Monday, February 28, 2011

Obama Nixes Safe Drilling

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was in Houston this weekend talking with oil executives who are eager to start drilling again in the Gulf of Mexico. That may sound like progress, but after the meeting Salazar said that nothing had changed. He was not ready to approve any new drilling. Despite everything that energy companies have done to devise advanced containment systems, Salazar is unwilling to issue a single new permit. Systems constructed by the nonprofit Marine Well Containment Company and other entities are now able to handle a flow equal or greater than that experienced during the Deepwater Horizon accident last summer. But that's not enough for Salazar, who stated that even the most advanced systems have "limitations on water depth and barrel-per-day containment capacity." Well, yes. Any system that could be devised would have limitations on depth and per-barrel capacity. But that's not the point, as Mr. Salazar must know. The question is whether the new systems are able to handle the sorts of accident that might actually take place. Not the worst scenario that someone from the Interior Department could dream up. Combined with safely protocols now in place, the new containment equipment can do just that. So why no permits for new drilling? It appears that the Obama administration is more interested in kowtowing to environmental donors in advance of the 2012 election than it is in controlling energy prices. Even with a federal court order to decide on new drilling in the Gulf by March 20, the Obama administration remains obdurate...more

Obama's Magic Solar Beans

Debate rages over wolves

No species likely raises passions in residents of the West more than wolves. They are ravenous predators, a threat to the ranching way of life, victims of overhunting, a political football, or a biological success story, all depending on the viewer’s perspective. What they aren’t, in living rooms, courtrooms and hearing rooms across the region, is ignored. Wolves make headlines and cause arguments. And no one is quite sure what their future will be. As lawmakers and scientists negotiate that future, Idahoans’ concerns remain. Ranchers watch for threats to their livestock and livelihoods; hunters fear the predators’ impact on big game herds; and despite the statistics, people are scared that pets, children and backcountry recreationists will fall victim to wolves...more

Outdoors Column: States keeping the heat on in wolf wars

Earlier this month, federal officials signaled preliminary support for state plans to kill up to 60 wolves from packs occupying a 2,355-square-mile Lolo zone in Idaho. Wolves have been removed from the Endangered Species Act protections on a number of occasions, only to be listed again by federal courts after anti-hunting groups filed lawsuits. This week, a coalition of the nation's largest hunting and conservation groups thanked members of Congress for taking several steps in the right direction for wolf conservation. Two Montana Senators introduced a bill to remove protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho. Two other measures before Congress would remove those protections nationwide. The coalition — Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the Boone and Crockett Club, National Rifle Association and Safari Club International — reminded Congress that all wolves in the Rockies and Great Lakes area are recovered and should now be managed by state biologists. "The wolf is recovered biologically but population management is hung up in legal questions that judges call 'ambiguous,'" said Bob Model, chairman of government affairs for the Boone and Crockett Club and vice chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation. "Lawyers and judges disagree on the law. But no one disagrees with the numbers. The strength of the large and growing wolf population is obvious, and the numbers meet and far surpass the established threshold for recovery." Wolf populations in the Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes are at least five times larger than the federal recovery goals...more

Water, Gas Drilling and Louis Meeks

One well was contaminated a new well exploded
There are few things a family needs to survive more than fresh drinking water. And Louis Meeks, a burly, jowled Vietnam War hero who had long ago planted his roots on these sparse eastern Wyoming grasslands, was drilling a new well in search of it. The drill bit spun, whining against the alluvial mud and rock that folds beneath the Wind River Range foothills. It ploughed to 160 feet, but the water that spurted to the surface smelled foul, like a parking lot puddle drenched in motor oil. It was no better — yet — than the water Meeks needed to replace. Meeks used to have abundant water on his small alfalfa ranch, a 40-acre plot speckled with apple and plum trees northeast of the Wind River Mountains and about five miles outside the town of Pavillion. For 35 years he drew it clear and sweet from a well just steps from the front door of the plain, eight-room ranch house that he owns with his wife, Donna. Neighbors would stop off the rural dirt road on their way to or from work in the gas fields to fill plastic jugs; the water was better than at their own homes. But in the spring of 2005, Meeks’ water had turned fetid. His tap ran cloudy, and the water shimmered with rainbow swirls across a filmy top. The scent was sharp, like gasoline. And after 20 minutes — scarcely longer than you’d need to fill a bathtub — the pipes shuttered and popped and ran dry. Meeks suspected that environmental factors were to blame. He focused on the fact that Pavillion, home of a single four-way stop sign and 174 people, lies smack in the middle of Wyoming’s gas patch. Since the mid 1990’s, more than 1,000 gas wells had been drilled in the region — some 200 of them right around Pavillion — thousands of feet through layers of drinking water and into rock that yields tiny rivulets of trapped gas...more

How good is Obama on Western environmental issues?

In the late fall of 2008, the staff of the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) gathered at the Airlie Retreat Center in Virginia's horse country to plot strategies for a new day dawning: Barack Obama had just been elected president, promising fresh progress on issues that had frustrated environmentalists throughout the eight years of George W. Bush. Jeffrey Ruch, PEER's executive director, didn't want to waste any time. "The focus of all of our discussions was how to take advantage of the new green Obama administration," he says. "We were going over all the ground that Clinton had gained, all that had been lost under Bush, and focusing on what could be revived."...more

Blame environmental groups for spread of pine beetles

In recent months, there have been many fine articles about the mountain pine beetle, but hardly a word about the elephant in the forest. How has this situation been allowed to multiply? Every time the Forest Service proposed thinning the timber to prevent the spread of the beetle, environmentalists came out of the woodwork with letters, petitions, appeals and all sorts of legal maneuvers intended to slow or stop any action by the Forest Service. This is the elephant to which I am referring. We hear nothing about the letters of protest, appeals, and e-mails from the Sierra Club and its approximately 800,000 members, the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Friends of Norbeck and others intending to stop any attempt to prevent spread of the pine beetle. Years of valuable time were lost because of the delay tactics of the enviros, which resulted in the loss of far more timber than would have been lost had the Forest Service been able to proceed in a timely manner. Do you recall that the Mount Rushmore Fourth of July fireworks display had to be canceled the last two years because of the number of beetle infested trees in and adjacent to Mount Rushmore? We know that thinning is effective. Let's give the USFS funds to do the job and streamline their analyses, appeals and review process. This elephant must be stopped or there will be neither habitat nor wildlife...more

Is federal land ownership hurting county?

