Thursday, April 30, 2015

Colorado preschooler barred from eating Oreos at lunch

A Colorado mother said her daughter's preschool teacher barred her from eating the Oreo cookies packed in her lunch because they are not "nutritious." Pearson said Natalee still had the cookies, which had been packed along with a ham and cheese sandwich and a stick of string cheese, along with a note from her teacher. The note read:

"Dear Parents, It is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch. This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable, and a healthy snack from home, along with milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it. Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack. This is a very important part of our program and we need everyone's participation."

"I don't agree with it at all," Pearson told KMGH-TV. "They don't provide lunch for my daughter. I provide lunch," Pearson said. "It's between me and the doctor in terms of what's healthy for her." An Aurora Public Schools spokeswoman said Natalee was offered a healthy alternative to the cookies...more

I just sent Sharon to town to get some...

Protecting sage grouse could hurt military, report says

Efforts to protect the greater sage grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act could hurt training operations at numerous U.S. military facilities in the West, according to a new report by the Army. The report looked at the impact of protecting sage grouse on the Yakima Training Center in Washington; Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada; the Wyoming National Guard; Tooele Army Depot and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. It found that protecting the birds would restrict the availability of training lands; limit the size of training lands and ranges; restrict the use of firing points; and impose restrictions on future development and construction. The greatest impacts would occur at the Yakima Training Center, a 327,000-acre facility in central Washington that provides desert-like training conditions for the U.S. Army that includes live fire of ammunition and maneuver training. The Yakima center supports one of four populations of greater sage grouse in the state, within a 77,000-acre preserve, and already operates in a way to minimize impacts on the birds, according to the report released this week by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment. But a listing under the Endangered Species Act would impact "the ability to meet the training mission," the report said. If the greater sage grouse is listed, 11 gunnery ranges would be shut down from Feb. 1 to June 15 of each year, among numerous other restrictions, it said...more

Would grouse protections hurt national defense?

The House Armed Services Committee will vote today on a defense authorization bill with contentious Republican language to postpone Endangered Species Act protections for the greater sage grouse, sparking debate over whether wildlife protections are a threat to military readiness. Language from Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) in the National Defense Authorization Act would block a Fish and Wildlife Service decision on whether the sage grouse needs federal protection in any states that have their own plans in place to protect the bird's sagebrush habitat. It would also stymie a broad effort by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service to bolster sage grouse protections across tens of millions of acres of Western rangelands. The land-use plans aim to convince FWS that the ground-dwelling bird -- whose population of breeding males has dropped by more than half over the past several years -- needs no additional protections. Bishop said his grouse rider would block Obama administration restrictions that are undermining national security. "Almost unbelievably, sage grouse restrictions, based on dubious or outdated science, are currently costing the Department of Defense millions of dollars and impacting critical training and support activities at numerous installations across the country," Bishop said in a statement yesterday. "If the Obama administration lists the bird under ESA, the needs of our military will be subordinate to an extreme environmental agenda. Our military personnel, who we ask so much of, deserve better." That view was echoed Monday in an op-ed in Roll Call by three former servicemen who warned that a federal listing for sage grouse would "significantly impair the readiness and effectiveness of a number of military installations, and the military units assigned to these sorts of camps and bases."
Wildlife advocates are challenging those claims. Dozens of environmental groups yesterday sent a letter to House members warning that Bishop's grouse rider is "one of the most egregious political attacks on the ESA in this Congress" and would do nothing to enhance military readiness. They're backing an amendment by Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) to strike Bishop's language from the bill...more

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Attorney calls easements a 'government land grab'

In recent years, conservation easements—agreements between landowners and nonprofit organizations—have gained popularity as a way to protect wildlife, provide various kinds of tax exemptions as well as prevent land and mineral development with an eye toward permanent preservation. At the same time, there has been concerns these easements have caused erosion of local tax bases and property devaluations, along with imposed management restrictions, arbitrary contractual language and fears of close relationships between multinational environmental groups, federal agencies and land trusts. Hageman, as keynote speaker, said there needs to be more public discussion about the value of conservation easements and the implications they bring to counties in terms of taxation and long-term property management issues. Those issues include partial ownership of the land by the grantor of the easement while relinquishing the right to use the land for development. “It often limits all development,” Hageman said. “That includes mineral development and that sort of thing.” Easements are contracts, and the language that is used, Hageman said, will dictate how the contract is enforced. Often, the easement can be transferrable by the grantee, and sometimes, the permission of the landowner-grantee is not needed. “That means you may very well find yourself as the landowner being a partner with someone you never entered into that contract with. That can be the federal government, it can be another land trust, all different things,” Hageman said. If the land is sold, the easement remains in perpetuity. “It doesn’t matter who the land is sold to. It runs with the land,” Hageman said. “It is held in perpetuity. In Wyoming, we interpret that to be 999 years. All future landowners are bound by the terms of that deed.” There are tax incentives associated with easements and disasters, too, Hageman said. Hageman said easements devalue the largest single holding farmers and ranchers have. “The reason there is a tax consequence is that there is a difference between the value of the before the easement is granted as compared with the value after it’s granted,” Hageman said. “Easements are intentionally designed to devalue your property.”...more

Some 10 million acres are now held in easements by 1,700 different land trust organizations around the nation.

BLM: Lack of precipitation a bad sign for horses, cows

Diminishing water on the range could spell disaster for wild horses this summer, according to a Bureau of Land Management representative. Speaking to the county’s natural resources board, Rich Adams, BLM Tuscarora Field Office manager, said it’s not the lack of feed that has staff concerned, but the drying creeks and springs. “I think we’re going to be reaching some really critical issues with water and horses,” he said. “… If it really turns bone dry, we’re probably going to end up tipping horses over because of a lack of water.” BLM has continued hauling water to guzzler troughs and rounding up horses in overcrowded areas, though a lack of space in short-term and long-term facilities has made gathers problematic. Regardless of wild horses, the drought has affected ranchers, many of whom have already voluntarily reduced their grazing on public land this season. Some allotments are up to 70 percent nonuse, according to Adams. “Later this summer, we may be facing one of those points where there just ain’t enough water to support the number of head out there and we’ll have to work with permittees to deal with that accordingly,” Adams said. Ron Torell, president of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, said operators in northeastern Nevada have been forced to export or sell cattle and he expects that trend to continue so long as the drought persists. “It’s getting to be an ugly situation,” he said. “… Our numbers are lower than they’ve ever been.” Torell said cattlemen have taken voluntary nonuse because it’s good for the land, but also because if there’s little feed on the ground it can’t sustain many cows...more

