Saturday, April 29, 2017

‘Land that time forgot’ (NM's bootheel)

By Lauren Villagran 

CORONADO NATIONAL FOREST – Wildlife biologist Fernando Clemente steers a six-man ATV over a gravel road that cuts through golden grasslands and shrub forest, over the dry beds of rivers that run only after monsoon storms. Mountains in Mexico ring the horizon. “I understand that homeland security is important for everybody,” says Clemente, whose New Mexico Wildlife Services educates ranchers on both sides of the border in range management that benefits wildlife, the desert ecosystem and cattle grazing. “The problem is,” he says, “a wall will stop everything except a person.” Wild and unwalled, much of the landscape of New Mexico’s Bootheel extends seamlessly into Mexico. Wildlife experts say the Trump administration’s promise to build a “big, beautiful wall” on the border poses a special risk to plant and animal life in this region, home to one of the most biologically diverse corridors in North America. “It is the land that time forgot, right there where the border is,” said Garrett VeneKlasen, executive director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, which represents more than 80,000 sportsmen statewide. “That is one of the most complex and significant wildlife corridors in all of North America. On the border, there are big gaps and holes – thank God – to allow that wildlife movement back and forth.” But the region’s security challenges are evident in a sign near a Coronado National Forest entrance cautioning, “Smuggling and illegal immigration may be encountered in this area.” Clemente is driving a group that includes Deming Public Schools assistant superintendent and avid sportsman Ray Trejo; Gabe Vasquez, southern New Mexico coordinator for the Wildlife Federation; and Zen Khan, a Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine student who hopes to practice wilderness medicine. Clemente is carrying a sidearm for a reason. The Bootheel is a known route for drug mules trekking north to Interstate 10 with 60-pound sacks of marijuana on their backs. The corridor is also used, less often, by economic migrants entering the country illegally. With only a few rough roads, no cellular service and an understaffed station, the Bootheel has long been a challenging area for Border Patrol...more

Trump's monument order raises questions of presidential overreach

“There’s more to this decision than meets the eye,” Missoula-based Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Conservation Director John Gale said in an email. “Neither sportsmen nor other public lands users would stand in the way of an objective attempt to ensure the integrity of recent monument designations. Yet the administration’s announcement could create unintended consequences that jeopardize important fish and wildlife habitat on public lands and invite unproductive dialogues that distract us from enhancing management of our public lands and waters.”...more

They wouldn't stand in the way of an "objective" review, but the mere announcement by Trump jeopardizes wildlife habitat? The review will cause "unproductive dialogues"? Sounds to me like they don't want the light of day shown on some of these designations. Abuses discovered might lead to legislation, so let's don't talk about it.  

Indiana University environmental law professor Robert Fischman noted that the Antiquities Act gives a president the power to designate a national monument, but stands silent on disestablishment. So while Trump can order reviews of borders and management, he said only Congress has authority to erase a monument. “I think what is happening here is that President Trump wants to make a big show of ordering a review (for which he needs no executive order) to appease opponents of monuments and parks,” Fischman wrote in an email. “Then, he can do nothing but make some suggestions to Congress. Revoking monument designations would undermine much of Trump’s popular support. “Congress has altered and disestablished parks,” Fischman continued. “The presidents have altered monument boundaries. None were done with the kind of fanfare we are seeing today. I think that suggests that Trump is acting for the fanfare and not for the disestablishment/revocation agenda.”

Fischman thinks this is all a "big show" done for fanfare and in the end, Trump will only make some recommendations to Congress. Fischman just can't bring himself to believe this President might actually diminish some National Monuments. Hell, I could hardly believe it myself! But I don't believe the "fanfare" is just throwing meat to the " disestablishment/revocation" types. No sir. I think a blow against executive branch overreach is about to be struck.

Climate March draws massive crowd to D.C. in sweltering heat

On a sweltering April day, tens of thousands of demonstrators assembled in Washington on Saturday for the latest installment of the regular protests that punctuate the Trump era. This large-scale climate march marked President Trump’s first 100 days in office, which have already seen multiple rollbacks of environmental protections and Obama climate policies. The Peoples Climate March, which originated with a massive demonstration in New York in September 2014, picked a symbolically striking day for its 2017 event. The temperature reached 91 degrees at D.C.’s National Airport at 2:59 p.m., tying a heat record for April 29 in the district set in 1974 — which only amplified the movement’s message. On the eve of the march, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was beginning an overhaul of its website, which included taking down a long-standing site devoted to the science of climate change, which the agency said was “under review.” “Hang on EPA, the midterms are coming. 2018,” read one sign carried by Kathy Sommer of Stony Brook, N.Y, as the protest assembled on the Mall Saturday morning. “There is no Planet B,” read another sign by Eva Gunther of Washington, D.C., displaying one of the most popular and oft repeated messages of the event (and of last week’s March for Science). Hillary Clinton tweeted praise of the marchers Saturday afternoon, writing, “Great to see ppl take to the streets & combat climate change, protect the next generation & fight for jobs & economic justice.”...more

Friday, April 28, 2017

Court suspends case over Obama climate rule

A federal appeals court is pausing its case over former President Barack Obama’s landmark climate change regulation, notching a major victory for the Trump administration. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday halted the case while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works through the process of repealing the Clean Power Plan. The decision means that the federal court will not publish its ruling on whether or not the regulation, the main pillar of Obama’s climate change agenda, is legal. The court heard oral arguments in September in the challenge by conservative states, fossil fuel businesses and others who argue that the Clean Air Act and the Constitution prohibit the EPA from writing the regulation. The Trump administration also opposes the rule. President Trump signed an executive order last month to start the process of repealing the Clean Power Plan, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt led the legal challenge against it in his previous job as Oklahoma’s attorney general. Shortly after Trump signed his order, the Justice Department asked the court to hold off on the case...more

video - 'American Standoff' director on Oregon occupation: 'We weren't trying to take a side'

By Kristi Turnquist 

Even though it officially ended on Feb. 11, 2016, the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon still stirs passionate opinions.  But Josh Turnbow, who directed "American Standoff," a new documentary from the AT&T Audience Network about the occupation, says he wasn't interested in taking sides.  "I was looking for an interesting documentary about where things were going in land management," says Turnbow, a senior producer for content for DirecTV and AT&T. In a phone call from his home base in Los Angeles, Turnbow says he'd long been interested in the topic of land disputes in the west. He was also hearing reports about right-wing extremism and anti-government movements. "We were talking to Cliven Bundy in the summer of 2015," Turnbow says, referring to the Nevada rancher whose refusal to pay grazing fees led to an armed confrontation with government agents in 2014 on federal land near Bundy's ranch. When two of Bundy's sons, Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy, along with a group of armed protesters, took control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January, 2016, "We were on the ground two days later, filming," Turnbow says. "American Standoff" begins by recounting events that led up to the occupation. Turnbow, who was also the cinematographer, pays particular attention to the case of Dwight Hammond Jr., and his son, Steven. The Harney County ranchers were convicted of arson for setting fires on federal land in 2001 and 2006. After initially being sentenced to serve lesser sentences, an appeals court ruled each of the Hammonds instead had to serve five-year mandatory minimum prison terms, with credit for time served. The Hammonds' case became a rallying point for members of self-identified militia and patriot groups, some of whom joined Ammon and Ryan Bundy when they took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, about 30 miles south of Burns. "American Standoff" features a mix of digital content that was circulating online as the Oregon standoff was happening, along with interviews filmed by Turnbow and his small crew...more

American Standoff" premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 4 on DirecTV, and can be streamed on DirecTVNow (if you don't already have DirecTV, you can sign up for a free trial to stream the documentary at

Here is the trailer for the documentary

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1835

TGIFF!  It's Fiddle Friday and we have Shamus O'Brien by Reg Hill & The Ottawa Valley Melodiers. The tune is on their 1970 album 14 Great Fiddle Favorites..

