Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ethanol groups add lobbying firepower for mandate fight

Two ethanol groups have signed contracts with high-powered lobbying firm Heather Podesta + Partners amid a growing fight over the future of the federal ethanol mandate. Growth Partners, an industry group, and Poet, a leading American ethanol producer, filed lobbying paperwork this week detailing contracts with the firm. A Growth Partners spokesman said the advocacy will focus on “protecting” the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), pushing to waive usage limits on certain ethanol blends and shaping tax reform measures in Congress this year. A Poet official said the firm would be “assisting us on our policy priorities, which include the Renewable Fuel Standard and tax reform.” The new contracts come amid a simmering debate within the ethanol industry over the future of the RFS, the federal mandate requiring ethanol to be blended into gasoline supplies..more

Bears Ears is a national monument now. But it will take a fight to save it.

As he prepared to travel west, Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke got a letter from a coalition of tribes in Utah on Friday. The group had filled the seats on a commission to manage the new Bears Ears National Monument, the letter said, and Zinke was invited to discuss its future. But the future of Bears Ears, which the tribes pushed for and President Barack Obama granted just before leaving office, is uncertain. Utah’s Republican lawmakers have launched an intense lobbying effort to persuade President Trump and Zinke to rescind the designation. Management of Western land, with its teeming wildlife and vast mineral riches, will be Zinke’s greatest challenge at Interior, and conflict over land is particularly acute in Utah. It’s second only to Nevada among the Lower 48 states with the most federally owned land — more than two-thirds — and officials there were still smarting over the 1.9 million acres set aside for the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument by President Clinton nearly two decades before Obama created Bears Ears. The secretary hasn’t commented publicly about Bears Ears, but a statement from Interior about his position on public lands echoed the concerns of Utah Republican officials who complain that a massive amount of acreage was set aside for the monument without their consent. Zinke, an avid hunter and fisherman, supports “the creation of monuments when there is consent and input from local elected officials, the local community, and tribes prior to their designation,” Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said in the statement. Zinke believes monuments are beneficial, but “careful consideration is required before designating significant acreage.”...more

San Francisco: Any company that bids on Trump’s border wall won’t get work here

by John Sexton

Two San Francisco supervisors are introducing legislation today that would prevent the city from hiring any company which bids on President Trump’s border wall. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
“It is time to move beyond symbolism and use the power we have as a city to fight for the values we hold most dear,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who is introducing the legislation with Supervisor Aaron Peskin.
“What we are saying is that we are not going to spend billions of dollars and line the pockets of businesses that engage in work that goes against the values that we hold most dear,” she said…
The Berkeley City Council unanimously passed a resolution last week recommending the city divest from any company involved in any aspect of the project, and the Oakland City Council is set to vote on a measure Tuesday barring the city from entering into contracts with companies that work on the wall...more

Entities that want the border security/immigration laws enforced should pass resolutions saying any company doing business with San Francisco will be denied contracts.

Top EPA Official Unexpectedly Resigns, Citing Rampant Infighting At Agency

by Andrew Kerr

A senior member of the Trump administration’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency unexpectedly resigned last Wednesday, citing concerns of the “integrity” of long time workers at the agency. David Schnare, an outspoken climate change skeptic, was a member of the so-called EPA “landing team” tasked with creating an “action plan” to reform the agency. Schnare’s abrupt resignation came as a surprise. He was expected to accept a leading position at the EPA.“I wasn’t forced out, and it wasn’t in a tiff,” he told The Hill. “I just wasn’t in a position to achieve much anymore.” InsideEPA added that Schnare had become “increasingly frustrated with what he described as endless infighting at the agency.” Schnare heaped praise on the vast majority of the employees at the EPA for being dedicated servants, but emphasized that there are a few “who were definitely were antagonistic” to the president and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt...more

Surely there is more here, as what Schnare says about EPA is true about every federal agency where a new administration seeks to impose significant change. They will use every tool available to them to frustrate any threat to their power base. They will spread lies about you, feed you misinformation, contact their allies on the Hill, leak certain sensitive documents to the press, and delay, delay, delay by using the arcane rules of the administrative process, the personnel system, their buddies in the legal dept., and every form of "paralysis by analysis" imaginable to frustrate your efforts. Perhaps the worst is when they "capture" a fellow political appointee and convince them to do their bidding. You want to bring about change? Then be prepared to meet each one of those challenges and more. If you are not prepared and willing to overcome this type of polluted political atmosphere, then you best get out of Dodge, which is apparently what Schnare has chosen to do. Either there is more to this story than we're being told, or he has been defeated by the bureaucracy.  

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1810

The Devil's Great Grandson performed by the Sons Of The Pioneers and written by Bob Nolan is our selection today. The tune was recorded in Los Angeles on December 14, 1937 and the group at that time was Roy Rogers, Bob Nolan, Lloyd Perryman and the Farr brothers.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

breaking...Judge Convicts 4 Malheur Occupiers Of Misdemeanor Charges

Four defendants who participated in last year’s occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were convicted Tuesday of misdemeanors ranging from trespassing to damaging government property. U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown, who oversaw two jury trials linked to the case, ruled directly on the misdemeanors. She convicted defendants Jason Patrick, Darryl Thorn, Jake Ryan and Duane Ehmer of trespassing and tampering with vehicles and equipment at the refuge. Patrick was also convicted of damaging property at the refuge. A jury decided earlier this month to convict the four defendants on a range of federal felonies, including conspiracy to impede federal workers from doing their jobs. Tuesday’s misdemeanor convictions will possibly add to the sentences for each of the four men. In some cases, the defendants could face as many as six years in prison...more

RV industry tracking Trump's budget cuts

Recreational vehicle industry officials are monitoring President Trump’s proposed budget cuts and their impact on federal camping facilities. “The RV Industry Association expresses some concern about the ability to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog while absorbing a 12 percent decrease in DOI’s (Department of Interior’s) budget,” the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association said in a news release Tuesday. The RVIA said the budget would cut $1.5 billion from the Department of the Interior. That department oversees the National Parks Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management, three federal agencies at the center of outdoor recreation in the nation. Trump’s proposal states that funds will be provided to protect, conserve and provide access to public lands while increasing investment in deferred maintenance projects, according to the RVIA, the organization intends to be active in advocating that such maintenance continues. “Investing in America’s great outdoors is imperative to safeguard the health of the $50 billion RV economy,” said RVIA President Frank Hugelmeyer. “At a time with a record number of RVs headed into the outdoors, steps should be taken to ensure adequate and safe infrastructure exists for this revenue driving segment of the federal government. RVIA applauds proposals in the budget blueprint to increase investment in deferred maintenance projects and to leverage taxpayer investments with public and private partnerships. RVIA looks forward to working with Congress and the administration on the final budget to prioritize outdoor recreation, address the maintenance backlog and expand access to federal lands for RVers.” The RVIA represents approximately 400 manufacturers and component suppliers producing 98 percent of all RVs made in the United States, according to the organization...more

They seem to forget about state parks and recreation areas. There are 6,600 state parks encompassing 14 million acres. Seems to me you could do a helluva lot of recreating on state lands alone. Moreover, the total acreage in state parks has grown by 37 percent since 1978. See this Resources For The Future Backgrounder.