When the boundaries for Utah and its counties were carved out at the time of statehood, much of the land in the state was already owned by the United States — a situation that persists to the present. Today the Bureau of Land Management and the National Forest Service own 70 percent of Utah. And no county in Utah has a greater percentage of its land owned by the federal government than Tooele County, the second largest county in the state. The federal government owns 82 percent of the county, some 3.6 million acres. The largest landowner is the Bureau of Land Management, which holds title to 43 percent of the county. The military comes in as the second largest landholder with 1.5 million acres, or 35 percent of the county. Subtracting all federal, state, and American Indian land holdings leaves only 11 percent of the county in the hands of private land owners with a small amount owned by local governments. That creates problems, according to Chris Sloan, a local real estate broker and chairman of the Tooele County Republican Party. “Not only does it create a tax burden for the county and schools, with the majority of the land tied up in public ownership and off the tax rolls,” Sloan said, “but it doesn’t leave much room for growth in the county. Especially when you realize that much of that privately owned land is lake bed or the side of mountains — it is unusable.” With the federal government owning so much land, the ability of local governments to determine the future of the state and county is limited, according to Sloan....more

Navajo courts hear ranch lease case

The players in a legal battle over Navajo ranch lands are expected to wrangle in Tohaliilee District Court today. Among the people facing eviction from ranch lands is former Navajo Nation District Judge Loretta Morris and her husband, Raymond Morris, who lost their land north of Crownpoint to a higher bidder last year. The couple has leased the land from the tribe for more than 40 years. Albuquerque-based attorney James W. Zion is representing the defendants in the case, which was moved from Crownpoint District Court. The legal case developed last year when long-time ranchers lost their land in a new, closed-bid process that awarded their land to ranchers who had higher dollar-per-head bids and promised to move more cattle onto the lands. Ranchers filed legal action against the Navajo Nation, prompting authorities to conduct an audit on the ranching program. The audit found that the tribe has 25 ranches in Arizona and New Mexico, divided into 78 ranch units and totaling about 1.6 million acres of tribal land. Ranchers of 21 of those units lost their land under the new bid system. Only the Morris couple and Farmington rancher Justin Yazzie, however, are facing eviction from their ranches. The closed-bid system required applicants to file a packet containing a ranch plan and a sealed envelope stating the amount being offered for use of the land. The minimum bid was $4 per head. Ranchers familiar with the land complained that winning bidders agreed to unrealistic ranching plans, which included increasing the head of cattle, a move that would deplete natural resources...more

Pearce to rally against US Forest Service plan

Congressman Steve Pearce's office announced Friday it is expecting hundreds of New Mexicans to rally in Silver City on March 5 against the U.S. Forest Service's plans to close access roads inside the Gila National Forest. The rally will take place starting at noon at the Grant County Business and Convention Center on Highway 180 next to Ace Hardware. "This is the time to come together and say, 'enough is enough,'" Pearce told about 100 residents of Truth or Consequences on Thursday night. "It is time for the Forest Service to keep those roads open to the public. This is about an attempt to take away another of our freedoms as Americans." The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, which supports the Forest Service's proposed Travel Management Plan, said the regulations are necessary to preserve national forest. "The Gila National Forest has been under assault from off-road vehicles for decades, but the Forest Service is taking steps to protect this national treasure." the group says on its website. Thursday night's meeting in Truth or Consequences was organized by the new group, "Keep Our Forest Open." It was created by individuals who have voiced frustration over the Forest Service's proposed Travel Management Plan, which calls for thousands of miles of roads inside the Gila to be closed. Pearce is expected to be one of several speakers at the rally in Silver City...more

County measure opposes Gila road plan

After hearing two related presentations and comments that ran the gamut from several residents, the Grant County Commission passed a resolution calling for the U.S. Forest Service to leave trails and roads in the Gila Forest alone until the department does its homework. The resolution addresses concerns commissioners have and have heard from residents regarding the proposed Travel Management Plan the Forest Service is developing for the Gila National Forest. County Commission Chairman Brett Kasten, at a meeting Thursday night, said the resolution passed at the meeting is calling for the status quo to be kept until the concerns of the commission and area residents are addressed. "The Draft Environmental Impact Statement before us today is a flawed and incomplete document," Kasten said. "It fails to adequately address the historical cultural needs for camping and recreation for the people in southwest New Mexico. The inventory of roads is incomplete and the document should, at a minimum, start with the roads that are currently on the ground." Commissioner Gabriel Ramos, who pushed for the resolution at a work session earlier this week, waved a stack of 24 pages of roads the U.S. Forest has acknowledged are not on the Environmental Impact Statement maps...more

West Texas wildfires scorch 80,000 acres; 1 death

Wildfires sweeping across West Texas destroyed dozens of homes, forced evacuations and closed an interstate after heavy smoke caused a fatal accident Sunday, and winds fueling the fires weren't expected to weaken overnight. The fires blackened almost 88,000 acres and destroyed 58 homes from the Texas Panhandle to the southern plains, Texas Forest Service spokesman Lewis Kearney said. Heavy smoke from a wildfire near Midland, about 330 miles west of Dallas, was blamed for an eight-vehicle accident along Interstate 20 that killed a 5-year-old girl. The roadway was shrouded in smoke when a tractor-trailer hit the pickup truck she was riding in, said Trooper John Barton of the Texas Department of Public Safety. A man and another child were injured. One firefighter suffered second-degree burns fighting a blaze near Colorado City, about 250 miles west of Dallas, but no other injuries were immediately reported. The largest fire burned about 30,000 acres in the Panhandle northeast of Amarillo, destroying 27 homes and damaging seven others, Kearney said. A local kennel also was burned, but it was unclear how many animals died, said local emergency management spokeswoman Donna Makkhavane...more

