Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Obama unveils major new effort to tackle climate change

The Obama administration is taking new steps to phase out the production of a well-known chemical coolant used in refrigerators and air conditioners that has been tied to global warming. The White House confirmed to The Hill that it plans to meet with some of the largest chemical firms and food retailers in the country on Tuesday. They will announce voluntary commitments to target the coolant R-134a, a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC). The commitment would include phasing out similar HFC compounds used in nearly every office, home and automobile in the U.S.Companies pledging new efforts to tackle emissions include Coca-Cola, Target, Red Bull and several air conditioning and refrigeration retailers, according to a fact sheet released by the White House.At Tuesday’s White House meeting, a total of 22 companies and organizations will commit to cut HFC emissions, phase out use of the coolant, or use more climate-friendly refrigerants and systems by 2020. The private sector pledges and executive actions to reduce emissions of HFCs will have a dramatic effect in reducing greenhouse gases, the administration said. HFCs are 10,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the White House stressed, making the new reductions equal to taking 15 million cars off the road for 10 years...more

Just political theater for what's to come:

The move comes just weeks before Obama heads to the United Nations climate summit in New York, Sept. 23, to tout the country's commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change. Obama has made reducing climate change a key part of his second-term agenda, and has focused on administrative actions. The U.N. summit is meant to help build momentum for climate change talks scheduled for 2015 in Paris.

Jindal: Climate change a 'Trojan horse' for the left

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal on Tuesday bashed liberals who he says are using climate change to further their own agenda. “For some on the left, climate change is simply a Trojan horse. It’s a way for them to come in and make changes to our economy that they would otherwise want to make,” he said during a speech hosted by the Heritage Foundation. "It’s an excuse for the government to come in and try to tell us what kind of homes we live in, what kind of cars we drive, what kind of lifestyles we can enjoy. It’s an excuse for some who never liked free-market economies and never liked rapid economic growth." While the Louisiana governor did not dispute that man-made climate change is happening, he urged “no regrets” climate policies that do not harm the United States’ economic standing around the world. Jindal, who is seen as a contender for the White House in 2016, made the remarks while unveiling a comprehensive energy and environmental platform aimed at freeing fossil fuels and other energy sources from the Obama administration’s policies...more

White House using global warming as a tool against capitalism?

By Ron Arnold

President Barack Obama will star in next week’s United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, and is expected to push his “climate accord in lieu of treaty” strategy to bypass the necessary two-thirds Senate ratification vote, seeking a “politically binding” deal that would “name and shame” recalcitrant countries into emissions control commitments. But Obama’s speech may not be the most influential performance on the New York stage.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited heads of state to the Summit nine months ago, beginning the scramble to persuade world leaders to show up for his all-ceremony, no-negotiations pep rally, which was rejected by the heads of state of China, India, Germany, Australia, and Canada – and gave plenty of notice for left-leaning Non-Governmental Organizations to steal the show.

While Ban desperately hoped his Summit would “put climate change back on top of the international agenda,” to kickstart stagnated treaty talks and stifle yawns from the world public, veteran anti-fossil fuel campaigner Bill McKibben ramped up his network for a 2014 replay of his 2009 blitz of 5,200 simultaneous climate demonstrations in 181 countries trying to support the failed Copenhagen climate talks.

While Ban looked in dismay as world polls relegated global warming fears to dead last (including one which showed that half of Britiain’s members of parliament reject man-made climate change as a fact), was recruiting 1,207 allied groups with its $3.6 million revenue – 25 of them local chapters – to launch the progressive Left’s dream, a “grassroots global revolt as the key answer to the climate crisis.”

Curtain, reviews come down on taxpayer-funded climate change musical

The Los Payasos Award today has to go to the DC Deep Thinkers who approved this grant.  Who recommended this grant and who gave the final approval?  Will they be held accountable? Of course not.  This is a great example of why the gov't should stay out of the arts.

