's Operational Technology Division. "At this point they have been used mainly for search and rescue missions," he added. "It certainly is an up-and-coming technology and the FBI is researching additional uses for UAVs."....
Dragonfly or Insect Spy? Scientists at Work on Robobugs Vanessa Alarcon saw them while working at an antiwar rally in Lafayette Square last month. "I heard someone say, 'Oh my god, look at those,' " the college senior from New York recalled. "I look up and I'm like, 'What the hell is that?' They looked kind of like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects." Out in the crowd, Bernard Crane saw them, too. "I'd never seen anything like it in my life," the Washington lawyer said. "They were large for dragonflies. I thought, 'Is that mechanical, or is that alive?' " That is just one of the questions hovering over a handful of similar sightings at political events in Washington and New York. Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security. Others think they are, well, dragonflies -- an ancient order of insects that even biologists concede look about as robotic as a living creature can look. No agency admits to having deployed insect-size spy drones. But a number of U.S. government and private entities acknowledge they are trying. Some federally funded teams are even growing live insects with computer chips in them, with the goal of mounting spyware on their bodies and controlling their flight muscles remotely....
NSA Had Access Built into Microsoft Windows A CARELESS mistake by Microsoft programmers has revealed that special access codes prepared by the US National Security Agency have been secretly built into Windows. The NSA access system is built into every version of the Windows operating system now in use, except early releases of Windows 95 (and its predecessors). The discovery comes close on the heels of the revelations earlier this year that another US software giant, Lotus, had built an NSA "help information" trapdoor into its Notes system, and that security functions on other software systems had been deliberately crippled. The first discovery of the new NSA access system was made two years ago by British researcher Dr Nicko van Someren. But it was only a few weeks ago when a second researcher rediscovered the access system. With it, he found the evidence linking it to NSA. Computer security specialists have been aware for two years that unusual features are contained inside a standard Windows software "driver" used for security and encryption functions. The driver, called ADVAPI.DLL, enables and controls a range of security functions. If you use Windows, you will find it in the C:Windowssystem directory of your computer. ADVAPI.DLL works closely with Microsoft Internet Explorer, but will only run cryptographic functions that the US governments allows Microsoft to export. That information is bad enough news, from a European point of view. Now, it turns out that ADVAPI will run special programmes inserted and controlled by NSA. As yet, no-one knows what these programmes are, or what they do....
DEA Losing More Guns, Fewer Laptops The Drug Enforcement Administration is losing more guns but fewer laptops than it was about five years ago, the Justice Department's inspector general said Friday. The follow-up report found that some of the same problems cited in a 2002 audit remain: Policies for storing weapons and laptops are not always followed and, when they are lost, officials don't regularly report them. The report credited the DEA with a 50 percent reduction in the frequency with which laptops are lost and stolen. But the inspector general said officials often have no idea what information was on the computers when they were stolen. Officials are required to document whether sensitive material was on a lost or stolen computer. But of the 231 laptops lost in the 5 1/2 years covered by the report, such documents were filed only five times. Auditors said the DEA lost 22 firearms and had an additional 69 stolen over the 5 1/2-year period. The stolen weapons included pistols, rifles, shotguns, and a submachine gun. The majority of stolen guns had been left in an official's car, despite a policy prohibiting leaving a weapon unattended in a vehicle. The report cited examples of guns stolen from cars parked outside restaurants, hotels, schools and gyms. Some agents had their guns taken from their cars while they were shopping or getting coffee. One firearm was stolen while the car was at the body shop....
New Hampshire Joins Montana in Real ID Victory Détente has arrived in the fight between independence-minded states and a federal bureaucracy keen to claim a unanimous victory in its drive to create a de facto national identity database. The key? The renegade states send a nice letter that is not a request for an extension of a looming deadline but touts the security of their driver's licenses, which the Department of Homeland Security accepts as an official extension request. That lets DHS save face, even as it backs down from repeated threats to punish the citizens of rogue states. On Thursday, New Hampshire became the second of the four holdout states to get an unasked-for extension, following the path blazed by Montana's feisty Democratic governor Brian Schweitzer last Friday. Schweitzer told Threat Level he sent DHS "a horse, and if they want to call it a zebra, that's up to them." The legislators in the Live Free or Die state, like those in Montana, banned the state from complying with the Real ID mandates, citing state's rights, the inequity of unfunded federal mandates, and privacy issues. Under the rules, almost all license holders will have to return to the DMV with notarized "breeder documents" like birth and marriage certificates, and states will have to interlink their databases of digital photos and personal information. Citizens of states that opt out can't use their licenses for federal purposes, such as entering airport screening lines or going to a Social Security office....
California Backs Off Real ID For a short moment Thursday, millions of Californians were in danger of facing pat-downs at the airport and being blocked from federal buildings come May 11. In a Tuesday letter (.pdf) to Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, the head of California's DMV said that while California had already applied for and gotten an extension on the Real ID deadline, it wasn't actually committing to complying with Real ID rules by 2010. That's when states who ask for extension have to begin issuing driver's licenses and state IDs that comply with the federal rules. "California's request for an extension is not a commitment to implement Real ID, rather it will allow us to fully evaluate the impact of the final regulations and precede with necessary policy deliberations prior to a final decision on compliance," DMV director George Valverde wrote. States have until March 31 to request a two-year extension, and DHS had said before Thursday it won't grant Real ID extensions to states who don't commit to implementing the rules in the future. That meant Tuesday's letter looked like enough to join California to the small rebellion against the Real ID rules. For Californians that would mean enduring the same fate facing citizens of South Carolina, Maine, Montana and New Hampshire. But after Threat Level provided Homeland Security spokesman Laura Keehner with the letter, Keehner said California's commitment to thinking about commitment is good enough. "For right now, there is nothing that says they will not comply with Real ID," Keehner said....
