Tuesday, September 30, 2008


To: California Rodeo Proponents
From: Cindy Schonholtz, PRCA Animal Welfare
Date: September 30, 2008
RE: Action needed in Santa Clara County

What/When: The Santa Clara County Animal Advisory Commission will hold a public hearing regarding the adoption of an ordinance to restrict the use of animals in circuses and rodeos in unincorporated Santa Clara County and on County owned property. It is important we get as many rodeo proponents who live in Santa Clara County to contact their commissioner, submit comments and attend the hearing if possible. Additionally, those in adjacent counties may want to weigh in and attend the hearing.

Santa Clara County Animal Advisory Commission Public Hearing

When: October 9, 2008 at 6:30pm
Where: Gilroy Senior Center, 7371 Hanna Street, Gilroy, CA 95020
Ph: (408) 846-0414

I will be attending; you may contact me on the cell at 719-440-7255 when you arrive if you are able to attend.

There is not a draft ordinance at this time, but we have heard that Commissioner McHugh is recommending, “to prohibit cruel training devices utilized in circuses and rodeos county-wide. These restrictions would prohibit bull hooks or any similar device; chaining of elephants; electric prods or shocking devices; whips, bucking straps or flanks; spurs — sharp or dull; fixed rowels; hot shots; and cattle prods used on animals in rodeos or circuses. In addition, the restrictions would prohibit a person from deliberately tripping, wrestling, tripping or by any other means causing an animal used in the rodeo to fall to the ground in any event.” If McHugh gets his recommendations in the draft ordinance it would ban steer wrestling and roping in rodeos if passed.

This is what we know will be in the ordinance:
Ban steer tailing, require the attendance of a veterinarian at rodeo events, and include a definition of rodeo as “a performance featuring competition between persons that includes one or more of the following events: bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, or team roping;”


There are also provisions regarding circuses that will be included in the ordinance.

by mail: Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, Animal Care Commission
Address 70 West Hedding St.
San Jose, CA 95110

by Fax: 408-298-8460 Attention: Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors And Animal Advisory Committee

Sent to the Animal Advisory Committee in care of the clerk of the Board, email to: public.comments@cob.sccgov.org


Don Gage (408) 299-5010 don.gage@bos.sscgov.org (Chair of Committee)
Blanca Alvarado (408) 299-5020 blanca.alvarado@bos.sccgov.org
Pete McHugh (408) 299-5030 peter.mchugh@bos.sccgov.org (supports a complete ban on circuses and rodeos, term is over in November, will not be running again)
Ken Yeager (408) 299-5040 ken.yeager@bos.sccgov.org
Liz Kniss (408) 299-5050 liz.kniss@bos.sccgov.org


Please personalize your letters so they don’t appear to be form letters, but following are some points to consider when writing.

Dear Supervisor ______________________:

I have recently learned that the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors is considering legislation to regulate the use of animals in rodeos in circuses in Santa Clara County in unincorporated Santa Clara County as well as on County owned property.

We urge you to revisit your definition of rodeo to more closely mirror state law that states a rodeo includes three or more events and considers only commercial events that charge admission. By changing the definition as recommended, this would require a veterinarian on-site for any practice, team roping, small jackpot or other event held on county owned property or private property in unincorporated Santa Clara County. I would anticipate that after a study of the number of large animal veterinarians in the County, you would find this provision nearly impossible to achieve if more than one event is taking place at a particular time and would possibly create a situation where large animals not taking part in rodeo events could have compromised care if veterinarians are required to attend small, non-commercial events.

Rodeos sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) have 60 rules that provide for the proper care and handling of the livestock. The rules require a veterinarian on-site during all competitions and these veterinarians consistently report the livestock is healthy and well-suited to the competition. These veterinarians also assist the PRCA in conducting surveys of the livestock to document the low rate of injury to the animals. This rate of injury through the years has consistently been around five hundredths of one percent. A survey currently being conducted at 2008 PRCA sanctioned events shows that out of 107 rodeo performances and 44 sections of slack, 24 animals were injured, a very low rate of .0005.

We ask that you consider the truth as documented by veterinarians who are experts and consider allowing your constituents to choose their form of entertainment. Please do not let an animal extremist’s agenda of ending all use of animals to dictate policy in your county and take away the rights of cattle ranchers and rodeo enthusiasts to practice and compete in rodeo events on their property as well as County owned property supported by their tax dollars. We ask that you subscribe to animal welfare philosophies as we do – that we have the right to interact with animals in entertainment, industry, sport and recreation but along with that right comes the responsibility to provide proper care.

Please consider fully the issues and reach out to those in your county who are lawfully conducting equestrian and rodeo events on their private property that are already affording proper care and handling for the livestock involved.


Climate Change: Federal Actions Will Greatly Affect the Viability of Carbon Capture and Storage As a Key Mitigation Option. GAO-08-1080, September 30.

Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d081080high.pdf

Coastal Zone Management: Measuring Program's Effectiveness Continues to Be a Challenge. GAO-08-1045, September 12.

Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d081045high.pdf
Mobile phones to track carbon footprint Keeping track of your carbon footprint could become as simple as slipping a mobile phone in your pocket: a London-based start-up company has developed software for mobile phones that uses global positioning satellites to work out automatically whether you are walking, driving or flying and then calculate your impact on the environment. Carbon Diem's inventors claim that, by using GPS to measure the speed and pattern of movement, their algorithm can identify the mode of transport being used. It can therefore calculate the amount of carbon dioxide that a journey has emitted into the atmosphere – without any need for input from the traveller. The system's inventor, Andreas Zachariah, a graduate student of the Royal College of Art in London and chief executive of the Carbon Hero company, said that Carbon Diem is the world's first automated carbon calculator. Because it keeps a constantly updated diary of a person's carbon emissions, Zachariah said that a user can easily track their environmental impact and, if they choose, modify their behaviour to lower-carbon alternatives....
Wildfires force $400M in cuts at Forest Service The cost of fighting summer wildfires in California and the West has forced U.S. Forest Service officials to slash more than $400 million in spending, causing closures of some campgrounds and limiting access to some forests. While the number of fires and acreage involved is down, the amount spent to contain those fires is up. That's because the cost of fighting fires varies depending on where the fires are burning, said Forest Service spokeswoman Donna Drelick. The Forest Service cut $200 million in 2006 and $100 million in 2007 to cover wildfire costs, the agency's budget documents show. Forest Service administrators say the reductions will have a broad impact across the country....
No end in sight for the roadless debate President Bill Clinton sought to end the debate over 58 million acres of roadless national forests with a rule published in the last days of his administration. But because he issued his rule in the face of the outright anger of some Western governors and with little pretext of engaging his opponents, the roadless issue - after nearly eight years - is still no closer to political resolution. On July 14, U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer of Cheyenne, Wyo., struck down the roadless rule, scolding the former president for trying to stuff his decision down the throats of loggers, miners and other Westerners. It was at least the fifth time courts have ruled on the roadless rule since it was approved, and the second time Brimmer himself has tossed it out. His decision, certain to be appealed, means the next president will have to address an issue that today's hard economic times had more or less resolved. What continues is the values clash over how we manage our least-developed national forests. One possible path to a new consensus has been blazed by the state of Idaho. With Trout Unlimited, the Idaho Conservation League and the Intermountain Forest Industry Association standing in support behind them, Idaho Lt. Gov. Jim Risch and U.S. Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary Mark Rey unveiled a roadless rule only for Idaho on Aug. 29....
Agency dismisses protests of Roan drilling; leases issued The Interior Department on Monday dismissed nearly 15,000 protests submitted by groups and individuals against drilling on the Roan Plateau and the same day issued oil and gas leases on the western Colorado landmark to energy companies. The leases covering nearly 55,000 acres had been auctioned off by the Bureau of Land Management, an arm of the Interior Department, on Aug. 14. But the leases couldn't be issued to the winning companies until the protests had been resolved, the agency said. By dismissing the protests, the BLM also has cleared the way for Colorado to pocket $56 million, or 49 percent of the $113.5 million raised from the lease sale - an onshore record in BLM's history....
Suit targets Roan drilling The federal government issued $114 million in oil and gas leases on the Roan Plateau on Monday, and within hours, a legal challenge was filed by environmental groups. The sale was the largest onshore revenue producer ever for the federal Bureau of Land Management. The request for an injunction to bar issuing the leases was filed by Earthjustice and Western Resource Advocates. The two nonprofit environmental law groups are seeking an expedited hearing on their motion. The lawsuit contends the BLM did not follow the National Environmental Policy Act in selling the leases. "We are trying to get BLM to reconsider its drill-everything approach," said Mike Freeman, an Earthjustice attorney....
BLM rebuilds agency The Bureau of Land Management plans to restructure its agency to put more authority in local regions rather than in state offices. The change, approved last year, is expected to transition during the next two years, said John Husband, field manager for the BLM Little Snake Field Office in Craig. It should not affect the general public, he added. For instance, a landowner who wants to talk about grazing on BLM land still would speak with officials in Craig. The only difference, Hus­band said, is that if landowners wanted to appeal the Craig office’s decision, they would take their cases to district office in Grand Junction rather than to Denver, where the state office is located. The federal agency’s decision reverses one made in 1999, when district offices were removed to “flatten the layers and eliminate (bureaucratic) layers,” Husband said. The new structure comes with the risk of adding bureaucratic layers, but it shouldn’t become burdensome or take much authority away from Craig, he added....So Clinton streamlined the agency, and Bush is building back the bureaucracy.
Old growth Sierra junipers felled amid warming debate Moments after he saw the centuries-old junipers on the ground, Glenn Fair felt sick to his stomach. A 60-year-old fishing guide from rural Lassen County, Fair has nothing against thinning forests to protect them from fire and disease. But the barren, dusty swath of stumps and downed junipers logged from public land last year and the adjacent house-high pile of wood chips was not that kind of cut. Not only were trees mowed down across nearly 300 acres, they were leveled under a banner of ecological restoration, energy independence and climate-friendly power. It was portrayed as a win-win by the federal government, which was paying for the removal to undo the legacy of poor land management. But to Fair, burning old-growth junipers in a wood-fired power plant to battle global warming just doesn't make sense....
Thought-provoking film documentary to be shown in Helena Filmmaker Todd Darling pokes holes in the idea that environmental deregulation is good for the average person in a new environmental documentary called "A Snowmobile for George." Darling, 56, is a Los Angeles filmmaker who also has worked in television, including as the director of the popular MTV reality TV series, "Laguna Beach." "The film is the personal stories of people," Darling said. "It's not some college professor telling you to eat your vegetables." Darling said he began the film in 2004, and finished it last year. He logged more than 8,000 miles driving across the country for the project. A "range war" between ranchers and oil-companies in Wyoming is one of the stories highlighted. The battle, according to the film, began "when political appointees in the Interior Department suppressed clean water rules for natural gas drilling."....
Ethanol, Pitting Ranchers against Farmers? In a country where Corn is King, you would assume that rural ranchers and farmers in our countries corn belt would vote for a president who is Pro Ethanol. After all, most ethanol is made from corn and the U.S. Government is paying farmers to grow it. But a growing number of cattle and pig ranchers are seeing the increased price of corn, drive them out of business. Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, opposes the Renewable Fuel Standard and Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, supports it. Two farmers from Ohio, offered their perspective on how the presidential candidates’ stances will influence their votes in the Nov. 4 election. Tim Blair, who has spent 33 years raising hogs, will be voting for Sen. McCain. Tim predicts he’ll be out of business by year’s end, and said “I’ve basically spent my life savings the past 14 months hoping it would get better.” Speaking of the growing feed prices that are making his hog operation unprofitable, he continued by adding, “I’m losing money because of the government’s policy.” Tom Becker, a 600 acre corn farmer, sees things a different way, and will of course be voting for Sen. Obama. “Ethanol is one of the big things that down the road is going to help farmers more than (Sen. John) McCain’s ideas,” he said....
Stokes resigns as CEO of NCBA Terry Stokes, chief executive officer of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), announced today he will resign from his position following the 2009 Cattle Industry Convention, January 31, 2009. Stokes said representing cattlemen and championing their cause has been the greatest honor and the most fulfilling job of his career, but he explained it also is all-consuming. He said he is looking forward to spending time with his family and exploring new opportunities. Stokes joined NCBA 12 years ago, in 1996, as chief financial officer. He was appointed CEO in 2002. During his tenure as CEO, NCBA grew revenues 41 percent. Membership grew more than 17 percent in the past three years....
Spam, Still the Mystery Meat, Escapes New U.S. Food-Label Rules U.S. rules requiring meat and fresh produce to be labeled by national origin are falling short of lawmakers' aims, leaving shoppers in the dark about where mixed vegetables, steaks and Spam come from, some lawmakers say. Six years after being adopted by Congress, country-of-origin labeling takes effect today. Concern about unsafe imports from China and Canada helped overcome food industry efforts to delay the measures. They will cost companies $2.5 billion in the first year, with retailers spending more to market beef, pork and lamb, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says. Industry groups say expenses will be even higher. Some lawmakers and consumer advocates say loopholes will let meatpackers blur the distinction between foreign and domestic meat. Mixed vegetables are exempt from the requirements, as are processed foods ranging from roasted peanuts to Spam, the canned luncheon meat made by Hormel Foods Corp. More regulations may be needed, the lawmakers say. Country-of-origin labeling, or COOL, is a longtime goal of U.S. farmers and ranchers convinced that identifying imported food may encourage manufacturers to use more U.S. product....
New Mexico's Peppers Pride Seeks Record 17th Win oe Allen’s Peppers Pride has entered a six-furlong allowance race at Zia Park on Saturday afternoon in her attempt to set the record for consecutive wins. The Joel Marr-trained Peppers Pride has won each of her 16 career wins and shares the record for consecutive wins with Triple Crown winner Citation, two-time Horse of the Year Cigar, Santa Anita Derby winner Mister Frisky and the Louisiana-bred sprinter Hallowed Dreams. “She’s doing well,” said Marr. “She hasn’t raced since April, but has had two works.” The daughter of Desert God won the Foutz Distaff Handicap at SunRay Park on April 26. She has remained in training since that win in Marr’s stable. Peppers Pride was scheduled to make her record attempt on two occasions this summer at Ruidoso Downs. She was slated to run in the Lincoln Handicap on July 27 but that racing card was cancelled after the remnants of Hurricane Dolly damaged Ruidoso Downs. The Lincoln Handicap was rescheduled for August 31, Peppers Pride was entered and then Marr elected to scratch her due to an off track. She has only raced on fast racing surfaces....