The curtain has come down on Climate Change: The Musical and reviews of the taxpayer-funded play about global warming are downright icy. The play, which is actually entitled "The Great Immensity," and was produced by Brooklyn-based theater company The Civilians, Inc. with a $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, ended its run early amid a storm of criticism from reviewers and lawmakers alike. It opened a year late, reached just five percent of its anticipated audience and likely fell short of its ambitious goal of informing a new generation about the perceived dangers of man-caused climate change. Plus, it apparently wasn't very good. According to a plot description on the theater company’s website, "The Great Immensity" focuses on a woman named Phyllis as she tries to track down a friend who disappeared while filming an assignment for a nature show on a tropical island. During her search, she also uncovers a devious plot surrounding an international climate summit in Auckland, New Zealand. The description touts the play as “a thrilling and timely production” with “a highly theatrical look into one of the most vital questions of our time: How can we change ourselves and our society in time to solve the enormous environmental challenges that confront us?”...more

Yellowstone seeks to cull 900 bison from famed herd

Yellowstone National Park plans to reduce its bison population this winter by as many as 900 head, or a fifth of the herd, by killing off those animals that stray from the park in what would be the largest such culling in seven years, the park's wildlife chief said on Tuesday. The plan was unveiled a day after conservationists filed a legal petition demanding the Obama administration end annual culling exercises that have resulted in thousands of Yellowstone bison being shipped off to American Indian tribes for slaughter during the past decade. In recent years, wayward bison have been removed through a combination of special round-ups and hunting. The latest quota would cut the size of the country's last pure-bred band of free-ranging bison, also known as buffalo, to 4,000 animals from an estimated 4,900. The new push to cull the herd is tied to a long-standing management plan hammered out among federal and state wildlife and agricultural agencies that sets the target population at between 3,000 and 3,500 bison...morefed

Ticks and Cowboys

Michael Bolfing is one of the only cowboys in the world who will retire with a government pension — that is, if he retires. “Most guys don’t retire, they just die,” he says of the other employees of the United States Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program. Bolfing is tall and thin, with short-cropped hair and a Texas drawl. His horse is a companion, not a pet. When Bolfing is asked its name he says, “It’s got a lot, but you probably can’t write any of them down.” “Tick riders” are saving the United States an estimated $1 billion every year by keeping a worldwide scourge out of the country: Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus and its cousin, R.(B.) annulatus, otherwise known as two species of cattle fever ticks. These are no mere pests. They transmit parasites that can kill cattle in a week; they can also suck a herd dry, cutting the weight of a steer by 20 percent in a year. Cattle ticks drastically reduce meat and milk production, and trash leather quality. Bill Coble, Webb County Tick Supervisor, opens a portable spray-dip machine used for treating cattle with a tickicide.1 At the Webb County administrative office, livestock records are recorded on a chalkboard.2 U.S. Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program Director Edwin Bowers near the border between the U.S. and Mexico.3 1Bill Coble, Webb County Tick Supervisor, opens a portable spray-dip machine used for treating cattle with a tickicide. 2At the Webb County administrative office, livestock records are recorded on a chalkboard. 3U.S. Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program Director Edwin Bowers near the border between the U.S. and Mexico. In short, they have the capacity to decimate the Texas cattle industry, but haven’t, largely thanks to cowboys like Bolfing. Monday to Friday, he rides the Rio Grande, looking for stray cows and horses from Mexico that might be ferrying cattle ticks across the border. In 1906, the U.S. went to war on cattle ticks. The government created the tick rider program, and by 1943, cattle ticks were declared eradicated everywhere but the permanent quarantine zone — an 800-kilometer strip along the Rio Grande that ranges from a few hundred yards to a few miles across. Before any animals can leave the buffer, they have to be checked for ticks and dunked in pesticides. The U.S. is the only country that has waged a successful battle against the ticks so far. Now, just 68 tick riders hold the line against invasion. Despite the many precautions, outbreaks happen. During the last major flare-up in 2007, 1.5 million acres beyond the permanent buffer zone were quarantined. Affected ranchers across South Texas dipped their animals regularly for months at a time or rotated pastures to starve the ticks. Today, there are still 35,000 acres of quarantined ranch land beyond the permanent buffer. Any cattle that come into the U.S. go through a strict inspection. If one animal has cattle ticks, the whole herd is sent back. Clean cows are “dipped”: dunked horn-to-tail in a deep vat of tickicide. But scientists have found ticks resistant to major classes of pesticides in Mexico and around the world...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1295

