Friday, January 31, 2014

Zombie Bees Invade Eastern U.S.

Beekeeper Anthony Cantrell of Burlington discovered zombie bees in his hive in October, the first time they'd been found in the eastern United States. John Hafernik, a professor from San Francisco State University, discovered the first zombie bees in 2008. A fly called Apocephalus borealis attaches itself to the bee and injects its eggs, which grow inside the bee, Hafernik said. Scientists believe it causes neurological damage resulting in erratic, jerky movement and night activity, "like a zombie," Hafernik said by phone Tuesday. These aren't undead bees doomed to roam for eternity. They often die only a few hours after showing symptoms, Hafernik said. Hafernik and his team of colleagues and students have been tracking the zombie bee spread across the United States. California, Washington, Oregon and South Dakota all have confirmed zombie bees while this is the first time the bee has been found this far east, said Hafernik. The fly previously attached to bumblebees as hosts, not honeybees, according to Hafernik. "Right now, we don't know if it's an isolated thing," Stephen Parise, Vermont agricultural production specialist, said Tuesday at the state's annual farm show. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture hopes to use trapping to investigate the threat. Parise also told the Vermont Beekeeper Association that he expected more bee deaths this year due to wild temperature swings. Leif Richardson, a doctoral student at Dartmouth College studies the interactions between plants, pollinators and parasites. Richardson said the fly involved in zombie bees could, besides using honeybees as hosts, potentially transmit viruses and pathogens. Beekeepers "should definitely be concerned about it," Richardson said. Hafernik said it would be a "game changer" if these flies could hatch from dead bees and complete their life cycle inside the hive, something that most worries Cantrell. "I think it would be another nail in the coffin for honeybees in the northern hemisphere," Cantrell said...more

Keystone Pipeline to Be Built Because There’s No Reason Not To

by Jonathan Chait

The State Department today released its long-awaited environmental impact analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline. The analysis is key because President Obama announced last summer he would not approve the pipeline unless it was found to have no significant impact on climate change. And that’s what the analysis finds. It argues, as many other analysts have concluded, that if we block the pipeline, Canada will just ship the oil out by rail.

So, what public policy reason is there to block the pipeline? There really isn’t one. Indeed, the environmentalists' obsession with Keystone began as a gigantic mistake. Two and a half years ago, the environmentalist James Hansen wrote a blog post alerting his readers to the pipeline, which he concluded would amount to “game over” for the climate, as it would lead to the burning of enough new oil to moot any effort to limit runaway greenhouse gases. His analysis was based on a simple back-of-the-envelope calculation that turned out to be wrong in several respects, the most important being the assumption that blocking the pipeline would keep the oil in the Canadian oil sands in the ground.

The anti-Keystone movement was an accident. I recently argued that it was a huge mistake. Numerous allies of the environmental movement replied that it did make sense, after all. (See Joe Romm, Matthew Yglesias, Charles Pierce, and Ryan Cooper. All of them insisted that Keystone is indeed a good issue for environmentalists to organize around because it’s easy for people to understand. As Yglesias put it, “You sometimes need to focus on slightly eccentric issues that happen to have good organizing attributes.”)

Tumbleweeds prove troublesome

Beep. Beep. Beep. The sound of a city dump truck in reverse pierced the bitter cold air Tuesday as an armada of city workers, airmen and residents worked to clear the mountains of tumbleweeds that invaded a northwest Clovis neighborhood a night earlier.  In what looked more like a construction site than a residential neighborhood, a tractor scraped the concrete as it scooped up a crushed pile, just loud enough to cause a cringe, and dumped them in the truck with a loud boom. The tractor reversed, and proceeded to run over a large pile of tumbleweeds repeatedly, to compact the dusty debris. The area just south of Llano Estacado, on Wicks Avenue, Lore Street and Red Cloud Place was hardest hit, with several residents unable to even walk out their front door, according to Public Works Director Clint Bunch. The tumbleweed invasion was fueled by winds that reached 60 mph on Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. Bunch said the city had about 25 men working on getting rid of tumbleweeds citywide, and another 25 to 50 Cannon Air Force Base volunteers. There were about 10 trucks, three loaders and two skid steer loaders involved in the cleanup effort...more

Parched New Mexico awaits moisture

The blood-red color on the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday symbolizes the dryness that has spread across New Mexico and the rest of the West. Winter is half over, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains haven’t received significant snowfall since before Thanksgiving, when the region received a foot of snow, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The water equivalent of the snow left in the mountains was at 56 percent to 62 percent of the normal level over the last three decades, based on measurements taken at telemetry sites. The portion of the Land of Enchantment in extreme drought conditions — measured by precipitation, snowpack, soil moisture and other factors — rose to 13 percent. But that’s better than this time last year, when one-fourth of the state was in extreme drought. Only a small sliver of the far southern part of the state in Eddy and Lea counties shows a normal precipitation pattern. Albuquerque is in the third-driest winter stretch it has seen in the last 94 years, based on precipitation records. If Feb. 1 rolls around with no rain or snow at the Albuquerque International Sunport, the city will have gone 42 days without measurable moisture, the longest stretch dating back to 1920. The lack of snow is impacting businesses. Santa Fe Mountain Sports is closing in April, and the Los Alamos Ski Club is talking about handing over the small Pajarito Mountain Ski Area to the county due to the lack of snow, skiers and revenue. Despite the bad start to winter, nature could still be kind. Drought conditions and winter precipitation looked even worse at the end of January 2013. But heavy rains in late summer and early fall made up the difference, leaving New Mexico close to normal precipitation levels by the end of 2013, according to the National Weather Service...more

