Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The days of Kool-Aid summers
 by Julie Carter

It was about now, in the middle of a long hot summer, that I would start to miss school. Not school for the education, but school for the friends and the activities.

Rural living for us as kids was defined by isolation at the ranch in the southern Colorado Mountains. 

No one "went to town" once school was out in May, except maybe Mom who made her once a month trek to the grocery store. Our return to civilization didn't happen until after Labor Day when the school bell rang once again. 

The decade of the '60s took me from 8 to 18 and was jammed with life lessons and foundational principles. All the things I had but didn't know were important would not become apparent to me until I was old enough to mourn their loss, value their existence, and understand the lessons that came with them.

It was before we knew sugar wasn't good for us and Kool-Aid was our year-round beverage of choice either in the liquid form or frozen into popsicles in the summer. The alternative was the gallons of fresh raw milk that completely filled the top shelf of our refrigerator.

Summer days ran together in an endless manner that changed only in the way I changed. As a pre-teen, I began each day with figuring out what to do to keep me busy so the chore list from my mom wasn't increased. Saying "I'm bored" was a sure way to win half a day of weeding the gigantic garden, cleaning stalls or some like sentence.

Hay meadows and a nearby cold, mountain creek provided an enchanted play world for all of us -- three brothers, two summer resident kids and the occasional visiting cousin or two. 

When I reached the age that I knew boys didn't really have cooties and that being a teenager made everyone else so very hard to communicate with, I was still in isolation. 

I found solace in spending the days wandering the hills on my horse, talking to my faithful Australian-shepherd sidekick and daydreaming of a more romantic world that had no real definition. I spent hours reading books and writing long letters, both of which took me to an outside world I didn't really know.

I'd only heard about the "hippies" and all that went with what most people recall of that decade. Vietnam was on the news and a world away. A stamp was five cents and so was a Hershey bar. 

I am vague on where I was when the Beatles hit the scene, but I remember where I was when JFK was shot.

Civilization in the form of the nearest town of a few hundred people offered lessons in what it was to be draggin' main and the finer details of a Chinese Fire Drill. An icy Coca-Cola and a basket of French fries in town was the height of delight.

Duck tail haircuts, beehive hair, hip-hugger pants and mini-skirts were about as "with it" as any of us at school got. Go-go boots and shoulder-length hair with that perfect flip made you "cool." The way-out kids wore Nero-collared shirts and sported peace sign necklaces. 

"Gunsmoke and Rawhide", (yes, in black and white) were favorites but we didn't get that channel and had to settle for "Wagon Train" and "Bonanza" on the one we did receive. "Big Valley" made its debut mid-decade, as did "Days of our Lives", back when a half-hour sufficed for soap opera drama.

There isn't a '60s memory that doesn't include late night radio from Oklahoma City. KOMA brought the latest and greatest in the world of Rock and Roll to every country kid in several states between there and the Rocky Mountains. The Beach Boys, Righteous Brothers, Mamas and Papas, the Supremes, Simon and Garfunkel and so many more. And, of course a few slow dances with Bobby Vinton.

The window to a world I was yet to know was as simple as a nine-volt battery in a transistor radio. 

Julie can be reached for comment at

WNMU and the Call of the Wolf

Life before Responsibility
WNMU and the Call of the Wolf
A Cornerstone of Environmentalism

By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     The scene was all set.  The bota bags were scattered around and somebody had put some “real” Rhine wine in them.  The lights were dimmed and the audio had been started.  It was going to be “night on the African plains” and it was show time at the Biology Department’s “Friday Nighter”.  As the lions coughed, the hyenas laughed and the birds of the night ascended into a cacophony of nighttime madness, the students had been brought to a similar crescendo of excitement. What a place that Africa was with all of its guttural rawness of nature and mother earth.  What utter environmental bliss that was!  If only we had that here in North America!
    The Process continued
    The scene would be repeated for years as the hair grew longer, the subject more orgasmic, and the insulation ever more protective in the hallways of the Science Building on the campus of Western New Mexico University (WNMU). The instructors were more akin to elder siblings than they were professors. There was no negative feedback in their world.  They didn’t have any requirement to create a student who could actually do something.  The student just needed to be learned and intellectual, and, of course, support and expand the cause.
     The student group itself became increasingly populated by such diversity as spouses of locals who needed to find themselves and redirect their seven year itch problem into a rediscovered realm of self confidence and worth, or outsiders who had burned their brains and their families’ patience. Career preparation was something that the less enlightened would have to deal with, or, at least, the working spouses or parents who financed the educational process.   
    And, of course, there just north of the campus in Silver City, New Mexico was the grandest thing south of Yellowstone itself, the Gila.  There it stood in all of its glory to be studied . . . and protected.  The first of the regional environmental watchdog groups, the Gila Watch, came into being.  It fielded a team of a zealot-ettes who concluded that at ground zero of the environmental world, the Gila, their world would just be better off if it was not encumbered by anybody who actually had to rely on an extractive industry to make a living.
     The injection of a glimmer of science
     The first of the grant funds for the grand protection effort came in the early ‘70s with money to trap and catalogue mammals in the Gila Wilderness.  Into that wilderness, the learned WNMU professor went following his faithful assistant and a loaded packhorse.  From the Double S to the Trotter Place and from the Zig Zag Trail to the Crest Trail, they trapped, documented and studied.  Peromyscus from Bud’s Hole, Hells Hole, and any and all holes were trapped and relieved of their skin for the important survey.  Mist nets, .22 birdshot, .38 slugs, snares, and traps of all sizes and types were their tools and instruments of scientific discovery.  The unofficial chant could almost be heard, “Peromyscus as by day and Myotis as by night!”
     As the environmental movement grew, the EarthFirst! influences affected by the Gila phenomenon began to grasp a bigger picture.  The Endangered Species Act offered a more sophisticated body of tools than the simple pannier contents on the pack animal that labored for that first Gila survey.  “Man, if you could just add some real wolves to the nighttime audio of the Gila, well, man, that’s be just too cool . . . man!”
     In 1998, that became a reality when the first of the Mexican grey wolves were introduced into the Arizona/ New Mexico Recovery Area.  More than $23.5 million later and less than 50 reported collared wolves to show for the effort, the project has decimated local communities in the area and it has driven a stake into the heart of citizen/ federal government relationships to the extent that generations of Americans will never trust the Forest Service or the USFWS again. 
     For the purposes of record, that expenditure stands at more than $525,000 per collared animal.  That is a pretty high price in order to capitalize and prove the evolutionary process null and void, or, more correctly, the wolf extinction wouldn’t have occurred if the right people had been extant.
     The evolutionary phenom; the little wolf
     In its spread eastward, the coyote made its first known appearance in New York State in 1912.  It had come south from Canada crossing the ice-bound St. Lawrence River.  In 1925, a coyote was finally shot in Belmont Center in New York’s Franklin County.  Little more was documented until the ‘30s when several more were killed.  By the ‘40s, coyotes had spread across the north half of the state from the Hudson River to Lake Ontario. 
     To combat the expansion, New York sportsmen demanded a bounty be placed on the little predators as early as the ‘20s knowing that expansion of the coyotes would be harmful to native game.  By the end of the ‘20s, that bounty was a whopping $300.  Despite the attempt to halt the expansion, though, the little wolves flourished and by the ‘40s they were in neighboring New England states.  By the ‘60s, they were in Pennsylvania.
     Genetic studies from the ‘50s demonstrated that on the frontier of expansion, the coyotes were found to carry dog genetics.  As the populations stabilized and became resident, the genetic pool tended to become more pure coyote.  The coyotes were not only efficient in adapting to new conditions of food procurement, they were efficient in creating a genetic bridge when their own population dynamics were not supportive of expansion.  They were highly adaptive.
      The environmental hoax; the big wolf
      In the history of the North American wolf, the wolf is robust and adaptive only where food is “superabundant”.  Historically, that was near buffalo or caribou herds, or in the presence of high game concentrations mixed with cattle of the West.  When and where those conditions disappeared, the wolf disappeared similarly . . . each and every time.  Unlike the coyote, wolves have been unable to adapt themselves to life with man.  They have always been highly non-adaptive.
    But in the conceptual thinking of the Rewilding Project, the wolf was important.  It was one of the keystone species that meant so much to that collective effort.  The thinking has been it must be saved regardless of the cost in terms of human and or resource degradation and destruction.
     Over the last two years, there has been more and more evidence leaking out of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Project that the problem with the recovery wolf population is that the genetic pool is not pure.  Could that be the problem with the inability to increase the wild numbers?  In the coyote model, the model of real adaptability and evolutionary success, the crossover genetic bridge was exactly what occurred to build numbers as range expanded.  On the other hand, the wolves seemingly cannot use any accelerator opportunity to make anything work.  They can’t multiply whether they are bastardized or not!
    By all means use science if it is convenient
     In the real world there is always the propensity to expect some return from investment.  There is also a growing skepticism about the intent of research investments when government bureaucracy and institutions of higher learning are involved.  Seemingly, science is used not for matters of fact, but, rather, for matters of yet more funding endeavors which are tied to agendas.
     Would it have been too much to expect that the mammal survey done back in the early ‘70s actually yield data and information that would guide events and projects that included the eventual wolf recovery effort?  Who even saw the results?  Who was objective enough to interpret the facts?
     It is very likely that the only meaningful scientific facts collected during that effort were the records of the learned professor’s faithful assistant.  If his diary was scrutinized, it would quantify how, in the wilderness proper, there was a startling absence of game.  A deer here . . . a group of deer there . . . a score for the week. 
     Before elk numbers increased, the absence of game in the wilderness in the last half of the 20th Century always confused and disappointed the observer who knew what game numbers really should be.  The stories of the hundreds of deer in McKenna Park were simply stories, but that bit of intelligence was never even considered for the wolf recovery project.
     As for the reasons for the absence of game, the standard and rote “overgrazing by cattle” was the clarion cry by all the learned experts.  The fact that cattle had been removed starting in 1944 from the wilderness and that the catastrophic fire management strategies by the Forest Service had been in place since before 1920 was of little scientific interest.  The truth was that those who were depended upon from the WNMU scientific staff to provide sound data could care less about game.  They were not hunters and the only one that ever ventured into the far wilderness at that time certainly wouldn’t have carried the message back to his colleagues. 
     “Superabundance” of a food source for the wolf project in the Gila was never even a consideration nor was it a concern.  The Endangered Species Act gave the green light and the spending spree was on, but food sources remain the most basic denominator. Spending more than a half million dollars on each surviving wolf and less than 50 still survive should make some observant leader skeptical of the future success of the program.
     The ultimate wrong
     The Achilles heel of the wolf recovery is that there aren’t enough food sources for this project. There wasn’t during the human wolf conflicts leading up to the wolf eradication nor has there been since the wolf became extinct in the Gila.  His habits and his success in the presence of man depend on a very narrow set of circumstances.  Evolutionary pressures do have implications and they cannot be turned on and off depending on the politics of the moment.  Put another $50 million in this deal and the outcome will not change.  It is long past time to replace the condescension of runaway government with a return of a culture that is less divisive to citizens who must suffer the consequences  . . . and pay the bill.   

