Thursday, March 31, 2016

Groups campaigning to abolish UNM official seal over racism

The Red Nation and Kiva Club are campaigning to abolish the UNM’s official seal, saying it is racist towards Native Americans. “The UNM [official seal] celebrates genocide and conquest — both are violations of basic human rights and belong in a museum of a bygone era,” said The Red Nation co-founder Nick Estes. “It’s 2016 and UNM is still celebrating crimes against humanity – colonialism and genocide – and Natives are still underrepresented at all levels at the University.” Kiva Club is a student organization that provides Native American students at UNM with a social and supportive space. The Red Nation is a Native American-led, local activist organization “dedicated to the liberation of Native peoples from capitalism and colonialism,” according to their website. Many UNM students are members of The Red Nation, including Estes. Cody Artis, a senior earth and planet sciences major and Kiva Club member, said the groups are accusing the seal of racism for neglecting to represent indigenous people. “There is a history of unity between all the nations, but you don’t see that [in the seal]. Where’s the unity of Spanish, White and Indigenous, where’s the unity of all the cultures that come to this campus? It’s not represented,” he said...more

Trump, Cruz vow to undo Obama environmental work

GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are pledging to undo several Obama administration climate efforts and block future work on global warming if elected this fall. In responding to a survey from the American Energy Alliance, both candidates said they would undo major Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency rules on clean water and power plant carbon emissions, with Trump saying, “under my administration, all EPA rules will be reviewed.” Both candidates said they oppose a carbon tax, a policy Obama has praised but not pushed while president. Cruz and Trump reiterated positions on which they differ. Cruz, for example, opposes the federal ethanol mandate; Trump supports it. Cruz said the federal government should sell some of its land to states or private interests; Trump said he supports a “shared governance structure” between the state and federal government. “This first step would allow for maintaining the aesthetics of the land while finding ways to gain revenue that would benefit both the federal and state governments,” Trump wrote...more

SCOTUS hears first big environmental case without Scalia


The Supreme Court hears arguments this morning in the first major environmental case to come before justices since the death of Antonin Scalia last month. The case, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc., deals with whether landowners can go to court to appeal jurisdictional determinations made by the Corps about which streams and wetlands on a property are subject to Clean Water Act protections. Those protections can carry steep economic consequences for industries ranging from oil and gas to farming to homebuilding.

Hawkes Co., a peat-mining enterprise based in North Dakota, is represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, whose attorneys won a unanimous ruling from the high court in a 2012 wetlands case making EPA compliance orders judicially reviewable. The foundation’s attorneys argue the Hawkes case is simply an extension of the justices’ decisive ruling four years ago, and they have been expecting a big win even without Scalia. But the government argues the determinations are merely a courtesy, not even mentioned in the Clean Water Act, and aren’t a final agency action eligible for judicial review. Moreover, the government notes in briefs, the corps issues tens of thousands of permits each year — enough to clog the courts if applicants seek reviews.

Early hints on WOTUS? The jurisdictional determination made in the Hawkes case came long before the Obama administration’s controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, but WOTUS will almost certainly come up in oral arguments. Industry groups and property rights activists argue the new rule defining which creeks, bogs and marshes merit federal protection makes the Hawkes case all the more critical. “It does make our case more important because if the government is going to try to expand its authority, as it is clearly trying to do under this new rule, landowners need to have the right to go to court to challenge that overreach,” said Mark Miller, one of the PLF attorneys on the case.

Gold King Mine Owner Forced To Sign Access Agreement; Fears EPA’s ‘Limitless Legal Budget’

The owner of the Gold King Mine said Monday the Environmental Protection Agency again forced him to sign an access agreement through 2016 for several private mining claims, prolonging a land dispute that began in 2014. On March 4, Gold King Mine owner Todd Hennis signed a “Consent for Access to Property,” which allows the federal agency to continue work on the private parcels in the mining district north of Silverton. “I was forced to sign this agreement, under threat of Federal Court action,” Hennis wrote in an email. “The EPA has a limitless legal budget, so there is effectively no way a private citizen … can effectively fight the seizure of one’s private land.” Hennis’ strife with the EPA began in 2014 when the federal agency decided acid mine discharges out of the Gold King had gotten so bad it would begin a remediation project. Hennis also claimed at that time he was coerced to allow the EPA access to his land. “(The EPA) decided it was too big a job for that year, so they piled many, many tons of earth and rock on the portal to, quote, prevent a blowout during the winter,” Hennis told The Durango Herald in a previous interview. “In doing so, they created the blowout conditions this year (2015).” As part of the agreement, the EPA has full access to Hennis’ land, which includes the right to construct pipelines, settling ponds and a water-treatment facility, as well as “any other actions the EPA determines are necessary.” Hennis has “reasonable access” as long as it does not interfere with EPA activities. The EPA also promised to “leave certain improvements and remedy features,” though it did not provide specifics. The contract says the EPA will remove any unwanted structures and restore the surface of the property “to a condition that is reasonably similar” to what existed before the project began...more

What is this guy's problem?  With the blessings of Congress, its just a federal court teaming up with a federal agency to confiscate use of his property.  The feds not only have access, they can build a pipeline, make settling ponds, construct a water-treatment facility or take “any other actions the EPA determines are necessary.”  And listen, he still has access to his property, that is as long as it doesn't interfere with anything the EPA is doing.   Uh oh, that sounds more like federal property, not private property.

Power Grab: How The EPA’s Clean Power Plan Aims To Nationalize The Electric Grid

by Chuck DeVore

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) tells 47 states and three Native American tribal nations to come up with plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions by a third or else the federal government will do it for them. The “or else” looks an awful lot like the cap-and-trade carbon emissions scheme rejected by Congress multiple times in the past decade. In any event, the CPP is an unprecedented federal power grab. 

The U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of the 1,500-pages of costly red tape, temporarily delaying electricity cost hikes of around 30 percent, depending on the state. 

The rationale for this disruption of the electric grid is the aim of slowing the rise in the global average temperature by 0.018 degrees Celsius by 2100 — well within the wide margins of error of climate models, none of which have accurately predicted the result of complex interactions of the Earth’s climate. 

Thus, in exchange for a theoretical and imperceptible slowdown in temperature, Americans will lose jobs and pay more for their electricity, food, and water. Nowhere is that more immediately evident than on the Navajo Nation, an area larger than West Virginia in northeast Arizona, southeast Utah and northwest New Mexico that is home to 174,000 people, many of them without work, electricity or running water.

North Carolina Sues EPA

State environmental officials are suing the federal EPA again, this time over North Carolina’s possible inclusion on a list of states that contribute to air quality problems in the Northeast. In 2013, a group of Northeastern states asked the EPA to order North Carolina and eight other states to adopt stricter air pollution control measures. The Northeastern states argued that North Carolina and other states were “the most significant contributors” to elevated ozone levels in the Northeast. The EPA has yet to rule on that petition, but North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality filed suit Wednesday at federal court in Raleigh to force the EPA to act. The state wants to be excluded from the list, saying emissions from North Carolina's power plants haven’t affected the Northeastern states. "North Carolina is a leader in cleaning up its energy sector," DEQ General Counsel Sam Hayes said in a press release. "The northeastern states' petition was nothing more than a political attempt to shift the blame for poor air quality in the Northeast."...more

Those damn yankees...

