Hot droughts in the West are intensifying: paper

Is Earth fucked? 

Evidence that we humans have eaten or burned ourselves out of habitats creating catastrophes behind us is strewn throughout the North American continent. European settlement and the Industrial Revolution in the New World took hardwoods for charcoal then humans allowed fast-growing conifers to replace lost forests. Desertification driven by agricultural practices, overgrazing, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and urban sprawl have turned much of the United States into scorched earth

The Anthropocene is now. 

The Mesa Verdean ancients who occupied the Green Table for nearly a millennium grew to a population of about five thousand creating spectacular architecture and art-of-fact but ultimately consumed every living thing atop Chapin and Wetherill Mesas. Matrilineal and matrilocal, their resulting exodus took them east over the Continental Divide (possibly not for the first time considering their hunter-gatherer past) into the Rio Grande valley and settled Santa Fe where their descendants were all but wiped out by the invading Spanish forces. Puebloans in New Mexico accept their stations as members of the Fourth World. Theirs is a cautionary tale of ecological destruction followed by extirpation: a trophic cascade where human is the apex predator and decimates a landscape. 

Rangers at Mesa Verde National Park drive home a narrative of preserving ecosystems to visitors. There are specimens of Rocky Mountain juniper that date to the time of the departure of the puebloans: about eight hundred years old. The bark was used in most of the ways northwest Indigenous cultures used (and still use) it.

Have we reached Peak Human? Should Liberals and Progressives just say: "to Hell with biodiversity" and join the Earth haters in a final orgy of death, consumption and/or prayer? Coexist or kill them all and let Gaia sort 'em out?
We develop the Western North American Temperature Atlas (WNATA), a data-independent 0.5° gridded reconstruction of summer maximum temperatures back to the 16th century. Our evaluation of the WNATA with existing hydroclimate reconstructions reveals an increasing association between maximum temperature and drought severity in recent decades, relative to the past five centuries. The synthesis of these paleo-reconstructions indicates that the amplification of the modern WNA megadrought by increased temperatures and the frequency and spatial extent of compound hot and dry conditions in the 21st century are likely unprecedented since at least the 16th century. We find that the Great Plains region is historically most prone to experiencing anomalously warm and dry summers >2.0 σ, while the central/southern United States Rocky Mountains and much of California show the highest historical prevalence of concurrent warm summer temperatures and low winter precipitation. Once more, the spatial footprint of severe hot drought over the past two decades far exceeds that of any other period since at least the middle of the 16th century. [Increasing prevalence of hot drought across western North America since the 16th century]
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2024 wildfire season begins in earnest for red states

Republicans in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and even Montana are facing the effects of their climate denial this week as wildfires clear the eastern red cedar, dead fuels and grasses they've failed to manage. And they're not small fires either as the Smokehouse Creek Fire Complex spreads over 1.2 million acres of the Republican Texas panhandle where sixty counties face disaster declarations.


Today's intersection: Earth v. MAGA

The Republican god really hates Trumpistan


Red flag warnings begin for Republican counties

Well, it's the 25th of February and dead fuels are drying out fast: drought created by human climate interference, poor farming and ranching practices and care less attitudes among the MAGA crowd are driving Earth's biosphere into the dirt.  

National Weather Service offices in Pueblo and Boulder Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Goodland, Kansas; North Platte and Hastings, Nebraska and Cheyenne, Wyoming are forecasting red flag warnings for red counties while in Lubbock, Texas fire weather watches are posted until at least Monday where highs will reach the mid-80s with zero moisture in sight. 

There are three large uncontained wildfires burning in Oklahoma totaling over 1,100 acres and the evacuations of some OKC metro areas are being ordered at post time where fire officials are saying grass fires are "popping up everywhere." Forecasters predict Republicans in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas can expect extreme fire seasons that will be thirty days longer than normal as the region warms and eastern red cedar spreads through central Trumpistan.

Strong westerly winds and low relative humidity are forecast across the southern and central High Plains until at least Monday where elevated to critical conditions are likely. Grassland fire danger indices will reach the extreme category Monday as far north as southwestern South Dakota with moderate and high risk for other MAGA-held counties.


IAIA grad named 2024 AiR at SURF

After studying journalism at Black Hills State University, National Endowment For the Arts Scholarship Recipient Marty Two Bulls, Jr. studied printmaking and ceramics at The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe where he graduated with honors in 2011. 

Mr. Two Bulls spent several years as a working artist with exhibitions in New Mexico where he was an organizer, Director of Operations at 333 Montezuma Arts and the gallery manager at Santa Fe Clay before he came home to teach at Oglala Lakota College where he runs a graphic arts program he founded. After applying for the position he has just been named 2024 Artist in Residence at the Sanford Underground Research Facility or SURF in the former Homestake Mine under Lead, South Dakota. 

