Archive Search

To The Point

by Caren Cowan

Language, Fowl & Otherwise

I was blessed with a Grandmother that read to me often and once I learned to read, she had me read to her. No doubt that had a big impact on my vocabulary. I have been helped along with folks like Bill Humphries who every now and then throws out a word that I have to look up.

One of my favorite pastimes is to think up news ways of stating things that are inappropriate in most cases or have an ugly connotation in ways that are more palatable in polite society. It is totally appropriate to call chicken a fowl meal . . . as long as you spell it correctly. A domestic realignment sounds so much more civilized than divorce. Sometimes it even takes awhile for someone to figure out what I really said.

Thus, I generally admire creative use of the English language. What I really dislike is twisting the meanings of words for personal gain or special interest. For example take the word “adopt.” Dictionary.reference.com comes up with the following:

a·dopt verb (used with object)

1. to choose or take as one’s own; make one’s own by selection or assent: to adopt a nickname.

2. to take and rear (the child of other parents) as one’s own child, specifically by a formal legal act.

3. to take or receive into any kind of new relationship: to adopt a person as a protégé.

4. to select as a basic or required textbook or series of textbooks in a course.

5. to vote to accept: The House adopted the report.

Please note that there is NOTHING said there about dogs, cats, horses or other animals. Yet we all see or hear hundreds of images every week about adopting something other than a person or the child of other parents. Do you accept a responsibility for caring for these animals when you acquire them? Of course. But there is a vast difference in acquiring a pet or livestock versus adopting a child. All we are doing when we repeat this term incorrectly is adding to credibility to those who haven’t learned to apply the term correctly. There is a term for that — anthropomorphism. That term isn’t one that is in my wheel-house (another new term), nor is one that can roll off my tongue. According to Wikipedia it is the attribution of human form or other characteristics to anything other than a human being. Examples include depicting deities with human form and ascribing human emotions or motives to forces of nature, such as hurricanes or earthquakes. Anthropomorphism has ancient roots as a literary device in storytelling, and also in art. Most cultures have traditional fables with anthropomorphized animals, which can stand or talk like humans, as characters.

Then we come to another irritant. The word “rescue.” As “have a rescue dog, cat, horse or other animal.” Here’s what Dictionary.reference.com says about that:

res·cue verb (used with object), res·cued, res·cu·ing

1. to free or deliver from confinement, violence, danger, or evil.

2. Law. to liberate or take by forcible or illegal means from lawful custody.

noun

3. the act of rescuing.

Again, there is nothing here about animals, although it is not as clear as adopt, I think the same case can be made that the intent is for people — humans. I have a dog that rescued me when she was about two years old. She isn’t really social and there is no doubt that you will not mess with me when she is around. I choose to term her behavior as not very social which often brings an “ahhh, did you rescue her?”

Absolutely not. She was given to me by some very caring friends who knew “I needed a dog and who had a dog that needed a home” a few months after we had to put Betsy down. She is a happy, healthy animal . . . who may happen not to like you (or much of anybody else, so don’t take it personally). She didn’t fit into their breeding program (heaven forbid) and she needed a good home.

This probably isn’t a story I should even be telling. The breeding of dogs and cats is a major target of animal rights groups. They think that the only animal anyone should have is one that is adopted and/or rescued. You darn sure cannot “own” it and you had better not violate its rights.

To that end there are groups throughout the nation who are trafficking (probably another misused term) “rescued” animals illegally across state lines to give them to new homes . . . for a fee. There is also a substantial market of “rescue” animals from foreign countries because pet shelters are running out of animals to “adopt” out. All of this is going on while dog breeders are accused of being “puppy mills” as they raise dogs for people who appreciate certain breeds of animals.

Just as states with federal lands have been the first battle line for land use control via the Endangered Species Act and other statutory and regulatory actions, dog breeders are at the forefront of the eliminating of breeding programs. What will the next species be?

Then comes bureaucratic terminology

Wildfire is another term that has bothered me, but we will delve into that some other time. For now we can just consider the way the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) plays with words. For a long time the agency had “controlled burns.” Then the controlled burn that torched thousands of acres and half of the town of Los Alamos came along.

The term of art then became “prescribed fires.” That one made sense to me, but it seems that we have moved on to a new term — “managed fires.” That one makes about as much sense to me as a controlled burn.

