Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Senate Climate Bill Tougher than House Version

Draft Senate climate change legislation would require a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gases by 2020, far deeper than the reductions mandated in the House version. The draft obtained by The Associated Press remains subject to change. But the overall carbon reduction requirements are expected to stand. The Democratic bill is to be released Wednesday by the Senate Environmental Committee with a vote by the panel likely in late October. The draft includes an economy-wide cap and trade system that would require power plants, industrial facilities and refineries to cut carbon dioxide releases. But it does not lay out how emission allowances would be distributed, leaving that for later. The bill is viewed widely as an early focus of Senate negotiations. AP

A draft version of the bill has leaked and can be seen here.

Western states must make sure water is available before adding development, gov says

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter says Western states must work together on water issues if the region is to continue to grow. Ritter told the Western States Water Council, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Western Governor's Association that Western states need to work with local communities to ensure water is available before new development projects are approved. Ritter said 19 states and 30 million people rely on water from Colorado, and states need to work together or face serious water shortages during the next few decades. The theme of the meeting is "Water and Land Use Planning for a Sustainable Future." Roderick Walston, a water attorney from California, said previous water planning focused on quantity and quality, but California has now integrated those plans with land use planning and development. He said the issue is how to enforce it and how much power gets left to local government. "This will be the future of the West," he told the conference. "Should the courts make the ultimate call, or is it better to do it at the administrative level?" He also said lawmakers have to decide whether to allow the government to reject projects that don't comply with water plans...AP

Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water

In a rural corner of Nevada reeling from the recession, a bit of salvation seemed to arrive last year. A German developer, Solar Millennium, announced plans to build two large solar farms here that would harness the sun to generate electricity, creating hundreds of jobs. But then things got messy. The company revealed that its preferred method of cooling the power plants would consume 1.3 billion gallons of water a year, about 20 percent of this desert valley’s available water. Now Solar Millennium finds itself in the midst of a new-age version of a Western water war. The public is divided, pitting some people who hope to make money selling water rights to the company against others concerned about the project’s impact on the community and the environment. Here is an inconvenient truth about renewable energy: It can sometimes demand a huge amount of water. Many of the proposed solutions to the nation’s energy problems, from certain types of solar farms to biofuel refineries to cleaner coal plants, could consume billions of gallons of water every year...NYTimes

Water interests argue new state dam proposals

Thirty years ago, a chunk of chain, an eyebolt and Mark Dubois helped end the era of big dam building in California. Dubois, a bearded, 6-foot-8, 30-year-old river guide from Sacramento, chained himself to a rocky outcropping on the north bank of the Stanislaus River and stayed there for a week, determined to prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from filling the canyons behind New Melones Dam and submerging the limestone caves, verdant meadows and petroglyphs of the river valley. As California grapples with an aging water-delivery network, growing population, worsening water quality, a drought and the potentially far-reaching effects of global climate change, dams are again on the table. Last month Schwarzenegger insisted he would not sign off on any major overhaul of the water system without money for new dams and reservoirs. The governor has the support of conservatives and the vast Central Valley, where many farmers are convinced that new, man-made lakes will help offset dry spells and ease the federal rulings that have cut water pumped through the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. But environmentalists and their liberal backers contend dams are a costly, ecologically dicey option set against the backdrop of California's unprecedented budget cuts and alarms over the decline of fisheries, waterways and water quality...SFChronicle

Growing corn for ethanol boosts water pollution, researchers find

A study out of Indiana concludes that growing more corn to meet ethanol demands would put more fertilizers and pesticides into rivers and streams. The Purdue University study looked at Indiana water bodies near farms that practice continuous corn rotations. The water had higher levels of nitrogen, fungicides and phosphorous than water near farms with corn-soybean rotations, the researchers found. Nitrogen and fungicides are more heavily used in corn crops than soybeans, increasing the amounts found in the soil of continuous-corn fields. Sediment losses are also larger because tilling is often required in continuous-corn fields, while corn-soybean rotations can more easily be no-till fields, Purdue professors Bernard Engel and Indrajeet Chaubey said. Fungicide and phosphorous move with the sediment, increasing water contamination, the researchers said...Oregonian

As part of their brilliant energy policy the feds provide subsidies and tax incentives that end up creating more water pollution.

And now they will turn to fixin' our health care system.

Cap and trade redistributes income...regressively

A new analysis released for the Institute for Energy Research, says

“Many of the current estimates of cap-and trade’s distributional impact are in direct contradiction to microeconomic theory. Using implausible assumptions about free emissions allowances, the government’s analysis concludes that the costs associated with cap-and-trade legislation are progressive. Unfortunately, they are almost certainly regressive, with America’s top income-earners profiting by more than $14 billion per year, and low- and middle-income households footing a large portion of the burden. What’s more, the free allowances distributed under Waxman-Markey will result in large windfall profits for the corporate allies of the legislation.”

From our pockets to Al Gore's.

West sees alternative-energy scramble

Want some solar energy with your geothermal? In Utah, state officials are fielding various combinations of energy proposals, a list that includes solar and geothermal installations and an energy storage project that would turn salt caverns into a kind of giant battery. The caverns would hold compressed air when they're not storing natural gas. Together, the 15 projects in the works, planned or being talked up amount to "a land rush of alternate energy" projects, said John Andrews, the No. 2 official at Utah's trust-lands administration, which manages about 5,500 square miles of land left over from a federal grant at statehood. It's a land rush across much of the West, which offers an abundance of wide-open public lands, steaming geothermal resources, blazing sunshine and unconstrained wind corridors. Scores of projects -- some speculative, others well-funded and a few quirky -- have surfaced with energy companies eager to take advantage of loan guarantees and tax breaks being promoted by President Barack Obama...AP

Agriculture secretary misses the message

There’s a big difference between what he "heard” and what the people of rural Oklahoma were actually saying. Vilsack wrote, "…the people I met said they are ready to embrace President Obama’s belief that the strength of our nation depends on a healthy and prosperous rural America.” That is true — we do want a prosperous rural Oklahoma. But that’s not the same thing as endorsing President Obama’s agenda, particularly on issues such as the cap-and-trade program. Although Vilsack said Oklahoma farmers were "excited about the possibility that energy and climate change legislation will reward farmers … and reduce the threat of climate change,” my neighbors (including many attending the Vilsack forum) see that legislation as a catastrophe for rural America. Agriculture production requires energy — lots of it — and anything that dramatically increases the cost of energy like the cap-and-tax plan will harm farm families and the consumers who depend on us for food. For us, cap and trade is a job killer and a sure way to drive even more people out of rural Oklahoma. That’s nothing to get "excited” about...NewsOK

EPA fines game & fish for fish kill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says state fish and wildlife managers have agreed to pay a $14,000 fine to settle alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The EPA says the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has, along with agreeing to pay the fine, taken several steps in response to a chemical spill two years ago at a state hatchery near Pocatello. State officials reported in December 2007 that disinfectants had been spilled at the Grace hatchery in eastern Idaho and the chemicals killed all the fish, many of which were washed downstream into Whiskey Creek. The EPA said in a statement Monday that Idaho Fish and Game’s response included cleaning up the dead fish, creating a staff manual on correct chemical use and educating hatchery workers on federal rules regarding water pollution. AP

EPA Targets Plane De-Icing Chemical

Every winter, airports across the country spray millions of gallons of de-icing chemicals onto airliners and allow the runoff to trickle away. When the chemicals end up in nearby waterways, the de-icing fluid can turn streams bright orange and create dead zones for aquatic life. The practice is legal, but environmental officials want it to stop. Not every airport lets the chemicals drain off the tarmac uncollected, but those that do range from some of the nation's largest -- including John F. Kennedy in New York and Chicago's O'Hare -- to small regional airports such as the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. Both activists and federal environmental officials say the chemicals slowly create waterways that won't support life...AP

Sierra Club Campaign For Parks

Hi Frank,

When we were in touch earlier this week, we mentioned the upcoming PBS series that launches next week from award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea."

We thought your readers would be interested to know that in honor of the series (and to spread the word about the importance of protecting our national parks for future generations), we are giving away a trip to Yosemite and San Francisco as part of our 100,000 Champions for National Parks campaign. Our goal is to get to 100,000 names by October 4th - All you have to do is sign our statement of support for parks at Tell us your favorite national park and your name will be added to the scrolling list of "Champions for Parks" on our homepage.

Your readers might also be interested in the other info we have up on - tips for how to visit the national parks, an interactive map featuring info about 12 of our most iconic national parks, the best trails to enjoy in each of the parks, interviews with Ken Burns, video excerpt from the series, and more.


