Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Planking your entry fees

Julie Carter

Yesterday, Jess electronically transferred funds from a bank in Texas to a bank in New Mexico for a roping to be held in Oklahoma the end of May.

This was done via a cell phone and even though it is smaller than a deck of cards, in the cowboy world it's the smartest widget in the world. It bounced the message off a satellite somewhere close to Pluto.

Jess accomplished this miracle from his office desk with his feet propped on same.
Adding to the technology advancements of the sport, notification of this roping had been received from the producer over the Internet.

The event will be held in a covered, climate-controlled arena complete with a snack bar, real bar, lights, an adequate-sized pen to rope in, padded bleacher seats with good views for the ropers' wives, a gift shop with all sorts of desirable goodies (also for wives), a second arena and practice steers for those so inclined.

This arena will come with first class announcers and a good sound system, flag men who do not go to sleep, correct sized steers, a light bar barrier system and various other cushy amenities.

While warming up Flint to practice yesterday afternoon, Jess got to thinking about how far the system and sport has come. When he first started competing in college, he had to live with his heeler in order to keep track of him.

For this upcoming roping, he merely entered as a header and his heeler would be selected and announced later. While "good" heelers seem to be scarce, there are good ones around and for the most part, they can be trusted out of the header's sight.

Jess distinctly remembered that the communication for a roping back when was based on calling around to everybody you knew until somebody knew the where and when information.

There was no such thing as entering six months in advance. You entered when you got there because you always needed to allow time for flats, horses that could not be caught, girlfriends who were late, the possibility that you might have to study a little bit to get out of school and various other emergencies.

Entering when you got "there" usually involved some place in somebody's pasture that had been semi-cleared, a hog wire and cedar post pen built, steers of assorted sizes on both sides of ideal.

Most of these makeshift arenas had an announcer's box built up on poles with a set of steep steps for access. With no thought of a sound system, the announcer simply yelled for ropers to get in the roping box.

To enter, the ropers would troop up the stairs, standing one on every step with a line snaking around on the ground while they waited to pay their entry fees. This was accomplished by laying their entry fees down on the 1-inch x 12-inch board that served as a counter in front of the roping secretary. This process was known far and wide as "planking your E.F.s".

That was a phrase every roper understood and often during the week among the ropers could be heard, "You got you E.F.s saved up?" or "You ready to plank your E.F.s this Saturday?"

Ropers started saving up their E.F.s every Monday. The process hinged on whether the horse needed shoes, the truck broke down and how much anti-dehydration beverage was required during the week.

Sometimes Jess and his partner met these challenges and sometimes they simply planked a hot check, counting on winning enough to buy it back. That did not always happen.

The miracle in all this is not the evolution to today's electronic equipment, communications systems, classy arenas and the "big business" that the sport has become.

The miracle is that, having been a team roper all his life, Jess actually now has any E.F.s to plank.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Video: Obama's Jobs Success

The Forfeiture Racket

Over the past three decades, it has become routine in the United States for state, local, and federal governments to seize the property of people who were never even charged with, much less convicted of, a crime. Nearly every year, according to Justice Department statistics, the federal government sets new records for asset forfeiture. And under many state laws, the situation is even worse: State officials can seize property without a warrant and need only show “probable cause” that the booty was connected to a drug crime in order to keep it, as opposed to the criminal standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead of being innocent until proven guilty, owners of seized property all too often have a heavier burden of proof than the government officials who stole their stuff. Municipalities have come to rely on confiscated property for revenue. Police and prosecutors use forfeiture proceeds to fund not only general operations but junkets, parties, and swank office equipment. A cottage industry has sprung up to offer law enforcement agencies instruction on how to take and keep property more efficiently. And in Indiana, where Anthony Smelley is still fighting to get his money back, forfeiture proceeds are enriching attorneys who don’t even hold public office, a practice that violates the U.S. more

UN wants internet treaty; calls for ‘driver’s license’ for Web users

The world needs a treaty to prevent cyber attacks becoming an all-out war, the head of the main UN communications and technology agency warned Saturday. International Telcommunications Union secretary general Hamadoun Toure gave his warning at a World Economic Forum debate where experts said nations must now consider when a cyber attack becomes a declaration of war. He proposed an international accord, adding: "The framework would look like a peace treaty before a war." Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft, said "there are at least 10 countries in the world whose internet capability is sophisticated enough to carry out cyber attacks ... and they can make it appear to come from anywhere." "We need a kind of World Health Organization for the Internet," he said. "When there is a pandemic, it organizes the quarantine of cases. We are not allowed to organize the systematic quarantine of machines that are compromised." He also called for a "driver's license" for internet users. "If you want to drive a car you have to have a license to say that you are capable of driving a car, the car has to pass a test to say it is fit to drive and you have to have insurance." more

TSA’s Airport Security Is Always a Step Behind

After a Nigerian terrorist tried to bomb a Christmas flight to Detroit in the last hour of the flight, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rushed in with ridiculous “solutions,” including banning any activity—such as reading a book or getting into one’s carry-on bag within an hour of landing. This security theater approach is tantamount to banning all flights on Christmas Day or to Detroit—totally immaterial and irrelevant. A terrorist can just as easily detonate an explosive device at the beginning of the flight, or in the middle. But TSA is not interested in common sense. Rather than preventing real terrorism, it retroactively reacts to each particular terrorist scenario as it comes along. With a different, more relevant, approach, TSA could actually be far more more

The Value of Government Surveillance of Citizens

It’s amusing to watch U.S. officials protest the Chinese government’s surveillance of its own citizens. After all, isn’t it the U.S. government that secretly and illegally conspired with private telecom companies to record telephone conversations of private American citizens? And isn’t it the U.S. government that secured both civil and criminal immunity for the telecoms’ decision to sell out the privacy of their customers to the feds? One of the aspects of the federal government’s telecom surveillance scheme that is rarely mentioned by the mainstream press goes to the heart of why government surveillance of its citizens is so valuable — to provide a means to keep the citizenry subdued and subservient through an subtle form of more

Incompetence, Power Struggles Hinder Govt From Preventing Terrorist Attacks in U.S.

Former senators Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Jim Talent (R-Mo.) said at a news conference on Tuesday that the Obama administration is ill-prepared to protect the United States from a biological terrorist attack and that incompetence and the reluctance to share information and power led to the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack by an Al Qaeda operative on a Northwest airliner. The pair answered questions after presenting a report card on the government’s ability to prevent America’s enemies from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The report card awarded the Obama administration and Congress three “Fs” -- failing grades for the inability to prevent and respond to a biological terror attack, lack of congressional oversight of U.S. intelligence, and no programs in place to train the next generation of national security more

The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved

The investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks ended as far as the public knew on July 29, 2008, with the death of Bruce Ivins, a senior biodefense researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Md. The cause of death was an overdose of the painkiller Tylenol. No autopsy was performed, and there was no suicide note. Less than a week after his apparent suicide, the FBI declared Ivins to have been the sole perpetrator of the 2001 Anthrax attacks, and the person who mailed deadly anthrax spores to NBC, the New York Post, and Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. These attacks killed five people, closed down a Senate office building, caused a national panic, and nearly paralyzed the postal system. The FBI's six-year investigation was the largest inquest in its history, involving 9,000 interviews, 6,000 subpoenas, and the examination of tens of thousands of photocopiers, typewriters, computers and mailboxes. Yet it failed to find a shred of evidence that identified the anthrax killer—or even a witness to the more

Investigator in Calif. official’s slaying killed

The lead investigator in the slaying in Mexico of a Southern California school board member has been killed in an ambush, authorities said Saturday. Mexican officials wouldn't say whether investigator Manuel Acosta's killing was related to the killing of Agustin Roberto "Bobby" Salcedo last month. Acosta, 42, was ambushed near his office Jan. 15 by gunmen in a pickup truck. He was shot several times in the chest and torso, but survived in critical condition. He succumbed to his wounds more

Pentagon Report Calls for Office of ‘Strategic Deception’

The Defense Department needs to get better at lying and fooling people about its intentions. That’s the conclusion from an influential Pentagon panel, the Defense Science Board (DSB), which recommends that the military and intelligence communities join in a new agency devoted to “strategic surprise/deception.” Tricking battlefield opponents has been a part of war since guys started beating each other with bones and sticks. But these days, such moves are harder to pull off, the DSB notes in a January report (.pdf) first unearthed by The U.S. can’t wait until it’s at war with a particular country or group before engaging in this strategic trickery, however. “Deception cannot succeed in wartime without developing theory and doctrine in peacetime,” according to the DSB. “In order to mitigate or impart surprise, the United States should [begin] deception planning and action prior to the need for military operations.” more

Friday, January 29, 2010

SEC tells companies to disclose climate risks

There's been a lot of talk about climate change and the impact various legislative proposals might have on companies. Now the Securities and Exchange Commission wants companies to tell investors about it too. The SEC commissioners on Wednesday voted 3-2 to approve new interpretive guidance that clarifies what publicly traded companies need to disclose to investors about climate-related 'material' effects on business operations, whether from pending legislation, the physical impacts of changing weather or business opportunities associated with substitutes for fossil fuels. It's an important step in raising investor awareness about climate change issues, and in focusing businesses on the potential costs, said environmentalists and other disclosure groups. But given the highly uncertain nature of climate change and the political winds buffetting proposed cap-and-trade legislation, some lawyers say it may be hard for companies to judge just what to more

The companies should also disclose the risks of being governed by the SEC.

