Thursday, May 31, 2012

California environmentalists say logging a burned forest near Tahoe threatens rare woodpecker

Rare woodpecker chicks in burned forest stands at Lake Tahoe won’t survive if the U.S. Forest Service proceeds with a contentious post-fire logging project, according to conservationists pressing the agency to postpone cutting around the trees until after the nesting season in August. The John Muir Project is asking for the delay while awaiting a ruling on an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit aimed at blocking what’s left of the salvage logging operation where the Angora Fire five years ago burned more than 3,000 acres and 254 homes on the edge of South Lake Tahoe. Chad Hanson, the group’s executive director, documented black-backed woodpecker chicks this week in at least one nest in the cavity of a standing dead tree at the project site and suspects there are more...more

EPA told to come clean on feedlot flyovers

A spy in the sky over Nebraska and Iowa has gotten under the hides of some livestock producers and their representatives in Washington. The Environmental Protection Agency’s aerial photo surveillance of livestock feeding operations in both states flew under the radar for nearly two years. But now the flyover program, conducted to help enforce the Clean Water Act, has prompted a demand for answers from all five members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation. The delegation delivered a joint letter Tuesday to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, listing 25 questions about the legality of the surveillance and the privacy rights of business owners. Although the letter stopped short of calling for an end to the flyovers, the two senators and three representatives want to know more about their purpose. In 2010, Nebraska had 862 concentrated animal feeding operations and Iowa 1,607, making them the two leading livestock states in Region 7, says the agency’s website. The region also includes Kansas and Missouri. Among the questions posed by the congressional delegation’s letter: How many flyovers have been conducted? What are the criteria to identify an operation for surveillance? Have the flyovers resulted in fines against producers? Are the photographs shared with other agencies or individuals? The letter also posed a much broader question: “On what statutory authority is the EPA relying to conduct aerial surveillance inspections?”...more

Here is the letter:

Drought, policy changes may spark more huge fires

A massive wildfire in the New Mexico wilderness that already is the state's largest blaze ever has grown to nearly 300 square miles as it spreads in all directions, and experts say conditions are ripe this season for similar massive blazes across the West. Persistent drought, climate change and shifts in land use and firefighting strategies mean western states likely will see giant fires that will require hundreds, if not thousands, of firefighters on-site. Other reasons states in the West will see more massive fires this season is because, coupled with drought and dry climate, crews have experienced changes in firefighting strategies and agencies have changed some policies in fighting wildfires in isolated areas, Pyne said. "In the last 20 years or so, agencies have generally been reluctant to put firefighters at risk in remote areas," he said. "It wasn't like that decades ago." Instead, Pyne said agencies have focused attention on burnout operations until conditions are safe to begin containment. Not that those practices and the larges fires are bad things, Pyne said. For example, he said the Gila Wilderness has been a target for controlled burns. "So maybe," Pyne said, "this is how it's supposed to happen."...more 

That last quote will get some attention.

Wyoming senator campaigns for Hatch

Another day, and another western senator visited Utah to campaign for Sen. Orrin Hatch on Wednesday. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., joined Hatch for a series of meetings with energy, farm and business groups, a day after Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, spent Tuesday campaigning with him during the Senate’s Memorial Day recess. "When Orrin Hatch stands up to talk — whether it’s on the Senate floor, or in our closed conferences with just Republican senators — everybody listens. They don’t listen to every senator," Barrasso told the Utah Farm Federation Bureau in one meeting. Hatch is facing a June 26 primary against Dan Liljenquist. "We all know that there are some good things that they [environmentalist groups] want, and we are supportive of them. But I’ll say this: Not many of them, as far as I’m concerned. They are not my favorite people in reality," Hatch told the Farm Bureau. "I think they are taking this country down the primrose path to destruction." Hatch added about Obama, "He has no idea about what our problems are out here in the West."...more

Hatch's quotes demonstrate the problem with the old-line Republicans.

"We all know that there are some good things that they [environmentalist groups] want, and we are supportive of them." and  "I think they are taking this country down the primrose path to destruction."  The two don't go together and Hatch still doesn't realize this. 

Let's put it this way:  would you say "good things" about groups who are "taking this country down the primrose path to destruction"?

Song Of The Day #846

Ranch Radio rarities continues with some sho'nuff country from Hillbilly Researcher. Today's tune is P'Roxide Blond by Toby Stroud.