45 wildfires in 10 years - BLM conducts tree removal

The Bureau of Land Management will begin removing pinyon and juniper trees in the Three Peaks Recreation Area starting April 1 to reduce the risk of wildfires. About 307 acres of invasive pinyon and juniper trees will be removed mechanically from the recreation area, which is managed by BLM. Approximately 45 small wildfires have occurred in the area over the past 10 years, BLM fire mitigation specialist Nick Howell said. The tree removal project will help reduce fire risk and protect nearby homes in Cedar City, Enoch and other neighboring communities, as well as the recreation area itself. The project is the second phase of a multiyear effort by the BLM Color Country District to restore rangeland west of Cedar City and the Cedar Valley Estates subdivision. The project is also designed to improve watershed conditions. “By removing encroaching pinyon and juniper trees, favorable shrubs and grasses will return to the site, increasing rangeland productivity,” BLM natural resource specialist Melanie Mendenhall said in a statement. Pinyon and juniper encroachment is a priority for the BLM, Howell said, because the trees are outcompeting understory vegetation that is critical to wildlife and healthy ecosystems. “One of the primary reasons this is happening is due to hundreds of years of aggressive firefighting,” Howell said. “This created in large part the ecological imbalance we see throughout the West today.” Landscape restoration projects, including the one at Three Peaks, are supported and funded by Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative, Howell said. The watershed initiative is sponsored by the Utah Partners for Conservation and Development, which consists of private, state and federal groups, including the Mule Deer Foundation, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Safari Club International, Utah Forestry Fire and State Lands and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources...more

Caviar ranchers bringing indulgence to your plate

Renee and Keith Koerner have sunk their retirement portfolio deep: it's 5 to 20 feet under the surface of area lakes, swimming in circles. They've staked everything they have on a prehistoric fish with a weird 2-foot long paddle sticking from its head that takes ten years to produce a salable product. But when it does, it's one of the most valuable foods you can sell, measured in amounts usually used for illegal drugs. The Koerners are caviar ranchers. They raise American paddlefish, harvest its roe and turn it into caviar. There has always been wild paddlefish caviar, but it's been treated as a commodity. Renee, with a background in wine and fine dining, is taking extra care with hers, making an artisanal product that she hopes will rival the quality of Russian caviar, from sturgeons so overfished that it is out of reach. "We're creating an industry," said Renee. She thinks of it like wine, which she has served and sold throughout her career in fine dining, as maitre d' at Maisonette, as a rep for Vintner Select wines. There is a big difference between some kinds of fermented grape juice and others. "Caviar will always be somewhat expensive," she said, "But ours will be within most people's budget for an occasional indulgence, like a $50 bottle of wine." They've been at it for a decade, and they're getting close to the payoff...more

Is your local government prepared for Trump?

The Budd-Falen Law Offices memo is embedded below:

Book chronicles Montana saddleries - and much more

By Ed Kemmick 

Thirty-some years ago, Jay C. Lyndes received an unusual package in the mail. The package, with a return address from the Lame Deer Trading Post, was literally oozing with black, oily gunk. Lyndes wondered whether he should even open it. But he’d done some business with the trading post before, and curiosity prevailed. Inside was a pair of leather chaps, coal-black and dripping with used motor oil. Then Lyndes noticed that the chaps bore the stamp of “Al. Furstnow,” of Miles City, one of the most famous saddle makers in the history of Montana. By “pure luck,” he said, he next decided to look at the inside of the belt attached to the chaps. After cleaning away oil and grime he saw, roughly carved into the leather, the name “Curley” and the year “1915.” He called the Lame Deer Trading Post and was informed that “one of the Curley boys” had sold the chaps for gas money to get to a rodeo. The “Curley boys” were grandchildren of the Crow Indian scout Curley, who had served with Lt. Col. George A. Custer, survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn and died in 1923. The chaps are rather plain, compared with some of magnificent specimens in Lyndes’ collection, but that pair remains one of the more interesting pieces in his possession.The story of Curley’s chaps also helps explain why Lyndes’ new book, “Saddleries of Montana: Montana Makers from Territorial Times to 1940,” will be of interest not just to collectors or specialists, but to anyone who cares about the history of Montana...more

To Truly Beat The Bureaucrats, Trump Needs To Shut Their Agencies Down


If there is to be real change in our form of government, the Trump administration needs to avoid the fatal flaw of previous Republican administrations: choosing to play the game by the Left’s rules. Nearly every Republican administration makes some changes, but mostly lightly exfoliates the elephant of the State. These are temporary gains at best, small pauses in the seemingly inevitable march of government dominance. Most Republicans don’t seem to understand what we are up against, that the game is rigged against smaller government...The first progressive movement set our modern government in motion. Most date it from 1895-1920. It was a movement, sadly, birthed in many ways inside the Republican Party. It was intended to place our government more into the hands of the un-elected, educated elite bureaucrats (with as little interference from elected politicians), to make individuals more dependent upon the state because that was how to rapidly make real “progress.” The goal was for the state to take more and more of life’s decisions from the individual. The progressives birthed the bureaucratic state, and while there were some legitimate reforms needed at the time, the explosion of the state began. Government spending as a percent of the total economy went through the roof, from 2 percent in 1900 to more than 20 percent today. Our government started with roughly 50 employees in three departments. All government employees, which numbered nearly 4 million in 1939, number over 22 million today, with nearly three million federal employees and the rest state and local (and that excludes military). But in November something funny happened to the Left’s belief in the inevitable triumph of statism: Donald J. Trump won a race he was never supposed to win. In a turn of events that scared the Left silly, Trump’s election has thrown a wrench into The System. But it’s not entirely clear that even he or his advisors truly understand what they’re up against...It’s time for Republicans to have a reality check: do you really think that fewer than 5,000 appointees can win against 2.8 million federal government employees who have a vested interest in absolutely nothing changing? Maybe, if an administration had 20 years, but it doesn’t. It has four, maybe if they’re lucky eight, years, and as history has shown us, the odds of any party getting three straight terms of a single party in the White House are fairly slim. We have already seen bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice, and State Department not only promise, but also begin to resist any reforms from the Trump administration. But it’s worse than simply having millions of federal government employees trying to outlast a Republican administration. The overwhelming majority of those federal employees who donated to a presidential campaign, more than 95 percent, gave money to Hillary Clinton. Ninety-nine percent of contributions from State Department employees went to Clinton in the 2016 elections. You can be sure they aren’t excited to be working for Trump. So my advice to President Trump is this: don’t play the game by the current rules. Change the rules by which the game is played.  It’s time to cut the leviathan of government down to size. Trump’s hiring freeze is a good step in the right direction. It stops one of the reinforcing loops. But he needs to reverse the loop and cut the federal workforce by no less than 25 percent in four years. Trump should then consolidate and shut down departments.