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a native son of New Mexico and a graduate of WNMU. “WNMU will be a cornerstone of the whole Gila movement.  With no repercussions of actions and no consequences of mission, the false science of environmentalism took seed and sprouted at that institution.  From that genesis, the Gila country was converted from a faltering economy of production to a false economy of idealism.  It is ground zero in the conflict of private rights and government and it cannot exist in it current form without a constant infusion of tax money.”      

The Endangered Species Tax

by Hugh Holub

The Endangered Species Act commits us to saving not only every species…but every sub-species and every distinct population segment of a species or a sub-species.

Sounds like a popular idea in concept.

But does anyone realize how much this is costing our economy?

We have in effect an Endangered Species tax in this country.

The Endangered Species Tax is expressed in two ways.

The first way is virtually every federal project that involves disturbing the environment has to go through an Endangered Species Act review.

US Fish and Wildlife gets a chance to extort money from other federal agencies in exchange for approving other federal project activity.

Take for example the $50 million US Fish and Wildlife got from Department of Homeland Security to study bats because the Border Patrol drives around federal lands and they might run over a protected lizard.

Or take the millions of dollars being transfered from the Central Arizona Project to restoire native fish in Arizona becvause in theory exotic fish from the CAP canals could swim up the Ssanta Cruz River and eat native fish.

Whatever Congress appropriates to to US Fish and Wildlife, that agency controls vastly more money through “inter-agency agreements” with other federal agencies where Fish and Wildlife extorted money from thos other agencies in exchange for allowing their projects to go forward.

Congress needs to dig into all the inter-agency agreements between US Fish and Wildlife and other federal agencies and find out just how munch money Fish and Wildlife really controls. I’ll bet that will surprise a lot of people.

And then Congress needs to stop US Fish and Wildlife from hijacking other federal agency funds.

The second Endangered Species Tax is the cost added to every project in the country that is added to get federal approval for that project.

These costs turn up in habitat protection plans and other mitigation measures that projects are subjected to by the federal government and environmental groups who sue to block these projects.

Want to build a solar energy project? You will probably have to fork over money to protect the desert tortoise.

Want to build a natural gas pipeline? You will have to fork over money to protect mice. El Paso Natural Gas got hit for $22 million to get approval to build a gas pipeline through Nevada.

Want to drill for oil or natural gas in West Texas? You will add millions to your cost to protect sage lizards.

I’ll bet that we have at least a 10 percent cost added to virtually every project in the country that disturbs land in some way because we have prioritized protecting darned never everything that grows or walks or crawls in this country.

Somwhere along the way people need to have a say as to how much money we’re going to divert from our economy to protect what.

If there is no genetic difference between the wolves that live in Montana or Michigan or eastern Arizona…why are we spending money to have wolves in eastern Arizona?

If there are lots of jaguars in Mexico and all the way to Brazil….why are we going to spend millions to have jaguars in southern Arizona?

If there are 27 sub-species of squirrels….why are we spending money to protect one sub-species on one mountain top in Arizona?

There are a lot of good questions that need to be asked about how the Endangered Species Act really works and how much money it is costing to protect plants and critters that may not even really be endangered at all.

The Endangered Species Act really is not about protecting plants and animals any more.

It has been twisted into a tool to block virtually any project that disturbs the land.

Radical environmental groups that really want to destroy the American economy have turned the ESA into their weapon of choice to strangle America.

And taxpayers are paying for killing the country.

We have been bamboozled into a costly guilt trip via the Endangered Species Act and our priorities are seriously skewed when on one hand we really want to secure our border and we have people fighting finishing the border fence because that will interfere with jaguar migration.

Let’s find out how much we are spending via federal inter-agency agreements and cost additions to projects in the country and see if we are really getting our money’s worth.

And of course radical environmentalists will argue money is no object in protecting endangered species.

That is your money and the more of it siphoned away to protect sage lizards in West Texas, the less you will have for Social Security and Medicare.

This column first appeared at Views From Baja Arizona, Hugh Holub's blog for the Tucson Citizen.