Democratic former US Senators Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson brought the need for a research facility to Congress and worked tirelessly to bring the project to fruition. But today, South Dakota is dumbing down requirements for math teachers because graduates flee and the state's governor is a reactionary cracker, the Republican Party ridicules educated people and perennially threatens funding for public radio.
“Open pit mining and mineral extraction was a major wound, not just to the land, but also, to my people,” Two Bulls said. “Our history is not necessarily an easy conversation to have in the Black Hills, but ignoring it is not the best way forward. I do come from a population whose version of history hasn't really been told. Art has the potential to express complex ideas in very short amounts of time. My goal as an artist, and also as an educator, is to be a good communicator and teacher who can express complex ideas and help people understand some of this difficult history.” [Marty Two Bulls Jr. Named SURF 2024 Artist in Residence]
That a dark matter lab named for a usurious, lecherous Republican billionaire would select an enlightened, forward-looking tribal leader to a residency sends an undarkened signal to the SDGOP to just shut the fuck up.


Idaho now facing talent flight, enriching doctors

Having fled Idaho new neighbors Brian and Lara are settling in at Russ and Bea’s old place. Lara is white but Brian is not so when they went into Twin Falls to shop the glares from the Earth haters were threatening enough and they have now found sanctuary here in Santa Fe County. 

Montana and Idaho are part of the American Redoubt where Ammon Bundy and the christianic religionists have holed up to wait out the End Times so even the Chair of the Idaho Republican Party is a Bircher. According to WalletHub Idaho is the third most lucrative state to practice medicine just behind Montana and South Dakota.
A new report shows Idaho has lost 22% of its OBGYNs since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022 – that's more than 1 in 5. Valley County Family care obstetrician and Coalition board president Caitlin Gustafson said while not all departures are necessarily a response to the bans, the dramatic and sudden decrease in physicians can only be attributed to the state’s restrictive abortion laws. [New report shows 'dramatic exodus' of Idaho OBGYNs since repeal of Roe v. Wade]
Just say it: radical christianic terrorism.


South Dakota doesn't even look like America

My home state of South Dakota is among the least ethnically diverse according to new surveys from WalletHub. Even the most diverse town in the state, Huron, is 203rd probably because of the Karen population but Sioux Falls is 381st and Rapid City is 395th.

The state is 34th in electorate representation, 46th furthest from US reference value, in 51st place for the number of women who own businesses and 49th in percentage of women who voted in 2020. South Dakota is 41st in 'sociodemographic' rank, 49th in 'public opinion' rank and 36th in 'economy' rank according to WalletHub

South Dakota is 50th in women-owned businesses and 41st in women's health care and safety. The bottom 8 states for women's well-being are all red and as a surprise to no one Utah looks the least like America but blue state Illinois looks the most like US.

South Dakota is rife with sobriety checkpoints, racial profiling makes I-90 a civil rights black hole and police just recently were stopped from forcing catheters into the urethras of the accused.  So, probably not coincidental to Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Lynn Arnold Noem (KLAN)'s political grandstanding is the flight of talent from the state and calls by its entire congressional delegation to ease immigration rules. Her christianic religionists are apparently void of any compassion and choose to blame Democrats for inflation as labor shortages drive wage increases. 

In 2020 Mrs. Noem sued to have the checkpoints that protected Native Americans removed from the highways on reservations. Now, South Dakota's governor is going full blown Netanyahu and planning to wall off the north bank of the Rio Grande to keep America white


Schweitzer, Tranel: utilities are not your friends

Democrat Brian Schweitzer was governor when this scrivener was living in Montana but after leaving office he chose not to run for the US Senate allowing raving lunatic Steve Daines to sashay into the seat. 

The sometimes bombastic but widely-liked Schweitzer became chairman of the board of Stillwater Mining Company, Montana's largest revenue producer. Schweitzer isn't a progressive by any stretch of the imagination but his populist appeal makes him a regional favorite among Democrats even though he has promoted coal and the Keystone XL pipeline. Recall that in 2009 when he was governor, Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based NorthWestern Energy was responsible for a gas explosion in Bozeman, Montana that killed a person and destroyed several businesses. 

In 2021 Schweitzer raked Montana Republicans after they gave special treatment to NorthWestern Energy calling it "a fine mix of Socialism and Crony Capitalism to match Russian President Vladimir Putin." Also in 2021 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. 

NWE thumbed its nose 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. 