Why Female River Guides Aren't Welcome in the Grand Canyon

In early January, the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General released a 13-page report chronicling 15 years of sexual harassment and hostile working conditions for National Park Service employees working on the Colorado River. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell requested the investigation after 13 Park Service employees sent letters to Jewell detailing their experiences working in the Grand Canyon’s River District, a subsection of the Park Service that oversees the Colorado River. The conclusion by the Inspector General was stunning: “We found evidence of a long-term pattern of sexual harassment and hostile work environment in the GRCA River District,” the report said. “In addition to the 13 original complainants, we identified 22 other individuals who reported experiencing or witnessing sexual harassment and hostile work environments while working in the River District.” The report referred to both current and former Park Service boatmen, supervisors, and other employees. Names were not mentioned. Instead, those bringing allegations were referred to as Employees 1-19, and those accused of wrongdoing were called Boatman 1, 2, and 3, and Supervisors 1-7. Instances of sexual harassment included episodes in which Boatman 1 repeatedly propositioned Employees 2 and 3 for sex, and Boatman 2 took a photo up Employee 1’s skirt. Examples of creating a hostile work environment included Boatman 3 refusing to provide food to women on his trips if they rejected his sexual advances, and yelling and threatening Employee 4 while holding an axe. The boatmen mentioned in the report received small reprimands over the years for their actions, such as written warnings and brief suspensions...more

Utes, Navajo seek monument to preserve canyon

For generations, the Allen Canyon band of Ute Mountain Utes has made a name for itself by creating artistic wedding baskets out of willows and plant dyes collected in the remote canyon in southeastern Utah. The clan accesses the traditional area from its base on the White Mesa reservation. But the Utes and other tribal leaders say ancestral sites are at risk of looting, vandalism, energy development and recreation impacts because they are often located on public lands. “My grandparents would take us every summer to Allen Canyon to gather the willows and collect berries and plants. The men would hunt, and there would be a community cookout,” said Ute Mountain Ute tribal member Mary Jane Yazzie. What they’ve witnessed in recent years has been a shock. “Now, I notice a lot of new roads being created in the canyon. People have dug up pottery and desecrated burials,” Yazzie says. “We feel a monument will help better manage and protect the land.” Toward that goal, the Ute Mountain, Uintah and Ouray Utes, Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni tribes have formed the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition. They met this month at the Friends of Cedar Mesa conference in Bluff, Utah, to urge President Barack Obama to declare 1.9 million acres of public lands in southeastern Utah as the Bears Ears National Monument. “It’s never been done, all the tribes working together,” said Octavius Seowtewa, a Zuni cultural leader. “We as native peoples are banding together to work for the protection of Bears Ears instead of bickering about past issues.” Navajo Natasha Hale of the Grand Canyon Trust said local tribes tried to push legislation for a National Conservation Area, “but the vision fell on the deaf ears of politicians, so tribal leaders came together to petition for a monument designation.” Eric Descheenie, co-chairman of the Bears Ears coalition representing the Navajos, urged Western academia to see the land from a Native American perspective. “Conservation, environmentalism and history are important, but indigenous truth of our connection to the land is the difference,” he said...more

Greens Say BLM Caved to Nevada Ranchers

Illegally placed fences in northern Nevada will kill endangered sage grouse and promote overgrazing on badly damaged federal land, the Western Watersheds Project claimed Tuesday in Federal Court. The Bureau of Land Management plans to build a series of permanent barbed-wire and jack-rail fences along six sections of stream in the Battle Mountain area to help local ranchers, Western Watersheds says in the lengthy complaint. It claims the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedures Act by failing to properly evaluate the environmental impacts of the fences, which are part of the bureau's fencing and grazing-management efforts that are "being improperly evaluated in piecemeal fashion." If the BLM builds the fences, Western Watersheds says, the fences will reduce recreational opportunities and threaten endangered sage grouse, which often are killed when they fly into fences. Fence posts also make good perches for raptors and ravens, which feed on the birds and destroy their nests, and fencing often promotes the growth of non-native weeds. Building the fences also will promote additional grazing on land that already is badly damaged by overgrazing by livestock and drought, Western Watersheds says. Five of the six planned fences are in areas designated as priority habitat for the endangered sage grouse, and several would be near the birds' breeding grounds. Overgrazing in recent years badly damaged the stream banks, which need a break to recover from livestock grazing, but the BLM plan to build permanent fences would have the opposite effect, the group says...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1589

Here is the #2 Song From 1960:  Jim Reeves - He'll Have To Go.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

EPA Update: Members of Congress Joining Fight to Save Racecars

The 2016 short track racing season is ready to swing into full gear. While most racers are turning their attention to battling on the track, an on-going battle continues off the track. It is a battle that could prove crucial for the future of the sport. At the beginning of the month of March, SEMA reported the proposal by several members of congress named the “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (or RPM) Act of 2016.” It is bill that aims to stop the EPA’s overreaching regulations and ensure that converting street vehicles to mpetition-only race cars does not violate the law. Since that time, many supporters of the sport chimed in by writing a letter to their representative in congress. SEMA made it easy by providing this link Because of this outpouring of support, some members of congress are beginning to speak up and take the fight directly to the EPA...more

Agents find suspected smugglers sitting on load of pot

Using night vision technology, Border Patrol agents on horses were able to track down two Mexicans attempting to smuggle nearly 100 pounds of marijuana near Lordsburg, N.M. The two men, who were initially seen walking north from the U.S.-Mexico border, were found sitting on two large burlap sacks before being taken into custody Monday morning. The men were identified as Guadalupe Renteria Moreno, 24, and Ricardo Palma Palma, 29, both of Mexico. The bags on which they were sitting contained 96 pounds of pot with an estimated street value of $77,360. Both men were turned over to the DEA. Earlier that morning, night vision helped agents spot a man and a juvenile walking north from the border near Animas, N.M. The suspected drug smugglers were using "booties" on their shoes to hide their footprints in the desert, agents said. With the help of a service dog, agents found the 51-year-old Hector Carrillo Soto and the juvenile hiding in brush. Agents also found five burlap backpacks filled 249 pounds of marijuana, valued at $199,360. Carrillo Soto told agents there were other people helping in the smuggling attempt, but those people ran back into Mexico...more

House Republicans open probe of new national monuments

House Republicans opened an investigation Tuesday into President Obama’s designation of three new national monuments in the California desert that protect more than 1.8 million acres of public land, along with six other monuments Obama has designated since January 2015. The California desert monuments almost doubled the amount of land that Obama has set aside under the 1906 Antiquities Act, setting a new record for presidential land designations, three committee chairmen wrote in a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Christy Goldfuss, managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “The broad and frequent application of the Antiquities Act raises questions about the lack of transparency and consultation with local stakeholders,” wrote Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee; Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee; and Hal Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. The letters request “all documents and communications referring to or relating to the selection or designation of national monuments under the Antiquities Act” from January 2009 to the present, the letter said, setting a deadline of 5 p.m. April 12. Neither the Oversight Committee nor the White House responded to a request for comment...more

Its about damn time...

