Sunday, February 28, 2010

Say No to Federal Funding for Wild Horse Salazoos!

CHICAGO, (EWA) - The funding testimony for the planned sanctuaries dubbed by wild horse supporters as "Salazoos" outlined last October by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Energy and Natural resources on March 3, at 10am.

The outcome of the testimony will decide if our wild horses belong on their western public lands or in "zoos" in the East and Midwest and whether the BLM will commit millions upon millions of future dollars to warehouse wild horses and burros that would otherwise live without cost to the taxpayers in their natural habitat where they have lived for centuries.

The requested funding would increase the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) budget by $42M to purchase one of the seven planned "Salazoos." The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) and its over 100 member organizations, Animal Law Coalition, The Cloud Foundation and numerous Mustang advocate and welfare organizations are vehemently opposed to increased funding for the BLM for this incredible financial sinkhole.

America already has a management program in place for our wild equines. It's called the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act. It was inspired by a heroic Nevada woman, Velma Johnston, who as "Wild Horse Annie" gave these horses a sanctuary BLM has been trying to destroy ever since it was passed.

A management program for wild horses and burros on public land has yet to be proposed by the BLM or DOI that is compatible with current law. Their answer is to remove wild horses from the land, permit grazing by millions of cattle at below market rates and move our horses to a zoo like setting far from their home. In fact, the BLM was given appropriations to care for the wild horses in holding pens but has appeared to use the funding to round-up more horses. When citizens complained, they were denied access as armed guards prevented them from even viewing horses in captivity.

With no viable management plan in place, it is a disgrace and waste of critical tax payer dollars to increase funding to yet another mismanaged program. The 1971 law calls for wild horses and burros to be managed on their public lands - not in holding pens and not in zoos.

The BLM spent approximately $2M gathering a mere 2,000 animals at its Calico wildlife management area, a cost of $1,000 per horse. Once in holding, the animals will each cost the government approximately $500 per year to warehouse. Worse, the government charges ranchers only about 20 cents of every dollar that program costs taxpayers. "The Salazoo plan is yet another raid on the public funds by special interests", says EWA's John Holland.

BLM has spent more than $2 million in 2009 on a firm that stampedes wild horses with a roaring helicopter. At the Calico Nevada round-up, more than 98 have died as a result, including unborn foals and two babies who lost their hooves after a multi-mile run of terror.

The wild horses and burros represent a mere .05% of animals grazing on public lands. When the 1971 law was passed, wild horses were present on 54 million acres. Since then, over 200,000 horses have been removed along with 22 million acres of public land. Many herds have been zeroed out leaving public land available to return wild horses to their land. Congress should replace the lost acres with good grazing land for the animals BLM wants to place in its Salazoos.

The livestock grazing on public lands alone outnumber the wild horses and burros by over 200 to 1 and are subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Neither the BLM nor DOI has yet to explain how millions of privately owned livestock are sustainable or how neither agency can find room on the 262 million acres of public land it manages for less than 50,000 wild horses and burros. Neither has explained why the wild horses and burros are being blamed and removed for range degradation when the government GAO studies reflect the livestock are ruining the ranges.

The EWA and ALC call on Congress to deny additional funding and specifically defund wild horse and burro round-ups until the DOI and BLM can provide independent current range population counts, current range assessments and a viable management plan that upholds the 1971 law.

Both Sen. Mary Landrieu and Sen. Barbara Boxer have posed serious questions to the BLM on its management practices. Those questions should be answered immediately with facts, not spin.

Additional details on defunding the BLM for "Salazoos" can be found at Animal Law Coalition, article number 1188.

The Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues free, umbrella organization with over 100 member organizations. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.

Click on title above to go there;

Friday, February 26, 2010

BLMs "3 Strikes" Horses Starved, Owner is Convicted

Ranch owner sentenced for animal neglect
posted by: Ann King

ALLIANCE, Neb. - On Tuesday, Jason Meduna, former owner of the 3-Strikes Ranch in Nebraska, was been sentenced to prison for up to 120 months for criminal neglect of animals.

9NEWS reported from Nebraska last April when more than 30 horses were found dead on Meduna's ranch.

In January, the 43-year-old Meduna was found guilty of 145 counts of cruel neglect of an animal resulting in death or injury.
Of the 145 counts, 31 of the horses were dead and many more were either sick or injured.

A majority of the horses on the ranch were from the Bureau of Land Management's Wild Mustang Roundup program.

Under Nebraska law, Meduna will be eligible for parole in 20 months.

The judge also ordered Meduna to pay court costs of $3,813.64, and told him he could not reside with any animal for 30 years.

Meduna's attorney stated that the case will be appealed, and was granted an appeal bond hearing set for March 9.

Morrill County Judge Leo Dobrovolny divided the sentencing into two categories: one for the animals that died and one for those that were sick and injured.

Of the 31 felony counts charged on the the dead horses, the judge sentenced Meduna to 20 to 60 months on each count, and then ordered the 31 counts to be served concurrent with one another. On the remaining 114 felony counts concerning animals that were sick or injured, the judge also sentenced Meduna to 20 to 60 months on each count, with the 114 counts to be served concurrent.

Custody of the 200 surviving horses was signed over to Habitat for Horses in Texas.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

Word frum R Brethern in the Buffalo Field Campaign

* Update from the Field

The absence of buffalo in Montana leaves us with little to report from the field this week. Patrols continue to monitor the buffalo's traditional migration corridors every day, and while we do expect spring migration to begin soon - and with it aggressive actions from the Montana Department of Livestock - the lands surrounding Yellowstone National Park are sadly haunting without the company of wild buffalo.

In other news impacting America's last wild buffalo population, Montana's state vet, Marty Zaluski, has announced that brucellosis vaccines will become mandatory for all domestic female calves (cattle) that are sexually intact. Follow this link to the full pdf report;

This is a very small, but highly appropriate step for ranchers to take and one that makes perfect sense. Brucellois is a European livestock disease brought to this country's native wildlife by invasive cattle, though, you'll always hear the media and livestock industry spin it to make it sound like bison and elk are "the problem." Vaccinating cattle against brucelloisis is a small risk-management action that should be willingly taken by all Montana cattle producers. It's a no-brainer, and far preferable to the slaughter and mismanagement of America's last wild buffalo. In a state that claims to feel so threatened by the brucellosis boogey-man, you would think ranchers would jump at the chance to vaccinate their cattle. But, of course, the proposed rule is being fought by the majority of Montana's cattle industry, who like things the way they are: blame native wildlife, harass and kill them, and have U.S. taxpayers foot the bill.

Meanwhile, Buffalo Field Campaign's Mike Mease and Darrell Geist are in Eugene, Oregon, attending the 28th Annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference. BFC has attended and spoken at this conference for many years and will once again reach hundreds of people - many of them environmental lawyers - with the buffalo's story. Though it takes time, the more people we continue to reach, the number of people who are touched by the buffalo will rise, and that brings us closer to positive change.

* NEW BFC Video! Why bison do not belong on Turner's ranch

Buffalo Field Campaign recently produced a new video in response to the unfortunate and precedent-setting decision by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to send quarantined buffalo to Ted Turner's private buffalo ranch. This is an excellent piece, though we should let you know that some portions are disturbing.

Click on title above to watch the video. Please spread it far and wide.

Many thanks to Mike and Tony for producing this excellent and important video.

* Take an Online Poll for the Buffalo!

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the local paper in our region of southwest Montana, hosts an online poll each week. This week America's last wild buffalo need you to respond:

QUESTION: "Do you think the state's Department of Livestock should go ahead with its current plan to haze, capture and possibly slaughter bison that leave Yellowstone National Park?"

Visit this link, scroll down to the bottom-right of the page, and VOTE NO!

So far, votes are ahead for the buffalo. Please keep it going!

* Last Words

"As environmental activists, we must recover from the damage inflicted on our communities, our nations, and our planet, renew our determination for and commitment to positive change, and reimagine how we shall move forward into the new century and toward future generations."

~ Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, 2010

Do you have submissions for Last Words? Send them to Thank you all for the poems, songs and stories you have been sending; you'll see them here!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bikers Objections to Public Land Lock-Outs Reach Congressional Ears

Too bad these biker-folk dont ride wild horses

Thursday, February 25, 2010
Congress reacts with outrage to administration plan to take public lands without public debate
Feb. 24, 2010


Contact: James Holter
Phone: (614) 856-1900, ext. 1280

Congress reacts with outrage to administration plan to take public lands without public debate

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Bipartisan reaction was swift following the publication by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and others of an internal Department of Interior (DOI) document that revealed the agency's plan to designate without public debate as many as 13 million acres of public and private land in the West as National Monument areas.

According to DOI documents obtained by the AMA, the administration is considering new National Monument designations totaling 13 million acres in 11 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

"The Obama administration continues to put the needs of environmentalists who want to keep the public away from public lands above the needs and desires of Utahns," Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) said.