304,000 Inmates Eligible for Deportation, Official Says At least 304,000 immigrant criminals eligible for deportation are behind bars nationwide, a top federal immigration official said Thursday. That is the first official estimate of the total number of such convicts in federal, state and local prisons and jails. The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Julie L. Myers, said the annual number of deportable immigrant inmates was expected to vary from 300,000 to 455,000, or 10 percent of the overall inmate population, for the next few years. Ms. Myers estimated that it would cost at least $2 billion a year to find all those immigrants and deport them. This week, Ms. Myers presented a plan to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security intended to speed the deportation of immigrants convicted of the most serious crimes by linking state prisons and county jails into federal databases that combine F.B.I. fingerprint files with immigration, border and antiterrorism records of the Homeland Security Department....
Deporting some immigrant inmates a big break for states Programs in New York and Arizona aimed at cutting the prison sentences of certain immigrant inmates so they can be deported faster have federal officials urging other states to adopt similar policies. Officials in the two states say they have saved millions by turning over for early deportation some non-violent immigrant criminals who have served at least half of their sentences. Eligible inmates include both legal immigrants who committed certain crimes and illegal immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials say the federal government also saves money when immigrant inmates get sent home early, and hopes to expand the program in the next few months. "This program does not apply to your rapists, your murderers, your serious criminals," says Julie Myers, homeland security assistant secretary for ICE....
Mexico sends troops to Texas border to battle drug lords Nearly 1,000 Mexican troops arrived at the Ciudad Juarez airport Friday to deal with a surge in drug war violence that's sent tremors throughout the country, local media reported. Mexican authorities said they're part of the more than 2,000 soldiers and federal policemen involved in "Operation Joint Chihuahua" who are being dispatched to combat narcotrafficking operations that have terrorized much of the state of Chihuahua, particularly Ciudad Juarez, Palomas and the city of Chihuahua, the state capital. More than 200 people have been killed in the area, which borders El Paso, Texas, since the beginning of the year, according to local media reports. Thirty were killed over the Easter weekend....
Nassau County proposes ban on brightly painted guns Owning or selling brightly colored guns may soon be illegal in Nassau County under a proposed ban because the painted weapons could pass as toys, police and county officials said yesterday. Suffolk County officials are considering a similar ban. The proposal in Nassau County was spurred by a Wisconsin company's introduction last week of a line of bright gun paints called the "Bloomberg Collection," which taunts Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2006 ban of colored guns in New York City, said Nassau police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey. Along with County Executive Thomas Suozzi and Legis. Joseph Scannell (D-Baldwin), Mulvey said he intends to support Bloomberg by outlawing the possession of painted guns in Nassau County, even if they were legally purchased and licensed elsewhere....
U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, March 27, 2008
Friends of Yosemite Valley v. Kempthorne, No. 07-15124

In a suit alleging that the National Park Service failed to prepare an adequate Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) for the Merced Wild and Scenic River, summary judgment for plaintiff is affirmed where: 1) a 2005 Revised Plan did not describe an actual level of visitor use that would not adversely impact the Merced's Outstanding Remarkable Values because it required a response only after degradation has already occurred; 2) interim limits were based on current capacity limits and NPS did not show that such limits protect and enhance the Merced's ORVs; 3) the CMP was not a single, self-contained plan; and 4) a supplemental environmental impact statement violated NEPA because a "no-action" alternative assumed the existence of the very plan being proposed, the three action alternatives were unreasonably narrow, and for the first five years, the interim limits proposed by the three alternatives were essentially identical

Friday, March 28, 2008

Gore's Message To Climate Change Skeptics on 60 Minutes Confronted by Stahl with the fact some prominent people, including the nation’s vice president, are not convinced that global warming is man-made, Gore responds: "You're talking about Dick Cheney. I think that those people are in such a tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view, they’re almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the world is flat,” says Gore. "That demeans them a little bit, but it's not that far off," he tells Stahl. Gore’s campaign to make the world more aware of man’s role in global warming won him the Nobel Peace Prize last year. He donated the $750,000 prize money to The Alliance for Climate Protection, the non-profit he started to help him on his quest. He and his wife, Tipper, tell Stahl they not only matched the Nobel money with their own, but they are also donating to the organization the significant profits from his book and Oscar-winning documentary film about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth." The funds will help The Alliance for Climate Protection execute a new $300 million ad campaign on global warming set to start next week. Some of the ads will feature unlikely alliances to drive home the message that people of all stripes are concerned about global warming. These include the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Pat Robertson, Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks, and Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich....
