Bison, horses, sage grouse, now elk are too much for welfare ranchers

Apparently, the Bureau of Land Management isn't doing enough to anger welfare ranchers in the Mountain West by offering leases for conservation because now Republicans are mad at the State of Wyoming for not killing off wild critters.

Bison producers are often asked about brucellosis, a disease that induces abortions in bison, elk and cattle and does not have a cure. The National Park Service cites that roughly 60% of females in Yellowstone National Park's wild bison herd test positive for exposure to the disease. The Park Service also notes there have been no known cases of bison directly transmitting brucellosis to cattle. Elk migrating from Yellowstone to private ranch lands have been considered the biggest potential risk for spreading the disease. [The Western Draw of American Bison]
The BLM is being sued for its plans to conduct additional, often-dangerous gathers to reduce the horse population in Wyoming's Red Desert with hopes to avoid violence from rabid Republican ranchers. Because they have no natural predators wild and feral horse herds double in size every four to five years. “You don’t have wild horses anymore. You have their bodies, but they are … domesticated,” said one researcher. Ironic that in a country that exports more weapons of mass destruction than all others combined and relentlessly hunts nearly anything that moves Equus ferus is still seen as a pet.
Hundreds of horses that nobody claims are running loose in southwest Wyoming, and their fate seems uncertain. Nobody even seems to know how many there are, but estimates for this rogue herd run as high as 800. And the state of Wyoming is probably ultimately responsible for them. [Hundreds Of ‘Stray’ Horses Rile Up Ranchers In Southwest Wyoming]
But, today in an era when western states are scrambling to preserve habitat for bison, wapiti, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, deer, the threatened Greater sage grouse and all the other wildlife at risk to the Republican Party how is running nurseries for introduced species like wild horses and burros either conservative or sustainable? 
Ordinary hunting will never reduce elk numbers to their target levels, Rep. John Winter (R-Thermopolis) opined to fellow members of the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee. As an alternative, he suggested commissioning a helicopter crew to remove overpopulated herds that are eating grass, busting fences and generally giving Wyoming ranchers headaches. Rep. John Eklund (R-Cheyenne), a committee co-chair, questioned whether elk killed from within inflated herds need to be processed: “Can they just be gunned,” he asked, “and let the coyotes take care of the carcasses?” Wheatland-area rancher Juan Reyes charged that Game and Fish was “depriving landowners the opportunity of profitability.” “That’s a taking,” the Cuban-born Reyes said. “And I came to this country because of socialism.” [Elk wars: Inflated herds spur committee duel, radical proposals]
Whether it's American Prairie's bison grazing on BLM ground in Montana, the US Department of Agriculture killing cattle on the Gila or feds shooting goats in the Tetons socialized grazing just isn't enough to keep some Republicans happy.

Tension is high in the Mountain West and in parts of the Southwest where local BLM and US Forest Service offices and employees are on alert for militant zealots bent on violent disruptions or worse. 


A priestess passes

In the months after leaving Montana and the Odd Goddess of Basin but before meeting Our Lady of the Arroyo an interested party spent a week in the upper Pecos watershed with a priestess

She was tall, stunning, deeply spiritual and put a rebounding traveler to work cleaning rain gutters, repairing screens and clearing woody debris from around her cabin at Cowles above Terrero. She showed a hardened tourist around Santa Fe driving up Canyon Road then to Montezuma to see the castle that houses United World College. 

Her cancer was in remission after surgery took her left breast so an inelegant couple spent the nights watching movies without clothes, smoking cannabis and exploring each other. Her property was wired to the grid but it had no well and little rainwater harvest so she and an abandonment-averse man collected water from the Pecos River, heated it and bathed together in a huge tub. Her studio was a gallery of its own and she sculpted clay furiously during the day usually ready for the kiln the next.