Ryun has another recommendation, which I heartily endorse, while laughing and applauding

 Once departments are shut down, bulldoze the buildings to the ground. Shatter them, plow them under, then build beautiful parks, Liberty Parks, over where the departments used to stand.

Budget losses show secretaries lack White House sway

Corbin Hiar, Kevin Bogardus and Christa Marshall, E&E News reporter

The leaders of energy and environmental agencies are quickly learning the limits of their power. Despite publicly vowing to fight proposed budget cuts and to defend certain programs, the heads of U.S. EPA and the Interior and Energy departments lost their battles with the White House. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt pushed back against some reductions, only to see the agency's cuts grow even deeper. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke promised to fight —and win — against the White House's initially floated 10 percent slash, but the budget blueprint proposed a 12 percent cut. Energy Secretary Rick Perry testified that he was a "big believer" in research — while the budget says that is private-sector work — and praised a key innovation agency and DOE's Loan Guarantee Program, both of which were zeroed out in the budget outline. The secretaries' apparent lack of influence in the Trump administration is unusual, according to top former agency officials...
Cut 'really embarrassing' for Zinke
Zinke suffered a similar defeat when the budget was released. Earlier this month, Zinke told Interior employees he was "not happy" about the White House's passback, which called for a 10 percent cut. "But we're going to fight about it, and I think I'm going to win at the end of the day," he said. The president's request, however, called for Interior's budget to be slashed by 12 percent, or $1.5 billion (Greenwire, March 16). The White House's brief budget outline may undermine some of Zinke's favorite programs and top priorities. The secretary is a strong supporter of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a popular land buying program that was one of the few Interior areas that the White House targeted for a specific cut. "The Budget reduces land acquisition funding by more than $120 million from the 2017 annualized [continuing resolution] level," the White House said. That means LWCF would be left with just $330 million — far below the $900 million it is authorized to received annually. Zinke has also repeatedly promised to reduce the National Park Service's $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog, promote American Indian sovereignty, and increase employee morale and authority. All of those areas were hit by the budget. While the White House said it would increase investment in deferred maintenance projects, it would do so in part by cutting funding for other NPS maintenance programs. That budget gimmick, former agency officials said, would do little to reduce the overall problem, since cutting routine maintenance would result in new projects being added to the backlog. The president also seemed to call for less money to be spent on Indian Country. Federal dollars would be focused "on core funding and services." But support for "recent demonstration projects" and targeted initiatives would be reduced, the request said. The proposal also may have hurt the morale of Interior employees, who were promised a budget win by the secretary, observers said. "Maybe if he'd held the line at 10 percent, he could have said, 'Hey, you know, I tried,'" said Don Barry, the assistant Interior secretary for fish and wildlife and parks during the Clinton administration. "But the fact that they came in bigger looks really embarrassing. Morale is going to really sag, because you want to feel like you've got somebody who has traction and clout." Interior employees, he predicted, "are going to feel really under siege and going to feel like their core missions, in fact, are not going to be covered." Barry, who is now retired, was sympathetic to Zinke's plight, saying he struggled to oversee the budgets of two of Interior's 10 bureaus. Nevertheless, Barry said, the proposal will make it harder for Zinke to accomplish the goals he has set out for himself: "Budget drives policy." But Interior spokeswoman Megan Bloomgren noted that the budget blueprint isn't the final word from the White House on the department's funding, with details set for release later this spring. The end result "will maintain [the Department of the Interior's] core functions of land access and protection and save taxpayers $1.5 billion during tight fiscal times," she said in a statement.

Notice how the game is set up in DC. A budget cut means "a lack of influence", its a "battle" where the Sec's are expected to "defend" their budget and a cut is a loss on the battlefield.

Ideally, the White House would send over a budget target and the Sec's would then have the flexibility to design a budget to meet the target. However, there is hardly enough time to accomplish that the first time around.

Which is why it is so disheartening to see Zinke playing their game, and in an apparent effort to curry favor with DOI employees, vowing to "fight" and "win". In retrospect, he should realize what a truly stupid statement that was.

Trump is not playing their game and the Cabinet needs to get on board, or jump ship. 

I recollect once having a BLM budget rejected by OMB. Why? Because the cut was deemed too large, and not "politically feasible".  The rules got me too.

Also, look at how many people are sitting as cabinet-level officials in the photo above. By next year it should be less than half as many.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1809

Tweedle-O-Twill by Gene Autry is our selection today. The tune was recorded in Hollywood on February 24, 1942 and released as Okey 6680.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Livestock Supply Points for Wildfire Donations set Closing Dates

The truckloads of hay have slowed, and producers affected by wildfires are beginning to get some perspective on the damage done and the path forward, so Livestock Supply Points in three counties will begin winding down, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service officials. Danny Nusser, AgriLife Extension regional program leader in Amarillo, said each county has a plan to bring the efforts of volunteers and donors to a close at the Livestock Supply Points opened March 7 in response to wildfires that burned 480,000 acres across the Texas Panhandle. “The purpose of the Livestock Supply Point is to give producers affected by the fires a window of time to assess their situation and their cattle’s needs and be able to feed their cattle for a time before they have to make a decision on what to do with them,” Nusser said. “Typically that time is three to four weeks to provide feed and hay for those animals. In the coming weeks, we will be bringing those to an end.” The Livestock Supply Points are located at the Clyde Carruth Pavilion, 301 Bull Barn Drive in Pampa; Canadian AH&N Ranch Supply, 100 Hackberry Trail in Canadian; and Lipscomb County Show Facility, 202 W. Main St. in Lipscomb.
Nusser said the AgriLife Extension agents now will begin shifting into recovery mode and schedule meetings in the near future to advise producers on long-term recovery. Mike Jeffcoat, AgriLife Extension agent in Gray County and coordinator of the supply point in Pampa, said they will continue to run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the week and will suspend daily operations March 24. After that, supplies will be loaded by appointment only by calling 806-669-8033. Jeffcoat said donations in Pampa included about 4,000 round bales, 785 large square bales and 1,300 small squares of hay, as well as about 700 rolls of wire and 5,000 t-posts, 130 tons of cubes and 31,450 pounds of different kinds of animal feed. About one-third of the hay has been delivered and half of the feed, he said. Some was sent to help neighboring ranches as far west as Amarillo, as far east as Shamrock and as far north as Laverne, Oklahoma. “We had between 15 and 40 volunteers a day,” he said. “Those volunteers are who made this thing work. We so appreciate their time and efforts.”...more

video - Burying Their Cattle, Ranchers Call Wildfires ‘Our Hurricane Katrina’