Governors to Gather at Yale for Climate Change Conference Governors from across the United States will meet at Yale University on April 17 and 18 to review state-level programs to combat global climate change and to develop a strategy for future action. The gathering will also celebrate the centennial of President Theodore Roosevelt’s landmark 1908 Conference of Governors, which launched the modern conservation movement, planted the seed for the National Parks System, and inspired significant state efforts to protect land. The event will celebrate 100 years of state leadership on critical environmental issues, confront the present climate challenge, and set out a vision of a federal-state partnership for future action. “Roosevelt showed remarkable foresight a century ago in engaging the states’ chief executive officers to preserve and protect the nation’s natural resources,” said Yale President Richard C. Levin. “Now, we face a new and critical challenge—global climate change—and leadership in the United States is coming from visionary state governors.” Governors who plan to attend the conference include M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Jon Corzine of New Jersey, Christine Gregoire of Washington, and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. Canadian Premier Jean Charest will also be present, and a dozen other governors are exploring whether their schedules will permit participation....
State deals blow to zero-emission vehicle supporters California's Air Resources Board voted Thursday to slash by 70% the number of emission-free vehicles that carmakers must sell in the state in coming years, a significant blow for environmentalists and transportation activists. But the panel set new rules requiring automakers to build tens of thousands of plug-in hybrid cars, which run on electricity and gasoline. And it adopted a motion to overhaul its entire Zero Emission Vehicle program to align it with tougher greenhouse-gas emission standards enacted in California in recent years. That could lead to the production of many more clean vehicles, but the overhaul won't happen until at least the end of 2009. Under the new standards, passed unanimously, the board will require the largest companies selling cars in the state to produce 7,500 electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles for sale, lease or loan in California from 2012 to 2014 -- down from the 25,000 required in the period under the previous rules. In addition, carmakers will be called upon to make about 58,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in the same period. The previous regulation, passed in 2003, made no provisions for plug-in hybrids because they were not considered viable at the time....
Radical Tucson environmentalist gets 1 year, 1 day for speech A radical environmentalist was sentenced Thursday to one year and one day in federal prison for speaking publicly about how to make a homemade Molotov cocktail. Rodney Coronado apologized for his past use of violent tactics in the name of animal rights and the environment, and said he had cut his ties to groups, including the Earth Liberation Front. "I have done things in my past that I now regret," Coronado told U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Miller. He said he wanted to serve his sentence and then get on with his life in Tucson, Ariz. The 41-year-old activist pleaded guilty in December to distributing information on destructive devices during an August 2003 speech about militant environmental activism at a community center in San Diego. According to an account and photos of the speech posted on the Internet, Coronado demonstrated how to build a crude ignition device using a plastic jug filled with gasoline and oil. The speech was given just hours after an arson fire destroyed a San Diego condominium project that was under construction a few miles away. A banner at the site indicated that the ELF claimed responsibility for the $50 million blaze, which at the time was the costliest act of eco-terrorism in U.S. history....
Commissioners voice opposition to any expansion of Pinon Canyon Pueblo County commissioners told opponents of the Pinon Canyon expansion efforts Thursday that they will approve a resolution urging the Army to go elsewhere to acquire more training land. The commissioners previously had endorsed a one-year ban on the Army spending money on the effort, but they took a bigger step by saying they oppose any future expansion of the 238,000-acre training area northeast of Trinidad. Commissioner Jeff Chostner, a retired Air Force colonel, said he understood the military's need for training land, but he believed the Defense Department has adequate training acreage elsewhere in Texas, California, Nevada and other states. "This expansion would effectively seal off Southeastern Colorado from the public," Chostner said, referring to the plan to add 414,000 more acres to Pinon Canyon. "I think this is a case of the Army overreaching."....
America's grasslands vanishing amid agricultural boom To the west of this small town, which helped inspire Laura Ingalls Wilder's classic book series that included Little House on the Prairie, the view opens to a vast, unbroken landscape that seems to roll on forever. But this untamed vista is shrinking. The USA's open plains and prairies are threatened by soaring grain prices that have increased their value as cropland. Grain prices have been driven up by a seemingly insatiable worldwide appetite for food and by federal energy policies promoting corn-based ethanol that are working at cross purposes with government programs designed to conserve open spaces. As a result, landowners in South Dakota and across the USA's Farm Belt are converting to cropland marginally productive acres that for decades — in some cases, centuries — have remained uncultivated because farming them wouldn't have been profitable or because of their environmental value. "We're kind of in an ag revolution," says Bill Wilkinson, a farmer-rancher near De Smet....One government intervention messin' up another government intervention. Kinda fun to watch...but in reality it's pretty sad that they never learn.
As Uranium Firms Eye N.M., Navajos Are Wary Twenty years after uranium mining ceased in New Mexico amid plummeting prices for the ore, global warming and the soaring cost of oil are renewing interest in nuclear power -- and in the state's uranium belt. At least five companies are seeking state permits to mine the uranium reserves, estimated at 500 million pounds or more, and Uranium Resources Inc. (URI), a Texas-based company, wants to reopen a uranium mill in Ambrosia Lake. Industry officials say a uranium boom could mean thousands of jobs and billions in mineral royalties and taxes for the state. But the deposits are largely in and around Navajo land, and the industry's poor record on health and safety as it extracted tons of the ore in past decades has soured many Navajos on uranium mining. In 2005, the Navajo Nation banned uranium mining and milling on its land, and thousands of tribe members are receiving or seeking federal compensation for the health effects of past uranium exposure. During mining's peak, from the early 1950s to the early 1980s, about 400 million pounds of uranium were extracted from the region. At the end of the boom, around 1984, the price of uranium languished below $10 a pound. Mines shut down, and the United States began importing nearly all of its uranium, with the bulk coming now from Canada, Russia and Australia. But by last summer, the price had rebounded to a record high of $136 a pound....
