Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The cowboy and the skinwalker

by Julie Carter

It happened on a high desert ranch in Navajo country.

The mesa lands surrounded the canyons and the cedar-covered hillsides and all were painted in layers of bold colors.

The day wore a hushed stillness broken by the occasional flapping sound of a crow on the wing.

A lone cowboy was checking cattle, riding along at a slow trot when a movement caught his eye.

Across the canyon, very deep and wide, he could see a man walking. He pulled his horse to a stop, squinting to make sure of what he was seeing.

In the distance, he could see what he knew to be an Indian dressed in the traditional animal-hide apparel of a century ago.

The fact that the Indian was afoot so far from civilization raised a curiosity in the cowboy.

He navigated his way across the canyon in one of the few places that it could be crossed. There he found some old cliff dwellings and "picture rocks," bringing him to the thought that perhaps the Indian had been praying there in an ancient place of worship.

The cowboy looked around but the man seemed to have disappeared. He rode to the spot where he saw him from across the canyon and found not the man, but where he had been sitting, along with another curious sight.

Hanging on a large cedar, like ornaments on a Christmas tree, were little figurines made of grass and bound with string. One of them, swaying only slightly in a non-existent breeze, was quite clearly a man on a horse.

A cold shiver went down his spine. He shook it off and began to look around for signs of the man he'd seen.

He found the Indian's tracks and followed them for a short distance. They all but disappeared in the rocks so he circled the area looking for more tracks.

All he could find were the tracks of several coyotes.

"I figured he was hiding in the huge cracks in the rocks so as not to be bothered," the cowboy related in telling the tale "So I rode away respectfully, crossed back over the canyon and went on to finish my day's work."

The next night, the cowboy was joined in camp by a Navajo friend of his named Bobby. They sat by the fire and over coffee, the cowboy told Bobby about what he had seen the day before.

Even in the dim firelight, the cowboy could see Bobby's deep brown skin turn very pale.

He was visibly spooked when he asked the cowboy if he believed in witches and demons or devils.

The cowboy, without hesitation, replied a simple, "No."

Bobby, his voice shaking, began to tell the cowboy about skinwalkers. Although they are most frequently seen as a coyote, wolf, owl, fox, or crow, the yee naaldlooshii is said to have the power to assume the form of any animal they choose, depending on what kind of abilities they need.

Some Navajo also believe that skinwalkers have the ability to steal the "skin" or body of a person.

The Navajo believe that if you lock eyes with a skinwalker they can absorb themselves into your body.

Bobby told the cowboy that his lack of belief in bad spirits made his soul too strong for the skinwalker.

"The little doll on the horse that was hanging in the tree was the tool he made to call you over to his side of the canyon," Bobby told him. "When you lost his tracks, then found several sets of coyote tracks, it was him and his clan leaving when he couldn't enter your body.

"Only one of them will change shape and be seen," said Bobby. "That's why you only saw one man. They didn't want you to feel outnumbered. Stay away from them, and they'll move on."

The legend of skinwalkers comes with many stories and warnings, all common with their elements of evil and elusiveness that are magnified by the dark of night.

But there is one cowboy that knows what he saw in broad daylight.

Never again did he ride the desert canyon lands without feeling there were many eyes upon him.

Julie can be reached for comment at or at her website at

It's The Pitts: I Don't Get It

by Lee Pitts

I really enjoy listening to Charles Barkley make commentary about basketball games. I loved watching him play because he was a ferocious competitor, he is highly entertaining, obviously intelligent and from what people say, he’s a great guy. But awhile back The Chuckster uttered something lame and un-Chuckster-like. He said, “There are really only five serious and important jobs in the world: teachers, firemen, police, doctors and those serving in the armed forces.”

Oh really, Charles? I think you are forgetting someone.

People nodded in agreement and accepted Barkley’s proclamation as wisdom because the “Round Mound of Rebound” said it. And because it was a very politically correct statement. It sounded like something you’d read in Bartlett’s Book of Quotations. Except that it’s absolutely false. Has everyone forgotten in this country that the most important thing they have to do every day is eat? Without farmers, ranchers and fishermen there’d be no kids to teach, fires to put out, colonoscopies to dread, wars to fight, crooks to arrest or basketball games to comment on.

Not that the five jobs Charles listed aren’t noble callings. Of course they are. These servants all deserve our utmost respect and appreciation. I fully support our military, come from a long line of firemen and I wouldn’t be alive today if not for a good doctor. Without good teachers you wouldn’t be reading this. But theoretically, at least, societies could exist without these five occupations. Not very well mind you, but society could survive on some level. But without farmers, ranchers and fishermen we’d all starve to death. Perhaps we could hunt for our food but all the game in this country, including several endangered species, would be wiped out in one day if we all had to hunt for our dinner like the Indians of old.

I don’t know when there started to be such disdain for folks who produce things in this country. Well meaning people give money to green groups who mostly use these contributions to pay lawyers to throw up roadblocks in the way of people who produce the necessities of life. While the farmers and ranchers have done more to save endangered species than all the green groups put together. Yet society worships the greenies and looks down on the farmers and ranchers. I don’t get it.

Letting our forests burn and rot is seen as preferable to harvesting the timber and putting it to good use. Those of us in the west who produce things are supposed to have the same Constitutional rights as those urbanites who live in the east, who see the west as their playground, and yet the federal government owns 2-10% of eastern states while they own 30-90% of western states. I don’t get it.

We allow teenage daughters to tattoo their entire bodies but howl like coyotes when ranchers brand their cattle. We feed, house and even clothe our pets in designer togs while there are children in this world starving to death and people living outside in cardboard boxes. We celebrate low-life athletes and Hollywood celebrities, elect corrupt politicians, and can’t miss watching TV shows about mothers who have eight kids at a time or who have given birth to 19 children. And then we criticize the farmers and ranchers who are just trying to feed all of us. We only allow our fishermen and others who produce stuff to catch a bumper crop of bureaucracy. And I don’t get it.

