Monday evening the Wall City Council meeting was attended by a larger than average group of citizens and business owners, and was held in the community hall to accommodate everyone. Among the issues drawing the larger crowd was an agenda item for the building permit which Oklahoma City based Love’s has applied for, in order to build a truck-stop. This discussion has been ongoing, and has drawn the city into litigation requiring the acquisition of special legal council, at the expense of the City of Wall, and by proxy its taxpayers. At Monday’s meeting Jeff Collins, the attorney representing Love’s called for the council to vote to determine whether conflicts of interest exist for members of Wall City Council in relation to the decision at hand, and potentially prompt members to recuse themselves from the vote. The proposed location on the south side of Interstate-90 near the Kelly addition residential area has drawn criticism from residents of the immediate area, citing a number of potential issues from noise and light pollution, to congestive traffic, safety issues involving how exit 110 is situated, and property value impact. [Pennington County Courant]Tom Love is a billionaire who could sue Wall Drug and the City of Wall into the dirt.
W'all be drugged: proposed truck stop plows into conflict of interest
Republican CO county clerk facing felony charges, civil suits after using public money for SD pillow talk
One week before Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters flew to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Aug. 10, to attend a voter-fraud conspiracy theory event hosted by My Pillow guy Mike Lindell, she used the county’s credit card to book a flight to that event, according to records obtained by The Daily Sentinel. While the county was charged $484 for that flight, it is unknown if Peters actually used that ticket on United Airlines. That’s because at about the same time that flight left Grand Junction for Denver and then to Sioux Falls, a private charter jet left the Grand Junction Regional Airport en route to South Dakota. If Peters accepted free meals and lodging, or if she boarded a private jet without paying for it, she could be held accountable under the same Colorado ethics laws that now U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., faced relating to his time as governor. [Peters used tax dollars to pay for South Dakota flight]Colorado Democrats want to see her in court.
Since then, My Pillow guy and voter-fraud conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell said several times on his online program, Lindell TV, that he did, indeed, fly Peters to that South Dakota event, and later to Texas. The group Rural Colorado United, which formed last year in opposition to U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Silt, said it is talking with some Mesa County residents about a possible second recall attempt. [Ethics complaint filed against Peters]It's important to remember theories are arguably provable while hypotheses are often mostly informed hunches so conspiracy theories are not theories at all — at best they're conjecture and at worst they’re malicious prevarications.
Indigenous American selected for Park Service
The National Park Service that awaits Charles F. "Chuck" Sams III, nominated to be agency director, needs some help. It was just recovering from the 2019 government shutdown when the coronavirus pandemic hit, closing parks and historic sites and delaying action on a backlog of about $12 billion of repairs. Two years earlier, a federal survey had found more than a third of park service staff experienced sexual harassment monthly or more often. And the department has not had a Senate-confirmed director since January 2017. A member of and former executive director for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, in Oregon, he would make history as the first Native American to run the 106-year-old agency, if confirmed by the Senate. By federal law, the park service is required to work with tribes to help maintain cultural and historical lands and resources. [Park Service nominee would face morale, crowding challenges]ip photo: cliff dwelling at Bandelier National Monument.
New Mexico Democrats support Stone-Manning for BLM
The Oil Conservation Division reviews all permits approved by the BLM. And while the state agency cannot revoke the permits, it can require additional conditions and restrictions. But the division’s staff is tiny: six people for the entire state, compared to 64 BLM employees checking applications in its Carlsbad office. [NM Drilling Permits Skyrocketed Under Trump]
"Westerners know that the only way to solve natural resources challenges is to work with people from all walks of life and with diverse perspectives,” Heinrich said. “Stone-Manning has worked with ranchers and conservation advocates, hunters and mountain bikers, and unions and Tribal leaders, making her well-suited to lead the BLM." The Colorado-based Center for Western Priorities said the administration of former-President Donald Trump damaged the agency by moving its headquarters to rural Grand Junction, Colorado, a move critics said was meant to reduce the agency’s influence and reduce staff as many in the former headquarters in Washington D.C. would likely not want to move almost 2,000 miles west. [BLM director nominee Tracy Stone-Manning splits party lines for New Mexico congresspeople]David Treuer was born of a Holocaust survivor and Ojibwe mother. He wrote in The Atlantic that he believes that most land held in America's national parks should be remanded to Indigenous peoples but it's my view that much of the land held in the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service should also be part of that trust.