NOAA to Assess Whether Melting Ice Endangers Seals The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced yesterday that it will evaluate whether four kinds of seals inhabiting Alaska's Bering Sea should be placed on the endangered species list because of melting sea ice. In December, an environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity, petitioned NOAA's Fisheries Service to list ribbon seals as facing extinction because global warming has affected the extent of ice cover in both the Bering and Chukchi seas, where the seals live. NOAA officials said they will review the status of bearded, spotted and ringed seals, as well, because they all use the same sea ice in different ways, at different times of the year. The decision highlights the extent to which federal officials are grappling with climate change's impact on vulnerable species. The Fisheries Service has placed two species of coral on the endangered species list in part because of global warming, and the Interior Department was supposed to announce in January whether it would declare the polar bear in danger of extinction....
Agency Yields to Concerns of Flood-Weary Missourians
Heeding concerns of flood-weary Missourians, the Army Corps of Engineers announced Thursday that it would counteract the release of millions of gallons of water into the Missouri River. The corps, which early Wednesday morning began its planned 48-hour release of water from Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, S.D., said it had begun reducing flow rates at tributary dams on the lower river. Corps officials said the reduced flow rates would effectively cancel the river’s upstream rise as it enters Missouri, which last week suffered extensive flooding. The so-called spring rise, a pulse of water released by the corps, is to help the endangered pallid sturgeon, but it met fierce opposition after floods last week displaced hundreds of people and led President Bush to approve federal disaster aid for St. Louis and 70 Missouri counties. On Tuesday, the state attorney general, Jay Nixon, unsuccessfully petitioned two federal courts to block the water’s planned release. After winning the court fight, however, the corps changed its mind.... Redford-backed film gives account of Texas activists Robert Redford, movie icon, Oscar-winning director and founder of the Sundance Film Festival, knows the power of a good story. So when he heard about the battle waged by an unlike- ly assortment of activists to fight the proposed construction of more than a dozen coal-burning power plants in Texas, Redford knew that it was a powerful story waiting to be told. It is a tale of Texas ranchers, farmers, and small-town and big-city mayors who rallied to protect their back yards, their land and their children's health. They largely succeeded. Redford, through The Redford Center at the Sundance Preserve, commissioned a documentary about the fight: Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars, a 34-minute documentary directed by Mat Hames and George Sledge that chronicles the campaign to stop the plants....
Fair game It is now lawful to shoot wolves on sight in most of the Cowboy State, but it might be more difficult to bag the predators than many people imagine, several hunters and licensed guides said this week. Although some outfitters expressed interest in offering guided wolf hunts, all of them said they are still waiting to see if the decision to remove wolves' federal protection holds up in court. Gray wolves in the Northern Rockies were officially removed from the endangered species list this morning. Of the roughly 360 gray wolves living in Wyoming, more than 90 percent are within a new wolf trophy game zone in the northwest corner of the state. The 30 to 35 wolves outside the trophy area are now classified as predators in Wyoming, and they can be killed, without limits, much like coyotes. But several hunters and outfitters said they’d be surprised if many of the wolves in the predator zone were taken by sport hunters. The majority of wolves killed likely will be those shot by USDA Wildlife Services, which will do aerial hunting of the animals at the request of ranchers and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “The simple reason is, they’re dang tough to hunt,” said Maury Jones, a former outfitter and co-owner of Jackson Hole Outfitters. “It’s like going out and hunting for mountain lions. They’re out there, you see their tracks, but good luck trying to find them.”....
Conservationists push for meadow jumping mouse protections
Conservationists want the federal government to take notice of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, saying climate change and unchecked livestock grazing are pushing the rare rodent closer to extinction. The mouse once lived in nearly 100 locations along rivers and streams around New Mexico and in parts of Arizona, but recent surveys have shown that the furry rodent is now found only in about a dozens places in the two states. The mouse, considered endangered by the New Mexico Game and Fish Department, was recently added to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's list of plants and animals that are candidates for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. "We've argued that the Fish and Wildlife Service should emergency list this mouse and so we believe that all federal agencies should take steps now to protect the mouse in order to prevent its extinction. It is that imperiled," said Nicole Rosmarino, director of WildEarth Guardians' wildlife program. Conservationists and state and federal biologists agree the biggest threats facing the mouse are grazing and the loss of habitat. The mouse depends on moist meadows along streams and rivers to make its home, find food and reproduce. WildEarth Guardians sent the U.S. Forest Service a letter last week asking that the agency take a close look at grazing practices and other activities on forest land considering the mouse's status....
