5/31/22

Senator Heinrich the best choice for 2024 Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden is an interim or caretaker POTUS who should serve a single term.

President Biden struggles for the approval of a majority of America's voters hovering near 41 percent while Democratic senators are overwhelmingly favored in their own states and Republicans surf the bottom. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) are doing great jobs according to pollsters at FiveThirtyEight.

And although the best choice in 2020 for President of the United States was Al Franken Senator Klobuchar had this columnist's early primary endorsement to be our party's nominee. But after it was revealed she had wrongfully prosecuted Myon Burrell when she was Hennepin County's top prosecutor her aspirations to hold higher office evaporated. In 2020 Minnesota commuted Burrell’s sentence.

In 2012 Heinrich defeated Republican Heather Wilson, his predecessor in Congress and today thanks to efforts led by Sen. Heinrich bison have become America's National Mammal, Amtrak's Southwest Chief is still chugging, the Gila River is no longer in danger of being diverted, Chaco Culture National Historical Park enjoys greater protection from the extractive industry and he is leading the reform of the Mining Law of 1872. He is a smart, telegenic, pragmatic statesman in a state where a Democrat can easily keep the seat. 

Vice President Kamala Harris has yet to prove to this voter that she has the fire in the belly and although I support nearly everything Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders work for they’re simply unelectable.

So, it is the view of this interested party that Senator Heinrich should enter the primary for the nomination as our party's choice for President of the United States if President Biden chooses not to run.


5/26/22

Walk the line: from JBS to Murdoch and to school shootings


Blurring one line between church and state America's founders extolled the virtue of education as local schools were run both by christian sects and by local municipalities under the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution.

But it was not until 1867 and Reconstruction made public education a federal prerogative when President Andrew Johnson created a Department of Education as a proxy for race politics. Missionaries were hired then dispatched to the Deep South to provide schooling for whites and Negroes alike and Roman Catholics were enabled in the American West to assimilate Indigenous youth. Congress was incensed then demoted the Education Department after a year making it part of the Interior Department yet abuses continued

In the 1930s an American oligarch named Fred Koch became a close ally of the Soviet Union, trained Bolshevik engineers and helped the regime set up fifteen modern oil refineries then Stalin butchered Koch's proteges so Fred helped found the anti-communist John Birch Society. 

Fast-forward to the Red Scare, Brown vs. Board of Education, President Eisenhower then to the 1960s when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed to relieve some of the effects of poverty and segregation despite Section 604 which forbade federal control of education. 

President Jimmy Carter created the modern Department of Education amidst the howls from Republicans who renounce the decision to integrate schools to the present day. Ronald Reagan moved to kill the Department of Education and when Republican Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House he was all about getting rid of DoE, too. Then came No Child Left Behind and a DoE budget that exceeds $70 billion annually. 

Now, police unions get the cash and teachers’ unions get the shaft.

Recall Republican former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds won election to the US Senate for advocating the dissolution of the US Department of Education and in 2015 the state's legislature passed a resolution to abolish it. 

In 2018, a luncheon meeting in Vermillion hosted by the University of South Dakota Young Republicans went off the rails and off-script for then-Rep. Kristi Noem (earth hater-SD) who wanted to talk about her campaign to be a career politician but was overwhelmed by angry constituents abhorred by school gun violence and she blamed the victims! Today, Governor Noem is still planning to address the National Rifle Association in Texas after another murderous bloodbath there.

Until the Vietnam War school shootings were rare and scattered but after commercial teevee brought the carnage into every American living room something changed. School shootings spiked to seventeen in the 1960s. There were thirty school shootings in the 1970s, 39 in the 1980s, 62 in the 1990s, 64 in the 2000s and over 150 in the 2010s.

There have been 27 school shootings this year. There have been 119 school shootings since 2018, when Education Week began tracking such incidents. The highest number of shootings, 34, occurred last year. There were 10 shootings in 2020, and 24 each in 2019 and 2018. [Education Week]
Charles Whitman, Richard Speck, Timothy McVeigh, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Dylann Roof, Adam Lanza, Robert Dear, James Holmes, Eric Rudolph, Jared Loughner, Wade Michael Page, Eric Frein, Stephen Paddock, Nickolas Cruz, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, Payton Gendron and Salvadore Ramos all are or were christians. All these men were victims of bullying, isolation and ostracism. All had histories of extensive teevee usage, many to video game exposure and easy access to firearms. Distrust of government and race hatred factored in most, if not all of the episodes for which they are infamous.