Learning that a long term relationship wasn't going to happen the short story ended and a discarded suitor skulked back to the Black Hills but moved to rural southwest Santa Fe County for good in late 2011. We checked in when the 2013 Tres Lagunas Fire nearly torched her place. 

That was the last we spoke. Rhonda died in 2022 at 71 years.


Disbarment trial could help sink Trump, end career for Santa Fe lawyer

Two days before Donald Trump's attempted takeover of the United States in 2021 John Eastman was summoned to the Oval Office to share some exotic extralegal scenarios. As he left a Santa Fe restaurant in 2022 he was frisked by federal agents who seized his iPhone Pro 12 presumed to contain incriminating evidence of Trump's attempted coup d'état. 

Eastman owns a property at 180 Valley Drive on the north side of Santa Fe not far from the Governor's mansion.
Attorneys for the State Bar of California are seeking Eastman’s disbarment on grounds of moral turpitude. Bar attorneys say Eastman attempted to upend democracy by usurping the will of voters who rejected Trump and elected Joe Biden. Two memos Eastman wrote about how to keep Trump in power are among his bigger problems in the disbarment proceeding. Eastman claims his statements and writings about the election are protected free speech. Yet he doubted demonstrators would mobilize against him to exercise their own First Amendment rights. In the case of the relentless picketers, Eastman overestimates their desire for money — and his own popularity. [Trump's Santa Fe lawyer faces disbarment hearing]
Eastman knew Jeffrey Epstein through impeachment lawyer Bruce Castor and through Alan Dershowitz, also believed to be a pedophile. A Florida church has claimed the deed to the isolated Zorro Ranch outside of Stanley, New Mexico that Epstein purchased in 1993 now tied up in a court battle in Santa Fe and languishing on the market for $18 million. In a 2016 deposition Virginia Giuffre told a court that when she was sixteen Epstein madam, Ghislane Maxwell aided and abetted her rapes there. Giuffre went on to work for Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Today, Trump is a clear and present danger according to Judge J. Michael Luttig, a former clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia.

Eastman’s phone could contain documents that would compel the feds to seize that property, too.


Democrats are pushing back on Earth haters' opposition to proposed BLM rule; oil and gas leases sold anyway

Earth haters, including in my home state of South Dakota, are having (halving?)  a cow over the Bureau of Land Management's proposed Conservation and Landscape Health rule

Most of the vegetation on the 274,000 surface acres of BLM in the South Dakota district is prairie grassland or juniper woodlands but the trees at the Fort Meade Recreation Area are ponderosa pine and bur oak. Around Lead and Deadwood pine and oak are mixed with spruce, birch, and quaking aspen. Much of it is leased for pennies a head to welfare ranchers for grazing including some four thousand acres at the Bismarck Trail Ranch and the BLM leases land to bentonite miners around Belle Fourche, too. 

In 2002 the Grizzly Gulch Fire cleared invasive grasses from BLM ground near Deadwood.

Now, Democrats including US Representative for New Mexico's First District Melanie Stansbury are flipping the whoppers cooked by House Republicans and Koch-addicted South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem back at them.
“The actual proposed rule text actually says that the conservation leasing would establish conservation leases for a period up to 10 years for very specific purposes, which includes for restoration of land, mitigation, essentially, for conservation and restoration activities,” she said. “And then it goes on to say very explicitly, and this is a direct quote, ‘this provision is not intended to provide a mechanism for precluding other uses, such as grazing, mining, and recreation conservation leases should not disturb existing authorizations, valid existing rights, or state or tribal land use management.’ So the rule itself has already been very clear about this. It is not intended to disturb other purposes. It’s a tool to enable leasing activities on BLM lands to improve conservation activities as part of restoring intact landscapes.” [Stansbury addresses what she calls misinformation about the BLM’s conservation leasing proposal]
Yes, in 2021 while Mrs. Noem was in Texas hoeing in the cash by the boxful Democrat Melanie Stansbury buried her Republican opponent in Albuquerque.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) New Mexico State Office conducted a lease sale this week, offering 45 parcels totaling 10,123 acres within Cheyenne County, Kansas, and Eddy, Lea, and Chaves counties, New Mexico, on public lands managed by the Roswell Field Office, Carlsbad Field Office and Oklahoma Field Office. In total, 37 parcels totaling 8,596.25 acres sold for a total of $78,844,369. Information on current and upcoming BLM lease sales is available through the National Fluid Lease Sale System. [BLM Holds Oil, Gas Lease Sale]
In 2015 spurred by a nationwide initiative to protect sage grouse habitat and the first revision of the BLM Resource Management Plan in 27 years, tribes took part in a review of public properties and mineral rights in South Dakota. 