Wind speeds add stress to NM firefighters

Wind is on the minds of firefighters Sunday battling three wildfires in Southeast New Mexico. The “Dog Canyon” fire in Southwest part of Carlsbad is the biggest. It has been burning since Thursday and is at 5,500 acres and 35 percent containment. The “Delta Fire” started around 11 o’ clock Sunday north of Brantley Lake in Eddy County. It has burned about 1,000 acres and is 50 percent contained. Two homes are threatened. State Forestry Officials said there is also a potential threat to oil and gas infrastructure. Another blaze called the “Prairie Fire” in Roosevelt County has burned more than 3,000 acres since it began around 9 o’clock Sunday. It is about 18 miles South of Elida. Wind speeds at the fire were gusting up to 60 miles an hour. Stat Forestry Officials also said there may be another fire burning several thousand acres in Lea County between Lovington and Artesia. Oil and gas wells are also threatened there. KASA

Fire, winds force closure of trails in Dog Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Fire crews continued to arrive at the area near the Dog Canyon Fire on Friday morning, burning in grass and pinon/juniper on the west end of the Guadalupe Mountains in southern New Mexico. The fire is burning on private land and on land managed by the National Park Service. Incident command reported that the fire is approximately 5 miles long, but did not have an acreage, according to Dan Ware, public relations coordinator/fire information officer for New Mexico State Forestry. The fire is burning in very steep, rugged terrain, which will pose a challenge to fire crews regarding accessibility. At press time, crews were providing structure protection for the Dog Canyon Work Center, operated by the National Park Service. Units from the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and area volunteer departments are responding. Type II fire crews have been ordered as well, Ware announced in a press release. According to the Nation Park Service on Friday afternoon, all trails in Guadalupe Mountains National Park were closed...more

U.S. to compensate Latino, women farmers for discrimination

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will pay up to $50,000 each to Hispanic and women farmers who can demonstrate the USDA discriminated against them on loan applications between 1981 and 2001. The program was announced Friday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Assistant Attorney General Tony West. "The Obama Administration has made it a priority to resolve all claims of past discrimination at USDA, and we are committed to closing this sad chapter in USDA's history," Vilsack said. Eligible Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers are encouraged to apply for a share of $1.33 billion in compensation and up to $160 million in farm debt relief. Claimants who don't want to take part in the program remain free to pursue their claims through the courts, the USDA and Justice Department said...more

Another reason why the government shouldn't be in the loan business.

The Halfway House

Eight miles south of Pilot Rock on the Yellow Jacket Road, a stately two story home sits to the right of the road above Bridge Creek. Known for many years as the “Halfway House,” the home is half way between Pendleton and Camas Prairie in the Ukiah/Albee country. Owned for 101 years by the Wright/Smith family, the home was a welcome overnight stop for travelers commuting by stagecoach or horseback. Ranchers bringing cattle out of the John Day country to the railhead in Pendleton and later in 1907, the railhead in Pilot Rock would stop at the Halfway House to rest their stock and spend the night...On Thanksgiving Day in 1902, Eddie, Emma and small daughter Manilla moved to their new home on the Yellow Jacket Road. Here they welcomed travelers and provided a clean bed, sumptuous meals and pens with feed for the traveler’s livestock. Eddie had purchased 200 acres with a new house from Arthur Hascall for $2,900. The acreage included the usual outbuildings — calving barn, chicken house, pig pens, woodshed and sheep shed, but the most interesting outbuilding was the horse barn. Constructed of hand hewn timbers and wooden pegs, there wasn’t a nail in the building. It is believed the barn could have been constructed as early as the 1860’s and later moved to this location. The placement of beams and hand hewn marks of the adze indicated the building may have had a different configuration or the timbers had been refitted. Eddie and Emma Wright welcomed overnight guests charging 25 cents for a meal and $1.00 for a man’s bed. There were six bedrooms upstairs and piped cold water indoors, but all other plumbing was located outside and washing was done by hand. A Royal Oak wood cook stove occupied the north wall in the kitchen and the dining room could seat from sixteen to twenty guests. Breakfast consisted of fried meat, potatoes, biscuits and gravy as well as cereal. In the horse and buggy day, the stage traveled to Lehman Springs and Hidaway Springs from Pendleton with a scheduled stopover at Halfway House. A helping of hay for a team of horses cost 50 cents...more

Song Of The Day #517

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and we bring you Rag Mop by Johnnie Lee Wills & His Boys.

The tune is on their 27 track CD The Band's A-Rockin'.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

All in a day's work

 by Julie Carter

When life was simple and the biggest worry I had was if some cute boy liked me or not, I didn't spend much time worrying about money. That's what parents were for, I believed.

Mom and Dad did what they could to teach me about work ethics and the rewards of doing a job and doing it well. 

That lesson also happened to fill a gap for my dad who was short of cowboys to tend to 4,000 head of freshly imported yearlings.

"Working for short pay" is an old phrase used to define the low wages paid for the never-ending hours and days of cowboy work. 

Following in tradition, my first cowboy pay at the age of 15 was $5.50 a day. My brother, 13, was paid $5 a day. 

My elevated financial status seemed to make me the "girl in charge," or so I believed. My brother fell for that most of the time. He was two years younger but a foot taller than I was, so I had to use every edge I could to keep my bluff going.

Our job was to ride the pastures we were assigned, carefully counting every head of cattle we saw and search for any that the count indicated were missing. 

The sick cattle had to be driven to the corrals if possible and any dead cattle had to be tallied with proof of a brand. 

That meant cutting off the hide where the brand was located, tying it to the saddle and taking it back to headquarters. Not a pleasant smelling job in the middle of summer, even at mountain elevations.

We had no idea what life lessons we were learning at the time or how utopian our lives were.
Our world was remote, small and focused on the details of the day - like the correct cattle count to report to Dad or how many times my brother could rope a sage bush without missing.

Paying attention to the job at hand wasn't his strong suit and that of course, in a sibling situation, again gave me the upper hand. 

When reality returned to his teenage-boy brain, he'd ask me for the count so he'd know it in case Dad asked him. 

Out of irritation for his lack of participation, I'd refuse to tell him. And then, as they say, the fight was on.

Our wages were already designated to the next part of our lesson in finances - paying some of our own bills. Mine was to pay for my cheerleading uniform and associated expenses which took a month's paycheck. 

I'm not sure what plans my brother had for his, but likely it involved some expense to be incurred during hunting season. That addiction began early in life for him.

My grandmother saved a letter I had written her when I was 11 years old. 

In it, I reported to her that my brother had quit band during deer season. 

