Monday, February 29, 2016

NPS Director Jarvis stripped of ethics post after unauthorized book

National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis is being stripped of his responsibility to oversee the agency's ethics program after publishing an unauthorized book with a nonprofit group that operates stores in numerous national parks. He will also receive a written reprimand for having violated federal employee ethics standards and be required to attend monthly ethics trainings for the remainder of his tenure, Deputy Interior Secretary Michael Connor said. Connor's actions come in response to a report released late yesterday by Interior's Office of Inspector General that found Jarvis intentionally avoided seeking approval from Interior's Ethics Office before writing "Guidebook to American Values and Our National Parks." Published in June 2015 by Eastern National, the operator of 138 national park stores, the book was intended to raise awareness about NPS's 2016 centennial and bring in money for the National Park Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds for NPS. Jarvis took the unusual step of asking Eastern National to grant him the copyright for the book but told the OIG he intended to donate it to the foundation. "Although the [OIG's report of investigation] does not expressly draw any conclusions about the results of the OIG investigation, the Department has reviewed the ROI [report of investigation] carefully and come to the conclusion that Director Jarvis did violate Federal employee ethics standards," Connor said in a letter Tuesday to Mary Kendall, who leads the OIG...more

Sally Jewell's treatment of King Cove tells us what our government has become

by Paul Jenkins

      If Donald Trump’s exuberant “I love the poorly educated” gush during his Nevada victory gloat -- doesn’t this guy scare the pants off anybody but me? -- did not peg your had-enough-o-meter, a video of a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing might.
      It offers insight about what our federal masters think of Alaskans.
      The snippet centered on the Interior Department’s budget proposal for fiscal 2017. It contained an exchange between Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the powerful panel, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
      Murkowski asked Jewell how many emergency medical evacuations from King Cove there have been in the 26 months since Jewell nixed a 10-mile, single-lane, non-commercial, gravel road through the 300,000-acre Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. It would have linked the tiny Alaska Peninsula community of King Cove to nearby Cold Bay’s all-weather runway for emergency medical evacuations.
Jewell had nary a clue but, she said, “I’m sure that it is dozens.” Murkowski said since Dec. 23, 2013, there have been 39 -- 14 by the Coast Guard --  “which is unacceptable by anyone's standards.”
      Murkowski pressed her about a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study done last year for the Department of Interior, and not released publicly, that examined alternatives already considered -- “marine vessels,” helicopters, even a new airport -- and rejected as “impractical” or “unaffordable.”
“Impractical” and “unaffordable” are key words in federal squirming about the road. As sop to environmentalists, Congress has plowed nearly $40 million into King Cove for clinic and airstrip improvements, and anted up $7 million for a hovercraft. None of it solved the problem.
      Congress in 2009 approved a land swap for the road -- 61,000 acres of Alaska and King Cove Corp. land for 206 acres of refuge -- but required an environmental impact statement. When Jewell killed the deal four years later, she promised to help the village’s 950 residents find an alternative. She has done nothing.
      “You had promised that you would work to address the situation of the people in King Cove,” Murkowski said during the hearing. “I don’t see anything in this FY 17 budget to actually implement any of the ideas that were contained in this study of these alternatives, so the question this morning is whether or not you are planning on doing anything in this year, or is this a situation where you basically just run the clock and you leave the people of King Cove hanging?”
      “I would be delighted to work with you on a marine-based solution,” said Jewell, adding that a road would be inappropriate.
      Governmentspeak, especially federal governmentspeak, often is baffling. Let me translate Jewell’s comments: Yes, I am running out the clock -- and doing a great job, don’t you think? No, I am not going to do any more for those weenies than I already have -- zip. Oh, and neener neener. 
      As the clock ticks toward that horrific moment when yet another person dies at King Cove trying to reach medical help -- village officials say 19 have over the years, in medevacs or awaiting evacuation, and nobody counts the close calls -- it is clear neither Jewell nor her chums will be swayed. King Cove, after all, is so very far away.
      It would make more sense, I suppose, if her stated reasons for blocking the road made more sense. They do not.

Gray Wolf Delisted

The U.S. House has passed an amendment that would reinstate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) 2011 delisting of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act in Wyoming and the Great Lakes region. The modified amendments is to the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE). According to a press statement from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), “frivolous litigation by radical environmental groups,” caused the delisting to be overturned by the Federal Court. Public Lands Council President Brenda Richards said the bipartisan amendment restores the justified decision to delist and return the wolf to the rightful state management of the species...more

Point Reyes Elk Test Positive for Disease

A potentially fatal bacterial disease has been found among a free-roaming tule elk herd at Point Reyes National Seashore, raising concerns about the close proximity of wildlife to cattle on national parkland.
Five adult elk from the herd above Drake’s Beach tested positive for Johne’s disease in February, following hundreds of negative results from samples collected since May 2014. Although it’s not known for sure how these elk contracted the disease, which can result in rapid weight loss and diarrhea years later in an animal’s life, it can be rampant in cattle operations. The Drake’s Beach elk herd shares park-owned pastureland with cattle that belong to the Seashore’s historic ranches. The discovery could complicate the National Park Service’s efforts to relocate tule elk to other areas of the park or elsewhere in the state, an option that’s been under consideration as a management tool for keeping the elk population under control and for minimizing conflict with ranchers...more

Mexican cattle imports likely to decrease

The U.S. and Mexican cattle and beef industries continue to integrate, building on a long history of trade between the two countries. Mexico has exported feeder cattle to the U.S. for more than a century and continues to do so today. After increasing in the mid-1980s, U.S. imports of Mexican cattle have averaged 1.08 million head for the last 30 years. In the most recent 10 years, the average has been slightly higher at 1.14 million head per year. Mexican cattle have added an average of 2.9 percent annually to the U.S. calf crop for the past 30 years, with the percentage slightly higher in recent years as U.S. cattle inventories have declined. In 2015, imports of Mexican cattle were 1.15 million head, up 3.5 percent year over year and just slightly higher than the ten year average. Imports dropped sharply at the end of 2015, with November down 29.7 percent and December down 36.4 percent compared to the same months one year earlier. This decrease in imports of Mexican cattle at the end of 2015 no doubt reflects lower U.S. cattle prices but also likely is a result of tight cattle supplies in Mexico. Lower U.S. cattle prices reduce the incentive to export cattle from Mexico but this is partially offset by the rapid erosion in the value of the Mexican peso at the end of 2015, which keeps U.S. cattle prices relatively higher in Mexico. Despite indications of declining cattle numbers in Mexico, record high U.S. prices combined with a weakening Peso kept U.S. imports of Mexican cattle high through 2014 and most of 2015. Domestic Mexican cattle supplies have also been boosted by increased imports of cattle from Central America...more

Gila National Forest, Reserve Ranger District receives grant

The Gila National Forest Reserve Ranger District is one of 186 federal sites selected to receive a 2015 field trip grant from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. In March, Reserve Ranger District archaeologists will do a classroom presentation and lead a field trip for Reserve Independent fourth graders. This grant, part of the Foundation’s Open OutDoors for Kids program, supports the White House youth initiative Every Kid in a Park...more

