Tuesday, May 31, 2016

BLM agent who clashed with Bundys takes broad new post

Dan Love, the Bureau of Land Management agent who oversaw security during the agency's failed roundup of Cliven Bundy's cattle in April 2014, has started a new position overseeing the security of BLM facilities nationwide. Love, who was BLM's special agent in charge for Nevada and Utah, this week was named BLM's special agent in charge of security, protection and intelligence, a newly created post. Love, who requested the reassignment, will remain in Salt Lake City but will be working for the agency's national law enforcement office headquartered in Washington, D.C...more

A new position requested by Love?  LOL!

You have to read down to the very end of the article to get a kernel of truth:

Sheriffs, county commissioners and Utah members of Congress said Love lacked the gravitas to handle the delicate politics of public land management in the rural West. Allies said Love deserves credit for helping deter illegal looting and trading of artifacts from public lands and for ensuring nobody was injured or killed during the Bunkerville, Nev., standoff with Bundy. "The biggest problem with Dan is nobody trusted him," said Garfield County, Utah, Sheriff Danny Perkins. "It sounds to me that they gave him a better job than he had." Perkins added, "I think BLM has a lot of fence mending whether Dan is there or not. It looks like the ball's in their court."

Remember the request for VIP facilities at Burning Man?  The request included "trailers, flush toilets, washers and dryers and vanity mirrors. Also included was a 24-hour, full-service kitchen with a menu of "10-ounce steaks, 18-ounce pork ribs, poultry, ham, fish, vegetables, potatoes, bread, salad bar with five toppings and three dressings and desserts." And those desserts?  Specifically they had to include "assorted ice cream flavors, Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches, as well as cakes, cookies, pies, cobblers, puddings and pastries." See here and here

That was Dan Love.

And the overreaching, bungled fiasco with Cliven Bundy?  That was also Dan Love.

This is from May 11

One former government official familiar with the issue said that Utah's congressional delegation wants Love relocated from his post and that BLM leadership appears amenable to making that happen. "It's unfortunate that Dan has become something of a political pawn," said the official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation. "There are clearly elements in the agency who would prefer he simply fade away, in part to appease Hill critics." Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in March introduced H.R. 4751, a bill to eliminate BLM and Forest Service law enforcement and transfer policing powers on federal lands to local sheriffs. Chaffetz said his constituents want to see a "little more Andy Griffith and a little less Rambo" from BLM law enforcement officers. He's not a fan of Love. "There's one common denominator where things have gone wrong: It's Dan Love," Chaffetz said in an interview. "The Department of Interior knows how to solve this problem; thus far, they've decided not to do that." A Chaffetz spokeswoman declined to elaborate on what that solution is. Sheriffs in Utah don't like Love, either. They see him as heavy-handed and dismissive of local authority.

He was an embarrassment to the BLM and the Congressional delegation wanted him out.  So what did the BLM do? They promoted him up and out.

This is another example proving one of the DuBois Laws of Government.

Whereas in the private sector - cream rises to the top,
In the government sector - shit floats to the top.

Sandoval urges relaxed grazing restrictions as drought wanes

Gov. Brian Sandoval is urging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to reconsider livestock grazing restrictions in northeast Nevada, saying that may now be unwarranted given a wet winter that has drought conditions on the mend. The Republican governor who recently called for expedited roundups of wild horses in Nevada says the agency's current management scheme wrongly prioritizes mustangs ahead of ranchers — a matter of much debate for decades in the 10 western states where the mustangs roam from California to Colorado. Sandoval said widespread precipitation has provided healthy forage and water resources in areas stung by five consecutive years of drought. "Drought conditions in 2015 were a very different story and decisions based on that timeframe need to be revisited — especially decisions that drastically affect an industry and the livelihoods of many hardworking Nevadans," he said in a letter last week to BLM Nevada State Director John Ruhs arguing against grazing restrictions anticipated this summer based on last fall's assessments. Sandoval said he's concerned about the growing over-population of horses, "the negative impact they have on our rangeland, and the burden of the proposed solution being solely put upon the livestock industry."...more

So that's what it's like to have a Governor engaged in federal land issues.  We haven't experienced that in NM. 

EPA Gave Convicted Climate Expert Service, Salary Awards While He Defrauded Agency

The senior Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official who scammed the agency out of nearly $1 million in pay without working got service and salary awards throughout his lengthy career as a climate policy expert, according to records obtained by Judicial Watch. His name is John Beale and he’s on the verge of completing a 32-month prison sentence for defrauding the government by claiming, while employed at the EPA, to be a “secret agent” for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and going on long vacations that he said were CIA missions. While he committed the fraud the EPA regularly rewarded him with “Special Act or Service Awards” that included cash and time off, the records obtained by JW reveal. From 1991 through 1998 Beale received thousands of dollars in bonuses for his performance as well as a “Time Off Award” in 1998, the records show. In 2001 he was rewarded yet again with a promotion to work at the White House as a “Senior Policy Advisor.” It’s not like Beale was a lowly employee at the EPA. He was a senior level official who actually worked in the agency’s most powerful office, Air and Radiation (OAR), under President Obama’s current EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy...more

Editorial: Seek consensus before establishing more federal control of canyon lands

The Owyhee canyon country of southern Malheur County is the largest undeveloped and unprotected area in the lower 48 states, and a century from now Americans would be grateful to their ancestors for keeping it that way.

But the federal government, which manages nearly all of the Owyhee region on behalf of its citizens, has a long way to go before it can add protections to the area’s wild character. Any new protective designation, such as the current proposal for a national monument, should come with local acquiescense, and preferably support, which is now lacking.

Last year 90 percent of Malheur County voters opposed a national monument in a non-binding advisory election. In some precincts the vote was 100 percent against the idea.

Such opposition makes it unlikely that Congress would approve a wilderness designation for the area, as occurred in 2009 with the creation of the Owyhee River Wilderness in Idaho.

A national monument designation, which President Obama could approve without congressional action, would be greeted in Malheur County as an abuse of federal power, which helps explain why the Department of the Interior, whose Bureau of Land Management has jurisdiction over most of the Owyhee area, has taken no position on the idea.

The grievances of those who make a living in the arid regions of the Intermountain West burst into the open earlier this year with the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in neighboring Harney County. The tactics of the occupiers were generally rejected, but one of their central complaints — that increasingly restrictive federal land management policies threaten the livelihoods of high desert ranchers — is widely shared.

The anxieties of people who live in the area are real. Jordan Valley, the only town of any size in southern Malheur County, has shrunk to 175 residents in 2013 from 475 in 1980.

It’s easy to see why development restrictions such as those that would accompany a monument designation would be opposed as putting an end to any hope of a rebound.

Green Energy Doesn’t Work Without Energy Storage That Doesn’t Exist Yet

Scientists from the University of East Anglia found wind and solar power can’t compete with conventional electricity without economical energy storage systems that don’t exist. The research published Friday concludes without economical energy storage systems, wind and solar power simply aren’t that useful due to their unreliability and intermittent nature. The study argues the money used to financially support wind and solar power should be spent supporting research into bringing down the costs of energy storage. The research highlights the fact that it is currently impossible to economically store power for times when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Purchasing enough batteries to provide just three days of storage for an average American household costs about $15,000, and those batteries only last for about five years and are very difficult to recycle. This is true for home power storage as well, even with the latest batteries which were invented to make rooftop solar panels and wind turbines economically viable for consumers...more

Organic farming: The best choice for our environment and growing world?

by Suzy Friedman

Organic, locally grown food: Better for your family and for our hungry world – right?

