Monday, June 30, 2014

Lobbyist on demand: For 5 bucks, company will nag your congressmember

Want to harangue your member of Congress, but don't have the time to pick up the phone?  For $4.95, someone else will do it for you. Welcome to the world of lobbyists on demand. A new company, called Amplifyd, is offering an inventive way for citizens to influence the policy debate -- for the nominal fee, the company will have a caller press the customer's issue of choice with a targeted lawmaker or official in Washington. Whether policy-conscious Americans will take up the offer and use Amplifyd to push their pet issues remains to be seen. But here's how it works. The company works with nonprofit groups, who set up “campaigns” for different causes and get a portion of the profit from the campaign. (The company and its callers get the rest of the money.) For instance, The Endangered Species Coalition is currently running an Amplifyd campaign to lobby Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to maintain Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves. Individuals who are interested in the cause can pay $4.95 to have Amplifyd make the call to Jewell -- or Jewell's office -- on their behalf...more

Restoration to begin along Rio Grande in NM, Texas

Work to restore river habitat at as many as 30 sites along the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico and West Texas is scheduled to begin soon. The work is part of a program being implemented by the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission. Commission officials collaborated with the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, Audubon New Mexico and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to establish a voluntary program to acquire water and water rights to support the establishment of native trees, shrubs and grasslands. Officials call the program innovative and say it will be a key aspect of the commission's efforts to restore riparian areas along the river. Officials planned a ceremony Monday in the flood plain near the Picacho Bridge in Las Cruces.  AP

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Independence Day cowboy style

by Julie Carter

There are some things about a cowboy that don't change, no matter the era. One of those is his delight in and dedication to celebrating the Fourth of July "cowboy style." Cowboys, if they are anything, are patriotic.

For a hundred years, rodeo has ranked bucking horses and roping cowboys right up there with the firecrackers and parades as part of the tradition of Independence Day. The sport of Ranch Rodeo has given the working cowboy a good reason to go to town whether to cheer on his peers or be part of the competition.

Just to clear up any issues of mathematics in the profit and loss department of this celebration, expenses are always only an estimate by the cowboy and rarely mentioned. However, if there is a "win" for the income column, it will never be forgotten and will become part of the cowboy's memories of legendary proportion.

The ambiance of a rodeo on the Fourth of July has changed only in the wide array of arena options available. Many a small town USA still offers board bleachers and bull-wire fencing (leaning and weathered) with the original outhouses from 1954 still serving as the "facilities." However, these are fading from the landscape.

The other end of the spectrum is the covered, air conditioned sportsplex with, in addition to the arena, a swimming pool, a couple restaurants, a Western wear and tack store, basketball court, adjoining golf course and softball field.

In spite of the contradicting monetary math, rodeo grounds across America will be covered over in trucks, trailers, hats, and swinging ropes this July Fourth holiday. It is Cowboy Christmas time and the cowboys have already been on the road for days working up their momentum for the holiday.

Even the livestock seems to know the routine. As the cowboys stand at the chutes, hats held over their hearts as the flags are posted and the national anthem is played, the bucking horses waiting in the chute will snort and kick the gate behind them. It is part of the musical percussion of rodeo.

That moment, those sounds, burn into the recesses of a cowboy's rodeo memories, along with the smell of arena dirt, the banging of gates as livestock is moved around, trailers rattling across the parking lot and the sound of hoof beats as a horse lopes to the arena.

Fourth of July rodeoing is defined by road-weary unshaven cowboys, tired horses and pickups filled with dirty clothes, rumpled programs, empty coffee cups, dust-covered sunglasses, gas receipts and a well-worn road map.

Without the need for pulling a horse trailer, the rough stock cowboys will pile in together over the Fourth of July week, crisscrossing the country, for example, from Greeley to several places in Arkansas, back to Arizona and up to Montana followed by a run in the South. Burning up the rodeo highway the old-fashioned way has not gone out of style.

They don't all win, they can't all afford it, but across the board, they all love it with a passion only they feel and no one but they can understand.

It makes me very happy to know that the tradition of rodeo on the Fourth of July continues without much change in the basics. You can't say that about very many things in this world.

It is a world where "rodeo" isn't a noun and "try" isn't a verb.

Julie can be reached for comment at jcarternm@gmail.com

A Blaze Encounter - The Matter of our Existence


A Blaze Encounter
The Matter of our Existence
We are sovereign American citizens
By Stephen L. Wilmeth