Saddle up the cowboy spirit at two-day Las Cruces festival

Thousands of cowboys, cowgirls and cowpoke-wannabees are expected to hit the trail and head for the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Museum for the 17th annual Cowboy Days, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 5-6. “A lot of people are playing a part in providing talented people to help make Cowboy Days a great experience for everyone,” museum spokesman Craig Massey said. Massey said the family-friendly celebration of the state's ranching and cowboy traditions is the museum's most popular event, attracting fans with a fun mix of cowboy music, food, books, storytelling, demonstrations, living history re-enactments, children's activities, pony rides, stagecoach rides, arts and crafts vendors, a plant sale in the museum's greenhouse and more. “Everybody can take on that cowboy spirit for a couple of days,” said Mike Hosea, who helped put together the musical roster for the event and performs himself as James Michael, joining featured performers Voz Vaqueros, Bruce Carlson, Washtub Jerry, Glenn Moreland, Wayne Thomason, Jim Tomlinson, and Kenny Arroyo...more

Ranch Radio #1564

From their 2010 CD Del Gaucho, Lucky Tubb & The Modern Day Troubadours join the Swingin' Monday crowd with Bachelor Man.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Cowboy with a cell phone

 by Julie Carter

In the aftermath of the bitter cold and heavy snowfall at the ranch, relationship "moments" often progress from the proverbial "cussing a blue streak" to moments of hilarity that know no bounds. Locking the classic ranch couple up together for days on end is rarely the picture of marital harmony. 

In days long ago, communication was limited to whether or not one could hide well enough from the other. Cell phones changed all that. The dreaded sound of “ring ring” prefaces what is sure to be grounds for at the very least a good fight and on a good day, a possible homicide.

Frozen water lines, livestock drinkers with a foot of ice to be broken, vehicles that won't start or stay running and drifts filling every road going anywhere to do anything keep moods teetering on the brink of the dark side.

Cabin fever only intensifies the powerful desire to choke the life out of anything that moves, breathes or speaks. The flatbed pickup stuck smack in the middle of the road for two days was a testimony to the situation. Buried in snow as high as the bed of the truck, it begged the question, "Why would anyone just drive off into a drift like that?"

His wife is quite clear about the answer. "Three days in the house with me is why."

Right up there with the sound of that phone ringing is hearing gun fire in rapid succession that will cause some thoughts unbecoming to a lady.

While unloading groceries, the wife came to attention at the sound of a pistol firing down in the lot. She hurried over to see her husband on a horse trying to “coax” a bull up the lane to the corrals and ultimately into a waiting trailer. He saw her and hollered, “Run over there and throw open that trailer gate and shut it on this bull when I get him loaded.”

Finally corralled with the encouragement of the .22 loaded with bird shot, the cowboy followed him to the trailer. The gate was slammed shut but didn’t latch, which is fodder for another story on another day. It did, however, require some bodily danger to her to restrain the bull who didn’t want to be.

The wife suggested he go right to the sale barn with this contrary bull much like a similar-in-nature one they’d recently taken to town after he’d worn out his welcome.

“He’s just a yearling!” protested the cowboy, at which point the wife made a note to herself to not help gather bulls in the fall.

Being practical in all things, she knew the possibility existed that at any given time she could be called to a horse/gunfire come-apart if this method of cowboying continued. She also found it sad that without the cow dog they once had, they had been reduced to firearms to gather or move bulls.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, winter life continues. Ring ring.

“Come on, quick. Bring the feed truck and the tow strap. I’m stuck in the lot with a trailer loaded for the sale barn.”

She dutifully responded and after fish tailing out of a drift and narrowly snaking through the gate with his truck and trailer on the end of a tow strap, he said to her, "You didn't hit anything did you?"

She managed a smile while answering, “Why, no dear.” And under her breath, “only by the grace of God."  And it wasn’t the gate posts she was referring to.

Julie can be reached for comment at or simply by "Ring, ring ..."

Of Presidents and Porters

Of Presidents and Porters
The Constitutional Man
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            In an open letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the 11 Republicans senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday they plan to “to exercise (their) constitutional authority to withhold consent on the nominee to the Supreme Court submitted by this president.”
            How about that?
            Should we actually believe there will be a continued display with economy of words and no gnashing of teeth, no suggestion of compromise, and no bickering among deacons of the upper chamber? Along with his role in the destruction of the Democratic Party, perhaps we are also witnessing a hint of unraveling of the unopposed annihilation of the Constitution by this fellow in the White House. Maybe … just maybe the senatorial underachievers representing the rights of the sovereign states of the United States of America are posturing to uphold their oaths of office.
            Wouldn’t that be something?
            The Law of our Land
            Interestingly, there is evidence of massive confusion among the Senate elect prior to their first gathering and the inauguration of George Washington. The matter was how to address our first president when he was met and greeted by John Adams at the door to the Senate Chamber.
            “How should he be addressed!” was Adams’ frantic question to those gathered.
            Should it be ‘Mr. Washington’, Mr. President’, ‘Sir’, ‘May it please your Excellency’, or what? Adams admitted his own preference was ‘Mr. President’ but someone in the room noted that would only put the General on the level with the Governor of Bermuda. Someone else noted that Adams, as Vice President, was also ‘President of the Senate’ and there couldn’t be two men in the Chamber being addressed as President.
            A suggestion was made to appoint a committee, but that created not a “single problem but a battalion” of problems. The silver tongues started rising giving their learned opinion of the matter. Lee of Virginia arose to explain the ways of the Lords and the Commons. Izard of South Carolina, educated abroad and wishing to make that a point of record talked at length of his visits to the Houses of Parliament but failed to offer any definitive answer to the dilemma. Old Carroll of Carrollton grumblingly suggested it didn’t matter a tinkers damn what the English did.
            After all, wasn’t it the profound dislike of King George that the war was fought?
            On and on the debate raged. Ellsworth began to find virtue in kings. Izard was growing to also respect the antiquity of kingly government. “Excellency!” he demanded.
            “Highness,” responded Lee.
            At length the combined genius of the committee settled on ‘His Highness the President of the United States and Protector of the Rights of the Same.”
After a long and uncomfortable pause, Robert Morris mumbled that Congress was also ‘Protector of the Right of the People’. Adams sat disgusted with his chin in his hands reminding himself that even cricket clubs had presidents. The more rabid Republicans began to laugh. Speaker Muhlenberg dubbed Maclay, ‘Your Highness of the Senate’. Maclay himself grew facetious in debate and thought his title good enough and if was “gloriously greased with a great horn of oil” it would make him conspicuous enough.
            Finally, the great debate spilled out into the hallway and reached the House and James Madison quietly arose to speak. In his clear voice, he reminded the body that the Constitution had given the head of the State a title … ‘President of the United States’. After checking for authenticity, that is exactly what it set forth. George Washington, President of the United States, was introduced and it has been that title without argument since.
            What else in the Constitution is so clearly revealed if only leaders would read the document? Who among us has studied it with enough robust intensity to protect ourselves much less been taught what the Supreme Law of our Land actually sets forth?
            The greater issue is not the questions that can be asked that have never been given good answers. The greater issue is the antics and actions of leadership and citizenry alike if left to their own corrupted biases to interpret or implement a matter that is set forth in the document. If Madison hadn’t been there, we might well have been regurgitating a sixteen word title for a leader that was intended to be completely different from the royalty that had ruled the world.
            The Constitution, just like the modern interpretation of Wilderness, the Commerce Clause, or the unlawful expansion of government, has become whatever the agent of debate wants it to be.
            The pending decision
             With Justice Scalia’s death, another political calamity is upon us.
             That fellow in the White House has been at work reading from his teleprompter making it clear he intends to exercise his authority to pick the ideologue he deems appropriate for the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of the conservative protector of rights. It is his Constitutional authority to do so and he should proceed. In this case, however, he doesn’t have the power of his pen to create law and single handedly coerce the outcome. There is no executive privilege to bypass this process. He has to rely on his relationship with the leadership, but there is none. He has bludgeoned them like he bludgeoned us.
            In our relationship with him, it is significant that, while he has the distinction of being the first black man to be elected to the highest office, he brought no deep respect for his good fortune. He filled the office firmly convinced of his genius as a wordsmith and the power of his being. On the former, it is worthy to note he is on the verge of delivering more speeches since Christmas than George Washington delivered in his entire tenure as president.
            On the basis of the latter, we have nothing on which to base a judgment. We see him, but we have never been party to any true relationship with him. We have no idea who writes his scripts. In the nightly news, we see him in his speech patterns attracting the attention of the mob of liberal advocates. In the evolution of his political drama, we constantly hear his words. In the tumult of chaos he became an even greater dispenser of unrelated words. His vision for any opportunity of any lasting renown or legacy remains before him. His incessant narration is simply a substitute for glory, but he has forever missed it. He had the stage, but he forgot the one thing that would have raised his character toward mediocrity.
He left us out of his equation.
Back to bovine flatulence
The Porter brothers and I stood talking about feeding some calves, but, more importantly, talking about our friendship that is now entering its 43rd year. We were young men when it all started, but, now, we have gray hair and reach for our reading glasses. Living has impacted us and scars and experience have accumulated in equal measure. Billy looks like his dad and Asa talks of the lessons that patriarch left.
In one conversation, Mr. Porter suggested to Asa that remaining silent sometimes has great benefits not the least of which is the possibility that the gathered body might actually think dignified silence indicated intelligence.
“Think about that,” he intimated to him “Just think about it!”
Some time later, young Asa was sent off to a feeder meeting and he was selected to participate with a group of industry leaders to question the science and methodology of a pharmaceutical manufacturer. The questioning was intense, and, soon, the industry rep was essentially run out of the room. Asa never said a thing and remained intimidated by the whole affair.
Later, he felt compelled to say something to the leader of the group. He caught him alone and attempted to make amends.
“I may not say much, but …but I am actually smart,” he blurted.
“Oh, yea?” the under whelmed cowman blurted squinting at him. “Who told you that?”
Horrified, Asa stumbled away at his blunder. He was crushed both at his awkwardness and the response. Don’t you wish we could engineer the same affect on the majority of Washington leadership?
While we are at it, a remedial constitutional short course should be a prerequisite for every office holder. A little humility of the immense honor and responsibility it is to actually defend the Constitution should be on the mind of every elected official. They are defenders and stewards. They are not independent and sovereign re-interpreters of the document.
We are woefully off course, and … it is time for Men of rare standards to step forward.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “One more word about the Porter brothers … nobody would have survived all these years within the business model they made work. I am as proud of their accomplishments as I am of their friendship.”