Lawsuit Filed to Stop New Livestock Fencing in Sage-Grouse Habitat

Today, Western Watersheds Project filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada over its approval of new fences in important sage-grouse habitat on the Argenta allotment. The Argenta allotment in the Battle Mountain District is the subject of much controversy already because livestock operators there have resisted the BLM's drought closures and instead bullied the BLM into considering a slew of proposals for new livestock infrastructure to justify more grazing on the badly degraded public lands. Rather than insist upon needed rest periods, the BLM has caved to rancher demands to allow their herds back onto the parched landscapes and enabled that use by approving the contested fencing...more

 A copy of the complaint can be viewed here

Environmentalists oppose official spotted frog ruling

Environmentalists don’t want a federal judge to issue an official written ruling denying their motion to radically change water management in several Central Oregon reservoirs. During a recent court hearing, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken told environmental groups they failed to convince her that a preliminary injunction was necessary to protect the threatened Oregon spotted frog. The plaintiffs — WaterWatch of Oregon and the Center for Biological Diversity — claimed that water flows from the Wickiup, Crane Prairie and Crescent Lake dams must be significantly modified to avoid harming the protected species. However, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and irrigation districts argued the operational changes sought by environmentalists would be disruptive to the frogs, which have adapted to stream flows since the structures were built 70 years ago. The federal agency and three irrigation districts — Central Oregon, North Unit and Tumalo — are named as defendants in litigation that alleges the reservoirs are managed in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Rather than appeal the denial of their injunction request, the environmentalists have requested that Aiken postpone filing an official written version of the ruling. The plaintiffs say that an “appealable final, formal opinion is not required to move the matter forward,” claiming it would instead be “more productive and efficient” to send the case into mediation. Irrigation districts involved in the case have objected to the request, noting that environmentalists opted to move forward with their injunction motion instead of mediation. The irrigators agree that mediation is the next appropriate step in the lawsuit but argue that such negotiations aren’t precluded by an official ruling. A written opinion would “provide useful guidance to the mediator” and “certainly aid in setting reasonable expectations for settlement and future proceedings in this case.”...more

Hage ranchers again plan Supreme Court appeal


It is like fighting the Hydra, cut off one head and two grow back.

But the federal government is no myth. It is immortal. It has the power to print money and hire an army of attorneys whose job security depends on ceaseless litigation with no risk to themselves or their livelihoods.

The first generation of Hage family ranchers has died off while fighting in the courts for their rights, but the current generation vows to press on to the U.S. Supreme Court.

...The latest litigation setback came in January when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out a Nevada federal judge’s ruling in their favor. In a 104-page opinion Judge Robert Jones accused government officials of entering into “a literal, intentional conspiracy to deprive the Hages not only of their permits but also of their vested water rights. This behavior shocks the conscience …”

The appeals court accused Judge Jones of being biased against the federal land agents and took him off the case, even though Judge Smith had reached similar conclusions about the conduct of the federal agents, calling their behavior harassment and hostility.

“First, Plaintiffs had a significant investment-backed expectation in the ditches, as these were the primary means for conveyance of water for irrigating the Ranch. The ditches were rights purchased along with the Ranch,” Judge Smith wrote. “Second, Plaintiffs offered ample evidence that the Forest Service had engaged in harassment towards Plaintiffs, enough to suggest that the implementation of the hand tools requirement was based solely on hostility to Plaintiffs. Third, the economic impact of this regulation was considerable; it would have been economically impractical for Plaintiffs to hire enough men with hand tools to perform any sort of substantial work clearing the ditches.”

Judge Smith ruled the Hage ranch had a right to access its vested water rights, but the 9th Circuit basically ruled the ranch had no right to let cattle graze while getting to that water.

According to a Hage family press release posted by Range magazine, the family sees the conflict in rulings as something the Supreme Court needs to resolve.

“It is only the Ninth Circuit three-judge panel, after a 45 minute hearing, which determined that they are better arbiters of the truth than the two judges from two separate federal courts who actually saw the evidence and heard witnesses testify over a combined period of 43 trial days,” the press release states. “The Ninth Circuit panel, in reaching their desired outcome in U.S. v. Hage has managed to significantly diminish western water law and the laws governing rights of ways for roads, ditches and canals across federally administered lands, leaving the Hages no choice but to seek relief at the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Push for “meaningful” grass fed meat label

Nine ag and consumer groups are urging the USDA to reinstate a “meaningful grassfed label for meat.” The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) had overseen a voluntary label standard but determined in January that it did not have statutory authority over it. Now, the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) will oversee a grassfed meat label. Ferd Hoefner, policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, says any standard lower than what the AMS had would be unacceptable. The FSIS is now updating its guidance for the approval of animal production claims on food labels. Much of the grassfed beef sold in the US is imported but there’s a growing domestic market for it.  Brownfield

Border Fence Down: Border Patrol Union Says Breach Brings Terrorist Concerns

The head of the National Border Patrol Council says a breach in the fence along a ten-mile area in remote areas of the Mexico-Arizona border should cause concern about terrorist threats. An email from a Border Patrol agent reported that the stretch along the Arizona-Mexico border had the fence cut in order to allow access into the United States from Mexico.  Arizona Public Media reported that the president of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) testified in a congressional hearing last week that cameras caught the images of two trucks crossing the area. Border patrol officials were not at the spot to catch them at the time of the illegal crossing. Brandon Judd, the president of the 16,500 member national union said, “The scariest part is that we don’t know what was in those vehicles.” The Arizona publication said he warned that illegal border crossings on the Mexico border from individuals from Pakistan is expected to increase more than three times in this year alone. Judd added, “Those numbers should alarm everyone and we are seeing a similar trend from other key countries like Bangladesh, Albania and Brazil.”...more

‘Ranchers’ Lives Matter’ rally

A group of Wasco County residents joined the national “Ranchers’ Lives Matter” movement Saturday by holding a rally at a local freeway overpass to focus attention on issues brought to light by the recent standoff in Burns. “Free the Hammonds” read one side of a banner mounted on the Exit 82 overpass at the western end of town. The other side said: “Free the Patriots.” Although the number of participants was small, the four individuals received plenty of attention from passing motorists. Some honked their horns and others shouted support out open windows. “What are you guys doing,” asked one woman who stopped on the overpass to snap a quick picture. “We’re here to support the Hammonds, they should not be in jail or prison,” said Linda Pishion, one of the organizers. She was referencing the case involving Dwight Hammond Jr., 73, and his son, Steven Hammond, 46, who are serving time in a California prison after being convicted on arson charges involving fires set on Bureau of Land Management properties. The Hammonds, who live in Diamond and graze cattle on federal lands, argued in court that their prescribed burns, one in 2001 and the other in 2006, were intended to kill invasive weeds and stop lightning-caused fires from spreading out of control...more

