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Voices From the Rural American West



Giving A Voice to Rural American Families & Addressing Important Issues Facing Rural America



Updated: 2014-10-04T21:03:15.848-06:00

 



Thoughts on Carrying

2008-06-29T13:52:53.331-06:00

By David Smith
From Judy Boyle
(image)
I don't carry a gun to kill people.
I carry a gun to keep from being killed.

I don't carry a gun to scare people.
I carry a gun because sometimes this world can be a scary place.

I don't carry a gun because I'm paranoid.
I carry a gun because there are real threats in the world.

I don't carry a gun because I'm evil.
I carry a gun because I have lived long enough to see the evil in the world.

I don't carry a gun because I hate the government.
I carry a gun because I understand the limitations of government.

I don't carry a gun because I'm angry.
I carry a gun so that I don't have to spend the rest of my life hating myself for failing to be prepared.

I don't carry a gun because I want to shoot someone.
I carry a gun because I want to die at a ripe old age in my bed, and not on a sidewalk somewhere tomorrow afternoon.

I don't carry a gun because I'm a cowboy.
I carry a gun because, when I die and go to heaven, I want to be a cowboy.

I don't carry a gun to make me feel like a man.
I carry a gun because men know how to take care of themselves and the ones they love.

I don't carry a gun because I feel inadequate.
I carry a gun because unarmed and facing three armed thugs, I am inadequate.

I don't carry a gun because I love it.
I carry a gun because I love life and the people who make it meaningful to me.

Police Protection is an oxymoron. Free citizens must protect themselves.
Police do not protect you from crime, they usually just investigate the crime after it happens and then call someone in to clean up the mess.

Personally, I carry a gun because I'm too young to die and too old to take an ass kickin'.
(image)
"Be who you are and say what you feel....Because those that matter....don't mind...And those that mind....don't matter."



People Missing in the Wilderness

2008-06-29T13:47:42.202-06:00

By Bruce Hemming After Reading Greg Faber’s story, The Wolf Tree, I called him and we talked about the issue. Greg was trapped in a spruce tree for 2 days with a pack of wolves keeping him hostage. On the phone Greg told me of missing boy from a church camp in Custer County, Idaho. Immediate thorough searching turned up nothing, and he was not found until the following year. Where he was found? They believed the boy hiked up a Grand Mogul mountain sight seeing, then climbed down the wrong way and fell to his death. http://www.ktvb.com/news/localnews/stories/ktvbn-jul1906-missing_hiker.25c6f5e.htmlAuthorities determined that he reached the summit, but human and dog search teams found no sign of him on two descents from the top of Grand Mogul. http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/07/26/hikerfound/The family noted the identification was preliminary and based on personal possessions found in the area. The county sheriff's office said a news release on the case was planned for later Thursday. What the article doesn't mention is that the remains of the body were scattered around. Wolves had eaten on the body. It must be very tragic for the family to have lost such a young man. Did he fall? Was it an accident? Or did a wolf pack take him down? Thanks in part to the politics of the wolf issue we will likely never know for sure.Greg, knowing the area quite well, said there is no way that anyone would even attempt to climb down that way without ropes and harnesses. He believes that either the wolves chased the young man over the cliff so to speak or caught and dragged the body there. I found it interesting how the officials handled it, and it reminds me of the movie Jaws when the Mayor was all upset at the Police Chief for closing the beach just before the tourist season started. All that tourism money lost. I believe the same thing is happening in wolf territory.Why do I keep hearing about cases like this and official reports always state that the person died from some unrelated cause and then the wolves ate their remains? “Our woods are safe… wouldn't want to lose any tourist dollars by telling people the truth...” I heard of another story in Minnesota where a man in his 40's left his cabin and was later found eaten by wolves. The ‘official’ story is that he must have died of heart attack then the wolves ate him. Heaven forbid we cloud the wolf debate with real facts that wolves have actually killed and eaten people in America... who knows what would happen. It’s funny for me listening to the pro-wolf people. The only place in U.S. building wolf-proof bus stop shelters to protect children from stalking wolves is in New Mexico, yet rumor has it this idea is being explored in Northern Idaho.Here are a few facts: In New Mexico, if you shoot one of the dog-hybrid wolves you are arrested, tossed in jail like a common criminal, and fined for killing the “Mexican Gray Wolf” for $10,000.00 and/or up to a year in jail. It is a felony- this means the loss of your right to own a gun. The lawyer defending you will charge a minimum of $10,000.00. Shooting one of those wolves essentially adds up to $20,000.00 and 6 months in jail. Now in some other states a wolf can be shot and the fine is $1500.00 and about 10 days in jail. Yet when children are stalked at rural school bus stops in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan- then ‘officials’ ‘teach’ the wolves a lesson about not stalking children via rubber bullets or loud noises, etc. This has boiled down to fathers acting like the Americans they are with the God-given right to protect their children shooting the wolf, which really ends the ‘problem-wolf’ stalking children, if only temporarily. Any parent in America would and should do just that. Every single hunter, fishermen, rancher and rural American needs to tell the wolf ‘advocates’ that when American children are endangered, no law should give that wolf more rights than the children. Any American that shot a wolf protecting children or another [...]