Baxter Black: Dog Emotions

It is my observation dogs feel certain basic emotions such as affection, fear, confusion and joy. I’m not sure they’re capable of feeling sadness or jealousy or if they can get their feelings hurt. But I think a dog can get embarrassed. Take the Sunbeam clippers to a long-haired dog and see if he doesn’t slink off behind the barn.

We bought a few acres in the country but rented in town until we built our house. Boller, my good cowdog and companion, stayed in the backyard but lived to go out to the place.

He would know when I was getting ready to leave. He’d wait by the front door vibrating like a bow string. I’d tease him a little, then say, “Go get in the pickup.” I’d open the door, and he’d streak across the grass and driveway, then catapult into the back of the pickup.

One winter morning, I was preparing to drive out and split some wood. Boller was tuned up and ticking similar to a two-dollar watch. I peeked out the door when I released him. We’d had an ice storm. The trees hung heavy with icicles, and the concrete driveway was similar to a mirror. Boller shot across the frozen grass, reached the driveway, set his hind legs to spring skyward, hit the ice and slid similar to a statue of a dog praying, directly into the side of the pickup.

BLM's conundrum: What to do with Bundy's cows (a cow conundrum??)

Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

 Cliven Bundy is behind bars, but his cows remain at large.

The longtime nemesis of the Bureau of Land Management faces charges that could keep him imprisoned for the rest of his life. His cattle linger as an ecological scourge to the Mojave Desert northeast of Las Vegas.

The Bundy herd, last estimated at 1,000, has trampled sensitive soils, devoured native saplings and bedded down against Native American artifacts. One of Bundy's bulls attacked a Nevada wildlife official, while others have run roughshod over a community garden and a golf course, BLM said.

BLM and its allies -- following court orders -- want Bundy's cows gone from the public lands surrounding his Bunkerville, Nev., ranch, and particularly Gold Butte, a 350,000-acre mesa of Joshua trees, cacti and creosote bushes below the snow-dusted Virgin Peak.

But removing Bundy's ornery, battle-tested herd -- estimated by one Nevada official to be worth up to $800,000 -- will be expensive, logistically difficult and potentially dangerous.

"It's like hunting cape buffalo," said Ken Mayer, the former director of Nevada's Department of Wildlife. "They're nasty, they're smart, and they won't hesitate to charge."

Bundy's militant followers may be the bigger hurdle.

...The next roundup is "not going to be easy," said Rob Mrowka, a biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity who has lobbied for decades for BLM to remove Bundy's cows. "I think the price is going to be a lot more when you add the risk."

It's unclear what kind of resistance Bundy or his sons Ammon or Ryan could muster behind bars without access to the ranch or social media, which was a key catalyst in the 2014 standoff. Two others whom the government accuses of helping rally militants to Bunkerville -- Ryan Payne and Pete Santilli -- are also in custody.

After a roundup, unbranded cattle -- estimated to be three-quarters of Bundy's herd -- would become the property of Nevada. BLM normally allows the responsible rancher the opportunity to reclaim his or her cattle -- if they agree to pay any past-due grazing, trespass and administrative fees (in Bundy's case, more than $1 million). If the rancher refuses, BLM could then get permission from the state brand inspector to sell the cattle.

At Bundy's melon farm along the banks of the Virgin River about 90 miles northeast of Las Vegas, ranching operations are continuing as usual, said a man named "Skipper" who identifies himself as the family's head of security. Skipper said he was briefly detained and questioned by the FBI at the time of Cliven Bundy's arrest Feb. 10 but that he's back at the ranch.

From jail, Cliven calls the ranch each day with a list of ranching tasks, Skipper said. Family members including Arden Bundy, 17, Cliven's youngest son, are setting traps to brand newly born cows. A son-in-law comes every other weekend to help.

There's been "talk and rumors" of a BLM roundup, "but there hasn't been any traffic out here," Skipper said.

Bundy's cattle, a Brahman-type breed, have been bred to survive in harsh environments.

Their ancestors came from India and have highly developed sweat glands that help them thrive in the arid Mojave, according to Oklahoma State University's Department of Animal Science. Centuries of meager food supplies, insect pests, parasites and diseases have made them remarkably resilient, the department said.

They also don't take kindly to humans.