An Old Horsewoman


When I Am An Old Horsewoman
I shall wear turquoise and diamonds,
And a straw hat that doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my social security on
white wine and carrots,
And sit in my alleyway of my barn
And listen to my horses breathe.
I will sneak out in the middle of a summer night
And ride the old bay gelding,
Across the moonstruck meadow
If my old bones will allow
And when people come to call, I will smile and nod
As I walk past the gardens to the barn
and show instead the flowers growing
inside stalls fresh-lined with straw.
I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair
as if it were a jewel
And I will be an embarrassment to ALL
Who will not yet have found the peace in being free
to have a horse as a best friend
A friend who waits at midnight hour
With muzzle and nicker and patient eyes
For the kind of woman I will be
When I am old.
-Author Unknown

Wyoming Gov. Mead asks feds to delist grizzlies

Gov. Matt Mead is calling on the federal government to end federal protections for grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone area. Mead wrote to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week saying that the gravity of the bear situation around the nation's oldest national park cannot be overemphasized. Mead said bears killed four people in the area over the past two years. Biologists estimate the Yellowstone area had nearly 600 bears last year. The area includes parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho...more

Coyotes spur concern among walkers, pet owners

Las Cruces - Sharon Reiter has noticed coyotes for several years in the large desert patch near her neighborhood, just east of the city's big flood control dam. But this year, something is different. "The population density is increasing. They have no competitors, and they have no threats, and they've become quite bold," she said. Reiter's concerns heightened a few weeks ago, when she and a friend were walking the stretch of desert, located east of Roadrunner Parkway and west of Telshor Boulevard. They were keeping their eyes on three coyotes ahead of them, when two other people in the desert "brought to our attention there were three coyotes stalking us," she said. Reiter said she and her friend turned around to find three different coyotes behind them, about 20 yards away, closer than the coyotes that were ahead. "I didn't realize they were behind us; so that's disconcerting," she said. Reiter, a Frontier Drive resident, said she's had other uncomfortable encounters - such as when a coyote chased a dog she was walking - and is aware of similar incidents of coyotes harassing dogs that were being walked in the dam area. And she's met at least a few people who have taken to carrying firearms on their walks, she said...more

Wall Street Journal Catches On to the Green Campaign Against Natural Gas

Reason told you so a while back, i.e., the environmentalist lobby that had once touted natural gas as the "bridge fuel" to renewable power future had turned against it. Why? Because the renewables they favor can't compete with cheap abundant natural gas. Now the Journal has noticed the green flip-flop on gas and is reporting: of the most powerful environmental lobbies, the Sierra Club, is mounting a major campaign to kill the industry.

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." The big green lobbying machine has rolled out a new website that says "The natural gas industry is dirty, dangerous and running amok" and that "The closer we look at natural gas, the dirtier it appears; and the less of it we burn, the better off we will be." So the goal is to shut the industry down, not merely to impose higher safety standards.

This is no idle threat. The Sierra Club has deep pockets funded by liberal foundations and knows how to work the media and politicians. The lobby helped to block new nuclear plants for more than 30 years, it has kept much of the U.S. off-limits to oil drilling, and its "Beyond Coal" campaign has all but shut down new coal plants. One of its priorities now will be to make shale gas drilling anathema within the Democratic Party.

The political irony is that not too long ago the Sierra Club and other greens portrayed natural gas as the good fossil fuel. The Sierra Club liked natural gas so much (and vice versa) that from 2007-2010 the group received $26 million in donations from Chesapeake Energy and others in the gas industry, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. Some of that money was for the Beyond Coal campaign.

One reason for this once-mutual affection is that natural gas produces much less carbon emissions than does coal—and the Sierra Club claims to want fewer such emissions...

But now that the hydraulic fracturing and shale revolution has sent gas prices down to $2.50, the lobby fears natural gas will come to dominate U.S. energy production. At that price, the Sierra Club's Valhalla of wind, solar and biofuel power may never be competitive. So the green left has decided it must do everything it can to reduce the supply of gas and keep its price as high as possible.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bucky's Birthday Bash + Bucky's Comments on Forest Service