Environmental groups spar over wind energy, prairie chicken protection

As dozens of birders from across the country attend an Oklahoma festival intended to bring attention to the plight of dwindling prairie grouse populations, a difference in views on wind energy between the local Audubon Society and the Sierra Club has come into focus. Via email to Oklahoma birders, John Kennington, longtime Tulsa Audubon Society Chapter president and an organizer of the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival underway in Woodward and Pawhuska through Sunday, challenged the Sierra Club’s position presented recently in state electric utility upgrade hearings and on its Beyond Coal Campaign website. “If the proposal outlined (by the Sierra Club) is approved, we will see an exponential increase in the number of wind turbines across Oklahoma. The impact on lesser prairie chickens, eagles, other raptors, migratory birds and other wildlife, particularly bats, will be devastating,” Kennington wrote. “I really hate to see people who care about our environment disagree, but many of us feel this is a very misguided position.” While he said he appreciates concerns about pollution and climate change, he argued that grasping with both hands for wind or solar technologies without pushing for mitigation of the negative aspects of those developments is not the answer, either...more

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Water reality grim for Owens Valley ranchers

The numbers tell the story. The listing of Owens Valley water uses indicates a reduction across the board, but none as draconian as the 66-percent reduction in irrigation water provided to area agriculture, down from 49,000 acre-feet in a typical year to 16,500 acre-feet this runoff year. “We can’t beat up on the city,” said Lone Pine cattleman Tom Noland. “It just doesn’t look like the water’s there.” Ranchers dependent on surface water will be hit the hardest, county Water Department Director Bob Harrington told the Water Commissioners at their April 23 meeting. Besides praying for rain, area ranchers’ hope for survival may well depend on the Supervisors’ workshop as they have cut their herds to the quick. As Scott Kemp put it, ranchers are trying to preserve the genetics of their cattle. Rebuilding a herd is a multi-year process; having a proven breeding program is the beginning. Kemp and Noland agree on what has to be done. “Take water off the Owens Lake,” Noland told the Water Commissioners. “What do people here value? We can put up with a little dust.” In an earlier phone conversation, Noland acknowledged that reducing the base flow on the LORP could free up irrigation water, provided the Memorandum of Understanding partners could agree to a one-year change. Kemp is more blunt. “The EPA will sue if they (LADWP) don’t meet the standards (on the dry lake); everybody else will sue if they don’t meet their obligations on the Lower Owens…. The only people who come out on top are the attorneys…. There are a lot of good ideas, but getting everybody to agree….” The reality for ranchers is grim. Herds have been cut by as much as 70 percent. Kemp’s were cut 40-percent prior to this year; now he’s looking at cutting that number in half. Mark Lacey’s operation had private lands near Bridgeport and Crowley Lake as safety valves, but now those grazing fields can’t support significant numbers...more

Back to bloggin'

The Cowboy Reunion and the NMSU rodeo are over, so will get back to postin' later today.

We had a great turnout for the reunion...folks came from California, Utah, Oklahoma and Texas.

Colorado sues federal government over fracking

Colorado has joined Wyoming and North Dakota in challenging the US federal government’s rules to regulate fracking on federal public lands, which were issued in March. The lawsuit argues that the new rules supersede the state’s authority and “invade” the jurisdiction of the state regulatory bodies. Colorado follows Wyoming and North Dakota in opposing the federal government’s legislation, all three states have questioned whether the BLM has the authority to impose a regulatory framework over the states for hydraulic fracturing. “Colorado has robust regulations on oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracturing, and our agency regulators are doing a good job implementing them,” said the state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. “I believe it is important to test BLM’s novel assertion of regulatory authority in an area that has been traditionally — and in this case expressly—reserved for the states. “To be clear, this case is not about whether hydraulic fracturing should or should not be regulated. It should be regulated, and Colorado is doing so,” Coffman explained...more

Dam Removal Petition Delivered to White House

Last year, the award-winning film DamNation swept through the river-running community, asking us to rethink the utility of over 40,000 aging dams across the U.S. Meanwhile, in August 2014, the final blasts took down the last portion of the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam on Washington’s Elwha River, completing the largest dam removal project in American history. Within weeks, Chinook salmon were spotted above the former dam site. The successful removal of the Elwha dams was a testament to DamNation‘s thesis: if you free them, rivers will heal. Now the filmmakers have taken the next step, joining activists and employees of Patagonia to deliver a 70,000-signature petition to President Obama and his top environmental advisers, including Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell. The petition asked the White House to remove obsolete dams, starting with four dams on the lower Snake River, which are particularly harmful to salmon populations. Learn more about DamNation‘s trip to Washington D.C. by watching the video above, or visit their websiteSource

Drilling Deeper For Water Amid Drought

SANTA MARIA VALLEY, Calif. - The drought is keeping local drilling companies busy called out to drill drying up water wells deeper. Farmers, growers and ranchers in the eastern Santa Maria Valley are feeling the effects of the drought. "Dry farming doesn't grow strawberries", says local grower and farmer Randy Sharer, "if we run out of water, we've got a whole bunch of people that work for us who are going to be looking for jobs." Water wells in the eastern Santa Maria Valley are running dry and that means drilling deeper to get that precious resource. "We have to have water to farm, we manage every gallon as efficiently as possible, but when you have wells that go dry, you need to", Sharer says, "its just more improvement, more capital investment that we need to make to be modern agriculturists in a competitive market." Sharer says says government, the public and agriculture should use this historic dry period to work together to adopt more efficient water use and storage policies...more

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

You cain’t miss it

By Julie Carter

Whether is dark or light, day or night, cowboys have an unerring sense of direction.
Seldom will you find them walking but their inner GPS serves them well as they navigate by horse or by pickup.

Not long ago, a cowboy was set to go to a roping in a town about 400 miles from home. He called a friend in that same town to get directions to the arena.

“No problem,” was the response, “You just take one of them roads just outside of town, go down couple miles, and it’s right there. You cain’t miss it.”

There is no telling how many miles, for decades, have been traveled on that very same reliable information. The topography of the land is always figured into the information given and is clearly thought to be helpful.

In the flatland farm country where there are miles and miles of wheat, the driving instruction will almost always include: “You just go down to that wheat field, turn west, and it’s right there. You cain’t miss it.”

In that same part of the world, directions could include “You go down past the elevator, down to where that feller was changing a tire last time I was down that way, and take a hard left. You cain’t miss it.”

Rodeo cowboys are no exception to this phenomenon. One set of ropers had a plan to go to the million-dollar roping in Las Vegas. Their directions were to head to El Paso and take a right, with the guarantee they couldn’t miss Las Vegas.

Another likely pair went to a roping down the road a ways. They had gotten safely to the correct town but had no clue as to the whereabouts of the arena. They, collectively, as it took both of them to form a reasonably intelligent thought, hit on the idea of just finding a pickup and horse trailer on the move and follow that rig to the arena.

It wasn’t long until a suspiciously authentic looking rig with just the right specifications came by. The semi-lost duo pulled out from the local Dairy Queen parking lot and fell in behind the authentic looking cowboy rig.

The targeted rig stopped at the Quik Stop, stopped at the tire store, stopped at the feed store, the bank, the Co-op, and then finally headed out of town. The trailing ropers were quite relieved because it was nearing time for the roping to start. They followed him along until he pulled off the highway and up to a ranch gate.

When they walked up to his truck and asked him if he was headed to the roping, the man advised them he had just taken his horse to the vet and was now on his way home.

However, he did give them directions to the arena. “You just go on back up this here road a ways, take that left by that big oak tree and go on down a couple miles. You cain’t miss it.”