Bundy brothers fighting push to bring them to Nevada to face charges

Two sons of Cliven Bundy are fighting government efforts to transfer them from Oregon to Nevada to face federal charges in the 2014 armed standoff with law enforcement near their father’s ranch in Bunkerville. Lawyers for Ammon and Ryan Bundy and two other co-defendants held in federal custody in Portland, Ore., Ryan Payne and Brian Cavalier, filed notice late Monday that they were asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to overturn a court order forcing the transfer. The four defendants are charged in both the Bunkerville confrontation and the armed occupation of a government wildlife refuge that ended in Oregon last month after 41 days. Defense lawyers say in court papers that the defendants want to resolve their criminal cases in Oregon first and that their Sixth Amendment rights to due process and a speedy trial would be violated if they are brought to Nevada. But a Portland federal judge said the constitutional issues should be taken up in Nevada and ordered marshals to bring the defendants to Las Vegas on April 13 and then take them back to Portland by April 25. The defendants must be arraigned in Nevada for the case to proceed against them. The judge’s order, on hold as the 9th Circuit takes up the matter, followed a rare hearing in Portland linked by video conference to federal prosecutors, defense lawyers and a judge in Las Vegas...more

Eyewitnesses dispute $6 million in Oregon standoff costs

Eyewitnesses of the Oregon standoff are adamantly fighting claims that occupiers have racked up roughly $6 million in costs, including property damage, to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. On Tuesday, Guy Finicum, the brother of Oregon occupier, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, met with media in Fredonia, Arizona, to discuss the controversial photos of the refuge that have been shared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Guy Finicum, whose brother LaVoy was shot and killed by law enforcement on Jan. 26, visited the refuge in Harney County in early January saying he had become concerned about what was happening after hearing different media reports about the anti-government standoff with federal authorities. He said he was given the opportunity to sit in on meetings with the group leaders where they talked about maintenance and taking care of the refuge headquarters, which had been taken over on Jan. 2. “These people were respectful people, they were sincere, they were speaking up in defense of the fellow citizens of Harney County; they were peaceful but they were resolved about getting their message out,” Finicum said. “But one thing that is absolutely certain is they were very serious about taking good care of that property.” According to Finicum, several of the photos posted by the USFWS were actually taken by the occupiers themselves to show the disorder the property was in before they arrived. He added that the photos show “maybe some clutter” but very little damage, noting once all the occupiers left the refuge there was no longer anyone taking care of the area...more

You can watch the press conference at the link provided.

Oregon occupation supporters investigated for death threats

Like her husband, Carol Bundy says she has little faith in the federal judicial system. “This is going to be won in the court of public opinion,” the mother of 14 grown children and wife of renegade cattleman Cliven Bundy predicted earlier this month. She was referring to the more than three dozen indictments recently handed down by the U.S. against her husband, four sons and other armed militants involved in the takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge in January and a Nevada land occupation two years ago. But some of that public opinion has dissolved into threats from Bundy supporters and is now being investigated by state and federal authorities, possibly leading to more criminal charges. In email, phone messages and Facebook posts, supporters have threatened retaliation for the mass arrests and the death of Robert LaVoy Finicum, 54, a Nevada rancher and a spokesman for the militants, who was shot and killed during the 41-day standoff in Oregon. The messages target law enforcement officers and government officials, including Oregon’s governor, according to a sampling of threats released last week by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office. Investigators gathered more than 80 threats as part of the office’s investigation into the Finicum shooting in neighboring Harney County...more

Mutton busting to bull riding at junior rodeo

The Curry County Events Center hosted dozens of rodeo participants ranging in ages from four to 19 on Saturday through Sunday, as the High Plains Junior Rodeo Association (HPJRA) made a tour stop in Clovis. The Hobbs, New Mexico-based HPJRA is a non-profit youth rodeo organization represented by boys and girls 19-years of age and younger from throughout the Southwest. Established in 1974, HPJRA officials said the organization has served 8,000 youth possessing fervent interest in advancing the sport — with many HPJRA alums advancing to claim collegiate and professional world championship titles. This weekend’s participants spanned from mutton busting competitors to senior bull riders, hailing from New Mexico and Texas. And if you missed the opportunity to check out the HPJRA exploits this weekend, don’t fret. The Curry County Events Center will host the Association’s finals July 13-16...more

The Godfather of Westerns, Robert Duvall talks about the iconic Lonesome Dove


With seven Emmys won, Lonesome Dove is unquestionably television’s most respected Western achievement. The roles were so good, the nominations of Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones as Best Actor, and Diane Lane and Anjelica Huston as Best Actress, may have split the vote and cancelled each other out.

The miniseries had such a profound effect on the filmmakers and actors that many careers are now seen as pre-Lonesome Dove and post-Lonesome Dove...
True West: Do you still feel that Gus McCrea in Lonesome Dove was the best role you ever had?

Robert Duvall: Probably. There are other parts I liked. I played a Cuban barber [in 1993’s Wrestling Ernest Hemingway], with Richard Harris, which was one of my favorite parts. Man, I worked on that accent. Another one of my performances I liked was when I played Stalin [1992’s Stalin]. I try to do different things. But I would say Lonesome Dove was like my Hamlet or my Henry V, so to speak. When it was over, I felt like I could retire; I felt I’d done something fully and completely. He was a very complex guy. He said, we killed off all the people that were interesting. That was years ago, but it was a fine character to be able to play.

I’m told you designed the Gus McCrae hat.

They insisted, some of the powers that be, that I wear a Mexican sombrero to play Gus. I said, ‘I will not play the part if that’s the case.’ I had to go to the producers. I showed them pictures of Texas Rangers on the border, and they all wore the kind of hats I wore in the movie. I said, ‘Let me pick my own hat,’ which, finally, they allowed.

 Did you have any doubts about a non-American director for your Western?

We had 16 weeks to work, and it was nice; it was concentrated. First 10 days around Austin. Then down around Del Rio, Texas, near the border. Then up to New Mexico. Then up to Angel Fire Mountains farther up in New Mexico, to suffice for Montana’s Rockies, because we couldn’t afford to go there. I was fortunate to be in, what I think I’m correct in saying, the two biggest film epics of the 20th century: The Godfather I and II, and Lonesome Dove.

What does the American West mean to you?

It’s an elusive thing. Like when you go to England or wherever, they want to know about the West. That thing of pushing forward; pushing outward. The frontier.

What’s your next project?

I’m trying to get two Elmer Kelton things that have fallen through. Can’t get ’em done—Netflix or anybody.

Wonder what those two Elmer Kelton projects would be?

The Good Old Boys has already been made into a movie starring Tommy Lee Jones.

The Day The Cowboys Quit?  Maybe.

But just think of Duvall playing Charlie Flagg in The Time It Never Rained, or better yet, Wes Hendrix, the grandfather in The Man Who Rode Midnight.  Lord I would love to see those done. 

What would you nominate for the two Kelton projects?

