Thursday, September 30, 2010

Obama: Yes to 2011 climate bill push

President Barack Obama is pledging to throw his full weight next year behind efforts to overhaul the nation's energy and climate change policies, though he concedes such moves might need to happen "in chunks." In an interview published Tuesday by Rolling Stone magazine, Obama lamented how the economic crisis contributed to this year's Senate stalemate over a comprehensive bill to cap carbon dioxide emissions and establish renewable power standards. But for the first time, Obama publicly committed to trying again next year."One of my top priorities next year is to have an energy policy that begins to address all facets of our overreliance on fossil fuels," Obama said. "We may end up having to do it in chunks, as opposed to some sort of comprehensive omnibus legislation. But we're going to stay on this because it is good for our economy, it's good for our national security and, ultimately, it's good for our environment."...more

Obama’s Chunky Energy-Climate Plan

In a new Rolling Stone interview, President Obama has offered a replacement for the now-defunct notion of comprehensive climate and energy legislation: a policy rolled out in “chunks.” Given the inability of Congress, after seven years of struggling, to pass “comprehensive” climate legislation, it’s good to see a shift to the approach pushed by, among others, Stephen H. Schneider, the veteran climate science and policy expert at Stanford University who long stressed the need for a sequence of steps to build public support before the heavier lifting comes. Of course the question is, what are Obama’s “chunks”? Over at Grist, reacting to the idea, Glenn Hurowitz has pitched his four favored “chunks” (let’s call them “steps” from here on in; chunk is just a little, well, gross): - Permanent tax credits for projects protecting or restoring forests or shifting to carbon-storing farming methods; - Programs cutting emissions of black carbon from sources as variegated as inefficient cook stoves and dirty diesel engines; - Intensified efforts to curb the use of HFC’s and other compounds that replaced now-banned refrigerants that were a threat to the ozone layer but are powerful heat-trapping substances; - Developing new international financial instruments to raise the tens of billions of dollars rich countries pledged to help poor ones adapt to climate change, develop non-polluting energy systems and restore forests. One option Hurowitz highlights is a proposal by the investor George Soros to build the green fund by drawing on a small portion of a kind of virtual currency at the International Monetary Fund, called Special Drawing Rights...more

How environmentalists do it when Congress fails them

When Congress won’t pass a Big Green-favored proposal, environmentalists turn to their buddies in the federal bureaucracy. That’s the game plan of environmentalists campaigning to remove oil and gas drilling from huge swaths of energy-rich western federal lands — killing jobs and raising consumers’ travel and heating costs in the process. They unsuccessfully lobbied Congress for more than two years using an unincorporated front group, Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development, which they started in 2007 with a $250,000 grant from the Hewlett Foundation. SFRED was jointly created by three major environmental groups, the National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. The TRCP in turn was created in 2002 by Trout Unlimited acting as a legal money funnel for $2 million from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The Moore Foundation (Intel founder Gordon Moore’s philanthropy) gave TRCP $600,000 specifically “to change the current course of energy development on public lands,” according to Moore’s 2005 IRS Form 990 tax return...more

Proposal Pending on Mileage for Heavy-Duty Vehicles

For three decades, the federal government has calculated the fuel economy of cars and other “light-duty vehicles” and periodically tightened mileage standards. For the first time, it is preparing to do the same with heavy-duty vehicles, which could greatly reduce their consumption of diesel fuel. The Obama administration could announce a proposal as early as this week for new mileage standards for heavy-duty vehicles beginning in the 2014 model year. Separately, the administration is readying new fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles in the 2017 model year and beyond, after tightening standards last year for 2012 through 2016 models. The new standards would make it likely that technologies used in cars — aerodynamic bodies, low-rolling-resistance tires, variable valve timing and hybrid electric propulsion — would be introduced in box trucks, garbage trucks, cement mixers, school buses and tractor-trailers. But since heavy trucks are so varied, each of the technologies would be useful only in some types of vehicles...more

For the children - environment trumps safety.

For U.S. Wildlife, a Climate Change Blueprint

New efforts to measure what warming temperatures are doing to forests, streams and animals at a regional level are at the core of a strategic plan by the Fish and Wildlife Service to respond to the effects of climate change. The service said Monday that it had created a scientific team charged with identifying animals that are particularly vulnerable to climate change — not only obviously susceptible cold-weather species like polar bears and walruses, but also animals less visibly at risk like the wolverine, for example. The service said it would also be working with eight new climate stations run by the United States Geological Survey that will take detailed measurements of how local ecologies are changing as global temperatures rise. The new centers, three of which are already active, will measure things like changes in snow pack, soil moisture and stream temperatures — seemingly small details that can mean life and death to some creatures. In addition, the Fish and Wildlife Service said it was working with partners to establish the first generation of landscape conservation cooperatives, 21 in all. The idea behind the cooperatives, which are to include land managers for other federal and state agencies, is to prepare resource managers so they can be better equipped to deal with changing conditions on the landscape...more

Endangered Species & email

Ready for some Endangered Species news? I normally just do wolves and such, but for the rest of The Westerner today you'll get the whole enchilada showing the impact of this legislation. Read them all and you will be ready for the Song Of The Day - Breakfast In Hell.

Warning! I have not read my email. Given my current health problems, it's all I can do to keep this blog updated. May get to email this weekend.

After 20 years of protection, owl is declining but forests remain

Twenty years after northern spotted owls were protected under the Endangered Species Act, their numbers continue to decline, and scientists aren't certain whether the birds will survive even though logging was banned on much of the old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest where they live in order to save them. The owl remains an iconic symbol in a region where once loggers in steel-spiked, high-topped caulk boots felled 200-year-old or even older trees and loaded them on trucks that compression-braked down twisty mountain roads to mills redolent with the smell of fresh sawdust and smoke from burning timber scraps. Regionwide, the owl populations are dropping 2.9 percent a year. In Washington state, they're declining at 6 to 7 percent a year. While that may seem like a small number, it adds up, said Eric Forsman, a research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis, Ore., who's studied the owl since 1968. "Nothing we do seems to work for the spotted owl," Forsman said. The fight over the owl, however, perhaps the fiercest in the history of the Endangered Species Act, was always about more than just protecting a surprisingly friendly, football-sized bird with dark feathers, dark eyes and white spots...more

Klamath dam removal analysis progressing; vulnerability of agreements to lawsuits raises concerns

The federal team charged with generating information for the U.S. Interior Secretary about removing dams on the Klamath River expects to churn out key reports within months. At a meeting in Eureka on Wednesday, leaders of that team said that a detailed plan on how the dams would be removed and how much it should cost could be forthcoming within two months. Reports on hydrology, water quality, sediment transport and temperature if the dams are removed versus if they are left in are also being developed, said U.S. Geological Survey Program Manager Dennis Lynch, who is heading up the effort. Another report on chinook salmon production with or without the dams is also in motion, and expert panels on how other species of fish will fare in either case are being convened, Lynch said. All of that information will be gathered and submitted to the U.S. Interior Secretary, who is supposed to determine by March 2012 whether removing the dams and embarking on a restoration and water and power allocation agreement is in the public interest. ”The secretary is very keen that we have a very good science process,” Lynch said. The Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement and the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement that are being considered were signed by more than two dozen parties in the basin. In February, tribes, fishing and farming groups, environmentalists and the governors of California and Oregon signed the pacts which call for emoving the dams beginning in 2020. Legislation to implement the agreements is in progress but has not been submitted to Congress...more

Feds won't protect tiny rabbit

Federal officials have determined the smallest rabbit in North America does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Bob Williams said Wednesday the agency will announce today that the pygmy rabbit will not be listed under the terms of the ESA following a 12-month status review. Federal protection for the rabbit species could have led to restrictions on livestock grazing and energy development in the animal's habitat, which includes much of southwest Wyoming. The rabbit -- small enough to fit in a cereal bowl -- is found in sagebrush basins in Wyoming, California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Utah. It is one of only two rabbit species that digs its own burrows. During the winter, 99 percent of its diet is sagebrush. Petitioners seeking a listing cited the loss of sagebrush habitat in the seven states as one reason the species should be protected...more