Heading to the farmer’s market in the warm spring sunshine, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing everyone on Earth a small favor. But like with so many things in life, it depends.

The truth is, there is no silver bullet when it comes to solving food security and environmental challenges in a world that will count 9 billion people by 2050.

So rather than asking which system comes out ahead, we must focus on how farms perform. In some cases, conventional methods will have higher yields as well as a smaller environmental impact.
That’s why we can’t afford to shut the door on either strategy. Let me explain why.

US (CA): Drought could cause farmers $1.5 bln in losses

A new bank report has revealed that persistent drought conditions in California could cause farmers and agribusinesses up to $1.5 billion in losses. In “California Drought and its Economic Impact on Agriculture 2016,” CoBank posits the drought’s lingering effects will lead to another round of water restrictions for producers through the remainder of the growing year and beyond. While Northern California saw the most precipitation during the rainy season, much of the state is still blanketed by severe drought, especially in the central and southern regions. Government agencies in the state will again need to enforce water restrictions, allocating less than 60% of the state’s contracted water supplies. These restrictions will result in a 5% to 7% loss in net cash income for growers, ranchers, and agribusinesses across the state. “Some sectors will feel the effects of these water restrictions more so than others,” Sahling said. “Crops that yield the highest returns on investment, like permanent plantings of tree crops and vines, should be impacted the least. At the same time, we expect a large reduction in acreage for field crops that require significant amounts of water, including corn, wheat, cotton and alfalfa.”...more

Seeing the forest through the trees?

Lots of things about the Trinchera Blanca Ranch are big. Sitting on the east side of the San Luis Valley near La Veta Pass, its 176,000 acres are believed to make it the biggest ranch in Colorado. Its owner, hedge fund manager Louis Bacon, ranks among the richest people in the country. And, after decades of fire suppression and a recent prolonged drought, its forest health problems are huge, too. Overgrown and insect-infested forests aren’t unique to the Trinchera Blanca Ranch, known locally as simply the Trinchera. But its response has been uncommon. Last fall the ranch began seeking state and local approvals for a timber mill that could take wood off its ailing forests. It’s currently under construction and slated to open for test runs this fall. If it opens according to plan, the mill could help improve the health of the Trinchera’s forests and boost the struggling economy of Costilla County, where it could become the largest private employer. The mill’s influence could also extend down the Sangre de Cristo Mountains into New Mexico and to a small part of the San Juan Mountains thanks to its capacity to handle both small diameter timber and larger-scale timber sales...more

NM woodcutters pitch in on forest health

by J.R. Logan

...In the mid-'80s, Lopez joined the U.S. Forest Service and got assigned to the office in Peñasco. Locals had the instinctual habit of giving the finger to anyone driving a green government truck. They didn't trust the feds. They had no faith that they were acting in the community's best interest.

Lopez managed to get past some of that wariness and used his understanding of local culture and needs to create a nationally recognized program now known as “Collaborative Stewardship.” Instead of offering big timber sales to outside contractors, Lopez helped craft a program to offer small plots of forest — a couple acres called a “stewardship block” — from which locals could gather wood and feel a sense of forest ownership. At the same time, the Forest Service was being paid a small fee to get some much-needed tree thinning finished.

Today, with the Rio Grande Water Fund aiming to restore hundreds of thousands of acres of forest while benefiting local communities, Lopez's program could be a useful tool in building grassroots support.

The innate distrust of outsiders among Peñasqueros comes from a long, sordid history of chicanery and exploitation.

Most of these tiny hamlets in the rolling foothills of the southern Sangre de Cristos were settled hundreds of years ago. Hispano pioneers relied on land grants — vast tracts of land presented by the Spanish crown — for their survival. Rivers for irrigation. Valleys for farming. And the mountains for firewood and building materials. In many cases, residents shared common access to these resources.

But when the territory became part of the U.S., many land grants were cut up and sold off. Anglo outsiders often logged the best timber off the mountains. By the early 1900s, much of the land had been absorbed by the Forest Service, which strictly regulated access to resources.

Local Hispanos still feel a deep sense of betrayal for the loss.

Paris auction house cancels sale of Acoma shield

The planned sale of an Acoma tribal treasure Monday was canceled after a Paris auction house withdrew the item from bidding. The EVE Auction House’s decision to cancel the sale of a shield used in Acoma religious ceremonies came after a week of intense lobbying by New Mexico’s Acoma tribe and high-level federal government officials, including Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “It was withdrawn this morning pending further investigation,” Ann Berkley Rodgers, an Albuquerque-based attorney for the tribe, told the Journal on Monday. Rodgers said she and tribal officials were delighted to see the religious artifact pulled from the auction. But she said the battle is not over. “For Acoma, it is not going to be a victory until the shield is returned,” she said...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1622

We'll start this week off with a Swingin' fiddle tune, Blue Flame, by Hoyle Nix & His West Texas Cowboys.  The tune is on his British Archives of Country Music CD A Big Ball's In Cowtown


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Moonlighting cowboy-style

by Julie Carter

You don’t have to own yearling cattle that get out on the highway after you have gone to bed at night to appreciate this story. What you will understand is first the humor and then the rancher’s gratitude for the little things.

The cowboy’s bride had been trying to fight off a Boone and Crockett-sized head cold for days so she wasn’t in the best of humor and had very little sleep for several nights in a row.

About 9 p.m. on this night she took some cold medicine hoping it would help both the cold and the sleep problems. She tossed and turned, got up at 1 a.m. and took more medication and went back to bed. About 2:30 a.m. the phone rang. That is never a good thing.

It was their neighbor Jim telling her that they had lots of cattle on the highway and they were headed north up the canyon. 

She slapped her still sleeping husband upside the head, mostly to wake him up but more so out of simple frustration. After 30-plus years of marriage she was sure he didn’t know the difference.

Pulling on their cowboy clothes, they stumbled out into the dark, jumped in the pickup and drove to the escapees last known location. Jim had been able to get in front of most of the cattle and had them headed back down the highway towards home. 

The local sheriff was on the scene in his fancy car and was managing to hit the cranky cowboy wife in the eyes with his high powered spotlight whenever possible. When the sheriff wasn’t blinding her, her husband was with his own Q-Beam. She noted that one million candle power in your face at three in the morning is not soothing.

She was leading the cattle with the pickup and Jim was bringing up the rear of the herd. Husband was riding in the back of her pickup in case he needed a fast get away. She was slightly amused that at this point he trusted her driving but then she realized he still hadn’t figured out that she’d slapped him earlier. 

They got the cattle to the gate of the pasture where they belonged and as cattle will do, they came untrained and headed back north up the canyon again.  She wheeled out to go help Jim and both were trying to out run the cattle up the highway. Husband was hanging out the back of the truck telling her something that sounded like “stop” so she hit the brakes. 

He had said “stop” but didn’t intend for a slam-the-brakes kind of stop. He rolled over the side of the truck and recovered on his feet enough to block a side road off the highway. The cattle finally went through the gate on the second try while the sheriff was still waving his spotlight around and trying to figure out who was on first.

They got home about 4:30 that morning. Cowboy wife got up and fixed sandwiches for the crew that would be arriving soon to help them drive those same cattle up the same road they had been running down in the night. But this time it was with some control and with a destination of the mesa top beyond.