Our town and its open space looking beautiful today. #Missoula #keepitpublic pic.twitter.com/F0uRF5Asnb— Tracy Stone-Manning (@StoneManning) May 15, 2021
Red state socialism is red state hypocrisy
For Madison and four Iowa towns (Sioux Center, Hull, Sheldon and Sibley), the long wait may only last five more years if the United States House of Representatives votes to pass the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” which passed in the U.S. Senate on Aug. 10. That bill contains $1 billion for rural water projects across the country. Troy Larson, the Executive Director of the Lewis & Clark water system, said all indications at this time point to the infrastructure bill passing by the end of the year. [Lewis & Clark water system closely following infrastructure bill, final federal funding needed to finish project]
Political leaders in South Dakota who brag about keeping our state "open for business," our economy strong and our budget-surplus growing during the pandemic rarely mention our $4.8-billion allotment in relief from the federal government. Those hated feds can be pretty helpful.— Kevin Woster (@KevinWoster) August 22, 2021
National forests will restrict domestic livestock to protect native species
FACT: The Gila Wilderness area is home to the world’s largest population of rare Mexican spotted owls. @MartinHeinrich @SenatorLujan: We must protect these critical habitats and designate the #WildGilaRiver as #WildAndScenic pic.twitter.com/qqyrJZ2vQB— Wild Gila River (@wildgilariver) August 19, 2021
The U.S. Forest Service will impose more stringent measures under a legal settlement to keep grazing cattle away from waterways in two national forests to better protect endangered wildlife. The Center for Biological Diversity reached the settlement with the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calling for the agencies to better protect riparian areas against stray cattle within New Mexico's Gila National Forest and Arizona's Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Protected riparian wildlife now include southwestern willow flycatchers, yellow-billed cuckoos, Gila chub, Chiricahua leopard frogs, loach minnow and spikedace fish, as well as narrow-headed and northern Mexican garter snakes, the center said. [Santa Fe New Mexican]
Daughter #2 signs up for Schorn course, may study CRT
No lawyer practices in the United States until they learn how the court favors white privilege. Court packing is Herr Trump’s legacy and will take decades to reverse.
The common story about this surge of action is that this is a new “Tea Party” moment—a genuine uprising by grassroots Americans who are furious about CRT and demanding action from their state legislatures. But that story ignores the clear influence of a carefully built campaign by the network of radical free-market capitalist think tanks and action groups supported by billionaire businessman Charles Koch and his late brother David. [The Radical Capitalist Behind the Critical Race Theory Furor]Learn more about Professor Schorn linked here.
Casita guest recognized at Illustrator's Cup
Chuck Rosenthal and his wife, Kimi were guests at our casita for nine nights in May. They move back and forth between Brooklyn and Santa Fe. He is an artist now creating non-fungible tokens or NFTs. She works in the marketing department for Vogue. Last year neighbor Rick won second place in the Santa Fe Reporter's Illustrator’s Cup portrait/caricature category.