When will it dawn on folks that you can’t continue to regulate people out of work, destroy entire industries, and then expect to get a job or have unemployment go down? We can’t all work for the government and still pretend to be a democracy.

Charles Barkley is a smart man and I’m sure if he reconsidered he might change his mind. As a fan of his I’d like to think that Charles was merely guilty, like all Americans are, of taking this nation’s farmers, ranchers and fishermen for granted.

Red Tape Rising

Next January the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to issue new regulations on emissions from boilers used in facilities like oil refineries, paper mills and shopping malls. The EPA claims their new regulations will only cost the economy $9.5 billion by 2013. But the American Chemistry Council says the cost will surpass $20 billion and kill 800,000 jobs. Who is right? We don't know. But what we do know is that if you total up all of the new regulations already passed by the Obama administration last year, using their own cost estimates, fiscal 2010 saw the largest increase in regulatory burdens placed on the U.S. economy in the nation's recorded regulatory history, says Conn Carroll, assistant director for the Heritage Foundation's Strategic Communications.

* According to a report released last month by the Small Business Administration, existing total regulatory costs already amount to about $1.75 trillion annually -- nearly twice as large as the sum of all individual income taxes collected last year.
* Adding to this burden, federal agencies promulgated 43 new rules during the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010.
* The total cost of these rules, each one individually calculated by the Obama administration itself, was $28 billion.
* On net, the Obama administration inflicted $26.5 billion in new regulatory costs on the economy last year.

As high as this $26.5 billion total is, the actual cost of all these new regulations is almost certainly much higher, says Carroll.

* First, the cost of noneconomically significant rules -- rules deemed not likely to have an annual impact of $100 million or more -- is not calculated.
* Second, no costs were given for 12 of the rules that were deemed economically significant.

Most importantly, the costs that were given are likely minimized because the regulators are allowed to make up the cost of their own regulations. Indeed, a 2005 Office of Management and Budget Report to Congress found that regulators underestimated the costs of their rules 34 percent of the time.

Source: Conn Carroll, "Red Tape Rising," Heritage Foundation, October 27th, 2010.


Why Can't We Innovate Our Way to a Carbon-Free Energy Future?

Despite pledges such as the 2008 promise by the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations to work to cut global carbon emissions in half by 2050 under the Kyoto Protocol, no meaningful international climate agreement has ever been reached, says Bjorn Lomborg, head of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School.

The Kyoto approach proposes a "solution" that is more expensive than the problem it's meant to solve.

* To cut carbon emissions enough to keep average global temperatures from rising any higher than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels -- a goal endorsed by the G8 -- we would have to slap a huge tax on carbon-emitting fuels.
* Huge means something on the order of $4,000 per ton of carbon dioxide -- or $35 per gallon of gasoline -- by the end of the century.
* The impact of a tax of this magnitude would be devastating -- it could reduce world gross domestic product (GDP) by a staggering 12.9 percent in 2100 (the equivalent of $40 trillion a year).

The best estimate is that if we don't do anything about global warming, by 2100 it will be doing roughly $3 trillion a year in damage to the world. In other words, under the Kyoto approach, we'd be spending $40 trillion a year to prevent $3 trillion a year in environmental damage, says Lomborg.

Fortunately, there is a smarter way than carbon cuts to deal with global warming. What if, instead of crippling economic growth by trying to make carbon-emitting fuels too expensive to use, we devoted ourselves to making green energy cheaper?

Research has found that devoting just 0.2 percent of global GDP -- roughly $100 billion a year -- to green energy research and development would produce the kind of game-changing breakthroughs needed to fuel a carbon-free future.

Not only would this be a much less expensive fix than trying to cut carbon emissions, it would also reduce global warming far more quickly.

Source: Bjorn Lomborg, Why Can't We Innovate Our Way to a Carbon-Free Energy Future?" Investor's Business Daily, October 22, 2010.


Song Of The Day #425

The Gospel tune this Sunday morning on Ranch Radio is the classic Rank Stranger by the Stanley Brothers. Many other bluegrass groups went on to record this beautiful song.

Ranch Radio also found out that when the Yahoo Media player specs said it would link to each mp3 file on your page, they meant the page of your website, not the page on OpenDrive like I thought. I show two pages, or two days of my blog posts, so it would play both songs. Today I am showing only one page, so it will play only the one song. Let me know if you don't like me showing the posts from only one day.

Stanley Brothers - Rank Stranger.mp3

Friday, October 29, 2010

Al Gore: Tea Party making climate science a ‘political football’

Al Gore is on the political offensive against global warming skepticism in the Tea Party movement. “Unfortunately the Tea Party movement seems to want to make belief in science a political football,” the former vice president wrote on his website Tuesday afternoon (and tweeted about today). Gore, a longtime advocate of capping greenhouse gases, points to a New York Times story this month that said, “Skepticism and outright denial of global warming are among the articles of faith of the Tea Party movement.” The story cites a recent New York Times/CBS News poll showing that only 14 percent of Tea Party supporters say global warming is having an effect now, and more than half say it won’t have a serious effect in the future. Gore and former President Jimmy Carter (along with liberal activists) are highlighting ties between the Tea Party movement and fossil fuel interests — including the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by billionaire David Koch of the energy company Koch Industries. “It’s not a surprise that the groups supporting the Tea Party are funded by the fossil fuel industry,” Gore wrote on his website...more

We'll see whose product is bought by the public.

If we turn to the market for guidance, it appears Tea Party paraphernalia is really selling well.

