Spearditch Canyon goats pit locals against SDGFP

Speaking of killing unwanted mountain goats: Spearditch Canyon in the Black Hills has become home to a herd of inbreds. 

In 2013, 75 percent of Badlands National Park's bighorn sheep died in a pneumonia outbreak tied to contact with a domestic herd. But as South Dakota's wildlife management bureaupublicans release bighorn sheep onto federal lands, ostensibly to knock down a cheatgrass infestation created by the failure of Black Hills forest policy, the GOP-owned Game, Fish and Plunder wants to kill more mountain goats.

Spearditch photographer, Les Heiserman has been capturing images of a male and a harem born in the canyon after unions with the goat's mother and his siblings since 2016.
According to the “South Dakota Mountain Goat Management Plan, 2018-2027,” Custer State Park officials obtained six mountain goats from Alberta, Canada in 1924, and placed them in a zoo at the park. The first night in the zoo, two goats escaped. By 1929, the rest of the goats had escaped. This was the beginning of goats in the Hills. [Residents concerned about Spearfish mountain goats]
In 2010, the Odd Goddess of Basin and an interested party hiked over breathtaking Siyeh Pass in Glacier National Park where we nearly walked right up to a fearless flock of mountain goats lounging on a rock bench.
They go from “passive to aggressive really fast,” said Joel Berger, the Barbara Cox Anthony University Chair of Wildlife Conservation at Colorado State University. One of Berger’s recent studies found that in high alpine environments in the Rocky Mountains where mountain goats and bighorn sheep compete for resources, goats displace sheep — as much as 95% of the time when salt licks were the issue. And, while sample sizes differed across ecosystems, Berger said the results were largely consistent: “The patterns of goat domination, in all cases, whether introduced or exotic, were the same. Goats win.” [In the Rockies, goats beat bighorn sheep]
The outcry at Heiserman's Faceberg page is deafening.


Neighbors list lavender farm, nearly 51 acres

Our neighbor, Penny did three tours of duty in Iraq and is a burn pit survivor so she needs to visit the VA in Albuquerque three times a week for therapy and it’s just too far from out here in the boonies especially in the winter. If the United Snakes was a whole nation the funding for Obamacare, TRICARE, Medicare, the Indian Health Service and the Veterans Health Administration would be rolled together then Medicaid for all would enable Penny to just go into any hospital for her treatment.
Views, Views, Views the Turquoise Trail Lavender Farm sits on 50+ acres with a whopping 11-acre feet of water rights. There are two parcels totaling the 50 acres. 47 Cliff View is a stunning off-grid home offering 3 bedrooms and 2 baths with a 2-car garage that is currently [being] used as a workshop. There are also outbuildings, one used as a drying shed, and the other as storage. 60 Cliff View has a solar/generator powered well, two stock tanks, and is completely fenced for livestock. There are a total of 3 acres of lavender with drip irrigation, they are planted with Munstead and Provence both grown for culinary uses, and Grosso grown for its flower and fragrance. The home is well maintained and has some recent paint, roof maintenance. The solar system was completely upgraded within the last 3 years and is a very good system. The wells have good, sweet water and flow rate is 5-6 gallons per minute per well. You are surrounded by abundant wildlife in a serene environment. Get away from it all and enjoy the solitude and natural beauty that this amazing property has to offer. [47 and 60 Cliff View Rd, Cerrillos, NM 87010]
Other neighborhood properties listed include Beverly's 81 acres and Russ and Bea's 20+.


Architect of statute of limitations that protects predator priests passes

Paul Swain was a lawyer before he was called to the priesthood by the voices in his head and now he's dead. Swain was appointed to the Sioux Falls, South Dakota diocese in 2006 by Joseph Ratzinger, a famous gay icon who also covered up clergy crimes.

Swain was a member of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the architect of South Dakota's statute of limitations that protects predators from being prosecuted for crimes against children and vulnerable adults in a state where catholic congregations and the legislature have engaged in obstruction of justice since before Ted Hustead opened Wall Drug in 1931. In South Dakota at least thirty two members of the Church of the Holy Roman Kiddie Diddlers have been credibly accused. 

God knows who the rest are and so did Paul Swain but separation of church and state is just so bothersome in the chemical toilet especially when litigation hurts donations


Democratic SD legislator making national bison news

If cattle grazing is the key to preventing wildfires in ranch country why are mostly Republican counties still suffering near daily high or even extreme grassland fire danger indices so often even during the winter? 

Before the European invasion Puebloans in what’s now 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). In 2010 then-US Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) tried to make a portion of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland adjacent to Badlands National Park part of the Tony Dean Wilderness Area and in 2011 Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) revived the idea. 

Led by The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit that began buying land in that part of South Dakota in 2007, sold some of it to Badlands National Park in 2012. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Defenders of Wildlife and the Nature Conservancy teamed up with the National Park Foundation, Badlands Natural History Association, Badlands National Park Conservancy and the National Park Service Centennial Challenge fund to expand the bison range at Badlands National Park by nearly 35 square miles.