To this day reservation border towns are influenced by the Klan, John Birch Society, the TEA movement and now by the extreme white wing of the Republican Party. 

The Trump Organization was simply the latest obstacle to public education because it hates people of color and social equity, too. Add it all up: Rupert Murdoch, a a not-so-closeted racist himself, the Kochs, JBS, the Council for National Policy, the National Rifle Association, Fox News, Tucker Carlsontheir attacks on public education and the "Great Replacement."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Fox News of promoting White nationalist “Great Replacement” rhetoric and urged Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch to end it. Schumer, in a letter Tuesday to Murdoch and other Fox executives, cited the racially motivated mass shooting in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo by an accused gunman who cited the idea of so-called ethnic replacement, as well as other mass shootings targeting minorities in recent years. [Bloomberg]
George Washington was a warlord because enslaved people afforded him cannon, muskets, powder and ball. And, if they were alive today he and President Jefferson would be horrified to learn the US is operating on a manual written in the Eighteenth Century. Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt would be putting American Indigenous in concentration camps arguing it’s for their own protection.

But prohibition won't work. Yes, bullying can lead to massacres but when the US ended the draft in 1973 the number of mass shootings began to rise. Compulsory military service or police training might indeed be one way to slow gun violence. Enlistment could look like the Swiss model where soon after high school eighteen year olds would join for two years then re-up or enroll in the college or vocational training of ones choosing. Raise the civilian age of possession, operation and ownership of all firearms to 21, levy 100% excise taxes on the sales of semi-automatic weapons then tag the revenue for Medicaid expansion so parents have the resources to address the devastating effects of Fox News on American youth.

5/25/22

Noem Mulling Presidential Disaster Declaration

Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is from the government and she's here to help!
Tony Mangan, public information officer for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, said Gov. Kristi Noem’s declaration of an emergency on May 13 is a separate move from a disaster declaration. He said Noem will decide if federal aid is necessary within 30 days of receiving local reports. If Noem does declare a disaster of more than $1.5 million in damage, the declaration would be sent to Washington, D.C., where President Joe Biden would consider signing a disaster declaration, opening the door for federal funds to be disbursed to South Dakota. Individual assistance could help residents and households rebuild, temporarily relocate or temporarily secure food or unemployment benefits. Public assistance could provide funding for debris removal, utility repairs, cleanup of public grounds or repair of public buildings. Last, hazard mitigation assistance could reimburse governments or certain non-profits for expenses incurred by preventing exacerbation of damage or loss of life. [Mitchell Daily Republic]
It's a lose-lose proposition for Mrs. Noem. In 2019 she was quick to ask the Trump Organization for cash but if she asks a Democratic president for help, especially after blaming him for a infant formula shortage, she's admitting she's dependent on federal aid. If she doesn't she risks looking like a miserable partisan.

Kristi Noem isn't about self-reliance because she's wedded to moral hazard. Recall US Representative Noem voted against federal disaster assistance when acts of god ravaged blue states. A tornado hit her home town of Castlewood and Noem praised her god for sparing her campaign war chest because science karma chickens came home to roost where the governor is a climate change denier.

5/23/22

Picuris Pueblo, ITBC move to remediate wildfire prone forest lands



Picuris Pueblo has been battling with irrigators in the Mora Valley for water since 1820 when the first diversion from the Rio Pueblo de Taos, a tributary of the Rio Grande, became an acequia into the Mora, a tributary of the Canadian and Arkansas Rivers. 

In 2018, the 30,000 acre grass and ponderosa pine-driven Ute Park Fire burned near Cimarron and the Buzzard Fire on the Gila National Forest cleared some 24,000 acres. The Black Fire is clearing more overgrowth today.

New Mexico has been home to a much larger aspen community in the fairly recent past. Morels fruit after fires in mixed pine/aspen habitat to entice animals to deposit organic material. Bison, elk and deer will crawl on their knees and loll their long tongues for morels fruiting under dead-fallen pine trees. 

According to eyewitness reports the beaver are still working in upper Gallinas Canyon and green shoots are already coming up out of the ashes despite the ferocity of the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak wildfire complex.

