Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Modern medicine in the cowboy world

by Julie Carter

I once told a story about a blind yearling calf that, in the middle of the pasture, loaded up in the stock trailer on his own. I knew the doubters would come running but what surprised me was where the doubt was directed.

Not at the event itself -- the calf actually ending up in the trailer and the three cowboys with ropes but no horses were as surprised as anyone. One of them was sporting recent shoulder surgery and could be of no help except to claim credit for parking the pickup and trailer at a perfect angle.

One skeptic said he suspected the influence of Crown Royal or at the very minimum, an anesthesia overdose not-yet-worn-off the cowboy sporting the $27,000 shoulder surgery. He called that the second lie. “Greg wouldn’t spend $27,000 on shoulder surgery,” he said. “He won’t spend that on a truck.”

This led to group reflection on cowboys and medicine.

Cowboys are sometimes the biggest babies—too tough to take the doc’s advice or medication but world class at moaning and groaning for the 90-mile-drive back to the ranch. It’s not unusual for the Mrs. to grab the pain pill bottle saying “Give me those blasted pills! One of us needs to feel better.”

Most cowboys will sell their soul to get a body part fixed so they can go back out and do whatever it was they did to hurt it in the first place. And first, always, they will self-medicate with an assortment of over-the-counter offerings even if that counter is at the local honky tonk.

Jeff, on the wise-side of his fifth decade, had a stout three-year old colt buck him off resulting in an emergency room visit. This was followed by time spent with triage nurses, doctors, radiology technicians, family practice physicians, orthopedic specialists and a bona fide physical therapist.

His wife carried a dictionary around to translate their diagnosis, prognosis, treatment protocols, medication and device advice. This was followed by a barrage of bills in the mailbox that took a fair amount of accounting expertise to decipher.

The real problem at hand was getting to the cure. His actual diagnosis was Type 2 acromioclavicular separation, as in “hurt shoulder.” That made logical sense as that is where he landed. If he had just had the foresight to find a soft spot to land all this could have, in theory, been avoided.

Each of the specialists, with a serious direct eye-to-eye gaze, told him to wear the immobilization device. We call that a splint. They advised he not lift anything including his arm and it would be six weeks before he move anything except his lips to moan.

Next was the electric stimulation to the muscles to facilitate healing and a very dedicated physical therapist determined to bring wellness no matter the pain level. In a moment’s time the cowboy was promoted from complete immobility to lifting weights over his head.

A series of repetitive moves with pulleys, weights and other devices ensued, moving the cowboy into a realm of exercises he couldn’t have done before the accident, let alone while on injured reserve.

The cowboy declared there was nothing about roping that was as physically hard as what the therapist had him doing. So he went home from therapy, saddled his horse and roped a pen of steers just because he could.

Hee Haw’s multi-talented Archie Campbell played many rolls on the 60s-70s variety TV program, one of which was the leering doctor giving sage advice to his patients that would hold true still today.  “If it hurts when you do that, don’t do that.”

Julie can be reached for comment at

A bunch of heifers and a future

School House Pasture
A bunch of heifers and a future
Prince Albert tins
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            The empty Prince Albert tobacco tin was the clue.
            Dusty and I were coming down the main drainage of Brock Canyon just west from his headquarters when we saw it. The conversation immediately shifted to Albert Wilmeth.
‘Mr. Wilmeth’ left an esoteric legacy among the circle who knew him. Prince Albert tins were a lingering part of it. For years after he was gone and Dusty had acquired the School House allotment, he or others would occasionally find one of those rusting tins. Most of them were found where they were tossed when the tin was emptied and the last cigarette was rolled. Others were found and used as chats with notes in a pile of rocks signifying a mining claim.
            I can remember the process very well. Rain or shine, hot or cold, still or in a spring wind, he would reach for his makings. He would tear off a piece of paper and put the rest back. He’d crease the wrap in his left hand and then reach for the Prince Albert in his jumper. Never pulling the horse up, he’d tap the tobacco out, spread it, lick the paper and spin it into a perfect roll.
He’d then reach for a match and strike it across his Levis. If the wind was blowing, he’d use his jumper as a windbreak.
I loved the smell of those freshly lit cigarettes.
            I can’t remember what Dusty and I did with the tin that day. I wish I had kept it. It would mean a lot to me, and … it would certainly prompt memories.
“Time to jingle, son”
            That nudge was from Grandpa Albert and the clock in the front of the house would have just chimed 5:15.
Indeed, time to jingle and that meant gathering the horses. In our vernacular, it was simply, horses. That meant the dozen or so horses that were kept in the pasture that ran between the headquarters on the west side of the Mangus and across the creek to the filling station at Mangus Springs.
            I never dreaded waking. It was always a thrill to be on the cusp of making a ride. The only regret I have now is not spending yet more time with Grandpa. Perhaps that is now impacted by the desire to converse with him in terms of years of experience as opposed to being a kid that just wanted to follow him around horseback.
            The sweet smell of predawn greeted us as we walked to the barn.
            We talked sparingly. Grandpa was not a great detail communicator. He would keep you between the posts, but he would make you work most things out by yourself. Other than catching the horse on which we jingled, that meant catching your own day horse. That meant throwing your own saddle. That meant figuring out how to do what he told you to do.
            As you got your saddle and pads out of the barn, he’d be off into the dark to catch the lone horse “kept up” for the purpose of gathering the horses those mornings. That one time he’d throw the saddle, and, when we were little, he’d boost us into the saddle.
            He’d walk with you to the gate, open it, and then … you were on your own.
            The gather was an experience of immense freedom. The predawn, the cool morning, the feel of the fresh horse, the anticipation of the inevitable run back to the corral, and the responsibility were learning experiences few ten year old and younger kids could fathom today. Wrapped in the security of that little silver horned saddle, all the tools of making a young cowboy were brought to bear.
It was exhilarating.
            The order of business that day was to move replacement heifers from the windmill trap to School House pasture. After eating breakfast, we were saddled and gone promptly at 7:00. Goofus, the sorrel gelding, was mine for the day. Jack was bowed up and walking sideways under Grandpa as we left the corral. We were in full ranch regalia that morning. We were going to be in the brush for part of the ride and leggins’ were the order.
            Grandpa would have a hard time striking a match across his split hide batwings. He’d have to strike them under the nail of his right thumb.
            I was always told it was exactly one mile to the windmill in the windmill trap. We made the ride without ever letting the horses trot. By the time we got there and started gathering, both horses were reaching and walking. That was the mandatory rule of horsemanship with my grandfather. He could get as much out of a horse as anybody I ever saw. Even at the end of hard days, he still had a horse under him. He taught you those things without ever saying anything.
            The heifers were heifers.
            Like young girls that didn’t know whether they were still little girls or women, they simply reacted to the herd responses. Days like that taught me something Grandpa didn’t. I don’t recall him ever putting older cows with his weaned calves. We now believe the influence of an older cow that knows the country and has been with those home grown replacements is a stabilizing factor. The calves won’t be as silly and unpredictable with a nurse cow.
            The first quarter mile was fast and furious. It was the right stuff for ten year old cowboys who have been exposed to a few runoff cattle.
            The climb out of the trap helped settle the cattle, and, by the time we topped out, we had things in pretty good order. There was still little talking as our attention was on the calves and the expectation that the descent down the other side would present another challenge of holding them up and together.
            When they did try to run, Grandpa got them headed and I kept the drags up and close. By the time we hit the extended canyon bottom off the other side of the divide, we had them lined out and acting like young ladies. It was then time for a bit of conversation back and forth.
            The cut in the bottom of the canyon along the two tracked road helped split the herd and I was coming down the left side of the drive across the cut from the rest of the calves and Grandpa. There was order, though, and we let the calves set their own pace.
            “What are you going to do with your life, Stevie?” he asked out of the blue.
            I suppose my delayed reaction was typical of that ten year old. He asked me again and there was insistence in his demeanor.
            “I am going to be a cowboy just like you, Grandpa”, was my natural inclination and reaction on a day like that one.
His response was not at all like I had expected. He was very negative about it and told me there were better things that needed to be pursued. I didn’t like that response and felt very intimidated by his less than patronizing drilling that continued. He was pretty tough with me.
We finished our drive by holding the heifers up at the corral and water lot in the bottom of School House Canyon. We forced them to hang around the water to make sure they all saw what was there and the importance it would be to them and they wintered in that pasture.
The ride out
Grandpa was never just my friend. He was my abuelo who seldom wavered from seriousness. It was always work and sticking to business. The fact we finished the drive didn’t mean the day was over, and … far from it.
Since we were over in that part of the country, it was necessary to make a little soiree out across it. I now know he was looking at feed. We also looked at water gaps. We checked for tracks of cattle that were not supposed to be there, and we checked waters.
When we finally turned and headed for the house, we topped out and crossed the divide right in the same place Dusty and I found that empty tin of Prince Albert tobacco 32 years later. Very likely Grandpa had lit another smoke and settled in for that ride off the ridge. He would have been thinking what he needed to do next, and I was doing what was most important … I was following him horseback.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Grandpa was the only man of his standing and his generation that I know whose children all earned college degrees. Of that, I hope he was proud, but, like it or not, his words didn’t sway me. I dreamed every day of owning those heifers we put over that ridgeline.”

