8/30/21

W'all be drugged: proposed truck stop plows into conflict of interest

When Ted Hustead the Elder founded Wall Drug in 1931 his family brought catholic clergy to eastern Pennington County who then abused and exploited American Indian children. 

Yet, Wall Drug was part of my foodservice territory from 1981 to 1990 and one day I sold them a thousand cases of french fries and a hundred boxes of beef roasts on another so it was usually my biggest account every year. The late Mike Huether was general manager and sometimes did the ordering but Wall Drug co-owner Rick Hustead did most of the buying. They bought the Dawn doughnut mixes, deep fry shortening, pie fillings and much of their fresh produce needs from me twice a week. 

As Sysco was buying us in 1990 Rick was poking the woman not his wife who ran the ice cream shop in the massive rambling bazaar that is Wall Drug, she herself married to a Badlands National Park supervisor. Rick’s divorce from Kathy who was the pharmacist in the actual drug store was quite the messy affair. 

Rick’s brother Teddy only rarely sat down with me. Later on, their father Bill became too frail to be a practicing druggist but enjoyed being just another relic in the display who wore a white embroidered apothecary’s coat bearing his name until the very end.

In addition to its tourist trap downtown Wall Drug also owns a travel center at Exit 110 on the north side of I-90, today Mike’s brother Marty Huether is Mayor of Wall and Rick Hustead sits on the council. 

I also called on Stan Anderson, who I knew from South Dakota State University. His family owns the Elkton House Restaurant in Wall and he, his brother Dennis (who owns the Wall Dairy Queen last I knew) and their Estes cousins went on to build the Gold Dust Casino in Deadwood. Stan sits on the council, too and owns property, as do the Husteads and Huethers, adjacent to a proposed truck plaza.
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.

Above image is of Republican Governor Kristi Noem and Wall Drug's Teddy Hustead. Today, South Dakota Republicans have their heads crammed so far into Frank Farrar's colon they can all kiss Teddy on the lips in there.

8/29/21

Republican CO county clerk facing felony charges, civil suits after using public money for SD pillow talk

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is just one agency looking into breaches and a Republican Colorado county clerk is probably going to jail after compromising election results and forcing polling machines to be discarded.
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.

8/28/21

Indigenous American selected for Park Service

Santa Fe-based Wild Earth Guardians joined other interested parties in suing the Trump Organization's BLM to stop oil and gas encroachment on Chaco Culture National Historic Park which is managed by the US Park Service. New Mexico's congressional delegation celebrated the US House passage of then US Representative for New Mexico's Third District now Senator Ben Ray Lujan's amendment to halt drilling on public lands near the monument but the bill did not make it through Mitch McConnell's Earth hater controlled Senate. 

The US Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service and at least 15 other federal agencies suffered hits to morale from the Trump White House.
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.

8/27/21

New Mexico Democrats support Stone-Manning for BLM

In 2002 Tracy Stone-Manning lectured on the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act or NREPA at the University of Montana where she earned her Masters of Science in Environmental Studies. In 2007 she became an aide to Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) then ran the state’s Department of Environmental Quality and in 2014 she became chief of staff for Montana Governor Steve Bullock. As Director of the Clark Fork Coalition she guided dam removal and river cleanup and has been co-chair of Missoula's Open Space, Rivers and Farmland

She's currently the National Wildlife Federation’s senior adviser for conservation policy where she blasted the Trump Organization's acting director of the Bureau of Land Management for enabling the marauding Bundy clan to abuse public lands. Stone-Manning is President Joe Biden's choice to lead the BLM and if confirmed she will serve under Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. 

New Mexico’s Democratic congressional delegation is enthusiastic about Stone-Manning's service, Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan will vote for her confirmation but Yvette Herrell, a member of the Cherokee Nation and the Republican New Mexico Representative from District 2 supports Herr Trump's border wall and her stubborn refusal to defend President Biden's nominee has strained the ties to her Indigenous heritage. 

In the Second District the oil and gas industry left hundreds of orphan wells but even though New Mexico is flush with cash operators just walk away from them leaving the state and feds to do the work to cap them.
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]
If the Senate balks Joe should simply name Stone-Manning acting secretary.
"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.