"I don't know why he did that," I said. And I believe, at the time, that I was truly puzzled. That mystery has since been cleared up.

A day's wages of $5.50 won't get my teenage son past the concession stand at a ball game in today's economy. 

The past couple of summers, he made $45 a day doing the same kind of work as I did. He is now thinking he needs to find a better paying job.

Why? Because, besides his interest in girls and a pickup he thinks he needs to buy, he has some hunting plans that need financed.

There is a definite echo in our family history.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarter@tularosa.net. Her brother is not available for fact verification.

Wilmeth's West - The Delk Band Project

Call to Order
The Next Greatest CD
The Delk Band Project
By Stephen L. Wilmeth


     On a night in 1934, Forrest Delk and his cowboy band fought floods and the dreaded Needles Eye to play at a dance in Apache, Arizona.  It was on that trip that the Gully Jumpers were transformed from a bunch of young wannabes to a musical institution in southern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona.  For 77 years, the Delks have played at and made places like Hachita, the Mimbres, Lake Valley, Cliff, Glenwood, and Fence Lake one night musical capitals of the West.
     Forrest was born near the thriving junction of Little and Big Rustler Canyons, northeast from Apache Tejo and southeast from the Kneeling Nun in Grant County, New Mexico.  He was a gentle man who made his living ranching and his life riding pretty good horses and playing the fiddle.  He was a better than fair roper, a life long friend to many, and the father to Joe, Linda, and Jimmy.  His lovely wife and the kid’s mom, Gertrude Twiss Delk, sat for years at Saturday night dances watching Forrest under the constant threat of having to dance with whatever elder bachelor that, for fleeting flights of fancy, thought he was the best dancer in the hall.
Forrest Delk & Gully Jumpers (circa 1949)
    One of the most astounding feats of cowboying that Forrest ever performed was not witnessed by a paid audience.  It isn’t even yet recorded in the town records, but it was witnessed by the Delk kids.  They were gathering under the Nun and had held a bunch of cows up in a little place awaiting the arrival of their dad.  They could hear him coming.  Rocks were rolling, brush was popping, and from time to time they could hear him providing commentary on the proceedings. 
     Out into the clearing he exploded trying to get a shot at a yearling heifer that was running with her ears laid back.  They came through the gather and the heifer went right on through the fence that formed the backside of the hold.  Forrest never stopped.  He baled off his horse and over the fence he went with his batwings slapping him in the back of the head and in the face with every step.  On out of sight and into the brush the calamity proceeded.  Brush continued to pop and then the calf started bawling . . . well, sort of bawling. 
    Finally, here he came dragging the calf back to the bunched cattle holding on to the only thing he could get his hands on . . . the calf’s tongue!  He yelled for somebody to open the gate and on into the mix he came.  When he got to a point the calf could be released, she shook her head and ran to the middle of the bunch and wouldn’t come out!  Never missing a lick or saying a word, Forrest got remounted and the work continued.
     A mix of the Headquarter and West Camp crew
     The other night, the modern version of the Delk Band once again made Cliff, New Mexico the music capital of the West when they played for a benefit dance.  This time it was a fund raiser to help in the locals’ fight against their government’s ‘blitzkrieg without recourse’ to disrupt their lives and their limited game herds with the reintroduction of the Mexican wolf.  At a point in the dance, Forrest’s grandson and Joe’s middle son, Mark, sang a Delk Band classic, ‘Fräulein’. 
      Grey haired matrons needed only to close their eyes and remember the rendition of that song that his now deceased granddad used to play.  Press the issue very hard and misty eyes and a lump in too many throats would have occurred.   The Delk sound and its history just make that sort of thing happen.
      Recapture the past
     Joe Delk has announced that the band will make a CD of songs that people request from the present and past crews.  No doubt stuff like the ‘Westphalia Waltz’ and ‘San Antonio Rose’ will be in the mix, but, if band fans are allowed to offer suggestions, Mark’s ‘Playboy’ and ‘The other Woman’ must be included.
The Delk Band (circa 2010)
     Any album cover picture must include now deceased band members Ed Werner and Robbie Arnspiger, but modern day guitar player Robert Flowers and his palm leaf tipped in retro fashion must be there, too.  The problem becomes how do you get 77 years of history into a single album?
     The obvious answer is to take a page out of the 1998 “The Recordings of Forrest Delk and Gully Jumpers” and make it a twin pack album.  Joe and his boys, Neal, Mark, and Byron, need to close the doors and come to the decision of how to best present the past.  Those decisions should be made on the basis of all the history and the blend of talent that the family has experienced in that long period of time.  That needs to come from within the Headquarter crew.    
     Delk fans will not be disappointed in the decisions.  Guaranteed results of the first of the two discs in the album will be judged by the need to roll the rug back and dance to the great swing sounds that resonate Delk history.  The challenge will be how to set the stage for the music of Delk future.  That must come from the second disc.
     To the Future
     A suggestion that was thrown at Joe needs serious consideration.  The suggestion was the idea that, out there in music land, there exist 10 songs that should have been number one hits, but, for one reason or another, they failed.  For example, one of those songs, Robert Earl Keen’s ‘Maria’, should have been a number one hit by George Strait.  Why George didn’t release that song we will never know, but its haunting love story and soft subtle island rhythm is beautiful.  Many think it is the best song Robert Earl ever penned.
     There are two or maybe three songs on Ray Price’s recent year album “Time” that, if released when Ray was still king, would have been monster number one hits.  Similarly, there is yet another on Mr. Price’s “Prisoner of Love” album.
     If it had been Ray singing with Neil Diamond in Diamond’s ill fated “Tennessee Moon” album instead of Waylon Jennings on the cut, ‘One Good Love’, it could have been a winner.  Similarly, if Diamond’s selection of ‘Marry Me’ on the same album would have any radio play, it was and remains a song for the ages.  It is that good. 
    There are others out there.  If they could be incorporated into the Delk ‘Here and hereafter’ disc on the basis of five two steps, two waltzes, two swing songs, and a specialty ballad (or just a plain winner), a little help and urging from our good friend, DuBois and his merry band of Westerners, would set such an anticipated album on course for special things.
     The Song yet sung
     There is yet, though, an undiscovered and perhaps unwritten song that exists only among the Delks.  Mark has felt it at times.  Neal and Byron need to reach for it, but it is there.  It is a key element to this album and the future of Delk music.  The other top ten songs can be considered and suggested, but this most special song cannot come from outside.  It must come from a Delk. 
     When it is discovered, it will reflect the simplicity of the swing rhythms that started with Forrest and continue today.  It will catch the fancy of yet unnamed little cowgirls of tomorrows just like it would have in those western maidens that night at Apache, Arizona so many years ago.  It is there . . . and it, too, has number one written on it. 
     Reach out and urge Joe Delk to undertake this project.  Suggestions are in order and DuBois is the assigned steward of the suggestion archives.  It is time to be insightful and helpful . . . or forever hold your tongue . . . and now you know that, in Delkdom, holding your tongue has a whole different meaning!