Utilities are not your friends so on behalf of Northern Plains Resource Council, the Thiel Road Coalition and the Montana Environmental Information Center, Earthjustice filed suit over zoning jurisdiction of the parcel where the plant is being built but a judge ruled for NWE and Yellowstone County.
Schweitzer, speaking at a forum sponsored by Montana Conservation Voters, said the state Public Service Commission hasn’t acted in the consumers’ interest for several years, seizing on an October decision by the five-member PSC that made residential and small business electric rates the highest in the region for customers of NorthWestern Energy. Northwestern Energy is the state’s largest monopoly utility, with more than 400,000 metered electric customers and 300,000 natural gas customers. Customers of monopolies are legally recognized as “captive,” meaning they lack the free-market choice of shopping around for a better deal. [Schweitzer calls for shakeup of Montana utility regulators]
Monica Tranel is an attorney and candidate for Montana’s western District for US Congress.
NorthWestern’s motive is money. The bigger the kingdom, the bigger the king. NorthWestern’s corporate PAC contributes to Ryan Zinke’s campaign while he voted to cut funding for low-income heating assistance by more than 75%. If our elected officials won’t hold NorthWestern accountable, let’s hold our elected officials accountable. Let’s vote for people who will work for the people, and put the interests of our communities above profits for monopoly corporations. [Time for Accountability]
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. 

It’s endless — like wiping yer ass with a hula hoop.

On 16 February the US Environmental Protection Agency announced that crews working on the cleanup of an August, 2023 train derailment have recovered some 236,385 pounds of asphalt from the Yellowstone River just upstream from Laurel.


NM legislature passes psilocybin resolution

Our Lady of the Arroyo is part of a study testing the efficacy of microdosing psychoactive fungi. She reports mood leveling, easing of anxiety and a more grounded approach to her place on Earth during a time when Republicans are actively destroying the planet. 

New Mexico is one of some 22 states easing restrictions on psychoactive substances.
Sen. Jeff Steinborn, a Las Cruces Democrat, pulled in a Democratic House colleague and Republican Rep. Stefani Lord of Sandia Park as co-sponsors of SM 12, as well as Republican Sen. Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho. Proponents such as veterans groups, licensed therapists, physicians, and organizations like the New Mexico Psychedelic Science Society and Sol Tryp — a ketamine therapy and psychedelic advocacy organization based in Las Cruces — expressed their support for the memorial to lawmakers last weekend during a Senate committee meeting. Colorado, Oregon and several municipalities, including Washington, D.C., have adopted or are in the process of adopting psilocybin-based treatment programs. Colorado is even decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelic substances outright. [New Mexico Health Department directed to study psilocybin therapy]
My first experience with LSD was in California just after high school in 1971 but my first ingested psilocybin was in Brookings after leaving Missoula in 1981 and the experience was revelatory. This blog has been covering entheogens like cannabis, fungi, peyote, opium and ketamine since its beginning. 

Black Hills State University Professor Audrey Gabel was a tireless advocate for Black Hills habitat and took my calls when i was stumped. She told me oyster mushrooms were the best eating and thought my favorite, Hypomyces lactifluorum, are too tough to eat. She passed in 2011.

Colorado is firming up rules on therapeutic fungi. Learn more at a story behind a paywall at the Denver Post. More on ketamine at Kaiser Health News linked here.


Support for 30x30 initiative strong in Rockies yet violence looms

According to voters in the Rocky Mountain West President Joe Biden's 30x30 Initiative is popular even among Republicans.
“Issues that are the highest in 14 years of conducting this survey,” said Lori Weigel, one of the project’s pollsters. “They are at the highest levels of concern ever.” The poll contacted people online or by phone, with at least 400 voters in each of the eight Mountain West states — Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. [Bipartisan conservation poll shows increasing concern over environmental issues in Western States]
In July, 2023 the Center for Western Priorites found 92% of 10,000 comments encouraged the Interior Department to adopt the US Bureau of Land Management's Public Lands Rule as written or even strengthen its conservation measures.
To the delight of oil drillers, miners, trophy hunters, ranchers, farmers, loggers, and factory trawlers, the Biden plan calls for not initiating any conservation action at the federal level, instead ceding federal responsibility on this to local, parochial politics. If the intent of the 30x30 initiative is to give our struggling terrestrial and marine ecosystems the best chance possible to make it to the far side of the climate chaos this century, the current approach clearly fails. [Biden’s 30X30 Conservation Plan Falls Far Short of What Is Needed]
Nevertheless, Republican welfare ranchers ginned up by the likes of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Wyoming's US Representative Harriet Hageman, disgraced former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, American Stewards of Liberty rabble-rouser Margaret Byfield and others are plotting violence against public land managers in the West.

Republicans in Chaves County have joined with those in Luna County to resist the Mimbres Peaks National Monument according to the Roswell Daily Record.
The Antiquities Act of 1906 has been used by presidents of both parties as an instrument to preserve and protect critical natural, historical and scientific resources on federal lands. According to the Department of the Interior, since President Roosevelt, 16 U.S. presidents have used the act over 150 times to establish or expand national monuments. Congress may also pass legislation designating national monuments. Currently, the National Park Service manages 83 national monuments. The Bureau of Land Management administers 25 national monuments. And the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers six national monuments. [Arizona rancher files suit alleging Antiquities Act abuse]
Learn more at the Nature Conservancy.


Hybrid rail plan announced

From my inbox comes the following from Dan Bilka. 
Hello my fellow South Dakotans!! 