Baxter Black: Fair board drama

I went to America last week … the middle of America, Kansas, to a county fair. I flew into Denver and drove across miles and miles of green prairie. If America has a heart, it’s out on the plains. It’s not an easy place to live. You have to earn its respect. It will test you with blizzards, tornadoes, floods, droughts, dust, plagues and loneliness. It is often all or none. One learns to be self-sufficient.

The county fair is often the biggest event of the year in many plains communities. Carnivals, tractor pulls, rodeos, cotton candy … where else can you get cotton candy? And the occasional traveling cowboy poet. For the agricultural folks it has two purposes: to train the next generation of farmers in the profound knowledge that it takes to feed the world, and second, to meet and educate consumers about where their food comes from.

This summer, the plains have turned into a garden. Less rain at the right time is better than more rain at the wrong time, which brings me to my trip. By the time I reached the little town in Kansas, the clouds were beginning to huddle, planning their next play. I went by the fairgrounds to greet the fair board and check in. My performance was to be in the outdoor rodeo arena. The bell horn speakers sounded like the announcer at the Kentucky Derby.

We, the board and I, worked on the sound system so it didn’t sound like a tornado warning. When it was perfect, we moved it and broke one of the connectors. Repair required a trip to Radio Shack in the next town 42 miles away. The sky was turning a bruised blue color in the north. I went to the hotel and changed into my fancy shirt. The show was advertised as a 7 p.m. performance. At 6 p.m., I was back at the fairgrounds. The crowd was beginning to gather in the stands. Many of them had driven 50-plus miles to be there. The carnival temporarily had shut down in anticipation of rain. The clouds looked ominous. The storm hit at 6:30 p.m.

New Mexico’s forests are warming and transforming

The sun illuminates patches of green on brown and black hillsides around Highway 152 near Emory Pass in the Gila National Forest. Gambel oak and other shrubs whose roots survived a lightning-sparked wildfire in 2013 sprout on many slopes once dominated by ponderosa pines. Black, mangled masses of wood and dead barley plants loom over the new growth, which also includes aspens, grass and wildflowers. The barley grew last fall from seeds the U.S. Forest Service dropped to minimize erosion after the Silver Fire. Pines survived in many areas within the 139,000-acre burn scar. But in other places, the trees were incinerated – and in the most heavily torched areas, new pines aren’t sprouting. Though New Mexico hasn’t seen a similarly large fire this year due in part to recent rains that have pushed parts of the state out of drought, such blazes have become commonplace here. With so many coniferous trees dying – including ponderosa pines and the official state tree, the piñon –forests in Southern New Mexico, Northern New Mexico and beyond are transforming into new ecosystems people living today haven’t seen before. Credit human-caused overgrowth in our forests, along with drought and the planet’s warming climate, for the shift. In the desert Southwest, an immense amount of tinder sits on top of a drier landscape in a climate that’s warmer than at any time in the past 1,000 years, scientists believe. “We can’t stop the fires. We can’t stop the forests from thinning themselves out, because there’s just not enough water to support this biomass,” says Craig Allen. Since the 1980s, the U.S. Geological Survey research ecologist has studied the history of landscapes in the Southwest and how climate change is affecting them. It’s possible that, in the future, more mountain ranges across the Southwest will look like America’s newest national monument, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks monument in Doña Ana County, Allen says. Some ponderosa pines and piñon grow in the Organs, particularly around water sources. But more drought-tolerant shrubs and grasses cover much of the Organs and other peaks in the national monument around Las Cruces, which by road is about 95 miles southeast of Emory Pass. It’s not a question of if New Mexico will lose coniferous forests. Up to 18 percent of the Southwest’s forests were lost to wildfire and bark beetle outbreaks – both issues related to the warming climate – between 1984 and 2006, according to a 2010 study Allen helped author. The question is how many coniferous trees New Mexico is going to lose...more

Stunning satellite images show summer ice cap is thicker and covers 1.7 million square kilometres more than 2 years ago

The speech by former US Vice-President Al Gore was apocalyptic. ‘The North Polar ice cap is falling off a cliff,’ he said. ‘It could be completely gone in summer in as little as seven years. Seven years from now.’ Those comments came in 2007 as Mr Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaigning on climate change. But seven years after his warning, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that, far from vanishing, the Arctic ice cap has expanded for the second year in succession – with a surge, depending on how you measure it, of between 43 and 63 per cent since 2012. o put it another way, an area the size of Alaska, America’s biggest state, was open water two years ago, but is again now covered by ice. The most widely used measurements of Arctic ice extent are the daily satellite readings issued by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, which is co-funded by Nasa. These reveal that – while the long-term trend still shows a decline – last Monday, August 25, the area of the Arctic Ocean with at least 15 per cent ice cover was 5.62 million square kilometres. This was the highest level recorded on that date since 2006 (see graph, right), and represents an increase of 1.71 million square kilometres over the past two years – an impressive 43 per cent. Other figures from the Danish Meteorological Institute suggest that the growth has been even more dramatic. Using a different measure, the area with at least 30 per cent ice cover, these reveal a 63 per cent rise – from 2.7 million to 4.4 million square kilometres...more