May Newsletter

2008-05-15T14:36:09.013-06:00

Feature Story- -The Wolf TreeArticles- -Collectivism Vs Individualism: The Critical Wolf Issue -The Dirty Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007 -More Anti-Hunting Lies -NAIS and Property Rights, A PollHumor -Truckin’ Penguins -Wireless HistoryFeature Organizations/Sites- -Americans for Responsible Recreational Access -The Gardner FilesWelcome to the second edition of the Voices From the Rural American West monthly newsletter. I am pleased to be bringing a new writer to you as well as returning with a few familiar folks with new works I know you will enjoy and gain from as I have. We bring you wolves, politics, environmental issues, recreational access and hunting along with some humor- and in this edition- a feature organization and feature website we feel represent some of what we are about here at VFRAW. A thank you goes out from me to our contributing writers who make this possible and offer great insight and food for thought.Erin MillerEditorThe Wolf TreeBy Greg FarberEarly 2001: My father dropped me off with my pack at the Bear River inlet at the North Fork of the Boise River, and we agree to meet in three weeks at Ten-Mile Creek on the Payette River. My plan was to climb the Bear River drainage and cross Goat Mountain making my way to Johnson creek and slip into an unnamed lake for some rainbows and solitude. As I watched him drive off, the dust settled and all is quiet except for the breeze, singing birds, and the slow bubbling waters where these two rivers collide. I shouldered the 55 pound pack and stepped off the road onto the Bear River trail starting my hike up the canyon. Flies buzzed me, grasshoppers flitted about, and chipmunks zipped and twisted like lunatics in impossible escapes, making like the jaws of death are just behind them snapping at their tails.I set my pace, using the walking poles to balance and move like a cat, wanting to take advantage of the coolness and make some miles. I should have seen the omen in the chipmunks hurried flights, but everything was so full of life that I looked up canyon eagerly at the curve ahead of me which I could not yet see around. I had no thoughts of the intricate web of the hunter and hunted, being used to the top of the food chain during my stay here. I confidently looked around at the beauty of this place and looked into those openings made by snow slides which were rich with greenery and thickened between the tall yellow pines, long wisps of moss hangs from them, the buck brush grows taller than me. It is the jungle. The river talked louder as I moved a few miles into the canyon, having just turned south east as I made my way around the first curve of the canyon. The trail is a highway of fresh tracks and I read the story as I walked along following one after another, sometimes stopping to investigate where one went off to water, or to the mountain and their hide out. Another couple miles goes by, I was buzzing with things seen and heard. The air was heavy with spring and the scent of animals. Everywhere I looked, a branch bent or whipped skyward as birds came and went. The forest is incredible and looks like a sea of deep, deep green, I feel like I can dive into it, it is brilliant.I did not see the Red Tailed Hawk until I was almost to my first camp site, seven miles behind me now I have used the morning to get here, I pull the 10×28 binocs’ off my chest and raise them to my eyes and watch the hawk, a snake is dangling from the talons and I lose sight of him at the tops of the trees across canyon from me. He had seemed excited, as if he had done something of great magnitude, and he cut the air with folded wing as he turned out of my vision. I stood staring at what I imagined was the mark of his flight which seemed no longer visible. I envied this hawk, and would exchange places with him if I could. It was a great day, a prize day.The river branch dove left and then right, deep green pools amongst the ripples here, cutting an arrowhead of land at its bend.[...]



"Judge appears to tip his hand in wolf lawsuit"

2008-05-09T21:12:34.141-06:00

Idaho Statesman Article
by Rocky Barker on Fri, 05/09/2008 - 7:42am.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy appeared to show his hand when he rejected the federal government’s motion Wednesday to delay a hearing on a suit to reverse wolf delisting.
The hearing is set for May 29 in Missoula and Molloy’s main argument for not delaying it was that the federal government knew as far back as February that environmentalists were going to challenge the decision in March to remove wolves from the endangered species list.
But since March 28 at least 39 of the more than 1,500 wolves have been killed, which environmentalists say bolsters their argument that wolves should remain federally protected. Molloy also expressed concern.
"The court is unwilling to risk more deaths by delaying its decision on plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction," Molloy wrote in his court order.
Federal officials argue that most of the wolves would have been killed even had they still been under federal control. Wolves have been growing at a rate of 20 percent or more since they were reintroduced in 1995 in the face of 20 percent annual mortalities, supporters of delisting argue.
But Molloy seemed to side with environmentalists when he pointed out the federal lawyers acknowledge that as many as 10 of the wolves killed would not have died if federal protection remained.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Molloy read the story of wolf b253 written by environmentalist Louisa Willcox, who also happens to be the wife of the lead attorney for environmentalists in the lawsuit Doug Honnold. B253 was a former member of the well-known Druid Pack in Yellowstone National Park who was shot the day after delisting by gunners on snowmobilers near an elk feeding ground. It was not hunting’s finest hour.
Just for full disclosure, I’ve known Louisa since 1986, stayed at her home a few times and she has stayed at mine. My wife Tina and I went with her and Doug to Kamchatka in 1992 along with a group of scientists.
No matter what the science or even the law determines, the actions of people who have gone out of their way to kill wolves can’t help but influence the situation. Their impatience could keep they and their hunting buddies from hunting wolves this fall.



Suit Results in May 15 deadline on Polar Bears

2008-05-05T14:22:17.185-06:00

A lawsuit by NRDC, the Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace resulted in a federal judge's order for the Interior Department and the Bush Administration requiring them to decide by May 15 action on Alaska's polar bears' status. This has become another big step closer to placing the bears under the Endangered Species Act.



Garfield on the oil crisis

2008-04-29T17:15:29.689-06:00

A lot of folks can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in our country. Well, there's a very simple answer:

Nobody bothered to check the oil. We just didn't know we were getting low.

The reason for that is purely geographical. Our OIL is located in :

Alaska- California- Coast al Florida- Coast al Louisiana- Wyoming- Utah- Kansas- Oklahoma- Pennsylvania and Texas

Our dipsticks are located in DC...

Any Questions? NO?...Didn't think So.



Let The Games...Begin

2008-04-28T15:52:04.127-06:00

Idaho Statesman Story on the enviro injunction on wolf delisting.