Now that the Project team has released the materials, I am pleased to announce that South Dakota, for the first time in Amtrak's 52+ year history, is on a Federally-created proposed map of passenger rail service! We are now identified on the "Proposed Network of Preferred Routes." 

South Dakota: On. The. Map!!  

The Long-Distance study process has identified two routes through our state. A Twin Cities - Sioux Falls - Rapid City - Cheyenne - Denver routing and a Twin Cities - Sioux Falls - Sioux City - Omaha- Kansas City and beyond routing. It has been through no small part, the efforts of All Aboard Northwest (in the room and at the table with the FRA during the workshops) and comments submitted by South Dakotans and our friends across the nation that has gotten us to this milestone. 

The presentation from the Round 3 workshops can be seen here.

This isn't the last step, this is only the first step, to return passenger trains to our state. We'll also continue making the case for more routes, ultimately, to be included for passenger rail (here's looking at you Milbank, Aberdeen, & Lemmon). 

Given the 52+ years of South Dakota being disadvantaged by not having passenger rail, I personally believe that we (along with Wyoming) should be a top priority to get on the map with passenger rail services again. With your help, support, and vocal interest to the FRA, our state leaders and congressional delegation, we can make it happen! 

South Dakotans, and all people in our region, deserve the same freedom of mobility, economic opportunity, and quality of life that passenger rail services bring! Together, we can make it happen.  

What's next? The final round of Workshops will be held later this year after which the final report will be delivered to Congress. Once delivered, we need Congress to act on these recommendations and bring these critically needed routes into reality. Once they act on these recommendations, these proposed routes will have to go through service development planning (and likely construction activities) prior to implementation. 

We need to get our Congressional Delegation; Senator Thune, Senator Rounds, and Representative Johnson on-board with passenger rail and help ensure that we're a national priority moving forward.

Read more about this Round of workshops from our partners at Rail Passengers here and here. 
Key to note: "As for the naysayers you may have read on social media, well, they’re entitled to their opinions. But nobody should draw conclusions about whether rail expansion is worthwhile just from looking at leaked sections of a vision map. And assuming that somehow a year and a half of concentrated full-time study would NOT include thinking about track conditions, capital investment, living patterns, equipment needs, or station placement and design? Well, that’s just plain silly. The FRA team didn’t just order out for pizza last month and sit in someone’s basement to draw up a map with Magic Markers. Everyone involved knows that the next step is a broad, high-level assessment of capital needs, ridership, social and economic benefits, and stages of readiness. And that’s coming in Round Four this Spring, setting the stage for additional route-specific detailed planning later on." 

Passenger Rail is feasible for South Dakota and it's up to us to make it a reality. Yes, it may take a number of years to realize but now is the best time to start working on that! Public Comments are now open on the Round 3 Materials until March 8th. Make your voices heard! 

Dan Bilka 
Co-Founder & President, All Aboard Northwest 
Coordinator, Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Coalition


A 2015 multi-modal intercity passenger rail plan proposed a route between Minneapolis and Denver that would serve just Sioux Falls in South Dakota but connect with the California Zephyr at Omaha as part of a Phase Two development. 

Mr. Bilka's expanded proposal does that and more. His maps are not entirely clear about how to use existing rail bed. Burlington Northern Santa Fe has track from Canton to Wolsey where it intersects with the Rapid City Pierre and Eastern then presumed into Pierre and Rapid City. 

My proposal for passenger rail from Minneapolis to Rapid City is a route from the Twin Cities or Mankato on the right of way owned by the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad to Brookings and Pierre then to Rapid City then to BSNF tracks at Alliance via Crawford, Nebraska then to Cheyenne and Denver.


FEMA testing Democratic resolve with NM wildfire compensation

Our Lady of the Arroyo worked at the Los Alamos Medical Center during the Las Conchas Fire and told her man at post time that residents who lost homes and belongings mostly blamed Republican Governor Susana Martinez for her hesitation to ask President Barack Obama for an emergency declaration.

Every incident like that fire, the Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fire are teaching moments: episodes where humans are humbled by climate catastrophes created by our own failures. But like in 2011, New Mexicans who were displaced and burned out by the 2022 wildfire complex are increasingly frustrated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency as election year unfolds. 

Even New Mexico's Democratic congressional delegation is fretting the sluggish pace of compensation after under-monitored US Forest Service pile burns blew up ahead of a dry Spring. In January, Senators Martin Heinrich, Ben Ray Luján and Representative for the Third District Teresa Leger Fernández sent a second letter to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell hoping to expedite payments to claimants. So far, the Claims Office has paid out over $330 million or about 8% of the $4 billion fund and the office has received over $518 million in claimed damages. New Mexico is in FEMA Region 6.
John Mills, external affairs officer for the FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team Region 7, explained in a telephone interview on Jan. 19 that, up until this point, FEMA’s response to the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire was twofold: the disaster response under the Stafford Act and the response via the Claims Office. [FEMA officials assure residents process will speed up at Town Hall]
Tribes, well-funded local and volunteer fire departments could manage prescriptive burns, create defensible space and burn road ditches to create buffers where contract fire specialists don’t exist. But even government can’t always protect you from your own stupidity.