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), ranking member of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, echoed Bennett's thoughts that the administration is bowing to anti-access groups.

"There are special interest groups whose sole purpose is to lock up land without any consideration given to the importance of wholesome outside family recreation," Hastings said. "While they are entitled to that view, it's deeply troubling that the President's administration is seemingly eager to help turn that view into reality by unilaterally imposing new monument designations without the consent of the people and communities who will be directly impacted."

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, and ranking member of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, noted that people from around the world visit the West to take advantage of broad-ranging recreational opportunities.

"Unfortunately, the current administration seems intent upon locking up much of the public lands throughout the West from recreational use, as witnessed in the documents that recently surfaced from the Department of Interior outlining new areas for potential national monument designations," Bishop said. "I commend the American Motorcyclist Association for its continued advocacy on behalf of not only motorcycle enthusiasts but all outdoor recreators, who are an important component of the West's tourism industry."

Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff told the Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune that the documents that created the uproar were simply the result of a "brainstorming session" at the department.

But Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) remained concerned: "Given the lingering frustration felt by many Utahns following the 1996 'stroke of the pen' monument designation (of the Clinton administration's 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument), it is totally inappropriate for this federal agency to even have preliminary discussions without involving the stakeholders on the ground."

"It remains incumbent upon the government to responsibly protect our lands for the people, not from the people," said Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. "And that means proposals for land-use designations must be fairly debated. This proposal is not only an end-run around Congress, but also around the individuals and communities who would be directly impacted by this type of administrative maneuver.

"We are pleased to hear that there is bipartisan, bi-cameral support for an open dialogue on the long-contentious issue of public-land designations," Moreland said. "We hope that this issue will serve as a catalyst for bringing together both sides of the debate to work out any differences and preserve opportunities for responsible recreation on America's public lands for all Americans."

To take action on this issue, go to > Rights > Issues and Legislation. To receive e-mail alerts, sign up in the "Get Involved" section of the Rights page.

About the American Motorcyclist Association
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. As the world's largest motorcycling rights organization, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists' interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations, and the court of public opinion. Through member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. AMA members receive money-saving discounts from dozens of well-known suppliers of motorcycle services, gear and apparel, bike rental, transport, hotel stays and more. Through its Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations.

Click on title above for original article;

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Western Wyoming / Gas Facing Crossroads

Click on title above for article

Reid to Promote Tourism in the United States

Click on title above to read all about it in Tom Darbys Blog

Monday, February 22, 2010

AMA Insists Public Input on the Disposal of ANY Public Land

Click on title above for original article

No new Utah monuments before input, Ken Salazar tells Gov. Gary Herbert

Click on title above for original article;

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Action Alert / California Gathers

1,800 Wild Horses Targeted For California Roundup - Public Comments Needed, Every Comment Helps

Our voices are making a difference for America's wild horses, and now is the time to keep up the pressure! We told you this would be a long, difficult fight - and we are the horses' only hope. Please take action below and send this alert to at least three friends or family members. It's critical that we grow our grassroots efforts on behalf of these magnificent horses.

In the last two months, after receiving well over ten thousand public comments in opposition, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has postponed two scheduled wild horse roundups in Utah's Confusion Mountains Complex and eastern Nevada's Eagle Herd Management Area.

And on February 5, 2010, the BLM halted -- several weeks early and 500 horses short of its 2,432 horse removal goal - the intensely controversial Calico Mountains Complex wild horse roundup. So far we know at least 49 horses have lost their lives due to the helicopter stampede and capture at Calico and an additional 25-30 pregnant mares spontaneously aborted. Equine veterinary experts dispute the BLM's claim that the miscarriages were due to poor nutritional condition of the mares, citing the stress and trauma of the roundup and capture as a more likely cause. As a result of calls, letters and emails from concerned citizens, 700 free-living mustangs in Utah and Nevada have, for now, been spared the sad fate that has befallen the Calico horses.

Now we need you to act again to oppose the massive removal of more than 1,800 wild horses from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) in California.

Please personalize your message by editing the subject line and text in the message.

Dayne Barron, BLM
Twin Peaks BLM

Friday, February 19, 2010

BLM On-Line Complaint Department

Click on title above to register your complaint directly to BLm regarding their mis-management of Americas Wild Horse and Burro Program.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Update on the Pickins Plan (Madeleines')

Dear Friends,

Recently, I was invited to a meeting with the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, to discuss my Foundation's plan to create a sanctuary for thousands of our wild horses in Nevada or another western State. The Secretary was very gracious with his time, and I felt that the meeting was very productive. The Secretary indicated that he recognized that there is a serious problem with the excess wild horses that now stand in holding pens all across America and the additional thousands of wild horses being gathered this year. This is the first time in many years that a Secretary of the Interior has reached out to the private sector and acknowledged that there is a problem, and I commend Secretary Salazar for his initiative in trying to reconcile the many different proposals to resolve this issue.

I explained to the Secretary that it was wrong to continue to gather these wild horses, particularly in light of the fact that we have not addressed the issue of where to put them and also advised him that long term holding was not a good option. I emphasized the fact that these wild horses should remain in their natural environment and be presented to the American people in the setting where they have lived for hundreds if not thousands of years.

It is sad and regrettable that the approach we have taken to house over 22,000 older wild horses has been strictly limited to a long term holding arrangement that does little to protect or preserve the horses and offers little, if any, incentive to improve the lands where they are located. I explained in detail the distinction between having a non-profit foundation build and operate a sanctuary where any monies received from the federal government for care of wild horses would be mandated to be returned to the sanctuary for improvements or operational expenses in perpetuity. Simply paying ranchers or other contractors to warehouse wild horses until they die is an unacceptable method of addressing the issue of excess horses.

I also explained to the Secretary that embracing a plan like the one my Foundation put forth will result in saving of millions of dollars to the taxpaying public. Leveraging private dollars and relying on private contractors to build a state of the art wild horse facility will prove to be the prudent approach from a financial perspective.

I have said many times that we owe the wild horses much more than we have given and I conveyed that thought to Secretary Salazar. I told him that we have a moral obligation to America's wild horses to protect and preserve them for future generations in a manner consistent with the law.

The Secretary offered to let me serve on a small committee that he is forming to address the issue of excess wild horses and to look at a full range of solutions to this problem. I have accepted his offer and look forward to representing our wild horses and all of you as we look for a solution that is good for the wild horses and for the American people.

I urge all of you to continue with your calls and letters to the Secretary of the Interior, Members of Congress, and the Obama Administration. I believe we have laid the groundwork to succeed in this effort and through your support, perhaps we will one day soon see thousands of wild horses roaming in their natural habitat, protected from abuse and inhumane treatment for the rest of their natural lives.

Thank you and best wishes,

Madeleine Pickens

HSUS Defends Itself on WFH&B / BLM Position & Bloggers Suggestion @ the End

Open Letter to Wild Horse Advocates

I know many of you are concerned that HSUS may not be as active in criticizing the BLM re the roundups as you'd like and there has been some confusion as to what we're actually doing at the Fallon facility. I thought I'd send some of you an email trying to explain our position as well as our view of the BLM.

We're trying to 'stay on track' with our complaints and issues since there are so many areas where the BLM is negligible. We are working quietly within BLM and believe this is the best course for doing the best we can for the horses. Since it is a federal issue, our focus has been at the federal level as our complaints at the state level have fallen on deaf ears. Our number one focus: We continue to push for a moratorium on the roundups for adoption and push for the contraception of horses.

The foal's death is a direct result of BLM's negligence and there is no excuse for this kind of activity. They are gathering horses that are not in questionable health. Also, they are gathering horses that they cannot find homes for.

Should they have rounded them up? No. Should they have pressed them so hard almost 50 died? No. But once they decided to capture 2,000, deaths were inevitable .

We are trying to avoid the half truths as that makes ALL of our arguments weak. Rather than look at everything through a sinister lens, we are trying to at least keep the line of communication open. If every decision BLM makes is wrong, everytime , we leave them no reason to listen or change.

There is controversy over the stallion 'found dead' as other information indicates that it was one of the 15 in the hospital and was in terrible shape . They told us they were probably going to make the decision to put him down. He had daily vet care and they were trying to give him a chance but he was getting weaker and weaker. The other 48 were necropsied and were sick animals. They believe, although obviously can't state for sure, that the gather sped up a death that was inevitable . Mostly old pregnant mares who have a high mortality rate on the range.

I'm not being an apologist for BLM. However, when everyone attacks them for everything, some out of their control, we, not the , look silly. There is SO much for which they are responsible that is bad management , we are trying to stick to this and stay on message. The colt. The round up itself with no evidence on starvation, the round up with no place to adopt the horses. These are our strong suit. I don't think chastising them for euthanizing a horse in misery is helpful... Again... If this is the same horse.