Thursday, April 27, 2017

How Team Trump plans to kill Obama’s Paris climate deal by declaring it a treaty

As President Trump’s top advisers prepare to hash out a final policy on the Paris climate agreement dumped onto their laps by President Obama, another option has hit the table: Declare the deal a treaty and send it to the Senate to be killed. The treaty option could emerge as the middle ground in the increasingly tense battle between “remainers” on the one hand, who say the president should abide by Mr. Obama’s global warming deal, and the Paris agreement’s detractors, who say Mr. Trump would be breaking a key campaign promise if he doesn’t withdraw from the pact. Mr. Trump’s principal advisers are slated to meet Thursday to hash out a final set of recommendations for the president, with several deadlines looming next month. At an initial meeting of top staffers Tuesday, several memos and letters that were circulated laid out the options, including the treaty proposal put forth by Christopher C. Horner and Marlo Lewis Jr., senior fellows at the Competitive Enterprise Institute...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1834

Earlier this week I blogged a NM Trio - The Cowboy Way - had won The Wrangler Award for their 2016 CD The Cowboy Way. From that CD we bring you The Wheel Fell Off The Wagon.  THE WESTERNER

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Mexico’s newest monuments under threat by Trump’s executive order

By Michael Coleman / Journal Washington Bureau
The status of two national monuments in New Mexico and dozens more nationwide came into question Wednesday after President Donald Trump said his administration would review them to determine whether the protected status is in the best interest of their surrounding communities. “The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it’s time we end this abusive practice,” Trump said at the signing ceremony, adding that he hoped to curb an “egregious abuse of federal power.” The president’s order for a review applies to monuments created after 1996 that are over 100,000 acres. That includes the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monuments in New Mexico, as well as the newly created Bears Ears National Monument in Southeastern Utah. The Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains monuments were set aside for protection by former President Barack Obama. The order requires Zinke to consult local governments and tribes as part of the review. Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, questioned whether it would be legal for Trump to rescind any federal monument status and he pledged to “fight him every step of the way” if the president attempts to do so. “This executive order is nothing more than a political move that will waste limited resources and unnecessarily add uncertainty for growing businesses and communities around these monuments, including two in New Mexico,” Udall said. “I won’t stand by if the Trump administration tries to open the door to selling them off to the highest bidder,” New Mexico’s senior senator added. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican whose district includes the Organ Mountains-Desert Peak Monument, near Las Cruces, opposed its designation in 2014. At that time, he proposed setting aside a smaller portion of land in the rugged mountain range than the nearly half-million acres that was eventually designated. Pearce said Wednesday that he supported Trump’s review. “The Obama administration, and the administrations before it, repeatedly abused the Antiquities Act by creating expansive national monuments that blatantly disregarded input from local communities and governments that are directly affected by these designations,” Pearce said. “New Mexicans, and folks all across the nation, deserve to have access to federal lands for recreational use, hunting, grazing and the economic opportunity that comes with it. Meanwhile, New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, a Republican, said Trump’s executive order could disrupt a proposed land exchange between the New Mexico State Land Office and the Bureau of Land Management that would consolidate state and federal holdings within the 242,455-acre Rio Grande del Norte National Monument...more

Questions remain after mistrial in Bunkerville standoff case

...One question is hanging over the federal courthouse in the wake of Monday’s mistrial: What happens next? Federal prosecutors still have not decided whether to retry the defendants. Taxpayers already have been saddled with significant costs, which only will balloon in a repeat trial. And the remaining 11 defendants who have been in prison for over a year do not want to wait any longer for their day in court. That is why some defense attorneys who represent the second group of defendants, charged as “leaders” of the armed protests in Bunkerville, are hoping that if prosecutors decide to retry any or all of the men in the first group, they will do so by combining them with the second group. “The sensible thing would be to take the three or four and just push them into our group and let it go forward,” defense attorney Christopher Rasmussen said. The attorney represents Santilli, a local radio personality who plans to argue at trial that he is innocent because he was a member of the media reporting on what he viewed as government overreach. “Why keep the Bundys and Santilli in custody another four months?” asked Rasmussen, who has filed a motion requesting that Santilli be tried on June 26, when the first group of defendants is retried. “We’re just hoping to go forward as quickly as possible.” The original plan was for the second trial to open 30 days after the first. Navarro already pushed that back to give prosecutors time to regroup and to prepare in between trials. “They’re happy that the jury believed there was no conspiracy. That’s what they’ve always said, that nobody conspired with anybody,” Rasmussen said of Santilli and the others awaiting trial. “But they’re really frustrated. They want to go to trial.” Supporters of the Bundy family and those closest to them, who, like Santilli, are charged as “leaders” of the standoff, also were encouraged by Monday’s results. “If we can’t get a ‘not guilty,’ we’ll take that,” said Deb Jordan, Santilli’s girlfriend, after the jurors revealed they were “hopelessly deadlocked.”...more

Ryan Bundy sues federal government

In a lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for Nevada in Las Vegas, Bundy challenges the constitutionality of prison policies and alleges deprivation of rights after he was punished for refusing to obey those policies. Bundy was transferred to prison in Nevada last fall after he was acquitted of conspiring to stage an armed takeover of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon. He is scheduled to stand trial later this year on separate federal conspiracy charges that result from an armed standoff near his father’s ranch in Bunkerville in April 2014. “Plaintiff Bundy has been forced and threatened to undergo oppressive, intrusive, and unlawful body cavity searches multiple times per day where his clothing is removed, where his genitals are or would be exposed to Defendant Doe’s during these multifarious and nonconsensual intrusions against his fourth, fifth, eight and fourteenth amendment rights,” Bundy, who is representing himself, wrote in the lawsuit. “Plaintiff Bundy has been forced and threatened to bend over and expose his anus by spreading his butt cheeks wide open while Defendant Doe’s peer up into Mr. Bundy’s rear body cavity hundreds of times,” he wrote. “On or around March 20, 2017, Plaintiff Bundy refused to undergo any further strip/body cavity searches imposed upon his person,” Bundy wrote in his filing. He said prison employees “continue to ‘punish’” his decision to refuse to be strip searched by “keeping him locked down in disciplinary segregation for twenty-four hours per day, with no opportunity for meaningful daily exercise.” Bundy acknowledges in his filing that prison officials offered to transport him to a hearing on the constitutionality of strip searches...more

EO on monuments and President's remarks

President signs EO to review monuments

President's remarks are here. The EO  is here

Ranch Radio Song of the Day #1833

From their new 2017 CD The Mountains Are Calling Me Home here are Junior Sisk & Rambler's Choice with the title song.