Eco-activists 'painting a big, green bull's-eye' on Colorado for election day

Environmentalists in Colorado may have lost a rallying cry this year when efforts to limit fracking didn't make the ballot, but that hasn't stopped eco-activists from painting a big, green bull's-eye on the state. Several national groups already have begun campaigning in Colorado in preparation for Election Day, and the Environmental Defense Fund on Tuesday vowed to make the state the centerpiece of a broad effort to highlight the issue of climate change. The overall aim is to energize young and environmentally conscious voters — although questions remain on whether the latest initiative, along with other pro-environmental efforts in the state, can reverse a long-standing trend of low turnout in midterm election years. "It's certainly the biggest thing we're doing nationally," Environmental Defense Fund spokesman Keith Gaby said of the group's planned $2 million campaign in Colorado to get 100,000 voters to the polls. Expected to work a similar beat will be staffers and volunteers for NextGen Climate, an advocacy group founded by investor and environmentalist Tom Steyer. A consultant to NextGen Climate said the organization is planning a multimillion-dollar effort in Colorado this year that will focus on the highly competitive U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Mark Udall and Republican challenger Cory Gardner. Also backing Udall in his Senate race is the League of Conservation Voters. Group officials are marshaling a large get-out-the-vote drive that they said could tip the scales. "We are going to be putting forth a major effort this fall to ensure that young people, married and single women and Hispanic voters turn out and vote for pro-environment candidates," said Daniel J. Weiss of the League of Conservation Voters...more

Is the EPA listening to voters or a billionaire climate activist?

As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moves forward with its plan to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, Americans deserve answers to two questions: who really drafted these regulations, and who will be hurt by them? The EPA claims the regulations were drafted for the benefit of all Americans. The evidence, however, points to regulations that were drafted by wealthy climate activists and special interest groups without regard for the impact on American families. Advertisement One of the most glaring examples of this is the role of billionaire Tom Steyer. Steyer is a former hedge fund manager whose fortune was accumulated in part due to investments in fossil fuel projects. He has since pledged to divest himself from these investments and fight the fossil fuel industry. These days, he is best known for his pledge to spend up to $100 million dollars during this election cycle to help Democrats committed to advancing his climate change agenda. Recently, Steyer hired Daniel Lashof to become the chief operating officer of his “super PAC,” NextGen Climate. Prior to that, Lashof was a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and one of the architects of the group’s climate proposal. In a recent New York Times report, the EPA was found to have used that NRDC proposal as the basis for its own greenhouse gas regulations. Americans should be concerned with who is influencing the EPA’s decisions because it is evident that these special interest groups care little about the pocketbook issues facing most Americans. Taking coal out of our nation’s energy portfolio will increase electricity costs and hurt families on a budget. This year, families earning less than $30,000 annually are expected to pay an average of 26 percent of their income on energy costs. Higher electricity bills will leave these families with even less money for basic necessities like food and housing. Instead of listening or addressing these concerns, many elites prefer to mock them. Addressing a crowd in Aspen, Colorado, Steyer recently insinuated that everyday Americans, “99.5 percent of the people,” simply cannot comprehend climate change while “super-sophisticated people,” are working to address the issue. Steyer’s remarks demonstrate how one-sided the environmental community believes this issue is and how grossly out-of-touch they are with the reality facing American workers who deserve to be equal stakeholders in this debate...more

Banning chocolate milk backfires

To some, banning chocolate milk from elementary schools seemed like a good idea, but new Cornell University research shows that removing chocolate milk from school menus has negative consequences. “When schools ban chocolate milk, we found it usually backfires. On average, milk sales drop by 10 percent, 29 percent of white milk gets thrown out, and participation in the school lunch program may also decrease,” reports Andrew Hanks, lead author and research associate Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. “This is probably not what parents wanted to see.” The Cornell study, which included professors David Just and Brian Wansink was published today in PLOS ONE; it examined what happened when chocolate milk was banned in a sample of Oregon elementary school. It shows what happens when chocolate milk-loving kids are suddenly confronted with something paler – and proposes what researchers hope can be a healthful compromise...more

New Mexico Old Time Fiddler's Association 42nd State Championship Contest

Oct 3 at 10:00am to Oct 5 at 5:00pm

T or C Civic Center


Friday, October 3, 2014: MC: TBA
Saturday, October 4, 2014: MC: Wes Burris
DIVISION 1: (12 & under) DIVISION 2: (13-40)
Entry Fee: None Entry Fee: $10.00
1. $100.00 & Trophy 1. $350. & Trophy
2. $ 80.00 & Trophy 2. $100. 00
3. $60.00 & Trophy 3. $75.00
4. $75.00 & Trophy
5. $50.00 & Trophy
6. $30.00 & Trophy
DIVISION 3: (41-65) DIVISION 4: (66 & UP)
Entry Fee: $10.00 Entry Fee: $10.0
1. $350. &Trophy 1. $350. & Trophy
2. $100.00 2. $100.00
3. $75.00 3. $ 75.00
Sunday, October 5, 2014: MC: Wes Burris
SIERRA COUNTY SENIOR OLYMPICS KITCHEN: 8:00 AM – 4:00 P.M. SPECIAL GOSPEL SING: 10:00 A.M. -11:00 A.M. Hall of Fame Induction: 11:00 A.M. -12:00 PM LUNCH: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CONTEST FINALS: 1:00 PM - APPROXIMATELY TO 5:00 P.M
DIVISION 5: Accompanist DIVISION 6: State Championship
(NM Residents only)
Entry Fee: $10.00 Entry Fee: $20.00
1. $250.00 1. $500.00 & Trophy
2. $125.00 2. $200.00
3. $100.00 3. $100.00
Contact: Zelma Iorio, NMOTFA Secretary Phone: 575 297-4125 E-mail:
Mail: PO Box 469, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico 87901


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1282

Red Foley & The Sunshine Boys Quartet performing Peace In The Valley will wrap up "Country Classics Week" on Ranch Radio. The tune was recorded in Nashville on March 27, 1951 and released as Decca 46319.

White House: Border Crisis Over For Now

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the crisis of unaccompanied minors at the southern border is over “for now” on Friday. Earnest cautioned that “these numbers are very volatile,” and pointed out that the hotter summer weather is part of the reason for the decrease in unaccompanied minors, but credited actions taken by the Obama administration for the reduction in unaccompanied minors at the border, saying, “There is no doubt that the administration has made a substantial contribution to the reduction in those numbers.”...more

Border Surge Fueled By Obama's 99.3% Chance Of Being Allowed To Stay

The Obama administration has quietly released 37,477 illegal immigrant minors into the U.S. and deported a mere 280. So much for its warning to border jumpers that if they came here illegally, they'd be deported. Much of the debate on the unprecedented border surge from Central America over the summer has been over whether the Obama administration's lax immigration policies have encouraged illegal immigration or if the crisis is a crime wave driving some 90,000 unaccompanied minors north through the U.S.' unguarded Texas border. The answer couldn't be clearer than in the latest reporting from the Washington Examiner, which noted Friday that 37,477 illegal immigrant minors in the first six months of 2014 have been released into the U.S., while just 280 have been deported. It exposes as false President Obama's protestations, made in the heat of the public relations disaster of the border surge, that anyone crossing the Texas border would be sent back. Obama made those claims in response to photos of human squalor that were leaked to Breitbart and gained broader attention via Drudge Report. Turns out he wasn't sincere at all. The news of illegals being released into society gives potential new border surgers the message that the border is open and anyone who is caught entering by the Border Patrol will be permitted to stay. The data can only assure them — and the cartel smuggling groups whispering to potential illegals that they'll get "permisos" — that the president's word is worthless. Actions speak louder than words. With the odds of being released into the U.S. at 99.3% and the odds of being deported at 0.7%, there's a clear incentive to try one's luck...more