Do you think the fellas at NASA in Houston told the astronauts something similar?

 “You just strap this rocket to the backside of your spacecraft, and just point that sucker toward Mars. It’s right up there a ways. You cain’t miss it.”

Julie can be reached for comment at

The snakes are crawling

The rise of Beasts
The snakes are crawling
Of hitches, conures, shoulder bands, and loving flies
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Leonard has been sick so it has been me and the iron horse the last several days.
The water storage at our Monterrey Well has been drained and repairs have been underway so it can be refilled before rotating cattle arrive. We poured concrete around the base last week and I was trying to finish an internal protective coating to extend the life of the old water storage built in 1940. I shot the inside with a nasty asphalt paint and was proceeding to shoot the outside with our color preference when Matt Matsler arrived. He had come out to check on Leonard and was making a water run at his request when he found me.
I was cussing the airless sprayer.
Matt helped me make several moves around the tank and was in the process of leaving when we saw the snake. He was 60 yards away when we spotted him. He stretched nearly half the width of the county road coming by the well and corral. He was going somewhere in a hurry.
Matt stopped to look at him as he drove away. The snake proceeded on his journey and I went back to work. We protect bull snakes and welcome their presence.
Rattlesnakes are another matter. After the subzero freeze of 2011, rattlesnake encounters dropped significantly. From an average of 55 or 60 a year, the number dropped to eight the summer of 2011 and recovered stepwise to about two dozen last summer. This spring has been an indicator that things might be changing yet more. A total of five have already been encountered and they have been big snakes. One of them might be as big as any snake we have ever seen on the ranch. Two big snakes were also seen at Alamo Basin with one of them having 13 rattles and a button. Another snake Leonard found coming off the divide above the Homestead rivaled the big snake.
This has all taken place with morning temperatures in the low ‘40s with one morning dropping below 27 that nipped grapevines, Leonard’s garden sets, and the pecans at the headquarters. It was cold.
In any case, the Crotalus sightings suggest it is again time to hang the felts and start wearing summer straws. That will last, of course, until the next big wind.
Then, it will be time to remember why felt hats are appropriate … regardless of season.
            Back to Henry
            I continue to be amazed at how little we learned in American history.
            Tell me your high school version of Ms. Strackbein taught you about Federalists andAnti-federalists and I’ll put Cholula on one of my straw hats and eat it. We never learned the real story, but we were served up canned rhetoric as if it was packed off the mountain engraved in stone.
            Yes, I continue to study Patrick Henry.
            He was one of the Anti-federalists that didn’t trust big government. In his scarlet cape and black suit, he would take the floor and confound the opposition with his logic and his forceful arguments. His stance on states’ rights stood in stark juxtaposition to the Federalists led by Hamilton, Madison, and Washington.
            Suspicion is a virtue as long as its object is the public good, and as long as it stays within proper bound … guard jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel,” he counseled.
            He didn’t trust the coronation of a federal government that posed a threat to the states. He didn’t trust monarchs regardless how they arrived. And, he wouldn’t support a Constitution that left the citizen out of the pillars of its foundation. The words he trusted were his own, and those that remain in record are haunting reminders of his distrust for any federalized government.
            As one of the big states, his home state of Virginia was critical to the ratification of the Constitution. His influence was key to its success or failure. In fact, his influence was so profound that Hamilton and Madison exchanged letters urging the prayerful need for his earthly departure.
In the end, Madison’s influence and campaign for ratification succeeded. The fear Henry had has come to fruition. It was justified. The bureaus and federal Privy Council agencies created by the ruling monarchs of the federal government long ago arrived and helped diminish the influence of the states.
In fact, it was the states he held in such high regard and referenced when he spoke … “United we stand, divided we fall, let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.”
That brings us to Henry’s most famous quote. If he were alive today, would he change a single word in the phrase of which we were incorrectly taught as being implicit in the constitutional process?
His words were … “Give me Liberty or give me death!
Of hitches, conures, shoulder bands, and loving flies
The current crop of Crotalus, rattlesnakes for you city folks, isn’t all that will require watchful vigilance as the weather warms. A whole ark of esoteric species is hitting the endangered charts this summer.
In her quest to maintain surveillance of the Federal Register and its unexpected threats to lingering liberty of folks who have to use natural resources, Rachel sent a summary of ten new species being swept along in the endangered species avalanche and expanding fiefdom this week. In the announcement of 90 day findings of various petitions to list eight new species, reclassify one, and delist one more, the public is again told that actions provided by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are fully warranted.
The list includes species that school children will likely be told have equal rights to their existence. It includes the clear lake hitch, the Egyptian tortoise, the long-tailed chinchilla, the golden conure, the Mojave shoulder band snail, the northern spotted owl, the relict dace, the San Joaquin Valley giant flower loving fly, the western pond turtle, and the yellow cedar. In addition to those organisms, the Center for Biological Diversity announced its intention to sue over climate change threats to another natural wonder, the glacier stonefly.
Hold on just a second another announcement just arrived … Hmmm.
Well, okay, it seems the glacier stonefly has more company. The latest report this hour serves notice to reset the habitat footprint for the blue headed Zuni sucker. That must be what Piscado Creek must claim as a fish when it has enough water to flow by the quaint village of Ramah, New Mexico.
The rise and care of Beasts
Does anyone not think that Patrick Henry would be floored if he learned of the stranglehold of ESA? Likewise, how would he react to the colossal danger the network of federal agencies now poses to the Union? His take might be like so many of us. Not only have the promises of basic liberty been undermined, but the American experiment is in jeopardy.
We continue to try to act objective and adult about our plight while the tyrannical forces around us expand and become more powerful. There is no comparison to this debacle and what the Federalist or Anti-federalist actually debated 232 years ago. The thing they agreed upon was that the proper role of government was to scrutinize and govern the state of the citizen. What they disagreed upon was the center stage for proper governance. In that matter, Henry’s demand to avoid centralized power seems to be correct.
His warning continued, “It is natural for man to indulge in the illusion of hope and pride. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren (federalism) till she transforms us into beasts.”
Like it or not the Hamilton, Madison, and Washington’s promises of checks and balances have become false promises. Ultimately, the federalist siren lured us into modern calamity and the jewel of liberty was ransacked. The independent citizen has been extracted from the model and, in his place … the greatest body of governing elite in the history of the world has emerged.
Today, we are going to get our hands dirty again.
We are rebuilding a loading chute in order to handle cattle with more ease. Our concern is for both the cultured beasts of our charge and ourselves. As ranchers, we stand in the spotlight and criticism has become part of the package. We know it all too well.
Like Henry, though, we trust our words more than a body of bureaucrats who make qualitative assessments of our existence. As we go about our day, our attention will be directed at our work, but … we will guard jealous attention toward the snakes that might harm us.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “I am not paranoid about rattlesnakes, but … I don’t like them.”

DuBois column

We have the Bundy Ranch, Smokey's declining badges and the War on Meat…


The confrontation on the Bundy Ranch is back in the news, with enviro groups and a key Congresswoman pushing the BLM to file charges and remove the cattle.