Her thankfuls for the night were for good neighbors, gentle cattle and a full moon.

How did Jim know the cattle were on the highway you ask?  He got up sometime after 2 a.m. to go to the bathroom and saw car headlights slowing down and weaving to miss the cattle.

With that revelation, the wife then thanked God for old men with weak bladders.

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


Socialist low ground versus moral high ground
Mitch Daniels for (future) president
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Ninety eight percent of everything we eat is genetically modified.
            You certainly wouldn’t know that if everything written by the food police is taken to heart. What comes out of their shrill whistles is a continuing litany of warnings of increases in cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal illnesses, kidney diseases, autism and allergies if genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are allowed to touch any parts of your body. They, the elitist clan who rely on computer modeling as if it was one of the cornerstones of their fountain of youth, have convinced 57% of Americans that genetically modified foods pose health risks. Their antics, though, have failed to prove a single long term, specific health problem.
            On the contrary, the benefits from real science that has produced these organisms has done more to enhance human existence and environmental sustainability than anything in the last two decades.
            The manipulation of the sought characteristics of the current crop of GMOs versus the traditional manipulation of genetic tendencies is tied to the transfer of certain genes by cellular intrusion. That differs from a cattle breeder who controls a genetic process by capturing desired characteristics through selective breeding, but the results are the same. It gives the resulting organism traits they would not otherwise have.
            The major benefits are currently associated with plants where genetic alteration is resulting in pest and herbicide resistance. This allows the reduction of pesticides and herbicides without the worry of killing the planted crop. In the field, the result is fewer passes across the land, reduced tillage, and a decreased footprint on our nation’s soils. That is the real benefit, but that is not the message the critics are voicing.
            Depending on which whistle is protesting, they are suggesting the expansion of GMOs is certain to cause many maladies including intolerance to gluten, increased autism, Type II diabetes, obesity, and, perhaps, even the spread of six toed children. Their message is repeated enough that over half of the folks believe the sky is actually falling.
            The truth is … it isn’t.
            The National Academies of Science has finally published a study on the affects of GMOs. The scope of the research considered more than 900 studies over a 20 year period. They found nothing that would suggest pending mass murder through the planting of modified zucchini and summer squash. Alas, GMOs are safe for humans and animals.
            The number of GMOs grown worldwide is low. The United States grows modified cotton, soybeans, sugar beets, corn, canola, alfalfa, and a few fruits and vegetables. The major emphasis is in corn, soybeans, and cotton. Overall, the modified varieties are saving huge amounts of money, but they have not significantly increased yields. They have lowered pests in some cases, and, if there is a negative, there is some herbicide resistance weed expansion (but there is resistance weed expansion everywhere just as there is resistance growing in antibiotics).
            Around the world, about 12% of all cropland has been planted in the new modified varieties, but there is much pushback against their use and especially in the European Union. It was interesting, therefore, that the study found no long term patterns of health patterns from Canada and the United States, where the plants have been planted since the mid ‘90s, to Europe, where GMOs are not widely eaten. An example was the increase of autism in children. The patterns from Europe to the United States and Canada are very similar.
            A Voice in the Cornfield
            The problem is what should we actually believe?
The GMO story is tangible. It is working and the outcome is not indifferent from all the practical application of genetic modification that has taken place for a millennium. The food police and the social groupies, however, aren’t buying the study results. They are stuck within their PC algorithms and cocktail party discussion points, and, as a political force, they are powerful. One anti GMO website alone has 35,000 verifiable non GMO products of which enlightened, civilized folks ought to be feeding to themselves and their day cared offspring.
            The anti GMO groups are attacking the report claiming that the participating scientists are tied to industries and corporations that are vested in sale of the modified crops. The resulting conflicts of interest are contributing to watered down science due to those agricultural influences.
Isn’t that akin to the pot calling the kettle black?
            The fact is politically correct science has captured its own permanent funding sources. The expected outcome is what the funding agents intend to prove hence the problem with this science more often than not is … it isn’t.
Examples are numerous.
In an attempt last summer to replicate 100 published psychological experiments, 65% failed to show statistical significant repeatability. Most of the remainder showed reduced effects. As a result, William A. Wilson revealed that modern psychology research is a house of cards filled with unreproducible results.
             Wilson described a similar effort to duplicate cancer research results. Data from fully 75% of the cases in the review failed to match up with the attempts to replicate them. Such results must mean that either the original findings were false or they were useless. Results that cannot be reproduced in science are, by definition, useless.
            The problem isn’t isolated to psychology or medicine. Climate change is the bell cow of the movement, but the same modeling is spreading to other fields allowing researchers to invent their own virtual realities rather than investigating undisciplined nature.
The measurement of that natural world isn’t clean or clinical hence it is more trendy and socially “heady” to invent computer modeling extra-realities. We have entered a computer driven world of unreproducible results and political driven outcomes. The debacle is huge, and, again, climate change science is leading the way. It alone accounts for 55% of all modeling done in science and 97% of climate change research is computer modeling. More and more we are realizing the outcome isn’t tied to real world observations at all. It is computer driven modeling science and it is being used as a political wedge to demonize opposition in all conflicting issues. To the environmental mobs, it is their higher authority. To the rest of us, it is creating a nearly universal suspicion that all science is suspect.
Of course that shouldn’t be the case, but, in order for it to regain credibility we must also regain a renewed position of strength to fight this battle.
            We might start by watching the leadership of Purdue University’s president, Mitch Daniels. Aside from the fact he has excelled in the world outside of academia and has earned a spot in Fortune’s top 50 world leaders, he is standing toe to toe with the anti GMO foes demonizing our industry. His assessment of the tirade against us is our foes are the stewards of “blatant anti-science”.
            “It (anti GMO forces) is inhumane and it must be countered on that basis,” he preaches.
            The antagonistic coalition, including U.S. organic companies and environmental groups, are stoking a worldwide fear about many things in production agriculture and GMOs are in their immediate crosshairs. Daniels reaches into the heart of the matter and is calling out the tedious environmental indulgence by the rich.
“It (demonization of GMOs) is not just scientifically indefensible, it is morally indefensible,” he preaches.
The world is on a trend line to surpass 9 billion souls within years and could reach 11 billion sometime after mid-century. That represents a lot of hungry folks in our future. President Daniels is shouldering this task on the basis that global agriculture isn’t simply dollars and cents. It is a humanitarian mission. It represents life and death and the avoidance of tragedy. He also thinks we have the moral high ground and … we need to start conducting ourselves as such.
Post Script
As I struggle to finish this day, I am reminded that the real world is neither neat nor tidy. I’ve been in the corral sorting, and, as I look down, I realize my boots are not house worthy. They are covered with earthy, undisciplined nature. They have been with me as the quest for a more perfect cow for our country continues. It is a constant and stepwise process as certain specific traits are sought. Today’s events were more subjective than objective, but the incremental steps toward producing an animal that can convert grass and grow a calf under these desert conditions better than her predecessors is the constant goal. It is in every sense genetic modification.
We aren’t taking a drought tolerant gene from a jackrabbit to bridge a characteristic gap that would make our cattle more tolerant, but, if we could, we would. Hail to the man who has the skills and the intelligence to perform that feat.
He’s welcome at our camp … anytime.
            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Hoorah for GMOs!”