Do they give a Nobel Peace Prize for T-shirts?

We'll get another measure of public sentiment Tuesday. That's what Gore & Carter are tying to influence anyway.

EPA extends some oil spill plan deadlines for farmers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revised a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) deadline that affects farms and other facilities. Farms in business before Aug. 16, 2002, are expected to have in place an SPCC plan based on regulations in effect at the time it was developed. The EPA has extended the deadline to Nov. 10, 2011, to amend their plan to meet current regulations and implement the amended plan to Nov. 10, 2011. The EPA also has extended the deadline to Nov. 10, 2011, for operations that started after Aug. 16, 2002, to prepare and implement a plan meeting current regulations...

Got that? There you have a good example of how Fedzilla runs things.

Farms and other facilities must have an SPCC plan if they meet all three of the following criteria:

* They use or transfer oil or oil products such as gas; diesel fuel; lubrication, hydraulic, crop or vegetable oil; or animal fat.

* They store more than 1,320 U.S. gallons of oil or oil products in aboveground containers or more than 42,000 U.S. gallons in buried containers.

* The oil or oil products reasonably could be expected to discharge into U.S. waters or adjoining shorelines, such as interstate waters, intrastate lakes, rivers and streams.

That "reasonably could be expected" interpretation by your local Fedzilla employee is a little scary to me.

If it was me I'd fill'er up and shut up.

Our Contemptible Congress

Most people whom we elect to Congress are either ignorant of, have contempt for or are just plain stupid about the United States Constitution. Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., responding to a question during a town hall meeting, said he’s “not worried about the Constitution.” That was in response to a question about the constitutionality of Obamacare. He told his constituents that the Constitution guaranteed each of us “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Of course, our Constitution guarantees no such thing. The expression “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is found in our Declaration of Independence. During a debate, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., gave his opinion about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, concluding that “the Constitution is wrong.” Not to be outdone, at his town hall meeting, Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., responded to a constituent’s question about Obamacare by saying, “There are very few constitutional limits that would prevent the federal government from (making) rules that can affect your private life.” Adding, “Yes, the federal government can do most anything in this country.”...more

The DC Deep Thinkers seem to be lacking in their knowledge of the Constitution. No shock there, although the quotes above and others in Walter Williams' column do have a high pucker factor.

33 Years Later, Carter’s Energy Department Still Struggling to Meet Goals

The U.S. Department of Energy, which opened its doors on Oct. 1, 1977 amidst the backdrop of the “Energy Crisis” of the 1970s, is still struggling to live up to the goals the Carter Administration set for it. The department, which has become a huge federal bureaucracy over the last 33 years, came into being largely as a result of the 1973 oil “shortage” that occurred when Arab nations in OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, staged an oil "embargo" against the United States. President Carter underscored his goal of reducing dependence on foreign oil on Aug. 4, 1977, when he signed into law the bill creating the Energy Department...more

So how is this Carter & Congress creation doing? Let's see:

Imports have risen, not declined

Domestic production has declined

Oil consumption in the U.S. is up, not down

Gasoline usage has grown significantly

Gasoline prices have continued to rise

Not looking too good is it. They have accomplished one thing though:

Today, the Department of Energy has 16,000 permanent employees and 100,000 contract employees around the nation. The agency’s budget, meanwhile, has ballooned from $8.4 billion in Fiscal Year 1980 to $26.5 billion in FY2010.

Companies Fight EPA Proposal to Publicize Their Global Warming Data

Some of the country's largest emitters of heat-trapping gases, including businesses that publicly support efforts to curb global warming, don't want the public knowing exactly how much they pollute. Oil producers and refiners, along with manufacturers of steel, aluminum and even home appliances, are fighting a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency that would make the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that companies release -- and the underlying data businesses use to calculate the amounts -- available online. The companies say that disclosing details beyond a facility's total emissions to the public would reveal company secrets by letting competitors know what happens inside their factories. More importantly, they argue, when it comes to understanding global warming, the public doesn't need to know anything more than what goes into the air. Other companies are pressing the agency to require a third party to verify the data, so they don't have to submit it at all, or to allow them to argue on a case-by-case basis to keep some of it confidential, a suggestion the EPA warned would delay public release...more

Conservation Groups Urge Stop to Wolf Negotiations

In a letter to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Joe Maurier, conservation organizations are urging state officials to stick with science in determining adequate populations of gray wolves, rather than negotiating with environmental and animal rights groups to allow surplus populations. The agency is currently negotiating a settlement with the 13 groups who sued to keep gray wolves federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. These negotiations potentially threaten to weaken the state's authority to manage populations of game and non-game species, presenting a dangerous precedent for other states seeking to manage wolf populations through their respective state agencies. The letter, signed by Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation President and CEO David Allen, Mule Deer Foundation President and CEO Miles Moretti, and Big Game Forever/Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife President Ryan Benson, also decries the state's failure to include sportsmen, farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders in the settlement processes relative to wolf control...more

Now Anti-Wolf Groups Are Blowing It

No reasonable deed goes unpunished, eh? That must be how wildlife managers or advocates who actually want to resolve the wolf-delisting impasse must feel. On September 23, I posted a commentary with the title, Pro-Wolf Groups Blew It where I criticized the left-leaning plaintiffs in the various lawsuits for pushing too hard, too long and turning fence-sitters and most Western politicians into the anti-wolf camp and possibly endangering the integrity of the Endangered Species Act. Now, the pendulum has swung to the far right. Energized by newfound support from basically every Western senator and representative, anti-wolf hunting groups such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation and Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife have not only insisted on extreme actions but, incredibly, also want to keep wildlife agencies and green groups from even talking to each other about a possible compromise...more