HEARING RESULTS IN AGREEMENT TO PROCEED WITH OWYHEE INITIATIVE

2008-04-23T11:36:26.184-06:00

Senator Mike Crapo press release LEGISLATION Markup is next for land management bill; Wyden notes efforts on Earth Day Washington, DC - The Owyhee Public Lands Management Act, S. 2833, achieved an important milestone with a hearing today before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee´s Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. Subcommittee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) praised Owyhee Initiative Work Group members for their record of collaboration and consensus on land use, noting that was appropriate to hold such a Senate hearing on Earth Day 2008. The Owyhee Initiative legislation is sponsored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, who testified at today´s hearing. Wyden and Subcommittee members Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) participated in the questioning of witnesses from Idaho, the U.S. Department of Interior and the Forest Service. The Subcommittee held the hearing to discuss Crapo´s bill and another land management bill, sponsored by Senator Robert Bennett (R-Utah). At the conclusion of the hearing, Wyden directed Senate staff to work with federal agencies, Crapo, Bennett and others to markup the legislation. "The Owyhee Initiative transforms conflict and uncertainty into conflict resolution and assurance of future activity,"Crapo testified. "Ranchers can plan for subsequent generations. Off-road vehicle users have access assured. Wilderness is established. The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes knows their cultural resources will be protected. The Air Force will continue totrain its pilots.Local, state and federal government agencies will have structureto assist their joint management of the region. And this will all happen within the context of the preservation of environmental and ecological health. This is indeed a revolutionary land management structure-that looks ahead to the future. "Now I will speak directly to the folks back home in Idaho, who are rightly concerned about a few provisions in this bill that are of great importance," Crapo added. "I will continue to work with Senators Bingaman, Domenici, and Craig, their staffs and others to make the policies and funding thatwere so carefully negotiated in the Owyhee Initiative Agreement become a reality. As promised eight years ago, I regard the support of the Owyhee Initiative Work Group and diverse interest you represent as mandatory for my continued advocacy for this bill. Our hard work will continue after today´s hearing and I am committed to achieving the objectives that brought us together many years ago and keep us together today." "There are genuine and significant conservation gains achieved through S. 2833," said Craig Gehrke, Regional Director for the Wilderness Society in Idaho and Co-chair of the Owyhee Initiative Work Group. "Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River designation, preparation of travel management plans that will lead to better resource protection from damage resulting fromcross-country motorized recreation in Owyhee County, closure of 200 miles of motorized routes through proposed wilderness, establishment of a conservation research center, increased protections of Shoshone-Paiute cultural sites and resources, and acquisition of private land inholdings in candidate wilderness areas and public rights of way across private land all create a total package that the Wilderness Society supports." Dr. Chad Gibson, a Work Group member representing the Owyhee County Cattlemen, said the plan maintains a local economy and ranching presence and controls development that is important to preserving the Western lifestyle and open spaces of Owyhee County. "The best hope for avoiding fragmentation through special use ownership is to maintain the opportunity for viable ranching use," Gibson said. S. 2833, the Owyhee Public Lands Management Act of 2008, will protect the economic base and wild lands of O[...]



Sportsmen: Beware the Clean Water Restoration Act

2008-05-02T11:57:24.375-06:00

by Peyton Knight Introduction and SummaryCongress is currently considering legislation that would substantially broaden the federal government's authority under the Clean Water Act. However, like many misnamed bills before it, the Clean Water Restoration Act is a lesson in false advertising. The Act would do more to threaten the cherished pastimes of hunters, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts than it would to ensure the cleanliness of our nation's water.Background: For over three decades, the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA) has been mired in conflict and ambiguity. The Act makes it a crime to discharge pollutants into the "navigable waters of the United States" without first acquiring a federal permit. However, what began as a reasonable attempt to control water pollution in our nation's interstate rivers, lakes and streams spiraled into unreasonable federal regulation of isolated wetlands, ponds, dry lakebeds, intermittent streams and drainage ditches. This overly expansive interpretation has resulted in much confusion, not only for landowners, but also for federal regulators. For example, in 2004 the General Accountability Office (GAO) reported that staff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency charged with enforcing the CWA, could not agree on what was considered a protected wetland under the Act.1 One Corps official told the GAO "if he asked three different district staff to make a jurisdictional determination, he would probably get three different assessments."The U.S. Supreme Court finally attempted to clarify CWA enforcement by ruling that the federal government had overstepped its bounds when regulating isolated wetlands in two cases: Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. United States Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 and Rapanos v. United States in 2006. These rulings elicited outcry from environmental activists and prompted U.S. Representative James Oberstar (D-MN) to introduce the Clean Water Restoration Act (H.R. 2421), which he claims would "restore the authority of the Clean Water Act." Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced a companion bill (S. 1870) in the Senate. In reality, the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) does not "restore" the CWA. Instead, it greatly expands its scope and jurisdiction. The bill would bring federal oversight to activities that affect all "waters of the United States" as opposed to merely "navigable waters" as called for in the original CWA. "Waters of the United States" is broadly defined in the legislation to include "all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds, and all impoundments."6 As Pacific Legal Foundation attorney and Clean Water Act expert M. Reed Hopper told Congress in 2007: This definition of federal authority [in the Clean Water Restoration Act] is not a "restoration" of congressional intent. It far exceeds the jurisdictional scope of the current Clean Water Act as it appears in the text of the statute. It even exceeds the extravagant scope of the existing federal regulations on which the definition is, in part, based. Indeed, with its claim of authority over "all interstate and intrastate waters," this bill pushes the limits of federal power to an extreme not matched by any other law, probably in the history of this country. Neither an ornamental pond nor the proverbial kitchen sink are excluded.7 The CWRA would also invite environmental litigators to flood the courts with lawsuits that challenge all activities affecting any "waters of the United States." According to Hopper: [The Clean Water Restoration Act] authorizes Congress to defer to the courts to determine "the fullest extent that these waters, or ac[...]



