Friday, August 31, 2012

BLM declares Burning Man Second Amendment-free zone

The Bureau of Land Management has declared the Burning Man “radical self-expression/self-reliance" community “experiment” in northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert a temporary weapons-free zone, GunLeaders Blog reported today. Citing a Department of the Interior “Notice of Temporary Closure and Temporary Restrictions of Specific Uses on Public Lands in Pershing County, NV” appearing in the Federal Register Volume 77, Number 157 (Tuesday, August 14, 2012), the edict mandates “temporary closures and temporary restrictions will be in effect from August 13, 2012 to September 17, 2012. Proclaiming its authority under 43 CFR 8364.1., and issued by Gene Seidlitz, District Manager, Winnemucca District, the restriction notice declared “The possession of any weapon is prohibited except weapons within motor vehicles passing through the public closure area, without stopping, on the west or east playa roads.“The prohibitions above shall not apply to county, state, tribal, and Federal law enforcement personnel, or any person authorized by Federal law to possess a weapon," the notice continued...more

$30 million in Canadian maple syrup stolen

The puzzle is how the culprits managed to siphon off almost C$30 million ($30.4 million) of syrup. That’s the equivalent of 10 million pounds or roughly 15,000 barrels of syrup. And the stock didn’t vanish somewhere in the supply chain of a major city. It’s missing from a warehouse in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, a tiny town of 903 people, according to the 2011 Census. They’re usually more focused on cranberries, whether it’s harvesting them or celebrating them in cranberry festivals. So imagine the surprise when a “routine inventory check,” as the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ) calls it, revealed evidence of a massive heist. Row after row of barrels were empty, filled with nothing but sweet-smelling Quebec air. Trouble is, unlike laundered money, maple syrup doesn’t come with a serial number. In fact, food is proving to be a remarkably easy commodity to steal. Bristol Voss of Minyanville notes that, in Canada alone, thieves have recently made off with a “football field’s worth” of potatoes, hives containing 3,600 kilograms of honey, 6,000 cattle, and 72,000 kilograms of chicken...more

10,000 people at risk of hantavirus after Yosemite stays, CDC says

A new nationwide advisory issued Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that as many as 10,000 people were at risk for contracting hantavirus after staying in Yosemite National Park this summer. Park officials said Friday that they had sent letters and emails to about 3,100 people who reserved one of the 91 "signature tent cabins" in the park's popular Curry Village between June 10 and Aug. 24. The CDC alert — issued through its health advisory network, which reaches healthcare providers as well as health departments — said that an estimated 10,000 people stayed in the tents during that time. Six confirmed cases of the rare, rodent-borne disease have been linked to the park, officials said. Four have been traced to the signature tent cabins; the remaining two were still under investigation, Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said Friday...more 

If this was a private facility, you know they would be sued for negligence.  Can the feds be sued for the same?


Report: Park Service warned about Yosemite rodents
The National Park Service was warned in 2010 that efforts should be stepped up to inspect for rodents in Yosemite and prevent them from entering areas where people sleep, a report obtained Thursday states. The disclosure came just days after a Pennsylvania visitor became the second park guest confirmed to have died of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Public health officials were able to confirm both victims had stayed at the park's Curry Village in Yosemite Valley. The 2010 report issued by the California Department of Public Health was commissioned by the park service. "Inspections for rodent infestations and appropriate exclusion efforts, particularly for buildings were people sleep, should be enhanced," it said.

Editorial: Bring back the cattle

Nevada wildfires burned 424,000 acres last year. So far this year, 767,000 acres have burned.

The solution? State Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, 77 and a veteran rancher, says the federal Bureau of Land Management should let cattle graze longer on public lands.

He and other members of the Legislative Committee on Public Lands unanimously agreed last week to draw up legislation calling on the BLM and other federal agencies to take steps to allow emergency grazing to reduce the fuels that contribute to wildfires every summer. Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, the committee's chairwoman, said their plan would be detailed during the 2013 session and that scientific evidence backs up Sen. Rhoads' assertions.

"I don't know why we can't get it grazed at the appropriate time of the year when we know that fires will come with lightning," Ms. Carlton said.

In an earlier meeting, BLM officials told the committee it would not be practical to extend grazing seasons.

However, the committee had visited the Gund Ranch near Austin, operated by the University of Nevada, Reno, and learned non-native cheatgrass can be reduced by fall grazing in successive years after seed drop, Ms. Carlton noted.

Sen. Rhoads, who's retiring because of term limits after serving 34 years in the Legislature, said the BLM shuts down grazing for two to three years in burned areas, which allows cheatgrass and other vegetation to grow high and become more susceptible to fire. He said cattle should not be kept away from fire-damaged land for more than a year.

If the BLM can't act quickly on extending permits, Sen. Rhoads said, then local groups such as county commissions should hear ranchers' concerns and be allowed to determine whether an extended grazing season is needed.

"There are fires burning now that could have been avoided," added Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks.

Ranchers have warned for decades that federal attempts to reduce grazing seasons have been arbitrary and ill-advised. Restored upstream cattle grazing could even improve water flows in the Colorado River, according to ranchers.

In the long run, Nevada's lands should be managed by Nevadans, not bureaucrats with agendas set in far-off Washington. But for now, state lawmakers are on the right track.

Witnesses told the committee last week that Carson City has used sheep every year since a disastrous 2004 fire to thin out the cheatgrass and other vegetation at the edge of the city. No major fires have occurred since.