Rosenthal has been painting for more than 40 years. His work contains recurring themes, relating to issues that most concern him, most often regarding habitat loss, wildlife and climate change. “Since 2016,” he writes, “I have found it necessary to also address the continual decline of American culture, and our societal descent into an even deeper form of communal madness.” [Santa Fe Reporter]
Spearditch bronze was cast in Santa Fe. https://t.co/DUCxtDKwBo— interested party (@larry_kurtz) August 18, 2021
Who won Afghanistan? Opium growers
Much of the opium trucked into Darra from Afghanistan by the mujahedin was sold to the Pakistani governor of the northwest territory, Lieutenant General Fazle Huq. From this opium the heroin was refined in labs in Darra, placed on Pakistani army trucks and transported to Karachi, then shipped to Europe and the United States. The DEA was well aware that the mujahedin rebels were deeply involved in the opium trade. The drug agency’s reports in 1980 showed that Afghan rebel incursions from their Pakistan bases into Soviet-held positions were “determined in part by opium planting and harvest seasons.” The numbers were stark and forbidding. Afghan opium production tripled between 1979 and 1982. There was evidence that by 1981 the Afghan heroin producers had captured 60 percent of the heroin market in Western Europe and the United States (these are UN and DEA figures). ["I could live with that;" How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade]
In the 1990s, the Taliban used to make money from opium. In 2000, Afghanistan's poppy cultivation was 82,000 hectares. In 2020, it reached 224,000 hectares. Who made money from opium after the Taliban were forced out of power in 2001? pic.twitter.com/u9bQb0IVjo— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) August 11, 2021
Despite Republican denials Richard Spring is good fire
In 2012 the fast-moving Ash Creek Fire burned bridges on US212 near Ashland and Lame Deer, Montana while another blaze nearby on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, the Coal Seam Fire spread to some 700 acres.
The [Richard Spring Fire] is burning primarily in short grass beneath a ponderosa pine overstory. Areas of sage brush and juniper are common in the fire area as well. Light flashy fuels are the main fuel source available. [Inciweb]Learn more at the Helena Independent Record.
Check the 1880 census map of forest fires (not grass) for how much fire the Northeast had (darker color, higher % burned). Most was associated with logging and landclearing. The last regional outbreak was 1908, and then the 1947 Maine fires. pic.twitter.com/8OkBfNHeBP— Stephen Pyne (@StephenJPyne) August 11, 2021
We are pushing $200 million dollars in suppression costs on #DixieFire, and we'll easily spend a billion by the time we clean up the damage.— Zeke Lunder (@wildland_zko) August 11, 2021
A BILLION spent and all we'll have to show for it is a burned up watershed. How many acres could we treat/restore with that money?
Industrial cannabis loses more ground to flower
The industry is rebalancing, and farmers are resetting their expectations. Agriculture experts caution that it could take years for the U.S. hemp market to mature and stabilize. They say hemp likely will remain a specialty crop, like cherries or tulips, rather than competing with major commodities such as corn and soybeans. About 107,000 outdoor acres have been licensed so far this year, according to Hemp Benchmarks, a Stamford, Connecticut-based hemp industry data provider. That’s down from 580,000 licensed acres Hemp Benchmarks identified in 2019, a more than 80% drop.
A $65.5 Million Jury Verdict In Montana Reflects Industrial Hemp’s Dramatic Fall In Value https://t.co/fVBthcqQ9d pic.twitter.com/wHeoqRsz87— Forbes Tech (@ForbesTech) August 6, 2021
Biden administration forcing wage increases, immigration reform
Federal health officials will likely reject Montana’s request to include work requirements for beneficiaries of its Medicaid expansion program, which insures 100,000 low-income Montana adults, state officials said. Three years after the Trump administration encouraged states to require proof that adult enrollees are working a certain number of hours or looking for work as a condition of receiving Medicaid expansion benefits, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has reversed course under Democratic President Joe Biden. [Kaiser Health News]
There are no checks on executive power and the governor's cronies routinely raid the state's general fund. The state is second in addiction to gambling and teachers' salaries surf the bottom of the US. Wage slavery is the state's biggest claim to fame and in 2021 South Dakota is 51st in women-owned businesses.
Despite competitive wages and an expanding workforce, the U.S. pork industry continues to struggle with a labor shortage that will require access to more foreign-born workers to remain sustainable, according to a study by Iowa State University economists that was recently updated to reflect the current state of the labor market. Current visa programs designed for seasonal agriculture—such as the H-2A visa—fail to meet the workforce needs of U.S. pork producers and other year-round livestock farmers. To address the labor shortage, NPPC is advocating for year-round access to the H-2A visa program without a cap. [National Pork Producers Council]Learn more at the Grand Forks Tribune.