Death comes with raising cattle: coyotes, blizzards and the inevitable trip to the slaughterhouse and dinner plate. But after 30 years of ranching, Mark and Mary Kaltenbach were not ready for what met them after a wildfire charred their land and more than one million acres of rain-starved range this month. Dozens of their Angus cows lay dead on the blackened ground, hooves jutting in the air. Others staggered around like broken toys, unable to see or breathe, their black fur and dark eyes burned, plastic identification tags melted to their ears. Young calves lay dying. Ranching families across this countryside are now facing an existential threat to a way of life that has sustained them since homesteading days: years of cleanup and crippling losses after wind-driven wildfires across Kansas, Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle killed seven people and devoured homes, miles of fences and as much as 80 percent of some families’ cattle herds. But for many, the first job after the fire passed was loading a rifle. “We did what had to be done,” Mr. Kaltenbach, 69, said. “They’re gentle. They know us. We know them. You just thought, ‘Wow, I am sorry.’” Continue reading the main story Recent Comments patsy47 19 minutes ago This is a dreadful, heartbreaking situation. Disasters of this magnitude are beyond the abilities of individuals, even small groups and... Mark 19 minutes ago Maybe trump, on his now regular week-end $3 million vacations, might fly over these people he conned and drop a few dollars from a window.... InkyGlass 19 minutes ago Sorry to say but our dear Mr Trump was very busy this weekend. he was playing golf. And the news papers are very busy covering the F.B.I.... See All Comments Write a comment “You think you’re done,” he said, “and the next day you got to go shoot more.” For decades and generations, ranching has defined people’s days. Mr. Kaltenbach would wake up at 4:30 a.m. without an alarm clock. Another family down the road, the Wilsons, checked on the cows between jobs at the hospital and the telephone company. The Wilsons invited their whole family over each spring to round up the calves, vaccinate and tag them. “It’s our life,” Mrs. Kaltenbach, 57, said. “We lost our routine.” Beyond the toll of the fire, a frustration also crops up in conversation after conversation. Ranchers said they felt overlooked amid the tumult in Washington, and were underwhelmed by the response of a new president who had won their support in part by promising to champion America’s “forgotten men and women.”...more

The  TNY Times video:

It’s Time We All Get Used To The Idea Of Lab-Grown Meat


A year ago, I raved to Evan Marks, director of The Ecology Center in Orange County (CA), about the future of synthetic proteins — meat grown in labs from stem cells. He was sitting with sustainability-minded chef Greg Daniels of the Haven Collective and the two recoiled from my words like Craig and Smokey in Friday. Marks, a big name in the world of food sustainability, seemed particularly bothered. Agriculture and animals are synonymous,” he told me then. “Fabricating a reality where an animal is extracted from the system creates an idea that humans are in charge of the planet rather than stewards of it. We know how to farm and manage animals in a really regenerative way — it’s an idea we can return to right now and rally around.” His point made sense to me. I believe in Marks’s idea of human stewardship and also that there are limits to our dominion over fauna. But I don’t think that stewardship and lab grown proteins are somehow mutually exclusive. In fact, I told Marks that I see this sort of innovation as something that will allow us to care for animals better. He frowned. “Why? Because we wouldn’t have to kill them? Because they use so much water?” “Yeah,” I said, shrugging, “basically.”I added that I’ve personally seen huge swaths of wild land flattened to make room for ranching across North America, South America, Asia, and Africa. As far as stewardship of animals goes, our consumption of red meat has done far more harm than good — habitat destruction is the #1 cause of species extinction and much of that is to make way for our food supply. If we could make a steak in a lab that tasted as good as steak from a cow, why on earth wouldn’t we embrace that? Why wouldn’t we abandon ranches all together, if production allowed?...more

Washington’s wolf population grew by 28 percent last year

The population of wolves in Washington state grew by 28 percent last year, with at least two new packs, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said. At the end of 2016, the state was home to a minimum of 115 wolves, 20 packs, and 10 successful breeding pairs. That’s an increase of at least 25 wolves since 2015, despite the confirmed deaths of 14 wolves from various causes. Those findings draw on information gathered from aerial surveys, remote cameras, wolf tracks, and signals from radio-collared wolves, and are considered minimum estimates, the agency said. “Washington’s wolf population continues to grow at about 30 percent each year,” said Jim Unsworth, director of Fish and Wildlife...more

Bison community plans historic rendezvous in Montana in July

The largest gathering of the bison community in the past five years, scheduled July 4th-8th in Big Sky, Mont., is being slated as one-part celebration of the growth of the bison business, one part planning for future expansion, and one part rest and relaxation for the estimated 500 participants from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and around the world. The fifth-ever International Bison Conference, set for July 4-8, will bring ranchers, researchers, tribal leaders, policymakers, culinary professionals and buffalo enthusiasts to Big Sky, MT for workshops, planning sessions, tours, recreational activities, musical entertainment, and more, according to Aaron Paulson, the Montana bison rancher who is heading the conference planning committee. “We are excited to host this gathering of the international bison community,” Paulson said. “The theme, Big Skies, Bright Horizons, really sums up the state of the bison community as we prepare to gather this summer.”...more

Trump SCOTUS pick Gorsuch presents himself as a Westerner at confirmation hearing

Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, described himself Monday as a humble Westerner and a family man who can bring geographic diversity to the high court. Delivering an opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Gorsuch kicked off a weeklong set of hearings by portraying himself as a consensus-building jurist who follows the law where it goes — even if it means ruling in ways he doesn’t like. “In the West, we listen to one another respectfully, we tolerate and cherish different points of view, and we seek consensus whenever we can, ” the judge said. He also touted his record on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, having addressed issues facing Native Americans and tribal lands...more

Interior to rescind BLM fracking rules adopted in 2015

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has directed updated federal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) rules for drilling on public lands be rescinded, Kallanish Energy understands. Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion with the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announcing the Bureau of Land Management intends to start a new federal rulemaking process to rescind the rules. That will begin in the next 90 days. Justice also asked a hearing scheduled on March 22 before the appeals court be canceled. That announcement was denounced by environmental groups, including Earthjustice, that’s representing six eco-groups, mostly in the West, in the court case. Those rules had been challenged in federal court in Wyoming by the oil and natural gas drilling industry in 2015, with U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl in Wyoming setting aside the rule. That decision was appealed by BLM and Earthjustice, which had intervened in the case...more