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Conservationists Howl as Feds Drop Wyoming Wolves From Endangered List

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today declared the Wyoming population of gray wolves to be recovered and removed federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. As of September 30, wolves in Wyoming will be managed by the state as they are in Idaho and Montana. The delisting’s September 30 activation date is in time for Wyoming’s proposed October 1 wolf hunt. Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife and a former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, blamed the Obama administration for what she called a “tragic” decision and threatened a lawsuit to reverse the delisting of wolves in Wyoming...more

But are they really howling? Oh yes:

“Today’s removal of wolves in Wyoming from the endangered species list is a tragic ending to what has otherwise been one of America’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories,” said Clark. “The Obama administration is allowing an important, iconic species to be wiped out from most of the state, including from large tracts of our national forests and other public lands where wildlife management is supposed to be a priority.”

“This is a low point in the modern history of wildlife conservation and a stunning move by an administration that vowed to be guided by sound science. We tried to work with the Obama administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state agencies to develop and implement more responsible wolf management plans, but we were dismissed,” Clark said.

Attorney Jenny Harbine with the nonprofit law firm Earthjustice said, “Wyoming’s open season on wolves in almost all of the state would allow aerial gunning of wolves and even killing wolf pups in their den. Wyoming law also allows unrestricted killing of wolves if they are found to be ‘harassing’ livestock or domestic animals, even if wolves are intentionally baited into the conflict. These policies could drive wolves back into local extinction. This is no way to responsibly manage wildlife on the border of Yellowstone – our nation’s first national park.

Environment News Service

BLM backs Deerwood Ranch wild horse sanctuary

The Bureau of Land Management is backing a proposal to open a wild horse sanctuary in the Centennial Valley. The BLM announced its decision Wednesday following a month-long public comment period. The owners of the 4,000-acre Deerwood Ranch about 30 miles west of Laramie want to provide long-term care for up to 300 wild horses gathered from Wyoming rangelands. The horses would not be kept on public lands and would all be geldings. The BLM will fund the sanctuary at the same rate the agency pays to care for excess wild horses on other long-term pastures in the Midwest. Anyone who disagrees with the BLM decision can file an appeal. AP

Cheating scandal rocks Harvard's 'Intro to Congress' class

Harvard College’s disciplinary board is investigating nearly half of the 279 students who enrolled in Government 1310: “Introduction to Congress” last spring for allegedly plagiarizing answers or inappropriately collaborating on the class’ final take-home exam. Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris said the magnitude of the case was “unprecedented in anyone’s living memory.”...more

Wow, half are qualified to serve in Congress.


Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. _ _ Samuel Adams

Energy Federalism: A Good Idea in the Romney Plan

Yesterday, I wrote about the shortcomings of the Romney energy plan, saying that by looking simply at supply-side, it only goes halfway; a real energy policy addresses both demand and supply sides. There is one part of the plan, however, that I want to highlight because I believe it deserves praise. The section that stands out as genuinely new and innovative is Romney’s plan to transfer control over energy production on federal lands to states. A Romney Administration would allow states to “establish processes to oversee the development and production of all forms of energy on federal lands within their borders” with the exception of lands “specially designated off-limits” (presumably national parks and the like). Federal agencies would certify state’s regulations as meeting an “adequate” level, but would leave most of the decisions to the states themselves. Romney would then encourage a “State Energy Development Council” that would allow states to share best practices and work together. This idea of Energy Federalism would allow states – the “laboratories of Democracy” in Justice Brandeis’ terminology – to test different regimes for energy production...more

August 31, 1803

August 31, 1803

The journey West

On this day in 1803, Lewis and Clark began their expedition to the west by leaving from Pittsburgh, Pa. at 11 in the morning.

Recreation groups file suit to stop illegal wilderness

Two leading Idaho-based recreation organizations have sued the United States Forest Service, challenging the Clearwater National Forest’s decision to impose the same public use restrictions on areas they have recommended for possible Wilderness classification as one would find in lands actually designated by Congress. The Forest recently issued a new Travel Plan limiting motorized and mountain bike access to designated trails and areas. Motorized vehicles and mountain bikes are prohibited uses in the 1964 Wilderness Act, and this prohibition is in effect in the vast majority of designated Wilderness areas ever since, now about 110 million acres nationwide. However, these uses have previously been allowed in areas recommended for Wilderness designation unless they were proven to negatively affect future Wilderness qualification. The new Travel Plan changes that, imposing the same prohibitions on motorized and mechanized transport in areas the Forest considers Wilderness candidates, as are found in formal Wilderness, such as Idaho’s Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness areas. “Only Congress can designate Wilderness,” noted Sandra Mitchell, Public Lands Director of the Idaho State Snowmobile Association, the lead plaintiff. “For many years we have heard rumors the Northern Region was going to start illegally limiting their management options in potential Wilderness areas, effectively creating a new system of administratively designated Wilderness. In the Clearwater Travel Plan they have followed through on that vision. We cannot stand idly by and watch them change the long-established system for managing these treasured lands,” Mitchell concluded...more

You can view the complaint here.

US Forest Service Assists with Fire Monitoring in Zambia

As a U.S. Forest Service fire applications specialist, managing wildfire, monitoring ecosystem response and teaching others how to do so has been Tonja Opperman’s job for years. She is so good at it that recently the Forest Service International Programs invited her to teach fire monitoring in Zambia’s Kafue National Park. As a lead with the Forest Service’s Wildland Fire Management Research Development and Application Unit, Opperman partnered with The Nature Conservancy and taught Kafue park employees techniques for fireline and post-burn monitoring, use of equipment, ignition pattern techniques and fire-briefing standards during classroom exercises before going out to the field to conduct live-firing exercises...more

And you thought they had a budget shortfall.

You Congressmen looking for a place to cut budgets should look at the FS Int'l Programs.  Let the State Dept. handle international relations and tell Smokey to stay home.  The Republicans in the House have recommended $6 million for this program, $2 million more than Obama requested!