April Newsletter

2008-04-29T17:11:59.875-06:00

A Voice for Rural American families• Who gives a voice to rural families?• Who gives a voice to concerned ranchers?• Who gives a voice to people who live & play in Rural areas?Voices From the Rural American West!Voices from the Rural American West is for Americans that care about people, families & the rich cultural history of rural America. You too can be part of this important issue. Protect rural area children, small business owners - the back bone of the American economy- & address other vital issues. VFRAW will pull rural America together to show the world what we are facing, & give a voice to those affected by critical issues. Our blog will feature important articles & events. Once a month, there will be a preview of the upcoming newsletter that will be sent to subscribers who have signed up at: RuralAmericanWest.Blogspot.comAs editor of VFRAW, I am dedicated to this venture, as once it became clear to me that America is under attack from within, I decided that those whose rights and freedoms are being threatened, especially in rural areas, needed a voice. Many of the problems I’ve seen are in the west; I live with my husband David and two children on our farm in south-central Idaho. We hunt, camp, and ride all over central and southern Idaho. Here as well as all over we face threats to our heritage. From wolves, roadless plans, and logging to water issues, hunting & private property rights, and ranching- I plan to address many concerns facing the rural American west and beyond.A call to writers: Submit letters and stories; tell your family’s story, share your experiences. Hunters, ranchers, loggers, ATV enthusiasts, rural families: here’s your chance to tell your story! Please write to me at VFRAW@Yahoo.comVery Sincerely, Erin Miller, EditorIn this issue: Wolves & our nation, A look back to now, & an Enviro & Federal Jurist team up, GlobalCooling and Property Rights, Where Have All the Elk Gone… Contents• What Does Wolf Recovery Mean for us as a Nation • Priorities Then & Now• The Great Oz & The Judge• The ESA• UN Biospheres vs Private • Property Rights• Where Have All The Elk Gone?Long Time Passing…• The Public Grazing ConundrumWhat Does Wolf Recovery Really Mean for us as a Nation?By Bruce Hemming Through long, difficult researching I found record of 104 people who have been killed by wolves in North America. This doesn't include all the non-lethal wolf attacks on humans that I came across. Nor does it likely include all lethal attacks, either, as years ago not all news made it into a paper or any record that could possibly have been archived. After all that research, I clearly saw a pattern. Up until about 1930, when wolves were driven far into the wilderness & in some areas exterminated altogether, the accounts of lethal wolf attacks became far & few between. Obviously, government & private landowners decided enough was enough & did what needed to be done to keep children safe. It's simply not true that a healthy wolf in the lower 48 hasn’t killed anyone. Several of the accounts I read indicate that many children were killed by wolves that were robust & appeared to be in good health. Wolf biologists & environmentalists may scoff at the children's story about Red Riding Hood & the Big Bad Wolf, but those doing the scoffing are fabricating a fairy tale of their own. Wolves have attacked people of all ages. Wolves have killed people of all ages. & wolves will once again attack & kill people as the number of wolves in numerous states multiply & eat their way through their natural prey base. One account I came across in a November 1891 Janesville Gazette told of "large vicious gray wolves from Minnesota" killing & eating three children. Some men were taking a short cut through the woods & found the wolves fighting over the bodies. The gent[...]



Sportsmen Should Beware the Clean Water Restoration Act

2008-04-16T16:35:13.295-06:00

April 15, 2008 From David Almasi (202) 543-4110

Sportsmen Should Beware the Clean Water Restoration Act

Conservationists, Boaters, Fishermen, Hunters, Users of All-Terrain Vehicles and Others Could See Activities Restricted by Oberstar/Feingold Measure

Washington, D.C. - The Oberstar/Feingold Clean Water Restoration Act, scheduled for a hearing in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Wednesday, would do more to threaten the cherished pastimes of hunters, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts than it would to ensure the cleanliness of our nation's water, charges the National Center for Public Policy Research in a new study.

"The study shows that under the Clean Water Restoration Act, a wide array of outdoor activities, including habitat creation and conservation, could be heavily regulated or restricted," said David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, which released the study. "Hunters could be required to obtain costly permits under CWRA, and could be cited as 'polluters' for firing shot. Boaters would likely find the construction and repair of fishing piers and boat docks receiving enhanced scrutiny from the federal government. Fishermen risk losing access to some of their favorite rivers and streams. Other outdoor sportsmen could find their activities constrained."

The study, "Sportsmen: Beware the Clean Water Restoration Act," follows release April 9 of a coalition letter warning the legislation would increase confusion over what waters are regulated by the federal government. The letter was signed by representatives of 19 state farm bureaus, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Public Lands Council, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the Family Farm Alliance, the Family Water Alliance, the National Water Resources Association, the Blue Ribbon Coalition, the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy, the California Land Institute, and very many taxpayer advocacy, policy groups and think-tanks.

Another letter, signed by 100 representatives of other organizations, was sent to Congress in October warning the legislation would reduce property values in an already depressed real estate market. It also expressed concern that the bill transfers legislative authority to the judiciary, which the letter termed "counter to the principle of accountable government."

Read the study
View the April letter and list of signers
View the October letter

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation based in Washington, D.C, now in its 26th year.

When are the American Sportsman going to wake up?



