BLM Defers on Fracking Leases near Chaco Canyon
Yesterday, the Bureau of Land Management deferred for the third time the sale of three oil and gas lease parcels and approximately 2,122 acres of federal mineral estate on Navajo allotment lands in the Greater Chaco region. A broad coalition of local and regional watchdog groups submitted comments opposing the lease sale for fracking near Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The comments focused in part on the agency’s woefully insufficient management plan for the region, which treats the Greater Chaco’s communities and landscapes as a sacrifice zone. BLM’s deferral of these leases, for the third time, illustrates the need for the agency to complete its ongoing resource management plan amendment before continuing to lease and authorize the development of any additional public lands for oil and gas. http://bit.ly/1LSSdPZ – Pagosa Daily Post
An experiment in privatizing public land fails after 14 years — High Country News Tom Ribe Opinion Feb. 12, 2015 Web Exclusive
It is no secret that some state legislators in the West want to boot federal land management agencies from their states. They argue that agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service cost too much and are too detached from local values, and that states could make money by running our vast open spaces like a privately owned business.
The Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian think tank, is of that opinion and has developed models to replace federal agencies with private interests. What many people don’t know is that Congress implemented one of the Cato Institute’s ideas in 2000, on the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico. For some critics of the federal government, this was the experiment in land management that would signal the end of the BLM and Forest Service in the West.
The Cato experiment in New Mexico, however, failed, chewed up by the friction between monetizing the “services” that landscapes provide — recreation, timber, grass, wildlife — and fulfilling citizens’ expectations for public access and protecting natural resources. For example, New Mexicans had very little tolerance for paying high fees to visit public property that had already been paid for using federal Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars.
By Astrid Galvan / Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 at 1:35pm
Updated: Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 12:10am
TUCSON — The only known wild jaguar in the United States is seen roaming around a creek and other parts of a mountain range in southern Arizona in the first publicly released video of the giant cat.
“El Jefe” — Spanish for “the boss” — has been living in the Santa Rita Mountains about 25 miles south of downtown Tucson for over three years, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
El Jefe is about 7 years old and is one of only four or five jaguars that have been spotted in the U.S. in the last 20 years. He’s the only documented wild jaguar in the country.
“A lot of people have no idea that we have jaguars in the United States or that they belong here,” said Randy Serraglio of the Tucson-based environmental group. “In bringing this video, we hope to inspire people to care about these animals and support protection for their homes.”
Conservationists say El Jefe’s habitat is threatened by a proposed open-pit copper mine in the mountains. The proposed Rosemont Mine has been in the works for several years but is tied up in the permitting phase.
SANTA FE, N.M. — Public access to New Mexico’s 16,000-acre Sabinoso Wilderness – entirely “landlocked” by private land – moved closer to reality today on news the nonprofit Wilderness Land Trust bought adjacent property that could soon allow hikers, hunters, backpackers and others access to it.
The purchase of the 4,176-acre Rimrock Rose property, made possible by a $3.1 million contribution from the Wyss Foundation, could allow public access to the Sabinoso by summer.
“We’ve been working on creating access to the Sabinoso Wilderness since it was proposed for designation,” said Reid Haughey, president of The Wilderness Land Trust. “To the best of our knowledge, Sabinoso is the only wilderness area among the 762 wilderness areas within the National Wilderness Preservation System that does not have public access.”
The Sabinoso Wilderness, created by Congress in 2009, is a rugged back-country area east of Las Vegas, N.M., that is home to mule deer, bobcats, gray foxes and a wide range of plant and animal species that are home to the high plains. The headwaters of the Canadian River runs through the Rimrock Rose property and Canyon Largo.
“We are proud to be able to help local leaders and The Wilderness Land Trust as they expand access for fishing, hunting, hiking, and recreation in New Mexico’s prized backcountry,” said Molly McUsic, President of the Wyss Foundation.
Here’s my original post:
Just wanted to say thanks for keeping me up on the Malheur travesty. As a BLM grazing lease holder for nearly 40 years here’s what I’ve experienced with the “tyrannical” agency.
1. BLM grazing is CHEAP. $1.69 an AUM for a month of grazing vs. over $20 for private grazing land. That’s for a cow and calf. For a month.
2. Just like any other lease there is a date on and a date off. Determined by the BLM based on factors like drought/wild horse use/pasture quality etc.
3. In drought years we are offered a “non-use” option and pay no fees at all. In this way we work together to ensure there will be grass left to grow when the rains do come.
4. Our local BLM has a small budget and has an unbelievably large area to oversee. Faced with a growing wild horse problem, we tackled fencing them out of our property on our own. Faced with a threatening allotment holder to our private property, again, no money for fence.
5. When we did fence, they were ecstatic. They offered us all the technical information they could. We once watched a range tech literally dance at the sight of healthy, vibrant Idaho fescue.
6. They protect the land from those who would destroy it, for fun or profit. When we sought to stop destructive driving across our land to get to the BLM for 4 wheeling, they cooperated and supported us, and gave the 4 wheelers another way to access the BLM.
Here at the Diamond E Ranch we feel it’s a privilege to live and work near a large piece of publicly owned land. A treasure we’ve been entrusted with by our fellow Americans. All of them. Our grazing lease allows us to participate in the care of that treasure, not for gain, but for the joy of our new grandchildren who will grow up roaming it like our children did. For the life of me I can’t see anything but profit in Ammon Bundy’s eyes.