Hunter kills grizzly near Cody

Wildlife officials are investigating a grizzly bear encounter near Cody in which a hunter shot and killed a grizzly bear after being bitten by the bear. The hunter was bitten at least twice on the left thigh Wednesday morning in the Upper South Fork Valley, about 35 miles southwest of Cody, according to Mark Bruscino, bear management officer for the Wyoming Game and Fish De-partment. The hunter was alone, but was able to walk out of the backcountry, and was assisted by someone in the area, Brus-cino said. The hunter has received medical treatment and is expected to be released today, Bruscino said. Additional details were not immediately available, and authorities are still investigating the incident, he said...more

Grizzly Bear Numbers Hit New High in Yellowstone Region

Grizzly bear numbers in and around Yellowstone National Park have hit their highest level in decades, driving increased conflicts with humans as some bears push out of deep wilderness and into populated areas. Scientists from a multi-agency research team announced Wednesday that at least 603 grizzlies now roam the Yellowstone area of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. That's more than three times the number in 1975, when hunting was outlawed and the species placed on the endangered list. But more bears also means more run-ins with humans -- although bear biologists are quick to point out that visitors to the region are more likely to die in a vehicle crash than a grizzly mauling. Two people have been killed by grizzlies in the Yellowstone region this year: one west of Cody, Wyo., and another near Cooke City, Mont...more

Markey earns A+ rating from Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition

Betsy Markey has earned a perfect score from the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition for her efforts to stop the expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in Southeast Colorado. The Coalition wrote, Markey earns A+ rating from Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition CoalitionPCEOC has given Betsy Markey an A+ rating for her efforts to stop the Pinon Canyon expansion. She is a candidate that has put her congressional votes and legislative efforts where her mouth is to keep Pinon Canyon from expanding. Betsy Markey co-sponsored and pushed for legislation that included the ban on funding for any expansion of Pinon Canyon. She thus has a proven track record on stopping the Pinon Canyon expansion. The only thing that keeps the expansion from happening at this point is the congressional funding ban that Congressman John Salazar and Betsy Markey have worked to get renewed each year. The future of southeastern Colorado hangs in the balance – we survive if Pinon Canyon isn’t expanded – we are eliminated if it does. That includes a large part of the 4th Congressional District that Congresswoman Markey represents...more

Want a new tractor? Ask Obama - he'll pay half

California farmers and ranchers are helping lower air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley and other smog-laden regions by embracing a federal program that replaces old diesel tractors with cleaner-running farm equipment. In the last two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service has helped farmers replace 814 aging machines with more modern equipment. Federal officials say next year they will invest $24 million in the program, which splits the cost of upgrading equipment with owners...more

Enviro group sues over NM, Ariz. wolf listing

An environmental group has sued Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, seeking to force him to rule on a petition to list the Mexican gray wolf in New Mexico and Arizona as an endangered species separate from other gray wolves in North America. The wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians, Nicole Rosmarino, said the Mexican gray wolves face potential extinction in the wild. WildEarth Guardians filed its lawsuit Wednesday in federal court in Phoenix, alleging Salazar's decision is overdue. An Interior Department spokeswoman, Kendra Barkoff, said Thursday the agency cannot comment on pending litigation. Another conservation group, the Center for Biological Diversity, filed a notice Wednesday of its intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in federal court in Washington, D.C., saying the agency failed to respond to petitions to list the wolf and three other species. WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity and The Rewilding Institute filed petitions in August 2009 for a separate listing for the Mexican gray wolf. The Fish and Wildlife Service agreed this August to review the status of the species. Such a positive finding triggers a one-year status review—an in-depth look to decide if the species should be listed. But WildEarth Guardians' lawsuit contends Salazar should have decided last November whether to review the wolves' status...more

Baseball elements have roots in ag

We are reminded by the Texas Department of Agriculture that the 2010 World Series has a tie to the ag industry from wooden bats, leather mitts, and wool socks to cotton uniforms. “Baseball fans may be surprised to know how agriculture plays out on the Field of Dreams,” says Todd Staples, Texas agriculture commissioner. “America’s pastime would be a tough pitch without the products of farmers and ranchers. So whether you’re rooting for the Texas Rangers or San Francisco Giants in this year’s World Series, keep an eye out for agriculture while you’re staying glued to the tube.” * Baseball bats are made of wood, and in Texas the timber industry produces more than 500 million cubic feet of lumber annually with a delivered value of more than $600 million. * Leather is used to make mitts and Texas leads the nation in cattle with more than 13 million head, which have an annual production value of about $6 billion. * Peanuts are a favorite snack at baseball games, and in Texas we produce more than 700 million pounds — enough to make 7 billion peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. * Hot dogs are a traditional favorite at baseball games and the Texas pork industry has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $250 million. * Hot dogs also need hot dog buns. Texas growers produce an average of 90 million bushels of wheat annually — enough to make more than 25 billion hot dog buns. * Texas is a leading dairy state and produces enough milk each year to fill the Texas Rangers’ ballpark in Arlington nearly eight times...more

Words of the Old West: Poetry gathering keeps cowboy heritage alive

Riders in the Sky have been doing it "The Cowboy Way" for 33 years now. They just completed their 6,000th appearance, have been to every state in the Union and are out "beating the bushes wherever we can," said Ranger Doug in a telephone chat from his home in Nashville. Their purpose is to carry on the great tradition started by the Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and others of the cowboy music genre. "We're trying to keep the music alive, keep the appreciation for it alive," Ranger Doug said. Riders in the Sky will be in Salt Lake City to kick off the 16th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Buckaroo Fair with a concert Monday night at Abravanel Hall. The rest of the festival will take place in Heber Valley, Tuesday through Sunday, Nov. 2-7, with other top Western entertainers, including Suzy Bogguss, Ian Tyson, the Bar J Wranglers, Sons of the San Joaquin, Red Steagall, Hot Club Cowtown, R.W. Hampton and Wylie & the Wild West...more

Song Of The Day #424

Your Ranch Radio tune to get you ready for the weekend is Webb Pierce's 1957 recording of Honky Tonk Song.