Online posts show ISIS eyeing Mexican border, operatives in Juarez

Social media chatter shows Islamic State militants are keenly aware of the porous U.S.-Mexico border, and are “expressing an increased interest” in crossing over to carry out a terrorist attack, according to a Texas law enforcement bulletin sent out this week. “A review of ISIS social media messaging during the week ending August 26 shows that militants are expressing an increased interest in the notion that they could clandestinely infiltrate the southwest border of US, for terror attack,” warns the Texas Department of Public Safety "situational awareness" bulletin, obtained by The three-page bulletin, entitled “ISIS Interest on the US Southwest Border” and dated Aug. 28 was released to law enforcement on Thursday. “Social media account holders believed to be ISIS militants and propagandists have called for unspecified border operations, or they have sought to raise awareness that illegal entry through Mexico is a viable option,” states the law enforcement bulletin, which is not classified. Despite assurances that no threat to American soil is imminent, the watchdog group Judicial Watch said Friday that Islamic State operatives are in Juarez, just across the border from Texas, and are planning to attack the United States with car bombs. "Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat," Judicial Watch stated on its website. The Texas law enforcement bulletin cites suspected fighters from the terrorist group previously known as ISIS and based in Syria and Iraq as eyeing a border crossing...more

Mexican cartels ramp up human smuggling business

Recent waves of Central American immigrants arriving illegally in the U.S. have made human smuggling at least temporarily more lucrative for Mexican drug cartels, according to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security agent. Oscar Hagelsieb, assistant special agent charge of the department’s investigations unit in El Paso, told The Dallas Morning News ( for a Saturday report that the Gulf cartel and others in the region have “clamped their claws” into human smuggling, without abandoning their drug smuggling activities. “We’ve been able to trace millions of dollars going into the Reynosa area. You cannot operate a criminal venture of that magnitude without the cartels having a major role in it,” Hagelsieb said. Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, associate professor at the University of Texas at Brownsville, says new groups could also get involved in human smuggling, which she said has “become much more profitable.”...more

Surge of illegal immigrant kids poses challenge for schools

What was a crisis on America's southern border is now turning into a major challenge for school administrators across the country. Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have crossed into the U.S. in recent months, and those not being held in health department-run facilities have in many cases been sent to live with sponsors, who are typically extended family members. As the new school year begins, the children, who in many cases don't speak English and have limited reading skills, are showing up for class. This has raised questions in local districts about the strain it could put on teachers. "They may have only gone to 2nd or 3rd grade, have limited literacy in their first language. That does create a different kind of teaching impact on a school than our traditional immigrant families," Anne Arundel County, Md., administrator Kelly Reider told Fox affiliate WBFF. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has complained that Obama Cabinet members promised to keep state officials in the loop, yet he says Louisiana received no warning of the influx. "In my state, the Obama administration sent over a thousand children without telling us, without telling social services, without telling the schools," Jindal said on "The Laura Ingraham Show."...more

Saturday, August 30, 2014

"45 Seconds" - The time Tom Udall gave rancher Mike Lucero in DC

This is a political ad for Allen Weh, but goes a long way in demonstrating how Udall has treated the ranching community in NM.

New Mexico delays controversial Gila vote

The sinuous Gila River arises from springs and caves in the Black Range Mountains just west of the Continental Divide in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness. From there, it tumbles down box canyons before twisting through the ranches and farms of southwest New Mexico’s Cliff-Gila Valley and onto the cactus dotted plains near Silver City. Once, the Gila flowed 650 miles all the way to the Colorado River on the California-Arizona border, but today, the waters disappear in the desert outside Phoenix. As New Mexico’s last major dam-free river, the Gila is an anomaly in an arid region where states fight to control every last bit of water. But a decision is near that could alter the river’s flow forever. New Mexico’s nine-member Interstate Stream Commission is considering three proposals to divert up to 14,000 acre-feet of water from the Gila —about 4.5 billion gallons — for cities, farms, and people in the four counties of southwestern New Mexico. The commission announced on Tuesday that it’s postponing its final vote until later this fall. The diversion proposals are among 15 — including municipal water conservation and irrigation ditch improvements — that the commission is weighing before a December 31 deadline, when it must choose whether or not to take advantage of water it’s entitled to under the 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act. The law reserves $90 million in federal funds to help improve the water supply in the southwestern part of the state, either through conservation programs, or through building a diversion. But the latter comes with an additional $46 million subsidy. The commission has spent millions analyzing the technical feasibility, economic costs, and environmental impacts of the various proposals as well as on studies of the Gila itself — from its hydrology and riparian ecosystems, to how climate change will impact future flows. But with many inquiries still in progress, key details surrounding the diversion proposals remain murky. The basic idea, however, is that they would draw water only during major flood events like those that accompany the late summer monsoons — when the river flows at 30,000 cubic feet per second, unleashing a half-mile wide torrent filled with trees and boulders. Because of the volume, the commission maintains that the diversions would have a minimal impact on the Gila...more

Zozobra draws more than 30,000 to Fort Marcy park

Though he wore no customary skirt or bow tie, Will Shuster's Zozobra burned late Friday night for the 90th time in Fort Marcy Ballpark as he always has — in front of a cheering, jeering crowd. Police say this one exceeded 30,000 people. And the burn went off smoothly, despite complaints earlier in the week about changes in Zozobra's appearance, the event's separation from Fiesta de Santa Fe and worries about potential violence that could arise because of overcrowding. But of the dozens of people interviewed during the event, no one complained about the new look of the 50-foot marionette, few cared about the separation from Fiesta, and the Santa Fe Police Department reported no major incidents or arrests. Ray Sandoval, director of the event for the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe, said about 10,000 advance tickets were sold across the nation. It’s unclear how many were sold at the gates Friday night, but this year’s burning did appear larger than the 2013 event, which drew 31,000 spectators. A man dressed as a city attorney from the 1920s stepped in front of Old Man Gloom and read the charges levied against him, concluding with a triumphant shout: “I hereby sentence you to death by fire!” Gloomies — children dressed in sheets — swung their arms and paraded in front of Zozobra. People carrying torches lit large, dry bundles of sticks, and finally, the fire dancer who traditionally ignites Old Man Gloom began a winding dance. Zozobra let loose his guttural moans and the crowd began its mantra: “Burn him. Burn him.” When Zozobra finally exploded into flames, his groans grew increasingly frantic then stopped altogether. As the fire consumed him, he finally collapsed into a pile of wood, nails and ash, and the crowd rejoiced with savage cries at his fiery demise at about 9:30 p.m. The ceremony ended with a fireworks display over the Fort Marcy park...more

Border Patrol agent fires at armed militia member

A Border Patrol agent pursuing a group of immigrants in a wooded area near the Texas-Mexico border on Friday fired several shots at an armed man who later identified himself as a militia member. Border Patrol spokesman Omar Zamora said agents had been chasing a group of immigrants east of Brownsville Friday afternoon when an agent saw a man holding a gun near the Rio Grande. The agent fired four shots, but did not hit the man. The man then dropped his gun and identified himself as a member of a militia. Zamora said no other details were immediately available. Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio, whose agency is involved in the investigation, said the incident occurred on private property and it appeared the man had permission to be there. He was not arrested, Lucio said. The man, whose name has not been released, was wearing camouflage and carrying a long arm that was either a rifle or shotgun, Lucio said. The agent had lost the group of immigrants when he turned around and saw the man holding the weapon. An unknown number of militia members have come to the Texas border following a surge in illegal immigration this summer...more