Today, the BLM and US Forest Service have bonded to protect part of the Pactola watershed but Mrs. Noem is hesitant to preserve those acres because she's getting campaign dollars from the foreign miners that want to exploit the occupied Black Hills for private gain.

Ginned up by Ammon Bundy and Margaret Byfield there’s no telling how bad the violence will get in western states.
Watt perpetuated the idea that federal lands transfer was religiously justified. This is something that, during my work on Bundyville, became more and more apparent: from the Bundys, to former Rep. Matt Shea, and beyond. People believe the Earth is here for them to use, and abuse, because God bestowed it to them to do so. For Kaczynski, he lived by his own kind of religion, too: when he was arrested, he was living in a primitive cabin in Montana, off-grid, beyond reach, surrounded by bomb parts, and all alone with his world-ending ideas. [Leah Sottile, 35. James Watt & Ted Kaczynski]

ip image: Chaco Culture National Historical Park.


Socorro exhales as Bandidos bury biker

Red River, New Mexico is a town of about 600 souls that gambled on some 28,000 bikers but was terrorized by members of rival outlaw motorcycle gangs so the mountain hamlet will no longer advertise its Memorial Day event as a motorcycle rally destination. 

Las Vegas, New Mexico has canceled its motorcycle rally as the US Marshals Service and other federal law enforcement agencies warn of heightened, even unprecedented violence among OMGs. Motorcycle gang violence in Oklahoma City took the lives of three bikers in April.
Other than an estimated 400 Bandido motorcycle club members in town celebrating the life of Damian Breaux on June 10, life went on as usual in Socorro, New Mexico. Some of the multiagency police task force’s efforts were not so subtle, like the unmarked helicopter equipped with a large camera that repeatedly circled the Socorro County Convention Center. Anyone writing down the chopper’s “N” number for a check later would find the answer of “no return” for the aircraft from the Federal Aviation Administration. [Peaceful day in Socorro for biker funeral]
In the 1960s and 70s Deadwood, South Dakota's most famous brothel owner, Pam Holliday gave generously to charities, befriended the motorcycle gangs that came to the Black Hills and offered a safe house for gun smugglers, cocaine and "speed" or "bennies," the old names for amphetamine.
Prosecutors have dropped a murder charge stemming from a May 27 shootout at a motorcycle rally in Red River because, the district attorney said, moving forward could put the ongoing investigation into the melee at risk. Waterdogs biker gang member Jacob Castillo, 30, of Rio Rancho was charged with first-degree murder after he was accused of fatally shooting 46-year-old Damian Breaux of Socorro, one of three men killed when violence erupted at the annual Red River Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally. [DA says Red River murder charge dismissal due to ongoing investigation]
The law enforcement industry is bracing for retaliatory violence likely to wash over into the 2023 Sturgis Rally in occupied South Dakota where the Bandidos and Mongols have warred in previous years.

Photo: Bob Newland.


Law enforcement alerting on Bundy, civil violence

James Wesley Rawles coined the phrase American Redoubt in 2011. From his SurvivalBlog.com he supposes Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, eastern Oregon and Washington are survivalist havens for the christian nationalist movement. 

