Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thompson Divide debate

A key dispute within the dispute over proposed oil and gas development in the Thompson Divide area involves dozens of leases issued in national forest roadless areas there in 2003.  That was two years after President Bill Clinton, in one of his final acts as president, declared a national forest rule to protect roadless areas from development. Such leases in the Thompson Divide area and elsewhere have gained the nickname of “gap” leases because they were issued at a time when the legal status of the national roadless rule was in question because of prior court rulings later being upheld. Gary Osier, a former Forest Service employee who served as forest minerals specialist for the White River National Forest, said energy companies had been “badgering him to death” during the 1990s to make some of the areas in question available for leasing, but he postponed acting for years. “There was this rumor of this roadless rule and we were told to hold off,” he said. Then, after the national rule was implemented, a Wyoming judge found it to be null and void. Osier said he consulted with the regional Forest Service office, which talked to officials in Washington, D.C., who said the land should be offered for leasing. “That was the legal opinion at that point in time,” he said. Despite that Forest Service decision during the Bush administration, the battle over the 2001 rule continued to play out in court, with sometimes-conflicting rulings. But last year, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over both Wyoming and Colorado, ruled in favor of the national rule, which also was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. And this month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to last year’s 10th Circuit Court ruling, meaning the national rule was upheld “as the law of the land”...more

 “There was this rumor of this roadless rule and we were told to hold off,” he said.

This is an example of why so many folks don't trust the land management agencies.  In this instance you have a land use plan which allows leasing, but they were told to "hold off" because of a "rumor".

So why have a land use plan?  Impose the agenda now and bring the plans into compliance later.  

They should be called Rumor Areas instead of Roadless Areas.


George Lucas Is Still The Proud Owner Of Skywalker Ranch - photos

George Lucas may have sold the rights to Star Wars, but he's still the proud owner of the 4,700-acre Skywalker Ranch. The director has spent around $100 million developing the impressive property north of San Francisco since 1978. Although he doesn't live there (at least as of 2002), Lucas uses the land as a retreat, as well as work and studio space. Now with his $4 billion windfall from selling Lucasfilm, perhaps Lucas will spend more money building his dreamland...more

While his ranch is in Ca. it reminds me of a typical ranch in NM.  For instance his ranch, like most in NM, has a ranch house designed in the 1869 Victorian style.

He has also picked up another NM ranch tradition: a fitness center complete with racquetball courts and a swimming pool.

Now you know why ranchers oppose wilderness. Racquetball is not allowed because the noise violates the soundscape and ruins the wilderness experience for Jeff, Nathan and Darla, and most importantly, the only way you can fill the swimming pool is with a bucket.

Finally, our dirty little secret is out.

Emails show Obama admin used DOE loan money to help Harry Reid’s 2010 campaign

President Obama claims that political considerations did not influence the Energy Department’s green energy loan program, but newly-released internal emails show that his administration subsidized Nevada companies in order to help Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., win his 2010 reelection campaign. “And these are decisions, by the way, that are made by the Department of Energy, they have nothing to do with politics,” Obama said last week when asked about the green companies that have gone bankrupt despite receiving taxpayer support. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released DOE emails today that compromise Obama’s position on two counts: one, the emails show that Obama himself was involved in approving loans; two, DOE officials were keenly aware of the political interests at stake, as they regarded the loans as a way for the White House to help Reid by giving him a way to brag about bringing federal money into Nevada. Messages from late in 2010 demonstrate that DOE officials were concerned that President Obama’s personal desire to get DOE loans approved was putting tax payer money at risk...more

Robert O. Anderson Rode High With ARCO And Ranches

In his first 16 years drilling for oil, Robert O. Anderson came up dry 200 times. But having done his homework on the Empire-Abo field in New Mexico, he had an educated hunch that eventually his investment would pay off. In 1957 it did, big time. Anderson's find uncorked a quarter-billion-barrel reserve, one of the biggest in North America. He built on that to create the nation's sixth-largest oil company, ARCO. Anderson (1917-2007) was born in Chicago, where his banker father built a reputation for successfully lending to wildcatters, the independent oil explorers who were colorful figures in a risky business. When Anderson spent a summer in Texas laying an oil pipeline, he knew it was the industry he wanted to be in. "I liked the opportunities for initiative, experiment, independence and an outdoor life," he said in Kenneth Harris' book "The Wildcatter." "We were too young to be conscious of money in the depths of the Depression." Graduating from the University of Chicago with a degree in economics in 1939, Anderson read intensively about geology while working as a management trainee at an oil company in Chicago. He began looking for a small refinery that wasn't reaching its potential. He found one in December 1941, convincing his father to put up $150,000 — worth $2.3 million today — to buy a half-share in Malco Refining in New Mexico. As the new vice president, he experimented with equipment and processes and within six months had taken production from 1,500 barrels a day to 4,000...Meanwhile, he spent much of his time where his heart was — on his ranches. By the late 1960s their size across New Mexico and Texas totaled over 1 million acres — three-quarters the size of Delaware. With 120,000 head of cattle and innumerable sheep, the ranches brought in $50 million in revenue a year. He made sure to dirty his hands with his cowboys for 12-hour days whenever he could, according to Paul Patterson in "Hardhat and Stetson."...more

Ranchers saddle up for another fight against JBS

A leading trade group for U.S. cattle raisers is calling on the Department of Justice to block a deal that could result in JBS USA, whose parent company is the world's largest meat packer, becoming the largest processor here. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and USDA Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration Administrator Larry Mitchell, R-CALF USA requested that the U.S. government "immediately initiate an investigation to determine the potential effects" that JBS USA's potential acquisition of two Canadian beef packing plants a Canadian feedlot and the two U.S. beef packing plants owned by Canada's XL Foods Inc. will have on competition on the U.S. live cattle market and the consumer beef market. R-Calf said the two Canadian beef packing plants and the Canadian feedlot are major beef and/or cattle exporters to the U.S. JBS USA, a subsidiary of Brazil-based JBS SA, on Oct. 17 announced an agreement to manage one of XL Food's Canadian operations. The agreement also provides JBS USA an exclusive option to purchase XL's Canadian and U.S. operations for $100 million, split evenly between cash and JBS SA shares. JBS USA immediately began managing XL Lakeside, a beef processing plant in Brooks, Alberta, Canada, with capacity to process 4,000 head of cattle daily. The option gives JBS USA right to purchase the Lakeside packing plant as well as a beef packing plant in Calgary, Alberta; a feedlot in Brooks, Alberta, and the adjacent farmland acreage; a beef packing plant in Omaha, Neb.; and a beef packing plant in Nampa, Idaho...more

Baxter Black - Cowboy Ghost Story

Listen up while Baxter spins the tale of the cowboy ghost roamin' the desert for some spare body parts.

My version of this is on his The Big One That Got Away Blues and it appears it may still be available on the 2 CD set Cowboy Mentality plus The Big One That Got Away Blues.