Endangered eagle halts Eastern Oregon wind farms

The endangered golden eagle has grounded the first wind farm in Wasco County, and is throwing another in Gilliam County into doubt. Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended that the Oregon Department of Energy allow wind turbines no closer than 6 miles to a golden eagle nest. The letter concerned the Summit Ridge wind farm in Wasco County, being developed by LotusWorks of Vancouver, Wash. Studies detected federally protected gold eagles, as well as bald eagles, in the area, and asked LotusWorks to prepare a protection plan for the species. The letter prompted Portland General Electric to back off its push to buy development rights for a massive new wind farm near Arlington in Gilliam County...more


Endangered status sought for orchid at Rosemont site

The Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson has filed a petition with U.S. Fish and Wildlife seeking endangered species act protection for an orchid named the Coleman’s coral root, which has been found in small clusters at three sites in Arizona, including McCleary Canyon on the proposed Rosemont Copper mine site in the Santa Rita Mountains. The Center for Biological Diversity is an environmental group that opposes the mine. It is arguing that the orchid in question is a different species of a rare orchid. Jamie Sturgess, vice president with Rosemont’s parent company Augusta Resource, said that the species is not unique and that siting and redesign of mine facilities would “avoid over 90 percent of the individual plants in the Rosemont project area. A pleasent surprise was that this redesign saved several million dollars in facility costs.”...more

Baucus, Tester introduce wolf bill

Montana and Idaho could win back state management of gray wolves through legislation offered by senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester late Tuesday. The state’s two Democratic senators introduced their bill in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg drafted a bill removing wolves from Endangered Species Act protection on Sept. 15, but has not introduced it yet. Baucus’ and Tester’s bill would remove Rocky Mountain gray wolves from the federal threatened or endangered species lists in Montana and Idaho as soon as the Secretary of Interior approves each state’s wolf management plans. Both states already have such plans, which would limit wolf numbers by both government and public hunting. Rehberg’s draft bill is considerably simpler. It would amend the Endangered Species Act to read: “Any Rocky Mountain gray wolf in Idaho or Montana shall not be treated as an endangered species,” and would give those states “exclusive jurisdiction” to manage wolves...more

Federal wildlife agency to review status of gray wolves

Agreeing that petitions to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Upper Midwest may have merit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week it will begin an in-depth review of the species' status. The decision, known as a 90-day finding, is based on scientific information but also includes a public comment period. It comes on the heels of four petitions to remove protection from the gray wolf in the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The petitions were submitted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and Safari Club International with the National Rifle Association. Several groups, including the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, also expressed intent to sue the agency to allow delisting. The finding responds only to the petitions, according to the agency...more

Scientists: Wolf Hunts More Deadly Than Previously Thought

A policy to sustainably manage gray wolves via recreational hunting appears to rely on faulty ecological science, says a new paper published today in PLoS ONE. The paper challenges a long-held assumption that gray wolf populations won't be decimated by hunting and predator-control programs. It has been believed up till now that such efforts can remove as many as 28% to 50% of the animals in a population without causing long-term harm to their numbers. The paper comes on the heels of last year's first gray wolf hunting seasons in Montana and Idaho. (Wolves are disliked because they eat elk and livestock.) Hunters killed 260 wolves, close to 20% of the two states' wolf populations, including members of one of Yellowstone National Park's research packs. Combined with wolves harvested through predator-control programs, some 37.1% of the wolves in Idaho and Montana were eliminated in 2009. Can the recovering wolf populations, which were removed from the protection of the Endangered Species Act in 2008, be killed at this rate? Although the hunting season for this year has been canceled following a recent court ruling to reinstate the wolves on the federal endangered species list, the question remains important, say Scott Creel and Jay Rotella, ecologists at Montana State University, Bozeman. And the short answer is no, the two say...more

Hey, those hunters did better than I thought. Way to go guys.

Developer, others seek to remove beetle from endangered list

Attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation filed papers Thursday with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, petitioning for the removal of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle from the federal endangered species list. Pacific Legal Foundation attorneys represent a broad coalition of Sacramento area landowners, businesses, farmers and flood control agencies in the case, Yolo County Farm Bureau v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The beetle is listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act. According to the PLF, in 2006, Fish and Wildlife completed a mandatory five-year review as part of a settlement agreement in a case brought by PLF attorneys. The review concluded that the beetle should be taken off the list, but that has not taken place, according to the PLF...more

Marin County spends $5.3 million on salmon plan

Marin County officials are spending more than $1 million a year to protect endangered coho salmon. An audit of county spending on fishery restoration projects indicates that at least $5.3 million has been devoted to fish habitat and improvement initiatives since 2005, including $3.2 million for eight public works fish passage projects in the San Geronimo Valley. About half the money is from state and federal grants. The tally of county spending was issued by the county administration after the Independent Journal requested details backing county assertions that officials have worked diligently to restore the troubled coho salmon fishery. The Civic Center spending is in addition to more than $9 million allocated for fishery projects since 1997 by the Marin Municipal Water District. The county has spent more than $1.1 million this year alone on salmon programs - in spite of a budget crunch in which $20 million was cut from other public services to make ends meet - and intends to do more to help the endangered species, County Administrator Matthew Hymel said...more

Too bad we'll never get a figure on how much the ESA is costing us...feds, states and private sector.

Song Of The Day #417

Ranch Radio is back on the air. We're stepping out of our normal venue this week to bring you tunes "Just Cuz I Lik'em".

Today's selection is Breakfast In Hell performed by Slaid Cleaves.

You'll find the tune on his 10 track CD Broke Down.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wife of murdered rancher still hospitalized after being struck by car

This video report is from KFOX11-TV

I received this email from Joe Delk:

I spoke with Tammy and Steven Smith on the OK Ranch which neighbors the Krentz Ranch up on top of the Chiricahuas. Tammy told me that Sue suffered multiple injuries from head to toe almost. She suffered a crushed orbital on one of her eyes, back broken in 2 or 3 places, broken pelvis and a crushed knee cap and is sporting a halo. Tammy said she is in ICU in critical but stable condition.

Her 80 year old friend suffered a broken pelvis and 5 fractures to one leg.

The guy that hit them is a 74 year old with multiple DUI's. He claims he was blinded by the sun but after he hit them, Sue was knocked about 20 to 30 feet and he still managed to run over her.

We can only trust that GOD does have a plan in all of this.

Border Patrol base should be closer to border

The Bootheel region of southwestern New Mexico and the adjoining desert of southeastern Arizona has been a weak link in the effort to secure our nation's southern border for some time. Border Patrol officials say that more than a quarter of the El Paso Sector's area classified as "uncontrolled" is in the Bootheel region. The tragic murder of rancher Rob Krentz in March, most likely by a drug trafficker who fled back across the border, has finally drawn attention to a problem that Krentz and his neighbors had been trying to alert the government about for years. And now there is finally action being taken. A forward operating base will be constructed in the Bootheel, allowing officers to patrol the region without having to make the 90-minute drive each way from the Lordsburg headquarters - consuming three hours or an eight- to 12-hour workday. The base will include living quarters for 16 agents, horse corrals, a fueling facility and a helipad. Agents stationed at the base for short intervals will provide a permanent presence in the region and be able to respond much more quickly when needed. That's terrific news. At the same time, we agree with those in the area who argue that the forward operating base is not as forward as it ought to be...more

Congrats to the Sun-News for their editorial.

The area of the New Mexico/Mexico border which is "uncontrolled" will get a huge expansion if Senator Bingaman's bill to create Wilderness along the border becomes law.