In New Mexico, Republican ideologues who poke at competitors and declare their derision for those in public service simply reinforce my quest to move the Forest Service into Interior as a sister agency or even married to the Bureau of Land Management in cooperation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and local tribal governments.
There is a simple answer to the dilemmas faced in disbursement of financial restitution to the victims of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fires. FEMA needs to stop perceiving those whom they serve as opponents who should simply submit to receive whatever FEMA wishes to disburse. Learn from us. Becoming cooperative partners in this effort stands to benefit FEMA as well as the people served. [Nosotros la Gente: Don't give up] 
Unless claims are processed more quickly Democratic voters in San Miguel and Mora Counties are going to stay home in November putting New Mexico's blue state solidarity at risk.

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Today's intersection: geothermal energy and a proposed transmission line


In South Dakota’s Black Hills the US Department of Energy, New Mexico's Sandia Labs, Los Alamos National Laboratory, South Dakota School of Mines and others are collaborating on the potential for generating electricity using Enhanced Geothermal Systems. 

Los Alamos County is a member of the Coalition of Sustainable Communities New Mexico and the city has been part of Local Governments for Sustainability since this interested party has lived in the state. LANL boasts its electricity needs are 31% carbon pollution-free so the National Nuclear Security Administration wants to erect a transmission line across the Caja del Rio wilderness from a substation that generates some of its power from a photovoltaic array.
However, the project would require amending the recently revised Santa Fe National Forest Management plan to allow for a utility corridor through the Caja. But, as of right now, the impacts to cultural and historical sites are still missing. As it turns out, there are ways to avoid building a new transmission line. This includes establishing a microgrid, upscaling renewable energy and simply updating the lab’s technological capabilities. [Proposed Caja del Rio transmission project near LANL raises concerns]
The Las Conchas Fire started in late June of 2011 when an aspen tree fell onto power lines in the Jemez Mountains then quickly spread into Los Alamos and became one of the most extensive wildland fires in New Mexico history. 

Tritium, a naturally occurring radioactive isotope of hydrogen that can cause birth defects and spontaneous abortions, has been found in groundwater near Los Alamos National Laboratory. Today, Cochiti Reservoir at the confluence of the Rio Grande and Santa Fe River is a radioactive sewer impounding millions of cubic yards of silt contaminated with chromium and the effluent from thousands of upstream septic systems after decades of bomb making at Los Alamos.
The House of Representatives takes a step closer to expanding Geothermal Energy in New Mexico by passing House bill 91 with a vote of 60-5. Over 25 million dollars from the General Fund would be appropriated to support the research and creation of geothermal plants in New Mexico. The Funds would be Managed by the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department and the Energy Conservation and Management Division would distribute the resources to private non- profit public or tribal entities for the expansion of geothermal technology. [Geothermal Heats Up the House]
Naming a dark matter lab 5000 feet below Lead, South Dakota after a lecherous, usurious Republican billionaire sticks in plenty of craws in my home state yet real science is getting done there. The Sanford Underground Research Facility in the former Homestake Mine under Lead represents 8000 feet closer to the geothermal potential capable of powering much of the region.

LANL sits on part the Valles Caldera, a massive geothermal feature.


AFBF culture war heating up over proposed national monument

Under provisions of the 1906 Antiquities Act President Joe Biden's America the Beautiful initiative includes protecting some 245,000 acres of Chihuahuan Desert and Florida Mountains in Luna County, New Mexico.

Most of the proposed Mimbres Peaks National Monument is on US Bureau of Land Management ground and could provide nearly $12 million in new economic activity, support over eighty new jobs and generate thousands of dollars in new state, county, and local revenues. 

But of course Republicans like Yvette Herrell and the Earth hating American Farm Bureau Federation are leading opposition to the plan. AFBF is notorious for conflicts of interest and denying the human effects on a warming climate while lobbying extensively for crop insurance in the federal farm bill and against Waters of the United States or WOTUS rules. 

Margaret Byfield is the daughter of a couple with ties to the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion and in Nevada they grazed their cattle without permits on federal land. In 2022 her group, American Stewards of Liberty presented anti-Earth resolutions to a receptive Otero County Commission and the San Juan County Commission heard two resolutions dealing with land use issues after watching Byfield's dog and pony show. Her husband, Dan has been a lobbyist for the Texas Farm Bureau.
The area holds critical water resources that are important for the breeding, foraging, and migration of the region's wildlife. Prominent species include the Persian Ibex, pronghorn, mountain lion, mule deer, Coues deer, black bear, elk, javelina, fox, badger, eagles and other raptors, and quail. [Efforts to Establish Mimbres Peak National Monument Underway in New Mexico]
Learn more at Protect Mimbres Peaks.