Song Of The Day #961

Ranch Radio brings you a Halloween Special with Salty Holmes and The Ghost Song.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Al Gore blames Hurricane Sandy on 'global warming'

While it did not take long it was expected. Former vice president Al Gore put out a statement on his blog on Tuesday and blamed the intensity of Hurricane Sandy on "global warming pollution."
Gore concluded at the end of his blog that "dirty energy makes dirty weather.":
Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come. We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis. Dirty energy makes dirty weather.
New York and New England were hit with powerful hurricanes in 1821 and 1938. In 1821, the hurricane was called, The Great September Gale. In 1938, the hurricane, aptly named the Long Island Expressslammed New York and New England with winds of up to 120 MPH. The Berkshire Eagle lists other hurricanes and tropical storms dating back to 1635 that have hit the east coast...more

Washington Considers Another Impact Of Wolves: Skinny Cows

Washington ranchers who can show that wolves are making their cattle lose weight could get reimbursed under a new proposal. The rule before the Fish and Wildlife Commission would expand a compensation program for ranchers living in wolf country. Washington’s cattle ranchers aren’t the first to complain about skinny livestock. Ranchers in Idaho and Oregon also say the reintroduction of wolves has made sheep and cattle move more and eat less. That translates into the bottom line, says Dave Ware. He’s the game manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The way that a rancher gets paid in the fall when they bring their cattle from the range is by weight ... so much per pound,” Ware says. Washington would be the first state in the Northwest to compensate ranchers for livestock weight loss, not just livestock killed by wolves. The plan would also expand compensation for livestock loss to more types of animals, including herd dogs, llamas, alpacas and goats, even for noncommercial livestock owners. Top priority for compensation would go to people who take preventive measures...more

Judge rejects mandatory minimum sentences for ranchers convicted of arson

Rejecting mandatory minimum five-year sentences as “grossly disproportionate” to the crimes, a federal judge today sentenced an Eastern Oregon rancher to three months in prison and his adult son to one year and a day for deliberately setting fires on federal land. A federal jury in June convicted the Harney County pair after a two-week trial in Pendleton. Jurors convicted Dwight Hammond Jr., 70, on a single count of arson for “intentionally and maliciously” setting the 2001 Hardie-Hammond Fire in the Steens Mountain federal management and protection area. They convicted Steven Dwight Hammond, 43, of the same crime and of a second arson count for similarly setting the 2006 Krumbo Butte Fire. It burned in the same area and in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The jury acquitted both men on arson charges in two 2006 fires. U.S. Judge Michael Hogan agreed with the Hammonds’ defense lawyers that setting fire to juniper trees and sagebrush in the wilderness was not the type of crime that Congress had in mind when it set mandatory sentences of five to 20 years for anyone who “maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy by means of fire” any federal property. The mandate was part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. link

Here you have another example of the feds using a statute supposedly to fight to terrorism, and instead turning it on our own citizens.  Kudos to the judge and US Attorney Papagni should be ashamed of himself.

Guilty plea from illegal alien in Brian Terry murder

An illegal alien faces life in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder in the slaying of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Manuel Osorio-Arellanes has been in federal custody since the night he was wounded in the gun battle that claimed Terry’s life and ignited the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious 22 months ago. According to CBS News, Osorio-Arellanes entered the guilty plea in exchange for an agreement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office not to seek the death penalty. The Arizona Daily Star published the plea agreement. Osorio-Arellanes admitted entering this country illegally to rob drug traffickers, and that he and his accomplices ran into Terry and other Border Patrol agents on the night of Dec. 14, 2010, when the gun battle occurred...more

Poor Jimmy Bason: Former NM Gov. Richardson to lobby for Calif., not NM, spaceport

Former Gov. Bill Richardson, who championed development of New Mexico’s spaceport, is going to work for California’s spaceport. The Albuquerque Journal reports Richardson will sign a contract to lobby for Mojave Air and Space Port. Officials told the paper he is being hired to help them get so-called informed consent legislation passed. New Mexico has been trying for two years to get the same law passed, but has been blocked by trial lawyers in the Legislature. The law would exempt space craft parts suppliers from most civil lawsuits...more

The new ethanol: A debate over corn, oil and progress

The Obama administration must decide in coming weeks if it will temporarily lift requirements to blend ethanol into the nation’s gasoline supply. The issue has been largely dormant on the campaign trail, but it’s critical to the success or failure of the next generation of biofuel plants under construction today that won’t rely on corn to make fuel. A public comment period ended in early October, and now the administration must decide by Nov. 13 whether or not to temporarily suspend the Renewable Fuel Standard, created in 2005 and modified in 2007 to help the ethanol industry get off the ground by requiring its use in gasoline. Ethanol is required to be blended into gasoline to help keep pollution down, and it has the added benefit of lowering dependence on crude oil, about half of it imported and the other half drilled domestically. The governors of Arkansas, North Carolina and several other states want the ethanol mandate suspended amid rising corn prices brought about by this summer’s punishing drought. Governors of corn states are opposed. The administration is widely expected to reject the request for a one-year suspension of ethanol mandates, but the move is actually just an opening salvo in a much larger fight that’s coming in the next Congress over the Renewable Fuel Standard. That debate comes just as the ethanol industry readies to launch commercial-scale, next-generation biofuels. Also at issue: Whether mandates, passed in 2005 when oil demand was at its peak, are realistic given falling energy consumption, a boom in low-cost natural gas production, rising corn prices and improvements in the fuel efficiency of cars...more

AQHA/PRCA Horses of the Year Announced

The American Quarter Horse Association and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association announced their picks for Horse of The Year. The top 25 contestants in each timed-event category vote for their favorite horses, and this year's winners are a mixture of new and seasoned victors. Trevor Brazile's horse Lite My Dynamite, affectionately known as "Sic Em," was awarded his fist Horse of the Year honor in the team roping - heading category. This win was a first for both the horse and the 16-time world champion Brazile. Other first-time winners included steer wrestler Les Shepperson's mount Dillon's Dash and steer roper Chance Kelton's horse White Hot Ike. Kelton said of his equine partner, "He was a good team roping horse, but he just didn't quite have the speed that a fella needs to win in PRCA rodeos." The heeling category saw a repeat winner in Jade Corkill's horse Fine Snip of Doc, while tie-down roper Clint Cooper's mount Eightys Sport won for the third straight year. Mary Walker's horse Perculatin won this year's coveted barrel racing Horse of the Year, an inaugural win for both horse and rider. link

Song Of The Day #960

Today Ranch Radio brings you the Merle Travis 1946 recording of Divorce Me C.O.D.