Fiddlin' Forrest Delk

Stephen L. Wileth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  He met Joe Delk at a basketball game at the then Western New Mexico Teachers College’s Field House on a cold night in 1957.  He was just a button and Joe was already . . . Joe.  “As far as I am concerned, Joe Delk was always mature beyond his years.  His sense of right and wrong is a tribute to his mama and daddy.  We all need a constant reminder of that . . . the simplicity of right and wrong.” 

The Westerner met Joe Delk in 1965 at the NMSU library as we sought to quench our thirst for knowledge (or maybe it was a keg party as we quenched a different kind of thirst).

You can check out the Delk Band's website where you can read about their history, look at their bookings, and see many pictures.

Ron Arnold: Congress should stop funding Big Green lawsuits against the government

America's taxpayers need to know about a thorny federal program lurking in the Obama budget: the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It began decades ago as a millionaire's hobby horse and grew into a Frankenstein monster that today feeds millions of taxpayer dollars to green groups that sue the federal government -- and thus sue the taxpayer.

I began researching NFWF in a 1995 report on Big Green's federally funded trial lawyers, "Feeding at the Trough" (www.undueinfluence.com/feeding-at-the-trough.pdf).

NFWF's origins are bizarre: Congress created it as a nonprofit corporation in 1984, specifying that it "is not an agency or establishment of the United States Government." President Reagan denounced that double talk when he reluctantly signed the bill, writing, "Entities which are neither clearly governmental nor clearly private should not be created."

The intent for NFWF was to develop private sector support for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a government agency. This perverse purpose allows a well-connected private elite - originally including timber heiress Nancy Weyerhaeuser, oil billionaire Caroline Getty, and now hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones - to carve out government funds, solicit limitless private funds, and funnel the cash to whom they please, including $25,000 to Nancy Weyerhaeuser's son Rick for an anti-logging project he ran in Montana - and $23,500 to a Planned Parenthood-type group in Rajasthan, India, for population control near Ranthambhore National Park.

As it grew, NFWF created one horror story after another. It gave $89,748 to the Grand Canyon Trust, which filed suit and shut down the coal-fired Mojave Power Plant in Laughlin, Nev., and cost 200 Navajo miners their high-paying jobs at the Black Mesa coal mine that supplied the plant.

NFWF gave nearly $442,000 to the National Wildlife Federation and in return got a lawsuit to divert water from generating electricity in Pacific Northwest power dams - and spill it for migrating salmon. The suit now threatens to remove four vital hydroelectric dams on the Snake River. Another NFWF recipient, American Rivers ($296,700), is also a party to the suit, which is still in court.

The list goes on and on, lawsuits against fisheries, agriculture, energy, construction, manufacturing, the whole economy. NFWF claims that grantee lawsuits do not use federal money. After examining the Internal Revenue Service Form 990 reports of major litigious NFWF recipients, I found no separate segregated accounts for lawsuits - you can't tell federal money from private - making NFWF's claims appear disingenuous at best...

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/2011/02/ron-arnold-congress-should-stop-funding-big-green-lawsuits-against-govern#ixzz1F9hzaAS4

A Presidents’ Day Prayer

by Robert Higgs

Great Leader, who art in Washington,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy empire come,

thy will be done,

on earth as it is in the Oval Office.

Give us this day our daily dole.

And forgive us our late tax filings,

as we forgive the IRS for refunding our overpayments without interest.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the DEA.

For thine is the federal prison system, the FBI, the military, the CIA, the regulatory agencies, the Surveillance State, and all the rest of the tyrannical apparatus under which we groan, not to mention

the power and the glory,

for ever and ever (unless justice is done sooner).

Amen.

Song Of The Day #516

Ranch Radio's Gospel tune this Sunday morning is When My Days Are Full Of Sorrow by Kickin' Grass.

The tune is on their 13 track CD On The Short Rows.

Scandal: ATF's Project Gunrunner and the Death of BP Agent Brian Terry

Sen. Grassley probes border agent slaying The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee wants Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to explain why Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents allowed suspected gun smugglers to purchase and keep assault rifles that later may have been used in the fatal shooting of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. In a letter, Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa said ATF agents told his staff the agency allowed the sale to "known and suspected straw purchasers for an illegal trafficking ring near the Southwest border" and two of those weapons reportedly were recovered at the site of the Dec. 14 shootout that killed Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry. Mr. Grassley said the ATF had been tracking Avila's firearms purchases since November 2009 and while at least one Arizona gun dealer wanted to stop participating in sales "like those to Avila," the ATF encouraged the dealer to continue selling to suspected traffickers and asked the dealer to forward information about the sales to the ATF. He said the dealer who sold the weapons believed recovered at the scene of Terry's death met with both the ATF and federal prosecutors in December 2009 to "discuss his role as a FFL (federal firearms licensee) during this investigation." Mr. Grassley noted that Avila bought three more weapons at the same Glendale, Ariz., gun dealer on Jan. 9, 2010, which were entered into an ATF database two days later. By Jan. 13, he said, Avila had been added by the agency to a suspected person database. He said Avila bought three AK-47 assault rifles on Jan. 16 and that over the next several months, ATF continued to track his multiple firearms purchases, including two purchases of .50-caliber rifles in June 2010. After the fatal shooting of Terry, law enforcement officials recovered from the scene two assault rifles that were traced by ATF and matched two of the three rifles purchased by Avila "and tracked by ATF nearly a year earlier." Mr. Grassley noted that in addition to the assault rifles, the Avila indictment refers to approximately 769 firearms, of which 103 were recovered...