Today's intersection: old growth forests and the farm bill

Despite what Republican governors say trees growing on public land in the Mountain West are not agriculture any more than wild salmon are aquaculture. 

European settlement and the Industrial Revolution in the New World took hardwoods for charcoal then humans allowed fast-growing conifers to replace lost forests. Desertification driven by agricultural practices, overgrazing, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and urban sprawl have turned much of the United States into concrete heat islands. 

One need look no further than the Black Hills National Forest for how politics has completely altered a landscape but there are plenty other public lands examples that illustrate the red state, blue state divide. Here in New Mexico public comments on the revised forest plan look way different than how they read in my home state of South Dakota and in the Wyoming Black Hills. Ponderosa pine only reached the Black Hills about four thousand years ago and as many readers are aware the first US Forest Service timber sale took place near Nemo but only after nearly all the old growth of every native tree species had already been cleared for mine timbers, railroad ties and construction. 

In June, 2022 US Forest Service Chief Randy Moore told a congressional committee that before widespread settlement in the West populations of ponderosa pine were about forty per acre but are as high as 600 per acre today. Dense stands of water-sucking, heat island-creating ponderosa pine concentrate volatile organic compounds or VOCs that become explosive under hot and dry conditions. The aerosols are like charcoal starter fumes just waiting for a spark. 

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 USFS to current wildfires and conditions on the National Forest System.

Nevertheless, Republican governors who rely on socialism, Kristi Noem, Greg Gianforte, Mark Gordon, Brad Little, Spencer Cox and Joe Lombardo sent a letter to President Biden and US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack opposing an amendment addressing mature and old-growth plans for units of the NFS.
Conservation and forestry groups are also calling for the farm bill to build out the agro-industrial infrastructure that other commodities enjoy. They want funding for public and private seed repositories and tree nurseries; incentives to develop markets for new wood products; and new research and technical assistance into wood products at universities and agricultural extension offices — all initiatives that could make it into the final omnibus. The wood industry wants to use it, but needs farm bill programs to help set up the new production lines and markets it says are needed to help fund that logging long term. Environmentalists have one overriding demand for the farm bill, which crosses out of forestry into the wider debates over the role of climate and carbon policy in agriculture. But environmentalists and climate scientists argue that there are plenty of ways to do forestry that are bad for both ecosystem and climate — and that lawmakers need to be careful before giving farm bill funding and imprimatur to ones without clear climate benefits. [Legislators, lobbyists look to farm bill to save American forests]
These aren't natural forests where wildland fires burn: they're largely second-growth pine monocultures allowed to overrun aquifer recharges after a century of fire suppression. Roads not built for logging because they’re erosion menaces are carved into hillsides willy-nilly to fight wildfires nonetheless.


Bloodbath expected in Montana's Earth hater primary

Mayhem and bedlam are expected as Earth haters, Tim Sheehy and Matt Rosendale duel to take on popular Democratic Montana Senator Jon Tester

In 2011 this interested party met Senator Tester when sixty five Democrats welcomed him to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. An organic farmer, Tester even shared a stage later that year with then-Prince Charles and addressed the Future of Food conference at Georgetown University. 

Today, Montana's Republicans are wielding the power of government to stifle free enterprise in a state where freedom used to be paramount. Realtors in Montana are even capitalizing on racist paranoia amid Donald Trump’s calls for the End Times.

With help from Sen. Tester the Big Sky Rail Authority, twenty Montana counties and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai, Northern Cheyenne and Apsáalooke Nations are closer to bringing the former North Coast Hiawatha to life. The Authority hopes to restore passenger rail across southern Montana from North Dakota to Idaho and include some 47 stops in seven states.

Jon Tester was a veterans advocate before he even went to Congress. His VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act directs the Veterans Administration to begin clinical trials to test the effects of cannabis as therapy for chronic pain and to treat the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disease (PTSD). Sen. Tester still does the work and enjoys the highest approval rating of any US Senator among the members of our party. Even a majority of unaffiliated and sixty percent of all Montana voters support his efforts in an increasingly hostile red state.
Montana Sen. Steve Daines, who chairs the NRSC, has previously endorsed Sheehy. On Friday he issued a statement saying, "It's unfortunate that rather than building seniority in the House, Matt is choosing to abandon his seat and create a divisive primary." In 2018, Trump visited Montana several times to support Rosendale's unsuccessful bid to unseat Tester. Daines took aim at that failed attempt on Friday saying, "Republicans cannot risk nominating a candidate who gave Jon Tester the biggest victory of his career." [Setting up a bitter Montana GOP primary, Rosendale enters high-profile Senate race]
Sen. Tester leads his opponents overwhelmingly in fundraising with over $11 million on hand. 