Obama says Salazar acted too slowly to overhaul MMS

President Obama is acknowledging that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — and the White House — did not move fast enough to overhaul the former Minerals Management Service (MMS). “What Ken would admit, and I would admit, and what we both have to take responsibility for, is that we did not fully change the institutional conflicts that were inherent in that office,” Obama told Rolling Stone, in an interview published online Tuesday. “If you ask why did we not get that done, the very simple answer is that this a big government with a lot of people, and changing bureaucracies and agencies is a time-consuming process. We just didn’t get to it fast enough.” He said he personally delivered that assessment to his Interior secretary. “I had to just let him know, ‘You’re accountable, you’re responsible, I expect you to change it.’” Obama added he has “confidence that he can change it, and I think he’s in the process of doing so.”...more

Building with wolves

Wolves, as you have undoubtedly heard, are once again thriving in Yellowstone. The 66 trapped in Canada and released in Yellowstone and the Idaho wilderness in 1995-96 have generated more than 1,700 wolves. To the delight of scientists and tourists — and the dismay of many ranchers — more than 200 wolf packs exist in the area today. Courts and government agencies are still sorting out how the wolves should be managed. But one thing is abundantly clear: The reintroduction has succeeded in ways that extend far beyond the health of the wolves themselves. It has reshaped an entire ecosystem. When we exterminated wolves from Yellowstone in the early 1900s, we de-watered the land. That's right; no wolves eventually meant fewer streams, creeks, marshes and springs across western landscapes like Yellowstone where wolves had once thrived. The chain of effects went roughly like this: No wolves meant that many more elk crowded onto inviting river and stream banks. A growing population of fat elk, in no danger of being turned into prey, gnawed down willow and aspen seedlings before they could mature. As the willows declined, so did beavers, which used the trees for food and building material. When beavers build dams and make ponds, they create wetland habitats for countless bugs, amphibians, fish, birds and plants, as well as slowing the flow of water and distributing it over broad areas. The consequences of their decline rippled across the land. Meanwhile, as the land dried up, Yellowstone's overgrazed riverbanks eroded. Spawning beds for fish silted over. Amphibians lost precious shade. Yellowstone's web of life was fraying...more

The above is from the LA Times. While doing my searches, I found this even more vitriolic version of the article: The Big Bad Wolf Makes Good: The Yellowstone Success Story and Those Who Want to Kill It

Wolf Restoration is a Challenge to West’s Old Guard

The passion, the anger, and the frustration exhibited by hunters (and ranchers ) is not so much about wolf predation itself. It’s really about control. For decades hunters and ranchers have enjoyed a predator free environment. Hunters have always been the ones who controlled wildlife and state wildlife agencies. The outrage expressed by many hunters and ranchers is a reaction to what is perceived as the audacity of other people in society to assume, much less assert, they should have a voice in wildlife management issues. For decades hunters have considered elk and deer their “property”. You can see this attitude displayed in their angry comments. “We paid for managing wildlife and by gosh, we are the only ones who should have a say in how all wildlife is managed.” The overriding attitude is one of possession. Wolves are killing “our” elk and deer. The deer and elk by all rights exist for us. The debate over wolf management challenges those assumptions. Just as judges who ordered an end to segregation in the South, shaking up and eventually tumbling a hundred years of racism, hunters (and ranchers) are fearful they are losing their control over wildlife. That’s the context which the wolf debate is framed, and if one doesn’t understand this, the passion, anger, and outrage doesn’t make sense...more

ONDA Reaches Agreement To Retire 3000-Acre Grazing Permit

The Oregon Natural Desert Association announced Tuesday it’s reached an agreement with a rancher to retire a nearly 3000-acre federal grazing permit outside of Bend. The Bend based environmental group purchased the grazing permit not to graze cattle, but rather to let it sit. They say grazing damages the sage steppe ecosystem and the species that live there. The Oregon Natural Desert Association likes to see grazing permits retired, but Executive Director Brent Fenty says the option is rarely available. In most cases the law requires that the permits be reissued if they’re given up. But Fenty says this particular allotment is governed by a land management plan that allows for voluntary grazing permit retirement. Brent Fenty: “So in this case the Bureau of Land Management had recognized that there were a number of conflicts between livestock grazing and environmental and social values on that allotment so it was one a number of allotments in the area that they were willing to allow the permit to be retired”. Fenty says the permit will stay retired for the duration of the management plan or about 10 years. After that, he says he’d like the BLM to retire the permit for good. OPB

Grazing Takes a Hit With Protection of Public Lands

Climate change. Severe wildfires. Invasive species. A booming human population. The Bureau of Land Management identifies these as four key threats to Western public lands. Stick conventional and renewable energy development, endangered species protection, and recreation in the mix, and there’s less room each year for a past widespread use of public lands: livestock grazing. Since passage of the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act, the number of livestock grazing public lands each year has dropped—the BLM issued permits for 22 million animal unit months in 1941, but that was down to 12.5 million in 2009 (only 8.6 million of which were actually used)—though it’s unclear how much of the decline is due to economic factors versus increased regulation and competition on public lands. Either way, twice this month federal courts stymied ranchers seeking regulatory leeway for grazing...more

Wild horses versus wildlife

But aren’t wild horses wildlife? Wild horse managers often point out that a more correct classification of mustangs would be “feral horses.” Many believe wild horse herds to be nothing more than once-domesticated horses turned out by ranchers throughout the 1900s. However, DNA testing has proved some isolated herds in the Western U.S. possess fairly pure bloodlines tracing back to the 1800s and earlier. While these horses may be linked to the Spanish barbary horse, treasured by Asians and Europeans centuries ago, arguments are often made that no horse is ‘native’ to America. Today, the przewalski horse, native to Mongolia, is considered the only truly ‘wild’ horse that has never been consistently domesticated. All horses in the world are thought to be descendents of the 54 million-year-old pliohippus, which roamed North America until the last ice age. Whether it is more desirable to have elk, mule deer, wolves, horses, or cattle roaming freely in the great American West is a subject of everyday debate amongst ranchers, politicians and plain old folks sitting around the barbershop. Elk hunting tags bring Wyoming money. Wolves probably attract some tourists with money. Cattle grazing permits make money for the BLM. Mustangs, on the other hand, cost the government money. Competition between the wild horse and cattle for forage is of concern to politicians and even more grating on ranchers. Biologists point to the fact that most horse herds live in arid areas that cattle don’t fully utilize due to a lack of available water. Horses are better suited for these climates, ranging up to nine times as far from water sources as beef-on-the-hoof. Horses are also more efficient digesters of nutrients, allowing them to survive in areas of poor forage where cattle will starve...more


LINDA L. WILLIAMS, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 09-1541.
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
Filed September 27, 2010.
Before TACHA, LUCERO, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.


MICHAEL R. MURPHY, Circuit Judge.
Linda L. Williams appeals from the district court's order affirming her conviction following a trial before a magistrate judge for damaging property of the National Forest Service. She argues that the testimony of a Forest Service police officer identifying her as the person seen on a surveillance video destroying a trailhead sign should not have been admitted at trial. We affirm.


Williams owns two unpatented mining claims comprising forty acres in the Uncompahgre National Forest in Ouray County, Colorado.[ 2 ] Over the course of several years, Williams and the Forest Service clashed over Williams's resistance to inspections of her mining claims and her repeated attempts to block public access to the area, a popular hiking destination, including placing a locked gate on an access road and threatening to set "booby-trap[s]," ROA, Vol. 5 at 97. Williams also clashed with a private group that restores trails in the area, threatening a citizen's arrest of some of its members who were monitoring vandalism to trailhead signs. Ultimately, Williams was arrested and charged in a thirteen-count complaint with a variety of offenses, including damaging a trailhead sign. During a jury trial conducted by a magistrate judge, Forest Service police officer Jon Closson testified that he had interacted with Williams about six times over the past three years. He indicated that in April 2004, he installed a surveillance camera to monitor a newly erected wooden sign at a trail near Williams's mining claims. When he returned to the site several days later, he found the sign "smashed almost in half." Id. at 106...more

In Wyoming, we brand ornaments

Gray smoke poured off a round piece of pine Monday morning while Rancher Jerry Geer watched the three parts of his brand sear wet wood. It took two swoops over a “G” combined with the slice of lodge pole pine to make a Christmas ornament with a uniquely Wyoming flair. Before long, that Quarter Circle G Quarter Circle brand will hang on the Capitol Christmas tree. “I am really proud to be able to send that to Washington,” Geer said, pointing at the smoldering ornament. “I think that Wyoming is still an agriculture state and a ranching state. I think it is a great idea to send branded ornaments.” The brand, originally registered to Geer’s grandfather in 1919, will be on display on the Capitol lawn for the holidays. It will be among 6,000 ornaments that will need to accompany the 60-foot tree from Wyoming to Washington, D.C. The 8-inch disc of pine will get a loop of lace and some berries to finish it as an ornament for the national Christmas tree. Each pine ornament will have a Wyoming brand on one side and a brand of the Wyoming bucking horse on the back...more

Song Of The Day

Couldn't get File Factory to work this morning. Hope they fix the problem soon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Arent Fox Asks US Supreme Court to Limit Judiciary’s Power to Take Private Property

The Montana Farm Bureau Federation is represented by Arent Fox LLP as amicus curiae before the United States Supreme Court. Cato Institute has joined the Montana Farm Bureau Federation on this brief. The amicus are asking the US Supreme Court to review and reverse a decision by Montana’s highest court that threatens to destroy the rights Montana ranchers and farmers have owned and enjoyed for more than a century in their land abutting and underlying the state’s rivers and streams.