     Glenn Beck bought me supper the other night.
            No, he didn’t make small talk with me nor did he share his own insight regarding the state of the State, but he bought supper. He was represented by one of his TV production crews led by Kate Wilke. Kate, Tom, Ryan, and Ted represented him with professionalism and projected a passion that was refreshing and real.
            Until we meet, Glenn thanks for your involvement, and we appreciate greatly your interest in the matter of our … sovereign western existence.
The subject of the Visit
            Joe Delk organized the Blaze production visit. His commitment to matters of local customs and culture must be recognized and applauded.
            The ad nauseum discussion of the designation of Organ Mountain Desert Peaks National Monument was certainly a driver in his efforts, but it wasn’t the only factor. Joe has become increasingly horrified at the partisan and subversive assault on all heritage industries. Heretofore, the only national or international press coverage that has displayed any comprehensive investigative reporting inclination of the matters surrounding the complex issues of the monument came from a Norwegian TV crew. That crew was perplexed at the absence of comprehensive coverage of the issues, and they did a credible job of covering the matter. The problem was it wasn’t broadcast in America!
            The Delk-Blaze effort became a four day blitz trying to set the stage for a broader based expose on the complexities. Folks from across southern New Mexico and eastern Arizona were brought together to discuss the monument, the matter of border security, the wolf, the wildlands project, the absence of elected senatorial representation, the breach of legislative planning dictates, and the increasing assaults on all matters of private property rights.
            The interviews
            During the hot, dry, windy day that preceded that meal, six Westerners convened to sit for interviews in our Goodsight Pasture. We each came worrying about what we were leaving undone in the midst of the most difficult conditions of the year. June is, without debate, the harshest time of our ranching year.
            Walt Anderson had seen the dead cow coming up the pipeline road that the others had been oblivious to. By the time I got back that afternoon to inspect her, her back end and insides had been gleaned by coyotes and the cause of death couldn’t be determined. She was a young cow, a second calf cow, and I suspect she had died fighting coyotes and trying to have her calf.
            Later, when Walt sat for his interview, he discussed the importance of our interdependence. Without the promised inclusion and participation of most local land use planning, our mutual support is extremely important when the newest revelation of impact upon us is discovered in the Federal Register. Our defense countering the governmental actions against us has been critical, and it has come only through cohesiveness in our ranks. Within a group of individuals whose natural inclination inherently prefers individuality, we have found we will likely cease to exist if we continue alone.
            Young rancher, Wes Eaton, discussed the matter of abject indifference and hostility too often waged against our ranching community. Asked why he would ever consider such a life style, his answer was perhaps as revealing as anything else said during the day. He expressed the immensity of the role of stewardship and how so few get the opportunity of participation. The barriers, including the endless regulatory burdens, handicap the vital role of recruitment of young operators, but, if a young person can navigate the obstacle course leading to the role of steward … “why would anyone who understands the role want to do anything else”?
            While the production crew and many of the observers sat baking in the sun with short sleeved shirts and bareheaded or with limited billed cap protection, rancher Dudley Williams sat comfortably, as he would any other day, in his black hat and a baby blue long sleeved shirt that matched his eyes. He talked about his daily life near the international border where state employees are required to venture only with armed escorts. He reminded the crew of the physical features of the Arizona class smuggling corridors and how his Potrillo Mountain ranch has every feature along with the expanded concern of the rail lines feeding the largest inland port in the world at nearby Santa Teresa. His assessment that the most important defensive buffer along the border is the presence of Americans defending their property rights and … the livestock industry is a most important feature of that defensive mechanism.
            Jim, Seth, and Haize Hyatt represented three generations of an unbroken lineage of Hyatts that have ranched in Luna County since the 1890’s. As the crew shot video footage of the three of them together, the realization of the genuine matter of endangered Americans could not be avoided … there they stood.
            Jim talked about their history. His testimony was a parallel to similar testimony transcribed from the public hearings held prior and during the ranching industry cleansing in the Tularosa Basin following World War II. Few men in our midst can sit and observe the multigenerational link to the land that Jim Hyatt referenced. You could see the pride and the concern in his eyes as he talked about the past and the growing fear of the unknown future. His ranch is impacted fully by the newly designated national monument that President Obama signed into law by unilateral fiat. Jim Hyatt doesn’t know how he will operate with overlapping and confounding jurisdictions and regulatory impasse.
            Seth, like Wes Eaton, is a precious marker to links from our history to the next phase of our stewardship existence. Not a single one among us has missed the maturity Seth has displayed over the past two years. It isn’t that he has not displayed that trait. It is the obvious level of change that has marked his presence. When Seth talked about his dad, his family and the importance of continuity in stewardship commitment, we saw factors of huge importance. The future isn’t a matter of managing and fighting weather, markets, or the cost of capital … it is the defense of our existence under the assault of our government.
            Continuation
            The morning after the TV crew visit I was back in the Goodsight Pasture trying to catch up.
            A phone call came when it was least welcomed and under the most undistinguished circumstances. I was lying across a pipe framed float box trying to rebuild a cover to protect a trough float from cattle pushing for the clean, cool water discharging from the valve. Twice the float had been broken off and precious water had been lost from the nearby storage. I cussed the interruption and dropped my pliers into the trough trying to roll over to answer the phone. I missed the call and was immediately shoulder deep in the muck as I dug around trying to find those pliers. Hanging nearly upside down with my face against the stinking water, I finally found the pliers only to drop my mechanical pencil into the same black, oozing muck.
            ‘This ranching life is pretty dignified’ was part of my uttered words, but it was framed with adjectives that I would find less dignified after I thought about them.
            The fact is ranching is my life.
It has always been the driving force long before I was able to invest in this place. It is from that unintended emotion I couldn’t grasp any words to answer the Kate Wilke question when she asked what I would do if I couldn’t continue. I finally answered with the only thought that would come to mind.
            In 1888, Lee Rice, trailed a herd of PIT cattle down the Butterfield Trail on his way to Grant County. It is likely he came by our headquarters to water and continued northwest toward the Uvas Valley and Ft. Cummings beyond. If that was the route, it would have been within a quarter of a mile from where I sat trying to answer Kate’s question.
            The Butterfield Trail has been used as a key feature in the rationale for designating the monument that now threatens our existence. Lee Rice, using that trail to create his own family legacy would simply not comprehend how that thoroughfare, then a simple cattle trail, could serve as a reason to curtail the stewardship of any rancher … much less his great grandson’s.


Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “‘Hats off to Joe Delk , Jerry Schickedanz, and Frank DuBois for their unfailing and continuing efforts to minimize the impact of the institutional assaults on our way of life. Thanks also to the Blaze crew and Glenn Beck … the next tortilla is on me.”

I remember eight years ago when a group of ranchers came to my place and asked if I would help them fight a wilderness proposal.  I agreed to help, but right now I can only think of three things of a positive nature that resulted from this eight-year battle:

° Joe Delk was a ranch-raised fiddle player and feed salesmen.  Now he's the chairman of a conservation district, political activist and event organizer dealing with a nationally recognized TV and print news organization.

° Steve Wilmeth had returned to NM to pursue his family heritage of ranching.  Now he is a nationally recognized author who writes for Range Magazine, The Westerner and other publications.  His style is to beautifully meld history with current events and he's become the premier writer on federal lands and associated issues.  When asked about him, I often tell people that I write in mono while Steve writes in stereo.

° The designation of this monument was an admission of defeat by the enviros and their political henchmen.  That's right, an admission of defeat.  Their goal was to impose the most onerous of all land designations - Wilderness.  Senator Bingaman's original legislative proposal never passed the Senate.  His second version of the legislation never cleared the committee of jurisdiction, which he chaired.  And there wasn't even a hearing held on the version introduced by Senator Udall.  In the arena of the democratic process they had their hats handed to them, so they had to go find Obama lurking around behind the chutes.  The future of ranching in a Monument is not secure, but it is far better than in a Wilderness, which would have been its death knell.