Immigrant Detention Center (Artesia) Not Approved By State For Childcare

As Immigration lawyers prepare to battle the federal government over possible due process violations against immigrant women and children detained in Artesia, records obtained by KUNM raise another legal question about the facility—whether the detention center is in compliance with state child welfare laws. Protesters from across New Mexico lined the streets near the immigrant detention center in Artesia last week decrying what they said were substandard living conditions and due process violations at the former border patrol training center. Hundreds have been deported from Artesia since the facility was re-purposed as a detention center to accommodate the flood of Central American women and children arrested at the border after fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. These kinds of problems—lack of medical care and improper nutrition—would be illegal in a state-licensed childcare facility. And lawyers working in Artesia say they’re illegal in the immigrant detention center too, if they’re happening. That’s because of a law that requires immigrant detention centers that hold minors to either move children into state licensed childcare facilities within 72 hours of arrest or to have the state license the detention center itself as a childcare facility...more

Friday, August 29, 2014

Nev. ranchers plan coast-to-coast horseback ride to protest 'tyranny'

Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

When a Nevada county commissioner in May led a horseback ride more than 300 miles across northern Nevada to protest the Bureau of Land Management's grazing closures on public lands, it got the agency's attention.

The "Grass March" from Elko to Carson City -- modeled after Gandhi's Salt March to protest British colonialism -- garnered national headlines and spurred BLM to cut a deal allowing ranchers to turn their cattle back out onto the land, said Elko County Commissioner Grant Gerber, who led the ride.

But the grazing deal imploded last month after BLM found cows had eaten too much grass and the agency ordered the closure of about 50,000 acres of the Argenta allotment, a move that affected six extended ranching families. Drought, BLM argues, threatens the long-term health of the range, as well as the greater sage grouse, which uses the lands to mate, raise young and hide from predators.

The ranchers disagreed and have challenged the decision in an Interior Department administrative court.

They're also seeking a win in the court of public opinion.

Gerber, 72, is planning a coast-to-coast horseback ride next month, dubbed the "Cowboy Express," to protest land-use restrictions imposed by BLM's Battle Mountain, Nev., District Manager Doug Furtado.
"The theme of it is 'regulation without representation is tyranny,'" said Gerber, an attorney and fourth-generation Nevadan whose family ranched the area beginning in the 1800s. "We have no local control on any federal land issue. It's tyranny for one man to be able to dominate a whole region."

The ride will begin Sept. 26 at Point Reyes National Seashore and will continue roughly 20 days to Washington, D.C., and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean, Gerber said. Organizers say they already have about 10 riders. They'll take turns riding, with a motor home and pickups with horse trailers following behind.

Gerber and local ranchers say Furtado, at the behest of environmentalists, is bent on removing livestock from the Battle Mountain District, a claim BLM emphatically denies. The ride will stop in Carson City on Sept. 29 to pick up petitions calling for Furtado's removal and carry them to Washington.

While ranching disputes are not uncommon in Nevada, a state with a heavy anti-federal sentiment, BLM is watching the Argenta situation closely, as it comes months after the agency's nearly violent run-in with rancher Cliven Bundy.

But organizers say the ride represents more than the plight of Nevada ranchers. Its beginning location at Point Reyes is symbolic. That's where the National Park Service recently declined to renew a permit for the Drakes Bay Oyster Co., in favor of promoting wilderness. Riders will carry petitions raising grievances over endangered species, water, wildfire, wetlands, wilderness and "other mismanagement failures" of the federal government, according to the ride’s website.

Eddyann Filippini, who is one of the three permittees asked to remove livestock from the Argenta allotment, said she was previously ordered to remove 900 cows from two separate allotments due to drought. "Everyone's getting a ding," she said.

Filippini said she plans to ride the entire route beginning from Carson City.
Gerber said he scheduled the ride in late September so it would be cool for the horses but not too late in the year that riders would encounter snow. It's also timed to coincide with a new moon phase, he said, which will allow some overnight rides.

 It's unclear what they'll do when, and if, they reach Washington. Gerber said he plans to ride "up the steps and into the halls," but he did not elucidate.

Editorial - Hetch Hetchy lawsuit tests environmental tactics

The Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability, a Fresno-based nonprofit friendly to ag interests, has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking an injunction against further diversions from California’s Tuolumne River to the Hetch Hetchy Project until the National Park Service complies with provisions of environmental law. The project is operated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, but is regulated by the National Park Service. The Delta is ground zero for all things water in drought-plagued California. As the plaintiffs contend, officials have cut irrigation water deliveries to the federal Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project to maintain flows to the Delta to protect the endangered Delta smelt and other species. But flows to the Hetch Hetchy Project have never been curtailed to maintain the volume in the Delta. Plaintiffs contend the National Park Service each year approves instream flows and other Hetch Hetchy Project operations without consulting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as to their impact on Tuolumne River habitat and endangered species. Such consultations are required, according to the lawsuit, by the Endangered Species Act. Critics are quick to call the Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability a “shadowy” front group for anti-environmental interests. We concede that the plaintiff’s brand of environmentalism is not of the same flavor as the “mainstream” environmental groups that normally bring these actions. The more relevant point is whether the lawsuit has merit. We’ve covered enough lawsuits over the Endangered Species Act to see that the plaintiffs in this case have followed the environmentalists’ playbook to the letter. They have found an instance where the federal government has failed to fulfill the requirements of the act, and are suing to enforce upon the Hetch Hetchy Project the same law that has led to severe cuts in irrigation water in the valley. The difference in this case is that the end users of the water in question are the politically connected and ever-so environmentally conscious residents of San Francisco, not farmers and ranchers...more

Pro-wolf groups pressure Gov. Inslee to curb wolf control

Environmental groups on Thursday asked Gov. Jay Inslee to push for the creation of strict rules limiting when wolves can be killed in response to livestock depredations. Their petition sought to limit when the state Department of Fish and Wildlife can kill wolves. It would also require ranchers to use nonlethal measures to protect their livestock. Rules similar to those requested by the petition are in place in Oregon. The groups made the request as the state was in the process this week of trying to kill four wolves in the Huckleberry Pack in an effort to protect a herd of sheep. One wolf has been killed so far...more

Drought lessons from a sheep rancher

While a severe drought continues to devastate California agriculture, one sheep rancher in Oroville has found a centuries-old solution at the bottom of his wood stove - and researchers at UC Davis are paying attention. After dumping ash from a weekend cookout in his backyard, Mel Thompson noticed the grass grew a little better. On the advice of Glenn Nader, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor based in Yuba City, Thompson took the initiative to research wood ash on his own, going as far as to establish a connection with an Oroville-based energy plant 20 minutes away, which was paying millions to deliver wood ash to the landfill. Today, the difference in growth from that wood ash can be seen in two adjoining pastures on Thompson’s foothill ranch. One layered in ash three years ago has chest-high grass despite the drought, while the untreated pasture has considerably shorter ground cover. While the benefits of supplementing crops with ash have long been known, the UC Davis researchers were interested in specifically how it was altering the soil composition to promote plant growth and how it could help other ranchers in this Northern California region. “It has improved our feed production significantly,” says Thompson. “With that, in conjunction with fencing and the rotational grazing, we seem to be doing OK through this drought period.”...more