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1588

For the rest of the week Ranch Radio will feature the three top songs on the c&w charts from 1960.  We start with the No.1 song:  Please Help me, I'm Falling by Hank Locklin. The tune was recorded in Nashville on Jan. 5, 1960.  In the studio with Locklin that day were some hvyweights:  Grady Martin g; Floyd Cramer p and the Jordanaires singing chorus.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Forest Service, BLM could lose law enforcement units under new bill

The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management could lose their law enforcement functions, according to a new bill from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).  The Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act abolishes law enforcement units at the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The bill says state and local law enforcement should police federal lands instead. It also requires that both secretaries at the Agriculture and Interior departments give grants to those states to fund their enforcement activities.
Reps. Rob Bishop, Chris Stewart and Mia Love (R-Utah), are also co-sponsors of the legislation,  which currently sits with the House Agriculture Committee.  Specifically, the bill would get rid of the Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations unit within the Agriculture Department and the BLM Office of Law Enforcement at the Interior Department. It also requires that both secretaries report to Congress how they’re using the grants development program, and the states must demonstrate that they’re using the funding only for law enforcement purposes in an annual report. Chaffetz and other lawmakers said the bill is partly in reaction to reported conflicts between federal land officers and local communities. A letter from the Utah Sheriffs Association, which actively supports Chaffetz’s bill, mentions “aggressive and over reactive federal land agents.” Nate Catura, national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said though concerns from groups such as the Utah Sheriffs and Western Sheriffs Associations are valid, conflicts between federal, state and local law enforcement are not widespread across the entire country...more

Sec. 303 of FLPMA states:

When the Secretary determines that assistance is necessary in enforcing Federal laws and regulations relating to the public lands or their resources he shall offer a contract to appropriate local officials having law enforcement authority within their respective jurisdictions with the view of achieving maximum feasible reliance upon local law enforcement officials in enforcing such laws and regulations. The Secretary shall negotiate on reasonable terms with such officials who have authority to enter into such contracts to enforce such Federal laws and regulations.

BLM's FY2017 budget justification calls for $125.6 million and 124 FTEs.  No way are they achieving "maximum feasible reliance upon local law enforcement officials."


Majority Of Montanans Support Transferring Some Federal Lands To State

A new survey done by the University of Montana and Stanford University says a majority of Montana residents support transferring at least some federal public lands here to state control. That contradicts some previous polls. The statewide representative sample poll was done over landlines and cell phones in February in advance of a conference last week at UM. UM Political Science Professor Christopher Muste helped put the survey together, and it poses lots of questions about land use, the environment and politics.  We also asked specifically about public lands, and a majority, about 59 percent of Montanans wanted at least some federal lands to be transferred to the state. There was not much support for the tactics of the people who took over the Malheur Wildlife refuge in Oregon. Only about 1/3 of Montanans supported that, most opposed those tactics...more

Bill Would Allow Towns To Operate Programs On Federal Lands

Earlier this month Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Prescott), who represents Rim Country in Congress, introduced a bill that would make it possible for state and local governments to operate facilities and manage federal lands. H.R. 4786 would create a pilot program to allow state, local governments and nonprofits to operate third-party recreational concessions on certain lands managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management under the terms of the Recreation and Public Purposes Act (RPPA). “The BLM currently allows all kinds of third-party commercial concessions to take place on BLM lands including mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, golfing and zip-lining. These concessions are a critically important part of the economy for many communities throughout the West. “However, due to a lack of statutory authority and outdated regulations, third-party concessions that would otherwise be allowed on BLM lands are prohibited or severely restricted on RPPA parcels." The bill already has the backing of the National Association of Counties, the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials, the National Association of State Park Directors, and the National Recreation and Park Association...more

Scientists Find No Evidence Polar Bears Are Undergoing A ‘Climate Crisis’

A new study by Canadian scientists once again debunks the notion polar bears are currently being harmed by global warming. Researchers with Canada’s Lakehead University found “no evidence” polar bears are currently threatened by warming. “We see reason for concern, but find no reliable evidence to support the contention that polar bears are currently experiencing a climate crisis,” Canadian scientists wrote in their study, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution. Scientists looked at 13 polar bear subpopulations and found “much of the scientific evidence indicating that some polar bear subpopulations are declining due to climate change-mediated sea ice reductions is likely flawed by poor mark–recapture sampling.” This means researchers aren’t able to put together accurate “demographic parameters.” Polar bears became the poster child for environmentalists who argued melting Arctic sea ice could kill thousands of bears that would have nowhere to rest while hunting in the summer months. Former Vice President Al Gore even featured polar bears swimming for their lives in his 2006 film on global warming.  Scientists, however, have increasingly been questioning alarmists, like Gore, and the U.S. government for listing the bears under the ESA. For starters, there are way more polar bears alive today than 40 years ago. In fact, polar bears have likely survived past ice-free periods in the Arctic. Scientists recently found there’s no evidence of marine life extinctions in the Arctic in the past 1.5 million years, despite the Arctic going through periods of prolonged periods with no summer ice cover. What’s more interesting is that periods in the Arctic when sea ice was exceptionally thick, polar bears and other Arctic animals had the hardest time surviving...more

Supreme Court won't hear Alaska's challenge to Forest Service 'roadless rule'

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case brought by the state of Alaska over the so-called Forest Service “roadless rule,” ending a major long-running court battle over the state’s attempts to be exempt from the logging regulation. The state had asked the Supreme Court to consider reversing a lower-court decision that tossed Alaska’s “exemption” from a regulation barring road-building in protected forest areas. While the high court’s decision is a major setback for the state, a similar effort to overturn the rule is still brewing in another federal court. The roadless rule originally went into effect in 2001, at the end of the Clinton administration. It barred the Forest Service from building roads and cutting timber on 58.5 million acres nationwide. In Southeast Alaska, it set aside 9.3 million acres of the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest and nearly all of the 5.4 million-acre Chugach National Forest. The state challenged the rule in court and settled with the Forest Service in 2003, when the George W. Bush administration agreed to craft an exemption for the Tongass National Forest. But that exemption did not last. The Tlingit Native Village of Kake and several environmental groups fought the Alaska carve-out and won -- in District Court in 2011, and then at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The courts ruled that while new administrations often have the legal right to make policy changes, the Bush administration didn’t provide sufficient factual reasoning for coming to a different conclusion on Alaska forest protections. Alaska assistant attorney general Cori Mills said Monday that though the Supreme Court denied the state’s petition, "this is not the end of our challenge of the roadless rule and its application to Alaska.”...more

Science Agency Eyes Climate Change Professor’s Use of Millions From Taxpayers

A federal science agency is “seriously” interested in reviewing tens of millions in taxpayer-funded grants awarded to a university professor who wants President Obama to prosecute those who don’t share the administration’s view that mankind is changing the world’s climate. The National Science Foundation’s inspector general appears poised to look into Jagadish Shukla’s management of federal grant money, much of it from the science agency itself.  Shukla, a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., led the charge by 20 college professors to urge a federal investigation aimed at scientific skeptics who differ with their views on climate change. At the same time, Shukla, his wife, and his research center were awash in taxpayers’ money, according to an internal audit by the university on which The Daily Signal previously reported.  Shukla’s name appears first among 20 signers of a letter to Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking them to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, to investigate corporations and other groups skeptical of man-made global warming, also known as climate change.  The audit by Shukla’s employer, George Mason University, suggests that the professor misused tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding by “double dipping” in federal and state funds in violation of university policy...more

Biggest wildfire in Kansas history destroyed 9 homes in Barber County

MEDICINE LODGE — The biggest wildfire in Kansas history has been largely contained, but authorities said more homes were damaged than originally thought. The Kansas Adjutant General’s Office said Monday that nine Barber County homes were destroyed in the fire, which started in Oklahoma last week before moving north into Kansas. No one has been seriously injured. Earlier estimates showed anywhere from two to six homes were destroyed in the county, which suffered the most damage in Kansas. Oklahoma Forestry Services estimated the total burn area between the two states at 574 square miles...more

If NCBA were a cow

By Trent Loos

As ridiculous as this may sound, I will say it anyway. Even with the past two years of record profits for cow/calf producers, the cattlemen of this nation are in trouble. I don’t care how you evaluate the current situation; it is going to be a hard pull. The water has broken, the feet are out and I can see the tail of the unborn calf and he is stuck. What is the correct move next?