White christians are using their interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment to rationalize their commitment to a pending race war pointing at the standoff at Ruby Ridge, the federal storming of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City and Donald Trump's attempted coup at the US Capitol. 

Late in President Barack Obama’s second term a group of armed thugs allied with Ammon Bundy looted and occupied a national wildlife refuge for forty days in Harney County, Oregon. Think Katrina: if civil order is suspended these idiots will kill only the those innocents they feel are inferior or damaged so unarmed and unprepared people would be preyed upon by those monsters unrelentingly.

Today, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI, US Marshalls Service and state officials are warning of white christianic zealots telegraphing pending violence against law enforcement especially in Oregon and Idaho.
Ammon Bundy has consistently demonstrated a blatant disregard for the rule of law," Idaho Leaders United wrote. "By refusing to follow the most basic court proceedings by which all law-abiding Americans must adhere to, he mocks our legal system and the dedicated public servants duty-bound to carry out court processes." [Boise Public Radio]


Marshall Fire lawsuits could torch Xcel Energy

Update: "PacifiCorp may have to pay out billions of dollars in damages after being found liable in a series of destructive wildfires over Labor Day weekend in 2020."


Utilities are not your friends.

Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy screws customers in Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and New Mexico. In 2013 the firm cashed in on its own vulnerable downed power lines it fixed with federal money in Minnesota after a record snowfall linked to climate disruptions it's partly responsible for. In my home state of South Dakota Xcel proposed the remediation of contaminated areas to permit unrestricted use of the Pathfinder nuclear site and spent more than a million bucks on ballot issues.

In Colorado alone the company and its shareholders got rich growing cannabis by burning coal and in 2014 Xcel gave nearly $20,000 to South Dakota's Republican congressional delegation. In 2015 Xcel slow-walked grid ties for subscribers with home grown solar in its home state and in Colorado the syndicate charges homeowners .17 a kWh in base rates but only pays .08 cents per kWh to subscribers with rooftop solar. 

In 2016 an Xcel principal engaged in a violent crackdown of pipeline activists. In 2017 Xcel used federal production tax credits to build South Dakota's biggest bird and bat killer. In 2022 a proposed ballot measure, called Initiative 93, would have required Colorado's investor-owned utilities — Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy — to pay at least five percent of their revenues back to customers. Here in New Mexico Xcel Energy adds a surcharge for customers who choose a photovoltaic power grid tie. 

Recall Black Hills Energy started the 2002 Grizzly Gulch Fire that almost torched Deadwood and in California PG&E shelled out billions after its transmission lines started wildfires in 2018. South Dakota-based NorthWestern Energy burned down the town of Denton, Montana in 2021.

Xcel gives twice as much campaign dough to Earth haters like Kristi Noem than to Democrats and just recently South Dakota's public utility commission rejected a request for an eighteen percent rate increase but approved one for six percent. Why was the request so high? Because Xcel knew it helped to burn down over a thousand houses and caused over two billion dollars damage in Colorado's Marshall Fire and a lawsuit had already been filed in March.

In light of findings in the causes of the conflation a third lawsuit was filed against Earth hater Xcel in Colorado courts and experts expect many more. It could be the end of an horrendous history.


Stigmatized death camp still a pain for SD county named for a war criminal

Just before Christmas coming up on ten years ago Brady Folkens of Brookings died in state custody after a botched diagnosis by an unqualified medical attendant at the former State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy in a South Dakota county named for a war criminal. After a public whimper petered out the death camp was shuttered and the sprawling property carved from the heart of Indian Country put up for auction. 