Re the Fallon facility: The squeeze chute they have purchased is top of the line from a humane aspect... With padding... And they retrofitted a bottom piece to ensure no ones hoof got caught in it. They would like humane observers. But not people who twist everything into something sinister .

We WANT them to euthanize horses in pain. A representative from HSUS watched a field director leave a horse suffering for two days becasue he was worried about getting thrashed for " killing" a horse.

I hope this helps to explain what our focus is and what/why we're trying this approach. We all have a part to play and hopefully we'll all make a difference.

Beverlee McGrath
Nevada State Director
Humane Society of the United States
Ph: (805) 984-8200
cell: (805) 827-2809
Fax: (805) 984-9686

Confronting Cruelty...........The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization with 11 million members and constituents. The HSUS protects all animals through legislation, litigation, investigation, education, advocacy and fieldwork.

BLOGGERS NOTE: Might I suggest the HSUS take some of their funds set aside for litigation and initiate a lawsuit against the BLM for their STATUTORY NULLIFICATION / IMPERMISSIBLE / UNCONSTITUTIONAL (MIS)DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY in this VERY IMPORTANT Seperation of Powers case. The BLm is CLEARLY ignoring the provision of the WFHBA of 1971 that statutorily entitles the WFH&Bs to remain on their historic rangelands and be principal users of same. The BLM is also guilty of ignoring the EXEMPTION provision of the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act which EXCLUDES lands previously designated for a certain use from FLMPAs "mandatory multiple use and sustainibility of yield" considerations. THAT is the ONE AND ONLY thing that will STOP the BLM in its tracks and put and END to ALL the round ups, and might even possibly require a RETURN TO FREEDOM for the imprisoned ones.

How easy would this be for them to do? WHAT are they waiting for?
My message to all animal law / WFHB lawyers,...what are YOU waiting for? If any one of you think these arent good and valid and STRONG issues, I would like to why. I wouldnt mind in the least debating it a little more fully with any interested party or parties, sort of like to "flesh out" the meat from the bones on this issue, so to speak. Not ARGUE but DEBATE.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Texas Power Is Blowing in the Wind

By Richard Williamson

DALLAS - One of the largest public-private partnerships in Texas involves transmission of electricity produced by wind.

The $5 billion Competitive Renewable Energy Zone transmission network represents a new way of building a system for bringing power to major population centers.

In the case of CREZ, the power is not coming from traditional coal, gas or nuclear plants but from wind farms in isolated areas of West Texas that have become known as the largest source of renewable energy in the nation.

"This represents a series of paradoxes," Barry Smitherman, chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission, said at a recent Bond Buyer Texas Public Finance Conference. "Texas is the reddest of all states politically but produces more green energy than any other. Its leaders opposed climate-change legislation but are developing the biggest renewable energy project in the nation."

As head of the PUC, Smitherman has been front and center in choosing utilities to build the CREZ system. The largest public utility picked was the Lower Colorado River Authority, which is responsible for a $789 million segment to be financed through revenue bonds. But the largest investor of all was investor-owned Oncor Energy, which will finance a $1.34 billion section of the network.

Since the assignment of the projects, however, another public utility operated by the city of Garland has challenged Oncor's award, threatening to delay the CREZ system.

After its exclusion from participating in the project, Garland filed suit against the PUC, seeking to overturn the decision. The city, an eastern suburb of Dallas, claimed it could develop its proposed segment of the project at a lower cost than investor-owned companies.

On Jan. 15, Texas District Judge ­Stephen Yelonosky ordered the PUC to suspend development of the CREZ lines and reconsider its award process. Yelonsky found that the commission had overstepped its mandate.

"The court reverses and remands the agency decision because it is in excess of the agency's statutory authority, not reasonably supported by substantial evidence, and arbitrary and capricious," the judge ruled.

Garland cited its tax advantages and ability to borrow at lower interest rates through municipal bonds. Those lower costs would mean lower rates for electric customers, the city argued.

"This decision simultaneously encourages customer protection and the development of clean energy - goals that benefit all Texans," Garland city attorney Brad Neighbor said in a prepared statement after the ruling.

Neighbor's additional comment in a city press release - that "the PUC should not put the interests of big transmission line developers before the interests of Texas ratepayers" - brought a heated response from Smitherman and other commissioners at a Jan. 29 meeting, the first since Yelonosky's ruling.

Smitherman told Neighbor that he found the release offensive, and commissioner Kenneth Anderson called it an effort to embarrass the PUC and "inflame the public." Commissioner Donna Nelson said Neighbor's statement contained "mischaracterizations, innuendos and untruths."

Neighbor said he was being criticized for representing the interests of Garland citizens.

To resolve the impasse, the PUC could give Garland a piece of the project or simply rewrite its order, avoiding the rationale that Yelonosky found unjustified.

In its 2009 ruling, the PUC pointed out that it has no supervisory authority over public utilities like Garland's and another owned by a city, San Antonio's CPS Energy, which also bid for one of the segments. Garland Power & Light, with only 32 employees, had sought to use its right to eminent domain to condemn land outside of its service area to build one of the lines.

The process of acquiring right-of-way through condemnation of land hundreds of miles from Garland could be a time-consuming and legally ambiguous process, one that the PUC would not be able to participate in.

"This lack of commission jurisdiction raises serious due-process concerns, particularly regarding CREZ facilities outside of municipally owned utilities' traditional boundaries," the PUC ruling stated.

"Furthermore, the commission is not persuaded that it would be able to fully execute the duty ... to develop a plan to construct CREZ transmission in a manner that is most beneficial and cost-effective to customers, if the commission were to designate municipally owned utilities not bound to commission oversight as CREZ TSPs [transmission service providers]."

Unlike the Garland and San Antonio utilities, the Lower Colorado River Authority does fall under the PUC's jurisdiction as a major wholesale supplier.

The CREZ system represents the first time that the commission - a regulatory authority that usually decides rate cases - has been in charge of actually assembling a project of such magnitude.

The CREZ project will double the amount of wind energy available to utilities to 18,456 megawatts. The regulator was expecting to have the new lines in service within four or five years under an ambitious plan passed by the Texas Legislature in 2005.

SB 20 directed the PUC to select the most productive wind zones in the state and devise a transmission plan to move power to populated areas in the state.

Dallas-based Oncor won the largest project, worth $1.34 billion.

"Oncor is now focused on building the section we were awarded on time and on budget," Charles Jenkins, senior vice president of the company's transmission and system operations, said in statement. "Oncor is already working with vendors to ensure the availability of equipment and contractors to expedite the CREZ projects."­

While PUC's end of the process is in a state of uncertainty, the major players are proceeding with the process of acquiring right-of-ways for the high-power lines that typically draw resistance from ­landowners.

The LCRA is hosting a series of open houses to hear from residents of the scenic Texas hill country, where the lines, towers and relay stations will appear.

As the CREZ project develops, Texas is also seeking to modernize its electrical grid under the control of the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas. Texas is the only state in the nation that operates on a grid independent of other states.

One of the projects well underway is to install "smart" meters on homes and business that allow consumers to control the amount of electricity they use during the day.

The project ties in with the wind energy initiative in that wind power produces more energy at night than during the day.

With the expected growth in the use of electric cars, consumers eventually will be able to charge the batteries of their cars at night using wind energy, solving one of the major conundrums of electric generation: the need to store power.

"We are building the smartest grid in North America," Smitherman said. "We are reducing carbon dioxide emissions at a rate far in excess of any other state except New York."

Details of Obombas visit to Nevada emerging


President Barack Obama will hold a public "town hall" meeting at a high school, tout job creation in a speech at CityCenter and attend a $1 million Democratic fundraiser in a visit this week that comes after he twice dissed Las Vegas as a place not to spend money during economic hard times.

Obama's Southern Nevada swing Thursday and Friday is aimed partly at boosting the re-election chances of Sen. Harry Reid. The Democratic Senate majority leader's political future is in jeopardy after leading the stalled White House effort in Congress to pass health care reform.

The president also may make a personal apology to Las Vegans for using the city as a punching bag in comments he made this month and a year ago about how Americans and corporations looking to tighten their belts should avoid dumping dollars into Las Vegas's visitor-dependent economy.

"I do believe you will see an apology come out of his lips," said Mark Peplowski, a political science professor at the College of Southern Nevada. "He'll say twice I said something about Las Vegas and twice I got sent to the principal's office. But then he'll probably say something more serious to apologize."

The White House planned Tuesday to release details of Obama's visit, but officials familiar with the tentative plans confirmed the broad outlines of what he's expected to do.

Obama is scheduled to arrive Thursday evening and attend a closed fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at the Southern Highlands home of George Maloof, owner of the Palms hotel and casino where Paris Hilton and other young stars and Hollywood elite like to party. Southern Highlands is a wealthy gated community in the far south valley, just west of Interstate 15.