Hayman Fire Starter Gets 15 Years Probation The former U.S. Forest Service worker who started the most-destructive wildfire in Colorado history has been ordered to serve 15 years of probation and perform 1,500 hours of community service on state charges. Terry Barton, who started the 2002 Hayman Fire, was resentenced Thursday in District Court. Her original 12-year prison sentence was thrown out by the Colorado Court of Appeals in 2004 after the panel ruled the judge who presided over Barton’s trial may have compromised due to the fact that he was evacuated during the fire. The court also said that the maximum sentence without a jury finding aggravating circumstances was six years – the same as Barton’s federal sentence. The two sentences were to be served concurrently, which means Barton will have completed her prison terms on June 2. She is currently incarcerated in Texas. The 2002 Hayman fire burned 138,000 acres in the Pike National Forest, destroying 133 home and 466 outbuildings. More than 8,000 people were evacuated....
Silent Insect Killer Ravages American West The American West is under attack by a silent killer that's causing some of the worst-ever destruction to hit the nation's forestland: the mountain pine beetle. "People are looking out their windows and seeing dead trees where they used to see green," said Sandy Briggs from the Forest Health Task Force in Aspen, Colo. Despite their small size (approximately 5 millimeters when fully grown), these beetles are doing enormous damage, wiping out millions of acres of lodgepole pines as an epidemic of them explodes across the West. "We have about 1,500,000 acres of trees that have been infested," said Clint Kyhl, an incident commander for the U.S. Forest Service, referring to devastation in Colorado and Wyoming alone. That's roughly twice the size of Rhode Island. The epidemic began in 1996, but in the last year it has really taken off. Five years from now all of Colorado's lodgepole pine forests, another 6 million acres, will be wiped out, and the beetles are expected to infest the entire West over the next 15 years, state forestry officials say. Colorado is just one of eight states across the West that has been impacted, along with Wyoming, South Dakota, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Montana and Idaho, as well as large parts of Canada in British Columbia and Alberta....
Timber industry argues the opposite in beetle response A conservation group has filed a petition asking the Medicine Bow National Forest to stop logging until the agency has a better scientific understanding of the effects the pine beetle epidemic, combined with continued clear-cutting, will have on species including goshawks and lynx. A U.S. Forest Service representative said this week the staff was studying the petition from Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and would respond in the near future. Biodiversity contends that the road-building and other impacts associated with large logging projects exacerbate the negative effects on the forest from the beetle epidemic, damaging watersheds and habitat. In an interview, Biodiversity program director Duane Short said large logging projects in the backcountry -- such as the impending Spruce Gulch fuels reduction project west of Fox Park -- entail large clear-cuts and "will do nothing to stem the beetle epidemic or protect homes from wildfires." A timber industry spokesman, on the other hand, said logging of the beetle-killed trees should be accelerated. Tom Troxel, a director of the Intermountain Forest Association in Rapid City, S.D., said the Medicine Bow is facing a crisis and as many of the dead trees should be removed as possible during the five years they are still marketable. That would limit the chance of large-scale fires and begin the process of regeneration. "We don�t have time to waste with any more studies and litigation," he said....
Napolitano: ‘Special areas’ need protection from mining Gov. Janet Napolitano has written a letter to U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., saying she supports their legislation to withdraw Coronado National Forest lands in Pima and Santa Cruz counties from future mining. HR 4228, the Southern Arizona Public Lands Protection Act of 2007, was introduced in November by Grijalva, who hopes to have a first public hearing by the full House Natural Resources Committee this spring. The bill was motivated by concerns over the Augusta Resource Rosemont Mine. But it also addresses potential future mining over a much larger area of concern identified by the Pima and Santa Cruz boards of supervisors. All Coronado lands and some other public lands are included. “While mining will always be a vital part of Arizona's economy, there are certain places where mining is simply not appropriate, such as the lands identified in HR 4228,” Napolitano wrote. “We recognize the importance of healthy watersheds, wildlife habitat, and recreation for our communities. There is no longer a need to incentivize the development of the West; we are the fastest growing area in the country.”....
Bald calf earns 'Kojak' nickname When cattle rancher Ben Gullett first saw a brand-new calf born just last week, images of Lt. Theo Kojak with his bald head and lollipop came to mind. The name, Kojak, is fitting for this newborn calf, born with a bald head and hairless legs. Gullett, whose family has raised cattle for generations, has welcomed thousands of newborn calves in his lifetime, but never one as unusual as Kojak, who lives on brother Flint's 125-acre farm in Duette. "I never saw one quite like that," he said. "I don't know whether she's going to make it or not." Kojak's bald head and hairless legs are one of nature's oddities, when the normally flawless orchestration of chromosomes suddenly goes awry, surmised John Arthington, range cattle research and education center director for the University of Florida. "It's a genetic condition," Arthington said....

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Buoy Meets Gore As Lorne Gunter reported Monday in Canada's National Post, the first of 3,000 new automated ocean buoys were deployed in 2003. They amounted to a significant improvement over earlier buoys that took their measurements mostly at the ocean's surface. The new buoys, known as Argos, drift along the oceans at a depth of about 6,000 feet constantly monitoring the temperature, salinity and speed of ocean currents. Every 10 days or so a bladder inflates, bringing to the surface readings taken at various depths. Once on the surface, they transmit their readings to satellites that retransmit them to land-based computers. The Argos buoys have disappointed the global warm-mongers in that they have failed to detect any signs of imminent climate change. As Dr. Josh Willis, who works for NASA in its Jet Propulsion Laboratory, noted in an interview with National Public Radio, "there has been a very slight cooling" over the buoys' five years of observation, but that drop was "not anything really significant." Certainly not enough to shut down the Gulf Stream. Climate-change promoters also are perplexed by the observations of NASA's eight weather satellites. In contrast to some 7,000 land-based stations, they take more than 300,000 temperature readings daily over the surface of the Earth. In 30 years of operation, the satellites have recorded a warming trend of just 0.14C — well within the range of normal variations....