Below is the CBS News report:



And here is the reaction of Agent Terry's family:


"It's like it never happened": Terry family on agent's murder Murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry is remembered as an American hero. But, two months and one day after someone gunned him down in the southern Arizona desert, Brian's family says the government he bravely worked for has forgotten him, "Is it upsetting for your family that you're still not getting answers?" KGUN9 asked. "Oh yeah, we're left in the dark here. I mean, the only time you ever hear anything is from the media out there where you're at (Tucson). But, as far as out here (Michigan), it's like it never happened," said Kent Terry, Jr., Brian's older brother. "I'm devastated! It brings us back to day one. Here you are thinking you have the right people in custody and now they're saying they don't! Do we have the right people?" asked Brian's sister, Kelly Terry. Apparently not; as KGUN9 news first reported earlier this week, three of the four suspects originally detained in this case pleaded down to misdemeanor immigration crimes and will be deported. "Have you heard anything about this fourth suspect, I mean, are you getting any information at all?" KGUN9 asked. "The only thing I heard is what you just said. There was one illegal wounded at the scene. That's the last I heard of it. And, the only thing I heard of it," said Kent. Officials will just say that fourth suspect was wounded. But, they won't say how he was wounded, or if he'll even be charged in connection with Brian's death. And, now, another wound. Iowa's Senator Charles Grassley wrote a letter today to the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder. The letter reads, in part, "…when asked whether Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) had encouraged any gun dealer to proceed with sales to known or suspected traffickers such as Avila, the briefers said only that they did not have any "personal knowledge" of that." Senator Grassley says ATF whistle blowers told the senator guns used in the shooting death of Brian came from a Glendale gun shop and that agency knew of the sale. Those whistle blowers told the senator it was a botched operation...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Salazar strikes back at critics of ‘wild lands’ policy, hopes for ‘common ground’

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday struck back at critics of his “Wild Lands” conservation initiative, comments that come days after the House approved GOP legislation to block funding for the program. “I think there are people who have made more of this issue than they should have, including people who are doing it for whatever political agenda they want to serve,” Salazar said during wide-ranging remarks on conservation at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. The federal spending package the House approved last week would prevent Interior from using fiscal year 2011 funds to implement the program. But Salazar noted that a slew of House Republicans have introduced bills in this Congress to protect areas in their states, including House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who leads the Appropriations Committee panel that controls Interior’s spending. “Wilderness is not a bad thing and they recognize it,” Salazar noted, and said there is a need to “tone down the rhetoric.”...more
“I think there are people who have made more of this issue than they should have, including people who are doing it for whatever political agenda they want to serve,” Salazar said...
Amazing. Does he think we don't understand his issuing of the Wild Lands policy, including both the contents and the timing, were a political payoff to the enviros?

Nice try Mr. Secretary, but it won't hold water.

Salazar says he wants to find some "common ground".  That's the problem with his policy - the criteria he proposes is so loose that it's apparent they want to take common ground and designate it as Wild Lands.

Salazar: Colorado River issue could push conservatives to face climate change

Could Western conservatives push the GOP toward adopting a more friendly stance on climate change? Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar certainly seems to think so.
In comments he delivered at a symposium hosted by the progressive Center for American Progress Thursday morning, Salazar said the worsening situation with the Colorado River -- where the water level has dropped about 20 percent in the last decade -- is serving as a powerful wake-up call to conservatives to do something about climate change. “The seven states ... are a bastion of conservatism. They recognize ... that the water supplies of the Colorado River are directly related to the changing of the climate,” Salazar said. “You further reduce that by 20 percent, what’s that going to mean for the cities of Los Angeles and Las Vegas?” “They get it,” Salazar continued. “And so what they’re saying to us is ‘we support, understand, the changes climate change is going to bring to our communities and our states, and we want to get ahead of it.’ ” The Western states that feed off the Colorado River -- California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming -- are not all conservative-leaning; in fact, in the last presidential election, four of the seven went Democrat. But as a bloc, the West does have a higher complement of conservative voters and representatives than most regions of the country -- and also has an especially close dependency on the environment...more

Pressures Mount to Resume Drilling

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to meet with oil industry executives in Houston Friday to assess the industry's readiness to handle a major offshore oil spill, amid growing pressure from congressional Republicans and a federal judge to resume deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Salazar is expected to meet with representatives of an industry-led consortium, Marine Well Containment Co., and Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc., a company that aided BP PLC with BP's response to last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The Obama administration has said the oil industry must demonstrate it can quickly contain a large offshore spill before it will allow companies to resume drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet. The recent jump in world oil prices and U.S. gasoline prices following unrest in Libya has spurred renewed calls from many Republicans and Gulf Coast Democrats in Congress to allow more domestic production. One House committee is scheduled to hold hearings on drilling policy next month. Clearing the way for more offshore drilling would do little in the near term to increase domestic oil supplies. But it could insulate the Obama administration from Republican charges that the White House is denying access to domestic supplies at a time when markets are increasingly jittery about the security of Middle Eastern oil supplies amid the unrest across the region...more

Under fire, BLM revises strategy for wild horses

After getting an earful from the public, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is softening its policy on wild horses — going so far as to join forces with the Humane Society of the United States. On Thursday, BLM Director Bob Abbey announced that he was stepping up reforms to his agency’s Wild Horse and Burro Program while turning to other agencies and organizations for help. The BLMhas struggled in recent years to handle the explosive growth of wild horse herds on public lands. In the meantime, Abbey said he was moving ahead with certain changes, including: • Reducing the proposed number of horses permanently removed from the range annually by almost a quarter, to 7,600. • Increasing horse adoptions from 3,000 this year to 4,000. • Quadrupling the number of mares receiving fertility treatments to 2,000 annually...more

Groups sign pact to restore northern Ariz. forests

A group of people who had been legal adversaries at times have signed an agreement to help restore northern Arizona's ponderosa pine forest. Conservationists, scientists, timber industry representatives, local officials and the U.S. Forest Service agreed this week to work together to help accelerate restoration in a 2.4 million-acre area along the Mogollon Rim. The Four Forest Restoration Initiative is aimed at establishing natural fire regimes, reducing fire threats to communities and creating sustainable forest industries. Coconino National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart says the signing by more than 20 organizations shows how people with different viewpoints can work toward a common goal. The Forest Service released a proposal last month to treat the first 750,000 acres on the Coconino and Kaibab forests. The public comment period expires March 11. AP

I wish them well, but in other instances some group who is not a party to the agreement appeals or sues and either delays or kills the project(s).