Baxter Black - Wanted: Cowboy. No experience necessary

WANTED:  Cowboy.   No TV, No phone. If you don’t like dogs and can’t tough it in the mountains, don’t apply – Alamo, Nevada.

I’d like to meet the ol’ boy that wrote  that ad. You can almost picture him in your mind. We’re all acquainted with somebody that fits his description. He might be willing to give you a month off to go see your ailin’ mother but better not ask for every Saturday and Sunday off to go ropin’!

He’s not liable to set down and give you a two hour lecture on his range management theories but work beside him for a year or two and you’ll learn more about protecting the environment and workin’ with nature than you’d read in thousand BLM pamphlets.

He probably wouldn’t have much sympathy if you bucked off one of his colts but if yer wife’s in the hospital he’ll make sure you have everything you need.

He’d look the other way if you got picked up by the deputy for gettin’ rowdy in town but if you don’t get the salt scattered in the right place there’ll be heck to pay!

The person that answers that ad ought to know better than to set down and start askin’ about paid holidays, days off, cost of living escalators and a five-year contract. However, if I don’t miss my guess, he’ll get a day’s pay for a day’s work, good grub, a warm bunk and that kind of “family feelin’” that comes with cowboyin’.

On mesa west of Taos, a grisly story of murder, but still no body

The state police agents steered their vehicle through a maze of unmarked roads and thick sagebrush in a rugged area west of Taos known as Two Peaks. Dotted by off-the-grid homes, the area was an enclave of hippies and survivalists and others drawn to the desolation and freedom of the high-country desert. Among them was Naomi Chaney, a former beauty queen and Marine Corps veteran, who had called the area home for at least a half-dozen years. Until, that is, she suddenly disappeared late one January night. Now, in the late afternoon of May 4, the agents went down one wrong dirt road after another looking for a downed metal post. Guiding them, in the backseat, was Albert Gene Hunsaker III, a more recent arrival to this isolated area atop a sprawling mesa. Just hours earlier, according to court records, Hunsaker, who is known as Alex, had made a startling confession. In eerie detail, he described how he had stood by and even helped as another man wrapped a winch cable from his Jeep bumper around Chaney’s neck and then dragged her in reverse through the sagebrush. As they drove away, leaving Chaney’s body behind, Hunsaker told the agents, they knocked down a metal post. He drew a map for the agents and together, they drove across the mesa, attempting to retrace where he, the other man and Chaney had gone that night months earlier. The agents finally found the post. By then, though, it was too dark to search for the body. Weeks later, Chaney’s body is still missing. But a Taos grand jury indicted Hunsaker on Thursday in connection with the murder. The other man, Clayton Jones, a drifter whom Hunsaker told agents did the killing, has been implicated but not charged in the case. Jones, 40, has been charged in California in the April 29 murder of another woman from the Two Peaks area, Shalon Gheen, 39, who had been an acquaintance of Chaney, 36. The stories the two men have told police, according to court records, depict a saga of extreme violence starting in Taos County and ending in Southern California. The murders have rattled this Northern New Mexico community known for its free-spirited independence but marred by violence...more

Our People: Rodeo queen still in the scene

Wilma Fulgham was born in Farwell and raised within the Clovis area through the depression years. She has been involved in agriculture all her life and comes from a family of hard workers. In 1906, her grandfather, Henry Curtis, came to the Texico area on a covered wagon. Fulgham is recognized for being involved in the western lifestyle. She has worked with the Chamber and Rodeo Pioneer Days committee for many years. Her late husband, Benny Fulgham, was rodeo director for over 20 years. The two were married for a near 63 years before he passed in June 2014. They had four children. She lost a daughter, Patricia, who was a stillbirth, and a son, Garry Fulgham, who died of an aneurysm. She is the director of the High Plains Historical foundation, which deals with preserving the history of the Clovis area and is working towards a museum in Curry County. Fulgham is the president of the Miss Rodeo New Mexico Pageant and co-chair of the Pioneer Days Rodeo Queen Pageant. It all started in 1950 when she won the title for New Mexico State Queen where she represented Curry County. This is where she developed a passion to help other women in rodeo pageantry and she continues to do so today...When you were a kid, what did you think you’d be doing as an adult? I wanted to be a rancher and raise horses and cattle. What’s your idea of a perfect day? To me it’s a day that glorifies God’s creation such as good gentle rains, being with good friends and good people — people who love the Lord...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1621

Robinella & CC Stringband - Hold To God's Unchanging Hand is our gospel tune today.  The tune is on their 2003 CD Robinella.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Federal judge refuses to get off Bundy case, denies bail

Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro said Wednesday she will not remove herself from the criminal case stemming from the 2014 armed standoff with law enforcement near Bunkerville. Lawyers for Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, one of 19 defendants charged in the alleged conspiracy to assault federal officers, had sought her disqualification on several grounds, including a claim that she is part of a conspiracy with President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., to deny Bundy a fair trial. In a six-page order detailing her decision to stay on the case, Navarro said the government “aptly explains” in court papers why the defense conspiracy theory “displays a lack of respect and/or complete ignorance of the independent role of the judiciary.” She said the “spurious allegations raise very serious concerns” about whether Bundy is being represented effectively in the complex criminal case.  Navarro on Wednesday also denied another request by Bundy to be released from federal custody. She said from the bench that Bundy was a serious risk of flight and a danger to the community and that there were no conditions she could set that would guarantee his presence at future court dates. Afterward, one of Bundy’s lawyers, Larry Klayman, called Navarro’s actions an    “outrageous miscarriage of justice” and said they would be appealed. “This is one of the most egregious displays of misconduct I’ve seen in my 40 years as a lawyer,” Klayman said. “Her order openly seeks to protect Harry Reid.”...more

Utah lawmaker says Bundy attorney barking up wrong money tree

A Utah state lawmaker who is leading the push to transfer federal lands to states signaled yesterday he has no plans to raise cash for Cliven Bundy's legal defense stemming from the rancher's 2014 standoff with the Bureau of Land Management over trespassing cattle. State Rep. Ken Ivory (R) added in an interview that his nonprofit American Lands Council (ALC) has not received "a penny" from the billionaire Koch brothers or their charities. Bundy's defense attorney Joel Hansen on March 11 sent Ivory an email asking whether he would help raise money to cover the rancher's legal fees. "I cannot represent Cliven for free," Hansen said in the email obtained by a reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting through a public records request and released this week. Ivory said as far as he knows, the email was real. But he never read it, and his office has sent no official response. The implication that the Kochs are funding ALC, which supports legislation and litigation to force the United States to relinquish its vast Western landholdings, is false, Ivory said. "We have not received a penny from the Koch anybodies," Ivory said. "I don't know the Koch brothers."...more

Bar Dismisses Complaint Against Ammon Bundy's Lawyers

The Oregon State Bar has dismissed a complaint against Mike Arnold and Lissa Casey, the attorneys for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation leader Ammon Bundy. The complaint alleged that Bundy’s lawyers violated the state bar’s professional conduct rules about trial publicity. Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis filed the complaint, pointing to press conferences and reporter interviews given by Arnold and Casey. Mike Arnold says the bar’s decision about Marquis’ complaint was as he expected. “There’s nothing wrong with American citizens speaking up against the government, And I understand that sometimes that makes government officials like him uncomfortable. And that’s good.” Marquis is appealing the dismissal to a higher counsel within the bar. According to the Oregon State Bar, two of three complaints against Arnold’s firm regarding Bundy’s case have been dismissed. The remaining complaint is under review...more