These days only about 500,000 bison inhabit North America and 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. 

Now, after meeting with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland during her visit to occupied South Dakota in October State Senator Troy Heinert's name has been plastered all over the national news for his work with the ITBC to restore the American Bison to tribal communities in the West.
Descendants of bison that once roamed North America’s Great Plains by the tens of millions, the animals would soon thunder up a chute, take a truck ride across South Dakota and join one of many burgeoning herds Heinert has helped reestablish on Native American lands. Heinert nodded in satisfaction to a park service employee as the animals stomped their hooves and kicked up dust in the cold wind. He took a brief call from Iowa about another herd being transferred to tribes in Minnesota and Oklahoma, then spoke with a fellow trucker about yet more bison destined for Wisconsin. By nightfall, the last of the American buffalo shipped from Badlands were being unloaded at the Rosebud reservation, where Heinert lives. The next day, he was on the road back to Badlands to load 200 bison for another tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux. Heinert, 50, a South Dakota state senator and director of the InterTribal Buffalo Council, views his job in practical terms: Get bison to tribes that want them, whether two animals or 200. He helps them rekindle long-neglected cultural connections, increase food security, reclaim sovereignty and improve land management. This fall, Heinert’s group has moved 2,041 bison to 22 tribes in 10 states. [Associated Press]
American Prairie (APR) near Malta in north-central Montana got its first bison from Wind Cave National Park in 2005. The group hopes to have native animals grazing on some 5000 square miles or about 3.2 million acres of private land including 63,000A. in Phillips County connected with corridors to federal land owned by the Bureau of Land Management and to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Total land including the purchase of 34 ranches is as big as the State of Connecticut or the size of Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks combined. 

Nearby APR is the Fort Belknap Reservation where the Nakoda and the Aaniiih manage a range with more than a thousand bison so building a tourist destination helps economic development for the entire region.

Sen. Heinert did not seek reelection to the fiendish, malevolent and Earth hating South Dakota Legislature so he can continue this essential work.


Convention of States too risky in wake of Big Lie

The United States Constitution is the finest legal instrument ever created by the human hand but when it was written the Federalists argued for a strong central government with co-equal branches. Today neo-Federalists advocate for a weaker central government with a strong unitary executive. Tribes are bound by the Supremacy Clause just like individual states are.
[The US Constitution is on] par with the Magna Carta and believed by many to have been divinely inspired. Holding a new constitutional convention today, as some are suggesting, could end up being a disaster. Again, on Dec. 8, 2015, Justice Scalia repeated his warning against a new convention when he warned the Federalist Society that “A Constitutional Convention is a horrible idea. This is not a good century to write a constitution.” An organization calling themselves the Convention of States (COS) has been promoting the idea that the answer to all our nation’s problems can be solved by having 34 states apply to Congress under Article V to convene a Constitutional Convention (Con–Con). An Article V Convention cannot be limited. James Madison, father of the Constitution, warned in 1788 that a second convention “would no doubt contain individuals with insidious views seeking to alter the very foundation and fabric of the constitution.” [Guest column: An Article V Constitutional Convention would be very risky]
It seems important to add that until Justice Clarence Thomas’ tenure the late Justice Antonin Scalia had been the longest serving member of the Court. Scalia resided in McLean, Virginia, and was a devout, traditionalist Catholic uncomfortable with the changes in the Church caused by Vatican II. He preferred the Latin Mass and drove long distances to parishes which he felt were more in accord with his beliefs. 
Who is on board with Convention of States Action? These names may ring a bell: Texas Governor Greg Abbott, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Iowa conservative radio host Steve Deace, former U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, conservative personality Sean Hannity, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. [Steve Corbin]
The national Republican Party is in a box. If they don't nominate Donald Trump as their guy in 2024 he will run an unaffiliated campaign and they'll lose the White House anyway so GOP support to block him under the Fourteenth Amendment looks like its best course but don’t expect a sitting Republican to bring it up.

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 and when the US ended the draft in 1973 the number of mass shootings began to rise so Congress should enact compulsory military service or police training as 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.

If it were possible and the oligarchs wouldn’t hijack a Convention of States a rewrite of the Second Amendment would be at the top of my list. 

Anyway, thank you again, Nino Scalia, for reminding us why Democrats need to control not just the federal bench but every court in every jurisdiction.


Enviros team with APHIS to end NM cattle trespass

The Gila National Forest near the New Mexico-Arizona border has had a problem with feral cattle for years after a grazing permittee went bankrupt then left his herd and the country in the 1970s. Because of pollution from cattle grazing American Rivers named the Gila the nation’s most endangered waterway in 2019. So, in 2020 the Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump Organization's Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and its local representatives saying the agencies are allowing cattle in restricted areas along the Gila River and its tributaries. Earlier this year contractors with the US Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service or APHIS shot 65 unvaccinated feral cattle from helicopters on the Gila. 