Many in my age group may remember the 1963 world-wide hit by Japanese artist Kyu Sakamoto titled Sukiyaki. Its the only tune by a Japanese artist to hit #1 on the U.S. charts. The original Japanese title was Ue O Muite Aruko, meaning I Shall Walk Looking Up (So My Tears Won't Fall).  Combine the beautiful melody with my love of dixieland jazz and you get this instrumental version by Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bear bite probably killed man; both species may have been on remains

A bear bite probably killed a Virgin, Utah, man whose remains were found Friday in the Teton Wilderness but investigators aren’t yet certain what species of bear might be responsible. A preliminary pathology report indicates the victim died from blunt force trauma, “probably a bear bite” to the head, Wyoming Game and Fish Lander Regional Wildlife Supervisor Jason Hunter told WyoFile on Monday. Hunter has worked closely with Fremont County officials in the ongoing investigation into the death of Adam Stewart, 31. Stewart was visiting a plot to monitor vegetation under a contract with the U.S. Forest Service, Sheriff’s office records state. Volunteers and others launched a 5-day search for him in the Cub Creek drainage north of Togwotee Pass in the roadless Teton Wilderness of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Investigators didn’t know Monday what species might have killed Stewart. Officials have found “nothing that indicates from our investigation what type of bear it was,” Hunter said. Tracks from both species – black and grizzly — were at the scene, he said. There also were clues on the remains that could show what species were on the victim’s body. “Just looking at the hairs we could have two different species,” Hunter said...more

Is this a wolf track?

Photo taken this weekend on a ranch in the San Antonio, NM. area.

Otero County commissioners terminate 3 contracts with Lincoln National Forest

Otero County Commissioners have terminated three contracts with the Lincoln National Forest and opted out of scheduling a town hall meeting to discuss the termination of the contracts with forest officials. During Thursday's commission meeting, District 3 Commissioner Ronny Rardin said he was opposed to holding a town hall meeting with the USFS. "I have no desire to meet with the Forest Service any further than I already have," Rardin said." Otero County Commissioners have terminated three contracts with the Lincoln National Forest and opted out of scheduling a town hall meeting to discuss the termination of the contracts with forest officials. During Thursday's commission meeting, District 3 Commissioner Ronny Rardin said he was opposed to holding a town hall meeting with the USFS. "I have no desire to meet with the Forest Service any further than I already have," Rardin said. During July's commission meeting the commissioners had considered severing all working contracts with the USFS. The commission voted against severing all contracts with the Forest Service but agreed to take some contracts into consideration for possible termination. After the July meeting, the commission selected a few contracts to terminate with the USFS. Otero County Manager Pamela Helter said the commissioners decided to terminate three contracts with the Forest Service. The three contracts that are being terminated are: the Master Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) contract which was established Oct. 17, 2012; Two Goats Project established April 3, 2013 and Dale Resler Boys Scout Camp established July 24, 2013. Heltner sent a 30 day notice to Lincoln National Forest officials on July 30, 2014 that stated the county's intent to terminate the three contracts. The termination letter to the Lincoln National Forest Supervisor Travis Mosley states, "Otero County has tried diligently to work with the Forest Service on multiple issues and the Forest Service has not responded in a manner that we feel benefits the constituents of Otero County." Lincoln National Forest Sacramento District Ranger James Duran said the Forest Service is willing to work with the commission in the future to try and arrange a meeting. Rardin said meeting with the Forest Service in the past hasn't paid off and he doesn't expect it will be any different in the future. Rardin said prior meetings about issues the county has had with the Lincoln National Forest regarding water property rights were futile...more

