Saturday, February 28, 2009

Deer enters bank and leaves a deposit

A downtown bank received an unwanted deposit from an unlikely customer Monday afternoon. Employees reported hearing a crash and a commotion in the lower level of the Fifth Third Bank, 10 W. Auglaize St., around 3:10 p.m. Monday, said Lt. Greg Lowry, of the Wapakoneta Police Department. Moments later, one person who had called the Police Department, said a deer had come crashing through a rear, lower-level window into the branch. "At the back of the bank one of these large-paned windows that has a reflective tint to it was busted out. I approached the window, looked inside and saw a deer inside standing down the hallway from me in a room," Lowry said. "We were going to enter the bank that way and try to corral the deer. Once we got inside we realized it was a 200-pound buck and we decided we weren't going to corral it at all." Once inside, the deer began tearing things up, jumping on a table in a conference room, kicking hoof-sized holes in the walls and tearing down shelving inside a vault, Lowry said. There was deer fur, blood from a cut on its muzzle throughout the lower level of the bank, along with urine inside the vault, he

Friday, February 27, 2009

13,000-year-old tools unearthed at Colorado home

Landscapers were digging a hole for a fish pond in the front yard of a Boulder home last May when they heard a "chink" that didn't sound right. Just some lost tools. Some 13,000-year-old lost tools. They had stumbled onto a cache of more than 83 ancient tools buried by the Clovis people — ice age hunter-gatherers who remain a puzzle to anthropologists. The cache is one of only a handful of Clovis-age artifacts uncovered in North America, said Bamforth. The tools reveal an unexpected level of sophistication, Bamforth said, describing the design as "unnecessarily complicated," artistic and utilitarian at the same time. What researchers found on the tools also was significant. Biochemical analysis of blood and other protein residue revealed the tools were used to butcher camels, horses, sheep and bears. That proves that the Clovis people ate more than just woolly mammoth meat for dinner, something scientists were unable to confirm before...AP

Ain't nothin' like good ol' camel fries. Only drawback is it takes such a damn big pan to cook 'em in.

Geronimo fight turns into family feud

A second Mescalero family, also claiming to be descendants of the legendary Geronimo, plans to oppose an attempt to repatriate the Apache warrior's remains to New Mexico. Lariat Geronimo, 39, of Mescalero, said Thursday he is a great-grandson of Geronimo, and his immediate family members are the true descendants of the warrior. He said they oppose an attempt by Harlyn Geronimo of Mescalero, who also claims to be a great-grandson of the warrior, to move the remains. Lariat Geronimo alleged Harlyn Geronimo doesn't have a valid claim as a blood relative and has filed the repatriation lawsuit to gain publicity for himself. "Everybody from the original Geronimos are going to fight this; this is a form of identify theft, and we're going to fix it," Lariat Geronimo said during a phone interview. "My family, the true descendants, never considered (Harlyn Geronimo) family." Attempts to reach Harlyn Geronimo on Thursday were unsuccessful. Harlyn Geronimo announced the lawsuit on Feb. 17 — the 100-year anniversary of Geronimo's death. It seeks the return of the warrior's remains to New Mexico from where they currently rest in a Fort Sill, Okla., cemetery and, possibly, from somewhere in Connecticut. The civil suit alleges that Yale University's secretive Skull and Bones student society also is in possession of some of Geronimo's bones...Las Cruces Sun-News

Cowboy Dinner & Dance Raises $17,000+ For Livestock Growers

A Cowboy Dinner and Dance took place at the Grant County Fairgrounds in Cliff on Saturday night. By estimate, close to 900 people from babies to 90-year-olds were served a brisket dinner. Desserts were potluck, with those attending bringing their favorites. Guests then danced to country music performed by The Delk Band and Bucky Allred, with special guests Dee Ford, Roy Garcia and Ty Martin. Several people commented that the event brought back memories of “the old days,' when events such as this were a regular occurrence in small communities around the area. Attendees visited with friends they had not seen in years and caught up with families. Teenagers gathered and flirted and chatted. Older folks strutted their steps on the dance floor, and by quite a few accounts, a “good time was had by all.' The fundraising effort for the Gila Livestock Grower’s Association and Americans for the Preservation of Western Environment was to help pay for their efforts to prepare for potential litigation and to inform urban neighbors of the devastating impact of the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program on the people who are forced to live with the wolves on their ranches, in their yards and in their communities, according to the invitation...Silver City Daily Press

900 people in tiny Cliff, NM!

Over $17,000 raised!

Congratulations to Joe Delk and Bucky Allred for putting this together. Congrats also to Laura Schneberger and the Gila Livestock Growers.

Obama Budget: Setting ‘Green’ Goals

The Obama budget promises what it calls a comprehensive effort to address global warming, slash oil imports and create a new “green” economy that produces millions of new jobs. The White House estimates that the plan, built around a cap-and-trade program to limit greenhouse gas emissions, will produce $150 billion over 10 years beginning in 2012 to finance renewable energy projects and another $65 billion a year to pay for middle-class tax credits. Any further revenue from the sale of emissions permits will be returned to families, communities and businesses that suffer hardship as the result of higher energy prices, the budget blueprint states. Under the plan, 100 percent of pollution permits will be auctioned, meaning no sector of the economy will be exempted from paying for the right to emit carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to global warming. This is consistent with Mr. Obama’s campaign pledge, and it is a matter of fierce debate. The budget establishes relatively aggressive emissions reductions targets of 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050...NY Times

Agency Budgets: EPA up 35%, DOI up 6.2%

These summaries are from AP:

Agency: Environmental Protection Agency

2010 proposal: $10.5 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 34.6 percent increase

Highlights: Obama's budget signaled that the environment is a priority by providing the biggest increase for the Environmental Protection Agency in eight years.

The proposal nearly triples — to $3.9 billion — funding for states, local governments and tribes. They can use the money to improve sewage treatment plants and drinking water systems and to protect drinking water sources. These programs already received $6 billion in the recently approved stimulus package.

The EPA budget also would provide families, communities and businesses billions to offset the higher energy prices expected if Congress passes legislation to control greenhouse gases.

Starting in 2012, the budget proposes to invest $15 billion a year in clean energy — money generated from auctioning permits to companies that emit the gases blamed for global warming. The rest of the climate cash will be returned to taxpayers.

But it is far from certain that legislation will pass this year.

In another move that could increase energy prices, the EPA budget calls for reinstating taxes on petroleum products, chemical feedstocks and crude oil to pay for cleaning the country's most hazardous waste sites. These taxes expired in 1995. They would start up again in 2011 under Obama's budget.

Agency: Interior

2010 proposal: $12 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 6.2 percent increase

Highlights: The nation's public lands would produce cleaner energy and brace for global warming's effects on their plants and wildlife under Obama's budget.

The Interior Department plan would invest millions to spur construction of windmills, solar panels and other green-energy projects. It called for increased taxes and fees on oil and gas companies harvesting fossil fuels in the Gulf of Mexico and on other public property.

It would add more than $130 million to help land and wildlife managers monitor and prepare for global warming's toll. And the budget would set up a dedicated fund to address catastrophic wildfires, so agencies don't have to divert money budgeted for other purposes.

Communities would likely see more parks under Obama's budget. It would provide millions to purchase more land and forests and to establish programs that encourage young people to hunt, fish and get outdoors.

Agency: Energy

2010 proposal: $26.3 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 0.4 percent decrease

Highlights: A dramatic shift away from support for fossil fuels to new "green" energy is at the core of Obama's first proposed budget.

The Energy Department's spending plan would pay for "significant increases in basic research" into developing clean and renewable energy including solar, wind and geothermal sources, and to make motor fuel from plants.

Overall spending for the department would change little from what Congress is providing now, but would be about 5 percent higher than what President George Bush proposed a year ago. Compared to the Bush budget, it proposes a major redirection of spending to reflect Obama's strong support for renewable energy and away from fossil fuels.

While the budget summary provides few specific numbers, it would pump more money into:

_ Creating a "smart" electric transmission grid.

_ Loan guarantees to bring solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy sources to market.

_ Determining commercial viability of capturing carbon from coal-burning power plants.

_ Helping low-income families improve the energy efficiency of their homes, a program the Bush administration wanted to eliminate.

While spending on nuclear weapons programs would remain about the same, Obama calls for scrapping a Bush administration program to build a new, more reliable warhead.