About 45 people are invited to the fundraiser with donors asked to pay up to $30,000 a head, with the goal of raising at least $1 million for the DNC.

Friday morning, Obama is expected to hold a town hall meeting at Green Valley High School.

Then later Friday, the president – with Reid in tow – is scheduled to meet with workers at CityCenter, the $8.4 billion project that opened in December as the greatest hope for bringing Las Vegas back from an economic downturn that's created 13 percent unemployment.

A presidential speech to business leaders also is planned inside the 61-story Aria, the hotel-casino centerpiece of the project, which is expected to create 12,000 permanent jobs. Reid and the MGM Mirage said the senator helped salvage CityCenter by calling banks to encourage continued financing.

Contact Laura Myers at or 702-387-2919.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Public Lands Information Center

This website is brought to you by the nonprofit Public Lands Interpretive
Association. Revenues earned through sales support the Association's efforts to
promote responsible outdoor recreation on America's public lands.

Click on title above to see;

Wild Horse Advocates to Face Obomba w/ Protests During Presidents Visit to Nevada

February 15, 2010


BLM Protests to Greet President Obama in Las Vegas and Carson City, NV

CHICAGO, (EWA) – Wild horse and burro advocates from across the country plan on greeting President Obama on February 18 in Las Vegas with a protest of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) mismanagement of the Wild Horse and Burro program and total disregard of the 1971 law protecting the wild horses and burros on their public lands.

The highly criticized Calico Complex round-up in Nevada that concluded on February 5 resulted in the death of 48 wild horses and the loss of 30 unborn foals. The death toll continues to climb from injuries resulting from the round-up as well as health issues from diets, such as Alfalfa hay that wreaks havoc on wild horses unaccustomed to a rich diet after feeding a lifetime on desert grasses.

The Calico round-up is being called one of the most deadly round-ups in history. Video footage shows foals being chased by a Cattoor helicopter as they tried to keep up with their mothers fleeing during the stampede. Two baby horses literally later had their hooves fall off, dying a dreadfully painful death at BLM's hands. The horses were run over miles of rough terrain in the dead of winter.

According to the BLM, the round-ups are for the welfare of the horses. They claim the horses are starving but the photos and footage tell a different story. They claim the few thousand horses remaining free roaming are ruining the ranges but the GAO reports reflect the millions of privately owned livestock being subsidized by tax payers are the cause of the range degradation.

Although the wild horses and burros belong to the American public and the BLM speaks of transparency by the bureau, humane observers had very limited access at the round-up and are being kept away from the Fallon Facility where the horses are being held.

George Knapp from KLAS TV I Team recently aired two reports, BLM Wraps Up Huge Wild Horse Roundup and Wild Horses Forced into a Stampede of Death, which are an eye-opener to those unfamiliar with the BLM round-ups.

The Equine Welfare Alliance, The Cloud Foundation and In Defense of Animals (IDA) encourages concerned Americans to join the protest on February 18 at 1:30 at the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse, 333 S. Las Vegas Building, Las Vegas, NV. Expected speakers at the protest are Dr. Elliott M. Katz, DVM and president of IDA, Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist and humane observer at the Calico round-up, Neda DeMayo, founder and CEO of Return to Freedom, Gina Greisen, president of Nevada Voters for Animals and Arlene Gawne, wildlife artist. Additional information can be obtained from Arlene Gawne at 702.277.1313 or

As second protest, Truth Rally, will be held on February 20 in front of the Legislative Building on North Carson Street, U.S. Highway 395 in the state capitol of Carson City, NV and is sponsored by The Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates. Information is available from Bonnie Matton, Wild Horse Preservation League at 775.220.6806 or

The Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues free, umbrella organization with over 95 member organizations. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wild Horses Victims of Germ Warfare?

Click on title above for some old but interesting news

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

To All Those Meat and Animal Processing Industry-Folk Crying About How Animal Rights / Animal Welfare Folk are Destroying Your Trade

Ah-wahhhh Ah-waaahhhh, Ah-Waaaaah

Read all about yourselves by clicking on to the title above

Please Send An E-mail To Help Wild Horses / Comments Needed

Public Comment Ends Friday Feb. 12

Our voices are making a difference for America's wild horses, but now is the time to keep up the pressure. In the last two months, after receiving well over ten thousand public comments in opposition, the BLM has postponed two scheduled wild horse roundups in Utah's Confusion Mountains Complex and eastern Nevada's Eagle Herd Management Area.

The agency even admitted that the tremendous public opposition to the roundups influenced its decisions. Read article here.

As a result of your emails, 700 free-living mustangs have gotten a reprieve from the BLM's brutal roundups, like the helicopter stampede in the Calico Mountains Complex that has cost 39 horses their lives so far and another 20-30 pregnant mares to spontaneously abort.

Now we need you to act again to oppose the massive removal of 1,506 wild horse in the Antelope Complex located in northeastern Nevada.

This proposed removal of approximately 75 percent of the horses would leave behind only 471 horses in the vast 1.3 million acre public lands complex! It's hard to believe, but the BLM is actually claiming that the 1.3 MILLION acres, consisting of four herd management areas (HMAs), can only support 471 to 788 horses.

This Antelope Complex roundup is currently scheduled to take place this summer or fall. The BLM's Elko and Ely District Offices are seeking public input for the preparation of a preliminary environmental assessment (EA). This is our chance to oppose and highlight that the BLM's determination of the "appropriate management level" (AML) for wild horses is flawed and must be revised before proceeding with yet another ill-conceived roundup and removal of wild horses.

In Defense of Animals has secured an extension for public comment until Feb 12. So please take a minute to fill out the form at this link and customize the email. In addition, please send this alert to at least three friends and family ... you never know who may want to help stop and reform this unnecessary and wasteful government program which destroys the lives of so many wild horses.

Links to BLM press release and letter of notice: (Click on title above to go there)

Completing the form at this link will send your comments directly to both the BLM's Elko District Office, and the Wells Field Manager.

Thank you!

In Defense of Animals, located in San Rafael, Calif., is an international animal protection organization with more than 85,000 members and supporters dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of animals by protecting their rights and welfare. IDA's efforts include educational events, cruelty investigations, boycotts, grassroots activism, and hands-on rescue through our sanctuaries in Mississippi, Mumbai, India, and Cameroon, Africa.

In Defense of Animals is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We welcome your feedback and appreciate your donations. Please join today! All donations to IDA are tax-deductible.

In Defense of Animals
3010 Kerner, San Rafael, CA 94901
Tel. (415) 448-0048 Fax (415) 454-1031

Monday, February 8, 2010

Welfare Rancher Sticks Up for Cows, Denies Global Warming

and here is what I told him;

Post #55

Do you KNOW who is actually behind the "No such thing as global warming" propaganda? I can tell you and prove it as fact, so you better have a good answer if you can.
Meanwhile, here are some more educational tools fer ya'all to help ya evolve along alittle more in line with this century;

Livestocks Long Shadow

The Economical & Environmental Cost of Public Lands Ranching;

Fight Against Factory Farming - Support Yellow Tail Wine!

Follow the post by clicking on to the title above and show your support for Yellow-Tail Wine!
(and be sure and check out the stuff in the links if you havent seen them already)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wild Horse (and Burro) Massacre Moves Further West: Eagle Lake, Ca.

BLM Seeks Public Input on Proposed Horse Gather

Published on Feb 5, 2010 - 7:16:48 AM


Feb. 5, 2010 - The Bureau of Land Management's Eagle Lake Field Office is seeking public input on a proposed gather and removal of an overpopulation of wild horses and burros from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA), northeast of Susanville, Calif. The gather, involving an estimated 1,800 wild horses and 180 burros, is tentatively planned for August and September 2010.

A 30-day public scoping period begins February 5 and ends March 5, 2010. The public is asked to identify issues to be addressed in an environmental assessment (EA) to be prepared as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The EA and proposed decision will be released about May 1 for public review and comment.

The purpose of the gather is to return the population of horses and burros to its appropriate management level (AML), or population range, established through the Eagle Lake Resource Management Plan, developed with full public involvement in 2008. The AML, which determines the number of animals the range can sustain, is set at between 448-758 horses and 72-116 burros. The current population is estimated at about 2,300 horses and 250 burros, resulting in ongoing resource damage that will be analyzed in the environmental assessment.

The proposed gather would remove sufficient horses and burros to bring the population within the AML. Under the proposal, most mares left on the range would be treated with a birth control drug effective for one to two years. The wild herd would be structured with more males than females. Both actions are intended to slow the growth rate of the herds.