Links of Interest

Sierra Club delivers 12,000 public comments in Lake Tahoe Forest plan
Montana wildfires burn homes, cause injuries
Forest Service cancels briefing on Waldo Canyon Fire cause
Nebraska fire area estimated at 68,000 acres, red flag warnings for coming days
9th Circuit upholds Yellowstone bison slaughter

Song Of The Day #919

Today's tune on Ranch Radio is the Louvin Brothers' 1958 recording of Lorene.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Federal judge orders review of mining decisions in Idaho (and my order back to the judge)

A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to revisit some of the decisions made when officials signed off on a mining company's plans to broaden its exploratory drilling in a historic mining district in the mountains near Idaho City. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge on Thursday vacated sections of the environmental assessment the agency produced on the CuMo Mine project, saying the agency acted arbitrarily a year ago in concluding the expanded drilling does not significantly impact water quality. Lodge also ordered the Forest Service to step back and do additional research and analysis on the impacts drilling could have on groundwater; develop a strategy for monitoring water quality before, during and after drilling; and craft a plan to treat any waters contaminated during drilling...more

Boy, we sure do have a lot of smart judges nowadays. They have been taught in law school how to manage federal lands.

Let's have some fun and where they have "drilling" in this article, substitute "decision" as follows:

The Westerner ordered Judge Lodge to step back and do additional research and analysis on the cumulative impacts of his decisions on federalism; develop a strategy for monitoring his decisions before, during and after each decision, and craft a plan to treat any decision which contaminates our constitution.

So it shall be written, so it shall be done.

Damn, I'd like to do that. Please, just once let me do it.

Shell gets OK to start preliminary drilling in Alaska's Chukchi Sea

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday made a surprise announcement that the government will allow Shell Oil Co. to begin well work in the Chukchi Sea this year even before its oil spill containment barge is ready. Salazar told reporters in a news briefing that the newly approved work will involve drilling 1,400 feet or more into the sea floor but that the hole will not reach any oil-bearing zones. So the chance of a spill is virtually nonexistent at this stage, he said. Environmental groups immediately criticized the decision. Alaska Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski praised it. Regulators will still hold Shell's "feet to the fire," Salazar said. Inspectors will be on Shell's rig 24 hours a day as the work is being done, he said. Shell will have to operate under the "closest oversight and most rigorous safety standards ever implemented in the United States," Salazar said...more

Fire Controversy Brewing Between Ranchers and Firefighting Agencies

With budgets tight in one of the worst fire seasons on record; you would think that firefighters would welcome some extra help. Instead, a war of words has ignited and a local group wants to clear the air. “I jumped in that pickup and I was there within five-minutes,” said Hans Hayden. “And he brought the dozer over and went around it and so we put the complete fire out before anybody else got there.” It sounds like a typical story from a firefighter but these aren’t your traditional firefighters. For over 40 years, Hans and his brother have been teaming up with others in the Arbon Valley to form a ragtag firefighting unit like no other. Their services were called upon during the Charlotte Fire in which they helped save property and lives. The hillsides are dotted with burn sites that this makeshift fire squad extinguished long before traditional fire crews could even reach the area. But a recent fire on the other side of the mountain has these guys up in arms. “Jim Guthrie, who is a State Representative, went to the fire with a tractor and he could have helped,” continued Hayden. “The incident Commander didn’t want him there. They said they had everything under control but they didn’t know the area and so they didn’t know where they needed to protect some of the structures and it ended up burning up somebody’s haystack.” If you were to pass some of their vehicles on the street, you probably wouldn’t know that they double as fire trucks. Their fleet of vehicles are capable of dousing a blaze quickly and they can even setup a perimeter with a dozer but there are limits to what they can do. That’s why they want to grow their working relationship with agencies like the BLM...more

Wash. and Ore. tell feds to let states handle wolf issues

As wolves reintroduced into the Northern Rockies push west through the Cascade Range, the states of Oregon and Washington are telling the federal government they can handle it from here, thanks. Both states have already taken over the hard part, riding herd on the conflict between wolves and cattle in the eastern part of each state, where almost all of the packs are located, and deciding when they need to shoot wolves for developing too much of a taste for beef. "We don't see a real need for continued federal protections when the state protections are there," Dave Ware, Washington state game division manager, said Monday. Tim L. Hiller, carnivore-furbearer coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, agreed. "It seems very redundant to have a regulatory process at the state and federal level for that portion of Oregon," he said...more

Small town Texas mayor killed by his own donkey

A South Texas mayor was kicked and trampled to death by an enraged 500-pound donkey on his ranch. The male ass, called a jack, jumped on top of Hollywood Park Mayor William 'Bill' Bohlke and chased him for several minutes before he died, investigators believe. Investigators with the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office still aren't certain what prompted the attack -- and they never will be. 'There were no witnesses, except the donkey,' Chief Deputy David Soward told Mail Online...more

Wildlife agents preparing to kill more wolves in northeast Washington

Washington state wildlife agents are preparing to kill up to four more gray wolves in the northeast corner of the state after investigators said the pack has injured or eaten livestock. The Seattle Times reports seven environmental groups on Friday urged the director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to stop the wolf kill, saying the agency has not proved beyond a doubt that the predators were responsible for the cattle deaths -- or that it had exhausted other nonlethal means to keep the wolves and cows apart. State and federal wildlife officials have been keeping an eye on the wolves, members of the so-called Wedge Pack along the Canadian border, since at least mid-July. That's when ranchers reported a cow and calf had been attacked by a wolf. The state has already killed one wolf there earlier this month. AP