Managers with the GNF believe there are still 150 cattle infesting the Gila so it's taking comments on another round of lethal removals. But, it's hardly an easy alliance between preservationists and an agency like APHIS that killed 1.75 million animals in 2021 including 400,000 native species like wolves, cougars, bears and bobcats. 

In October Caldera Action joined Santa Fe-based Wild Earth Guardians and the Western Watersheds Project with plans to sue the National Park Service for Trump Organization failures to control trespass cattle in endangered species habitat at the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Native bison, elk and deer have been hunted to near extinction in most of the Southwest or killed in collisions with motor vehicles so the US Forest Service has been scrambling to clear fuels Indigenous used to burn off every year. 

Pre-European Indigenous cultures in the Jemez Mountains and around the Valles Caldera 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. But, in Montana, Republican welfare ranchers find great joy in slaughtering wolves from aircraft and the feds are killing feral goats in the Wyoming Tetons. 

As of October, 2022 the US Bureau of Land Management has removed over 19,000 horses and burros from public land and holds over 64,000 in confinement although the data clearly show livestock are far more destructive.

Democracy is messy business and it takes political courage to just say no to domestic livestock on public lands and pass legislation that compensates for depredation but bravery is a trait conspicuously absent in Congress right now.

ip image: the Valles Caldera in 2015.


Sanford Health to merge as namesake probed

Montana held first place in 2021 but South Dakota is again the most lucrative state to practice medicine thanks to its medical industry triopoly. 

South Dakota’s richest man, Denny Sanford, is the subject of a probe for possession of child pornography even as his namesake plans a merger with an ailing Minnesota medical giant. 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison's office is investigating the proposed hookup.
The new entity would be called Sanford Health and be run by Sanford’s current CEO. The deal would include the University of Minnesota hospitals, which Fairview purchased in 1997. Sanford Health is named for St. Paul native and University of Minnesota graduate T. Denny Sanford, a philanthropist who made his fortune in the subprime, high-interest credit card business. The Minnesota Nurses Association late Tuesday said its members will “strongly oppose” the proposed merger because it would “put corporate expansion ahead of patient care.” [Minnesota Public Radio]
South Dakota is 22nd in "medical environment," nurses’ salaries still surf the bottom, and the state endures the highest medical costs so why isn’t there a regulatory body like the Public Utilities Commission to regulate medical care costs? Because the state is a corporatist tax haven for an exclusive set of Republicans while over $4 trillion languishes in South Dakota banks and trusts and a career in usury gets your name on a hospital system, an entertainment venue, an underground laboratory or a football stadium.

In 2018 the Rapid City Journal blamed the South Dakota Republican Party for spikes in suicides and depression as a Sanford Health executive also cited poor access to medical care as a reason for premature deaths.

Sanford's lawyer is a Republican who admitted to illegal content on at least one device, but brushed it aside as a hacking, is returning as South Dakota Attorney General. The US Department of Justice has declined comment on whether a federal grand jury has convened or if an indictment is imminent.


PEER: cattle, not horses destroying BLM ground

In Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and six other states the Bureau of Land Management adopts out, seeks private pastures for, and feeds feral and wild horses at an annual cost to taxpayers of at least $49 million. 

But, cattle grazing 155 million acres leased on some 21,000 allotments of the 245 million acres managed by the BLM in thirteen western states now outnumber horses thirty to one. Over 54 million of those acres have failed the BLM's Land Health Assessment according to data released through the Freedom of Information Act to the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility or PEER. As of October, 2022 the BLM has removed over 19,000 horses and burros from public land and holds over 64,000 in confinement although the data clearly show livestock are far more destructive. 

Greater sage grouse habitat is disappearing at a rate of some 1.3 million acres per year much of it in Wyoming but the BLM doesn't record results of the degradation on private land although it's known to be extensive. Due to the decimation of its habitat the US Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the lesser prairie-chicken, also a species of grouse, as endangered.

After howls from Earth hating Republican welfare ranchers the BLM is reviewing the purchase of the Marton Ranch in Wyoming.

ip photo: the Kewa Pueblo has adopted BLM mustangs so I filled the water tank at the casita hoping to capture some images in the trail cam.


Big Dope: SDGOP chair waddles into cloudy cannabis industry

Update: Lederman has been forced from his post as SDGOP chair after howls from the extreme white wing now the chasm separating the establishment Republicans from the principled conservatives in South Dakota is widening even more.
Lederman faced criticism during the 2022 statewide convention from people such as state Rep. Taffy Howard of Rapid City. State Sen. John Wiik of Big Stone City reportedly has support from Gov. Kristi Noem to succeed Lederman. [Bob Mercer, twitter comment]
Wiik is considered a shoo-in for the SDGOP chair. His twitter feed reads like a Trumper’s wet dream: NRA, Hillsdale and white supremacy.