Cold, bitter winter is “proof” of global warming

“Winter offered as proof of warming” declares a headline in the print edition of the Washington Post, although perhaps the irony of that later struck the editors and they softened it a bit in the online edition to “Harsh winter a sign of disruptive climate change, report says.” Nothing especially outrageous here. The enviros have been doing this for years; indeed, it’s why they adopted the term “global climate change” so that any change in climate or even just weather - which obviously this is - can be portrayed as a result of man’s nefarious activities in putting greenhouse gases into the air. The report, incidentally, is from the National Wildlife Federation that makes money by promoting global warming in the same way that GM makes money selling more


Climategate, Himalayagate, Pachaurigate, and now NOAAgate — it’s hard to keep up with all the relevations and allegations buzzing around some of the biggest names in climate science. Earlier this week in the Telegraph, the intrepid James Delingpole debuted “Amazongate.” Like Himalayagate, this is a case in which the IPCC relied on a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report, rather than a peer-reviewed scientific study, to make a scary claim about global warming. Apparently, the IPCC recycled two claims in the IUCN/WWF report that the report’s supposed source – Nepsted et al. (1999) — did not make: namely, 40% of the rain forest is risk, and this is due to global climate more

The Hole In The EPA's Ozone Claim

To the EPA, "safe" is a constantly moving target—and that's the way it likes it. Always something new to regulate, always a new hobgoblin from which to save us. Take the agency's proposal to yet again lower allowable ozone levels. It's another one of those win-win regulations for which the EPA is famous, supposedly saving both lives and money. But its assertions collapse when you examine the science on which they're allegedly based. U.S. ground-level ozone concentrations have fallen by 25% since 1980 and 14% just since 1990. Yet in 1997 the EPA tightened the screws with what it called a "safe" standard at 80 parts per billion (ppb). Then in 2008 "safe" became 75 ppb. Now the agency insists "safe" is a maximum of between 60 ppb and 70 ppb. No doubt the agency is already laying the groundwork to drop the "safe" level yet again. Along with the 60 ppb to 70 ppb standard the EPA has proposed a secondary one, measured differently and meant to help not humans but vegetation. For some areas, according to Roger McClellan, former chairman of the EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), this could be even more onerous than a 60 ppb eight-hour standard. Depending on where the standard is set, the EPA estimates that by 2020 the proposal will cost $19 billion to $90 billion to implement. That's partly because 300 U.S. communities don't even comply with the current standard, while no urban area in California meets the 1997 more

Glaciergate: Hitler's Last Straw Video

Ruling could sink Snake Valley water deal

A top water official moved too slowly on a 1989 Las Vegas request for certain water rights, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled Thursday -- a finding that could delay or even kill a $3.5 billion proposal to pipe water 300 miles from Snake Valley to Sin City. The ruling prompted Utah officials to stand down on a pending Snake Valley water-sharing agreement with neighboring Nevada. A recent Salt Lake Tribune poll of Utah voters shows across-the-board opposition to that plan. "Based on the additional requirements imposed by the Nevada Supreme Court," said Gov. Gary Herbert, "an agreement, at this time, is premature." The unanimous Supreme Court decision said Nevada's state Engineer Tracy Taylor "violated his statutory duty" when he failed to make a decision by 1991 on 34 applications made by the Southern Nevada Water Authority for rights to water in aquifers under three Nevada valleys. Government scientists and other geology experts say those aquifers are connected with Snake more

Environmentalism is the latest niche in children's books

Giggles the Green Bean has a problem. He's a happy little seed, planted in some good ground, but he sprouts into a world where the air stinks, the sky is gray and the trees are gasping. What the ...? he says, or something like it, except age-appropriate. And so begins the newly published adventure, told by Portland author Lauren Davis, of "Giggles the Green Bean Turns Stinkytown Into Greentown." Guided by his bean grandmother and by a Wise Old Cabbage, Giggles learns five environmentally friendly lessons and spreads the word to others. Thus the town transforms from Stinky to Green. It's another turn at instilling environmental sensibilities in youngsters who may not know climate change from diaper change. But that's OK, isn't it? Or should we be concerned about heavy-handed green-washing? After all, some of today's environmentalists were no doubt hauled around in their parents' big cars, ate fast food and wasted electricity. They heard fairy tales in which wolves got slaughtered just for being wolves, trees and treasure were there for the taking and the bigger the machine, the more

Now it will be Hank The Sustainabledog instead of Hank The Cowdog.

Forest officials modify plan for bighorn sheep

The Payette National Forest has released a set of proposed updates to its plan to keep domestic sheep from intermingling with wild bighorns, a species susceptible to pneumonia that can be passed along by their domestic cousins. Forest officials are taking public comment on the 184-page document that spells out five new alternatives to keep the herds segregated. It also includes the latest scientific analysis on the health risks wild bighorns face in sharing habitat with domestics. One alternative in the draft plan calls for reducing domestic grazing by about 60 percent in Hells Canyon and allotments in the Salmon River Canyon. The draft's alternatives also include extremes for grazing, from an all-out ban on domestic grazing to no reductions. Jon Marvel, executive director of the Hailey-based Western Watershed Projects, said the decision made on the Payette forest could have far-reaching implications for management of domestic sheep across the West. "And that will be, I think, a very good thing because there are so many places where we have this kind of conflict," he more

Wyden, Merkley propose 16,000 acres of eastern Oregon wilderness

Oregon's two senators today proposed adding about 16,000 acres to the system of federally protected wilderness areas. A land swap between private landholders and the federal Bureau of Land Management would create two new wilderness areas near the John Day River, Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said. One of the landowners involved in the potential swap is the Christian youth organization Young Life, whose Washington Family Ranch camp near the town of Antelope occupies the former home of the followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. "Oregonians have a deep connection to their land," Wyden said. "This legislation will strengthen that relationship by creating two wilderness areas that will preserve these natural treasures for generations to come and will serve as a hopeful postscript to the saga of the Rajneeshee colony." Under the proposal, which is subject to an appraisal, the BLM would receive approximately 8,821 acres in exchange for 12,323 acres going to Young Life and two other land owners to create the Horse Heaven and Cathedral Rock wilderness areas. The deal would also put a five-mile stretch of the river into public ownership. Conservationists praised the more

Senator Wyden, wilderness by law is an area:

...where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.

You are severing, not strengthening their relationship to the land.