The proposed action would restore a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple use relationship in the area consistent with the provisions of Section 3(b) (2) of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

Comments can be sent to Eagle Lake Field Office, Attn: Twin Peaks Wild Horse Gather, 2950 Riverside Dr., Susanville, CA 96130. Comments may also be sent via email to

Wild Horse Emergency : A Vid

Click on title above to see vid with Sheryl Crow and Viggo Mortensen

Tom Darby Blogs about Twin Peaks Roundup

Click on title above to go to Toms blog and leave a comment

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"Beef-Growers" Oppose Grazing Permit Buy-Out Programs

No big suprize there


NCBA Staff Contact:

Jeff Eisenberg, Director of Federal Lands, and Executive Director, Public Lands Council

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Public Lands Council (PLC) oppose any national proposal to buy out federal grazing permits or systematically reduce animal-unit-months (AUMs) on federally managed lands. NCBA and PLC are committed to the multiple-use management of public lands, and value the benefits that livestock grazing has been shown to contribute across a variety of landscapes.

Livestock operations in these rural areas contribute to the management of the land and enhance the economic base of ranching communities. NCBA and PLC continue to work toward strengthening public lands ranching with leaders in Congress and in the Administration.

For more than a century, American ranchers across the West have depended on rangelands for their livelihoods and have devoted themselves to sustaining healthy landscapes. However, the grazing operations throughout the West benefit more Americans than simply the ranchers that depend upon them. Well-managed livestock grazing accomplishes the following:

· Increases the diversity and productivity of rangelands and wildlife populations,

· Preserves open spaces and cultural traditions throughout the West, and

· Sustains the economies of rural communities.

A coalition of radical environmental groups is behind the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign, an effort to stop grazing on Public Lands. The Campaign is trying to get legislation passed that would provide a federal grazing allotment buyout program.

The buyout proposal is being framed by the Campaign as “recognizing the economic issues faced by ranchers,” and offers an option out of the business. The Campaign has sent letters outlining the proposal to 25,000 grazing permit holders across the country. The proposal offers:

“a federal grazing permittee or lessee to relinquish their entire permit/lease back to the federal government in exchange for compensation of $175 per animal unit month based on the average grazing use over the last ten years the allotment was grazed as stipulated by the permit/lease and paid for by the permittee or lessee or their predecessor(s).”

Years of grazing nonuse would be excluded from this average. The permittee/lessee would no longer be liable for paying grazing fees under the retired permit/lessee, and the associated grazing allotment would be permanently retired from domestic livestock grazing and the forage reallocated to native wildlife.

Efforts, such as this one, to eliminate public lands grazing ignore the realities of the rural West.

The benefits of grazing are supported by law. The Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 (Public Law 86-517) was enacted to authorize that federal lands “be managed under principles of multiple use and to produce a sustained yield of products and services, and for other purposes.” The Act recognizes grazing as one of six uses for which federal lands are to be managed.

Small towns in places like Mackay, Idaho, Adel, Oregon, and Rock Springs, Wyoming depend upon public lands ranchers as community members, tax payers, and citizens. Elimination of grazing eliminates ranchers and attacks the western way of life.

Eliminating grazing permits on federal lands through buyout programs and systematic reduction of AUMs cause losses to the whole livestock industry, not just individual ranchers. Federal lands account for around one third of the total livestock grazing acreage in the U.S. Therefore, maintaining a viable public lands ranching community and vibrant landscape impacts citizens from across United States. Elimination of permits on public lands reduces acreage available to ranchers. Permits eliminated in a buy out cannot be reclaimed by other ranchers, reducing business opportunities and profit potential in agriculture.

Losing ranches means losing opens space. The West has the fastest rate of migration into nonmetropolitan areas, according to USDA. Public lands ranchers own an estimated 107 million acres across the West. Most of this land adjoins public land, holds water and valuable natural resources and provides contiguous habitat for species on public lands. Maintenance of successful grazing programs on public lands allows ranchers to keep their private lands open for agricultural production rather than selling land for development. The USDA Forest Service lists the loss of habitat on private land adjoining National Forests as one of the four major threats to their land management goals. Efforts to eliminate grazing will result in loss of open space and natural habitat provided by public lands ranchers and ultimately degrade public lands.

The federal agencies and public lands ranchers are partners in grazing management. Without ranchers on the ground, agencies would be unable to complete their management duties. Well-managed grazing is shown to be beneficial to rangeland ecosystems. Grazing programs are compatible with the multiple-use mandate of public lands and meet the ecological goals of land managers.

Key Points:

· NCBA and PLC focus on improving livestock grazing on federal lands and oppose any programs intended to permanently retire or vacate federal grazing permits.

· NCBA and PLC are committed to the multiple-use management of public lands, and value livestock grazing for the variety of benefits it has been shown to contribute across a variety of landscapes.

· Grazing on public lands is an important part of the western livestock industry. Ranching is the foundation for small towns across the West, and the continued longevity of the ranching community depends upon access to grazing lands.

· Buyout programs will cause a loss of open space and natural habitat across the West by putting ranchers out of business. Public lands ranchers control 107 million acres of private land across the West. Eliminating ranches through buy out programs will cause the sale of these lands for development.

· NCBA/PLC opposes buyout programs aimed at removing cattle and sheep from the lands. We oppose any federal incentives to eliminate grazing allotments or other parts of the infrastructure needed for livestock production on federal lands to succeed. In particular, we oppose the buyout proposal floated by the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign.

For more information, visit:

Troy Hadrick, 5th Generation Meat-Rancher Advocates Boycott of Yellow-Tail Wine

Click on title above to see Troys blog

Utah Rancher Raising Exotic Beasts

I am wondering if these exotic (non-native) species are being grazed on public lands?

Click on title above to see vid

AzGlassBlaster Sends a Message 2 The World

About the Wild Horse and Burro Wars. Click on title above to see another great vid by AzGlassBlaster

The Rancher Subsidy

The West's fabled ranchers are in trouble. The damage done to the land by cattle has become a contentious environmental issue. The ranchers' greatest enemy, though, is the free market

by Todd Oppenheimer

WHEN I first called to arrange a visit to his ranch, in the high desert country of central Oregon, Tom Campbell, a wiry man of sixty-eight, was hesitant. "I'm like a cigarette butt," he said. "Not a hell of a lot left." Campbell's remark was at least half in jest; several neighboring younger ranchers say they'd think twice about tangling with this man. But it's an apt description of the future of his territory. Once the symbol of America, the land of possibility, today's cowboy country is sorry stuff--fenced in, bereft of water, often grazed and trampled to dusty hardpan, challenged at almost every fence line by environmentalists grumbling about disappearing wildlife.
Such troubles provoke continual hand-wringing about the rancher's imminent demise. The truth is that ranchers won't be disappearing anytime soon. Even in the post-industrial age the ranching community still possesses significant resources--vast quantities of land, and the leading role in America's self-image as tough and pioneering. When these assets are combined, they create tremendous political pull. As proof, look what happened to the Clinton Administration's efforts, two years in a row, to raise the fees the government charges for grazing on federal lands, virtually all of which lie in the eleven continental states west of Texas, making up a third of that territory. Ranchers who use federal land have long paid less than a third of the average private-land rate, and the increase proposed by the Administration was slight. Perhaps surprisingly, the group receiving this favor has always been a relatively small player in the nation's beef industry: the eleven western states produce less than a fifth of the nation's beef. Even so, western ranching interests beat the Clinton team handily. No one now wants to fight another losing battle with the rancher. Maybe he simply needs another set of survival methods--ones better for both the ranching community and the public at large.

Tom Campbell's ranch sits in the heart of the John Day River Basin, a 536-mile river network that constitutes one of the longest undammed systems in the country. Fishery experts consider the John Day critical spawning grounds for the Pacific Coast's wild salmon, a fish that is central to the identity of this part of the country and whose decline throughout the Northwest has been making local headlines since the 1970s. Salmon pose a challenge that previous species in trouble never have--first because northwesterners care about them so passionately, and second because solving the salmon's problems requires the most drastic and complex changes that ranchers have faced in decades.

Dams are the biggest bullies in salmon streams. (Often when dams were created, builders included cement fish "ladders" to help salmon swim upstream from the ocean during spawning season; strangely, they rarely put screens on the other side, which would have kept young fish traveling back to the sea from being chewed up in the turbines like hamburger.) However, now that salmon are in peril, experts are scrutinizing every cause they can find. These include logging, overfishing, ravenous seals and sea lions, water pollution, and, finally, cattle tromping through upland spawning streams.

Campbell would be happy to help migrating salmon if he could find an economical way to do it. Unfortunately, being rough on rangeland streams is embedded in a rancher's standard routine. Consider the conditions on Campbell's ranch in an exceptionally wet year--1993, which saw the end of seven years of drought. One day that year in late summer, when the range has normally turned dry and yellow, many fields around the John Day were a thick green, and the John Day's North Fork, which borders Campbell's property, ran full and wide. On the far side of the river, where no cattle graze, the stream bed was in robust health--lined with overhanging banks where fish hide, and shaded by willows and other shrubbery, which keep the river cool and attract the insects fish eat. The near side, along Campbell's pastureland, provided a different picture. This shore had been grazed each year for decades, and the banks had long since been trampled and eroded into wide, stony shallows.