The stigmatized site was sold four times at sequentially reduced prices after the first buyer bounced a check to the state, the financing was unworkable or the scope of work proved too great. The State of South Dakota had been removing asbestos, lead paint and other hazardous materials even before Brady Folkens died but progress has been slow as the state's gutted environmental division is ill-equipped to advise developers.
The owner of the three former State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy homes that now sit in the right of way on one of the streets in the subdivision on the property that was at one time STAR Academy said moving the homes has been “more of a challenge than he ever imagined.” At the May 10 meeting of the Custer County Commission Tom McDill joined the meeting via phone from Austin, Texas, saying he has been working on moving the homes and would come to the next commission meeting to discuss the situation. The commission earlier in the meeting passed a motion to authorize state’s attorney Tracy Kelley to serve McDill with a notice saying he must remedy the situation within 30 days by removing the homes from the right of way. McDill said he had earlier discussions with Kelley, saying it’s hard to get served with papers in Austin. [County talks Star Valley nuisances]
STAR Academy's predecessors, South Dakota Tuberculosis Sanatorium and Custer State Hospital at Sanator have macabre histories of their own. Custer State Hospital was part of my foodservice territory in the 1980s and early 90s so I heard testimony from several employees who knew of the torture and abuse heaped on clients with disabilities many unable to defend themselves. 

A cynical observer might see Republican former Governor Denny Daugaard's decision to close two state-owned boot camps as a vehicle to drive kids into the clutches of the Children's Home Society where he and accused child predator T. Denny Sanford enjoy financial interests.


Zornes: Republican micromanagement ruined BHNF

After a century of fire suppression, a decades-long moratorium on prescribed burns, a lack of environmental litigators and GOP retrenchment the Black Hills National Forest has been broken for decades

Wasicu have stolen the ground, plundered the resources, encouraged ponderosa pine to infest lands once dominated by aspen and sage, polluted waterways and depleted watersheds. Nine tribes have sued to force the courts to act on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management mismanagement where worker morale struggles to rebound from the terrors of the Trump term.

Slow-walking prescribed burns and the persistence of cheatgrass on federal and state ground are just more examples of the intense lobbying efforts of Neiman Enterprises and from welfare ranchers addicted to cheap grazing fees. Instead of allowing native aspen to be restored, stands of doghair ponderosa pine (ladder fuels that feed wildfires) cover much of the BHNF. 

Add the very high number of private inholdings that make the wildland urban interface (WUI) very large to one of the highest road densities in the entire national forest system and Region 2 to lots of logging, hardrock mining and pesticides that contribute to bat mortalities then understand why over a hundred species in South Dakota alone and millions worldwide are at risk to the Earth hating Republican Party.

Craig Bobzien lasted as supervisor for eleven years but retired in 2016 when the volume of shit hitting the fan just became too overwhelming.
The first person to confront that panoply after Bobzien was Jim Zornes, an acting supervisor whose Southern drawl stood out like a palmetto in a pine forest. He was one of many supervisors to be surprised by what he found in the Black Hills. “Ya’ll got inholdins’,” he proclaimed at one public meeting during his short tenure. He was talking about “inholdings” — parcels of privately owned land within a national forest — and he was right. The Black Hills has a lot of those, thanks in part to gold rush-era land claims that predated the creation of the national forest. After Zornes came Mark Van Every, a permanent hire who walked right into the kind of thorny controversy that’s a hallmark of Black Hills land management. The position of Black Hills National Forest supervisor was formerly known as a “primo” job, said Dave Mertz, who was the forest’s natural resource officer when he retired six years ago. Now, according to Mertz, people in the Forest Service ask, “Who would want this job?” [Eight supervisors, seven years: The ‘challenging’ Black Hills National Forest]
An interested party asked Jim Zornes to comment on that South Dakota Searchlight article and his remarks were only lightly edited because English is an evolving language.
Sure, the assumptions made in the commentary hinge on the Black Hills being “unique” in their many challenges. Not so; the challenges were made from subjective assumptions by a timber industry that is cutting more than ASQ [allowable sale quantity], political micromanagement “on steroids” and a Regional Office scared to death of both of the above!
The Forest is not much different than the Southwest in character, doesn’t have near the inholdings of Southern forests and timber interests similar to the Northwest in the early 1980’s. Had retirement not been shining in my headlights, I certainly would have jumped at the chance to stay. But alas, life was contributing greater opportunities for stones unturned!
The Hills have a great group of dedicated employees who are engaged in real (REAL) Forest management, along with the other magnificent resources. The State realizes what recreation means to their economy, partners are actively engaged, and it’s just “drop-dead” gorgeous country!
Now picture this with a Southern drawl, a “Bless your heart” attitude, and you have my response….🤠🤠 [Zornes, blog comment]
Rail cars bearing logs from California and bound for Neiman's sawmills have arrived at a siding in Upton, Wyoming