Oregon spotted frog will be protected

Twenty-three years after it was first proposed for protection by the Endangered Species Act, the Oregon spotted frog is being listed as a threatened species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to publish its decision today in the Federal Register. It takes effect 30 days later. The frog was first proposed for Endangered Species Act protection in 1991. Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity said it is one of the many species that became mired in a backlog caused by political opposition to species protection and a lack of funding, until a settlement with the Obama administration put it on a timetable for consideration for listing. The frog measures about 2 to 4 inches long, and it is marked by dark spots. The males make a call like a distant woodpecker tapping on a tree. Habitat for the frog has been lost to urban and agricultural development, livestock grazing, the removal of beavers and the encroachment of non-native grasses, the agency said. Non-native fish and bullfrogs have eaten them. A proposal for protecting critical habitat is not expected until the fall, so it is hard to gauge how much conflict with future development and grazing the listing might create, Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Ann Froschauer said in an email. On the Fremont-Winema National Forest in southern Oregon, a rancher has been told to remove his cattle from a grazing allotment because his stock were straying behind fencing meant to protect frog habitat...more

Ranchers to tell of their troubles with the feds

Nevada ranchers Cliven Bundy and Ramona Hage-Morrison will be on the Churchill County Fairgrounds stage on Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. to tell of their battles to save their family heritage, property rights and to protect rangeland grazing. Entrance is free, but donations will be accepted. They will also talk about fighting for state sovereignty and what needs be done about unlawful Federal law enforcement activities. Bundy’s 25-year fight against the Bureau of Land Management and the Park Service came to a head in April when about 200 armed agents and snipers surrounded his ranch to take his cattle. Hage-Morrison’s was deeply involved in her family’s 35-year struggle to keep their ranching operation alive in the Tonopah area. The ongoing court battle included actions in two federal courts, 11 weeks of trial and nine published court decisions. Finally, a federal judge ruled that agencies of the U.S Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service were conducting a continuing criminal conspiracy against the Hages. The persistent efforts of Federal agencies to restrict ranching in the western states through the use of environmental protection mandates, endangered species laws and arbitrarily classifying regions as wilderness areas have cut cattle ranching in Nevada by 50 percent in the past 40 years...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1281

Faron Young - Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young, another "Country Classic", was recorded in Nashville on January 26, 1955 and released as Capitol F-3056.

Brewer Releases 99-Pack of Beer

We all know the saying "Everything is BIG in Texas." But for beer lovers everywhere, this is even cooler than big hats, belt buckles, and barbecue. Actually, this would be ideal with a lot of freshly charred barbecue. Austin Beerworks has just unveiled a new over-the-top way to get its beer into your gut with a limited-edition 99-pack of brewski. The big box of brew will set you back $99 (or a buck a can), which is pretty good for a can of this Texas good stuff. But don't expect it to fit in your compact car with ease. The packaging is insanely exaggerated at seven feet long. The brewery released the gigantic box as part of a social media campaign for its Peacemaker Anytime Ale. The 99-pack is only available in Austin, and only for a limited time and in limited quantities. By state law, the brewery is not allowed to ship out of state, so you might have to make the drive...more

'1984' in 2014? Fed Gov't Funds 'Truthy' Database to Monitor Hate Speech, Suspicious Memes

The federal government is spending close to $1 million of your money on an online tracking program that will supposedly search for so-called “hate speech” or “misinformation” on Twitter. On Fox and Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. brought us more details on the “Truthy” database, which intends to monitor suspicious Internet memes as well as false or misleading ideas spreading around social media. Johnson Jr. laid out the plans for the project according to the grant abstract from the National Science Foundation, which will finance the research by Indiana University The word "truthy" calls to mind Stephen Colbert, so one might at first think this is a harmless experiment, Johnson noted. But they've actually come up with a whole algorithm to show how they plan to locate so-called hateful, subversive and misleading "propaganda." The Indiana professor who is leading the project, Filippo Menczer, had previously identified a list of hashtags that he believed fell under the categories of "far right" and "polarizing." Among those that he listed were #foxnews, #constitution and #israel...more

Border chaos: 375,000 pending immigration cases, Obama lawyers AWOL

Two top federal judges Wednesday said the nation’s immigration courts are in chaos, with the backlog of cases at an historic high of 375,000 for just 227 judges, leading to a minimum three-year delay in hearings for illegal immigrants. In Washington to take advantage of the current crisis to demand a new court system, the judges accused the Justice Department of treating their courts like Cinderella’s abusive family by starving them of money and support and blamed the insufficient Justice funding for letting illegals “linger” in the country. “Immigration courts are the forgotten stepchild,” said Immigration Judge Dana Leigh Marks of San Francisco. She was speaking on behalf of the National Association of Immigration Judges, which she is president of. Fellow Judge Denise Noonan Slavin, the vice president of the judge’s union, said that the courts have the “status of Cinderella,” having to scrounge for supplies, support and money. She said that the lack of money forces judges to delay cases and that is “allowing those who are not entitled to be here, linger.” During their appearance at a National Press Club event, they also said that the defense lawyers President Obama promised in June have not shown up. Obama pledged $2 million to Americorps, which was to supply the legal aid. Asked if she had seen any yet, Marks said, “We have not.” Slavin, of Miami, said, “We haven’t seen an impact.” While the judges said they are feeling pressure to speed up processing of the swarms of unaccompanied children crossing the border in the latest crisis, the caseload of about 1,500 per judge is bogging the system down. Marks said that it can take 15 months before the first hearing for an illegal is held, and then the final court session won’t take place for three to four years...more

Pleasant Valley War

...Yet the Pleasant Valley War history is shrouded in mystery — how did this family feud start? Was it really sheep herders against cattlemen? Or was it simply greed?  The war divided up the loyalty of ranchers that had homesteads from Tonto Basin, to Payson, up through Christopher Creek, along the Rim through Pleasant Valley and out to Holbrook — the Tonto Basin. Ironically enough, Tom Graham originally moved to Pleasant Valley at the invitation of Ed Tewksbury. The two families started off as friends and allies, until John Stinson decided to run his 1,000 head of cattle in Pleasant Valley. Stinson had been paid in cattle for some property and other than that, really wasn’t a rancher. So he left his place to his overseer, John Gilliland. “He’d (Stinson) probably seen the place from the Rim where he used to ride,” said Murdock. Well, the little ranchers resented the appearance of the big ranchers, said Murdock, so the Grahams and Tewksburys joined forces to rustle Stinson’s cattle. “It was called throwing a long rope,” said Murdock. Stinson soon figured out he was losing cattle, while the Graham and Tewksbury herds increased. But then the Tewksburys decided to see if they could form a partnership with Stinson, but he rebuffed their efforts, according to Don Diedera’s “A Little War of Our Own.” Stinson reportedly could not get past the fact the Tewksburys were half Native American. In her book, “Women of the Pleasant Valley War,” Jane Peace Pyle suggested that race had a lot to do with why the two families broke up. “The Tewksburys were half Hupa Indian from the Eel River Valley of Northern California. Their skin was a shade darker, especially Ed Tewksbury’s ... By 1886, anyone entering the valley was told he had to join forces with the Grahams against the damn blacks, or injuns (the Graham-Hashknife faction name for the Tewksburys) or leave the country.” Pyle said a lot of folks in Rim Country had a bit of Cherokee or other tribes in their blood, so they threw in with the Tewksburys. At some point, Stinson’s manager John Gilliland ended up in a confrontation with the Tewksburys, which ended in an exchange of shots that wounded Gilliland’s young nephew. A court case ensued in Prescott. Even then, the Grahams supported the Tewksburys. But the alliance was doomed — thanks to Stinson’s intervention. Murdock said Stinson soon approached the Grahams to offer a contract with the brothers to collect information to put the Tewksburys away for cattle rustling. The Grahams promptly filed the contract in the territory court in Prescott. The Grahams also filed for ownership of a brand they had until then shared with the Tewksburys — effectively stealing most of their one-time allies’ cattle...more

Kenneth Eng Memoir – Ranching In New Mexico & California

The ranch I bought in New Mexico was approximately 70,000 acres located in Sierra County next to the Gila National Forest. It bordered two small towns—one was Winston with a population of about 40; the other was Chloride, which was an old silver mining ghost town with a population of about 25. As the crow flies, it was about 170 miles southwest of Albuquerque or 170 northwest of El Paso and about 40 miles west of Truth or Consequences (T or C).