So the real "hats off" go to the folks like Delk and Wilmeth.

As I sit here reflecting on these two gentlemen, one thought keeps entering my mind:  I would like to go back in time.

With Steve Wilmeth I would go back to my pre-wheelchair days when I could mount up and help him work cattle.  Hell, I'd even jump off my horse and go fetch his pliers out of the muck. 

With Joe Delk, I would go back to our college days, when we'd drink beer by the keg and I would insist Joe play Draggin' The Bow just one more time.

Come to think of it, I can still drink in this wheelchair.  So Joe, get your fiddle out and we'll go wake Wilmeth with you playin' and me hollerin'.


Obama Administration Finalizes Policy Limiting Protection of Endangered Species; Conservation Group Will Challenge in Court

The Center for Biological Diversity will file a legal challenge to an Obama administration policy, finalized today, that severely limits when a species qualifies for protection under the Endangered Species Act — a change that ignores both broad legal precedent and congressional intent. Under the Act a species qualifies for protection when it is “in danger of extinction in all or a significant of portion of its range.” Both Congress and the courts have explained that the “significant portion of range” provision is vital for important conservation because it allows federal wildlife agencies to protect species before they are at risk of going extinct globally. But the newly finalized policy sharply restricts the use of this part of the Act, defining “significant” to mean that only when the loss of a part of a species’ range threatens the survival of the whole species would wildlife agencies protect that species under the Act. The policy also restricts “range” to mean “current range” — ignoring the reality that most endangered species in the United States have suffered massive losses over the past and now cling to survival in only a small remnant of their historical home. As such the final policy defines “significant portion of its range” to make it superfluous: Only species at risk of extinction everywhere will now be protected. “The policy finalized today eviscerates the key requirement that species need not be at risk of extinction everywhere before they can be protected,” said Brett Hartl, the Center’s endangered species policy director. “The policy absolutely undermines the spirit of the Endangered Species Act and will allow massive decline of our native wildlife along with the destruction of wildlife habitat.”...more

I'm getting the impression CBD doesn't care for this change.  Give them credit, though, for really slinging the lingo when something doesn't meet their approval.  The proposed change "severely limits", "sharply restricts", "eviscerates the key requirement", "absolutely undermines", "will allow massive decline of our native wildlife" and "the destruction of wildlife habitat.”

limits
restricts
eviscerates
undermines
decline
destruction

Almost makes me feel sorry for the wildlife! 

The only thing the proposal might limit is the ability of CBD and their ilk to use the ESA to control land use.  As of 2012 the feds have designated 315 million acres as Critical Habitat for various species and that only partially reflects the amount of control they are exercising over private, state and federal lands. 


Want To Tackle The Childhood Obesity Epidemic? Then We Need More Government Land

Mayors from across the country unanimously passed a resolution this week supporting new public parks and outdoor recreation programs to promote healthy urban areas and combat childhood obesity. The bipartisan resolution adopted at the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors supports full funding and reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program designed to promote the establishment and protection of outdoor spaces. The resolution states that “children living near parks have greater opportunities to be physically active by running, walking or participating in other recreational activities, thereby helping to combat the problem that one in three children in the U.S. are overweight or obese.” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price (R), sponsor of the LWCF resolution and co-chair of the Mayors for Parks coalition, has been a strong advocate for full funding for the program. The Obama Administration has been increasingly active in the push for increased outdoor recreation to encourage healthy lifestyles to kids across the country, particularly through the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which is focused on conservation and increasing access to outdoor spaces. As part of the initiative, the President annually declares June as Great Outdoors Month. In the Presidential Proclamation this year, the President stated that the Administration is “working to bring public lands into the classroom and to extend educational opportunities to millions of children,” and, through the First Lady’s Let’s Move Outside! Campaign, is “encouraging children to get active while getting to know the great outdoors.”...more

The the gov't must get bigger so the children will be smaller.  Put another way, our children will get smaller as the gov't gets bigger....oops, that's certainly not the case.  Quick, somebody go tell the Mayors!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Body of missing firefighter found in California wilderness

A California firefighter who disappeared two weeks ago after chasing after his dog during a backpacking trip was found dead Friday, authorities said. The body of Mike Herdman, 36, was found in a rugged cliff area about three-quarters of a mile and 1,200 feet above the river bottom where he was last seen June 13, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said. A pilot who was dropping off ground searchers spotted the body, which through dental records officials identified to be Herdman. Herdman and a friend were on a four-day backpacking trip in the Los Padres National Forest river bottom when his dog, Duke, ran off. The firefighter chased after his pet barefoot and wearing only shorts and a T-shirt. The friend, identified as Taylor Byars, left a pack of supplies for Herdman and set off to find help. Firefighter Drew Pryor told MyFoxLA.com. that Herdman had backpacked the area several times and had a lot of experience with similar terrain, but it was Byars first time on a backpacking trip. Sgt. Eric Buchow said Byars was later found by two fisherman "disoriented, dehydrated, confused and he was lost," MyFoxLA.com reported. Buchow said the fisherman helped Byars get to authorities to set off the large-scale search. Dean said search crews put in about 5,000 hours and scoured 50 square miles on foot, on horseback and by air — including the use of two drones. Dean said searchers focused on areas they thought Herdman could get to because they didn't think someone without shoes would scale a 1,200-foot mountainside. "Nobody could imagine that he was able to travel that far," the sheriff said....more

Friday, June 27, 2014

Meltdown: Border Patrol Agents Test Positive for Diseases Brought In by the Flood of Illegal Aliens

Mexico was once known for its tough handling of its southern border with Belize and Guatemala. Not anymore. At least 52,000 illegal aliens have managed to cross Mexico and reach the US border in the past few months. Many of them are kids. Some of them are hardcore criminals. With Hizballah known to be active in South America and Mexico, who knows who else may be using this moment to slip into the US?
Our broken visa system remains the easiest way for terrorists to get here and stay here. But a porous border doesn’t help security. The illegal aliens are bringing diseases. There is one known case of swine flu in San Antonio already, directly linked to the border surge. CBS buries a serious lead at the end of this story. According to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX): “I’ve talked to border patrol down in McAllen. They’ve seen TB; they’ve seen chicken pox; they’ve seen scabies. And according to Border Patrol, 4 or 5 of their agents have tested positive for those diseases.” What will that do to morale in the Border Patrol?...more