Feds Ignored Wind Farm's Impact on Sage Grouse, 9th Circuit Rules

Federal regulators did not adequately address whether a proposed wind-turbine project in southeastern Oregon would adversely impact the area's greater sage grouse population, the Ninth Circuit ruled Thursday. After the Bureau of Land Management approved the proposed construction of the Echanis Wind Energy Project on the state's Steens Mountain in Harney County, the environmental group Oregon Natural Desert Association sued the government in Federal Court under the National Environmental Policy Act. The BLM's approval of the project failed to account for the turbines' effects on the mountain's population of sage grouse, a bird listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, the environmentalists claimed. Writing for the three-judge panel, Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon said that the BLM conducted no surveys to determine whether sage grouse were present at the project's proposed site during the winter months and relied on data from surveys conducted at lower elevations. "A fundamental flaw infects this reasoning," Berzon said...more

Feds refuse to delist Snake River fall chinook

The first attempt to delist one of the 13 species of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act has been denied by federal authorities. The decision made public Thursday by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries cites concerns Snake River fall chinook wouldn’t remain viable without continued protections. Scott Rumsey, NOAA’s branch chief for the protected resources division, said the agency wasn’t surprised that the first petition to delist came for what he called one of the healthiest of the listed stocks in the basin. “We’re encouraged that we’re getting close, but in this determination we’re saying we’re not quite there yet,” he said. An Alaska commercial fishing advocacy group called Chinook Futures Coalition requested the delisting in January 2015. The group is concerned that protected Snake River fall chinook limit quotas of king salmon because of incidental catching of the protected Snake River fish that travel to waters off Alaska. The group was hoping to get the species delisted ahead of Pacific Salmon Treaty negotiations between the U.S. and Canada. The current treaty runs through 2018...more

National heritage group adds pasture land to 'endangered places' list

Vast tracks of Saskatchewan land used primarily for cattle grazing have been added to a national heritage group's list of endangered places. The National Trust for Canada, an organization that highlights the value of historic places and hopes to save them, added community pastures in Saskatchewan to its list, according to an announcement Thursday. A provincial group that has been raising concerns about the future of pasture land welcomed the move. "These are worth conserving and we need to take steps ... to provide conservation," Trevor Herriot, from the advocacy group Public Pastures - Public Interest, said. Herriot explained how a 2012 move by the federal government to end its stewardship of pasture land, through the PFRA, put thousands of acres of Crown land into the hands of the provincial government which has invited users of the land (primarily cattle ranchers) to purchase the land. According to Herriot, the ecological value of the largely undisturbed land has been overlooked or ignored...more

Rare Acoma war shield to be auctioned off in France, despite pueblo’s objections

A Paris auction house plans to sell a rare Acoma Pueblo war shield on Monday over the objections of the New Mexico tribe and U.S. political leaders. It is illegal to sell such ceremonial Native American items in the U.S., but it is allowed in France. The shield went up for auction in Paris last year but did not sell. Acoma had been unable to prevent that auction from going ahead, and it also was unable to stop a subsequent sale by a different auction house of other pieces of Indian cultural patrimony. “The Pueblo of Acoma and Hopi Tribe were rebuffed and forced to watch as dozens of their items of cultural patrimony were sold away,” wrote Acoma Pueblo Gov. Kurt Riley in a May 13 letter to the secretary of the Interior Department, the secretary of state and the attorney general of the United States. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Thursday she is troubled by the auction and called on the French government to find a way toward repatriating items that she said “are at the heart of Native American heritage and identity.” She directed the department to work with tribes and other agencies to review how tribal cultural patrimony is making its way into foreign markets. While the Southwestern tribes have tried to stop such sales, Riley said in a footnote that the tribes are often required to pay essentially a ransom to get their items back. The shield, made of leather, pigments, feathers and cotton, according to the auction house catalog, is 52 centimeters in diameter. It is painted with a round face, half yellow, half black, separated by a green nasal ridge. The mouth is depicted by a black ripple on white with red lips. The price at auction is estimated at between 5,000 and 7,000 euros (about $5,600 to more than $7,800)...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1620

If you are gonna sing about being lonely, then please do it up pretty like Moon Mullican in Everyone Knows That I'm Lonely.  The tune was recorded in Ft. Worth in October of 1946 and that's Cotton Thompson and Ralph Lamp on the fiddles.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Even With Bundy Behind Bars, 'Range War' Lives On For Some Ranchers

Stanton Gleave hardly fits the stereotype of a modest, keep-to-himself Western rancher. Standing in a collection of muddy pens taking a break from shearing sheep near his home in tiny Kingston, Utah, Gleave gives an earful about his frustrations with the Bureau of Land Management and environmental groups. "That's who we're actually fighting with," says Gleave. "They've indoctrinated and got into this BLM and Forest Service 'til a lot of 'em are right up in the head positions now."  Gleave is like your typical Western rancher in one important way: He doesn't own much land himself. There's no room to run livestock in this sliver of a valley. So he leases huge tracts of federal land that surround his place — namely Mount Dutton. This was an arrangement that for the most part worked out pretty well for generations of ranching families like his. The federal government was there to help, maintaining and building roads so ranchers could access their stock. It helped with irrigation projects, building fences. That was before the timber mills closed, and most of the mines too. Then President Clinton designated the massive Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. And that forced the BLM to focus a lot more on the environment and recreation, not just cows. "If you read the Constitution, that's the last thing our Founding Fathers wanted was for a federal government to be out here in our business," Gleave says. "They're supposed to be out there in Washington protecting that border down there." It's true the amount of public land available for grazing has been cut a lot since the 1980s, even more since Gleave was a kid in the 1950s. "What would you do if you was losing everything you got, would you stand and fight or would you roll over and play dead?" he asks. This is the kind of talk that's typical of a small, tight-knit group of ranchers mainly clustered in the remote Southwest. Most are conservative and refer to themselves as devout Mormons. They believe the Constitution doesn't allow for the federal government to control Western land...more 

HT:  Marvin Frisbey

Meet the advisers driving Obama's monuments agenda

With the flick of a pen, President Obama could secure permanent protections for millions more acres of the West. The Antiquities Act gives the president nearly limitless power to designate national monuments banning future mineral development, logging or road building on federal lands. While Obama used the act sparingly in his first term, he's now using it with gusto. He's protected roughly 4 million acres of land, putting him within reach of President Clinton's mark of 5.7 million acres preserved -- second only to President Carter's 56 million acres. Obama could protect much more in his final eight months in office. More than 6.5 million acres are in play, including ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in southeast Utah, old-growth ponderosa pine forests around the Grand Canyon and Mojave Desert lands surrounding Cliven Bundy's southern Nevada ranch. In deciding what to protect, Obama likely will turn to a small group of trusted advisers. There are obvious players such as Obama's senior adviser Brian Deese and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who are both close enough to the Oval Office to bend the president's ear. But much of the monuments legwork is delegated to high-level staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Interior. The president's national monuments team includes Christy Goldfuss, managing director at CEQ, and her associate director Michael Degnan, who spent a decade at conservation nonprofits advocating for public lands. At Interior, Jewell's Deputy Chief of Staff Nikki Buffa is playing a key role vetting lands for permanent protections. And at the Bureau of Land Management, Laurie Sedlmayr-Cumming, a part-time adviser to Director Neil Kornze, has an important behind-the-scenes part in Obama's monuments agenda. Bruce Babbitt, Clinton's Interior secretary, said Antiquities Act decisions depend in large part on who is in key offices. John Podesta, Obama's previous top environmental adviser, "was a monuments guy" and took personal ownership of the issue, Babbitt said. Monuments leadership is now more diffuse, he said. Conservationists feel they have a dream team at CEQ with Goldfuss, a former National Park Service official and public lands advocate for the Center for American Progress (a project of Podesta's), and Degnan, who maintains close ties to green groups. "The team that's there now is very strong," said Athan Manuel, director of land conservation at Sierra Club and Degnan's former boss...more