8/23/21

Red state socialism is red state hypocrisy


Our Lady of the Arroyo and an interested party had breakfast Sunday morning at Chocolate Maven in Santa Fe. We learned from our twenty something woman server that she grew up in Sturgis, did her undergrad in Vermillion and plans to go the University of New Mexico Law School. She called Kristi Noem, Krusti Nob because she knows Republicanism isn't self-reliance; it's moral hazard. 

So, instead of empowering communities to harvest snow melt and rain water rural communities continue to be dependent on politicians who exploit need so they're begging the Biden administration for more money. South Dakota's dairies are wreaking habitat havoc all along the state's border with Minnesota and like most of the state, southwestern Minnesota and northwestern Iowa are Republican strongholds where dairies, swine units and other concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have devastated water supplies by contaminating wells with nitrates. 

Contact with the Big Sioux River can cause spontaneous abortions in pregnant women but the congressional delegations from the tristate region are Republican Earth haters elected to bring bacon home to their districts while decrying socialism, big gubmint and the US Army Corps of Engineers who manage the Waters of the United States or WOTUS.

Now, because of environmental degradation driven by CAFOs officials with the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System (LCRWS) want to expand output from its current 45 million gallons per day to 60 million gallons per day even though water levels in the Missouri River and its basin are at historic lows. 
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]
Before it was ousted the Trump Organization's Department of Transportation headed by the wife of Republican former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell awarded more than $5.6 million in grants to upgrade infrastructure and enhance rail safety in the red moocher state that is South Dakota including $2.24 million for the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern mainline. The move comes after catastrophic plunges in commodities prices, numerous wrecks and water breaches on track owned by RCPE, a subsidiary of Genesee and Wyoming operating just north of the former Milwaukee line on a nearly parallel trackbed. 

Now RCPE wants $84 million of the nearly $1 billion South Dakota is getting from the feds despite nobody in the state's Republican congressional delegation is voting for it.

Sixteen Montana counties are now on board to restore an ⁦abandoned Amtrak line.

Imagine Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s reaction had Herr Trump had the courage to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan during his term. She’d be moving Afghan refugees into the Governor’s mansion.

Learn more about water rights from David Ganje.

8/20/21

National forests will restrict domestic livestock to protect native species


In blue state New Mexico the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests have prohibited domestic sheep and goats on public lands to protect native bighorn sheep. 

Because of pollution from cattle grazing American Rivers named the Gila the nation’s most endangered river in 2019. Antimicrobials in manure kill fungal communities necessary for healthy forests while desertification driven by agricultural practices, overgrazing, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and urban sprawl has turned much of the United States into scorched earth

Draining fragile aquifers and quietly lobbying for more water from the Gila River is the House of Saud who owns land in Arizona where it raises alfalfa to ship to Saudi Arabia.

But just north of the US border with Mexico long-time environmental activist, Ted Turner has teamed up with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of New Mexico to foster a pair of endangered Mexican gray wolves and their pups on his 243 square mile ranch near the Gila National Forest. Nearby, jaguars have been reintroduced.

Last year the Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump Organization's Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and its local representatives saying the agencies are allowing cattle in restricted areas along the Gila River and its tributaries in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. Investigators from the Center discovered cattle on the Gila National Forest in excluded riparian zones in violation of a 1998 legal settlement. Today in the Gila the Mexican gray wolf population in New Mexico and Arizona has increased by at least 24 percent according to the Center's Michael Robinson. 
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]

8/19/21

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. 

My youngest daughter is signed up for International Law and Organizations (POLS 454) at the University of South Dakota with Professor Timothy Schorn, an outspoken instructor of critical race theory. She's standing beside Beto O'Rourke in the center of the back row in the above photo. She was active at Rapid City Central High School and joined her Cobbler compatriots in walkouts in memory of seventeen people murdered at a Florida school. Claire takes the LSAT in October in preparation for her path to earning her JD. She is living with the son of former SDPB teevee anchor, Stephanie Rissler and after transitioning from state Senator Art Rusch's law office she is just wrapping up an internship under Clay County State's Attorney Alexis Tracy.