Mont. rancher shoots bear that broke into house

A Montana rancher shot and killed a black bear that scaled a tall fence and broke into his house to rummage for food this week along the Rocky Mountain Front. Lane Yeager discovered damage when he returned to his home near Choteau on Monday evening. The young male bear had broken through a screen and entered an open window, wrecked a lazy Susan and tore off a door to get to food in the trash and in the pantry. "It was dark out. I was headed for the light switch when it ran across ahead of me," Yeager told the Great Falls Tribune ( "That's when I knew I had an issue." Mike Madel, grizzly bear management specialist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the bear had probably been in the house for an hour. Yeager dispatched it with a rifle. "I killed it so someone else wouldn't have to," Yeager said. "We're fat with grizzlies, but the black bear was off the beaten path." Yeager's children, ages 10 and 12, were at their grandmother's for a visit. "It's hard to explain to the kids whether they're safe in the house," he said Tuesday...more
Projects are completed so now I can start posting again.  Will  try to catch up the best I can.

Song Of The Day #918

Ranch Radio is getting with it again so here's Johnny Cash with Get Rhythm. The tune was recorded in Memphis on 4/2/1956.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Working on another project yesterday and today.

New Mexico river remains at center of water dispute

A dispute over whether New Mexico’s river water is being improperly funneled to Texas or if enough groundwater is being preserved for farmers along the Rio Grande was front and center at a hearing before state lawmakers. About 30 lawmakers from around the state met Monday to listen to opposing sides of a major legal dispute over the Lower Rio Grande Basin, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported. The debate centers on a 2008 settlement between Dona Ana County and irrigators in Texas’ El Paso County. New Mexico Attorney General Gary King challenged the settlement in a federal lawsuit last year, claiming the agreement undermines New Mexico’s water future along the Rio Grande. Assistant Attorney General Steve Farris told the lawmakers the Rio Grande is flowing “bank to bank” south of Elephant Butte Reservoir and while the water belongs to New Mexico, it’s being allowed to flow to Texas. District officials argue that the 2008 agreement heads off a legal battle between New Mexico and Texas that could ultimately harm Dona Ana County farmers by cutting off their right to use groundwater. “If the operating agreement goes away, we will be in the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Steve Hernandez, the district’s attorney. He said the fight would be complicated by the fact that Dona Ana County belongs to New Mexico because of its geographic boundaries, but also to Texas for water management reasons, thanks to the structure of a historic, interstate compact governing use of the Rio Grande. “In the end, nobody takes care of us,” Hernandez said, referring to the irrigators in Dona Ana County...more

Juan Valdez Dead: Land Grant Activist Who Led New Mexico Courthouse Raid And Inspired Chicano Movement Dies At 74

Juan Valdez, a land grant activist who fired the first shot during a 1967 New Mexico courthouse raid that grabbed international attention and helped spark the Chicano Movement, has died. He was 74. Valdez died peacefully Saturday at his Canjilon ranch after recently suffering two heart attacks, his daughter Juanita Montoya said. Heir to a northern New Mexico land grant, Valdez was 29 years old when he and a group of land grant advocates, led by Reies Lopez Tijerina, raided a Rio Arriba County courthouse in Tierra Amarilla. Their goal was to attempt a citizens' arrest of then-District Attorney Alfonso Sanchez over Hispanic land rights issues. During the raid, it was Valdez who shot and wounded state police officer Nick Saiz after the officer went for his pistol and refused commands by Valdez to put his hands up. "It came down to, I shoot him or he was going to shoot me – so I pulled the trigger," Valdez said in the book. "Lucky for both of us, he didn't die." The raiders also beat a deputy and took a sheriff and reporter hostage. After holding the courthouse for a couple of hours, the armed group fled to the mountains as the National Guard and armored tanks chased them. Valdez was convicted of assault but was later pardoned by Gov. Bruce King...more

Man killed after Bigfoot prank goes wrong

A man dressed in a military-style “ghillie” suit and apparently trying to provoke reports of a Bigfoot sighting in northwest Montana was struck by two cars and killed, authorities said. The man was standing in the right-hand lane of U.S. Highway 93 south of Kalispell on Sunday night when he was hit by the first car, according to the Montana Highway Patrol. A second car hit the man as he lay in the roadway, authorities said. Flathead County officials identified the man as Randy Lee Tenley, 44, of Kalispell. Trooper Jim Schneider said motives were ascertained during interviews with friends, and alcohol may have been a factor but investigators were awaiting tests. “He was trying to make people think he was Sasquatch so people would call in a Sasquatch sighting,” Schneider told the Daily Inter Lake on Monday. “You can’t make it up. I haven’t seen or heard of anything like this before. Obviously, his suit made it difficult for people to see him.”...more

Monday, August 27, 2012

San Diego man dies in Denali grizzly attack

A grizzly attacked and killed a lone backpacker in Denali National Park and Preserve on Friday after the man encountered the bear next to a river and lingered there snapping pictures, according to the National Park Service. It was Friday afternoon, when three hikers on a day trip found White's backpack on a gravel bar along the Upper Toklat River, about three miles from a rest area of the seasonal road that runs through the park, the Park Service said. Looking closer, there was evidence of a violent struggle: blood and torn clothes. The hikers immediately headed back to the rest area and called park rangers at 5:30 p.m. Friday, McLaughlin said. A helicopter launched at 8 p.m. and landed the rangers near the backpack about 30 minutes later.At least one bear ran into the brush as the helicopter hovered, said Pete Webster, Denali's head ranger. Once they were on the ground, the rangers spotted the body, which had been dragged into some bushes 100 to 150 yards from where the attack occurred. Webster said the remains were stashed in a "cache site," a spot where a bear will hide and eat food. Night was falling and the presence of multiple bears in the area made the rangers wary of trying to recover White's body Friday night, according to the Park Service. Early Saturday, rangers, biologists and Alaska Wildlife Troopers flew in helicopters and a plane, first to warn others who might be in the area, then recover White's body and track down what the Park Service described as a "predatory grizzly." Back at the "kill site" about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, troopers shot and killed a large male grizzly bear from a helicopter and spotted another bear that scurried away, Webster said. Both bears appeared to be defending the body as a food source, he said...more