NM lawmaker seeks money to help horses

A New Mexico lawmaker is seeking state money to help care for abandoned and mistreated horses in the Four Corners area. Democratic Sen. George Munoz of Gallup has introduced legislation to appropriate $500,000 to the New Mexico Livestock Board's Horse Shelter Rescue Fund, saying the board lacks support to help feed and care for the horses it seizes. When the board takes horses, they are placed in non-profit horse shelter rescues, which rely on private donations. The money would enable the state to pay the rescue groups for taking in horses seized by the state. The request comes, he says, as drought, rising hay prices and the economy have left many horse owners unable to properly care for the their animals. AP

Keystone XL oil pipeline clears significant hurdle

The long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared a major hurdle Friday as the State Department raised no major environmental objections to the controversial pipeline from Canada through the heart of the U.S. Republicans and some oil- and gas-producing states cheered, but the report further rankled environmentalists already at odds with President Barack Obama. The department report stops short of recommending approval of the $7 billion pipeline, which has become a major symbol of the political debate over climate change. But the review gives Obama new cover if he chooses to endorse the pipeline in spite of opposition from many Democrats and environmental groups. Foes say the pipeline would carry "dirty oil" that contributes to global warming. They also worry about a spill.'''more

Seventy-nine years of monitoring demonstrates dramatic forest change

Long-term changes to forests affect biodiversity and how future fires burn. A team of scientists led by Research Ecologist Dr. Eric Knapp, from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station, found dramatic differences in forests today compared to historic conditions prior to logging and fire suppression. The team conducted their research in the Forest Service’s Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest on the Stanislaus National Forest in the central Sierra Nevada, remeasuring three large historical plots originally established in 1929 to evaluate the effects of different logging methods. Trees were counted and their diameters measured across entire plots and in neighboring unlogged areas with the same fire history. Understory vegetation (tree seedlings, shrubs and leafy plants) was quantified to determine changes over a 79-year period. They also collected fire scar samples from nearby stumps and dead trees to pinpoint dates of previous forest fires. As in many forested areas in the western U.S., fire is much less frequent than it once was. Results showed that the study area had not burned since 1889. Prior to 1889, the forest burned on average every six years. The forest currently contains 2.4 times more trees than it did in 1929 — mostly in the small and intermediate size classes. The excess density was nearly identical in the plots logged in 1929 and plots without a history of logging, suggesting that over the long term other factors, including fire suppression, may be exerting more influence than past logging on forest density and the current susceptibility to uncharacteristically severe fire. Historical logging removed many of the largest trees and often targeted the most fire-resistant pines. Very large trees were still less abundant than in the old-growth condition in 1929. The forest today also contains more fir and cedar and fewer pines than it once did. Shrubs, which provide food and cover for wildlife, covered 29 percent of the forest floor in 1929. Currently, the same shrubs cover only 2 percent of the forest floor — a decline that appears to be the result of higher tree density. “The forest changes we found in this study are emblematic of similar changes that have occurred in the absence of fire throughout the western U.S., and help to explain why fires such as the nearby Rim Fire burn as intensely as they now do,” said Knapp. The plots measured in this study are among the oldest known to still exist on Forest Service lands in California, and the historical data showing what the forest once looked like provide valuable information about how to restore greater fire resilience and improve biodiversity in forests today. The full report can be found at


NM proposes sale of national historic landmark

Cavalry Officers, Ft. Bayard, 1886
A Western outpost made famous by the Buffalo Soldiers and the U.S. military's campaign to capture Geronimo is up for sale, one of a number of landmarks nationwide facing the wrecking ball amid tight budgets and a shift in Washington about what history is worth saving. Abandoned now, Fort Bayard has become a drain on New Mexico's coffers and the state is desperate for ideas as historic preservation has lost funding under the Obama administration. With most large-scale preservation efforts, it's not hard for the cost to outweigh sentimentalism. It's no different in southwestern New Mexico, where the community is split over whether some of Fort Bayard's buildings need to be leveled to make way for fresh economic development. Historic preservation was championed during the Clinton and Bush years, first with Hillary Clinton's founding of the Save America's Treasures program and later through Laura Bush's support for a program focused on preserving the country's cultural and natural heritage. However, the Obama administration pointed to the two programs for elimination in 2010, saying the benefits were unclear. Standing at the Gila Wilderness' gateway, Fort Bayard was established in 1866 by the Army to protect miners and other settlers from the Apache. It was one of many outposts west of the Mississippi established by the all-black Buffalo Soldier regiments tasked with battling Native American tribes. With the capture of Geronimo in the 1880s, the Apache threat subsided and the fort transitioned to a research center and hospital for tuberculosis patients. During World War II, it was home to German prisoners of war. The state estimates the 145,000-square-foot hospital costs about $100,000 annually to maintain. The officers' quarters, historic theater and other buildings also are in need of repair...more

New Mexico Congressional Delegation, Supporters of Minimum Wage Hike, Don’t Pay Interns