Hi Everyone,
  I wanted to give everyone an idea as to what has happened in the Glenwood area in the last week.
  There are two fires that started this big fire.
  The Mogollon Creek- Mogollon Blady fire. This fire was on Mogollon Creek area on the south side of Gila.
It was 6 to 8 plums that were started by lightning. The USFS has at least 10 days before winds came to put this out. The USFS called it a management fire that was in an old burn area.
  According to Ralph Pope, who is a retired USFS fire team-management officer, says these are bad to let burn.
  The White Water Baldy fire which started in the head of White Water Creek is and was the fire that theaten Mogllon and burned 13 houses in Willow Creek.
  The USFS had a 2 day window to put this fire out before winds came.
  Once again the USFS has done what it is the best at. Burning down or Forest.
  If they can't lock us off, they will burn it down in the name of money!!!!!!!!
  They had a meeting here in Glenwood last night to blow smoke up everybodies ass and thats just what the Fire team leader (Tony Somthing from Prescott, AZ.) Pat Morrison, Glenwood District Range, and Danny Montoya did. Excuses and lies!!!
  There is just to much USFS BS to talk about right now. The USFS needs to be shut down!!!!!!
  The Birtyday Bash at this point is still on. Now I really need your help. Please contact everyone you can and try to get them to attend. All this crap on TV and In the news rags around the state is USFS born BS.
  At this time we have smoke. Some days worse and some days not so bad. We have all breathed trail dust so don't let that stop you from coming. Glenwood right now is in no danger of fire or fire evacuation!!!
  For those of you that are on the NMOHVA Board and are not right here to see what is going on I want to urge NMOHVA to investigate this whole fiasco!!! The USFS has been trying to lock us off of the forest we enjoy and now they are burning it down.
  They always screw aroung with fire when it is dry dry dry and knowing there will be wind they let fires burn or they set them off as controlled burns. Its BS and the USFS needs to pay the price for thier screw ups.
  Joanne and Mark please forware this letter to Board members I missed.
  All of you forgive my spelling and grammer. I hated School.

Capture of marauding Alberta grizzly spurs relocation debate

Fish and Wildlife officers’ discovery of a mammoth grizzly bear in southern Alberta has renewed a debate on dealing with the threatened species. Last month, officers transported a 250-kilogram, adult male grizzly bear from Chain Lakes to Grande Cache after complaints calves had been attacked. However, a conservation specialist said Tuesday that relocating grizzlies “isn’t fixing any problems.” “There’s often a root problem,” said Nigel Douglas with the Alberta Wilderness Association. “What’s attracting the bear there in the first place?” Douglas said. “All we’re seeing is blame the bear and take it away.” In April, Officers were called about 130 kilometres south of Calgary on reports a calf was fatally bitten by canine teeth. Another calf carcass belonging to the same livestock producer turned up dead days later. The bear was eventually caught, tagged with an ear tracer and inner-nostril microchip and had a DNA sample extracted, according to a report from the Alberta Solicitor General and Public Safety office. Twenty-four bears were relocated in 2011, according to provincial reports. That’s up from 15 in 2010 and 19 in 2009...more

Not much of an article, but dang, I sure wanted to post that picture. 

Baucus, Tester want brucellosis off security list

U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus are asking federal health officials to lift security restrictions on the bacteria that causes a disease found in wildlife in and around Yellowstone National Park. The Montana Democrats said Tuesday that the restrictions are making research into a possible vaccine for the disease brucellosis more difficult and expensive. Brucellosis can cause pregnant livestock and wildlife to miscarry. Human infections are uncommon and can be treated. The government lists the bacteria as a possible biological warfare agent, which the senators say is “absurd” given that brucellosis is prevalent in the wild...more

Is Advocating the Paleo Diet Against the Law?

Free speech is all too often a joke in this land, and one of the more ridiculous attempts to shut people up by law is hooked to "occupational licensing." Sometimes, says the government, you can only say certain things if some state-powered cartel gives you legal permission to do so. The state of North Carolina's attempts to shut down Steve Cooksey's blog about how he believes the paleo diet helped him deal with diabetes on the grounds that he needs to be licensed by the state's Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is one of the sillier, and yet still grossly offensive, such cases to arise lately. The Institute for Justice agrees, and has stepped in to file a lawsuit, Cooksey v. Futrell et al., in federal court against the state Board, which will be officially filed tomorrow, to stand up for Cooksey's right to speak what he thinks is true about diet and diabetes...more

Here's their video on the case:

Song Of The Day #845

Ranch Radio will wind up this short week with some real rarities from Hillbilly Researcher records.  First up is some sho'nuff country with Curly Long singing The Blues Just Walked In.

Spain Ejects Clean-Power Industry

Spanish renewable-energy companies that once got Europe’s biggest subsidies are deserting the nation after the government shut off aid, pushing project developers and equipment-makers to work abroad or perish. Saddled with a budget deficit more than twice the European Union limit and a ballooning gap between income and costs in its power system, Spain halted subsidies for new renewable-energy projects in January. The surprise move by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy one month after taking office helped pierce investor confidence in stable aid for clean energy across Europe. “They destroyed the Spanish market overnight with the moratorium,” European Wind Energy Association Chief Executive Officer Christian Kjaer said in an interview. “The wider implication of this is that if Spanish politicians can do that, probably most European politicians can do that.”...more 

About this, Hot Air says:

 Environmentalists may argue that our worldwide fossil fuel-based energy infrastructure isn’t sustainable in the long term — even though the evidence for imminent climate-change and peak-oil crises are extremely dodgy, at best — but fiscal insolvency is demonstrably unsustainable in the long term.

Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire largest in New Mexico history

A massive wildfire that has burned more than 265 square miles in the Gila National Forest has become the largest fire in New Mexico history, fire officials confirmed Wednesday. The erratic blaze grew overnight to more than 170,000 acres, surpassing a blaze last year that burned 156,593 acres in Los Conchas and threatened the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the nation's premier nuclear facility. The Gila forest fire is also the largest currently burning in the country. It formed last week when two lightning-sparked blazes merged in an isolated mountainous area in southwestern New Mexico, where it has destroyed about a dozen homes and prompted evacuations of nearby towns and health alerts for some of the state's largest cities. Fire information officer Jerry Perry said about 1,200 firefighters from around the state were battling the growing blaze, but that they continue to face low humidity and shifting winds in their efforts. "We still facing adverse weather conditions that are posing a challenge," Perry said. "We're doing a lot of burnout operations and yesterday we had to deal with a lot of spot fires." The fire has not been contained, and officials worry that shifting winds and dryness related to the state's record drought may cause the blaze to grow even more...more

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Conservation agreements try to head off endangered species listings

...Spring also heralds another local rite: In meeting rooms, public-lands ranchers, wildlife biologists, mountain bikers and government officials gather to discuss how to help the Gunnison grouse. The working group is close to committing to a voluntary plan with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Gunnison grouse and its public-land habitat. Candidate conservation agreements, as these plans are called, are often intended to keep a species from being listed. But land managers aren't assuming this last-minute agreement will keep the grouse off the roster. Instead, stakeholders hope that the recovery measures will be good enough so that, even if the grouse is listed, restrictions placed on land use will be less severe. With reams of other listing decisions now looming, participation in candidate agreements is growing in the West. More than 1,000 plants and animals are slated for decisions by 2018 under settlement agreements between Fish and Wildlife and two environmental groups. The Gunnison grouse's conservation agreement will cover 397,000 acres of public lands, two-thirds of the bird's occupied habitat. It will keep recreation and ranching away from leks during key periods, and also monitor the impacts of roads, trails and grazing. Land managers have previously evaluated such disturbances separately; now, says Samantha Staley, project manager with the Bureau of Land Management's Gunnison field office, officials will be able to account for the cumulative effects.The agreement complements efforts on private property, where some landowners have signed on to protect the Gunnison grouse through a similar tool, called "candidate conservation agreements with assurances." Through those pacts, ranchers, farmers and developers manage their lands to help candidate species -- with the guarantee that they won't face additional regulations if populations decline despite their efforts, or if the species is listed as threatened or endangered...more

In Wild Animals, Charting the Pathways of Disease

High in the Wallowa Mountains of northeastern Oregon, Raina K. Plowright and other researchers blindfolded and hobbled a herd of bighorn sheep in a corral so blood samples could be taken and their noses and throats swabbed. “There’s lots of places for pathogens to hide in the nasal cavity,” said Dr. Plowright, a wildlife scientist with the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Penn State who is based in Bozeman. Peering into the nostrils of wild sheep is part of the nascent field of eco-immunology, which seeks both to understand the immune systems of wild animals and to use that knowledge to gain a better understanding of human immune systems. Until recently, this kind of knowledge has been gleaned almost exclusively by studying pampered, genetically similar lab animals, which don’t reflect a real-world scenario. Eco-immunology works to understand how disease spreads in wildlife populations — the bighorn sheep are in trouble because of pneumonia that spread from domestic sheep — and how it can be worsened by human and environmental factors like climate change. Another major goal is to understand the pathways that deadly diseases can follow from wildlife to humans. In the last 30 years, more than 300 infectious diseases in humans originated in animals, including AIDS, Ebola, SARS, Lyme, hantavirus, West Nile virus and new strains of flu. (Diseases do not travel in just one direction. Humans are believed to have passed metapneumovirus to mountain gorillas in Africa.)...more

Song Of The Day #844 (Help with my birthday songs)

The head vaquero at Ranch Radio turns 65 today and I need some help. Should I be like Ian Tyson, Archie Campbell, Ernest Tubb, Pat Buttram or Eddy Arnold?

Should I be like Ian, just looking back in Fifty Years Ago?

Archie Campbell says My Get Up And Go Has Got Up And Went .

Or like Ernest Tubb and keep at Till My Get Up Has Got Up And Gone?

Does Pat Buttram have it right in Old Age?