At a recent budget hearing, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) grilled BLM’s Director.  "Mr. Bundy and his band of armed thugs are dangerous. They have committed acts that are criminal by threatening federal employees,” said McCollum.  "They should be held accountable. They should be prosecuted", she continued and then asked, "What steps have been taken to stop this misuse of grazing without a permit and threatening federal employees who are just doing their jobs?"

The BLM can’t directly respond because the current investigation is being handled by the FBI and the Justice Department.

Elsewhere, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has written to the Secretary Of Interior and the U.S. Attorney General saying the fed’s silence has been “both deafening and deeply troubling.”  The letter further states, “Bundy has violated the laws of the legislative branch, ignored the orders of the judicial branch to enforce those laws, and defied efforts by the executive branch to enforce three court orders.”  They requested a public update by April 5, the one-year anniversary of the confrontation.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal is also expressing frustration with BLM’s lack of response to their FOIA requests.  In a recent editorial the paper said they had “submitted multiple public records requests to the BLM under the Freedom of Information Act, but the agency has stalled and stonewalled the newspaper.”  The paper also says, “The longer a government refuses to answer basic questions about public business, the more suspicious taxpayers become.”

It has also been reported that PEER has filed suit because of the non-response to their FOIA requests.

All of this does make one wonder.  Or, as the Nevada paper editorializes, “What is the BLM trying to hide?”

Blue Smokey LEOs

Forest Service law enforcement officers are crying the blues over budget cuts.  As wildfire suppression consumes more of the budget less is left for the non-fire employees.  The Forest Service budget justification for 2016 says the number of LEOs will decline from 813 in 2015 to 680 in 2016.  The documents says the Forest Service will prioritize for life-threatening emergencies with an emphasis on drug trafficking, “particularly in California and along the Southwest and northern borders.”

“We’re basically the police in the woods,” says Matthew Valenta, a union spokesman for the group.  “Our primary focus is resource protection, but we also do vehicle stops, DUIs…recreation vehicle enforcement and crimes against persons,” said Valenta.  In a letter to the U.S. Senate he said the budget issue is affecting their ability to conduct investigations, “from minor infractions to serious felonies such as homicide, rape, assaults,…domestic disputes, robbery, gang activity.”

We find ourselves in a situation where poor management by the Forest Service results in more, larger and hotter fires, which results in more spending for wild fires and less funds for non-fire programs.  One causes the other.  The poor management is not all the Forest Service's fault.  Congress passes the laws, enviros file the lawsuits and judges (appointed by the President and approved by the Senate) issue the decisions.  The whole thing is a mess and instead of fixing the real problems they want to change how fire fighting is funded.

And why is Forest Service law enforcement placing such an emphasis on the Southwest border?  It appears the whole border has or is being designated as Wilderness, Wildlife Refuges or National Monuments where they can’t go at all or have limited access.  Why place an emphasis on policing the border with Mexico when the administration says it’s “safer than ever”?  What does the Forest Service know that the President and his Secretary of Homeland Security either don’t know or aren’t telling us?

The spokesman says their top priority is “resource protection” yet they are involved in all kinds of non-resource infractions both on and off federal property. 

Instead of sticking to business they’ve built a bureaucracy, outside the purview of line managers, with their own chain of command at USDA.  And of course the copycats at Interior are doing the same.
Greenhouse gas from federal land
You knew it was coming sooner or later.  The Wilderness Society and the Center for American Progress have issued a report that says twenty percent of all greenhouse gasses are emitted from federal land and are calling for a full inventory of the sources.  "Any comprehensive strategy to address climate change in this country should account for these emissions and present a strategy to reduce them, as well,” says one of the researchers.
This report is aimed at the oil, gas and coal industries.  But have you heard of methane?  You can guess what’s coming next.
Fizzle on the sizzle
I’ve written before about the War on Meat, primarily through the dietary guidelines and the school lunch program.  Whether you are producing meat animals on federal, state or private lands, these programs affect you.
Now comes EPA to the battle.  Joe Roybal at BEEF magazine has discovered an EPA grant for $15,000 to the University of California at Riverside.  The purpose of the grant is to develop “Technology for the Reduction of Particulate Matter Emissions for Residential BBQs” and is part of the nationwide “National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet.”   Got that?  Actually they are to develop a system for your grill that will prevent fat from catching on fire.  Burning fat causes air pollution don’t you know.
I was gonna suggest you not invite any EPA employees to your barbeque.  But that's probably not enough protection.  I'll bet they've got a whole fleet of EPA Drones outfitted to detect illegal sizzling and if caught you will be fined for the first offense and lose your government permit to cook on your own property for any subsequent violations.  Talk about your Cruel and Unusual Punishment, that would be it.

USDA weighing your babies

Its not our calves or lambs they’ll be weighing, its our children.

Is this some evil study concocted by a team of bored bureaucrats?  Nope, its Michelle Obama who pushed this, along with your friendly Congressmen.  The study is required by section 223 of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by Mrs. Obama and passed in 2010.  U.S.D.A. will be measuring and weighing children in professional and home childcare facilities.  According to a Federal Register notice, they will also collect data on the “nutritional quality of foods offered, physical activity, sedentary activity, and barriers to” healthy food and exercise in childcare.

All of this fits under the War on Obesity, and based on the government’s own figures, it’s not working.  The Center for Disease Control reports that obesity among adults is 27.7 percent, up from 25.5 percent in 2008. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.  Who were the only ones who made progress?  Those under six who hadn’t entered the government’s clutches yet.  The rate of obesity among 2 to 5 year-olds decreased from 13.9% to 8.4%.

They are attacking our industry and invading family privacy, but its all for naught as their hectoring our citizens with their centrally planned dietary dictates is simply not working.

Till next time, be a nuisance to the devil and don’t forget to check that cinch.

Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner ( and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.

A version of this column appeared in the April issues of  the New Mexico Stockman and the Livestock Market Digest.

Baxter Black - Making Ol' Bay famous

Picture this; a panoramic background, the green Okanogan Valley, pines and quakies with contrasting colors of a splendid autumn springtime. The artistic eye discerns a lone riderless horse, a bay with 4 white socks and a blaze standing, reins hanging down, and a white flag hooked over the saddle horn. As the flag comes into focus, the mind begins to dissect ' is that a pair of tighty whiteys?"

It was one of those days. Craig spotted an old cow that had been evading them. She was crossing the meadow heading back into the woods, Craig dug the spurs into Ol' Bay to cut off the uncooperative cow.

The grass was moist but the meadow was firm ground. The chase was on! She took a turn to the east and disappeared into a drain ditch, then climbed out the other side. Ol' Bay hesitated at the tip of the lip then slid down to the muddy bottom of the ditch. Craig's mind was operating on autopilot, processing decisions in milli-seconds, enacting them in trilli-seconds!

The opposite side was too steep to climb straight up. A trajectory correction was engaged 30 degrees to the starboard, aiming to climb the bank at an angle. The horse went down and rolled back over Craig. Our good cowboy pushed the horse on over his pinned body. Ol' Bay's hooves hit the ground and he fired himself back up-right, unintentionally hooking the saddle horn under Craig's pant leg! Which, of course, in turn, tore itself up through his blue jeans, sliding under his Fruit of the Loom's, ripping out the zipper, and pulling the already stretched underwear through the cavernous gash left by his torn jeans.