THE problem here, and on most western rangeland streams, is the beef cow's table manners. Cattle aren't native to this country--they come from Europe, where a wetter, greener, and more resilient landscape than that prevailing in the West accustomed them to a sedentary grazing style, earning them the nickname "vacuum feeders." Their American descendants are especially rude. Heavily domesticated, safe from predators owing to the government's killing program, the American beef cow behaves like a spoiled houseguest, frequently hanging out along rangeland stream banks all day long. The West's native grazers--primarily elk, deer, antelope, and bighorn sheep--eat in a roving, less intensive manner. (Buffalo, which were quite rough on the land, ventured into only Montana and Wyoming of the eleven western states.)

By now the history and behavior of cattle have provoked an entire industry dedicated to kicking them off public lands in the West. "The livestock industry is the last wildlife-genocide program in the United States," says Bruce Apple, the director of an Oregon-based environmental organization appropriately called Rest the West. "All-out war is declared on a diversity of species every day to benefit a single industry."

To be fair, the crops ranchers raise for their cattle have actually been good for some wildlife species, particularly big game such as elk, deer, and antelope. It's some of the smaller inhabitants--birds, tortoises, and ferrets, to name a few--that cattle have decimated. Yet the acrimony in this war, and its costs and casualties to date, make one wonder whether the cowboy life has simply become obsolete. On an ideal planet cattle would be restricted to our green eastern states or returned to the greener continent from which they came, leaving the arid West to the animals that are native to it. But the interlopers are here now--about 45 million beef cattle roam some 870 million acres, more than two thirds of the land mass in our seventeen westernmost states. These animals live on roughly 200,000 cattle ranches. Many of the biggest are financially marginal sideline investments run by wealthy enterprises, including the Mormon Church, or by tycoons such as William Hewlett and David Packard, of the Hewlett-Packard Corporation. Most, however, are run by small ranching families whose primary asset is land the profitability of which is questionable--for running cattle or doing anything else.

One simple answer would be to fence cattle out of the streams--a step that Campbell has taken along the most vulnerable mile of his riverbank. But fencing every troubled stream won't work. The resulting labyrinth of barbed wire would be harmful to wildlife, troublesome to maintain, and costly. Good fencing can cost $8,000 to $12,000 a mile. And with every fence comes the cost of pumping and piping replacement water to thirsty cattle--and the bureaucratic trouble. Ironically, western-state water laws have traditionally encouraged ranchers to skip all this and walk their cattle directly into fragile streams.

IN search of solutions, I paid a visit to Clint Gray, a ranch manager known around the valley for unusually ecological approaches to ranching. The operation that Gray was running at the time (recently another ranch manager, George Hixson, took it over) is unusual--there are no huge ranch headquarters, no shops full of tractors and machinery, no stacks of hay. There are just a few scattered buildings, including an old wooden house with a sagging front porch, which sit in a small green basin high above the main valley.

Gray first appeared on the doorstep of the ranch owner, Jim Bentley, one November day seventeen years ago, frozen out of a nearby gold-mining camp and looking for a home. Bentley let him stay in a broken-down cabin at the far corner of what was then a 50,000-acre ranch, and Gray lived there alone for the next few months, spending many hours studying the patterns of the animals and the grasses out of ecological curiosity. Soon he was recruited for work on the ranch, but the imprint remained of his months of watching the wild range. Now, at fifty-two, he calls himself a "recovering hippie." About a decade ago, after Bentley was forced to reduce his herd because of unrelated business losses, Gray, by then the ranch manager, made his priority not beef production but preserving the health of his boss's land--and gradually discovered a highly effective method of running cattle. He was well suited to this role. His house feels like the backwoods cabins of his past; the walls, made of barn siding, are hung with spurs, branding irons, hay hooks, and a .30-30 rifle. Wood rasps sit next to the cereal bowls in the kitchen cabinet. Bookshelves are filled with titles like The Organic Way to Plant Protection, Holistic Resource Management, and The Knowledge Value Revolution.

All that remains of Bentley's old spread is 8,200 acres (now under new ownership). Cattle graze every corner of this property, apparently without hurting it. This is a rare feat, which Gray accomplished by employing three surprisingly simple rules: Graze each field to its predetermined limit. Move the cattle before the grass is overgrazed. Don't bring them back until the plants are fully recovered. (Hixson now follows a similar routine.)

The first morning of my visit Gray took me out to show me the network of healthy wild grasses that can result from following his rules. Just beyond his driveway we stopped at a plot of giant wild rye that stood six to eight feet tall. In tales about the homesteading days in this basin cowboys ride through grass reaching higher than their horses' shoulders. Almost nowhere can cowboys do that today, but Gray believes that there were once many fields of giant rye just like his. "Look at the function of this country on a planetary scale," he told me. "Everyone is familiar with the rain forests. If you said they were the lungs of the planet, people would relate to that. I look at the rangeland as the planet's skin. Its function is two things--water circulation and soil production." The water circulation occurs through the network of topsoil and range grasses, which store and filter rainwater, letting it gradually seep toward the rivers and oceans. Soil is produced by erosion--and by the action of plants and microorganisms, such as rangeland mosses. A rock at our feet provided an illustration: it cradled several lumps of moss, and when we pried one loose, we found a small, damp pocket of sod, which the moss's acids had created out of the rock itself. "The issue is how far does all this move? Does it end up in the John Day River--or right here? The major player in that role is the giant rye. It's the one plant that can flat-out stop soil movement."

I soon had a chance to verify Gray's claims firsthand. That afternoon we were hit with a typical high-desert summer storm, which pounded us with thick sheets of rain and hail for more than an hour. Such downpours are notorious in this country--they're nicknamed "gully washers," because of their tendency to carve deep ravines where only a ditch existed hours before. This storm was no exception: gravel roads were cut to pieces, some got washed out, and most stream banks were ripped clean of new grasses. Once the storm had passed, Gray and I ventured out to repeat the morning's tour.

The air was spicy with the smell of sage, its leaf oils released by the beating of the hail. Just below the house a roadside gully full of soupy red-brown storm water had poured straight into Gray's stand of wild rye, carrying rocks the size of my fist. After a few gushy steps into the foliage we could see no further sign of rocks, or of mud. "Look at that," Gray said, smiling. "That soil didn't go ten feet!" (Later Wayne Elmore, a riparian specialist with the Bureau of Land Management, told me, "It's amazing how many people out here have never seen that. It never even dawns on them that that can happen.") Farther on we checked an old river gully. During our morning tour the gully had been dry but lined with rushes, because cattle hadn't grazed the area since early spring. When the storm brought its wash of mud, the rushes caught the whole load. Gray was thrilled. "This is going to give us several more inches of soil than was here a couple of hours ago," he said.

A hundred yards downhill, across a fence, the ravine continued onto a neighbor's property, where the soil was beaten into hardpan. The storm had shaved it cleaner still, leaving behind none of the water, topsoil, or promising seedlings that Gray had showed me. "It looks used, doesn't it?" the neighbor, Clyde Davidson, said to me later. "I have to use this grass. This is what I live on." Davidson's point was that Gray could afford to go easy on the land, because he was drawing income from outside sources. Gray acknowledges this fact. Half his income came from a tiny cottage industry he has run for years: producing "twig beads" out of exotic woods. Only $20,000 a year, he says, came from the ranch.

Still, Gray believes that the average rancher can duplicate his efforts, outside income or not. In fact, his seasonal routine soon built up so much vegetation that the cattle could graze straight through most winters with only a little supplementary hay, which he and Bentley bought. That meant they didn't have to harvest hay anymore. Bentley sold his expensive haying equipment, thereby cutting equipment and maintenance expenses dramatically. The ranch needed less income, so Bentley never brought his herd back to its previous size. As a result, the land continued to regain strength. Gray eventually was able to run 300 pairs of mothers and calves, a comparatively healthy herd for 8,200 acres. In contrast, Clyde Davidson once ran only 200 pairs on a ranch of about 13,000 acres. Much of the reason is that Davidson does not regularly move his cattle. In range-management circles his is disparagingly called the Columbus method of ranching: Turn your cattle out in the spring and discover them in the fall.

GRAY'S scheme sounded so easy that I couldn't wait to return to Tom Campbell's ranch to see how much of it would work there. The next day Campbell and I drove across 45,000 acres, the swath of public and private land he ranches with four partners.