Maybe Eddy Arnold is on to something in his Older and Bolder.

I know Bob & Randy Atcher got it right, as Sharon and I celebrated our 39th on the 24th of this month, and they sing I'll Never Grow Too Old To Love You. This one's for you darling.

4-H Rodeo Struggle

A lack of major sponsorship and Expo New Mexico’s dismal financial condition mean the Bernalillo County 4-H Rodeo, for the first time in 55 years, will not be held in Tingley Coliseum. Instead, the 100 or so youngsters will compete in a one-day rodeo on Aug. 4 at the outdoor Heritage Rodeo Arena in Moriarty — about 35 miles east of the fairgrounds. “I’ve gone to a bunch of rodeos around New Mexico, and my favorite ones have been the ones in Tingley,” said 11-year-old Marisela Sandoval, a 4-H member from Bosque Farms who had been looking forward to competing there in August. “I’m disappointed they’re not going to have it there.” Marisela, who competes in barrel-racing, pole-bending, breakaway roping and goat-tying, said Tingley is a special place for budding cowboys and cowgirls. “During the State Fair, I see all the pros compete there, so it makes me feel special to be able to compete where they do,” she said.  Since at least 1957, the Bernalillo County 4-H Fair and Rodeo have been held concurrently at the state-owned Expo New Mexico fairgrounds. The fair allows 4-H youngsters to showcase their projects, ranging from animal science and gardening to public speaking and rocketry, and to compete for coveted blue ribbons. The rodeo, a key fundraiser for 4-H, lets kids test their rodeo skills in a variety of events grouped by age. It has historically been a two-night affair at Tingley.  Expo officials charge $5,500 per night to rent Tingley, Expo general manager Dan Mourning said...more

Rep. Flores: Obama ‘Coddles Environmentalists'

Texas Congressman Bill Flores and other House GOP members just finished a week away from Washington that included tours of off shore oil rigs, fracking facilities, and pipeline manufacturing plants. “Most Americans, I think, realize how important energy security is. If we don’t have energy security we can’t have economic growth opportunities. If we don’t have economic growth opportunities, than we can’t pay for robust national security,” Flores told Newsmax.TV during an exclusive interview. “The Barnet shale area makes my district the second largest producer of natural gas in the nation. “It was done by drilling, not by investing in things like Solyndra. “There are many people in the Obama administration who want to find a way to regulate or ban the use of hydraulic fracturing. They see that as the key to getting this country off fossil fuel.” Flores added that President Barack Obama’s refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline is another sign that he is more interested in alternative energy than energy independence. “That runs afoul of what the president wants to do when he coddles his environmental left.”...more

Senators seek to name bison 'national mammal'

Western lawmakers want to elevate the Plains bison to a status similar to that of the iconic bald eagle with legislation to declare the burly beasts America's "national mammal." Bison advocates launched a "vote bison" public relations campaign Friday to coincide with the bill. The National Bison Legacy Act introduced in the Senate is backed by lawmakers from Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Rhode Island. The largely symbolic measure would provide no added protections for the estimated 20,000 wild bison in North America. And the bald eagle would still hold a somewhat loftier role as the national emblem, as declared by the Second Continental Congress in 1782. But supporters said the bison legacy bill would afford overdue recognition to a species that has sweeping cultural and ecological significance. Bison — North America's largest land animal — already appear on two state flags and the official seal of the U.S. Department of Interior...more

Humans are mammals, so where does that leave us?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day...A Toast

My annual toast....

I would like to thank the men and women who came home from righteous wars to ticker tape parades and peace and prosperity.

And I would like to thank those who came home from an unrighteous war to find no one cared.

I would like to thank those who came home but go back every night in their dreams...and those who came home but left pieces of themselves behind.

Most of all, I would like to thank those who never came home.

God bless them.



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Before Facebook 

 by Julie Carter

Picking up a newspaper a hundred years ago offered a somewhat more personal kind of reading that was written in a conversational manner.

That new horse Albert Lewis is driving in the delivery wagon is a dandy. He gives us a little exhibition of circus performing every day.
The snow-fall at Starlight Lake this winter and spring is right close to the 35-foot mark. Water for irrigation? We should see record-breaking crops.

People loved reading what was happening in their geographical locale, right down to the details you never see in print today.

Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Linton motored to town on Sunday to spend the day with Mr. Linton's ailing parents. They were met at the elder Linton's home by friends Zelda and Frank Cook, and they shared an evening meal of roast pork, potatoes and fresh garden vegetables. A delicious lemon pie and coffee for dessert complemented the evening.