Sierra Club Media Assistant
85 Second Street, Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

Hunters open fire on bears

Two bowhunters from Columbia Falls fired pistols at a family group of bears early Sunday morning in the Great Bear Wilderness, but Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials were unable to locate any dead bears. The two hunters left the Grant Ridge trailhead west of Essex before dawn, hiking several miles up the trail in the dark. Just before dawn, they encountered three or four bears on the trail. One of the hunters fired a warning shot from his handgun, but the bears charged. Both hunters fired their pistols multiple times, but in the low-light conditions they could not tell if the bears were grizzlies or black bears. They hiked back to their vehicle and called the Flathead County Sheriff's Office. State game warden Perry Brown and Tim Manley, a state grizzly bear management specialist, responded and were on the trail with the two hunters by 10 a.m. to investigate. Manley and Brown found drops of blood at the scene of the encounter. With the help of bear dogs, they followed tracks and searched the area but were unable to locate any bears or more blood. Judging from tracks, Manley believes the bears were grizzlies. An analysis of blood samples collected at the scene should confirm the species...DailyInterLake

Matched set of 1851 Colts auction for $130,000

It sat on a shelf in the closet for years, a rosewood case containing two Civil War-era revolvers with ivory handles. The guns had been a gift from a friend to Sharlene Perez's late husband, but they held no sentimental value for her. So in June, she decided it was time to sell them. She slipped the case into a sturdy Lord & Taylor shopping bag and took a taxi six blocks to meet appraiser Greg Martin in midtown Manhattan, N.Y. She knew that there were engravings on the barrels, that the grips were monogrammed and that an inscription on the lid of the case indicated that townspeople in Watertown, N.Y., had given the guns to William C. Browne, a local man heading off to serve as a colonel in the Civil War. In her most optimistic moments, Perez hoped the guns might net $20,000...LATimes

HT: Outdoor Pressroom

Corb Lund's New CD "Losin’ Lately Gambler"

It's ironic that the head Hurtin' Albertan's first album to get a wide release in the U.S. is packed with Canadian references, but it's precisely Lund's ability to write honestly about his background that has made his voice unique among North American singer-songwriters. That point is made right from opening track "Horse Doctor, Come Quick," a tribute to his father, a veterinarian, and reinforced throughout the rest of Losin' Lately Gambler on "Steer Rider's Blues," "Long Gone To Saskatchewan" and "This Is My Prairie." Lund's familiar barebones sound remains intact, courtesy of usual producer Harry Stinson, but "Devil's Best Dress" has a distinct Marty Robbins flair, while "Chinook Wind" chugs along like a classic Waylon Jennings track. Some of the album's best moments are in fact the ballads, where Lund clearly displays how much his singing has improved, but his trademark lyrical playfulness on "Talkin' Veterinarian Blues" and "It's Hard To Keep A White Shirt Clean" will satisfy long-time fans. Whether Americans get it is hardly the issue; Lund has made another solid record that proves he's in this for the long haul...exclaim

Don't have it yet, but this Canadian has put out some good stuff.

Preserving his heritage

Driving across 600 acres of Oklahoma prairie southeast of Duncan, Pruitt stops his truck at a creek to get out and point at a rock bearing deep etchings. The etchings include a date — March 17, 1884 — and names or initials. Pruitt believes it is the work of soldiers or cowboys who passed that way in the days of Indian Territory. He says the creek crossing was made by pony soldiers traveling to Fort Sill. “This is the old military road from Fort Sill to Fort Washita.” The creek is part of old East Mud Creek, he shares. “We’ve been running cattle on this creek for 128 years, since the 1880s or thereabouts.” The Pruitt Ranch land has been in the Pruitt family since just after 1880. He knows that from family lore and original deeds and other documents. He says his grandfather and grandmother, Henry and Orinthia Pruitt, brought 450 head of cattle into southern Oklahoma around that time. Orinthia is buried near Comanche in an unmarked grave that will soon have a headstone, he says. He knows his grandparents were included in the Fort Worth, Texas, census in 1880. One of those original documents is a deed of unallocated land from the Choctaw-Chickasaw Nations, bearing the signature of Quanah Parker. It’s dated May 1, 1917, and is for the sale of 120.09 acres to Nannie F. Pruitt, in Jefferson County. “My grandfather was a pioneer Texas rancher. He finally settled on Mud Creek and was a fiddler. The old home place is 13 miles east of Comanche and a mile south,” he says...DuncanBanner

Song Of The Day #144

Today's tune is Kentucky by the Blue Sky Boys. I've written about them before. On that day's selection back in April, J.R. Absher, proprietor of The Outdoor Pressroom, wrote in the comments section:

Their style and harmony on "Kentucky" surpasses any other version ever recorded.

So J.R., Ranch Radio sends this one out to you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Leaders warn time running out for climate deal

U.N. climate talks kicked off Monday in Bangkok with leaders calling for delegates to break the deadlock over a global warming deal and warning failure to act would leave future generations fighting for survival. Negotiations on a new U.N. climate pact have been bogged down by a broad unwillingness to commit to firm emissions targets, and a refusal by developing countries to sign a deal until the West guarantees tens of billions of dollars in financial assistance — something rich countries have so far refused to do. "Time is not just pressing. It has almost run out," U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer said, with a clock nearby showing there were 70 days until world leaders are scheduled to meet in Copenhagen to finalize a pact. "If we don't realize Plan A, the future will hold us to account," he said...AP

Value of climate credits, foreign ownership concern U.S. farmers

Farmers believe they can play a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but they want money for what they do. That demand is proving to be tough for Congress to do. A House-passed climate bill would allow farmers and landowners to earn credits for measures that can remove or keep carbon out of the atmosphere. When farmers stop tilling their fields or convert cropland to pasture, carbon in the form of plant material is kept in the soil rather than released into the air. The credits then could be sold to utilities or other companies that would be required to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. However, the House bill includes restrictions on farmers' carbon-saving projects that could make the credits virtually worthless, according to farm groups. David Miller, who helped set up a carbon-credit program for Iowa Farm Bureau, said credits could be worth "next to nothing." The legislation also includes provisions to guarantee that most of the credits permitted by the bill would go to landowners overseas who agree not to cut down rain forests. Senators have expressed concern that allowing the buying and selling of credits will primarily benefit foreign landowners who generate the credits and hedge funds and other big investors who speculate in them. There are differences over how tightly the credit market should be regulated: Some lawmakers fear a repeat of the financial meltdown tied to subprime mortgages...DesMoinesRegister

[link to larger image]

Many farming communities think global warming won't hurt them. They're wrong

You might think a little global warming is good for farming. Longer, warmer growing seasons and more carbon dioxide (CO2)—what plant wouldn't love that? The agricultural industry basically takes that stance. But global warming's effects on agriculture would actually be quite complicated—and mostly not for the better. Based on rationales from "climate change isn't real" to "it will increase crop yields so it's a good thing" to "it will cost us money" most of the country's farming sectors along with their elected officials have staunchly opposed taking action to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. It's true that some crops will prosper on a warmer planet, but the key word there is "some." According to a 2007 government report, higher CO2 levels and longer growing seasons will increase yields for fruit growers in the Great Lakes region. But many major American crops, such as sorghum, sugar cane and corn already use CO2 so efficiently that more of it probably won't make much difference to them. What will make a difference are all the other things we'll have more of as temperatures rise—namely droughts, bugs and big storms. More droughts mean lower crop yields—especially for Southern states. Researchers at the University of Oregon found that in New Mexico alone, reduced stream flow could cost farmers $21 million in crop losses. Meanwhile, melting snow in the Western U.S. will increase water availability in spring but decrease it in summer, forcing farmers to change cropping practices. As pests adapt their migration patterns to our warmer climate, farmers will have to either use more pesticide (anywhere from 2 to 20 percent more, depending on the crop, according to another government study) or plant hardier crops...NewsWeek

Feds seek to settle Bush-era lawsuits over shale policies

The federal government is seeking to settle litigation involving oil shale policies established during the Bush administration, and is describing negotiations as “productive.” Government attorneys pointed to the settlement talks last week in court filings asking for yet another extension of the government’s deadline to answer the litigation. Colorado U.S. District Court Judge John Kane agreed to the government’s request to extend that deadline to Nov. 16. Conservation groups filed two lawsuits on Jan. 16, during George W. Bush’s last days in office. The suits challenge regulations the Bureau of Land Management issued in November for commercial oil shale development, and its earlier identification of 1.9 million acres of public land for potential oil shale development in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. This is the fifth extension the government has been given to respond to the suits...Sentinel