Headphones prevent hiker from hearing wolf attack his dog

While little Mosca the Jack Russell terrier was being noisily killed by wolves earlier this month in Chugach State Park just above Anchorage, the dog's owner was hiking along a trail to Wolverine Peak unaware of what was going on because he was wearing headphones. Hikers high on the 4,491-foot mountain clearly visible from Alaska's largest city said they heard a dog fight going on far below, but weren't sure what was happening. "We heard this dog barking,'' one of them said. "This dog was just like going crazy.'' They were baffled as to the reason for the noise until after they met Brandon Ward on the trail yelling "Mosca! Mosca! Mosca!'' He told the hikers he was looking for his lost white dog. The dog, Ward told them, had run away. "He didn't hear his dog run away,'' one of the hikers said. "He had headphones in. He didn't even hear his dog barking.'' Alaska wildlife biologists and others have been warning for years about the dangers of running in the wilds while listening to music on headphones. "Use your senses to stay aware. No headphones!" proclaims the municipality's official "Bear Aware" website. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game three years ago eliminated an entire pack at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson after those wolves developed a taste for dogs. The biologists were concerned the wolves might injure, possibly even kill, someone trying to defend a pet...more

Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2014/06/26/3535946/hiker-whose-dog-was-killed-by.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy

VA hospitals fund solar panels while veterans wait for doctors

Veterans Administration hospitals have spent at least $420 million on solar panels and windmills while vets wait months — or even lay dying — to see a doctor. In total, VA hospitals reported 23 deaths due to 76 instances of delayed care, an April 2014 VA fact sheet said. Then on June 5, Acting Veteran Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson revealed that at least 18 Phoenix patients died while waiting for treatment on a secret list kept off the books. It is not clear if that number is in addition to the 23 deaths reported earlier. During the past month, the scandal has resulted in the resignations of both the VA secretary and the leaders of its health care component. According to a June 3 audit, 100,000 veterans had lengthy wait times for appointments. Of the nation’s 216 VA hospitals, 37 percent will require further investigation. A whistleblower revealed Tuesday that seven of the patients listed on the Phoenix VA hospitals waiting list are already dead. That same Phoenix facility spent $20 million to build the nation’s largest solar carport. Phase one of the project was completed in 2011. The hospital also had an $11.4 million shortfall that year, an Inspector General’s report stated...more

Mexican police helicopter crossed into Arizona, fired shots, say US officials

Tucson, Ariz. — Mexican law enforcement on Thursday crossed into Arizona by helicopter and fired two shots at U.S. border agents, a border patrol union leader says. A Mexican law enforcement chopper crossed about 100 yards north into the Arizona desert, the U.S. Border Patrol said in a statement. The helicopter then fired two shots on the Tohono O'Odham Indian Nation, which sits on the border. Border patrol union leaders say the Mexicans fired at agents but that none of them were hurt. However, Mexican authorities have denied shooting at agents and say they were under attack during a mission to find smugglers on the border. Tomás Zerón, the director of the Mexican attorney general's office investigative office, said that Mexican military and federal police who were conducting an operation on a ranch in Altar, Sonora, were shot at by criminals. Mexican authorities never fired any weapons and in fact never crossed into the U.S. side of the border, he said. Art del Cueto, president of the local border patrol union, said four agents were in a marked patrol vehicle when they were shot at. "They could say they didn't fire at the agents intentionally. But for them to say that they were no shots fired within the United States, toward the United States Border Patrol, is a lie. They got in contact with our managers and apologized for the incident," del Cueto said. The Mexican helicopter was 15 yards from the border agents when they were came under fire, Del Cueto said. He's also concerned that Tucson sector officials didn't notify the next shift of border agents that there had been a shooting, he said...more

On The Border - Texas Ranchers Under Attack


Proposal to downgrade the wood stork from "endangered" to "threatened" creates controversy

The iconic wood stork is making a comeback from the verge of extinction, a success story for a long-legged wading bird that breeds primarily in the western Everglades. But Audubon Florida leaders, while celebrating the comeback, say federal officials were much too quick to downgrade the wood stork from "endangered" to "threatened." Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made the announcement Thursday at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, a rookery in Georgia, saying the bird's recovery shows the value of the Endangered Species Act. When wood storks were listed as endangered in 1984, their population was dropping at a rate of 5 percent a year. Since then, the population has doubled, with nesting pairs ranging from 7,086 to 10,147. Audubon Florida immediately objected, saying the wood stork's habitat has actually decreased, especially in the western Everglades...more

Notice the enviros' concern is not about the number of wood storks, its about the habitat.  This is really about their ability to influence or control land use.  That's why they sue to get'em on the list and sue again to keep'em on.  "It's one step closer to de-listing it, which we think would be inappropriate" says the Audubon spokesman.

Interior seeks ban on 5 more species of giant snakes

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking more public comment on a proposal to add five types of giant snakes to an existing federal python ban. Officials have proposed adding boa constrictors, reticulated pythons and three species of anacondas to the ban that already prohibits anyone from importing Burmese pythons, yellow anacondas and northern and southern African pythons into the U.S. or transporting them across state lines. Comments may be submitted online through July 24. The North Carolina-based United States Association of Reptile Keepers has sued the federal government to overturn the ban, saying an initial proposal to ban all nine snake species cost its members tens of millions of dollars. Attorneys for the wildlife service and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell have asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.  AP

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Court asked to speed up Canada lynx recovery work