Fractures in SDGOP evident as violence threatens Big Tent

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."

Summit Carbon Solutions wants to dig a ditch for a $4.5 billion pipeline vulnerable to rupture and rip up over two thousand miles of unceded tribal lands where thousands of Indigenous Americans are buried then pump carbon dioxide to some sacrifice zone in occupied North Dakota ostensibly to be sequestered.
Summit also said it would be "improbable" that the company could get required federal permits for a river crossing to the south of Bismarck "based on lessons learned from the Dakota Access Pipeline." The Corps faced lengthy litigation from tribes that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and the agency is still working on a court-mandated environmental study of the DAPL river crossing six years after oil began flowing through the pipeline. [DAPL influenced Summit's CO2 pipeline route, analysis shows; final public hearing set Friday in Bismarck]
Mercenaries and National Guard troops brutalized many of the thousands of demonstrators camped on federal land near Cannon Ball where some 761 people were arrested between early August, 2016 and late February, 2017. Trump apparatchiks even referred to the American Indians and their compatriots as jihadists and insurgents. 

Montana and North Dakota both suffer the effects of man camps that prey on women and girls where rapes and murders committed by white predators have become commonplace.

Industrial agriculture is ecocide and for those of us who love the Earth shucks like Summit’s are subsidized corporate greenwashing but ironically many Republicans actually benefitting from caching greenhouse emissions decry them as caving to the Green New Deal. So Summit has turned to using eminent domain to condemn land for private enterprise provoking resistance from many Republican landowners and their surrogates.

Meanwhile, one of the most hated and polarizing figures in South Dakota politics is throwing up his hands in desperation as Earth haters in his political party are preparing to burn down the Big Tent. At his scandal sheet, Dakota War College obese Brookings blogger Pat Powers routinely smears principled conservatives who don't bend the knee to the South Dakota Republican Party establishment. 

Pernicious Pug Powers, who makes a stopped clock look like a smooth-running timepiece, salts his blog comment section with a seemingly infinite variety of aliases that threaten or jeer his political enemies including those in his own party then wonders why the SDGOP is headed for a rapid unscheduled disassembly and now he wants to bridge the divide?

Powers is also a shill for Summit.
Unfortunately, Republicans seems [sic] to be suffering from an identity crisis. Even within party politics, there are populists who are just dead set against success. They regularly attack Governor Noem. They throw rocks at her, as well as other people they perceive to be Republican party leaders. [Pat Powers, When the enemy is everything “big,” how do we measure success?]
In Iowa voluntary buffer strips and other conservation practices have simply failed desertifying parts of the state and causing the Raccoon River to be named one of the most endangered waterways in the United Snakes. Most of the corn grown in the US is fed to domestic livestock but a third of it will be processed for ethanol this year and subsidies of up to $700 an acre are the incentives to plant even more next year. 20 of Iowa's 99 counties are devoted exclusively to food that is ultimately burned for automobile fuel. According to Iowa State University some land impacted by pipelines never recovers from the disturbance. 

But, it's not just East River where violence from members of the Party of Lincoln threatens civil order. West of the Missouri River, Butte County Republicans are pitted against one another again but this time it's over a legal cannabis operation and the sheriff is warning residents of blowback.