New Mexico’s Congressional delegation also relies heavily on unpaid interns as reported by Rob Nikolewski. This flies in the face of the efforts of liberal activists who are campaigning to eliminate such unpaid internships. More importantly, the reliance on unpaid internships illustrates the apparent hypocrisy of the four Democrats from New Mexico (and just about any Democrat in Washington) who supports efforts to raise the minimum wage to $10/hour while they directly benefit from unpaid interns. Under current laws, if you want to pay someone $5 an hour, that’s illegal, but if you don’t pay them at all and call it an “internship,” it’s okay. Ya gotta love Washington!...more

Antibiotics in Animals Tied to Risk of Human Infection

A federal analysis of 30 antibiotics used in animal feed found that the majority of them were likely to be contributing to the growing problem of bacterial infections that are resistant to treatment in people, according to documents released Monday by a health advocacy group. The analysis, conducted by the Food and Drug Administration and covering the years 2001 to 2010, was detailed in internal records that the nonprofit group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent litigation. In the documents, some of which were reviewed by The New York Times, scientists from the F.D.A. studied 30 penicillin and tetracycline additives in animal feed. They found that 18 of them posed a high risk of exposing humans to antibiotic-resistant bacteria through food. Resistant bacteria make it difficult and sometimes impossible to treat infections with ordinary antibiotics. The scientists did not have enough data to judge the other 12 drugs. At least two million Americans fall sick every year and about 23,000 die from antibiotic-resistant infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Representatives of the food industry largely blame hospitals and treatments given to people for the rise of deadly superbugs. But many scientists believe that indiscriminate use of antibiotics in animal feed is a major contributor...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1196

78s Week on Ranch Radio and here's Charlie Adams & The Lone Star Playboys performing If A Beer Bottle Had A Nipple On It.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chick-fil-a owner hands out food to drivers stranded on Highway

Some are calling Mark Meadows a real life snow angel after a winter storm trapped thousands far from home this week. Meadows own the Chick-fil-a restaurant on Highway 280 and he too was on the road Tuesday afternoon when the snow started coming down. "I had a delivery to make. I had this lady who said she still wanted her boxed meal delivered. So I got on 280 and two hours later I was still not to where I needed to be," Meadows said. That's when Meadows did the first thing that came to mind. "That's when I started handing out box meals on people on 280," he said. The Chick-fil-a closed for business early on in the day when it became apparent the snow storm wasn't slowing down. But when Meadows finally reunited with his team at the restaurant none of them were prepared to slow down either. "And they started preparing sandwiches and we went out into 280 and just stared passing 'em out to people," Meadows said. Hundreds, if not thousands, of drivers were stuck on for hours along the icy highway...more

House-Passed 'Compromise' Farm Bill to Cost $1.4 Billion a Page

Today's passage of the new "compromise" farm bill by the U.S. House of Representatives has some interesting quirks to it. The bill will cost nearly a trillion dollars over ten years. But, considering the bill itself is 702 pages long, the bill will cost about $1.4 billion per page. If that doesn't garner the attention of taxpayers, there was something else that bothered at least one member of the House today - how settling on cutting $8 billion of waste could be a called "compromise" between a $40 billion House cut and a $4 billion Senate cut. U.S. Congressman Paul Broun, (R-Georgia) said, "While the House-passed version of this bill eliminated $40 billion in waste, fraud, and abuse in the food stamp program and the Senate-passed version cut $4 billion - only in Washington would the compromise be an $8 billion cut."…more

Denver mayor sparks Super Bowl chile battle - NM responds

photo Susan Montoya Bryan
A friendly Super Bowl bet between the mayors of Seattle and Denver is causing a stir in New Mexico. If the Seahawks win on Sunday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has wagered a few things he says are indicative of his city. Among them: handmade skis, a hoodie and a sampling of Denver's "amazing green chile." Chile from the Mile High City? The question has fired up New Mexicans, resulting in a flurry of social media posts on New Mexico's long history with the hot peppers. Chile is the state vegetable and the basis of the official state question - "Red or green?" A state law even has been passed to protect the spicy reputation of New Mexico peppers by targeting impostors everywhere from roadside stands to grocery stores. "We are the chile state," declared Katie Goetz, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. To help set the record straight, department officials aren't waiting for the outcome of Sunday's matchup between the Broncos and Seahawks. They're getting green chile care packages ready to send to both Hancock and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray...more

Government shuts down 11-year-old’s cupcake business

The government has pulled the plug on an 11-year-old Illinois baker’s oven. A day after a local newspaper ran a story about the young and ambitious Chloe Stirling, who operated a cupcake business out of her parents’ kitchen, the local health department came calling. “They called and said they were shutting us down,” Heather Stirling, Chloe’s mother, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.Officials told Stirling Chloe could continue selling cupcakes on the condition that the family “buy a bakery or build her a kitchen separate from the one we have.” “Obviously, we can’t do that,” Heather Stirling told reporters. “We’ve already given her a little refrigerator to keep her things in, and her grandparents bought her a stand mixer.” The elder Stirling said that she was willing to get her daughter any necessary licenses or permits to operate a business, but could not meet the health department’s other demands. “But a separate kitchen? Who can do that?” asked an astonished Stirling. When reporters approached Amy Yeager, a health department spokeswoman, about the county’s decision to shut down Chloe’s business, she said that she was doing it for the sake of the public...more