“The Montana Supreme Court’s decision effectively converts title in hundreds of miles of riverbeds to the state, having profound effect on all who own land neighboring the affected rivers and who depend on their existing water rights for their livelihood,” reads Arent Fox’s brief, urging the US Supreme Court to overturn the Montana judiciary’s ruling.

In the case PPL Montana, Inc. v. State of Montana, the Montana Supreme Court ignored US Supreme Court precedent to rule that the entirety of three Montana rivers — the Clark Fork, Missouri, and Madison Rivers — were navigable at the time of statehood, and thus belonged to the state of Montana under the “equal footing” doctrine. “Its broad holding eradicates settled property rights Montanans have enjoyed for over a century,” argues Arent Fox.

The amicus brief argues Montana’s highest court deviated from US Supreme Court precedent by failing to properly analyze long stretches of nonnavigable river, including a 17-mile stretch of the Missouri River containing Montana’s famous Great Falls. In doing so, the conversion of property rights held by Montanans for more than 100 years was a taking by Montana’s judicial branch.

“In other words, Montana wants to avoid its Fifth Amendment obligations to pay compensation for taking the Petitioner’s property by applying this new ‘navigability’ standard to redefine ownership of the riverbeds,” writes the Arent Fox team. “Doing so violates Supreme Court precedent and merits reversal.”

Press Release

Enviro Groups Ignored Gulf Before BP Disaster

Since the fiery sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig last spring, environmentalists have scolded federal regulators for neglecting problems with offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. They were right. But environmental groups ignored the Gulf, too. Focused on climate change and watch-dogging drilling in Alaskan waters, environmentalists were wary of upsetting a détente that blocked oil production on both coasts and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. They had ceded the drilling zone off Alabama, Louisiana and Texas as hostile territory. "The Gulf of Mexico was pretty much written off as a sacrifice zone," said Kieran Suckling, head of one of the country's most aggressive environmental litigants, the Center for Biological Diversity. "The focus was put on more pristine areas." That focus can be seen in the number of lawsuits filed by environmentalists and others under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. In the eight years that George W. Bush was president, they filed suit against federal agencies more than 1,000 times. By contrast, the Forest Service was sued 388 times under NEPA during the same period, spurring the agency's leaders to complain of "paralysis by analysis" and ask Congress for new exemptions to the law. The 126 NEPA lawsuits filed against the Bureau of Land Management had oil and gas producers complaining that environmentalists were "locking up the land." Environmental groups said they had to go to court to preserve uses of public land other than drilling, logging and mining. Since the spill, the Center for Biological Diversity alone has filed seven environmental lawsuits, and the number of people working on Gulf drilling legal issues there has risen from zero to six. The BP spill has spawned more than 300 civil lawsuits in the four Gulf states(Greenwire, July 7). That kind of legal scrutiny, Suckling said, will inevitably slow down and limit oil production in the Gulf...more

Water Use in Southwest Heads for a Day of Reckoning

A once-unthinkable day is looming on the Colorado River. Barring a sudden end to the Southwest’s 11-year drought, the distribution of the river’s dwindling bounty is likely to be reordered as early as next year because the flow of water cannot keep pace with the region’s demands. For the first time, federal estimates issued in August indicate that Lake Mead, the heart of the lower Colorado basin’s water system — irrigating lettuce, onions and wheat in reclaimed corners of the Sonoran Desert, and lawns and golf courses from Las Vegas to Los Angeles — could drop below a crucial demarcation line of 1,075 feet. If it does, that will set in motion a temporary distribution plan approved in 2007 by the seven states with claims to the river and by the federal Bureau of Reclamation, and water deliveries to Arizona and Nevada would be reduced. This could mean more dry lawns, shorter showers and fallow fields in those states, although conservation efforts might help them adjust to the cutbacks. California, which has first call on the Colorado River flows in the lower basin, would not be affected. The reservoir is now less than 15 inches above the all-time low of 1,083.2 feet set in 1956. But back then, while the demand from California farmland was similar, if not greater, the population was far smaller. Perhaps 9.5 million people in the three states in the lower Colorado River basin depended on the supply in the late 1950s; today more than 28 million people do...more

How $5 million and Wendy Van Asselt helped create the NLCS

Environmental activist Wendy Van Asselt was at the World Resources Institute in 2003 when officials from the Wilderness Society made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. They wanted her to lead a huge project to remove 26 million acres of federal land in the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) from oil and gas production, grazing, timber harvesting, mining for strategic minerals, off-road recreation, and providing rural jobs. The Wyss Foundation would fund the new project, thanks to a Wilderness Society board member, Hansjorg Wyss, a Swiss entrepreneur whose net worth was estimated at $6 billion. The Hewlett Foundation would also give $1 million to the project. So, Van Asselt’s new job would be to get Congress to authorize Babbitt’s NCLS and give it a real budget. The graduate of Smith College (economics) and Harvard (master’s in public policy) would soon prove very much up to the challenge...more

No monument plan for state - yet

BLM Director Bob Abbey's pitch at the Sept. 16 Malta monument meeting fell on skeptical ears when he emphatically stated that "there is no plan for a national monument in Montana." So why the doubts and why did the unscientific telephone survey by the Great Falls Tribune confirm that 79 percent of those calling in don't trust Abbey's statement about designation? First, we've been misled before. Back in 1999, the Montana state BLM director sent a letter to Montana legislators, saying: "The secretary of the Interior will support designation in the Missouri Breaks if there is widespread local/regional favor." Of course there was mostly widespread opposition. Then Sen. Baucus wrote letters to a number of his constituents who opposed designation telling them he contacted the White House and Secretary Babbitt and told them not to create a new national park or establish some other designation in the Breaks. Sen. Baucus further stated in his letter that Secretary Babbitt was withdrawing the proposal for designation. Two years later the Breaks Monument was declared...more

BLM buys last piece of Devil's Canyon Ranch in Wyoming

The Bureau of Land Management has bought 3,000 acres of the former Devil’s Canyon Ranch to complete the public acquisition of the scenic property in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains. The ranch was subject to a bitter dispute more than a decade ago when its former owners closed a road through the property. That cut off access for several years to 20,000 acres of BLM and U.S. Forest Service land. The BLM on Thursday paid $2 million for the final piece of the ranch along the Montana border. It was sold by the Trust for Public Land, which bought the 11,000-acre property in 2003 to put into public ownership. In 2003, after the Trust for Public Lands had taken hold of the property, the late U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas helped arrange $4 million in federal funds to buy the initial 8,000 acres. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation also contributed to that deal. Money for last week’s purchase came from the federal government’s Land and Water Conservation Fund. The BLM says the land will be managed as part of the Craig Thomas Little Mountain Special Management Area...more