War on fossil fuel: 9th Circuit hands greens another victory

Natural gas, once lauded by environmentalists as the "good fossil fuel," now is derided as dirty, dangerous and running amok. "The bigger recent news is that one of the most powerful environmental lobbies, the Sierra Club, is mounting a major campaign to kill the industry," the Wall Street Journal reported, back on May 31. "The battle plan is called 'Beyond Natural Gas,' and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune announced the goal in an interview with the National Journal this month: 'We're going to be preventing new gas plants from being built wherever we can.' " It thus should come as no surprise that a contingent of conservation groups and Indian tribes sued the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in federal court, recently, arguing the agencies didn't do enough to protect the habitat of the Lahontan cutthroat trout and other federally protected fish when they allowed Ruby Pipeline LLC to build a $3 billion, 678-mile natural gas pipeline across Northern Nevada. The 42-inch pipe connects the gas shale fields of Opal, Wyo., to a distribution terminal in Mali, Ore. Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in favor of the Center for Biological Diversity, the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe of Nevada, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Basin Resource Watch, the Sierra Club's Toiyabe Chapter, et al., ordering the BLM to vacate the decision that allowed the pipeline's construction in 2010. The court also directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rewrite its biological opinion for the project, holding that was key to the BLM's flawed record of decision-making...But let's not be naive. This is just part of a full-court press designed to slow or stall development of the resources and technologies that would reduce energy costs and thus help America's economy and population grow. This country needs more judges who are skeptical of such means-to-an-end litigation, for which we all pay dearly...more

PETA wants sign to memorialize fish killed in crash

An Irvine resident is requesting that the city install a sign to memorialize the hundreds of fish killed in a traffic crash in early October as they were being taken to Irvine Ranch Market. In the letter, Dina Kourda, on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, asks the city's street maintenance superintendent to place the sign at the site of the crash on Walnut and Yale avenues. The sign would read, "In memory of hundreds of fish who suffered and died at this spot," to remind tractor-trailer drivers of their responsibility to the animals who are "hauled to their deaths every day," according to the letter provided by PETA...more

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sheep industry in turmoil after suffering huge fallout - video

The sheep industry across the West is facing what some consider a crisis, threatening the survival of ranching operations. Extreme volatility in prices has combined with the effects of a harsh drought to make this a brutal year in the sheep business. "I'm in my 60s and this is the worst year I've ever seen," said Doug Livingston, a retired sheep rancher who now works as a sheep broker. Livingston is trying to help an eastern Utah rancher sell out his herd and get out of the business. "I think there's a lot of ranchers, sheepmen, who would give it up if they could," he said. "But there are no buyers." It's an ironic and baffling twist for embattled sheep ranchers, so much so that some have demanded a federal investigation. A year ago, the price of lambs intended for slaughter was soaring to all-time record levels. This year, the bottom fell out. As one sheepman put it, "everything went down the toilet." The price now for lamb "on the hoof" is about half to a third of what it was a year ago, according to Sanpete County rancher Phil Allred. A fifth-generation sheepman, Allred said he's sure many ranchers would sell out if they could. "It does threaten the future of it," he said. "For me, myself, I'm old enough that if I didn't have three sons working with me, I wouldn't be here."...more

Here's the KSL news report:

Western Communities Boiling Over Water Quality

Communities across the West are demanding limits on oil shale drilling along the Colorado River over concerns the thirst for oil could lead to polluted water supplies for millions of people. The worries have prompted proposals to limit acreage available for leasing. Officials in Nevada and Arizona sent letters to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressing concerns about the need to protect Colorado River water quality and quantity. Others back a Bureau of Land Management proposal to sharply reduce acreage available for possible leasing in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. Chris Treese, spokesman for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, said the concerns are overblown. “They’re not going to see any change in their water quality – none,” said Treese, whose group is in western Colorado. The BLM said some of the potential impacts will be analyzed as part of the individual leasing authorization process...more

Mexico’s Drug Lords Ramp Up Their Arsenals with RPGs

When a Mexican SWAT team stopped a stolen Cadillac van in the border city of Piedras Negras, it was not a surprise when they were greeted by a tirade of bullets as the criminals blasted and ran. But after they kicked open the trunk, the officers realized they could have been victims of more catastrophic firepower. The gunmen had been in possession of an arsenal of weapons that included three Soviet-made antitank rockets complete with an RPG-7 shoulder-fired launcher. If the criminals had got a rocket off, they could easily have blown the SWAT vehicle to pieces. RPG-7s can also take out helicopters and were used in the Black Hawk Down episode in Somalia in 1993. The rockets, found on Saturday, are part of an increasingly destructive array of weaponry wielded by Mexican drug cartels, like the feared Zetas, in reaction to attacks on them by police and soldiers. While security forces have taken down several key cartel bosses this year, gunmen have struck back, setting off five car bombs, hundreds of fragmentation grenades and several shoulder-fired rockets. Soldiers even seized one homemade three-ton tank with a revolving gun turret. When Mexican marines on Oct. 7 claimed to have killed Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano, he was also alleged to be found with an RPG-7. (Lazcano’s corpse was stolen from the morgue, and the Zetas are now believed to be led by his No. 2, Miguel Treviño.)...more

GAO Report: Understaffed Border Crossings Threaten U.S. Agriculture

A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that understaffing at official U.S. border crossings not only endangers national security, but it also poses a real threat to America's agriculture industry. According the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the greatest risk to agriculture involves exotic pests and foreign animal diseases - the threats that border inspectors are supposed to prevent from entering the country. The most recent GAO report found that 78.4 percent of agriculture inspection supervisors reported that staffing levels are a very major challenge to achieving the agency's inspections goal to intercept pests and diseased livestock. These failures put untold numbers of agricultural jobs in danger because of the lack of adequate staffing at the U.S. border. The GAO report on agricultural inspections at the border crossings repeated its prior recommendation for a 32 percent increase in the total number of agricultural inspectors; detailed that Homeland Security officials do not have the resources to increase staff above replacement levels; and reported that the Department has not developed a plan to assess the risk of fiscal constraints on their ability to appropriately staff for inspections and protect the U.S. agricultural sector from disaster...more

Decency demands an end to all ethanol fuel requirements now

Last year six million children starved to death around the world — again. On top of this, reports that 925 million people went hungry in 2010 worldwide. Incredibly at the same time that millions of children are dying from malnutrition worldwide, the U.S. government in its war on fossil fuels has continued to push and promote the growing and burning of potential life-saving corn in our gas tanks. When we pull up to the gas pump and see that the gas has been mixed with up to fifteen percent ethanol, that is corn converted to fuel for your car. This federal government mandate for ethanol use is now coming under fire as politicians react to the rising corn prices resulting from this summer’s drought that wiped out one sixth of our nation’s corn crop. Governors of seven states have already requested that the federal government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waive the ethanol mandate as the production of vehicle fuel consumes more and more of the corn crop at the expense of livestock and the hungry around the world. The insanity of our federal government continuing to demand that corn be turned into fuel is brought home even more directly when you consider that the head of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization argued that it is lifting the grain price worldwide even before the drought. These price rises are particularly impactful in areas that depend upon grains for basic survival. All courtesy of a big, all knowing U.S. government that for the past three decades has chosen to promote the burning of corn as a bio-fuel solution to our energy needs at a cost of $45 billion over the last 30 years. In 2011 alone corn ethanol subsidies ate up $6 billion in taxpayer dollars. Contrast this with Brazil, where it wasn’t the government which drove the bio-fuel industry, it was the private sector. With abundant sugar cane to easily turn into bio-fuel, Brazilians drive flex fuel vehicles that burn both traditional oil or sugarcane ethanol. Why did this occur in Brazil, but not in the United States?...more