In South Dakota local control is Republican control. In May a poll conducted by South Dakota News Watch and the Chiesman Center for Democracy at the University of South Dakota revealed that Republicans in the failed red state revel in authoritarianism when Republicans are in power and loathe democracy and progress when Democrats govern. The respondents were 45.3% Republicans, 21.3% were Democrats, 27.6% identified as "independent" and 5.8% were undeclared. 83% were white. Most believe democratic institutions and media are suspect but support police and military. The results are easily verified by simply perusing the Dakota War Toilet and the Faceberg accounts of all the South Dakota Republicans who post about politics. Chiesman has known about voter disgust in South Dakota for some time. 

We all know Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Lynn Arnold Noem (KLAN) is a racist so now she is exploiting ethnic cleansing to advance her national aspirations. Teachers' wages in red states like South Dakota surf the bottom because Republicans are Balkanizing education amid a fight over critical race theory and in my home state academic freedom is under attack from a reactionary, Earth hating, self-dealing, authoritarian governor. 

Ian Fury is Noem's communications director and an operative of the Council for National Policy - a manifestation of the extreme white wing of the Republican Party. Fury used to work for Representative Jim Jordan (NAZI-OH) who is also a member of CNP. CNP has infiltrated Pierre and the extremist South Dakota Legislature because banks in my home state are hoarding nearly $4 TRILLION for its members including Robert Mercer, a CNP member and Long Island hedge-fund manager who bankrolled Donald Trump's presidential campaigns. 

It’s important to note Kristi doesn’t write her tweets - they’re generated by her political campaign. Like Trump she’s using her post to milk the prosperity gospel for every penny she can hustle. She addressed a meeting of CNP last August. Noem is also a graduate of the Koch Brothers' American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, an anti-think tank think tank that teaches how wedge issues raise campaign dollars for the nut wing of the Republican Party.
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.

8/18/21

Casita guest recognized at Illustrator's Cup

 




Selfie 

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]

8/15/21

Who won Afghanistan? Opium growers

The United States is the arms dealer of the world and averse to gun control as it assassinates hundreds of children, women and men throughout the Muslim world. Hundreds of thousands have been slaughtered in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and beyond

South Dakota's Ellsworth Air Force Base has butchered countless civilians during the actions to protect the heroin trade keeping the Russian mob and the American Central Intelligence Agency in cash. 

On Trump Organization orders bombers from EAFB near Rapid City had been targeting alleged Taliban drug facilities to prevent harm to "innocent Afghan civilians" all the while escalating its war on civilians to protect the friendly opium fields. But, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered hits on American mercenaries in Afghanistan the air war was suspended. 

At least eighty percent of the world's heroin comes from Afghanistan's poppy fields. It's a place where dropping the Earth's largest non-nuclear explosive not only resulted in blowback, an attack in Kabul that killed a hundred people and injured many more, it drove a formidable native insurgency. 

The Republican-led wars there and in Iraq have cost American taxpayers some $6 TRILLION.
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]

8/13/21

Despite Republican denials Richard Spring is good fire



If livestock grazing is the key to preventing wildfires why is ranch country still suffering from near daily high even extreme grassland fire danger indices? Because Republicans are evil. 

Just a hundred and fifty years ago bison, wapiti, bighorn sheep, pronghorns and deer cleared the grasses driving eastern Montana's fire years. If grasses remained in the fall tribes burned the rest. 

So, one solution to forest management woes is to move the US Forest Service from the US Department of Agriculture into Interior where American Indian nations could more easily assume additional responsibilities for stewardship on public land and have the resources to apply cultural fire to their own holdings.

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.

In 2017 wildland fires on private ranch land in southeastern Montana dwarfed those on public ground in the western part of the state. The Sartin Draw Fire near Broadus and the Battle Complex near Birney burned at least 100,000 and 185,000 acres respectively, decades of invasive grasses and poor stewardship to blame.

Last year the nearly 50,000 acre Huff Fire burned through the white supremacist town of Jordan, known as the home of the Montana Freemen. The Bobcat fire near Roundup in Musselshell County was over 41 square miles in size. 

Today, southeastern Montana is ablaze again because it’s overrun with dry invasive cheatgrass but as a Republican stronghold it avoids criticism from Republicans.
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.