[hat tip to Judy Liddell]
The folly of “taking back” the West — High Country News Ted Williams Opinion Jan. 20, 2016 Web Exclusive
Do 700 million acres of national parks, national monuments, national forests, national wildlife refuges and Bureau of Land Management units belong to you and your fellow Americans? No, according to the increasingly popular notion in the West that it’s time for states to “take back” federal land.
“Taking back” property that belongs to Alaskans and Floridians and everyone in between is even a plank in the GOP platform. A resolution, entitled “In Support of Western States Taking Back Public Lands” reads: “The Republican National Committee calls upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the imminent transfer of public lands to all willing Western states.”
Taking back something that never belonged to you presents multiple problems, not the least of which is semantics. But this has never discouraged proponents whose first order of business is to ignore constitutional law.
Here’s a fact they don’t want you to know: As a condition for entering the union, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Nevada disclaimed all legal right and title to unappropriated public lands.
We went to Peru in November, 2015. We traveled with a small group of friends, under arrangements made by Dave Mehlman, birdman extraordinaire. In the course of 2 full weeks, from Lima, to Cusco, to Machu Picchu, to the jungle of Manu, I took too many photos. In the 2 months since, I have taken too long to pull out these. I hope you enjoy them.
(User’s guide: Follow the link to a page of photos. Select any photo for a large version with caption. You can step through photos or use the Slide Show option at the top of any one photo.)
The National Park Service turns 100 years old in 2016 and we want everyone to join the party! On 16 days in ’16, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone.
Mark your calendar for these entrance fee–free dates in 2016:
“Being here makes me realize I haven’t accomplished anything.”
We watched a great film about a most extraordinary man, Dayton O. Hyde, cowboy, writer, conservationist. After years as a rancher and cowboy, he turned his considerable force of will toward providing sanctuary — paradise — for wild horses otherwise doomed to slaughter or neglect. He shaped a chunk of the Black Hill of South Dakota into heaven on earth for these beautiful creatures. His wish is that when he returns as a horse, he’ll run among them.
They truly don’t make people like this anymore. However, he serves as an inspiration. Find your quest. Save your space from the profiteers. Love, listen to, honor nature, the land and everything on it.
Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde (2013) is a great documentary, weaving old movies and photos into the story. Just when you think you know the rest of the story, it proves you wrong, more than once. As one old friend says of Hyde, “he is a holy man.” It’s streaming on Netflix for two more days — see it NOW.
By Associated Press Sunday, November 1st, 2015 at 11:52pm
BILLINGS, Mont. — Wildlife managers have euthanized 24 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem so far this year, the highest number in the past five years.
Most of the bears, which are a protected species under federal law, had killed livestock or had become habituated to human food sources, according to information posted on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s website.
Tell the profiteers “NO! Not this time.”
It’s time for a clean slate at the New Mexico Game Commission. All of these people should go. Their successors should include someone from a city, someone who enjoys hiking without killing. Instead, we have hunters, guides, ranchers, people in oil, people whose livelihood and pleasure derive from exploiting public land for profit.
New Mexico State Game Commissioners, from left:
Alexa Sandoval, Director
Thomas “Dick” Salopek,
Paul M. Kienzle III, Chairman,
William “Bill” Montoya, Vice Chairman,
Elizabeth Atkinson Ryan,
Ralph Ramos, and
Robert Espinoza, Sr.
listen during their meeting at the Santa Fe Community College in Santa Fe, N.M. Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. The New Mexico Game Commission has approved new hunting limits for bears and cougars around the state despite the protests of environmental groups. (Clyde Mueller/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Believe me, I’d love to indulge in Wanted posters of these folks and coy references to hunting them down, but I won’t indulge in the violence they endorse. I wish them peaceful lives out of public “service.” If I see one of them, I will flip him or her off. If I have mustard at hand, I will throw it on them. A better man would stand and stare and shake his head at their shame.
Flash mob, anyone?
A few people decided to take the last wild river in New Mexico away from all of us and sell it to a few. And no one can stop the few from screwing the many.
At Monday’s meeting, Interstate Stream Commission staff acknowledged that evaporation and reservoir seepage will eat up nearly half the water before it ever reaches any farms or cities. The law under which the project would be built authorized 14,000 acre feet per year on average from the Gila, but the actual yield will likely be between 6,000 and 8,000 acre feet, ISC staff member Ali Effati told the commission.
The commission’s vote on the diversion recommendation was not unanimous. Commissioner Blane Sanchez objected and Topper Thorpe chose not to vote, a decision that spurred cheers from people in the audience who have been critical of diversion.
Our new Land Commissioner is likely to regard mineral extraction as more important than Chaco. Keep a sharp eye out and raise Hell over every threat to this treasure.
I like to drive to Chaco by going north out of Grants via Milan. The lower portion of this route is marred by old radioactive tailing ponds. However, my last trip a year or more ago I passed through a hellish landscape of smoke and dust as countless large machines ripped up the land. I’d like to see that on the 10 o’clock news and the front of the newspaper. Instead, this destruction goes on just out of sight of most travelers. Don’t let it get an inch closer to Chaco.
In some ways, it still looks like it did centuries ago.
“Right now, you can stand at Pueblo Alto, look north and see a landscape that is substantially the same as what the Chacoans saw,” said Barbara West, former superintendent of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
But that could be changing.