Taxpayer-funded solar plant lights birds on fire

Energy Department officials provided $1.5 billion in loan guarantees to finance a solar thermal field that "set itself on fire last week," according to a Republican senator. "[T]he Obama administration gave $1.5 billion of American taxpayers' money for a solar field of death that kills thousands of birds, doesn't produce much energy and sets itself on fire," Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., said on the Senate floor on Thursday. Coats was talking about a solar field known as "Ivanpah." It works by using solar mirrors to direct sunlight at boiler towers "in order to boil water within the towers, which then creates energy through a conventional steam turbine," his office explained. Coats derided the plan as a "waste of the week," saying that the money would have been better-used on defense or infrastructure spending. The Obama administration has provided numerous subsidies to green energy companies, but Coats mocked the lack of testing when he noted that the plant has produced about one-third of the energy that experts predicted. "If they had tested it out before they put the millions of mirrors in, they would have learned some things," he said. "Nobody seemed to factor in that the sun doesn't always shine in the desert because sometimes there are clouds." Even so, the plant generates enough heat to cause birds that fly overhead to "ignite in midair," according to his office. "The heat has killed over 3,500 birds each year," Coats said."They fry to death because there is so much heat reflected from those mirrors ... by the time you get into this field, it's like going into a deep-fat fryer." And when some of the panels were placed at the wrong angle, they directed sunlight "at electric cables, which caused the cables to catch fire and ultimately scorched and melted metal pipes," Coats said. "You just can't make this stuff up." link

Trump outlines ‘America First’ energy plan

Donald Trump outlined an energy plan he’s calling “America First” on Thursday, using a speech in North Dakota to promote oil, natural gas and coal for the country’s future. The presumptive GOP presidential nominee's plan, which shares its name with his foreign policy platform, is as much about helping the fossil fuel sector as it is about fighting what he called “job-killing” policies from the Obama administration, which he says Democrat Hillary Clinton would only further as president. It aligns closely with longstanding priorities of Republican policymakers and avoids forgoing GOP orthodoxy like the candidate has done in other policy areas. “American energy dominance will be declared a strategic, economic and foreign policy goal of the United States,” Trump said in the speech at a petroleum conference in Bismarck, N.D. “It’s about time.” He said the country needs to better use its fossil fuel stores, resources he said President Obama has locked away. He said he’d allow far more oil, gas and coal extraction on federal land and offshore...more

And the enviros aren't happy: 

“Trump's divisive language has made him a shocking candidate, but today he just pandered to the fossil fuel industry with a carbon-copy energy plan that could have been lifted directly from [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell,” David Willett, spokesman for the League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement. “As Big Polluters’ new best friend, Trump’s 'plan' is pro-drilling, anti-EPA and is dangerous to our clean air and water. It does nothing to arrest our rapidly changing climate and the extreme weather already impacting Americans,” he added. “Today's speech from Donald Trump reads like a love letter to big corporate polluters and a Dear John letter to our future,” said Tom Steyer, a billionaire environmentalist and Democratic donor.

Trump demands share of profits in exchange for Keystone approval

Donald Trump says he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline project as president as long as the United States receives a large chunk of oil revenue in exchange. Trump said Thursday at a press conference before an energy speech in North Dakota that he would “absolutely approve [Keystone] 100 percent, but I want a better deal." The presumptive GOP presidential nominee said that the U.S. would be doing more for the oil pipeline project, a proposal from Canadian energy firm TransCanada, than just approving it. Because it would run along American land, Trump said, the U.S. deserves “a piece of the profits, because we’re making it happen.”...more

SLO vs CBP - Battle over easement fees

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it wants to pay to repair roads in New Mexico’s borderlands but wants the state Land Office to first waive what could amount to about $400,000 in easement fees – a request the land commissioner opposes. CBP is requesting rights of way on 27 miles of mostly dirt-and-gravel roadways that cut through state trust lands in Hidalgo and Luna counties. Most of the roads – so bumpy, gutted and overgrown they require a four-wheel drive vehicle – are in a corner of the Bootheel where the Mexican border lies to the east. Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn says he thinks the federal government should pay for access, given that the easement fees go to a trust fund supporting public education in the state. “I have an obligation to the schoolchildren of New Mexico,” Dunn said. “They haven’t said they don’t have the funds. If the funds are available, I think they should pay for the right of way.” It’s not clear how much CBP would invest in maintenance and repairs in New Mexico annually; the agency did not respond to a request for comment. CBP has paid the $175 application fee but is requesting that the Land Office waive other fees. The Land Office calculates the $400,000 in fees – a rough estimate – based on the 60-foot right-of-way easement requested by CBP across 27 miles. In its April application to the Land Office, CBP argues that the fees should be waived because the agency intends to repair the roads “for the sole purpose of enhancing the safety, security and efficiency of law enforcement personnel,” which “will reduce waste and trespass and enhance the safety and security of the general public.” It is seeking rights of way for 35 years. The disagreement could have implications for border security in a sprawling, rugged borderland where roads are few and far between and many are poorly maintained. Drug running and illegal immigration from Mexico remain intractable problems in the area...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1619

From their new CD Long I Ride, here is the bluegrass group Special Consensus with Baby I'm Blue


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Congressman calls on New Mexico to help with water dispute

New Mexico’s only Republican member of Congress has joined the fight between ranchers and the federal government over access to water on national forest lands, saying the state can do more to protect the private property and water rights of its citizens. The U.S. Forest Service has fenced streams, springs and other watering holes to protect the habitat of an endangered mouse. The agency has repeatedly defended its actions, saying it has responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act to ensure the survival of the rodent. The congressman, whose district covers most of the southern half of the state, said the federal government is trampling on property and water rights in New Mexico as it has in other Western states. Fifty state lawmakers have written to New Mexico’s top water manager, voicing concerns that the federal government has overstepped its authority. State Engineer Tom Blaine said in April that he was concerned about the federal mismanagement of public lands and that his office was investigating complaints from locals about recent federal actions. Gov. Susana Martinez’s office has yet to weigh in...more

In the press conference this morning Pearce was critical of the State Engineer's lack of action to protect NM water rights. Here we have a situation where NM citizens have a water right recognized by the State Engineer, but a structure imposed by a federal agency is preventing those New Mexicans from exercising that right. And the State Engineer does nothing? Pearce does see an inconsistency here:

Arguing that water is a state issue, Pearce said New Mexico needs to stand up to the federal government, like it has with lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over pollution from a Colorado mine spill and the fight over plans by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release more Mexican gray wolves into the wild. 