Wolves at the door in Oregon

When it comes to wolf management, Idaho’s present is Oregon’s future, several speakers said Feb. 19. At a Wolf Free Oregon meeting, speakers from rural Idaho warned Oregonians — especially those in the northeastern corner of the state — that wolves will overrun populations of elk and other wildlife, continue to attack cattle and other livestock, damage the region’s tourism economy and threaten public safety. “What we have is headed your direction,” Rex Rammell, an activist and former gubernatorial candidate, told the group at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building in Enterprise. “Our elk herds are gone.” Idaho ranchers have also endured huge livestock losses from the 839 wolves estimated to be in the state, Rammell said. Wolves killed an estimated 413 cattle and sheep in 2009 alone. Last week, a rancher near Joseph lost two pregnant cows to wolves and other ranchers have lost an estimated 36-50 cattle to wolves in the past two years. State and federal officials sometimes do not agree on whether wolves killed livestock, so numbers vary, according to past news accounts. “They did not put oatmeal-eating wolves in the Bitterroot, and they did not put oatmeal-eating wolves in Oregon,” said Mike Popp, a hunting guide who said he has seen the damage wolves caused to the elk populations in Idaho. He lives in the Lolo region, where he said elk population plummeted from 16,000 in 1995 to 2,100 currently...more

EDITORIAL: Endangered Species Act must be fixed

The wolf menace continues unabated for Wallowa County ranchers. Though some people react with a degree of surprise that wolves would attack livestock and other wildlife, it is only natural, and it is a scenario played out across the northern tier of the continental U.S., Canada and Alaska. Wolves are predators. They hunt in packs and see a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep as a moving buffet. To expect them to leave livestock alone is about as realistic as expecting a teen-ager not to like hamburgers. There is no shortage of wolves in the West. The wolf population has exploded since they were reintroduced. Wolves number in the thousands in Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. Idaho and Montana have even had wolf hunts to keep the numbers under control. Based on numbers only, the wolf program has been successful — too successful. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has done a lousy job managing the wolves, to the point that governors in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana have revolted against the wolf program. As long as wolves are listed as endangered species, they cannot be properly managed. Their numbers need to be closely monitored and regulated, like any other wildlife. And when they cause problems for livestock, ranchers need to be authorized to kill the wolves on the spot, not after pleading with some bureaucrat...more

New Soros investment fund, profiting off Obama's 'green energy' push, hires top Obama energy aide

George Soros -- whom we're always told is not serving his own economic interests at all by promoting liberal politicians and big-government policies -- is launching a new investment fund that plans to profit off of the "green energy" boom, which is entirely dependent on government subsidies supported by the groups Soros funds. So, yeah. The big-government policies advanced by the liberal outfits he funds -- like Center for American Progress -- will enrich the companies in which Soros is investing. But this story gets better. The press release casually mentions whom Soros is hiring to run this new fund: Cathy Zoi. As Cadie Thompson at CNBC's NetNet (edited by my brother John Carney), puts it, Zoi was Barack Obama's "Acting Under Secretary for Energy and Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy." An Al Gore acolyte, Zoi was Obama's point-woman on subsidizing green tech. Now she's going to work for George Soros to profit off of subsidized green tech. If you remember Zoi's name, it's because of another green-tech conflict of interest: Zoi's husband is an executive at a window company, Serious Windows, which the White House regularly held up as a "poster child of green industry."...more

Tiny beetle subject of big dispute

A half-inch long beetle called one of the rarest insects in the world is at the center of a lawsuit filed this week in federal court in Denver. Three environmental groups sued Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acting director Rowan Gould, saying the officials did not set aside enough habitat to preserve the Salt Creek tiger beetle. The beetle lives only in salty wetlands in eastern Nebraska, and only 165 adult beetles were found during a 2008 survey — all living on the outskirts of Lincoln, Neb., according to the lawsuit. In 2005, a coalition of biologists determined that protecting 37,000 acres would be necessary for the beetle's recovery, according to the lawsuit. After a series of downward revisions, the federal government designated only 2,000 acres as critical habitat, the lawsuit claims...more

Bill could open up options on Baldy

The local axiom "Come for the winters, stay for the summers" could become even more true if a Colorado lawmaker's ski-area bill is made federal law. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., introduced a bill last week that would open up regulations for ski areas in national forests. The bill is currently being considered in the Senate Committee for Energy and Natural Resources. Federal law allows resorts such as Sun Valley to lease land from the U.S. Forest Service for Nordic and alpine skiing, but the new bill would also allow summer activities such as zip lines, mountain bike trails, Frisbee golf and ropes courses on ski areas...more

Oregon rancher turns 10,000 acres into wildlife habitat

A rancher in Eastern Oregon has placed over 10,000 acres of wildlife habitat under permanent protection with a conservation easement with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The easement ensures the future of vital winter range for a regional herd of 600-800 elk. John and Patricia Habberstad of China Peak Ranch, near Monument, have placed 10,334 acres under easement with RMEF in three stages dating back to 2002. The most recent action, completed in January, added 5,101 acres to the total. Bill Richardson, RMEF lands program manager for Oregon and Washington, said, “The Habberstads are doing a wonderful job of managing their land for the benefit of wildlife. They have worked to rejuvenate decadent fields, control invasive weeds and juniper, establish water sources and develop springs. The native bunchgrasses on the ranch are flourishing and the habitat quality is on an upward trajectory.”...more

Flood sweeps away 4 Amish children in horse-drawn buggy

The bodies of three Amish children were found early Friday after their horse-drawn buggy overturned in a creek swollen by heavy rains in southwestern Kentucky. A fourth child was still missing. A mother and her six children were trying to cross the creek on a roadway Thursday when the accident happened. The woman and two of her children escaped but the other four were swept away.NBC station WSMV-TV reported that they were aged 11, 5, 8 and 6 months old...more