The birth and baptism of a child right up to the event of someone building a new porch endeared readers to the “news” collected by a writer. Lost pets, meetings and even a little government reporting filled the pages of a community paper in an era that lives only in memories and somewhere in archived print.

The following was published exactly this way 100 years ago:

We hear it talked that Silver Cliff has two candidates for mayor. The regularly nominated one should be re-elected.
Laundry business must be flourishing. Lew Key has just bought the lot adjoining his premises on the east of Silver Cliff.

We humans still have a need to stay connected to the people and events around us on a personal level. In today’s world, for millions, it’s called Facebook. And the need for personal communication with people is proven in its global popularity.

We’ve long ago moved past note cards and tea on the veranda to share our lives. We now text and type. We write to catch the eye of an attention-deficit generation and use a new shortcut language that relies on phonetics for interpretation. I know “u hv cn it.”

In memory, I can recall a little matronly woman in a floral dress, hair in a tight bun, sitting at a lace tablecloth-covered table putting notes on a tablet with a lead pencil.

She had called Myrtle down at the telephone office for her news. Standing before her wall phone, she gave it one quick crank. Myrtle answered and Thelma greeted her with a "Mornin' Myrtle," before asking to be connected to 511.

This happened only after Myrtle made polite inquiries about the family. Thelma assured her all was well except for that touch of arthritis that hitches her git-along from time to time.

Thelma spent the afternoon sipping tea and contacting her regulars for the week's news. Who hosted Thanksgiving dinner and with whom, what kind of cake was served at the Sherry Harper baby shower, and where did the card and domino players gather this week? Thelma could make news out of no news.
When readers finally got a glimpse at Thelma's story, they felt like they had a visit from those mentioned throughout. With a warm feeling in their hearts, they went back to their daily lives that didn't include an iPod, flat screen TV, computers, faxes, scanners and cell phones.

Perhaps they sat on the porch that evening, recalling those events they hadn't attended and those people they hadn't seen. With all their lack of technology, they were able to personally connect to the lives of people around them that they actually knew personally.

Maybe Facebook wasn’t such a new concept after all. It is simply the modernized version of what once was “face time.”