Colorado ranchers’ Pinon Canyon victory earns magazine cover story

“In 2005, the entire agricultural community in Southeast Colorado faced losing their ranches to an aggressive land grab by the U.S. Army. By combining biological evidence, cultural heritage, intense document research, the political process, and when necessary, legal action, these ranchers smartly, legally, and collectively saved their land.” Thus begins, in big type over a two-page southeastern Colorado landscape, an eight-page feature in the October/November issue of American Cowboy written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Bob Welch. Reaching subscribers last week and newsstands now, Welch goes back to 1983 to tell of what’s become known among area ranching families as The Taking, when the Army created the quarter-million-acre Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) by using eminent domain to take the land from families unwilling to sell. Welch then jumps to 2005 when a map leaked to the La Junta Tribune-Democrat revealed an almost-unimaginably huge new land grab by the Army, which had secretly developed an elaborate plan to expand PCMS to seven million acres—roughly ten percent of Colorado’s land, bound by Interstate 25 to the west, New Mexico and Oklahoma to the south, and the Arkansas River to the north. More than 17,000 people would be removed from their vacated land. “This time, though, the Army lost the element of surprise,” Welch writes. “The ranchers and their allies would fight. They formed the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition (PCEOC) and two offshoots, Grasslands Trust and Not One More Acre!, and began drawing up a battle plan.” Welch proceeds to tell the story through interviews with many of the opposition leaders, all of them longtime residents of southeastern Colorado. None had experience as political organizers. Most were ranchers, and most of their families had been on the same land for generations.

Mont. wolf  hunt begins; activists shadow hunters

Montana’s six-month general hunting season for gray wolves began Monday as outside activists sought to highlight the killing of wolves that leave Yellowstone National Park. It’s the fourth annual hunt since Congress revoked endangered species protections in 2011 for the animals, and the fifth since 2009, when gray wolves briefly lost their protected status before it was temporarily restored by a federal judge. There was no hunt in 2010. Yet the hunt continues to stir debate. For this year’s opening, a small group of activists said they were shadowing two groups of backcountry hunting outfitters in a wilderness area next to Yellowstone. Rod Coronado with the recently formed Yellowstone Wolf Patrol said he and eight other volunteers planned to use a video camera to document the killing of any wolves. Coronado said they would not directly interfere with hunting, which would be illegal. “We’re hoping our presence here and taking video of it and photographing evidence can persuade Montana citizens to ask their governor to shut down the hunt outside the park,” Coronado said. In 1995, a federal judge sentenced Coronado to more than four years in prison for his role in an arson attack on an animal research facility in Michigan. He said Monday that he no longer considers illegal actions effective and has no intention of breaking any Montana laws...more

Another Washington wolf pack targets livestock

A northeastern Washington wolf pack so new it hasn't been formally recognized has been confirmed in a livestock attack in Ferry County, state wildlife officials announced today. The Profanity Pack, which apparently was documented sometime this year by a biologist working with the Colville Confederated Tribes, has been related to a wolf attack on cattle reported Sept. 12 on a Colville National Forest  grazing allotment. The pack, which doesn't yet show on state wolf recovery maps, was named for its proximity to Profanity Peak, elevation 6,428 feet, along the crest of the Kettle River Range east of Curlew, and north of Sherman Pass. “Remote cameras show the pack includes at least three adults and three pups,” said Nate Pamplin, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife program director. “WDFW is coordinating with the Colville Confederated Tribe on camera monitoring and future trapping efforts to place a radio collar on members of the pack.” The Diamond M livestock operation, grazing on a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) allotment, reported finding a wolf-killed cow and calf in the vicinity of the Profanity Peak pack, Pamplin said. Diamond M Ranch also had problems with wolf attacks mostly on private land in northern Stevens County in 2012. Those attacks affecting 17 cattle, led the state to put helicopter gunners in the air and kill eight members of the Wedge Pack. “WDFW staff and deputies from the Stevens County and Ferry County sheriff’s offices responded and went to the site on Friday,” Pamplin said. “The area was remote, about four miles by trail from the nearest road.  WDFW staff confirmed that the cattle had been killed by wolves approximately a week before the necropsy.”...more

Oregon wolves move closer to delisting

Oregon could have enough breeding pairs of wolves in 2015 to reach a minimum threshold for delisting wolves under the state Endangered Species Act. “We were told in the beginning that when wolves first came to the county, we were waiting for that day,” said Todd Nash, wolf committee chairman for the Oregon Cattleman Association. “We fully expect to reach that threshold this year.” The threshold is met when the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife verifies that the state hosts at least four breeding pairs of wolves in Eastern Oregon for three years. In 2012, biologists documented six breeding pairs, and they found four pairs in 2013 spread across Baker, Union, Umatilla and Wallowa counties. In the Western region, only one breeding pair is known to exist. The count for 2014 won’t be complete until January or even February of 2015, said Russ Morgan, who coordinates ODFW’s wolf program. However, early reports show more than four breeding pairs. “Oregon wolves are increasing, not just in abundance but in distribution as well,” Morgan said. That’s bittersweet news for Nash and his fellow ranchers because more wolves mean more potential problems for their animals, but it also means they would be allowed to use lethal force in more situations...more

