Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bison exchange becoming political powerhouse

Jim Stone is the executive director of the Rapid City-based InterTribal Buffalo Council: it's a clearinghouse for tribes that want bison and parks that have a surplus.
The council argued that its relationship with the Interior Department and the national parks should be a partnership rather than a business arrangement. The council is a federally chartered Native American organization empowered and owed support by centuries' worth of federal law and treaties, and it gets funding from the Interior Department, just as the national parks do. By at least one account, the three Northern Plains national parks that have bison herds have provided at least 10,000 bison to tribes and other entities during all their years of culling. Those bison have gone on to reproduce, helping raise the American bison population into the hundreds of thousands. [Casper Star-Tribune]
Plenty of hits here come from members of Congress and even from the White House. Pending news is often heralded in searches that lead readers to interested party.
While the deadline for comment is June 15, please stay engaged and informed as the new planning process goes forward. If you care about the future of one of Yellowstone’s most beloved and iconic animals, now is the time to get involved. [Bozeman Daily Chronicle]
Are cows drinking the West dry? It’s time for tough questions: Tom Ribe / Writers On The Range.

People have a right to know where their food is produced and what’s in it: Tom Jopek.

President Obama: rewild the West.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Beetles to biomass: USDA promoting regional harvest

The mountain pine beetle is hard at work clearing centuries of overgrowth throughout the Rocky Mountain Complex, so is the western spruce budworm. But leaving dead or dying conifers on the forest produces methane, an even more dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports seven regional integrated Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAPs) that develop regional systems for the sustainable production of advanced biofuels and biobased products. The regional systems focus on non-food dedicated biomass feedstocks such as perennial grasses, sorghum, energy cane, oilseed crops, and woody biomass. Specifically, goals for this aspect of the operation include benchmarking the performance of equipment used to harvest, process, and deliver beetle-killed trees, and then optimize the logistics for site conditions, specific end uses, and facility locations. [USDA blog]
Forest and land managers have learned that fuel treatments where fire is introduced after mechanical harvest helps to restore forests where emerging aspen and other hardwoods add biodiversity necessary to healthy ecosystems while sequestering carbon.

As firefighting costs strain federal budgets removal of fuels in areas where roads already exist just makes sense.

Monday, May 25, 2015

South Dakota not last in sloth

Hey, South Dakota isn't 50th in something!

Minnesota's winters are at least as brutal as either western neighbor but is 7th in workout time and residents are physically active over 75 minutes a week. North Dakota finished 50th in workout minutes and minutes spent running while Washington, DC placed 51st in the country. My home state of South Dakota is 43rd working out less than an hour each week. Colorado is second, Montana mid-range at number 27 and Wyoming is just ahead of the Land of Infinite Vegetating at 41st.

My adoptive state of New Mexico ranks 9th working out over 73 minutes a week. We walk year round at least four hours a week.

Read more linked here.

More bird pix: click on any for a better look.

Male black-headed and rose-breasted grosbeaks: image captured through porch screen

Female black-chinned hummingbird

Scott's oriole: image captured through window screen.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Wild horses draining budgets, wreaking habitat havoc

The modern horse was introduced to North America by the Spanish late in the 15th Century.

In Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and seven other states the Bureau of Land Management adopts out, seeks private pastures for, and feeds wild horses.
The 1971 Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act didn’t delineate the administration of an adaptable, fecund species that was dumped onto the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM’s adoption program for wild horses, which initially functioned as a way to reduce herds, was soon outpaced by reproduction. Over a horse’s life, the tab will run $49,000 per head. Already, BLM faces an annual bill for the wild horse program at more than $75 million. [The Cody Enterprise]
From WNAX:
Legislation has been introduced in the House to ban all horse slaughter in the United States. The Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2015 would make it illegal to sell or transport horses or part of horses in interstate or foreign commerce for human consumption. The South Dakota Stock Growers Association opposes the measure. Executive Director Silvia Christen says there needs to be a way to deal humanely with unwanted or older horses. Christen says without slaughter available the population of horses would rise and create a financial burden and a hardship for finding ways of disposing of them. The sale of horsemeat for human consumption in the U.S. is currently banned but is subject to review every year. There is no federal law that prohibits transport of horses for slaughter from the U.S .to Canada or Mexico. [WNAX]
The Oglala Lakota Nation had been pursuing an abattoir as an economic development opportunity according to Tim Huether writing in the Bennett County Booster:
Tribal council member Craig Dillon from the LaCreek District confirmed that they are indeed looking at it but said they have a long way to go, but have also come a long way on the project. The location they are considering for the plant is just under two miles north and west of the U.S. Hwy 18 and U.S. Hwy 73 junction which is 12 miles east of Martin. The tribe owns approx. 220 acres there that Dillon said would be a good location. Slaughtering horses ended in the U.S. in 2007 after Congress began prohibiting the use of federal funds to inspect horses destined to become food during 2006.
The Crow and Northern Cheyenne Nations are litigating with the State of Wyoming about whether the rights of tribal nations include subsistence hunting on public grounds where bison or wapiti held Rocky Mountain ecosystems together just three hundred years ago.

In a state where horses are exported to Mexico the New Mexico legislature euthanized the latest attempts to ban that harvested meat for human consumption. The US Department of Agriculture reports the United States has sent more than 12,000 horses across the southern border for slaughter so far this year.
The Bureau of Land Management estimates that 49,209 wild horses and burros (about 40,815 horses and 8,394 burros) are roaming on BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states, based on the latest data available, compiled as of March 1, 2014. (This compares to the 2013 estimate of 40,605 animals.) Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years. As a result, the agency must remove thousands of animals from the range each year to control herd sizes. The ecosystems of public rangelands are not able to withstand the impacts from overpopulated herds, which include soil erosion, sedimentation of streams, and damage to wildlife habitat. [BLM Quick Facts]
In an era when western states are scrambling to preserve habitat for the threatened Greater sage grouse how is running nurseries for introduced species like wild horses and burros either conservative or sustainable?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Lee newspapers crush Montana capital bureau

Update, 24 May, 0817 MDT:
Texas leads the way with more than 50 full-time Capitol reporters, and South Dakota brings up the rear with only two. [Journalists, politicians react to loss of Capitol reporters]

My gut is growling something about Gannett and Lee Enterprises getting hitched.

Waves of gloom and doom are sweeping through Montana's media family.
Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison, Montana's most prominent political reporters, are leaving their posts next week as the Lee Newspapers State Bureau closes. "It's a loss for everyone who cares about informed civic discussion of statewide politics. Their decades of institutional memory and experience are unmatched," said Dennis Swibold, a University of Montana School of Journalism professor. Dennison and Johnson could have taken new reporter positions at significantly lower pay, but chose to take buyouts. Lee is the largest newspaper company in Montana. [Kristen Inbody]
Stock in LEE spiked yesterday in unusually strong trading.

Lee newspapers in the state include the Billings Gazette, Helena Independent Record, Montana Standard, Missoulian, Ravalli Republic and the Mini Nickel advertiser.

Some, but not all of the Lee Newspapers of Montana supported Democrat Jon Tester while endorsing a white Mormon for president.

The Bismarck Tribune supported earth haters Willard Romney and Rick Berg. The Rapid City Journal also supported only earth haters, as did the Sioux City Journal.

The Casper Star-Tribune threw President Obama under the coal hauler while the Lincoln Journal-Star supported both the President and former senator Democrat Bob Kerrey.

The Sioux City Journal and its parent company are earth haters' wet dreams.

After her company's stock lost half its value, Jim Romenesko's story on Lee Enterprises CEO Mary Junck's pay raise rolled through the twitterverse like a bowling ball.

Comments on the Lee decision from Romenesko here.

Reactions to the news can be found here, here and here.