Julie can be reached for comment at or, of course,

Biblical versus American Wilderness

Negative Development
Biblical versus American Wilderness
Corruption of Government and Lawlessness
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            The suggestive use of Christianity to expand and justify the notion of designated Wilderness poses an awkward strategy. The vision of wilderness from such an approach may not only prove to be ill conceived it might reveal the true nature of the concept.
            The Search begins
            The effort to determine the biblical definition of wilderness has become easier to accomplish, but a search for the term reveals an immense span of time and dimension. It should be no surprise that the biblical comparison becomes almost synonymous with ‘desert’. The modern usage of the word has changed to emphasize trees, ice, and mountains, but comparisons are still valid.   
            There is also the realization the term was used for something that shall be called a transitional bridge. Wilderness was used biblically to reference a formative journey. 
            The environmental crowd must have been elated if they came to that same conclusion. Was this conclusion the genesis of the suggestion that wilderness is rooted in Christianity, or … was the suggestion merely the high jacking of a Christian concept when it was convenient?
            Physical or Transitional
            The physical aspect of wilderness both ancient and modern needs no explanation. Everyone can understand the implied potency of that concept and it is from that ascendancy of mind and passion that the modern designated Wilderness has been sold to Congress and the American people.
            The biblical transitional bridge, though, needs to be explored. It may not be as powerful at first blush, but what about the underpinnings? What if it was the original definition of the concept?
            Biblical wilderness was a state of mind as well as a physical state. In every usage it implied threat, trepidation, imposed hardship, chaos, or alienation. For example, the Exodus was predicated on the journey through the Sinai wilderness. It turned out to be 40 year marathon of endurance. That wilderness was not just a vast wasteland. It was a bridge from the Egyptian incarceration to the promise of the homeland. It was the process that liberated the bonded Israelites from slavery to the freedom of the Promised Land. Wilderness was a transitional bridge!
            The implication was apparent elsewhere. From scarcity to abundance, wilderness was implied. From incarceration to delivery, wilderness was the transitional journey route. If God had to be faced, the subject ventured into the wilderness, often with great trepidation, to face the Creator. In such transitional passages, the image of wilderness was omnipresent.   
            Biblical designation
            If wilderness was intended to be a physical sanctuary rather than a transitional spiritual passage, the Bible should make some reference to its importance. If that could be verified, the suggestion wilderness has its roots in Christianity would be credible.    
            The Book of Ezekiel could be called the Book of Wilderness. It sets forth another pending wilderness experience. The Exile to Babylon was the setting.  In a grand manner, the Book presents the promise of a land flowing with milk and honey and then offers the reminder the desert wilderness was the antithesis of the promise. God’s people were left to expect judgment in what some texts refer to as the ‘people’s wilderness’, but the threat seems to be inconclusive. The Jewish people were allowed to return home. 
            When the Promised Land was reached it was divided among the 12 tribes of Israel. A central plot of land of approximately 21 square miles, a sanctuary, was to be retained for the Lord’s use. It was to be placed in the care of the Levites, the assigned priests. It was neither to be sold nor passed into the hands of others. It was holy. 
            What was the intended use of that holy land? Was it wilderness, and, if it was, was the definition modern or biblical?
            The modern glimpse
            After a long absence, good descriptions of the Holy Land started to emerge again in the second half of the 19th Century. Israel was in a state of chaos.
            A European presence was allowed to gain some foothold after the Ottoman grip on the region was lost in 1831. Various witnesses wrote of a stark absence of productivity and a desperate people. The Arabs were dwindling in population. Villages were being abandoned, and pathetically poor inhabitants were retreating to the mountainous areas to escape the conditions of expanding swamplands with their mosquito borne diseases.
            Governmental officials were corrupt and the troops were uncontrolled. There were daily assaults, no medical services, little infrastructure, and the land was barren and desolate. An eyewitness account of the state of affairs indicated the conditions were “turning vast areas into true wilderness.”
            The Jews continued to be oppressed as a matter of class warfare. They were discriminated in all endeavors. They were not allowed to vote. They were disbarred from the courts. They were targets of mockery and scorn and were largely unprotected by the laws. Their situation was destitute and they largely existed on the basis of “Haluka”, financial support from abroad. Visitors reflected on the landscape as being reminiscent of biblical descriptions of wastelands.  
            Wilderness from negative development
            Leading up to the modern era, the Holy Land had been devastated by what can be called negative development. Aside from the assault on the Jews, the general disorder had damaged many things. One of the most important was the agriculture/ trade infrastructure. In the vacuum of law enforcement, farmers and herders had been left unprotected. With remnant wealth, they became vilified. They were taxed to the point they were impoverished and their industry ceased to exist. The return of swamplands within once productive districts was a key indicator of their demise.    
            After 1850, there was a meager, but persistent return of Jewish people repatriating their historical homeland. There was enough freedom in the process to begin reclaiming farmland from the dreary and unhealthy swamps, but regulations disallowed rapid changes. An example was the intolerance of any Jewish construction within 850 meters from any existing city wall, but the next wilderness crossing … the next journey across a biblical transitional bridge was started.
            The implication of modern Israel
            Modern Israel is an island in the midst of a wasteland. The major historical forests largely gone at the beginning of the modern era are replanted. Farms, villages, cities, and modern infrastructure exist where barren hillsides, swamps, and historical and biblical wilderness existed 65 years ago. Negative development has been replaced by development founded in stewardship. The implications are immense. 
            The irony of Israel is that it could not exist in the presence of negative development as witnessed at the beginning of the modern era, nor would it now exist if the American Wilderness Act had existed on that landscape in 1948. Facts reveal negative development as well as the American law would have precluded the changes necessary to make such a transformation.
            American leaders have sanctioned the expansion of designated Wilderness with the argument such lands must be saved from the onslaught of human endeavors. The reversal of the Jewish homeland back to biblical wilderness took place on the basis that appears to be in direct conflict with that assumption. 
            At least three markers prompted the reversal. The first was the condition of negative development. Negative development began with the destruction of the agrarian base and its infrastructure. Such degradation occurred in the presence of governmental corruption. The governmental corruption gave rise to lawlessness, and the combination eliminated productive stewardship. Biblical wilderness returned.
            To the Question and Answer
            America’s most dangerous places are inner city areas of certain municipalities and the expanse of federal lands along the Mexican border.  In a direct parallel to the lands of historic Israel, productive stewardship of those border lands is being eliminated. Those lands, with reduced productive stewardship, have become the domain of the cartels. Lawlessness prevails. 
            As for government corruption, history will be the better judge, but what about the answer? Was the biblical intention for the land reserved for God intended to reflect modern wilderness ideals … or was it entrusted into the hands of men for productive purposes?
            The land retained for the Lord in Ezekiel is the modern footprint of Jerusalem! That hallowed ground is represented by the presence rather than the absence of man. Unlike the most distinguishable phrase of the Wilderness Act, it is heavily “trammeled by man”. It is also 180° out of phase from the environmental front’s vision of the modern concept.
            The truth of the modern wilderness movement is being revealed for what it is … a movement founded in the worship of the creations rather than the creator. Judeo – Christian scripture forewarns of the danger in such beliefs, and … history has demonstrated the outcome.          
Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “I’ll propose a theorem. Civilized man can exist only where there is productive stewardship. True wilderness can exist only where productive stewardship is absent, and, if man is present, lawlessness will eventually fill the vacuum.”