Tribe protests plans to raise dam

A local tribe showed its displeasure with a proposal to raise Shasta Dam here by holding a four-day fast and ceremonial war dance beginning at dusk Sept. 11. Members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe contend the proposal, which the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation could unveil by the end of this year, would cause more of their historical lands along the McCloud River to be flooded. “We’re a traditional tribe — we believe in our ceremonies and we believe in the sacred,” said Caleen Sisk, chief of the tribe based in Redding, Calif. “We’re telling the sacred places and the river that we’re doing everything we can to bring the salmon back and help the waters.” The Winnemem say they lost much of their homeland and their salmon when the dam was first constructed, and any raising would threaten to submerge many of their sacred sites and village areas. “We’re hoping the people of California will wake up to some of the water issues,” Sisk said. “California should be a salmon state … Before we started farming in the desert, we had every run of salmon. We should do that again because that’s what’s good for California.” While raising the dam has long been discussed as a way to add water storage, Reclamation officials are studying a series of alternative ranging from taking no action to raising it by 18 feet, project spokesman Louis Moore said...more

They Followed the Grass - Pages of history from Canadian Cattlemen, Sept. 1948

‘The ranching industry is almost as old as the hills – and so are the ranchers problems. When Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees for the land of Canaan he drove the herds before him. Isaac had some trouble with his neighbors over water rights: and his son quarreled with Laban over their spotted and freckled cattle. In fact Agriculture first was, “following the grass”, its original products four-legged animals which flourished on the uplands of Mongolia, in Asia, in Turkestan, on the steppes of eastern Russia and in Arabia. The Mongol Invasion under Genghis Khan and the Hun advance into Western Europe were mainly search for fresh pasture. People from the higher lands swept down on fertile valleys all through the pages of Ancient History.’...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1294

"Just Cuz I Like'em Week" continues with Mollie O'Brien & Rich Moore performing Sunday Street.  The tune is on their 2014 CD titled Love Runner.  Mom, I can see your foot tappin' right now.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bundy says land not owned by Feds

Controversial figure Cliven Bundy said Thursday a transfer of public land from federal to state control was unnecessary, on grounds that Nevada already has a right to most of the land. Many local officials advocate for such a transfer, but Bundy said you can’t ask for something you already own. The Southern Nevada rancher was met by a welcoming crowd in Elko Thursday evening at a tea party-sponsored gathering. Attendees were told by organizers they would have the opportunity to hear his side of the story. Bundy gained notoriety during a rangeland dispute last spring and made national headlines. But he disputed owing more than $1 million in grazing fees, as reported. “I don’t run my cows on United States government land, I run my cows in the state of Nevada and Clark County,” he said. “And besides, if the federal government says I owe, why don’t they give me a bill? And why don’t they collect that bill?” In Bundy’s eyes, the U.S. Constitution prevents the federal government from having a legal claim to the majority of land in the state. More than 84 percent of land in Nevada is managed by the federal government. Bundy told attendees about how 100 federal officers, armed with guns and gear, first arrived to his ranch in April. He said officers abused his family during the first few days of the roundup, including an instance when his son was hit with a Taser gun, then hauled off in handcuffs for trying to take a photograph of captured cattle. Bundy’s talk was infused with religious overtones, such as crediting his “Heavenly Father” for helping him in the struggle. According to The Associated Press, the government reduced grazing on the Bunkerville allotment to 150 cows due to concern over the welfare of the threatened desert tortoise. Bundy continued to run cattle on the range but stopped paying fees. About a year later, his permit was revoked. Bundy continued to graze, however, without paying grazing fees, and the BLM calculated a $1.1 million debt owned by the rancher. Two federal judge rulings sided with the BLM, however, and the government organized a cattle gathering that began in early April. In addition to disagreeing with the BLM’s legal arguments and arguing that his family had grazed in the area since the 1870s, the rancher said the government’s decision to send armed agents for the roundup was an overreaction. Furthermore, “free speech zones” set up by the BLM incensed supporters, who considered it a form of censorship and a trampling of their First Amendment rights. Within days, people rallied to back the rancher, who had vowed to “do whatever it takes” to keep the BLM from gathering his cows, according to the AP. At Thursday’s event, Bundy disputed claims that militia pointed firearms at federal officers. Politicians began weighing in on the showdown between armed militia members and federal officers. Neil Kornze, BLM director and former Elko resident, called off the roundup on April 12, due to growing concerns for the safety of those involved. Impounded cattle were released. According to Bundy, “three old ladies,” not the BLM, unlatched the pen holding his cows. Many people who attended the event sympathized with Bundy’s sentiments. “I don’t support the military coming in,” Steve Dennin said before the event. Mike Katsonis agreed that military force was unnecessary, and said he would like to see a change in how the lands are managed. “We need to have the BLM lands taken out of federal hands and given to the states,” he said. John Viergutz compared the federal overreach to Soviet-era Russia...more