Interior won’t fight ruling on nuclear site

The federal government has decided not to fight a court ruling that might allow the Skull Valley Goshute Indians to revive their plans to store reactor waste on their Tooele County reservation. Two months ago, U.S. District Judge David M. Ebel threw out a pair of U.S. Interior Department decisions that, in effect, led many Utahns to believe that the storage site plans were dead four years ago. Interior officials’ decision to pass up on an appeal by Friday’s deadline has angered Utah leaders, who had urged the agency to vigorously contest the ruling. With the feds’ inaction, the issues in dispute now return to the agency “for further consideration” in light of the judge’s ruling. A spokeswoman for Gov. Gary Herbert said he believes it is inappropriate to have high-level nuclear waste stored 50 miles from downtown Salt Lake City. Tim Vollmann, an attorney for the Goshutes, noted Ebel’s ruling repeatedly called Interior’s decisions “arbitrary and capricious” — that is “unlawful.” The decision not to fight the court’s determination, he said, signaled the Interior Department’s attorneys must have agreed an appeal was doomed...more

Feds Find Gunnison Sage Grouse Imperiled, But Deny Endangered Species Act Protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the Gunnison sage grouse warrants Endangered Species Act protection, but that listing is precluded by higher priority actions and lack of resources to finalize a listing rule. The grouse will now become a candidate species under the Act, offering it no formal protection. The decision continues an unfortunate trend by the Obama administration of failing to list species its own biologists have determined to be imperiled. “Here we go again,” said Mark Salvo, director of the Sagebrush Sea Campaign for WildEarth Guardians. “The government has now determined that greater sage grouse, Mono Basin sage grouse, the Columbia Basin population and now Gunnison sage grouse all warrant protection under the ESA, but hasn’t listed any of them.” The Fish and Wildlife Service previously decided that Gunnison sage grouse were not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act in April 2006. However, upon further review, the agency agreed to promulgate a new listing decision today. Historic and current population trends and threats support listing the bird under the Act...Press Release

What Are Species Worth? Putting a Price on Biodiversity

We live in what is paradoxically a great age of discovery and also of mass extinction. Astonishing new species turn up daily, as new roads and new technologies penetrate formerly remote habitats. And species also vanish forever, at what scientists estimate to be 100 to 1,000 times the normal rate of extinction. Over the past few years, as I was working on a book about the history of species discovery, I often found myself coming back to a fundamental question: Why do species matter? That is, why should ordinary people care if scientists discover one species or pronounce the demise of another? It may seem too obvious to need asking. In certain limited contexts, people clearly do care. We will go to great lengths to protect a boutique species like the giant panda, for instance. We also thrill to the possibility of finding the slightest microbial hint of life in outer space, hardly blinking when the U.S. government spends $7 billion a year largely for that purpose. Meanwhile, we spend pennies exploring the alien life forms that are all around us here on Earth. Maybe it’s just human nature not to value — or even see — the thing that’s right in front of our faces. And maybe it’s also a failure of communication. We need to understand that our lives depend on species we have never heard of. That is, scientists may need to explain their work on a far more basic level — not “Why do species matter?” but “Is food important to you?” or “Do you want your children to have effective medicines when they get sick?” or even “Do you like to breathe?” None of these questions overstates the importance of species...more

Monarch Butterfly Migration to Mexico Begins

The monarch butterfly migration started this week, and thousands of the black and orange insects have started the journey to Mexico. The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is the only species to migrate, as they find winters in the north too cold to survive. Other butterflies spend the winter as larvae or in hibernation. According to the Lincoln Courier on Monday, numerous monarchs were spotted throughout Illinois as they migrated. The butterflies have been spotted in other states including Kansas, reports say. “There must have been thousands,” Vern LaGesse, who works in Menard County, Illinous, told the Courier on Monday. “They were covering the stiff goldenrod flowers.” Some monarchs travel nearly 3,000 miles to their destination in central Mexico, resting on oyamel fir trees in mountainous forests, about two miles above sea level. The Forest Service says that the insects can migrate between 50 and 100 miles per day...more

Alert issued after 3 bitten by foxes

After three people were bitten by foxes suspected of being rabid this month, the Allegheny County Health Department issued an alert to all county residents to avoid the animals as well as raccoons. Two of the incidents were described as surprise attacks. A man from Plum was bitten by a fox as he was cutting brush in a wooded area near his home. A man from Monroeville was bitten while washing his car in the driveway. A man was scratched while breaking up a fight in his Forest Hills front yard between his dog and a fox. Because the foxes escaped, they couldn't be tested for rabies, so the victims are being treated with vaccines. A fourth fox was found dead on a Monroeville road and tested positive for rabies...more

Stimulus Waste? $3.4 million Turtle Tunnel and $554,763 for Forest Service Windows

Lynn R. Mitchell at the Washington Examiner picks just 8 projects to prove her point:

- The sidewalk to nowhere - $89,298: A small town in Oklahoma received stimulus money to replace a quarter-mile stretch of sidewalk that was replaced only five years ago. The sidewalk reportedly "led to a ditch."

- Studying and photographing ants - $1.9 million: Yes, that's right ... $1.9 million was given by the federal government to the California Academy of Sciences so they could send researchers to the Southwest Indian Ocean Islands and east Africa to "capture, photograph and analyze thousands of exotic ants." The information is to be used to catalog the thousands of ant species throughout the world. Helpful? For some people, yes, but should it qualify for tax money?

- Forest Service to replace windows in closed visitor center - $554,763: The visitor center at Mount St. Helens in Washington state was closed in 2007 and has no plans to reopen. However, the government designated half-a-million dollars of stimulus money to replace the windows, a prime example of misdirected funds. I know ... it's mind-boggling.

- Snowmaking and chairlifts for Mt. Snow, VT - $25 million: How does a ski resort qualify for federal help? Mt. Snow, the "gateway to Vermont," will use stimulus money to replace chairlifts, construct a 120-million-gallon storage pond for snowmaking, and install additional snowmaking guns. I have nothing against Vermont but we have ski resorts in Virginia that would probably like to have $25 million handed over for improvements.

- "Greening" of Poff Federal Building in Roanoke, Va - $50.9 million: This is a building that cost several million dollars to build in the 1970s. The stimulus money will be used to replace windows and the heating/cooling system. No money, however, will be used on needs of individual tenants, and the building's largest tenant is not planning to return to the building after the green renovation.

- Scientist attempts to create joke machine - $712,883: Northwestern University researchers want to develop "machine-generated humor" with almost three-quarter of a million dollars of your tax money. That certainly is not funny to fiscally conservative taxpayers.

- Turtle tunnel - $3.4 million: Florida plans to build a 13-foot long tunnel under U.S. Highway 27 to provide safe passage for turtles and other animals to avoid squashed creatures in the roadway. By my estimate that's a cost of approximately $262,000 per foot of tunnel. Want to make bets on how many turtles miss the tunnel and still end up becoming speed bumps on the road?

- Smokers and smartphones - $497,893: Smokers in DC who want to quit may receive a smartphone so they can contact their “stop smoking” support group to prevent relapses, thanks to stimulus funds going to the American Legacy Foundation. That's half-a-million dollars from taxpayers to provide smartphones. I don't know about you but my old cell phone is just that ... old, battered, and still being used. It is a bit like a kick to head to know that my hard-earned tax dollars are being used for others to own smartphones.

Chainsaw Art

THE chainsaw seems an unlikely tool for making art. But along Route 1 in the upper-reaches of coastal Maine, Ray Murphy uses nothing else, taming the saw to create a host of sylvan inspired pieces—black bears, squirrels and eagles—and a scruffy fisherman with a pipe, a bestseller. So unlikely is the association between carving and the chainsaw that Murphy adamantly refers to himself as a sawyer. His tool of choice prevented him from entering a woodcarving exhibition a few decades ago. The grudge persists. Yet the chainsaw does well for Murphy; he’s sold thousands of pieces and puts on a live chainsaw art and entertainment show. The programme advertises numerous unrivalled feats, including sawing numbers one to 17 on a toothpick and the alphabet on a pencil. A few of these are recognised by "Ripley’s Believe it or Not", which granted Ray’s roadside trade some national notoriety. It seemed only natural that More Intelligent Life caught up with him over a can of Pepsi in his sawdust-encrusted shop...more

Song Of The Day #416

Ranch Radio will step out of it's normal venue this week. Put these in the category of "Just Cuz I Like'em".