Like large parts of the West, this is rough terrain: rocky, deeply canyoned, chaotically spread out, much of it harsh and dry--not nearly as forgiving as the land that flourishes under Gray's rules. "That Cottonwood Ranch, it lays right," Campbell said, referring to the larger piece of Bentley's property as we jostled up the mountain in his four-wheel-drive truck. "There isn't a lot of north slopes frozen up. Even though some of it's steep, they have pretty good access to it. It's got county roads through it. If there's a problem, they can see it. They're not stuck off here five miles, where you'd have to ride your horses to get to it. You get some of these old cows out on the frozen hillsides in the winter, you can't hardly drive 'em off. They're scared to go downhill. I've fought whole bunches of cattle half a day to get 'em to go down a frozen-up trail. If you put the dogs to 'em, you'd kill half of 'em."

Campbell's point was that it's impossible for him and most western ranchers to graze cattle through the winter. So he must maintain haying equipment and grow hay--or buy it. The former owners of his land, he told me, once tried to "winter out" but failed. "The weather's so unpredictable. A cow that's gonna calve in the spring, she can go downhill to such a condition you can't stuff enough hay in her to get her back where she'll produce a good calf."

Passing judgment on the Tom Campbells of the world is tricky, because their relationship with the range is so mixed. Campbell clearly loves the land: as we tromped across one dry plateau, he stopped frequently to pick wildflowers, and kept the tiny bouquet clutched in his thick hand for an hour. But he also manages this land on a brutally thin margin. To keep costs down, he and his partners employ only one cowboy to circulate 900 pairs of mothers and calves through 45,000 acres. The effects of such thriftiness are visible. We finally found the main herd near a water trough, where they'd been for days. Grasses in the area were long gone, and the ground was trampled into thick black mud. Similar scenes can be found on ranches throughout the West. According to federal studies, 60 percent of the Bureau of Land Management's rangelands are missing at least half their native plants and grasses, and could fare even worse in the future.

There is yet another approach to ranching, which aspires to combine Tom Campbell's average-rancher constraints with Clint Gray's idealism. The technique, which has a devoted following, is called holistic resource management; it correctly assumes that most ranchers run cattle somewhat haphazardly--overusing some spots, underusing others. The goal in HRM is to search out and destroy every inefficiency, but with holistic ecological care. This goal might better define HRM as home-run management, because its practitioners can be seen constantly swinging for the fences. As one HRMer gave me a tour, proudly showing off his unusually ambitious routine, it became clear that so many tasks were falling through the cracks that the ranch was batting only about .250. One field contained a portable fence designed to move cattle frequently, but it was ineffective; after an hour or two the cows simply ambled back to overgraze their old ground. Over the hill a stream that has long been home to the salmon's cousin, the steelhead, was so beaten up that it looked like an erosion ditch. "There have been some tremendous failures using HRM," Wayne Elmore, the BLM's riparian specialist, told me. "People heard you can double your beef-production numbers. They didn't hear that you've got to watch your grass and be with your cows every day."

Even where federal land could easily be brought back to health by changes in method, the changes are discouraged by the inertia of federal policy. At last count the BLM, which oversees 163 million acres of rangeland, had never visited half of the most sensitive lands under its care. The record was even worse at the Forest Service. When federal auditors checked on a small sample of the 104 million acres of grazing lands under Forest Service control, they found that only 13 percent was being watched at all. As a result, most federal-land ranchers operate in a way that is years, if not decades, out of date. "We're still managing cows with 1960s thinking," Bill Platts, a consultant and former Forest Service specialist in fishery-livestock interaction, told me. Even when a rancher decides to rest a parcel, Platts says, he has seen federal regulators pursuing their jobs by "beating the brush" to find someone else to run cattle on it.

A REAL solution should begin with rewards and penalties that apply to both public and private lands, since sensitive riverside lands and their wildlife run through both. On federal lands government range managers should more strictly control how many cattle graze each parcel, when and how long they're there, and how much herbage they consume. Private property can be subject to other pressures, such as the leverage that could be created through state or local tax incentives and the dispersal of water rights. One federal law, the Clean Water Act, already authorizes the government to penalize ranchers who foul streams on private lands--a provision of the law that has almost never been enforced.

To make comprehensive regulation work, hundreds more BLM and Forest Service regulators must get out and visit livestock ranches. This does not mean hiring a flock of new bureaucrats. Many of the needed regulators are already on staff--they're just bogged down in paperwork. Lyle Andrews, one of the BLM's three rangeland managers in the John Day Basin, estimates that only 25 to 30 percent of their time is spent in the field. Last summer the Clinton Administration tried to free up Andrews. It adopted new rules for the BLM that should minimize paperwork, increase rangeland managers' powers, and let them cooperate with a rancher who wants to rest a parcel of land from grazing. Meanwhile, Republicans have countered with a plan of their own that would kill Clinton's changes--and expand ranchers' authority.

Perhaps it's a comment on human nature that the ranching community generally despises government interference, considering itself a paragon of American independence and self-sufficiency. As proof, some ranchers boast that theirs is the only major agricultural industry that survives without a government subsidy. "How can it be a subsidy when we're paying the government to use it?" Alisa Harrison, a National Cattlemen's Association spokesperson, asked me. True, they don't enjoy the explicit price supports to which dairy and wheat farmers have become addicted.

INDIRECTLY, HOWEVER,...almost every rancher is subsidized in some way, resulting in expenses to the public of at least $100 million a year just in support of the eleven western states.

The bulk of this subsidy falls into three categories. First there's the discount ranchers get on leases of public lands--and the maintenance expenses federal agencies must pick up as a result. These costs were conservatively estimated at $52 million for 1990; more-aggressive tallies of the grazing programs' full administrative overhead have totaled up a price of $200 million or more a year. The second big subsidy is what the government calls an "emergency feed program," supposedly reserved for times of drought, but now handed out habitually, even during wet years. This program has cost an average of $26.5 million annually in these states for the past decade. Finally there's "animal damage control," the government's predator-killing program. In 1994 this program cost $55.9 million nationwide, of which roughly $22 million was spent on western livestock operations. The animals killed nationwide with this money included 163 black bears, 293 mountain lions, 1,928 bobcats, 8,973 foxes, and 85,571 coyotes. Presumably, such substantial government support of various kinds justifies holding ranchers accountable.

The government could use its subsidies to encourage other pursuits, such as rebuilding the wilderness. Jim Nelson, a Nevada Forest Service supervisor, has concluded that ranchers could raise as much beef as they do today on half as much land if they spent several decades managing it more carefully, giving some spots a complete rest. A forty-year time-out might strike some ranchers as unrealistic, but there are other ways to stay occupied. The marketing of outdoor recreation rights is one option. Throughout the West some ranchers already make as much money on their private lands by selling high-priced rights to hunt revived herds of wild elk, deer, and antelope, or returning flocks of turkey and quail, as they do running cattle.

Some experts suggest that abolishing subsidies could actually help the range, as ranchers lose the extra feed and other supports that have encouraged them to overstock their pasturelands. Some combination of the free-market approach and a long rest may be ideal, but it's politically unrealistic right now.

Whatever step is taken next, it should begin with regulations that confront the work still to be done on the range--and that charge full market rates for public leases. At that point ranchers' adaptability could realistically be tested. Though it would help to know whether the rancher and the cowboy are really obsolete, the verdict is not yet in. The only way to arrive at one is to let ranchers face their true costs. Obviously, new expenses will force many out of business. When that time comes, the public can make its choice: increase the subsidy to preserve this rare but resonant icon of American identity, or decide that change is inevitable, and that ranchers like Tom Campbell must go the way of the horse and buggy. "If we really had a market environment, we'd lose people quicker, more efficiently," says Ed Chaney, an Idaho-based rangeland and watershed consultant. "But now, with our subsidy, we're just feeding the problem. The system now is slow attrition, grinding them out of the industry. The dollar cost of keeping them out there is mind-boggling."

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Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; January, 1996; The Rancher Subsidy; Volume 277, No.

Feds take deliberate approach of oil shale leasing


Concerns and conflict over the first round of federal oil shale leases in the Rockies have made the government more deliberate in the second round, a federal official said Friday.

Alan Gilbert, a senior adviser to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, said during an oil shale forum that a team of federal and state representatives will review the applications from three companies for 160-acre parcels.

The leases on public land are for research and development of technology to tap the oil locked in shale under northwest Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. The companies showing progress could expand work to 640 acres.

"There is a more deliberate pace, intentionally, toward this second round of leasing," Gilbert said at a daylong oil shale conference by the University of Colorado Law School's Natural Resources Law Center.

As a U.S. senator from Colorado, Salazar criticized the Bush administration's plan for opening nearly 2 million acres of federal land in the Rockies to oil shale development before there was proven technology or more information about the potential impacts. He objected to the royalty rate and other terms of six research and development leases awarded in 2007 in Colorado and Utah.

As Interior secretary, Salazar made changes to the second-round of oil shale leases after first withdrawing the Bush administration's solicitations for proposals. Salazar announced the changes in October, saying he was including more environmental safeguards and benchmarks, such as applying for permits within 18 months, to show that progress is being made.