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Federal Jaguar Protection Could Affect Trappers in Arizona, New Mexico

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to create a critical jaguar habitat zone in parts of Arizona and New Mexico could lead to trapping bans in those areas. The proposed zone is a 838,232-acre portion of the two states. “That means federal agencies cannot fund or authorize any activities that might ‘adversely modify’ the earmarked land, which covers four stretches of mountain in southeastern Arizona, a section of the Peloncillo Mountains on the Arizona–New Mexico border, and a tiny piece of New Mexico’s San Luis Mountains,” explains Susan H. Greenberg in a Scientific American article. Trapping could be heavily regulated or banned in the critical jaguar habitat zone if the proposal is put into effect. The plan will now go through a period of peer review, public comment and economic analysis before the U.S.F.W.S. decides on whether to approve it. The National Trappers Association is aware of the issue and plans to address the U.S.F.W.S. before comments are closed...more

Draft report spells out how western states could avoid federal protections for sage grouse

AP Photo
Conservation groups are welcoming a federal report spelling out how sage grouse should be managed in 11 Western states to avoid new federal protections. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s draft report issued Thursday advises states and federal land management agencies to act immediately to “stop the bleeding of continuing habitat and population losses." The report is certain to command attention in Western states where listing sage grouse as endangered could result in federal restrictions on energy development and other activities. Sage grouse are found in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. They also inhabit Canada. Federal and state sage grouse experts, collectively called a conservation objectives team, wrote the report. A final version should be out this fall after other scientists review it. Brian Rutledge, with the Rocky Mountain region of the Audubon Society, said Friday the report underscores the importance of avoiding federal protections for the bird. “We all know that this is about fragmentation of habitat, and that stopping the fragmenting is how we stop the problem," Rutledge said. He said new technologies, particularly in energy development and mining, can help limit development’s disturbance in sage grouse areas. “There’s no one way that’s going to work every place," Rutledge said. “But the common theme has to be to limit the disturbance and reclaim the areas that we’ve already damaged and haven’t reclaimed."...more

Wyoming Gov. Mead unveils energy policy blueprint

Gov. Matt Mead is leading a Republican governors’ charge to propose a federal energy policy, and on Wednesday he presented highlights of the plan to the public. The policy calls for state control of the energy industry to be prioritized, an increase in energy production and a reversal of several measures supported by the Obama administration, especially relating to fossil fuels. Mead said an effective energy policy would limit time for environmental impact reviews of projects to a year. The Republican governors’ plan also calls for a cost assessment of policies proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA formally disapproved of Wyoming’s regional plan to control haze, a pollutant produced by burning coal. Mead said the governors’ plan would establish clear guidelines for the review process. Among the projects supported in the plan are the Keystone XL pipeline project — delayed by the president earlier this year — and “responsible development” of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge...more

Wildlife agents preparing to kill more wolves in northeast Washington

Washington state wildlife agents are preparing to kill up to four more gray wolves in the northeast corner of the state after investigators said the pack has injured or eaten livestock. The Seattle Times reports seven environmental groups on Friday urged the director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to stop the wolf kill, saying the agency has not proved beyond a doubt that the predators were responsible for the cattle deaths -- or that it had exhausted other nonlethal means to keep the wolves and cows apart. State and federal wildlife officials have been keeping an eye on the wolves, members of the so-called Wedge Pack along the Canadian border, since at least mid-July. That's when ranchers reported a cow and calf had been attacked by a wolf. The state has already killed one wolf there earlier this month. AP

Student Essay Contest "How I Became a Westerner"

Record-Drought Gets Cattle Hoofin' It - video

Lifelong Wyoming rancher Neil Forgey is hoping the grass is greener in Winner, South Dakota. This year's drought has forced a terrible choice on mid-West ranchers: sell, or haul. Neil's usually verdant land in Douglas, Wyoming—home for decades—is "drier than it's ever been," he said. Every county in that state is a declared disaster area, eligible for federal money. Neil's property was also threatened by the Arapaho Fire, which destroyed nearly 99 thousand acres, the worst in Wyoming this year. "It was selling them, or South Dakota," he said. Neil found greener pastures seven hours and 330 miles east, in Winner, South Dakota, on an expansive prairie owned by family friend. There, at risky expense, 120 head of cattle will graze until September in the hope next year will bring rain...more

Here is the Climate Desk video:

Geico Fires Actor in Drill Instructor Therapist Ad for Denouncing Obama

R. Lee Ermey, Geico’s drill instructor therapist, is out for having denounced Barack Obama in December 2010 for trying to “impose socialism” and suggested that the Obama administration was “bringing this nation to its knees.” But that was too much for Geico, who featured the Vietnam veteran in a recent advertisement as a therapist drill instructor. Emery appeared in the Geico commercial calling a sad patient a “jackwagon” before throwing tissues at him. According to TMZ, the insurance company fired Ermey for his views on Obama...more

Here's the Geico ad, one of my favorites wouldn't you know:


"The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods." -- H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) American Journalist, Editor, Essayist, Linguist, Lexicographer, and Critic