I like this Yahoo player, but you just can't keep it from making a play list. I'll try to have something more suitable to what I do hear by next week.

Webb Pierce - Honky Tonk Song.mp3

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Salazar Says His Post in Obama’s Cabinet Safe After BP’s Spill

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, once criticized by President Barack Obama for taking too long to toughen regulation of offshore oil and natural-gas drilling, said he expects to keep his job after the mid-term elections. “I absolutely believe that I will stay on,” Salazar said today in a phone interview. “The president and I talk about what I do here at Interior. I think he’s pleased with the work I’ve done. He’s told me so.” Salazar’s performance drew criticism in the months after a BP Plc well blew out in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, setting off the worst U.S. oil spill. The Interior secretary has been among Obama Cabinet secretaries expected to depart after the Nov. 2 elections, according to Michael McKenna, president of MWR Strategies, an oil-industry consulting firm in Washington. “The perception is the administration didn’t handle the BP spill terribly well and Salazar’s going to be the guy who pays the price for that,” McKenna said in a phone interview today. “He, for better or for worse, is going to be the fall guy.”...more

Maybe. Maybe not. I'm trying to track down a rumor...more later.

New lawsuit filed as Interior secretary seeks compromise

Less than 24 hours after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar met with representatives from the timber industry and conservation groups to resolve a decades-old battle over federal timberlands in Western Oregon, conservationists filed a legal challenge to a U.S. Bureau of Land Management timber sale. But those filing the challenge in U.S. District Court in Medford to the Spencer Creek timber sale just west of Keno on the BLM's Lakeview District say it isn't intended as a rebuke against Salazar's efforts. The legal complaint, filed Tuesday, seeks a review of a biological opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Aug. 3 which determined the planned harvest was not likely to harm spotted owls or their habitat. Joining the local conservation group in the case was Oregon Wild in Portland and Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands. The case was filed by Earthjustice and Western Environmental Law Center on behalf of the groups. Janet Lebson, spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife agency's Portland office, said attorneys for the agency are reviewing the 51-page document...more

Gridlock on wolves alienates key allies

An impasse over wolf management in the Northern Rockies is alienating hunters and ranchers, groups whose support is crucial to the canny predators’ long-term success in the region, experts say. Many are fuming at wolves’ recent return to the Endangered Species List in Idaho and Montana. The action canceled public wolf hunts in both states this fall, even though wolf counts in Idaho and Montana far exceed the minimum federal recovery goals of at least 30 breeding pairs and more than 300 wolves. “We had an agreement that lots of people signed off on. And now they feel betrayed,” said Dan Pletscher, a wildlife biology professor at the University of Montana. Idaho had a minimum of 843 wolves at the end of 2009, and Montana had 524. “We get above the federal goal, and that’s still not enough,” said Elaine Allestad, a Montana sheep rancher. The mounting frustration is bad news for wolves, said Pletscher, who predicts a rise in illegal killings and potential weakening of the Endangered Species Act. Idaho and Montana congressional delegations are sponsoring bills to return management of their wolf populations to their states. It’s politically expedient, Pletscher said, but that type of legislative maneuvering ultimately undermines the science-based process in the Endangered Species Act...more

Dr. Pletscher, it was "legislative maneuvering" that created the ESA. As long as the people feel "betrayed" they will turn to Congress for relief. You should either support amendments to the ESA to allow for more flexibility, or you can expect more "legislative maneuvering".

Anyway, trying to set it up as "science based" vs. "legislative maneuvering" ain't gonna cut it here.

Sherwood Forest up for sale

Britain's Sherwood Forest, best known as refuge for the legendary Robin Hood, soon may be home to logging crews. Half of Great Britain's public woodlands could be sold off and commercial tree-cutting could get under way in Sherwood Forest and the Forest of Dean under an austerity budget being considered by the nation's new leaders. The proposal to sell off British woodlands was revealed this week in the United Kingdom's Sunday Telegraph. The newspaper story quoted unnamed sources in Whitehall, a term often used as a synonym for the British government. After 13 years of control by the Labor party, Great Britain's new government, elected in May, is a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition that has unveiled an austerity budget. It calls for major cuts in almost all government spending, including defense and social services. The country's 1.85 million acres of public forest are managed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. A spokesman for the department, known as Defra, said the agency could not comment on any of the specifics of what he described as "leaks" speculating on future government policy...more

Some day we will have our own Robin Hood who instead of stealing from the King's men will actually remove the forests from the King's jurisdiction and return them to the people.

Global extinction crisis looms, new study says

A growing number of creatures could disappear from the earth, with one-fifth of all vertebrates and as many as a third of all sharks and rays now facing the threat of extinction, according to a new survey assessing nearly 26,000 species across the globe. In addition, forces such as habitat destruction, over-exploitation and invasive competitors move 52 species a category closer to extinction each year, according to the research, published online Tuesday by the journal Science. At the same time, the findings demonstrate that these losses would be at least 20 percent higher without conservation efforts now underway. The survey, conducted by 174 researchers from 38 countries, came as delegates from around the world are meeting in Nagoya, Japan, to debate conservation goals for the coming decade. Environmental groups are pushing for a goal of protecting 25 percent of all land on earth and 15 percent of the sea by 2020. At the moment, roughly 14 percent of terrestrial areas and less than 1 percent of the ocean enjoy some degree of environmental safeguards...more

Isn't it funny how things work out. This research just happened to be released prior to the UN meeting. I'm sure this is all about science and politics has not infiltrated the hallowed halls of research.