Checks in Cobell Settlement case to be mailed this week

A judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has approved an order to issue payments to members of the trust administration class in the Cobell Settlement case. On Thursday, Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan approved the distribution of checks by the claims administrator, the Garden City Group Inc., to the class membership. According to the Indian Trust Settlement website, the Garden City Group will mail checks to the current addresses it has on file for class members. The Garden City Group anticipates the first set of checks to be sent on Monday, and they could take from five to seven days to arrive, according to the update posted on the website. The settlement is from the 1996 class action lawsuit filed by the late Elouise Cobell of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana. Cobell was an Individual Indian Money account holder and uncovered years of neglect by the federal government when it came to keeping accurate records of Indian trust accounts. For years, the federal government collected payments for these accounts from activities such as farming and grazing leases, timber sales, mining, and oil and gas production on trust land. The settlement, which was about $3.4 billion, was reached between the Interior and Treasury Departments and the individual Indian plaintiffs in December 2009 in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C...more

Subsidies turn Emigrant Wilderness into grazing nightmare

By Spencer Lennard

Several friends and I recently embarked on what we hoped would be a wilderness adventure in California’s high country. What we found was nothing like that.

When we picked up the wilderness permit for our hike in the Emigrant Wilderness in the Stanislaus National Forest, we envisioned the Sierra high country to be wonderful fish and wildlife habitat lined with huge, picturesque ponderosa pines and white granite cliffs. The otherwise helpful rangers made no mention of the ecosystem wreckage we were about to encounter.

Instead of the pristine trout creek we expected, the otherwise spectacular Kennedy Creek was lined with thousands of steaming piles of cow dung, swarms of black flies, cow-trampled banks and waterways and green algae-filled water. Instead of what should have been lush, wildflower-strewn meadows at Kennedy Lake, we sunk into a green quagmire of muck created by a steady stream of cows cooling themselves in the shallows.

As we scurried to get above the algae-clogged Kennedy Lake, we encountered several fly fishers, horse packers, photographers and hikers – all aghast and expressing the same sense of disappointment as we were. Why would the National Forest Service and the California legislative delegation continue the taxpayer-subsidized damage to some of the state’s best sub-alpine habitat, especially here, in this increasingly popular recreational area?

As we swatted flies and stepped over the excrement, we were struck by the notion that this hiker’s paradise should not be a taxpayer-subsidized feedlot. We understood that grazing allotments were grandfathered into many wilderness bills – obviously including the Emigrant Wilderness – when they were designated as such. We know that policy change is slower than molasses, especially when ranching culture and environmental issues are being discussed. But we could not understand how the U.S. Forest Service and California’s blue congressional delegation could let such taxpayer-subsidized harm continue to degrade one of our most preciously beautiful places, especially when species and habitat loss are also at stake.

Holding our noses from the stench of urine and feces, we asked ourselves, “Why is this occurring in our diminishing wilderness, some of the best fish and wildlife habitat left in the Sierra?”