Proving irony has been thoroughly disemboweled, Rosendale even called US Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning an ecoterrorist but proven ecoterrorist, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has endorsed Sheehy. Koch whore Rosendale was greased by American Crystal Sugar, a top sedition backer

Montana has added the most personal loan debt in the US and is the most lucrative state to practice medicine despite being sixth of states where people are leaving their jobs in droves as a so-called 'Freedom Caucus' is actively disenfranchising Native voters, ending civil liberties, stoking violence against medical providers and driving up the cost of real estate.


Olson following Trump into the shitter

Back in 2010 Shad Olson and his TEApottyers were salivating over the appearances of Glenn Beck and Ted Nugent, two of the leading voices in a movement best described as Batshittery on Steroids. In 2011 he incited his readers and listeners with a Turner Diaries-like piece of prose meant to kill medical providers. 

In 2019 he eviscerated obese Brookings blogger Pat Powers who routinely smears principled conservatives who don't bend the knee to the South Dakota Republican Party establishment. In 2020 Olson teased a primary run against Senator John Thune (Earth hater-SD). 

Today, Olson's Faceberg page is one money-grubbing, Trump-worshiping, woman-hating, Democrat-killing, RINO-bashing post after another. But now, it looks like his goose is finally cooked. According to Republican-establishment tabloid, Dakota Scout, Olson in in the Meade County Jail on a domestic violence charge.

Pernicious Pug Powers, who makes a stopped clock look like a well-greased machine, salts his blog comment section with a seemingly infinite variety of aliases that threaten or jeer his political enemies. Powers and his rotund wife have recently separated.


Republican governors are feigning compassion at the southern border

Remember when "compassionate conservatism" was a thing?

Today's Republicans: cops on horseback whipping refugees are heroes. 

Also Republicans: cops who defended the Capitol during Donald Trump's attempted autogolpe are traitors.

"The prevalence of poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence and suppression of speech" reads a lot like Texas, innit? 

After being brutalized by riders on horseback in Texas some fifty Haitian and Brazilian asylum seekers were subjected to dire circumstances and denied access to legal counsel while detained at a private prison complex contracted in Estancia, New Mexico by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the US Marshals Service. 
When Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte traveled 1,742 miles from the Helena Capitol to the made-for-television event at the border of Texas, the publicity stunt was a rat’s nest of ginned up outrage, insurrection and an unserious analysis of complex problems that have been evolving for decades. What Gianforte is telling us is that he’s willing to support the law so long as it conforms to his beliefs, after that it’s razor wire. And in this same nation, with these same politicians who speak with tears about the role of Jesus and the Christian church, these immigrants — strangers — are met with accusations of being criminal monsters. [Standing with Texas while leaving Montana to fend for itself]
Probably not coincidental to Kristi Noem's political grandstanding is the flight of talent from South Dakota amid calls by its entire congressional delegation to ease immigration rules. Noem’s christianic religionists are apparently void of any compassion and choose to blame Democrats for inflation as full employment and labor shortages drive wage increases.
The U.S. construction industry lost nearly 30% of its workforce during the Great Recession of 2008, and had barely recovered before the COVID-19 pandemic hit it again, as outlined by a study shared last spring by economists at the University of Utah and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The authors attributed much of the shortage, however, to the federal Secure Communities immigration crackdown of the Obama administration. “If a shortage of lower-skilled labor makes it more difficult to find workers to finish framing a house, this will also reduce demand for electricians and plumbers required at the subsequent stage of construction,” the authors wrote. [The US needs homes. But first, it needs the workers to build them.]
There may be no amount of money some employers can pay workers who already know the risks of working for The Man. Talent is fleeing South Dakota and Montana as Republicans tout dystopianism as the best feature of their offerings to employees. But, it’s not about laziness, it's about equity or Maria shrugged, if you will. 

Diversity, equity and inclusion: Trump state economies are in the toilet according to Creighton University's Ernie Goss so Republican governors are clearly suffering hypocritheocracy on meth.


Upper Rio Grande water pinch likely means more geoengineering

Water wars are hardly new in the Southwest. Texans backed Earth hater Susana Martinez for governor believing they could call in favors after she was elected. 

Watersheds in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico provide between 50-75% of the water found in the Rio Grande but irrigators in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas take at least 80% of that from the 1,885 mile long river. At least fifteen native fish species and their aquatic habitat once found in the southern portion of the Rio Grande are now gone because the river dries up every year. The 1938 Rio Grande Compact limits Colorado to 100,00 acre feet and New Mexico to 200,000 acre feet each year. An acre foot is almost 326,000 gallons.
A new rule approved by the area’s largest irrigation district, known as Subdistrict 1, and the Alamosa-based Rio Grande Water Conservation District, sets fees charged to pump water from a severely depleted underground aquifer at $500 an acre-foot, up from $150 an acre foot. The new program could begin as early as 2026 if the fees survive a court challenge. The Division of Water Resources has also created another water-saving rule in Subdistrict 1 that will force growers to replace one-for-one the water they take out of the aquifer, instead of allowing them to simply pay more to pump more. [Cost to water crops could nearly quadruple as San Luis Valley fends off climate change, fights with Texas and New Mexico]
The Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation ended its funding for geoengineering in the early 2000s but after the agency mandated conservation efforts in the states that rely on the Colorado River taxpayer dollars are being shot into Earth's atmosphere once again. 