Dan Lederman used to be taller than he is wide but not any more.

The chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party is principal of Dakota Health and Wellness, awarded a cannabis cultivation permit in Union County on 4/20 of this year, no less. By all appearances Lederman could use a little health and wellness.
Lawmakers want to make it more difficult to expand the list of conditions that might qualify a citizen for a medical marijuana card. Monument Health, the major health care provider for Rapid City and the surrounding area, also leaves decisions in the hands of its practitioners, according to spokesperson Stephany Chalbert. Like Avera, Monument does not disclose whether its providers are authorized by the state to prescribe cannabis. Dr. Jeremy Cauwels, chief physician at Sanford Health, had a similar response, saying only that the system does not endorse or oppose medical cannabis use. [Lawmakers look to restrict expansion of medical cannabis conditions]
It’s no secret this interested party would like to see Israel rolled back to 1917 borders and its Jewish inhabitants moved to Utah or Nevada. Remember State Senator Dan Lederman and lawyer Joel Arends teamed up to run Annette Bosworth in the 2014 US Senate primary in South Dakota to deflect attention from former governor Mike Rounds and to siphon resources from more viable candidates. Rounds is stained by the EB-5 Bendagate scandal as are his successor, Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Attorney General Marty Jackley.

Why anyone would want to be on a list that could lead to harassment in Kristi Noem’s South Dakota remains a mystery. 

Recall that the Trump Organization’s attorney general rescinded the Cole memo and freed tribal nations to pursue cannabis economic development in states like southern Dakota so expect my home state’s attorney general to sue the Biden administration for reasons we can only imagine. 

Democratic former South Dakota legislator, Ben Nesselhuf, who owns True North Dispensary, hopes to have his cannabis operation open by the end of the year in North Sioux City.

In a related story, a Black Hills town named for a war criminal has snuffed therapeutic cannabis operations within the city limits but will burn a native insect in effigy once again instead.

Image lifted from The Dakota Scout.


Debt, depression, dejection, despair and desperation: do white men have nothing to lose by acting out?

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, Anders Breivik, Nickolas Cruz, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, Payton Gendron and Salvadore Ramos now Ammon Bundy, David DePape, Stewart Rhodes and Anderson Lee Aldrich all are or were christians and misogynists.

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. 
The Proud Boys seem to prove the point. They are an organized, men-only extremist group, hostile to immigrants and LGBTQIA+ rights, anti-Semitic, and linked to white supremacy. Group members helped to lead the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — and they had ties with people in Trump’s orbit. Their membership has been growing dramatically. [Loss, fear and rage: Are white men rebelling against democracy?]
1) in most cases middle schools should be eliminated 
2) high schools should insist on business casual except on Fridays
3) girls and boys, women and men in public schools should be instructed in separate classrooms 
4) school boards should have an elected representative from the high school student population 
5) teachers must be union members and reflect ethnic diversity in the classroom 
6) districts should have the flexibility to experiment with curricula, including year-round sessions 
7) American Indian languages should meet the world language requirement

All the nurses I have been married to say the endocrinologist is the smartest doc on the floor. Maybe it’s because we humans manipulate our own environments and microbiomes faster than our hormone chemistry can adapt or evolve past what inoculations and toxins have done to the gene pool. There are plenty of other organisms on the planet with longer histories than Homo sapiens.


Additional comments sought on Chaco Culture protections

When now Interior Secretary Deb Haaland was the US Representative for New Mexico's First District she was one of the sponsors of the Chaco Culture Heritage Protection Act of 2019 that would have codified the 10-mile buffer zone around Chaco Canyon. Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo just one of New Mexico's Indigenous Nations who consider the Greater Chaco Wash as sacred. 

A survey conducted by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) showed that during the Trump years the Bureau of Land Management was plagued by staff shortages, high turnover and partisan rancor. Santa Fe-based Wild Earth Guardians joined other interested parties and sued the Trump Organization's BLM to stop oil and gas encroachment on Chaco Culture National Historic Park. 

New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich has asked Sec. Haaland to end leasing within a 10-mile radius of the park because Chaco is an International Dark Sky Park at risk to oil and gas flaring. In partnership with the Bureau of Indian Affairs the BLM completed a draft resource management plan for Chaco and a decision has just been released
Indigenous leaders and environmental groups reiterated this week that the broader look would be a more meaningful step toward permanent protections for cultural resources in the San Juan Basin. The environmental assessment bolsters that argument since it notes that the proposed withdrawal would not affect existing leases and that much of the interest by the industry for future development already is under lease or falls outside the boundary of what would be withdrawn. In June, the All Pueblo Council of Governors traveled from New Mexico to Washington to urge the Interior Department to finalize its proposal to protect the Chaco area, arguing that public land management should better reflect the value of sacred sites, cultural resources and traditional stories that are tied to the region. [U.S. outlines effects of withdrawing land near Chaco park from oil drilling]
Comments have to be postmarked by 10 December and can be sent to the Bureau of Land Management, Farmington Field Office, Attn: Sarah Scott, 6251 College Blvd., Suite A, Farmington, NM 87402. Scott can also be reached at sscott@blm.gov or at 505-564-7689.

Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning has called nearly every Trump era ruling illegal including its failure to manage mustangs safely while blows to morale and an exodus of employees have contributed to horse mortalities during gathers. So, earlier this year Interior Secretary Deb Haaland released the outline for a restructured BLM promising to return its main headquarters to DC while increasing its role in the Mountain West by improving a demoralized Grand Junction, Colorado presence.


Urine luck: another gender bending herbicide showing up in Midwesterners

The blood-brain barrier is the network of blood vessels and tissue made up of closely spaced cells that helps keep harmful substances from reaching the brain. The herbicide dicamba (3,6-dichloro-2-methoxybenzoic acid) penetrates the blood-brain barrier as do other hormone disruptors like 2,4-D, DDT, atrazine, neonicotinoids, glyphosate, Metam Sodium/Potassium and Imazalil, a carcinogenic fungicide that can also affect gender identity especially in children and adolescents. 

But Republicans scream RIGHT TO LIFE for human blastocysts as environmental pollutants occur more frequently in the umbilical cord blood of infants and in baby poop then cry government overreach while Waters of the United States or WOTUS architects regroup pending a ruling in the Supreme Court of the United States and another round in Congress.
Bayer, a leading seller of dicamba technology, said the chemical has not been classified as a possible carcinogen according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, and pointed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the herbicide. A 2020 study from researchers within the National Institutes of Health, for example, found dicamba was associated with heightened risks of liver and bile duct cancer, with lags of up to 20 years. [Why is a weedkiller showing up in Midwesterners’ urine?]
Learn more about endocrine-disrupting chemicals and gender dysphoria.


'Notice of Intent to Modify the Weather:' Colorado River basin desperate

In 2020 University of Wyoming researchers learned that seeding clouds with silver iodide did increase snowfall about ten percent in some experiments but has failed to reduce drought conditions. 

Western Weather Consultants has been shooting stuff, including silver iodide, from the ground into the atmosphere over Colorado for some twenty years. Now, Colorado is the driest it has been since 1872.

William R. Cotton is Professor Emeritus of Meteorology at Colorado State University. He says the practice can produce minimal results in winter but summertime seeding is probably fruitless.
“We typically like to say, on an average storm, we can increase it 8% to 12% of the snow-water equivalent,” said Andrew Rickert, weather modification program manager for the Colorado Water Conservation Board. For perspective, federal officials have warned the seven Colorado River Basin states need to find 2 million to 4 million acre-feet of cuts to water use for 2023 because of drought soaking up historic river flows. “Notice to Modify Weather?” Some don’t notice. The “sometimes desperate” search for water in the West is understandable, but “might not be as promising as people wish” in delivering extra snowpack, Cotton has written for science websites. Any “new” water from cloud seeding accrues to the benefit of water rights holders from that basin who, because of drought or holding a more junior appropriation, have lately been right on the cusp of losing their full share. [Is cloud seeding a potential solution to Colorado’s drought?]
Daniel Swain is a climate scientist at UCLA and with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He says the 3-5% bumps in water that weather modification squeezes from clouds isn't worth the gamble with water equity. Nevertheless, North Dakota conducts geoengineering exercises in parts of that state every year ostensibly to reduce hail damage and enhance rainfall potential.
Arizona draws a third of its surface water from the Colorado. [Is drought in Arizona and the Southwest the new normal?]
Now, in parts of the Southwest some authorities are so fearful of deficits in water supplies they have entertained Durango, Colorado-based Western Weather Consultants' pitch to acquire a “weather control and precipitation enhancement license" from the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission but after criticism for not consulting with pueblos the application was withdrawn.   


With friends like NorthWestern Energy who needs enemies?

Recall that in 2009 Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based NorthWestern Energy was responsible for a gas explosion in Bozeman, Montana that destroyed several businesses and killed one person. 

Last year the company's devastating decrease in the Madison River flow killed native trout because of its negligence at the Hebgen Dam then one of its power lines caused a wildfire that destroyed most of Denton, Montana. 