Western Antarctic Ice Chunk Collapses A chunk of Antarctic ice about seven times the size of Manhattan suddenly collapsed, putting an even greater portion of glacial ice at risk, scientists said Tuesday. Satellite images show the runaway disintegration of a 160-square-mile chunk in western Antarctica, which started Feb. 28. It was the edge of the Wilkins ice shelf and has been there for hundreds, maybe 1,500 years. This is the result of global warming, said British Antarctic Survey scientist David Vaughan. Because scientists noticed satellite images within hours, they diverted satellite cameras and even flew an airplane over the ongoing collapse for rare pictures and video. "It's an event we don't get to see very often," said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. "The cracks fill with water and slice off and topple... That gets to be a runaway situation." While icebergs naturally break away from the mainland, collapses like this are unusual but are happening more frequently in recent decades, Vaughan said. The collapse is similar to what happens to hardened glass when it is smashed with a hammer, he said....
Ranchers outside wolf zone say they'll only target offending animals Gray wolves in the Northern Rockies will no longer be protected as an endangered species starting Friday. But Wyoming ranchers and county predator control boards outside the wolves' trophy game zone say they won't send up airplanes that morning to haphazardly hunt the predators. Going after wolves that aren't killing livestock would not only be a fools' mission for the ranchers and the boards, but it also would be exorbitantly expensive, according to board members. "The only time we'll fly them is when there is a problem," said Truman Julian, a sheep rancher in Kemmerer and chairman of Lincoln County's predator control board. "Just to put a plane up there looking for a wolf is like looking for a needle in a haystack, and it's expensive, and we have to pay for it. We don't have the money, and that's not our goal. Our goal is to remove the offending animals." Beginning Friday, ranchers in Wyoming's predator zone for wolves -- which includes most of the state, save the extreme northwest -- will be able to call USDA Wildlife Services directly if there is a wolf bothering or hunting livestock. Inside the trophy game zone, wolves will be managed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department similar to the way they are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service statewide today. Ranchers will not be able to kill any wolves on sight, but instead must enlist the help of Game and Fish, or obtain take permits from the department. Outside the trophy game zone, Wildlife Services will be paid through continuing contracts with county predator control boards to aerial hunt and kill wolves, the same way these boards currently pay the agency to destroy animals such as coyotes and foxes....
Wolves trapped by shift in status
The five wolves reportedly sighted last month near the Dutch John airport may be part of a Wyoming pack checking out a new Utah neighborhood. If so, they have a better chance of survival if they make the Beehive State their permanent home. Beginning Friday, because of a federal decision to take gray wolves off the endangered species list, anyone can kill wolves for any reason across most of Wyoming. Only a small area near Yellowstone National Park will be off-limits, though Cowboy State wildlife officials plan to allow restricted hunting there for trophy animals. In Utah, wolves would continue to have full protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. But if they step across the state line, they'll be in the same varmint category as coyotes, skunks, jack rabbits and stray cats. "Anyone can kill those animals by just about any means possible. That's how wacky Wyoming's plan is," said Franz Camenzind, executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance. That organization is one of several wildlife advocacy and conservation groups poised to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its delisting decision made Feb. 27 and set to go into effect Friday. The groups argue that the action was premature because wolf management plans in Wyoming and Idaho are unacceptable. But they can't file the lawsuit until April 28, leaving open at least a 30-day wolf free-fire zone in Wyoming....
Short-Cut Conundrum A rancher's efforts to close a corridor across the San Pedro River has prompted Pinal County officials to try to seize the property through eminent domain--an action that has conservation groups upset. More than a decade ago, ranchers Jean and Eric Schwennesen bought 215 acres to venture into the grass-fed beef business and holistic-resource management. Their son, Paul, now ranches there with his wife, Sarah, and their toddler. (See "Tales From the Outskirts," July 5, 2007.) To protect the riparian area, the elder Schwennesens sold a conservation easement to the Nature Conservancy in 1996. In 1997, that easement--which specifies that public access be restricted to nonmotorized traffic such as birdwatchers, hikers and horses--was transferred to the Bureau of Land Management. The Schwennesens bought the property from George Gordon, who, a few years earlier, had signed an agreement with Pinal County, temporarily allowing vehicles across the river until the county replaced a bridge, on Romero Road to the north, that had been washed out by flooding. The highway easement with the county was supposed to end on Dec. 31, 1995, but it contained a provision that extended automatically each year, pending written cancellation by either the county or the landowner. Fast-forward to 2007. The Schwennesens, fed up with off-roaders, learned from the county that it had no plans to fix the bridge. However, there is a well-maintained public road that crosses the river a few miles north--a route known as the ASARCO crossing, named for the nearby mining-company operation. Paul Schwennesen contacted the county to see if there would be any objections if he terminated the temporary easement....