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Mexico Rain Gauge

Wildlife biologist questioned over 'integrity issues'

Just five years ago, Charles Monnett was one of the scientists whose observation that several polar bears had drowned in the Arctic Ocean helped galvanize the global warming movement. Now, the wildlife biologist is on administrative leave and facing accusations of scientific misconduct. The federal agency where he works told him he's being investigated for "integrity issues," but a watchdog group believes it has to do with the 2006 journal article about the bear. The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, filed a complaint on his behalf Thursday with the agency, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. Investigators have not yet told Monnett of the specific charges or questions related to the scientific integrity of his work, said Jeff Ruch, the watchdog group's executive director. A BOEMRE spokeswoman, Melissa Schwartz, said there was an "ongoing internal investigation" but declined to get into specifics. Whatever the outcome, the investigation comes at a time when climate change activists and those who are skeptical about global warming are battling over the credibility of scientists' work...more

New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism

NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed. Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA's Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA's Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models...more

Lummis clause preventing wolf lawsuits survives challenge

A proposed ban on lawsuits against an impending Wyoming wolf management deal survived a legislative challenge in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. House members voted 250-174 to keep a rider in a 2012 Interior appropriations bill that would prevent any litigation against a potentially imminent agreement between Wyoming and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would put the state’s roughly 340 wolves under state control. Earlier this month, Gov. Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said they hoped to reach an agreement by the end of July that would remove Wyoming wolves from the federal endangered-species list and allow unregulated killing of the animals in all but the northwestern part of the state. Mead and other state officials have repeatedly said that a congressional “no-litigation” clause is vital to protect any agreement reached from lawsuits by environmental groups and others. The rider, inserted by U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., would also put Wyoming wolves directly under state control as soon as a deal is reached. Lummis’ budget rider was unsuccessfully challenged by an amendment from U.S. Rep. Norman Dicks, D-Wash., as 24 Democrats joined 226 Republicans in voting to keep the language in the bill...more

Wolves Move From Endangered to Hunted in Rural Montana

Earlier this month, a black wolf attacked and killed one of Rick Sandru's calves as it grazed on a forest allotment in the upper Ruby Valley above his southwest Montana ranch. As the wolf feasted on the 400-pound carcass, a range rider fired a shot, maiming the wolf and sending it scurrying into the woods, leaving behind a trail of blood. The calf was one of countless livestock Sandru and other Montana ranchers lose each year to wolves, coyotes, grizzlies, black bear and mountain lions that prowl these mountain ranges. What was different about this month's kill is that Sandru for the first time was able to prove it to federal agents. A worker hung the cow carcass up in a tree and returned the next day with a U.S. Department of Agriculture official to verify the cause of death. Sandru was compensated for the calf, and a scavenger, likely a bear, tore the carcass from the tree a day later, an easy morsel. "That's one wolf that we don't have to worry about," said Sandru, a third-generation rancher who wears a cowboy hat and a mustache and whose cattle graze sun-swept pastures among pronghorn, elk and sage grouse. "But I'm sure it has a lot of friends." Indeed, wolf depredations are a fact of life for Sandru and other ranchers in the Ruby Valley. Many, if not most, wolf kills can never be proven because the wounded animals just disappear into the woods and don't return. Some cattle are found dead, but cannot be proven as wolf-killed. Sandru said a calf was killed a couple of years ago by a wolf that grabbed it by its face, crushed its skull, gave it a shake and broke its neck. "They're killing machines," said Sandru of the wolves. "I don't have anything against any animal, but I have a lot against the Endangered Species Act when it doesn't consider its impacts on the people."...more

Sure glad that NY Times headline-writer put "rural" in the headline, otherwise many may have thought they were huntin' wolves in "urban" areas.

Mule Train Supplies Calif. Wildland Firefighters

A pack train of 30 horses and mules is helping to supply firefighters who are working to contain the three- week old Lion Fire in the Golden Trout Wilderness. The animals are hauling food and supplies into the Lion Meadow area where 55 firefighters are based. Animals from seven national forests in California are part of the packing effort, which is being coordinated by the US Forest Service’s regional pack stock program. “Pack animals have been used in remote parts of the Sierra Nevada for generations,” said Michael Morse, wilderness and pack stock program manager for the Inyo National Forest. “By supplying the firefighters with horses and mules, we are able to both minimize the use of motorized equipment in the wilderness and pass on packing skills to the next generation of wilderness managers.” Hauling approximately 1,200 pounds per trip, the pack train can supply a crew of 20 people for three days. The trip takes approximately nine hours round-trip, making for a long day in the saddle. “This is not easy work,” said Pat Baily, wilderness manager for Los Padres National Forest. “You have to have a passion for it.”...more

Another example of what a wilderness designation brings you. We better haul some of those mules to NM so the Border Patrol and the Sheriff can use them to chase the drug traffickers in the Bingaman Bandito Boulevard. Better bring a bunch cuz it's over 240,000 acres on or near the border with Mexico.

We'll have mules chasin' mules, except their mules will be heavily armed and in many cases mounted on motorized vehicles.

Fairfield rancher copes with loss of ewes, lambs, plus federal fine

Rick Christy, a farmer and rancher in the Golden Ridge area between Fairfield and Augusta, says he would not change a thing, from killing the grizzly bear that was attacking his sheep this spring to paying a fine for violating the federal Endangered Species Act. But he isn’t happy about either. Christy shot and killed a 340-pound sub-adult grizzly bear as it and a second bear attacked and killed sheep on his property in the early morning hours of May 10. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the shooting and determined that Christy had violated the federal Endangered Species Act by killing the grizzly, which is listed as a “threatened” species under the act. The USFWS then levied a $2,000 fine against him for the misdemeanor violation. The USFWS found that Christy violated federal law because he killed the grizzly in defense of his flock. Under state law, it is legal for a livestock operator to protect property, including livestock, if it is under attack by predators. But federal law only allows the killing of a threatened or endangered species if the action is taken in self defense...more

Wyandotte Nation sues Interior in land/casino case

The Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma has sued the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior for failing to take the tribe's land in Park City into trust for a casino. The tribe filed the suit in the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals on Tuesday. Its land-in-trust application has been pending in the department since January 2009. It requires approval by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who is named in the suit. "We were left with no recourse but to take action against the department," said Billy Friend, chief of the tribe. "We felt like we were patient." The suit argues that the department has no choice but to grant its application because the tribe purchased its Park City land with land-claim settlement funds from a 1984 law passed by Congress. The Wyandotte had claimed it never was properly reimbursed for land the government took from it in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1843. The Interior Department recently has begun considering land-in-trust applications for off-reservation casinos from about 33 tribes, including the Wyandotte Nation. The Wyandotte's application is the only mandatory application on that list, Friend said. "They have an obligation to take the land into trust and have failed in their responsibility," he said...more

Adults spend days in the trees to earn certification

When you're young you climb trees for fun, but some adults have made a career out of it and for the past three days, instructors have been helping Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management employees get certified to climb trees. Lead Instructor John Weston says when climbing large trees with no branches, there are many methods you can use to reach the top. "Spur climbing is typically what we used to do but it's very hard on some trees. So we teach them how to use tree climbing ladders, we teach them to use ropes to go up the trees, we teach them how to repel out of the trees which is the fun part." Weston says this is how the state takes care of the forest but not everyone in this line of work can get certified...more

Wasn't that long ago we came down out of the trees to make a better way of life and now the damned guvmint is making us go back...and without our spurs.

Wild Horses Are (Again) Losing Their Home On The Range

Writing in The Atlantic, Bill Cohen has a long and wide-ranging article highly critical of the BLM and the Rock Springs Grazing Association. Cohen served as the chief legal analyst for CBS News. So, do you think he sides with the "horse lobby" or the "politically (i.e. financially)...cattle or ranching industries"?

Wild hogs tearing up New Mexico

Feral pigs are making their way across New Mexico and are causing more and more damage to the state’s land and crops, according to a government official and a rancher. “I’m continually working on pigs,” said Ron Jones, a U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife specialist. Reports of wild hogs first started popping up about six years ago, according to the U.S.D.A. Jones said he now spends more than half his time tracking down the animals in Quay County, near the Texas state line. For years, wild hogs have been a problem in other states, like neighboring Texas. But now they’re believed to be in every New Mexico county that borders Texas, and as far west as the Rio Grande. The animals steal food, tear up the land and are generally destructive. And they can be aggressive, too. “They’ll root up a quarter of a mile of road and it’s really hard to fix,” said Bill Humphries, a Tucumcari-area rancher. “Because they’ll dig big holes, kind of like bomb craters in it.” With females producing litters of four to 12 piglets as often as every six months, the hogs are causing major damage to the land and crops of farmers and ranchers like Humphries. Jones and Humphries showed News 13 some of the damage the hogs left behind; about two acres of torn up grassland Humphries’ cattle can no longer graze. The hogs were searching for certain types of roots and bugs, Jones said...more

The full KRQE-TV report is below. Check it out if you want to see if Bill Humphries has lost any of his renowned good looks.