Ancient Grave of Teenage Girl May Reveal Secrets of Southwest’s Earliest Farmers

Archaeologists working in the borderlands of northern Mexico have uncovered a camp used by ancient hunters as much as 10,500 years ago, revealing insights into some of the earliest human history in the Greater Southwest. On a ranch near the Santa Maria River in northern Chihuahua, researchers have unearthed more than 18,000 artifacts, including thousands of stone flakes, cores, and hammers, along with 370 projectile points, and a dozen stone ovens. But the most surprising find has been the grave of a teenage girl, who was interred among the rocks, alone and unadorned, some 3,200 years ago. Her remains, researchers say, may help unlock the history of the people who brought agriculture to this arid region, and who were the first known farmers of corn in the Chihuahuan Desert. “The importance of this find is in knowing more of the early steps of humans on this land, to remind us that whatever the geographical characteristic of this region, humans were able to make a living here, to make this region their home,” said Dr. Emiliano Gallaga, who led the research. Gallaga and his colleagues discovered the site while investigating a patch of desert about 70 kilometers [45 miles] south of the New Mexico border that was being developed for a solar energy plant...more

Bowling ball fired from cannon, horse's death lead to charges

Lisa Kroll went to feed her horses this summer and found a grease-spotted bowling ball on the floor of her barn and a hole in the ceiling. Out in her pasture she found her 5-month-old horse dead with a lump on its head. Now, a man from Spring Valley, Wis., faces charges of unsafe use of a homemade cannon and endangering Kroll in the incident. There was not enough evidence to show that the cannon killed the horse. Kroll told a sheriff’s deputy that she had seen the horse earlier that day and it was still alive. She estimated the horse was worth about $10,000. An investigation by the sheriff’s deputy revealed a large party was held July 4th to celebrate the holiday about half a mile south of Kroll’s residence; the owner of the property told police her brother, 65-year-old Ricky Thorne, brought along his cannon. Neighbors admitted they had fired eight to 10 bowling balls out of the cannon, as well as eight bowling pins. Kroll said she found three bowling balls and three pins on her property...more

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Park Service denies renewal of contract to Carlsbad nonprofit

After nearly 60 years of working with local national parks, the contract between the Carlsbad Caverns/Guadalupe Mountains Association and the National Park Service has not been renewed. On Feb. 17, the bookstores run by the association at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and a Guadalupe Mountains National Park cleared their shelves and packed away their inventory. "I really love the Caverns," store employee Dorry Batchelder said, tears welling up in her eyes as she stood behind the cash register. "I really loved this job." Batchelder, one of 11 full time employees who are now out of work, said she was not having any luck finding a new job as of last week. The association has run a bookstore out of Carlsbad Caverns National Park since 1957 and out of Guadalupe Mountains National Park since the 70s, according to the organization's board chair Steve West. West also said they have donated more than $3.5 million to the two parks during that time. West claimed the National Park Service has not been fair in its dealings with his organization, citing poor communication and working conditions, which has only made the relationship worse. "Maybe the next people that come in, they’ll treat with a little bit of decency and respect," West said...more

Senators Udall & Heinrich were successful in transferring 95,000 acres in northern NM (Valles Caldera) to the Park Service, and over time, the locals there can expect similar treatment.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Enviros sue to force changes to federal sage grouse plans

A coalition of environmental groups has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's sweeping greater sage grouse conservation plans across the West, claiming they are riddled with loopholes, scientific flaws and "political compromises" and won't protect the bird or its habitat.
The Interior Department released a statement today defending the plans and pledging to continue implementing them with state and local partners. The lawsuit, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, does not ask the court to throw out the plans that amended 98 federal land-use plans in 10 states to incorporate grouse protections. Instead, the four groups are asking in the 107-page complaint that the court remand the plans to the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service to strengthen protections and close loopholes that they say allow livestock grazing, oil and gas drilling, transmission lines and other development through sensitive grouse habitat. "This lawsuit is designed to strengthen sage grouse protections to at least meet minimum requirements needed to maintain or recover populations on key habitats," said Nancy Hilding, president of the Prairie Hills Audubon Society in South Dakota. The state of Utah this month filed a lawsuit claiming that the plans "violate numerous federal laws and regulations" and asked the court to "permanently enjoin" Interior and the Agriculture Department from implementing the plans on BLM and Forest Service lands. The state of Idaho and a collection of Nevada counties and mining companies in the Silver State, as well as the ranching industry in Wyoming, last year filed lawsuits challenging the plans. Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) joined the counties and mining companies in the case. But while those government and industry lawsuits seek to remove the grouse conservation measures entirely, the conservation groups acknowledge that the plans "do improve sage-grouse conservation measures within the affected federal lands." They want BLM and the Forest Service to undertake a "comprehensive and legally valid" supplemental analysis and revise the plans "in order to cure the legal violations and defects found by the Court and to adopt scientifically adequate sage-grouse conservation measures," the complaint says...more

Senators question Jewell on raising cost of federal coal

Senators from Western coal states questioned Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Tuesday about the need for a three-year moratorium to review the federal coal leasing program, describing it as an assault on the industry. Jewell defended the moratorium as necessary to ensure taxpayers get a fair return on the resource amid low coal prices. Many factors including competition from cheap and cleaner-burning natural gas are affecting coal demand and prices, she told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "I recognize the industry is struggling right now for a variety of reasons," Jewell said. "But we have been criticized roundly for not generating a fair return for taxpayers — not having any competition in the leasing process for coal. " Nearly 40 percent of the nation's produced coal comes from huge open-pit mines in the Powder River Basin in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana. Most of that coal belongs to the federal government. The moratorium announced in January has been part of a recent run of bad news for the West's coal industry, including bankruptcy filings by major mining companies Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources. Environmentalists have long been critical of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's lease-by-application process in which coal companies nominate new tracts to be mined. The coal tracts go up for bid, but they seldom draw more than a single bid submitted by the nominating company operating an adjacent mine. Leasing has slowed to a trickle since 2012, and higher royalties could drive already low demand for coal to zero, said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming. "Doesn't it seem to you that if the demand goes to zero, that the revenue coming in is going to go to zero as well for the government?" he asked Jewell. Coal companies already are paying very low prices for federal coal, as little as $1 a ton or less, Jewell pointed out...more

US VP slams campaign rhetoric about Mexico as “damaging” and “incrediby inaccurate”

Joe Biden told his audience in Mexico City that some comments about the Mexico and immigrants have been “damaging and incredibly inaccurate.” “ I feel almost obliged to apologise for what some of my political colleagues have said. It is about Mexico, about the Mexican people.” “It is a heated campaign season, and I just want you to know, Mr. President, that the heated rhetoric that you have heard from some of the competitors for the nomination for president, is not who we are as the American people.” Biden also reassured officials that the comments are not an accurate reflection of progress in the countries’ bilateral relations...more