... It is clear that the true cost of this archaic land mismanagement is also risking harm to the human communities below. The federal grazing program actually harms the local economy in favor of a few ranchers. Recreationists like us will NOT return to the Kennedy Lake drainage till the cows are removed. We’ll warn our friends and they’ll tell theirs. The depressed foothill towns of Sonora, Twain Harte and Columbia will receive far less revenue from hikers, horse packers and fishers if no effort is made to reclaim our public wilderness from the cows.

For a peak into the mind of those who are influencing our agencies, read the whole diatribe published in the Sacramento Bee.

Shooting the bull about Cowpens

For those of you who don’t remember much about your American history, Cowpens was a decisive battle in the American Revolution fought in January 1781 in South Carolina. This epic victory by the Continental Army was the turning point in the Southern Campaign, and was fought north of the town of Cowpens, an area known for extensive grazing of livestock.

While a few facts about the Revolutionary War are nice to know, I’d like to talk about Texas cowpens. Texas is a state renown for really extensive livestock grazing, producing almost twice as many beef cattle as the next competitor, Nebraska. With this many cattle, not to mention all the horses, goats, sheep and others, it takes a lot of pens to keep all these critters corralled.

The first cowpen I heard about on the “pore farm” was the log corral in which my great grandfather kept his horses, mules and cattle. Grandpa Jones told me many times of how his father had fired upon a band of marauding Comanches as they tried to take down the poles of his corral to steal his horses and mules. The rail fence was adequate to hold the livestock, and the Indians fled when he fired.

When I was a youngster, I recall that we had what was probably the sorriest excuse for a cow lot imaginable. Yet, it was a perfect match for our adjacent “corn crib.” Both structures were constructed out of whatever scrap materials were available. The pen had about four or five strands of rusty barbed wire strung between four trees forming an irregular quadrilateral shaped pen. In addition, it had a few pieces of old sheet metal and a couple of old rusty car doors woven into the structure. It was good enough to generally hold the milk cow and her calf, and little more.

While taking vocational agriculture in high school, we boys were given the opportunity for receiving “hands-on” instruction in working cattle and hogs for farmers and ranchers throughout the community. In doing so, we witnessed quite an assortment of cowpens, varying greatly in design and construction.

Book - Tragedy, coincidence and patterns, Review of “Downwind: A People’s History of the Nuclear West”

Sarah Alisabeth Fox
328 pages, hardcover: $29.95.
University of Nebraska Press, 2014.

Downwind: A People’s History of the Nuclear West constitutes an unofficial history of the atmospheric testing era (1951-1992) — the human stories that were never part of the record. Sarah Alisabeth Fox, a folklorist, spent eight years talking to people from the Four Corners region of the West. Their accounts bear witness to a series of personal tragedies: lung disease, late-term miscarriage, children with rare leukemia. Though government-collected data found clear links with radiation exposure, the findings were buried to reassure citizens of the safety of nuclear development. The scientists succeeded in splitting the atom; in turn, the downwinders’ stories split apart the “official fictions” created to hide the consequences.

In St. George, Utah, for instance, 5-year-old Claudia, playing on her swing set, watched a “big red ball come up over the horizon.” Decades later, her father and sister succumbed to cancer, her own toddler to monoblastic leukemia. Animals were affected, too: In 1953, sheep and lambs in Cedar City died en masse. Over time, these individual tragedies morphed from possible coincidences into discernable patterns. “As modern-day observers, our first question … is invariably… of scope: How many bombs? How much uranium? How much sickness?” Fox delivers a seminar in Nuclear History 101 with intelligent clarity, drawing from “declassified federal documents, archival records, journalistic coverage, and epidemiological studies,” and merging the results with downwinders’ stories.
Officials condescendingly dismissed the downwinders’ experiences, Fox notes. Regarding the sheep die-off, she writes, “Raising sheep is not something one does on a lark while sitting atop a horse, contemplating wide-open western spaces.” Outsiders might have a “preconceived notion of rural ignorance,” but the ranchers themselves rely on “a cultural system of common sense drawn from local, experiential knowledge of forage conditions, weather patterns, plant characteristics, diagnosis and treatment of a variety of diseases, predator management, breeding, and lambing.”