Wild hogs tearing up New Mexico:

Zetas cartel suspected in slaying of Mexican mayor

The Los Zetas drug cartel is suspected in the kidnapping and murder of a city mayor and a prominent rancher in western Mexico, Zacatecas state Attorney General Arturo Nahle Garcia told Efe Thursday. Fortino Cortes, mayor of Florencia de Benito Juarez, and Gilberto Perez Escobedo, treasurer of the regional ranchers association, were abducted Wednesday in Zacatecas city, the state capital. The men were found dead Thursday in Huejucar, a town in the neighboring state of Jalisco, Nahle said. Bound hand-and-foot and blindfolded, the victims were accompanied by a message accusing them of acting as informants for the Gulf drug cartel, Los Zetas' main rival. The bodies were identified by the Cortes and Perez Escobedo families, Nahle said, adding that the federal AG's office will lead the investigation because of the apparent involvement of organized crime. Cortes and Perez Escobedo were taking part in a meeting at the offices of the Regional Ranching Union in Zacatecas city when armed men burst in and grabbed them...more

Mexico: 2 US citizens killed in prison fight

Two U.S. citizens were killed during a prison fight that left 17 inmates dead and many others wounded in a municipal prison in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. Hector Conde, spokesman for the Cereso municipal prison, identified the dead U.S citizens as Nicolas Frias Salas, 35, a former Los Angeles resident who was in prison for homicide and unlawful possession of weapons and Luis Adrian Estrada Perez, 28, formerly of El Paso, who was serving a term for kidnapping. Both were living in Juarez when they were sent to prison, Conde said. Mexican authorities told the U.S. consulate in Juarez about the deaths, but it couldn't confirm the men were U.S. citizens until relatives identified the corpses, consulate spokeswoman Olga Bashbush said. The consulate has located one man's family so far and expects to release his name in the coming days, she said. A video released by prison authorities shows how two hooded inmates got keys to different doors of the facility, opened one to release other armed inmates and then opened the door of a room where the victims were being held and shot them with automatic weapons. The attack took less than a minute...more

For workers on the Rio Grande, caution follows close calls

Typically, men will cross the river and tell irrigation district workers to leave or stop clearing brush that provides cover for drug smuggling and illegal immigration. They occasionally steal equipment and threaten employees. Managers tell workers to simply walk away if threatened. It’s the safest course of action, but one that potentially exposes critical infrastructure to cartel operatives. Perhaps the most serious incident happened three weeks ago, when workers repairing a water pump near Hidalgo reported that someone shot at them from Mexico. Luckily, the men escaped unharmed. In response, Brand said District 3 will pay for field employees to take concealed handgun license classes and carry firearms on the job...more

Police chief in Ciudad Juarez claims Mexican feds tried to kill him

The police chief of Ciudad Juarez has alleged that officers with Mexico's Federal Police attempted to kill him during a chaotic operation on Monday night, ratcheting up an increasingly bitter turf war over who gets to police the troubled border city. Police Chief Julian Leyzaola said that Federal Police officers fired on his vehicle without warning during a massive police response to a series of shootouts late Monday in the municipal prison. In a statement, the Federal Police said Leyzaola's vehicle had crossed a security line, "out of protocol," while federal authorities attempted to contain what they called a possible prison break. One television news crew caught a federal officer saying "Who was that?" when Leyzaola's convoy passed, the El Paso Times reported. "Why did they fire at me?" Leyzaola said during a news conference Wednesday...more

Mexico suspends police aid to violent border city

Mexico's federal government has suspended aid for a police-training program in the violence-wracked border city of Ciudad Juarez, saying authorities there haven't followed reporting rules and have trained few police. Mexico's National Public Safety System says it has suspended 57 million pesos ($4.85 million) in aid scheduled to be delivered this year, because the city has done little to actually train local police. It said Thursday that from 2008 to 2010 the city trained only about 6 percent of its police force, and none of its commanding officers. "It is unfortunate that the federal government is not showing solidarity with Ciudad Juarez in the serious problem of insecurity," city clerk Hector Arceluz Perez told a Thursday hearing. The announcement comes amid rising tensions between local and federal authorities, after federal police shot at a vehicle carrying Ciudad Juarez police chief Julian Leyzaola. Arceluz said the city has opened a formal complaint against the federal police officers, accusing them of attempted murder. AP

Federal Cops Won’t Leave Juarez, Mexican Government Says

The 5,000 federal police currently deployed in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital, will not be withdrawn, interior minister Francisco Blake said, contradicting an earlier statement by the mayor of the border city. Mayor Hector Murguia said Tuesday that he was officially informed the federal cops will begin to leave Juarez in September. His announcement came hours after a score of federal agents fired on the convoy of Juarez’s police chief, the latest in a series of ugly incidents between the feds and local authorities. “The federal forces will not abandon Ciudad Juarez nor its citizens in the face of the criminal phenomenon the city is experiencing,” Blake said in a statement after meeting Wednesday with the governor of the surrounding state of Chihuahua, Cesar Duarte. The efforts of the federal forces in Juarez have been “successful,” Blake insisted. Ciudad Juarez, a metropolis of roughly 1.2 million people just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, has suffered nearly 9,000 homicides since the beginning of 2008...more

Homicides in Mexico rose 23 percent in 2010

The number of homicides in Mexico rose by nearly a quarter in 2010 compared to the year before as the drug war intensified across the country, Mexican statisticians said Thursday. The National Institute of Statistics and Geography recorded 24,374 homicides over the course of last year, a 23 percent increase from 19,803 in 2009. Last year's figure represented 22 killings for every 100,000 residents in the country. Many but not all of the homicides were committed by organized crime organizations, the institute told The Associated Press. Violence has risen in many Mexican regions as a result of drug trafficking and other organized criminal activity. President Felipe Calderon's office has said that more than 15,000 homicides in 2010 were attributed to organized crime. According to the statistics institute, the U.S.-bordering state of Chihuahua saw the highest number of homicides with 4,747. Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico, registered 2,505...more

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Court Rulings Indicate New Mexico's Battle Over GHG Regs Far from Over

At the State Supreme Courthouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico this week, where it was nearly 90 degrees in the shade, something else was heating up: the battle over whether to dismantle the state's greenhouse gas regulations. At the root of the seven-month-long saga is a December decision by New Mexico's Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) to cap global warming emissions from the state's largest power plants by 3 percent per year from 2010 levels starting in 2013. New Energy Economy (NEE), a nonprofit, led the two-year public process leading up to the landmark law's adoption, which would allow the state to enter the Western Climate Initiative's (WCI) cap-and-trade program. But Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who promised during her 2010 campaign to abandon the carbon cap, promptly fired the seven-member EIB in January and tried to stall the ruling's implementation for at least 90 days. Her efforts were later deemed unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court, and the policy went into effect. But the law is far from secure. Two separate rulings by the court this week indicate that the dispute could run far into next year. On Monday, in the first ruling, the court placed a 180-day stay on efforts to repeal the law by utility giant PNM Resources, who is now leading the legal push against EIB. Both parties had requested the six-month time-out so that they could try to resolve the issue out of court. For its part, PNM is aiming to prove via petition with EIB that its law is not economically sound for the public, and thus get it scrapped for good...more