EPA critics tally complaints; Nev. joins fray

U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan not only violates the Constitution but also threatens local businesses and disproportionately harms minorities, critics of the rule told a federal court yesterday. Arguments from energy companies, business groups, members of Congress and, notably, the until-now neutral state of Nevada streamed in at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit as yesterday marked the deadline for friend-of-the-court and intervenor briefs against the landmark rule to cut carbon emissions from power plants. The parties were diverse, ranging from local chambers of commerce and civic groups to climate skeptics and coal companies. Members of Congress made a forceful foray into the sprawling litigation, with more than 200 lawmakers -- almost all Republicans -- arguing that the Clean Power Plan was designed to circumvent Capitol Hill...Other briefs yesterday focused on alleged harm certain groups would face across the country. A coalition of local chambers of commerce and business associations, for example, argued that the climate rule would keep state policymakers from designing programs that account for local economic concerns. "Instead of allowing States to implement and enforce performance-based standards for existing emissions sources, however, the Rule scraps Congress's design in favor of a centrally-designed, blunderbuss approach," the coalition said in an amicus brief. "In doing so, EPA has adopted a regulatory model that does not (and cannot) account for the unique circumstances that different communities throughout the nation confront." According to the Hispanic Leadership Fund, the Independent Women's Forum, the 60 Plus Association and other civic groups, those communities most negatively affected by the Clean Power Plan include women, minorities and seniors. "Middle- and high-income families may think little of paying more for power, because it makes up only a small portion of their overall budget," the groups said in a brief joined by Federalism in Action, the National Taxpayers Union and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. "But many within the communities [we] represent pay an exorbitant portion of their earnings on electricity, sometimes topping 23 percent of after-tax income...more

Several interested parties await decision on Pesticide Applicators rule

With the comment period for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to revise the Certification of Pesticide Applicators rule now closed, farmers, ranchers, commercial applicators and extension agents across the country await the final rule. Proponents of the plan say its increased supervision, education and oversight would make pesticide use safer and ensure the riskiest pesticides are used responsibly. Detractors worry the rules are overly burdensome, especially to private applicators, who may quit the certification program altogether if the changes go through. In a nutshell, the EPA is proposing stronger training and certification standards for the approximately one million pesticide applicators certified to apply the riskiest pesticides, known as restricted use pesticides (RUPs). The proposed rule would impact both commercial pesticide applicators and private ones, such as farmers and ranchers. It would also impact states and tribes that operate certification programs. The rules are designed to put private applicator competency on par with that of commercial applicators. As such, private applicators will be expected to pass a closed book exam with a score of 80 percent; take category specific training; and requalify every three years. In addition to having general knowledge of agricultural pest control, private applicators would have to be proficient in the following areas: comprehending labels; safety; environment; pests; pesticides; equipment; application techniques; laws and regulations; responsibilities for supervisors of noncertified applicators; and stewardship...more

Grant County Warns Potential Militants, Denouncing Occupation

Grant County leaders unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday in opposition to the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The meeting was the third time the court had deliberated and heard public comment over a similar resolution. County leaders said they were pleased the 41-day occupation is over, and the resolution sends the message that out-of-county militants are not welcome in Grant County. It also states county officials will continue to collaborate with state government and land agencies. The meeting room was standing room only and perspectives on the resolution were mixed. Some took issue with resolution language referring to the occupiers as “militants.” Francis Preston said she sympathized with occupation leaders’ frustrations with the federal government. “I never saw them one time as a militant,” Preston said. “They were voices of reason.”  Resolution supporters said it was important that Grant County take a stand, even though the occupation is over. “My contention is that it is as relevant as ever,” said Kay Steele. Steele added she is worried Grant County could become a target for potential future occupations. That’s in part because county Sheriff Glenn Palmer met with some of the militants during the standoff, and is a member of a national group of sheriffs who refuse to enforce some federal laws...more 

Patriot or domestic terrorist? The interview with Cliven Bundy's former bodyguard

In a place where prisoners often watch what they say, inmate #46153-086 is unfiltered and unabashed in his beliefs. "I speak my mind. I don't beat around the bush," Schuyler Barbeau said. Since his arrest in December, Barbeau has been behind bars at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center. "I knew this was coming one day. I speak out against government tyranny and injustice and eventually, when you speak out loud enough for long enough, the government's gonna notice you and I got myself noticed," said Barbeau. Barbeau is charged with owning an assault rifle with a barrel that is too short, In a phone conversation from behind bars, Barbeau shared his defense and his determination to uphold the Constitution. "The Second Amendment says the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. What's the definition of arms? Arms is any weapon, swords, knives, guns, missiles. Anything is arms. It's an all-inclusive term and the gun that I had, the rifle I had, falls under that definition of ‘arms.’ So I have the right to keep and bear it." Barbeau's public comments about bearing arms are part of the government's case against him. An FBI confidential informant claims he threatened to "lynch" public servants, "remove a judge" and "shoot" law enforcement officers. "Saying stuff about shooting guys, shooting law enforcement whatever, yeah, I did say that stuff,” Barbeau said. “But anytime I said anything like that, it was purely in, in self-defense. I would never hurt anybody and any of my friends and family, anybody that knows me could testify to that, that I'm not out to try to hurt people. But I will defend myself.” To better understand Barbeau's physical and philosophical transformation requires going back in time to a humble beginning on the flag-lined streets of Stanwood, Washington. "He was kind of quiet," said his mother Stacy Barbeau, who describes him as a boy who struggled in school, but drew a clear distinction between right and wrong. "He was very strong-willed and he had a very strong sense of what he felt was right." The Barbeau family worshipped at the local Assemblies of God church and Schuyler attended youth group at Calvary Chapel in Cameno Island. "We were all raised to be Christian and to believe in God and to believe in Jesus Christ and that was his foundation," said brother Justin Barbeau. "His second Bible became the Constitution." After leaving Stanwood High School, Barbeau joined the Marines, then the National Guard as a demolitions expert...more

Here is the KIRO news report:

Ethics complaint filed against attorneys representing Ammon Bundy

Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis has filed an ethics complaint against the two lawyers representing Ammon Bundy, the leader of the armed occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the Eugene Register Guard reported. Bundy was arrested and jailed during a traffic stop Jan. 26. Marquis said the lawyers, Mike Arnold and Lissa Casey, may have violated a rule that is supposed to keep attorneys from publicly saying too much before a trial. The Clatsop County district attorney said he believes the two attorneys, through news conferences, have sought to influence potential jurors, the newspaper reported. In a statement to KATU, Casey called the complaint "frivolous." "When the government is complaining about free speech in a free speech case, the irony of that is not lost on me. I was shocked to find out that the chief law enforcement officer of Clatsop County doesn't know the law on pretrial publicity," she said. "This frivolous complaint will not deter us from seeking justice for Ammon."...more

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How Donald Trump Won Nevada's Cliven Bundy Vote

...City dwellers often need to be reminded that the federal government owns an astonishing amount of the rural West. Since the Bundy Ranch standoff, and even before then, there has been a growing movement in many Western states that calls for the feds to transfer ownership of the land back to states and counties, or into private hands.

This is a fairly complex issue that fires a few people up mightily, but it generally doesn't get much mainstream attention. The movement typically only shows up in the news when the guns come out. But not everyone who loves individual liberty and hates federal ownership of lands has the time or inclination to wage an insurgency against the federal government. The majority of people who hold these views are just regular voters just happen to have some unconventional beliefs about who actually owns the land in their state.

...In theory, what we might call the Bundy constituency should have been a strong base of support for Cruz, a Texas senator who has staked his entire career on the kind of anti-government confrontation that Bundy sympathizers seem to love. In the lead-up to the Nevada caucuses, Cruz's campaign actively courted these voters, working the land use issue into his speeches, and putting out a campaign ad promising that, if elected president, he "will fight day and night to return full control of Nevada's lands to its rightful owners—its citizens."