Before the European invasion Puebloans in northern New Mexico hunted bison on the high plains along the east slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and today Picuris is one of 76 tribal entities represented on the Rapid City, South Dakota-based Intertribal Buffalo Council (ITBC). Now, wildland fire is threatening the Pueblo.
Picuris Pueblo welcomed U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich for a tour last Friday (May 13) of the tribe's buffalo program, which Picuris is working to expand by adding to its current herd of 50 bison in order to produce more products, as well as add more genetic diversity to its stock. "We put in an application through the ITBC for surplus bison," Danny Sam told Heinrich, who asked if the surplus included animals removed from Yellowstone National Park, which in 2019 began transferring surplus bison to Native American tribes. The House passed the Indian Buffalo Management Act in December, while an identical bill introduced in the Senate last October by Heinrich and U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds is awaiting further consideration by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. [Bringing the bison back to Picuris Pueblo]
Pojoaque Pueblo was the first tribal entity to raise bison on federal land and in cooperation with New Mexico Highlands University grazes a herd on the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge north of Las Vegas.
Brian Miller, a wildlife biologist and former executive director at Wind River Ranch, was the first to work with the InterTribal Buffalo Council to establish a bison conservation herd at the ranch. Wind River became the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge in 2012 — the same year the partnership was formalized. [Highlands Part of Unique Bison Conservation Partnership]
The Sandia Pueblo has been managing a bison herd since 2002, some with pure genetic stock from Wind Cave National Park in occupied South Dakota.

These days only about 500,000 bison inhabit North America or less than 1 percent of their historic range, just 3 percent of the Earth's land surface remains untouched by human development and a sixth mass extinction is underway. Urban sprawl, accelerated global warming and drought are reducing productivity on the remaining grasslands of the Great Plains, according Dr. Jeff Martin. He's the Director of Research at the Center of Excellence for Bison Studies at South Dakota State University. "The key is maintaining a high level of diversity and innovation to enhance sustainable solutions to climate change impacts. The Center of Excellence for Bison Studies aims to continue to support diverse, innovative, and precision research and practices for all bison stewards," he writes.

There are no mysteries here. Every incident like the Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fire is a teaching moment. These are episodes where humans are humbled by climate disruptions created by our own failures

People who build in the wildland-urban interface do so at their own risk and not because they expect the feds to bail them out but because insurance companies won't cover fire-prone properties. Not talking about fuel treatments during a wildfire is akin to not talking about background checks during a mass shooting

The solutions are simple. We must talk more about how stakeholders and policy makers interact with voters instead of reacting to Republican cattle and timber industry propaganda. We'll adapt or die.

Clear the second growth ponderosa pine, restrict non-native cattle, conduct fuel treatments, restore aspen and other native hardwoods, build wildlife corridors, empower tribal nations like the Picuris Pueblo and Confederated Salish and Kootenay Tribes in Montana then approximate Pleistocene rewilding with bison and cervids.

ip photo is of morels on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in occupied Montana.

5/21/22

Public lands favorite target of New Mexico's Earth haters

Putting the country on the path of protecting at least 30 percent of its land and 30 percent of its ocean areas by 2030 (30x30) is imperative to preserving public spaces. But Earth haters funded by the Koch and DeVos cabals through Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund and scattered in the American West are aiming to derail President Joe Biden's America the Beautiful Initiative. 
Public lands ranching provides less than 3 percent of the beef consumed in the United States. So it's not as if this is a major market force driver for the beef industry overall, in the United States. [The Modern West]
A Texas group calling itself American Stewards of Liberty with ties to the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion has presented anti-Earth resolutions to a receptive Otero County Commission. Southeastern New Mexico is home to many descendants of the Confederacy. Here in New Mexico, Otero County Commissioner and Trump disciple, Couy Griffin is alleging voter fraud and defying the Lincoln National Forest's plan revision. 

If grazing cattle is the key to preventing wildfires why is ranch country still suffering from near daily high even extreme grassland fire danger indices? The 6,159 acre McBride Fire started on private land and spread onto the Lincoln National Forest.
The Otero County Commission signed a letter ordering the Lincoln National Forest to stop implementation of its requirement that the Sacramento Grazing Association decrease the number of livestock it grazes on its allotment. Lincoln National Forest Supervisor Travis Moseley said the U.S. Forest Service has attempted to work with Sacramento Grazing allotment. [Forest Service responds to Otero County cease and desist letter about grazing]

5/16/22

Wildfire paranoia puts BHNF at risk

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 been cleared for mine timbers, railroad ties and construction. Native Douglas fir and lodgepole pine are virtually extirpated from the Hills creating a dense understory of ladder fuels.