Op-ed: I’m banking on Zinke keeping our Bears Ears promises to Indians

By Stephen Trimble

I fear we are headed down an old and familiar path at Bears Ears. We promise Indian people that we will honor treaties, that we will recognize their rights to lands they have called home for millennia. We, the United States of America, make promises. Then, we break them. The Bears Ears National Monument proclamation isn't a treaty, but the president's words have the weight of law, granting new protections for a swath of public lands "profoundly sacred to many Native American tribes." And now Utah's office-holders are asking a new president to rescind the monument, to once again default on our legal agreements with Native nations. The monument exists because the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition documented their people's spiritual, historic and working relationships with this land. Over seven years, in dozens of interviews, the Inter-Tribal Coalition mapped indigenous connections to nearly two million acres in these stunning canyons. To adequately preserve the cultural sites surrounding the Bears Ears — its "objects," in the words of the Antiquities Act — the monument could have been even bigger. President Obama understood this relationship with the land. He listened to the tribes. He waited until the Public Lands Initiative failed. And then he asked federal and Inter-Tribal Coalition representatives to create something "bold and new."...more

White House installs political aides at Cabinet agencies to be Trump’s eyes and ears

The political appointee charged with keeping watch over Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and his aides has offered unsolicited advice so often that after just four weeks on the job, Pruitt has shut him out of many staff meetings, according to two senior administration officials. At the Pentagon, they’re privately calling the former Marine officer and fighter pilot who’s supposed to keep his eye on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “the commissar,” according to a high-ranking defense official with knowledge of the situation. It’s a reference to Soviet-era Communist Party officials who were assigned to military units to ensure their commanders remained loyal. Most members of President Trump’s Cabinet do not yet have leadership teams in place or even nominees for top deputies. But they do have an influential coterie of senior aides installed by the White House who are charged — above all — with monitoring the secretaries’ loyalty, according to eight officials in and outside the administration. These aides report not to the secretary, but to the Office of Cabinet Affairs, which is overseen by Rick Dearborn, a White House deputy chief of staff, according to administration officials. A top Dearborn aide, John Mashburn, leads a weekly conference call with the advisers, who are in constant contact with the White House. The aides act as a go-between on policy matters for the agencies and the White House. Behind the scenes, though, they’re on another mission: to monitor Cabinet leaders and their top staffs to make sure they carry out the president’s agenda and don’t stray too far from the White House’s talking points, said several officials with knowledge of the arrangement. Many of the advisers arrived from the White House with the small groups known as “beachhead teams” that started work on Jan. 20. One of the mandates at the top of their to-do list now, Bennett said, is making sure the agencies are identifying regulations the administration wants to roll back and vetting any new ones...more

 POLITICO covered these "beachhead teams" back in January, and now ProPublica has published a list of those on the teams. Despite the angle taken by the Washington Post, this is not unusual action by the White House when first bringing in a new administration.

I do find two things of interest here. First, the teams are larger than I had expected, with over  20 being assigned to Interior. Second, how does this jive with the recent announcement that Donald Trump, jr. was having Jason Hairston act as a liaison between Interior and the White House. According to the ProPublica list Douglas Domenech is the Senior White House Advisor assigned to Interior. So who, really, is the liaison? Is Domenech still at Interior?

Border Patrol presence turns heads, creates worries at the Rodeo

It started with what looked like an unnerving photo: windowless Border Patrol vans parked outside the Houston Rodeo. And as the image spread online in the run-up to Sunday's Go Tejano Day, it seeded fear and rumors of roundups in the local Hispanic community in light of President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown. "They don't need to be spreading fear or instigating further tension between people with different skin tones," said Yvonne Hernandez, a Houstonian who comes from a family of immigrants. But the picture didn't give the full story; U.S. Customs and Border Patrol had simply turned up to bolster recruiting efforts. Even so, some locals were angry and nervous over the agency's unexpected presence at a family event. "It's kind of rude," said 26-year-old Jake Johnson as he walked past the Border Patrol's NRG Center table during Sunday's Tejano extravaganza, which narrowly broke the rodeo's concert attendance record despite the climate of uncertainty in the Houston immigrant community. Just days earlier, Philadelphia announced the cancellation of its main Cinco de Mayo celebration amid fears of ICE raids. The federal agency confirmed Friday that it wasn't attending the rodeo for recruiting or enforcement purposes. This is the second year CBP set up a recruiting booth at the annual event, according to a statement from the rodeo. But in light of Trump's hard-line anti-immigration rhetoric and deportation promises, some locals found this year's showing troubling...more

Sen. Inhofe spills beans on real goal of EPA

President Trump is right to use his first federal budget to gut the Environmental Protection Agency and eradicate the cornerstones of Obama’s climate change strategy, says U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., because the EPA is being used as a tool by the left to kill free enterprise and destroy capitalism. The White House submitted a “skinny budget” to Congress Thursday, calling for a 31 percent, or $2.5 billion, cut to EPA funding and reducing its workforce by 3,200 employees. The budget would save $100 million in fiscal 2018 by discontinuing funding for climate-change research and international climate-change programs. The EPA, Inhofe told WND on Thursday, was set up to provide legitimate oversight of the environment but has been hijacked by big-government liberals and Marxists. “The biggest problem that we’ve had in this country has emanated from the Environmental Protection Agency,” the Oklahoma senator said. “The Clean Air Act, it came out of that committee, and the amendments on that were in 1999 and they’ve been extremely successful. But then, with the Obama administration, he got away from that and started worrying about how he can regulate things that the American people don’t want – the thing that President Obama did was try to pass things to regulations that he couldn’t get [through] legislation. He couldn’t get them through legislation because the people at home would not tolerate it.”...more

Delayed reclamation along Dakota Access Pipeline worries landowners

The Dakota Access Pipeline and an associated protest has packed a two-part punch for farmers and ranchers in North Dakota's Morton and Sioux counties. While completion of the pipeline is scheduled for the week of March 20, ranchers are fearing a third effect — soil erosion caused by reclamation delays. Doug Hille ranches with his wife, Carol, and daughter, Steph, at Chimney Butte Ranch. They have about 300 purebred Gelbvieh cows and harvest about 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, plus hay and forage. "In certain areas, restoration activities were unable to be completed due to frozen conditions," said Lisa Dillinger, spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., of Dallas, said. "Those remaining activities will be completed after the winter months. The protests did not impact restoration schedules." John Shultz grew up near Parshall, ranched near Flasher, and had a career in coal mining, starting in land reclamation management at a mine near Stanton. Schultz, who now lives in Mandaon, has experience in reclamation. He has worked with area ranchers on reclamation negotiations and said it seems "obvious" that the reclamation schedule was affected. "There were many days they didn't work where they were shut down along the pipeline when protesters were going there in the late summer and fall," he said. "Landowners were aware of what was going on, and talking to the crews out there. They weren't working in a vacuum." Shultz said it was an exceptionally long fall. He said he couldn't explain any rationale for such a denial...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1808

Its Swingin' Monday, and from their 1985 CD Pasture Prime, here is Asleep At The Wheel with Your Red Wagon.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Take an Epic Journey With the Elk of Yellowstone | Short Film Showcase

Travel with elk herds on their incredible migration from Wyoming’s ranch lands to Yellowstone’s high-alpine meadows in Elk River.
Scientist Arthur Middleton, photographer Joe Riis, and artist James Prosek follow these remarkable ungulates on their journey as they trek over steep mountain passes and ford treacherous river crossings. Along the way, this band of explorers meet backcountry guides and cattle ranchers whose lives are intricately tied with the fate of the elk and other migratory species that live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Filmmaker Jenny Nichols captures the action and skillfully edits the many narratives into one cohesive piece that blends art, conservation, and science.