Obama would funnel more money to combat global nuclear proliferation, including safeguarding "loose nukes" in Russia.

The budget calls "a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal" from commercial power plants and would cut spending on the proposed Yucca Mountain waste dump in Nevada.

Agency: Agriculture

2010 proposal: $26 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 8.8 percent increase

Highlights: Big farms that receive large government subsidies would lose some of that money under Obama's budget.

Obama would break from the five-year farm bill that Congress enacted last year, with his support. He proposes eliminating what are known as direct payments — subsidies that are paid to farmers regardless of crop prices or how much they grow — for producers with more than $500,000 in annual sales revenues.

The budget also proposes eliminating other agricultural subsidies, putting a cap on the amount of money an individual farmer can receive. President George Bush made similar proposals to cut payments for the largest corporate farms in many of his annual budgets, but he was rebuffed each year by Congress.

Southern lawmakers in particular oppose cutting farm subsidies because cotton and rice crops there are more expensive to grow. The farm bill, enacted over Bush's veto, raised subsidies for some crops.

Nutrition would get a boost under this budget, with $1 billion more each year to improve child nutrition programs and enhance the nutritional quality of school meals. Obama also would direct more money to loans and grants for renewable fuels production.

Budget projects deficit will quadruple, jump to $1.75 trillion

Federal deficits would remain above $500 billion annually for the next decade under the budget proposed by President Obama Thursday, sending the federal debt soaring to $23 trillion by 2019. The deficit this year would jump to a record $1.75 trillion, nearly quadrupling the 2008 figure. Obama has added a $250 billion reserve fund to support up to $750 billion in additional asset purchases from banks and other financial institutions. That would more than double the current $700 billion effort. The Democratic president’s first budget, which will be fleshed out during the next two months, differs dramatically from those of his Republican predecessor. The most dramatic change: inclusion of a $634 billion reserve fund to jump-start an overhaul of the nation’s health care system, to be financed equally by savings in Medicare and tax increases on those earning more than $250,000 a year...USA Today

Obama's Budget: Almost $1 Trillion in New Taxes Over Next 10 yrs, Starting 2011

From ABC News:

President Obama's budget proposes $989 billion in new taxes over the course of the next 10 years, starting fiscal year 2011, most of which are tax increases on individuals.

President Obama's budget proposes $989 billion in new taxes over the course of the next 10 years, starting fiscal year 2011, most of which are tax increases on individuals.

1) On people making more than $250,000.

$338 billion - Bush tax cuts expire
$179 billlion - eliminate itemized deduction
$118 billion - capital gains tax hike

Total: $636 billion/10 years

2) Businesses:

$17 billion - Reinstate Superfund taxes
$24 billion - tax carried-interest as income
$5 billion - codify "economic substance doctrine"
$61 billion - repeal LIFO
$210 billion - international enforcement, reform deferral, other tax reform
$4 billion - information reporting for rental payments
$5.3 billion - excise tax on Gulf of Mexico oil and gas
$3.4 billion - repeal expensing of tangible drilling costs
$62 million - repeal deduction for tertiary injectants
$49 million - repeal passive loss exception for working interests in oil and natural gas properties
$13 billion - repeal manufacturing tax deduction for oil and natural gas companies
$1 billion - increase to 7 years geological and geophysical amortization period for independent producers
$882 million - eliminate advanced earned income tax credit

Total: $353 billion/10 years

Las Vegas Running Out of Water Means Dimming Los Angeles Lights

On a cloudless December day in the Nevada desert, workers in white hard hats descend into a 30- foot-wide shaft next to Lake Mead. As they’ve been doing since June, they’ll blast and dig straight down into the limestone surrounding the reservoir that supplies 90 percent of Las Vegas’s water. In September, when they hit 600 feet, they’ll turn and burrow for 3 miles, laying a new pipe as they go. The crew is in a hurry. They’re battling the worst 10-year drought in recorded history along the Colorado River, which feeds the 110-mile-long reservoir. Since 1999, Lake Mead has dropped about 1 percent a year. By 2012, the lake’s surface could fall below the existing pipe that delivers 40 percent of the city’s water. As Las Vegas’s economy worsens, the workers are also racing against a recession that threatens the ability to sell $500 million in bonds so they can complete the job...Bloomberg

Biologists already learning from rare jaguar capture in southern Arizona

Just a week after the first capture and collaring of a wild jaguar in the United States, Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists have figured out they already know the male cat and they have been closely watching his movements. It's a cat they call "Macho B," and Arizona Game and Fish officials have periodically captured his image on cameras near the Mexican border for the past 13 years. They believe he is 15-16 years old, compared to the average lifespan of about nine years. He weighs 118 pounds and has a thick, solid build. Jaguars are the only cat in North America that roars. Biologists attached a special collar on the endangered jaguar when they caught him Feb. 18 southwest of Tucson during a research study on mountain lions and black bears. "Every indication is that Macho B is doing well and has recovered from his capture and collaring," said Terry Johnson, Game and Fish's endangered species coordinator. "With so little known about how jaguars move throughout our state, every little piece of data helps us understand more about the population segment that uses southern Arizona and New Mexico as the northern part of its range."...Daily Courier

Crude Stimulus

...Though two long-term bans on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf were technically removed last summer, the Democrat-led Congress now wants to reimpose limits. And Obama's new Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently postponed new leases for offshore drilling that were greenlighted under President Bush. This is exactly the wrong way to go on energy, and President Obama would be wise to reverse course — especially if he's serious about "stimulus." He can boost America's energy self-reliance and help fund tomorrow's alternative sources, all the while creating real stimulus, simply by letting the oil companies do their thing. Vast amounts of energy lie right off our shores. Conservatively tallied, government data show 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in continental U.S. waters — enough to replace 20 years' worth of oil and gas imports. This is also enough to insulate the U.S. from a potential energy shock or 1970s-style oil embargo. But here's the great part for Obama: It's shovel-ready stimulus...IBD

Obama to Seek New Assault Weapons Ban

The Obama administration will seek to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 during the Bush administration, Attorney General Eric Holder said today. "As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons," Holder told reporters. Holder said that putting the ban back in place would not only be a positive move by the United States, it would help cut down on the flow of guns going across the border into Mexico, which is struggling with heavy violence among drug cartels along the border. "I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum." Holder said at a news conference on the arrest of more than 700 people in a drug enforcement crackdown on Mexican drug cartels operating in the U.S. Mexican government officials have complained that the availability of sophisticated guns from the United States have emboldened drug traffickers to fight over access routes into the U.S...ABC News

What a ridiculous rationale for the ban. The only place they can get weapons is from the U.S.? That's laughable.

Ranchers meet conservationists

Skye Krebs, a third-generation sheep and cattle rancher from Ione, is on a mission to create more understanding between two groups that have historically been at odds: conservationists and cattle ranchers. The newly minted president of the Public Lands Council, Krebs is passionate about preserving the West's open spaces and natural resources. And grazing animals are essential to the management of those open spaces, he believes. Grazing on public lands, he said, is increasingly threatened by environmental groups who wish to ban the practice. He also worries about negative publicity that portrays the ranching industry as bad for endangered species or responsible for problems like the mad cow scare. To foster communication among conservationists, ranchers, and the public agencies that manage the land, the Public Lands Council conceived of a solution meeting where the parties could talk and come to solutions to problems that affected them all. The council put the word out, and was surprised by the response. So many groups wanted to get involved that the event snowballed into the two-day Summit on Ranching and Conservation in the West in Salt Lake City. At least 100 different organizations and agencies will attend the event, including the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, The Nature Conservancy, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The summit starts today...East Oregonian

You can go to prison for shooting the neighbor's cow

Legislators on Thursday acted to specifically make it illegal to kill someone else's livestock. Killing or hurting livestock is already illegal under other criminal statutes, such as property damage, vandalism or animal cruelty. But sponsor Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, said he wanted a bill specifically deterring the killing of ranchers' cattle, sheep, horses or other revenue-producing animals. The charges can range from low-grade misdemeanors to felonies punishable by five years in prison depending on the cost of the livestock. The legislation, HB240, still needs the governor's signature...Salt Lake Tribune