EU acts against harm from biofuel crops

The EU is changing its policy on biofuels to encourage energy production from waste rather than from food crops. The European Commission says clearing land in order to plant biofuel crops can often cancel out the environmental benefits of biofuel. In some cases forests are chopped down. BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin says some environmentalists had supported the biofuel laws in the first instance, before the side-effects became understood. The UN has appointed a special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, who has sharply criticised the direct and indirect effects of biofuels on the poor. Now the EU is trying to shift biofuel production from food crops to farm waste, algae and straw. Clearing land to plant food for biofuel releases the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) through ploughing and can involve deforestation, which reduces the "carbon sinks" - the trees that absorb CO2...more

The silent spring that never was: What half a century has wrought

Consider some numbers: U.S. automobile deaths in 2011 — 32,310, yet millions of us get behind the wheel every day; deaths from preventable medical mistakes and hospital infections, 200,000 annually, but people still go to doctors and hospitals; 400 deaths annually from penicillin, still one of the most useful antimicrobial drugs in the medical arsenal; 5,000 deaths annually from food poisoning, but no one stops eating. Contrast these to: Number of deaths from DDT since it was first widely used by the U.S. military in World War II for prevention of malaria and other insect-borne diseases to present day — exactly zero. The most vilified pesticide on the planet, long banned in the U.S., yet one of the most effective against malaria, including the eradication of the disease in this country and Europe, not one single case of human death due to DDT has been documented over almost a 70-year period. (There is the oft-cited study where human volunteers ingested up to 35 milligrams of DDT daily for nearly two years with no adverse effects.) In 1948, Swiss chemist Paul Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize for its discovery and its “enormous value in combating malaria and typhus.” It was, however, the impetus 50 years ago this September for Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring,” which charged that DDT was responsible for declining populations of avian species, and suggested a scenario of a town where the people had been poisoned and the spring silenced of birdsong because of pesticides...more

Ranchers balk at sheep prices, suspect fleecing

When sheep ranchers suspect they’re getting fleeced, things get ugly. One year after receiving record prices for their lambs, ranchers have seen payments collapse to 86 cents a pound, a price too low to even pay their bills. They suspect the nation’s biggest meatpacking companies of fixing prices, and they are leaning on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to investigate using the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. GIPSA is supposed to ensure market fairness. “The gist of it is, because of the drastic price swing, a lot of senators and representatives have been asked to send some letters to Vilsack, asking him to look into this,” said Randy Tunby, Montana Woolgrowers Association president. Ranchers expect prices to fluctuate and plan accordingly, but they say this year’s market collapse was unforeseeable. “We were selling a truckload of lambs for $120,000 to $130,000, now this year we’re getting $40,000,” said Mike Hollenbeck, of Molt. Hollenbeck and his son Henry see several factors at play in the lamb market, including severe drought and rising feed costs. But the biggest factor, they say, is the shrinking number of American meatpackers butchering lamb. The American sheep industry has been in steady decline since the 1884, when the sheep population peaked at 51 million head, according to USDA. Today, there are roughly 6 million sheep in the United States. The number of sheep ranches is also declining, having gone from 105,000 in the 1990s to roughly 80,000 today. In the Rocky Mountain states, the sheep population dropped 21 percent between 1987 and 2007. There are just two major lamb packers — Superior Farms, based in Davis, Calif., and Brazilian-owned JBS USA, of Greeley, Colo. With that kind of market concentration, it doesn’t take much for one company’s decisions to send ripples through the economy. If one decides it has enough lambs on hand and cuts back on buying, lower prices soon follow, which thin ranchers’ wallets. This year, there’s been an oversupply of lambs ready for slaughter as high feed costs, extreme drought and challenging economic conditions play out. Consequences of that oversupply have rippled into the market of feeder lambs — that is, lambs fresh off the farm that need weeks of fattening up in feedlots before slaughter...more

Song Of The Day #959

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here's the Pickin' On Band with Hello, Dolly!  The tune is on their 12 track CD Pickin' On Movies.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Eyes of the night upon you

Julie Carter  

The day wore a hushed stillness broken only by an occasional flapping sound of a crow on the wing. On a high dessert ranch in Navajo country, the mesa lands surrounded the canyons and the cedar covered hillsides painted in layers of bold earthen colors.

A lone cowboy rode along at a slow trot checking his cattle. A movement caught his eye, forcing a glance across a wide deep canyon. Surprised, he saw a man walking in the far distance.

He pulled his horse to a stop, squinting in the light to ascertain what he saw.
Across the way was what he knew to be an Indian dressed in the traditional animal hide apparel of a century ago. Realizing how far from civilization they both were made this very curious to him.

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

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

Hanging on a large cedar, like ornaments on a Christmas tree, were little figurines made of grass bound with string. One of them, swaying only slightly in a non-existent breeze, was quite clearly a man on a horse. A shiver went down his spine but he shook it off and began to look around for signs of the man he was sure he had seen.

He found the Indian’s tracks and followed them for a short distance where they all but disappeared in the rocks. He circled the area to look for more tracks but found only those made by several coyotes.

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

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

Even in the dim firelight, the cowboy could see Bobby’s deep brown skin turn a pale shade of white. He was visibly spooked when he asked the cowboy if he believed in witches, demons and devils.

The cowboy, without hesitation, replied a simple, “No.”

Bobby, his voice shaking, began to tell the cowboy about skinwalkers. “They are most often seen as a coyote, wolf, owl, fox or crow,” he said. “They have the power to take on the form of any animal they choose, depending on what it is they need to do.”

Skinwalkers, it is believed, have the ability to steal the skin or body of a person. The Navajo believe if you lock eyes with a skinwalker, it can absorb itself into your body.

Bobby told the cowboy that his lack of belief in bad spirits made his soul too strong for the skinwalker. “The little doll on the horse that was hanging in the tree was the tool he made to call you over to his side of the canyon,” Bobby told him. “When you lost his tracks, then found the coyote tracks, it was him leaving with his clan when he couldn’t enter your body.”

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

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

But there is one cowboy that knows what he saw in broad daylight. Never again did he ride the desert canyon lands without feeling there were many eyes upon him.