Obama Administration Orders Study on Removing Dams on Snake River to Help Fish

The Obama administration has ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct studies on the possibility of removing four hydroelectric dams on the Snake River in Washington state in order to “protect” 13 species of salmon on the federal endangered species list. The studies were part of a new “Adaptive Management Implementation Plan” created by a coalition of nine government agencies (which calls itself “the Federal Caucus”) that manages the salmon population in the Columbia River basin. The plan aims at trying to reverse a decline in the salmon population in the Pacific Northwest. The plan (or “biological opinion”), which was submitted to a federal court judge in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 15, is a revised version of a plan originally developed by the Bush administration. It explicitly raises the possibility of breaching the four hydropower dams on the Snake River in order to “save” salmon populations. The Bush-era plan did not recommend destroying dams...CNSNews

From Science, Plenty of Cows but Little Profit

Three years ago, a technological breakthrough gave dairy farmers the chance to bend a basic rule of nature: no longer would their cows have to give birth to equal numbers of female and male offspring. Instead, using a high-technology method to sort the sperm of dairy bulls, they could produce mostly female calves to be raised into profitable milk producers. Now the first cows bred with that technology, tens of thousands of them, are entering milking herds across the country — and the timing could hardly be worse. The dairy industry is in crisis, with prices so low that farmers are selling their milk below production cost. The industry is struggling to cut output. And yet the wave of excess cows is about to start dumping milk into a market that does not need it. “It’s real simple,” said Tony De Groot, an early adopter of the new breeding technology, who milks 4,200 cows on a farm here in the heart of this state’s struggling dairy region. “We’ve just got too many cattle on hand and too many heifers on hand, and the supply just keeps on coming and coming.”...NYTimes

Look-alike sturgeon may get protection

Good news for shovelnose sturgeon may be bad news for this region's commercial fishermen, who sell them to make caviar. The shovelnose are not endangered, but their relatives, the pallid sturgeon, are. Because a young pallid can be mistaken for a shovelnose, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week proposed declaring the shovelnose a threatened species in areas where the two types overlap, giving it regulatory authority. The areas include the Mississippi River from Alton downstream and the Missouri River from Montana to the Mississippi River. Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana ban all commercial fishing of shovelnose sturgeon. The Fish and Wildlife Service bases its proposal on a section of the Endangered Species Act that authorizes protection of a species if its appearance is so similar to that of a protected or endangered species that law enforcement is difficult...stltoday

On the edge of common sense: Rush Limbaugh deserts to the Dark Side

I felt a tremor in the earth ... Rush Limbaugh joined the Dark Side. He is a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States. It was like finding out your brother is a cross-dresser. Why does it matter? It probably doesn't to most people, but whether you like him or not, you could always find out what the conservatives were thinking. He was the balancing act for the liberals' Sen. Ted Kennedy. Think about it, how would Dan Rather feel if Kennedy voted to eliminate the death tax or said a kind word about capitalism? When I heard Rush's commercial for the Humane Society, I had a deja vu of Ted Turner's donation to the Audubon Society years ago. I remember thinking at the time that Ted, one of America's richest men, wanted to change his image. He was widely known as a greedy, pompous, southern redneck clown. This, the man who invented CNN. His irritating personality overrode his electronic contribution and I think it hurt his feelings. But he had the money to buy an image-lift. He chose the politically correct cause of "environmentalism," and the buffalo became his symbol. Ted Turner is a smart man. To show his change of heart he made a substantial donation to the Audubon Society. The society, who I'm guessing, previously wouldn't have stained its shoes on his carpet suddenly became his sycophantic supporter and proclaimed him an "environmentalist!" It is possible that Rush is feeling lonely and has that same need to be "liked" as Ted. We all want people to like us. I just wish he'd looked into the Humane Society a little deeper, but he has a kitten named Pumpkin and it gives him comfort. He was vulnerable. I just wish he'd asked his listeners before he fell for the pitch. He would have discovered that the Humane Society has an anti-livestock farming, anti-meat eating, anti-circus animal, anti-zoo, anti-hunting, anti-biomedical research, anti-pet breeding and, it would seem logical, eventually, an anti-pet-owning policy as soon as it gains

Song Of The Day #143

Ranch Radio brings you the 1944 recording of Shame On You by Spade Cooley. Cooley is the band leader and plays fiddle while the lead vocal is by Tex Williams.

The tune is available on his 20 track CD Spadella: The Essential Spade Cooley.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Climate-Change Study Cites Role of Ancient Farming

Has climate change been around as long as the pyramids? It is an odd-sounding idea, because the problem is usually assumed to be a modern one, the product of a world created by the Industrial Revolution and powered by high-polluting fossil fuels. But a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia has suggested that people began altering the climate thousands of years ago, as primitive farmers burned forests and built methane-bubbling rice paddies. The practices produced enough greenhouse gases, he says, to warm the world by a degree or more. Other scientists, however, have said the idea is deeply flawed and might be used to dampen modern alarms over climate change. Understanding the debate requires a tour through polar ice sheets, the inner workings of the carbon molecule, the farming habits of 5,000-year-old Europeans and trapped air bubbles more ancient than Rome. "The greenhouse gases went up, and they should have gone down" many thousands of years ago, said U-Va.'s William Ruddiman. "Why did that happen?" His answer is based on circumstantial evidence. Ruddiman said two events in world history -- an apparent shift in the composition of the atmosphere and the first explosion of human agriculture -- took place at nearly the same time...WPost

HT: OzoneSky

Connecticut Land Vacant 4 Years after Supreme Court OK'd Seizure

Weeds, glass, bricks, pieces of pipe and shingle splinters have replaced the knot of aging homes at the site of the nation's most notorious eminent domain project. There are a few signs of life: Feral cats glare at visitors from a miniature jungle of Queen Anne's lace, thistle and goldenrod. Gulls swoop between the lot's towering trees and the adjacent sewage treatment plant. But what of the promised building boom that was supposed to come wrapped and ribboned with up to 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues? They are noticeably missing. Proponents of the ambitious plan blame the sour economy. Opponents call it a "poetic justice." "They are getting what they deserve. They are going to get nothing," said Susette Kelo, the lead plaintiff in the landmark property rights case. "I don't think this is what the United States Supreme Court justices had in mind when they made this decision."...AP

Global wind leaders push climate legislation

The wind-power business will grow at a slower pace, buffeted by stiff competition from Europe and China, unless Congress approves climate change legislation, global industry leaders said Thursday. The leaders pressed their case at a Washington, D.C., news conference, called because federal legislation is pending that would curb carbon emissions and require utilities to generate a percentage of electricity from renewable sources. Without such legislation, the industry would have a more difficult time attracting investors, manufacturers and wind farm developers, who could be lured to China or Europe where such regulations are in place, said Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association. "We will still have a wind industry in the United States but we will not build the jobs ... and we certainly will not be competitive in the global market," she said. Bode was joined by representatives of manufacturers, wind farm owners, the Global Wind Energy Council and the European Wind Energy Association...SaltLakeTribune

Environmental groups in Idaho sue BLM for grazing info

Two environmental groups are suing the Bureau of Land Management after the agency refused to release the names and addresses of people with grazing permits on the nation's public land. In the lawsuit, filed Thursday in Boise's U.S. District Court, the environmental groups contend that the BLM wrongly said the names, addresses and other grazing permit information was protected from release under the Freedom of Information Act. Specifically, the BLM claimed the information fell under the same exemption that allows agencies not to release medical records, personnel records and other information that, if disclosed, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Kris Long, public affairs officer with the BLM's Idaho state office, said the agency did not comment on any pending litigation. Todd C. Tucci, an attorney with Advocates for the West who was representing the environmental groups, said the case stemmed from, "just another attempt by BLM to hide its operations from public view."...AP

Bear Invasion! Aspen Sees Tenfold Increase in Bear Sightings

Famously dubbed the Rodeo Drive of the Rockies, Aspen, Colo., is home to gourmet restaurants, fine jewelry stores, luxury hotels and, for a few months in the summer, bears. Fascinating, but this year, it's a dangerous problem. Aspen police report a nearly tenfold increase in the number of bear sightings in town. Wildlife experts think that a moist spring caused a berry shortage, forcing hungry bears to wander into town in search of food. Bears need nearly 20,000 calories a day to bulk up before hibernating and feed for 20 hours a day to get it. Officials are now concerned that across Colorado too many wild bears have developed a tasted for human food and are getting used to people. They are now actively telling residents to be, literally, mean to the bears. Yell at them, throw rocks and if they charge you, stand up to them...ABC