In contrast, Trump, a champion of eminent domain, has been on what one would assume is the wrong side of the issue. "I don't like the idea because I want to keep the lands great," he said when asked about transferring control of federal land to the states by Field and Stream magazine last month. "You don't know what the state is going to do." 

And yet it was Trump, not Cruz, who appeared to win the land use movement's votes in Nevada on Tuesday. While exit polls didn't ask about the issue specifically, Trump won definitively among voters who said they were angry or dissatisfied with the federal government. Among the six in ten Nevada Republicans who said they preferred a candidate from outside the system, Trump won by a whopping 71 percent. More tellingly, perhaps, he won among those who described themselves as "very conservative," beating Cruz 38 percent to 34 percent.

Cruz did manage to have picked up some support, including endorsements from some of the state's most prominent sovereign land advocates. County voting tallies shows that he won Elko County, a staunchly conservative area of the state with a strong Republican organization, as well as Lincoln County, home to just 5,000 people, and also to Area 51 and the "Extraterrestrial Highway." The latter has been the site of a heated opposition to the federal government's recent decision to designate a 1,100-square-mile national monument straddling the county.

But while Cruz may have the support of far-right state politicians—the sort of new Republican Establishment birthed by the Tea Party—Trump seems to have a solid lock on their rank-and-file. Obviously, this is a bad sign for Cruz, signaling that when conservatives are faced with the choice between him and Trump, they will continue to choose the candidate who's louder, brasher, and even more of a dick. And should Cruz drop out of the race, it's hard to imagine those ultra-conservatives deciding to embrace Rubio over Trump.

What Nevada demonstrated is what observers who've been dreading a Trump nomination haven't been willing to admit: Republican voters really love Donald Trump. From the Deep South to the Northeast to the West, voters are angry and have found someone who validates, reflects, and amplifies their anger. It doesn't particularly matter that he might not share their specific anger about land use rights or whatever.


Here's another theory for you: The people of Nevada have been told so many times, by so many so many politicians, that these lands should be transferred, but nothing ever happens. As a result, they probably don't believe it will happen this time either, and cast their vote on other issues.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Malheur occupation is over. The war for America's public lands rages on

Peter Walker, University of Oregon

...At stake was far more than the fate of the Hammonds. In the works was nothing less than an armed insurrection against virtually all federal ownership of land in the United States - and even against the very existence of the federal government as we know it.
Had the almost surreally audacious plan succeeded, communities and economies across the American West, and the entire country, would have been changed profoundly.
As a researcher in the politics of public land, I went to Harney County to see what was going on first hand. Having spent five weeks going back and forth between my home and the community, I'm convinced that the Malheur occupation was part of a much larger, well-funded and politically connected movement to transfer public lands to private owners.
I'm also convinced it is not over, and we must expect to see more violent attempts to seize public land in the future...
Federal ownership of land 'unconstitutional', say rebels
While the press often reported on the groups' stated goals of freeing the Hammonds and handing over land in the Malheur Refuge to private owners, the occupiers' goals were in fact far more ambitious.
At a community meeting that I attended near the town of Crane, Oregon, on January 18, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, LaVoy Finicum and Ryan Payne presented their grand vision in no uncertain terms. In the audience were roughly 30 local ranchers.
The Bundy group gave a lengthy presentation of their interpretation of the US Constitution in which they claimed the federal government has essentially no authority beyond the powers specifically enumerated in the verbatim text of the Constitution, and that the federal government cannot own land outside Washington, DC except with the consent of the states.
Based on this interpretation, the Bundys, Finicum and Payne told local ranchers that they had no obligation to pay fees for grazing on federal land because, in their view, federal ownership of land is unconstitutional. The group implored the Harney County ranchers in the meeting to tear up their grazing leases.
Their goal, ultimately, was to wrest virtually all power from the federal government through armed action in the name of "We The People." Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum said that he and Cliven Bundy were the only ranchers to have faced off against the federal government by refusing to pay grazing fees and that they had succeeded by using their Second Amendment right to bear arms - arms that they had literally pointed directly at federal employees.
Harney County ranchers at the meeting complained that the occupiers were asking too much - for example, if ranchers tear up their grazing leases, then the value of their former grazing rights is subtracted from their net worth and they cannot borrow against it. And none welcomed an armed standoff with federal authorities...
Tearing up grazing leases
Not a single rancher from Harney County or the state of Oregon was persuaded. On Saturday, January 23, the occupiers held a ceremony at the Malheur Refuge that symbolically represented the fruits of their revolutionary labors: in front of TV cameras and newspaper and radio reporters, a single rancher, from 1,300 miles away in New Mexico, stood beside Ryan Bundy and pledged to break his BLM lease.

The New Mexico rancher, Adrian Sewell, had a violent criminal past that included assault with an ax. Another eight ranchers made similar commitments - all in Utah, where the movement to privatize public land is particularly strong.
The Bundy group claimed, without presenting any evidence, that other ranchers would soon make the pledge to tear up their grazing leases, igniting a national movement. Three days later, the Bundys and Payne were arrested and Finicum was killed, according to reports, after resisting arrest by state police....
...The national movement to transfer federal land to private ownership (including groups with direct ties to the Bundy family) remains as active as ever, and appears to have access to enormous resources from wealthy conservative supporters with interests in oil, gas and coal development. Militia groups are active, angry and eager for a win.
Those who value public lands - for economic, environmental, recreational and aesthetic values - owe a debt of gratitude to Harney County. A violent branch of the Sagebrush Rebellion came to town in Harney County, and the community told it to go away.

Peter Walker is Professor of Geography, University of Oregon. He has just returned from Harney County, Oregon, where armed occupiers took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He spent several weeks attending community meetings and watching the events unfold, as he describes here.The Conversation

Ted Cruz’s Tough Land Rights Talk In State’s Rural North Could Sway Voters

As the campaigns of the remaining Republican U.S. presidential candidates have descended upon Nevada this week, the battle for the state’s rural caucusgoers has played an increasingly prominent role for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Hoping to pick up what is seen as a population with a libertarian streak in the northern part of the state, Cruz is using the controversial issue of federal and state land rights to convince voters he is the true and dedicated enemy of big government, a hallmark of both his tenure in the Senate and his candidacy. “I think that the land rights issue could be useful to Cruz in Nevada just to try to find a way to at least get second place and possibly win,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican political analyst who worked as a strategist on Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. O’Connell, citing the time he’s spent working on campaigns in the Silver State, speculated that the energy Cruz could generate with the land issue could potentially tip the scales in his favor in parts of the state. “It’s a bigger issue in northern Nevada,” he added...more

Here is the Cruz tv ad on the issue:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Working on two different projects this week, so posts may be sparse.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Leap year tales

by Julie Carter 

February 29th -- denoting a leap year-- comes around every four years. I grew up with this “holiday” marked by my mother’s birthday. As kids, we loved knowing Mom only got a “real” birthday every four years and soon, by that count, she was soon younger than all her children.

Somewhere in folklore, leap year was made into a tradition whereby it is allowable for women to propose marriage to men. Over the centuries, different countries adopted various versions of the tradition and even some penalties if the marriage proposal was refused.

To soften the blow to the pursuing female, a man denying her offer may have to give her a kiss, money or even a “silk gown.” In Denmark, refusal must be compensated by a dozen pair of gloves.
In Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky and 20 percent of the engaged couples will intentionally avoid getting married in a leap year.