EPA head: New carbon controls on trucks, buses and vans 'win for planet'

The Obama administration on Monday continued its push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, proposing the first-ever emissions limits for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses. The new rule proposes separate performance standards for three categories of vehicles: combination tractors, heavy-duty pickups and vans, and vocational vehicles. 

For long-haul combination tractors, the standards would require a 20-percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption by the 2018 model year.

 For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, the standards would differ by fuel type. The rule is estimated to achieve a 10-percent reduction for gasoline vehicles and 15 percent for diesel vehicles. For delivery trucks and other vocational vehicles, up to a 10-percent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions is required by model year 2018...more

Cattle collusion accusations debated

In talking about the cattle market, “it all comes back to supply and demand,” said Rex Bland, a part-owner of the Cal-Tex Feedyard in Trent. Bland said he may receive cattle bids from two different buyers, one in the Texas Panhandle and the other in South Texas. “At times, when there’s a lot of cattle around, it’s hard to get a competitive bid,” Bland said. Currently, a lack of supply has led to higher beef prices, however. “We don’t have enough cattle in the United States,” Bland said. Average beef retail prices have climbed from $4.18 per pound in July 2009 to $4.44 per pound last July. The tight supply of cattle resulted from lean years for producers battling factors such as drought, high feed prices and the recession. Despite the recent boost, some producers are speaking out about what they describe as a lack of competitive offers for their cattle. The Associated Press interviewed some cattle producers who reported having no choice but to sell the vast majority of their cattle to one buyer. An AP analysis of shipping logs and sales receipts confirmed their accounts. “You either give them to these guys, or you have no market,” said Bob Sears, who ran one of Nebraska’s biggest feedlots before declaring bankruptcy in March. Not everyone agrees, however. “Our members believe they are getting competitive bids,” said Ross Wilson, chief executive officer of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. Ranchers may send their cattle to a feedlot so the animals gain weight before being slaughtered for food...more

Tight cattle supply will keep prices high in next few years; US exports booming

Americans love their beef, but with prices expected to remain high for the next few years and other options plentiful, their loyalities might be challenged. Average retail prices of beef have climbed from $4.18 per pound in July 2009 to $4.44 per pound last July, a change largely due to a tight supply of cattle. Ranchers and feedlots have reduced supplies in response in large part due to rising prices of corn and soybeans fed to cattle, economists said. "You've got a whole bunch of things coming together and it's driving all meat prices higher," said Ken Mathews, an agricultural economist with the research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Beef is the highest price of the meats so that's the one that gets the notice." Cattle producers "took it on the chin" the past several years, Texas A&M University livestock economist David Anderson said, "and the response to that economically is to produce less because you're losing money." The poultry and pork industries are poised to fill the gap, which ultimately could cause beef prices to drop. Consumption of poultry — chicken and turkey — is forecast to climb by 8.4 percent to 107.9 pounds per person, by 2019, according to the USDA. "It puts beef in a difficult demand situation longer term," Anderson said. The USDA projected per capita consumption of beef would drop through 2014 — to 56.2 pounds — as beef production continues to lag...more

Jack Huning leaves distinct legacy

The first time Patty Guggino met John L. "Jack" Huning, she had a lump in her throat worrying about Huning's reputation as a stern man. "I had always heard he was generous, but very stern," Guggino said. So in fear and trembling, she went to Huning's office to ask for a donation for a church fiesta she was helping organize. "He said, 'What do you need' and I said, 'We need a beef.' He was kind of startled a little bit, because a whole cow is a pretty big thing, but he just looked at me and said, 'Okay, you've got it.' And we were friends from then on." Guggino's anecdote is perhaps a CliffsNotes version of Huning, 81, who died Thursday from pneumonia he contracted after surgery. Stern and serious in nature, this third-generation Huning, who furthered the illustrious family's impressive legacy through his activism in the economic development of Los Lunas, was generous — almost to a fault. And behind the seriousness was a wisdom and wry sense of humor that made him a caring father, a successful rancher and a businessman whose management and development of the family's property was geared toward what was best for the village of Los Lunas. Huning fit seamlessly in a family that emigrated from Germany in 1858. Louis Huning established a merchantile and acquired vast land holdings that spanned the New Mexico-Arizona border...more

O’Day was outlaw, but a comical criminal

That would be horse thief, bank and train robber, ladies' man and Wild Bunch front man Tom O'Day, whose legend - or lack thereof - is being perpetuated by Cody resident Ray Maple. Maple has high hopes that O'Day will one day be recognized for his colorful role in Wyoming history. O'Day's life of crime began when he took up the work of scouting out information in preparation for a bank robbery by the Wild Bunch. He did his snooping, and grew more and more thirsty as he waited for his outlaw friends. He tied up his horse outside a local bar and began swilling beer. By the time his friends arrived, O'Day was pretty pickled. "He was so drunk he couldn't get back on his horse," Maple says. It's one of his favorite tales. Lawmen went after all the outlaws, but they could only catch O'Day, whom they found stumbling around near the hitching post, inadvertently spooking the horses. Maple relates how another time O'Day was riding by a wealthy rancher's spread when 15 well-bred horses caught his eye. He probably figured they were unhappy in their present circumstances, so he decided to wrangle them into a better life. He herded them to a hideout on Copper Mountain. Unfortunately, the horses belonged to an ambitious and wealthy Wyoming rancher, B.B. Brooks. He noticed the absence of his fine horses, and lawmen soon followed the trail that led to O'Day, who likely felt he was merely taking part in a popular cottage industry of the time, namely, horse thievery. For that horse stealing he was sentenced to several years of state hospitality in Rawlins. A lone deputy was assigned to transport O'Day to court on one count of horse thievery. There would have been 15 counts, Maple explains, one for each of Brooks' stolen horses, except that the horses had been held at an area stockyard as evidence and, ironically, someone re-stole them from that facility. That still left the hot horse O'Day had been riding, which was evidence enough. He was sentenced to five years of state hospitality in Rawlins. Luck again turned on O'Day, who learned that Rancher Brooks had by then become Wyoming Governor Brooks, whose term began in 1903. Uh-oh. Tom O'Day, was now guilty of stealing horses from the governor...more