Pearce did say he felt if Governor Martinez was properly briefed on the issue he was confident she would support the ranchers and state water law. Pearce may be correct on the Governor, but I'm not so sure. She steadfastly refused to get involved on the Wilderness/National Monument issue here in Dona Ana County.  She wouldn't even meet with the groups who were in opposition. The Governor jumped right in on the U.S.D.A licensing a horse slaughter plant, but has been silent on land and water issues that affect so many New Mexicans.  What is her position  on the pending bills to take more lands out of multiple-use in New Mexico? Her silence plays to the benefit of the enviro lobbyists, Senators Udall and Heinrich, and the Obama administration.  And more importantly, she's not helping the rural citizens of our state.

Farm & Ranch Museum: NM weavers on display

A beautiful new exhibit at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces showcasing historical and contemporary weaving opened on May 21. “Weaving in New Mexico: The Ancestral Puebloan and Rio Grande Traditions,” is in the museum’s Traditions Gallery. Discover the ancient textile creations of the Ancestral Puebloans and the jewels of Rio Grande weaving from 1850 to the present. The exhibit includes 48 artifacts – everything from rugs to looms and tools. When most people think of southwestern weaving, they think of the finely-woven textiles of the Navajo. Few are aware of the rich weaving traditions developed by Ancestral Puebloans more than 3,000 years ago, and the Hispanic weaving tradition introduced by the early Spanish settlers in New Mexico. Ancestral Puebloans dressed in well-made woven textiles, and they used their weaving skills to make utilitarian items that made life easier. Weaving required an expertise and an understanding of the natural resources available in the environment and how to use them. The story of Pueblo weaving is a long and complex one, as a continuous thread from the past joins contemporary weavers. Today, Pueblo weaving, as a dynamic art form, continues as a vital part of Pueblo ceremonialism. Hispanic weaving in New Mexico can trace its roots to Spain and the weaving influences introduced during the 800-year occupation by the Moors. The beauty of Hispanic weaving increased over the years because of cross-cultural exchanges that occurred among the Puebloan, Navajo and Hispanic weaving traditions...more

Forged Federal Document Complicates A Growing Fight Over National Monument Designation In Utah

Advocates of a contentious national monument designation for Utah’s Bears Ears area are concerned that local residents will be misled about the designation dispute after forged federal documents and deceptive flyers addressing it were distributed in public spaces nearby. Cynthia Wilson, community outreach coordinator for Native American pro-monument group Utah Diné Bikéyah, found the misleading documents at a U.S. post office in Bluff and multiple gas stations in San Juan County in the past week. They include a falsified letter purporting to be from Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell that claims President Barack Obama is preparing to reduce the Navajo Nation by 4.15 million acres. The letter claims the Navajo no longer need their land in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, and thus it will be opened up for grazing and commercial purposes. “This was not sent out from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs or from the U.S. Department of Interior,” a Department of Interior spokesperson said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “President Obama has no intentions of reducing the size of the Navajo Reservation.”  Wilson also found a flyer purporting to be from Utah Diné Bikéyah and announcing a party to celebrate the creation of the Bears Ears monument. But the flyer warned some Native Americans to stay away: “Everyone is invited except Utah Navajos,” it read. In an email to HuffPost, Utah Diné Bikéyah characterized the document as racist, and executive director Gavin Noyes said he didn’t know why it was written.  A forged letter that purported to be from Albert Holiday, vice president of the Navajo Nation’s Oljato Chapter and a supporter of a monument, claimed that the Bears Ears proposal would bar Native Americans from using the land for cultural and sacred activities. In fact, the plan would actually allow for such uses. “I couldn’t believe it,” Holiday told HuffPost. “My people are all for the monument.” The dispute over Bears Ears has grown increasingly charged as summer nears. State lawmakers are uneasy over what they see as federal overreach similar to Bill Clinton’s use of the Antiquities Act in 1996 to create Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Utah State Rep. Mike Noel (R) and other lawmakers called on the state’s attorney general to “ferret out” environmental groups he believes have funded and co-opted the tribal coalition so the land can be designated without the say of state local leaders...more

'The Last Ranch' gives ample justice to a historical wrong

In 1996, with his first book “Tularosa” in hand, Michael McGarrity drove into Alamogordo from Santa Fe and went knocking on doors seeking media interviews. Twenty years later, readers around the world now eagerly await each new McGarrity novel. His books have been printed in such countries as Japan, France, Germany, Croatia, England and Norway. Four years ago McGarrity published “Hard Country,” the first in a trilogy that featured Kerney’s grandfather Patrick, and father Matthew. “Back Lands” followed and now, in “The Last Ranch,” Matthew returns from World War II to resettle into life on the family’s New Mexico spread. Readers in Otero and Lincoln counties are quite familiar not just with locations where McGarrity sets his action, but with historical characters such as Eugene Manlove Rhodes and John Prather who once walked Alamogordo’s streets. More than any other author who melds fiction with historical events, McGarrity adeptly portrays the United States government’s grab of the land that became White Sands Proving Ground (now Missile Range). In “The Last Ranch,” the Kerneys are affected, and McGarrity’s inclusion of the struggle does ample justice to a historical wrong. In early 1942, as a result of Japan bombing Pearl Harbor, the government seized the land. Hard-working men and women lost private property, their water and mineral rights, and were forced to herd cattle in the dead of winter to new grazing areas. They not only had to pay for new living accommodations, but also were responsible for keeping mortgages current on the land the government now occupied. McGarrity moves his characters through World War II, the first Atomic Bomb test, the demise of the once-prosperous cattle community of Engle, into nearby Hot Springs a.k.a. Truth of Consequences, and on through the Vietnam War in which Kevin Kerney serves. Closing the book after the final page of the saga may invoke emotions of losing a good friend. For the past four years McGarrity fans have been there through the Kerneys’ struggles and triumphs, the victories and injustices, and the successes and heartaches. It can be kind of tough saying adios to fellow New Mexicans that have lived and loved, thanks to the life the skilled storyteller McGarrity has breathed into them...more

McGarrity will also sign his book at COAS Books in Las Cruces, 317 N. Main St., May 28, at noon and Las Cruces' Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, 200 E. Picacho Ave., May 28, at 1 p.m. At Alamogordo's Hastings, 805 N. White Sands Blvd., at 1 p.m. May 29 and Ruidoso's Books Etc., 2340 Sudderth Drive, at 4:30 p.m. May 29.