America's First Spaceport Grows in the NM Desert

New Mexico's Spaceport America is no longer the stuff of fancy graphics. The scene is now one of bulldozers and other heavy equipment. Loads of asphalt and concrete are being spread. The initial phase of building the rambling complex within remote desert scenery is quickening. One could easily call it "hard hat heaven" for those that have pushed for Spaceport America's development over many years. Spaceport America, billed as the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport, is taking shape some 30 miles east of Truth or Consequences and 45 miles north of Las Cruces, New Mexico. A critical centerpiece of Spaceport America is putting in place a runway to space. Measuring 10,000 feet long by 200 feet wide that stretch of tarmac is designed to handle horizontal launch space and air operations at the more

Recession Slams Cattle Industry as Herds Shrink to 50-Year Low

The beef and dairy industries continued their herd contraction in 2009 as the US cattle herd shrunk to its lowest level since 1958. Between the high price of feed corn and low beef prices, beef producers have decided to cull their herds to stem losses. Those losses on breeding cows were as high as $34 per head, which was almost double the $18-per-head loss the ranchers faced in 2008. Although the herd may be smaller, the actual amount of beef produced is much higher than in 1958 because cows weigh twice as much now as they did 50 years more

King Ranch was the origin of an outbreak of deadly horse disease

King Ranch is the epicenter of a monthslong outbreak of a deadly horse disease rarely seen in the United States that kills as many as 20 percent that it infects. As of Jan. 20, 364 cases of equine piroplasmosis had been confirmed. Of those, 289 are on King Ranch. The rest are scattered across Texas, Alabama, California, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin, according to the World Animal Health Information System. A South Texas ranch, identified by the Texas Animal Health Commission as the outbreak’s source, has sold horses with equine piroplasmosis in 15 states since 2004. Jack Hunt, the CEO of King Ranch, confirmed the outbreak started on the ranch. Horses, donkeys, mules and zebras are susceptible to the disease, which is caused by two parasitic organisms. More severely affected animals can have fever, anemia, jaundiced mucous membranes, swollen abdomens and labored breathing. “It will kill a horse,” said Mike Vickers, a Brooks County veterinarian and commissioner on the Texas Animal Health Commission. “It’s very, very serious.” more

At Fort Worth Stock Show, managing the ribbons is a job of a different color

Before any child, chicken or cow walks away with a prize, expert eyes have checked each of the thousands of awards handed out at the Stock Show. Stefan Marchman, livestock show manager, and David Gibbs, consulting manager, typically spend about 80 man-hours organizing the more than 23,000 rosettes, ribbons and banners awarded during the show’s 24-day run. They look for typos and make sure ribbons aren’t missing when they arrive in bulk from a company in Ohio. This behind-the-scenes work is critical to the show’s success because no one wants to deliver the wrong ribbon to a participant, they said. "You got to get this right," stressed Gibbs, who has organized ribbons for 46 shows. Last year’s grand total was 23,164, Marchman said. The pair expect to surpass that this year because there are more more

For cowboy poet, Stock Show event is part of a lifelong love

For B.J. Giles, the poems he recites aren’t simply tall tales; some are spun from his own life. A poem about an old ranch house, for example, is about his grandfather’s home in Johnson County. He was raised by his grandfather and grandmother in that house, where he was taught that "your word is your bond." Those old-school values were a staple of Wednesday’s Campfire Stories, which included plenty of cowboy songs and poetry and a healthy dose of Western swing. It’s the 13th year for the event, with all the performers working for free, and it’s a continuation of a lifetime tradition for Giles. When Giles was a child, his grandfather brought him to the Stock Show when it was still held in the Fort Worth Stockyards. As an adult, he showed horses for years and recalled getting a "cold chill" every time he entered Will Rogers Coliseum. And 12 years ago he started performing the cowboy poetry that has become a fundamental part of Campfire Stories at each Stock Show. At his ranch in Godley, Giles tried to pass down what his grandfather instilled in him to his foster children. He and his wife, Chris, helped raise 61 children over 27 more

Song Of The Day #229

Ranch Radio will help you get through the weekend with a four pack. Sticking with the 60's here is Faron Young That's The Way It's Gotta Be (1960), Ernest Ashworth - I Love To Dance With Annie (1964), Leroy Van Dyke - Walk On By (1962) and Carl Smith - Tall Tall Gentleman (1965).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lawns may contribute to global warming

It's the sort of headline that would grab the attention of any city dweller: Urban 'Green' Spaces May Contribute to Global Warming. As it turns out, "green spaces" doesn't mean pocket parks or wooded areas. It refers to grass. Grass in parks and grass covering athletic fields. And, although the study – from the University of California Irvine – looked at grass in parks, the conclusions may give pause to lawn-proud homeowners, too: Dispelling the notion that urban “green” spaces help counteract greenhouse gas emissions, new research has found – in Southern California at least – that total emissions would be lower if lawns did not exist. Why? It's not so much the grass -- which does remove CO2 from the air and store carbon in the soil -- but the care that the lawn needs: applying fertilizer, mowing, irrigation, leaf blowing, etc., all of which produce emissions (four times greater than the amount of carbon stored) more

Calling all urban dwellers. It's time you do your part in fighting global warming. Kindly destroy all those lawns, golf courses and soccer fields!

EPA regional administrator vows "revolutionary" changes

The happy days are over for polluters and those who would exploit resources in downtrodden inner-city communities, Indian reservations and San Francisco Bay, the new regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency declared Tuesday. Jared Blumenfeld, who took over the federal post this month, vowed during a news conference to make "revolutionary" changes that will end EPA invisibility and reconnect the agency to the citizens, whose health and livelihoods are at more

Their "health and livelihoods" are at stake? Thank goodness we have the EPA to save us. Welcome to Obamaland.

He'll reconnect alright and I'm sure they will love it when the green police show up to rip out their lawns.

Target drops all farmed salmon from stores

Target Corp. said Tuesday that it had eliminated all farmed salmon from its fresh, frozen and smoked seafood sections at stores nationwide. This decision includes national brands and Target's own Archer Farms and Market Pantry labels. All salmon sold under Target-owned brands will now be wild-caught Alaskan salmon; the company also said sushi made with farm-raised salmon will be made with wild-caught salmon by the end of the year. The discount giant said it wanted to ensure that its salmon was "sourced in a sustainable way that helps to preserve abundance, species health and doesn't harm local habitats." The company said salmon farms can hurt the environment through pollution, chemicals and more

And all farm-raised Americans and their city cousins should stay the hell out of Target Stores.

More States Require 'Green' Cleaning Products

More states are requiring schools and government buildings to use environmentally friendly cleaning products, raising debate about their costs and benefits. After a burst of legislation last year, 10 states including Connecticut, Illinois and New York require or encourage "green" floor waxes, window cleaners and other products in schools, according to Green Seal Inc., a nonprofit that certifies the products. Similar bills are expected to be debated this year in at least five states. Critics say that while the measures are laudable, states should not mandate which products schools and agencies must buy, especially if they increase costs for governments that are struggling financially. Mason's plan, like those in other states, would require public buildings in Wisconsin to use cleaning and paper products certified as environmentally sensitive by the federal government or several private groups. But it also would encourage agencies to apply the products in ways that reduce water use and the amount of chemicals released into the more

How Green Are Your Nukes?

Environmentalists fiercely disagree about the role nuclear power might play in addressing global warming. Two new books by big names in the green movement stake out the boundaries of that debate. On the pro-nuclear side stands Stewart Brand with Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto. In the other corner you’ll find Al Gore with Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis. Both men have impeccable environmentalist credentials. A self-described Green, Brand edited the landmark hippie handbook, the Whole Earth Catalog, back in 1968. Gore, who served as vice president under Bill Clinton, wrote in his 1992 book Earth in the Balance that we “must make the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization.” Once an opponent of nuclear power, Brand is now a big backer. Where others argue that reactor generation of power is an unsafe, expensive process that produces hazardous waste and could contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, Brand writes, “I’ve learned to disbelieve much of what I’ve been told by my fellow environmentalists.” more

Scientists in stolen e-mail scandal hid climate data

The university at the centre of the climate change row over stolen e-mails broke the law by refusing to hand over its raw data for public scrutiny. The University of East Anglia breached the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to comply with requests for data concerning claims by its scientists that man-made emissions were causing global warming. The Information Commissioner’s Office decided that UEA failed in its duties under the Act but said that it could not prosecute those involved because the complaint was made too late, The Times has learnt. The ICO is now seeking to change the law to allow prosecutions if a complaint is made more than six months after a more

Climate Flimflam Flaming Out

The United Nations makes a claim that can't be supported by science, and U.S. researchers ignore temperature data from frigid regions. The crack-up of the global warming fraud is picking up speed. With so much of the science behind climate change coming under attack, especially among scientists, it's been a harsh winter for the global warming crowd: • In late November, thousands of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia were leaked to the public. The evidence strongly suggests that researchers colluded to prove the global warming scientific "consensus" by rigging, burying and destroying data that ran counter to their political agenda. • Last week, the public learned that claims made by the U.N.'s International Panel on Climate Change were not based on science, but on speculation. Specifically, the IPCC's 2007 report said the Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2035 due to man-made global warming. • Also in the last week, it was revealed that U.S. researchers working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are excluding temperature data from cold regions for a database used by the U.N. in its global warming scare more

One year ago today Barack Obama's inaugural address pledged that "We will restore science to its rightful place...our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed."