As you may know, T or C got its name from the TV show by that name which was hosted by Ralph Edwards. Ralph Edwards offered to do a show in any city in the U.S. that would change their name to Truth or Consequences. They did and he did. In fact, he continued to visit the area every year for another 40 years until his death.

The forest lease was estimated at 36,000 acres, although no one was certain. As an indication of how rough it was, the cow permit was for 243 head (4 cows/section). After the lions and bears got their share of the calves, they could have given it to me, and I would probably have lost money on the cows.

The main industry in the area was ranching and hunting elk, mule deer, lions and bears. At one time, there was a pretty fair timber industry in the area, but the environmentalists took care of that. Additionally, there were good silver deposits and some copper. The rest was ranching, which was a combination of cows and yearlings.

Sterling and Judi Carter, who ranched nearby and had a guide service, managed my ranch for the first couple of years. I learned a lot from them but, like most newcomers, I also had to learn from my own mistakes.

I wanted to run cows and took a chance buying a herd of young Beefmaster cows from South Mississippi. Had they been Beefmaster cows from New Mexico, I’d have been okay, but these cows were big and fleshy and probably averaged 1,300 lbs. My ranch couldn’t support a cow that large. They were bred when I bought them and weaned good heavy calves. Unfortunately, that is the end of the good news because the next pregnancy check, about 40% of them were “open” (not bred). That trend continued until I pretty much liquidated my big Beefmasters and replaced them with smaller, uglier desert cows.

Our Gila Forest lease was rough and I had no desire to stock it with cows at the rate of four per acre. The best deal we had was the first two years when Sterling helped me convince the Forest Ranger that on a 243-cow permit, we should be able to increase the numbers if we put out stocker cattle and we only left them out four months of the year.

Doing that, we were able to run 1,500 head, and it worked well until that ranger retired. They then informed me that I had a cow permit, and if I wanted to run yearlings, I needed a new permit that would take at least 2-3 years to obtain. It had quit raining in the area, and I took three continuous years of non-use on the forest permit and then sold it. Now you know why I’ve always said that other than getting together with Caroline, the two happiest days of my life were when I sold my last airplane and when I sold my forest permit.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Author D.H. Lawrence's ranch near Taos reopens to visitors

British author D.H. Lawrence described his connection to New Mexico as "the greatest experience I ever had from the outside world. It certainly changed me forever." The rustic ranch northwest of Taos where he spent a brief part of his life during the 1920s recently reopened to visitors. How did the author of "Women in Love" and "Lady Chatterley's Lover" wind up in the Land of Enchantment? He had been invited by socialite Mabel Dodge Luhan, a woman who counted Georgia O'Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams among her circle. It was Luhan who subsequently gave the Lawrences the 160-acre ranch that sits at 8,500 feet in elevation, according to a University of New Mexico ranch history. (It's also known as the Kiowa Ranch, named for the Native Americans who once lived there.) Of three buildings that remain at the site, the couple moved into what's called the Homesteader's Cabin. It was a simple but rundown three-room affair, the history says. Lawrence worked to fix it up with the help of locals. He wrote beneath a large pine tree at the front of the house that O'Keeffe would make famous in her painting aptly called "The Lawrence Tree." Now the University of New Mexico, the D.H. Lawrence Ranch Alliance and the Taos Community Foundation have reopened the site for the first time since 2010. Buildings and features at the ranch have been restored, including a memorial shrine to Lawrence, who died in 1930...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1280

"Country Classics" Week brings Carl Smith performing Hey Joe.  The tune was recorded in Nashville on May 19, 1953 and released on the Columbia record label.

Blueprint for water ‘control’? Pol says EPA made secret maps for new regulatory push

A top House Republican is charging that the Environmental Protection Agency secretly drafted highly detailed maps of U.S. waterways to set the stage for a controversial plan to expand regulatory power over streams and wetlands, a claim the EPA strongly denies. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, released those maps on Wednesday, while firing off a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy voicing concerns over why they were created in the first place. "These maps show the EPA's plan: to control a huge amount of private property across the country. Given the astonishing picture they paint, I understand the EPA's desire to minimize the importance of these maps," he wrote, in the letter obtained by But an EPA spokeswoman said the maps, from the U.S. Geological Survey and Fish and Wildlife Service, do not depict which waters are subject to EPA control. "Let us be very clear -- these maps have nothing to do with EPA's proposed rule or any other regulatory purpose," Liz Purchia said, noting they were initially created years ago and subsequently updated. At issue is a proposal that Smith and fellow Republicans, as well as farmers and other groups, say could endanger private property rights by giving the EPA a say over temporary waterways like seasonal streams, under the Clean Water Act. That the agency had highly detailed maps drawn up has raised suspicion about their purpose. "While the Agency marches forward with a rule that could fundamentally re-define Americans' private property rights, the EPA kept these maps hidden," Smith wrote in his letter. "Serious questions remain regarding the EPA's underlying motivations for creating such highly detailed maps."  He added: "The EPA's job is to regulate. The maps must have been created with this purpose in mind." The high-resolution maps of each state depict a dense and veiny web of intertwining waterways. They're color-coded to distinguish everything from canals and ditches to reservoirs to marshes to various types of streams. The maps show permanent streams, but also those that contain water for only part of the year...more

Judge denies TRO to stop releases for salmon

A federal judge today denied a request by agricultural water providers in California's Central Valley to stop the newly approved releases of extra water intended to help salmon in the Klamath Basin survive the drought. "The Court concludes that, even though Plaintiffs are likely to (and in all likelihood soon will) succeed on the merits of at least one of their claims against Reclamation in connection with the 2013 FARs (Flow Augmentation releases), the balance of the harms does not warrant an injunction at this time," Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill wrote. "Even if the Court were prepared immediately to issue a final ruling on the merits in favor of Plaintiffs, an injunction would not be automatic." A long-standing lawsuit over last year's releases in the Trinity to help salmon is nearing a ruling. O'Neill wrote that he expected to issue a ruling on the injunction request by Thursday. The petition for a temporary injunction against this month's releases was filed late Monday in U.S. District Court in Fresno by Westlands Water District and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which supply farmers...more

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Obama Pursuing Climate Accord in Lieu of Treaty