Red Rock riches

In Utah, wilderness is a four-letter word. For 20 years, America's Red Rock Wilderness Act, which would provide the highest level of federal protection for millions of acres of public land, has been languishing in Congress. Thursday it will get its first congressional hearing, in the House Natural Resources subcommittee. That will be a triumphal moment for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the organization that has promoted a sweeping designation of Utah wilderness for decades, and many other groups that have fought alongside SUWA. But the act will not become law -- not this year and not in the foreseeable future. That's because not one of Utah's congressmen or senators supports the designation of 9.4 million acres of wilderness in one fell swoop, and that's the goal of this legislation. Many rural Utah counties are governed by politicians who oppose any designation of wilderness, saying they fear its effects on ranching, mining and oil and gas drilling, industries that traditionally have been the backbone of their economies. In fact, if you want to see hackles rise in Kane, San Juan, Carbon and even Emery counties, just bring up the subject at a commission meeting. Some of that reaction is based on misinformation or plain myth about what would be restricted within a wilderness area...SaltLakeTribune

Idaho hunters' searches so far mostly futile

Hunting and killing are not the same thing. Even as Idaho has sold more than 14,000 wolf-hunting permits, the first 10 days of the first legal wolf hunt here in decades yielded only three reported legal kills. Such modest early results might seem surprising in a state that has tried for years to persuade the federal government to let it reduce the wolf population through hunting. Idahoans, among the nation's most passionate hunters, are learning that the wolf's small numbers - about 850 were counted in the state at the end of last year - make it at once more vulnerable and more elusive. "It's clear it's not going to be easy," said Jon Rachael, the wildlife manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game...TimesNews

Stop being nice, animal ag activist says

A leading lobbyist thinks farmers and ranchers are "too nice" to those who oppose them and that more needs to be done to fight their influence. "Our voice in Washington is shrinking and the unfortunate thing is we can't do a damn thing about it," said Steve Kopperud, senior vice president of Policy Directions, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm specializing in agriculture issues. "The problem we face is that of all critical industries we have, agriculture is being told to go backwards," Kopperud said. "Why is agriculture not being praised for embracing safe and modern technology for feeding not only this country but most of the known planet?" The reality of U.S. and world food production is that two-thirds of North America cannot support crop production, Kopperud said, meaning a switch to a vegetable-based diet, as animal activists insist on, cannot be physically done. "This is why we have animal agriculture. It is the single most efficient protein conversion unit we can come up with. That does not absolve us from professional, top-notch production practices." Kopperud then described the opposition to those practices producers face from groups like the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Consumers Union, the Center For Food Safety and the Union of Concerned Scientists...HighPlainsJournal

Mules, donkeys have hearts of gold

There is a difference between a mule and a donkey, just ask any member of the Rio Grande Mule and Donkey Association. According to Richard Selby, president of the Rio Grande Mule and Donkey Association, a donkey is a donkey, and a mule is a cross between a donkey and a horse. "It's a cross between those two," Selby said of the two animals. A burro is just a donkey, but in Spanish, though some of his fellow donkey fans will never cease arguing about that. Donkeys come in three sizes: miniature, standard and mammoth. Selby said a mule is usually the product of a female horse and a male donkey, and not as frequently the other way around. This may be due to the internal temperature of the female donkey, or the fact that male horses just don't see the attraction. Richard and Colleen Selby have several donkeys, mules, miniature horses and a horse at their Valencia County home...ValenciaCountyBulletin

It's All Trew: Trip to the Old West as child vivid as ever

Among my cherished memories as a 12-year-old boy is a trip taken with my father, his cattle partner and his grandson, another boy my age, to New Mexico to receive cattle purchased. Just "going with the men" was a special treat, and being treated like a man made the trip special. I think the New Mexico rancher's name was Billy Brunson and the town where we stayed was Magdelena. But, as that was more than 60 years ago, I can't be sure. Anyway, I was excused from school, making it a long weekend. We stayed at the town in a wooden two-story hotel right out of "Gunsmoke," with the bathrooms down at the end of the hall. We ate at the local cafe and my first bar, as that was the only food in town. I just knew some outlaw was waiting around every corner. Out at the ranch the next morning, before daylight, we awaited the roundup of the cull cows destined for wheat pasture near Perryton. The "gather" was made at a set of railroad pens located in the middle of nowhere. Once loaded on the train, the cows would travel to Canadian to be unloaded and driven up the Canadian River bottom to the Parsell Ranch, where they would be branded and rested before driven to the wheat fields south of Perryton. The country around the cattle pens was covered in heavy brush and cactus. We waited a bit, then began to hear the cattle and cowboys coming through. It was quite a sight to see the horned Hereford cows burst from the brush and into the pens with the cowboys right

Song Of The Day #142

Get ready to move. Here is Bill Boyd & His Cowboy Ramblers swinging Under The Double Eagle.

My version is from vinyl, but you can get it on his 16 track CD Saturday Night Rag: 1934-1936.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

First, it takes a rancher

Julie Carter

It comes up from time to time - those little daily events that qualify for the "You might be a rancher's wife if ..." list.

These were suggested recently.

You might be a rancher's wife if:

• you have blackleg vaccine in the refrigerator next to the ketchup;

• you remodel your house just to get a mud room;

• your stationary has a checkerboard design on it with "Purina" written across the top;

• you have bull semen straws in the freezer next to the ice cube trays.

However, in order for there to be a rancher's wife, there must first be a rancher husband, who by the way, does not come with an operating manual or a warning label.

You know, like the one that comes with the hair blow dryer that says, "Do not use while in the bathtub," or the lawn mower that says "Toxic fumes are dangerous. Do not operate indoors."

A simple description of a rancher-type husband would be warning enough.

A rancher husband is a man who:

• tromps in leaving a trail of dirt from his boots and a black hand print on the door and asks, "Any chance of cleaning this place up before my mother gets here?"

• eats potatoes 365 days a year but will say, "This must be third time this month we've had corn. Are we out of grub?"

• eats calf fries right off the branding fire and says, "Is the mashed tators supposed to have something gritty in them?"

• comes in from the branding fire, smokes a cigar, reeks of sweat and manly odor and says, "That damn scented candle of yours is plumb fogging up my sinus'."

• will write a grocery list that reads: "bunch of viannie sawseges, beer, scours medicine, don't forget the beer, 4-way or 7-way or whatever its called, and don't forget the beer;"

• gets up at the crack of dawn, turn on the Weather Channel and sit there for two hours without moving and then say, "you can't 'spect me to go to the movie and jus' sit there for damn hours without movin'."

• spends $56,000 on a big yellow machine with a first name that starts with DC, but he won't spend $298 on a dishwasher;

The operating manuals written 25 years ago were only a couple pages long, while today's resemble the size of the old Sears and Roebuck catalogs and seem to be every bit as useful in the outhouse, which is where they would end up, if we still had outhouses.

Cowboy husband manuals, if they existed, would likely follow the same page expansion trend.

There is a whole lot more to be warned about today given the opportunity of advances in modern conveniences and technology.

An entire list could be compiled of "ranch husband" issues that arise over remote controls, cell phones and even the dual control, computerized, well-lit and voice-commanded (he thinks) dashboards on today's pickups.

In compiling this list, one ranch wife offered a disclaimer.

"In no way is my list an example of my husband. I was talking about other people's husbands.

"In fact, I want to point out that there is nothing that makes me love my husband more than listening about other people's husbands."

Ain't it the truth!

Great Quote

If Jesus raised the dead tomorrow, our science czar probably would be too busy calculating the carbon footprint to find salvation...David Harsanyi

Song Of The Day #141

Our Gospel tune is Read The Bible Every Day by the Sons Of The Pioneers.

It's available on their 4 disc box set Wagons West.

Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds?