After a prescribed burn got away from the Black Hills National Forest in the 1980s and from the US Park Service in New Mexico in 2000 a moratorium on non-mechanical fuel treatments just exacerbated fuel loads on public lands.

In 2002, the National Forest Protection Alliance (NFPA) named the BHNF the third most endangered; nevertheless, the Forest has been "just beat to hell" after Republican donor Jim Neiman pressured officials to overlog anyway. In Lawrence County, South Dakota where Neiman is threatening to close another sawmill, increases in sales of timber have so far been deprioritized in the BHNF's revised plan.

Neiman waited until Donald Trump was forced from the White House then shuttered his sawmill in Hill City, South Dakota and blamed the Forest Service. One needs to look no further than the BHNF for how politics has completely altered a landscape but there are plenty other public lands examples that illustrate the red state, blue state divide. Neiman purchased Montrose Forest Products in Colorado in 2012 but in 2018 after the Trump Organization gutted the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Neiman shipped twelve loads of timber from the San Juan National Forest to mills in South Dakota. Neiman wants to log 20 million board feet of ponderosa pine per year in Colorado for the next 20 years. 

Knot-free old growth ponderosa pine is coveted by door and window manufacturers like Pella, Marvin and Andersen. The Biden administration has been slow to restore the NEPA rules Earth hating Republicans like South Dakota's John Thune and Wyoming's John Barrasso want to suspend. So, as expected, Hulett, Wyoming-based Neiman Enterprises could enjoy the fruits of socialism as the two Republican US Senators introduce a bill to inject taxpayer dollars into the Black Hills timber monopoly. They call the bill, The Save Jim Neiman's Ass Act

According to former US Forest Service timber cruiser Dave Mertz there haven't been any litigators to sue the Forest Service allowing Republicans to infiltrate management of the Black Hills National Forest.

The Intermountain Forest Association is a timber and wood products lobby with an office in Rapid City, South Dakota and Executive Director Ben Wudtke’s clients include Hulett, Wyoming's Neiman Enterprises. And if Tri-State Livestock News is for it, it's for industry exploitation and not at all Earth friendly.
In 2021, Wudtke testified before the Senate Ag and Natural Resources Committee in a hearing on forest management, forest products and carbon. Senator Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, questioned Wudtke about prescribed burns. “Prescribed fire plays a critical role in forest management,” said Wudtke. But he explained that prescribed fires are not safe in overgrown forests. The New Mexico senator responded, “That’s exactly what we’ve found in many of these places where it may cost $1,000 an acre to treat something. To maintain it with prescribed fire is dramatically cheaper so creating those conditions for healthy maintenance really sets the stage for decades into the future.” [Tri-State Livestock News]
If you live in the wildland-urban interface government can't always protect you from your own stupidity. Recall the 2016 Crow Peak Fire affected mostly Republican landowners who built in the WUI and begged the feds to protect their properties—same with the Schroeder Fire in March, 2021.

Today, fire managers have climate change guns to their heads so it’s usually damned if you do and damned if you don’t conduct prescriptive burns. But it’s probably a straight line from the previous administration’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and crashes in morale within the US Forest Service to current wildfires and conditions on the Black Hills National Forest.

ip photo: a wood lily graces the verdant forest floor near Camp 5 on the Black Hills National Forest after the 2002 Grizzly Gulch Fire.

5/15/22

Another attempt to replace 1872 Mining Law grinds through Congress



The Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming are hardly the only public lands plundered by foreign companies under cover of the General Mining Law of 1872, enacted to settle Civil War debt and rob Indigenous people of their human rights.

A Canadian miner paid a settlement to mitigate and remediate portions of Colorado's San Juan County where the 2015 Gold King Mine spill occurred. 

In 2019 we motored to Oracle, Patagonia and Bisbee from Santa Fe and were shocked by the ravages of surface mining in SE Arizona where operations owned by Morenci and Miami are ravaging water supplies and reducing entire mountain ranges to piles of waste rock. 

Comexico, an American subsidiary of Australian company New World Cobalt, wants to drill test holes into the Sangre de Cristo mountain range on the Santa Fe National Forest in the Jones Hill area north of Pecos, New Mexico. 