Julie can be reached for comment at


Gone to the Horizons
National Anthem like none other
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            It was just after sundown on the last day of deer season, 1961 or 1962. My dad and I were coming off a steep slope in the exact location where Bill Evans Dam exists today. We had just reached the bottom of the Mangus when it screamed, or, rather, wailed.
            Never had I heard the scream of a cat like that before, and never …again. We never saw it, but assumed it was a lion and not a bobcat.
            Men and raw nature
            My maternal grandfather and his brother, Carl and Blue Rice, killed the last grizzly bear in New Mexico in the spring of 1931. The bear was killed just off the Rain Creek Divide in the Mogollons near the Grant County-Catron County line. That country had been Shelley and Rice family range since the mid 1880’s. The Shelleys believed the bear had killed 28 head of their cattle since the previous fall
            Lawrence Shelley jumped the bear on Lookout Ridge. The bear had come onto the trail on top of a shower that had just fallen.
Pushed, the bear turned off the ridge into the rocks and brush. Lawrence immediately trotted home to the 916 headquarters for dogs and to alert neighbors including the Rice brothers. The hunt was on.
The brothers and their hounds struck the tracks and the race commenced. They trailed the bear to where they couldn’t ride, dismounted, and followed the sound of the dogs on foot.
Soon the dogs were barking ground treed and a horrible brawl was in progress. As the brothers approached the howling, growling, and brush breaking battle of life and death, they emerged on a rock and looked down at the now bloodied dogs and the bear. Immediately, the bear saw them, and, “like a man climbing through willows”, the bear swiped the dogs aside and started to them never taking his eyes off their skylined image.
When they killed the bear coming up onto the very rock from which they waged their battle, they had only one loaded cartridge left between them.
Dust, smoke, and the sounds of that battle died away … gone forever to the horizons. What would it be like to witness and to hear those sounds?
More Sounds …
I often hear men working cattle. Most of the time, I am struck by the absence of what I remember as a kid. I think I only rarely hear the duplicated sounds of old time cowboys.
A distinct memory lingers when I think about a day about 1960 when my dad and I were coming down Clark Canyon. Way off down the canyon we could hear a lone cowboy. He was coming off a point with a bunch of cattle. My dad immediately told me it was Tom McCauley. How did he know that?
First of all, we could assume it was Tom because we were on his place. The cowboy was alone which also signified it was likely to be Tom, but there was more. Having been around Tom all his life, my dad would have known the sound of that old cowman implicitly. With a big voice, Tom would be starting cattle and moving them with his voice alone as he worked horseback.
Similarly, there are stories of the Shelleys working the Gila River bottom from Hell’s Canyon downstream to the mouth of Turkey Creek with a single man. Terrell Shelley recounts stories of how easy it was for a single man horseback to work miles of that river bottom by himself … and his voice.
I swear I think I could pick out of a recording the sound of my paternal grandfather, Albert Wilmeth, working cattle. A resonant high pitched yip was his trademark call. He never whistled like my maternal grandfather. He couldn’t. My memory of his sound was an unlikely utterance coming from his physical presence. It wasn’t so very loud in his presence, but it would carry long distances.
I’d give anything for a recording of that sound. I’d love to hear what, at one time, was taken for granted and commonplace.
Those historic sounds came from spontaneous, long ago events. Most of the cowboys in that era were one or two generations removed from Texas from which most of their families migrated. That made them one to three generations away from the Civil War and the big cattle drives. Few of the Gila River settlers would have been old enough to be in the Civil war, but their kinfolk and their contemporaries would have been.
My great grandfather, Lee Rice, would have certainly ridden with cowboys of Civil War experience when he rode “up the (Goodnight-Loving) Trail” three times with Charles Goodnight himself. On that trail, with its horrendous 45 mile dry walk to the Pecos and Horse Head Crossing from the common route with the Butterfield Trail, he would have heard the original historic yell.
That was the Rebel Yell. It likely formed the basis of generations of cattle calls that came from Texas replete with Texas customs and culture.
I would love to hear that original sound, too. If you read Jackson’s biography there is mention of the use of what became known as a trademark Stonewall strategy as early as the first Battle of Manassas. In his orders in the assault on the Henry Hill house where he earned his nickname, he instructed his men to “yell like furies”. There is every indication that result became the Rebel Yell.
It was used as Jackson’s strategy in the Shenandoah Valley battles. It was part of the psychological war he had to employ to even the disparity of men and material. It was extremely effective.
At Chancellorsville, Union troops led by General Joe Hooker were shocked into retreat by the eerie wail of the Rebel Yell as Confederate troops unexpectedly came charging out of the wilderness in fading dusk. It was to be Jackson’s last charge, but it was indelibly etched in the southern psyche.
For years, the veterans of the southern cause would gather for reunions. At some point, they would, in unison, join together with their brotherhood and their yell. As time went on, there were fewer and fewer voices. Finally, there were none.
Gone to the horizons was their original sound, but a version of it lived on in future generation cow camps from Texas to all parts of the West.
Fading …
Unabashedly, distant sounds in my mind remain dear. They are various, but they are dominated by times of youthful exuberance. The sound of basketballs bouncing on hardwood floors, the guttural and popping sounds for five seconds after a football was hiked, the soft recognition of a cow pairing with a calf, the appreciation of a tired horse waiting for you to fork some hay, the thump of a rifle somewhere off to the north on the forest on the first day of deer season, rocks rolling and the tell tale sound of a departing mule deer, a bull coming to water, the sound of a mourning dove at sundown, the real jing of bobs against tempered rowels, a John Deere A accelerating, a pruning crew in an apple orchard, all of my grandkids together laughing, a windmill pumping, and Mozart in the softness of a California morning rain all come to mind in succession. They are mine, and … they are not offered for debate.
Several years ago, Kathy and I were standing with our friends, Joe and Diane Delk, just off stage of from where the Delk Family Band was about to perform. It was there that a totally Grant County suggestion was made.  Joe took the idea and transformed it into a singular sound of uniqueness and importance.
He played the national anthem on his lone fiddle.
For a brief moment there was a bit of background noise, but it subsided. There was a pause, and, then, a gathering of human voices was heard. Softly with unity, those gathered sang as a respectful backdrop to that lone fiddle. Before the song ended there was not a dry eye in the hall. Never had we witnessed such spontaneous emotion. Never have we witnessed such reverence extended to our national anthem.
I saw Joe the other night. He talked about the most recent rendition of what is becoming a sensational patriotic offering. He played the anthem with a friend making it a twin fiddle experience. He tried to describe his emotions during the event. He couldn’t conclude the account.
I know, though. I heard and witnessed the original and it didn’t just drift off to the horizons to be forgotten. This sound needs to be heard and experienced!
It is that important, and this suggestion is also offered … without recourse of debate.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Yes, sir … this is Super Bowl significant. There is nothing like it.”


Here's Joe Delk playing the national anthem at Southern NM Fairgrounds and an image which illustrates how I feel about the whole darn thing.