A Department of Justice inspector general’s report called Edmonds’s allegations “credible,” “serious,” and “warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI.” Ranking Senate Judiciary Committee members Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have backed her publicly. “60 Minutes” launched an investigation of her claims and found them believable. No one has ever disproved any of Edmonds’s revelations, which she says can be verified by FBI investigative files. John Ashcroft’s Justice Department confirmed Edmonds’s veracity in a backhanded way by twice invoking the dubious State Secrets Privilege so she could not tell what she knows. The ACLU has called her “the most gagged person in the history of the United States of America.” But on Aug. 8, she was finally able to testify under oath in a court case filed in Ohio and agreed to an interview with The American Conservative based on that testimony. What follows is her own account of what some consider the most incredible tale of corruption and influence peddling in recent times...AmericanConservative

ATF tells Tennessee that a federal gun law trumps the state’s

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has told Tennessee gun dealers to disregard a state statute that exempts firearms made and sold inside Tennessee from federal gun laws and registration. The ATF says the federal laws still apply regardless of the state's move. "This bill simply asserts that if a firearms and/or ammunition is made totally within the state of Tennessee, then the federal government has no jurisdiction over that item in any fashion, so long as it remains in the state and outside of interstate commerce," Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, the bill's sponsor, said on the Senate floor when it passed there in June. But ATF Asst. Director Carson W. Carroll, head of the agency's enforcement programs and services, sent an "Open Letter to all Tennessee Firearms Licensees" a month later that explained the agency's position on the law. "The act purports to exempt personal firearms, firearms accessories and ammunition manufactured in the state and which remain in the state from most federal firearms laws and regulations," Carroll wrote. "However, because the act conflicts with federal firearms laws and regulations, federal law supercedes the act and all provisions of the (federal) Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act and their corresponding regulations continue to apply."...CommercialAppeal

Court considers county's right to regulate guns

A divided federal appeals court wrestled Thursday with potentially the most important gun case in its history, a dispute over a firearms ban at the Alameda County Fairgrounds that has expanded into a constitutional battle over state and local authority to regulate gun possession. Some judges on an 11-member panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals appeared to agree with gun-rights advocates that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, recently interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to protect an individual's right to own guns, is binding on states and can be used to challenge the county ordinance. Others noted that the high court has never overturned its own 19th century rulings that said the Second Amendment applies only to the federal government. And one judge suggested the court should uphold the ordinance as a valid public safety measure without deciding the constitutional issue. Even if state and local governments are constitutionally required to let residents own guns for self-defense, "it doesn't seem to affect" the Alameda County law, said Judge Susan Graber. County supervisors outlawed firearms on all county property, including the fairgrounds in Pleasanton, in 1999, a year after 16 people were injured in a melee at the fair in which shots were fired. The ordinance did not expressly prohibit gun shows at the fair, but none has been held since 1999. Two gun show promoters filed the suit now before the court, claming the ban violated free speech as well as the Second Amendment...SFChronicle

Sweat Becomes Offenders' New Snitch

The government has buried its nose in Bari Lynne Williams's personal business. Almost literally. Twenty-four hours a day, whether she's jogging, sleeping or managing a pool hall, Williams wears a high-tech sensor on her ankle that can detect the faintest whiff of alcohol in her perspiration. If she sneaks a drink, the device will know it -- and so will a judge, who could put her behind bars for violating a court order to avoid alcoholic beverages. At $12 a day, the anklet is a bargain, compared with $150 a day to house a minor offender such as Williams in the Loudoun County jail, and far less than the $24,332 a year it costs Virginia to keep a felon in state prison. Best of all, backers say, Williams and other offenders pay the bill. But the gadget has also stirred "Big Brother" jitters as technological advances make it easier for governments and corporations to keep tabs on people. While law enforcement has been using satellite-based GPS to track offenders' whereabouts for some time, privacy advocates say the alcohol-monitoring device -- known as Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, or SCRAM -- has taken law enforcement into the realm of continuously and remotely monitoring people's physical condition...WPost

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nations Appear Headed Toward Independent Climate Goals

Several world leaders on Tuesday gave the most decisive indication in months that they will work to revive floundering negotiations aimed at securing a new international climate pact. But the vision that President Obama and others outlined at the United Nations climate summit -- in which countries offered a series of individual commitments -- suggests that a potential deal may look much different from what its backers originally envisioned. Initially, many climate activists had hoped this year would yield a pact in which nations would agree to cut their greenhouse gas emissions under the auspices of a legal international treaty. But recent announcements by China, Japan and other nations point to a different outcome of U.N. climate talks that will be held in December in Copenhagen: a political deal that would establish global federalism on climate policy, with each nation pledging to take steps domestically...WPost

The Dog Ate Global Warming

Imagine if there were no reliable records of global surface temperature. Raucous policy debates such as cap-and-trade would have no scientific basis, Al Gore would at this point be little more than a historical footnote, and President Obama would not be spending this U.N. session talking up a (likely unattainable) international climate deal in Copenhagen in December. Steel yourself for the new reality, because the data needed to verify the gloom-and-doom warming forecasts have disappeared. Or so it seems. Apparently, they were either lost or purged from some discarded computer. Only a very few people know what really happened, and they aren’t talking much. And what little they are saying makes no sense...If we are to believe Jones’s note to the younger Pielke, CRU adjusted the original data and then lost or destroyed them over twenty years ago. The letter to Warwick Hughes may have been an outright lie. After all, Peter Webster received some of the data this year. So the question remains: What was destroyed or lost, when was it destroyed or lost, and why? All of this is much more than an academic spat. It now appears likely that the U.S. Senate will drop cap-and-trade climate legislation from its docket this fall — whereupon the Obama Environmental Protection Agency is going to step in and issue regulations on carbon-dioxide emissions. Unlike a law, which can’t be challenged on a scientific basis, a regulation can. If there are no data, there’s no science. U.S. taxpayers deserve to know the answer to the question posed above...NRO

Oil Industry Sets a Brisk Pace of New Discoveries

The oil industry has been on a hot streak this year, thanks to a series of major discoveries that have rekindled a sense of excitement across the petroleum sector, despite falling prices and a tough economy. These discoveries, spanning five continents, are the result of hefty investments that began earlier in the decade when oil prices rose, and of new technologies that allow explorers to drill at greater depths and break tougher rocks. More than 200 discoveries have been reported so far this year in dozens of countries, including northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, Australia, Israel, Iran, Brazil, Norway, Ghana and Russia. They have been made by international giants, like Exxon Mobil, but also by industry minnows, like Tullow Oil. Just this month, BP said that it found a giant deepwater field that might turn out to be the biggest oil discovery ever in the Gulf of Mexico, while Anadarko announced a large find in an “exciting and highly prospective” region off Sierra Leone. is normal for companies to discover billions of barrels of new oil every year, but this year’s pace is unusually brisk. New oil discoveries have totaled about 10 billion barrels in the first half of the year, according to IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. If discoveries continue at that pace through year-end, they are likely to reach the highest level since 2000...NYTimes

Senate rejects wildfire funds for D.C. parks

The Senate this week told the Obama administration to stop spending stimulus bill wildland firefighting money on urban parks in the nation's capital - the first time either chamber has voted to reject one of the administration's stimulus spending decisions. With fires raging out West, lawmakers said, it was ridiculous to spend firefighting money in Washington, which has no national forests and isn't considered a forest fire danger spot. In a voice vote Tuesday, senators voted unanimously to prohibit the U.S. Forest Service to spend any of its $500 million in wildland fire money in the city. "This is ridiculous, it is outrageous, and we should not stand for it," said Sen. John Barrasso, the Wyoming Republican who sponsored the amendment to the Interior Department spending bill. The money, part of the $787 billion stimulus bill, came from a $500 million fund the Forest Service was given for "wildland fire mitigation."...WashingtonTimes

Landowners, drillers debate split estates

With methane wells in her corner of the world, rancher Jessie Huffman spends considerable time worrying about what her gas-drilling neighbors are up to. She worries about springs drying up or water turning bad as gas rigs plumb mineral rights leased from the government. In the West, the federal government has made a practice of leasing its mineral rights to oil and gas companies without personally notifying surface landowners first. Such properties wherein the surface land is privately owned, but someone else or the federal government owns the rights to underlying minerals, are known as split estates. Surface owners are compensated when companies extract the minerals, but conflicts do occur, often starting with notification. "The landowner hasn't even been notified when a parcel under their property comes under lease," said Huffman, who ranches near Kirby in remote southeast Montana. "There definitely should be notice to the landowner when their property comes under lease." Now with more liberal-leaning energy policies on the table in Congress, Huffman and others are asking for advance notice and then some. She and other Montanans are in Washington, D.C., this week asking for better notice, mediation and even compensation whenever the government allows gas drilling beneath their land. They say socially and politically, the country's mood is right for tipping the scales in favor of surface landowners in oil and gas debates...BillingsGazette