Silver City, New Mexico became a quieter town again after strip mines there came to a grinding halt and just like during the last Great Depression Democrats are the leaders who got financial help for workers. Silver City, South Dakota is under assault from Canadian miners, too. 

Much to the frustration of locals, the US Environmental Protection Agency moved most of the contaminated soil from above Rimini, Montana to a mine in upper Basin Creek where it was encapsulated so EPA has allocated more resources to clean up sites in that state.

Today, thanks to the Trump Organization the United States is in debt to the tune of $30 TRILLION so the US encourages mining companies from outside the country to drill more holes in the Earth looking for gold and silver.

Repeal or even reform of the 1872 statute has been thwarted repeatedly and the US Forest Service is often powerless to stop the extractive industry from permanently altering sensitive watersheds because of the 1872 law.
Democrats in Congress are hoping to overhaul the nation’s 150-year-old system for mining the elements needed for battery manufacturing, as high gas prices and Russia’s war in Ukraine underline the need to transition from oil and gas to renewable energy sources. U.S. House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico have each sponsored bills that would set environmental and reclamation standards. Defunct mines can leach chemicals into the nearby water and soil, Heinrich said. He referenced the Gold King Mine wastewater spill in Colorado that turned waters in New Mexico “the color of Tang” because of heavy metals and other contaminants. [Democrats from the West push update of 150-year-old federal mining law]
ip photo: a desert sentinel near Tucson might be 300 years old.

5/14/22

Disaster fatigue hits home


The dew point is so low in parts of New Mexico the relative humidity is 1% or as dry as physically possible. Under the smoke plume of the country's largest wildfire Angel Fire was the coldest place in the lower 48 Friday morning dropping to a low temperature of 16° but it's not just New Mexico. Disaster fatigue is driving the entire globe into madness.

This scribe just did a 2000 mile loop to Vermillion, South Dakota and back again where the number of cattle feedlots in Kansas, Nebraska and eastern Colorado draining the Ogallala Aquifer is staggering. The Arkansas River is dry at Dodge City, Kansas.

On Thursday afternoon Gaia smashed through that entire region covering much of it in dust from haboobs. 
Jim Miller, a farmer from northeast Nebraska, told Brownfield radio he was planting when a wall of dust closed in on him. "I turned the lights on the tractor and I couldn't see 20 feet in front of the tractor. I've never seen a dust storm blow in like that before. It made the whole tractor rock. I was kind of worried that I was in a tornado even," Miller told Brownfield. [Progressive Farmer]
Brookings County and my own home town of Elkton even sustained severe damage. According to the National Weather Service seven tornadoes went through northeastern South Dakota alone: two EF2s, four EF1s and one EF0. The strongest twister had an estimated peak wind gust of 135 MPH which is nearly an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

A tornado hit her home town of Castlewood and Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem praised her god for sparing her campaign war chest because science karma chickens came home to roost where the governor is a climate change denier. 


Yes, this is how Republicans who preach small gubmint fund crumbling infrastructure in red states. Recall Mrs. Noem repeatedly voted against disaster aid after Hurricane Sandy and other climate related catastrophes. She doesn’t respect self-reliance because she’s wedded to moral hazard.

Social media rumors that I personally ordered an unprecedented weather event intended to punish the inhabitants of Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota are entirely unfounded. Ignore them.

Thoughts and prayers, indeed.
 

5/13/22

Cult known for child rape lists property again in South Dakota county named for a war criminal

Sharia Law? Nah. Sons of Perdition. 

Recall the mother of former legislator, now Republican Fall River County State's Attorney Lance Russell sold property to the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) where minor girls have been trafficked and raped. 

In South Dakota where corruption drives the Republican Party the FLDS uses Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars to bleed the beast. It's a community where counterfeit plural marriages of children to old white men are not only accepted they're encouraged. 

But in 2021 at the courthouse in a South Dakota county named for a war criminal members of the splinter group bought the 140 acre compound for $750,000 despite its $9 million valuation. The cult was not delinquent on property taxes but the acreage was sold at a sheriff's auction to settle a $2.1 million judgment against the FLDS, the towns of Hildale, Utah and Arizona City, Colorado. Buyer, Patrick Pipkin is manager of Blue Mountain Ranch of Colorado — a summer camp for at risk adolescents, no less.