Landowners in prairie chicken areas offered deal

The federal government is offering first-of-its-kind legal protections for landowners who implement conservation measures to protect the lesser prairie chicken's dwindling populations across five states. The prairie chicken is found in parts of Eastern Eddy County. The move is designed to ease the concerns of landowners, ranchers and the energy industry that they would no longer be able to operate in the bird's habitat if the prairie grouse is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The agreement could also serve as a model for other areas where industry and landowners could be impacted by a threatened or endangered animal. The deal is simple: Those who take steps to conserve and preserve habitat will receive a letter guaranteeing they will not be fined or prosecuted if lesser prairie chickens are found dead on their property. "As long as they continue to implement the ... conservation plan then they have nothing to fear from the Endangered Species Act or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," Dan Ashe, the wildlife service's director, told The Associated Press. The wildlife service is expected to announce by March 30 whether to list the lesser prairie chicken as a federally protected threatened species, impacting the plains of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. The pending decision has prompted vocal opposition and sparked a broad state-run initiative designed to conserve areas in hopes of avoiding a federal listing for the bird. The federal offer is a unique agreement between the wildlife service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. The agencies will have conservation practices outlined and agreements available in the coming weeks. To enter an agreement, landowners would have to undertake specific conservation measures, such as keeping the grasses long enough to hide nests, clearing brush and building ramps in cattle water troughs to ensure the birds don't drown. Grants could help cover the costs. The prairie grouse was once abundant in its five-state region, but its historical home of grasslands and prairies has been reduced by an estimated 84 percent as development converted habitat to other uses. When federal regulators first proposed in December 2012 to list the bird under the Endangered Species Act, there were fewer than 45,000, according to the wildlife service. A recent survey counted 18,000. Drought and loss of habitat are blamed for the decline...more

Don't know all the details, but doubt this a "first-of-its-kind" agreement.  It sounds like the Safe Harbor Agreement program of the USFWS; more specifically their Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances.  Those programs are limited to private landowners.

Statement from Conservation Lands Foundation on the State of the Union

The Conservation Lands Foundation, the only organization dedicated to protect, expand and restore the National Conservation Lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), applauded President Obama’s mention of the importance of the conservation of our nation’s public lands. While President Obama has discussed climate change in previous State of the Union addresses, this speech makes the first time he has specifically addressed land and water conservation. In response to the remarks, Brian O’Donnell, Executive Director of the Conservation Lands Foundation, made this statement, “We are heartened that President Obama made a strong case for conservation in his speech. With Congress unable to make progress, President Obama is the ‘Conservationist-in-Chief’. We are ready to get behind him as he leads to protect clean water, wildlife and our natural heritage." The 112th was the first Congress since World War II to fail to protect a single new acre of public land as a Park, National Monument or Wilderness. Midway through the session, the 113th Congress is poised to repeat history. “In 2013, President Obama took an important step in protecting America’s outdoor heritage and honoring our nation’s history when he designated five new national monuments in response to locally-driven efforts in order to permanently protect a diversity of lands and waters that honor our country’s heritage and conserve open space important for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation,” commented O’Donnell.“We are grateful for President Obama’s leadership in advancing conservation at a time when it’s desperately needed.”  Press Release

Their website is here.  Bruce Babbitt, Cecil Andrus and actor Edward Norton are on the board.  Their mission is to expand BLM's NLCS.

Bill seeks to remove federal protection for endangered species

The Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act, currently in committee in the Senate, seeks to leave protection of endangered species up to the Governors of each state and automatically remove protections for animals after five years. The bill, sponsored by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, would require the federal government to gain the approval from state governments before enacting the protections spelled out in the original Endangered Species Act of 1973. Paul believes the bill would expedite job creation and infrastructure projects. The Senate bill is known as S. 1731. In addition to the requirement that species be removed from the list of protected animals after five years unless congress enacts a joint resolution, there is also a clause granting governors immunity from judicial review of their actions...more

Shooter sought after 2 wild burros killed in Ariz.

The Bureau of Land Management is looking for the shooter responsible for killing two wild burros in an area northwest of Phoenix. Officials said they were notified Sunday after someone found the bodies of two adult burros that had been shot to death west of Castle Hot Springs Road. Federal law-enforcement officers said they believe the shooting took place at about 2 p.m. in the BLM’s Lake Pleasant herd management area, which includes a portion of Maricopa County and southern Yavapai County. Rem Hawes, the agency’s Hassayampa field manager, said the BLM is committed to the protection and management of wild burros and horses and is asking for any information regarding the illegal shootings...more

Hikers ignoring land closures

Bureau of Land Management rangers are through issuing warnings to people who break the rules by entering winter refuges for mule deer and elk around Durango. Instead, it will be a $275 citation. The low-elevation areas are closed to the public in the winter to give elk and mule deer a respite from heavy snow in the highlands. No-trespassing warnings are not being obeyed, however, Shannon Borders, spokeswoman for the southwest office of the Bureau of Land Management, said Wednesday. “We understand that with clear weather and sunshine, people like to get out,” Borders said. “But the off-limits areas are closed to ease the pressure on wildlife.” “Rangers are hearing such things as ‘Oh, I didn’t think it was a big deal’ from people they find in the closed areas,” Borders said. “As a result, rangers are going to stop writing warnings and issue citations, which will cost the trespasser $275.”...more