In Defense of Hamburgers

I feel I need to respond to an article I recently read: "Hamburgers are the Hummers of Food in Global Warming: Scientists." First, let me introduce myself. I am a fifth generation farmer and rancher in Pottawatomie County, Kansas, on the edge of the Flint Hills. My wife, father and children produce corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and yes, beef. We are a small family farm and we are in the process of launching a beef business where we sell locally raised beef to our friends and neighbors. Let me also preface this by saying I am also the Ag and Natural Resources Agent for Pottawatomie County. That is why some of the misinformation in the article bothered me. First, it is mis-representation to say that the livestock sector or even the entire ag sector is responsible for 18 percent of the total greenhouse emissions. Pierre Gerber, a livestock policy officer who co-authored the UN report, agreed that 18 percent was a generalization and not accurate in terms of ag producers in the United States. In April the U.S. EPA released a report called the "Inventory of U.S. Grennhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2006." In 2006 the EPA reported that U.S. agriculture (not just livestock) was responsible for only 6 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Even more important is the fact that when broken down even further, the livestock sector (not just beef) was only responsible for 2.58 percent of the total. This information was found in an article titled "Livestock's Shrinking (U.S.) Shadow."...FBlog

Ranch history's on the wall

West Texas ranching history won't fit on a picture postcard. Stylle Read needs a downtown store's entire wall to tell the story of the Old West, San Angelo-style. The Cleburne artist plans to begin work on the wall-sized mural next week. He will paint a 1920s-era ranching mural on the western wall of Bill's Man Shop, 137 W. Beauregard Ave. Depending on the spring weather, he should finish the job in late March or early April. The 20-foot-high, 85-foot-long color mural "is going to be spectacular," said Susan Morris, executive director of Historic Murals of San Angelo Inc. Stylle is no stranger to historical recreations. He has painted historic murals from Alpine to Arkansas. Big paintings don't scare him, either. His largest works include a 31-by-83-foot Texas street scene for the Fort Worth Stockyard and an even larger work in Cleburne...San Angelo Standard-Times

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama budget proposes shift to green energy

President Barack Obama's first budget plan moves aggressively to tackle climate change and shift the nation from reliance on foreign oil to green energy. The proposed budget released Thursday by the White House would rely on $15 billion a year, beginning in 2012, from auctioning off carbon pollution permits to help develop clean-energy technologies, such as solar and wind power. But Congress has yet to write a bill that would regulate heat-trapping gases and collect that money. Across the government, Obama's commitment to dealing with climate change is apparent. There's more money at NASA for space-based monitoring of greenhouse gases, expanded support at the Energy Department for finding ways to economically capture carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants, and more money for the Interior Department to mitigate the impact of climate change on public lands and wildlife. The document also asks Congress to approve an additional $19 million for the Environmental Protection Agency to measure how much climate-related pollution industries are releasing...AP

Obama Budget Increases Land and Water Fund

The budget proposed by President Barack Obama on Thursday proposes to sharply increase investment in public lands through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the federal government's primary program to protect America's irreplaceable natural, historic, recreational, and other treasured landscapes. "This will be a terrific gift from the President to all Americans," said Alan Front, Senior Vice President of the Trust for Public Land (TPL). President Obama proposes spending a budget of $420 million for the LWCF in the fiscal year which begins Oct. 1, 2009. For the current year, Congress is now considering legislation which would provide $171 million for the LWCF program and another $57 million for the federal Forest Legacy Program, which helps protect working forests around the nation. The President's budget also proposes to provide full funding of $900 million a year by 2014 for LWCF...Press Release

Obama Budget Hits Oil, Gas Companies With New Fees, Taxes

The Obama administration Thursday proposed raising at least $31.5 billion over 10 years from oil and gas companies, reflecting a repeal of tax breaks for domestic production and new charges on oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. The plans, outlined as part of a fiscal 2010 budget proposal, revive long-standing Democratic efforts to turn to the oil and gas industry as a source of funding for other priorities. Among other things, the Obama budget plan calls for about $13 billion over 10 years in new charges on oil and gas companies from the repeal of a tax deduction for domestic production. The White House said that the new tax, along with plans to charge user fees to oil companies for processing oil and gas drilling permits on federal lands, would "ensure that federal taxpayers receive their fair share" and "close loopholes that have given oil companies excessive royalty relief." The tax "will begin in 2011, after the economy has had time to recover," the White House said...Wall Street Journal

Coyotes: Adults & Children attacked, pets killed, in Colo., Rhode Island, Iowa, Ca., S.Car., N.Car., Mich. & Wisconsin

Yesterday morning I posted a story about a woman attacked by coyotes, and a man attacked by coyotes, both in the Denver area. A few hours later while at The Outdoor Pressroom I read the article about the kids in Iowa.

So, I did a google search on coyotes. The links below are just some of the stories and are only from the last three weeks.

It appears our urban friends are being introduced to wildlife. Adults and children are attacked and pets are killed. It's interesting to note the public's reaction and the elected officials actions (killing coyotes.) Perhaps the urbanites will reconsider their support for predators in rural areas, which is having similar impacts on rural families. One big difference is the livelihood of the rural folks is also threatened.

Girl attacked by coyote at school bus stop South Carolina

Coyote forces Cedar Falls students inside Iowa

16-year-old honored for heroism in coyote attack South Carolina

Coyotes getting more aggressive Ca.

Community worried about coyotes North Carolina

Coyote attacks on the rise Ca.

Coyotes terrorizing Detroit community Michigan

Ever-bolder coyotes scare residents into defense mode Ca.

Madison Residents Concerned About Coyote Attacks Wisconsin

Coyote blamed for fatal attack on dog Rhode Island

Lurking coyote brings danger to Neville Park Canada

Coyotes, pets don't mix Canada

Supreme Court redefines tribal and federal understandings of Indian Reorganization Act

The Supreme Court has ruled in Carcieri v. Salazar that tribes not under federal jurisdiction as of 1934 cannot follow a longstanding land-into-trust process administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The ruling, which results from a suit involving the Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island, is at odds with many tribal, federal and legal understandings of the Indian Reorganization Act. Tribal and federal lawyers said the decision will likely lead to legal questions over the validity of all tribal lands taken into trust by the DOI for tribes since the IRA was passed in 1934. The decision could result in several states filing lawsuits to gain lands that have been taken into trust for dozens of tribes recognized after 1934...Indian Country Today

Idaho counties could have final say on bighorns

Idaho's county commissioners would have the final say on transplanting bighorn sheep in the state under two bills introduced Monday in the Senate. The bills, sponsored by Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, come in response to a Payette National Forest plan to remove domestic sheep grazing from wild bighorn sheep habitat in Hells Canyon and elsewhere to prevent the transmission of diseases that kill the bighorn. The plan has angered sheep ranchers and Idaho lawmakers who have no power to stop the U.S. Forest Service. So instead, the bills require the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to get certification that not only bighorn sheep but deer, elk, moose, antelope and other big game that are transplanted or relocated in the state have been tested by the Idaho Department of Agriculture. It also would require Fish and Game to get approval from ranchers who graze in the area before they transplant bighorns. Finally, the bills would place in state law the existing Fish and Game policy to move or kill any bighorn sheep that move into an area where domestic sheep are grazed...Idaho Statesman

Defense rests in deadly Esperanza fire trial

The defense has rested its case in the trial of a man accused of setting a wildfire in 2006 that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters. Mark McDonald, the defense attorney for 38-year-old Raymond Lee Oyler, finished with his last witnesses Tuesday. They included experts on arson and fire-starting devices. The jury will hear closing arguments Thursday after a day's break in the trial. Oyler has pleaded not guilty to five counts of first-degree murder and multiple counts of arson and using an incendiary device to set nearly two dozen other fires. He could face the death penalty if convicted...Desert Sun

Yellowstone wolf tracked to Colorado

An 18-month-old female wolf, once a member of Yellowstone National Park's Mill Creek Pack, is now in Colorado, having completed an epic journey of 1,000 miles, Colorado state officials said today. The global positioning satellite collar attached to the young wolf indicates her last known position was in Eagle County. She separated from her pack just north of the Yellowstone National Park boundary in September and has now traveled across five states, according to federal biologists. Wolves generally disperse within 60 miles of their pack, although biologists have documented 10 wolves since 1992 that traveled in excess of 190 miles in search of a mate. Satellite data show that she passed south through Yellowstone National Park and the Bridger-Teton National forest in western Wyoming southeast of Pinedale, Wyo. She then traveled through southwestern Wyoming and wandered through southeast Idaho and northeast Utah before crossing into Colorado during the past two weeks. Although she is now just 450 miles from her origin, she has traveled at least 1,000 miles, the DOW said. The DOW stressed today that the wolf is listed as an endangered species and as such they cannot be harassed, pursued, hunted, shot, captured, trapped or killed unless a wolf poses a legitimate threat to human safety. The DOW said that hunters and the general public should exercise "additional caution" to ensure this particular wolf is not mistaken for a coyote...