Now, Pipkin, Andrew Chatwin and Claude Seth Cooke are cashing out and listing the stigmatized property in occupied South Dakota for $6.9 million.
The property has nine parcels and 140 total acres. There were $106,726.10 in property taxes paid on the property last year. Parcels of the property include: 
• Ten acres of baseland and an orchard 
• Five acres with three tanks 
• Five acres with a fourplex and a 9,855 square-foot log apartment building with 12 baths and 14 bedrooms
• Fourty [sic] acres with a 6,362 square-foot building with 14 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms, and another smaller log home with four bedrooms and five bathrooms 
• Twenty acres with a duplex that has 14 bedrooms and eight bathrooms 
• Twenty acres with a 13,860 square-foot lodge that has 26 bedrooms, 26 bathrooms, as well as a meeting house with 15 conference rooms and 10 bathrooms 
• Ten acres with a shed, roof cover and milk barn 
• Ten acres, guard tower, cat walk, greenhouse, well houses, shop and lots of tanks 
• Twenty acres with a house, 6,660 square-feet building with seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a two-car garage, warehouse/equipment building/storehouse and a poultry house.
Learn more at War Criminal County Chronicle.

Many readers remember that in 2011 Russell was censured by the state's judiciary for leaking grand jury testimony. 

5/12/22

Powerball winner still trying to liquidate ranch in occupied South Dakota, flee state


Citing a lack of use and hoping to flee the chemical toilet 2009 Powerball winner Neal Wanless has been struggling to sell a ranch northeast of Mato Paha in occupied western South Dakota. 

After taking home some $88 million Wanless bought the parcel on the banks of the polluted Belle Fourche River and even moved a thousand feral horses diverted from Bureau of Land Management pastures onto the sprawling property. Including some four thousand acres of leased BLM land it's now been reduced to a mere $37.5 million from the $41.5 million it was listed for in 2020. Wanless is selling the property after marrying a Canadian and spending much of his time between British Columbia and Arizona

In 2011 a fencing contractor sued tight-fisted, but self-proclaimed christian, Wanless for breach of contract. 

In 2013 a Meade County resident who lives near a ranch owned by Republican former South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley's family lied to the Farm Service Agency about livestock losses after a blizzard buried parts of western South Dakota then spent time in federal prison and paid civil penalties.

As part of President Joe Biden's America the Beautiful Initiative BLM recently purchased about twenty acres of an old mining claim on unceded Lakota ground just outside the Deadwood city limits. 

Today feral horses and burros on public lands number nearly 100,000 or about four times what the landscape can sustain without damaging habitat. In Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and seven other states the BLM adopts out, seeks private pastures for, and feeds the horses. 

$20 says every well on Wanless’ Bismarck Ranch is contaminated with nitrates and heavy metal oxides. Nearly a century of residue from the Black Hills Mining District affects millions of cubic yards of riparian habitat all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Although the Oahe Dam was completed in 1962 sequestering most of the silt the soils of the Belle Fourche and Cheyenne Rivers are inculcated with arsenic at levels that have killed cattle.

Endangered pallid sturgeon, paddlefish, catfish and most other organisms cope with lethal levels of mercury throughout the South Dakota portion of the Missouri River.

No doubt South Dakota’s regressive property tax factored into Mr. Wanless’ choice to sell. A bill that would decrease that tax failed in the last session of the state’s deranged legislature.

ip photo: a schoolhouse for white kids falls down near Mato Paha in western Meade County.

Learn more about the degradation of the Belle Fourche River watershed linked here.

Statement on incident in Vermillion released

After enduring a loud, incoherent and slanderous attack on my integrity at my youngest daughter’s university graduation gala in Vermillion, South Dakota my intended but hastily-devised feint meant to amuse inadvertently and regrettably impacted on a serial home wrecker’s errant proboscis.