Huge Dakota Oil Pool Could Change Energy Climate Debate

2008-04-15T14:44:03.875-06:00

Bakken Formation in the Great Plains, Al Gore’s anti-fossil ad campaignBy Dennis Avery"Al Gore is launching a $300 million ad campaign to support the banning of fossil fuels. But our faith in man-made global warming will now be tested by news that up to 400 billion barrels of light, sweet crude oil for America’s future can be pumped from under Manitoba and North Dakota. That’s more oil than Saudi Arabia and Russia put together. This high-quality oil isn’t controlled by Moslem zealots, or hidden under a federal wildlife refuge. Moreover, it can now be cost-effectively retrieved with computer-directed horizontal oil wells, probably at $20 to $40 per barrel. The U.S. is blocking new coal-fired power plants. With no coal to burn, natural gas is becoming impossibly expensive. Biofuels are proving worse for the environment than gasoline. Nuclear is “dangerous.” Erratic and expensive windmills have seemed the best the West could do. But the Bakken Formation in the Great Plains holds a monster oil deposit. Estimates of its potential range as high as the U.S. Geological Survey’s figure of more than 400 billion barrels. The Saudis have 260 billion barrels of proven reserves, the Russians just 60 billion. Until recently, Bakken was thought too expensive to drill. But oil is now at $100 per barrel. Even more important, new computer-controlled drills can go sideways for hundreds of feet to suck the petroleum out of oil-bearing shale strata, instead of just punching short vertical holes through shallow rock layers. At the higher end of its potential, Bakken could change the political economics of the world. One hundred billion barrels would be worth $9 trillion at today’s prices. Will America turn its back? Will we give up our autos, airplanes and air conditioners if the oil to power them is affordable and “home-grown”? Consider: -The net global warming since 1940 is a miniscule 0.2 degree C, even after 70 years of unprecedented human CO2 emissions. -Meanwhile the forcing power of additional CO2 has declined by perhaps three-fourths. -There can’t be much left. -Seven years ago, NASA discovered a huge cloud-controlled “heat vent” in the sky over the Pacific. It emitted enough heat during 1980-2000 to have dealt with a doubling of greenhouse gases. -The earth has not warmed since 1998, despite a continuing rise in atmospheric CO2. -NASA now admits the oceans “stopped warming” about 4-5 years ago. The end of the warming trend was documented by 3,000 high-tech Argo ocean-diving buoys. -The planet actually cooled in 2007, attested by three major temperature monitoring sites. The decline was apparently predicted by a downturn in sunspots that began in 2000. The earth’s recent warming seems to be part of the moderate natural 1,500-year climate cycle controlled by the sun—which was discovered in the Greenland ice cores in 1983. The three discoverers of the cycle won the Tyler Prize, the “environmental Nobel,” in 1996. Short-term, there’s a strong 80 percent correlation with both the sunspots and the cycle in Pacific sea temperatures. Both now seem to be predicting a moderate 22.5-year decline in global temperatures. We had a similar decline from 1940 to 1975—also while CO2 levels were rising. Such “double sunspot cycles” factor heavily in our records of rainfall, droughts and monsoons, as well as in temperatures. Bottom line: We now find massive man-made warming only in unverified computer models that have consistently predicted far more warming than we’ve gotten. With a downturn in temperatures—and lots of homegrown oil—Al Gore’s anti-fossil ad campaign may not be fully persuasive". $300 million ad campaign to brainwash people into accepting this new Global tax. Read Al Gore's solution -Non[...]



Lawmakers May End Premises Registration

2008-04-16T13:24:15.683-06:00

Think your call doesn't matter?Make sure you tell everyone it is not a Premises you own, it's private property. Across the state there have been groups and individuals calling their legislators and explaining why the 3 part National Animal Identification System is an invasion of their personal property and will not accomplish what USDA says is the intended purpose. In Illinois, there was bi-partisan effort by legislators who understood the underlying concern with this program and they sponsored legislation on behalf of the people. Legislation to stop Part 1, which is the Premise ID numbering requirement passed in the House of Representatives unanimously. An RFID tag and premise ID would NOT prevent disease. The small producer would NOT be the culprit because his animals are already traceable. But it would be the small producers who are put out of business. Extensive paperwork is already required to enter livestock at fairs and shows... the cost and mandates to implement NAIS is useless because it would only accomplish tracking animals already easily found. Large producers already keep extensive records on their herds. NAIS would not help in the threat of terrorist infiltration to the food chain. Terrorists would target the large suppliers. The ones who benefit from NAIS will be big pharma, keepers of the data, and the supppliers of the chips and tags...and central control of your property. There have been reports of these implants causing cancer in the animal. It is NOT about food safety or herd protection. Thanks to Attorney Judith McGeary from the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance for all her help and legal expertise in wording legislation to relieve the 4-H and FFA exhibitors from the Premise ID mandate. Continue making calls to move this bill through the Senate. The latest report was that HB5776 needs to be moved out of Rules Committee....where a lot of Illinois bills are currently stuck. Rules eased for fair exhibitors’ ID Lawmakers may end premises registrationBy Adriana colindresResponding to the outcry over a new state rule about who may exhibit livestock and horses at Illinois fairs, legislators are considering lifting the mandate. In the meantime, the state Department of Agriculture has decided to ease the rule for now, making it voluntary. AdvertisementLate last year, the department announced that anyone wanting to show livestock or horses at state, county, 4-H or FFA fairs would have to provide a “premises identification number” specifying where the animal is usually kept. Agency officials said the requirement would help them react more quickly to animal-disease outbreaks and pinpoint the locations of horses or livestock that might have come into contact with sick animals. Obtaining a premises ID number requires filling out a questionnaire that asks for a facility’s name, address, phone number and the types of livestock raised. It doesn’t ask about acreage or herd or flock size. Opponents say the rule is an unnecessary invasion of privacy. “They (federal and state agriculture officials) already know where we are. They have our addresses,” Sam Zumwalt, a farmer in Hancock County, said Friday. “It’s total repetition and waste of money.” Rep. Richard Myers, R-Colchester, and Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, are the main sponsors of House Bill 5776, which sailed through the House on a 108-0 vote earlier this month. The measure, which still needs approval from the Senate and the governor, would prohibit the state from requiring premises registration unless the federal government makes it mandatory. The legislation also would permit people who have signed up for premises IDs to remove their names from the database. Myers and Sulliv[...]



Southern Idaho Off-Highway Restrictions- Again

2008-04-13T17:28:38.166-06:00

The Times News in Twin Falls Idaho has an editorial today entitled "Changing the rules for ATVs in South Hills demands open dialogue" on the Forrest Service's new travel plan. It seems the Forrest Service neglected to follow federal guidelines when making the changes, and off-highway vehicle users (ATV/Motocross/Etc) are on it. The "South Hills" area has long been a popular recreational area in southern Idaho. According to federal guidelines put into place in 2005, off-highway vehicles in this area and the entire Sawtooth National Forrest are restricted to designated roads and trails.