The dirty little secret on Sage Grouse

The humble sage grouse has earned a new moniker in Montana and other western states: the spotted owl of the prairie. That description started as a joke, but for the tens of thousands of Montanans who earn their living in agriculture or energy development it’s no longer a laughing matter. That’s because there’s a very real threat this bird could be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The result would dramatically impact Montana’s economy. It’s worth noting that sage grouse—these birds in desperate need of federal protection—are game birds in Montana and other western states. You can shoot them. And there are no plans to restrict their hunting if they are listed under the ESA. It’s no coincidence that sage grouse habitat also happens to intersect both the largest untapped coal deposits in the country as well as large parts of the Bakken oil field. It’s clear the primary motivation to focus on sage grouse for ESA listing is to provide yet another tool for special interest groups to block energy development. And in this obstructionist toolbox, there’s no heavier sledgehammer than the Endangered Species Act. What an interesting irony, then, that so much effort is going into “protecting” one bird from energy development, when the Obama administration is turning a blind eye to hundreds of thousands of other birds being killed by wind energy turbines each year- including protected birds like bald eagles. Recent research puts the annual butcher’s bill by wind farms at 573,000 birds. Included in that number are 83,000 hunting birds, like eagles and hawks...more

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Secretary Jewell responds to Craig Daily Press letter

The Craig Daily Press and Colorado Press Association have received a response from U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s office regarding her visit to Moffat County and the barring of reporters from a public meeting. In a letter emailed Tuesday evening, the Department of the Interior expressed regret at the miscommunication about the meeting that led to Craig Daily Press reporter Erin Fenner being asked to leave twice. “The Department of the Interior strives to maintain an open and transparent relationship with the press and the public, and we sincerely regret the incident and any role we had in the miscommunication,” the letter from Department of the Interior Director of Communications Kate Kelly said. “As you suggest, we are redoubling our efforts to coordinate with local government offices to ensure transparency and respect for important press freedoms.” Craig Daily Press Managing Editor Noelle Leavitt Riley was satisfied with the correspondence from the Department of the Interior, believing they will improve on similar visits in the future...more

Interior: Communications broke down for grouse meet

The Interior Department blamed a “breakdown in communications” for an incident last week in which Interior Secretary Sally Jewell barred reporters from attending a public meeting in Craig. Interior Department communications director Kate Kelly wrote to a newspaper and the Colorado Press Association that the department will “redouble our efforts” to work with local governments and respect press freedoms. Kelly wrote the letter in response to a letter from the Colorado Press Association saying that Jewell violated the spirit of the First Amendment’s freedom of the press. Jewell “attended what our office had understood to be a small meeting with community leaders,” Kelly wrote. “It appears there was a breakdown in communications with the (Moffat) County commissioners about the parameters of the meeting.” A man believed to have been an Interior Department employee prevented reporters with The Craig Daily Press and radio station KRAI from covering the meeting, which the commission had noticed so that all three commissioners could attend. About 50 people attended the meeting of residents, officials and energy industry and environmental organizations, in the American Legion hall...more

SOTU Leads to Land Dispute Over Utah Monument

(KUTV) President Obama's State of the Union speech worries some Utah lawmakers and they're especially afraid of a big new national monument. President Obama last night said he will act by himself on some government matters and southern Utah legislators fear the president may have Utah in mind. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has proposed a 1,400,000-acre greater Canyonland's national monument to push drillers, commercial development and off-road vehicles off federal land. Representative Mike Noel says the federal government is already cutting its deficit by cutting federal land payments to states. Noel has roused fellow republicans to assert Utah title to federal lands, and fight over the two-thirds of all Utah land owned by the federal government.

The KUTV video report has more info and can be viewed here.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1195

Its 78s Week on Ranch Radio.  Today's selection is the old fiddle tune Paddy On The Turnpike done up just right by Andy Hokum & His Pals Of The West.

Senator Lee Questions Eric Holder on Executive Orders

For an interesting discussion on the legal authority of the President to issue Executive Orders, watch this exchange between Senator Mike Lee and AG Eric Holder.  The part on EO's starts at 3 minutes into the video.

Texas can sue NM over water, Supreme Court rules

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said Texas can go ahead with its lawsuit that claims groundwater pumping in southern New Mexico is draining the Rio Grande and depriving Texas users of water to which they are legally entitled. Texas cleared a major hurdle with the decision, which could set the stage for a protracted legal battle. The court did leave New Mexico what could be an escape clause that would allow the case to be quickly dismissed. “Texas has the upper hand now,” said attorney Steve Hernandez, who represents the Elephant Butte Irrigation District. New Mexico Attorney General Gary King expressed disappointment that the court did not throw out Texas’s case completely. “Clearly, I was hoping for a different outcome, however, I am not surprised. I am confident that the Court takes such state-to-state disputes very seriously, and we look forward to being able to tell New Mexico’s side of the story and to have our day in Court,” King said in a statement. Last January, Texas asked the Supreme Court to consider the issues raised by the conflict between the two states over the shared river, saying it was the only court with the jurisdiction to sort out the legal and hydrologic mess. But the Supreme Court’s criteria for what cases it will consider are high and the last year’s legal jockeying has largely been focused on the question of whether the case proceeds at all. Monday’s answer to that question, a one-paragraph order, was “yes,” but with a caveat. The court ruled that Texas did make enough of a case for the issue to proceed. But the first order of business, the court ruled, will be to hear New Mexico’s arguments in favor of immediately dismissing the litigation. The court gave New Mexico and Texas another 120 days to file a new set of competing legal briefs on the issues Texas has raised...more