Fox hunt takes after eastern NM coyotes

With bellies full of port and sherry, the ladies and gentlemen of an Albuquerque-based fox hunting group cantered over the eastern escarpment of the Pecos River Valley for the first time this month. The group, Juan Tomas Hounds, is a member of the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America established in the 1960s and usually hunts only on ranches located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe or the undeveloped land on the Duke City's West Mesa. But two Roswell JTH members persuaded the red-coated masters and their hounds to hunt coyotes on Bureau of Land Management-owned land just opposite Bottomless Lakes State Park. "We like to hunt in various places," said Leandro Gutierrez, a veterinarian at Casa Querencia Animal Health in Roswell who scouted the land three weeks before the hunt. "We're from here, and it's a great honor for us to host a hunt here." In traditional 16th-century British form, the riders sipped their wine from plastic cups (well, almost traditional) during the "Stirrup Cup" prior to the hunt, then donned traditional English hunting attire. Masters and former masters wear scarlet coats, while women wear colored collars on their riding jackets. Everyone sports breeches, English dress riding boots and black hunt caps with ribbons on the back...more

If nothing else they probably scared the coyotes to death.

‘Buckskin Bill’ lived off the land

Sylvan "Buckskin Bill" Hart received his nickname when he visited a Forest Service station at Mackay Bar on the Salmon River in central Idaho. Hart had been living on the river for two years where he was killing deer and using all parts of the animal to survive. He made clothes out of deer hide, which he wore with the fur on the inside next to his skin. The fur absorbed his perspiration. When he arrived at Mackay Bar, he smelled so bad in his tanned skin clothing that the rangers called him "Buckskin Bill." "These guys are not being replaced," said Megan Murphy, executive director of the Ketchum-Sun Valley Ski and Heritage Museum in Ketchum. Hart lived from 1906 to 1980. He was born in Oklahoma Territory and was the oldest of six children. During the Great Depression, he left Oklahoma to work in Texas oilfields. He worked toward a master's degree in petroleum engineering at the University of Oklahoma but never finished it. In 1932, Hart and his father arrived at Five Mile Bar on the Salmon River. His father eventually left for a larger city but Hart stayed. Managing to live without eviction or conviction, Hart was constantly threatened by the U.S. government, including by the Internal Revenue Service. Hart died of a heart attack in 1980. His outpost is now a popular stop for whitewater rafters, kayakers and anglers who float down the Salmon River...more

Song Of The Day #515

Ranch Radio will wrap up our Dusty Old 78s Week with two selections that are plumb country.

Today we feature two Charlies who are having women trouble. First up is Charlie Adams with If A Beer Bottle Had A Nipple On It followed by Charlie Gore and Its A Long Walk Back To Town.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Funding Impasse Threatens Park Shutdowns, Oil and Gas Permitting Freeze

Looks like they are breaking out the old national park syndrome, trying to influence/scare those who are attempting to implement some fiscal sanity. Here's the NY Times:
As lawmakers struggle to pass a spending bill before current federal funding runs out next week, observers warn that a government shutdown could severely hamper land management agencies and the people and businesses they support. Failure to extend funding could mean furloughs for tens of thousands of agency employees and lead to the closure of national parks, the loss of regional tourism dollars and the cessation of permitting for oil and gas drilling, mining, recreation and other public land uses...
Well visitation to the national parks was down by 4.2 million last year anyway, so I say shut them down.

Furloughing "tens of thousands" of envirocrats? Let's call them Freedom Furloughs and have plenty of them.

Permits? Have enough of those Freedom Furloughs and we won't need no stinking permits.  Federal lands will once again become public lands, or better yet private lands.

Let's make The West a permit-free zone.

Feds, environmental groups file arguments on wolf recovery

Should the gray wolf's legal status be governed by maps or mates? At stake are Montana and Idaho's ability to have game wardens shoot wolves they suspect of killing too many elk in the Bitterroot Mountains along the state border. On Tuesday, lawyers for the U.S. government and a coalition of wildlife advocates filed their answers with U.S. District Judge Don Molloy in Missoula. The states want to use a part of the federal Endangered Species Act called the 10(j) rule for permission to cull the wolves. The rule gives the agency flexibility to kill endangered species when they threaten livestock or big game, although it does not allow public hunting. The lawsuit started in 2008, when Earthjustice attorneys challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's claim that wolves in southern Montana and Idaho were part of a transplanted, "experimental/non-essential" population that could be managed under the 10(j) rule...more

Use of diesel in wells probed

Colorado oil and gas officials have launched an investigation into the use of diesel fuel in the state as a component in the fluid used by drillers to enhance well production. "Frac fluid" is sent down a well under pressure to break the rock strata to release more oil and gas in a process called hydraulic fracturing. On Jan. 31, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce said its investigation had found oil and gas companies had injected 32.2 million gallons of diesel fuel or fluids containing diesel fuel into the ground in 19 states between 2005 and 2009. In Colorado, 1.3 million gallons of fluids containing diesel fuel were used, according to a letter sent to the Environmental Protection Agency by three Democratic committee members, including Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver. The practice, the legislators said, may have violated the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which oversees drilling, asked the congressional committee for the Colorado data...more

Butterfly may block bike race

The 6th-annual Idyllwild Spring Challenge is in some jeopardy. The U.S. Forest Service is conducting an environmental assessment of biking use of the area normally part of the race course, which is considered one of the most beautiful race venues in the country. One of the issues that the Forest Service is investigating is potential threat to the habitat of the Quino checkerspot butterfly, which is on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Threatened and Endangered Species list. To protect the Quino’s habitat in the May Valley area, the San Jacinto Ranger District has begun a project to analyze the effects of continuing to permit annual bike events on trails in the May Valley area. According to Forest Service official Andy Smith, there is a possibility that the event won’t be permitted to occur as planned. “If we do have a finding that there’s a significant effect [on the habitat of the Quino checkerspot butterfly], we would not permit the race,” he said...more

Good move by Obama

The proposed fiscal year 2012 new construction monies for the Office of the Job Corps have been slashed by the Obama Administration. The Job Corps program in this country is run by the U.S. Department of Labor. The federal agency has 124 Job Corps centers with the majority operated by private contractors and non-profit organizations. This includes 28 Job Corps facilities the Forest Service operates in partnership with the Labor Department...more