Wyo DEQ decides against CBM water rule

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is backing away from its method of regulating water discharged from coal-bed methane wells after two reports by independent consultants questioned the practice. The method has been in use for a few years. The department decided that it was important enough to ask the state Environmental Quality Council, a governor-appointed board that approves the state's environmental rules and regulations, to approve the method as a formal rule when the council meets next week. On Wednesday, the department withdrew the proposed rule. The department announced that it will instead convene a panel of experts to recommend ways to monitor drainages and prevent problems with soil salinity. Coal-bed methane wells extract methane from coal seams by pumping large amounts of groundwater out of the coal and onto the surface. That depressurizes coal seams, causing methane to condense out of the groundwater much like bubbles of carbon dioxide inside a soda bottle that's been opened. Most coal-bed methane development in Wyoming occurs in the Powder River Basin, where ranchers grow hay for their cattle in bottomlands and irrigated pastures. Millions of gallons of extracted groundwater has caused many of the arid region's ephemeral streams to flow year-round. For some ranchers, that's helpful. Others have had problems with salt buildup in their hayfields. "It's damaging the soil and the vegetation and it's going to be really hard to reclaim those areas," said Jill Morrison, an organizer for the Sheridan-based Powder River Basin Resource

Innovative water-rights program helping restore Northwest streams

Lawrence Martin remembers from his boyhood how Evans Creek flowed like an artery in the Rogue River Valley -- a deep, cold stream that gave life to salmon, steelhead and other species. Then the forests upstream were clear-cut in the 1950s. Floods scoured out the channel and stripped the land of its topsoil. And, one summer, the creek went dry. It happened again. And again. A few years ago, he realized he couldn't keep irrigating all of the 100 acres of hay he farmed. But today, that has changed. Evans Creek has a healthy flow again, thanks to an innovative program by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation that aims to recharge once-thriving Northwest streams. The program, which acts similar to carbon offsets, essentially pays water-rights holders to leave the water in the stream. Because rights are based on a use-it-or-lose-it model, many users continue to draw water even if they don't need it or their irrigation is ineffective -- rather than lose their claim. The program allows them to stop using the water without losing their rights -- while being compensated. Any company or individual can purchase water restoration certificates from the foundation to offset their water footprint. The water rights holders in turn are paid to leave water in the stream. Bonneville hopes to eventually expand the program across the nation...Oregonian

Environmentalists Seek to Wipe Out Soft Toilet Paper, Plus Exciting Video On TP Challenge

There is a battle for America's behinds. It is a fight over toilet paper: the kind that is blanket-fluffy and getting fluffier so fast that manufacturers are running out of synonyms for "soft" (Quilted Northern Ultra Plush is the first big brand to go three-ply and three-adjective). It's a menace, environmental groups say -- and a dark-comedy example of American excess. The reason, they say, is that plush U.S. toilet paper is usually made by chopping down and grinding up trees that were decades or even a century old. They want Americans, like Europeans, to wipe with tissue made from recycled paper goods. It has been slow going. Big toilet-paper makers say that they've taken steps to become more Earth-friendly but that their customers still want the soft stuff, so they're still selling it...WPost

If you want to support wildlife, support ranching

The best and most productive lands in Wyoming are in private ownership and have been for well over a century. These private lands support much of the wildlife we cherish so dearly. So before we go too far out of our way to cuss a rancher, let's be honest about the contribution his or her ranch makes to our hunting and fishing. Likewise, let's be honest about the alternative. As I look along the Colorado Front Range, I see hundreds of thousands of acres of land that were devoted to agriculture 20 years ago. Now, all of this land is covered up with houses. But that's not just a Colorado thing. Take a look at Star Valley not far from the Jackson Hole area, or the outskirts of Cheyenne or Gillette. If you care about wildlife, from moose to meadowlarks, ranches are better than subdivisions. I've come to the conclusion that ranchers aren't the only ones who have a stake in keeping ranchers in business in Wyoming. As a hunter and an angler, I've got a stake in that game, too. As open spaces in the West grow smaller and smaller, and as the average age of ranchers grows older and older, who's going to be the steward of all those private lands? I'd rather see a young family able to stay on the land and keep ranching than see that ranch become another subdivision, and that goes for whether I get to hunt on that place or not...HCN

World food output must rise 70 percent by 2050: FAO

The world will have to produce 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed a projected extra 2.3 billion people and as incomes rise, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said Wednesday. Global cereals demand for food and animal feed is expected to rise to 3 billion tonnes by 2050 and more demand may come from the biofuels industry, the FAO said in a statement. Annual cereals output would have to grow by almost one billion tonnes from about 2.1 billion tonnes at present to meet the projected food and feed demand by 2050, the agency said. Meat output should increase by more than 200 million tonnes to reach 470 million tonnes in 2050, the Rome-based FAO said. "FAO is cautiously optimistic about the world's potential to feed itself by 2050," said FAO's Assistant Director-General Hafez Ghanem. But he added that climate change and biofuels demand would be the main challenges for world agriculture...Reuters

Retired Racehorse Lava Man Back in Training after Stem Cell Treatment

Lava Man, the former claimer who earned more than $5 million, has returned to training at Doug O'Neill's Hollywood Park barn. The 8-year-old gelding worked three furlongs in :36 flat Sept. 23 at Hollywood, his first official work. O'Neill, who claimed Lava Man for owners STD Racing Stable and Jason Wood, said Lava Man came into his Hollywood barn shortly after the Del Mar meeting closed Sept. 9. "He worked unbelievable and cooled out fantastic," O'Neill said. Lava Man was retired in late July 2008 after a sixth-place finish in the July 20 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar. "The intent was to retire him because he was off form," said O'Neill. "He went to Alamo Pintado, where they did a lot of diagnostics on him. They thought they could do some things to help with new technology." The Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Hospital in Los Olivos, Calif., works extensively in the area of stem-cell therapy. O'Neill said Lava Man underwent treatment, led by Doug Herthel, DVM, Alamo Pintado's founder. The gelding has been residing at Rich and Gaby Sulpizio's Magali Farms not far from the hospital. "They did stem cell therapy on Lava Man's ankles," O'Neill said. "Dr. Herthel said that he has the ankles of a 3-year-old. His ankles look phenomenal." Lava Man has been in training at Magali for about the last four months...The Horse

Critics: Elite Rangers Not Welcome at Texas Border

Rancher Mike Landry recently came upon a group of unarmed men dressed in camouflage burglarizing his guest house and stealing a truck from his 11,000 acres in Terrell County, rugged country bordering the Rio Grande in West Texas. A couple of shots over their heads from his hunting rifle kept nine of them, all Mexican citizens, in place until Border Patrol agents arrived. ''It has really gotten to be pretty spooky,'' said Landry, who has run cattle in the area for 29 years. Stories like Landry's seem to bolster Gov. Rick Perry's recent decision to send elite teams from the state's top law enforcement agency, the Texas Rangers, to remote borderlands to help them with security and deter a spillover of the gruesome drug-war violence plaguing Mexico. But Landry's situation never grew violent, and many other ranchers, sheriffs and politicians along Texas' 1,200 mile border with Mexico found the governor's announcement puzzling...AP

Administration Will Cut Border Patrol Deployed on U.S-Mexico Border

Even though the Border Patrol now reports that almost 1,300 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border is not under effective control, and the Department of Justice says that vast stretches of the border are “easily breached,” and the Government Accountability Office has revealed that three persons “linked to terrorism” and 530 aliens from “special interest countries” were intercepted at Border Patrol checkpoints last year, the administration is nonetheless now planning to decrease the number of Border Patrol agents deployed on the U.S.-Mexico border. Border Patrol Director of Media Relations Lloyd Easterling confirmed this week--as I first reported in my column yesterday--that his agency is planning for a net decrease of 384 agents on the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal 2010, which begins on October 1...CNSNews

Song Of The Day #140

We'll close out the week with Slim Whitman singing his 1953 hit North Wind.