Mars probe to be used by agriculture

It was designed for use on Mars, but researchers at Scotland's University of Strathclyde, working in conjunction with the UK Space Agency's International Partnerships Space Programme (IPSP), have altered design and purpose of the space technology for a more down-to-earth application, a new mobile platform tool to be used as an agricultural monitoring system in the field. The newly-named AgRover, a tracked robotic system, carries a soil sensing instrument that can test the quality of soil in any field. Using a robotic arm and sensing probe, data collected is transmitted using an integrated, force feedback-controlled robotic system on the ground during the ongoing research project. Researchers say it has the potential of reducing the environmental impact of farming. "Robotic technology will be a key technological enabler for precision farming, and this project is a combination of frontier research programs in space robotic technologies. It focuses on a unique soil sensing technology, developed and built with UK capability; it's also based on space instrumentation and the deployment of a UK-developed, intuitive master robotic control system," Yan said...more

Bayer bids $62 billion for Monsanto

Bayer AG offered $62 billion to buy Monsanto Co., deepening investor concern that it’s stretching its finances to become the world’s biggest seller of seeds and farm chemicals. The May 10 written proposal to Monsanto offered $122 a share in cash, the Leverkusen, Germany-based company said in a statement on Monday. Bayer’s stock dropped as much as 4.1%, extending losses since the potential deal was first revealed. Monsanto shares posted muted gains, rising 6% to $107.67 in New York trading, signaling that investors remain skeptical about the deal. Buying St. Louis-based Monsanto would allow Bayer to tap growing demand at a time when farmers must boost productivity to feed an estimated 10 billion people globally by 2050. Bayer Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann is hoping that rationale will win over skeptical investors -- and overcome a public backlash at home against Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds -- as he seeks to pull off the biggest corporate takeover ever by a German company after less than a month at the helm. “The agriculture industry is at the heart of one of the greatest challenges of our time: How to feed an additional 3 billion people by 2050. The number represents about six times the population of Europe today,” Baumann said in a Monday conference call...more

Planners seek to transform border town into destination

Trucks race along a winding road in the arid New Mexico desert. As they travel through Santa Teresa, a border-crossing port of entry and unincorporated town, they pass millions of square feet of warehouses that store steel coil, wind turbine blades and specialty glass. It’s a town that state officials say has pumped millions into New Mexico’s economy. But missing in this industrial enclave are shops, cafes, gas stations and residents. No one lives here. Now the nonprofit group that operates Santa Teresa is working to transform the area from a place where people work into one where they might put down roots. Officials are drafting plans that call for the building of a plaza on an upslope, surrounded by Mediterranean-style housing and international restaurants. Such developments also could include hotels, retail stores and entertainment attractions that would turn this industrial park into a new hot spot just a stone’s throw away from the U.S.-Mexico border...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1618

Bobby Helm's 1957 recording Just A Little Lonesome is our selection today.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

EPA, Army Corps of Engineers Violate Law, Oppress Farmers in California and Elsewhere, Farm Bureau Tells Congress

    WASHINGTON, D.C., May 24, 2016 - The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers have violated their own regulations and effectively invented new ones in enforcing the Clean Water Act, the American Farm Bureau Federation said today.
    Don Parrish, senior director of congressional relations at AFBF, told the Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife that the Army Corps' novel interpretations of environmental law are threatening the very livelihoods of ordinary, middle-class Americans who happen to farm for a living.
    "Based on what we see in California, it is clear that the expansions in jurisdiction over land and water features on the farm are already happening," Parrish told the subcommittee. "Most ordinary farming activities conducted in areas under jurisdiction will require permits if and when the Corps chooses to demand them. And when they demand permits, delays and costs will mount until most farmers simply give up. Congress needs to step in and give farmers some real certainty so they can plan their farming operations and protect the environment at the same time."
    Parrish's testimony also included a detailed analysis of recent Army Corps actions by Jody Gallaway, an environmental scientist and California Farm Bureau member who has consulted on numerous discussions between local farmers and the Corps. The Army Corps interprets and executes environmental regulations that are largely determined by the EPA.
    Parrish cited numerous examples of EPA and Army Corps mismanagement:
  • The Corps has made jurisdictional determinations and tracked farming activities based on classified aerial photographs and LIDAR imagery that is not publicly available, even to farmers under investigation
  • Army Corps officials have forced farmers to sign non-disclosure agreements - gag orders, in effect - as part of their enforcement actions.
  • One California farmer invested tens of thousands of dollars to map his private property to ensure his farming activity would avoid polluting local watersheds. The Corps, in response, threatened enforcement proceedings over construction of roads and ponds completed years before the farmer owned the property.
  • In the Army Corps' Sacramento district, any plowing through a wetland requires permits that typically cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in engineering fees, even though the Clean Water Act exempts plowing from permitting.
  • The Army Corps has issued menacing letters to farmers who have changed from alfalfa hay farming to cattle grazing and back, despite the absence of any law to support their objections.
  • The Corps has told farmers to stop working when it merely suspected they were plowing too deep or changing land use. The Corps' selective enforcement of this interpretation means it can now tell farmers where they may and may not farm, and what they may grow.
  • The five-year drought has forced many farmers to temporarily fallow land or change crops based on changes in irrigation and market conditions. Oblivious to such obvious economic distress, the Corps has repeatedly required permits for ordinary plowing necessary to prepare the ground to change crops, further compounding the economic dislocation farmers have felt in the Central Valley.
    Parrish's testimony can be found here: http://www.fb.org/assets/news/DonParrishBioAttachmentTestimony.pdf
    Editor's note: Jody Gallaway is the name of the California Farm Bureau member who prepared the analysis cited in Parrish's testimony.

Press Release

National Park Service Chief Misled Inspector General Investigators, Lied to Interior Secretary and Promoted Other Agency Violators

Elise Daniel (202) 226-9019
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held an oversight hearing on the “Culture of Corruption” at the Department of the Interior (DOI). During the hearing, Mary Kendall, DOI Deputy Inspector General (IG), acknowledged that Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service, purposely lied to the Secretary of the Interior about a book deal he improperly obtained for himself, and that Director Jarvis attempted to mislead her team of federal investigators as they looked into the matter.
In a handwritten note to DOI Secretary Sally Jewell, Director Jarvis assured her that he wrote the book at the request of the publisher and on his own time with no ethics issues.
Do you know why he did not consult with the ethics folks first?Subcommittee Chairman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) asked.  
I believe he told the investigators that he intentionally chose not to consult the ethics office because he was afraid it would either slow down or thwart his efforts to write the book,Kendall responded.
In February, the IG released a report about Director Jarvis’ intentional violation of ethics rules to secure the book deal, and the lies that he constructed in an attempt to get away with his unethical behavior.
Ed Keable, DOI’s Deputy Solicitor for General Law, told the Committee that Director Jarvis was “disciplined” via a letter of reprimand, and that he would be required to attend ethics classes. His book remains on sale.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) then pointed out that Director Jarvis not only fails to act ethically himself, but he actively rewards those employees who violate rules and break the law like Dave Uberuaga. In the past, Uberuaga was found to have abused his position as Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park after he improperly sold his house for over three times the market value to a park concessionaire in 2002. Following that illegal incident, Director Jarvis promoted Uberuaga to one of the most prestigious positions in the National Park Service—Superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park.  
Uberuaga announced his retirement last week following a federal investigation that revealed sexual abuse occurred in the Grand Canyon’s River District under his leadership. Rather than holding his employee accountable for his actions, Director Jarvis had asked him to come work at headquarters in D.C. instead of retire.
Other disturbing examples include the Director of the Bureau of Indian Education, who used his position to hire his girlfriend and niece—violating federal law in the process—  and Timothy Reid, Chief Ranger at Yellowstone National Park, who improperly used his NPS apartment in an international home exchange related to his family’s bed and breakfast. Reid was then promoted to serve as the Superintendent of Devils National Monument by Director Jarvis himself.
In Kendall’s prepared testimony she wrote, “DOI does not do well in holding accountable those employees who violate laws, rules, and regulations. We see too few examples of senior leaders making the difficult decision to impose meaningful corrective action and hold their employees accountable. Often, management avoids discipline altogether and attempts to address misconduct by transferring the employee to other duties or to simply counsel the employee. The failure to take appropriate action is viewed by other employees as condoning misbehavior.”
Click HERE to view full witness testimony.