During the tumult, the saddle horn snagged the elastic waistband and stretched it till it broke and freed the flopping cowboy! As he fell back he came unhooked, untangled and disrobed and rolled to the bottom of the muddy ditch.


Trail Dust - Spanish passion for noble rank helped king colonize New Mexico

by Marc Simmons

...In centuries past, Spaniards too had a passion for titles, perhaps even more so than Englishmen. Many families first gained noble rank during the medieval wars with the Moors as a reward for extraordinary military service. In the 12th century, for example, two brothers named López led an assault on the Moorish-held Portuguese city of Chaves and captured it.

A grateful king made them knights and ordered that their name should, thereafter, be López de Chaves. The brothers’ descendants long afterward helped explore the New World, and the name Chaves (or Chavez) is a common one now in New Mexico and Chihuahua.

Practically every Spanish commoner hoped someday to advance at least to the lowest noble rank, that of hidalgo. The term comes from the contraction of three words, hijo de algo, meaning simply, “son of something.” Those who could save enough were able to buy the title from the king. But most poor people had to count on winning it through some valued deed.

Hidalgos were exempt from taxes, they couldn’t be arrested for debt, like the common folk, and they could pass on the title to a male heir. Among status-conscious Spaniards, hidalgo rank was much coveted.

...When Juan de Oñate was preparing to march north in the closing years of the 16th century and settle New Mexico, he ran into trouble enlisting colonists. Spaniards well knew the dangers and hardships they would find on the Rio Grande frontier and, hence, were not eager to sign on.

The king lent a hand by proclaiming that every man who joined Oñate and stuck it out in New Mexico for five years would be made a hidalgo. Recruitment sped up after that.

...Such noblemen were permitted to add the title “Don” before their first name, such as Don José on Don Manuel. The usual explanation is that the term Don comes from combining the first letters in the phrase, de origin noble. However, Fay Blake of Albuquerque, a scholar of Jewish history, informs me that it may actually derive from the Hebrew word Adonas, which means “Our Lord.”

Man’s best friend may have been the Neanderthal’s downfall

Why did Neanderthals, our ancestral cousins, disappear from the Earth? There are already plenty of theories, from climate change to lack of intelligence. Now you can add dogs to the list. Pat Shipman, a retired professor of anthropology at Penn State, used new anthropological findings to argue in her new book, “The Invaders,” that the partnership between modern humans and their domesticated wolf-dogs hastened the extinction of Neanderthals.  Modern humans were physically smaller and weaker than Neanderthals, but were still able to push their larger cousins out of the way. Shipman says they did this through cooperative hunting with the wolf-dogs, otherwise knows as canids, in which they shared the tasks of finding prey, chasing it down and killing it.  Cooperation benefitted both partners with more efficient hunting and less risk, she says, which gave humans the edge to outcompete the Neanderthals as the apex predator on land.  The fossils of more than 40 individual wolf-dogs — which can be distinguished from wolves thanks to new research methods — have been identified from various sites of modern human existence in Central and Eastern Europe. None turn up where Neanderthals existed, Shipman says...more

The author is mistaken.  The Neanderthals are not extinct. They've found a home in Washington D.C. and are working full time to bring the wolf back.  So keep your wolf-dog healthy and handy.  You shouldn't need any help in selecting the prey.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Proposed Public Land Transfer Denounced by Recreation Businesses

More than two dozen Grand Valley businesses have joined up with an environmental lobby organization to denounce any transfer of federally controlled public lands to the state. The local businesses have signed onto a letter heading to lawmakers in Denver. The letter argues that “the huge cost to the state of managing these lands would lead to greatly increased development and a loss of access that would put our businesses at risk.” The debate over public land ownership is heating up this week as a proposed law moving through state legislature hopes to take away the federal government’s ultimate control over hundreds of thousands of acres of area currently watched over by the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. A vast majority of the letter’s signatories are businesses with an invested interest in recreation and tourist opportunities. Some say they've come out in support of the status quo, citing fears that any shake up in control could create instability in the economy. Co-owner of Rapid Creek Cycles in Palisade Scott Winans said although he doesn’t always agree with BLM decisions, he believes their management is currently the best course of action. Senate Bill 15-039 was introduced by Republicans in January and passed through the state senate this week. It seeks to give Colorado concurrent jurisdiction over federal lands...more

If your whole business model is based on the public having access to federal lands, you are in deep doo doo and should be praying that these lands are transferred. 

Armed Oregon protesters gather at Bureau of Land Management office over mine dispute, report says

More than 100 demonstrators, some of them armed, reportedly surrounded the Bureau of Land Management’s Medford, Oregon district office Thursday to protest the agency’s regulations against a rural gold mine. Supporters of the Sugar Pine mine tell the Mail Tribune that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials lied when they said mine owners George Backes and Rick Barclay needed to file a plan with the agency for what they called previously unknown mining activity. The agency told Backes and Barclay that they had to file a plan or remove their equipment. Some of the protesters who congregated in the agency's parking lot were members of the Oath Keepers movement, an organization made up of former and current law enforcement personnel who vow to disobey government orders they deem unconstitutional. Mary Emerick, a spokeswoman for the Oath Keepers, told the Mail Tribune that volunteers from the organization have been guarding the mine. She said those volunteers came from various parts of the western U.S. The armed volunteers started showing up last week after Barclay called upon them because he was afraid the agency would seize the equipment. The miners contend they legally control all of the land and resources within the claim, which they say has been continuously mined since the 1800s. The agency has said the land belongs to the federal government and the miners have to file a plan of operations if they want to continue working in the area. "(The miners) have a particular interpretation of the Constitution that has not been recognized by any federal court," BLM spokesman Tom Gorey told the Mail Tribune. Although Barclay did call upon the armed volunteers, he is looking to distance himself from any actions that could replicate what happened in Nevada last year...more

Alaska Miners Dispute Jewell's Claim That ‘Much’ Of Alaska’s Federal Lands Are Open To Mining

Alaska mining advocates are taking issue with something Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said last week, while defending federal resource management in Alaska. Here’s what Jewell said: “We are in no way preventing development of Alaska’s resources on public lands. We’re facilitating development in a number of areas. Much of the mining in Alaska is on public lands.” The Alaska Miners Association has written a letter to Jewell disputing that “much” of Alaska’s mining is on federal lands. Alaska has six big mines. Two, Kensington and Greens Creek in Southeast, are on federal land. The others are on state and Native land. Deantha Crockett, executive director of the mining group, says Alaska has more than 400 placer mines, but only about 80 are on federal land. “I think our concern is when you say “much” you’re talking about 18 percent of placer mines, and two out of six large-scale mines,” Crockett said. “I guess I don’t consider that to be ‘much.'” Crockett says the lack of mining activity on federal land didn’t happen by accident. More than 60 percent of the state is federal land, but Crockett says too much is closed to mining. “And the then the acreage that is administered by the federal government that isn’t closed to mineral entry, frankly, there are tremendous permitting delays and a whole bunch of bureaucracy that’s affecting these operation from moving forward,” Crockett said...more