Gilbert said the federal government is looking for answers to such basic questions as whether it's technically and economically feasible to mine oil from the shale and how much water and energy it will take.

The government is trying to resolve two lawsuits by environmental groups over the federal oil shale plan and regulations, Gilbert said, but it's not clear if a settlement can be reached.

Companies and industry trade groups say the new lease terms and smaller size of a potential commercial parcel for leaseholders dampened interest in the second round. Only three companies applied, compared to 20 in the first round.

The applicants for the new leases are ExxonMobil Corp. and Colorado-based Natural Soda Inc. applied for one lease each in northwest Colorado, and AuraSource Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz., applied for a lease in northeast Utah.

Environmental groups, however, note that companies are testing oil shale technologies on private land, arguing against leasing more federal land . They have questioned whether much is being done on the six leases approved in 2007.

But Alan Burnham of American Shale Oil, which has one of the original research leases, said the best deposits for companies trying to heat the oil underground are on federal land. His company has obtained several permits and plans to start testing its technology on the ground later this year.

James Bartis, a senior policy researcher at the Rand Corp., agreed that the best oil shale deposits are on federal land and are in a "very, very compact" area in northwest Colorado. He added, though, that any significant commercial oil shale development is likely at least 15 years off.

Government and industry officials estimate that an estimated 1 trillion to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil — up to three times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia — are locked in rock in parts of western Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Roughly 800 billion barrels are considered recoverable.

The oil is really kerogen, a precursor to oil that wasn't buried deeply enough or processed naturally long enough to complete the transformation to oil. Turning the shale to oil requires heating it: above ground after mining or, in the ground, a process called in situ — "in place."

Attempts to extract the oil stretch back a century, said Randy Udall, co-founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas USA. Developing oil shale isn't worth the costs — economic and environmental — for the energy gained, he said.

"This has been the Colorado oil shale follies, a long-running play," Udall said.

Friday, February 5, 2010

MuleKist @ War w/ Wine-Wasting Wrangler

Click on title above to see vid and leave comments.

Thank you Yellow Tail!

(There IS a such thing, you know)


Americas Wolves Under Seige Also

Click on title above to read more about the govts war on wolves - this article concerns Alaskan wolves, but same thing is happening in our western states, colorado, utah, idaho, etc.

Secret Meetings, Goodbye Tolerance, Hello Turner: News from the Buffalo Field Campaign

Click on title above to read the latest report about our gov'ts continuing assault on our Nations wild bison

Wildfire protection: private landowners get free ride, society loses

in Research Briefs | Feb 5, 2010
By Rob Goldstein

Following a spate of such wildfires, Congress the next year passed the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, which among other things, requires public agencies to spend 50% of their fuel-reduction budgets on public lands that border developed areas - otherwise known as the wildland-urban interface.

A new study, however, shows that this law is actually discouraging private landowners from taking measures to reduce wildfire risk on their own property. Furthermore, by subsidizing residents who choose to live in high-danger areas, the law encourages risky decisions while draining resource from fighting wildfires on more remote public lands.

More people live in areas vulnerable to wildfire, as the human population increases and residential development pushes into wildlands. In 2003 alone, wildfires burned more than 4,508 homes and caused more than $2 billion in damages in wildland-urban interfaces of the United States.

Gwenlyn Busby and Heidi Albers used a game-theory model to get inside the minds of private landowners and public land managers and figure out why they make the decisions that they do when it comes to protecting against wildfire on their lands. Game theory is a type of applied math that analyzes how people make decisions when the consequences depend on the decisions of others.

The researchers found that the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, by requiring that at least fifty percent of fuel-reduction budgets to be used in wildland-urban interfaces, enables private landowners to freeload off publicly funded fire-prevention efforts.

Furthermore, the Act makes it more difficult for managers to protect rare species and other natural resources on public lands away from developed areas. Government agencies often seek to limit the severity of wildfires by removing dried grasses, brush, and other fuels from public lands, but tight budgets make it impossible for public land managers to conduct fuel reduction everywhere that it is needed.

On its face, the Healthy Forests Restoration Act seems like a logical, targeted way to cut down on wildfire damage. However, as the game theory model in the study reveals, private landowners in the wildland-urban interface tend to perform little fuel reduction on their land when the government conducts extensive treatment nearby.

According to Busby and Albers, this “pattern of fuel treatment comes at a cost to society because public resources focus in areas with mixed ownership, where local residents capture the benefits, and are not available for publicly managed land areas that create benefits for society at large.”

--Reviewed by Peter Taylor

Busby, G., & Albers, H. (2010). Wildfire Risk Management on a Landscape with Public and Private Ownership: Who Pays for Protection? Environmental Management DOI: 10.1007/s00267-009-9381-x

BLM to Hold "Adoption" Sale: Offers $500 to Potential Adopters as Incentive to "Adopt"

I wish the BLM would stop calling these outright sales "adoptions." Now they are offering $500 to potential adopters as incentive to adopt. That means the kill-buyers "adopting" wild horses will make a KILLING when they bring them to meat-market auction houses or direct to slaughter sale.

Be sure and read the part at the bottom of this article where the BLM claims it "follows up" on their adoptions....ROTFLMAO!

Mustangs available for adoption at auction
By Felicia Frazar
The Gazette-Enterprise

Published February 5, 2010

Next week, a bit of the Old West will come to Guadalupe County.

The spirit of the open range lives on through the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which is working to protect the wild horses and the western rangeland resources.

Paul McGuire, BLM public affairs specialist, said wild horse herds have been protected for decades under a congressional law.

“There was a law congress passed in the 1970’s to protect and preserve the wild horses as fixtures in the western landscape,” he said. “Congress recognized that wild horses are a highly valued symbol of our heritage and the Bureau of Land Management was charged with the responsibility of managing the resource.”

In order to properly manage both the land and the herds efficiently and effectively, occasionally the packs of mustangs need their numbers to be reduced, McGuire said.

“What we do periodically is we have to thin the herd so they don’t over populate the areas,” he said.

Through the Wild Horse and Burro Program, some of the excess animals are auctioned off or sold to people who qualify to give them a safe home, McGuire said.

“Basically the adoption program is an extension of the primary management responsibility that we have and it’s a way for the public to be directly involved,” he said.

On Feb. 11-13 the BLM will be at the Guadalupe County Fairgrounds giving locals a chance to purchase and care for an icon of the American West.

Mustangs have many favorable attributes, McGuire said.

“In the wild they had to develop a number of strengths to be able to survive — endurance, stamina, strength and speed,” he said. “One of the things about a mustang is they are very intelligent animals and they respond very well to people when it comes to training. There is the sheer versatility of the animal that appeals to a lot of folks, whether they plan on getting them for ranch work or recreational purposes.”

While they are incredibly intelligent animals, McGuire added that mustangs do come with some traits that make them a bit more difficult than domesticated horse.

“One of the key challenges is getting the animal accustomed to you and realizing that you are not a threat to it,” he said. “A horse in the wild views human beings as potential predators and so you have to initially overcome that hurdle of trust.”

There are two chances of obtaining a horse from the event — auction or sale, McGuire said.

“The main reason we do that is if we have more than one person interested in an animal, it’s the fairest way that we have to see who gets to adopt what animal,” he said. “Once we get through with that we open it to first come first serve for the rest of the day on Friday and all day on Saturday. Any horse that remains can get adopted for the $125 processing fee.”

McGuire suggests that anyone interested in the mustangs come a day early to scope out possible choices and to get the application process started.

“We approve the applications on site,” he said.

Adopting a wild horse comes with a few requirements, McGuire said.

A person must be 18 years of age or older to sign a contract with the federal government, must have a facility with a sturdy corral at least 400 square-feet and a stock trailer for transportation.

Once taken home the fostered animal still belongs to the federal government for up to a year, McGuire said.

“After that point, if you have taken proper care of that animal you can apply for formal ownership of that animal and receive the title for it,” he said.

Full time employees of the bureau are entrusted with keeping close watch over the iconic horses and ensuring their security and safety.

“We have people that are compliance inspectors. They follow up on adoptions,” he said. “At some point in that first year prior to titling we will come check up on the animal.”

During routine checks — either by phone or in person — if a problem arises, the surveyor will work with the adopters to assess and fix the situation, McGuire said.

“If it appears that the animal is underfed or it’s feet don’t appear properly cared for, we will work with the adopter to identify the inefficacy and to correct it,” he said. “Rarely have we had a situation where we had to repossess a horse, but if we have to we will because our first concern is to ensure the animal is in a good home.”

“We are going to be running a $500 incentive program here in Seguin,” he said. “Any animal that is over four years old we are offering a $500 incentive to adopt one of these animals under normal terms. After one year, when you receive the title we will cut you a check for $500.”

Gates will open Thursday, Feb. 11 from 4-6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12 from 8 a.m. with adoptions starting from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday, Feb. 13 from 8 a.m. to noon. For more information on the program go to .

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