...The mid 1970s were the heyday for beef consumption. It is reported that in 1976, our U.S. beef consumption per capita was 80.9 pounds per year. Since 2000, we have not been above 60 pounds per year and current estimates are about 56 pounds per year. I know my economist friends will tell me that per capita consumption is irrelevant to beef demand but no one can argue that the trend is vastly concerning. If people quit eating beef, that will kill demand!

In addition to lower beef consumption, unless you are living in the back room of the cave you know all cattle owners are drowning in regulations with the looming threat of even more to come. Owning enough cattle to achieve economies of scale is nearly a thing of the past because of labor availability, and now the Department of Labor is making it impossible for ranchers to use H2A workers. Combine that with the general work attitude of particularly young people in American culture today, it makes hiring people tough.

The continual erosion of property rights is taking a huge toll on everyone in the cattle business. In fact, I am reminded of the day in 2007 when law professor Eric Freyfogle spoke in North Platte, Nebraska. He said “land ownership by an individual is problematic and was a lousy idea.” And, my friends, every day since then the Obama administration has been working to eliminate property rights for deeded and federal lands ranchers alike.

Then, of course, you have this false notion as CNN just reported that, “Why beef is the new SUV.” I have not talked to single person in an airport in the past two years that doesn’t express some level of concern about planet health due to the cheeseburgers they love. Even the most hardened beef eaters are beginning to question this and how are we explaining that the cow is the best thing God gave us for planet health? Short answer: We aren’t!

In closing, it is not tough to make the case that the entire beef sector is in position for a hard pull. We recently had an opportunity to shake things up, bring in some new blood with a new vision that could head this ship away from the looming glacier with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association executive committee’s selection of a new CEO. Instead we opted to keep doing what we’ve always done and hope for a different outcome.

Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at, or email Trent at

'Legends of the Fall' Author Jim Harrison Dead at 78

Jim Harrison, the fiction writer, poet, outdoorsman and reveler who wrote with gruff affection for the country's landscape and rural life and enjoyed mainstream success in middle age with his historical saga "Legends of the Fall," has died at age 78. Deb Seager, a spokeswoman for Grove Atlantic, Harrison's publisher, told The Associated Press that Harrison died Saturday at his home in Patagonia, Arizona. Seager didn't know the cause of death. Harrison's wife of more than 50 years, Linda King Harrison, died last fall. The versatile and prolific author completed more than 30 books, most recently the novella collection "The Ancient Minstrel," and was admired worldwide. Sometimes likened to Ernest Hemingway for the range and kinds of his interests, he was a hunter and fisherman who savored his time in a cabin near his Michigan hometown, a drinker and Hollywood scriptwriter who was close friends with Jack Nicholson and came to know Sean Connery, Orson Welles and Warren Beatty among others. He was a sports writer and a man of extraordinary appetite who once polished off a 37-course lunch, a traveler and teller of tales, most famously "Legends of the Fall." Published in 1979, "Legends of the Fall" was a collection of three novellas that featured the title story about Montana rancher Col. William Ludlow and his three sons of sharply contrasting personalities and values, the narrative extending from before World War I to the mid-20th century, from San Francisco to Singapore. The book was a best-seller, and Harrison worked on the script for an Oscar-nominated 1994 film of the same name starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn...more

Ceremony marks pioneer’s return to Gold Butte grave

Almost two years after his grave was disturbed near the ghost town of Gold Butte, Arthur Coleman is back where he belongs. About 30 area residents gathered at the remote grave site Saturday to remember Coleman and return his remains to the ground about 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Authorities still don’t know who disturbed the small burial plot or why. Saturday’s gathering was all about setting things right. Logandale native Lindsey Dalley, who helped organize the reinterment, said the crowd included residents of all ages from the Virgin and Moapa valleys. People began showing up at about 9 a.m. with shovels and potluck dishes. They lingered until 3 p.m., swapping stories about Coleman and his longtime friend and business partner, William Garrett. The two men met in Gold Butte around 1916, after the mining camp had seen its post office close and its fortunes fade. Coleman and Garrett would spend the next four decades there, running cattle, scratching for gold and brewing moonshine around the home they shared in the ruins of the camp. They made for an odd team: Coleman, a 5-foot-1 miner, and Garrett, a notorious 6-foot-1 rancher out of Texas whose uncle may have been the famed lawman who shot Billy the Kid. Locals took to calling the pair “the long and the short of it.” The men lived at Gold Butte until Coleman’s death in 1958 at age 82. Garrett died three years later, at age 81, and joined his old friend in the ground behind their home. Years later, their plots were fenced and marked with engraved headstones.  Near the end of Saturday’s ceremony, Dalley spotted a truck rumbling down the dirt road toward them towing a rusted Model A Ford pickup on a trailer. It turned out to be Coleman’s old Model A. He had left it in his will to a neighboring ranch family almost 60 years earlier, so a member of the family towed it down from St. George, Utah, for the memorial. “You could have brushed me over with a feather when that thing showed up,” Dalley said. “It was like history had come alive and was standing there in front of you.”...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1587

Today Ranch Radio brings you a country classic:  Eddy Arnold - Molly Darling.  The tune was recorded in NY City on August 19, 1947 for RCA Victor.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Alaska volcano ash cloud covers 400 miles, cancels flights

Strong winds Monday pushed an ash cloud from an Alaska volcano into the heart of the state, grounding flights and limiting travel to western and northern communities off the road system. Pavlof Volcano, one of Alaska's most active volcanoes, is 625 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula, the finger of land that sticks out from mainland Alaska toward the Aleutian Islands. The volcano in the 8,261-foot mountain erupted about 4 p.m. Sunday, spitting out an ash cloud that rose to 20,000 feet. Lightning over the mountain and pressure sensors indicated eruptions continued overnight By 7 a.m. Monday, the ash cloud had risen to 37,000 feet and winds to 50 mph or more had stretched it over more than 400 miles into interior Alaska. "It's right in the wheelhouse of a lot of flights crisscrossing Alaska," said geologist Chris Waythomas, of the U.S. Geological Survey, part of the Alaska Volcano Observatory, along with the University of Alaska and the state Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys...more

Judge agrees to delay over federal land plans in Washington County, Utah

The Bureau of Land Management has been granted an extension by a federal judge to finalize its land use plans for Washington County so the two can try to reach a compromise over a contested northern corridor transportation route. The federal agency can miss the court-ordered June 30 deadline for its resource management plan and instead shoot for Dec. 31 in hopes the additional six months will result in the BLM implementing changes sought by the county. U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups granted the extension last week after a congressional subcommittee convened a rare oversight hearing last January in St. George. At the hearing, the BLM was blasted over its draft plan the county said ignored its desires. The panel included participation by Reps. Jason Chaffetz, Chris Stewart and Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and was chaired by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-California, chairman of the federal lands subcommittee, who said the BLM seemed to be the "poster child of bad behavior." At the time, Washington County elected officials said the plan was so damaging to their region's ability to grow they were contemplating a lawsuit if the BLM didn't make substantive modifications. In an effort to address some of those concerns, Washington County leaders have been meeting with the BLM over the past couple of months and hope to arrive at some compromise, said Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner. The county supported the extension for the BLM to produce a finalized plan — with a new deadline for the end of 2016 set in a motion granted last week by Waddoups. The parties are required to submit status reports to the court on their progress. James Doyle, a private landowner who has 274 acres locked up in the Red Cliffs Desert Tortoise Reserve covered by the BLM's land use plans, opposed the delay. Doyle's attorney, Brett Ekins, said his client has never been compensated by the federal government for his land being rendered useless and finalization of the plan might move along the process...more

 At one point, Doyle owned 2,000 acres that he finalized the plans and permits for development of an upscale golf course and surrounding community...Ekins said that Doyle, 78, has had to sell all but 274 acres of his property to meet the debts of creditors and he doesn't want to wait another decade or more for compensation."It has been 25 years now," Ekins argued in a brief filed before the court.  
An example of one of the costs of the ESA that's never tallied up.

Big Coal dealt a big blow: Montanans shut down largest mine in North America

Montana communities won a victory against one of the world’s biggest coal companies earlier this month, when Arch Coal abandoned the Otter Creek mine – the largest proposed new coal strip mine in North America. The story of how the project imploded is one of people power triumphing over a company once thought to be nearly invincible. To many observers, the Otter Creek project once seemed unstoppable. It certainly appeared that way in 2011, the year I moved to Missoula, Montana for graduate school. Then-Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer enthusiastically supported the mine, and coal more generally. Forrest Mars, Jr., the billionaire heir to the Mars candy fortune, had just joined Arch and BNSF Railways in backing a proposed railroad spur meant to service Otter Creek. Arch and politicians like Schweitzer predicted a boom in coal demand from economies in Asia. But what they weren’t counting on was a vocal and active region-wide opposition. The coming together of ordinary people — first in southeast Montana, then an ever-growing number of communities throughout the Northwest —to oppose the Otter Creek mine says much about how land defenders and climate activists are learning to fight back against the planet’s biggest energy companies. The roots of this recent victory go back more than 30 years...more

Reid: Liberal report on land disputes sheds light on 'anti-government extremists'

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday endorsed a liberal think tank warning about a recent spate of protests over disputed public land. The Center for American Progress released a report calling on Congress to "confront the rise of violent extremism on America's public lands by investigating people involved in the disputes." Reid, in a statement about the report, said it "shines a much-needed spotlight on the threat posed by anti-government extremists." Reid's statement echoed the report's conclusion that Republican rhetoric has fueled "the most radical voices in our society," and he called on them to stand up to the "extremists." Republicans are pushing for the federal government to reduce its land ownership. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has introduced legislaiton to abolish the law enforcement divisions of the Bureau of Land Managment and the Forest Service and instead empower local law enforcement. "Federal agencies do not enjoy the same level of trust and respect as local law enforcement that are deeply rooted in local communities," Chaffetz said. "This legislation will help de-escalate conflicts between law enforcement and local residents while improving transparency and accountability. The BLM and U.S. Forest Service will be able to focus on their core missions without the distraction of police functions."...more

HT:  Martin Frisbey

Federal oil, gas leases stall over bird concerns in US West

Concerns over a bird that ranges across the American West continue to delay federal oil and gas lease sales, five months after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell proclaimed the Obama administration had found a way to balance drilling and conservation. The Interior Department said it will defer the sale of almost 60,000 acres of leases that were nominated by companies in eastern Montana as the agency works on new policies for greater sage grouse. More than 8 million acres of leases previously were deferred in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. It remains unclear when those will be freed up for sales or removed from consideration. Jewell said in September that Endangered Species Act protections were not needed for the grouse, a chicken-sized bird that inhabits sage brush ecosystems spread across 11 Western states. Grouse numbers declined significantly over the past several decades because of the loss of habitat. Officials said the decision to forgo protections avoided the need for draconian restrictions on drilling, livestock grazing and other activities that help drive the region's economy. It followed a sweeping overhaul of federal public land management plans to limit drilling near grouse breeding areas and allowing oil and gasexploration to proceed elsewhere. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management still is crafting policies to put those plans into effect, agency spokesman Al Nash said. Completion of that work is several months away, he said...more

Little Book Cliffs were home on the range to Dave Knight

By Bob Silbernagel

If you’ve hiked or ridden horseback on a difficult trail in the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range northeast of Grand Junction, you can bet Dave Knight traveled the same tough trail.

Knight was a part Cherokee Indian from Oklahoma who rode and hiked these same lands, beginning more than 100 years ago. In 1914, Knight homesteaded on land just outside of what’s now the Little Book Cliffs, and remnants of his cabin still stand on private land. But he spent much of his time on public range.

He herded ancestors of the wild horses that now live there. He also ran cattle on this range and briefly experimented, unsuccessfully, with grazing bison here.

Knight had a reputation as a tough-as-nails backcountry stockman. On one occasion, when his horse fell and broke Knight’s leg, Knight reportedly crawled several miles to the railroad tracks in De Beque Canyon and flagged down a railroad worker with a hand cart to take him to the hospital in Grand Junction.

Knight reportedly made his bed under any suitable rock outcropping he found. On cliffs high in the Book Cliffs, he hand-chiseled steps in the sandstone ledges, so he and his horses could travel with greater ease up and down steep faces.

Knight’s horses were predominantly grays, and they were valued by locals for their nimbleness in rugged country and their stamina.

Knight also had a reputation for enthusiastically protecting his range from overgrazing, reportedly using his rifle to run off other cowboys, cattlemen and sheepherders who attempted to bring their animals onto the range he claimed.