Emails suggest White House involvement in loan to bankrupt Abound Solar

Just one day after President Barack Obama went on television saying that politics had nothing to do with the now bankrupt Abound Solar receiving a taxpayer-backed loan guarantee from the Energy Department, emails have surfaced that appear to contradict his claim. “And these are decisions, by the way, that are made by the Department of Energy, they have nothing to do with politics,” President Obama told KUSA’s Kyle Clark. However, emails obtained by COMPLETECOLORADO.COM suggest that the White House was involved in the Energy Department’s decision to award Abound Solar a $400 million loan guarantee. The emails also indicate that the loan guarantee was political payback to Democratic benefactor Pat Stryker. In one email, Energy Department loan executive Jonathan Silver tells credit adviser Jim McCrea that, “You better [let] him know the [White House] wants to move Abound forward,” referring to Treasury adviser Ian Samuels, who apparently wasn’t moving fast enough to schedule calls regarding Abound. The second page of the email mentions the “… transaction pressure under which we are all now operating …” This email chain came just days before President Obama hailed government loan guarantees as a boon to Colorado’s economy in 2010...more

Obama's green executive orders

While there has been little presidential or congressional interest or political advantage in implementing climate change regulations such as “cap-and-trade” taxation of carbon dioxide greenhouse gases, perennial eco-group obsessions for climate controls are still alive. And seeing a possible loss of their progressive ally Obama in the White House, green groups are pressing Obama to use executive orders to implement carbon cap-and-trade regulations. One such eco-group is the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP) established in 2007. This group calls for President Obama to regulate climate change by executive order – even if it means bypassing and overruling Congress. Arguing that just as the President can authorize an act of war in an emergency, PCAP says the President can: 1) mandate a cap on carbon emissions, 2) approve funds for energy research, and 3) impose environmental standards. PCAP is composed of the usual progressive green suspects – liberal foundation donors, green media propagandists and Democrat campaigners. Militant eco-groups and green-obsessed bureaucrats have become an “axis of antagonism” that we can no longer afford...more

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mexico's Drug Violence Seeps Over the Border

 by Ted Galen Carpenter

The killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent on October 2 in a notorious southern Arizona drug-smuggling corridor fueled speculation that Mexico's drug cartels were becoming bolder about operating on the U.S. side of the border. Agent Nicholas Ivie's death apparently was a tragic case of friendly fire. The immediate assumption that the cartels were responsible is an indicator of just how jittery Americans living along the border with Mexico have become.

People have ample reason to be jittery. Three BP agents have died in violent incidents involving the drug gangs over the past two years, including Brian Terry, a victim of Washington's botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting operation.

Major southwestern U.S. cities remain relatively peaceful, and that has caused some observers to argue that the concerns about spillover from Mexico's drug war into the United States are overblown. But while violent crime rates in such American cities as El Paso and Tucson remain low, the situation in rural areas is more worrisome. Residents along the border from California to Texas are experiencing a slow but steady rise in drug-related violence and intimidation.

Border Patrol agents haven't been the only victims. Robert Krentz, a prominent rancher near Douglas, Ariz., was found murdered, and evidence indicated that he had paid with his life for stumbling upon a scout for a trafficking shipment. Gunmen attacked David Hartley and his wife Tiffany while they were jet skiing on Falcon Lake on the Texas-Mexico border. David was fatally shot in the encounter. That incident, and other problems with drug gangs on Falcon Lake, caused Texas authorities to deploy a small fleet of heavily armed speedboats in early 2012 to improve security.

Ranchers and farmers throughout the borderlands increasingly report nasty encounters with cartel enforcers. Farmhands in the Rio Grande valley near La Joya, Tex, were burning stalks of sugarcane for harvest when four masked men on all-terrain vehicles approached them. The armed men surrounded the crew and ordered them to leave the area. The farmer who employed the crew said he had no doubt that the masked men were drug traffickers. "They hide stuff in there," he said, referring to the dense fields of sugarcane, and try to intimidate anyone who gets too close.

The incident on his farm occurred just two weeks after masked men threatened a county employee in Hidalgo County, Texas, and ordered him to stop clearing brush along a small river near the border. On another occasion, men in a pickup truck fired shots at a foreman on a ranch adjacent to property owned by country music star George Strait.

DOJ's brief on Fast and Furious: marginalizing committee investigations

by Louis Fisher

After the House held Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. in contempt on June 28, it filed a civil suit in federal district court on August 13. The purpose is to enforce a subpoena issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which requested documents for its investigation of "Operation Fast and Furious." The House complaint charges obstruction by the Justice Department and a need to understand why it provided false information to Congress in a letter of February 4, 2011. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) had written to the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), asking whether the agency had allowed assault weapons to leave the United States and reach drug cartels in Mexico. The department told Grassley his allegations were "false." Ten months later, the department retracted the letter and admitted that its response to Grassley contained "inaccuracies." ATF had allowed approximately 2,000 guns to flow from the United States into Mexico.

On October 15, the Justice Department filed a memorandum in district court requesting that it dismiss the House action. DOJ's brief contemplates a remarkably reduced role for committee investigations. In doing so, it relies heavily on Raines v. Byrd (1997), which involved the effort of one lawmaker—Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.)—to challenge a statute that gave the president a line-item veto. The Supreme Court properly rejected lawsuits by members of Congress who vote on the losing side. Raines has no application to the constitutional authority of Congress to conduct oversight by depending on committees and subcommittees to discharge that legislative duty.  

Undercutting committee authority

 According to DOJ's brief, the "Founders intended Congress to use the tools provided in the Constitution—rather than the federal courts—to obtain documents that Congress believes necessary to engage in oversight of the Executive Branch." Of course legislative oversight is not "provided in the Constitution," nor are committee subpoenas, the contempt power or even executive privilege. A legislative tool that is found in the Constitution is the power of the purse. Under the reasoning of the brief, a House committee seeking agency documents would have to work with the House and the Senate to add punitive language to an appropriations bill and have it enacted into law, perhaps by having to override a presidential veto.

Recourse to the full statutory process is reinforced throughout the brief, which warns about the difficulty of congressional demands from "its myriad committees." DOJ prefers not to honor oversight by committees but to insist on the full legislative process and statutory controls. The brief identifies several congressional remedies. "It can tie up nominations" (available to the Senate but not the House), it "can legislate change within the Department of Justice" and "slash the budget in the area of concern"—again requiring statutory action. DOJ admits that the House "can hold—and has held—the Attorney General in contempt." First, the contempt power is not expressly provided in the Constitution. Second, the administration attempted to nullify the Holder contempt action by not following a statute that requires the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia to take a contempt action to grand jury.