Also in 2021 NWE withdrew its application at Montana’s Public Service Commission so without any regulatory approval it began construction of a generating station in Laurel. The company spends millions of dollars every year greasing Republican politicians and poisoning waterways including in Montana where the PRC is comprised of Earth haters.
In the face of NorthWestern’s failures, it’s up to everyday Montanans and our community officials to take on this challenge. Here’s the problem: NorthWestern continually refuses to adopt more modern, affordable and efficient energy sources. Instead, the company wants to double down on expensive methane gas despite the soaring costs and risky market volatility. Why? In part, it’s because Montana law has a disturbing policy allowing this investor-owned corporation to receive guaranteed profits for its operating expenses. In NorthWestern’s bizarre world, more upkeep, more maintenance, and more repairs mean more profit. And that profit comes directly from the rapidly growing energy bills we pay each month. Immediately next to the iconic Yellowstone River, NorthWestern is barreling forward with a methane-fired power plant that will require eighteen smokestacks – seven stories tall each – towering over an area traditionally used for agriculture and outdoor recreation. Instead of waiting respectfully for clarification from the court regarding jurisdiction, NorthWestern just plows ahead with construction. [Montanans deserve better than NorthWestern Energy’s failed leadership]
Utilities are not your friends so on behalf of Northern Plains Resource Council, the Thiel Road Coalition and the Montana Environmental Information Center, Earthjustice has filed suit over zoning jurisdiction of the parcel where the plant is being built. The Northern Plains Resource Council and this interested party follow each other on twitter. 

In 2015 the US Department of Transportation swatted ExxonMobil with a million dollar penalty after the Environmental Protection Agency released an overview of cleanup efforts in the aftermath of the 2011 breach of the Silvertip pipeline that spilled 63,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River upstream of Billings near Laurel.

NorthWestern Energy owns 23.4% of the Big Stone Power Plant in northeastern South Dakota — a monster that consumes 3,500 tons of filthy sub-bituminous coal every hour then spews heavy metal oxides over Minnesota.


BSPRA applies for federal grant on behalf of BNSF Railway

Nineteen Montana counties plus the Confederated Salish and Kootenai, Northern Cheyenne and Apsáalooke Nations have joined the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority's march towards the restoration of the North Coast Hiawatha. The effort is for a 'corridor train' and is not intended to compete with the Empire Builder which operates in the northernmost parts of Montana. Lewis and Clark County is home to the state capital and has yet to support the concept citing lack of service while Yellowstone County, the state's most populous, is holding out for more money.
The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority on Wednesday agreed to apply for a federal grant to make improvements to rail infrastructure along the Hi-Line to benefit the existing Empire Builder. “We've heard again and again from those who are skeptical or paranoid about the idea that expanding passenger rail service might adversely impact the Empire Builder,” said board president Dave Strohmaier. But single entities like BNSF cannot apply for the federal grant. Rather, Strohmaier said, BNSF approached the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority and asked it to apply for the $15 million federal grant on the railroad's behalf. “We're one of the only entities in the state that's well-poised to do this, and we're doing it in conjunction with the host railroad (BNSF).” [Missoula Current]
It's not currently in President Joe Biden's rail plan but if Amtrak and the Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Commission connect the Chief at Pueblo or Trinidad, Colorado to the Empire Builder at Shelby, Montana through Denver and Cheyenne, Wyoming it will intersect the North Coast Hiawatha at Laurel or Billings, Montana and serve the state capital in Helena

Learn more at BSPRA.


Forest Service trade could protect Crazies from crazy Republicans

I-90, now just another American entitlement, stalks the Yellowstone River between Livingston in the west then abruptly abandons her just east of Billings and plunges southward into the Apsáalooke or Crow Nation. 

Despite being sacred to the Apsáalooke the federal government has twice proposed the Awaxaawapìa Pìa or Crazy Woman Mountains sometimes called the Crazies as a location for a national park but half the land and every alternate section was owned by the Northern Pacific Railroad or was otherwise privately held. 

In 2014 two national forests based in Montana, one named for the Swiss guy who helped convince President Thomas Jefferson to use an executive order to buy land from a country that didn’t even own it and one named for a war criminal were merged into a single administrative unit. Now, Mary Erickson is the Forest Supervisor for the Custer Gallatin National Forest based in Bozeman and today most of the public land in the Crazies is shared by the Custer Gallatin and Lewis and Clark National Forests but even tribal access has been blocked by the descendants of European settlers.
The Custer Gallatin National Forest released a Preliminary Environmental Assessment for the East Crazy Inspiration Divide Land Exchange Project on Wednesday morning, signaling a possible resolution to what has been a long-simmering dispute over public access to the region. The agreement would exchange 4,135 acres (10 parcels) of forest lands for 6,430 acres of private lands (11 parcels), owned by six private property owners in the Crazy Mountains and near the Inspiration Divide Trail in Big Sky. The land near Big Sky is sought by the Yellowstone Club, a private community of multi-millionaires. The agreement would exchange 4,135 acres (10 parcels) of forest lands for 6,430 acres of private lands (11 parcels), owned by six private property owners in the Crazy Mountains and near the Inspiration Divide Trail in Big Sky. Also as part of the deal, the landowners would fund construction of a new 22-mile trail into the Crazy Mountains on forest land. As a sideline to the proposal, the landowners are offering to permanently protect Crazy Peak, an important cultural and historic site for the Crow Tribe. The protection would include a conservation easement and access to tribal members for cultural practices. "It's time to move forward with this plan that will connect people to one of our state's greatest treasures — the sacred Crazy Mountains," said Shane Doyle, a Crow Tribal member, in a statement. [Forest Service seeks comments on Crazy Mountains land exchange proposal]
Republicans aren't just fearful of government overreach; they're frightened public lands will be remanded to the First Nations. So, one solution to making America the Beautiful again and solving national forest and grasslands management woes is moving the US Forest Service from the US Department of Agriculture into Interior where tribal nations could more easily assume additional responsibilities for stewardship on public land, returning the resources to apply cultural fire to their own holdings and rewilding the West.

ip photo.