Arizona Fires: Burning the Chiricahuas

by Joe Dreyfuss

...The Forest Service writes only that the fire was human caused. l have found nothing that says this fire was caused by drug runners, on a known drug smuggling route, to keep from being caught by the Border Patrol. What I was told by several individuals, and one who monitors the two-way radio transmissions of the suspected drug smugglers, is that the ”druggedos” were laughing about how the fire they set stopped the Border Patrol. Then some days later, they complained the drugs would have to be hauled farther east because of the number of government employees in the area. Further, there was talk of hot shot crews running into drug mules on their way up the mountain to fight the fire...
    l was told that after the Horseshoe ll Fire got around the Horseshoe I Fire, all bets were off on stopping it, and the continued attempts to burn out in front of, and behind, the main fire just kept making the fire bigger. The larger the Forest Service made the fire through its burn out attempts, the smaller the chance of stopping it became, until it became obvious to members of the community that the Horseshoe ll Fire was going to burn the entire range. One individual made the point that if the Forest Service had just gone home after they let the fire get around the Horseshoe I fire, and not burned out so much country, the Horseshoe ll Fire would have been about a quarter of the size it was. Further, if the Forest Service would have kept Horseshoe ll from backing to the south and west around the Horseshoe l Fire, the fire would have probably been only one-tenth its final size.
    The so-called controlled back burning, its timing, and the amount of country involved that was private property, shows the stupidity, ignorance, and total disregard for people, infrastructure and my watchable wildlife...
     I rode the burn areas on five ranches, I rode all day long and at the end of the day, I was black with soot, not ash. One individual in the area is a Vietnam vet, and his expertise was in napalm. He pointed out in certain areas how the burn was so intense and hot, that the result was fine soot not unlike what he experienced in Vietnam so many years ago. I was taken to a ridge near a road and the snags were standing from what once was quite a beautiful, peaceful place. Erosion has started there and there is no evidence of Forest Service personel filling the snags to hold the water back to help keep the soil intact. The water now floods down off the ridge with debris, and has taken out the fencing on private property three times. This situation prevented the rancher from using his private property there, and has affected his pasture rotation, thus creating loss of revenue for that individual. From ridge after ridge, and drainage after drainage, one can easily see how the fire slowed down in the drainages and then raced up north slopes destroying everything. On top of  these ridges is a barren rock wasteland. What were once, by old 1870 photo standards, trees in good condition, are now just rocks with some grass coming back - forget any of the oak trees, they are nothing but blackened short stumps. This burned at the wrong time of year, and the conditions were very dry. 
    The damage done to private property boggles my mind, and sends my blood pressure to levels only A-10 pilots should fly. Imagine a fire out of control, and the Forest Service can effectively burn your house down, and you have no say in the matter. In areas where the Forest Service set backfires on private property, the damage is immense and unwarranted. In one case, a Forest Service bulldozer cut a fire line on private property. The operator bladed up a draw and did not blade the overflow side of a water catchment. Rather, he bladed out the dam side of the water tank. He bladed up the draw, through the fence, onto a hillside. He then bladed off the eastern slope of a hill that had a fenced area, taking out all four sides of the fence. 
    ”Here’s your sign."...
    The damage to my favorite windmill in the range brought out much anger, I had to stop for a minute and get control of my emotions. Here was a windmill that a family, with picks and shovels and buckets and mules, dug 80 feet into the earth in the 1920s, hit water, put a pipe in the middle of the hole, filled the hole with rocks, sand and dirt and built a concrete tank about 20 feet in diameter. The tank is filled with soot, has been dug out twice since the fire, and has filled in again. Due to the intensity of the fire and the flooding after the fire, the water comes down so fast, and with the debris from the nearby creek, floods over the top of the three-foot-high concrete tank. This is a place where I have always stopped to check for tracks of deer and predators. Now, not one track, and no water. The thought is that the soot has clogged the well pipe. Think of all the watchable wildlife that drank from that one windmill for the last 100 years. It makes me wonder if the Forest Service is going to fix that water installment to help maintain wildlife.
    Leaving that old windmill, I continued following the fire line across private property. Before anyone said a word, l knew what l was seeing and what has been happening. Two of the landowners said that the fire line, cut through private property, is now the new trail of the drug-running mules. The Forest Service has now contributed to a faster, easier and more efficient way to get dope across the mountain range.