A big kicker is that trails created by vehicles over decades (existing, established pathways) weren't included in the plan. The changes to the previous rules snuck in on a number of off-roaders. And these aren't likely to be the only folks affected by this:

"...There's a widespread feeling among trail users that the Forest Service didn't go out of its way to involve them, or alert them that drastic restrictions were in the offing.

There's no question that the Forest Service faces major challenges in protecting the lands it administers. In the Magic Valley, ATV registrations climbed 71 percent between 2001 and 2005, to 11,953, according the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. The back country boom is taking a toll on wildlife and habitat, forest officials say.

Sediment loads in Rock Creek, which runs through the South Hills, are increasing and threatening fish, partly because off-highway vehicles are speeding erosion. Hunters complain that noise and commotion from off-highway vehicles scare away game.

But motorized user groups say they're being pigeonholed, and that crowding more riders onto fewer trails will stir up more dust, escalate conflicts with campers and make roads less safe.

It's also likely to increase ATV use of less-restricted, fragile desert habitats controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.

Horse riders, hunters and ranchers may also be in for a rude awakening because some closed routes may limit their access...

...There's a perception, dating back from the agency's badly received efforts to collect fees from visitors to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, of a campaign to drive ordinary Idahoans off Forest Service lands. That sentiment has only been reinforced by the new travel plan."


From my point of view as someone who spends time in this area in the summer fall and spring, there are many many deer and a successfully growing introduced elk herd as well as many other species. The problem with wildlife in the South Hills as I see it is this: The deer herds are nearly all female (does) with very few bucks in comparison to other Idaho areas we recreate in. There are many many buck tags issued and this has been unchanged for a while- yet ATVs are the reason for wildlife issues in the south hills???? Granted, certain uses can have detrimental affects on land and animal- Yet I don't see personally that his is the issue in this particular case. In America, we're granted certain rights and freedoms, and those weren't originally intended to be whittled down or taken away as I see it.

Spending a few days in part of the area a few weeks ago- it seems deer tend to trot off a few steps then stop and stare at ATVs and vehicles, yet don't blast across the hills away from the noise stressing themselves.

Read the entire article...



America’s Hatred Towards Big Oil And The Endangered Species Act

2008-04-11T12:53:33.425-06:00

From Tom Remington at Black Bear Blog
"...America’s ongoing hatred of big oil companies may be at an all-time high...We’re an odd lot, us Americans. We love to express our anger at big oil because they make billions of dollars - by the minute using some people’s reasoning - yet we refuse to do anything about it...."

Visit Tom today... and read the rest of his awesome article.



Misguided land-use

2008-04-10T15:53:52.823-06:00

An interesting article was in the Seattle Times April 9th is titled "Misguided land-use regulations push middle class out of King County"
with information from the King County Annual Growth Report showing that...
"...the middle class is getting squeezed out...
what an additional $340,854 over 30 years could buy the average family:
• 4.27 four-year college degrees at the UW or 12.71 two-year degrees from Seattle Central Community College; and,
• 76 gallons of gas every month for 30 years; and,
• Seven years of health insurance; and,
• A latte every week for a year; and,
• 13 Metro ACCESS bus passes; and,
• Half the cost of a fitness membership for 30 years; or,
• An extra $1.7 million dollars for retirement.
Economists call this an "opportunity cost."

Other actions encouraged in this article include:
• "King County's new Permit Fee Task Force should find ways to streamline permitting and reduce costs;
• Executive Ron Sims should more fully analyze the market impacts of the new proposed Comprehensive Plan regulations he recently introduced to the King County Council;
• The city and county should adjust zoning codes to allow for more housing opportunities in urban centers.
Ultimately, most of the cost of land-use regulations stems from how local governments implement Washington's Growth Management Act (GMA). We urge the state Legislature and the governor to do a full cost-benefit assessment on the impacts of the GMA. We can protect our environmental quality of life without giving up the opportunity to own a home in reasonable proximity to our job.
Let's get a grip on our costs before we end up with no middle class at all."


Read the entire article at the Seattle Times



Save The Earth — Hug A Logger

2008-04-10T15:36:18.202-06:00

Interesting article from INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY |Climate Change: As environmental alarmists entertain themselves by turning off lights, their efforts sometimes lead to unintended consequences. A new study, for example, shows they may be warming the earth by saving trees.On Global WarmingThe latest effort to save the earth, something called Earth Hour, asked people around the world to turn off their lights for an hour to reduce carbon emissions and draw attention to climate change. An initiative of the World Wildlife Fund, this rolling blackout began in New Zealand at 8 p.m. Saturday and moved west as other time zones reached that hour. As reported by CNSNews.com, municipal authorities in Sydney, Australia, turned out the lights on that city's famous Harbor Bridge and Opera House. In last year's Earth Hour (yeah, we missed it too), organizers claimed 2 million people took part and Sydney's emissions of greenhouse gases were reduced by 10% during that hour.Get this: NBC host Bob Costas sat in a darkened studio for a full minute as an energy-saving gesture while millions watched on their energy-consuming plasma TVs. Never mind that it involved flying rock stars around the planet in emission-spewing private jets to plug their electric guitars into Godzilla-size amplifiers. Everything was fine, we were told, because everyone was buying "carbon offsets," a scam that lets warming hypocrites continue their energy gluttony because they're paying somebody somewhere to plant a tree. Statement of the century:In the green scheme of things, trees are a good thing and deforestation is bad. We must plant as many trees as we can to suck up all that CO2, the pollutant that sustains all plant and therefore all animal life on earth. Old-growth forests must be protected from those nasty loggers.Forests left in "pristine" condition, ie no logging, provides for lotsof trees and lots of deadfall making fuel for devastating forest fires. Another study (calforestfoundation.org) shows 4 California wildfires produced 38 million tons of greenhouse gases through fire and subsequent decay of dead trees — 10 million from the fires themselves and 28 million from the post-fire decay. This is equivalent to the emissions from 7 million cars for an entire year.The author of this study says the four fires studied involved forests averaging 350 trees per acre where 50 an acre is considered normal. Some California forests, he says, have more than 1,000 trees per acre, with young trees growing under big trees, serving as "ladder fuel" and dead trees and woody debris on the ground. He advocates "thinning" the forests so they're less like time bombs waiting to explode. "Harvested trees can be turned into long-lasting wood products that store carbon," he notes, adding that it's important to remove trees destroyed by fires and insects "so that they don't decay and send more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere." So it just might be forest fires that are causing global warming, not the other way around, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently claimed. Study author Bonnicksen concludes by saying that "reducing the number and severity of wildfires may be the single most important short-term action we can take to lower greenhouse gas emissions and really fight global warming." Even more important than throwing rock concerts and turning your lights off for an hour.[...]