Environmentalists pick up a win in NM Supreme Court

From Rob Nikolewski at New Mexico Watchdog

It may have been a highly technical decision and it may or may not have any impact on future decisions the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) could make regarding rolling back controversial regulations that were passed late last year, but the New Mexico Supreme Court on Wednesday (July 27) handed a net victory for environmentalists. The court ruled that the New Energy Economy (NEE), an environmental group that was behind a measure the EIB approved last December aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state, won the right to intervene as a full party in an appeal of the carbon reduction rules made by New Mexico utility PNM. What does all that mean? In essence, the court’s decision promises to give NEE greater standing if the newly-constituted EIB decides to reverse restrictions the previous board passed last November and December. The EIB still has the right to try to reverse the regulations, which have come under harsh criticism from business interests and the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez but the state high court ruled that an appeal by PNM looking to mediate the carbon cap rule with the EIB had to include NEE as a full party in any negotiations and NEE, in the words of Chief Justice Charles Daniels “cannot be stripped of their status.” After the decision, I talked to Bruce Frederick, an attorney for the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, who argued the case for NEE...more

Judge allows some grazing in Jarbidge area

A federal judge has partially lifted an injunction that had blocked cattle grazing on 17 allotments on Bureau of Land Management property in Idaho. Ranchers will be able to turn cattle out in the Jarbidge Resource Area as long as they follow conditions spelled out in the order: * Grazing will be governed by plans developed by BLM to preserve populations of sensitive species, habitats and watersheds. * The BLM will have full authority to prohibit grazing during the sage grouse mating and nesting season in summer, as well as during fall and winter when plant growth ceases. * Ranchers must ensure cattle don't graze grasses beyond stubble height levels set by the agency. * Grazing will not be allowed in previously burned areas until restoration objectives are met. * The BLM will consult with environmental groups and state agencies in developing grazing plans. * The agency will submit annual reports on the grazing allotments to the court...more

Can fire scare some sense into a judge?  Apparently so.

Winmill said he decided to modify the injunction on July 22 because the BLM needed to use grazing as a tool in preventing rangeland fires, such as the one which devastated the area in 2007.  "A total ban on grazing will interfere with the BLM's efforts, by contributing to a buildup of fuel..."

Safari Club International Champions Access for Hunting Before Congress

On behalf of millions of American sportsmen and women, Safari Club International’s (SCI) Director of Hunter Advocacy, Melissa Simpson, testified yesterday before the House Committee on Natural Resource’s subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. Simpson provided testimony on H.R. 1581, the “Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011” on behalf of a sportsmen’s coalition that included the National Rifle Association and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. “H.R. 1581 would help hunters who are being denied or limited access to public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service,” Simpson says. “Currently, the Bureau and Forest Service are managing nearly 43 million acres of public land under the prohibitions of wilderness area study area policy, even though the agencies have recommended to Congress that these areas are not suitable for wilderness designation.” The protectionist management by the two agencies severely restricts hunter access to these lands by 1) failing to authorize roads and trails that would help disabled and elderly hunters’ access hunting areas; 2) prohibiting or limiting hunters from using carts for game retrieval and; 3) reducing hunters’ ability to access lands inaccessible by existing roads and trails. Studies have shown that one of the biggest reasons for the decline in hunting participation in recent years has been the lack of access to hunting lands...more

Environmental riders in approps bill

Earth Justice reports:

The following is a brief summary of some of the current environmental attacks in the federal spending bill:


* Interrupting Agency Review of Coal Ash Standards – Seeks to defund any rulemaking that would regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste, thus foreclosing any regulatory scheme that provides for federally enforceable regulations for America’s second largest waste stream.
* Waters of the United States – Would halt the EPA’s ongoing work to clarify which waters remain protected by the Clean Water Act in the wake of confusing court decisions.
* Preventing EPA’s Ability to Regulate the Largest Water Users – This rider prevents the EPA from developing and proposing standards for the use of cooling water at power plants under the Clean Water Act.
* Weakening the Clean Water Act – Would amend the Clean Water Act to create a loophole for the timber industry, exempting it from pollutant discharge permit requirements for silvicultural activities.
* Stormwater Discharge – This rider essentially prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from updating its stormwater discharge regulations or permits to manage runoff from post-construction sites.
* Letting More Pesticides In Our Waters By Axing Clean Water Act Protections – Would create a loophole for pesticide applicators to spray toxic chemicals directly into our waterways without complying with the only statute that was created to protect our water bodies and us.
* Allowing Toxic Slime in Our Waters From Manure, Fertilizer and Sewage – This rider stops the EPA from using its funding to implement, administer or enforce new water quality standards finalized in November for Florida's lakes and flowing waters. This amendment, supported by industry groups in Florida and nationwide, would even stop public education or enforcement of this rule to protect Florida's waters from excess nutrient pollution from sewage, manure and fertilizer.


* Polluter Paradise– This rider would require EPA to stop all work to update clean air standards for dangerous smog, soot and other air pollution if so-called “background” levels of that pollution anywhere in the country are occasionally higher than the standards needed to protect public health.
* Spreading Death and Disease from Cement Pollution– This rider blocks EPA health protections that would control smog, soot, mercury and other toxic pollutants emitted by cement plants, some of the worst industrial polluters of any kind.
* More Soot Pollution, Anti-Science –This rider blocks the EPA from taking account the best scientific and medical information and updating clean air standards for “coarse particle pollution” or PM10, sometimes called soot.
* Spreading Mercury Poisoning, Death and Asthma Attacks – This rider denies EPA funding to carry out and enforce the Clean Air Act’s forthcoming Mercury and Air Toxics standards for power plants and the recently finalized Cross-State Air Pollution Rule to cut smog and soot pollution from power plants.
* Regulation of Ammonia Emissions – This amendment would prevent the EPA from setting a Clean Air Act standard for ammonia. Several federal agencies, including EPA, have documented ammonia’s acute and chronic adverse health effects.

Fish and Wildlife

* Extinction Rider – Prevents the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from spending any money to implement some of the most crucial sections of the Endangered Species Act, such as listing new species; designating habitat critical to a species’ survival; upgrading the status of any species from threatened to endangered; and assisting law enforcement by protecting species that resemble listed species.
* Shielding Gray Wolf Delistings from Judicial Review – This provision exempts from judicial review any final rule that delists gray wolves in Wyoming and any states within the range of the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves, provided that FWS has entered into an agreement with the state for it to manage wolves. The provision undercuts one of the most important checks and balances built into the ESA – public participation through the ability of citizens to request judicial review of delistings.
* Attacking protections for Endangered and Threatened Wild Bighorn Sheep – Eliminates nearly all protections for bighorn sheep in the western United States, forbidding federal agencies from protecting this key wild species.
* Anti-Wildlife, Pro-Poisons Rider – This amendment prohibits the EPA from implementing any measures recommended by federal wildlife experts to protect salmon and other endangered species from pesticides.

Mountaintop Removal Mining:

* Prohibiting Rules to Protect Streams from Surface Mining – Keeps the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement within the Department of the Interior from continuing work to revise regulations adopted in the waning days of the Bush administration that opened up streams to destructive and polluting practices associated with surface coal mining.
* Blocking EPA Oversight of Mountaintop Removal Mining – Shields mountaintop removal coal mining operations from EPA review by stopping EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from continuing a process they put in place in April 2010, to scrutinize proposed mining permits.

Offshore Drilling

* Giving Oil Companies a Free Pass to Pollute – Limits the EPA’s ability to regulate air emissions from offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans, and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Special Places

* Lifting the Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Moratorium – Allows for extensive uranium mining directly adjacent to the Grand Canyon, potentially endangering an iconic landmark as well as some of America's most important water resources.
* Sticking Taxpayers With Mine Cleanup Costs – Prohibits EPA from ensuring that the hard-rock mining industry, like uranium and gold mining companies, post adequate financial assurance to cover the costs of cleanup at mine sites potentially leaving taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars.