Rapid City Journal editor gets a taste of racism

This blog has argued that the Gannett Company should have bought Lee Enterprises which owns the Rapid City Journal and 45 other daily newspapers. It was my rant then that Lee Newspapers of Montana would survive as part of a Bismarck Tribune, Rapid City Journal, Casper Star-Trib marriage and not become part of a Gannett takeover. 

The Rapid City Journal perpetuates hatred by allowing outrageous racist comments in the feedback section under articles published there and at its Faceberg page and censors journalists like Jim Kent. Veteran reporters and spouses Mary Garrigan and Kevin Woster fled the Journal in 2013 as have other talented writers.
Before I decided to accept a position at the Journal more than three years ago, I flew to Rapid City to spend a couple of days exploring the area. I asked my recruiter to take me on a driving tour of the rest of Rapid City, where I saw the economic divide between those who are affluent, middle-class and poor. Those indicators seemed to be comparable to larger metropolitan areas, but were a bit shocking for a smaller city. I went to one of the numerous restaurants on Main Street and sat down at the bar. I placed my order with a very friendly waitress and sipped on a soda while I waited for my food. Another gentleman came in by himself and sat at the bar, too. He placed his order for a burger and soft drink, just as I had. But the waitress had a totally different response. "You better have money to pay for that," she barked. He was an older Native American man. I was a younger white man. His response: "I'm used to it. It happens all the time." Racism in Rapid City had reared its ugly head — within the first 48 hours of my initial visit. [Nathan Thompson]
Today the Rapid City Police Department is still staffed by white supremacists and bigots. Former police chief now Mayor Steve Allender, who has been accused of managing "a bunch of racists,” has lamented it costs Rapid City some $15 million every year to address homelessness. 

Mount Rushmore is South Dakota's premier example of white nationalist ideology. Its sculptor was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. 

We all know Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is a racist but now my home state has gone from being America's laughing stock to becoming a co-conspirator in hate crimes. Mrs. Noem just recently called out the Journal as untrustworthy.


Despite pushback from Republicans American Prairie moving forward on rewilding tourism

American Prairie (APR) near Malta in north-central Montana got its first bison from Wind Cave National Park in occupied South Dakota in 2005. 

The group hopes to have native animals grazing on some 5000 square miles or about 3.2 million acres of private land including 63,000A. in Phillips County connected with corridors to federal land owned by the Bureau of Land Management and to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Total land including the purchase of 34 ranches is as big as the State of Connecticut or the size of Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks combined. Adjacent is the Fort Belknap Reservation where the Nakoda and the Aaniiih manage a range with more than a thousand bison so building a tourist destination helps economic development for the entire region.
Lewistown’s Main Street is still vibrant and bustling with a mix of retail and professional services. But in the heart of Montana ranching territory, the organization is determined to prove it’s not a bunch of out-of-state environmentalists. Instead, it’s an organization that sees Montana’s future tied to two unchanging truths: Folks will come from all over to see the big skies and wide open prairies. And without efforts to conserve the land, the entire state may be in trouble. American Prairie’s mission plays out on several fronts – from the herds of bison north of Lewistown in Phillips County to the public battles the organization has had to fight against Gov. Greg Gianforte and Attorney General Austin Knudsen. Ultimately, American Prairie hopes that visitors use the discovery in conjunction with visiting the prairie lands. [American Prairie establishes national discovery center in the heart of Lewistown, despite pushback]
Despite most of the buffalo at the National Bison Range near Moiese, Montana being descendants of those crossed with European cattle breeds, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have long sought more active participation there rather than just through an annual funding agreement. But approaching a compact on a strict environmental tack enhanced tribal involvement could be tied to a future where genetic purity in NBR animals becomes such that they could join in broader rewilding efforts especially as the transfer of Yellowstone bison to reservations is restricted at the behest of entitled Republican welfare ranchers. 
The InterTribal Buffalo Council has been working for three decades to reintroduce bison to Indian tribes and has distributed about 20,000 buffalo over that period. To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the council is planning its largest transfer of bison yet, 1,500 buffalo to tribes in six states. [Bison return program is now helping Native American ranchers build herds]
The CSKT claims 50 million acre feet of Montana's water and salmon could have been a valuable food source for tribes that were struggling with the near extinction of their main fare due to the federal government’s campaign to kill off bison in order to suppress tribes but 150 dams were erected on the Columbia River system instead.