Press briefing by Zinke on Monuments E.O

Yesterday, Secretary gave a press briefing on the E.O. You can view  the entire briefing by going here Here are some excerpts

SECRETARY ZINKE:  So I'll read this and then I'll answer some questions.  Tomorrow, the President will come to the Department of Interior, to my office, and sign the executive order to review the Antiquities Act.  The executive order will direct me, as the Secretary, to review prior monument designations and to suggest legislative changes or modifications to the monuments.  The monument designation period stretches from 1 January 1996 under which the act -- and it has to include acts and monuments that are 100,000 acres or more -- so the beginning date is January 1st, 1996, and the other condition is they have to be a total of 100,000 acres or more.  That should include about 24 to 40 monuments.  That gives you kind of a thumbnail.
The executive order directs the Interior to provide an interim report to the President within 45 days of the day of the order and a final report to the President within 120 days of that order. 

...The Antiquities Act of 1906 -- and that was under President Roosevelt -- it did give the President the authority to declare historic monuments, landmarks, prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic and scientific interest on federal lands.  Also in the Antiquities Act, authors specified the scope of the authority to “designate the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”  That’s verbiage from the act itself.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Local trio wins prestigious Wrangler Award for latest CD

Apparently wasting time is not the cowboy way. The New Mexico Western music trio that calls itself The Cowboy Way released its debut CD, also called “The Cowboy Way,” late last year and right out of the chute it won the prestigious Wrangler Award, presented by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, for best traditional Western album. “I think the three of us made something a little special,” trio member Doug Figgs said during a phone conversation from the Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City on Friday. “We are going everywhere on the CD. We are going historical (“Los Ladrones,” about horse thieves), we are going modern-day cowboy (“Let the Best Man Win,” about bullriders), we put in some covers (“Everything That Glitters” by Bob McDill and Dan Seals) that really appeal. We covered a whole lot of things in one album.” Figgs represented the trio at Saturday’s award ceremonies, which were held at the museum and presided over by actor Bruce Boxleitner.Figgs, a horseshoer and cowboy, as well as a singer/songwriter, lives in Lemitar. He was the Western Music Association’s 2015 Songwriter of the Year, and “Charlie and Evangeline,” a song he wrote with Todd Carter, won a Western Writers of America Spur Award for songwriting that same year. Jones, a Texas native, has a hatful of Western CDs and four Western novels to his credit. He is the WMA’s 2014 Male Performer of the Year and his song “Texas is Burnin'” won the WWA’s 2013 songwriting Spur.Funke, who is skilled on the Spanish guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, drums and more, is considered the master musician in the trio. A native of Germany, Funke followed his fascination with the American West to Socorro, where he put down roots and teaches music when he’s not performing or recording with The Cowboy Way.;;more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1832

The new Gibson Brothers CD In The Ground was released in February. Here's the title song.  This tune goes out to Jay Hill, who is working night and day to make sure this theme, the decline of the family farm, doesn't occur in this area.  No "long, slow surrender" on his part. No Sir!.

Monday, April 24, 2017

After mistrial declared for 4 defendants, Bundy supporters say case far from over

Seven weeks of testimony. Five days of deliberations. Two convictions. Four mistrials. Supporters of the Bundy 6 know the case is far from over. “I don't think there was a case here all along,” said Bundy supporter John Lamb. The jury deadlocked on all charges against four other defendants. “It's a win whenever you get a hung jury in federal court,” said Todd Leventhal, who represents Scott Drexler. “For defense attorneys, it's a win. “I just spoke with the jurors, and they had a lot of opinions on what they liked and didn't like,” Leventhal said. “They thought the government came in with too much evidence; they didn't believe all their witnesses.” Monday's mistrial means prosecutors will try the case again. The re-trials are scheduled to begin June 26 — the same date that the trial against Bundy and two of his sons was set to begin. Supporter Doug Knowles calls the system rigged. He said he believes the government is pushing for a plea bargain. “These boys have been in jail a year, and they still haven't been convicted,” Knowles said...more

Judge declares mistrial in Bundy standoff after jury deadlocks on conspiracy counts

A federal judge on Monday declared a mistrial after a jury deadlocked on conspiracy counts against six men charged in the 2014 armed standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and Nevada’s Bundy ranching family. The jury reached guilty verdicts earlier Monday on lesser charges against two of the six defendants, but jurors declared themselves “hopelessly deadlocked” on federal conspiracy charges against the group. Greg Burleson, 53, of Phoenix and Todd Engel, 49, of Boundary County, Idaho, were found guilty of obstruction of justice and interstate travel in aid of extortion stemming from the April 2014 clash over grazing rights on federal land. Burleson, who was described as an ex-FBI informant and shown in a video saying he posed as a member of a bogus film crew during the standoff, was also convicted on six other counts, including threatening and assaulting a federal officer. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Gloria Navarro set another trial date after the jury reached an impasse for the second time in the same day, several hours she sent them back with orders to continue deliberations at the Las Vegas courthouse...more

Jury convicts 2 in first Bunkerville standoff trial

A federal jury on Monday convicted two men of multiple counts resulting from the 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville. Gregory Burleson, a former paid FBI informant, and Todd Engel, an Idaho resident, both were convicted of obstruction of justice and interstate travel in aid of extortion. Burleson also was convicted of assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal officer and other firearms counts. The jury was “hopelessly deadlocked,” it said in a morning note, on the remaining counts and defendants. U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro sent the jury back to keep deliberating on those counts. The jury has been deliberating since April 13. The trial opened Feb. 6...more

Cascade-Siskiyou expansion: Who makes our nation's laws, the president or Congress?

By Travis Joseph

Presidents of the United States, regardless of political party, should always follow the law. Separation of powers is the founding principle of our Constitution.

Law Professor Michael Blumm's guest opinion in The Oregonian/OregonLive ("A misguided attack on the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument," April 4) offers a different argument: Presidents should follow the law when it fits a political agenda, but be allowed to reinterpret the law when it doesn't.

This conflict is at the heart of the American Forest Resource Council's legal challenge to President Obama's expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Southern Oregon: Who makes our nation's laws, the President or Congress?

Congress passed a law called the O&C Act in 1937. The law reserves more than 2.2 million acres of BLM forests in Western Oregon for the explicit purpose of "permanent forest production" on "all lands" based on the principle of sustained yield. In 80 years, Congress has not amended, repealed, replaced, or modified the O&C Act. It remains the law of the land.

As made clear in his guest opinion, Professor Blumm does not personally agree with the mandate of the O&C Act. Fair enough. All Americans likely disagree with some of our country's laws. But we must follow them nonetheless - unless or until they are changed - because America is a nation of laws. What's the point if we get to pick and choose the laws we follow?