Monday, September 29, 2008

Man attacked by mountain lion at Taos Ski Valley A Taos man is recovering after a mountain lion attack Friday at Taos Ski Valley. The Taos News reports that Adam Wheat, 29, was hiking in the area when the attack occurred. He drove himself to his business in town and then asked his employee, Tony Knief, to take him to a hospital. "I guess he was hiking and he heard this hissing and he turned around and it scratched his chest pretty bad," Knief told the newspaper. "He drove to Jack Wrap It and came in asked me to take him to the hospital. I thought he was joking at first but then I saw he had these scratches in him." Knief added that Wheat also hit his head in the encounter.
Judge may 'sanction' government in Stevens case Sen. Ted Stevens's lawyers have a chance to weaken the case against him as a federal judge will consider sanctioning sanctioning government prosecutors over their handling of a key witness. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia said Monday he was "disturbed" that the government allowed Rocky Williams to return to Alaska without the court's permission and without consulting defense attorneys, who also subpoenaed the witness to testify in the case. Sullivan said arranging Williams's travel back to Alaska raised the appearance of impropriety. "I’m going to sanction if appropriate — I’m just not going to drop that issue," Sullivan said, without specifying the sanctions he had in mind. The case hinges on whether Stevens (R-Alaska) concealed gifts and home renovations from Veco Corp., a now-defunct oil-services company. Williams, a former Veco employee, oversaw the extensive home renovations at the senator's Alaska home. Williams, who left Washington to deal with an unspecified health issue, later told defense attorneys that he did not spend as much time at Stevens's home as has been alleged in court. "I’m concerned that a subpoenaed witness ... was advised to leave the District of Columbia, and assisted in leaving the District of Columbia by the government for reasons not fully explored by defense counsel and the court," Sullivan said....
Delisting endangers wolves It began near here in this high-altitude chaparral. No sooner were gray wolves delisted in March than sportsmen in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming began locking and loading. Wyoming officials declared 90% of the state a "free-fire zone." Hunters from around the state flocked to rural Sublette County to bag a wolf. Rancher Merrill Dana, 57, saw the results right away. Hunters aboard snowmobiles chased wolves across the early spring snow on his sprawling ranch. "The first morning it was opened up, they killed three up here," he said. "Trespassers. We didn't even know they were up here until we heard the snow machines." Dana said he has been offered as much as $2,500 for permission to hunt wolves on his land. He refused. As with many ranchers here, there is no love lost between Dana and wolves. He was mad the interlopers hadn't asked permission to hunt. "I wanted people I know to get them," said Dana, who was among a hunting party that eventually killed a 110-pound male. Through the early summer, an average of a wolf a day was being killed across the region. In all, at least 130 animals died since the delisting, or nearly 10% of the wolf population in the northern Rockies. Then, on July 21, a federal judge stopped the hunt. Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service capitulated and began the process to relist wolves....
Group wants wolves in Colo. An environmental group wants to see wolves back in Colorado. WildEarth Guardians of Sante Fe, N.M., has filed papers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calling for wolf reintroduction in four Colorado areas. After being exterminated throughout the West decades ago, wolves have been reintroduced to Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. WildEarth Guardians believes Colorado should come next. The group argues that wolves would help thin overpopulated elk herds, which would then lead to more young aspen trees. "We believe that the Southern Rockies needs wolves, and wolves definitely need the Southern Rockies," said Rob Edward, carnivore recovery director for WildEarth Guardians, which also has offices in Denver and Phoenix. Edward told the Aspen Daily News that while solitary wolves from the north and from New Mexico wander into Colorado, no sustainable wolf population is believed to have re-established itself within the state. The group's proposal identifies four Colorado areas for wolf reintroduction -- the Flat Tops north of Glenwood Springs, the Grand Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison national forests near Pitkin County's western border, the San Juan Mountains and Weminuche Wilderness in southwestern Colorado, and southern Colorado's Vermejo Park Ranch and Carson National Forest....
Colorado Environmental Film Festival Aims To Educate If you're passionate about the environment and love watching films, check out the third Annual Colorado Environmental Film Festival, running from Oct. 2 to Oct. 5 at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden. 7NEWS Chief Meteorologist Mike Nelson will kick off the festival at 6 p.m. on Thursday, followed by four films: "The Story of Stuff", a look at the underside of America's production and consumption; "Opposing Chums", follows the world series of birding; and two short films, "Once Upon A Tide" and "Recycle." The festival will also include a mix of films showing audiences where oil comes from and explaining where old televisions, computers or cell phones end up. Two noteworthy films showing in the festival focus on the impact of oil and gas drilling on Colorado's landscape and the livelihoods of landowners. In all, 22 films will be shown during the four-day event....
Camp Sherman Residents Vent Fire Frustrations With smoke still looming over the treetops in Camp Sherman, the Forest Service found themselves in the hot seat Sunday morning at a public meeting at the Camp Sherman Community Hall. "Were the winds on Thursday forecasted?" "Was someone there watching?" "When you're done with a controlled burn, do they truly work all that well?" The questions are born from frustration. The Wizard Fire, burning five hundred acres just three miles north of Camp Sherman was started by the Forest Service as a controlled burn before getting away and burning up Green Ridge. On Sunday morning more than three hundred people were fighting the fire, the cost already topping $600,000. All for a fire, the Forest Service started to reduce the risk of future fires. "It seems to me there's just a strategic flaw in this whole thing." "I don't care how thick your manual is there on all of these things, the first chapter should be common sense." The meeting came to an emotional peak when one resident stood up and made a demand of Sister's Forest Ranger Bill Anthony. "Is the forest service planning offering a public apology for this mistake. I'm hearing a lot of justification and a lot of explanation but I'm not hearing an apology."....
Congress Approves $910 million in Emergency Fire Funding The Supplemental Appropriations Bill approved today by the Senate includes $910 million in emergency federal fire funding sought by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The bill, approved earlier in the week by the House of Representatives, now goes to the White House to await the President's signature. Senator Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, has pushed throughout the year for more funding to meet the threat of an unusually active, deadly fire season that has threatened to deplete America's federal firefighting assets. So far this year, wildfires in California burned more than 1.2 million acres and led to 13 firefighter deaths....
Wildlife refuge will shrink The national wildlife refuge at Pathfinder Reservoir is going to shrink by more than 10,000 acres, according to a federal plan that was approved Sept. 18 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Despite objections from the Audubon Society and others, Fish and Wildlife Service planners said a land transfer is needed so popular recreational uses can continue at most of the reservoir and to consolidate the federal migratory bird refuge into one contiguous area of land. The 1997 National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act required each of the country's national wildlife refuges to publish a 15-year "comprehensive conservation plan" by 2012 that outlines management objectives and assesses whether certain recreational uses are compatible with the refuge system's mission to manage for migratory birds. The agency began working on a plan for Pathfinder in 2006 and published its final draft this year. This month the agency found "no significant impact" in the environmental assessment of the plan, which is expected to publish as a final version by the end of the year. The plan calls for about 65 percent of the refuge's lands to transfer to the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, reducing the size of the refuge from 16,806 acres to 5,990 acres....
Marines Still Looking Into Possible Land Acquisition Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) located in Twentynine Palms, CA recently submitted a withdrawal application to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to essentially put a hold on 422,000 acres while it studies those areas for possible acquisition into the base. Uses that are currently allowed in the area will continue, but no new uses or projects will be permitted. A large portion of the Johnson Valley OHV area is located in that study area. Besides taking public comment, the purpose of these meetings is to help people understand both the proposed action and the decision making process. Johnson Valley OHV area is approximately 189,000 acres and is located in the high desert of California, just east of Los Angeles. The area is a Mecca for off-road recreation and is home to many events including off-road racing and competitive rock crawling....
Civil case over Idaho grazing can advance In 2006, a Washington state businessman and environmentalist was the high bidder on six Idaho grazing leases. Now the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says Gordon Younger can proceed with his federal civil rights lawsuit against Idaho officials, who awarded the leases instead to ranchers who offered less money in a competitive auction. Younger is a Seattle packaging business owner and head of Lazy Y Ranch Ltd.. He's a contributor to the Western Watersheds Project, a group seeking to end grazing on public land in the Rocky Mountains on grounds it damages the environment. Western Watersheds Project has long challenged the Land Board in court to secure competitive state grazing leases. With the federal appeals court decision, the case now moves toward a trial.
Taking a Human Approach to Conservation For 11 college students living and studying in the Swan Valley for eight weeks, conservation is more than just science and fieldwork. It involves a lot of socializing: chatting with the locals and immersing themselves in the community. It’s called cooperative conservation. The students are part of a field-semester program called Landscape and Livelihood, which is administered by Northwest Connections and accredited through the University of Montana. They earn 15 credits and the program runs from Sept. 1 to Oct. 29. The goal is to instill in the students a deep-rooted knowledge of the area’s geographical and cultural history by exposing them to a diverse cross section of people and opinions within a rural community. This helps them to better understand the problems facing interdependent ecosystems, and the dynamic relationships created by mix-use lands, including corporate timber, public multiple-use, wilderness and private residential. It’s a complex issue to take on: incorporating cooperative conservation, sustainability and policy, while maintaining a dialogue with the rural community and involving the local people as part of the solution. Throughout the semester, students work alongside biologists, loggers, ranchers, outfitters and homeowners, taking a hands-on approach to examine how rural communities tie back in to their own lives. These are wildlife biologists and natural resource managers in the making....
Lion Sightings Call for Concern With mountain lion sightings on the rise, the U.S. Forest Service is warning hikers to beware. The Forest Service recently released an advisory warning for Santa Barbara County cautioning hikers of an increase in mountain lion sightings. According to a statement released by the Forest Service, reports of mountain lion sightings involved hikers on the San Ysidro and Romero Trails, located in the nearby Los Padres National Forest. In one case, a mountain lion followed a hiker until scared off by a hurled object. Despite their elusive nature, the Forest Service suggests hikers in mountain lion country follow a few safety guidelines. These include avoiding hiking, biking or jogging alone, especially at dawn, dusk or night, when mountain lions are most active. If a mountain lion encounter should occur, face the animal, make noises and try to appear bigger by waving your arms and throwing rocks or other objects. And if attacked, the advisory states, fight back....
U.S. House action puts Mineral County in $407,000 hole The ink was barely dry on Mineral County's 2009 budget before action by the U.S. House of Representatives left the county with a $407,000 shortfall. The federal payment into the county road fund has been over $400,000 each year since 2000, as part of the U.S. Forest Service payments to forest counties under the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act. According to the budget documents provided by the Clerk and Recorder's Office, the county budgeted $407,000 for its road fund from the Forest Reserve Payment. Last year, it was the U.S. Senate that blocked reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools by just one vote. This past week, the Senate approved a multi-year reauthorization by a vote of 93-2, but the House yanked all funding from the bill the next day. Secure Rural Schools appears dead until the next Congress convenes in January 2009....
Lasater ranch has history Standard-Times: How did your family get into ranching? Laurie Lasater: My grandfather, Edward C. Lasater, founded the South Texas town of Falfurrias when establishing his ranch there in 1890. His ranch grew to 350,000 acres, but the family was forced to sell most of the land following his death in 1930 due to the Depression and mounting debt against the property. Among the assets salvaged were the remnants of my grandfather's upgraded Brahman herd and the remains of his 20,000 purebred Hereford cows. Dad withdrew from Princeton in the middle of his sophomore year in 1931 to come home and help hold things together. His mother and uncle sold him the cattle on credit, and by 1940 he had paid for them. The Beefmaster breed is the result of Tom Lasater experimenting with various combinations of three breeds - Hereford, Shorthorn, Brahman. He quickly discovered that the three-way cross was superior to any other combination and converted his entire herd to that cross. Beefmasters were recognized as a breed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture in 1954. On the other side of the family, my maternal great-grandmother, Sallie Reynolds Matthews, was a member of the pioneer ranch legacy families of J. A. Matthews and George Reynolds, who settled Shackelford and Throckmorton counties. My great-uncle was Watt Matthews, managing partner of the Lambshead Ranch near Albany....
It's All Trew: Bertillion Method early way to track criminals I take great pleasure in learning a new word, a little-known fact or hearing a story I have not heard before. In the book "Texas Gulag" by Gary Brown, the history of Texas prisons, jails and even the early-day chain gangs is presented from the years 1875 to 1925. The book outlined in detail how criminals were identified as they processed through the old systems. No doubt early Texas prisons, as well as prisons all over the world down through time, were brutal and dangerous. The thinking at the time was, if you are convicted of a crime, you have no rights. Treatment of prisoners will always be argued depending on whether you are a prisoner or a victim of a crime. The old saying of "an eye for an eye" seemed to rule much of the thinking. Interestingly, long before fingerprinting, pupil photographing and DNA, prisons used the Bertillion Method to identify prisoners. Research shows in 1883 in Europe, a police clerical officer was recognized for developing the first scientific method of criminal identification used by police....

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Green horses and a red wagon
Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Julie Carter

Lots of things in a cowboy's life are not fair. Two items on the top of the inequitable list are having to feed in the mud when green grass should be filling that bill and fixing a water gap into a droughty pasture when the guy up the hill got all the rain.

In ranch country, feeding cattle is a standard operation that is driven by opposing weather conditions - the lack of rain or the abundance of snow.

Most outfits have the necessary equipment for feeding cattle in all kinds of weather.

The hands that operate it, and the cattle that depend on it, fall into a routine that continues throughout the season.

One year, this particular ranch had an unusually long rainy spell. Ranchers are known for their mantra of "never turn down a rain or a calf," but fighting the mud sometimes challenges their resolve on the "how much" rain issue.

About this time, two new hands had just hired on, green as the grass that had not yet grown and full of enthusiasm and energy.

The deep mud had rendered the feed truck useless, but these two go-getters had seen pictures of ranchers feeding cattle with a wagon in some northern state.

Fortuitously, the ranch had a rubber-tired wagon, painted bright red, which was generally used for hay rides for the boss' kids. Perfect.

All they needed was a team of horses to pull it.

Their gaze turned to the large horse herd that supplied the saddle horses for the cattle operation. It seemed to them that would be a good place to find some wagon horses.

Smart enough to know the saddle horses wouldn't know anything about being hitched to a wagon, they decided a couple green colts would be "trainable" and wouldn't know any different.

So they gathered up the 3-year-old colts, most of which had never been handled in any way.

They tied a back foot up on each colt and maneuvered them up to the wagon, where harnesses and collars were put in place while the colts stood trembling.

A quick inspection of the wagon revealed a small problem. No brakes. The brighter of the two cowboys decided that a colt tied to the back of the wagon would work just fine for a brake.

When the driver (the honor given to the other cowboy) needed to stop, he could just wave his hat in the face of the colt at the back, making him set up and stop the wagon. Seemed like a fine idea, falling just short of brilliance.

The colts were wild-eyed and not happy about the wagon attached at their backsides.

The lad on the ground untied their hind feet and when the driver slapped the reins on their backs, the colts stood momentarily frozen. Then, with a bolt, they left out like scalded hounds.

The driver didn't need a whole lot of time to decide that the use of a brake might be in order.

He stood up on the wagon seat and waved his hat in the face of the colt tied to the back.

As planned, the colt sat back hard. Not as planned, when the hard jerk hit the rope tied to the wagon, it pulled the entire back end out of the wagon and never even offered a moment of slowing to the run-off team.

The driver, still attached to the fast-exiting horses, unwisely held tight to the reins while most of the hide on his face, and all the way south to his boots, was skidded off in the drag.

Finally, the colts managed to lose their dragger and eventually, they ran out of steam. It still took most of the afternoon to get them caught and retrieve the harnesses.

The green hands, not so green anymore, decided that God had created this mud and He would dry it out.

Wisdom is often born of pain or, in this case, rain. At least one cowboy is now a little wiser.
Politicalspeak 101

by Gary Reed

Since politics has become a year-round hunt with no definable season, this article is offered as a public service for those who want to become political sharpshooters but aren't completely familiar with the vocabulary of this most ancient and ruthlessly brutal of human blood sports.

Politics – The art of manipulating people. This definition can be infinitely refined and redefined but those five words are its essence.

Democracy – A system of thuggary in which the majority enforces its will on everyone else, as opposed to the original United States, which was a constitutional republic featuring a minimal government empowered to protect the rights of individuals from the thuggary of the majority.

Fair Share – A term imposed by the recipient of anything on the supplier of anything to guarantee the highest possible share for the recipient. The term is always defined by the recipient. Politicians define the state's "fair share" of taxpayer's incomes. Socialists define a society's "fair share" of its most productive citizen's efforts. Unions define their employee's "fair share" of corporate profits (and then define their own "fair share" of their member's dues). Welfare beneficiaries define their "fair share" of government largess. The fairness of the share is inevitably enforced by some form of coercion.

Fair Trade – A treaty between two countries in which the more powerful country uses its political clout to enforce its own definition of "fair" on the other country.

Fair Tax – A system of taxation that abolishes the IRS, dramatically simplifies the tax-paying process and is equitable for all economic classes while guaranteeing that nothing of substance will change because citizens will still be forced to cough up nearly half their incomes to corrupt politicians who will continue to spend trillions more in revenue than what they collect.

Level Playing Field – A euphemism concocted by incompetent business boobs demanding special interest legislation designed to drag their skilled competitors down to their own level of ineptitude so they won't have to actually compete with them.

Unfair Trade Practices – A term used by incompetent business boobs to define the sagacious business acumen of their competitors. A typical cure for politically manufactured "Unfair Trade Practices" is called "Antitrust Suit."

Change – An utterly shallow word masquerading as a set of meaningful ideas which, when repeated mindlessly, acts to "energize a whole new generation of voters" because those new voters have just emerged from government-run holding cells known as "high schools" where their brains were successfully stripped of the very concept of meaningful ideas.

Move forward – A meaningless phrase used whenever a candidate gets caught hand-in-cookie-jar. Example: Reporter says, "You passed a syrup subsidy bill after receiving donations from the syrup lobby." Candidate says, "We need to forget the past and move forward." In today's Pabulum Press reportage, candidates usually get away with this.

Libertarian – A concept entailing personal freedom and individual responsibility that scares the living bejesus out of politicians from presidents to dogcatchers because they know that if the idea of actual, genuine, no-lip-service freedom ever catches on they'll all lose their cushy con jobs.

Politicogenic – In the same sense that "anthropogenic" means "human-caused" and is routinely found as an adjective preceding such phrases as "global warming," "climate change," "pollutants," "methane emissions" and "greenhouse gasses," the term "politicogenic" means "politician-caused" and should rightfully be frontloaded onto words and phrases like "inflation," "war," "loss of freedom," "energy crisis," "starvation," "genocide" and so on and on and on.

Envirogenic – A term meaning "Death by Environmentalism," i.e., an international ban on DDT that has allowed 50 million people to die from malaria since 1972, branding bio-engineered crops that resist harsh climates, insects, diseases and don't need chemical pesticides as "Frankenfood" while millions starve worldwide, demanding high-mileage cars which require smaller and lighter construction which increases highway fatalities, and et cetera.

Photogenic – Looking good during a ten second sound bite. What did you think it meant?
Los Payasos - Government At Work

FEMA ice left to melt in Texas and Louisiana; truckers told to keep quiet The San Antonio Express-News reported Wednesday, Sept. 24, that hundreds of trucks were pulling in at Randolph Auxiliary Air Field near San Antonio. The trucks were loaded with pallets of ice, and the ice was being off-loaded to melt in the sun. A FEMA spokesman said the excess ice proves the agency was well prepared. But when a reporter started talking to truckers, the Express-News quoted a man in a FEMA shirt as saying, “This conversation is over.” He then reportedly threatened to fire the truckers if they talked to the media. One trucker, who was contacted later by the newspaper, estimated that $1.5 million dollars worth of ice was being dumped on the ground at the Texas air field. And in Carville, LA, trucks full of ice had been sitting parked for more than a week. WVLA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Baton Rouge, reported that nearly 3 million pounds of ice were thrown out at a FEMA staging area.
Homeland Security Detects Terrorist Threats by Reading Your Mind Baggage searches are SOOOOOO early-21st century. Homeland Security is now testing the next generation of security screening — a body scanner that can read your mind. Most preventive screening looks for explosives or metals that pose a threat. But a new system called MALINTENT turns the old school approach on its head. This Orwellian-sounding machine detects the person — not the device — set to wreak havoc and terror. MALINTENT, the brainchild of the cutting-edge Human Factors division in Homeland Security's directorate for Science and Technology, searches your body for non-verbal cues that predict whether you mean harm to your fellow passengers. It has a series of sensors and imagers that read your body temperature, heart rate and respiration for unconscious tells invisible to the naked eye — signals terrorists and criminals may display in advance of an attack....
Justice Dept. to delay new terror-probe rules The Justice Department, in a nod to concerns that Americans could be investigated in terrorism cases without evidence of wrongdoing, said Tuesday it will tweak still-tentative rules governing FBI national security cases before they are issued. The changes represent a small but first victory for skeptical lawmakers and civil liberties groups that want the Justice Department to delay the rules until a new president is elected. Not all of the planned changes were outlined during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, but Assistant Attorney General Elisebeth Cook said they would include limits on the length and kinds of investigative activities used in monitoring demonstrations and civil disorders. "We do anticipate making changes in response to the comments we have received," Cook said. Justice Department and FBI lawyers have been briefing lawmakers and interest groups on the rules for the last six weeks. The short hearing came as three Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded "bare-minimum" civil rights protections for U.S. citizens and residents as the Federal Bureau of Investigation expands its power to seek out potential terrorists....With the Republicans supporting the rule and Democrats only wanting to protect our rights to the "bare-minimum", liberty is bound to suffer another loss.
Encrypting Against Department of Homeland Security's New Laptop Search Policy Computer security has never been more necessary. In the past, the threat of a security breach has come in the form of thieves: stolen laptops and PDAs, identity theft, and the like. These days the threat comes from a new ruling by a U.S. court. The Department of Homeland Security will now be allowed to confiscate laptops coming into the U.S. for an indefinite amount of time. Customs and Border Patrol will be able to search laptops or any other electronic device, download entire contents and keep the device for several days. "This policy can create headaches -- or worse -- for unsuspecting travelers who don't plan ahead," says Jamie Brenzel, CEO of online data storage and backup service Data Deposit Box ( www.datadepositbox.com ). Imagine your vital business accounting data being out of reach for days. Worse yet, what if your private financial information was exposed to the wrong people? What if a potential business partnership was leaked before the deal was made? Any of these scenarios is cause for concern. So what can be done? Some experts suggest simply leaving electronics, such as laptops and PDAs, at home. While this strategy is easy enough for someone heading off on vacation, business travelers need more practical options to protect sensitive information. According to Brenzel, encryption is key to data protection...Looks like this will be a boon to the online backup providers. Folks will just transfer their files to the online server, then download the data after they've crossed the border.
City considers options after NRA gun ban lawsuit The Evanston City Council is still discussing what to do next after being "forced kicking and screaming" to amend its handgun ban last month. The change was made following a June 26 Supreme Court ruling, District of Columbia v. Heller, declaring a similar ban in Washington, D.C. to be in violation of the Second Amendment. The day after the landmark decision, the National Rifle Association brought a lawsuit against Evanston alleging its ban was unconstitutional. The City Council chose to change its ban instead of fighting the potentially expensive suit, said city corporation counsel Jack Siegel, who wrote the amendment. Now, Evanston residents can have handguns in their home for the purpose of self-protection, Siegel said. Other uses and other types of guns are still prohibited....
Opponents of Tough Federal Sentencing Rules Take Up Heller for Help The federal judge that sentenced Weldon Angelos to 55 years and one day in prison in 2004 said his hands were tied by mandatory-minimum gun laws, calling his own sentence "unjust, cruel, and even irrational." Now a law professor and a group of Am Law 200 lawyers are challenging the sentence on unique grounds: that Heller v. District of Columbia, the case celebrated as a definitive victory for gun rights, protects Angelos and others like him convicted of gun crimes. Douglas Berman, a law professor at the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University, devised the strategy with help from attorneys at Steptoe & Johnson and Snell & Wilmer. Angelos is hoping to have his sentence overturned by the U.S District Court in Salt Lake City after a federal appeals court upheld it in 2006 and the U.S. Supreme Court denied cert. Berman knows Heller's core supporters--the National Rifle Association, for example--don't typically overlap with individuals who are tough on criminal sentences. But he believes Heller should make it harder to tack dozens of years on to a prison sentence simply because someone happens to own a gun....
Revenge of the Bitter Gun Owners Last spring, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to arms, Democrats hoped the decision would neutralize the gun issue. Instead the ruling, by inviting debate over which kinds of gun control are constitutional, has made the issue more salient. That's bad news for Barack Obama, who the National Rifle Association says "would be the most anti-gun president in American history." The Democratic nominee pays lip service to Second Amendment rights while calling for "commonsense," "reasonable" restrictions. But Obama's sense of what's reasonable, while common among the left-liberal politicians and activists inside his comfort zone, may seem decidedly unreasonable to the pro-gun voters the NRA is trying to mobilize against him. Since these voters made a decisive difference in the 2000 presidential election and arguably in 2004 as well, this is a threat Obama ignores at his peril. The NRA plans to spend $15 million urging voters in battleground states of the Midwest and Mountain West to "Defend Freedom" and "Defeat Obama." Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is running radio spots in swing states such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia that promise "Barack Obama and John McCain will both make sure we keep our guns."....
Under anonymity, gun licenses soar in Florida The number of Floridians with permission to pack heat has jumped nearly 50 percent in three years. In 2005, one year before the state Legislature's decision to provide anonymity to people holding concealed weapons licenses, there were 347,350 active permits statewide. Now, that number has swelled to about 520,000. Some states ask applicants why they want a concealed weapons license. Florida isn't one of them. That makes it almost impossible to say who is getting licensed and why. But recent changes to the state's gun laws by the Republican-led Legislature suggest Florida is an attractive place to own a gun and privately tuck it away....
Mexico drug crackdown breeds more violence from the cartels It was Mexican Independence Day and the square in this colonial city was packed with revelers. Suddenly, something flew over the head of Angelica Bucio, struck a man in front of her and rolled to a stop on the ground. A second later, the grenade exploded, slamming Bucio against a fountain. Her arms and legs burned with white-hot shrapnel. Smoke and screaming and blood were everywhere. For residents of this city, last week's attack that killed seven people and injured 108 was yet another sign that President Felipe Calderón's nationwide war on drugs, which began in Morelia nearly two years ago, is going poorly. Instead of subsiding, drug-related murders are rising and becoming more gruesome. Once-quiet border towns have become battlegrounds. Police-on-police clashes have left citizens wondering who the good guys are. And the Morelia grenade attack, which the Mexican Attorney General's Office blamed on drug traffickers, has raised fears that smugglers are moving into outright terrorism. The turmoil is in stark contrast to the U.S. side of the border, where Calderón's crackdown looks like a success. The White House has credited Mexico's efforts for a drop in the drug supply. Since 2006, the U.S. has seen an 84 percent jump in methamphetamine prices and a 21 percent increase in cocaine prices. Meth use has dropped 50 percent and cocaine use has decreased 19 percent, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy....

Friday, September 26, 2008

Michigan Senate votes to allow killing of wolves The Michigan Senate has voted unanimously to let farmers kill gray wolves caught in the act of attacking their livestock -- assuming the state removes the wolf from its threatened species list. The farmers would have to report to the state Department of Natural Resources within 12 hours of shooting a wolf. Legislation approved Thursday also would let the owners of hunting dogs kill wolves caught attacking their dogs. Until the DNR finishes hearings to remove the wolf from the list, a wolf only can be killed by a state official. The DNR supports the bills....
Court: No reserved water rights for NM trust land There are no federally reserved water rights for the millions of acres of state trust land in New Mexico, the state Court of Appeals has ruled. The court's decision Wednesday came in a case involving the adjudication of water rights in the San Juan River Basin of northwestern Mexico. In the river system, there are nearly 300,000 acres of trust land. Last year, a state district court in San Juan County rejected the claim made by the Land Office. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision. The lands conveyed to New Mexico by acts of Congress from 1850 to 1910 "were never withdrawn from the public domain and reserved for a federal purpose. As such, it necessarily follows that any attendant federal reserved water rights that the commissioner now claims in connection with those lands were also not impliedly reserved," the court said in an opinion written by Judge James Weschler. "The Court of Appeals got it exactly right," D.L. Sanders, chief counsel for the state engineer, said in an interview. He said no state court has recognized federal reserved water rights for state trust lands in the West although the legal question has come up in other places, including Arizona and Montana. "By everybody's calculation, this was a huge stretch in the legal theories," Sanders said. Had water rights been reserved for New Mexico's trust lands, Sanders said, it would have been a "sweeping change in law" and disrupted the current system that allocates rights for using water. Federal reserved water rights typically are more senior than those held by private landowners or municipalities in New Mexico, giving them a greater priority in times of drought when not enough water is available to cover the demands of all users....
Credits where credits are due The Senate today overwhelmingly approved a massive tax package that mashes together incentives for renewable energy with support for traditional energy sources less beloved by environmental groups. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, sponsored by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), would extend the investment tax credit for solar energy for eight years. It would extend the production tax credit (PTC) for wind for one year, and the PTC for solar, biomass, and hydropower for two years. The residential energy-efficient property credit would be extended through 2016, and the definition of the systems that qualify for that credit would be expanded to include small wind investment and geothermal heat pumps. The bill also includes provisions for carbon capture and sequestration, oil shale, tar sands, and coal-to-liquid fuels, which enviros are much less happy about....
Oldest rocks on Earth found in northern Canada A pinkish tract of bedrock on the eastern shore of Canada's Hudson Bay contains the oldest known rocks on Earth, formed 4.28 billion years ago, not long after the planet was formed, scientists said on Thursday. The rocks may be remnants of Earth's primordial crust, which formed on the planet's surface as it cooled following the birth of the solar system, according to Jonathan O'Neil of McGill University in Montreal. "Maybe it was the original crust, and before that there was no stable crust on the Earth. That's a big question," O'Neil said in a telephone interview. The expanse in northern Quebec, measuring about 4 square miles (10 square km), is made up of the volcanic rock basalt....
Meager North American jaguar population faces several risks Jaguars once roamed from Argentina to as far north as the Grand Canyon, but those that inhabited North America have now become isolated to roughly 70 square miles of rugged terrain in northern Mexico. To promote their conservation project, Diane Hadley, president of the Northern Jaguar Project (NJP), gave a presentation entitled “Protecting the Jaguar’s Place” at Babbitt’s Backcountry Outfitters on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. Hadley said the region in which the jaguars live “is this little pocket of land surrounded by Río Aros on one side and the Río Yacqui on the other.” Hadley said NJP is trying to identify and establish safe corridors for jaguars to return to their former habitats within the U.S., particularly in southern Arizona and New Mexico....
In Storm’s Aftermath, Cow Roundups in Southeast Texas Two weeks after Hurricane Ike blew through Southeast Texas, cowboys on horseback and in helicopters are still trying to round up thousands of head of displaced cattle. The storm’s surge carried cows up to 20 miles from their pastures in coastal Jefferson and Chambers Counties. Dead cows can be seen rotting in the forks of trees, and lone calves wander looking for their mothers amid overturned tractors and grain silos crushed like tin cans. “We’re still hearing about Katrina victims, but no one seems to know about this,” said Mike Latta, a rancher and rice farmer in this agricultural community about 10 miles from the Gulf Coast. “It’s total devastation.” Mr. Latta said he had so far recovered only 15 cows from his herd of 400 and holds out little hope of finding the rest, even as rescue efforts continue. Thus far, about 10,000 of the estimated 25,000 missing cows in the region have been found alive. Explaining how any survived the powerful surge with waves reported over 15 feet, Hollis Gilfillian, a rancher in nearby Winnie, Tex., said that “cows are surprisingly buoyant” thanks to their four air-filled stomachs. Mr. Gilfillian said he was able to recover half of his 350 head because “they sort of floated like boats.” Displaced and severely dehydrated cows roaming the debris- and seaweed-strewn landscape have been herded into fenced pastures north of where the storm surge ended. They are marked with brands from the scores of ranches in the area and need to be sorted so they can be returned to their owners....
The Cowboy in Winter The resulting image of man, horse and dog was published in the January 1986 issue of National Geographic and is included among 200 pictures in The Life of a Photograph, a retrospective of Abell's field work to be published this month. It was one of 25,000 images Abell gathered during a year following in the footsteps of the late artist Charles M. Russell, who, as a teenager in the 1880s, had come to Montana from St. Louis to start life as a cowboy. To evoke Russell's time and spirit, Abell traveled to the windswept plains where Russell learned to ride and rope, where he honed his skills as a painter and where he memorialized the twilight of an era. "It looks the way it looked in Russell's day," says Abell, 63. "There are grander and more sublime landscapes—to me. There are more compelling cultures. But what appeals to me about central Montana is that the combination of landscape and lifestyle is the most compelling I've seen on this earth. Small mountain ranges and open prairie, and different weather, different light, all within a 360-degree view." The cowboy culture was still very much in evidence when Mack rode into Abell's viewfinder more than two decades ago. Men and women spent their days in the saddle, following cattle up to the high grasslands in spring and summer and down to the valleys in fall, and drove off to town for a dance and a beer only when the chores were done. That life required good horse work, an affinity for the lariat and hard labor, a stoic acceptance of blistering summers and soul-numbing winters, and the quickness and strength to chase down a calf, flip it over and apply the branding iron....
AAE Letter To Bingaman

September 23, 2008

The Honorable Jeff Bingaman
Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee
304 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Mr. Chairman:

The recent announcement that the U.S. Department of Interior Inspector General has opened an investigation into possible illegal coordination between lobbyists for environmental groups and federal officials of the National Landscape Conservation System calls for an immediate investigation and hearings by your committee. We encourage you to undertake this action immediately and before the upcoming November election due to the nature of the potential impact such alleged activities may have now and in the new Administration.

Because the focus of the IG investigation is centered on potential illegal conduct involving two giant national environmental groups – the National Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society -- with extensive political agendas and interests in many areas subject to the Interior Department’s jurisdiction, it is imperative that you immediately ascertain if this is an isolated incident, or evidence of a pattern of criminal behavior that may extend to other offices in the Department.

The National Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society are multi-million dollar enterprises with clear national political and environmental agendas that require action by many federal departments, agencies and the Congress. Needless to say, the brazen conduct of holding regular meetings that reportedly illegally coordinated lobbying efforts and activities between these two groups and the NCLS is quite disturbing. It begs the question whether these contacts and reported coordination of illegal lobbying activities was limited to this one federal office, or whether it was the point of contact where federal officials could help the National Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society extend this activity elsewhere within the Interior Department?

One has to wonder that because this alleged illegal activity was being conducted apparently in the open with several environmental groups in attendance, whether the leadership of these groups would also attempt to encourage this behavior in other federal offices in pursuit of their lobby agenda. In addition, published reports where apparently jobs were being discussed also calls into question whether this activity is designed to place individuals into sensitive government jobs that then are controlled by these environmental groups, both now and in the next Administration.

This investigation also calls into question any action that might be taken this year on S. 3213, particularly the inclusion of the “National Landscape Conservation System Act” (S. 1139), until this situation is concluded. The cloud hanging over the NCLS alone should disqualify any consideration of this legislation this year. The allegations of collusion between the national environmental groups lobbying hard for this bill and the staff of the Interior agency that would be the subject of this legislation are enough under any reasonable assessment to shelve this legislation immediately until justice takes its course.

Frankly, the possibilities of more widespread corruption are staggering. Your Committee is in a very important position to take the leadership necessary to open this investigation and assert your oversight in this troubling abuse of the public trust. We urge this be done immediately and that you begin to shine the disinfecting light of sunshine on this matter.


J. Greg Schnacke
President & CEO
Americans for American Energy

cc: The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations: EPA Needs More Information and a Clearly Defined Strategy to Protect Air and Water Quality from Pollutants of Concern. GAO-08-944, September 4.

Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d08944high.pdf

Wildlife Refuges: Changes in Funding, Staffing, and Other Factors Create Concerns about Future Sustainability. GAO-08-797, September 22.

Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d08797high.pdf

DENVER, CO – A coalition of Western business leaders is urging Congress not to reward “scandalous and potentially illegal behavior” by enacting legislation to establish the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The “National Landscape Conservation System Act” (S. 1139) is a bill to statutorily establish the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It is one of over 90 bills contained in a omnibus lands package (S. 3213) being prepared for Senate Floor consideration by Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman.

General at the U.S. Department of the Interior has initiated an investigation for possible violations of anti-lobbying law by federal employees at the NLCS. Emails and other documents obtained by the House Resources Committee Minority staff raise serious questions about the degree and extent of communications and coordination between top officials of the NLCS and environmental lobbyists.

In a letter sent to Senator Bingaman today, the Roundtable urged the Senator and his colleagues to postpone consideration of language relating to NLCS that would statutorily establish the NLCS within the BLM.

“As you undoubtedly know, federal law prohibits federal employees from using appropriated funds or their official positions to lobby Congress. If these accusations prove to be accurate, federal employees at NLCS actively supported and participated in efforts designed (directly or indirectly) to encourage government officials to favor the NLCS legislation. This would be in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1913,” noted Jim Sims, President and CEO of the Roundtable.

The NLCS was first concocted in 2000, by then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, through administrative mandate. The NLCS covers a vast amount of territory of various types and quality, consisting of tens of millions of acres of federal lands administered by the BLM including National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Scenic and Historic Trails. The vast majority of these lands are located in 12 Western states.

“If the Inspector General finds that public officials were indeed using their time, office, and influence to lobby for NLCS legislation, what kind of message does Congress send to the American public if it turns around and enacts the very legislation these federal employees were illegally promoting?” said Sims.

“The least we can do is wait until the Inspector General and/or the Justice Department have adequate time to investigate these charges. It would be a shame to allow rogue government employees to benefit from inappropriate and illegal behavior,” Sims added.

For more information on the details of S. 1139, see the Roundtable letter to Bingaman
Al Gore Urges 'Civil Disobedience' Toward Coal Plants Al Gore called Wednesday for "civil disobedience" to combat the construction of coal power plants without the ability to store carbon, Reuters reported. The former vice president, whose efforts to raise awareness of global warming have made him the most prominent voice on that issue, made the comment during a session at the fourth annual Clinton Global Initiative in Manhattan. "If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration," Gore said, according to Reuters. It wasn't clear what specific action he intended by "civil disobedience," which calls for the intentional violation of laws deemed to be unjust....The last time I saw Gore he looked like he was the one who needed to get out and do some marching.
PETA Urges Ben & Jerry's To Use Human Milk People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., urging them to replace cow's milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk, according to a statement recently released by a PETA spokeswoman. "PETA's request comes in the wake of news reports that a Swiss restaurant owner will begin purchasing breast milk from nursing mothers and substituting breast milk for 75 percent of the cow's milk in the food he serves," the statement says. PETA officials say a move to human breast milk would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health....
More Carson national forest land opened to drilling The release Wednesday of a final decision four years in the making opens the last portion of Jicarilla Ranger District forest land in Rio Arriba County to natural gas and oil drilling. It permits the lease of 4,992 acres of never-leased National Forest land about 50 miles east of Farmington. The decision regarding the land in Carson National Forest is reviled in some quarters and startling to other entities. "I can't believe they've finally done it," said Tom Mullins, principal/engineering manager of Synergy Operating, LLC. "We are pleased a final decision has been reached. It's been almost four years." Local environmentalists are stoic but saddened by the decision because of damage already done to the forest from drilling since the 1940s....
More factory farming but oversight lags Some huge livestock farms produce more raw waste than cities as large as Philadelphia or Houston. But federal regulators are failing to control pollution from the gigantic operations or assess health risks from the enormous quantities of manure they produce, according to congressional investigators. The Government Accountability Office report on the raw waste is to be released Wednesday to a House committee hearing on federal oversight of factory farms. The conclusions fueled concerns about a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule change that would eliminate one of the few federal oversight mechanisms over air and water pollution from big farms. The rule would eliminate a requirement that farms report to federal, state and local officials when air emissions of hazardous substances like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide exceed certain levels. EPA proposed the rule change in December, contending the requirement created an unnecessary burden for farms and that the emission release reports usually weren't needed or acted upon....
Presidential Race: Candidates Respond to Questions by the American Farm Bureau Federation The final question was: Why should farmers and ranchers vote for you? Sen. Obama replied: During my time in the Illinois Senate and in the U.S. Senate, I’ve had the great privilege of representing some of America’s hardest working and most productive farmers. And farmers have helped teach me how important this sector is to the nation. We depend on agriculture to provide food, feed, fiber and fuel, and it’s vital that federal policies help our farmers make a living and contribute to our nation’s food security....
China tainted milk crisis triggers global recalls An industrial chemical that made its way into China's dairy supplies and that authorities blame in the death of four babies has turned up in numerous Chinese-made exports abroad — from candies to yogurt to rice balls. British supermarket chain Tesco removed Chinese-made White Rabbit Creamy Candies off its shelves as a precaution amid reports that samples of the milk candy in Singapore and New Zealand had tested positive for melamine — an industrial chemical used to make plastics and fertilizer. More than a dozen countries have banned or recalled Chinese dairy products. One of the latest was France, which does not import Chinese dairy products but has halted imports of Chinese biscuits, candy or other foods that could contain Chinese dairy derivatives. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said White Rabbit candy has been added to its list of products being inspected at ports of entry, but that no melamine-tainted goods from China of any sort have turned up yet. Nonetheless, some ethnic grocers started removing the popular candies from their shelves....
Horse slaughter bill moves forward A U.S. House of Representatives committee this week approved a measure that would ban the practice nationwide of slaughtering horses for human consumption and halt the export of horses destined for consumption in other countries. Animal-welfare groups have long campaigned for the horse slaughter ban, claiming the treatment of horses sold for meat is cruel. They’ve already succeeded at forcing the closure of the three final U.S. horse slaughterhouses — two in Texas and one in Illinois. But since thousands of horses are still exported for slaughter in Canada and Mexico, and many states have no laws that would prohibit the opening of new plants, the groups have been seeking federal regulation since 2001. The proposed legislation is the “Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act,” sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Dan Burton, D-Ind. The proposal would make it a crime punishable by up to three years in prison to possess or transport horse meat for human consumption or horses intended to be slaughtered for human meals. The Animal Agriculture Alliance called the proposal “horribly misguided and misleadingly named.” According to AAA, “multiple amendments intended to lessen the frightful negative impact the bill would have on horse welfare were defeated along largely partisan lines.” Opponents of the law, including many cattle ranchers, horse breeders and veterinarians, believe the measure will have many unintended, inhumane consequences....
Border agent first saddled up in '42 Forty miles was the route. Horseback was the preferred mode of transportation. "You rode with a partner. You were seldom alone," says Robert "Bobby" Jarratt, who rode for the Border Patrol in 1942 and '43 back when the border was a barbed-wire fence, nothing more. "We looked for signs — broken branches, footprints. Then we'd pick up the trail heading north," says Jarratt, who would work his way up to the state's top job in the Border Patrol before retiring on the last day of 1970. In late December of 1941, he signed up for the Border Patrol and spent the next 30 days training in El Paso, learning, among other things, elementary Spanish and immigration law. On probation for a year, he spent the first few months in Nogales and Gila Bend before heading to the Texas Gulf Coast, looking for wartime saboteurs. Pay to start out was $2,000 a year. "You had to buy your own uniform. The only thing furnished was the hardware, like your gun and handcuffs."....
Oracle's Historic 3-C Ranch Mary West, the daughter of a Texas cattleman, assembled the land that comprised the old 3-C Ranch. Once known as the Columbia Cattle Co., the 3-C Ranch was a combination of several of the oldest cattle ranches in the state, including some that dated back to the early 1800s. Ranchers had long been attracted to the area because of the abundance of water. In addition to being a rancher, West was an attorney, and an investor in mining exploration. She purchased the ranch in 1945 and began buying up other ranches in the area. The resulting 36,000 acre ranch included the Bill Huggett Ranch, as well as the Peppersauce, the American Flag, White House and VY ranches. When she sold the ranch in 1959, it consisted of approximately 5,000 acres of deeded land and the rest in state and federal lease land. While the sale price was not revealed, it had been listed at $700,000. The property also included two homes and two guest houses. It was sold again in 1966, this time for around $1,000,000....
Event has flavors of West Patrons to the West Texas Rehab sale at Producers Livestock Auction today will be welcomed by the smell of mesquite smoke from the campfire of an authentic chuck wagon and the aroma of food being prepared in outdoor cast-iron skillets. In recent years, the Round-Up for Rehab livestock sales have taken on the flavor of the American West, complete with a mule-drawn chuck wagon, which displays cattle brands from ranches contributing to past roundups. Head cook Archie Jobe, who looks like he just walked off a John Wayne Western movie set, will be in the Producers parking lot, 1131 N. Bell St., this morning applying his culinary art to the noon menu. Red beans and corn bread have been the cowboy's staple since 1866, when Texas Panhandle rancher Charles Goodnight introduced the first chuck wagon to the cattle trail drives. Back in 1960, the late Conda Wylie, Coke County rancher and owner of the Fort Chadbourne ranch, separated a few head of beef from his herd, sold them and donated the money to the rehabilitation center. That was the beginning of Cattlemen's Round-Up for Crippled Children....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This from AAE

Congressional Probe Of Enviro Groups Urged Over Lobbying Of Interior Department Agency

For Immediate Release: Sept. 24, 2008
Contact: Greg Schnacke, 866-416-0869

Washington, D.C. -- Potential illegal coordination between U.S. Interior Department officials and several national environmental groups, currently being investigated by the Interior Inspector General, should also be investigated by Congressional oversight committees, according to Americans for American Energy.