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

A normal wife

by Julie Carter

Cowboys are generally reasonable critters but sometimes their perception of reasonable and normal gets them in a bit of a bind.

Jerry and Donna, husband and wife, were driving down the road to pick up yet another load of wheat cattle to put out on pasture. This particular morning, Jerry was explaining in great detail to Donna just what his “reasonable expectations” included.

All he wanted was a normal wife, he said. A normal wife would not think crackers were an acceptable substitute so would not run out of bread. A normal wife wouldn’t expect much of a poor wheat-pasture cowboy.

As is often the case in the Texas Panhandle, the weather was despicable, cold and raining right straight down. When they arrived at the pasture where their cattle to be picked up were penned, Jerry pulled up to the gate and waited. Nobody moved. Finally, he asked Donna, “Aren’t you going to open the gate?”

Donna explained, “No normal wife would get out in this mess and get her boots muddy or her hair wet.”

Jerry got out and opened the gate with no comment.

He backed up to the chute, got out and opened the trailer gate but as he headed back to the pickup, the wind blew the gate shut. This happened a time or two more until Jerry got a stick to prop it open.

Like a normal wife, Donna sat warm and dry in the cab of the pickup. As Jerry got back into the truck, the stick on the gate slipped and it banged shut. Finally, Jerry said, “OK, you made your point. Please get out and hold the gate for me.”

Later, thinking to make up, Jerry told Donna that he had noticed she had a flat on the inside dually of her feed truck. He told her if she would take the tire off, he would fix the flat while she fixed lunch. Donna said she thought a normal wife would be taken to lunch.

That explosion passed as Jerry realized they still had all afternoon to go. They could put out another set of cattle and get them settled before dark. His thought was that he could go pick them up, Donna could go build a half mile of hot-wire fence he hadn’t had time to get to and then they would meet to put the cattle out.

Donna said she had other plans for the afternoon.  She outlined a normal-wife strategy of going to the mall and perhaps getting her hair and nails done. Jerry could then meet her and take to the new restaurant she had heard about.

The following day there were more cattle to get to wheat pasture.  When this was done, Jerry noticed the hay trailer needed loaded as snow was forecast. Donna had always tended to this project.

Jerry wasn’t that slow. He had become accustomed to her doing certain things. Today, so far, had contained no reference to “normal wives” and he had forgotten what had prompted him to mention it the day before. Donna informed him that all four tires on the hay trailer were flat and she recommended that he do something about it because flat tires didn’t fall within the parameters of normal wife expertise.

It didn’t happen often, but he gave up. He told her he could live without a normal wife, just please get back to doing what she had been doing. And, while she was at it, when she took the flats off and had them fixed, she may as well rotate the tires around the trailer too.

As a normal cowboy’s wife, she got right on it.

Julie can be reached for comment at

My Land is Your land

A Budget
My Land is Your land
True Rights
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            BJ and I were coming over the hill at “Homestead” when we saw them.
            There were two men coming through the corral and headed on up the slope to the old rock house. We slowed to a stop as we reached them.
            “Good morning,” was our greeting. “What are you fellows up to this morning?”
            “We are going up to take pictures of the old rock house,” was the short terse answer of the spokesperson.
            Viewing it in hindsight, the back and forth discussion at that point was somewhat akin to the signaling of bulls arriving at a waterhole. The approaching bulls will always respond to the bull that has arrived first and tries to control or deny entry. Screaming back and forth and pawing the ground in defensive defiance are the visible signals. Each will demonstrate his power until one prevails and the pecking order is reestablished.
            “I am sure you fellows do know this is private land,” was the jab when courtesy on the part of the visitors was not forthcoming.
            “We come here all the time when we have company visiting us,” the spokesperson responded as if he held the right to do what he wanted to do on this “public property”.
            A confrontation was definitely in the offing until the real “visitor” with the camera stepped in.
            “I was just so interested in all this and I had no idea this was private land,” was his defusing remark. “I surely understand and didn’t intend to step out of line at all.”
            From that point, he became the featured intermediary of good will. His buddy had to fall into the conversational change.
             The aggressive buddy stirred the water yet another time, though, when he started cussing the State Land Commissioner for raising the cost of “his right to hunt” on these lands.
            “How much do you actually pay to hunt on state lands?” he was then asked. He had no idea other than the fact the land commissioner had the gall to raise his access fees.
            “You pay a little less than two cents per acre for that right,” was the answer. “At the same time, we pay more than 100 cents for one of those acres for the right to run cattle and that doesn’t count the water, the salt, the mineral, and any degree of protection we provide from predators for the animals you hunt.”
            The fact that we also rotate our cattle in a formal partnership agreement with the federal government to leave the majority of the ranch cattle free during critical mating, nesting, and fawning seasons to further enhance his hunting opportunities was not mentioned. It was clear he didn’t care nor would he have comprehended what that actually implied. That wasn’t the case of his friend.
            “I had no idea of those facts,” the intermediary said.
            We then did another rough calculation which suggested our total annual investment (excluding mortgages) ran another 263 cents per acre or a total of 363 cents per acre for the right to run our cattle compared to the hunters investment of about two cents. The mediator was stunned.
            “When I come again I will call you when I come to visit if that is alright,” he proclaimed.
            “You, Sir, will be welcome,” was the pointed, singular response.
            The Heritage Foundation has come out with their updated list of countries or city states by measure of economic freedoms. Hong Kong is rated as the number one place in the world for key economic freedoms. Chile fills the last slot in the top ten rankings. Our nation, the United States of America, does not fill any of the other top ten slots.
            Not only are we down the list we have the highest corporate tax rates in the world. Why that wasn’t even a subject on the array of talking points by the 2008 defeated party remains a mystery. Even lip service would have accounted for something.
            It isn’t just the liberals, though, that don’t get it.
            The Republicans are displaying the characteristics that southern intellectuals tried to define after the Civil War. There was rhetoric from the Grand Old Party, but, when the nut cutting actually took place, there was an eerie acquiescence that suggested there was either more bark than bite or their mental capacities weren’t as expansive as their balderdash.
            It has become very clear neither party has much respect or understanding of our constitutional personal liberties. On its own recognizance, Congress is incapable of fixing the spending orgy which it created and now self perpetuates. They are so far into fiscal debauchery that two thirds of the budget is fixed and defined by legislation and extra legal regulatory burden as mandatory.
             Medicaid, Social Security; food assistance, unemployment, and Medicare are all funded by taking wealth from fewer and fewer producers and giving it to an institutional class of permanent consumers. I heard O’Reilly the other night suggest that the phrasing from the Preamble of the Constitution, “promote the general welfare” gives Congress the right to create such monstrosities.
            That is nonsense. There are no delegated congressional powers inherent in the preamble. In fact, the suggestion of “We the People” in the opening phrasing reminds the diligent reader who the entire work was intended. No, this government has instituted the legalized theft of personal wealth in order to guarantee an entire class of people certain rights as if those rights exist in a vacuum.
            When there is no fair share commitment on the part of every citizen in every phase of government, true rights don’t exist. That is wrong and it is every bit as bad as murder, rape, and lying. It is theft, and that is a violation of personal and private property rights.
            The Budget
            The new administration’s budget has been released.
             There are many welcome features especially the recommended cuts to agencies. There will be major pushback from the congress when those reductions affect their districts, but at least we have an executive officer who understands that deficit spending has to stop.
            The agency that most affects the world I live in, Interior, is being slated for a 12% reduction. That trails its sister agency, USDA, by 9% but it remains to be seen how the BLM and the Forest Service, respectively, will be affected. Since the BLM is our major landlord the expected cuts will have impact on our operation, but I view that as positive. Positive in the aspect that the new Secretary Zinke suggests he will pursue “leverage(d) private investment in federal lands” for the anticipated intensions of “creating innovative streams of revenue”.
            If that means simply raising our fees for the purpose of enhancing those revenues, we will further lose the battle we continue to fight trying to stay in business. Through its management, Secretary Zinke’s land management agencies have overseen a continued attrition rate of federal lands ranchers of 1% per year. Our numbers are down a whopping 65% since the data has been summarized. Our cattle numbers are down 46% and it isn’t as if gross protein supplies produced by cattle are down. They aren’t. They have simply been made up in private land holding operations where innovation can not be fully suppressed, parallel enterprises can be installed, and revenue growth can support capitalization without reliance and or approval by the federal landlord.
             The BLM and the Forest Service must begin to act like state and private land management where innovation is actually encouraged rather than quashed. Stakeholders with private property at risk must be elevated into the decision making process on the merit and basis of actual partnerships rather than a relationship that must be equated in historical terms to sharecropping with all of the baggage and suppression that it carries. Management plans must be structured to actually enhance production rather than holding it steady or reducing it by opening driving it by environmental and special interest restrictions.
            But, that remains to be seen, doesn’t it?
            I am with fellow federal lands ranchers all the time. The mood and the outlook must be gauged as subtly hopeful, but the optimism is held largely in guarded reserve. The data demonstrates we have lived in an atmosphere of stepwise suppression and elimination too long. We live in too many counties that have only 10 to 20% private land holdings that must carry the load for all vital infrastructure investments, but we still see federal funds intended to further reduce those holdings and tax base they inherently carry.
            We also see a public and a federal bureaucracy that projects an aggressive attitude that “your land is our land”, and they have the power and the intention of claiming those rights as if they were distinct rights in a vacuum.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “I’d like to thank that unknown visitor. You, Sir, were reasonable which gives me hope.”