Driskill apparently not crazy enough for Wyoming Senate District 1

Ogden Driskill is an obese Earth hater Wyoming legislator running cattle near Devils Tower National Monument in the Belle Fourche River watershed. But the Crook County Republican Party thinks State Senator Driskill isn't rabid enough saying he only votes with his party fifty percent of the time.
Driskill, who has held leadership positions, including being the Senate Majority Floor Leader, has been a state senator for a dozen years. He represents Crook and parts of Weston and Campbell Counties and is running for his fourth term in the Senate. In addition to the write-in campaign of Roger Connett, the former chair of the Crook County Republican Party also faced another write-in challenge, and despite that candidate saying he didn't endorse the effort, it continued, but has since fizzled out. "I think it's unbelievably negative," he said. "I've never seen anything hold fail to it on any fronts. The local party has basically invited Washington style politics to Wyoming because that's really what's fallout of this is--lots of name calling, lots of misinformation, lots of flat out lies." [Wyoming Public Media]
Driskill has adamantly resisted renaming America's first national monument and Senators Cynthia Lummis and co-sponsor John Barrasso have introduced a bill to permanently cancel Indigenous culture by blocking the name Bear's Lodge or Mahto Tipila in the occupied Wyoming Black Hills.

In the late 1980s and early 90s this interested party called on Driskill's late brother, Matt and their mother, Ellen when they operated the KOA at the Tower.

ip image: Mahto Tipila rises beyond Thorn Divide above the Belle Fourche River.


Energy company offering rebates for efficient homes to its Marshall Fire victims

The 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire was Colorado's costliest at nearly half a billion dollars until the Black Forest Fire the next year surpassed that. In October, 2020 the East Troublesome Fire incinerated nearly 200,000 acres of mixed timber and grass becoming the second largest wildfire ever recorded in Colorado. 

Were they accidents, pyroterrorism, or a lone psychopath deploying weaponized wildfire? 

It was believed early that downed power lines caused the Marshall Fire in Boulder County, now the state's most destructive blaze and claims for damage are now over two billion dollars. That firestorm nearly a year ago forced the evacuation of tens of thousands and evaporated over a thousand homes but Xcel Energy insists it isn't at fault and the cause still hasn't been determined

Utilities, insurers, county commissions, lenders and developers need to be held accountable for building tinder boxes packed so closely together that homeowners can see into each others bathrooms.

Rooftop solar is the future while burying vulnerable power lines is so last century.
As Rocky Mountain PBS showed you in “Colorado Voices: Building Better after the Marshall Fire,” several families in Boulder County are clearing their ashen rubble with the intention of building a home that is not only more eco-friendly, but also more fire resistant. By building structures like Passive Houses, for example, homeowners can lessen their footprint, as the homes are 75% more energy efficient than average new builds. Passive Houses also offer health and safety benefits. The structures are air-tight and include advanced air filtration systems that improve indoor air quality — a major plus in a state with worsening air quality — and the sidings are often made of fire-resistant material. The Colorado Energy Office and Xcel energy are offering thousands of dollars in rebates for people who build to this standard. The rebates increase in value based on how energy-efficient a home is. For example, people rebuilding a home to Passive House standards can receive up to $37,500 in rebates from Xcel. [As rebuilds begin, Marshall Fire victims eye energy efficient homes]
Counties should be able to fine property owners who fail to create defensible space or clear dry fuels. Well-funded local and volunteer fire departments could conduct prescribed fires and burn road ditches to create buffers where contract fire specialists don’t exist. 


State of western songbirds no longer sound

A visit to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge ten years ago found fewer Sandhill Cranes (about 1000), Canada Geese in the hundreds, the Snow Geese count over 35,000, many Mallards and Coots; one Blue Heron shied away from the camera. In 2017, the waterbird numbers were better. In August of 2019 warblers, swallows and flycatchers died in large numbers throughout the southern Rockies. Scientists studying them noted their emaciated conditions and reduced body fat.

Half of all migratory birds in North America move through the Patagonia, Arizona flyway along the San Pedro River. The robins that love juniper berries and the dark-eyed juncos that feed on grass seeds are at the bird bath now in Santa Fe County where they winter. Pinyon jays live here year round.
Many birds are in trouble nationwide. In October, the U.S North American Bird Conservation Initiative published its report: State Of The Birds 2022. One of the main findings is that birds are declining in almost every single habitat–sometimes as much as 67% for some species–over the last 50 years. Seventy species are at a "tipping point." That means they have already lost half or more of their breeding population since 1970 and could lose more in the next 50 years. Some habitat loss is caused by man-made issues, like construction or parking lots. That affects how birds migrate, too. There are lots of routes, as the tracker shows that three-quarters of the birds that breed in the United States and Canada are migratory. [Juncos, red-winged blackbirds and many other Mountain West birds echo 'canaries in the coal mine']
Learn more at High Country News

ip image: a western tanager leers at a doofus with a camera.