Idaho is experimenting with liquid propane to modify the weather.

William R. Cotton is Professor Emeritus of Meteorology at Colorado State University. He says the practice can produce minimal results in winter and summertime seeding is probably fruitless but now there are eight state-permitted cloud seeding generators across Colorado.

ip image.


Picuris, Raton near casino agreement

Signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2022 as part of the federal appropriations bill funding is available for an existing portion of US 87 to become a newly constructed I-327 connecting I-27 at Dumas, Texas with I-25 at Raton, New Mexico.
A crowded Raton City Commission chamber discussed the pros and cons of future economic development and, after a lengthy discussion, passed a resolution on a 4-1 vote declaring 132.6 acres of city-owned land east of Raton as surplus property and approving a government-to-government transfer of the property to the Picuris Pueblo. It does not transfer ownership and the next step in one of many, is up to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Dept of the Interior to approve the transfer and then NM State Dept. of Finance and the Governor’s office, must also sign-off. After current City Manager Rick Mestas read the Resolution out loud, former City Manager Scott Berry was called upon to give some of the background of the discussions and Berry likened the project to a catalyst for other economic development. [City Moves Ahead With Initial Step for Land Transfer for Casino]
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). 

A thin layer of iridium, an element found in the Chicxulub bolide or impactor and separates the Cretaceous and Paleogene periods can be found near Raton.

The Picuris and the Pojoaque Pueblos have entered agreements with State of New Mexico to market cannabis product outside tribal borders. The Tewa words wõ poví translate to “medicine flower” and so far half of Pojoaque's clients are from Texas and other red states.


Trinidad stalls; Front Range passenger rail still years away

Who has the power to perform an experiment: make a deal with the Santa Fe Southern Railroad to Lamy, put a locomotive on each end of three or four coaches and put the Rail Runner into Trinidad, Colorado from New Mexico’s capital city?

In 2015 Peaceful Herbs on the historic Santa Fe Trail in Trinidad was our first stop in Colorado of a 3,744 road trip and Blue Widow was my first legal purchase of cannabis since that state boldly went where few had gone before.

In 2020 Game of Thrones author George RR Martin and two other New Mexico celebrities purchased the Santa Fe Southern and the depot in Lamy. Martin is a major contributor to Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe and to Omega Mart in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2021, Meow Wolf Denver opened Convergence Station in a 90,000-square-foot building at 1338 First St. 

When Democratic New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson found the money to build the Rail Runner it was intended to serve communities from El Paso to Denver but that has yet to materialize. Rail enthusiasts have been shoving the NM Legislature to equip it to operate as designed even as Colorado sorts out ways to add service between Trinidad and Denver but the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway, who owns the track, has been, to put it mildly, less than helpful. At over 8000 feet Raton Pass is a major obstacle that even Amtrak struggles to overcome.
As legal weed down the road in New Mexico dismantles the city’s once-booming marijuana industry, Trinidad residents are still waiting for the promises connected to a decade of unprecedented investment led by cannabis taxes and politicians eager to make Trinidad a model for how rural Colorado communities can join a statewide economic evolution. Kayvan Khalatbari, the founder of Denver juggernaut Sexy Pizza, in 2021 bought the historic Trinidad train depot and opened a new pizzeria. A brewery he leased space to in the building closed last summer. Last month he closed Sexy Pizza in Trinidad and left town, moving 25 miles south to Raton, New Mexico. He had a plan to build 12 units for his employees in Trinidad but did not qualify for state funding. Khalatbari estimates he spent $3.5 million to $4 million of his own money in Trinidad and he received one $10,000 grant. [More than $150M has been invested in Trinidad. Has it worked?]
Signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2022 as part of the federal appropriations bill funding is available for an existing portion of US 87 to become a newly constructed I-327 connecting I-27 at Dumas, Texas with I-25 at Raton, New Mexico. According to the Ports-to-Plains Alliance I-27 would someday connect with the Heartland Expressway at Limon, Colorado at the intersection of I-70 and State Highway 71 then cross I-76 at Brush and I-80 at Kimball, Nebraska. There is already a four lane from Kimball to Scottsbluff so the proposal is to go east from there to US 385 then north through Alliance. The system would ultimately connect to the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway at Rapid City and reach the Canadian border at Raymond, Montana.

Trinidad boasts an astounding inventory of historic properties many of which are at risk to deferred maintenance but smart investments could expedite track improvements that would help showcase such an overlooked trove.