So, how much exactly does one need to live in Colorado? The most popular response from What’s Working readers is $20 an hour. Livable wages — all write-ins, by the way — came in anywhere from $12 to $43 and change an hour. At $12, that’s below the state’s $12.32 minimum wage, while $43 is roughly $90,000 a year. [Colorado Sun]
#FACT In 2018, 21,148 immigrant workers made up 5% of South Dakota’s labor force. Most immigrants work in healthcare, social assistance, and manufacturing industries.— South Dakota Voices for Peace (@sdvfpeace) September 25, 2020
Source: @immcouncil “Immigrants in South Dakota” August 6, 2020 https://t.co/ojhpjgemGg pic.twitter.com/ASH92tQphg
Socialized agriculture driving larger-than-average dead zone
Conserving 30% of our nation’s landscape would equate to 729 million acres or another 437 million acres that isn’t already protected. It’s an area a little less than nine times the size of South Dakota. [Tri-State Neighbor]
With multiple carbon credit options and incentives now available, an economist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has compiled a comparison of programs and what is being offered to farmers. While most programs pay per carbon credit, some pay per farming practice, and others, such as the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund, pays per acre for selected farms in selected counties, that are making improvements related to carbon, water quality, etc. [Farm Forum]
The average hypoxic zone over the past five years is 5,380 square miles, which is 2.8 times larger than the 2035 target set by the Hypoxia Task Force. Since records began in 1985, the largest hypoxic zone measured was 8,776 square miles in 2017. The Hypoxia Task Force also empowers state programs by sharing successful strategies, as well as providing funding to states to support program development and implementation efforts that are tailored to finding local solutions. “Each of the Hypoxia Task Force states are committed to showing continuous improvement towards the goals outlined in our state-level Nutrient Reduction Strategies. We have technical experts who are working alongside public and private partners, farmers and landowners, and municipalities to implement locally-led water quality projects,” said Mike Naig, Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture and co-chair of the Hypoxia Task Force. [NOAA, Larger-than-average Gulf of Mexico ‘dead zone’ measured]Learn more at WNAX radio.
Latest #MissouriRiver Basin Updatehttps://t.co/nzzMzImPDI— NWD USACE (@NWDUSACE) August 3, 2021
Read more 8/5 in our Monthly Report
Updated f-cast = 14.6 MAF
pg 3 = by yr runoff from 1898
By yr ranking frm ⬇️to⬆️
Lowest = 10.7 MAF in 1931 https://t.co/MA5dXheNuo@OmahaUSACE @KC_USACE @NWSMBRFC pic.twitter.com/ux1GTQtyR9
Furnish: BHNF "a prime example of an ugly, out-of-control debacle in forestry gone wrong"
A shock to the eyes. That’s the only way to put it. I’ve just returned from a trip to my treasured Black Hills of South Dakota and found them stripped to the bone, the lovely ponderosa pines sent down the road to make boards, and lots of them. In my 35-year career with the U.S. Forest Service, including three years as deputy chief, I’ve been to almost all our 125 national forests and have rarely seen anything so unnecessary and damaging. And so heartbreaking. The Black Hills is a prime example of an ugly, out-of-control debacle in forestry gone wrong. [Furnish, Forest Service putting national forests in peril]Sharon Friedman's A New Century of Forest Policy just ran three features on the Black Hills National Forest including one that mentions an interview with Furnish on Bill Janklow's idea of public radio. Dave Mertz, former Natural Resource Staff Officer on the BHNF, is a contributor.
There are no trees to salvage, that ended years ago. The dead trees have long since broken up and fallen down. Read the General Technical Report “A scenario-Based Assessment to Inform Sustainable Ponderosa Pine Timber Harvest on the Black Hills National Forest”. There are the facts for you. Furnish is not trying to gain attention, he is working hard to try and get the Forest Service to do the right thing. As retirees, we are trying to save their soul in spite of themselves. It will be a shameful chapter in the history of the Forest Service. [Mertz]Mark Vander Meer is a principal at Watershed Consulting based in Missoula, Montana.