Wildlife advocates want a federal judge to order faster action on a recovery plan for imperiled Canada lynx, after wildlife officials said it could take until 2018 to finish the long-delayed work. The U.S. government declared the snow-loving big cats a threatened species across the Lower 48 states in 2000. But officials haven't come up with a mandated recovery plan, citing budget limitations and competing concerns from other troubled species. After a federal judge in Montana criticized the long delay, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered to complete the work by early 2018. A coalition of wildlife advocacy groups says that's not soon enough. They're asking U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy to order the work done by late 2016. Lynx dwell in the forest, where they're rarely seen, and there's no reliable estimate of their population. They range across parts of 14 states in the Northeast, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes and the Cascade Range of Washington and Oregon. Lynx are about the size of a bobcat, with large paws that help the predator stay on top of the deep snow typical through its range. Those paws also make it easier to capture its primary prey, snowshoe hares. Threats to its survival vary across its range and include timber harvesting, development and other factors. The government has designated large areas in the West as critical habitat for lynx in recent years. A pending proposal would expand that designation to about 28,000 square miles of public land, primarily in northern Montana and the region surrounding Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park. But an attorney for the wildlife advocates said the designations amount to a "paper exercise" in the absence of a recovery plan's detailed road map for protecting lynx...more

Moo Rules - NM Dairy industry and environmental groups clash on groundwater protections

About 60 percent of New Mexico’s dairies are polluting groundwater, according to the state Environment Department’s Groundwater Quality Bureau. Since nearly all New Mexicans depend on groundwater for at least some part of their drinking water supply and water is a diminishing resource in the state, it seems logical that preventing further pollution by dairies should be a priority. That’s not what appears to be happening now. Although the state adopted new regulations for wastewater discharge for the dairy industry earlier this year, an environmental coalition says those regulations aren’t in play. Furthermore, the dairy industry is insisting on further revisions, which the coalition says will allow the industry to continue operating under outdated methods that threaten the state’s groundwater. “My primary concern is the preservation of water quality,” says Jon Block, a staff attorney at the New Mexico Environmental Law Center who is providing legal counsel for the Citizen Coalition, a collection of environmental groups. On the other side of the debate is the Dairy Industry Group for a Clean Environment (DIGCE), an organization comprised of members from New Mexico’s dairies. In 2009, the group gave testimony to the Environment Department and Water Quality Control Commission in a series of meetings. The body adopted a set of pollution regulations for dairies. But, now, after five years of negotiations to create what has become known as the “Dairy Rule,” dairy industry representatives say they want to change the rules again. The biggest contention between the two groups is about the way pollution is detected and prevented...more

Bipartisan Report Tallies High Toll on Economy From Global Warming

More than a million homes and businesses along the nation’s coasts could flood repeatedly before ultimately being destroyed. Entire states in the Southeast and the Corn Belt may lose much of their agriculture as farming shifts northward in a warming world. Heat and humidity will probably grow so intense that spending time outside will become physically dangerous, throwing industries like construction and tourism into turmoil. That is a picture of what may happen to the United States economy in a world of unchecked global warming, according to a major new report released Tuesday by a coalition of senior political and economic figures from the left, right and center, including three Treasury secretaries stretching back to the Nixon administration. At a time when the issue of climate change has divided the American political landscape, pitting Republicans against Democrats and even fellow party members against one another, the unusual bipartisan alliance of political veterans said that the country — and business leaders in particular — must wake up to the enormous scale of the economic risk. “The big ice sheets are melting; something’s happening,” George P. Shultz, who was Treasury secretary under President Richard M. Nixon and secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, said in an interview. He noted that he had grown concerned enough about global warming to put solar panels on his own California roof and to buy an electric car. “I say we should take out an insurance policy.” The former Treasury secretaries — including Henry M. Paulson Jr., a Republican who served under President George W. Bush, and Robert E. Rubin, a Democrat in the Clinton administration — promised to help sound the alarm. All endorse putting a price on greenhouse gases, most likely by taxing emissions. The campaign behind the new report, calledRisky Business, is funded largely by three wealthy financiers who are strong advocates of action on global warming: Mr. Paulson, who with his wife, Wendy, has helped finance conservation efforts for decades; Thomas F. Steyer, a billionaire former hedge fund executive and Democrat who is pushing to make global warming a central issue in political races around the country; and Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, who now urges cities to confront the threat of climate change...more





Washington land grab targets the Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota

In the wake of a Bundy Ranch crisis sparked by a militarized federal land-grab effort in Nevada, it seems that the Department of Interior has set its sights on a new prize - this time targeting once protected Indian reservation land on Pine Ridge in South Dakota.

By Patrick Henningsen 

The Oglala Sioux and Lakota Sioux of the reservation have been told by the Federal Government that the National Parks Service will be taking land that comprises the South Unit of the Badlands National Park as a new ‘Tribal National Park’, only the wording in the bill clearly indicates that it will be a federally managed national park under the Department of Interior, giving mere lip service to its tribal title. The Congressional bill has already been written, and if passed through Congress, both tribal members and non tribal members will be stripped of their deeded land – at a price set by the federal government. If owners do not accept Washington’s offer (expected to be a meager one), the land can be acquired at no cost because the measure has waived all appraisal rights and stipulates that Washington can simply take Indian land by force under ‘eminent domain’.

Thousands of tribe members will be affected by the land-grab. Some residents will be forced to relocate, and many more others will lose their income from grazing allotments on the land – a result which will ultimately force any remaining independent cattle ranchers out of business. In addition to all this, Tribal members will lose their share of income from entrance fees collected at the adjacent North Gate of the Badlands National Park – a punitive measure which will further compound the existing economic depression on a reservation where the average annual income is around $8,000 per year.

Washington may be pining for yet another ‘Wounded Knee’, as many residents and tribal members are prepared to stand their ground in the face of a federal imperialist policy inside US borders - a trend which many Americans have experienced first-hand, particularly in western states like Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Tribal member and local cattle rancher Bud May believes the issue is not confined to Pine Ridge.
May states, “There is a feeling of common cause between attached parties on this issue – namely tribes and other reservations. The bottom line is we’ll all be under dictatorial control if something is not done quick”.

‘Cowboys and Indian’ in Common Cause

The federal land-grab crisis was elevated to national news in April when Nevada independent rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters stood toe to toe in an armed standoff with the the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over Bundy’s private property and land rights which trace back to 1870′s.
Lory Storm, a Nebraska radio host who has been following recent developments at Pine Ridge describes the synergy now happening between what were previously strange bedfellows. Storm explains,

“The difference between this situation and the Bundy Ranch conflict? It will be the first time in the history of our Country that the Cowboys and Indians pose a united front against a federal government that is used to winning battles by first dividing and then conquering.”