Fake Carmel horse rescue, veteran charity scammed donors, AG says

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a civil lawsuit seeking to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars from two Carmel charities that claim to rescue horses and support wounded veterans with therapeutic riding. Becerra said both charities are fake. Matthew G. Gregory, his wife, Danella J. Gregory, and their adult children, Matthew J. Gregory and Gina D. Gregory, operate Central Coast Equine Rescue and Retirement (CCERR) and Wounded Warriors Support Group (WWSG), Becerra said. The Attorney General's Office says the Gregory family is a group of con artists. "CCERR and WWSG run raffles purportedly to support veterans and horses, but instead spend the donated proceeds for personal use," the AG's Office wrote in a press release. Personal uses included spending $10,000 at a hunting store, buying cars, shopping at Victoria's Secret and Nordstrom, paying off personal credit card debts, traveling, and restaurant bills, according to the lawsuit. The Gregory's charities raised $782,434 between 2014-2015. None of the money was ever used for equine therapy, saving horses' lives, or supporting veterans, the lawsuit states...more


Founder of West Deer horse rescue group pleads guilty in federal court

The founder of a horse rescue operation pleaded guilty Thursday to mail fraud and a tax offense in connection with her nonprofit. Pam Vivirito, who runs the Equine Angels Rescue in West Deer, entered the pleas before U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti, who set sentencing for July 20. Prosecutors said Ms. Vivirito, 46, solicited contributions to rehabilitate horses and used the money for her personal expenses. She also filed a false tax exempt organization form with the IRS in which she said her compensation was about $46,000 when it was really about $93,000...more


Canadian Plant Stops Processing Horses

A new quarantine rule is being blamed for shuttering a horse processing plant in Quebec, Canada, but some horse advocates believe the closure might not be good news for slaughter-bound equines from the United States. A combination of legislation and court rulings shuttered the last U.S. horse processing plants in 2007. Since then U.S. horses have been exported for processing in Canada and Mexico. A new rule which took effect March 31 requires that all horses imported from the United States into Canada for processing be held at Canadian feed lots for a minimum of six months. The regulation is intended to address food safety concerns expressed by European Union (EU) buyers. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said, the Les Viandes de la Petite Nation (LPN) processing plant, in Quebec, announced April 12 that it would cease horse processing because the new EU rule affected profits. All other activities are still operating, a CFIA spokesperson said. But while some equine welfare advocates welcomed the closure, they also believe that the horse processing industry will find a way to compensate. Meanwhile, Tawnee Preisner, founder of the Horse Plus Humane Society, which has locations across the United States, does not believe the closure will reduce the number of U.S. horses sold for processing. “Auction prices may (fluctuate), but more horses will probably be sent to slaughter in Mexico,” she opined...more

Embattled EPA pitches 40 “quick fixes” to slow poisoning of water at inactive Colorado mines

The EPA’s promised big cleanup of toxic mines is beginning with baby steps — quick fixes to fish-killing leaks improvised outside the Superfund process — amid worries that work on one of the West’s worst water problems will stall. EPA crews in southwestern Colorado swiftly stopped an acidic, 15 gallons-a-minute flow from the defunct Brooklyn Mine, drainage that for decades has injected heavy arsenic, cadmium, lead, manganese and zinc into Animas River headwaters. That’s a tiny portion of the overall 3,750 gallons-a-minute contaminating the Animas, but is typical of the trickling from thousands of mines that slowly kills Western streams — even as clean water increasingly is coveted. “It took half a day. All we did was redirect the adit flow so that it didn’t cross waste rock,” EPA Superfund project manager Rebecca Thomas said. This quick-fix approach reflects regional EPA officials fighting to prevent paralysis in the area where an EPA-led crew caused the Gold King disaster in 2015, a mistake that dramatized the problem of acid mine drainage by turning the Animas mustard-yellow. Now EPA cleanup specialists face the practical reality that the nation’s ailing Superfund program for rectifying environmental disasters may not be able to deliver. Federal cleanups of toxic mining Superfund sites typically take decades due to bureaucracy and scarce funds...more

47 pipeline protest cases closed last month, 33 dismissed

Prosecutors and judges dismissed 33 misdemeanor criminal cases resulting from arrests at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests last month.. Another 14 cases were resolved that month by guilty pleas, according to court records. Most of the dropped cases related to misdemeanor criminal trespass charges from the late summer and fall. Protesters were charged with demonstrating illegally on private property where pipeline construction was underway in southern Morton County. Prosecutors struggled to prove those charges before Allan Schmalenberger, a retired judge from Dickinson assisting the South Central District judges with DAPL cases. Schmalenberger decided in multiple cases that the Morton County State's Attorney's Office had not met its burden of proof in showing that protesters were given proper notice — by sign postings or warnings from an authorized person — that the land was private. After two trials, which Schmalenberger canceled midway through due to lack of evidence, the prosecutors entered motions to dismiss in several similar cases, citing a "notice issue."...more

Government Findings on Cessation of U.S. Horse Slaughter

In June 2011, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) determined that the cessation of domestic horse slaughter has unintentionally led to a decline in horse welfare in the United States, has negatively impacted the value of lower-to-medium priced horses by 8-21%, and has led to a 148% and 660% increase of horses transported to Canada and Mexico, respectively, for slaughter.

Congress directed the Government Accountability Office to examine horse welfare since cessation of domestic slaughter in 2007. GAO examined 1) the effect on the U.S. horse market since cessation; 2) any impact of these market changes on horse welfare; and 3) challenges to USDA's oversight of the transport and welfare of US horses exported for slaughter.

Since domestic horse slaughter ceased in 2007, the slaughter horse market has shifted to Canada and Mexico. As a result, nearly the same number of US horses was transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter in 2010, nearly 138,000, as was slaughtered before domestic slaughter ceased.

Available data show that horse prices declined since 2007, mainly for the lower-priced horses that are more likely to be bought for slaughter. GAO analysis of horse sale data estimates that closing domestic horse slaughtering facilities significantly and negatively affected lower-to-medium priced horses; higher-priced horses appear not to have lost value for that reason. Also, GAO estimates the economic downturn reduced prices for all horses by 4-5%.

Local government and animal welfare organizations report a rise in investigations for horse neglect and more abandoned horses since 2007. For example, in Minnesota the number of live horses involved in Animal Humane Society investigations has dramatically increased since 2007.

The GAO analysis shows that U.S. horses intended for slaughter are now traveling significantly greater distances to reach their final destination, where they are not covered by U.S. humane slaughter protections. With cessation of domestic slaughter, USDA lacks staff and resources at the borders and foreign slaughtering facilities that it once had in domestic facilities to help identify problems with shipping paperwork or the condition of horses before they are slaughtered. GAO recommends that USDA issue a final rule to protect horses through more of the transportation chain to slaughter and consider ways to better leverage resources for compliance activities.

The full GAO report can be found at

Trump to order review of all national monuments designated since 1996

President Donald Trump this week will order a review of national monument designations — including southern Utah's Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — as part of a wide look at a century-old law that allows presidents to set aside federal lands without congressional approval. On Wednesday, Trump will sign an executive order to demand that the Interior Department secretary examine all national monument designations in the past 21 years to discern whether their size and scope are within the law's intent, a move that tracks clearly with concerns of members of Utah's federal delegation about the use of the unilateral presidential power in designating monuments. A senior White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Sunday that the review will stretch back a couple of decades — including President Bill Clinton's 1996 naming of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument — but mainly was prompted by President Barack Obama's last-minute naming of Bears Ears National Monument in December. The order is not expected to change the designations immediately but has a short time frame for the Interior Department to report back on the designating of monuments back to Jan. 1, 1996. Clinton had named the nearly 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase in September 1996...Salt Lake Tribune

And Energyworld reports: 

 U.S. President Donald Trump will sign several executive orders on energy and the environment this week, a White House official said on Sunday. "This builds on previous executive actions that have cleared the way for job-creating pipelines, innovations in energy production, and reduced unnecessary burden on energy producers," the official said on condition of anonymity. On Wednesday, Trump is expected to sign an executive order related to the 1906 Antiquities Act, which enables the president to designate federal areas of land and water as national monuments to protect them from drilling, mining and development, the source said. On Friday, Trump is expected to sign an order that would fit into his administration's "America First" energy policy, the source said, but did not provide details.