In the summer of 2020 near Nemo South Dakota, on the Black Hills National Forest, I performed a post-harvest soil disturbance audit on a unit in the Merlin Timber Sale. The prescription for this unit was “overstory removal”. I also noted fire hazard issues & ecologic trends. We performed the survey using the Forest Service Monitoring Protocol. I have performed hundreds of these surveys as a contractor to the agency. Forest Service soil quality standards require work that does not exceed 15% detrimental soil disturbance within the activity area. Our findings document detrimental disturbance over twice the allowed coverage. Clearly no soil scientist or technician visited the described unit before the harvest. On this unit sensitive soils are easily observed just by noting the sedge beds, large spruce trees (now missing), and dark moist soils.Overstory removal in a ponderosa forest is nothing less than ridiculous. These trees are just old enough to survive a low severity fire. The dense stands of remaining small trees are a hazard. If you were a forest landowner, would you do this to your own forest? Of course not. The overstory trees are not worth the ecologic damage.The upshot, if this small unit we assessed is indicative of the type of work the Forest Service promotes, then expect the expense of restoration activities (including weed abatement) to add to the taxpayer’s burden far into the future as we the people attempt to fix this mess. Regarding bark beetles and Ips beetles, as stated by Mr. Kurtz, the bark beetle infestation are mostly behind us. Unfortunately, in the Black Hills, where pine slash is left in large landing piles for many months, logging increases bark beetle populations by providing brood habitat for ips bark beetles. Ips can produce 3 and even 4 broods per year when slash is piled high. These bugs fly to the nearest healthy pines, kill the tops, weaken the tree, and allow the more damaging bark beetles to attack. Take a flight over the Black Hills and note the red ring of dead trees around many of these slash piles. And there are many slash piles. [Vander Meer]
Insurance companies resume spiking moral hazard in WUI
Jessica Braun got out of firefighting several years ago and wanted to pursue her entrepreneurial side. Then she ran into her friend, and former firefighter, Jon Troxell, 29, in the parking lot of the Smith’s grocery store in Bozeman last summer. Both spoke of their passion for reducing wildfire fuels — a first step in preventing devastating wildfires — and how that could translate into a business. Since the spring, the pair have assessed 10 homes and were hired to clean up seven of those. [Former firefighters start company to reduce wildfire risk]Insurance companies have long been hesitant to raise premiums for idiots building in the WUI and along waterways swollen by human-caused climate disruptions but not any more. The former administration blamed California wildfires on the lack of logging with statements typically devoid of facts but the real culprits are arsonists, downed power lines and a warming climate.
To help protect our customers’ properties from the threat of wildfires, Travelers® has contracted with Wildfire Defense Systems, Inc. (WDS), a private company that specializes in wildfire mitigation and loss prevention services, to now also provide wildfire mitigation services to our California and Colorado Dwelling Home and Homesaver (Landlord) customers. During a wildfire, WDS will supplement local emergency response services and may take preventative measures on or around your property. For example, WDS may remove brush and sources of fuel, or apply vent tape, fire-blocking gel and fire retardant. It’s important to understand, WDS is not a first responder. There is no guarantee the company will provide all wildfire mitigation services to all properties threatened by a wildfire. WDS provides service to as many properties as it can, based on company guidelines that consider safety, weather conditions and the fire’s proximity. [point of sale, Travelers®]Learn more about the absence of Republican leadership in Montana linked here.
Wildfires, invasive insects and grasses have reshaped the forests at the Montana-Idaho border. USGS Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection (#LCMAP) data offers unique insight on those year-by-year disturbances. Learn more: https://t.co/sYrHkUf4IN pic.twitter.com/Ne4Cejcpxz— Earth Resources Observation and Science Center (@USGS_EROS) July 30, 2021