U.S. appeals court hears Maryland gun law challenge

On a roll in recent years, a gun-rights group pressed its advantage in a federal appeals court Wednesday, seeking to extend Second Amendment rights through a challenge to Maryland's handgun permit laws. "We're not challenging the constitutionality of having a licensing system," Alan Gura, a lawyer for the Second Amendment Foundation, told the three-judge panel in a case involving a Baltimore County man's permit renewal. Rather, he argued that Maryland unnecessarily restricts the right to carry firearms. Gura said the issue is a narrow one, but much of the argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit revolved around how to apply recent Supreme Court decisions to the public carrying of firearms, which could have far-reaching implications. In two other cases Gura won, the high court struck down Illinois and District of Columbia laws that effectively outlawed handgun ownership. But the court did not directly address the right to bear arms for self-defense outside the home. The Maryland case offers gun-rights advocates a chance to win a broader reading of the Second Amendment, upending the state's handgun permit process along the way. Under state law, Marylanders must show "good and substantial reason" to obtain a handgun permit. In March, a federal district judge struck down that requirement, ruling it unconstitutional. The Maryland attorney general's office, fearing a spike in gun violence, appealed the decision, and the federal court of appeals allowed the law to stand while the case is resolved...more

Texas schools begin tracking students with computer chips in ID cards

Privacy's last stand is taking place not far from The Alamo in Texas right now, to hear some people tell it. Two schools in San Antonio have begun tracking students using radio-enabled computer chips embedded in their ID cards, allowing administrators to know the precise whereabouts of their charges on campus -- be it in class, in the bathroom, in a stairwell or AWOL -- all while sitting at a computer. The stated purpose of the so-called RFID ID cards is simple: Because state aid is based on attendance, and the chips help schools count kids, tracking equals funding. The district also says the technology makes kids safer. But at the intersection of technology, parenting, schools and privacy rights, things frequently get messy. Are schools merely modernizing, or are they teaching children to silently accept a Big Brother state? Should parents be happy that teachers can more easily keep tabs on their kids, or should they worry that vast databases of detailed location information might one day harm the children?  Technology with potential privacy implications is shoehorning its way into schools around the country, creating thorny issues at every turn...more

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pro-Obama Ad Has Children Singing About an America Where ‘Sick People Just Die’ & ‘Oil Fills the Sea’

The ad agency behind the iconic “Got Milk?” ad campaign and some of the other most well-known advertisements in the country has a new message: re-elect President Barack Obama, or your children will live in an America where “sick people just die” and “oil fills the sea.” A two-minute black-and-white spot features a chorus of children — “the children of the future” — singing to their parents that “something happened to our country, and we’re kinda blaming you.” A few other choice lyrics: “The Earth is cracked, Big Bird is sacked and the atmosphere is frying.” The ad is the brainchild of Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein, of the San Francisco-based Goodby Silverstein & Partners, for their Future Children Project. The Future Children Project states on its website, “Re-electing President Obama is a momentous decision that will require every single voter. What would the children of the future say if we let them down this November?”...more

Here are the lyrics:

Imagine an America
Where strip mines are fun and free
Where gays can be fixed
And sick people just die
And oil fills the sea
We don’t have to pay for freeways!
Our schools are good enough
Give us endless wars
On foreign shores
And lots of Chinese stuff
We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And we’re kinda blaming you
We haven’t killed all the polar bears
But it’s not for lack of trying
The Earth is cracked
Big Bird is sacked
And the atmosphere is frying
Congress went home early
They did their best we know
You can’t cut spending
With elections pending
Unless it’s welfare dough
We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And we’re kinda blaming you
Find a park that is still open
And take a breath of poison air
They foreclosed your place
To build a weapon in space
But you can write off your au pair
It’s a little awkward to tell you
But you left us holding the bag
When we look around
The place is all dumbed down
And the long term’s kind of a drag
We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And yeah, we’re blaming you
You did your best
You failed the test
Mom and Dad
We’re blaming you!

And here's the video:

The Westerner's Radio Theater

Ranch Radio brings you the 1/19/1947 broadcast of The All Star Western Theater.

Feds to cut property rights under Endangered Species Act!

 by Reed Hopper

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court announced the Endangered Species Act was intended to protect species “whatever the cost,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service have enforced the ESA with a callous “blank check” mentality.  That is, without regard for the effects on people.  Under the ESA, it is a crime to harm any species listed as “threatened” or “endangered.”  Among other things, this prohibition has stymied development nationwide and driven up the cost of energy, transportation, housing, food production, and flood and fire protection.  But the greatest drag on the economy is the Act’s impingement on private property rights.

When a species is listed, these agencies are required to designate “critical habitat” for the species.  Depending on the species, this can include a few acres or thousands of square miles, on both public and private lands.  Once an area is designated as “critical habitat,” the federal government obtains a virtual veto power over the land’s use.  Any adverse modification of such areas may be deemed harmful to the species and therefore prohibited without federal approval.  But, to protect landowners from this type of heavy-handed enforcement, Congress amended the ESA to require the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to consider the best scientific and commercial data available, including the economic consequences of designating any area as “critical habitat.”  Where the benefits to the species are small and the costs of designating any particular area as “critical habitat” are high, the agencies may exclude the area from regulation.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that this is required “to avoid needless economic dislocation produced by agency officials zealously but unintelligently pursuing their environmental objectives.” But the agencies have never been on board with this.  To minimize the apparent economic consequences of designating “critical habitat,” these agencies routinely look at only the incremental effects of the designation while ignoring the cumulative effects.  Some courts have correctly concluded that this approach necessarily understates the economic impacts of “critical habitat” making the required analysis a nullity. But the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service are proposing to double down on their marginal economic analyses by adopting new regulations that weaken the ESA’s property rights protections even further.  They propose making the analysis both subjective and discretionary.  We take issue with this illegal rewriting of the ESA in extensive comments submitted to the agencies today.


Arizona Game and Fish Opposes Jaguar Critical Habitat Proposal

Arizona and New Mexico offer less than one percent of total rangewide habitat for jaguars

 The Arizona Game and Fish Department recently submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on their proposal to designate critical habitat for jaguars in Arizona and New Mexico. The department is committed to the conservation of all of Arizona’s diverse wildlife species. Critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a legal designation that must meet defined criteria within ESA and those criteria have not been met for jaguars.   
Game and Fish has asked that the proposal be withdrawn because conservation of the species is entirely reliant on activities in the jaguar's primary habitat of Central and South America to be successful. Lands in Arizona and New Mexico make up less than one percent of the species' historic range and are not essential to the conservation of the species.
The Fish and Wildlife Service proposal considers jaguar occurrence from 1962 to 2011.     All of the available information from that time frame and even decades before consistently indicates that Arizona does not provide habitat that is critical to jaguar conservation. Male jaguars from Mexico infrequently use southern Arizona as they roam. Females have not been confirmed in Arizona since 1962, and no breeding populations of jaguars exist now or ever have been documented in the U.S., even in historical times. 
“The sanctity of the ESA is put at risk when litigious groups misuse legal terms to gain more control of wildlife conservation and public lands. Their maneuvers undermine the true intent of the act and jeopardize the public’s support for wildlife conservation,” said Director Larry Voyles of Game and Fish. 
Arizona and New Mexico represent the northern most extent of the range for a population segment of jaguars centered approximately 140 miles south of the international border.
It was thought the species had completely disappeared from the state for many decades until 1996 when the first jaguar documented since 1986 was photographed by an Arizona houndsman. In the last half century, at most 12 different jaguars have been documented in Arizona or New Mexico.
The Fish and Wildlife Service proposal identifies six areas as proposed jaguar critical habitat in Arizona and New Mexico where jaguars already receive the full protection of the federal Endangered Species Act. The vast majority of the proposed critical habitat area is public land that is already under federal management jurisdiction or federally-approved conservation plans.
Game and Fish believes that the unwarranted designation of critical habitat for jaguars would likely result in denial of access to lands for jaguar conservation and research efforts; fewer observations of jaguars being reported; less timely sighting reports from people that do choose to report a jaguar; and, an increased likelihood of illegal activities which undermine endangered species conservation.  Press Release