Americans for American Energy Wednesday asked U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), Chair of the House Resource Committee, and U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, to convene oversight hearings on the matter.

News of the IG investigation was unveiled late last week by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), ranking Member on the U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Parks and Public Lands, who said that he was informed of the investigation involving the Wilderness Society, National Wildlife Federation and possible improper contacts with the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) on September 18.

Bishop indicated in a statement that e-mails and other documents collected b the Inspector General’s office of the U.S. Interior Department show extensive coordination between environmental lobbyists and NLCS top officials.

These activities appear to include coordination of lobbying, agency requests for budget language from environmental lobbyists, setting up NLCS events, review of official memorandums, and other potentially illegal exchanges, Bishop said.

The Interior IG is also collecting and reviewing travel documents as part of the investigation, the Congressman added.

“The Inspector General needs to quickly determine how far this goes, but the Congressional oversight process must be brought into play as well,” said Greg Schnacke, President and CEO of Americans for American Energy, a non-profit grassroots energy education organization based in Denver, Colorado. “The Wilderness Society and the National Wildlife Federation spend millions of dollars pursuing an anti-American energy political agenda. The question we have is how far does this extend and does is it more extensive than simply the NLCS?”

AAE also called on Congress to shelve action on Omnibus Public Land Management Act (S. 3213), and in particular the portion of the bill directly affecting the NLCS, the “National Landscape Conservation System Act” (S. 1139).

"This investigation calls into question any action that might be taken this year on S. 3213, particularly the inclusion of the National Landscape Conservation System Act (S. 1139), until this situation is concluded. The cloud hanging over the NCLS alone should disqualify any consideration of this legislation this year. The allegations of collusion between the national environmental groups lobbying hard for this bill and the staff of the Interior agency that would be the subject of the this legislation are enough under any reasonable assessment to shelve this legislation immediately until justice takes its course,” Schnacke stated in his letter to Rahall and Bingaman.

Published reports indicate that NLCS officials met regularly with environmental groups, often at the Wilderness Society’s Washington, D.C. offices to coordinate federal lobbying strategy and messaging. Federal law generally prohibits federal employees from using appropriated funds or their official positions to lobby Congress.

"It is the job of the Congress to provide oversight and investigate whenever there are such allegations of misconduct and misuse of taxpayer dollars," Schnacke said. "If the committees refuse to conduct such oversight, it will be sending a message to the American people that it intends to turn a blind eye to such activities."

“You can’t tell me this is an isolated incident,” added Schnacke. “The political agenda of the NWF and the Wilderness Society is too broad and touches more in the Interior Department than just the NLCS. I am sure the leadership at Interior will also be very interested whether other employees in other agencies may be a little too cozy with the Wilderness Society and the National Wildlife Federation.”

“AAE encourages the IG to get to the bottom of this immediately, and the U.S. House and Senate to investigate this as well. These investigations should begin prior to this election, given that some of these individuals may be planning to get jobs and important policy positions in the new Administration,” said Schnacke.
Western Initiative Proposes Emissions-Trading Plan Seven Western states and four Canadian provinces on Tuesday proposed a comprehensive program to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, manufacturers and vehicles. The Western Climate Initiative would establish a regional market to trade carbon emissions credits and is designed to keep costs down for those affected. It covers more polluters than other regional plans adopted in the United States and Canada. The plan is aimed at cutting the region's carbon emissions below 2005 levels by 2020. The idea is to allow industries that emit greenhouse gases to buy and sell credits for their emissions. Businesses that cannot cut their emissions enough can buy the right to pollute from cleaner companies. The plan was drafted by Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, and by the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec....

IG investigating coordination by BLM and enviro groups, congressman says

Noelle Straub, E&E Daily reporter

The Interior inspector general is investigating possible illegal coordination between lobbyists for environmental groups and federal officials of the National Landscape Conservation System, Rep. Rob Bishop said yesterday.

Interior officials informed his office about the investigation into the NLCS, which is a division of the Bureau of Land Management, the Utah Republican said in a statement.

E-mails and other documents show extensive coordination between top NLCS officials and environmental lobbyists, said Bishop, the top Republican on the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee.

The main groups involved appear to be the Wilderness Society and the National Wildlife Federation, a House GOP aide said. At some point NLCS officials had weekly meetings with these and other groups, often at the Wilderness Society's office, to coordinate lobbying strategy and messaging, the aide said.

E-mails show that NLCS officials requested environmental groups to write budget language, the aide added. E-mails also talk about coordinating lobbying efforts, setting up NLCS events, sending out draft memorandums for each other to review and preparing for congressional hearing.

The federal and advocacy officials exchanged resumes and job announcements in their respective organizations and BLM, the aide said. Travel documents are still being collected and reviewed and will be part of the investigation, the aide added.

Federal law generally prohibits federal employees from using appropriated funds or their official positions to lobby Congress.

Kevin Mack, NLCS campaign director with the Wilderness Society, said he was unaware of the investigation. "I don't know what the investigation is about, have not been called by the IG, so I can't say anything more than that," Mack said.

Both his groups work on public lands issues and are in contact with many people related to their work, Mack added. "I don't know what 'there' is there."

NWF spokeswoman Jennifer Jones said the group has not been contacted by the IG's office.

Interior spokeswoman Tina Kreisher said the department had no comment at this time. An inspector general spokesman could not be reached by press time.

Bishop said the Interior Department should act quickly to halt any improper activities involving advocacy groups and the NLCS. He also called on employees involved in the investigation to step aside from their positions until the inspector general finishes his work.

"The department must insist that any employee involved in violations of the anti-lobbying law step aside until the inspector general or the Justice Department has reviewed his or her conduct," Bishop said. "Just as the employees of the royalty-in-kind program at MMS learned, we will not tolerate misconduct by public officials."

Bishop was referring to a sex, drugs and financial favors investigation of Minerals Management Service employees recently completed by the Interior inspector general, on which the full committee held a hearing yesterday (E&ENews PM, Sept. 18).

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt established NLCS during the Clinton administration to grant protections to ecologically and historically valuable lands controlled by BLM.

But Babbitt's designation did not codify the system, meaning a later Interior secretary could dissolve it. When the House approved a bill in April codifying it, Bishop complained the House Rules Committee blocked GOP amendments, including one by him that would have addressed the private property rights he said were threatened by what he called a "vague legislative entity."

We all knew stuff like this went on under Clinton, but the degree of collaboration alleged here under The Bushies is amazing. You have to wonder what may be going on at USFWS, NPS, etc. It will be interesting to see what action, if any, is taken by Courageous Kempthorne.
Feds ask to put wolves back on endangered list Federal wildlife officials have asked a judge to put gray wolves in the Northern Rockies back on the endangered species list — a sharp reversal from the government's prior contention that the animals were thriving. Attorneys for the Fish and Wildlife Service asked U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula to vacate the agency's February finding that more than 1,400 wolves in the region no longer needed federal protection. The government's request Monday follows a July injunction in which Molloy had blocked plans for public wolf hunts this fall in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho pending resolution of a lawsuit by environmentalists. "What we want to do is look at this more thoroughly," Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Sharon Rose said. "We definitely have a lot of wolves out there, but we need to address some of (Molloy's) concerns in a way that people feel comfortable with." At issue is whether a decade-long wolf restoration program has reversed the near-extermination of wolves, or if — as environmentalists claim — their long-term survival remains in doubt due to proposed hunting. "This hit everybody really cold," said John Bloomquist, an attorney for the Montana Stockgrowers Association. "All of a sudden the federal defendants are going in the other direction."....What the hell is wrong with Dirk Kempthorne? First the polar bear and now the wolf. Get the wolf back on the list and then hope Obama will save the day. The FWS is screwing us and Kempthorne is either unaware, doesn't care, or is the Screwer-In-Chief.