Baxter Black: Anything that can go wrong

"By gosh, that's a new twist," thought Terry as he tightened his collar against the biting wind and stared at the heifer. She was trying to calve standing up! He eased up on her and dropped a loop over the horns.

She stood atop a swell on the high plains of eastern New Mexico. Terry reached her and tied 100 foot of polyethylene water skiing rope around her horns, as well. A safety line so he could at least get within 100 feet of her if she decided to take off in the 300 acre pasture.

"Got any O.B. chains?" asked Terry.

"Nope, but we could make a slip knot in that poly rope," suggested Dad, owner of the ranch and resident wiseman.

Terry soon had the yellow plastic clothes line attached to the calf's leg. The remainder of the poly rope lay coiled ominously behind these two obstetrical wizards. It snarled and gaped like a rhino trap. "Lemme grab some gloves outta the pickup," were Terry's last vertical words.

He started toward the truck but stopped when he heard the sound of thundering hooves. He glanced back over his shoulder to see the heifer sprinting towards the Colorado border! He felt something move underfoot and looked down to discover his boot dead center in the discarded coils. A microsecond of his life flashed before his eyes just as the nest of yellow plastic snakes tightened around his ankle and jerked him off his feet!

Down the other side of the swell they sailed, Terry tobogganing like a 200-lb ham tied to a runaway buffalo! Dirt pounded up his pant legs as he scooted and skittered along trying to avoid straddling the brush and yucca that lay like land mines in the obstacle course!

Dad, ever the quick thinker, ran to the pickup and took up the chase! He had a plan.

Lee Pitts: Do the math

I'm often asked by young students what they should study in college in order to become a professional writer. If I was one perhaps I'd know. Other than the four mandatory years of English in high school I've never taken a writing class in my life. Never. Not one. And I'd bet that two of my favorite writers, Mark Twain and Will Rogers, never took a class in creative writing either. A teacher these days would give Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn an "F" for not being politically correct.

Since my older brother was a brilliant mathemagician, my mother insisted that I follow in his footsteps and take every math class my high school offered. By the time I also took two hours of ag classes a day, a lecture and a shop class, I didn't have any time left to take typing. Which is how I've made my living, two fingers at a time. Peck, peck, peck.

I'd probably like math, if it wasn't for all the numbers. It's just that when I went to school it was after a sinister creature had just created "new math" with all its fancy formulas, powers, subsets, less-thans, square roots and pi. The only thing I know now is that pie tastes better with a dollop of whipped cream and if your roots like carrots, onions, tubers and other roots are square, they'll dock you at the packing shed.

Math was good training to become a storyteller. I learned how to round-off numbers so that a five ounce trout I caught became a five pounder, and a Longhorn leppy calf with nubs that charged me became a raving one ton maniac with 60 inch horns. In arithmetic I learned to DIVIDE the bad news so I didn't dump it all on the reader at one time. I also learned how to MULTIPLY degrees of emotion so that a wife who was just having a bad day became "out of her raving mind." In my mind-numbing statistics class I learned that the use of numbers should always be kept to a bare minimum. One statistic per paragraph is more than enough.

...If I was to advise young people I'd suggest they learn how to SUBTRACT because that's what they'll spend their life doing: SUBTRACTING tariffs, tolls, tithes and taxes. The commission man is going to SUBTRACT pounds from your cattle and call it shrink, the auction market will SUBTRACT a commission, and the government is going to SUBTRACT sales tax, income tax, estate tax, property tax, excise tax, occupancy tax, and so on. Then they'll SUBTRACT a surcharge, like a big red cherry on top a hot fudge sundae.