Media group: Interior secretary violated reporter’s First Amendment rights

Lawyers for the Colorado Press Association say that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell violated a reporter’s First Amendment rights when her staff prevented the reporter from attending a public meeting last week. They also say Jewell’s desire to keep the press out of a meeting about sage grouse conservation with elected Colorado officials caused the Moffat County Commissioners to violate the state’s open meetings law.  “As a result of Ms. Fenner’s being barred from attending the public meeting at the American Legion Hall, we have reason to believe that your office caused the Moffat County Commissioners to be in violation of the Open Meetings Law,” attorney Steve Zansberg wrote in a letter to Jewell on Monday. Jewell’s staff later emailed another reporter at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel saying that no members of the public was turned away. Zansberg wrote that, under law, members of the press are members of the public, so the email “is factually incorrect.” “[By] excluding Ms. Fenner from that meeting, on the sole basis that she was a reporter, her rights, and the rights of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment, were violated,” he wrote...more

Wild horses raise concerns

Failure to manage wild horses on public lands is causing an issue for ranchers, and a lawsuit is not out of the question for the Bureau of Land Management, said Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller. Miller said the wild horses have been allowed to multiply and overgraze to a point where the ground is barren of feed for livestock. “They (BLM officials) come to the ranchers and ask them to cut their grazing allotments in half,” Miller said. “That’s literally a taking. Those grazing permits are like property.” Miller’s comments came after a meeting Monday when Mike Worthen, Iron County Natural Resource Specialist, said Nevada recently filed a lawsuit against the BLM for not protecting the rights of those who hold grazing permits, in respect to wild horses on public lands. While the commissioners are not actively pushing for a lawsuit, they did send a letter to the BLM in recent weeks expressing concern about the management of the wild horse program and giving their position on the issue. “The BLM expects others to follow policies they aren’t following,” Miller said. “They’re not taking care of their wild horses and they want the ranchers to pay the price. It’s not their fault.”...more

Meat groups 'actively oppose' farm bill

U.S. livestock and poultry industries say they'll oppose the farm bill that does not reach a resolve to their liking for GIPSA funding and making mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) compliant under the World Trade Organization. In a letter to the four farm bill principals, the American Meat Institute, National Catttleman’s Beef Assn., National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, and the North American Meat Assn, said since a sensible resolution was not achieved for the GIPSA and MCOOL issues, "we will actively oppose final passage of the Farm Bill, if these issues are not addressed." The letter detailed the groups were deeply disappointed the bill does not exclude language that was in the House-passed version of the bill on the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA), the Conaway-Costa amendment. If included, the Conaway-Costa amendment would have refocused the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regulation on the five specific areas of contraction, as Congress directed in the 2008 Farm Bill, the letter explained. As well as restoring Congressional intent, this language was included in four appropriations bill (including 2014) and signed by the President. Groups also faced disappointment that a WTO-compliant resolution to mandatory Country-of-Origin Labelling (COOL) was not reached, particularly in the face of retaliatory actions by the governments of Mexico and Canada. "This retaliation will be crippling to our industries and threaten the long-term relationship with two of our most important export markets," the letter stated. "COOL is a broken program that has only added costs to our industries without any measurable benefit for America’s livestock producers." They added they "offered many solutions and all were rejected."...more

Texas Ranchers at Odds on Labeling Livestock’s Mexican Roots

Ranch manager Ty Keeling trucks young cattle from as far south as Veracruz, Mexico -- a 30-hour journey along cactus-lined highways -- to be fattened in the Texas pastures he oversees. Such imports are key to restocking beef herds depleted by a drought in 2012 that parched Texas grassland and forced ranchers to send steers to slaughter early, Keeling, 32, said. Under U.S. Department of Agriculture rules put in place last year, the meat will have to be labeled as Mexican-born and U.S. slaughtered -- a disclosure that some ranchers and meatpackers say cuts their profit and trading partners say illegally discriminates against their goods. “We need these cattle,” Keeling said as 275-pound (125 kilogram) calves marked with tags showing they’re from Mexico ate cottonseed cubes from a trough near Boerne, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of San Antonio. “At some point, we’re going to get to the point where we won’t be able to buy them anymore.” Canada and Mexico have successfully challenged earlier versions of the label rule at the Geneva-based WTO, which in 2011 and 2012 said the standard unfairly harms meat sales to the U.S. in part by making record-keeping of international cattle too onerous. Canada is threatening to retaliate with tariffs and several livestock groups have gone to court to block the USDA’s enforcement of the tougher new rules. Labeling is good for U.S. ranchers, said Stayton Weldon, who raises 300 head of cattle on 2,600 acres near Cuero, Texas, a stop on the historic Chisholm Trail cattle-drive route linking San Antonio and Houston. He said that while meatpackers want fewer regulations to cut costs, consumers deserve knowledge considered routine in other industries...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1194

More 78s from Ranch Radio and today we bring you some old time humor.  First up is Sweet William & Bad Bill in New York, and then through some cowboy electronic wizardry, Sweet William & Bad Bill Still in New York. The label says its by William Le Maire and John Swor.  The UCSB library says the sides were recorded on 10/17/27.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Green Drought

U.K. slashes global warming spending by 41%

Owen Paterson has been accused of "incredible complacency" over climate change after new figures showed his department has slashed spending on helping Britain cope with global warming. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) will spend just £17.2m on domestic "climate change initiatives" this financial year, a 41 per cent decline on the previous 12 months, according to its response to a freedom of information request...more