Appeals court affirms oil company polar bear rules

Oil companies operating in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast will have a negligible effect on polar bears and walrus, according to a federal Appeals Court ruling Tuesday that backed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rules on harassment of the animals. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the agency correctly issued rules that provide legal protection to oil companies if small numbers of polar bears or Pacific walruses are incidentally harmed. "We're glad that the court has reaffirmed the appropriateness of our conservation measures," agency spokesman Bruce Woods said. The Center for Biological Diversity sued over the rules, claiming both individual animals and entire populations must be analyzed for protection. Center attorney Rebecca Noblin said the Appeals Court agreed but concluded the Fish and Wildlife Service had done sufficient separate analyses. Noblin called the decision disappointing...more

NM Court rules for oil companies in royalties dispute

The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled in favor of two oil companies in a multi-million dollar dispute over royalties owed for oil and natural gas production on state land. At issue in Friday's ruling was how royalty payments should be calculated under decades-old lease provisions. The high court upheld a district court decision in favor of ConocoPhillips Co. and Burlington Resources Oil and Gas Co. The companies had challenged assessments by the State Land Office that ConocoPhillips owed $18.9 million and Burlington Resources $5.6 million for underpayment of royalties. The Land Office manages leases for oil and gas production as well as livestock grazing on state lands. AP

Spaceport Land Sale Bid in Dispute

The city of Truth or Consequences’ bid to sell 6.2 acres of land to a state agency for the construction of one of two Spaceport America welcome centers was declared invalid last week because municipal officials did not disclose decades-old federal restrictions on the use of the land. After TorC City Manager Juan Fuentes on Wednesday provided the state with a 1984 letter from the Bureau of Land Management claiming the restrictions lapsed 28 years ago, deliberations about the validity of the city’s bid for a spaceport welcome center site were reopened. The city and two groups that protested the city’s winning bid have until noon Sept. 4 to file briefs on the dispute with state Economic Development Department’s general counsel, Wade Jackson. Jackson will decide whether the city’s offer to the Spaceport Authority met the conditions of a formal competitive bidding process. If the city’s bid is ultimately declared invalid, the contentious process of determining where to build a spaceport welcome center will be reopened for the Spaceport Authority...more

Jornada Experimental Range celebrates 100 years of rangeland research

When New Mexico achieved statehood in January of 1912, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was already 50 years old. In May of that year, an executive order signed by President Taft designated a large tract of what had previously been public-domain lands in the Jornada Basin as the Jornada Range Reserve. Now known as the Jornada Experimental Range, or simply "the Jornada," it was established within USDA's Bureau of Plant Industry. The motivation for this action was widening recognition of, and concern about, rangeland degradation in the region. The reserve was established to demonstrate science-based solutions to address this degradation. At the time, the parcel of nearly 200,000 acres northeast of Las Cruces was controlled by rancher Charles Turney, who held the water rights and ran livestock on it. According to Kris Havstad, currently the supervisory scientist at the Jornada, Turney was interested in rangeland research and agreed to cooperate in the establishment of the experimental range if he were allowed to continue his grazing. The other key player in this arrangement was E.O. Wooton, a long-time professor at the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, now New Mexico State University. He had recently moved to Washington, D.C., to work as an agricultural economist for the USDA. He had been documenting the deteriorating state of rangeland in the area for a number of years, and some of that work had involved Turney and the lands he grazed. In his new position, Wooton was largely responsible for arranging the creation of the Jornada. He also returned to the area to become the first USDA superintendent of that rangeland research enterprise...more

Border Cities Are Burdened With Calls for Help

The calls come in thick and fast from the border, just blocks from the fire station here. A woman suffered heatstroke in line at the port of entry. A person detained by customs officers complained of chest pain. An illegal immigrant broke his leg trying to hop the 20-foot wall that divides Calexico from its Mexican twin city, Mexicali. In each case, the Calexico Fire Department responded. All along the Southwest border, from San Diego to Brownsville, Tex., local fire departments respond to medical calls as they would to any emergencies within their city limits. But such calls for medical assistance at the border have become a growing burden on the finances and resources of fire departments in cities like this one, in the California desert 100 miles east of San Diego. Last year, with trips to the port of entry and the Border Patrol station and others to assist injured fence-jumpers, Calexico firefighters responded to 725 calls associated with the border — a fifth of all calls the department received. Chief Pete Mercado said the department’s lone ambulance would sometimes make 10 trips to the port of entry in a given day. For many of those, he said, the department is not able to collect payment, while the ambulance is rendered unavailable for other emergencies. “It’s a very difficult thing for us to continue to do without some type of funding,” Chief Mercado said. “We’ve absorbed the cost for all these years. I can’t express how difficult it is.” In San Diego, the Fire Department responded to more than 2,000 medical emergencies at border crossings last year. In San Luis, Ariz., at least 70 percent of the calls that the Fire Department receives come from the port of entry, officials said. A huge portion of the patients at the ports of entry or in Border Patrol custody have no health insurance, according to the fire departments, leaving the departments to cover the cost of care. In El Paso through the first six months of this year, the Fire Department collected reimbursement on 18 percent of the cost of calls to the ports of entry, compared with a collection rate of more than 50 percent for all calls. In Douglas, Ariz., the fire chief, Mario Novoa, estimated that about 15 percent of the department’s calls came from the port of entry. Firefighters also offer medical assistance to people the Border Patrol finds in the desert, more than 25 miles outside the city limits. Chief Novoa called the collection rate on trips associated with the border “dismal” and “a burden on the taxpayers.”...more

