N.M. Federal Lands News

by Frank DuBois

The Federal Land Council News

We have the Bundy Ranch, Smokey’s declining badges and the War on Meat…


The confrontation on the Bundy Ranch is back in the news, with enviro groups and a key Congresswoman pushing the BLM to file charges and remove the cattle.

At a recent budget hearing, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) grilled BLM’s Director. “Mr. Bundy and his band of armed thugs are dangerous. They have committed acts that are criminal by threatening federal employees,” said McCollum. “They should be held accountable. They should be prosecuted”, she continued and then asked, “What steps have been taken to stop this misuse of grazing without a permit and threatening federal employees who are just doing their jobs?”

The BLM can’t directly respond because the current investigation is being handled by the FBI and the Justice Department.

Elsewhere, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has written to the Secretary Of Interior and the U.S. Attorney General saying the fed’s silence has been “both deafening and deeply troubling.” The letter further states, “Bundy has violated the laws of the legislative branch, ignored the orders of the judicial branch to enforce those laws, and defied efforts by the executive branch to enforce three court orders.” They requested a public update by April 5, the one-year anniversary of the confrontation.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal is also expressing frustration with BLM’s lack of response to their FOIA requests. In a recent editorial the paper said they had “submitted multiple public records requests to the BLM under the Freedom of Information Act, but the agency has stalled and stonewalled the newspaper.” The paper also says, “The longer a government refuses to answer basic questions about public business, the more suspicious taxpayers become.”

It has also been reported that PEER has filed suit because of the non-response to their FOIA requests.

All of this does make one wonder. Or, as the Nevada paper editorializes, “What is the BLM trying to hide?”

Blue Smokey LEOs

Forest Service law enforcement officers are crying the blues over budget cuts.  As wildfire suppression consumes more of the budget less is left for the non-fire employees. The Forest Service budget justification for 2016 says the number of LEOs will decline from 813 in 2015 to 680 in 2016. The documents says the Forest Service will prioritize for life-threatening emergencies with an emphasis on drug trafficking, “particularly in California and along the Southwest and northern borders.”

“We’re basically the police in the woods,” says Matthew Valenta, a union spokesman for the group. “Our primary focus is resource protection, but we also do vehicle stops, DUIs…recreation vehicle enforcement and crimes against persons,” said Valenta. In a letter to the U.S. Senate he said the budget issue is affecting their ability to conduct investigations, “from minor infractions to serious felonies such as homicide, rape, assaults, domestic disputes, robbery, gang activity.”

We find ourselves in a situation where poor management by the Forest Service results in more, larger and hotter fires, which results in more spending for wild fires and less funds for non-fire programs.  One causes the other. The poor management is not all the Forest Service’s fault.  Congress passes the laws, enviros file the lawsuits and judges (appointed by the President and approved by the Senate) issue the decisions.  The whole thing is a mess and instead of fixing the real problems they want to change how fire fighting is funded.

And why is Forest Service law enforcement placing such an emphasis on the Southwest border? It appears the whole border has or is being designated as Wilderness, Wildlife Refuges or National Monuments where they can’t go at all or have limited access. Why place an emphasis on policing the border with Mexico when the administration says it’s “safer than ever”?  What does the Forest Service know that the President and his Secretary of Homeland Security either don’t know or aren’t telling us?

The spokesman says their top priority is “resource protection” yet they are involved in all kinds of non-resource infractions both on and off federal property.

Instead they’ve built a bureaucracy with their own chain of command at USDA.  And of course the copycats at Interior are doing the same.

Greenhouse gas from federal land

You knew it was coming sooner or later.  The Wilderness Society and the Center for American Progress have issued a report that says twenty percent of all greenhouse gasses are emitted from federal land and are calling for a full inventory of the sources. “Any comprehensive strategy to address climate change in this country should account for these emissions and present a strategy to reduce them, as well,” says one of the researchers.

This report is aimed at the oil, gas and coal industries.  But have you heard of methane? You can guess what’s coming next.

Fizzle on the sizzle

I’ve written before about the War on Meat, primarily through the dietary guidelines and the school lunch program.  Whether you are producing meat animals on federal, state or private lands, these programs affect you.

Now comes EPA to the battle. Joe Roybal at BEEF magazine has discovered an EPA grant for $15,000 to the University of California at Riverside. The purpose of the grant is to develop “Technology for the Reduction of Particulate Matter Emissions for Residential BBQs” and is part of the nationwide “National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet.”   Got that? Actually they are to develop a system for your grill that will prevent fat from catching on fire. Burning fat causes air pollution don’t you know.

I was gonna suggest you not invite any EPA employees to your barbeque. But that’s probably not enough protection. I’ll bet they’ve got a whole fleet of EPA Drones outfitted to detect illegal sizzling and if caught you will be fined for the first offense and lose your government permit to cook on your own property for any subsequent violations. Talk about your Cruel and Unusual Punishment, that would be it.

USDA weighing your babies

It’s not our calves or lambs they’ll be weighing, it’s our children.

Is this some evil study concocted by a team of bored bureaucrats? Nope, it’s Michelle Obama who pushed this, along     with your friendly Congressmen. The study is required by section 223 of Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by Mrs. Obama and passed in 2010.  U.S.D.A. will be measuring and weighing children in professional and home childcare facilities. According to a Federal Register notice, they will also collect data on the “nutritional quality of foods offered, physical activity, sedentary activity, and barriers to” healthy food and exercise in childcare.

All of this fits under the War on Obesity, and based on the government’s own figures, it’s not working. The Center for Disease Control reports that obesity among adults is 27.7 percent, up from 25.5 percent in 2008. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5 percent to nearly 21 percent over the same period. Who were the only ones who made progress? Those under six who hadn’t entered the government’s clutches yet. The rate of obesity among 2 to 5 year-olds decreased from 13.9 percent to 8.4 percent.

They are attacking our industry and invading family privacy, but its all for naught as their hectoring our citizens with their centrally planned dietary dictates is simply not working.

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).