Cowgirl honorees exemplify courage

On Thursday at Will Rogers Memorial Center, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame will honor five such women at the 35th annual induction luncheon. Each honoree was selected to exemplify the courage and independence of women who shaped the American West. Betty Dusek, an all-around champion in professional rodeo with 14 titles, competed during the golden age of the all-girl rodeo. She was director of calf roping contests in the developmental years of the Girls Rodeo Association. Kay Gay knows rodeo inside and out, from keeping time and scheduling livestock truckers to actually competing as a barrel racer. Her dedication to preserving our Western heritage continues with her work for the Mesquite Championship Rodeo and the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. Having published four books and over 200 articles on animal welfare subjects, Temple Grandin is known for designing livestock facilities with handling systems to lessen anxiety for animals and provide greater safety and efficiency for the plants. She also speaks publicly of the obstacles of autism she has faced. As author, teacher, cattle rancher and naturalist, Joyce Gibson Roach enjoys many awards for her writing which focuses on Texas and the Southwest. Her book The Cowgirls is considered to be a primer for women on horseback, from ranch to rodeo. The late Hortense Ward was the first woman admitted into the Texas Bar Association and the first in the South to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. She staunchly defended women's rights and spearheaded the act that allowed married women in Texas to control their own property and earnings...more

Song Of The Day #423

Today Ranch Radio brings you Ernest Tubb's 1954 recording of Two Glasses, Joe.

Unfortunately, the Yahoo media player automatically makes a playlist by linking to all the music on my page at Open Drive, even if it is in a different folder. That ain't gonna work. I'll keep looking.

Ernest Tubb - Two Glasses, Joe.mp3

Bad Driver? In Debt? Proposed NYC Law Would Ban You From Owning a Gun

New York City residents who want to own a gun may soon be denied permits if they are litterbugs, if they are bad drivers, or if they have fallen behind on a few bills. Under proposed revisions to the police department's handgun, rifle and shotgun permit procedures, the NYPD can reject gun license applicants for a number of reasons, including: If they have been arrested or convicted of almost any "violation," in any state; having a "poor driving history"; having been fired for "circumstances that demonstrate lack of good judgment"; having "failed to pay legally required debts"; being deemed to lack "good moral character"; or if any other information demonstrates "other good cause for the denial of the permit." Critics say many of the restrictions are vague, have nothing to do with one's fitness to own a gun and are unconstitutional. Supporters say the new restrictions will make gun purchasing more efficient and don't give the NYPD any more power than it already has...more

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Forestry takes spotlight at UN biodiversity talks

Delegates at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Nagoya, Japan, have put sustainable forestry management at the forefront of their negotiations, as these habitats are home to thousands of the world's plant and animal species, and can also help slow global warming. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that the world is currently losing some 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forest cover per year, mostly in tropical countries. That is down from 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s, but activists say it is still too much. As well as hosting habitats for animals, forests help regulate climate and rainfall and also prevent soil erosion, flooding and landslides. On Tuesday, talks focused specifically on the UN-backed scheme called REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). Under REDD, wealthier nations pledge funds to protect forests in poorer countries, which agree to forego their right to exploit these areas for timber or development...more

REDD looks like Obamanomics on a world wide scale.

Mexican gray wolf found dead in NM; 4th this year

Another Mexican gray wolf has been found dead in southwestern New Mexico, dealing a further setback to a struggling program to reintroduce the endangered animals along the Arizona-New Mexico border. The female wolf was found dead on Oct. 12 in Sierra County. It was the fourth wolf found dead since June. A spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque, Tom Buckley, said the wolf's body was sent to the agency's forensics laboratory in Ashland, Ore., to find out what killed the animal. The male wolf that had been traveling with her has not been spotted, but Buckley said there's no reason to believe something happened to him. He said there had been no mortality signal from the male wolf's radio collar. The signal is set off when an animal does not move for a set time. The two animals, known as Morgart's Pack, were in the Gila National Forest in September, according to the program's monthly update...more

Oil Drillers Want Bush-Era Rules Back

Oil and gas drillers claim the Department of Interior made up a regulation that is perverting a law meant to reduce bureaucracy by exempting some permits from environmental review. At issue are interpretations of the law promulgated this year by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service, which the Western Energy Alliance claims reversed more favorable 2005 agency interpretations. The Western Energy Alliance, on behalf of 400 drilling companies, says the "self-created" regulation relating to Section 390 of the Energy Policy Act "turns the statute on its head" by applying environmental controls. The drillers refer to a settlement agreement in Nine Mile Canyon Coalition v. Steiwig, in which it claims the BLM undid a federal statute "in a private negotiation behind closed doors with three environmental groups in Utah." The drillers claim the BLM agreed to reinterpret the section of the law on granting drilling permits, changing it to require an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act. Such review is costly and time-consuming, the drillers say, and subverts the intent of the Energy Policy Act, which it claims is to "streamline the regulatory process," by skipping environmental review for minor projects. The 2010 interpretation also imposed a new condition, that project areas exhibiting "extraordinary circumstances" be newly subject to environmental review processes. This "turns the statute on its head" by hinging categorical exclusions on NEPA rather than making them exempt from NEPA, the drillers claim...more