A great Blog

2008-04-10T10:32:36.750-06:00

http://oteroresidentsforum.blogspot.com/

You will find such great information like this.

PUBLIC LANDS v. FEDERAL LANDS
Submitted by R L Possey.

There is a very strong misconception that all of the lands in the United States that are managed by the Federal Government are “Public Lands”.
Actually there are very few Public Lands and the vast majority of lands managed by the Federal Government are “Federal Lands”.
“The term public lands, as commonly perceived by the public, indicates lands owned entirely by the federal government and by extension of the citizens of the United States who supposedly own equal shares of the federal government’s assets. Certain federal lands do meet this criterion such as some portions of our national parks and some portions of some game refuges. These are areas where the federal government owns all of the values of the land. However, even in national parks private concessioners own a possessory interest in their visitor facilities that is fully protected by the Concession Policy Act of 1965.
However, the vast majority of our federal lands do not meet the criterion of total ownership in fee. Most of our federal lands, particularly those under the management of the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service, are split estate lands. Lands in this category constitute nearly one third of the land area of he United States.
The federal land management agencies have for the past two decades followed a policy of attempting to deny the existence of private rights in the federal lands. They have attempted to eliminate private rights by one device or another, the establishment of wilderness areas, the protection of wild horses and burros, and the creation on many other special designations that appeal to “the public good” but in fact act to destroy existing private rights. The agencies have attempted to encumber private rights in the federal lands with an overkill of regulations. This attempt to render existing private rights uneconomic has for all practical purposes become the major focus of current federal land policy.”

“Storm Over Rangelands – Private Rights in Federal Lands”
by
Wayne Hage
Second Addition – Pages 91 & 92
Free Enterprise Press – Bellevue



Land Grab Alert Alert Alert!

2008-04-09T22:16:34.309-06:00

From the American Land Rights AssociationInterior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne supported the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS HR 2016) and is supporting other bills that hurt. Kempthorne's staff testified before the House Natural Resources Committee in favor of the NLCS. He recently supported a proposal to increase Federal land acquisition. His actions will do great damage to rural America, private property rights and access to Federal land. Contact Kempthorne through his staff:Phone: (202) 208-7551Fax: (202) 208-5048 E-mails: brian_waidmann@ios.doi.gov donnadeen@ios.doi.gov patriciaconnally@ios.doi.gov douglasdomenech@ios.doi.gov doris_Johnston@ios.doi.gov david_lehman@ios.doi.govdebbie_cousins@ios.doi.gov To see a map of all the areas affected by the NLCS, go to ALRA where a nationwide map with the NLCS on it is posted. If NLCS (HR 2016) passes, it will hurt your state and community. You must call, e-mail and fax any Members of the Committee from your State urging him or her to vote no on HR 2016. They will be the leaders both for and against HR 2016 on the House Floor. Call at least five neighbors, friends and business associates to urge them to call, fax and e-mail against HR2016. Massive areas of Wilderness Study Areas will be changed into full Wilderness bypassing the normal state-by-state Congressional vote. Seventeen House members from both parties teamed up in April, 2007 to introduce legislation (HR 2016) that would give the NCLS official Congressional certification. The system, administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), was created administratively by former Interior Secretary Babbitt during the Clinton years. In June 2000 the Interior Department under the guidance of former Secretary Babbitt established the 26 million acre NLCS in BLM to protect what they called special areas. The NLCS consists of major conservation areas in 12 western states, including 15 national monuments, 13 national conservation areas, Steens Mountain area in Oregon, Headwaters Forest Reserve in northern California, 36 wild and scenic rivers, 148 wilderness areas, 4,264 miles of national trails, and more than 600 wilderness study areas.Making the NLCS permanent threatens recreation, access, grazing, mining, oil and gas and many other uses. Gradually these areas will be turned into parks with traditional uses strangled and roads cut off. Private property owners and inholders in the areas can say so long to their property rights. You will see new areas nominated for NLCS status gradually eroding BLM multiple-use. Four Democratic senators introduced counterpart legislation (S 1139) in April, 2007. Coburn Comes Calling April 7, 2008 By John StantonSimmering tensions between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D-Nev.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) could boil over on the floor as early as this week, with Reid planning to bring a stalled public lands bill (S 2739) to the floor - despite accusations from Coburn and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)...See the complete message from ALRA Here[...]



A Decade After Reintroduction of the Wolf, Environmentalists, Ranchers Continue to Play Tug of War Over Program

2008-04-07T13:47:32.175-06:00

Wolf Crossing has a post today:

By Rene Romo
Copyright © 2008 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Southern Bureau

LAS CRUCES— Ten years into a federal-led effort to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf into its former territory in the Southwest, the divide between the program’s supporters and critics seems as wide as ever. And the recovery effort has made fitful progress, at best, since March 29, 1998, when biologists opened three holding pens in the mountains of southeast Arizona and released the first 11 wolves into the wild....Read the rest...