Ruger Produces One Millionth Firearm of 2012

Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. (NYSE-RGR) is on pace to beat its own record of 1,114,700 firearms produced in one year, set in 2011. On August 15, 2012 Ruger produced its one millionth firearm of the year, a Ruger® SR1911™ pistol which will be hand-engraved by Baron Technology, Inc. and auctioned off to support the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. “Last year, Ruger became the first commercial firearms company to produce one million firearms in one year, and we were incredibly excited and proud to reach that milestone,” said Ruger President and CEO Mike Fifer. “It took us nearly all of 2011 to build one million firearms, but in 2012 we accomplished it on August 15th.  We expect 2012 will be another record-breaking year for Ruger, and we want to thank our loyal customers for their continued support.” The firearms industry has seen consistent growth over the last few years, as measured by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) background checks as adjusted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. In July 2012, NICS checks rose by 25.5% compared to July 2011, the 26th consecutive month that NICS checks have risen on a year-over-year basis...more

Song Of The Day #917

It's Swingin' Monday On Ranch Radio and here's Mack & Jake with Yakety Yak.  No, it's not the version you are used to hearing, but see if it doesn't get your feet to tapping.

UPDATE: File is fixed and you should be able to play it now.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

What are friends for anyway?

by Julie Carter

When it comes to pranks, foolishness and just plain stupid stunts, cowboys have a pretty fair corner on the market. Their consistency is proven in both word and deed, documented by the stories about any given “fun.”

Usually "stupid" is directly related to something they should not have roped, something they should not have ridden or, sometimes, someone they shouldn't have married.

These “what were they thinking” moments are followed closely by a list of pranks they pull on each other that should have, but didn't get them killed.

And, quite frequently, the influence of an adult beverage can be attributed to the situation. Not a requirement you understand, just a given.

Cody and Tom were serious ropers – or at least as serious about roping as they ever got about anything. They were wheat pasture punchers by trade and during this particular winter, they had cattle scattered all over the Texas Panhandle.

They’d been doctoring sick bovines all day and had more than their share of roping and giving shots. Late in the afternoon, they decided it would be prudent to test a little of the fresh moonshine they had recently acquired through means they refused to discuss in the discourse of this fable.

They unsaddled at the headquarter pens and began making a game plan for the next day, all the while conducting the quality control test on the moonshine.

These pens were home to a bunch of chronically sick calves and after some sippin’ time had passed, the two decided some of those ailin’ critters needed to be roped. No reason required – except that they were there.

The kids' bicycles were leaning up against a nearby fence and in their enhanced frame of mind, their thoughts were that transportation is transportation. The bicycles would work fine as these calves were pretty sick.

Some laughing, crashing, joking and yee-hawing time passed and finally they’d roped all they wanted to rope of the calves. However, also standing in the pen was a big stray Santa Gertrudis cow that belonged to a neighbor.

The old hussy weighed at least 1,200 pounds, had long, heavy horns and was on the wild side of a little crazy. Cody bet his buddy he couldn't rope the old cow and, of course, Tom couldn't pass up the challenge.

He shook out a loop and quickly snared the cow around the horns with the other end of his rope tied off to the handlebars of the bicycle he was riding.

Cody just couldn't help himself or pass up this golden opportunity. He threw open the corral gate to the wide open spaces of a very large pasture. Not missing her chance, the cow left through the gate at a dead run trolling Tom and the bicycle behind her.

Tom was holding his own until the bicycle hit a hole in the pasture. He had on leggings and spurs and as he dug in to hold on, the spurs sheared off all the spokes in the back wheel of the bicycle.

In the inevitable wreck that followed, the old cow disappeared over the hill dragging the bike. Tom was left in a heap on the ground right at the point where the laws of physics were no longer in his favor.

Somewhat later, the cowboys’ wives showed up with supper for them. The cow had run through yet another a gate tearing it up and rescuing what was left of the bicycle didn't make anybody happy, especially the youngster that owned it.

Supper that evening was a very solemn affair. Wasn't a funeral, but may as well have been. The gals didn’t find much humor in the story as it was told to them and the cowboys kept a sharp eye on the location of the cast iron skillet as it was washed, dried and put away after supper.

“Darla, honey,” Cody crooned. “We were just havin’ a little fun. I mean, what are friends for anyway?”

Julie can be reached for comment at

Garryowen – Then and Now

The Bane of Adult Supervision
Garryowen – Then and Now
‘Custer died a’runnin’’
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