Officials critical of BLM’s secrecy

Elected officials working with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management say the agency’s policy of closed-door land-use planning sessions is preventing them from sharing substantive information with the public, and that details of their work will be disclosed only after key decisions have been made. Some interest groups and individuals following the agency’s revision of resource management plans in the Bighorn Basin and other parts of the state say they feel shut out of the process. BLM managers say that state and federal laws do not require them to open cooperator meetings to the public, and that the process is more productive when participants can speak freely, without fearing that their comments will be misconstrued or misrepresented. Frustrations are rising among some participants as the process continues in counties across the state, with much at stake. Final plans will guide nearly every aspect of how millions of acres of public lands are managed, governing oil and gas development, off-road vehicle use, habitat management and more. By not having the public there, we don’t have anybody feeling weird that their comments are taken out of context or misconstrued,” said Karla Bird, field manager for the Worland BLM more

Go to any BLM meeting, open or closed, and you will end up "feeling weird".

Veronica Egan and the 'Great Old Broads' keep vigil over wilderness

Don't call Veronica Egan a lady. Call her what she calls herself: a great old broad. As executive director since 2002 of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, an environmental group based in Durango, Colo., Ms. Egan encourages everyone to become a "Broad." Founded by Susan Tixier as a nonprofit organization in Escalante, Utah, in 1989 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the passage of the federal Wilderness Act, Great Old Broads for Wilderness means business. Its mission is to advocate for wilderness and wildlands. To do this, it relies almost entirely on the experience, energy, activism, and commitment of elders. Talk with Egan and she quickly reveals her commitment to her work. These events ignited a passion in Egan to become an advocate for natural resources. Living in Santa Fe, N.M., on her family's dude ranch – "a hotel with horses," she says, laughing – she became a professional guide and outfitter for 30 years, which helped her understand the wisdom of conservation and good stewardship of the land, something she began to share. "I used my saddle as my soapbox," she says. Much later, when she decided to make a change, she felt drawn to Great Old Broads. "The mission spoke to my passion. And, of course, there's the name of the group – I loved the humor." In the rough-and-tumble world of environmental activism, the age factor can be a plus, Egan says. Broads in 22 chapters – "Broadbands" – in 18 states join with other environmental groups to ensure that wilderness areas will be preserved for future more

Micheli formally enters Wyoming governor race

Promising a smaller, more efficient government, Ron Micheli formally kicked off his campaign for governor at noon Wednesday at the State Capitol rotunda. The 61-year-old rancher began his announcement tour Tuesday evening in his home territory at Lyman in Uinta County. Micheli, a former legislator and former director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, has been traveling the state for months in his quest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. During his speech, Micheli said his highest priority as governor will be to make it easier to do business in Wyoming in order to facilitate a strong economy and good jobs. Government, he said, “needs to get out of the way and let the private sector work.” Micheli mentioned several times the need to support the U.S. Constitution and to fight infringement by the federal government. “We need a governor who will stand up for the Constitution of this great land,” he said. “We need a governor who understands the 10th amendment to the Constitution and will fight for more

I worked with Ron when we were both Secretary of Agriculture in our respective states. He's a good man.

Tribes call for restoration of humane horse processing in the United States

The closure of horse-processing facilities in Texas and Illinois has had a far-reaching effect on the horse industry throughout the country. Without the slaughter option, the horse market has been flooded, the prices for all horses have dropped dramatically, and the livelihood of horse ranchers-tribal and otherwise-has been severely jeopardized. A collateral economic effect of the glut of horses is the devastating impact their populations are making on the environment. Forage depredation is only part of the picture. Plants important in tribal spiritual practices and medicine are being destroyed. Vegetation needed for big and small game has disappeared. Streams important to sport and Indian subsistence fisheries are degraded by silty topsoil rolling off denuded slopes. Katherine Minthorn Good Luck, spokesperson for the Northwest Tribal Horse Coalition, noting that a historic meeting of tribes from across the Nation was held in Fort Hall, Idaho last year, and that as a result strong policy resolutions have now been passed by the National Congress of American Indians. "The tribes stand shoulder to shoulder with the United Organizations of the Horse to call for the return of humane and regulated processing of horses in the U.S.," says Good Luck, "and for the ability to manage feral horses in a sensible way that will actually protect our precious lands, maintain our sacred horses at sustainable levels, and provide much needed jobs for our depressed economy." more

Stimulus price tag soars

The economic stimulus bill's price tag has risen to $862 billion, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday — a $75 billion jump that's a result in part to the fact that, despite the spending, joblessness has risen and the government is paying out more than expected on unemployment benefits. The CBO, in a new report, also said spending in fiscal 2010 will push the deficit to more than $1.3 trillion, or nearly the record $1.4 trillion deficit recorded in more

Let's play the incentive game. As the Obama economic policies fail the costs go up. In other words, failure results in the bureacrats having more money to spend. What kind of incentive is that?

The buffalo roam at the National Western Stock Show

The winner was a two-year-old unnamed bull from the Silver Creek Bison Ranch in Alberta, Canada, purchased for about $8,000 by Steve Wilson of the Kentucky Bison Company near Louisville, Kentucky. "He'll be enjoying warmer weather where he's headed," National Bison Association director Dave Carter says of the bull, and his future life of leisure as well, since the big buffalo will be spending a lot of time with the ladies, helping to build the herd. Wilson also owns the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, which was just selected as the best hotel in the United States by Condé Nast Traveler magazine. And the hotel's restaurant, Proof on Main, serves plenty of bison steaks, Carter says. Although the $8,000 price tag was well up from last year's winning $5,750 buffalo, it was nothing compared to the $101,000 that Kentucky buffalo rancher Robert Allen paid for an animal named Chief Joseph in more

Trevor Brazile's Un-Bridled Roping Run On Texaco

AQHA Horse Show Fort Worth Texas 1/26/2010 7.6 seconds run

Song Of The Day #228

Ranch Radio kind of wandered away from the 60's yesterday with the craving for the dobro and fiddle. We'll make up for it today with two selections highlighting the Bakersfield Sound of Wynn Stewart - Playboy and Big, Big Love.

You can check out his available recordings here.

You can expect some more wanderin' in the future though. My plan for 2010 ten is to not have one.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Critics push ways to improve the ESA, but politics block major reform

Westerners who gripe about the Endangered Species Act often have very clear ideas about how they’d change it. But actually making those changes is another matter entirely. The ESA is the very definition of a political hot potato, and there may not be much anyone can do to alter it anytime soon. Getting people of all persuasions together to help a species is easier said than done. Idaho residents and government officials alike clearly see local input and guidance as vital to the ESA. Steve Westphal of Filer, a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, praised the role grassroots groups — such as the one he supports — play in conservation. “It’s made up almost entirely of volunteers like me,” he said. “And we do it because we love the outdoors and we want to protect our interest for the future generations.” But even locals can disagree, and politics and philosophy can infect attempts to cooperate. One of the agencies’ most critical roles from a local perspective is crafting habitat conservation agreements for listed species. In exchange for pledging to improve habitat over a 10-year span, landowners aren’t punished for minimal harassment or harm to a listed species in the course of business. That’s the ESA’s main tool in recruiting private landowners, explained Kendra Womack, who handles Fish and Wildlife conservation partnerships in Idaho. “So it’s a real win-win, where we get conservation … and in return we kind of take away the perceived disincentive of having species on the property,” Womack said. The agencies also pursue more voluntary habitat projects with watershed groups, soil conservation districts and the state Office of Species Conservation. By offering cost-share incentives, the feds find more landowners who more

“So it’s a real win-win, where we get conservation … and in return we kind of take away the perceived disincentive of having species on the property,” Womack said.

Notice the balance here. The feds "get" conservation. They don't "kind of" get conservation nor is it just "perceived" conservation. They get the real thing.

The private landowner on the other hand "kind of" gets protected.

According to Womack any "disincentive" to having endangered species on your private property is only "perceived". I guess since the disincentives are not real, that is how you can "kind of" "take (them) away."

I think this April I'll "kind of" pay my taxes.

Is The Real Action On Climate Policy In The States?