Ranch Radio Song of the Day

Its Swingin' Monday and here's Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West with their 1953 recording of This Ain't The Blues.  The tune is on the Bear Family Records box set titled Flamin' Guitars.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Convenient information

 by Julie Carter

In general, men have a built-in gene making them masters at forgetting to mention important details that often dictate the outcome of a situation, up to and including the moment they could lose their lives or an important part of their anatomy.

The obvious incidents include forgetting to mention the existence of a wife, or some wild tale about why they didn't arrive home until the day after they were expected. However, cowboys specifically have those as well completely different types of "Did I forget to mention that?" stories.

Ranch stories of this nature will sometimes involve a simple request to the wife along the lines of "Could you go get our black bull out of the neighbor’s pasture today?"

What the head cowboy may have forgotten to mention is that once she finds the black bull in the four-section brush pasture, she will likely have to break up a fight between him and the neighbor's resident bull.

Then she will have to persuade the black bull to prefer leaving the neighbor's young heifers so she can drive him back to his ranch home. On the way out, she'll have to repair the fence that he tore up running away from home.

Being a sensible wife, she will know that the black bull, which is usually cooperative, will need to come to the pens at the headquarters, to discourage the same scenario from happening all over again.
These kinds of projects are common to the status of "ranch wife" who is not usually surprised by the omission of finer details of the request. Instead, a fair amount of get-even plotting will occupy the span of time it takes for the ride over to the neighbors, as well as the return trip.

When calves are shipped from the ranch, a permit from a state brand inspector is part of the process. The inspector in this case was about 5 feet tall and wore a pistol that came down almost to his knees. His demeanor indicated that he failed to recognize he was not God.

The ranch boss asked his wife to go help the brand inspector count and sort the calves, penning the heifers and steers separately. The calves, at one end of a long corral alley, began to file by the little woman so she could determine their male or female status before directing their destination.
  ers. A couple of hundred calves were sorted very quickly this way, with no slowing of the steady stream of cattle down the alley.

When it was all done, the inspector told the cowgirl he'd never seen anybody, male or female,
 sort cattle that quickly. What he had failed notice was that all the heifer calves were specifically earmarked. To make her call, all she had to do was glance at their heads as they came toward her.
She figured it was information he didn't particularly need, so she "forgot" to mention it. Thereafter, she enjoyed a reputation as a very astute and competent cattle woman. No mention was ever made that she shared the same "forgetfulness" indicative to the male species of her profession.

That quiet fame happens a lot at the ranch.

Julie can be reached for comment at


Gentle on My Mind
I Wish I Was 18 again
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            My uncle sent us the new Allison Krauss album, Windy City.
I had been listening to SiriusXM Roadhouse recently when she was being interviewed and, intermittently, the host would play a track from it. One of those featured songs was the great John Hartford creation, Gentle on My Mind, sung originally be Glenn Campbell.
            Knowing how much he liked Ms. Krauss, I tried to hook Uncle Bill up on the phone to listen to at least part of the song, but, between the new feature in the pickup cutting off the radio play with a phone connection and wanting to hear the song, I quickly abandoned the call and listened to an absolutely angelic performance. I called him immediately afterward and told him he had to get the album.
            He not only got himself one he sent us one as well. It is a sensational compilation of work. If you are a child of the ‘50s and ‘60s, it will flood your senses with memories.
            Gentle on My Mind
            We first saw Glenn Campbell in the fall of 1968 at the New Mexico State Fair. Just two kids not yet 18, we were already too far in love to know any better. I was staying with my uncle and aunt and she was staying with her aunt and cousins, but our quest was the state fair for the first time and to see Glenn in concert. We had been dropped off and the fair was ours to see on our big night. We didn’t have tickets to the concert, but we naively expected to be able to walk up to the ticket booth and buy two.
            The concert was in the rodeo arena and we could hear Glenn already singing as we learned that the concert had been sold out long before it started. Standing there no doubt looking forlorn we caught the attention of an older gentleman serving as an usher at the event. He asked us what we were doing and we told him we had wanted to see the concert and had no idea there would be no tickets available. He reaffirmed the fact the show was sold out and there were no seats.
            I think we asked if we could just stand there on the concourse and listen, and he started to say no before he paused and said, “Just a minute.”
            He climbed the stairwell and was gone just a short time when he reappeared and motioned for us to follow him. We got to him and he escorted us to an entrance and directed us to a stairway into the arena and told us to go sit down at the end of the stairs against the arena rail.
            “Promise me you will stay right there,” he instructed.
            “Oh, yes sir,” we both said. “Yes, sir, and thank you so much, sir!”
            “You kids have a good time,” he smiled.
            Glenn was singing Gentle On My Mind as we sat down in the wonder of that magical moment. No more than 50 feet from us on a portable stage that was slowing turning, he looked at us and we knew for a fact it was us he acknous wledged. He smiled, but I am sure our smiles were larger yet.
            It’s knowing that your door is always open and your path is free to walk he sang only to us we were sure.
            Kathy and I saw Lex and Arlene at a Las Cruces gun show a couple of years ago. We had not seen them in years, and it was Arlene we saw first. We hugged her and visited before we asked about Lex. She said he was somewhere in the hall carrying an old automatic rifle around trying to get somebody to notice it and buy it. We found him and gathered together. It was as if we had seen them yesterday. Lex was the same guy that day as he was all those years more than a half century ago when he and I first met. Always marching to his own beat, he could be hilarious.
            Without a doubt in my mind, he was the most talented athlete in our class. He was also the most talented little leaguer in the Silver City league we played in as kids. We never had an official little league field, but played in an old field on the eastern edge of town dubbed “Sticker Stadium”. The goat heads were as thick as a lawn and the field was rough enough to strike terror in your heart trying to field hot grounders while avoiding wicked hops that’d take your head off.
            As little leaguers, the ‘glory’ positions were catching, pitching, playing first or short stop, but not for Lex. He wanted to play center field and roamed the deep outfield just hoping to shag a deep drive. Seldom was a ball hit out by 10-12 year olds and there were some years not a single one was driven out.
            I really slapped one one night and stood there and watched it in near Babe Ruth fashion just sure it was gone. The sails were emptied just as quickly, though, when Lex came out of nowhere, leaped high, and caught it against and over the fence in deepest center field. It was a spectacular catch. It was more so for a 12 year old kid. I walked dejectedly back to the dugout and started putting my gear to catch when Mr. Mortensen sat down by me, patted me on the leg, and told me only Lex could have caught that ball.
            Catch it he did, though. Lex and his Elk’s Club team were always competitive. They weren’t deep in talent, but they had the best player in the league. The only time we actually played together was on an all star team that was defeated by the eventual state champion team in an extra innings 1-0 game.
            Later, when playing football and basketball filled our lives, Lex was never part of those teams. I assume he didn’t want to play or maybe it was his propensity to walk to his own drum and snare deep hit fly balls. He continued to play baseball, but would have been a sensational wide receiver in football and a slashing forward in basketball. He could run like a deer, jump out of the gym, and his eye hand coordination was superb. He was the only one of us who had the talent to play division one or even professional sports. With a bit more intensity and killer instinct, there is no telling what could have happened.
            It was Dusty who told me that Lex was sick. We tried to see him when I spent a day last year with Dusty looking at his Flying A Ranch. Lex and Arlene had bought some acreage on the Redrock Road where they built their home, and, on the way to look at a new solar unit Dusty had installed, we stopped. No one was home, and I suspect now the couple was in Tucson or wherever Lex was being treated.
            I never saw him again, but … we will return home to Silver City and be at the celebration of his life this very afternoon at 2:00.
            I Wish I Was 18 Again
            That your waving from the back roads by the rivers of my memory ever smiling ever gentle on my mind the stanza ended.
            I’ll suggest Glenn smiled at us again, but it has been too long ago to really remember anything but the charm of the lady who was to become my life’s mate and friend as she sat next to me holding my hand and listening to that song. We have endured and succeeded as did Lex and Arlene. We have two daughters as do Lex and Arlene. We have beautiful grandchildren as do Lex and Arlene.
            But, where on earth do these years go?
            I could be nostalgic and quote Louis Armstrong or even Ray Price and wish I was 18 again, but I won’t. I don’t want to be 18 again. It isn’t just because it is impossible, but why should we want something uncertain when proven broad shoulders march ahead of us. These are the same, familiar shoulders that flood our memories when things like this happen or when we hear the words of songs that were ours when we were 18 and going where we had never been before.
            Indeed, we were children of our own world. We were together when we didn’t know much about anything outside of Grant County, and, now, we mourn together when one of us leaves. That is what we share, and, in the end, isn’t that great among earthly gifts?

                Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “William Alexander (Lex) Schadel was called to his Heavenly Home on Good Friday, April 14, 2017.”

Baxter Black: Pick it out — at the Starlite

...Music has always been a part of my life. My family emigrated to Oklahoma from Texas. Grandpa played old-time fiddle. He taught his kids. I’ve been seconding good musicians as long as I can remember.

And it’s still goin’ on! I married into a nest of Okies who play the same good music I grew up on. They sing and play and let me hammer and pound along behind ’em. I’ve never really minded playin’ second fiddle. You can’t be good at everything. But there was a time when I shined.

Workin’ cows in the fall is somethin’ I’ve always enjoyed. Some of these ranches I worked were a hundred miles from a K-Mart. It might take several days to preg check 2,000 head so when I showed up, I’d take my guitar. There weren’t VCR’s and satellite dishes in the old days. I was a welcome diversion.

After a day’s work, we’d clean up, have supper and then make music and tell stories in the cookhouse. Sometimes there’d be a cowboy who could sing or a day-work uranium miner who’d played the mandolin. We had a high ol’ time every night.

Now days, I’ve gotten to know folks like Ed Bruce, Red Steagall, Michael Martin Murphy, Charlie Daniels, Reba McEntire, Larry Gatlin, Riders in the Sky, Mo Bandy, Vince Gill, Chris LeDoux and other, not quite so famous but just as talented. I admire their ability, but I don’t envy it. Even if I’d had a portion of their gift and ambition, I suspect I’d still be playin’ at the Starlite Inn in Idaho Falls six nights a week.

I’d have spent my life chasin’ fame instead of chasin’ cows. And I’d have missed all those nights singin’ in the cookhouse to a bunch of cowboys starved for entertainment.

Lee Pitts - The dog’s house

Nineteenth century Indians had some great ideas. The Cherokees didn't waste money on lawyers and messy divorces; a Cherokee woman could divorce her husband merely by throwing his stuff out of the teepee. That's what my mom did. Then she put the old dog to sleep and skipped town. It's not so simple now.

Alaska became the first state to require judges to take into consideration the well being of pets in making their divorce decrees. From now on Alaskan divorce court judges will have to treat pets just like kids. Admittedly, this is currently already happening in most homes in America. The decree was a little contradictory however because it implied that pets should be treated just like members of the family and with respect. So which is it.

With the institution of marriage being held in such low regard these days, where the only thing semi-permanent are the tattoos that decorate our society, I'm sure other states will follow Alaska's lead. Henceforth, pets will be considered property just like the ski condo in Aspen, the Bentley in the driveway or the diamonds in the safe. I assume this means an Alaskan judge can assign custody of the pets. What a difference from the days when the wife took the kids and the house and the husband got the mistress and the money. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some poor schmuck is already paying $3,000 a month alimony for a Shih Tzu and there's a 5000 square foot home in the Hamptons that some pooch won in a divorce. Talk about a dog house!

Alaska's decree raises many questions. How will a judge determine custody, will the dog go to whoever purchased it, fed it or scooped up its poop? Some have suggested that the pets should stay with the children but I don't know if this is for the well being of the kids or the Beagle. There will also have to be a value assigned to pets, but how do you value a Doberman or Chihuahua? Is it worth more, or less, than the 72 inch TV or Ford F150?

I wonder if the Alaska law applies to other animals such as a horse? I can see this happening although I'm sure it will NOT apply to cows. Many wives get divorced because of cows: they want no more washing machines that smell like a feedlot or being used to plug holes in fences.

There could be some positive results as a result of this law. The divorce rate will go down if couples know there's a possibility they could lose custody of the Border Collie. (Good cow dogs are even harder to find than a good husband!) I know one couple who are just staying married because of the kids. Neither one wants them

Ranch Radio

The gospel tune on Ranch Radio today:  Vern Gosdin - Toe To Toe With The Devil

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Trump Clamps Down On Spending At Interior, Energy Depts

by Michael Bastasch

The Trump administration is clamping down on grants and subsidies handed out by two federal agencies overseeing energy and land management programs.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sent out a memo in early April initiating a thorough review of the Department of the Interior grants and cooperative agreements planned for this year. Interior hands out $5.5 billion for such things every year, according to an internal memo obtained by Axios.

“In order to help me to understand the immense impact grants and cooperative agreements have on the mission delivery of the Department, I am directing implementation of the following temporary procedures for processing grants and cooperative agreements,” Zinke wrote to top Interior officials.
Zinke wants to review all planned grants and cooperative agreements totaling $100,000 or more before they can be approved. Other federal agencies have undertaken similar reviews of spending.

During the Reagan administration, at the Assistant Secretary for Land & Water level, we initiated a policy that all grants of $10,000 or more must be approved by the Assistant Secretary. When the final reports came in I noticed something fishy in Montana. Two different grants, each for $9,900.  The BLM state director had split the grant between two closely related groups because he knew it would have never been approved.

Secretary Zinke better have somebody really bird dog this for him. When it comes to giving away money to their buddies or favorite outside interest groups, bureaucrats can be very persistent and creative.