A victim of the Sadie Hawkins girl-catches-guy wedding plan, Sam decided to make it a party. When a wedding happens in ranch country, it’s a big deal. Not everybody wants to go to town to get “hitched.”

Sam selected one of his favorite spots on the ranch and his buddy Dave volunteered to slow roast a hog. The preacher was lined up and a keg of beer ordered. Yep, that should do it, Sam thought.

Mary Margaret had a few ideas of her own about how she thought the wedding should go. She bought the big white dress and lined up her bridesmaids to be dressed in pastels.

There was a slight hitch as one of the bridesmaids ordered her dress in a size smaller than actually required thinking her new diet would work. Plan B was to line up a cousin who was the right size.

In the meantime, Dave butchered a hog, cut it up, seasoned and wrapped it. He dug the fire pit, lined the bottom with wood and went on to his other appointed wedding duties. He’d also been appointed shotgun bearer to follow the bride down the aisle and that required the ol’ double-barrel to be shined up.

Sam, indulging his bride in her desires, agreed to provide the music. The boom box was tested and required only an occasional slap on the side to keep it playing. Waylon and Willie would do fine.
Helpful neighbors had been designated to usher the guests away from the keg to the seating area and to keep the dogs quiet during the ceremony.

Sam was not as totally committed to this project as the bride would have liked, and in an effort to get him involved, she decided they should each write their own vows.

Her vows were very lovely prose, mentioning hearts, flowers, lifelong commitment, a steady partner and love eternal. When his were finally, reluctantly, presented for inspection, she was somewhat taken aback.

The only thing he had planned on saying was “I do. Let’s party.”

Vows said and sighs emitted, the wedding crowd moved down the hill to the patio to celebrate. The pig was unearthed only to discover the fire hadn’t been lit under it. However, this brought only some good-natured funnin’ at Dave, who apparently had lost his train of thought the night before while polishing the shotgun and sampling the keg.

The boom box quit working, and no amount of coaxing could revive it. As it turned out, the music wasn’t any more necessary to a good party than was the shotgun or the roast pig. The properly sampled beer fulfilled Dave’s wedding vow of “let’s party.”

You can’t say that cowboys don’t do things with style and grace. It just depends on your definition of both.

Julie can be reached for comment at



The Badlands of New Mexico
“Yes, fence me in!”
By Stephen L. Wilmeth
            Everybody should spend a week dealing with herds of animals and assuring they have adequate water and feed. Implicit in that is keeping them within administrative boundaries and maintaining a degree of order.
At a fence line drinker three days ago, I witnessed two cows fighting first outside the trough, then inside in the water, and then through the divider and out the other side into the other pasture. The power exhibited could only be described by witnessing the event. The fight for trough space and uninterrupted drinking prompted a confrontation. Fences, regardless of normal range conditions, can be breached if livestock strength is concentrated and directed.
            Fencing pliers and vehicle impact breaches are even more efficient.
            Jim and Seth found where people following the Butterfield Trail cross country cut a gap in the fence where the historical trail crosses from us onto them. The vandals had to be high tech folks with GPS capability to have determined that exact point because the trail is not clearly visible but is marked on topographic maps. The four strand wire gap was cut flush with the posts and it became instant and convenient vehicle access for them. It also created an open gate for cattle to travel. The night that techno outdoor excursion ended the perpetrators probably went to bed sunburned and excited about their grand adventure, but their illegal action created another demand on us.
At least four cowboy days were consumed sorting their inconsideration out.
            Higher stakes
            Southern border ranchers long ago gave up hope for federal assurances that positively affect their lives and livelihoods along the international boundary. They view the matter as something they face alone. The debate about a “wall” between the United States and Mexico occupies the political debates, but the installation of a comprehensive barrier is an unlikely proposition with current leadership.
            To most of the rest of the nation, the border remains a great unknown. What our local community of ranchers knows very well is the international boundary from El Paso west to the Arizona state line.
Certainly we have great concern for the illicit drug trade, but our first and most pressing concern is cattle trespass and or cattle losses. In the elimination of effective rancher presence on either side of the border, Mexican drug cartel activity invariably fills the vacuum. That creates added chaos and it becomes very difficult to retrieve cattle lost through the border fence into Mexico. On that basis, we believe strongly that, at a minimum, every foot of international boundary must have cattle proof fencing. It should be constructed to effectively limit any extraordinary breach threat. If that means an area suffers from cutting sections with pliers for access, cable should be used. If cartel sophistication increases and the incoming border invaders carry acetylene torch kits to cut the cable, more positive access controls should be added until that section of fencing effectively limits the opportunity of breach.
            That means Department of Homeland Security must be ready with a gradient of measures commencing with border fencing, advancing to electronic surveillance, continuing to walls and or even the assignment of agents directly to the points of greatest vulnerability if the conditions warrant such close attention.
            National safety must be assured.
            Interestingly, cows remain a most basic measure of the effectiveness of border defenses. If cattle are contained, the corresponding ingress and or egress of illegal activity reflect that containment.
            On our 180 miles of border, half of it is deficient for livestock containment. More specifically, there are 92.9 miles of border that has no restraint against illegal crossing on the basis of barrier obstruction to entry. Certainly, the Border Patrol offers offset to that vulnerability, but the agency is put in a position of having to bolster any added protection stemming from nonexistent physical boundary barriers.
            That leads to another problem. With half of our border vulnerable to the likely losses of cattle into Mexico, huge vulnerability exists for the nation’s biosecurity from animal disease borne pathogenic entry from the south.
            That is unacceptable.
            Fences do make good neighbors
            It might be interesting to take a narrated guided tour of the border starting in the extreme eastern point of our described border herein at the famous monument of demarcation on the southeastern slope of Mt. Cristo Rey that signifies the point of international boundary that unites three states and two countries.
            Heading west the immediate area is fenceless, but it is contained by extremely rough terrain and a very effective “pedestrian” barrier off the slope to the south. That barrier extends westward for nearly 10 miles. South of it lies Juarez or colonias thereof and poses no risk to cattle loss. Cattle don’t exist there, but Border Patrol does in abundance.
            For the next 10 miles a combination of “Normandy” type barriers (think of the pictures you have seen of the German defenses on the coast of Normandy and the scenes of D Day) with and without 42” livestock barriers mixed with post and rail fencing without livestock barriers are constructed there. The first livestock concerns exist at that point.
            The next 30 miles west from the international entry at Santa Teresa is fenced with the same Normandy barriers with the livestock barrier. From the ranchers’ standpoint, that is offers an effective livestock barrier as long as it is properly maintained.
            The next 26 miles that spans the approach and departure from the border town of Palomas is a combination of post and rail fencing (which needs a more effective livestock barrier,) spans of the very effective pedestrian fencing (both sides of the international entrance), and fencing that varies from post and rail to simple Normandy mechanical barriers without livestock barriers. High risk of border breach on the basis of livestock entry is at issue in parts of that stretch.
            The real problems, however, begin at a point approximately 15 miles west of Palomas. It is there stretches of inadequate barbed wire fencing begin. There are approximately five miles of that fencing in that span westward mixed with 12 miles of Normandy fencing with a good 48” livestock component. That combination reaches the turn south along the international boundary that forms the eastern boundary of the New Mexico Bootheel.
            From the turn south, the entirety of the north south leg of the international boundary poses high risk. It is entirely barbed wire fencing that ranges in effectiveness as a livestock barrier from average to terrible. Part of it remains 60 year old infrastructure without any assurance of effective smuggling or biosecurity protection. It is a debacle awaiting an international trigger. It can be cut with pliers, breached easily with vehicles, won’t stand up to cattle fighting, and illegals can gain entrance to the United States without restraint.
            That stretch of border is an outright threat to America.
            The threat continues westward along the base of the Bootheel for nearly 15 miles before more effective Normandy barriers with 48” livestock barriers are installed. The remaining 30 miles to the Arizona state line are a continuation of that Normandy barrier but interspersed with 12 miles of barbed wire offering no effective physical barrier for mechanical breach.
            The best protections occur in the corridors of highest populations and vehicular traffic, but the more than 90 miles of rural and isolated barbed wire fencing in our 180 mile stretch of international boundary offers no security to any American.
            It worries me greatly and I operate 35 miles north of the most highly secured eastern stretch of the described boundary. My colleagues directly on the border must be considered some of the bravest people in the world. Every American should be glad they are there, with their cattle, serving as the first line of civil, border defense.
Before I started this yesterday morning, I read an article on biosecurity protocol that must be maintained for protection of our national food system. The words describing the measures of such protection became somewhat humorous.
            All the sophisticated measures being employed at ports of entry along the border stand the highest risk of being a waste of time when the greater, most dangerous aspect of the border is revealed. In that regard, the effectiveness of uninterrupted protections along the international boundary with Mexico in the form of protective physical barriers is a canard of gigantic proportions. Whether the issue is drug and human trafficking or the matter of biosecurity relating to livestock, the foundation is woefully lacking. We are exposed.
            We are at full risk of catastrophe, and … all we seem to do is compile words for the archives.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “A group of border citizens are going to meet March 10 in Animas, New Mexico to tell the world once again what this nation faces. Perhaps … a news channel or a politician or two could learn a few things by attending.”