Report Quantifies Animal Agriculture Attacks

Attacks on the global food chain from animal rights and environmental extremists jumped 42% - from 155 in 2007 to 220 in 2008 - according to Arlington, Virginia-based Animal Agriculture Alliance (Alliance). Worse yet, claimed attacks on food retailers in the USA from groups like the Animal Liberation Front exploded 377%. The Alliance indicated that Bite Back magazine was its main source for compiling data on terrorist acts claimed by Animal Liberation Front (ALF), Earth Liberation Front (ELF), DBF, a branch of ALF found in Sweden and the Netherlands, and other animal rights terrorist groups. But independent media reports and state agriculture groups also provided critical information. The information compiled by the Alliance showed that ALF, ELF, DBF and related groups claimed a total of 640 acts of sabotage, vandalism and arson in 2008, up from 467 in 2007, an increase of over 35%. The overall level of animal rights extremist attacks in the USA on businesses that use animals - including medical research, consumer product safety, pets, circuses, rodeos, fur shops, hunting stores, farmers, ranchers, food retailers - surged nearly 40%. An even more troubling development is the massive expansion of damages inflicted upon food retailers. Claimed attacks on food retailers in the USA, especially the brand names of McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Hardee's, increased from 9 in 2007 to 34 in 2008, an increase of 377%...Press Release

Number of abandoned horses increasing in NM

With expensive care, even more expensive euthanasia and a national ban on horse slaughter - the most common means in the past of unloading unwanted horses - the number of owners abandoning horses like Grace to the New Mexico desert is increasing. Now a group of animal rights activists is working to get a bill through the Legislature that would establish a permanent fund to help subsidize equine euthanasia and provide grants to licensed horse shelters to help with renovations and upkeep. "We would like to see the situation for horses improving," said Heather Ferguson, legislative director for Animal Protection of New Mexico. "But in no means do we intend to house and shelter all the unwanted horses. That simply is not a viable solution." "Basically the horse rescues are full," leaving people with few options, said New Mexico Horse Council president Rusty Cook. The number of emergency calls to the New Mexico Livestock Board tripled from 41 in 2007 to more than 134 in 2008, board Executive Director Myles Culbertson said. "Almost all have to do with abandonment and malnutrition," Culbertson said. "It is going to become a burgeoning problem. New Mexico and the West, they are all having the same problem."...Santa Fe New Mexican

Cracker Trail Ride

For the 22nd straight year, more than 100 people on horseback crossed Highlands County on Wednesday, mid way through their six-day, cross-state ride to commemorate a colorful part of Florida's early history. Julie Hinote, a state agriculture inspector from Lorida, held two distinctions on this year's Cracker Trail Ride. The 120-mile trek was launched at dawn Sunday in Bradenton and will wind up with a parade into the oldest section of Fort Pierce on Saturday morning. As the 100-plus riders, escorted front and back by sheriff's deputies, rode east along State Road 66 and then U.S. 98 into the Ashton Ranch near Lorida, Hinote was the only rider atop a mule, her beloved Monroe. "I raised him from a baby, and this is his 14th year on this ride," she said. And Hinote is one of only two members of the Cracker Trail Ride Association who've made the 120-mile ride every year. The focus now is commemorating the "crackers," not only Florida's but also the country's first cowboys. They became known as crackers for their trademark whip cracking as they rounded up and drove cattle across the state for sale at deep-water ports on the west coast. "A lot of people think Texas was the first cow state, but actually it was Florida," said Stephanie Lloyd, a second-grade teacher from Bradenton, making her 15th Cracker Trail Ride with her 6-year-old daughter, Cassie, and 11-year-old niece, Mattie Iereulli...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Global Warming Satellite Crashes

A satellite launched from California failed to reach orbit today, crashing into the sea near Antarctica and dooming a $273 million mission to study global- warming gases. “The mission is lost,” National Aeronautics and Space Administration spokesman Steve Cole said in a telephone interview from the launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The NASA satellite was to orbit 438 miles (705 kilometers) above Earth and observe how carbon dioxide enters and leaves the atmosphere, helping scientists predict future increases in the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. Instead, the satellite fell into the ocean near Antarctica. The mission manager said at no point did the craft pass over land...Bloomberg

My earleir post on the Orbiting Carbon Observatory is here. Those interested should also read NASA's New Satellite Aims to Solve a Climate Change Mystery in the Scientic American.

Noel Sheppard comments on this irony of the crash site:

How delicious that it landed near the continent whose expanding ice mass totally defies the myth climate alarmists so eagerly spread for their own purposes. Talk about your inconvenient truths.

Democrats Slip Rider into Omnibus Appropriations Bill Allowing the Interior Department to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Congressional Democrats have inserted a dangerous rider (Sec. 429) into the Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill that would allow the Department of Interior to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Section 429 allows the Interior Department to withdraw two Endangered Species Act rules (one on Section 7 consultation and another on polar bears) within 60 days of enactment. This would allow the Obama Administration to change rules without any public notice or public comment period, and threatens efforts to create new jobs in an already strapped economy. If the rules are withdrawn, then any project that increases carbon dioxide or any greenhouse gas emissions could have to consult with the US Fish &Wildlife Service on mitigation against the potential impacts on global warming and harming of the polar bear, or else face potential lawsuits. The threat posed to job creation and our economy would not only impact energy production, but agricultural practices, increases in livestock numbers, construction of buildings such as schools or hospitals, and any other activity that emits greenhouse gas...Press Release

Feds Proceed With New Mexico Wolf Releases, Defying Locals

A new Mexican gray wolf pack is in an acclimation pen near Hannagan Meadow in the Blue Primitive Area of the Apache National Forest. Others are awaiting release this spring in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. In New Mexico, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a soft mesh, low-impact temporary wolf acclimation pen in the Gila Wilderness Area. These wolves will be released about April 20. Following release, FWS says, the wolves' movements will be monitored by the interagency field team. Translocation of a second family group is planned for the end of March. "So much for the NEPA process," says Caren Cowan with the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association. "Four working days between scoping and the environmental assessment. Two days between EA and the decision." Although Catron, Grant, and Sierra counties have gone on record opposing the program by passing local ordinances prohibiting the release of wolves, the FWS says simply that its own rules preempt conflicting local ordinances and resolutions...Livestock Weekly

USFWS and State G&F continue to be viewed as the enemy by the local citizenry. Expansion of the recovery area will only create more local opposition. Either design a program that has local buy-in or get out. The current situation is bad for the wolves and bad for the folks.

Obama nominees for USDA, EPA & Interior

President Obama announced nominations for key administration posts yesterday including Dr. Kathleen Merrigan as deputy secretary for the Agriculture Department and Joe Cannon, as the deputy administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. Coloradan Tom Strickland will head a key post on endangered species at the Interior Department. All the posts require Senate confirmation. Merrigan currently is an assistant professor and director of the agriculture, food and environment graduate program at Tufts University in Boston, Mass. Previously, she served as administrator of the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service during the final two years of the Clinton Administration. She has held a number of policymaking positions at state and federal level including working on the staff of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.). Merrigan has a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in environmental planning and policy, a Masters degree of public affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and English from Williams College. If confirmed, Cannon will serve as deputy to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. He currently is a professor of environmental law as well as the director of the Environmental and Land Use Law Program at the University of Virginia. Cannon has served as senior counsel at Beveridge & Diamond law firm. Prior to joining the University of Virginia, Cannon served in numerous positions within the EPA during the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations, eventually rising to general counsel. Coloradan Tom Strickland, who currently is Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's chief of staff, has been nominated as Interior's Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. Strickland previously served as a U.S. Attorney in Colorado from 1999-2000 and managing partner at Hogan & Hartson's Denver office. Strickland ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in Colorado against Wayne Allard in both 1996 and 2002...Feedstuffs