Bison shooters stayed on land of rancher who sued The 14 men suspected of shooting and killing at least 32 bison belonging to ranchers Monte and Tracy Downare were camped in and around the old ranch house of the nearby Hawn Ranch, an investigator said today. Park County Undersheriff Monte Gore said that some of the men were actually staying in the old ranch house on the property while others were staying in various outbuildings, such as the barn, near the old house. The shootings of the Downares' bison happened just days after Austin, Texas, businessman Jeff Hawn filed suit in Park County District Court claiming that the Downares' bison were stampeding onto his property in South Park. Hawn, who identifies himself as 50 percent shareholder and manager of Wateredge Properties, claims that "herds" of the Downares' bison had repeatedly broken through the fences erected to keep the buffalo off Wateredge property, damaging or destroying the fences in 50 places. "The damage that (the Downares') buffalo have caused to the property is staggering," said the lawsuit....
Three new conservation easements signed on Front Third-generation rancher Brodie Gollehon thought long and hard about selling a conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy, but with the money he got, he purchased additional rangeland adjacent to his working family ranch west of Choteau along the Rocky Mountain Front. Landowners Gollehon and his father, Wayne, operating under the company name, Gollehon Ranch LLC, are owners of one of three ranch operations that sold conservation easements totaling 20,108 acres to the Conservancy in March. The easements, recorded in the Teton County Clerk and Recorder's office on March 5, increase by 45 percent, the number of acres along the front that have conservation easements. While the land under conservation easements is only 4 percent of Teton County as a whole, the figure rises to 15 percent of the land along the 425,000-acre Rocky Mountain Front. Gollehon said he got involved with The Nature Conservancy because the organization offered the least restrictive conservation easement and placed no restrictions on grazing. In addition, the family could still produce hay. When Lew and Christy Clark offered to sell a "chunk of land" to his family, he used the funds obtained from the Conservancy to clinch the deal for the 3,400-acre Clark property, Gollehon said. He declined to name the prices involved....
No pass for the gas The economy might be nose-diving and the war in Iraq still languishing, but the happy days of the Bush administration seem to be going strong if you happen to be in the oil and gas industry. Residents of southern Colorado's San Luis Valley are now reacting to news that 144,000 acres of federal land will go on the auction block May 8. "I think we're the last hurrah," says Pauline Washburn, an activist from Del Norte, 180 driving miles southwest of Colorado Springs. Most leases are for mineral rights under the hilly country around Del Norte, a landscape now dominated by forest and cattle-grazed grasslands. Smaller parcels flank Crestone, an arts and spiritual community where many residents are battling plans to drill test wells on Baca National Wildlife Refuge, which is adjacent to their town and to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Dale Wiescamp, a Del Norte real estate broker and San Luis Valley native, says news of the proposed sales "dropped on us like a ton of bricks." "We don't know how to handle something like this," he says, emphasizing concern about potential conflicts between drillers and ranchers and possible contamination of the valley's crucial aquifers. "We're the last of the pristine areas left."....
Trust land talks reach an impasse Talks aimed at reaching a legislative compromise on a ballot measure on state trust land have hit an apparent impasse that likely means no proposal goes to voters in November, a top aide to Gov. Janet Napolitano said Wednesday. The talks hit a blockage over whether to prohibit use of impact fees on new homes from being used to purchase trust land for conservation as open space under a proposed new process for trust land, said Mike Haener, a deputy chief of staff to the governor. That at least dims, if not extinguishes, prospects for agreement this session on a consensus package that lawmakers could put on the November ballot, Haener told The Associated Press in an interview. The state's roughly 9.3 million acres of trust land represent a century-old legacy from statehood that has seen recent unsuccessful efforts to set aside large parcels for conservation as open space while protecting funding the land provides for public schools through sales and leases. onths of negotiations have taken place since Napolitano last summer convened a gathering of key legislators to try to forge a compromise on trust land proposals - a subject of frustration in recent years for lawmakers and advocacy groups as diverse as teachers, home builders, conservationists and cattle ranchers....
Feds sue Gorge resort over work on wetlands A Columbia River Gorge resort and its owners were sued Wednesday by the federal government for grading and filling 2.25 acres of wetlands on Forest Service property next to the Bonneville Hot Springs Resort. The U.S. Attorney’s Office sued the resort and owners Pete and Elena Cam of Woodburn, Ore., for violating the Clean Water Act and trespassing on federal land within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The Cams were unavailable for comment, but the resort’s general manager said Wednesday that the problem dates back to the resort’s construction. It will mark five years of operation in October. “I do know that Pete Cam has been working with the owners of the adjacent property, which was Longview Fibre, and the Forest Service and Corps of Engineers to do a reforestation in that area,” resort General Manager Gary Sorrels said late Wednesday afternoon. Prosecutors allege the resort constructed trails on Forest Service land. After building the trail, according to prosecutors, workers used heavy equipment to build trenches in three different spots and fill 2.25 acres of wetlands in and around Greenleaf Creek. It’s also alleged that workers removed orange boundary markers delineating national forest land, then burned vegetation and used pesticide and herbicides....