8/8/21

Industrial cannabis loses more ground to flower

Medicine and a potential revenue source were being threatened by an experiment that made Jerusalem artichokes and Belgian endive look like safe investments. But, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts hemp is over.

New York growers are leaving industrial cannabis (hemp) and eager to take part in the state's legal market after it became the second-largest state to legalize for all adults with retail sales expected to begin as early as next year.

A jury in Montana just awarded more than $65 million to industrial cannabis growers in that state after being screwed by Canadian and American businessmen. Markets flipped dramatically from CBD to fiber and grain then commanded some 80% of product last year while the number of planted acres in Montana plummeted from 60,000 to just 12,000. Retail sales to all adults begins there in five months.

In my home state of South Dakota the Oglala Sioux Tribe is transitioning from hemp to flower as the Flandreau Santee Sioux have found success after tapping into the demand for therapeutic cannabis.
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.
Read the rest here.

8/6/21

Biden administration forcing wage increases, immigration reform

The rise of companies like Amazon suggests many people are simply too afraid to go into town to shop and I’m hardly the first person to say this but with the right messaging we could transform the pandemic into a general strike in protest of Republican obstructionism. It would not only destroy the entire Republican Party it would bring American capitalism to its knees. 

So, watching the entire GOP circling the drain while they drown their comrades trying to flounder from the Trump maelstrom is the schadenfreude we Democrats need right now.
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]
And as the Republican Party caves on immigration after Governor Kristi Noem said she won’t accept migrant workers in South Dakota wage slaves could make real social justice change by walking off their jobs then calling for a general strike and tourism boycott to bring Kristi to her senses, too.

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. 

As young people and Democrats flee South Dakota more brown people are doing the work in the failed red moocher state. Spanish speakers prop up the federally subsidized dairy industry East River but in Huron Karen refugees slaughter and process turkeys.
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]

8/5/21

Socialized agriculture driving larger-than-average dead zone

Following the release of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's latest measurements Iowa Farmers Union President Aaron Lehman said that state's Nutrient Reduction Management Strategy is proving to be ineffective in controlling the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. But, Lehman is concerned that without further financial incentives from the Biden administration Republican welfare farmers will simply continue polluting waterways.
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]
The number of acres in agroecosystems has tripled since the 1940s but ag practices like tiling have made soils unable to absorb rainfall creating elevated levels of salinity and concentrated animal feeding operations contribute to nutrient runoff. 

President Joe Biden has established a task force to determine the social costs of carbon and has required federal agencies to immediately begin applying their findings in their regulatory actions and other decision-making.
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]
Ethanol being grown for motor fuel is produced by burning diesel fuel. How is that either conservative or sustainable
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.

8/3/21

Furnish: BHNF "a prime example of an ugly, out-of-control debacle in forestry gone wrong"


ip photo from 2015: the Jasper Fire in 2000 created landscapes that more closely resemble the pre-settlement southern Black Hills.

As many readers are aware the first US Forest Service timber sale took place in the Black Hills near Nemo but only after nearly all the old growth of every native tree species had already been cleared for mine timbers, railroad ties and construction. So, Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is correct when she said the Black Hills National Forest has been poorly managed. I maintain that has been happening since 1899 and Forest Service Case Number One.

A century and a half of domestic livestock grazing and care less land management practices created an unnatural overstory best controlled by the mountain pine beetle, prescribed fires and periodic wildfires. Native Douglas fir and lodgepole pine are virtually extirpated from the Hills but the BHNF is trying to restore native limber pine (Pinus flexilis) in the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve.

Jim Furnish was deputy chief of the US Forest Service from 1999 to 2002.
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]

8/2/21

Insurance companies resume spiking moral hazard in WUI


See that severe wildfire potential over north central and eastern Montana? That's not public land; it's mostly Republican ranch country.

Montana has the highest number in the US of residences in the wildland urban interface or WUI so that state's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation offers wildfire assessments and structure protection programs. But even government can't always protect you from your own stupidity.
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

Private companies should simply deny coverage for those who refuse to clear properties of combustibles but at least one insuror has created conditions for building in the WUI by greenwashing moral hazard in risky developments.
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.