The Dept's complete comments are here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Congressmen rip Park Service for huge California blaze

Two California congressmen blasted the National Park Service on Wednesday for letting a wildfire burn despite extreme conditions last summer, a decision that conflicted with the practices of other state and federal agencies. U.S. Reps. Wally Herger and Tom McClintock, both Republicans from Northern California, criticized Lassen Volcanic National Park officials for decisions that allowed the Reading fire to eventually erupt into an inferno that scorched more than 42 square miles and cost $15 million to suppress. It destroyed private property, hurt the region's logging industry and devastated prime tourism destinations in an area known for its remote beauty. Herger said the officials responsible for allowing the fire to burn during "a terrible fire season" should be removed and changes made to the national policy that uses managed wildfires as a tool to clear out forests and improve wildlife habitat. McClintock used the hearing to advocate for a resumption of widespread logging. He said clear-cutting can have the same effect as fires that leave behind a "moonscape" of devastation, though he later said he is not advocating clear-cutting. Massive wildfires cause air pollution, environmental damage and threaten people and wildlife, McClintock said. "Any squirrel fleeing a fire knows this," he said, "which leads me to the unflattering but inescapable conclusion that today our forest management policy is in the hands of people who lack the simple common sense that God gave a squirrel." McClintock said the current policy is that "we have to destroy the forest in order to save it," a notion that he described as "New Age nonsense." Bill Kaage, the park service's Wildland Fire Branch chief, generally defended the decisions but said park officials intend to learn from the fire. Park officials should have done a better job of coordinating with other federal, state and local agencies and area residents, he acknowledged, and other lessons may come from an internal review due to be completed next month...more

Groups find agreement on logging issues

Following a Sept. 16 meeting of the minds between Congressman Steve Pearce, Bryan Bird of WildEarth Guardians and representatives from the U.S. Forest Service and Mescalero Tribal lands, an avenue of cooperation has been opened between groups that typically promote opposing agendas. "The general push of this (meeting) was to look at the fire, talk about forest management and fire ecology, all of that," said Quentin Hays, wildlife biologist and assistant professor at Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso who also attended the visit. "It was really good that both the congressman and (Bird) were there. Meeting face to face and realizing there's people behind these issues is beneficial for everyone. I was very appreciative of the fact that (Pearce) listened very closely to a lot of what we had to say and left with a lot of the take-home messages we'd like for him to see." Hays added that he had volunteered to help Pearce, as needed, with consultation on current fire ecology or other issues that concerned both poles on the conservation field. "I'm happy to talk with (Pearce) any time," he said. "I'm very appreciative of the congressman, of Bryan Bird and his folks for setting this (meeting) up. Nobody wants to see homes burned down, we have to come to a consensus and work together to get things done, and that's what we're doing." The current drought, which actually "occurs regularly" in the southwest, has caused a buildup of fuels to dangerous levels, threatening communities through the southwest, Pearce said in June 21 speech to the House of Representatives. He added that fire, a preferred forest service method for forest treatment, was a natural process in a forest that is in balance, but, "the forest is desperately out of balance right now."...more

Lincoln National Forest supervisor promoted

The supervisor for the Lincoln National Forest the past almost two years is moving up. Robert Trujillo has been appointed to the USDA Forest Service's Southwest Region as the deputy director of Ecosystems, Analysis, Planning, Watershed, Soil and Air. Trujillo will report to the position in the regional office in Albuquerque on Monday. Trujillo was appointed the Lincoln National Forest's supervisor in January 2011. The local position at the Lincoln's Alamogordo headquarters will be filled temporarily by Tony Edwards, who currently works in the Office of the Chief in Washington, DC. Edwards is a legislative affairs specialist. He will hold the Lincoln's supervisor's post for 120 days, beginning on Monday. The soon to be acting forest supervisor has been with the Forest Service since 1990, beginning as a student employee on the Coronado National Forest located in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico...more

Email includes DOE official's midnight confessions on picking 'losers'

It's 3:30 in the morning and you can't sleep, so what do you do if you are a senior government executive working on President Obama's clean energy loan program at the U.S. Department of Energy? If your name is Jim McCrea, it's apparently Midnight Confessions time. The date is Nov. 18, 2009. For whatever reason, McCrea was answering email, including one he had received earlier in the day from a DOE colleague. In his somewhat rambling response, a couple of McCrea's sentences stand out when viewed in the context of the Solyndra and Abound Solar debacles. Those two companies stand atop the growing list of clean energy firms that got billions of tax dollars from DOE and have since either gone bellyup or are approaching such status. Take this one, for example: "l really cannot fathom how one figures out whether a loan to a PV manufacturer is being made to one that will survive. Everything about the business argues for the failure of many lf not most of the suppliers." The "PV" reference is to photovoltaic solar panel manufacturing technology. Solyndra and Abound Solar both used PV technology. Then McCrea offers this further confession: "lf, as a jobs creation mechanism, there is an incentive for PV solar installations, I do think demand could soar and create large numbers ofjobs simultaneously. "However, lf I were going to invest on that thesis, l might look at inverter manufacturers like Xantrex rather than bet on the PV solar anufacturers. All in all in the solar field, l think it is extremely easy to pick losers and l really do not know how to pick winners." There are currently multiple congressional investigations being conducted concerning the DOE's clean energy program and how it decided which firms to award with loans, grants and guarantees. McCrea's email suggest the answers being sought by the Hill aren't all that complicated.

Originally posted at the Washington Examiner.

HSUS Animated Video Draws Concern

The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board are making farmers available to provide accurate information following an animated film about pork production focused on sow housing and tail docking released Wednesday as part of Food Day. HSUS produced the four-minute animated children's film, which exposes "problems with factory farming from the perspective of a piglet named Ginger." According to HSUS, the film is intended for children ages 7 to 10. The story follows the hog's journey on a "typical factory farm," and the "evolution of a farmer who opens his eyes to a more humane and sustainable way of farming," according to HSUS. Joe Maxwell, vice president of outreach and engagement at HSUS said the group is hoping the film will spur conversation about "inhumane practices in the pork industry." "The Humane Society of the United States is thrilled to celebrate Food Day with the release of this endearing and educational short film," Maxwell said. But President and CEO of the Animal Ag Alliance Kay Johnson Smith says parents should watch the video with caution. HSUS leaders' goals are more about creating conflict, distrust in farmers and fundraising than improving the care of animals, she said...more

Here's the HSUS video:

And here's the industry video: