Friday, September 30, 2016

Wolves attack cattle protected by range rider program

UPDATE, Sept. 30, 5 p.m. -- On Sept. 29, WDFW staff investigated another attack that injured a calf in the Smackout Pack territory and confirmed it as a wolf depredation. That brings the total documented to three depredation events on livestock since September 21, including the one confirmed kill, one confirmed injury, and one probable kill.  Despite preventative measures and monitoring by a model range rider project, cattle on a grazing allotment northeast of Colville have been attacked by wolves. As one wildlife biologist said on my Facebook page, "Bummer. They were doing so well (staying out of trouble) for so long." The Smackout Pack has become the second wolf pack in northeastern Washington implicated in killing cattle this month by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. A Sept. 23 attack on a calf is the first confirmed wolf depredation in the Smackout Pack area this calendar year. WDFW officials have not yet officially confirmed where the Smackout attacks occurred. However, here are details, insight and perspective sent to me by Conservation Northwest, a group that's supported proactive measures to keep wolves away from these cattle...more

1st Aerial Imaging Designed For Rangeland

TerrAvion has launched the first aerial imaging solution specifically designed for rangeland. The service provides current images and data that help cattle ranchers spot early-warning signs on invasive species, plant/vegetation health issues, irrigation problems, overgrazed areas and the like – so they can take action before emerging problems become big ones.

Every week, TerrAvion takes hundreds of low-altitude flights to capture bird’s-eye views of farms, and then uploads the images to the cloud within hours so ranchers and growers can plan scouting, management activities and interventions with unprecedented accuracy. TerrAvion imagery is much more detailed and up-to-date than satellite imagery, and far more cost effective than drone-based services. TerrAvion customers receive not only data but also aerial photographs, NDVI images, thermal images, custom color maps and histograms.
One of the first customers to utilize TerrAvion for rangeland is TomKat Ranch, an 1,800-acre cattle ranch in Pescadero, CA. 

“TerrAvion’s imagery has made each of our team members more efficient and effective at their job. At a glance, the data give our team valuable insights into what’s happening across the entire ranch right now and can also be easily focused on a given area to see how fields are performing before and after they are grazed,” said Kevin Watt, Integrated Land & Livestock Manager at TomKat Ranch. “TerrAvion’s affordable and accurate imagery has also helped our team identify and address issues so much faster than before. It’s saving us a lot of time, and we expect it will save us a lot of money as well by helping us grow the health and productivity of our land and herds.”

Robert Morris, cofounder and CEO, TerrAvion, said that TerrAvion launched its new rangeland solution at the request of customers. “We’ve had great success helping growers improve crop yield through aerial imagery and data, and were approached by ranchers wanting something similar for rangeland,” said Morris. “Plant quality has a huge impact on the health and yield of cattle – an early warning system like TerrAvion can provide tremendous competitive advantage for ranchers.”

How long before the FS, BLM and enviros have this? Wouldn't surprise me if CBD, Western Watersheds Project and similar anti-grazing groups have already ordered or acquired such units.

WILL IT END? Voters to decide fate of weather mod program

Fifty years ago a program began in Bowman County that would radically change the way people perceived man’s role in the control of nature. It was a program that purposely modified the weather, to suppress hail and enhance rainfall, which was to benefit local farmers and ranchers. But now it will be the decision of county residents if the program should continue. John Palczewski, who owns and operates a farming and ranching operation south of Scranton, began circulating a petition earlier this year to place on the November election ballot a measure asking if the county’s weather modification program should end. A popular saying around the area is that there are two things people just don’t openly discuss: politics and weather modification. Many residents, including several farmers and ranchers, echo that sentiment. But Palczewski didn’t shy away from the task. After amassing 358 signatures, 13 more than required, he successfully submitted the petition and it was soon after approved for the ballot. A simple question will appear for voters: “Should the Weather Modification Authority be abolished?” “I never have liked the program,” Palczewski said. “We watch it every year and this year it really accelerated in June.” After Palczewski had spoken with several local farmers about the program, with them asking what could be done about it, it became his mission to finally get the question on the Bowman County ballot, something that hadn’t been done successfully in decades...more

Mexican National Who Caused Massive CA Forest Fire Must Pay $61M

Hours after federal prosecutors filed charges against him, a Mexican national pleaded guilty Thursday to starting a wildfire that recently burned more than 45 square miles in the Sequoia National Forest. A federal judge sentenced Angel Gilberto Garcia-Avalos, 29, to 13 months in prison and ordered him to pay $61 million in restitution for damage caused by the Cedar fire, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Garcia-Avalos, a resident of Michoacan, Mexico, was driving off-road illegally Aug. 16 when his Nissan Maxima got stuck on a berm and his catalytic converter and muffler ignited dead grass. The fire swiftly spread and burned 29,322 acres in Kern and Tulare counties, according to Acting U.S. Atty. Phillip A. Talbert. Flames destroyed six homes and triggered mandatory evacuations of several communities in both counties. Prosecutors charged Garcia-Avalos with one count of causing a fire to burn in the forest and two counts of giving false information to a forest officer. At his first court appearance Thursday in Bakersfield, he entered the guilty plea and was sentenced. While imposing the penalty, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston commented that Garcia-Avalos exhibited "significant negligence" and made no effort to get help after the blaze erupted...more

Marin County and the California Coastal Commission overreaching with Ag preservation amendments

The voluntary preservation of agricultural lands is a noble goal. Forcing landowners into government-run conservation efforts against their will, however, is something else entirely. And a desire to conserve pastoral farmland doesn’t excuse government from following the laws and constitutions of California and the United States. For several years, PLF has been closely watching Marin County’s attempts to adopt amendments to their Local Coastal Program. PLF attorneys have submitted several comment letters highlighting provisions of the proposed amendments and the Implementing Program that both substantially interfere with the property rights of Marin County landowners and raise significant constitutional concerns. Last Friday, PLF submitted this letter to the Marin County Planning Commission, and I appeared before the Commission Monday to remind them that property rights can’t be taken at will by government bureaucrats. Current zoning in Marin County allows for the development of additional residential units beyond the primary dwelling, up to one house per 60 acres. The new Implementing Program no longer permits any residential use and restricts development to three “agricultural dwellings” per farm tract. It further limits agricultural dwellings—just 27 will be allowed in the entire county. A farm tract is defined as “all contiguous legal lots under common ownership.” Together, these provisions substantially downzone larger farms and ranches within the agricultural zone. As the California Court of Appeal has recognized, large reductions in development rights through downzoning can constitute a compensable taking. The merger of legally distinct lots into “farm tracts” also injects Marin County directly into the “parcel as a whole” debate that is currently docketed before the United States Supreme Court in PLF’s case Murr v. Wisconsin. A victory in Murr could render the farm tract provisions of Marin County’s Implementing Program unconstitutional before they even take effect...more

Rev. Graham recalls tense ending to Malheur standoff

The Rev. Franklin Graham testified Thursday that he agreed to help FBI agents negotiate with 4 holdouts during the final days of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff because he wanted “to help calm the situation.” Graham, the son of well-known evangelist Billy Graham, said the FBI called him on January 28 after Jeff Banta requested to speak with him. “I wanted to help calm them,” he said. “I also wanted the FBI to take a deep breath.” Graham said he had no relationship with any of the occupiers before they started talking on the phone every day at the beginning of February. He would ask each of them about the weather or what they ate that day and often led them in prayer. David Fry’s conversations often revolved around theological issues and Graham would listen as Sean Anderson expressed his strong opinions about the Constitution. Graham said those phone calls helped him establish trust with the group. “They were afraid and I was afraid for them,” Graham said. “This wasn’t a game, and I wanted them to understand that.” Graham testified the 4 feared they would be arrested if they left the refuge, and explained that they somehow got “left behind” as others took off following LaVoy Finicum’s death. On the night of February 10, the FBI called Graham to say they were putting “pressure” on the holdouts to surrender. Graham flew his own plane from North Carolina and landed in Burns the following morning to help with negotiations. “Guys, I’m here,” he said through a loudspeaker. “Listen to what the FBI is going to say to you… come out safely.” Sean and Sandy Anderson were the first to surrender. Graham recalled seeing them emerge from the refuge with their hands clasped together in the air, holding an American flag. He told them they “did the right thing.” Banta came out next, but Graham was concerned to hear the FBI say Fry wasn’t going to leave. Sandy took the loudspeaker and assured Fry they were treated with respect and that the group was waiting on him. Nearly 30 minutes passed before Fry surrendered. Graham wrapped his arms around him and said, “I’m so proud of you.” Graham credited God with getting him through the ordeal. As the holdouts were taken into custody, Graham said he noticed negotiators had tears running down their faces. They were “thankful to God that no one was hurt,” he said at the end of his testimony, adding that he didn’t expect that from the FBI. The trial resumed Thursday despite a motion from Ammon Bundy’s lawyers seeking a postponement until a court rules on their appeals...more

Ammon Bundy's lawyers seek to stop trial amid appeals

Ammon Bundy's federal conspiracy trial resumed despite a motion from his lawyers seeking a postponement until a court rules on their appeals. Among other things, attorneys Marcus Mumford and J. Morgan Philpot have taken issue with U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown's order that the ownership of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is not on trial, and her notice to jurors that the federal government owns the refuge that Bundy and his followers occupied for 41 days last winter. As the appeals await rulings by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the trial continued Thursday. Mumford says Bundy might take the witness stand if time permits...more

I believe they should have sought a declaration this was an Article III court from the very beginning.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1710

In 1959 Hank Thompson entered the studio and recorded I Left My Gal In The Mountains. The tune had been recorded 30 years prior by Frank Luther & Carson Robison. Thompson put a good dance beat behind it and made this great version for his Songs For Rounders album.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Franklin Graham answered FBI's call to save lives, he testifies during Oregon standoff trial

The Rev. Franklin Graham testified Thursday that he flew his own plane from North Carolina to Oregon in February to try to save lives, concerned about the four holdouts occupying a federal wildlife sanctuary as well as the FBI agents attempting to get them to surrender. With no formal training, Graham said he relied on God as he accepted the FBI's request late on Feb. 10 for him to get to the refuge immediately to assist them. By then, he had been speaking to the holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge encampment daily, after first being called by the FBI to help intercede on Jan. 28. The prominent evangelist, and son of the Rev. Billy Graham, played a key role in negotiating the end of the 41-day standoff. He is president of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Federal agents ferried Graham in a federal armored vehicle to an access road overlooking the encampment and gave him a loudspeaker. Through sagebrush, he could see the top of the vehicle and tent where the four were huddled, he said. "Guys I'm here. This is Franklin Graham," he said he began. "Listen to what the FBI is going to say to you. It's time to leave."...more

Gov’t Wants to Bulldoze Retiree’s 50-year Family Home - video

West Haven, Connecticut has always been home for Bob McGinnity. He grew up there and his childhood home remained his base during his time in the U.S. Navy and his career as a conductor for Amtrak. He lives in that home today, enjoying his long-awaited retirement. Bob remodeled the home and his uncle, Michael Perrone, lives in the unit below him. Living so close has been invaluable since his uncle’s recent stroke and heart attack. It allows Bob to help care for his uncle, who gets to stay in his home to recover. This ideal arrangement, however, is under threat from Bob’s own government. The city of West Haven has teamed up with a private company—The Haven Group, LLC—to build a strip mall along the West Haven waterfront, which would include both Bob’s ad Michael’s homes. Bob and Michael do not want to sell and building around them would require the developer to rearrange only six small stores in the overall complex. Except there is one problem. West Haven is in Connecticut, home of Kelo v. New London, the much-reviled 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case that allowed government officials to condemn property based on nothing more than a promise to generate more tax revenue. That decision sparked outrage and a nationwide backlash—44 states have passed laws reforming their eminent domain laws to make Kelo-style takings harder and nine state supreme courts have rejected the Kelo decision. The Kelo case is also notable for what it did not spark: development. Twelve years later, the neighborhood destroyed by New London is a vacant lot populated only by grass, weeds and feral cats. The lesson of Kelo is clear: Eminent domain abuse hurts property owners, destroys communities and fails to generate the kind of development its proponents promise. But West Haven officials have taken the opposite lesson from the case. They apparently believe the case means they can take anyone’s property, anytime they want, for any reason. That is not true. The West Haven condemnations are worse than Kelo. Government officials in Kelo wanted to take private property in the hope of realizing their (wrong-headed and fantastical) plans for redevelopment. But government officials in West Haven did not decide their town needed a strip mall and go looking for someone to build it for them. A private developer decided to build a strip mall and has enlisted the city government to take property on its behalf. Simply put, West Haven is not condemning Bob’s property for a public purpose; it is condemning Bob’s property because a private developer told it to. This is exactly the kind of taking that even the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision singled out as unconstitutional...more

Defense warned to ‘get it together’ in Malheur trial - video

The defense took center court Wednesday in the trial of 7 people accused of taking over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and it didn’t take long for Judge Anna Brown to admonish them. Judge Brown was visibly frustrated with the defense’s unkempt presentation of witness testimony and told them to “get it together” early in the day. Despite nearly constant objections on behalf of the prosecution, defense lawyers managed to present jurors with evidence previously unknown in the case, including testimony that the FBI sent 2 agents to a Mormon church in Burns as part of its investigation into the refuge takeover. FBI agent Ben Jones told the jury he and another agent were asked to go to the area’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to see if the Bundy brothers or any other known militia members were there. “Neither of us were attempting to hide who we were,” Jones explained, adding that he is a practicing Mormon who was also at the church to worship. Jones also revealed the FBI paid local rancher Andy Dunbar and his son $2,000 each for allowing the agency to use their land for access to the refuge during the standoff. FBI agent Chadd Lapp confirmed government informant Mark McConnell was also paid for his role in the standoff. McConnell drove Ammon Bundy’s car the day he and 7 other occupiers were arrested along Hwy 395. Another FBI agent who said he had numerous phone conversations with Ammon Bundy testified Wednesday. Agent Christopher Luh told the court Bundy showed up at Burns Municipal Airport hoping for a meeting. Luh said he characterized Bundy as “a face-to-face kind of guy.” In a recorded phone call played for the jury, Bundy told Luh things were “great” at the refuge and that he “wanted to get the land back into the right hands.” Bundy also told Luh the refuge was in bad shape when he arrived. He said occupiers were spending most of their time doing maintenance and cleanup work. When asked how he saw the standoff ending, Bundy said he hoped the land would be turned over to the county and used as a local resource center for ranchers. Local ranchers, “should be able to manage those lands as a free people,” Bundy said. “We’re not going to escalate [anything],” Bundy reassured Luh during their conversation. “We’re here to work, here to shake your hand… let you know that I am a good person, not a threat… not going to use violence. That’s never been our style and that’s not what we’re here to do.” “We have a situation here that needs to be resolved and we’re not going to ignore that,” Bundy added. Sheila Warren, an elder with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz, told jurors she went to the refuge on her own accord after hearing conflicting reports on whether occupiers were mishandling Native American artifacts. Warren said the occupiers were friendly and welcoming during her visit. She said she inspected a room full of artifacts that were covered in dust, cobwebs and rodent droppings. This, she said, proved the items hadn’t been touched by the occupiers. Throughout Warren’s testimony, Judge Brown reminded her to only answer questions posed by the defendants. The judge warned Warren could cause a mistrial if she continued to volunteer unasked-for information...more  

Further reading:  

FBI sent two agents into Mormon church in Burns as part of refuge takeover investigation

Oregon standoff trial: Wednesday highlights, and what's next

Here is the KOIN video report:

FBI: 3 Times More Americans In 2015 Died From Stabbings Than Rifles And Shotguns Combined…

The FBI’s 2015 Uniform Crime Report found that nearly three times more Americans were killed by knives or other “cutting instruments” than shot and killed by long guns. According to the report, only 548 people were killed by rifles and shotguns combined in 2015. On the other hand, 1,573 people were “stabbed or hacked to death,” Breitbart reports. Furthermore, Breitbart found that twice as many people were bludgeoned to death than killed by rifles for the same year...more

Robin Reid: Collaboration is not for the faint-hearted


Robin Reid does not like being called an expert, despite the accolades she’s received for her grasslands research in Kenya, Mongolia and Colorado. Instead, she gives credit to the people she’s collaborated with, individuals that she refers to as “great people” and good friends.
“I am always working very closely with people that live on the land, trying to bring science to help them on issues that they care about,” she said.

Reid, a professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability and head of the Center for Collaborative Conservation at Colorado State University, delivered the eighth President’s Community Lecture in the Lory Student Center Theatre Tuesday night.

In an introductory video that kicked off the event, Reid said she enjoys helping people — students, teams of faculty, community members — reach their potential.

Reid said she has seen the power and magic that can happen when people come together and work on a difficult problem. She collaborated in recent years with the Colorado business community, government officials and others to figure out how to keep the next big wildfire from being as severe as the 2012 High Park fire, the second most destructive fire in the state’s history.

“It takes people with different perspectives, whether they be here in Colorado, Massailand or in Mongolia, to come together and solve a big problem. Sparks fly and a huge amount of stuff gets done,” she said, with a smile.

Massailand is in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, where the group of people known as the Massai live.

Reid shared several examples of how she challenged conventional wisdom through her research.
While pursuing a Ph.D. in Rangeland Ecosystem Science at CSU in the 1980s, Reid was investigating the role of herders and their livestock in areas affected by drought and deforestation in Africa. At the time, researchers thought the desert was spreading south because the pastoral people were overusing the land, cutting down too many trees, and because animals were grazing too much on the land.  She worked on this subject with the Turkana herders of northern Kenya.

What Reid discovered instead was that the Turkana were, in fact, reforesting and not causing the desert to expand. “That taught me to look for the unexpected, and to not always follow the conventional wisdom,” she said.

Reid, who has brought disparate groups together throughout her career, said that at the local level, people are less divided. “When you get to the local level, you just can’t afford to fight as much, because it’s your dentist you’re fighting or your neighbor,” she said.

In the ranch lands in the West, Reid has explored the question of whether raising cattle is incompatible with conservation, taking into account that cattle are the cornerstone of ranchers’ livelihoods.

The Mountains to Plains Project in the Laramie Foothills, is one of the most remarkable examples in the U.S. of what can happen when city, county, conservationists and ranchers collaborate. “It is amazing,” Reid said.

Watch the full lecture here

Mexico shaken after three priests killed within a week

The Catholic priest José Alfredo López Guillén was seized from his parish residence in rural Michoacán, where he served a congregation of corn farmers and ranchers. The next day, the wreckage of his Volkswagen Jetta was discovered on the outskirts of the town of Quiroga, 71 miles (115km) from where it had been stolen. The priest’s body was discovered on Sunday on a lonely stretch of road, nearly a week after his abduction. He had been shot five times in the stomach. López was the third priest to have been kidnapped and killed in Mexico in less than a week. His body was found days after Alejo Jiménez and José Juárez were abducted from their church in the city of Poza Rica and found dead in the Gulf state of Veracruz. The crimes offered yet another reminder of the lawlessness afflicting Mexico – and proof that in the deeply pious country, not even the clergy are safe from violence...more

Heroes of the Heartland: A Chat with Author Miriam Horn

Miriam Horn's latest book, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, released this month by W.W. Norton & Company, smashes traditional notions about many things: what it means to be a sustainable producer; what conservation looks like; and the idea that traditional, conservative Americans are hostile to environmental issues.

The book tells the stories of five unlikely conservationists along the Mississippi watershed: Dusty Crary, a Montana rancher; Justin Knopf, a Kansas farmer; Merritt Lane, a Mississippi riverman; Sandy Nguyen, a Louisiana shrimper; and Wayne Werner, a Gulf Coast fisherman. Horn spent three years traveling, researching, and writing the book, visiting her subjects throughout the seasons: to Montana, for instance, during calving season; to Kansas for wheat planting; and to 90 miles out in the Gulf to catch red snapper.

What seems like an up-to-the-minute story about the intersection of agriculture and environmental issues becomes, in the hands of Horn, a story about the histories of both the people she’s writing about and the land they call home, giving us a deeper understanding of both. None of her five subjects would likely call themselves conservationists, but never the less have dedicated their lives to protecting the heritage and natural wealth of their regions by bringing together disparate groups of people—from politicians to large landowners to hardcore environmentalists—in order to ensure future generations will be able to enjoy the continued bounty of the land and sea. 

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1709

This one goes out to Etienne Etcheverry, a.k.a A-10, the highly acclaimed, award-winning, official artist-in-residence at The Westerner and Ranch Radio. He really likes Sha-Marie, a tune written by Bozo Cantrell and recorded by Stewart in Hollywood on February 9, 1965. Interestingly, it was the "B" side of the release, with the "A" side being Does He Love You Like I Do

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fake Nobel Laureate Uses Super PAC To Attack Trump On Global Warming

A handful of scientists are using a super PAC to get their colleagues to align against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump over his “embrace of conspiracy theories, anti-science attitudes, and disregard for experts.” “We urge our peers to join us in making it clear that Mr. Trump’s statements are not only at odds with scientific reality, but represent a dangerous rejection of scientific thinking,” reads an online petition started by anthropologist Eugenie Scott on the website of Not Who We Are PAC. Scott, who made her name fighting against teaching creationism in schools, joined up with Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann and three others to attack Trump for his beliefs on issues, like global warming, vaccines and evolution. The Trump campaign was quick to rebuff arguments Trump thought global warming was a hoax in the hours after the debate. Pence told CNN “the reality is that this climate change agenda that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton want to continue to expand is killing jobs in this country.” This isn’t the first group of scientists to come out against Trump. Some 37 scientists affiliated with the National Academy of Sciences signed an open letter decrying Trump’s intention to pull out of a United Nations global warming treaty...more

NMSU Cowboy Reunion II

As California's wildfire risks grow, are home builders getting the message?

With a historic drought and high temperatures, California is seeing longer and deadlier wildfire seasons – but the threat has not deterred developers from rebuilding homes in wilderness areas most prone to fires. Since 1990, the number of homes located in or near wilderness areas has grown by nearly 25 percent in the 13 Western states where 70 percent of the nation’s wildfire occurs, according to research by the US Forest Service and the University of Wisconsin, as the Wall Street Journal reports. Data from the Forest Service finds that California has the highest concentration of housing units in wilderness areas of all 50 states, followed by Texas and Florida. And that figure could keep rising: 84 percent of the state's private wildlands are available for development, according to Headwaters Economics, a nonprofit group researching land management.  "We are increasingly building our homes ... in fire-prone ecosystems," Dominik Kulakowski, an associate professor of geography at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., told The Christian Science Monitor in 2013.  Doing that "in many of the forests of the Western US ... is like building homes on the side of an active volcano." The threat of fire has not diminished the thirst for development in wilderness, some analysts say, because the developers are not expected to shoulder the cost of firefighting – and the the demand for housing in these areas is too high to ignore.  Firefighting for wildfires is paid by the Forest Service, although the extent of recent fires have triggered debate in Congress about who should pay for the increasingly costly efforts. Fifty-two percent of the Forest Service's budget was set aside for fire suppression last year; 20 years ago, that was just 16 percent. And California has the highest total fire expenditures in the country, according to US Forest Service data. In a single week in 2015, the cost of fighting its fires reached a record $243 million. The reason for those high costs: more Californians live near wilderness areas. Often, fire crews will let truly wild areas burn under surveillance, but protecting homes at the edge of the wilderness demand comes at a high cost. Building houses near wilderness areas can be dangerous because the development is in close proximity with dry fuels – bushes and trees – that can burn easily, especially during dry and hot seasons. But housing demand in these areas continues to increase, especially for seasonal homes, as the location often boasts scenic views and quiet settings. Population growth compounded with the expected retirement of more Baby Boomers are expected to boost the trend, especially as housing costs in cities continue to push home buyers out into relatively rural areas. This occurs even as scientists predict larger, more frequent and intense wildfire seasons. LeRoy Westerling, a professor at University of California-Merced, found that the number of fires on public lands in the west has increased by 500 percent since the late 1970s, as Scientific American reports...more 

I can't help but notice they seem more concerned about the 25 percent increase in home building than they do the 500 percent increase in forest fires.

As Wildfire Risk Grows in the West, So Does Home Building

Along a scrubby mountain range on the northern rim of Los Angeles, a developer is planning to build a 188-unit luxury community in one of the state’s highest-risk wildfire zones. In the hills of San Diego County, 150 miles to the south, builders are planning a project featuring more than 1,800 homes, 20,000 square feet of commercial space and a hotel on land scorched during one of the most destructive wildfire seasons in California’s history, in 2003. As wildfire seasons in the Western U.S. have grown longer and deadlier over the last three decades, the pace of development has accelerated in areas most at risk. In the 13 Western states where 70% of the nation’s wildfire activity occurs, the number of homes located in or near wilderness areas has grown by nearly 25% since 1990, to more than 14.3 million, according to an analysis by researchers at the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Wisconsin. The overall number of housing units in those 13 states expanded by 37% over the same period, though in fast-growing states such as Colorado, the housing expansion in wilderness-adjacent areas outpaced growth in the rest of the state. More than 897,000 homes worth some $237 billion in those states are considered to be at high or very high risk of wildfire damage, according to data company CoreLogic, with more than a third of those houses located in California...more

San Diego’s Forests Face Possible Extinction

The forests of San Diego County that have shaded 500 generations of local people and provided pine needle bedding, oak woodland and spiritual renewal could disappear. Overly intense fires in quick succession, along with drought, borer insects and climate extremes are laying waste to trees and creating a hostile environment for regrowth. Beloved local places — the Laguna mountains, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Palomar Mountain — could convert to chaparral or even to grasses. Some scientists mention even the Torrey pines as possibly at risk. “The people of San Diego County are going to lose all their forests in the next fire cycle,” said Richard Minnich, a fire ecologist at UC Riverside, meaning one more overheated fire in a given place. California has lost 66 million trees since 2010, the U.S. Forest Service said in June. Many of these succumbed in just the months since Gov. Jerry Brown issued a tree mortality emergency declaration last October. Cal Fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, estimates 52,000 trees have died from all causes in San Diego County from 2010 to 2015, 10 times as many last year as the year before...more

Editorial: Wilderness rules’ Trojan bike

Utah’s Republican senators, Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, are no friends of the environment.

So when you see these two trying to change the rules of wilderness management, you can safely assume it’s a Trojan horse.

In this case, however, the vehicle of choice is a mountain bike.

In the half century since Idaho Sen. Frank Church helped pass the Wilderness Act of 1964, the creed has been clear: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the Earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Not only has that meant a reprieve from the tyranny of motors and the sounds of modernity, but also an escape from mechanized travel. Mountain bikes weren’t on the horizon when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the original act. Still, as those devices have evolved, it has become clear they are not welcome in wilderness.

They crowd out hikers, backpackers and horseback riders — and disrupt the solitude people seek in wilderness.

So as Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, drew up his successful Boulder-White Clouds wilderness plan, some 50,000 acres were withdrawn from wilderness consideration to maintain access to bike trails. Anything within the wilderness boundaries, however, would be off limits.

Even so, trail cyclists are barred from 3,800 miles of trails within Idaho’s wilderness areas. They retain access to some 18,000 miles of trails on Idaho’s national forests, to say nothing of trails supervised by the Bureau of Land Management.

Of course, there is a huge difference between someone using his own muscle to propel a bike and another relying upon an internal combustion engine to do the work. But if that’s the issue, why not debate it in the open — with national legislation that honestly redefines the nation’s commitment to preserving wilderness?

Instead, Lee and Hatch — with the support of Arizona’s Jeff Flake — have resorted to stealth. Their bill gives local land managers two years to decide which wilderness trails shall remain off limits to mountain bikes. If they haven’t opted out by then, the trails open up.

New US endangered species listing rules: A better path to conservation?

On Monday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service changed the process for listing endangered species.
Starting next month, conservationists will only be able to petition for one species at a time when seeking federal protections under the US Endangered Species Act. Previously, it was possible to file a single petition on behalf of several species. Despite some push back from environmental groups, FWS officials say the rule could streamline the listing process in a way that benefits threatened species. Environmentalists say it may do the opposite. But Western ranchers see it as a step in the right direction. Is this a credible path to progress between businesses using public land and conservationists? Under the new changes, petitioners will also be required to communicate with state agencies before submitting a request to FWS. At least 30 days before filing, applicants must notify every wildlife agency where petitioned species occur naturally. According to federal officials, that delay will give states time to provide relevant information on local species. But some environmental groups say the process is already prohibitive to citizen conservationists...more

Grouse About This: A Funny-Looking Bird Is Holding Up Key National Defense Legislation

Long considered a joke to defense watchers, the odd-looking sage grouse is not longer a laughing matter, but a bona fide threat to progress of a massive multibillion-dollar defense policy bill. The bird is at the center of a high-level showdown between House Republican leadership and the "Big Four" leaders of Congressional armed services committees. That's because accommodations for the sage grouse touch energy, mining and ranching interests, and at least if some House Republicans are to be believed, such accommodations would hinder operations at some US military bases. The House's No. 2 Republican, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, has indicated he will not let the annual National Defense Authorization Act proceed to a vote in the House unless it contains language to bar the sage grouse from the federal endangered species list until at least 2025. “I think it needs to stay in the bill,” McCarthy told reporters on Monday, referring to the sage-grouse measure. “I think that’s been delivered very clearly to everybody.” Yet the "Big Four" — Senate Armed Services Chair John McCain, R-Ariz., and Ranking Member Jack Reed, D-R.I.; and House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash. — argue the Defense Department has said it has no need for the provision and it should be excluded from the final bill...more

Idaho mulling options following listing of tiny desert plant

It’s unclear if Idaho’s long-running battle with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over a tiny desert flower will continue. Gov. Butch Otter’s office is weighing its options after the USFWS again listed the slickspot peppergrass as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Otter, a rancher, has fought a listing since 2003, when he was a member of congress and helped develop a state conservation plan aimed at preventing the need for a listing. “I wouldn’t say it’s over. We’re not going to roll over,” Sam Eaton, deputy administrator and legal counsel for the Governor’s Office of Species Conservation, said about the USFWS decision, which took effect Sept. 16. The Governor’s Office is discussing options with affected stakeholders, he said. Idaho‘s livestock industry worries a listing could have a major impact on some ranchers because grazing could be restricted in areas where the plant’s habitat is found...more

Cattle prices drop by nearly half from last year

The low price of cattle continues to take a toll on Alberta ranchers. Just last week, Western Feedlots, one of Canada’a largest cattle feeders, announced it was closing up shop. At Balog Auctions annual video livestock sale, 6,600 calves went through the ring. Buyers and sellers were keeping an eye on the price, watching just how far it’s fallen from last year. “In a four-year time period we’ve seen prices double for cattle. Unfortunately since the middle of June we have now seen prices drop off quite dramatically, so calf prices, most cattle prices, drop 35 to 40 per cent in the last year,” Brian Perillat, the senior manager and analyst with Canfax, said...more

No 'crisis' yet, but concerns grow about 2017 credit conditions

As combines roll across much of the nation’s mid-section, many farmers are finding bumper yields. But the bad news is, market prices for most commodities are still sagging. As a result, more farmers are starting to worry about access to credit in 2017. “The farmers and ranchers that I talk to remain in distress and worry whether their family farm can stay afloat,” noted Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said during a recent committee hearing. Many farm households would be losing money if not for their off-farm earnings, he added. In fact, USDA’s Economic Research Service announced last month that it expects farm income to drop for the third straight year. It’s predicting a decline to $71.5 billion for 2016, from $80.7 billion in 2015 and $92.6 billion in 2014. Still, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack explained during that same Senate Agriculture Committee hearing that the farm debt loads remain far below the levels of the 1980’s crisis. Only 10 percent of farm operations are classified as highly or extremely leveraged, he said. Vilsack acknowledged that the dairy industry in particular is struggling but he said that the department’s ability to help is limited by restrictions congressional appropriators have placed on purchasing surplus commodities through the Section 32 program. USDA agreed in August to purchase $20 million in cheese, but that’s all the department can do, he said. “Everything I can do I have done. Every penny I could spend I have spent,” Vilsack told committee member Pat Leahy, D-Vt. USDA’s Chief Economist Rob Johansson told Agri-Pulse that farm credit demand has been growing since 2011 and saw spikes in the boom years of 2013 and 2014 when prices were high, income was strong and farmers felt confident enough to increase investment in new equipment and land. But now many farmers have taken on too much debt and are having trouble making payments...more

DJI launches drone the size of water bottle

The Chinese manufacturer unveiled on Tuesday the Mavic Pro, which is nearly half the price and size of its flagship Phantom drone ($1400). While the form factor is unquestionably slimmer -- and it weighs in at a lean 1.65 pounds -- it doesn't compromise on features. The Mavic Pro comes with a 4K 12 megapixel camera, livestreaming support, a three-axis gimbal and gesture control. The drone, which starts shipping on October 15, will be available in two versions: one priced at $749 and a $999 deluxe model that comes with a controller. You'll need to use an app on your phone to fly the cheaper model...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1708

A Facebook friend tagged me on a video of a lady singing Can't Get Enough of Wynn Stewart.  We haven't had a Stewart tune since way back at 1086.  So for George Groseta, here's Big, Big Love.  Stewart recorded the song in Hollywood on August 28, 1961.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

In West, Feds control land — and lots of jobs


      The  occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge exposed deep conflicts and contradictions in a region that prizes self-reliance and the private sector, even as many residents rely on government for their jobs and livelihoods.
      Former Burns fire chief Chris Briels bridles at the gradual expansion of federal influence over the region’s land and economy in the past several decades. He grew up on farms and ranches in Colorado and has lived in the Harney County area for more than 30 years.
      “How can somebody who’s managing my public lands tell me I can’t set foot on them?” asked Briels. “How can they close a road I’ve been using for years, and dictate to the ranchers how they’re going to make their living?”
      Briels helped organized a local support group — called the Committee of Safety — to defend the Bundys and their followers during the refuge occupation. He agrees with the Bundys that the federal government has no right to own most of the land here, though he readily acknowledges that a lot of his neighbors make their living working for government agencies — for instance, overseeing grazing rights and conservation programs, or fighting wildfires.
      “When I moved here in 1978, there weren’t many forest service people or BLM people here,” he said. “But when the environmentalists and everybody shut the logging down, and people quit using our natural resources, there were more and more who went to work for BLM and the forest service. The people had to have jobs.”
      But Briels said he’d readily sacrifice the government jobs and offices in the region—to wrest control of the land from the federal government. He said that would allow local residents "to take the resources that are within the county, and manage them by people that live here in the county, to where all of the money stayed here, it didn’t all go to Washington, D.C., to make a sustained income for our people."
      The economic impact of this would indeed be profound.
      According to the Oregon Employment Department, right now, 49 percent of Harney County jobs are in the public sector—in federal, state and local government. Only rural Wheeler County has a higher percentage. In contrast, the urban Portland metro area has 13.7 percent government employment. Eugene—home to the University of Oregon—has 19.7 percent.
      “In general, we see a correlation where the higher the percentage of public land, the higher the employment base would be in public employment,” said regional economist Damon Runberg, who is based in Bend, about 120 miles west of Burns. There is a comparable concentration of public-sector jobs in rural counties in neighboring Idaho and Washington, according to data provided by those states'  employment departments.
      "You see a lot of families split,” said Runberg of rural Oregonians. “One person in the household will be working in agriculture, while someone else has a more traditional payroll job in one of the cities, or is employed in a government agency—whether that’s the school district, or a federal or state agency.”
      In the small farming town of Goldendale, Washington, fourth-generation rancher Neal Slater and many of his neighbors straddle this public-private economic divide. Goldendale is in Klickitat County, where approximately one in four jobs is in the public sector. Slater took a break from teaching horsemanship and rope-skills at a summer rodeo Bible camp for teenagers at the Goldendale fairgrounds to explain his views.
      “We’ve got people putting rules and regulations in place that have nothing to do--no attachment--with the land,” said Slater. “Anybody who's going to regulate, they should have been in the business for a certain amount of time themselves, so they understand it.”
      Slater identifies himself as a conservative Republican, and he shares the constitutional position of Chris Briels and the Bundys--that the federal government shouldn’t own or control most land in the West.
      But he also appreciates the help he gets for his own ranch from local staff of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
       “In our government office there are really good people,” said Slater. “We have several farmers’ wives that work there to keep their farms going, and they’re great to work with. With programs that are government-funded, some of them I wonder about, but some are really good. We’ve drilled three wells with (NRCS) assistance, that we have solar panels on. We’ve got water where we didn’t have water. That sort of funding really does help—to do some things you’d like to do, that you can’t afford to do.”
      Isabelle Fleuraud is among the residents of Harney County who are dependent on a federal government paycheck. Her husband is an eco-physiologist with USDA who conducts his research at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Fleuraud, who immigrated from France to attend college in Wyoming, teaches yoga and ballet at a dance studio in Burns.
      Federal jobs like her husband's pay better-than-average wages for the area, and typically come with health and retirement benefits that many who work in agriculture and ranching lack. “Antagonism against the federal government is palpable in this region,” said Fleuraud, "and it was this way long before the Bundys showed up. Although it is a ranching community, it is a fact that the public sector drives the economy here. But there is this odd denial of that fact.”

This article, like so many others, makes the case that once the federal presence comes to dominate an area, that that's it, there is no going back. There can be no re-establishing a balance or returning the private sector to dominance. 

Let's apply this to an urban area.  There is a huge, multi-acre, federal housing project that dominates a neighborhood.  And over time it has become a failure. Mismanagement has led to dilapidated buildings, an unsafe environment for families, corruption and even violence. Would the same pundits say sorry, that's it, we can't look at a new model.  Oh, we might "collaborate" more with neighborhood groups, but again - that's it.

Would they really say we don't want state and local government, along with the private sector, to take over responsibility, refurbish the buildings and establish an environment that is once again safe for families? Would they say no to all this because it would cause a loss of federal jobs in the area? I don't think so. And they shouldn't say no to a similar process taking place in rural areas.

In a way, some of this reminds me of the "broken window" theory as originated by the French philosopher and economist Frederic Bastiat, but restated below by Henry Hazlitt in the classic Economics in One Lesson:

 A young hoodlum, say, heaves a brick through the window of a baker’s shop.  The shopkeeper runs out furious, but the boy is gone.  A crowd gathers, and begins to stare with quiet satisfaction at the gaping hole in the window and the shattered glass over the bread and pies.  After a while the crowd feels the need for philosophic reflection.  And several of its members are almost certain to remind each other or the baker that, after all, the misfortune has its bright side.  It will make business for some glazier.  As they begin to think of this they elaborate upon it.  How much does a new plate glass window cost?  Two hundred and fifty dollars?  That will be quite a sun.  After all, if windows were never broken, what would happen to the glass business?  Then, of course, the thing is endless.  The glazier will have $250 more to spend with other merchants, and these in turn will have $250 more to spend with still other merchants, and so ad infinitum.  The smashed window will go on providing money and employment in ever-widening circles.  The logical conclusion from all this would be, if the crowd drew it, that the little hoodlum who threw the brick, far from being a public menace, was a public benefactor. 
Now let us take another look.   The crowd is at least right in its first conclusion.  This little act of vandalism will in the first instance mean more business for some glazier.  The glazier will be no more unhappy to learn of the incident than an undertaker to learn of a death.  But the shopkeeper will be out $250 that he was planning to spend for a new suit.  Because he has had to replace the window, he will have to go without the suit (or some equivalent need or luxury).  Instead of having a window and $250 he now has merely a window.  Or, as he was planning to buy the suit that very afternoon, instead of having both a window and a suit he must be content with the window and no suit.  If we think of him as part of the community, the community has lost a new suit that might otherwise have come into being, and is just that much poorer. 
The glazier’s gain of business, in short, is merely the tailor’s loss of business.  No new “employment” has been added.  The people in the crowd were thinking only of two parties to the transaction, the baker and the glazier.  They had forgotten the potential third party involved, the tailor.  They forgot him precisely because he will not now enter the scene.  They will see the new window in the next day or two.  They will never see the extra suit, precisely because it will never be made.  They see only what is immediately visible to the eye.

The feds have been "breaking windows" in many parts of the West and we are all poorer as a result.  Isn't it time we put a stop to this, and let local citizens restore an environment and economy that is conducive to "the pursuit of happiness"?  I say it is way past time.

Note: You can download a free copy of Economics In One Lesson by going here.

Oregon standoff trial: Monday's highlights and what's ahead

What you need to know about Monday's developments:
  • As the third week of the federal conspiracy case against Ammon Bundy and six co-defendants began in Portland, attorneys argued whether the use of weapons at the refuge during the occupation was an act of force. FBI agents, photographers and forensic accountants who were part of the agency's Evidence Response Team spent the day testifying about what they recovered from the bird sanctuary in late February after the 41-day occupation. 
  • Prosecutors told the court Monday that authorities discovered more than 20,000 unfired rounds of ammunition in boxes, bags, trucks and bunks at the Malheur National Refuge when the takeover ended.
  • They revealed handwritten notes investigators seized from the bunkhouse and elsewhere that described tactical training, formations and drills, guard duty schedules and individual assignments such as "rifleman'' or "medic.''
  • FBI agents held up plastic evidence bags containing the 1,627 spent shell casings recovered near the boat launch on the northeast side of the property. 
  • Jurors watched a video of seven or eight men rapidly firing assault rifles from the refuge's boat launch.
  • Assistant U.S Attorney Ethan Knight argued the video, posted on co-defendant Jason Blomgren's Facebook account, contradicts the argument by defense lawyers and defendants that the armed takeover was a peaceful political protest.
  • Attorney Marcus Mumford, representing takeover leader Ammon Bundy, argued that firing the guns wasn't an act of force in and of itself and that the video wasn't publicly posted on Blomgren's account but sent in a message to Blomgren's father.
  • U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown said a rational juror could conclude the video provides evidence of the defendants' intent in the alleged conspiracy.
  • An FBI agent testified that 63 people searched 23 buildings, nine outdoor areas and 14 privately owned vehicles on the federal property.
  • During a cross-examination of an FBI agent, defendant Ryan Bundy asked if pocket Constitutions depicted in a photo of one of the rooms in the refuge bunkhouse were seized as evidence. The agent said he didn't take them. "So you did not find anything of value in there?'' Bundy continued. The judge sustained an objection to the question from prosecutors.

Montana initiative leads to stricter oil, gas regulation

Carol Nash and her family have been working the land outside of Belfry, Mont., for about 20 years. When oil and gas development was proposed in the region, she became involved in a countywide initiative to create stricter development regulations. “We are trying to get rules and regulations in place that will protect the landowners, the farmers and the ranchers who can be effected by things in the air, things in the soil and things in the water,” Nash says. “This is where we live. This is where we work and our livelihood depends on all those things being safe.” In its first update since 1989, the Carbon County Commissioners approved a countywide regulation in July following the county’s adoption of an updated growth policy last year. The new regulation gives landowners unprecedented property protections in the face of oil and gas development. Key provisions of the new regulation include:
  • Requires approved site plan prior to the issuance of a conditional use permit, which would require a matter of public record before permit is granted.
  • Provides landowners the right to baseline water testing to be paid for by the driller before drilling begins.
  • Establishes a 750-foot minimum distance (or “setback”) of oil and gas development from dwellings.
  • Ensures dust control on roads used for hauling near drilling sites with mitigation plans approved on a case-by-case basis...more

Kaonoulu’s Pedigree

Follow Kaonoulu Ranch’s family tree, and you’ll connect to generations of Upcountry Maui life. From the family that owns these rolling pastures on the slopes of Haleakalā, to those who have tended its cattle for a century, Kaonoulu spreads its branches far and its roots deep into the Kula soil. Sugar and ranching were Maui’s cash industries when Kaonoulu got its start; pineapple was just beginning its rise. Now sugar is shutting down, and pineapple is grown only on a small scale, but Kaonoulu and other ranches remain, protecting thousands of acres of open space. Pronounced ka-ono-ulu (translated from Hawaiian as either “the delicious breadfruit” or “the desire for breadfruit”), Kaonoulu is perhaps less known to the public than Haleakala Ranch, with the highway to the summit bisecting its emerald pastures, or ‘Ulupalakua, with its winery and elk burgers. But Kaonoulu has a unique distinction. The ranch is an almost complete ahupua‘a (an ancient Hawaiian land division), stretching from mountaintop to sea: from the top of Haleakalā to near the island’s southern coast. The ranch no longer owns the coastal land that includes Ko‘ie‘ie Fishpond, where cowboys used to catch mullet. But only a few miles above Pi‘ilani Highway and the houses and condominiums that fill those seaside acres, cowboys still herd cattle across rugged dryland terrain. The Rice family, which purchased the ranch in 1916, traces Kaonoulu’s history back to a Hawaiian named Keohokoloe, who acquired an immense tract during the mid-1800s and then sold it to a Chinese rancher and farmer named Yung Hee, a former sugar contract laborer. Yung Hee repeatedly refused to sell it to his neighbor, Col. William H. Cornwell, a colorful character who owned Waikapu Sugar Plantation and was known for his racehorses and his friendship with King Kalākaua. Then Yung Hee went home to China in 1893, and word filtered back that he was ill and would not return to Maui. Cornwell was on the next ship sailing to Shanghai. On the same ship was a certified check from sugar baron Claus Spreckels, who also coveted the Kula property. In Shanghai, Cornwall quickly disembarked, got to Yung Hee before the check did, and won the land. Henry Rice is not entirely sure that is a true story. But however the original transaction happened, it laid the foundation for his family’s home and business. Rice’s grandfather Harold W. “Pop” Rice purchased the 10,000-acre property from Col. Cornwell’s daughter Blanche and her husband, John Walker, in August 1916, also acquiring 25,000 acres in leasehold lands. Old-timers remember stories of Pop Rice, polo player and prominent politician, who married Charlotte Baldwin, daughter of sugar baron Henry Perrine Baldwin. Rice expanded the ranch and ran meat markets in Wailuku and Honolulu to sell beef from 4,400 Hereford cattle and pork from a Kīhei piggery. Fields of corn helped feed 200 pigs, there were a small dairy and a poultry farm in Makawao, and the Kaonoulu stables bred and trained polo ponies for sale around the world...more

The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline

Chief Grier also demanded a halt in the federal move to delist bears until meaningful government consultation with Tribes occurs. Such a moratorium would be consistent with the recent federal decision to halt construction of the DAPL until the government could assess impacts and more meaningfully consult with the Standing Rock and other Tribes.

The Dakota Access pipeline, called by Tribes “the black snake”, would degrade lands regarded as sacred by the Standing Rock Sioux. The federal government stopped construction in response to a tense standoff in North Dakota that has drawn support from over a hundred Tribes from across the country.

The latest Piikani declaration follows a similar one submitted to Jewell by the Navajo Tribe in August (link). During the last three years, 50 plus Tribes, from the Blackfeet Confederacy in the north to the Hopi in the south, have submitted letters, declarations and resolutions to the Department of Interior and US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) opposing delisting and trophy hunting of grizzly bears (link). This includes the Standing Rock Sioux, led by their Chairman, David Archambault II, who was one of the first tribal leaders to engage with the grizzly bear issue.

Yet, so far, the FWS has failed to initiate formal consultation with these Tribes, and has even misrepresented tribal opposition to delisting in the press, in stark contrast to the federal government’s response to Tribal demands for government-to-government consultation in the case of the Dakota Access pipeline. In a joint statement on DAPL, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Justice and Interior departments called for an initiation of formal consultation with Tribes to “better ensure meaningful tribal input” into the decision and “protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights.” (link)

...About 100 tribes from across the United States are standing in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in an unprecedented show of unity. Similarly, the alliance of 50 plus tribes that comprise the GOAL (Guardians of our Ancestors Legacy) Coalition has been campaigning to protect the sacred grizzly bear and its habitat. Not since the Indian campaigns waged by Tecumseh roughly 200-years ago have so many tribes united around common causes...

Bushels for Books apps available for teachers

The Oklahoma Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers and the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation Bushels for Books program applications are now available. The Bushels for Books program awards teachers and school librarians with bushel baskets of accurate agriculture books to be used in their classrooms and school libraries. "This is a great way to bring agriculture into classrooms across the state," said Jeramy Rich, Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation president. "We are honored to provide these resources to teachers to help them incorporate agriculture into their classroom lessons."...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1707

Our tune today is A Poor Man's Roses (Or A Rich Man's Gold) by Patsy Cline.  The tune was recorded in Nashville on Dec. 2, 1961.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hold October 29 for...

The NMSU Cowboy Reunion II
(includes luncheon, reception and dance)
Frank DuBois Annual Bronc Ridin' & Calf Ropin' 
details forthcoming

Prosecution In Oregon Standoff Trial Turns Its Case To Guns

The prosecution is starting to wrap up its case as the trial of seven occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge enters its third week. They estimate they will rest their case at the end of the day Tuesday. The prosecution has moved swiftly through its case as it has presented evidence that the occupiers conspired to prevent federal employees from doing their work through the use of intimidation, threats or force. Testimony from Harney County Sheriff David Ward shed light on the lead-up to the occupation. Malheur refuge manager Chad Karges and several other refuge employees testified as to how the occupation prevented them from doing their jobs. FBI agents have testified about the actions of occupiers during the 41-day takeover, as well as tense negotiations in the final days. Testimony from Harney County Rancher Andy Dunbar, whose land borders the refuge, offered key testimony about what was heard and seen on the refuge during the occupation. During the final days of the prosecution’s presentation, the jury will start seeing a lot of the evidence collected by the FBI after the occupation ended in February. The FBI seized dozens of guns from the refuge, and the prosecution is expected to present some of them in court. Though it is unclear just how many of weapons will actually be presented. This week, the prosecution is expected to present the jury with video taken from fellow occupier Jason Blomgren’s Facebook page of several occupiers firing guns near the boat launch. In this video, the occupiers appear to be lined up in an organized manner engaging in a form of target practice. We’re expected to learn more about the evidence the video provides as the prosecution concludes its case this week...more

Inviting wrath of judge may be part of a calculated approach by Ammon Bundy's lawyer

It would be nearly impossible for jurors not to notice U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown's growing exasperation with Ammon Bundy's lawyer Marcus Mumford. Since the Bundy trial began two weeks ago, the judge has repeatedly told Mumford to follow her rulings, reword his questions to government witnesses and occasionally to either stand up when he addresses her or sit down and stop challenging her directives. Despite her earlier orders that defense lawyers weren't to raise questions at trial about who owns the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Mumford tried to solicit responses from the Harney County sheriff and refuge employees on the subject. Despite the judge's warnings that she didn't want any defendant or defense lawyer to ask witnesses about the circumstances surrounding the fatal police shooting of occupation spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, Mumford passed off as a question a stinging remark that Finicum was shot three times in the back, asked another witness how close police were to him when he was shot and why the FBI wasn't investigating the shooting. Each time, prosecutors objected. Each time, the judge asked jurors to disregard Mumford's bids to get around her edicts. Out of earshot of the jury, Brown on Thursday had enough. She threatened Mumford with contempt of court if he continued to delve into Finicum's shooting. She told him she'd fine him $1,000 for each time he continued to violate her orders. So how is this of any help to Bundy as he and six others fight federal conspiracy charges in the 41-day armed takeover of the bird sanctuary in eastern Oregon earlier this year? Trial observers have wondered aloud whether Mumford is grasping at straws or if his approach is part of a calculated plan. Legal experts, including a fellow defense lawyer in this case, suggest the latter...more

Outside Looking In: Rancher Describes His View Of The Malheur Occupation

Harney County rancher Andy Dunbar had perhaps one of the best views of the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. He lives right next to it. “They’re my closest neighbor,” said Dunbar, who testified Thursday in the trial for seven refuge occupiers. Dunbar’s testimony created a narrative of how the occupation unfolded from someone literally on the outside looking in. Dressed in a plaid shirt tucked into blue jeans with a large belt buckle and hat hair, Dunbar explained the occupation’s effect on his daily life on the ranch. On Jan. 2, the day the occupation started, Dunbar was having lunch with his wife at The Narrows, an RV park a few miles from the refuge headquarters, when Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward called the shop owner. According to Dunbar’s testimony, Ward told the owner a group of vehicles was headed toward The Narrows. Dunbar said he went to the refuge after lunch, where he claimed to see around a dozen people. “To the best of my knowledge, they were all armed,” Dunbar said in court. In the days that followed, Dunbar watched the occupation play out from his ranch. He said those at the refuge appeared to secure a perimeter, placing men armed with long guns at the front gate. Dunbar said he saw people in a nearby watch tower. Looking through binoculars, Dunbar claimed to see a person in the tower pointing a gun in his direction. Mumford asked Dunbar during cross-examination if it was possible people in the tower were just watching him through a scope to see who was watching them. Dunbar agreed it was possible. Upon questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel, Dunbar testified that time of year was calving season, so he had to continue to tend closely to his cattle despite the ongoing occupation. “It’s my livelihood,” Dunbar said. Dunbar’s testimony appeared to show how that livelihood was interrupted. Dunbar described the high-stress situation to OPB in late January. At the time, Dunbar said he enjoyed having FBI agents nearby, but it was still extremely tense living between the final occupiers and the FBI perimeter. He testified to seeing occupiers in what he thought were government vehicles, patrolling the refuge. He also said he heard gunfire for a series of days in mid-January...more

Dozens attend dinner fundraiser for Bundys amid trial

Dozens of well-wishers gathered at the Veyo Park Saturday to raise money for the families of Southern Nevada ranchers facing trials on criminal charges stemming from their battles with federal government land management policies. The dinner-dance fundraiser for the families of Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons Ryan, Mel, Ammon and Dave was the brainchild of EllaMay Walther, a Bunkerville-area resident who lives by Cliven and babysat his sons when they were younger. “They are like family to me, and I am trying in a way to help the family,” Walther said. “The wives of the guys who are in prison and jail, they do not have any income coming in and they need help at this time. (Their husbands) have been in there for over eight months. … They have babies that they have at home (and are) taking care of.” The trial for Ammon and Ryan Bundy and Kanab resident Shawna Cox is scheduled to enter its 12th day Monday and is expected to continue until November, at least. Cox wrote a book that offers her perspective of that confrontation, and she has gained notoriety for capturing the events surrounding Finicum’s death on cell phone video as she rode in the vehicle he was driving. Walther said money raised at Saturday’s event will be divided equally among the five Bundy families to use however they wish, whether for legal bills, food supplies or other necessities. Jeanette Finicum, LaVoy’s widow, was also present at the event and raised some funds by selling a novel her husband LaVoy wrote about a family’s “struggle to come together and survive in the midst of national crisis,” as well as copies of Cox’s book on her behalf. Jeanette said she has been paying attention to the trial and has chatted with Cox while continuing to pursue her own interests, which include a planned lawsuit against law enforcement officers involved in what she regards as the “murder” of her husband and participation in a ranchers’ association scheduled to meet Friday night in the Hurricane Community Center to discuss property allotment rights. “I sure hope (the trial) turns out well for all of (the accused). I’m praying that it does,” Jeanette said. “They’re in there … for our freedom and to keep the Constitution,” Walther said. “They are here fighting for us. … I think (the dinner-dance) has done great. There’s been a lot of people willing to help and donate.”...more

Utah's Native Tribes Want Jobs, Not a New Monument

Many local Navajos, Paiutes, and Utes fear a proposed 1.9 million acre national monument in San Juan County would hinder or restrict economic activities important to their livelihood, such as farming, ranching, mining, and gas drilling.

Writes Naomi Schaefer Riley in the Wall Street Journal (see also related Daily Caller story):

 “The locals would not have a voice anymore,” worries Clayton Long, a Navajo Indian and teacher in San Juan County, Utah. He’s referring to a campaign aimed at creating a new national monument of 1.9 million acres nearly in his backyard. Proponents are lobbying President Obama to protect the area around Bears Ears, twin buttes where Native Americans have long performed cultural ceremonies and gathered herbs to cook traditional foods.

Mr. Long and many members of the local Navajo, Ute and Paiute tribes say that the designation would destroy their livelihood and their culture. Most of the land included in the plan is owned by the federal government and controlled by the Bureau of Land Management. But today farmers can grow crops and graze cattle in Bears Ears. There’s some mining and oil and gas drilling, too. Though backers of the monument say grazing could continue, residents of the area fear even that would, at best, turn into a bureaucratic nightmare.

On Wednesday, tribal representatives, along with all of Utah’s delegation to Congress, delivered a series of letters to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell outlining their opposition. As Sen. Mike Lee told the crowd assembled on Capitol Hill: “A wealthy man’s playground should never come at the expense of a working man’s home.”