Court Rules Kansas City Suburb Can’t Seize a Burger King With Eminent Domain

Eminent domain has traditionally been used for “public uses,” like building roads or schools. But officials in North Kansas City, Mo., (a suburb that’s north of Kansas City) wanted to wield that “despotic power” to commit fast food regicide. Todd Gilbertson has been operating fast food restaurants for 35 years. But one of his restaurants, a Burger King he’s been operating for the past 15 years, was threatened with condemnation by North Kansas City.The city commissioned two blight studies which found there were blight factors in a proposed 57-acre redevelopment area. But even those studies determined that the Burger King itself wasn’t actually blighted. Nevertheless, North Kansas City still wanted to seize the property. According to Gilbertson, “They offered about a third of what the property is really worth. There was nothing actually offered for the business itself. Just the land and the building.” On January 14, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled against North Kansas City, declaring “the city does not have the authority to condemn the Burger King property…for the purpose of eliminating blight.” The court also chided the city for relying on such authority from “‘vague or doubtful language.’”...more

The silent epidemic known as valley fever

The scientific term for the disease is coccidioidomycosis, most commonly known as valley fever. Whatever its name, the fungus-caused illness—which can be fatal—is being called a silent epidemic. "This is a high priority for the medical community," said Dr. Tom Chiller, a fungal expert with the Centers for Disease Control, told CNBC by phone. "More people are getting exposed to it, and it's an increasing problem we want to stop," added Chiller. The fungus that causes valley fever lives in soil in the U.S. desert Southwest and parts of Mexico, Central America and South America. Inhaling the fungus' airborne spores can cause flu-like symptoms that can turn into pneumonia, meningitis or even worse. Though valley fever is not contagious, cases have been on the rise. Less than 5,000 cases were reported in 1995. That number had risen to more than 20,000 by 2011. And the CDC estimates that some 150,000 cases go undiagnosed annually.  In the U.S., over 70 percent of cases occur in Arizona and 25 percent in California. The CDC says that about 60 percent of the people who inhale the spore do not contract valley fever. But one out of 200 who do get it will develop the form that can be fatal, according to a study conducted by the University of Arizona. An estimated 30 to 40 Arizona residents die from valley fever each yearThe symptoms of valley fever are similar to common illnesses—fever, cough, headache, a rash, muscle aches and joint pain—which can delay proper treatment, said Chiller at the CDC...more

Colorado firestorm: Secretary Jewell bars scribes from public meeting

The Obama administration’s testy relationship with the press is nothing new for Washington, but it’s now extended to Colorado and has touched off a firestorm after Interior Department officials booted local reporters from a public meeting earlier this week. Journalists with Colorado's Craig Daily Press and at least two other media outlets were barred from a Tuesday question-and-answer session with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, despite the fact that members of the public were allowed to attend. “What happened would be in complete alignment with the administration’s policies. We were promised the most transparent administration ever and instead we’ve gotten the opposite,” said Moffat County, Colo., Commissioner John Kinkaid, who attended the meeting along with his two fellow commissioners, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and other officials. Ms. Jewell, a former retail executive named to the Interior post by President Obama last year, “does not understand what the First Amendment is and what it means to freedom of the press.” said Noelle Leavitt Riley, managing editor of the Craig Daily Press. Interior spokesman Blake Androff said the secretary closed the meeting to press in order to ensure an “open and frank conversation.” The meeting came on the heels of Ms. Jewell’s tour of a ranch in Moffat County. The tour was meant to allow Ms. Jewell the chance to witness “innovative efforts to conserve and enhance habitat for sage grouse,” according to the Interior Department. Following that tour, Ms. Jewell was to meet with Mr. Kinkaid, Mr. Hickenlooper and other officials for a “stakeholder meeting” on the issue. Given that all three Moffat County commissioners would be in attendance, Mr. Kinkaid said they advertised the meeting and invited members of the public, in order to comply with Colorado'sSunshine Law. “That way our bases were covered,” he said...more

Editorial - Why so secret, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell?

The disregard that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell showed for Colorado's open meetings laws this week in barring reporters from an event in Craig is astonishing.

Jewell was in Colorado to encourage collaboration between conservationists, landowners and government in protecting the greater sage grouse.

She toured a ranch with Gov. John Hickenlooper and others, an event reporters could attend.
When the entourage moved to an American Legion hall for a meeting — which had been advertised as an open-to-the-public workshop of the Moffatt County Commission — reporters were kept out.

Jewell's spokesman said the meeting "was closed (to) press to allow for an open and frank discussion," according to The Daily Sentinel.

Such actions are indefensible and have the side effect of raising suspicions about the feds' intent. Colorado law was simply ignored.

Editorial - Interior secretary’s media ban is astonishing

...The community, public officials and newspaper staff were excited to see a federal official taking time to visit the northwest corner of Colorado. Moffat County holds the largest stake in the sage grouse debate in Colorado, with 75 percent of the county’s land comprising sage grouse habitat. 

Therefore, residents, businesses, elected officials and conservation groups in Moffat County are extremely concerned about the happenings of sage grouse and have been for more than a year. No one seems to want the bird to be listed as an endangered species, and everyone wants to protect the bird while ensuring private and public land use rights are not violated.

Jewell’s visit, however, was marred by a negative decision she made regarding a public meeting. She held a meeting at the American Legion in Craig after a sage grouse habitat tour.

Members of the press were invited on the tour but were not allowed at the meeting. Craig Daily Press reporter Erin Fenner was kicked out of the meeting twice by Jewell’s staff. What’s concerning about the situation is that members of the public were allowed in the sage grouse meeting but not the media. 