Activist who faked Utah energy lease bids sentenced to 2 years

A Utah man lionized by environmentalists for crashing a 2008 government auction of energy leases near two national parks was sentenced to two years in prison and fined $10,000 on Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Dee Benson in Salt Lake City ordered Tim DeChristopher taken into custody immediately. "I'm not saying there isn't a place for civil disobedience," Benson said. "But it can't be the order of the day." In a roughly 35-minute address to the court, DeChristopher, 29, said his actions were necessary to highlight the threat that climate change poses to the planet. "My intent both at the time of the auction and now was to expose, embarrass and hold accountable the oil and gas industry, to point that it cut into their $100-billion profits," he said. Defense attorney Pat Shea vowed to appeal. "There's been a serious abuse of justice," Shea said. DeChristopher could have received up to 10 years in prison and a $1.5-million fine...more

Shea was briefly BLM Director under Bill Clinton.

Monument Fire demonstrates a new type of behavior

During the Monument Fire the Type I, Northern Incident Management Team coined a new fire term “blow-outs.” Textbooks on wildland fire have long recognized the term “blow-ups,” but nowhere in these books will you find reference to “blow-outs.” They are not identical fire situations and apparently, blow-outs are reported for the first time during the Monument Fire. Both Cochise County residents and firefighters had an opportunity to witness an apparently unprecedented occurrence that consistently modeled itself over three separate days giving new insight into how wildland fire can behave. One can assume this new term evolved spontaneously on the fire scene by derivation from the existing wild land fire lexicon and as a variant of the term “blow-up.” The term blow-out will now accommodate what was observed and experienced on these three different days during the Monument Fire in Ash, Stump and Miller Canyons in June 2011. Both types of fire situations have several apparent similarities or traits in common. On these occasions, the blow-outs appeared to evolve from what began as blow-up fires. Either fire term can function in the lexicon as a noun but is derivative of several verb senses found in the dictionary: cause to burst with a violent release of energy; make large; burst and release energy as through a violent chemical or physical reaction; and to swell or cause to enlarge. And all cases here seem to apply in this dramatic sense from what was observed from those close-by and afar, be it in the air or on the ground...more

Biofuel demand in US driving higher food prices, says report

Demand for biofuels in the US is driving this year's high food prices, a report has said. It predicts that food prices are unlikely to fall back down for another two years. The report, produced by Purdue University economists for the Farm Foundation policy organisation, said US government support for ethanol, including subsidies, had fuelled strong demand for corn over the last five years. A dramatic rise in Chinese imports of soybeans was also putting pressure on prices and supply, the report said. Since 2005, a growing number of US farmers have switched to corn and soybeans from other crops. Farmers in other countries have also switched to corn but, the report said, the demand kept growing. "In 2005, we were using about 16m acres [6.4m hectares] to supply all of the ethanol in the United States and Chinese soybean imports," Wallace Tyner, one of the authors said. It took 18.6m hectares (46.5m acres) last year, just to satisfy that demand. The US department of agriculture reported earlier this month that US ethanol refiners were for the first time consuming more corn than livestock and poultry farmers...more

Quay County rancher, 70, tops senior pro rodeo rankings

A local 70-year-old rancher splits his time between tending 300 head of cattle, rebuilding a home and being ranked number one in calf and breakaway roping in the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association. Jerry Koile is currently first in the NSPRA world rankings in 68-plus calf roping and non-sanctioned 70-plus breakaway roping. “You have got to love it to do it,” Koile said. Koile said he started competing in rodeos again two years ago, after a 25-year break. Jerry Koile said his first year back in the rodeo scene was also his horse Rodeo Hot’s rodeo debut. “It was our first time together and both of us were just as green,” Koile said. We ended the year ranked third in the calf roping standings.” Koile said he is only halfway through the season and he plans to compete in 12 more rodeos before the Senior National Finals Rodeo Oct. 5-8 in Las Vegas, Nev. The NSPRA is open to those 40-to-70 years old. There are nine sanctioned events: bareback, bull riding, calf roping, ladies barrel racing, ladies breakaway roping, ribbon roping, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, and team roping. Those events are broken into separate age groups (except for Ladies Breakaway which is 40-plus). Koile's next event will be on Aug. 5 at Vermillion, Alberta, Canada...more

How the railroad built Flagstaff, Winslow, Holbrook

By the 1880s, a new sound echoed across the plains of the northern Arizona Territory. The clatter of metal on metal slowly spread from east to west as rails were hammered into rocky ground. The workers brought a need for civilization, and towns grew in the railway's wake. Among the first was Holbrook, a dusty cattle settlement before the tracks arrived, Richmond said. Before long, what was once largely the territory of Mormon ranchers became an international community as Holbrook morphed into a construction center. Native Americans joined laborers from England, Ireland and Mexico. Mormons, too, joined in large numbers, Richmond said. The railway fostered new and expanded industries. The need for timber grew exponentially, and lumbermen descended on Flagstaff to build mills, supplying railroad ties as well as wood to build homes and businesses. In a territory known for harsh deserts, the first industry would be borne by its pine-covered slopes. Cattlemen also benefitted from the railroad, gaining access to markets to the east and west. And it was mining, not tourism, that had financiers backing a railroad to the Grand Canyon in the 1890s (though tourism would later provide a much richer vein)...more

Song Of The Day #628

Ranch Radio will continue to honor native New Mexican Junior Daugherty and his 81st birthday with a double dose of Junior's fiddling: Billy In The Low Ground and reportedly Billy The Kid's favorite song La Golondrina.

Both tunes were recorded in Las Cruces at Goldust Studios.

ATF Accused in Congressional Report of 'Arming' Cartel for 'War' Through Operation Fast and Furious

The failed federal anti-gunrunning program known as Operation Fast and Furious got so out of control in November 2009, it appeared the U.S. government was single-handedly "arming for war" the Sinaloa Cartel, documents show, even as U.S. officials kept lying to fellow agents in Mexico about the volume of guns it helped send south of the border. Those shocking allegations are revealed in the latest congressional report investigating the operation. At one point, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives say guns sold under the program took just 24 hours to travel from a gun store in Phoenix to a crime scene in Mexico. ATF agents there pleaded for help but were told nothing about Fast and Furious, which was intended to let guns "walk" in order to track them to higher-profile traffickers. Meanwhile, the report claims the agents' superiors in Washington met every Tuesday, to review the latest sales figures and the number of guns recovered in Mexico. "How long are you going to let this go on?" Steve Martin, an assistant director of intelligence operations asked the ATF top brass at meeting Jan. 5, 2010, according to a transcript of the meeting contained in the congressional report. None of the men responded and several quickly left the room, the transcript reveals. By Feb. 27, 2010, Lanny Breuer, the head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., was allegedly told that the ATF had successfully helped sell 1,026 weapons worth more than $650,000 to members of the Sinaloa cartel. The briefing included all top ATF officials, including the agents in charge in Los Angeles and Houston, as well as a half dozen top Justice Department attorneys...more

Mexico's cartels rely on their cash crop

But for its problematic pedigree, Mexico's marijuana might be hailed as a marketing miracle. The much-maligned weed has suffered decades of punishment — burned, poisoned, ripped from the earth by its roots. Customers have been jailed, suppliers battered by literally cutthroat competition. Better products from Colombia, California and countless suburban back-rooms have somewhat eroded its popularity. Governments refuse to make it honest. Yet, this pot has persevered. Production grows, quality improves and exports northward hum along. Despite decades of U.S. officials' efforts against it, Mexican marijuana remains widely available, frequently used and commonly disregarded as a danger. "They are never going to stop it," said Dan Webb, a recently retired anti-narcotics lieutenant with the Texas Department of Public Safety, who now teaches drug enforcement at Sam Houston State University. "It is just like Prohibition," Webb said, comparing Mexico's cannabis trade to the boom in liquor smuggling after the U.S. government outlawed alcohol sales decades ago. "As long as there is a demand, somebody is going to come up with a supply." Though its slice of the gangs' income may be shrinking — the thugs long have profited from cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, as well as kidnapping, extortion and piracy — marijuana remains a solid bet. Call it the money market fund of the Mexican mob. "Marijuana remains the constant commodity of choice for the drug cartels because of end user demand and the ease of production," said Tony Garcia, South Texas director of an intergovernmental police alliance that keeps tabs on the illicit drug trade...more