  -30-

5/11/22

New Mexico fires linked to Trump administration failures, Republican Perdue

Fire managers have climate change guns to their heads so it’s usually damned if you do and damned if you don’t conduct prescriptive burns. But it’s probably a straight line from the previous administration’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and crashes in morale within the US Forest Service to current wildfires and conditions on the Santa Fe National Forest.
A Santa Fe National Forest crew ignited what was supposed to be the 1,200-acre Las Dispensas prescribed burn April 6, and officials have since said “unexpected erratic winds” fanned embers beyond the perimeter of the burn site. The prescribed burn was previously scheduled for mid-March, but officials called it off due to snow on the ground, according to a statement at the time. In May 2000, the National Park Service ignited a prescribed burn near Los Alamos. Winds also spun that fire out of control, eventually destroying hundreds of Los Alamos homes and causing $1 billion in damage. [U.S. Forest Service defends prescribed burn that caused Hermits Peak fire]
New Mexico has been home to much larger aspen communities in the fairly recent past and because it reproduces clonally underground from adult trees aspen (Populus tremuloides) is one of the first plants to reestablish after fire. Fuel treatments on the Santa Fe National Forest helped contain the Medio Fire in 2020 and have been accelerated after President Joe Biden took the oath of office. 

Cattle on the Forest are browsing on aspen shoots because fine, flashy fuels and creosote are the only other choices.

These aren't natural forests where wildland fires are raging: they're largely second-growth pine monocultures allowed to overrun aquifer recharges after a century of fire suppression. Federal agencies always coordinate prescribed burns with local and state officials while using weather models to optimize fuel treatment effectiveness. 

The native bison, elk and deer have been hunted to near extinction in most of the Southwest or killed in collisions with motor vehicles and the Forest Service is scrambling to clear fuels Indigenous used to burn off every year. Pre-European Indigenous cultures in the Jemez Mountains raised turkeys, beans, squash and maize. That cattle have been allowed into national forests and other public ground for pennies a head is a crime that needs to end.

The cost per acre of conducting a prescribed burn can top $2,000 per acre but because of contributions from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other sources wildfires can cost less than $50 an acre to manage. Lightning-struck fires are usually allowed to burn as resource benefit or fuels reduction but are best for hardwood release.

Nevertheless, numerous bills have been introduced in the US Senate to shackle the Forest Service including S.1100: the Prescribed Burn Approval Act of 2015 that was intended to embarrass then-President Barack Obama in favor of the timber industry.
Steve Inskeep talks to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue about what the federal government can do to help reduce the risk from wildfires, like the ones devastating California. 
INSKEEP: One other thing, Mr. Secretary. A couple of years ago, I got a chance to interview Robert Bonnie, who was then a top Agriculture Department official. He oversaw the U.S. Forest Service during the Obama administration. He named two big problems. One of them is fuel loads, which is what you and I have been talking about. The other is climate change. What is the role of climate change here? And how, if at all, does the legislation address that? 
PERDUE: Well, we know that our forest fires in the last few years have gotten hotter. The humidity's gotten lower. Whether that's a cyclical change, we also - there are also data and history, Steve, that show back in the '30s there were huge major forest fires that make these look small even today. So we do know that we're back-to-back record years, and whether it's permanent climate change or a cycle of low humidity and hot air and wind currents, then it remains to be seen. [NPR]
"Hot air," indeed. 

Democracy is messy business. The feds are shooting feral goats in the Tetons and feral cattle on the Gila because domestic livestock are so destructive on public lands. It takes political courage to just say no to domestic livestock on public lands and pass legislation that pays reparations and some through land repatriation but bravery is a trait conspicuously absent in Congress right now.

At post time it is being reported that during extreme wildfire conditions embers from the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire have spotted some four miles from the main burn.

Learn more at the Santa Fe Reporter.

5/2/22

Cerro Pelado Fire testing former burn scars

 


We've been lucky so far as smoke from the now 22,000+ acre Cerro Pelado Fire in the Jemez Mountains has yet to move into our space despite the most active portion of the wildfire is only about twenty miles from the ranch. 

The blaze is moving in burn scars from the 2019 Conejos Fire, the 2017 Cajete Fire, the 2013 Thompson Ridge Fire, the 2011 Las Conchas Fire and in the 2000 Cerro Grande Fire. There are numerous slash piles along currently-closed NM4 in the higher elevations and places where low intensity fire has been recently introduced. The most visible portion from Red Rock Road is burning ponderosa pine (in an area called Ponderosa, no less) in steep terrain in the most western areas of the fire. 

Los Alamos National Laboratory is not being threatened at this time although many locations within LANL are experiencing smoke and nearby Bandelier National Monument is closed.

Red flag conditions with strong winds and low relative humidities are testing resilience throughout the Santa Fe National Forest system.

The fire would have to cross the Rio Grande and I-25 to get to us.

Images captured in 2014 of the Las Conchas burn scar are linked here.