The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress. In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world’s largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. To sidestep that requirement, President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a “politically binding” deal that would “name and shame” countries into cutting their emissions. The deal is likely to face strong objections from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from poor countries around the world, but negotiators say it may be the only realistic path. “If you want a deal that includes all the major emitters, including the U.S., you cannot realistically pursue a legally binding treaty at this time,” said Paul Bledsoe, a top climate change official in the Clinton administration who works closely with the Obama White House on international climate change policy. Lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill say there is no chance that the currently gridlocked Senate will ratify a climate change treaty in the near future, especially in a political environment where many Republican lawmakers remain skeptical of the established science of human-caused global warming. “There’s a strong understanding of the difficulties of the U.S. situation, and a willingness to work with the U.S. to get out of this impasse,” said Laurence Tubiana, the French ambassador for climate change to the United Nations. “There is an implicit understanding that this not require ratification by the Senate.” American negotiators are instead homing in on a hybrid agreement — a proposal to blend legally binding conditions from an existing 1992 treaty with new voluntary pledges. The mix would create a deal that would update the treaty, and thus, negotiators say, not require a new vote of ratification. Countries would be legally required to enact domestic climate change policies — but would voluntarily pledge to specific levels of emissions cuts and to channel money to poor countries to help them adapt to climate change. Countries might then be legally obligated to report their progress toward meeting those pledges at meetings held to identify those nations that did not meet their cuts...more

Climate plan spooks Dems

President Obama’s election-year plan to win a new international climate change accord is making vulnerable Democrats nervous. The administration is in talks at the United Nations about a deal that would seek to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by “naming and shaming” governments that fail to take significant action. The State Department on Wednesday denied a report in The New York Times that the plan is to come up with a treaty that would not require Senate confirmation, but that appeared to provide cold comfort to Democrats worried the issue will revive GOP cries about an imperial Obama presidency. One Democratic strategist said the proposal would put swing-state candidates who are critical to the party keeping its Senate majority “in front of the firing squad.” “You're ... making it more difficult for them to win and certainty putting them in a position to lose,” the strategist said. Several vulnerable Senate Democrats kept mum on the issue. Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska) and Mark Udall (Colo.), along with a handful of House Democrats, either declined to comment or didn’t respond to interview requests. Senate Energy Committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (La.) cautiously signaled support for the oil and gas industry that is important to her state, without commenting on the plan to sidestep the Senate. “It is important that all nations do what they can to reduce carbon in the atmosphere,” she said. “But the president should not take any action that undermines the American energy revolution currently underway that is creating thousands of high-paying jobs for middle class families in Louisiana and across the country.” spokesman for Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), who heads a House climate task force, said it was premature to comment on a plan with so few details...more

Water districts ask judge to stop Klamath Basin water releases meant to help salmon

Agricultural water providers in the Central Valley of California asked a federal judge to stop releases of extra water intended to help salmon in the Klamath Basin survive the drought. The petition for a temporary injunction was filed late Monday in U.S. District Court in Fresno by Westlands Water District and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which supply farmers. At issue is water held in a reservoir on the Trinity River, which has been divided between the Trinity and Sacramento river basins for more than 50 years. To prevent a repeat of a 2002 fish kill that left tens of thousands of Klamath River salmon dead, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation started increasing flows into the Trinity River on Saturday. The flows are intended to prevent the spread of disease and get adult salmon to start moving upstream. The fish are a source of commercial and subsistence fisheries by Klamath Basin tribes and sport fishing by the public. The water districts argued that the releases for salmon are not authorized by laws governing the apportionment of Trinity River water, and that releasing extra water for salmon will cause harm to the districts...more

Groups urge tighter rules for sage grouse

Several conservation organizations contend that a recently completed plan for sage grouse management in Wyoming does not bode well for similar plans throughout the West. Because of a court-ordered settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has until September 2015 to decide whether to add greater sage grouse to the endangered species list. Doing so could result in tight restrictions being placed on development and livestock grazing on sage grouse habitat throughout the West. The pending deadline has prompted the BLM and U.S. Forest Service to update land-use plans to better conserve sage grouse and preclude listing the species. The BLM has divided sage grouse range into 15 planning areas across 11 Western states. Final resource management plans for each area are expected to be released over the next few months. One of those is a plan for Idaho and southwestern Montana. A draft plan was released in November and a final plan is scheduled for release this fall. The first finalized plan to include new measures to address sage-grouse protection was for west-central Wyoming, and was released by the BLM’s Lander Field Office on June 26. “The Lander plan utterly fails to do what’s needed to stem the decline of sage grouse in this part of Wyoming, making it more likely that these birds will require the protection of the Endangered Species Act,” said Travis Bruner, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. The Hailey-based organization was one of six conservation groups that on Aug. 18 submitted to the federal Interior and Agriculture departments a 32-point checklist of measures they consider necessary to be undertaken on federal land to protect sage grouse. The checklist has specific direction related to habitat identification, vegetation management, livestock grazing and mineral and gas development...more

 So what are they recommending for livestock grazing?  Is it reasonable?  Take a look and decide:

The groups proposed that grazing regulations require at least 7 inches average grass height in nesting and brood-rearing habitat, leave a four-mile buffer around breeding leks, prohibit grazing during breeding and nesting, and seasonally remove livestock from late brood-rearing habitat to allow regrowth of native grasses. The checklist states that limited winter grazing may be appropriate as long as it leaves enough residual grass height prior to the next breeding season.

This explains why there is no longer a need for "No More Moo by '92" or "Cattle Free by '93".  They don't need long as they have the Endangered Species Act, liberal judges and a Senate which won't even consider minor administrative changes to the Act.

Swapper in Chief - State land commissioner gets little publicity, lots of power

The last time candidates jockeyed to take over the office of New Mexico commissioner of public lands, a contentious swap overwhelmed a crowded race for the usually quiet public job. The down-ballot race is heating up for the November general election, and the topic lingers...Though a relatively unknown public office, the land commissioner holds a great deal of unchecked power. The office is charged with the balancing act of managing and generating revenue from 9 million acres of surface and 13 million acres of subsurface state trust land across New Mexico. Land commissioners do this all without having to answer to the state Legislature or governor...Dunn, who is trying to unseat Powell before he takes on what would be his fourth four-year term, argues that Powell hasn’t leveraged the office’s full potential to generate revenue and jobs for the state. Dunn strongly opposes the recent designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, which is poised to turn just under 80,000 acres of state trust land in southern New Mexico over to the federal Bureau of Land Management. Powell favors the federal designation, adding that the land has “intrinsic biological value” and will be exchanged for land better suited for development. Dunn, on the other hand, criticizes the designation as a land grab that will kill revenue-generating uses for that area, including what he characterizes as putting 40 current grazing leases of state trust land in jeopardy. “The land commissioner is tasked with not creating state parks but creating state revenue,” Dunn says. But Powell maintains that grazing will still continue when the land gets transferred to BLM. He adds that his office is negotiating a swap as part of the designation to acquire BLM land west of Las Cruces that’s primed to be used for renewable energy projects. He expects a swap process to begin at the start of next year. Powell’s current term also benefited enormously from a recent boom in the oil and gas industry, which makes up 97.5 percent of the royalties that go to the Permanent Fund. This, plus Powell’s incumbency status and name recognition, give him an advantage going into November. But Dunn, the son of former Democratic state Sen. Aubrey Dunn Sr., is no stranger to politics. He ran both for US Congress in the state’s second district in 2008 and state senator against Democrat Phil Griego in 2012, but lost both efforts. So far, he’s outraised his opponent by collecting $175,000 in donations as of late June compared to Powell’s $66,000...more