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Obama Officials 'Strongly' Oppose Roadless Release Bill

The Obama administration today roundly denounced a proposal by Republican lawmakers that would release several million acres of protected public lands into local management plans, potentially opening them to timber harvests, oil and gas development, motorized recreation and other uses. Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, compared the legislation from Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to shooting a small rabbit with a large gun, leaving almost no meat on the bone. "H.R. 1581 is a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach, that fails to reflect local conditions and community-based interests," Abbey told the House National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee. Abbey and Harris Sherman, undersecretary for natural resources and environment at the Agriculture Department, said they "strongly" oppose the bill...more

Babbitt blasts 'radical' GOP bill on public lands

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is blasting a Republican bill that would open up more than 50 million acres of public lands - such as north Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest - to logging and other development. Babbitt was Interior secretary for eight years under President Bill Clinton. He says the bill would virtually repeal the 1964 Wilderness Act, which preserves vast swaths of undeveloped public lands. Babbitt calls the bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, ``the most radical'' proposal on public lands in his lifetime. He argues that it trades protection of wildlife habitat, clean water and clean air for corporate profits, and he calls it ``a giveaway of our great outdoors.''...more

Congress passed a law (FLPMA) directing BLM to conduct an inventory of lands for wilderness characteristics and report their recommendations back to Congress for action. BLM complied and recommended that some areas did not qualify as wilderness in their reports. This legislation would implement those recommendations. What in the hell is so "radical" about that? These recommendations have been at Congress' doorstep for 25+ years, they are finally getting off their butts to do something and Babbitt calls that "radical" and a "giveaway." What a load of b.s.

Pearce & Western Lawmakers Testify on Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Steve Pearce (R-NM) joined lead sponsors Senate Western Caucus Chairman Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and fellow Western Caucus member and Majority Whip Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to testify at the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Legislative Hearing on HR 1581.

H.R. 1581, The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011, is common-sense legislation which simply implements the recommendations of the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service to lift the restrictive management practices on 43 million acres of WSAs and IRAs. It directs that these lands be managed for multiple-use which includes increased recreational opportunities, responsible resource development and better access for firefighting.

“Ensuring the continued legacy of our nation’s natural wonders is vital. This bill simply acts on recommendations made by the federal government and returns the management of tens of millions of acres of public land to local communities so that more Americans can have access to our public lands. These communities know best how to manage the lands, whether for increased recreation, preservation or development. I will continue to fight for this legislation that could help create jobs and reduce the threat of wildfires across the nation.” – Congressman Kevin McCarthy

“This Act ends the cycle of indefinite wilderness review and management of these non-wilderness recommended lands. It allows local Americans and stakeholders to work with agency officials to develop management plans that best balance recreation, multiple-use, and conservation. It provides them the flexibility to manage our public lands for a multitude of activities. More importantly, it gives local Americans, those who live, work, and play on public lands a voice.” – Senator John Barrasso

“As Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this important piece of legislation. H.R. 1581 is good for the west and good for America. It will allow more Americans to enjoy our federal lands, and allow us to actually protect the habitats of wildlife through proper land management.” -Congressman Steve Pearce

Other witnesses testifying in support of the legislation includedMelissa Simpson- Safari Club International, Chris Horgan- Stewards of the Sequoia, Dave Freeland - District Ranger (Retired) Sequoia National Forest, Dan Kleen - President National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, Rep. Mike Noel - Utah House of Representatives, and Hon. Kent Connelly -County Commissioner Lincoln County, Wyoming...Press Release

House Democrats to Take Aim at Policy Riders in Interior, EPA Spending Battle

To call the Interior and Environment spending bill the House will debate this week partisan would be an understatement. The bill contains 38 policy riders that run the gamut from a one-year stay on new and proposed U.S. EPA rules for greenhouse gases and conventional pollutants to a moratorium on the Fish and Wildlife Service listing new species under the Endangered Species Act. Many of the provisions were included in the original Appropriations subcommittee draft, but others were added in committee almost exclusively by panel Republicans who say they are necessary to prevent EPA and Interior from doing irreparable harm to the economy. More policy amendments are expected to be offered this week, with the House scheduled to take up the bill today. Democrats on the panel and in the House say the measure is a massive overreach by appropriators who are using legislation intended to fund EPA and Interior in fiscal 2012 as a means of undermining landmark environmental laws. Appropriations Committee ranking member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said Democrats this week will focus on highlighting how many environmental protections would be rolled back in the unlikely event that the bill becomes law...more

Connecticut mountain lion originated in South Dakota

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) said Tuesday that results of genetic tests show that the mountain lion killed in Milford in June made its way to the state from the Black Hills region of South Dakota and is an animal whose movements were actually tracked and recorded as it made its way through Minnesota and Wisconsin. Genetic tests also show that it is likely that the mountain lion killed when it was hit by a car June 11 on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Milford was the same one that had been seen earlier that month in Greenwich. DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said, “The journey of this mountain lion is a testament to the wonders of nature and the tenacity and adaptability of this species. This mountain lion traveled a distance of more than 1,500 miles from its original home in South Dakota — representing one of the longest movements ever recorded for a land mammal and nearly double the distance ever recorded for a dispersing mountain lion.”...more

Song Of The Day #627

Fellow New Mexican Junior Daugherty turned 81 last week, so Ranch Radio will be featuring his fiddle playing for the rest of the week.

Here's Junior's Winter Flower. The tune was recorded at Goldust Studios in Las Cruces.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Issa: Obama admin intimidating witnesses in ATF gun probe

The Obama administration sought to intimidate witnesses into not testifying to Congress on Tuesday about whether ATF knowingly allowed weapons, including assault rifles, to be “walked” into Mexico, the chairman of a House committee investigating the program said in an interview Monday. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, said at least two scheduled witnesses expected to be asked about a controversial weapons investigation known as “Fast and Furious”received warning letters from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to limit their testimony. Mr. Issa's committee is set to hear testimony from six current or former ATF employees, including agents and attaches assigned to the bureau’s offices in Mexico, about the operation — in which, federal agents say, they were told to stand down and watch as guns flowed from U.S. dealers in Arizona to violent criminals and drug cartels in Mexico. The six-term lawmaker aired his concerns about the program in a wide-ranging interview with reporters and editors at The Washington Times on Monday. Among other questions, the agents are likely to be asked about a large volume of guns showing up in Mexico that were traced back to the Fast and Furious program; whether ATF officials in that country expressed concerns about the weapons to agency officials in the U.S., only to be brushed aside; and whether ATF officials in Arizona denied ATF personnel in Mexico access to information about the operation...more

A gunrunning sting gone fatally wrong

They came from all over the country, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, brought here in a bold new effort to shut down the flow of U.S. guns to Mexican drug cartels. It was called Operation Fast and Furious, after a popular movie about street car racing. But from the beginning, much of the fury was inside the agency itself. On his first day undercover, John Dodson, who had been an ATF agent for seven years in Virginia, sat in a Chevy Impala with Olindo Casa, an 18-year veteran from Chicago. They watched a suspected gun trafficker buy 10 semiautomatic rifles from a Phoenix gun store and followed him to the house of another suspected trafficker. All of their training told them to seize the guns. The agents called their superior and asked for the order to “take him.” The answer came back swiftly, instructing them to stay in the car. The message was clear: Let the guns go. This was all part of an ambitious new strategy allowing Fast and Furious agents to follow the paths of guns from illegal buyers known as “straw purchasers” through middlemen and into the hierarchy of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel. But Dodson and Casa were confused and upset. ATF agents hate to let the guns “walk.” Yet it happened again, day after day, month after month, for more than a year. They feared the worst, and a year later it happened: A Border Patrol agent was killed in an incident in which Fast and Furious guns were found at the scene. And it was later revealed that the operation had allowed more than 2,000 weapons to hit the streets. It is the agency’s biggest debacle since the deadly 1993 confrontation in Waco, Tex. What began as a mutiny inside ATF’s Phoenix office has blown up into a Capitol Hill donnybrook that is rocking the Justice Department...more