You don't usually hear a whole lot about what individual states are doing to tackle climate change. Surely those efforts, however noble, are just too small to matter—too local, too patchy. The only people who can really make a dent in U.S. energy policy are wandering around Capitol Hill, right? It's Congress or bust? Well, maybe. But that option's not looking too bright these days, given the fog around whether Congress will even pass a climate bill this year (or next year, or…). So maybe it's time to figure out if the states really could get together and pick up the slack. The person to ask would be Terry Tamminen, who advised Arnold Schwarzenegger on climate policy back when California was drafting its plan to reduce carbon emissions 25 percent by 2020. Since then, Tamminen has traveled around the country trying to convince other governors to adopt their own climate plans—Florida's Charlie Crist was another early convert. When I asked him whether states could step up if Congress didn't pass a bill, he laughed and said I had the premise all wrong. "What they're doing is already genuinely significant," he explained. "You have thirty-three states with climate plans. These aren't just vague aspirational plans like you saw under the Kyoto Protocol, but concrete goals on efficiency, renewables—tangible things that are being written in law." Seven different states, for instance, are considering bills to set hard emissions targets, ala California's AB 32. Indeed, looking around at everything being done on the state level, it does start to add more

Tester forest bill an opportunity for the Forest Service

After a lifetime in Montana and a career in the Forest Service, I welcome Sen. Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act as a way of making our national forests and communities healthier. In 2008 I retired from the U.S. Forest Service after 33 years, 25 years on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and 19 as the District Ranger of the Madison Ranger District headquartered in Ennis. I worked with a talented crew of public-minded foresters, biologists and engineers to make wise use of that national forest. But the job carried frustrations as well. Imagine working hard for several years on a project you believe will provide raw material for local mills, help improve forest health, and improve conditions for fish and wildlife. Then, after all that work, the project is lost in litigation. My colleagues and I grappled with this challenge daily. It really doesn't matter whether the project would rehabilitate aspen stands, reduce fuel near homes and communities, or salvage bug killed trees. If the project removed trees it was destined for appeal and litigation. So I have closely followed the debate of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. After attending Senator Testor's meeting in Dillon, viewing the Senate Committee for Natural Resources hearing and attended Congressman Rehberg's listening session in Ennis I have drawn the following more

Rehberg could support phased-in wilderness plan

U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said that he could support U.S. Sen. Jon Tester's plan to expand wilderness and increase logging -- but only with more assurances that the logging will occur. Rehberg, who has held 22 meetings on the measure, said Monday he doesn't think Tester's plan accomplishes its intended goals the way it's written. Rehberg said he would like to see the wilderness areas created in pieces if logging benchmarks are met. Otherwise, the Republican said, the logging could get tied up in court after the wilderness is created. Rehberg envisions an annual analysis to make sure each side gets what it wants. If 7,000 acres have been logged as stated, then a part of the new wilderness area can be established, he more

Arizona Congressman Circulating Letter to Expand the USFS “de-facto Wilderness” Policy

Congressman Grijalva (D – AZ), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, is generating increased Congressional attention to a controversial management plan currently being implemented in Region 1 of the U.S. Forest Service (Region 1 = Montana and N. Idaho). Recreationists across Montana have been fighting an attempt by Region 1 to manage all Recommended Wilderness Areas (RWAs) as de-facto Wilderness areas, banning motorized recreation and mountain bike use. Only Congress can designate Wilderness. This is logical because Wilderness is the most restrictive land management designation on the planet. It is not wise, nor legal, for any federal land management agency to establish de-facto Wilderness areas. Chairman Grijalva has written a letter in support of the Region 1 RWA policy and he is urging the Forest Service to expand it to all National Forests, nationwide. Grijalva is also circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter among members of the House of Representatives for more

Grijalva is such a rabid wilderness advocate that he is actually supporting the FS's apparent gambit to bypass Congress.

The FS has the authority to ban off-highway vehicles already, it's just not a blanket policy for all RWAs.

Anyway, I thought wilderness areas were supposed to be "roadless".

Clayton Williams Suing to Pump Water From Land

Former Texas gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams has sued a West Texas water district for denying his application to pump water from beneath his land. Williams claims in a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Midland that several of his constitutional rights were violated when the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District denied his plan. The Pecos County wildcatter, rancher and multimillionaire who lost the 1990 Texas governor's race to Ann Richards is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. The suit claims the district discriminated against Williams' application by treating it ''differently than others similarly situated'' and that the district's board violated his due process rights by denying his application. Williams has used water on his land for decades, but now wants to change the district-sanctioned use and export more

NM depredation bill clears first hurdle

New Mexico officials and wildlife groups are pressing the Legislature once again to eliminate a provision in state law that allows farmers and ranchers to kill wildlife on private land, unless the animals are predators that pose an immediate threat to humans, livestock or pets. Legislation that would reform New Mexico's depredation law passed its first hurdle Tuesday with a 5-3 vote in the House Health and Government Affairs Committee. Under the bill, it would be illegal for landowners to kill big game animals simply for threatening crops. The bill calls for the Department of Game and Fish to investigate any crop damage and come up a non-lethal solution. That could mean providing fencing material for the landowner. Critics say the bill will only result in frustration for landowners. AP

Tracking the Goat Sucker

I sorely wanted to remain in bed, but reminded myself of why I came to this sticky Central American rainforest: to find the elusive chupacabra. Bigfoot, the mysterious creature said to roam the North American wilderness, is named after what it leaves behind: big footprints. The chupacabra is also known less for what it is than for what it leaves behind: dead animals. Though goats are said to be its favourite prey (chupacabra means goat sucker in Spanish), the creat­ure has also been blamed for attacks on sheep, cattle, chickens, and other animals. Descriptions of the chupacabra vary widely, but many accounts suggest that the creature is either canid (like a dog or wolf) or stands upright about 4–5ft tall. It has short but powerful legs that allow it to leap fantastic dist­ances, long claws, and terrifying, glowing red eyes. The creature first gained real notoriety in 1995 in Puerto Rico (FT85:9). Many Latin Americans believe it is the unholy creation of secret US government experiments in the Puerto Rican jungles. Chupacabra sightings had a heyday of about five years, when it was widely reported in Mexico, Chile, Spain, Argentina, and Florida, among other places. After that, sightings decreased dramatically. At the 2008 UnConvention, Centre for Fortean Zoo­logy stalwart Jonathan Downes reported that chupacabras have apparently disapp­eared from Puerto Rico – in fact, that there have been no reports from that island since 1998. Where have they gone – if, indeed, they ever existed? more

How many goats can a goat sucker suck?

Bonanza' Star Pernell Roberts Dies at 81

Pernell Roberts Jr, who played the introspective eldest son of wealthy rancher Ben Cartwright on the hit TV western "Bonanza" and went on to star in medical drama "Trapper John, M.D.," has died. He was 81. Roberts died at his Malibu home on Sunday of pancreatic cancer, said his spokesman, Richard Stone. "Bonanza" first aired in 1959, and Roberts starred in the show from the start, as rancher Ben Cartwright's son. Roberts earned many fans with the role as the quiet and serious Adam, but he left the show in 1965, even though some at the time said he was ruining his career by doing it. "Bonanza" ran until 1973, and the popular series is one of the longest running westerns in TV history, behind "Gunsmoke." more

Will Rogers Coliseum showcases history of the Fort Worth Stock Show

The artwork is on display on the walls of the concourse at Will Rogers Coliseum. "The Stock Show just blends so well with the history of Fort Worth," said Shanna Weaver, a show spokeswoman. "We wanted some photos that would tell our story. It’s a good walk around memory lane." Organizers chose scenes representative of the Stock Show, including photographs showing livestock, prominent figures, rodeo action and midway fun. The artwork includes: A photo from the first Stock Show, in 1896, that depicts cattlemen gathered around a covered wagon. A 1908 photo of rancher Samuel Burk Burnett standing next to President Theodore Roosevelt, who sports a neckerchief. A 1922 photo showing a midway attraction called "The Follies." The image shows women wearing white outfits lined up on a more

Song Of The Day #227

Uh oh. Ranch Radio is in the mood for some swinging dobro. Jerry Douglas playing Like It Is can satisfy that craving. Also got a hankering for one of my favorite fiddle tunes, Lost Indian. Country Gazette has a great version.