Already, many land owners are taking the position that they will not comply with the latest order from the government – leaving many to wonder whether this potential standoff will become the third ‘Wounded Knee’ incident involving a standoff between the Sioux Nation and the US Federal government.
June 25th is the anniversary of the infamous conflict...



Lawmakers Fight Forest Service Directive to Seize State Waters


Members warn new Directive will restrict Americans’ access to public lands and interfere with state and private water rights.

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), Congressional Western Caucus co-chairs Stevan Pearce (R-NM) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) as well as House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) and House Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA), joined 38 other lawmakers in sending a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warning that the U.S. Forest Service’s recently proposed Groundwater Resource Management Directive (Directive) will restrict access to public lands and interfere with state and private water rights. 


The Directive would initiate the Forest Service’s authority over state-managed groundwater resources claiming that surface water and groundwater is “hydraulically interconnected” and that the agency could object to state-regulated projects on “adjacent” land that purportedly harm groundwater.


In their letter, the lawmakers warn that this Directive, which was proposed without state or local input, will encourage litigation, restrict Americans’ access to our public lands and potentially interfere with adjacent state, local and private land and water rights.  



“Like other proposals stemming from this Administration, including the Forest Service Planning Rule, the Interim Directive on Ski Area Special Use Permits, the Blueways Secretarial Order and the proposed Clean Water Act Jurisdictional rule, this Directive seeks to further federalize water resources at the expense of state authority.  This sweeping proposal additionally seeks to impose water use restrictions and deny agricultural, recreational, and other economic activity in 155 National Forests and their adjacent state, local and private neighbors in 40 states.  The end result could be lost jobs and reduced recreational access to public lands, with little or no environmental benefit,” Caucus Members wrote.

 
In addition to Barrasso, Pearce, Lummis, Hastings and McClintock, the letter was signed by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), John Cornyn (R-TX), John Thune (R-SD), James Risch (R-ID), David Vitter (R-LA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Lee (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representatives Trent Franks (R-AZ), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Walter Jones (R-NC), Don Young (R-AK), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Paul Broun (R-GA), Jason Smith (R-MO), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Eric Crawford (R-AR), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Steve Daines (R-MT), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Billy Long (R-MO) and Adrian Smith (R-NE).


The full text of the letter:

The Honorable Tom Vilsack

Secretary

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, DC 20250



Dear Secretary Vilsack:

              

We are troubled by the U.S. Forest Service’s recently proposed Groundwater Resource Management Directive (Directive) to manage water resources purportedly impacting National Forest System (NFS) lands.



Like other proposals stemming from this Administration, including the Forest Service Planning Rule, the Interim Directive on Ski Area Special Use Permits, the Blueways Secretarial Order and the proposed Clean Water Act Jurisdictional rule, this Directive seeks to further federalize water resources at the expense of state authority.  This sweeping proposal additionally seeks to impose water use restrictions and deny agricultural, recreational, and other economic activity in 155 National Forests and their adjacent state, local and private neighbors in 40 states.  The end result could be lost jobs and reduced recreational access to public lands, with little or no environmental benefit.  



              The Directive specifically seeks to “[m]anage surface water and groundwater resources as hydraulically interconnected,”[1] laying the groundwork for unilateral, federally-imposed mandates on the exercise of state-endowed water rights.  The Directive further requires Forest Service cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency[2] and an evaluation of “applications for water rights on adjacent land that could adversely affect NFS groundwater resources and identify any potential injury to those resources.”[3]  In addition, the Directive appears to expand or modify permit requirements relating to climate change that could impact water users adjacent to NFS groundwater resources.[4]  These and other provisions would impose a chilling effect on existing and future water resource development and the uses dependent on that development not only within NFS lands but outside these lands. 

              

We are further concerned that this Directive will lead to regulations that undermine the Forest Service’s statutory multiple-use responsibilities for managing the nation’s national forests and grasslands.  The proposed Directive could also encourage litigation and impose de facto federal buffer zones on water users and job creators adjacent to NFS lands.  In addition, this action has been pursued without the initial and necessary input from impacted states, farmers, recreationists and ranchers and many others who would be directly impacted by this Directive.  



This proposal has reinforced our belief that the Forest Service is continuing its action to override state water laws.  We therefore urge you to withdraw this ill-timed and punitive Directive.




2 Id, p. 9.

3 Id, p. 17.



###

Scientists ask Obama to protect old growth forest

More than 75 U.S. and Canadian scientists have sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking for a policy to preserve what remains of America's old-growth forest. The scientists include two former chiefs of the U.S. Forest Service, Jack Ward Thomas and Mike Dombeck. They say less than 10 percent of the old-growth forest before European settlement is still intact Only fragments remain in the eastern United States and the largest trees in the Pacific Northwest were targeted more than a century ago. The largest extent of remaining old-growth forest is in southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest but faces the threat of logging, the scientists said. Owen Graham, director of the Alaska Forest Association, said the Forest Service has been carefully planning appropriate timber sales and should be left to do its job. "I presume those scientists' salaries don't rely on timber harvest or any other sort of resource development," he said...more

Downtown cattle drive re-enacts local history


Hundreds of cowboy movies always show that at the end of the trail, the herd of cattle is driven through town to the rail yards. It's a taste of real life Belle Fourche history for Roundup crowds again this year because, in the early days, that's exactly what would happen. Roundup crowds have a chance to see that re-creation of Belle Fourche history at 3 p.m. Thursday, July 3. It's the fifth annual Roundup Downtown Cattle Drive. A perfect example of the end of trail ride past cowtown businesses came in the 1972 John Wayne classic movie The Cowboys. That's the single Hollywood production that covers a cattle drive to Belle Fourche in the late 1800s. The movie may have been a little loose with times and places, but Belle Fourche was indeed America’s biggest livestock railhead. Ranchers from the early 1890s would gather a trail crew and supply a chuckwagon for cowboy meals as they prepared to drive thousands of cattle across the prairie to market. Today’s ranchers are more likely to use trucks to move smaller groups of cattle to market throughout the year instead of a single annual herd of thousands. But short-run drives remain common in 2013 as they were in 1891 or 1911. In the early decades of Belle Fourche through the 1930s, cattle trails remained a major way to bring livestock to market. Experienced professionals such as the famed “Boss Cowman” Ed Lemmon were hired to ensure good grass and water for drives to cattle buyers and stock pens at the edge of town...more

School Principals Use Police Against Parents with Gun Permits

Two principals in widely separated states tried to use police against parents with gun permits.   Both principals ended up on the losing side, when the parents refused to fold, and took them to court.  In the most recent case, the principal at Stratton Elementary School in Massachusetts contacted police after the father showed the principal his gun permit.   The father had come to talk to the principal about a drawing the son had made.  From whdh.com:


The principal said the boy had drawn a phallic symbol, but 40-year-old Robert Goodwin said his son had actually drawn a gun similar to one he’d seen in ‘Despicable Me.’