...Besides SUBTRACTION, I'd also advise youngsters to learn how to DIVIDE. Not the fancy long division kind, just simple short division stuff. As a kid you'll have to DIVIDE everything with your siblings, then when you get married you'll have to DIVIDE your dessert at pricey restaurants with your spouse, and then when you get divorced you'll have to DIVIDE everything you own. Yessirree… I'd pay attention real good on the day they teach you how to DIVIDE by two.

Punishing the saints in New Mexico

by Marc Simmons

      In times gone by, many traditional homes in New Mexico had a small, well-decorated altar upon which was kept a statue of the household saint. These simple wooden santos were greatly treasured, becoming much-loved family heirlooms.
      Of course, each small village and town also had its own patron saint, the celebration of its feast day being the high point of the year. The image of this patron, kept in the church, might wear clothes carved and painted as part of the statue, or it might have actual cloth garments that could be removed for cleaning.
      The saints were appealed to, as intercessors, for various favors or for aid, particularly in instances of emergency. Since the early-day New Mexicans were at the mercy of capricious weather, nomad Indians, and periodic epidemics, they faced plenty of occasions when prayers for help seemed appropriate.
      Often times the saints seemed to respond, providing the relief requested. But then once in a while they appeared to turn a deaf ear and no matter how hard or long the villagers prayed, their appeals went unanswered.
      When that happened, the santos might be punished. The penalties assigned sound strange to modern ears, but they were an accepted part of Hispanic folk culture on the upper Rio Grande.
San Ysidro, the patron of farmers, was one santo frequently mentioned as receiving punishment when he failed to deliver. On his day, May 15, his image was taken in a procession through the fields, so that crops might be protected from hail or frost.
      Later in the summer, if the rains failed to come, the faithful farmers prayed furiously to San Ysidro for an end to the drought. When that occurred at Truchas, once long ago, a huge flood followed and destroyed the crops.
       The outraged petitioners placed their santo on his platform with four handles and carried him back to the fields, so he could see the disaster he had caused them. Their aim was to shame him.
The ususal way to punish a santo was to turn its face to the wall. Or if the failure had been a large one, then it might be locked in a trunk and left in darkness for a considerable period of time.
      Jose Gurule provides an example dating from 1867. In that year, at age 16, he joined a wagon train on the dangerous journey over the Santa Fe Trail to Missouri.
      As the caravan left Las Placitas, he says, the wives or mothers of the departing men gently wrapped a cloth around the household saints and put them in the bottom of trunks to be held hostage for the safe return of their loved ones. When the men got back, the santos in their houses were removed from captivity and a ceremony was held in their honor with dancing and singing. But in those homes where the mend had died on the trail, the saints were taken out and buried in sad and solemn ceremony.
      Young English tourist R.B. Townshend witnessed an astonishing episode of punishment at one of New Mexico’s pueblos in 1875. The village had a life size statue of San Joaquin, kept in a small chapel on the edge of the village. The saint in the past had always responded to pleas for rain, but now in the middle of a severe drought, he ignored them. Townshend was allowed to accompany the angry party of avengers.
       A crowd of Indianson horseback rode up to the chapel door. They shouted: “Bring him out. Lasso him. Down to the river with him!” Then a man went inside, tied a rope around the santo’s neck, and came out, looping the other end over his saddle horn.
      The saint was jerked out the door and the whole band raced for the river. “Down in the sand, under the heels of ponies,” Townshend related, “the besmeared San Joaquin wallowed and rolled beneath a shower of curses and a hurricane of blows.”
      “When it was all over, wonder of wonders, they retrieved him, cleaned him up, and dressed him in his own proper garments. And again they set him up in his shrine and worshipped him harder than ever.”
      For outsiders, the strange folkways of New Mexico starting with “punishing the saints” were beyond comprehension.

Marc Simmons is a semi-retired historian and author of thirty-five books  I was honored to present The Rounders Award to him in 1991.


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1807

Our gospel tune today is What Would I Do Without Your Son by the  Bluegrass Cardinals.  You can find it on their1986 album The Shining Path

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Report: What's Next for America’s Public Land?

Public outcry may have forced Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to withdraw his “Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act,” but public-lands advocates must keep the pressure on Congress to defeat other transfer proposals still circulating on Capitol Hill.
Chaffetz’s HR 621 called for selling 3.3 million acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 10 states. He submitted the bill on Jan. 24 and pulled it on Feb. 2 in the face of heated opposition from a coalescence of constituencies, ranging from hunters to the U.S. Humane Society.
The bill was an attempt to “grease the skids” and Chaffetz “got hammered for it,” Sierra Club Deputy Secretary for Federal Policy Adam Beitman said. “The lightbulb went off for a lot of people.”
But the battle has just begun, Center for Western Priorities’ (CWP) Aaron Weiss warned, calling HR 621 a trial balloon, of sorts. Filing a proposal to “dispose” of millions of BLM acres to the highest “non-federal” bidder was “a good start” for transfer proponents who “are calling for much more than that.”
Between 2013 and 2016, at least 44 Republican-sponsored bills to dilute or delete federal regulatory control on public lands, as well as to divest-and-transfer federal lands to the states, have been introduced into Congress. At the 2016 GOP National Convention in Cleveland in July, Republicans included a provision in the RNC platform calling for the transfer of ownership of federal land to states.
Despite this, then-candidate Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that he opposed turning federal lands over to states. His son, Donald Trump, Jr., an avid outdoorsman and member of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA), reportedly convinced his father to select Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, who opposes federal lands transfers, to be Secretary of the Interior.
Nevertheless, on the 115th Congress’s first day in session, the GOP-controlled House made 570 million of 640 million federally-administered acres essentially worthless by approving a “revenue neutral” resolution, which states “a conveyance of federal land to a state, local government, or tribal entity shall not be considered as providing new budget authority, decreasing revenues, increasing mandatory spending or increasing outlays.” Zinke, despite his stated opposition to federal lands transfers, voted in favor of the resolution.
On March 3, after being confirmed as Secretary of the Interior, Zinke told DOI employees at their Washington, D.C., headquarters that he would not sell off federal lands. "You can hear it from my lips: We will not sell or transfer public lands," he said.
On that same day, however, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) — the longtime leader of the divesture movement and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee — formally asked the Treasury Department to allocate $50 million “to account for the costs to transfer federal land to state or local governments.”
And so, the table is set with a confusing array of potential outcomes. More importantly, the legislative docket is crammed with divest-transfer bills. Among those now in committee: HR 622, to strip the BLM and Forest Service of law-enforcement authority; HR 232, to manage 2 million National Forest acres in Alaska solely for timber harvesting; S 273, to give states full authority over conservation plans to restore sage-grouse habitat. And just this week, the Senate endorsed a House resolution, approved Feb. 7 in a 234-186 vote, to discard the BLM’s 2.0 land-use planning rules.
Reportedly on tap: Initiatives to repeal the 1906 Antiquities Act, un-list the 29 national monuments created by the Obama Administration and dilute the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Note: A summary of the issues, but written from a decidedly anti-transfer standpoint.