Environmentalists Advance on Emissions

The Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for the Environmental Protection Agency to issue new regulations on emissions of mercury, lead, arsenic and other pollutants from the nation’s coal-fired power plants. Environmental groups hailed the action as a final blow to Bush administration efforts to frustrate tight regulation of the emissions, but any new Obama administration rules may draw their own court challenges. The justices’ action involved a suit brought by environmental organizations, Indian tribes and 14 states including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The suit charged that the Bush administration had acted improperly in trying to create a separate regulatory regime for the coal-fired plants rather than subjecting them to the general requirements of the Clean Air Act. The groups prevailed last year in a lower court, but the Environmental Protection Agency in the Bush administration, with the support of industry groups, appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court. On Monday, the court declined to hear that appeal. Obama administration lawyers had filed papers seeking the appeal’s dismissal...NY Times

Supreme Court denies appeal in bald eagle killing case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal from a Northern Arapaho man who faces a criminal charge for killing a bald eagle without a permit. Winslow Friday has acknowledged that he shot and killed a bald eagle on the Wind River Reservation in central Wyoming for use in his tribe's 2005 Sun Dance. The court ruling means that Friday will face a misdemeanor charge in federal court in Wyoming. He could face up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine if convicted. The court's ruling is the latest turn in a long-running legal dispute over the rights of American Indians to kill eagles for religious purposes. John Carlson, a federal public defender in Denver, represented Friday in the Supreme Court appeal. He said that both he and Friday are disappointed by the court's decision. "A single bald eagle is taken for the Northern Arapaho Sun Dance, which has been held since time immemorial, and it results in criminal sanctions," Carlson said. "But bald eagles get electrocuted on electric utility lines in Wyoming and elsewhere, and little or nothing happens." The bald eagle was removed from the list of threatened species in 2007, following its reclassification in 1995 from endangered to threatened. However, the species is still protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act...Casper Star-Tribune

Charges of meddling at FWS lead to expanded lynx habitat

The Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a revised critical habitat designation for the Canada lynx that marks a twentyfold expansion over a Bush-era designation tainted by political meddling. The service set aside 39,000 square miles of forest in Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington. The decision reverses a 2006 designation that enraged environmentalists by declaring 1,841 square miles of habitat for the lynx. In 2007, FWS agreed to revisit the designation after it was determined that Julie MacDonald -- President George W. Bush's appointee as the Interior Department's deputy assistant secretary overseeing the Fish and Wildlife Service -- had pressured federal biologists to reach industry-friendly conclusions. Critical habitat designations prohibit actions that would diminish the land's capacity to support their resident threatened or endangered species and are the chief implementation instrument of the Endangered Species Act, and logging is listed as the most threatening human activity throughout much of the lynx's habitat...NY Times

For perspective that's an area the size of Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware & Rhode Island combined, with about 3,000 square miles left over.

Montana hunters plan weekend wolf protest

A loose-knit group of hunters has organized a protest in Kalispell Friday and Saturday against the delayed delisting of wolves in Montana. "We just decided that we've got to do something," said Tom Welch, a lead organizer for the protest that's planned in front of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks headquarters on Meridian Road starting at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The protest is timed to coincide with the Great Rockies Sportshow that will be held on the other side of Meridian Road at the Flathead County Fairgrounds. Welch said hundreds of people are expected to participate in the protest. "We even have a group coming from Idaho to support us," he said. "I would assume most of them are hunters but I know a few people who are not hunters who said they are going to show up." Participants are being urged to wear hunters orange, to be polite and to bring signs expressing frustration over the impacts of a growing wolf population on elk and deer...Daily Inter Lake

Coyote bites woman, attacks dog in SE Denver

A 51-year-old woman was attacked by coyotes Saturday night as she walked her dog in southeast Denver, wildlife officials said. The woman, who lives in the 3900 block of South Oneida Street, told authorities she was walking her 75-pound Labrador retriever when they were surrounded by three coyotes. Two of the coyotes attacked the dog, and the owner intervened. As she tried to defend the dog, a coyote scratched and bit the woman, according to a new release from the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The unidentified victim was treated at Swedish Medical Center and released. The dog was taken to a veterinary hospital, said Jennifer Churchill, a DOW spokeswoman...Denver Post

Colo. man reports coyote bite

A Broomfield man reported being bitten by a coyote last night. The 38-year-old man told police he was walking two dogs in the Trails Park area at about 8:15 p.m. Monday. The man took one dog off-leash and threw a dummy for the dog to chase, a police news release said. The other dog stayed with him. The man threw the dummy up a hill, and the off-leash dog chased it. At the top of the hill, the dog saw a coyote and ran after the animal. The man went to look for the dog, and a second coyote "lunged" at him, biting his arm, the release said. He got away from the coyote with minor scratches and a puncture wound...Denver Post

Colo. - Greenwood Village makes first coyote kill

A company hired by Greenwood Village to eliminate aggressive coyotes has shot and killed what officials say is the first problem predator. The adult female was brought down Thursday night in Westlands Park, which is near South Quebec Street north of Orchard Road. Greenwood Village officials confirmed the kill by Jay Stewart, whose company, Animal Damage Control Wildlife Management Services, was hired Feb. 5. The City Council approved limited shooting of coyotes in parks, greenbelts and trails to address concerns about a growing coyote population and the danger to people and pets. In December, a 14-year-old boy fended off an attack by a coyote in a Greenwood Village open space area and was not injured...Denver Post

Colo. - More pet deaths linked to coyotes

A pet peacock and a 150-pound German shepherd were likely attacked and killed by coyotes on a Broomfield property, the same night a neighbor's pug was attacked. The attacks occurred late Sunday night or early Monday morning in the 14600 block of Irving Street, said residents and the Broomfield Police Department. Two pet owners on the rural block said coyotes are a common sight and that the animals jump high fences to attack the pets. "They've gotten more and more aggressive," Broomfield resident Rosalie Cooper said of the coyotes. "They've gotten really bad."...Denver Post

Green jobs confusion

With the massive $787-billion stimulus bill including provisions to encourage the creation of "green jobs," Americans deserve an honest appraisal of how such green jobs will work. So far, they aren't getting it. In fact, a recent statement by Al Gore shows just how much Americans are being misled on this issue. Green jobs are a shell game, and we're falling for it. In the Financial Times, on February 17, Gore, in an op ed co-authored with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, asserts that, "In the US, there are now more jobs in the wind industry than in the entire coal industry." But as Roger Pielke Jr of the University of Colorado points out, there is something wrong there. In November 2008, the coal industry generated 155 million megawatt-hours of electricity, while wind generated only 1.3 million megawatt-hours. If wind really does employ more people than coal, it is doing so at a huge cost to American efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness. Of course, the wind industry does not employ more people. Gore and Ban were flat out wrong in their assertion, which should make one question any assertions in Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, or any U.N. document, for that matter. As the Christian Science Monitor found out, the figure comes from an apples-and-oranges comparison. Comparing apples to apples, the coal industry probably employs over 1.4 million people-and those workers are still over seven times as productive as the wind energy workers...Iain Murray in The DC Examiner

Read the rest of this column and learb that: many of these jobs are temporary, low wages are paid in the wind, solar and "green building" industries, U.S. wind and solar industries are already "off-shoring" the manufacture of components, and that a study in Spain found for "every green job created in Spain, 3.9 jobs have been lost as a result throughout the economy."

In other words, green jobs are a net loss to the economy.