Goodwin then reportedly took out his gun permit and the principal notified police.
The police charge Goodwin with threatening the principal, suspended his gun permit, and confiscated a rifle from his home:
Officers later went to his home where they took away a hunting rifle; his gun license has also been suspended.
Under oath, the principal admitted that he did not feel threatened, and the charges were dropped.   There is no mention of whether the rifle was returned or the gun permit restored.
When questioned under oath, the principal told a clerk magistrate he did not feel threatened.
By itself, this is an interesting story:  A principal using the police to harass a gun owner.   It reminded me of another story out of Georgia that had a similar theme.  In it, the principal had contacted the police to ban the parent from school because she had a picture of her carry permit on her facebook page.   From ljreview.com:

In what I’d call a severe case of overreacting, Army veteran Tanya Mount was banned from her disabled daughter’s elementary school after she posted a photo of her concealed weapons permit online.
The mother, who often volunteered at the school, said she was approached by a police officer near campus one day and warned that Principal Janina Dallas had filed a “no trespass order” against Mount.
Tanya Mount transferred her daughter to a different school.   The principal later claimed that the permit was not the reason for banning Ms. Mount from the school.   A settlement was reached in which the school paid $1,000 and legal fees, according to wrdw.com:
 Tanya Mount said she'll receive $1,000 and an undisclosed amount for legal expenses.
Taken separately, these two cases might be dismissed as odd incidents.  Together they reinforce the idea of schools as intolerant, politically correct bastions of citizen disarmament orthodoxy.   How many of these cases exist, where the victim with the permit did not have the courage or wherewithal to fight the system in the courts?  How many of these cases never make the news, because most police have more sense?  I would appreciate any information about other cases.


 ©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

Major Ruling Shields Privacy of Cellphones

WASHINGTON — In a sweeping victory for privacy rights in the digital age, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest. While the decision will offer protection to the 12 million people arrested every year, many for minor crimes, its impact will most likely be much broader. The ruling almost certainly also applies to searches of tablet and laptop computers, and its reasoning may apply to searches of homes and businesses and of information held by third parties like phone companies. “This is a bold opinion,” said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. “It is the first computer-search case, and it says we are in a new digital age. You can’t apply the old rules anymore.” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, was keenly alert to the central role that cellphones play in contemporary life. They are, he said, “such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.” But he added that old principles required that their contents be protected from routine searches. One of the driving forces behind the American Revolution, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, was revulsion against “general warrants,” which “allowed British officers to rummage through homes in an unrestrained search for evidence of criminal activity.” “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand,” the chief justice also wrote, “does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the founders fought.” The government has been on a surprising losing streak in cases involving the use of new technologies by the police. In Wednesday’s case and in a 2012 decision concerning GPS devices, the Supreme Court’s precedents had supported the government. “But the government got zero votes in those two cases,” Professor Kerr said. The courts have long allowed warrantless searches in connection with arrests, saying they are justified by the need to protect police officers and to prevent the destruction of evidence. But Chief Justice Roberts said neither justification made much sense in the context of cellphones. While the police may examine a cellphone to see if it contains, say, a razor blade, he wrote, “once an officer has secured a phone and eliminated any potential physical threats, however, data on the phone can endanger no one.”...more

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

EPA Employees Told to Stop Pooping in the Hallway

Environmental Protection Agency workers have done some odd things recently. Contractors built secret man caves in an EPA warehouse, an employee pretended to work for the CIA to get unlimited vacations and one worker even spent most of his time on the clock looking at pornography. It appears, however, that a regional office has reached a new low: Management for Region 8 in Denver, Colo., wrote an email earlier this year to all staff in the area pleading with them to stop inappropriate bathroom behavior, including defecating in the hallway.  In the email, obtained by Government Executive, Deputy Regional Administrator Howard Cantor mentioned “several incidents” in the building, including clogging the toilets with paper towels and “an individual placing feces in the hallway” outside the restroom. Confounded by what to make of this occurrence, EPA management “consulted” with workplace violence “national expert” John Nicoletti, who said that hallway feces is in fact a health and safety risk. He added the behavior was “very dangerous” and the individuals responsible would “probably escalate” their actions...more

What's the big deal?  EPA has been "pooping" on us for years.

White House, Liberal Billionaire Launch Global Warming Scare Campaign

The White House and its environmentalist allies have begun another major push to warn the public of the dangers of global warming. A major report released by a group co-chaired by San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer highlighting the potential economic damages of global warming and a series of events planned by the White House will potentially help Democrats build support for President Obama’s climate agenda. On Tuesday, the group Risky Business put out a report attempting to quantify the economic damages from the impacts of global warming, including sea level rises, heat waves and lower crop yields. The day the report came out, Politico reported that the White House unveiled “a series of events this week to shine a spotlight on the economic consequences of climate change” which included a discussion with Steyer, whose group conducted the study. The White House’s planned events mark the “one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s high-profile climate change speech,” reports Politico. Not only is the White House planning on holding events, they will also be meeting with Steyer on Wednesday to discuss the economic impacts of global warming. Reuters reports that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and White House officials will meet with Steyer, former Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and others involved in the Risky Business report. This meeting with Steyer comes after a meeting on Tuesday with White House officials and insurance industry representatives. The meeting included Obama advisers John Podesta and Valerie Jarrett who sat down with insurers and reinsurers to “discuss the economic consequences of increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather and the insurance industry’s role in helping American communities prepare for extreme weather and other impacts of climate change,” a White House official told Reuters. But that’s not all for the White House. President Obama will give a speech Wednesday night at a dinner hosted by the environmental group the League of Conservation Voters — the group that has spent millions backing pro-climate policy candidates...more