Idaho studies rebuild of failed Teton Dam It’s an idea that has been on the books since that fateful day 32 years ago this June. Only this year, the prospect of rebuilding the Teton Dam took a larger step forward as the state of Idaho set aside $400,000 in a $1.8 million water budget to study resurrecting the structure in the Teton River Canyon in Fremont County, Idaho. Also included in the budget is money to study improvements on the Minidoka Dam with the plan of raising the structure another five feet for greater water storage. But it is the Teton Dam that comes with considerable baggage since its failure June 6, 1976, caused $300 million worth of damage, wiped out towns, eliminated entire herds of livestock and killed 11 people....
Farm Lobby Beats Back Assault On Subsidies With grain prices soaring, farm income at record highs and the federal budget deficit widening, the subsidies and handouts given to American farmers would seem vulnerable to a serious pruning. But it appears that farmers, at least so far, have succeeded in stopping the strongest effort in years to shrink the government safety net that doles out billions of dollars to them each year. "At some point, you have to step back and ask, 'Does this make sense for the American taxpayer?'" says Rep. Ron Kind. The Democrat from Wisconsin sponsored a measure that would have slashed about $10 billion over five years in subsidies -- and saw it get crushed on the House floor. Grain prices are on a tear this year. On Wednesday, corn prices closed at $5.52 a bushel, up from about $2.20 in 2006, and near the all-time high of $5.70 set earlier this month. U.S. farm income, buoyed by demand for grain from rising middle classes around the globe and the biofuels industry, is projected to reach a record $92.3 billion this year. Still, farmers are expected to collect $13 billion in federal subsidies this year, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department, including payments for commodities, land conservation and emergency assistance. The agribusiness industry plowed more than $80 million into lobbying last year, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks spending on lobbying. Much of that was focused on the farm bill. "We got rolled," says Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who worked closely with Rep. Kind. "The agriculture community circled the wagons."....
Bush Is As Much A Cowboy As He Is A Conservative The most glaring example of a Bush lie peddled to the American people by the press is the myth of the 'Bush family ranch' in Crawford, Texas as well as the role that Bush plays as a real Texas rancher. Despite the inferences, Bush's Crawford spread is not a working ranch, nor has it been in the Bush family for generations. Preparing for a White House run, Bush purchased the property in 1999 for $1.3 million. Unlike President Reagan who also owned a ranch and was an accomplished rider, Bush has never ridden a horse on his ranch. Instead, Bush uses the property to ride his bicycle, go jogging, and to clear brush for the news cameras. Despite his cowboy boots, Bush does not ride and is reportedly terrified of horses. In fact, while on his first visit to Mexico as President, Bush refused to go riding with his North American Union co-conspirator Vicente Fox. The former Mexican president wrote about the laughable episode in his autobiography "Revolution of Hope." Fox remembers Bush as "backing away" from one of his big palomino horses and repeatedly rejecting his requests to accompany him on his rides. Fox also went on to describe Bush as nothing more than a "windshield cowboy--who prefers to drive." I don't know about you, but there is something disconcerting to me about a man who wears cowboy boots but has never ridden a horse. Apparently, Bush's cowboy boots just like his self-reported conservative beliefs, are merely props with no real purpose....
State closer to banning horse tripping
Arizona could soon join a handful of states that have outlawed the Mexican sport of horse-tripping, appeasing animal-rights activists who have deemed the cultural practice cruel and inhumane. The state House of Representatives on Wednesday gave tentative approval to a bill that would make the deliberate tripping of horses and other equine animals illegal. Horse-tripping mostly occurs in small, Mexican-style rodeos called charreadas, where cowboys score points by lassoing the legs of the galloping animal, forcing it to crash to the ground. Three rodeo events involve taking down a horse: roping the horse's hind legs, tripping the horse while on foot, and tripping the horse while on horseback. Hector Corona, the former longtime operations and ranch manager at Laveen's Corona Ranch, says he backs the bill. He points out that the legislation wouldn't affect the family-owned Baseline Road ranch because it hasn't allowed horse-tripping during its popular charreadas for the past 17 years. But Corona, 45, a former charro (cowboy) who has attended dozens of rodeos in both the U.S. and Mexico, says concerns about animals being injured during Mexican rodeos may be overblown. In all his years of watching and participating in charreadas, he has seen a horse seriously injured only once or twice....
Paint horse Got Country Grip looking for record 16th straight win What started as a gesture of kindness by a Texas cattle rancher toward a teenager has turned into a quest to equal one of the most hallowed records in horse racing. The rancher, Jimmy Maddux, and the teenager-turned-trainer, Brandon Parum, plan to be at Remington Park on Thursday night as Maddux's 5-year-old Oklahoma-bred paint horse, Got Country Grip, goes for his 16th win in as many career starts. Should Got Country Grip win the $15,000, 350-yard allowance race for paints and appaloosas, he will match the modern North American all-breeds record of 16 straight wins, now held by four thoroughbreds, including a pair of racing legends, Citation and Cigar. Maddux, 60, freely admits that before he met Parum in 1996, he was a racing novice. But there was something about Parum that made Maddux believe in him. The two met in the mid-1990s, when Parum's family operated a feed store not far from Maddux's ranch near Weatherford, Texas. When Maddux went to buy feed, he also looked at the paint horses Parum's father trained. Maddux soon offered the teen a winter job on his ranch, feeding cattle....