The Douglas tune is on his 11 track CD Restless on the Farm and the fiddle tune is on Country Gazette's LP A Traitor in Our Midst.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

PEW: Global warming ranks dead last as concern for Americans

As Barack Obama begins his second year in office, the public’s priorities for the president and Congress remain much as they were one year ago. Strengthening the nation’s economy and improving the job situation continue to top the list. And, in the wake of the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, defending the country from future terrorist attacks also remains a top priority. At the same time, the public has shifted the emphasis it assigns to two major policy issues: dealing with the nation’s energy problem and reducing the budget deficit. About half (49%) say that dealing with the nation’s energy problem should be a top priority, down from 60% a year ago. At the same time, there has been a modest rise in the percentage saying that reducing the budget deficit should be a top priority, from 53% to more

Congress Went to Denmark, You Got the Bill ($1 million plus)

Thanks to a recently filed Congressional expense reports there's new light shed on the Copenhagen Climate Summit in Denmark and how much it cost taxpayers. CBS News Investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports official filings and our own investigation show at least 106 people from the House and Senate attended - spouses, a doctor, a protocol expert and even a photographer. For 15 Democratic and 6 Republican Congressmen, food and rooms for two nights cost $4,406 tax dollars each. That's $2,200 a day - more than most Americans spend on their monthly mortgage payment. CBS News asked members of Congress and staff about whether they're mindful that it's public tax dollars they're spending. Many said they had never even seen the bills or the expense more

Copenhagen Accord could boost forest protection efforts, though details unclear

Ensuring that forests and the carbon they store are protected, and that the people who live in them benefit from the protection programmes, has just got more complicated. This is the result of an unusual last-minute climate change accord at Copenhagen that recognised forest protection as key to reducing global carbon emissions but provided little guidance on how to go about it, according to experts at Forests, Governance and Climate Change, a conference held at Chatham House on Friday. The so-called "Copenhagen Accord," brokered by the United States and signed by China, India, Brazil and South Africa in the waning hours of the Copenhagen negotiations, specifically supports REDD, an international mechanism aimed at "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation." Under the mechanism, created through U.N. negotiations, developed nations would pay poorer countries to preserve their tropical forests as a means of cutting global carbon more

Tester’s forest bill not a feasible, long-term solution

Sen. Jon Tester’s proposed legislation, the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, clearly recognizes that the governance of the national forest system is increasingly dysfunctional, expensive, inconsistent, confused and frustrating. Surely those who cobbled together this “compromise” did so with the best of intentions. And, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has the nerve to address the impasse. But, the proposal sidesteps the real problem and opens a Pandora’s box. This solution will prove to be neither feasible nor long-lasting while further confusing the situation. Should the national forests become “local forests” managed under separate laws and overseen by “advisory panels” financed with federal dollars and staffed with federal employees? Who cut this deal – which is proposed as law supplanting current prescribed planning and management processes? I do not question the proponent’s integrity or motivations. I applaud their willingness to step forward. But, the approach is flawed, inappropriate, less than fully informed, and has implications for the management of the entire national forest system. It should be debated in that more

The column linked to is by Jack Ward Thomas, former Chief of the FS.

It amazes me how some federales and most enviro's oppose local input into forest plans and management. If, as Ward says, the mgt. of forest lands is now "dysfunctional, expensive, inconsistent, confused and frustrating" why not try something new? Personally, I think the local or regional mgt of federal lands is in our future.

Rehberg says forest bill needs to change before he’ll support it

U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg won’t support Sen. Jon Tester’s sweeping forest bill as it is written, the congressman said Monday, saying the legislation can’t deliver on promises of increased logging in the state. “One thing is clear: The bill does not and will not accomplish what it aims to and what we want it to,” Rehberg, a Republican, told the Chronicle’s editorial board on Monday. The bill has been pitched by Tester, D-Mont., and supporters as a compromise between forest stakeholders that would give the state new wilderness for the first time in nearly three decades while reviving the flagging timber industry by requiring that at least 100,000 acres of forest are opened up for logging in the state over the next 10 years. It would also carve out hundreds of thousands of acres of “recreation areas” that protect motorized use in the forests. But Rehberg questioned how effective the logging requirement will be. He said groups will still have the right to appeal timber contracts in court, potentially tying up timber projects in litigation while more than 600,000 acres of land is designated wilderness. Supporters of the bill acknowledge it doesn’t prevent lawsuits, but said wilderness advocates who are supporting the bill will stand behind the Forest Service and logging companies in more

Mystery surrounds fate of sage grouse - Agencies could list bird by next month

Mountain Home rancher Steve Damele is the kind of cattleman who doesn’t mince words when talking about threatened species on his land. But he only had one answer when asked if his property was habitat for the Greater sage grouse. “I’d rather not say.” Such worries are commonplace as the federal government completes a lengthy review of whether to list the bird under the Endangered Species Act. The birds’ numbers have dropped for a decade, some believe to half its historic habitat. Southern Idaho is one region where numbers are on the decline. The debate over the bird, which lives in sagebrush areas across nearly 260,000 square miles of the West, has already ignited a controversial debate intertwining politics and science. ESA protections for anything but plants stretch over both public and private land, and federal listing of the bird would have a heavy impact on energy projects, traditional land uses and economic growth in southern more

Forest service boosting patrol efforts to catch snowmobile trespassers

Inyo National Forest officers will be adding aerial patrols in their effort to catch snowmobilers riding in off-limit areas this winter. The airplane patrols will be added to monitor designated Wilderness and Research Natural areas, which have been prohibited to motorized vehicle access since the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Riding in closed areas is both a federal and state offense, punishable by fines up to $5,000, six months in jail and possible seizure of more

The FS press release is here.

I don't believe low flying aircraft are allowed over wilderness areas, so how will the FS perform their aerial patrols?

I've asked Inyo officials to clarify their policy on this and will share their response.

Interior chief Salazar's first year a gusher of controversy

Somewhere just after 12:30 p.m. on a cold Wednesday this month, the image of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as a Western pragmatist and wily political deal-maker evaporated in a cloud of heated rhetoric. After months of doing battle with the oil and gas industry, the typically cautious Salazar lost his cool in a media call Jan. 6, blasting companies for acting like they were "kings of the world" and treating the country's public lands as their own personal "candy store." If energy companies didn't know it already, the Bush era of free-wheeling oil and gas drilling across the West was officially over. A year into his tenure as the 50th secretary of the interior, Salazar has surprised both fans and critics. He's proved bold, ambitious and more willing to directly confront foes than accommodate them. But to critics, Salazar is committing the same sins of which he often accuses the prior administration — politicizing decisions, shutting out views and pursuing an agenda that swaps an industry clique for an environmental more

Group wants to close caves nationwide to protect bats

An advocacy group alarmed over the mass die-off of bats with white-nose syndrome has asked the Department of Interior to close all bat caves and mines on federal land nationwide. The Center for Biological Diversity made the request in a petition to Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar. The center also asked for endangered species protection for two types of bat hit hard by white-nose — the eastern small-footed bat and the northern long-eared bat. White-nose is estimated to have killed more than a million bats in nine Eastern states since it was first noticed in New York in 2006. The syndrome is named for the sugary smudges of fungus on affected more

Southwest drying predicted by UA stalagmite study

A 44,000-year climate history recorded in a stalagmite in a wet cave in the Santa Rita Mountains lends credence to what scientists have long suspected: When the climate warms globally, the Southwest dries out. In a paper to be published in February's Nature Geoscience, a team of University of Arizona researchers reports abrupt shifts between wet and dry periods that correspond to shifts in cold and warm periods recorded in Arctic ice samples. Julia Cole, UA professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences and a co-author of the report, said the record is pretty clear: "When Greenland is warm, we're dry; when it's cold, we're wet." Greenland is warming, and scientists predict it will warm more in the coming decades. "Abrupt" is a relative term in geology. The shifts from wet to dry took hundreds of more

Campers upset over U.S. Forest Service changes to "lifetime" discounts

This isn't the end of the world, but it irks those affected. They say a deal is a deal, even if you make it with the federal government. Since the 1960s, the U.S. has sold passes for frequent visitors to national parks and other federal lands. The original "lifetime" deal was for free admission and a 50 percent discount on camping and related fees. For Americans over 62 there was the "Golden Age Passport." For the disabled, the "Golden Access." For the rest of the public, the "Golden Eagle." The names have changed now, and the old cards are being phased out. But in December, the Forest Service proposed a reduction in the discount from 50 percent to 10 percent at places managed by private concessionaires, a little more than half the total number of more

Sheryl Crow & Co. ride off in the wrong direction

As if the Bureau of Land Management doesn’t have enough trouble trying to decide what to do with about 32,000 of the critters in holding facilities and another 37,000 out on the range (about 9,000 over the range’s appropriate management level), along comes Sheryl and her band of pseudo-equine experts claiming the BLM is managing the herds to extinction. Other celebrities in her band of “experts” include Willie Nelson, Lily Tomlin, Bill Maher and Ed Harris, who are also riding in on Sheryl’s Trojan Horse. Sheryl has tried to get a rope on the secretary of the interior to halt the Calico Mountain, Nev., 2,500-head roundup now taking place and is also urging him to put a moratorium on all future roundups. So far, she has failed. She even dropped off a saddlebag full of books and DVD’s about wild horses at the White House for President Obama and has appeared in a video produced by equine activists. If she really wanted to get a firm grip on the reins and sit tall in the saddle, she would trot her band over to help BLM with its “perfect equine storm” — an unprecedented glut of wild more