Montana horse slaughterhouse bill moves forward

The Montana House of Representatives strongly endorsed a bill that paves the way for construction of a horse slaughterhouse in Montana and aims to bring the industry back to the United States. Backers said ranchers and those who own horses have been struggling ever since all the slaughterhouses in the country were closed down. They said it is far more difficult now to dispose of old, sick or injured animals. "This bill is really providing a humane and regulated processing plant," said the sponsor, Republican Rep. Ed Butcher, a horse owner from the central Montana farm community of Winifred. "Demand is there. We want a humane way to address the problem." The measure was endorsed 67-33 Tuesday in the first of two scheduled House votes. If it passes again Wednesday as expected, it will go to the Senate for more hearings and votes. Butcher said his bill gives investors assurance that Montana will treat their businesses fairly if they build in the state...AP

Couple spins wool the old-fashioned way

A $1,500 men’s three-piece wool suits contains $15 worth of wool, a Corona sheep rancher says. Lloyd Maness and his wife, Sue, talked about wool as part of the New Mexico Wool Growers Association during the first day of the 17th annual Ag Expo Tuesday at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds. In the midst of the newest agriculture technology, the couple turned wool into thread the old-fashioned way — with foot-pedal-powered spinning wheels. Sue said the family has about 300 fine-wool sheep. Lloyd said they sell most of the wool commercially but hold back a few fleeces for their own use. To become clothes, Lloyd said, raw wool goes through a scouring process, which washes it and removes lanolin, the natural oil in wool. Then the wool is combed to get the fibers in line, and roving, which turns the wool into a light rope, follows. After roving, Lloyd said, the wool is spun into thread or yarn. From there, industry may make it into clothes, carpet or yarn...Portales News-Tribune

Ace in the Hole

It’s a scene synonymous with the Old West: Swinging doors leading to a smoke-filled saloon decked with card tables and roulette wheels. Gambling, at least in the wild west myth, goes good with whiskey, whores and Wyoming. Through the latter half of the 1800s, Wyoming was a mere territory. Railroad ruffians, miners and miscreants packed Cheyenne bars and back alleys with games of chance: poker, keno, faro, ‘lambskinnet,’ roulette and dice. Bets were placed on anything from boxing matches and dog fights to foot races and horse races. “Gambling is an inherent attribute of the human heart. Show me the man who will not gamble in some way, and I will show you an imbecile,” Crook County Rep. Tom Hooper said in 1888. So infectious was the disease, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association adopted a resolution in 1885, outlawing gambling during roundups so ranchers wouldn’t be tempted to “lose the herd on the flip of a hole card.” Eventually, state legislators acquiesced to the growing number of churches and women in the new ‘civilized’ West with the McGill Act, officially outlawed gambling in Wyoming in 1901...Planet Jackson Hole

It's All Trew: Washing-up facilities grew with the wheat

From childhood we are cautioned to always wash our face and hands before eating. Most old homesteads and ranches provided a back porch complete with washstand, wash pan, bucket of water with a dipper, bar of soap and a towel hanging on a nail. A few wash areas sported a mirror, comb and brush for the more fastidious. Hotels and boarding houses had a somewhat fancier more private wash stand in each room with a porcelain wash bowl, pitcher of water, towel and mirror. Sometimes they even changed the towels between customers. Often, a razor strop was furnished to aid sharpening your razor. The early Trew home south of Perryton in the late 1930s provided a wash bench on the back porch for washing up. During summer the bench sat outside on the sidewalk, in the winter it was moved inside. At first, a cake of mild lye soap was furnished. Later we used Lava soap with grit to cut the grease and grime. After the dust quit blowing and with a couple of decent wheat crops under our belt the Trews progressed to a concrete wash house out by the windmill tower with a water storage tank sitting on top. The elevated tank and gravity pushed the water into the main house and furnished fresh water to the facilities below inside the wash house. The old wash bench was moved to the wash house where a new propane-fueled hot water heater made washing up more pleasant. Each Monday the wash house became a laundry complete with a gas-powdered Maytag washing machine. In 1939 we hooked onto the REA for electricity, acquired an electric powered Maytag washing machine and the hygiene of the family and employees improved immensely...Amarillo Globe-News

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The long road of contention: Forest Service gets an earful from county residents over Travel Management Plan

After hearing from a number of people who were concerned the U.S. Forest Service proposed Travel Management Plan would cut off access to their favorite camping and hunting sites, the agency agreed to facilitate meetings of people familiar with specific areas of the forest to make sure all known roads and trails are marked on maps. When all are marked, the committees would help decide which should remain open, which redundant roads should be closed and which are effectively closed already because they are impassable...An attendee challenged the Forest Service’s ability to work with private land owners, saying it was outside the scope of the project. Monnig disagreed with that assessment, but said he would have agency lawyers review applicable rules. In addition to answering questions, the Forest Service heard criticism from a number of people who questioned the way the process has been handled. Grant Gerber spoke against what he called a “policy of deception that seems unacceptable.” He said the Forest Service intentionally misled people about their plans to close roads, citing Elko Daily Free Press articles and meetings held with county officials. Jarbidge District Ranger Gar Abbas attributed it to miscommunication, which Gerber challenged...Elko Daily Press

I posted an AP story on this issue yesterday.

The Elko Daily Press has done an excellent job in covering this controversy. In addition to the story above, see their:

Forest Service plan calls for some closures in area

County pulls out of road plan: Commissioners won’t work with Forest Service officials on closures

USFS officials: Misconceptions abound

Uh Oh, Obama appointees to auto industry task force drive imports

The vehicles owned by the Obama administration's auto team could reflect one reason why Detroit's Big Three automakers are in trouble: The list includes few new American cars. Among the eight members named Friday to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and the 10 senior policy aides who will assist them in their work, two own American models. Add the Treasury Department's special adviser to the task force and the total jumps to three...Detroit News

Sen. Reid has plan to reform energy infrastructure

To provide a plan to boost the nation's use of clean energy, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Monday he will introduce major legislation this week to reform electric transmission line development. Reid made the announcement at a Washington conference where he, Pickens, former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, and others met to discuss guiding principles to reform the United States' energy policy. The forum was titled the "National Clean Energy Project: Building the New Economy." [Four deep thinkers with a plan] The Obama administration has said it would like 25 percent of the nation's energy to come from renewable sources by 2025, and the billions of dollars provided in the recently signed stimulus package offer the means to get there, Reid said. His bill, he said, will provide more guidance for that funding to be used appropriately. [Washington wants more control, otherwise the billions might be spent productively] The legislation will call for the president to designate renewable energy zones with significant clean-energy-generating potential. Once that occurs, the bill will call for massive planning efforts to site transmission lines around those zones--a process that the federal government will take over if it stalls...[Eminent domain notices will be sent on recycled paper]...CNET News

In a previous article on this issue, the author writes:

Questions remain, however, as to whether the Energy Department and other government agencies will be able to overcome a complex regulatory maze to spend the funds quickly and appropriately, particularly for transmission lines. "Our energy sector is very complicated," Karen Harbert, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy, said at the Chamber on Tuesday. "It's become too easy for any project of any hue to get wrapped up in 'green' tape."...

Even the government can't overcome their own regulations.

Not to worry. I believe Reid, Clinton & Gore will fix things.

I also believe there are buffalo chips the size of houses floating down the Rio Grande today.

Salazar to Implement $3 Billion Interior Economic Recovery Plan

Pledging swift, responsible implementation of President Obama's economic recovery plan, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today estimated the $3 billion in funding allocated for the Department could create as many as 100,000 jobs and stimulate business activity in communities across America. Salazar announced that he has established a Recovery Act Task Force that includes the leadership of Interior bureaus to determine which proposed projects should be funded. He also announced that he will soon name a Stimulus Czar to oversee Interior's responsible implementation of the program. Among the major criteria for selecting projects, Salazar noted, are addressing the department's highest priority mission needs; generating the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time; and creating lasting value for the American public...DOI Press Release

It's interesting that Departmental "needs" are first in priority, and jobs are second.

Under the act, the following appropriations are made: BOR $1 billion, NPS $750 million, BIA $500 million, BLM $320 million, FWS $280 million, USGS $140 million, and the IG gets $15 million. Plus, the DOT budget includes $490 million for road construction and repair on DOI lands or facilities.

I'm sure it will all be spent wisely, and after the Department meets it's "needs" there may even be a job or two created.

Someone should set up a system where the number of jobs destroyed by DOI as they go about their normal business could be compared with the number of jobs "created" by this legislation.

Gore Pulls Slide of Disaster Trends

The NY Times reports:

Former Vice President Al Gore is pulling a dramatic slide from his ever-evolving global warming presentation. When Mr. Gore addressed a packed, cheering hall at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago earlier this month, his climate slide show contained a startling graph showing a ceiling-high spike in disasters in recent years. The data came from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (also called CRED) at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels. The graph, which was added to his talk last year, came just after a sequence of images of people from Iowa to South Australia struggling with drought, wildfire, flooding and other weather-related calamities. Mr. Gore described the pattern as a manifestation of human-driven climate change. “This is creating weather-related disasters that are completely unprecedented,” he said. Now Mr. Gore is dropping the graph, his office said today. Here’s why. Two days after the talk, Mr. Gore was sharply criticized for using the data to make a point about global warming by Roger A. Pielke, Jr., a political scientist focused on disaster trends and climate policy at the University of Colorado. Mr. Pielke noted that the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters stressed in reports that a host of factors unrelated to climate caused the enormous rise in reported disasters (details below)...