Study: Oil and gas drilling consuming millions of acres

Drilling for oil and gas, which has increased substantially in many parts of the country over the past decade, has impacted millions of acres of agricultural and range land, according to researchers. A study published today in the journal Science found that between 2000 and 2012, about 7 million acres – the rough equivalent of three Yellowstone National Parks – was given over to well pads and related roads. About half of the acreage was rangeland, and roughly another 40 percent was cropland and 10 percent forestland. A very small amount was wetland. The researchers calculated that crop production lost due to drilling amounted to 130 million bushels of wheat, about 6 percent of the wheat produced in 2013 in the region under study. In addition, land clearance for drilling over that period destroyed about 7 million animal unit months (an animal unit month is the forage required for one animal for one month.) The range land taken out of production over that decade is nearly equivalent to all range land managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, according to the study...more

Heinrich proposes feds have final say over power lines

Sen. Martin Heinrich wants to give the federal government the power to override state and local decisions on siting new power lines as part of an effort to help build grid capacity and boost renewable energy, but his proposal is drawing fire from Republicans concerned about federal overreach. Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, introduced legislation this week that would allow the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, to step in and approve “new priority” lines when local and state authorities can’t or won’t grant approval within a year of a project’s application. Current law allows the federal government to use eminent domain proceedings for construction of natural gas lines when local jurisdictions won’t approve them, but cities and states still have final say on electricity lines. Heinrich’s bill would change that. The senator said his legislation would only give FERC “narrow authority,” but state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn Jr., Gov. Susana Martinez and Rep. Steve Pearce – all New Mexico Republicans – told the Journal they oppose giving the federal government more say over state and local land use decisions...more

Folks shouldn't be surprised that Martin "The Federales Friend" Heinrich would introduce legislation such as this.  He doesn't believe that individuals, local gov't or state gov't have the knowledge, expertise or power to impose the environmental agenda upon us.  Put another way, he's afraid local government will pay too much attention to you and your neighbor's concerns and not enough attention to the latest national fad, in this case renewable energy.  Just pay your subsidies to the solar and wind industry, let them trounce your property rights and let Heinrich's feds have the final say.  

Still don't think he's the fed's best friend?  Just look who is exempt.  The articles says, "The expanded FERC authority would not apply to transmission lines crossing federal lands such as military bases or Indian reservations."  Your property isn't exempt, state property isn't exempt, but certain federal lands are exempt.  Their friend is watching out for them, but not for you.

USDA lays out broad climate change mitigation plan

...USDA rolled out 10 "building blocks" that will use partnerships and other resources to work with farmers in implementing new ways to farm more efficiently. USDA plans to offer technical assistance and financial incentives to participating producers.
Soil health: Soil resilience and productivity will be promoted through no-till and conservation tillage; the effort aims to increase the use of no-till systems to cover more than 100 million acres by 2025.
Nitrogen stewardship: Focus on the right timing, type, placement and quantity of nutrients to reduce nitrous oxide emissions and provide cost savings through efficient application.
Livestock partnerships: Encourage broader deployment of anaerobic digesters, lagoon covers, composting, and solids separators to reduce methane emissions from cattle, dairy, and swine operations, including the installation of 500 new digesters over the next 10 years.
Conservation of sensitive lands: Use the Conservation Reserve Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to reduce GHG emissions through riparian buffers, tree planting, and the conservation of wetlands and organic soils. The effort aims to enroll 400,000 acres of lands with high greenhouse gas benefits into the Conservation Reserve Program.
Grazing and pasture lands: Support rotational grazing management on an additional 4 million acres, avoiding soil carbon loss through improved management of forage, soils and grazing livestock.
Private forest growth and retention: Through the Forest Legacy Program and the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program, protect almost 1 million additional acres of working landscapes. Employ the Forest Stewardship Program to cover an average of 2.1 million acres annually (new or revised plans), in addition to the 26 million acres covered by active plans.
Stewardship of federal forests: Reforest areas damaged by wildfire, insects, or disease, and restore forests to increase their resilience to those disturbances. This includes plans to reforest an additional 5,000 acres each year.
Promotion of wood products: Increase the use of wood as a building material, to store additional carbon in buildings while offsetting the use of energy from fossil fuel.
Urban forests: Encourage tree planting in urban areas to reduce energy costs, storm water runoff, and urban heat island effects while increasing carbon sequestration, curb appeal, and property values. The effort aims to plant an additional 9,000 trees in urban areas on average each year through 2025.
Energy generation and efficiency: Promote renewable energy technologies and improve energy efficiency. Through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program, work with utilities to improve the efficiency of equipment and appliances. Using the Rural Energy for America Program, develop additional renewable energy opportunities. Support the National On-Farm Energy Initiative to improve farm energy efficiency through cost-sharing and energy audits...more

Key facts about the drought that’s reshaping Texas

Summary: Texas agriculture suffers from a severe drought as it exhausts its groundwater. Activists (as usual) blame our burning of fossil fuels. What do scientists say? How severe is the drought? What are its causes? How will this reshape Texas?  {1st of 2 posts today.}

The media overflows with debates asking do you believe in climate change? As with evolution, much of America remains in denial: some on the Right deny that it’s happening now; some on the Left deny that it’s omnipresent in history. Both use science as magicians use their wands, to confused us. But we have reliable sources to guide us. How to find them is the subject of many posts on the FM website,.
Today we look at the Texas drought. The New Republic gives us a well-written example of how not to do it: “Fear in a Handful :Of Dust by Ted Genoways — Excerpt…
Climate change is making the Texas panhandle, birthplace of the state’s iconic Longhorn, too hot and dry to raise beef. What happens to the range when the water runs out? … Soon, environmental activists and reporters {ed: not scientists} began to ask whether “drought” — a temporary weather pattern — was really the right term for what was happening in the state, or whether “desertification” was more appropriate.
… In fact, hydrologists estimate that even with improved rainfall, it could take thousands of years to replenish the groundwater already drawn from the South Plains.
… “If climate change is the real deal,” {Linden Morris} said, “then the human race as we know it is over. And I don’t believe that.”
Climate change is the “real deal”, but someone should tell Morris that few scientists believe we are “over”. Genoways ‘confusing article mixes together several trends, most seriously conflating three important but largely unrelated trends: groundwater depletion, the current drought, and climate change.
Farmers and ranchers have been draining the Ogallala Aquifer (a finite store of water, part of a system underlying about 80% of the High Plains) at an ever-faster rate since the 1940s. The current drought in Texas has further accelerated their pumping. As scientists have warned for generations, at some point we will exhaust this great aquifer network and then the Midwest economy will irrevocably change. Much US agriculture relies on unsustainable methods. It’s a phase in our history, like the California and Alaskan gold rushes. (For more information see this by the USGS; also seen the graph showing depletion levels here.)