I don’t really see how they can “manage” a fire any better than they can control it. Maybe it has something to do with the way fire is being attacked by the USFS. It seems that in places they no longer “fight” fire in the same way they used to. Some of that could be related to the magnitude of a fire and the way the forest has been allowed to grow out of control while eliminating the industries that used to provide the roads, equipment and often man power for the fight.

There are no timber roads, there is no timber equipment and there is no timber labor force anymore. Regulations have reached the point that if a rancher or someone else has equipment to help fight a fire, you have a hard time even giving it to the agency. You surely cannot operate it yourself.

So what is the primary method of fighting fire? They are just drawing a line around a fire, way around the fire and back burning. That might make sense until you consider everything that is burned within the back burn — fences, water improvements, and perhaps even livestock. For sure wildlife is at risk of becoming crispy critters under this management scheme.

Fortunately we haven’t had the terrible fires New Mexico and parts of Arizona haven’t suffered the past few years. We are just suffering from the effects of the much prayed for rain as it washes out burn scars. We will always keep the firefighters and their families who lost their lives near Prescott last year in our prayers.

The world we live in

The barrage of federal actions with impacts on land and water isn’t slowing down. It seems that every document that we find is more eye-opening and shocking.

In early August the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) issued a press release announcing that the sharpnose shiner and smalleye shiner — two minnows native to the arid prairie streams of Texas — are in danger of extinction, and are being listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Along with the final listing decision, the Service has also designated approximately 623 miles of the Upper Brazos River Basin and the upland areas extending beyond the river channel by 98 feet on each side as critical habitat for the two fish in the Texas counties of Baylor, Crosby, Fisher, Garza, Haskell, Kent, King, Knox, Stonewall, Throckmorton and Young.

The FWS went on to explain that “Critical habitat is a term in the ESA that identifies geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species, and which may require special management considerations or protection. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge or preserve, and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits.” (emphasis added)

During National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) summer committee meetings; this statement was brought forth in the context of the Clean Water Act regulatory proposal that is open for comment. The manager of a large Texas ranching operation questioned whether or not there could/would be a connection between the potential permitting required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the proposed rule and private lands that required federal permits. A pretty legitimate question.

There was a FWS representative in the meeting who answered there would not be any connection . . . but, he continued, he didn’t know anything about the EPA proposal. So, what was the answer???

What Should YOU Be Doing?

Comments on the EPA proposed rule are due on October 20, 2014. EVERY American needs to comment on this proposal. We are being told that the EPA has gone too far with this rule to withdraw it and that our only option is to put forth proposals that would make it more palatable. Of course that is from other groups who don’t seem familiar with the concept of “just say no.”

There will be proposals put forth from the agricultural community undoubtedly. We will keep you posted on what those are.

In the meantime YOU need to be preparing your comments. You need to tell your own personal story and what will happen to your family, your ranch, your community if the federal government seizes control of virtually every drop of water in the United States. The NCBA has set a goal of getting 10,000 comments in from the cattle community (that’s about a third of their membership).

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA is requesting 5,000 comments from the state. That well exceeds the membership of the organization so you might consider joining when you file your comments.

Watch the mail, the email, the web, Facebook and this column in September for talking points and how to file those comments.

Protect YOUR Wages!

The EPA has also issued a proposed rule that would allow themselves the ability to garnish wages, and presumably other federal payments including income tax refunds, without a court order. The comment period on this action has been extended to September 2, 2014. Let’s get 5,000 comments in on that, too!

To comment, visit: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OA-2014-0012-0002 Summary: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to amend EPA’s claims collection standards to include administrative wage garnishment. This rule amends the EPA’s debt collection regulations to implement the administrative wage garnishment (AWG) provisions of the Debt Collection Act of 1982, as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA). The proposed rule will allow the EPA to garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order. In the Rules and Regulations section of this Federal Register we are approving an amendment to EPA’s regulations on claims collection standards by using administrative wage garnishment as a direct final rule without a prior proposed rule. If we receive no adverse comment, the direct final rule will go into effect and we will not take further action on this proposed rule.

Addresses: Submit your comments by one of the following methods:

1. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

2. Fax: 202/565-2585.

3. Mail: OCFO-2014-0001; FRL-9910-13-OCFO, FPPS c/o Anita Jones, OCFO/OFM/FPPS, Mail code 2733R, Environmental Protection Agency, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460.

Comments may be submitted electronically by following the detailed instructions in the ADDRESSES section of the direct final rule located in the rules section of this Federal Register.

No more room . . . but please attend the latest round of wolf hearings on August 11 in Pinetop, Arizona and in T or C, New Mexico on August 13!