Today's selection is What Did You Expect Me To Do? performed by Retta and The Smart Fellas.

You'll find the tune on her 9 track CD They Took the Stars Out of Heaven.

Group Protests Border Patrol Substation Site Opposition Wants Area Farther South

A group of Hidalgo County ranchers and other residents is protesting the proposed location of a Border Patrol substation near Animas, about 20 miles from the border, saying it would offer better protection if it was farther south. Residents submitted a 110-signature petition to the agency last week. The stations are aimed at stemming the flow of undocumented immigrants, human traffickers and drug smugglers. Agents starting their day at the Lordsburg headquarters must drive 75 miles to reach the border, a 90-minute drive at best, said Border Patrol agent in charge Chris Mangusing. So, he said, three hours of an eight- to 12-hour workday are eaten up simply traveling. Mangusing said the proposed substations, called forward operating bases, will serve as mini-headquarters, with living quarters for 16 agents, horse corrals, a fueling facility and a helipad. Agents will be stationed for short intervals, starting the workday closer to the border. Ranchers Levi Klump and Judy Keeler, who live nearby, are protesting. Both said they might get a personal advantage from having the substation nearby, possibly deterring traffic from their homes, but said they prefer a rejected BLM parcel seven miles north of the border. Klump said the BLM site is on a plain and would give agents a better view of surroundings. The BLM site also is near existing phone and utility lines. "Maybe, maybe, maybe the smugglers would stay away from my headquarters," he said. "But the real issue is the smuggling of humans and drugs from Mexico and into the United States. The more presence you have, the more the drug trafficking will be discouraged." Mangusing said there were environmental concerns about the BLM site, including its importance to wildlife...more

This just shows how the mere presence of federal land on the border is a hindrance to the Border Patrol and other law enforcement agencies. Why do the drug cartels prefer Arizona over Texas? Because Arizona has millions of acres of federal lands along the border, including wilderness areas.

Napolitano to McCain: Yes, Mexican Cartels Pose Terror Threat to U.S.

Under questioning by Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) in the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano conceded that Mexican drug cartels pose a terrorist threat to the United States.In 2009, the U.S. Justice Department declared in its annual National Drug Threat Assessment that the Mexican drug cartels were “the greatest organized crime threat to the United States,” but the U.S. State Department has not listed those cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.Napolitano’s concession that Mexican drug cartels pose a terrorist threat to the United States came while she was testifying beside FBI Director Robert Mueller who told McCain that violence on the Mexican side of the border increased the “national security threat” to the United States, an assessment Napolitano shared.“Would you agree that the violence in Mexico has dramatically escalated in, say, the last three or four years?” McCain asked.“Yes,” said Mueller.“And would you say that, then, increases the national security threat on the other side of our border?” asked McCain.“Yes,” said Mueller. When McCain asked Napolitano if she agree with that, Napolitano said, “I think that’s right...more 

Obama Tries to Make It Easier to Wiretap the Internet

Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone. Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages. The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally...more

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rope Afghanistan?

In a place where life can end abruptly or change forever in an instant, Arnold Norman is offering a belt buckle to the best soldier. Correction: the best roper soldier. Of all of Norman's missions as an agricultural adviser at a remote outpost in Afghanistan, organizing a roping competition would not have appeared anywhere. But Norman, 59, an avid team roper on weekends in Texas, discovered dozens of young American soldiers, and a few Afghans, who found swinging a rope at a dummy steer to be an unexpected salve for the stresses of combat and loneliness. "I thought it'd be kind of cool to have a little dummy-roping contest," said Norman, who lives outside Burleson. "It just kept getting bigger. I've probably got 50 guys signed up for it now." The contest is scheduled for Oct. 1 in the town of Baraki Barak, a couple of weeks after Norman returns from his leave. The best roper will get to take custom-made belt buckles home from deployment. Norman hears that the Stars & Stripes newspaper and Armed Forces Network might cover it...more

The Westerner

Due to some health issues I will be spending a limited amount of time in my wheelchair.

Which means, until I get my laptop working, a limited amount of time on The Westerner.

To top it all off, the email server for my isp is down, so no email for 3 days.

Stay telling what will happen next.

Landowners oppose Oberstar, Clean Water Act

Oberstar, DFL-8th District and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, last April authored amendments to the 1972 Clean Water Act. The bill, America’s Commitment to Clean Water Act, attempts to correct two U.S. Supreme Court cases over jurisdiction over waters. The original bill gave federal jurisdiction over all “navigable” waters, while the Oberstar bill removes that word and defines federal jurisdiction “to all waters that are currently used, were used in the past, may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce, including all waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide,” says Don Parmeter, who is leading an effort to draft alternative legislation. “It’s a radical bill, we’ve been fighting it since 2007,” said Parmeter of the National Water and Conservation Alliance, of an earlier version of the Oberstar bill. “What this bill does, simply, is remove the term navigable from the federal water pollution control act of 1972 and replaces it with waters of the United States,” Parmeter said. “All interstate and international waters, including interstate and international wetlands, and all other waters, including intrastate which is all waters within the boundaries of the state” are included. That’s every wet spot,” he said. Parmeter said covered waters include lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes and natural ponds. “This is a very expansive federal authority bill,” he said. “This is not only a controlled waters bill but also a controlled land bill — everything within a watershed.”...more

Idaho lawmakers considering next step on wolves

A panel of Idaho state lawmakers met Thursday to review the legal and on-the-ground status of wolves in Idaho and discuss potential actions lawmakers could take next year. Gov. Butch Otter, Idaho state agency leaders, and all of Idaho’s members of Congress have panned a court decision putting wolves back on the endangered species list, and taken steps to urge federal official to resolve the situation.  Many of the state lawmakers at the meeting in Boise were unhappy with the current legal status of wolves, but uncertain of how they could respond. Representatives from the governor’s office and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) said they’re doing all they can to bring back state management of wolves. The governor’s attorney, David Hensley, said the state would send the draft of a new memorandum of agreement to the U.S. Department of the Interior to outline how the state would handle wolves until they are delisted. “One of the most frustrating aspects with this is that the problems really lie in federal law,” Hensley said. Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, said the state should look into adopting one of the tactics of the environmental groups challenging federal decisions. “Our legislative approach to try to address the wolf delisting again in there may be an opportunity for us to file federal suit against the government,” he said. Siddoway, a sheep rancher, said Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming all have more wolves than the 10 packs that were set as the threshold for being on the endangered list. “Now we’ve got packs up the ying-yang,” he said...more

California cougars: a conflict between man and beast

More than half of California is considered mountain lion territory, with some 5,000 of the big cats, also known as cougars, roaming free. Fast and powerful, they can leap 18 feet into a tree and take down a bull elk six times their weight. Of 53 mountain lions that have been trapped, tranquilized and collared, 19 have been killed by vehicles or shot, far more than have died from natural causes.

"The closer lions are to people, the more likely they're going to die," Vickers said. "Any interaction with humans, broadly speaking, will likely end up badly for the lion."

 The extent of cougar attacks on domestic animals is difficult to determine. But one measure is the number of lions legally killed under depredation permits issued by state wildlife managers. In the year ending Sept. 30, 2009, 103 lions were killed by permit. Relocation is considered too risky. Mountain lions have been killed for preying on livestock in California since the Spanish friars brought cattle to the missions. In 1907, the state Legislature approved a bounty for cougars.
But the bounty was abolished in 1963, and in 1990 voters approved Proposition 117, which outlawed sport hunting of mountain lions and designated them a "specially protected species."