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1586

Its Swingin' Monday and here's the Pickin' On Band with Call Me The Breeze from their 1999 CD Hits of Western Swing

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Jamboree performers walk memory lane

Chek Rippee
For veterans of the Floyd Lions Club Country Jamboree, the annual country music/blue grass concert is like a musical family reunion. The 66th annual jamboree kicked off Thursday night at the Floyd High School gymnasium with a lot of familiar faces on stage, along with one or two new faces. Long-time performers reminisced Thursday night about some of their favorite show moments. Fiddle player Chek Rippee said he played in the jamboree as a child, but it was in 2008 when he performed a tribute to his dad, Knoll Rippee, who had just passed away, that he began performing in the show as an adult. He ended up a band member the following year. “There was a little Elvis, and he would always tear the house down,” Rippee said of his favorite childhood memory of the show. “He was great. We were about the same age, and he would get up there in an Elvis outfit and shake his leg and bring the house down.” Matthew Wolfe said by far his favorite memory of the event was jamboree founding member TJ Floyd teaching him and other children how to play “Touch the Strings” in the back room of the show. “TJ Floyd used to teach all the little kids how to play “Touching the Strings,” when you play the strings up on the neck with just your fingers, and it sounds like Chinese songs. I learned that from him,” said Wolfe, who exercises the technique to this day. The Floyd jamboree has been a lifetime tradition for Linda Brown’s family, whose mother, Freda Miller, performed in the first ever jamboree with Brown herself performing in it most of her life, along with all of her children...more

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Wisdom of the ages

by Julie Carter

Heaven has gathered up a fine collection of good cowboys during the years. You have to know they are sitting around on hay bales in a circle spittin’, whittlin’ and telling stories.  With great detail they recall the wild wrecks they lived to tell about that almost always involved a horse, cow and a rope. They remember every good horse they ever rode and a few that they wished they hadn’t.

They look out over green pastures that will never run out of grass for the fat cattle on a thousand hills. There are a couple of cowboys in heaven that hardly a day goes by I don’t think about them and acknowledge that place in my heart where “missing someone” is stored.

Every week when I sit down to write another story about cowboys and their way of life, I give them a moment of silent gratitude, because those cowboys were my foundational education for cowboying.

Both were fine men who are remembered with honor for their knowledge and abilities in ranching in an era that is no more. They are my dad, followed by my stepdad some years after my dad passed away.

I have realized that what they taught me was not just about punching cows and riding a good horse right. They passed on a wealth of understanding about honor, right living, and loving the life that so few ever get to experience.

The things they taught were lived out in front of me, but not always spoken about. But the lessons were for everyone, not just the cowboy.

•    Slow is fast. Work cattle slow and your day will get over sooner and in better shape. Exercising quiet patience is good with cattle, horses, kids and women.
•    A very few well-placed words carry more authority than a long speech. Polite ways will open doors and keep many from slamming shut.
•    Good horses, good grass and a good cow dog will make a cowboy about as content as he can be. Throw in a wife who can cook and a pickup that will run and it is bliss defined.
•    Laugh every day about something. It soothes the soul and feeds the spirit.
•    Mother Nature has the upper hand. Know it, respect it. Don’t fight her, it’s a fixed fight.
•    Wet saddle blankets make good horses and respectful kids. Hard work is a solid foundation for the cowboy and the horse he rode in on.
•    Enjoy the little things. Take time to pat the dog, soothe the colt, watch the sunrise and the sunset. Tomorrow is not promised. Make good memories. It’ll keep you too busy to make bad enemies.
•    Honesty and integrity are two of the best horses you’ll ever ride.

I look around me and see so few of that generation of cowboy still living. But those that are still have an ornery twinkle in their eyes and a look that says “wisdom of the ages.”

Don’t be deceived by his labored walk and his bent hands. Inside, he stores more of life than most of us will ever see. Next time, and every time you get a chance, give that old-timer a hug or at the least, a good solid handshake.

His value has already been established up “yonder” in the big corral in the sky. He’s just hanging around here a while longer hoping some of us will learn a few more lessons.

All we have to do is listen.

Julie hopes she has listened well, and can be reached for comment at at

Blessed Easter

Earthly measures and bounds
Blessed Easter
When We All Get to Heaven
By Stephen L. Wilmeth


          Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
          Sing his mercy and his grace;
          In the mansions bright and blessed
          He’ll prepare for us a place

            Jack Swanson
            I never met Jack face to face, but we talked numbers of times. It was always on the phone and I suspect, or, at least hoped, it was from his studio. He lived in Carmel Valley, California in that country that just cannot be compared with anything but Camelot. Jack claimed he wasn’t a “cowboy artist”, but C.J. Hadley has a different description of him. She suggests he was a real cowboy who happened to be a talented artist. I’ll describe him as a wrangler of light and the essence of our way of life.
            In abundance, he created Mansions of bright and blessed.
            His subjects were invariably California vaqueros … Californios.
            Your eyes were drawn to the artistry of their ropes, their single rigged saddles, and their finished horses. They were captured in scenes of dust, smoke, summers, California charm, and light. It was in the latter that he excelled. To those who know California summers, you can feel the warmth and the soft air in his paintings as the light filters and illuminates the body of his work. He was a genius, and I would hope we could greet each other as friends when …

          While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
          Clouds will overspread the sky’
          But when trav’ling days are over,
          Not a shadow, not a sigh.

            Tom Mee
            Tom was the last of the entire George Mee family.
            In all the success of the elder Mee, there were never any descendents beyond the three boys produced in his marriage. George, Jr. was shot down and killed in World War II. He was the golden child from what I had always heard. Smart, good looking, and expected to elevate the Mee cattle enterprises his days were over long before his full bloom. The baby, Jimmy, was killed in the street in front of the family home in Encino. He darted out between two parked cars and was run over. Tom ran to him. He told me he held him in his arms and watched him as he ceased to breath.
            Tom was a bigger than life Mickey Rooney look alike when I knew him.
            Funny beyond measure, his parents must have died a thousand deaths trying to get him raised. He bragged about his career riding bucking horses … both of them. He went on to have an empire by any stretch, but bad luck, bad judgment and the propensity to look for the game of it all eventually took it all. He lies there with the rest of his family in their tidy plot in the King City Cemetery.
            In the end, he was my friend, and, when my trav’lin days are over as well, I would hope we could greet each other when …

Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving every day;
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.

          I hope there is a place for certain horses when we go home.
            We lost this old friend in 2015. I found him down wedged between the trough and the fence. He was always a victim of chronic colic and we couldn’t let him suffer any more. He was just too far gone and in agony. Faithful, trusting, and serving without ever cheating you a moment, he lived his life. He was one of the two horses we brought home from California. Out of Greg Ward mare and a champion paint halter stallion, he showed none of the paint genetics. He was a bright red blood bay with a left rear stocking, a little white blaze, and just a hint of a snip on his rostrum. He was a magnificent son-of-gun and weighed over 1400 pounds in his prime. His size belied his energy and his motion. He’d wear you out holding him up and he could walk like a machine. What a horse he could have been if he had come home to the ranch when he was at his best.

            Just one glimpse of him in glory will the toils of life repay when …

          Onward to the prize before us!
          Soon His beauty we’ll behold;
          Soon the pearly gates will open;
          We shall tread the streets of Gold.

            A blessed Easter Sunday to all
            Is there anything else that means as much as the prize before us? Indeed, we cannot fathom the strife that surrounds us without relying on His beauty we’ll behold.  If my inabilities to suggest hope other than from those earthly things that make sense in this chaos, forgive me. Jack, Tom, and Sebas were in my heart and on my mind this morning. Each meant something special and from their friendship these thoughts emerged.
They are intended to extend a greeting on this most blessed of mornings. They set the stage to wish a happy and blessed Easter to all. Indeed he has risen, and when

We all get to heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Blessed Easter … He has risen!”