US 'CO2 hunter' set for lift-off

Nasa is all set to launch its first mission dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide (CO2) from space. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) will help pinpoint the key locations on our planet's surface where the gas is being emitted and absorbed. CO2's increased concentration in the atmosphere will lead to global climate change, say the major institutions and agencies that study Earth sciences. The OCO data is intended to help forecast that change more accurately. Currently, carbon dioxide is regularly sampled at about a hundred sites around the world. The new satellite will be taking roughly 30,000 readings on each orbit. This mass of information should help the OCO science team pinpoint the so-called sources (where CO2 comes from) and sinks (where CO2 is pulled out of the atmosphere by land and ocean processes, and stored) of carbon dioxide. Scientists have calculated that Nature cycles about 330 billion tonnes of carbon every year...BBC News

U.S. May Set Greenhouse Gas Standard for Cars

From the Washington Post:

The Obama administration is considering establishing national rules for regulating greenhouse gas emissions for automobiles, according to White House officials, a move backed by both auto manufacturers and some environmentalists. For weeks administration officials have been meeting with car companies as well as green groups and representatives from California -- which is awaiting word on whether it will receive a federal waiver to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles -- to try to broker a deal on the issue. On Sunday Carol M. Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate, said she and others backed the idea of a single standard for cars and trucks. "The hope across the administration is that we can have a unified national policy when it comes to cleaner vehicles," Browner said at the Western Governors' Association meeting in Washington. The administration is already counting on cap-and-trade legislation passing to generate new revenue for the federal government. Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag told reporters the budget Obama will unveil this week includes the money that would flow from auctioning off pollution allowances under a cap-and-trade scheme...

Don't suffer biofuels gladly

Tom Philpott writes at Grist:

Imagine you're a policy maker with the power to commit federal cash and rules to a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil-fuel use. You'd want to build in mechanisms to make sure your policies are working toward your goals and not having all sorts of negative unintended consequences ... right? Well, that's what a coalition of green NGOs -- Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Network for New Energy Choices, the Clean Air Task Force, and New York Public Interest Research Group -- are calling for with regard to the nation's biofuel policy. They charge that the U.S. biofuel program actually "exacerbates global warming" because of greenhouse gas emissions from nitrogen fertilizers and the conversion of grasslands and rainforest to cropland. Further, the mass production of monocropped fuel feedstocks like corn, soy, and palm degrades soils, increases water pollution, drives out biodiversity, and endangers the food security of vulnerable populations. In the process of creating these lamentable side effects, biofuels are offsetting a relatively small amount of conventional fuel use -- and are grabbing the lion's share of federal support for alternative energy. In short, biofuels have been an abject failure...

Wolf Pack Kills Woman in Eastern Georgia; Villagers Given Guns

A pack of wolves killed a woman in the Kakheti region of eastern Georgia in the third attack in a month, leading authorities to hand out weapons to locals for self-defense. “We are putting Kakheti on high alert,” Governor Gia Chalatashvili said today in televised comments. “Residents will be given guns and ammunition to defend themselves. Police will also be involved.” The woman’s remains were discovered today in the village of Giorgitsminda, about 40 kilometers (24 miles) from the capital Tbilisi, the Imedi television station reported. The woman had been missing for several days. Several villages in Kakheti have reported wolf attacks on livestock and humans in the last month, Chalatashvili said. About two weeks ago, the animals savaged a woman in the village of Pirosmani, seriously injuring her throat...Bloomberg

Forest Service, Elko County at odds over roads

Despite the Elko County Commission's decision to withdraw its cooperation, Forest Service officials say they will continue to seek the county's input on a plan to identify some national forest roads as priorities and potentially close others. The commission voted 4-1 on Thursday to end its status as a formal cooperating agency in regard to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest's Travel Management Plan, citing concerns about road closures and what they viewed as a refusal of the Forest Service to adequately accept their input. Ed Monnig, supervisor of the forest, said that status signifies a "heightened interest" in an issue and formalizes an agency's "ability to be at the table as we do the analysis." But he said he didn't think it would have any real effect on the project. Commissioner Demar Dahl said the vote would "send a message to the Forest Service" that they don't agree with the decision to close roads. The Elko Daily Free Press reported that he said at Thursday's meeting that the Forest Service had "not one inch of give in their position" since the county entered the cooperating agency status. "They have a predetermined conclusion," Dahl said...San Jose Mercury News

Forest Supervisor Monnig is right. If the FS is already ignoring the county's concerns when they are an official cooperating agency, the withdrawal of the county will make no difference. Apparently the FS will ignore the county in either case and that's unfortunate.

Wilderness bill seeks to protect portion of San Gabriel Mountains

Wilderness enthusiasts call an expanse of forest 30 miles north of La Ca ada Flintridge, and just above Highway 2, one of the most beautiful spots in the San Gabriel Mountains. And if U.S. Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, has anything to say about it, it will stay that way. McKeon is pushing his fellow legislators to support a proposal that would give the approximately 27,000-acre area the highest protection under federal law. No mining, no drilling, no snowmobiling, no roads, no cell phone towers, no power lines would be permitted. Not even mountain biking would be allowed in the what will become the Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness Area. "The idea is to protect it now while it is still natural," said John Monsen, the regional representative for the Sierra Club and San Gabriel Mountains Forever...TMC News

New wilderness proposed on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge

The U.S. Forest Service recommends 322,000 acres of new wilderness in a final management plan released Friday for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The plan, which has been in the works since 2002, recommends nine new wilderness areas, including 73,400 acres on Torrey Mountain in the East Pioneers southwest of Butte and 34,700 acres at Garfield Mountain near Lima. At 92,000 acres, the Snowcrest Range is the largest area recommended as wilderness. The forest plan guides management of the 3.3-million-acre forest and is expected to be implemented beginning March 23...The Missoulian

You can view the plan here.

Glenwood Canyon eyed for protection; water users wary

It’s hard to deny that Deep Creek, slicing through a rugged gorge from the Flat Tops, is wild. And the Colorado River flowing through the towering cliffs of Glenwood Canyon is certainly scenic. But some water users are worried that if they are federally designated as wild and scenic, it could jeopardize water rights along the corridors. A diverse group, which includes Front Range municipalities that want water for their taps and environmental and recreation groups that want it for fish and kayaking, has been working together to try to hammer out their own agreement that could protect the Colorado River without a federal designation. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have been working together to determine if stretches of Deep Creek and the Colorado River deserve protection as wild and scenic rivers. Like wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers can be recommended by land agencies, but they must be dedicated by Congress to protect key waterways. The designation comes with land protections alongside the river in addition to protecting the flowAmong those most concerned is the Glenwood-based Colorado Water River Conservation District, which convened the group. “We feel that a locally run river is better than a federally run stretch of river,” said Mike Eytel, water resource specialist for the district. Eytel said the district is mostly concerned about a federal water right that could stand in the way of water diversions and other projects along the Western Slope. Other water users, including Denver Water, the Northern Colorado Water Conservation District, Colorado Springs and Aurora, also have concerns. Joining them at the table are groups like Trout Unlimited, American Whitewater and commercial rafters who want to keep water in the river...Aspen Daily News

Good luck to these folks. Locally generated land use is superior to all others.

Check out People For Preserving Our Western Heritage, who have come up with an alternative to wilderness. Disclosure: I'm a member of this group.

