N.M. Federal Lands News

by Frank DuBois

The Federal Land Council News

My column this month covers wolves, Smokey the water bandit, food stamps and toilet bowls

Wolves, Mexican and otherwise

Mexican authorities have announced that a litter of Mexican wolves has been born in the wild for the first time in over thirty years. Mexico has been raising breeding pairs in captivity and releasing them into the mountains of western Mexico.
A pair released in December of 2013 has been monitored by officials and a June sighting confirmed five wolf pups in good health. A spokesman for the recovery effort says this is an “important step in the reintroduction program.”
Back in the U.S, the Draft EIS on the revised Mexican Wolf and 10j rule are supposed to be published on July 25 and a public hearing on the proposed revisions will be held in T or C, New Mexico on August 13. We can probably count on the recovery area to be expanded in the north and south, and that any wolves found south of I-10 will have the full protection of the Endangered Species Act.
If that indeed occurs, all we’ll have to worry about is unaccompanied, minor wolves entering from Mexico.
Finally, we have a Congressman calling for “Wolf Safety Zones” around Yellowstone National Park. An Oregon rep has asked Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to work with Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho officials to develop a “wolf safety zone” around Yellowstone National Park, saying without one the health of the park’s wolf populations will suffer.
Think of the precedent that would set.  Consider all the parks, monuments, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas in New Mexico and then apply the safety zone concept to your favorite species.
Maybe, just maybe, someday a Congressman will propose “Rancher Safety Zones”. I’ve got some great ideas for that.

Smokey is thirsty

What is it about the Forest Service and water?
Last month we wrote about the Forest Service fencing cattle off water in the Lincoln National Forest to protect the meadow jumping mouse. Now the issue has moved north to the Santa Fe National Forest where they are proposing to fence cattle off around 230 acres so far. An allotment owner, Mike Lucero says “it’s very frustrating because we don’t know where we stand, and we’re going to have to spend money in litigation just to fight for our rights,” and “we’re fighting our own tax dollars. They’re using my tax money to put me out of business. Lucero sums it up by saying, “That’s ridiculous, and it’s sad.”  Yes Mike, it’s both and now there are reports they want to do the same on nearly 200 miles along streams and wetlands in a dozen counties in three states. And just to make sure that or worse happens, the Wild Earth Guardians has notified the Forest Service it will be suing for greater protections of the mouse’s streamside habitat, saying grazing authorized by the agency is a threat to the mouse’s existence.
I’m afraid to ask, but is there a Mexican meadow jumping mouse?
Here comes the Forest Service again, with a Proposed Directive on Groundwater Resource Management which has the Western Governor’s Association (WGA) and certain members of Congress upset.
In a letter to Ag Secretary Vilsack signed by 40 members of Congress (including Steve Pearce of NM) the lawmakers claim the proposed directive would initiate U.S. Forest Service authority over state-managed groundwater resources. The Congressional letter says the directive would claim that surface water and groundwater are “hydraulically interconnected” and allow the agency to object to state-regulated projects on “adjacent” land that might harm groundwater. 
The Western Governors have also written Vilsack saying, “Western states are the exclusive authority for allocating, administering, protecting and developing groundwater resources, and they are responsible for water supply planning within their boundaries. That authority was recognized by Congress in the Desert Land Act of 1877 and reasserted in a 1935 Supreme Court ruling.”
The governors are also miffed that the directive only identifies states as “potentially affected parties”.
In addition, the governors ask some important questions, such as:
Given the legislative and legal context, what is the legal basis for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and USFS assertion of federal authority in the context of the Proposed Directive?
How will USFS ensure that the Proposed Directive will not infringe upon, abrogate, or in any way interfere with states’ exclusive authority to allocate and administer rights to the use of 
The governors requested the Forest Service seek an “authentic partnership” with the states on this issue. Sorry, but I don’t know what that means and I wonder which governor wanted that wimpy language in the letter. Have they entered into “inauthentic partnerships” with the Forest Service in the past? Come to think of it, I know many ranchers who’ve had that experience.

Do you need a “nudge” from the feds?

The DC Deep Thinkers are at it again.  In an effort to get food stamp recipients and others to make healthier food choices, the USDA assembled a panel of “experts” who have issued an eighty page report on the matter.
Their six preferred strategies are: discount coupons, rebates of up to $60 for healthy food purchases on EBT cards, buy on get one free deals for folks in the program, a targeted marketing plan to promote healthy food; a USDA loyalty card; and new specialized shopping carts.
I’m sure you noticed this gov’t plan to fight obesity, with its discount coupons, rebates and buy one get on free deals, will enable folks to BUY MORE FOOD! 
Then there’s those “specialized” shopping carts, which one publication describes this way: 
The “MyCart grocery cart” would provide dividers for shoppers to make sure they are selecting enough items in each “MyPlate” category, the USDA’s food icon. The cart would be color-coded, physically divided, and have a system installed so that when the shopping cart reaches its healthy “threshold” it would congratulate the customer. “The algorithm would group the purchases to classify them using the MyPlate designations and to provide consumers with a message of support or encouragement (e.g., “You achieved a MyCart healthy shopping basket!”),” the report said.
Sorry, but my research says that all these free deals and loyalty cards, along with your shopping cart screaming at you, will definitely cause folks to be . . . constipated.
But never fear, your friend is here, and I’ve got a brand new apparatus.
Let’s call it the USDA, Grade A, MyFart Toilet Bowl. It too will be “color-coded”, be able to provide “a message of support or encouragement”, and have a system installed so that when the bowl reaches its “healthy threshold” it will “congratulate” you. Kind of a Happy Turd Day from the DC Deep Stinkers.  
And folks, my study will cost much less than the one you just paid $999,891 for. 
Till next time, be a nuisance to the devil and don’t forget to check that cinch.

Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner (www.thewesterner.blogspot.com) and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship (www.nmsu.edu/~duboisrodeo).