How Humans Spare Nature

by Linus Blomqvist

Humanity has, by most measures, done extraordinarily well over the past century. People on average live longer and eat better. The share of the global population living in poverty is lower than ever before. But supplying food, energy, materials, and water to a growing and increasingly wealthy population has come at a steep cost for the natural world. Humans today use at least half of all ice-free land, mostly for farming and forestry. Habitat loss, overexploitation, pollution, and other environmental impacts have on average reduced wildlife populations by more than half since 1970. Hundreds of species of birds and mammals have gone extinct over the past few centuries, and many more are threatened today.

But there are glimmers of hope. Even as biodiversity continues to be lost, there are signs that economic growth and human welfare are becoming increasingly decoupled from environmental impacts. While many of humankind’s environmental impacts have grown in absolute terms, several have started to flatten out or even decline. Per-capita impacts have in many cases gone down, in large part because the technologies used to produce goods have become less environmentally harmful. If these decoupling trends continue, it is possible that human impacts on the environment will peak and decline this century, even as the global population approaches 10 billion and people around the world become more materially rich and secure.

“Peak impact” offers an inspiring vision for global conservation. It can be achieved by accelerating beneficial economic and technological processes while continuing to use protected areas, payments for ecosystem services, and other conventional conservation tools at a landscape levels. Here is how it works.

Taking A Burden Off Nature

While population and per-capita consumption have added to humanity’s overall burden on the environment, technological shifts have for the most part reduced it. These shifts can be reduced to two mechanisms: substitution and intensification.

The substitution of tractors for horses eliminated the need to dedicate about one-quarter of all U.S. farmland to feed draft animals. The introduction of synthetic nitrogen meant farmers no longer needed to keep as much as half of their cropland in fallow to replenish soil nutrients. Together with agricultural intensification in the forms of rising crop yields and greater efficiencies in meat
production, these technological advances have allowed the area of farmland per capita to fall by half over the last half century, even as diets have gotten richer. While global farmland area has increased by about 10 percent since 1960—causing widespread habitat loss—it has barely grown since the early 1990s. During that period, global population rose by more than 20 percent and GDP per capita nearly doubled.

The transition from fuelwood to fossil fuels, nuclear power, and hydro as sources of energy has also contributed to flattening global demand for wood. In fact, per-capita wood consumption has declined so much as to offset the concurrent increase in food consumption, such that the total per-capita demand for biomass has stayed constant for more than a century. Today, it takes on average less than one hectare to provide food, energy, and living space per person, compared to an estimated four hectares per person among early agriculturalists some 7,000 years ago.

Through similar mechanisms, farmed meat and fish have taken pressure off wild populations. Petroleum- and plant-based substitutes for whale oil spared global whale populations—not just in the 19th century when kerosene replaced whale oil in lighting, but also in the 20th century when innovations made whale products unneeded for lubricants, soap, and margarine. Shifting from coal to natural gas to nuclear and hydro—and wind and solar power more recently—has gradually reduced the amount of carbon emissions per unit of energy, even as total global carbon emissions have continued to rise. As humans shift from harvesting goods in the wild—such as bushmeat hunting or whaling—to farming them, or to producing goods in factories, the amount of environmental harm per unit produced tends to fall.

In other words, in most cases, the more synthetic our consumption, the less nature we destroy. We spare nature by using less of it.

This Earth Day, Remember How Often Environmental Alarmists Are Wrong


 Today is the 47th annual Earth Day. On this day, it is worth reflecting on how completely, totally wrong environmental alarmists often are. Few things tell us more about the environmental movement—where it’s been and, more importantly, where it is now—than its dismal track record in the predictive department.

Case in point: Paul Ehrlich, who is as close to a rock star as you’re apt to find among environmentalists. Ehrlich is most famous for his 1968 book “The Population Bomb,” in which he famously predicted that, during the 1970s and 1980s, humanity would suffer mass famine and starvation due to overpopulation. “At this late date,” Ehrlich wrote, “nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

Spoiler alert: Ehrlich was wrong—so wrong, in fact, that not only did his doomsday predictions fail to materialize, but the exact opposite happened. Readers who were alive during the 1970s and 80s will recall that there was plenty to eat, there was no mass die-off, everything worked out fine, and humanity’s lot continued to improve as it had throughout the rest of the 20th century.

Ehrlich Is Still Making Incorrect Doomsday Predictions

This kind of humiliating embarrassment would be enough to cow even the proudest of men—unless that man is an environmentalist, of course. Incredibly, as NewsBuster’s Tim Graham pointed out this week, Ehrlich was still making his doomsday predictions in 1989—well after the point when it was clear his previous predictions had been utter failures. Ehrlich claimed that, during the 1990s, “We’re going to see massive extinction;” he theorized that rising ocean waters meant “we could expect to lose all of Florida, Washington D.C., and the Los Angeles basin.”

...This Earth Day, consider reflecting on the bizarre dichotomy of (a) Paul Ehrlich’s mortifying history of predictive failures regarding the environment, and (b) his continued relevance in the field of environmental studies. Reflect on what that tells you about the environmental movement as a whole, particularly its hysterical climate change wing. And then consider the possibility that you can safely ignore the hysterics and simply live your life without worrying that Tampa, Florida is going to be washed away sometime over the next few decades.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Nevada jury is signaling trouble in deliberating conspiracy charges, will resume deliberations Monday

A jury in Nevada is signaling trouble in deliberating conspiracy charges against six men over an armed standoff that stopped government agents from rounding up cattle near Cliven Bundy's ranch in 2014. Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro didn't read their question aloud but convened jurors Thursday to tell them they can decide there was a conspiracy even if they find the defendants didn't take part in it. The judge instructed the jury to keep deliberating. The issue echoes one in a related case in Oregon, where jurors last October found Bundy's sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and five others not guilty of all charges in an armed occupation of a U.S. wildlife refuge. The acquittal in Oregon included a similar count of conspiracy to impede federal officers...A federal jury in Las Vegas ended a half-day of deliberations without a verdict in the trial of six men who brought assault-style weapons to a standoff with government agents near Cliven Bundy's ranch in April 2014. A court official said Thursday that jurors adjourned shortly before 12:30 p.m., and will return Monday for more deliberations in U.S. District Court...more

Pesticide makers claim endangered species science 'flawed'

Lawyers for Dow AgroSciences and two other pesticide manufacturers are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw scientific reports that were provided to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the effects of those pesticides on endangered species. The reports were one of the final acts of President Barack Obama's administration and were submitted just two days before President Donald Trump's inauguration. The letters, accompanied by a study sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, refuting those EPA reports claim the government research is "flawed" and are addressed to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt...more

Why scientists are marching on Washington and more than 400 other cities

The March for Science is not a partisan event. But it's political. That's the recurring message of the organizers, who insist that this is a line the scientific community and its supporters will be able to walk. It may prove too delicate a distinction, though, when people show up in droves on Saturday with their signs and their passions. “We’ve been asked not to make personal attacks or partisan attacks,” said honorary national co-chair Lydia Villa-Komaroff, in a teleconference this week with reporters. But Villa-Komaroff, who will be among those given two-minute speaking slots, quickly added: “This is a group of people who don’t take well being told what to do.” The Science March, held on Earth Day, is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the Mall, and satellite marches have been planned in more than 400 cities on six continents...This is not simply a reaction to President Trump's election, Holt said. Scientists have been worried for years that “evidence has been crowded out by ideology and opinion in public debate and policymaking.” Long before Trump's election, people in the scientific and academic community raised concerns about the erosion of the value of expertise and the rise of pseudoscientific and anti-scientific notions. Science also found itself swept up into cultural and political battles; views on climate science, for example, increasingly reflect political ideology...more