My version comes from his 6 disc box set Rose Marie by Bear Family Records. There is a remastered version on the 15 track Slim Whitman - Vintage Collections Series by EMI Records.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Army: There's no plan for Fort Carson to annex Pinon Canyon

An Army plan to have Fort Carson "annex" the 238,000-acre Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site for management and budget purposes never was approved for action, Army lawyers told ranchers opposing the expansion of the Army training ground Wednesday. The annexation plan was obtained by the Not 1 More Acre group as part of its successful lawsuit in U.S. District Court. The ranchers had challenged the 2007 environmental impact study the Army conducted to support training more troops, more often at Pinon Canyon. Two weeks ago, District Judge Richard Matsch set aside the Army study, saying it was severely inadequate - a decision that blocked the Army's plan to increase training schedules at Pinon Canyon. But the annexation plan caused alarm among foes of the Army's expansion efforts at Pinon Canyon. The plan called for the annexation to occur by this Oct. 1. Having successfully lobbied Congress two years ago to approve an annual ban on the Army spending money on the expansion, the ranchers argued the plan to make Pinon Canyon a "sub-installation" of Fort Carson was an effort to evade that congressional moratorium. "We were in federal court over the Army's failure to publicly disclose their unlimited expansion plans when we learned Fort Carson was secretly planning to take Pinon Canyon as its own," Mack Louden, a board member of the group, said Wednesday...PuebloChieftain

Federal wildlife service unveils new climate change policy

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday unveiled its new climate change strategy, which environmental groups have heralded as a significant advance in government policy. The proposed plan will provide a framework for incorporating climate change modeling into the service’s decisions, which include Endangered Species Act enforcement and management of the nation’s 540 national wildlife refuges. Tom Strickland, assistant secretary of the interior for fish, wildlife and parks, called climate change “the single greatest conservation challenge of the 21st century” in a teleconference Wednesday. Sam Hamilton, the new chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the policy is a fundamental shift toward anticipating effects of climate change on plants, animals, their ecosystems and the humans who rely on the same resources. The wildlife service plan calls for targeted monitoring of climate change impacts on fish and wildlife, developing “landscape conservation cooperatives” with private partners, and pursuing reforestation projects to increase the amount of carbon dioxide being removed from the

An International Environmental Court?

For years American politics has been stirred by debate over whether the United States should join or cooperate with newly emergent instruments of multilateral law such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Kyoto Accords on climate change. To these ongoing controversies may soon be added another: should the United States support or oppose plans for an international court for the environment, empowered to punish states or private actors that damage irreplaceable natural resources or fail to protect imperiled species or ecosystems? At present, the debate over such a court is mostly being heard abroad - particularly in Great Britain, where a prominent lawyer named Stephen Hockman is spearheading a campaign that has won backing for the idea from various public figures such as Exchequer secretary Alistair Darling and Dame Judi Dench (Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also made vaguely favorable noises). At some point, however, we are likely to hear more about it on this side of the Atlantic. Already one international environmentalist group well known in this country, Friends of the Earth, has declared its backing for the concept, and others are likely to follow. If it follows the lines promoted by Hockman's campaign, an international environmental court would have the following characteristics...PointOfLaw

NASA data: Greenland, Antarctic ice melt worsening

New satellite information shows that ice sheets in Greenland and western Antarctica continue to shrink faster than scientists thought and in some places are already in runaway melt mode. British scientists for the first time calculated changes in the height of the vulnerable but massive ice sheets and found them especially worse at their edges. That's where warmer water eats away from below. In some parts of Antarctica, ice sheets have been losing 30 feet a year in thickness since 2003, according to a paper published online Thursday in the journal Nature. Some of those areas are about a mile thick, so they've still got plenty of ice to burn through. But the drop in thickness is speeding up. In parts of Antarctica, the yearly rate of thinning from 2003 to 2007 is 50 percent higher than it was from 1995 to 2003. These new measurements, based on 50 million laser readings from a NASA satellite, confirm what some of the more pessimistic scientists thought: The melting along the crucial edges of the two major ice sheets is accelerating and is in a self-feeding loop. The more the ice melts, the more water surrounds and eats away at the remaining ice...AP

U.N. climate meeting was propaganda: Czech president

Czech President Vaclav Klaus sharply criticized a U.N. meeting on climate change on Tuesday at which U.S. President Barack Obama was among the top speakers, describing it as propagandistic and undignified. "It was sad and it was frustrating," said Klaus, one of the world's most vocal skeptics on the topic of global warming. "It's a propagandistic exercise where 13-year-old girls from some far-away country perform a pre-rehearsed poem," he said. "It's simply not dignified." At the opening of the summit attended by nearly 100 world leaders, 13-year-old Yugratna Srivastava of India told the audience that governments were not doing enough to combat the threat of climate change. Klaus said there were increasing doubts in the scientific community about whether humans are causing changes in the climate or whether the changes are simply naturally occurring phenomena. But politicians, he said, seem to be moving closer to a consensus on climate change. "The train can't be stopped and I consider that a huge mistake," Klaus said...Reuters

Scientists explore link between dust, snowpack

By digging in the muck of Rocky Mountain ponds and lakes, scientists have been able to establish an accurate historic record of how human activities have increased the amount of dust falling on high country snowpack. Using satellite images and analyzing the dust, other researchers have been able to pinpoint specific sources, including off-road vehicle disturbances, livestock grazing and oil and gas development on the Colorado Plateau. “It's profound,” said researcher Tom Painter, director of the snow optics laboratory at the University of Utah. “Areas that are actively disturbed release 1,000 times more dust,” Painter said, adding that dust layers in 2009 caused the snow pack to melt 45 to 48 days earlier than normal. Areas that haven't been disturbed by human activities release very little dust, Painter said. “This has huge impacts on hydrology and snow cover,” Painter said, explaining that water managers have to account for changes in runoff as they plan the operation of reservoirs and diversions. Painter said research in the last few years has enabled scientists to look back about 5,000 years. Lake sediments show a dramatic increase in dust deposition coincided with the settlement of the West, beginning in the late 1800s, he explained. The dust levels stayed high through the early 1900s and then declined in the 1930s, when new grazing laws changed the way ranchers ran their herds of cattle. Overall, the amount of dust being released since the advent of human disturbance is 500 times greater than prior to the disturbance of the West, Painter said...DailyNews

Hunting season on wolves should be expanded

The wolves were yearlings that killed 29 domestic animals in five separate incidents between April and August. This was surprising to folks who didn’t realize wolves would do that, but ranchers knew how it might happen. Biologists tried everything to protect livestock and discourage these wolves. They attached a radio collar to one of the predators so it could be monitored. Then, they installed flagged fencing called “fladry,” which is said to be a wolf deterrent. A radio-activated-guard box was used to make noises when a wolf’s collar approached. Biologists tried double-penning livestock, keeping animals near homes at night and burying carcasses. Even using guard dogs didn’t seem to help. Finally, they decided to shoot the wolves from airplanes and that seemed to work best. It would have been much less expensive if they had shot the wolves in the first place – instead of placing a collar on one...ColumbiaBasinFarmer

Secretary Vilsak's Rural Tour Comes To Las Cruces

You are invited to a Rural Tour Community Forum with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in Las Cruces, New Mexico on September 30, 2009. Secretary Vilsack is leading the Obama Administration’s Rural Tour – which is an opportunity to discuss the efforts by the Obama Administration to rebuild and revitalize rural America.

At each stop on the Rural Tour, Secretary Vilsack has been listening to local residents about how USDA can assist them, and discussing solutions to the challenges facing their communities.

So please bring your thoughts, ideas and questions. Your input and participation would be greatly appreciated.

Time and Place:

10:30am to 11:45am, Wednesday, September 30th
Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds
Memorial Medical Center Stage
12125 Robert Larson Blvd
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88007-9021

Doors open at 9:45 am

While the Community Forum is open to the public, you will need to purchase a ticket to the State Fair to get into the fairgrounds. Information about tickets to the State Fair can be located at

If you have any questions, you may email or call us at 877-85-RURAL; 877-85-78725.

Be sure to check out our website WWW.RURALTOUR.GOV and share your thoughts and ideas about the tour and rural America.

Feds probe US Census worker hanging in Kentucky Forest

When Bill Sparkman told retired trooper Gilbert Acciardo that he was going door-to-door collecting census data in rural Kentucky, the former cop drawing on years of experience warned: "Be careful." The 51-year-old Sparkman was found hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery and had the word "fed" scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday, and the FBI is investigating whether he was a victim of anti-government sentiment. The Census Bureau has suspended door-to-door interviews in rural Clay County, where the body was found, until the investigation is complete, an official said. He was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of Daniel Boone National Forest and an autopsy report is pending. A private group called PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, tracks violence against employees who enforce environmental regulations. The group's executive director, Jeff Ruch, said it's hard to know about all of the cases because some agencies don't share data on violence against employees. From 1996 to 2006, according to the group's most recent data, violent episodes against federal Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service workers soared from 55 to 290. "Even as illustrated in town hall meetings today, there is a distinct hostilityin a large segment of the population toward people who work for their government," Ruch said...AP