We’d like to remind the secretary that members of the press are also members of the public. Additionally, the governor, all three county commissioners — who posted information about the meeting and personally invited the press — were in attendance at that meeting, as were elected officials from Routt, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties...

We’re not on a crusade against Jewell, we just want her to acknowledge the double standard that was created Tuesday. If every elected official in America decided to close the press out of meetings to foster frank discussion, well, we would not have a democracy.

If Jewell continues to hold such meetings across the nation where she kicks local media out of public meetings, we think her tenure as secretary of interior will be shadowed by criticism from the press and the public, and the hard work she undertakes as a federal official will fall by the wayside.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1193

Ranch Radio will be dustin' off some 78s this week.  First selection is March Of The Roses by Dick Hartman's Tennessee Ramblers.  Here's a short bio:  Organized by Dick Hartman in the late 1920s, the Tennessee Ramblers transferred to Charlotte from Rochester, New York in 1934 under the sponsorship of Crazy Water Crystals. At that time, the band featured Hartman, "Horse Thief Harry" Blair, Kenneth "Pappy" Wolfe, Jack Gillette and native North Carolinian Cecil Campbell. The ensemble quickly established themselves as WBT's most popular stringband, receiving over one hundred thousand pieces of fan mail by the end of their first seven months of broadcasting here. After a stint of about a year at WBT, the Ramblers moved on to Atlanta to work at stations WSB and WGST. They returned to Charlotte the following year to perform again on WBT for the Southern Radio Corporation. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Ramblers were in and out of Charlotte, visiting Pittsburgh, Cincinatti, and Louisville for radio work. (Dick Hartman left the band in 1937.) Also during this period the group was beckoned to Hollywood to make several successful western films with cowboy singing stars such as Gene Autry and Tex Ritter. Titles included Ride Ranger Ride, Ridin' the Cherokee Trail, Swing Your Partner, with Dale Evans and Oh My Darling Clementine, featuring a young Roy Acuff. In the mid-1940s, Cecil Campbell took the reins of the band and led various organizations of the Tennessee Ramblers up into the 1970s.

N.M. Congressman Lujan calls for President to declare more monuments

Today, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Public Lands Subcommittee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) released a letter co-signed by 109 House Democrats urging Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to protect and conserve national treasures under the Antiquities Act. The letter was sent on the same day that Sec. Jewell will host a community meeting in New Mexico to discuss protecting the Organ Mountains. In the letter, the members write, “In today’s deeply partisan environment, it’s becoming nearly impossible for Congress to make critical conservation decisions.  The 112th Congress was the first Congress in 40 years that failed to permanently protect any of America’s treasured landscapes. The current Congress is on a path to repeat that abysmal record.”...more

Ben Ray Lujan, who represents northern NM, signed the letter urging President Obama to proclaim additional monuments.  One of the facts presented with the above press release is that 32 National Monuments have since become National Parks.  What the press release doesn't say is what Park Service policy is toward livestock grazing.  That policy is "The Service will phase out the commercial grazing of livestock whenever possible."   

Mr. Lujan, with his constant support of the environmentalists wishes on Wilderness, National Monuments and other land use designations, continues to display an anti-rural and anti-livestock bias.  Clearly he has abandoned  the practitioners of the 400 year-old tradition of livestock grazing in northern New Mexico.  What a shame that an Hispanic elected official would take such actions against a culture and industry first introduced to this country by Hispanics.

Lawsuit seeks to keep cattle out of Fossil Creek watershed

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a complaint claiming that the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service both violated the law when they decided to allow 294 cattle and six horses to graze on largely degraded expanses of juniper grasslands on a century-old cattle allotment bounded by Highway 260 on the north and Fossil Creek on the south and east. The lawsuit focuses on a 40-foot-wide, fenced gap that gives cattle direct access to Fossil Creek and on the alleged failure by the federal government to consider whether the cattle will harm the endangered Chiricahua leopard frog by preventing the spotted amphibian from moving between the handful of stock ponds it now occupies on the allotment. Ironically enough, ranchers created the stock tanks with earthen berms and sometimes water pumps attached to windmills that the frogs now occupy. The battle about letting cattle continue to graze on the allotment has sloshed back and forth since 2000, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the Chiricahua leopard frog as endangered, since the frog lived in 13 sites on the allotment. The drought prompted the Forest Service to remove all the cattle for portions of 2002 and 2003 and then again from 2004 through 2006. The condition of the grass improved, so cattle were returned in reduced numbers from 2006 to 2009. The Center in court successfully challenged the 2009 environmental assessment, prompt­ing the Forest Service to prepare a new analysis that came to the same conclusion in 2013. The Center is now challenging that study, along with the May 13 decision to continue grazing. Red Rock Ranger District Ranger Heather Provencio in that determination concluded that allowing the cattle to continue grazing won’t have any significant impact on the leopard frog or the other endangered species found in and along Fossil Creek. She concluded that rotating about 300 cattle through 28 pastures and giving them access to water in Fossil Creek along one, fenced stretch will not harm any endangered species, including the leopard frogs living in the stock tanks. She noted that the Forest Service will monitor the condition of the grassland and will require the removal of cattle if necessary. The 300 cattle represent a 38 percent decline from the previous cap of about 462 cattle. She noted the grazing plan includes an effort to cut down and burn off encroaching juniper on about 1,200 acres, which will improve the condition of the grasslands...more