 But they're far from endangered. It's estimated that the mountain lion population has doubled in California since the 1970s...more

Update: Slain Rancher's Wife Hit By Car

Sue Krentz, wife of slain rancher Robert Krentz, was hit by a vehicle driven by a suspected drunken driver in Douglas Saturday night, Douglas Police said. It happened at approximately 6 p.m. Saturday on the street in front of St. Luke's Catholic Church, an official said. Krentz was airlifted to University Medical Center in Tucson, police said. Family friends told CBS 5 News Krentz had emergency pelvis surgery last night. They said Krentz is awake and alert, but in a lot of pain...more

Slain rancher’s family faces a new tragedy: Widow hit by vehicleThe widow of slain Douglas-area rancher Robert Krentz has been injured by a suspected drunken driver in Douglas, authorities said. Sue Krentz was walking an 80-year-old friend across the street after church Saturday evening when the two were struck by a vehicle, Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever said. The driver, Ramon Parra Saucedo, 66, of Douglas, was charged with driving under the influence, two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of endangerment, Dever said. Saucedo was held in the Cochise County Jail on a $5,000 bond, Dever said. The sheriff said Douglas police are handling the case. How much more can this family take?” Dever asked as he spoke of the recent suffering the Krentz family has endured. “It’s a bad time, and not just for the family, but the community, as well.”...

This message was on Facebook:

From the Krentz Family: "Susan is in critical but stable condition at UMC
(Tucson). She had lots of internal bleeding, broken pelvis and leg. We will
try to keep you posted. The family thanks you for your thoughts and
prayers." We will update this thread on her condition. Bless this woman and
give her strength.

The Disgrace of the Ruling Class

We now have confirmation that Barack Obama truly loves poor people. Because he is creating so many of them.
Check out Pete Ferrara's article at The American Spectator for a rundown on Obamanomics and recent political events.

NM cap and trade plan stirs debate

After driving more than 200 miles, Matt Hinkle of Roswell hobbled down the auditorium walkway to the front of the nearly empty room. He jostled the chairs around to make room for his crutches and then laid out his opposition to a pair of proposals aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico. "From what I can see," he told a panel of state regulators, "the public in the state of New Mexico doesn't have a clue. ... They are completely uninformed as to what's going on. Really, in the end, they're going to be the ones paying for it." The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board is considering two proposals — one from an environmental group and the other from the state Environment Department. The state's plan calls for a regional cap-and-trade program, and New Energy Economy wants to limit the emissions of the state's largest polluters — coal-fired power plants and the oil and gas industry. While supporters say something needs to be done to combat climate change, critics are asking what cap and trade will end up costing New Mexico, a rural state where oil and gas contributes millions to state coffers, where small communities depend on mom-and-pop businesses and where a love for the land is shared by everyone from ranchers and environmentalists to Gov. Bill Richardson...more

States Try To Combat 'Funny Honey'

You might call them the Honey Police - beekeepers and honey producers ready to comb through North Carolina to nab unscrupulous sellers of sweet-but-bogus "funny honey." North Carolina is the latest state to create a standard that defines "pure honey" in a bid to curb the sale of products that have that label but are mostly corn syrup or other additives. Officials hope to enforce that standard with help from the 12,000 or so Tar Heel beekeepers. "The beekeepers tend to watch what's being sold, they watch the roadside stands and the farmer's markets," said John Ambrose, an entomologist and bee expert at North Carolina State University who sits on the newly created Honey Standards Board. Florida was the first state to adopt such standards in 2009. It's since been followed by California, Wisconsin and North Carolina. Similar efforts have been proposed in at least 12 other states, including North and South Dakota, the nation's largest producers of honey, together accounting for roughly one-third of U.S. output...more

Kelton's final book speaks with familiar voices

Elmer Kelton’s final book goes on sale Tuesday. “Texas Standoff” is the last chapter in the late writer’s Texas Rangers Series. It also marks the end of an era. For decades, Elmer gave us great books year after year, but this is his last. Elmer died a little more than a year ago at age 83, and no more unpublished manuscripts remain. I’m reading an advance copy of “Texas Standoff” and enjoying the journey. Like all of Elmer’s novels, it’s a good story, full of believable action, great characters and careful, honest descriptions of the old West. Always before, I’d race through a Kelton novel, caught up in the story, eager to see what happened next. This time, I’ve made myself slow down and enjoy the scenery. I’m barely a third of the way through the book, taking it easy, enjoying each sentence and page. Trying to make it last. Slowing down has helped me appreciate the wit and wisdom and words Elmer wove into his stories. He was a master of dialogue, making characters come alive through what they said...more

Champion, Hall of Famer, paved way for future cowgirl generations

There was no way for Dusek’s parent, West Texas ranchers John and Ruby Barron, to know they were saddle training a true trailblazer in what’s now the multimillion-dollar industry of women’s rodeo. Dusek will receive her profession’s top honor next month when she is inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth. The 79-year-old cowgirl, who still rides, is among five 2010 inductees. In the arena, Dusek was a masterful, determined competitor. She is an All Around Champion, having won 14 championships. A wooden display case in her living room holds the trophy belt buckles marking those world championships. Those achievements, perhaps, aren’t as significant as the role Dusek played in the formation of the Girls Rodeo Association on Feb. 28, 1948. It marked the beginning of what’s now the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. “We got tired of being cheated by the timers — everything,” Dusek said. “We decided to organize. “That was 1948.”...more

Fit to be fried

Calf fries are something between a tradition-rich delicacy and a dirty joke. They make cheeky menu items: "Great Balls of Fire" or "Rocky Mountain Oysters" - wink, wink. The simple fact is calf testicles are a byproduct of the ranching industry in Oklahoma, and historically, ranchers and cowboys couldn't afford to waste any parts. Even the, um, oysters. Cowboys made the best of whatever leftover parts they could snag on the range, hence dishes like "son-of-a-gun" stew (or its burlier name, "S.O.B. stew"). "Everything in the pot but the hair and the horns" - meaning sweetbreads, marrow gut from between the two stomachs, kidneys, heart, liver, brains and tongue. Cookbooks documenting cowboy cuisine say that originally, the testicles were thrown in the fire and used to heat branding irons until they were cooked through. Then they were skinned and eaten as is. Later, they figured out some parts are best dealt with deep fried. In Vinita, calf fries are no joke. The town proclaims itself the calf fry capital of the world, and it has yet to find a challenger to that title. At Vinita's annual "World's Largest Calf Fry Festival & Cook-off," they're dished up as part of a competition for serious bragging rights. They're served by the plate at the town's legendary Clanton's café...

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

Bayfield celebrates its heritage

Coinciding with the annual sheep migration from the mountains to the lowlands, Bayfield's annual Heritage Days festival takes the town back more than 100 years to a time when sheep herding was big business, a way of life that is disappearing. "There are only about three families that still have sheep that go to the mountains through Bayfield," Pine River Valley Heritage Society member Jim Frahm said. "One hundred years ago, there were a bunch of them. Thousands of heads of sheep went through every spring and every fall. ... It's not a big thing now, but it is to the people who do it." J. Paul Brown, an Ignacio rancher and a candidate for Colorado House District 59, acknowledged that most ranchers have made the switch from sheep to cattle or left the ranching business entirely. But for Brown, whose grandfather began raising sheep in the area in 1947, his sheep are a way of life he will not soon part with. "Sheep make a little bit more money, and it's a little bit more work, but we like sheep," he said. "It's just kind of part of the heritage of the whole valley." According to Mayor Rick Smith, the annual event helps remind Bayfield's current residents of the town's agrarian past. "The sheep were here, the ranchers were here," Smith said. "Heritage Days is about recognizing that and bringing people into the realization that this is our roots." In addition to a parade, live music, food, beer and all the usual trappings of a festival, Heritage Days sought to educate those attending. Live demonstrations of sheep shearing and wool spinning drew crowds at Joe Stephenson Park, and the Heritage Society's museum stayed open for much of the day...more

Song Of The Day #415

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio, where we bring you uptempo and swing music to get your heart started for the week.

There are all kinds of swing music. Today's selection would be generally referred to as "Old Time" music, but for our purposes we'll call it Appalachian Swing.

Here are The Crooked Jades performing Knoxville Rag from their 23 track CD Unfortunate Rake Vol.2.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The ultimate farmer

by Julie Carter

The realtor’s invention of the 40-acre ranch brought agriculture holdings to town, so to speak. Those that dreamed of being landowners, ranchers and yes, even farmers, gained a way to fulfill that fantasy.

On a recent trip, I learned the dream is alive and well.

A well-heeled couple walked through the door of the Southern Colorado tractor store and explained to the man at the counter that they were setting up a big farm and needed to buy some equipment.