Grazing allotment changes proposed

For the first time in 30 years, the way grazing allotments are managed on the Little Missouri National Grasslands will be revised. The revisions will affect hundreds of ranchers in western North Dakota, who lease publicly owned grasslands owned by the U.S. Forest Service. The Medora district of the Forest Service released a draft environmental impact statement last month and is worried that the few comments that it has received will lead to a final plan that lacks public involvement, especially from the ranchers most affected. The Medora District of the grasslands contains 500,000 acres, divided into 253 separate grazing allotments. The document covers grazing revisions for 43 of the allocations, or some 50 to 60 ranch permittees, all mostly in northern Billings County. These are the first allotments in the Medora district to undergo the painstaking environmental review that's now required. Over time, they'll all be put under the same scrutiny, meaning some allotment permittees will be operating under the revisions for years before other ranchers are...Republic

Prairie dog tax ruling's affects still unknown

Almost 10 days after the Utah State Tax Commission granted an appeal to local property owner Bruce Hughes to have his property reassessed because of a prairie dog problem, the county assessor said his office still does not know what effect the ruling will have. "We haven't gotten the whole set of findings about that," Iron County Assessor Dennis Ayers said, adding the county has contacted him over several pieces of land with prairie dog issues that need to be addressed. Hughes appeal came out of the property owner's argument that his land was valued too high and should be lowered because the prairie dogs make it difficult to sell. "Several people are being very objectionable about letting anyone know they have prairie dogs now," Ayers said about the initial reaction he has heard on the ruling. Iron County has until Oct. 10 to appeal the decision, but Ayers said he would speak to Hughes before publicizing the next move, and speak to the commission on whether it would even budget for an appeal...TheSpectrum

Taxes - Politicians won't lower them, but prairie dogs will. A nice summary of today's political world.

Local cowboys rope awards at Roswell competition

A team of working cowboys from two Mimbres Valley ranches took second-place honors recently at a sanctioned Working Ranch Cowboys Association rodeo in Roswell. Now they're aiming for first place at the WRCA ranch rodeo in Deming this weekend in conjunction with the Southwest New Mexico State Fair. A first-place finish will assure the Harrington/Diamond E team of a place in the World Championship Ranch Rodeo to be held Nov. 11-15 in Amarillo, Texas. The team consists of brothers Joe Miller, 31, and David Miller, 41, owners of the Harrington Ranch; Harrington Ranch hand Chad Shannon, 44; and Diamond E Ranch manager Brandon Biebelle, 27. In order to belong to the WRCA and compete in sanctioned ranch rodeos, team members must all be working cowhands on a bona fide cattle ranch. The Harrington Ranch was established in 1902 by the Miller brothers' great-grandparents, Paul and Flora Harrington. Ten years later, Brandon Biebelle's great-grandfather, Walter Biebelle Sr., arrived in the Mimbres Valley and founded the Diamond E Ranch. Both families now own second ranches elsewhere in New Mexico, in addition to the original family ranches. The Biebelles' second ranch is in Corona, and is managed by Brandon's father, Randy. The Millers' second ranch is in Separ, just outside Lordsburg, and is managed by David Miller, while Joe manages the original family ranch in the Mimbres Valley. "Our families have worked with each other for years, helping out where needed," Joe Miller said. So it was natural for the two ranch families to join forces and create a combined team to compete in ranch rodeos...SilverCitySunNews

Ranching - A Great Way Of Life

Ranching is a great way of life, but is it sustainable? Can it produce enough income to support a growing family? Can it be passed on from one generation to the next? Will the next generation want to come back to the ranch? In recent years there has been much talk about a concept called "sustainable agriculture" but most of the so-called experts fail to mention the two most important ingredients - profit and enjoyment. Agriculture that is not profitable and enjoyable will never be sustainable. I'm very troubled by the large number of ranches that are struggling to make a profit. I'm troubled by the number of ranchers who are tired and burned out. I'm troubled by the fact that the average age of ranchers continues to increase because the next generation is not coming back to the family ranch - but can you blame them? They spent their entire lives watching their parents work relentlessly, often with off-farm jobs, just to breakeven. If ranching isn't going to be profitable and enjoyable, why ranch? This is a subject I am very passionate about, but since space is limited I'm just going to hit some of the high points...cattlenetwork

Song Of The Day #139

Today's selection is Jimmie Brown, The Newsboy which was recorded in 1951 by Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs & The Foggy Mountain Boys.

Scruggs is famous for his banjo picking, but that's him playing lead guitar on this track. When Flatt complements it with his famous G run, its a beautiful thing to hear. Damn good song too.

The song is available on many of their collections and on their 12 track CD Songs of the Famous Carter Family.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Justice Department investigating former Interior Secretary Gail Norton

The Justice Department is investigating whether former Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton illegally used her position to benefit Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the company that later hired her, according to officials in federal law enforcement and the Interior Department. The criminal investigation centers on the Interior Department's 2006 decision to award a Shell subsidiary three lucrative oil-shale leases on federal land in Colorado. Over the years it would take to extract the oil, according to calculations from Shell and a Rand Corp. expert, the deal could net the company hundreds of billion of dollars. The probe's main focus is whether Norton violated a law that prohibits federal employees from discussing employment with a company if they are involved in dealings with the government that could benefit the firm, law enforcement and Interior officials said. They said investigators also are trying to determine if Norton broke a broader federal "denial of honest services" law, which says a government official can be prosecuted for violating the public trust by, for example, steering government business to favored firms or friends. The Interior Department's Inspector General's office launched the investigation during the waning months of the George W. Bush administration and more recently made a formal criminal referral to Justice. Norton is the first Bush official at the cabinet secretary level to be the subject of a formal political corruption investigation...WTKR-TV

U.N. Climate Summit Leaves Large Carbon Footprint

To hear world leaders and others addressing the United Nations Summit on Climate Change, the threat could not be more real and the need more urgent to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. But in stark contrast to the earnest statements is the carbon footprint associated with their gathering. It happens every autumn: midtown Manhattan becomes the motorcade capital of the world. Each foreign leader in town has a convoy of vehicles. Some of them, like President Obama's motorcade, are 20-to-30 vehicles in length. It's so long - it seems that when the front of it reaches the U.N., the back end is still back at his hotel. Exacerbating the annual exercise in diplomatic gridlock are police actions, blocking intersections and closing streets for security to facilitate motorcade movements. It renders countless other vehicles immobile while waiting for motorcades to pass, their engines idling but still blowing exhaust into the midtown air...CBS

Texas Governor: U.S. climate bill will gouge state economy

A U.S. climate bill will cripple Texas's vital energy sector and damage the state and national economies, Republican Governor Rick Perry said on Tuesday. Instead of enacting the Waxman-Markey bill, the country should follow his example by promoting nuclear power and alternative energy, such as wind and solar, Perry said in a statement. He proposed the United States modernize its electricity grid and find ways to capture and store excess carbon. Texas has diversified its economy away from energy, partly by focusing on technology, but the sector still supplies 20 percent of the United States' oil, 25 percent of its natural gas and refined products, and 60 percent of chemical manufacturing, Perry said. Texas has more wind power than any other U.S. state and is building new transmission lines to carry more than 18,000 megawatts, Perry said. That is nearly as much as the current capacity of all the other 49 states. Conservationists have criticized Texas's rush into wind power because many of the giant windmills lie along migratory bird routes in the Gulf. Perry estimated his state has 200,000 to 300,000 people working in the energy industry, who are paid $35 billion in wages...Reuters

Global warming propaganda infiltrates schools

Scientists see no temperature increase (on average) in the oceans or on the surface of the Earth over the last decade. That hasn't stopped an activist group from infiltrating high schools with the panicky message that we are on the verge of a "planetary emergency" due to global warming. These alarmists are the recently formed Alliance for Climate Education, an Oakland, Calif., nonprofit created by wealthy wind energy entrepreneur Michael Haas. The organization has targeted five metropolitan areas and now is opening a Washington office. Haas, who donated $24,600 to President Obama's campaign and victory funds last year, stands to reap millions of dollars in government subsidies that climate change-driven energy policies would bring...Examiner

Birds caught in wind-farm push

For years, a huge wind farm in California's San Joaquin Valley was slaughtering thousands of birds, including golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and burrowing owls. The raptors would get sliced up by the blades on the 5,400 turbines in Altamont Pass, or electrocuted by the wind farm's power lines. Scientists, wildlife agencies and turbine experts came together in an attempt to solve the problem. The result? Protective measures put in place in an effort to reduce deaths by 50% failed. Deaths in fact soared for three of four bird species studied, said the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area Bird Fatality Study. The slaughter at Altamont Pass is being raised by avian scientists who say the drive among environmentalists to rapidly boost U.S. wind-farm power 20 times could lead to massive bird losses and even extinctions. New wind projects "have the potential of killing a lot of migratory birds," said Michael Fry, director of conservation advocacy at the American Bird Conservancy in Washington...USAToday