To The Point

by Caren Cowan

Perspective . . .

Numerous times recently people have asked “what is going to happen to our country” or “what are people thinking?”

I just got a new iPhone 5S with Siri on it. Believe me it is a culture shock on all levels, but this morning it took the cake. I had asked Siri to make a call for me. There were two numbers in my phone for that person, so Siri asked me which number to call. I said “mobile. Thank you.” Seri answered immediately and said “I don’t understand thank you. Please repeat selection.”

Ponder the implications of that. For those who are not familiar with who Siri is . . . that is a lady’s voice on the iPhone that responds to commands and gives driving directions upon request. Most of you guys probably really need one . . . but would likely prefer having one that understands the meaning of please and thank you.

Wolf Hearing Perspective

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) held its much heralded wolf hearing in Albuquerque in mid November. The lead in the Albuquerque Journal was something like “500 attend hearing, ranchers outnumbered 2 to 1.”

I got an email message back from one friend that noted that agriculturists are way less than two percent of Americans . . . so it was AMAZING that we were only outnumbered by that small margin. If you counted all of the International Wolf Center people that were flown to Denver for that hearing and then sent right down to Albuquerque the next day, the margin would have been less.

The turn out from the ranching and conservative conservation community was nothing short of admirable. The Americans for Prosperity (AFP) held a PACK THE HOUSE Gathering prior to the hearing so folks could get a little ginned (not in the literal sense) up and be at the front of the line for signing in to speak.

The wolfees were out in force, of course, and had their own pre-hearing meeting complete with a pup tent at the door. It had a sign that said “What REAL Women Use In Wolf Country” or close . . . It was positioned next to the eight foot poster picture of youngsters in Catron County in their protective Wolf Cages. Several women posed to have their photo taken with the poster and their tents.

I guess I missed their point. I wouldn’t crawl into one of those tiny tents for love or money . . . in my own backyard. Of course my idea of camping is a Holiday Inn Express with slow room service. I don’t know many people who would be proud to compare their bravado with the safety of children.

But that was just the beginning. As a good part of the crowd was getting seated for the hearing there was a strange sound in the hallway. Turns out that the wolfees had gathered at one end of the hotel for a howling march. There was a large banner in the front, followed by about 40 people, mostly middle aged to older women, and another banner. They trooped the entire hotel howling. They did make the front page of the Journal but missed out in getting seats for the duration of the hearing.

Not satisfied with that, there were those in the crowd who felt they had an axe to grind. After Andres Aragon testified on behalf of his soil conservation district and his community, one side stander made a smart remark about the concerns of Hispanics. After NMCGA Northwest Regional Vice President Ernie Torrez made his high passionate statement, a woman walked up to him and called him “despicable.” (He blew her a kiss in response.)

Then there were the two women who literally got in Laurie Schneberger’s face as she was trying to exit the hearing. They were asked to back off and let Laurie outside to no avail. It took a physical presence between them and Laurie before she was able to get out the door. One of them later tried to interject herself in a hall conversation with two NMCGA directors and two staffers . . . and then she remembered “that this is New Mexico where people aren’t friendly.”

Just an afternoon and evening of good, clean fun . . . not.

The end of the ONRW Story

Start looking for those dead bodies.  The N.M. Supreme Court punted on making a decision on whether or not the NMCGA had standing to appeal the decision of the Water Quality Control Commission. They “quashed” our motion rather than rule on it. In effect the motion was denied without having to own the decision.

Don’t Believe Anything You Read . . .

Especially about the passage of a grazing bill out of the US Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee on November 21. The measure, sponsored by Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, was originally written by Karen Budd-Falen over three years ago. There was a similar measure introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Since its first writing, the bill has undergone some change, but remained a reasonable and viable bill right up until the Committee Hearing. Of primary importance were sections that mandated up to a 20-year term grazing permit and the use of categorical exclusions in some permit actions.

In committee the bill was completely hijacked by Senator Ron Wyden (OR) and N.M.’s junior Senator Martin Heinrich. Not only were the key provisions removed from the measure, but they were turned against the ranching community especially in Oregon and N.M.. Term permits may be extended from 10 to 20 years at the descression of the Secretary of the Interior, but there is a list of caveats that could put even 10-year permits in jeopardy.

Even worse is the voluntary “relinquishment” of up to 25 allotments in Oregon and N.M. as a pilot project. I guess we need more fuel for future catastrophic fires.

The insult to the injury is that the officers of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the national Public Lands Council (PLC) “hailed” the passage of this bill in the press. They were real proud that they got a bill passed . . . any bill apparently.

Inside sources indicate that the PLC attitude was that N.M. was on its own . . . N.M. has been on its own for 20 years – when the beltway folks decided they knew more about western ranching. And they are proud of it. Apparently the dues and donations to the NCBA, which N.M. does belong to, don’t buy even buy a phone call on a matter of this gravity.

The bill now must be killed at all costs. The real fear is that it will get rolled into some sort of omnibus bill and there is not a stand-alone vote on it in the US Senate.

Tongue in Cheek

There used to be three great lies:

  1. The check is in the mail
  2. My truck is paid for
  3. I am separated

We can now add two more to that list:

  • You can keep your healthcare
  • We hail the passage of the grazing bill