BLM roundup: 1,068 mustangs now held in Fallon

The Bureau of Land Management has declined to put up windbreaks and shelters in the corrals where more than 1,000 wild horses are awaiting transport to adoption centers and pastures, prompting mustang advocates to accuse the agency of inhumane treatment of the animals. Federal officials said the requests of the animal activists were considered, but experience with other holding facilities in Fallon and the advice of veterinarians led to the determination that windbreaks, such as tarpaulins or plywood, aren't needed. That response doesn't satisfy the activists. Last week, BLM officials who took news media on a tour of the Fallon holding facility said the natural terrain and dry conditions make shelters or artificial windbreaks unnecessary. The Fallon facility, run by a private contractor, is new and has several large corrals. Some of the corrals include hills where horses gather on the leeward side when the wind picks up. Garner noted the BLM requires people who adopt wild horses to have three-sided shelters in their corrals. "So what's good for one horse isn't good for 1,000 horses?" she asked. "Where's the logic?" more

8 dead in Western avalanches so far this winter

Mountain adventurers beware: Avalanche danger is high around the West, with slides up to 10 feet tall and a half-mile wide killing eight people already this year. The latest fatality was a skier who died in northern Utah on Sunday when a slab of snow broke away just outside the Snowbasin resort. Avalanche conditions are particularly ripe after last week's storms piled deep, slide-prone layers of heavy snow atop months-old layers of snow that are crystallized and weak. "It's like putting a brick on top of a pile of potato chips," Bruce Tremper, director of the Utah Avalanche Center, said Monday. "It doesn't work. It can't hold the weight." more

Song Of The Day #226

Ranch Radio will stay in the 60's this week, with George Jones and his 1962 recording of Open Pit Mine.

You can download an mp3 of the song here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Call for UN climate chief to resign

It is time for the embattled Rajendra Pachauri to resign as Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), He is steadfastly refusing to go, but his position is becoming more and more untenable by the day, and the official climate science body will continue to leach credibility while he remains in charge. When on Friday I wrote for my Daily Telegraph column (published yesterday) that he was “at best one more blunder away from having to resign”, I did not expect other errors to come to light quite so fast. But, as I blogged yesterday, four more have now been reported from the part of the latest IPCC report on Himalayan glaciers that contained the notorious – and now withdrawn - claim that they would disappear by 2035. And there are now reports that it erred in relying on an unpublished report in linking natural disasters like flood and hurricanes to global warming. All appear much less serious than the original Himalayan howler, but they add to the impression of sloppiness at the more

Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn't been verified

The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders. Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research. In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said: ‘It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action. ‘It had importance for the region, so we thought we should put it in.’ Dr Lal’s admission will only add to the mounting furore over the melting glaciers assertion, which the IPCC was last week forced to withdraw because it has no scientific more

A U.S. ClimateGate?

Climate researchers and the Weather Channel's founder accuse NASA of the same data manipulation as Britain's Climate Research Unit. Were weather stations cherry-picked to hide the temperature drop? We recently commented on how our space agency for two years refused Freedom of Information requests on why it has had to repeatedly correct its climate figures. In a report on global warming on KUSI television by Weather Channel founder and iconic TV weatherman John Coleman, that reticence has been traced to the deliberate manipulation and distortion of climate data by NASA. As Coleman noted in a KUSI press release, NASA's two primary climate centers, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, N.C., and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University in New York City, are accused of "creating a strong bias toward warmer temperatures through a system that dramatically trimmed the number and cherry-picked the locations of weather observation stations they use to produce the data set on which temperature record reports are based." more

UN climate panel to review claim on natural disaster

Controversy-ridden UN climate panel has said it is reassessing another of its claim for linking global warming to an increase in the number and severity of natural disasters, bringing fresh embarrassment to it. The latest criticism of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) comes after the panel admitted its mistake in asserting that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035. The report also included another claim that rapidly rising costs from events such as floods and hurricanes were linked to climate change. “We are reassessing the evidence and will publish a report on natural disasters and extreme weather with the latest findings. Despite recent events the IPCC process is still very rigorous and scientific,” The Sunday Times quoted professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-chair of the IPCC as saying. The newspaper claims that report, which won the panel a noble peace prize, was based on an unpublished paper that had not been subjected to routine scientific scrutiny. When the paper was eventually published, in 2008, it said: “We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and catastrophe losses.” Despite this change the IPCC did not issue a clarification ahead of the Copenhagen climate summit last month, the paper said. Two scientific who checked drafts of the report had urged greater caution in proposing a link between climate change and disaster impacts, but were more

Idaho grazing debate sparks ESA rancor

The endangered species debate in Idaho has long been complicated by another longstanding issue — public-lands grazing. Environmentalists have never been wild about the way some ranchers treat the public lands they grazed on. But over the past two decades in Idaho, spurred especially by the rise of environmental watchdog Western Watersheds Project, the disagreements between the two have taken on new heat. Grazing opponents and advocates have made it clear how they view each other. “It comes from a lot of things,” said Katie Fite, WWP’s biodiversity director, speaking recently about her view that ranchers feel entitled to public resources. “It comes from who are really the sixth-generation ranchers: displaced Confederate soldiers, hating the federal government from day one.” “How can our outfit be the bad guy all the time, and these others never are?” rancher Ted Hoffman bemoaned during a recent interview. It’s hard to find common ground by this point. Steve Damele argues that his ranch and the public land he grazes near Mountain Home winters 600 elk and thousands of deer. He’s working with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation on some habitat improvements, currently focused on what grasses thrive in a test plot. It all could become subdivisions if he and other ranchers are kicked off, he more

Endangered species clashes: far from extinct

Listing an endangered species is a serious business. Steve Damele was one Idahoan who did his best to protect a troubled Western plant. One of several private landowners with slickspot peppergrass, he followed other ranchers and joined a state-led effort to preserve the plant on his Mountain Home land by altering a number of his rangeland practices. Then last October, after a decade of scientific studies and lawsuits, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would list slickspot peppergrass as threatened. And Damele, along with the others, now asks why he should bother to help any species when it won’t make a difference. “It’s safe to say everything gets listed eventually,” said Damele’s fellow rancher Ted Hoffman. The Endangered Species Act isn’t that simple. But locals and state officials who have dealt with it daily argue that the peppergrass decision is the latest sign that something is more

Endangered Species Act 101

A key to some terms related to the Endangered Species Act: Candidate species: Any species formally considered for listing as endangered or threatened. Conservation: The use of every method necessary to recover endangered and threatened species. Consultation: The requirement for biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or NOAA Fisheries to review any federal project with a potential impact on listed species. Critical habitat: Specific areas designated by the government as essential for a species’ recovery. Endangered species: Any species — other than insects considered as pests — in danger of going extinct in all or a significant part of its range. Endangered Species Act: First passed in 1973, it governs the U.S. approach to identifying and aiding animals and plants at risk of going extinct. Endangered species list: The list of all species deemed threatened and endangered in the U.S. and abroad by the U.S. government. “God Squad”: A nickname for the Endangered Species Committee, a Cabinet-level group with the power to allow federal projects to move forward despite any harm to listed more

Next move in jaguar capture case now up to US Attorney's Office

Federal investigators are weighing whether the evidence gathered in the case of jaguar Macho B merits prosecution of anyone involved in its capture last year, an official said Friday. The criminal investigation is now under "prosecutorial review" by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tucson, said Nicholas Chavez, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's law enforcement chief for the Southwest. "It's an ongoing investigation with coordination and consultation going on between the service and the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Chavez, who declined to comment on specifics. The U.S. Attorney's Office will not comment on the case because of the ongoing criminal investigation, said Sandra Raynor, a spokeswoman for the office in more