But despite his apocalyptic language, Genoways doesn’t show that many climate scientists (let alone a consensus) believe that climate change, natural or anthropogenic, is largely responsible for the Texas drought. Let’s see review the evidence, and see what they say about the Texas drought.

Yavapai County ranchers appeal tax court ruling on grazing land values

A huge alliance of Yavapai County ranchers is appealing portions of a tax court ruling about the value of the county's grazing land. Even though a tax court judge lowered the value of their grazing lands for property tax purposes, the judge didn't consider the values of federal and state grazing leases, which generally are lower. "In order for anybody to be in the cattle business (here), we have to have state or federal leases," said plaintiff Andy Groseta, a Verde Valley rancher and the immediate past president of the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association that joined the Arizona Tax Court appeal of the county assessor's values. Only 25 percent of the land in Yavapai County is private, according to government statistics compiled by the Western Rural Development Center. Groseta said he fears the higher tax rates will push ranchers out of business, along with the open space and wildlife waters they provide...more

Coyote urban: String of sightings in Manhattan this year

One moseyed around Manhattan's East Village. Another was caught in trendy Chelsea. Yet another rambled through a Hudson River park this week. Tourists? Hipsters? Coyotes. A string of recent sightings in Manhattan has drawn new attention to the wily critters that have been spotted periodically in New York since the 1990s. Experts say New Yorkers should expect to see more of them as they become more comfortable adapting to city streets and parks. Call it coyote urban. "I would say that this is going to be a new normal: that coyotes are going to continually show up in downtown New York City," says Daniel Bogan, a coyote researcher at Siena College. At least four coyotes have been spotted around Manhattan so far this year, and one was seen clambering around on the roof of a Queens bar before disappearing, says Sarah Aucoin, the director of the city's Urban Park Rangers program. Three of the animals were captured in Manhattan and released in Bronx parks with established coyote populations, she said. Police chased after the fourth on Wednesday in Manhattan's Riverside Park, even using a helicopter  until the animal secreted itself in deep brush near Grant's Tomb...more

Oh, how I hope they proliferate.

Work to remove dangerous dead trees in the Carson National Forest closes Canjilon Lakes area

A chunk of the Carson National Forest, including the area surrounding the popular Canjilon Lakes, will be closed for at least the next year while officials decide how best to safely remove uncounted numbers of dead and dying trees. “More than 70 percent, 80 percent of the mature spruce, fir and aspen have been dying because of insects, diseases and drought,” said Kathy DeLucas, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service. The two popular fishing lakes are about 40 miles north of Española. The closure will cover about 1,100 acres, with the most significant damage in an area of about 250 acres. That includes the fishing lakes and a 48-site campground. “We’re closing it for at least this year, maybe longer for safety reasons,” she said. “We have concerns about trees falling on fishermen, picnickers and campers.” The western tent caterpillar is the main culprit as it eats the foliage – particularly of aspens – denuding the trees and leaving them susceptible to disease during periods of drought, DeLucas said. Concerns over the infestation have been growing in recent years, with the Forest Service cutting down about 5,500 stricken trees last year alone, she said. But the problem has gotten so widespread that the Forest Service is reluctant even to send in its own employees, DeLucas said. In the coming years, the closures could spread to the equally popular and nearby Trout Lakes...more

Illegal immigrant deportations plummet as amnesty hampers removal efforts

Deportations have plummeted by another 25 percent so far this year, with the government even struggling to find enough criminals to kick out of the country, according to the latest statistics that suggest President Obama’s amnesty has hampered removal efforts. That could undercut Mr. Obama’s legal justification for the deportation amnesty, where the pace of deportations has been raised as a key way of judging whether the president is complying with the law by trying to grant “deferred action” to millions of illegal immigrants. The numbers for the first six months of fiscal year 2015, which began Oct. 1, are striking: The government has deported just 117,181 immigrants, which is just three-quarters of the 157,365 immigrations kicked out during that same period a year earlier, according to figures provided to Congress. “This is a stunning free fall in enforcement activity, not just deportations but arrests too,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports stricter immigration limits. “It turns out that even criminal arrests and deportations have dropped, including those of the ‘worst of the worst’ Level 1 felons, and the huge numbers of criminal releases continues.” Overall, deportations are down a stunning 41 percent in the last three years — and the drop began almost exactly at the beginning of Mr. Obama’s 2012 temporary deportation amnesty for so-called Dreamers...more

Thursday, April 23, 2015

US to announce plans to reduce agricultural carbon emissions

Federal agricultural officials are planning to announce voluntary programs and initiatives for farmers, ranchers and foresters meant to build on President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat global warming — and don’t require congressional approval. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is expected to unveil plans Thursday at Michigan State University, where Obama signed the sweeping farm bill into law last year. The efforts, many of which have their roots in that law, aim to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions, boost carbon capture and storage and come with various enticements, including grants, low-interest loans and technical assistance. Vilsack said the agriculture industry accounts for about 9 percent of U.S. emissions, adding that compares favorably with the rest of the globe but can be improved. Obama administration aides have said the issue of climate change became even more attractive after the November election, because the Democrat has considerable leverage to act without Congress. Such actions, though, have drawn fierce objections from Republicans and the energy industry. Specific actions to be announced Thursday include reducing the unnecessary use of fertilizer and methane emissions from cattle and swine, reforesting areas damaged by wildfire and disease and encouraging tree planting in urban areas. For methane reduction in particular, the federal program promotes installing more anaerobic digesters, which use naturally occurring bacteria to break down organic waste to produce biogas, a fuel similar to natural gas...more

Feds plan to improve resilience of four regions around US to impacts from climate change

Three federal agencies announced April 21 that they'll begin collaborating with state, local and tribal partners to restore four areas around the country that are now vulnerable to climate change and other ecological problems such as sea-level rise, wildfires and invasive species. The Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the goal is to ensure that long-term conservation efforts in the selected areas in southwest Florida, Hawaii, Washington state and the Great Lakes region take climate change into account, according to a combined press release from the agencies. "Climate change is impacting every corner of the nation – from the Everglades to the Arctic – which has ramifications for our natural and cultural heritage, public health and economic activity," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in the statement. "Through increased collaboration, we can pool resources and bring the best available science to bear as we take a landscape-level approach to make these treasured lands and waters more resilient to the impacts of climate change." Over the next 18 months, the work will address specific strategies that will "benefit wildfire management, mitigation investments, restoration efforts, water and air quality, carbon storage and the communities that depend upon natural systems for their own resilience," the release added.  The initiative is part of the Obama administration's plan to improve America's natural defenses against extreme weather, protect biodiversity and conserve natural resources. Obama recently said that climate change is the biggest threat facing the planet...more

Earth Day: 22 Ways to Think about the Climate-Change Debate


Reasonable people can disagree about the nature and extent of climate change. But no one should sally forth into this hostile territory without reason and reflection.

“Some scientists make ‘period, end of story’ claims,” writes biologist and naturalist Daniel Botkin in the Wall Street Journal, “that human-induced global warming definitely, absolutely either is or isn’t happening.”