Paleontologist pleads not guilty to fossil theft

A paleontologist who found one of the world's best-preserved dinosaurs has pleaded not guilty to a federal charge that he stole fossils from Bureau of Land Management property near Malta. Nate Murphy entered his plea Feb. 19 in U.S. District Court in Great Falls. The federal charge alleges Murphy took fossils from BLM land between August 2006 and August 2007 and that the fossils were worth more than $1,000. Court records are not more specific about the items allegedly taken. Murphy also faces a state charge that he took a turkey-size raptor fossil from private land near Malta with the intention of selling replicas of the fossil, which is worth between $150,000 and $400,000. Murphy didn't comment at the federal arraignment, but has previously said he never stole or sold dinosaur fossils...AP

11 wild burros are discovered massacred near Lake Pleasant

Off-road vehicle enthusiasts found 11 wild burros shot to death on public land north of Morgan City Wash near Lake Pleasant, Bureau of Land Management authorities said Monday. The carcasses were found over the weekend by off-road vehicle riders in the area. "We are investigating this crime, and we want people with information to call us," BLM Supervisory Ranger Patrick Brasington said in a news release. A $5,000 reward is being offered, and anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-637-9152. The incident occurred within the past week on public lands north of the metro area where the BLM manages a naturally occurring wild burro heard of 280...Arizona Republic

Closing of Slaughterhouses Depresses Horse Market

Scuorzo and other horse ranchers said the horse market declined after the United States closed its slaughterhouses. Three slaughterhouses killed unwanted horses and shipped the meat to foreign countries, including Japan and France. The last one closed in 2007 after Illinois banned processing horse meat for human consumption. Horses like Charlie could be euthanized or shot, but euthanasia and burial can be expensive, said Betty Jones, Arkansas Horse Council president. Increasingly, owners are abandoning horses or selling them for next to nothing at auction houses. Businesses in Canada and Mexico slaughtered more than 84,000 American horses last year, said Nancy Perry, U.S. Humane Society government affairs vice president. She expects that number to be closer to 95,000 when all the numbers are tallied. Transporting horses to foreign slaughterhouses can be difficult for horse owners who can no longer afford to care for them, said Robert Seay, Benton County extension agent at the University of Arkansas. Horse owners also have trouble selling or auctioning horses because prices are so low, Seay said. A horse from a better blood line that would have brought $2,500 three years ago now sells for about $250, Scuorzo said. A mid-grade pleasure horse will bring between $90 to $250, and some horses aren’t selling at all. Horse owners sometimes lose money at auction, said Gary Thompson, who runs the London Sale Barn in London, near Russellville. That’s because the auction price won’t cover auction fees, mandatory disease tests and the costs for transport, he said...The Morning News (Arkansas)

List of States Introducing Slaughter Legislation Grows

The reports:

Twelve state legislatures are now considering measures to express their support of or actively encourage the reestablishment of U.S. horse processing plants. Resolutions indicating opposition to HR 503, the federal Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, which would eliminate horse slaughter nationwide and prohibit the export of horses to slaughter are either under consideration or have already passed in:

* Arizona (SCM 1001)
* Kansas (HCR 5004)
* Minnesota (SF 133)
* North Dakota (HB 1496)
* South Dakota (SCR 2)
* Utah (HJR 7)
* Wyoming (HJR 8)

Bills amending state laws to promote private investor plant development are pending in:

* Arkansas (HCR 1004)
* Illinois (HB 0583)
* Missouri (House, HCR 19 House; Senate, SCR 8)
* Montana (HB 418)
* Tennessee (HB 1361)...

Barn cats: Here, there and everywhere

Barn cats — just about every ranch and farm has them. The name “barn cats” has been given to cats that like to hang out around barns, outbuildings and haystacks. However, today the name “barn cat” is generally used when referring to cats in rural settings, whether there’s a barn or not. Barn cats seek out places where they can get in out of winter weather and hide from predators such as foxes and bobcats. And, of course, they need a place where they can find food, especially in winter when rodents are scarce. Years ago, most ranchers milked cows and shared the milk with barn cats. The ranchers didn’t mind sharing because the cats kept down the mice and rat populations. The same holds true today. Cats and ranchers benefit from this relationship. Some barn cats have gotten to ranches by their owners who needed “mousers.” But in most cases, barn cats are strays, seeking homes after their previous owners moved away or, even more likely, trying to find refuge after people have driven them out into the country and dropped them off. Whatever the reason, ranches are apt to have a bunch of cats of every age, size and color. Some are tame; others are wild. Some arrive with chewed-up ears, bad cuts, matted fur and bad eyes...By Diane Prather in the Craig Daily Press.

Patches The Horse

I hadn't seen this video in quite awhile, but was reminded of it today. Here it is for those who haven't seen it, or for those who would like to view it again.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Nationalizing the cars and bikes of rock collectors — Pending Omnibus land bill’s forfeiture provision has broad reach

At the same time there has been so much talk of government nationalization of troubled big banks, a bill quickly snaking through Congress would allow the feds to expropriate cars, bicycles and other “vehicles and equipment” of everyone from amateur collectors of rocks to kids going on scavenger hunts. In the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which passed the Senate (S. 22) in January and is up for a vote in the House as early as this Wednesday, a “forfeiture” provision would let the government confiscate “all vehicles and equipment of any person” who disturbs a rock or a bone from federal land that meets the bill’s broad definition of “paleontological resource.” The seizures could take place even before a person and even if the person didn’t know they were taking or digging up a “paleontological resource.” And the bill specifically allows the “transfer of seized resources” to “federal or non-federal” institutions, giving the government and some private actors great incentive to egg on the takings. Groups representing those from scientists to rock collectors to other fossil enthusiasts have warned of ominous consequences that could criminalize the exploration and learning about natural history ironically in the name of protecting nature. According to Tracie Bennitt, president of the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences, the bill’s language is so vague and the penalties such as forfeiture so severe that it could allow the government to “put scientists in jail and confiscate university vans.” In a letter on the bill to members of Congress, Bennitt warns, “We can visualize now a group of students unknowingly crossing over an invisible line and ending up handcuffed and prosecuted.” Among the problems, critics explain, is that the language is so broad that merely picking up rocks under this bill could be found guilty of “excavating” or “removing” a “paleontological resource.” fine bill from the deep thinkers in Congress

BLM Taps Californian Mike Pool as Acting National Director

Mike Pool, California state director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), has been tapped to serve as the agency's acting national director in Washington D.C., effective March 1. Pool, 55, a career veteran, has served more than 34 years with BLM, starting at the field office level and working his way up through a variety of assignments in Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington D.C., and the Department of the Interior. He has been California state director since 2000, overseeing 15.1 million acres of public lands in California and another 1.5 million in northwestern Nevada. In the new acting position, he will oversee 256 million surface acres – more than any other federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 western states, including Alaska. He replaces current BLM Acting Director Ron Wenker, who will return to his current position as BLM's Nevada state director. Pool will remain in the new assignment pending selection of a permanent director by new Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. In California, Pool's Associate State Director Jim Abbott will serve as acting California state director. "I'm honored by the new assignment and look forward to assisting the new administration care for the public lands under BLM's jurisdiction," he said. The 55-year-old Pool, an Arizona native raised in New Mexico, holds a B.S. in wildlife science from New Mexico State University. BLM

Could green kill the desert?

From the LA Times:

California's desert lands are in some ways a perfect fit with the renewable energy industries necessary to combat climate change. There's sun. There's wind. There's space. But without careful planning and regulation, these "climate solutions" could irrevocably damage the planet they are intended to protect. The biologically rich but arid desert ecosystems are remarkably fragile. Once topsoil and plant life have been disrupted for the placement of solar arrays, wind farms, power plants, transmission lines and CO2 scrubbers, restoration would be cost-prohibitive, if not technically impossible. And widespread desert construction -- even of projects aimed at environmental mitigation -- would devastate the very organisms and ecosystems best able to adjust to a warming world. Nevertheless, there is a public land rush underway. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is processing more than 180 permit applications from private companies to build solar and wind projects in the California deserts. One such venture, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, will begin construction this year in a beautiful valley near the California-Nevada border in San Bernardino County. It will occupy 3,400 acres, and that doesn't include the land needed for transmission lines. Most projects are even larger, averaging 8,000 acres, with a few exceeding 20,000 acres. The total public land under consideration for alternative energy production exceeds 1.45 million acres in this state alone. The scale of some proposals borders on fantasy. One Columbia University scientist, Wallace Broecker, has proposed installing 60 million CO2 scrubbers, each a 50-foot-tall tower, throughout the world's deserts -- 17 million of them in the United States -- for the purpose of capturing greenhouse gases...Such large-scale effects cannot be addressed on a project-by-project basis, as is done through the existing environmental review process. We need effective, desert-wide planning that engages the major public and private stakeholders that determine the fate of California desert land. The costs of industrializing the biologically rich California deserts will be measured in terms of species extinction, ecosystem degradation and the perpetuation of human self-deception...