Not partisan, but political. Translation: Larger appropriations, fewer strings attached.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day

TGIFF! Its Fiddle Friday and let's give a listen to Chubby Wise fiddlin' Gotta See Your Mama Every Night.  The tune is on his 1973 album Chubby At His Best.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bundy lawyer says court violated rancher’s speedy trial rights

A lawyer representing Cliven Bundy has accused a federal judge of violating the embattled cattle rancher’s constitutional right to a speedy trial by setting a June 26 start date in the second Bunkerville standoff case. In a motion filed Wednesday in federal court in Las Vegas, defense attorney Bret Whipple asks the court to modify a recent order that set the late-June start date for the second of three groups of defendants in the high-profile case. “This court has, on its own initiative, set a trial well beyond the range suggested by the ‘thirty-day’ planned trial schedule,” Whipple wrote in the filing. Bundy, some of his sons, and others charged as “leaders” of a mass assault on federal agents initially were scheduled to be tried 30 days after the first trial’s completion. But federal prosecutors recently requested additional time to prepare for the second trial. The jury finished its fourth day of deliberations Wednesday in the first trial, against six people charged as “gunmen” in the April 2014 armed standoff between protesters and federal authorities who tried to seize Bundy’s cows. If jurors return a verdict in the next week, the June 26 date would fall 60 days or more after the first trial’s conclusion. “It is the United States’ obligation to provide innocent citizens accused of crimes a speedy trial,” Whipple wrote. “As such, the United States cannot extend time before trial due to alleged logistical problems it itself is creating.” Whipple requested a trial date of no later than June 5...more

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Chaffetz decision stuns Washington, "The West is losing an ally"

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) shocked Washington on Wednesday by announcing he is leaving Congress after his term ends. Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, kept the surprise decision under wraps, offering no hints that he planned to cut short his tenure leading the panel. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wasn’t told of Chaffetz’s decision until Tuesday evening, according to an aide, and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus only got a heads-up from the chairman on Wednesday morning. Sources on the Oversight panel also said they didn’t see the news coming. Chaffetz has long been seen as one of Washington’s most ambitious politicians, and the news immediately stoked questions about whether he would run for governor or the Senate. Chaffetz said he would not run for any office in 2018, which would take him out of Utah’s Senate race that year. But he didn’t rule out a run for Utah governor in 2020, saying he “may run again for public office.” One reason the Chaffetz news was surprising is that he could have stayed on as Oversight Committee chairman through 2020. The panel is one of Washington’s most powerful, though it might have less appeal for a Republican lawmaker when his party controls Congress and the White House. If Hillary Clinton had defeated President Trump, Chaffetz was poised to be her lead GOP interrogator. He had vowed to investigate Clinton back in October when it appeared she would win the presidential election...more

The West is losing a powerful ally, especially on ownership/transfer of federal lands and on the police powers of the federal land management agencies. The FLE officers are surely sighing in relief. And, unfortunately, it appears his replacement will be from the East. Gowdy, for instance, is a very talented man, but he wouldn't bring the same knowledge and interest in federal lands issues.

Chaffetz’s departure will eventually set in motion a race to succeed him atop the Oversight Committee in the next year. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who’s best known for leading the select committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, is at this point likely the most viable contender despite being eighth in seniority on the Oversight panel. Several members of the Freedom Caucus are more senior members of the Oversight Committee, like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who unsuccessfully ran against Chaffetz for the gavel in 2014. But their clashes with GOP leaders, who hold the most sway over committee assignments, would likely impede their chances of winning one of the most high-profile posts in Congress. Aides to Oversight Committee Republicans who could be in the running declined to say Wednesday whether they’d run for the post, underlining how unexpected the sudden opening was.

The Zinke order on land-use planning and NEPA

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has directed the Bureau of Land Management to "identify and implement" revisions to the agency's land-use planning and environmental review processes just weeks after Congress killed an Obama-era rule that supporters say sought to do the same thing. The order is embedded below:

Chaffetz won't run for reelection

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) will not seek reelection in 2018, he announced in a Facebook post Wednesday morning. “After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018,” the House Oversight Committee chairman said. Chaffetz, 50, had been floated as a potential candidate for Senate or Utah governor, but he denied any interest in running for anything in 2018. However, he noted that he “may run again for public office, but not in 2018.” Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) seat is up in 2018, while Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s (R) seat is up in 2020. “For those that would speculate otherwise, let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives. I am healthy. I am confident I would continue to be re-elected by large margins. I have the full support of Speaker Ryan to continue as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That said, I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector,” Chaffetz said...more

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Note to readers

Other projects are keeping me away from the blog. Posts may be scarce for the next several days. Congress is not in session so I'm using my time toward those work projects that help fund the rodeo scholarships and the DuBois Western Heritage Foundation...Frank

video - Ranchers watch lone beaver herd curious cattle on Saskatchewan pasture

It's about as Canadian as a cattle drive can get. Ranchers northeast of Regina are shaking their heads after watching a herd of curious bovines slowly follow a beaver across one of their pastures.  Adrienne Ivey and her husband Aaron were out checking their 150 cattle near Ituna on Good Friday when they noticed something odd. The cattle were gathered together and walking slowly behind a beaver, with some of the heifers lowering their heads to get a closer look at the furry cowboy with a funny-looking tail. When the beaver stopped, the herd would stop, and then follow again when the rodent resumed its stroll. Ivey told radio station CJME that she and her husband are used to herding their cows with horses or quads, but nothing like this. She said young cattle are naturally curious, while the beaver seemed to ignore all the attention...more

Here's the video:

Patrolling the Border on Four Legs

LA GRULLA, Tex. — Manuel Torresmutt, a Border Patrol agent, pulls his white and green Chevy Tahoe to the side of a deserted gravel road, framed on one side by railroad tracks and on the other by thick green brush. The South Texas sun streams brightly as Mr. Torresmutt, a stocky, 24-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol, steps from his truck to meet with his three-man team. A radio dispatcher says “four bodies” have been spotted on the “Mike” side, referring to the code name for the bank of the Rio Grande in Mexico...President Trump has promised to build a wall to stop the flow of illegal immigrants in areas like this, but the geography — like shallow riverbanks and craggy trails that are impassable for vehicles — makes that nearly impossible and staggeringly expensive. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States has spent over $100 billion on various border security technology, including ground sensors, video cameras, walls, layers of fencing and infrared cameras. But in the thicket along the river where smugglers can easily hide, the horse patrol unit plays an essential role in efforts to detect illegal activity. A little over an hour after riding off into the bush, Mr. Torresmutt and another agent, David Garcia, return to the staging area. Two other agents, Garrett Gremes and Kelby Forbes, are chasing a man who has made it past both the horse patrol and agents in vehicles. As evening sets in and mosquitoes buzz, radio chatter signals that agents and local law enforcement officers have spotted drugs dumped on the Mexican side of the border. While the flow of migrants has slowed, drug smuggling remains constant. The signs are everywhere: Dozens of footprints, abandoned life jackets, swimming trunks and food wrappers appear along the riverbank...more