Custer museum owner sues BLM

The owner of the Custer Battlefield Museum in Garryowen is suing the federal Bureau of Land Management to force it to give him documents related to investigations and searches of his businesses. Christopher Kortlander, who owns the museum and a business called Historical Rarities Inc., said in a complaint filed Monday that the BLM is wrongfully withholding documents he has requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Greg Albright, BLM spokesman in Billings, said he has not yet seen the lawsuit. In 2009, Kortlander filed more than a dozen FOIA requests seeking information and documents from the BLM and other federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the FBI and the Department of Justice. The requests sought any information held by the agencies about Kortlander or the investigation and searches of his businesses in 2005 and 2008. “They gave him absolutely nothing,” said Kortlander’s attorney, Harold Stanton of Hardin. “We just want them to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and give us the information that was requested.”...more

Space tourism to accelerate climate change

Climate change caused by black carbon, also known as soot, emitted during a decade of commercial space flight would be comparable to that from current global aviation, researchers estimate. The findings, reported in a paper in press in Geophysical Research Letters1, suggest that emissions from 1,000 private rocket launches a year would persist high in the stratosphere, potentially altering global atmospheric circulation and distributions of ozone. The simulations show that the changes to Earth's climate could increase polar surface temperatures by 1 °C, and reduce polar sea ice by 5–15%. Private space flight is a rapidly maturing industry. Spaceport America, a launch site in Las Cruces, New Mexico, opened its first runway on 22 October. During the next three years, companies such as Virgin Galactic, headquartered at Spaceport America, expect to make up to two launches per day for space tourists. Meanwhile, the NASA Authorization Act passed by US Congress in September provides US$1.6 billion in private space-flight investments to develop vehicles to take astronauts and cargo into orbit...more

So the Richardson administration has spent millions of dollars to...increase global warming. And all the while trying to saddle the rest of us with his version of cap and trade. We have our own Al Gore right here at home.

Mineral rights not included in state's bid for Ortiz Ranch

The state's proposed purchase of the Ortiz Mountain Ranch to expand Cerrillos Hills State Park and launch a wild-horse sanctuary won't include the mineral rights. The privately owned mineral rights have been leased by the owner to Santa Fe Gold, an Albuquerque-based company, according to state officials. The mineral rights belong to Anne Potter-Russ, a Kansas resident who inherited thousands of acres of mineral rights around the Galisteo Basin and Ortiz Mountains from her grandfather. She did not return messages left at her home by Monday evening. According to Santa Fe Gold's website, the precious-minerals company leased exploratory and development mineral rights to 57,000 acres (90 square miles) of the Ortiz Mine Grant in 2004, but later relinquished the lease on 14,000 acres of the land it considered not valuable. The company's preliminary studies indicate there could be 2 million ounces of gold scattered about in deposits on the remaining land...more

Actor Kilmer slashes price for NM ranch by $10M

Actor Val Kilmer has dropped the asking price of his New Mexico ranch by $10 million. The 5,328-acre spread near Santa Fe includes a seven-bedroom, 11-bathroom, 11,573-square-foot house along with guest quarters. The property went on the market in early 2009 for $33 million, but a Craigslist ad last week lowered the price to $23 million. Darlene Streit of Santa Fe Realty Partners posted the ad and has the property listed on her website. She says she believes the ranch is priced well and there has been interest. The ranch borders national forest land and several miles of the Pecos River. It also has more than 10 natural springs and miles of hiking and riding trails. Streit says the ranch has been a labor of love for Kilmer. AP

What a deal, on $4300 an acre! 'Course there's a helluva ranch house that comes with it.

Don't tell Richardson, or they will be raising wild horses and having Cabinet meetings out there.

Union hails agreement with Forest Service on benefits for domestic partners

The National Federation of Federal Employees is hailing an agreement with the Forest Service that will provide certain benefits for the domestic partners of workers as a "historic achievement." The collective bargaining agreement, which took effect Monday, allows domestic partners in same-sex or opposite-sex relationships time off to care for newborns, newly adopted children and newly placed foster children. Time off is also allowed to care for an ill partner. The agreement is one more step in the Obama administration's sometimes halting effort to recognize the full humanity of gay and lesbian people in the federal workplace...more

Sheep ranchers look into 'targeted grazing'

On a harvested wheat field in Yolo County, Don Watson’s “wooly weeders” hungrily chomp on a gourmet feast of invasive plants that have overtaken the property. The landowner pre-irrigated the field to let the weeds to grow out before Watson put his sheep to work on the land. The idea is to allow the animals to clean up the field rather than using herbicides. “This is just a symbiotic quid pro quo that we’re doing,” Watson said. “We gain on the lambs and they’ll gain from how (the lambs) are inoculating the soil with manure, which acts as a fertilizer.” Watson, who spoke last week at a workshop on targeted grazing, currently operates two businesses: Wooly Weeders, which provides grazing services for vegetation management, and Napa Valley Lamb Co., which produces meat and wool. The California Wool Growers Association held the workshop in Woodland to help educate producers about the potential profitability, as well as the legal and financial risks, associated with adding grazing services to livestock operations...more

Notice the flexibility and innovation on private land, as compared to federal ownership.

Property is a central economic institution of any society, and private property is the central institution of a free society...David Friedman

Song Of The Day #422

Today's tune on Ranch Radio is performed by Shreveport, La.'s Singing Sheriff, Faron Young (his band was named The Country Deputies). If You Ain't Lovin' (You Ain't Livin') was recorded in 1954 for Capitol Records.

For some trivia, Peanuts' cat in the comic strip was named Faron and was named for Young. Charlie Schultz was an admirer.