Little Montauk – Big History Lives On - Deep Hollow Ranch

Montauk has an interesting and long history beyond its status as a summer playground.
Native Americans, including the Algonquin-speaking Montaukett of the East End, have lived on Long Island for more than 4,000 years. The Montaukett tribe was closely related to tribes on the rest of Long Island, as well as to Massachusetts and Connecticut tribes. The Montaukett were dependent on the sea for their livelihood, and became experts at hunting whales. They became wealthy from the abundance of wampum, sacred beads made from shells found on Long Island, which prompted aggression from other jealous tribes. After Europeans first came to the area in the early 1600s, the Montauketts were coerced into giving up their land. In the late 17th century, Chief Wyandanch signed over much of the territory of Long Island to English settler Lion Gardiner. Warfare and new diseases contributed to drastic population declines among the tribe. By 1879, the last of their land was sold to land developer Arthur Benson. One of the most notable Montauketts was Stephen Talkhouse, who was famed for walking the 30–50 mile trip between Montauk and East Hampton or Sag Harbor and back every day. About 500 people are currently registered as part of the tribe, and native ruins are still visible today at the Montauk County Park. East Hampton settlers used Montauk as a summer pasture for cattle and horses. Established in 1658, Deep Hollow Ranch near Montauk Point is the oldest cattle ranch in the U.S. The ranchers laid out Old Montauk Highway in the 1700s, and the annual cattle drives became big local events. Three houses were built for the herders while they were in Montauk: First House burned down in 1774, Second House (1797) is now a museum maintained by the Montauk Historical Society and Third House (1806) is now the headquarters for the County Park. Because of its geographical location, Montauk also has an important maritime history. Since the town was extremely important for foreign trade, George Washington commissioned the Montauk Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1796. The Coast Guard was stationed there for many years, and the army used it during World War II. The still-active lighthouse is now a symbol and icon of Montauk. The schooner Amistad provides another chapter in Montauk’s storied history. The Amistad landed in Montauk in 1839 after slaves on board revolted. The white crew tricked them into thinking that they had returned to Africa, and they were captured when they arrived. This sparked a widely publicized court case in which the slaves were ultimately freed. There are also legends of pirate booty buried in Montauk, and it’s not uncommon to find liquor buried in the sand dunes from the rum runners who smuggled it in during prohibition. Another famous moment in Montauk history came when Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were quarantined in the area for yellow fever after the Spanish-American War. They spent their time at Camp Wikoff in 1898. Montauk was a force in World War II as well. The Point, including Camp Hero, became a strategic military base...more

Cattle prices hit record highs, but industry doesn't see expansion

Due to high demand and limited supply, cattle prices are the highest they’ve ever been. Montana’s livestock production industry, with roughly 1.5 million cows and 1.2 million calves statewide, is expected to bring in more than $1 billion in gross receipts this year, accounting for 40 percent of all agricultural sales. Accordingly, the price of beef has skyrocketed in just the last few years. For example, at the Missoula Livestock Exchange, 900-pound feeder Herefords — relatively young animals that will be sent to feedlots to fatten up before they are turned into hamburger — will sell for $2 to $2.50 per pound, meaning each animal will bring in about $500 more per head than they did a year ago. However, the boom in prices isn’t leading to a boom in the industry. Due to the high costs of labor, equipment and land, most experts don’t expect a sudden influx of new cattle ranchers to flood the inventory anytime soon. “Ranchers are taking in substantially more money, but everything on the ranch is higher — the costs of tractors, the costs of insurance,” explained Missoula Livestock Exchange manager Craig Britton. “No matter what, sure, the rancher is doing better and he isn’t in the squeeze that he was, but it’s no home run yet. Say some kid wants to be a rancher and wants to be in the cattle business. You want to go spend $1 million on a ranch? It’s just hard.” During the busy season from the beginning of September to the end of March, 1,000 head of cattle are sold every week at the Missoula exchange. Ranchers from all over western Montana and eastern Idaho and Washington bring their animals in, and Britton and his staff sort them and sell them to buyers — usually feedlot representatives from places like Missouri and Iowa...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1293

A "Just Cuz I Like'em" Week is in order.  Who knows what I'll come up with.  Never thought I'd enjoy a song titled BFD but I sure like this one by the duo Berkley Hart. The tune is on their 2005 CD "Twelve".