Down On The Farm

Aren't organic fruits and vegetables superior to conventionally grown food? Shouldn't consumers always choose organic when given a choice? Not necessarily, says a Scientific American blogger. In a series she's calling "Mythbusting 101," Christie Wilcox takes a look at four beliefs closely linked to organic food. Her July 18 blog takes each of them and exposes the accepted fiction.
The first myth: Organic farms don't use pesticides
. According to Wilcox, more than "20 chemicals (are) commonly used in the growing and processing of organic crops that are approved by the U.S. Organic Standards." The pesticides used in organic farming are produced by natural sources and go through little, if any, processing. But that doesn't mean they are less toxic than synthetic pesticides used in conventional agriculture."Many natural pesticides have been found to be potential — or serious — health risks," Wilcox writes. She cites the case of Rotenone, an organic pesticide once considered safe. As it turns out, though, Rotenone attacks mitochondria and has caused Parkinson's disease-like symptoms in laboratory rats. It also has "the potential to kill many species, including humans." Even organic farms that don't use pesticides can be growing harmful food. Wilcox notes that between 1990 and 2001, more than 10,000 people became sick from eating foods tainted with pathogens such as E. coli "and many have organic foods to blame."
Myth No. 2: Organic foods are healthier...more

Fire damages CSU equine center

The CSU Equine Reproductive Laboratory in Ft. Collins was severely damaged by fire early Tuesday morning. The call came in around 1 a.m. Tuesday of visible flames at a building on the CSU Foothills Campus on the west side of town. When firefighters arrived, they found flames coming through the roof, according to Poudre Fire Authority spokesperson Patrick Love. Horses were evacuated from surrounding stables.
No horses or people were injured in the fire. Love says the building looks to be a total loss at this point. The cause of the fire is under investigation. No horses or people were injured in the fire. KUSA-TV

Conservation bill not expected to go far

It's touted as a model private-public solution for conservation: allow nonprofit groups to tap tax-exempt revenue bonds to buy working forests and keep them out of developers' hands. For nearly a decade, that proposal has gone nowhere in Congress. For the fifth time since 2003, Sen. Patty Murray has rolled out legislation to authorize conservationists to borrow money via municipal bonds to acquire timberlands and to keep logging a portion of the forest to repay the debt. A companion bill again is pending in the House, too, this time with Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, as the lead sponsor. The Community Forestry Conservation Act of 2011 has wide backing from conservation groups and timberland owners. They include Federal Way-based Weyerhaeuser and Seattle's Plum Creek, the nation's largest private landowner. Yet the legislation's prospect for passage in this Congress appears just as dim as ever...more

The enviros just can't keep their hands out of the public till. They have all these laudable goals they want to accomplish...with other people's money. Just imagine the loggers wanting municipal bond money to acquire timberlands to keep them out of enviro hands.

And isn't it wonderful that Weyerhaeuser and Plum Creek want the public to subsidize the purchase of their lands. Got something to sell? Just have the buyers raid the public treasury so they can meet your price. Shame on them.

Obama administration debating care of U.S. national forests

The Obama administration is crafting a new plan to manage the nation's 155 national forests, including six in Arizona, for the next 15 to 20 years. At stake is the future of 193 million acres of forests and grasslands that are the nation's single largest source of drinking water and home to more than 15,000 species of plants and wildlife. The U.S. Forest Service says the new plan, due by year's end, is urgently needed to replace the so-called forest-planning rule written in 1982 during the Reagan administration. That rule, which emphasized using the forests for logging, does not reflect the latest science on climate change and how best to protect wildlife and water, the Forest Service says. The rule was never intended to last nearly three decades - about twice as long as expected. President Bill Clinton attempted to replace it in 2000, but his proposal was scrapped when President George W. Bush took office in 2001. Efforts by the Bush administration to draw up its own plan were derailed when the proposals were challenged by environmentalists and thrown out by federal courts. As President Barack Obama's administration takes up the crucial but contentious issue, it is under intense scrutiny from competing interest groups that hope to shape the plan to their liking. Neither environmentalists nor business interests are happy with the first draft of the new forest rule. Conservation groups say it lacks adequate protection for wildlife and water and gives individual forest managers too much discretion in how to carry out the plan. Business groups say some of its provisions to protect species could end up kicking ranchers, timber companies and others off the land...more

Amendment delisting gray wolves faces court challenge Tuesday

The congressional rider removing gray wolves from Endangered Species Act protection faces a court challenge in Missoula on Tuesday. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians together claim Congress violated the U.S. Constitution's separation of powers doctrine when it ordered the wolf delisted and blocked future court review of that decision. In response, attorneys for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar say Congress has frequently rewritten laws to get around court rulings, and courts have endorsed the practice. In their court filings, pro-wolf attorney Karr argued that the congressional rider was "the only time, in the ESA's nearly 40-year history, that Congress has legislatively delisted a species." That maneuver unconstitutionally interferes with the judicial branch's power to review congressional action and forces a court decision without changing the underlying law, he claimed. In response, federal government attorney Ignacia Moreno cited numerous other examples where Congress passed laws that prohibited further judicial review. "(N)othing ... precludes Congress from effectively pre-ordaining results in pending litigation by shifting the legal goalposts when the evidentiary football has come to rest," Moreno wrote. And while the rider didn't explicitly amend the Endangered Species Act, Moreno said it did legally change the way the act manages "a subset of a particular species, in particular regions." The wolf advocates want the rider declared unconstitutional and the gray wolf returned to federal protection in Montana and Idaho...more

How Obama Saves/Creates Jobs: Replace High-Paying Energy Jobs with Low-Paying Housekeeping Jobs

I suppose I should jump for joy and shout to the rafters. After all Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has decided to bless us with a brand new pile of cash (freshly minted no doubt) to increase conservation and tourism on our public lands. Thank God! Were it not for the good graces of the DOI, the people in my part of the country would be consigned to real jobs with benefits! But lo! Here he comes descending on a cloud, Ken Salazar offering Americans in the West a chance to wait tables, tune skis, shine shoes and clean hotel rooms! And not a moment too soon! Were the Secretary and the special interest groups not in control of the fate of the land in America’s West, those of us who live here might take the silly notion into our heads that we could buy homes, start businesses, send our children to college and perhaps even retire some day. What a relief indeed that Secretary Salazar and his acolytes have arrived on scene to remind us that our true purpose in life is to cater to those happy few with enough capitol on hand to actually recreate on our public lands. Were it not for Mr. Salazar, we of the proletariat might still be laboring under the misguided notion that we could achieve something in our lives. And furthermore, the American people would still be struggling with the notion that energy to power our homes and vehicles with such things as coal, oil and natural gas rather than solar plants (that even segments of the environmentalist community object to) and windmills that make casserole out of eagles and bats, are viable options. Despite the fact that “renewable” resources have yet to become commercially viable, and have made a hash out of Spain’s economy...more

River restoration not going according to government plan

The largest river restoration ever attempted in the West — intended to support a cornucopia of wildlife and outdoor activities — has left a 62-mile stretch of the Lower Owens so overrun with cattails, cane and bulrushes that it may take decades to bring them under control. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa turned a knob in 2006 that opened a diversion dam gate about 235 miles north of the city, putting water back into a river essentially left dry after its flows of Sierra snowmelt were diverted to the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. Officials from Inyo County and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which manages the Lower Owens River, boasted that within 10 years, the waterway would come back to life as a healthy and diverse ecosystem for fish, frogs and waterfowl, shaded by canopies of cottonwoods and willows. The rehabilitated river would attract more tourists to financially struggling Owens Valley towns with bass fishing tournaments and a kayaking experience some called "the long glide" because the river's carefully controlled flows would be free of rapids and waterfalls...more