New DOD Battle Cry: Remember The Climate!

 by Paul Driessen

But now President Obama wants to compound his social experimentation with the military, by ordering his Pentagon brass to focus not on imminent weather events surrounding battle plans – not on threats from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, ISIL, Hamas and other real hot spots – but on climate change years or decades in the future. He wants to replace Remember the Alamo with Remember the Climate!

Mr. Obama has issued an executive order directing the Department of Defense (and all other federal government agencies) to make preparing for global warming impacts a top priority, and treat climate change as our most serious national security threat. He even warned 2015 Coast Guard Academy graduates that “denying” climate change is a “dereliction of duty.” You can’t make this stuff up.

The EO directs the Pentagon to order all military commanders, down to battle planning levels, to include climate change analyses in combat planning, training exercises, intelligence gathering, weapons testing and procurement, fuel types and use, and practically every other aspect of military operations. This could include restrictions on the type and duration of training flights, amphibious landings and tank maneuvers.

It is sheer lunacy. It means bureaucrats and new layers of armed forces bureaucracies will waste time and money, and ignore real weapons and training issues. It means soldiers and sailors must now focus less on real natural and humanitarian disasters, and more on “climate refugee crises” that exist only in computer models, ivory tower studies and White House press releases. It affects combat readiness and morale, makes our warriors less prepared for warfare, and puts them at greater risk of injury and death.

Other Obama orders forced the Air Force to spend $59 a gallon for “renewable” jet fuel and $67 per gallon for camelina-based F-22 Raptor fuel – and the Navy to spend $27 per gallon for biofuels from algae, waste grease and animal fat, and $424 a gallon for 20,000 gallons of “sustainable” diesel fuel. All that when conventional gasoline, diesel and jet fuel (thanks to fracking) sell for $2.00-$3.50 per gallon!

Like the other social experiments, this is being imposed by political operatives with little or no military service, no kids in the military, and minimal concern about how these policies, multiple deployments and stretched-to-the-breaking-point budgets might affect military readiness, morale, safety and families.

Papers show BLM made tactical errors in 2014 Bunkerville cattle roundup

By Jeff German

The Bureau of Land Management lost the Battle of Bunkerville to Cliven Bundy and his armed militia even before it began.
Court documents charging the defiant rancher, two of his sons and others in the April 12, 2014, armed showdown near the family's ranch show that the BLM erred by putting its rangers in a "dangerously exposed" tactical position.
The federal forces made what military tacticians consider classic mistakes in the annals of armed conflict: They gave up the high ground to the opposition while underestimating the strength of Bundy's 200-strong force.
The BLM's mistakes are now playing into the government's theory in the extortion and assault case against Bundy and his sons, Ammon and Ryan, according to Kathleen Bliss, a former longtime federal prosecutor.
"Prosecutors are using this to show the conspiracy," said Bliss, who prosecuted organized crime and domestic terrorism cases. "This wasn't just a group that kind of showed up and got together. They definitely had a system in place, and they were organized to meet a certain goal."
Bliss, now a defense lawyer not involved in this case, said she thinks federal agents in Bunkerville didn't realize the magnitude of the Bundy's organization.
"In my mind, they thought this was a bunch of hapless ranchers who had been mooching off the public for years,'' she said. "When they got out there, they found that they had supporters from all over the country."
BLM officials have declined comment, but in the criminal complaint and a 51-page indictment against the Bundys, prosecutors explain why the rangers backed down and abandoned the roundup, handing the Bundy forces a victory that emboldened what they call extremist goals in the West.
Court papers describe a relatively thin force of 50 BLM rangers left to defend temporary corrals placed in the low-lying Toquop Wash. In the pens were 400 head of cattle collected in a court-approved roundup over Bundy's failure to pay grazing fees.
When Bundy's supporters came to free the cattle, the rangers found themselves in a life-threatening situation as the militia exploited their errors.
"Some of these gunmen took tactically superior positions on high ground, while others moved in and out of the crowd, masking their movements behind unarmed followers," the criminal complaint alleges. "The immediate threat to the officers came from (nearby freeway) bridges where gunmen took sniper positions behind concrete barriers, their assault rifles aimed directly at the officers below."
Other militia members used unarmed members of the angry mob directly in front of officers in the wash as human shields to discourage them from returning fire.
"The officers at the (corral) gate were dangerously exposed," the complaint adds. "They were in the open and low ground at the bottom of the wash, below highway bridges that towered more than 40 feet above them and surrounded on the sides by steep embankments of high ground.
"The terrain acted like a funnel with them at the bottom and no natural cover or concealment to protect them from the gunmen on the high ground, their only protection being their body armor and the vehicles they happened to drive to the gate."
The officers could "readily observe" the snipers "bobbing up and down," measuring them as targets. Others in the boisterous crowd refused commands to leave, taunted officers and brandished weapons.
Having the upper hand, the militia forces demanded the rangers release the cattle and threatened to take the animals by force if necessary, the complaint says.
"Outnumbered by more than 4 to 1, unwilling to risk harm to children and other unarmed bystanders who had accompanied the followers and wishing to avoid a firefight that was sure to follow if they engaged the snipers on the bridge, the officers had no choice and were forced to leave and abandon the cattle to Bundy and his co-conspirators ... ," the complaint states.
Following two hours of negotiations, the federal rangers packed up their bags and took off, ending the Battle of Bunkerville without a shot fired or a drop of blood spilled — but not without consequences.
To this day, some of the federal officers, including some who had served in the military, remain shell-shocked by the encounter, the documents say.