These scientists, as well as the network of activists and cronies their science supports, I will refer to as the Climate Orthodoxy. These are the folks who urge, generally, that (a) global warming is occurring, (b) it is almost entirely man-made, and (c) it is occurring at a rate and severity that makes it an impending planetary emergency requiring political action. A Climate Agnostic questions at least one of those premises.

Trying to point out the problems of the Climate Orthodoxy to its adherents is like trying to talk the Archbishop of Canterbury into questioning the existence of God. In that green temple, many climatologists and climate activists have become one in the same: fueled both by government grants and zealous fervor.

Room for debate

But the debate must go on, even as the atmosphere for dialogue gets increasingly polluted. The sacralization of climate is being used as a great loophole in the rule of law, an apology for bad science (and even worse economics), and an excuse to do anything and everything to have and keep power.
Those with a reasoned agnosticism about the claims of the Climate Orthodoxy will find themselves in debate. It’s April 22nd — Earth Day. So I want to offer 22 ways to think about the climate-change debate. I hope these points will give those willing to question man-made climate change some aid and comfort.

1. Consider the whole enchilada
First, let’s zoom out a few orders of magnitude to look at the Climate Orthodoxy as a series of dots that must be connected, or better, a series of premises that must be accepted in their totality.
  • The earth is warming.
  • The earth is warming primarily due to the influence of human beings engaged in production and energy use.
  • Scientists are able to limn most of the important phenomena associated with a warming climate, disentangling the human from the natural influence, extending backward well into the past.
  • Scientists are able then to simulate most of the phenomena associated with a warming earth and make reasonable predictions, within the range of a degree or two, into the future about 100 years.
  • Other kinds of scientists are able to repackage this information and make certain kinds of global predictions about the dangers a couple of degrees will make over that hundred years.
  • Economists are able to repackage those predictions and make yet further predictions about the economic costs and benefits that accompany those global predictions.
  • Other economists then make further predictions based on what the world might be like if the first set of economists is right in its predictions (which were based on the other scientists’ predictions, and so on) — and then they propose what the world might look like if certain policies were implemented.
  • Policymakers are able to take those economists’ predictions and set policies that will ensure what is best for the people and the planet on net.
  • Those policies are implemented in such a way that they work. They have global unanimity, no defections, no corruption, and a lessoning of carbon-dioxide output that has a real effect on the rate of climate change — enough to pull the world out of danger.
  • Those policies are worth the costs they will impose on the peoples of the world, especially the poorest.
That is a lot to swallow. And yet, it appears that the Climate Orthodoxy requires we accept all of it. Otherwise, why would the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publish a document called “Summary for Policymakers”?

2. Models are not evidence

The problem with models is that they are not reality. Whenever we try to model complex systems like the climate, we’re only getting a simulacrum of a system, designed to represent projected scenarios. So when a climatologist presents a model as evidence, he is playing a kind of game. He wants you to think, by dint of computer wizardry, that he has drawn for you a picture of the world as it is. But he hasn’t. And if observation of surface temperatures over the last 18 years has shown one thing, it’s that climate models have been inadequate tools for forecasting complex natural phenomena.

3. Forecast is not observation 

In the first IPCC assessment of 1992, the authors wrote, “Scenarios are not predictions of the future and should not be used as such.” Whether one views the models as predictions or as scenarios, the evidence is barely within the most conservative of these in the most recent assessment, which is essentially designed to hide good news.

When one attempts to forecast — that is, to tell the future — one is not engaging in observation. That is not to claim that prediction isn’t a part of the scientific enterprise; it’s simply to say that when one’s predictions (or scenarios) are off, one’s theory is suspect, and it must be modified and tested again. Any theory, and any forecast scenarios on which it’s based, have to be tested in the crucible of observation. The Climate Orthodoxy has thus far failed that test.

NMSU Cowboy Reunion 1966-1967 Houston, Reeves, Brown, Stewart

Here's two tunes each from 1966 and 1967:  David Houston - Almost Persuaded, Jim Reeves - Snowflake, Jim Ed Brown - Pop A Top, and Wynn Stewart - Its Such A Pretty World Today.

Feds bypass protection for Sierra sage grouse

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell reversed the government’s proposed federal protection for a type of sage grouse specific to California and Nevada on Tuesday, and said it shows it’s still possible to head off a bigger, looming listing decision for the greater sage grouse across 11 Western states. Jewell joined Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and others in announcing she’s withdrawing the government’s 2013 proposal to declare the bistate, Mono Basin sage grouse a threatened species along the California-Nevada line. The bird found only along the Sierra’s eastern front no longer faces the threat of extinction thanks to voluntary conservation efforts and range improvements initiated by ranchers, local governments, private land owners and public land managers, she said...more

NMSU Cowboy Reunion 1965 - Mack, Louvin, Reeves, Wright, Wheeler

We heard quite a bit from Buck & Roger in 1964, so here's some other artists with hits of 1965:  Warner Mack - The Bridge Washed Out, Charlie Louvin - See The Big Man Cry, Del Reeves - Girl On The Billboard, Johnny Wright - Hello Vietnam, Billy Edd Wheeler - Ode To The Little Brown Shack

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Court - Road trumps mouse in wildlife refuge

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district judge’s decision that allows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to transfer land within the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge as an easement for a road that will encircle the Denver metropolitan area. WildEarth Guardians, an environmental group, pursued the lawsuit by claiming the roadway will jeopardize the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse, an endangered species. But the court noted that the federal law that created the wildlife refuge at the site of a former nuclear weapons facility specifically foresaw its use for a road. link

A copy of the decision is here

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Editorial - The Incredible Raisin Heist

Stealing is illegal, unless the government is the thief. On Wednesday the Supreme Court will hear a case on whether the government can seize a chunk of a business’s product to regulate prices. This is a big one.

Like much government mischief, Horne v. USDA has its roots in the Great Depression and federal programs to prop up the price of goods by controlling supply. To create raisin scarcity, the government established a Raisin Administrative Committee that manages the supply of raisins through annual marketing orders. Raisin handlers must set aside a portion of their annual crop, which the feds may then give away, sell on the open market, or send overseas.

The Hornes refused to participate, and in a letter to the Agriculture Department they called the program “a tool for grower bankruptcy, poverty, and involuntary servitude.” The raisin police were not amused. The Raisin Administrative Committee sent a truck to seize raisins off their farm and, when that failed, it demanded that the family pay the government the dollar value of the raisins instead.

The Hornes say this raisin toll is an unconstitutional seizure of their property. Under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, “private property” shall not “be taken for public use, without just compensation.” That clause is typically understood to make it illegal for the government to grab houses, cars or even raisins.

The Federal Circuit, which hears many takings cases, as well as the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Tenth and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeal have all held that the full protection of the Takings Clause does apply to the government seizure of personal property. A farmer should have no less right to the raisins growing on his land than he does to the land itself.

...The Horne case is one of the most significant property rights cases in years—probably since the Court’s infamous 5-4 ruling in 2005 in Kelo v. New London, which allowed the government to take Susette Kelo’s home so a developer could replace it with condos and stores near a Pfizer Corp. office. The majority Justices in Kelo have a lot to answer for. This is a chance to make partial amends.