Dutifully he walked them through all the sizes and styles of tractors available as well as the assorted attachments. The missus emphasized their requirement for the “heavy duty” stuff so it would hold up to the hard use they planned to give it.

The tractor she picked out had nine steps to get up in the cab -- one of those really big monsters.

They also bought discs, hay rakes, balers, blades, plows, harrows and everything else that the dealership offered, taking advantage of the ongoing special -- “Buy one, get 3 percent off the next one.” Can't be too cash conscious when you're going into farming.

The next day the couple invited the implement dealer down to see their farm and for him to bring the papers to sign for all the equipment. Jake arrived at what he assumed to be only the headquarters of the farming operation, not knowing for sure just how far toward the horizon the borders of this “big farm” went.

He looked around and the lady came out of the house, saying, “Come on, I'll show you around the farm.”

He walked with her to a brand new (still with the paper license plate) Grand Cherokee which had a trailer attached. He noticed the trailer had one 12-inch tire and one 18-inch tire on it.

She complained that the trailer was not pulling very well at all. Kindly, he explained what he thought the problem to be. But just as if she didn’t hear him, in her next sentence she declared that since she is obviously going to have to buy a new trailer, she might as well get a new pick-up too.

Rather than unhook the trailer, she suggested they just walk around the farm. The tractor dealer was a little taken aback in that he really didn’t plan on spending all day hiking to look at a farm. It was then he found out the farm was 58.2 acres.

So as not to discourage the sale he was making, he indeed walked around the farm, even managing to keep a straight face.

During this stroll around the farm, the lady asked, "What do you think we should raise on our farm?"

Jake’s thoughts were, "You couldn't raise hell with a jug of whiskey. This is nothing but a rock pile."

But he said nothing, just shrugged and maintained a blank look.

Before he departed, the couple set up a time with him to get some tractor driving lessons, since neither of them had ever been close to a tractor except the day they were at the implement dealership.

He secured permission from a guy he knew to use a vacant 80 acres for the tractor driving lessons. His plan was to put the tractor and driver square in the middle of it and let them practice. He also promised to replace any fences that might get torn up.

Later that same day, he saw the missus driving a new Ford King Ranch pickup. He assumed that she is now also a rancher.

Stay tuned next week for Part II of The Ultimate Farmer and watch this Green Acres duo put more money into circulation faster than a Wall Street bailout plan. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Julie can be reached for comment at

It's The Pitts: Halfway Home

by Lee Pitts

Statistics say that marriages where the husband goes on an annual trail drive are 20 times more apt to end in divorce. Okay, so I made that up. But I’m sure it’s true.

It has come to my attention that men who go straight home after spending a week “trail driving” with their buddies where they drink, cuss and tell dirty stories, are having a difficult time reentering polite society. I know one trail driver who went straight from a week of such debauchery to a dinner party with the parents of his fiancé. Suffice it to say that the wedding has been called off and the fiancee's parents have a restraining order against the poor schmuck.

I, myself, have never been on a trail drive. My friend Terrell invited me to go on one once but my wife, having heard what goes on at these things, wouldn’t let me go. Besides, as a writer I occasionally call upon my brain to function and I simply cannot risk the possibility of brain damage from spending an entire week trail driving while under the influence of my buddies.

Because many of my friends do go on these things I have decided to start a new charity which will purchase a home to be used as a halfway house where trail riders can go after their trail drive so that they might gradually reacclimatize themselves to normal living. Just like recently released pedophiles, I realize that people are not going to welcome such people into their neighborhoods, so I’ll buy a ranch way out in the country, with a ten thousand acre buffer zone, on which I might also run a few cows.

I envision an active rehabilitation program where the cowboys will be retaught things they forgot how to do after spending a week with their fellow heathens. Lost skills such as shaving and bathing regularly, using indoor plumbing, changing their underwear and using a knife and fork will be taught by clean and sober ex-trail riders.

I am told that on many trail drives the participants tell dirty stories endlessly, sing bawdy songs and recite cowboy poetry that would make a sailor blush. Therefore, intense therapy sessions on language skills will be emphasized at Lee’s Halfway House and Cattle Company, so that the trail drivers will get all the vile words out of their vocabulary before sitting down to dinner with momma and the young ones.

Speaking of flushing things from their system, my halfway house will offer a sober living environment in which substance abusers will enter a detox program, gradually replacing half their expensive whiskey consumption with cheaper beer. Realizing that many of these men have been on a liquid diet for an entire week, we will reintroduce both solid food and manners back slowly so as to not shock their system.

As we attempt to reintegrate our clients back into captivity, my staff and I will also address such problem areas as going outside to make water, riding one’s horse into living and eating areas, harassing and roping wildlife, betting large sums on trivial occurrences, playing cards all night and fist fighting.

In order to promote recovery and restore them to the men they once were, I recommend that for every week spent on a trail drive that each patient spend from one to six months in Lee’s Halfway House and Cattle Company. Because they might regress to their previous behavior, there will be a probationary period in which they will not be allowed to communicate with any trail driving buddies until next year. Still we must warn you, recidivism rates are high in dealing with this type of illness.

Thousands of men need your help today, so please, give generously. We think the $10,000 weekly cost per person of our halfway house will be picked up by Obamacare but until that happens, I beg you, Save a Cowboy! Send your cash, old clothes or cows to Lee’s Halfway House and Cattle Company. After all, someday you too may have a husband, relative or friend who will be afflicted with this dreaded malady.

Song Of The Day #414

Ranch Radio's Gospel tune today is from 1952 and is Hank Snow performing I Just Telephone Upstairs.

Friday, September 24, 2010

House Republicans Pledge to ‘Establish Operational Control of Border,’ But Say Nothing about Border Fence, Worksite Enforcement or Amnesty

While stating that the party would work to give the Border Patrol the “tools and authorities to establish operational control at the border,” the pledge does not mention any specific tools or authorities. Specifically, the word “fence” does not appear anywhere in the document. Nor is their reference to any other sort of structure the Republicans would favor erecting at the border. In a subsection titled, “Establish Operational Control of the Border,” the House Republicans say: “We must take action to secure our borders, and that action starts with enforcing our laws. We will ensure that the Border Patrol has the tools and authorities to establish operational control at the border and prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from interfering with Border Patrol enforcement activities on federal lands. “...more

The whole "A Pledge To America" is a little on the wimpy side, but the section quoted above is important to us in the West.

The words "operational control of the border" are right out of H.R. 5016, which states:

On public lands of the United States, neither the Secretary of the Interior nor the Secretary of Agriculture may impede, prohibit, or restrict activities of the Secretary of Homeland Security to achieve operational control (as defined in section 2(b) of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (8 U.S.C. 1701 note; Public Law 109-367).

That is the bill introduced by Reps Bishop, King, Hastings and Smith. You can read more about it here, here, here, here and here.

Migrants experience deadly year crossing Arizona border

But the Guatemalan woman, who lives in Phoenix, knows those scenarios make little sense. The 13-year-old boy, Nelson Omar Chilel Lopez, would have called if he made it to safety. The coyotes would have demanded ransom if they were holding him. Lopez buries her face in her hands and weeps at the thought of a child she calls Omar becoming a statistic - one of a nearly record 236 corpses recovered so far this fiscal year along the Arizona-Sonora border. Coalición de Derechos Humanos (the Human Rights Coalition), which gathers data on border-crossing fatalities in Arizona, says the body count for fiscal 2010, which ends Sept. 30, is second-highest on record. Fiscal 2005 set the record, with 282 bodies recovered. We've passed the number of remains recovered last year," said Kat Rodriguez, coordinator for the non-profit organization, "and we still have a month to go. . . . This has been a horrid summer." The advocacy group gets data from medical examiners in Pima, Pinal, Cochise and Yuma counties, as well as other sources. Other immigrant-advocacy groups say fatalities appear to be increasing even as the number of illegal border crossers arrested has plummeted over the past five years. Using a formula based on the number of fatalities and arrests, No More Deaths, a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian aid to border crossers, describes the past year as the "most lethal" ever, up 30-fold since 1999...more