Jaguars Don’t Live Here Anymore

EARLIER this month, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would designate “critical habitat” for the endangered jaguar in the United States and take the first steps toward mandating a jaguar recovery plan. This is a policy reversal and, on the surface, it may appear to be a victory for the conservation community and for jaguars, the largest wild cats in the Western Hemisphere. But as someone who has studied jaguars for nearly three decades, I can tell you it is nothing less than a slap in the face to good science. What’s more, by changing the rules for animal preservation, it stands to weaken the Endangered Species Act. The 1997 decision not to determine critical habitat for the jaguar was the right one, because even though they cross the border from time to time, jaguars don’t occupy any territory in our country — and that probably means the environment here is no longer ideal for them. Despite the continued evidence, the two conservation advocacy groups continued to sue the government. Apparently, they want jaguars to repopulate the United States even if jaguars don’t want to. Last March, a federal district judge in Arizona ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to revisit its 2006 determination on critical habitat. The facts haven’t changed: there is still no area in the United States essential to the conservation of the jaguar. But, having asserted this twice already, the service, now under a new president, has bent to the tiresome litigation. On Jan. 12, Fish and Wildlife officials claimed to have evaluated new scientific information that had become available after the July 2006 ruling. Lo and behold, they determined that it is now prudent to designate critical habitat for the jaguar in the United more

Ranchers look to roll back state land grazing rule

The Idaho Cattle Association is working on a constitutional amendment designed to nullify a proposed rule that gives sportsmen and conservation groups the chance to compete for grazing leases on state land. The cattleman's group hopes to introduce the amendment in the Legislature this year. It targets rules adopted by the Idaho Land Board last year that await approval by the 2010 Legislature. The land board, seeking to end years of legal wrangling over state policy for managing leases on about 1.8 million acres of endowment lands, drafted a rule that clears the way for conservation groups, sportsmen and others to bid on leases. For decades, those leases have been the exclusive domain of cattle and sheep ranchers. If approved by lawmakers, livestock producers contend the rule would harm the industry and a way of life. They also say the rule would enable groups more interested in forcing a wider debate on all public lands grazing to target leases critical to specific allotments that also include federal more

Tracking the trail of attorney fees

Wyoming attorney Karen Budd-Falen has worked in recent months with the Western Legacy Alliance, a group formed in Idaho to promote ranching, mining and other “traditional” public-lands interests. The alliance tracks money the federal government pays to cover attorney fees for groups such as Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club. The groups are high-profile targets — the net worth of many measured in millions of dollars. Budd-Falen argues the money is a large part of what allows such groups to tie environmental issues up in the courts and maintain the cycle of court filings. Plaintiffs must be considered to have “prevailed” over the government to collect EAJA fees. Individuals must have a net worth of no more than $2 million; the limit rises to $4 million for organizations. But nonprofits such as many environmental groups have no limit. A $125-per-hour cap on legal fees can also be waived in special cases — and often when environmental lawyers get involved, Budd-Falen alleged. In December, Budd-Falen said she’d tracked $34.3 million in payments from 13 environmental groups in 18 states. The fees were requested in nearly half of 1,159 cases; in 47 of those, the amount paid by the government was not publicly more

Prairie burns may violate proposed new air pollution limits

Each spring, huge swaths of the Flint Hills are burned to help preserve the prairie and provide richer fodder for cattle. With the flames come smoke and airborne particulates. A widespread burn last spring bumped Wichita's air pollution levels to the worst in the nation, driving Sedgwick County's ozone levels 25 to 30 percent over federal air pollution limits. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering stricter ozone limits, urban areas including Wichita and Kansas City worry that the annual grassland burns could push them out of compliance. On Friday, the state Senate Natural Resources Committee started hearings focused on the proposed EPA regulations and burning in the tallgrass more

Ranchers want bison kept away from herds

Some ranchers are opposed to a proposal to move 14 wild Yellowstone bison to a state park in southeast Wyoming, despite assurances from state officials that the animals are free of an animal disease that can cause abortions among cattle. Wyoming suggested Guernsey State Park as a possible home as Montana seeks to move them out of a Gardiner, Mont., quarantine facility and avoid their slaughter. Montana is also considering sending another 74 bison to billionaire Ted Turner's ranch in that state. Eastern Wyoming's ranching community is skeptical about introducing the animals in an area that's free of brucellosis. Fears over the disease helped sink an earlier attempt to move the quarantined animals to Wyoming's Wind River Indian Reservation. "People that I've talked to, they'd like to keep brucellosis, any chance of having brucellosis, out of the herds in this part of the country," said Charlie Stevenson, a Wheatland rancher and board member for the Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming. State and federal officials say the bison have been tested extensively for brucellosis and see no risk in releasing the animals more

Tamarisk-loving camels enlisted to battle an invasive species

Tamarisk is one hard-to-kill invasive plant. Since it was first introduced from Eurasia to the United States in the 1800's, it has spread through the West like wildfire. Actually, faster than wildfire. Efforts to eradicate it by burning it, cutting it, or dowsing it in herbicides have all failed. But tamarisk does have at least one formidable foe which some officials are now proposing could be a solution: hungry camels. Usually known for their stubborn personalities, humpy postures and ability to survive for weeks without water, camels and dromedaries also have a keen appetite for salty bush-- and tamarisk is as salty as they come. That's why local ranchers in Colorado have begun enlisting the inglorious beasts to eat their way to eradicating this invasive species once and for all, according to High Country News. "They will eat all day if given the opportunity," says Maggie Repp, a camel rancher in Loma, Colorado. "My camels have killed every tamarisk on our place, so why not give it a whirl?" A drooling dromedary may not have been who you first imagined as your next landscaper, but they do a darn good job. Repp reckons that 10 camels could destroy half an acre of tamarisk in just 2 days. That's not necessarily a solution for clearing the pesky shrub from the whole expanse of the Great Plains, but it's the perfect remedy for removing the odd tamarisk patch off your more

Humane Society Buys Stock in Two Chains

In an effort to encourage Jack in the Box and Steak 'n Shake to implement animal welfare changes many of their competitors have made, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced that it purchased stock in both restaurant chains. The HSUS intends to use its stockholder position to move the companies away from egg suppliers that confine hens in cages and pork suppliers that breed pigs in crates. The HSUS will also encourage Jack in the Box and Steak 'n Shake to influence their poultry suppliers to switch from their current slaughter system to controlled-atmosphere killing (CAK), which has been shown to greatly improve animal welfare. Matthew Prescott, corporate outreach director for the HSUS's factory farming campaign, says that Jack in the Box's and Steak 'n Shake's lack of movement on animal welfare puts them in a bad position against competitors and public more

National Western Stock Show: Denver still international hub for cattlemen

Over the past 104 years, bigger livestock expositions have faded into history, but the National Western Stock Show in Denver is still going strong, pulling in more than 600,000 visitors every year from around the world. Unique from other shows, Denver invites visitors to “the yards,” where “carloads” of bulls and heifers are on display during the 16-day run. It’s a nod to the past, although the cattle no longer arrive in railcars and often return home to sell through on-farm production sales. On the last full weekend of this year’s show, some breeders had already packed up and moved out, while a section of pens normally used to promote breed associations and herd sires was in the process of being converted into an arena for stock dog trials. Still, streams of visitors continued to flow into the yards drawn by mild weather. Hereford breeder Walter Douthit of St. Francis, Kan., was still hoping to make a sale or two before the show’s conclusion. “This has always been a tough market, but this year it’s even tougher,” he said. He noted that some of his potential Mexican customers had been impacted by the growing violence and instability in that country, saying that getting animals across the border is becoming more difficult. Raul Tellez, a marketing specialist with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, brought several Mexican ranchers to the show. He has suspended his routine trade trips to Mexico due to the violence there, but said it hasn’t dampened the interest of ranchers to come to Denver and see the cattle. “They don’t want to spend their time at the show, they want to spend their time in the yards,” he said. “If a Mexican rancher wants to look and buy, he’s going to buy.” more

Cowboy meets his Alberta crush just days before dying

Champion barrel racer Lindsay Sears was having a terrible year when a call came with an unusual request: Would she consider phoning a young bull rider battling cancer? Sears didn’t know Cody Stephens. He’d seen her race on the rodeo circuit and admired her when she nabbed the world championship in 2008. From afar, the cowboy from small-town Kansas developed a big crush on the cowgirl raised south of Calgary in Nanton, Alta. Stephens had hoped one day to meet Sears, maybe even marry the lean blond beauty, but time was running out. Last spring he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. The National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas loomed. She’d have to defend her title. But she hadn’t ridden Martha in months. She decided to quit pro rodeo. Then came the call from Stephens’ friend Ann Brumback. It set in motion a series of encounters that would profoundly change Sears’ outlook on life, and bring some comfort to more