             Listen closely and you’ll hear the ‘Club anti-Growth’ crowd preaching the rewards of restrictive federal land designations. To hear them tell it, every community only needs to surround itself with federal land to the horizons, get designated wilderness or national monument applied to all or part, and folks will flock to see the wonders.
In particular, the flockers will be those more enlightened folks that have a clearer grasp of the big picture. Oh, you know them … they are the ones who support lightning fast bullet trains even though the little Amtrak buddies are losing their torso extremities. They are the ones that champion any unknown in the face of a known, and they are the ones that tend to leave their childhood neighborhoods in search of themselves. They are abundant.
Interstate 90 is touted to be the road to ‘Au naturale Americana’. It is the major northern tier thoroughfare that opens the world of the West to American families. Internet sources refer to trips planned around it as ‘classic’ American road trips.
It funnels crowds from the east, around Chicago, and on across the northern plains. From the Dakotas into Montana, it provides quick exit access to places like Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, Badlands National Monument, Crazy Horse Monument, and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.
Further West, a dip south puts awestruck families in the Queen of the Parks, Yellowstone National Park. A similar jaunt north is Glacier National Park. Further west in Washington is glorious Mt. Rainier.
Yessiree … with all the parks, monuments, forests, scenic and wild rivers, historical trails and T shirt stands that populate that country, a family will be convinced they will always be part of the great Western adventure. Stories will abound.
 American ingenuity is still no doubt present as well. It is only a matter of time before some enterprising entrepreneur introduces genuine natural smoke odor to be sold alongside the bear T shirts. There could be spruce, or fir, or pine smoke depending on where the latest natural fire disaster was observed taking place. It will be a great compliment to add to the family discussions reminiscing about the I90 trek.
“No, this is pine,” says Father. “The spruce fire was at higher elevation north of Helena!”
“Oh, I remember,” responds Sister.
The case of national monuments and Garryowen
Two weeks ago, the town of Garryowen, Montana just off I-90 at exit 514 was auctioned off. Well, that isn’t true because there weren’t any registered bidders. Nobody was interested enough to buy the place.
The auctioneer, Tommy Williams, an Okie from the auction outfit, Williams and Williams, was there to do his best. Even the best auctioneers, though, can’t chant and dicker if there isn’t a legitimate buyer with whom to chant and dicker. 
It wasn’t because Williams and Williams don’t have a track record. Unlike the majority of auction houses who can’t boast of selling an entire zip code, Tommy and the boys have a track record. They sold a town down in Wyoming a while back … a place called Buford. They found a buyer that came all the way from Vietnam to secure himself a chunk of America.
Unlike Buford, Garryowen didn’t prompt enough interest to attract a buyer.
To those being assured that our fears and condemnation of wall to wall national monument or wilderness designation are old fashioned and tediously shortsighted, this emerges as troubling. If national monuments and wilderness areas don’t add enough value to a town to prompt a single bid, how can we believe they offer value to our local communities?
That is what we are being told! That is what folks like the wilderness advocates and consultants from the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and the Sonoran Institute are pledging to be forthright and accurate.
Maybe a closer look at this whole debacle is warranted.
Garryowen, Montana is a real town. It might be only seven acres, but it has a post office with a zip code that assures the world it is Garryowen, Montana.
It derives its existence from Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. It is the place where the purported hordes of monument flockers converge on their westward odyssey along the National Wonders Parkway, I-90.
In addition to its post office, the sweaty tourists fight their way into the Custer Battlefield Museum, the Garryowen Trading Post, a Conoco filling station, a convenience store, a Subway sandwich shop, and an immense archive of Custer manuscripts, documents, and historic photos of the Elizabeth Bacon Custer Collection.
The owner, Chris Kortlander, also has an attached 4000 square foot living quarters that makes the place a turn key, self contained ‘la tienda de tourista’ operation.
Out in front, nearly every famous location on the battlefield can be seen. Visitors can view Reno’s hilltop defense site, Weir Point, Last Stand Hill, Medicine Tail Coulee, the crow’s nest and Wolf Mountains. They only need to close their eyes and visualize where and how Custer ‘died a’ runnin’ that fateful June day in 1876 when the United States 7th Cavalry Regiment was wiped out by the combined light cavalry of the Sioux and Cheyenne Nations.
In addition to the blood and guts of the battlefield, there is even a kinder, gentler reminder of the great things that come from the latest version of history. There is a tomb of another unknown soldier.
Like Arlington, it is one of just a handful of places to maintain such an honored memorial. It was there in 1926, at the 50th Anniversary of Custer’s lapse in leadership, that Chief White Bull of the Sioux Nation and General Edward Godfrey symbolically and literally buried the hatchet.
All these things must be important historically. They are not important enough, though, to imbue enough value on Garryowen, Montana, ground zero of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, to prompt any bid … much less an opening, required bid of $250,000.
The Irony
The term Garryowen is storied. In locale, it was essentially a suburb in Limerick County, Ireland. It became a place where the boisterous youth of the day congregated. In one quote it was described as the place picked by the youth “who had more animal spirits than sense”.
It was there they drank, “terrified onlookers”, and indulged in “fratricidal propensities against all geese!”
It was also there a drinking song was sung. The tune was from an old Irish quickstep. The words of the chorus were as follows:

‘Instead of spa we’ll drink down ale,
    and pay the reckn’ning on the nail
No man for debt shal go to Gaol
    From Garryowen in glory …’

In 1867, the tune was used in the creation of the 7th Cavalry Regiment’s official ‘air’ or marching song. You have heard this tune many times. The words of the 7th’s version of the chorus were as follows:

‘In the fighting seventh’s the place for me,
     It’s the cream of the Cavalry;
No other regiment ever can claim
     it’s pride, honor, glory, and undying fame.”

The ‘air’, Garryowen, of course, became the name of the spot on the map where Custer and his men were killed.
The irony of what Garryowen was and its eventual claim on Custer and his regiment cannot be overlooked. In both cases, the reckless lives of those singing were fraught with danger. In both cases, death lurked. In the case of the Irish youth, it was perhaps just the geese that suffered the consequences. In the case of Custer, it was the regiment.
The modern corollary cannot be dismissed, either. The zeal in which the modern land rush for national monuments and wilderness is being sought is viewed by many as reckless. Much like the days in County Limerick, the mob pursuit of the process is terrifying onlookers.
There was a serious signal that has come from the recent day auction attempt. As witnessed in front of the Little Bighorn’s tomb of the Unknown Soldier, there is not a single person who is willing to stake his or her personal investment future on that national monument along America’s national monument corridor.
That doesn’t bode well for the projects coming from all directions in little known places. The truth is those projects are dividing local communities and loading increased fiscal burdens on the rest of us.
It is time to recognize fratricidal and environmental propensities for what they are, and … elect adult supervision to positions of leadership.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Garryowen is not an image that is comforting. It wasn’t in 1860 Ireland, it wasn’t in 1876 Montana, and, apparently, it isn’t in the I-90 corridor in 2012.”