Obama administration hearings in Hawaii incite racial disputes

A proposal by the Obama administration to create a new relationship with ethnic Hawaiians backfired on the administration Monday as native Hawaiians rallied in force against the proposal to reestablish a “government-to-government relationship” between the United States and the Native Hawaiian community. The U.S. Department of Interior, here in Hawaii on the president’s behalf, is holding a series of “Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making” hearings about the plan to “more effectively implement the special political and trust relationship that currently exists between the Federal government and the Native Hawaiian community.” The capitol auditorium was so packed Monday, organizers sent the overflowing crowd to other rooms in the capitol to view the hearing remotely. The vast majority of native Hawaiians who testified were indignant, and even outraged, that the federal government would try to insert itself or side with any native Hawaiian faction vying to take power away from other Hawaiians by officially organizing and negotiating. They scolded, shouted at, and questioned the motives of, Interior Department officials. University of Hawaii Hawaiian studies professor Jonathan Osorio said the Department of interior should not intervene and impose additional “aggression upon our nation.” While the debate is stirring up an already racially divided community, constitutional experts are arguing The White House and Department of Interior have no legal right to create such a relationship and has no business holding these hearings in the first place. Former Hawaii State Attorney General Michael Lilly said at a recent forum that unlike native Americans, native Hawaiians have no tribe, and therefore the United States cannot enter into a treaty relationship. “The current effort to recognize a separate ethnic tribe by the Department of the Interior is unconstitutional because, under the Constitution, it is the Congress that has the plenary power to recognize tribes and ratify treaties. That power does not reside in the Executive branch of the federal government or with the various states. So the current effort aimed at creating a tribe of Hawaiians has no legal basis,” Lilly said...more

Part of Colorado River declared National Water Trail

A stretch of the Colorado River through the nation’s driest state has been named a National Water Trail by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. The Black Canyon Water Trail, as it is now known, takes in a 30-mile stretch of the Colorado from the downstream side of Hoover Dam to the mouth of Eldorado Canyon, south of Boulder City. It is the first such designation of a boating trail in the Southwest and the first to traverse a desert. In announcing the designation Tuesday, Jewell said the scenic route through Black Canyon joins “a distinctive national network of exemplary water trails” that have won recognition since 2012 as part of a federal initiative to encourage tourism and stewardship. The stretch of river is already managed by the National Park Service as part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The designation comes with no additional money or restrictions on public access...more

Hunting on Public Lands at Risk Following Petition Attack on Traditional Ammo

You may have seen the news that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), along with other anti-hunting groups and individuals, filed a petition with the Interior Department demanding rules against hunting with traditional ammunition on public lands – one-fifth of the total land area in the U.S. We warned this was coming after their playbook was discovered. After all, this is the same HSUS that is run by Wayne Pacelle, who has made his goals known:  “If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would.” (The Kingman Daily Miner, 30 December 1991). “We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States. We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state.” (Full Cry Magazine, 1 October 1990). The 50 page-petition is littered with junk science and fails to make the case that the use of traditional ammunition is a threat to wildlife populations or to humans that would warrant such a drastic action. Are we really to believe USUS finds hunting acceptable just so long as hunters use alternative ammunition?  Hunters, sportsmen and target shooters aren’t gullible.  We know better than to trust HSUS with setting hunting policy for the entire country. But we can’t assume the Obama Administration’s Interior Department is on our side. Call Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today at 202-208-3181 and tell her to reject this scientifically baseless petition from HSUS to ban traditional ammunition. Let the Department of the Interior know that requiring the use of alternative, non-lead ammunition, is nothing more than a back-door way to ban hunting by raising the price of participating in an American sporting tradition...more


New Mexico makes progress against feral pigs with $1M eradication program

State and federal wildlife managers in New Mexico are making progress in their fight against feral pigs. They say they have eliminated the majority of invasive porkers from 10 counties, and progress is being made in another seven counties where the pigs have taken up residency. Alan May, state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Service Division in Albuquerque, said federal hunters tracked down and eliminated about 700 pigs last year as part of a $1 million pilot project. Most of the work was done across New Mexico's eastern plains. Most of the pigs removed were female, which should put a dent in the population's ability to multiply. The results have been good despite some uncooperative private landowners hindering the effort, he said. "We will continue to work with those few folks to explain the importance of what we're trying to do so we can hopefully achieve statewide eradication someday," May said. Feral pigs have made themselves at home across more than three quarters of the U.S. and are responsible for an estimated $1.5 billion in damages each year. In one year alone, federal managers trapped and killed more than 32,000 pigs from 28 states and collected thousands of samples to check for the nearly three dozen diseases feral pigs are capable of carrying and passing on to humans, livestock and other wildlife. Ranchers and farmers have complained for years about the damage feral pigs can cause. But the loss of crops and the spread of noxious weeds by the pigs are proving to be more challenging in times of drought. Eradication efforts in the northeastern corner of the state will continue, but the new focus will include two counties in New Mexico's Bootheel region, officials said...more

Dire Drought Forecast For Wichita Falls Region

A North Texas city experiencing its worst drought on record may face a decade or longer of persistent hot, dry weather, state and federal climatologists warned at a public forum Tuesday. Wichita Falls, about 110 miles northwest of Fort Worth, will likely need to undertake costly programs to retrieve or treat water as its reservoirs fall to dangerous lows, the experts said. The forum, among a half dozen gatherings organized by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration across the U.S. Southern Plains, focused on preservation efforts, climate forecasts and financial assistance available to those whose businesses have suffered from a lack of water. Drinking water supplies for about 150,000 users around Wichita Falls have fallen precipitously from nearly 90 percent capacity before the drought began in late 2010 to less than a quarter of capacity, according to the Texas Water Development Board. The city has banned irrigation, attempted to increase rainfall with cloud seeding and is now awaiting approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which regulates public water sources, for a toilet-to-tap reuse program. Still, the city’s reservoirs are on a trajectory to run dry by August 2016...more