Secretary Kempthorne Announces $57.9 Million in Grants to Support Land Acquisition and Conservation Planning for Endangered Species

2008-04-09T15:37:29.407-06:00

http://www.doi.gov/news/08_News_Releases/080320.htmlWASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today announced more than $57.9 million in grants to 23 states and one territory to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants. (a list of states receiving grants is included below) The grants, awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, will benefit numerous species ranging from the red-cockaded woodpecker to the Lake Erie watersnake.“These grants build long-term partnerships with landowners who help to conserve our nation’s imperiled species,” said Secretary Kempthorne. “They are important tools that empower landowners and communities to safeguard habitat and foster conservation stewardship efforts for future generations.”Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, the grants enable States to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other agencies to initiate conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat to support the conservation of threatened and endangered species.This year, the cooperative endangered species fund provides $8.6 million through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, $35.3 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program and $14 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program, which includes approximately $1.5 million of funds carried over from previous years or recovered from previous projects. The three programs were established to help avoid potential conflicts between the conservation of threatened and endangered species and land development and use.Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are agreements between a landowner and the Service, allowing a landowner to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property that may result in the death, injury or harassment of a listed species, when that landowner agrees to conservation measures designed to minimize and mitigate the impact of those actions. HCPs may also be developed by a county or state to cover certain activities of all landowners within their own jurisdiction and may address multiple species. There are more than 675 HCPs currently in effect covering nearly 600 species on approximately 42 million acres.Under the HCP Land Acquisition Program, the Service provides grants to states or territories for land acquisition associated with approved HCPs. The grants are targeted to help landowners who volunteer to conserve imperiled species on their lands. Among recipients of today's HCP Land Acquisition grants is the state of Georgia, which is receiving a $2,000,000 grant to acquire 8,430 acres of mature pine habitat in Decatur County to benefit the red-cockaded woodpecker. The land will be protected in perpetuity as a State Heritage Preserve and will be managed as a State Wildlife Management Area. This project ensures permanent conservation for lands that provide connecting habitat for red-cockaded woodpeckers in this area. This grant also benefits the wood stork, Eastern indigo snake, Flatwoods salamander and state protected species including the gopher tortoise and southern hognose snake.The HCP Planning Assistance Program provides grants to states and territories to support the development of HCPs through funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach and similar planning activities. For example, the states of Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, N[...]



USSA Briefs Senators on Connection Between Endangered Species Recovery and Sportsmen

2008-04-09T15:34:37.912-06:00

U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance801 Kingsmill ParkwayColumbus, OH 43229Ph. 614/888-4868 • Fax 614/888-0326Website: www.ussportsmen.org • E-mail: info@ussportsmen.orgFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cory Johnson (614) 888-4868 ext. 214April 2, 2008 Sharon Hayden (614) 888-4868 ext. 226USSA Briefs Senators on Connection Between Endangered Species Recovery and Sportsmen(Washington, DC) - America’s premier sportsmen’s rights organization today testified before U.S. Senators on the key connection between hunting and successful wildlife conservation.United States Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) Director of Federal Affairs William P. Horn testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and why the proposed listing of polar bears as threatened throughout its range will prove detrimental to healthy and presently sustainable polar bear populations.Horn was invited to testify by Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Committee and Senator James Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Committee. Horn served as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the agency responsible for the ESA, from 1985 to 1988, before joining USSA. He is considered one of America’s top lawyers on endangered species law, and also serves on the Board of Environmental Sciences and Toxicology of the National Academy of Sciences.Environmental organizations want polar bears listed as threatened because of projections that Arctic sea ice will diminish in 50-plus years as a result of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. In his testimony Horn pointed out that listing polar bears as threatened based on a 50-year prediction would produce adverse consequences, not only for polar bears, but for all wildlife. Environmentalists plan to use the listing as a means to force reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and power plants among other things. The groups will likely bring lawsuits to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to enforce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions regulations. The enormous costs of overhauling and fundamentally changing the FWS mission will leave little if any money for actual endangered species or other traditional fish and wildlife programs.“The USSA is committed to making sure that lawmakers are aware that sportsmen continue to be the key element in the conservation of wildlife,” said USSA president Bud Pidgeon. “Listing the polar bear as threatened will stop limited hunting, and cut off key revenues that fund vital polar bear research. We are proud to represent sportsmen before Congress on this critical issue.”Science shows that many polar bear populations are at historic highs and that there are no imminent threats to the healthy, huntable populations. It is well established that many polar bear populations are at or near record highs, have increased substantially since the 1960s, and sustain carefully managed subsistence and sport hunting programs. The latter programs, conducted primarily in Canada, generate important local income and ensure that Native communities are vested in polar bear conservation. The partnership between these communities and Canadian wildlife officials has yielded effective scientific bear conservation and management resulting in improved sustainability of 11 of 13 polar bear populations in Canada. American sportsmen comprise approximately 90 percent of the foreign hunting clientele in Canada, pouring millions of dollars into polar[...]



U.S. FOREST SERVICE FIELDING FLEET OF DRONES

2008-04-09T15:30:52.413-06:00

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, April 1, 2008Contact: Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337U.S. FOREST SERVICE FIELDING FLEET OF DRONES Law Enforcement Wants "Unmanned Aerial Vehicles" Hovering Above Forests Washington, DC - The U.S. Forest Service has purchased pilot-less aircraft to provide day and night photo reconnaissance for its law enforcement program, according to agency records released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The two "unmanned aerial vehicles," or drones, may represent the beginnings of wider conversion of military robotic technology for civilian uses.The two "Sky Seers" were obtained by the Forest Service on December 10, 2007 at a cost of $100,000 from Chang Industries, Inc. of La Verne, California. The package includes one "day version" and one "night version" of the drone, together with a "Pan/tilt thermal camera" to record heat signatures at night.A March 12, 2007 purchase request from the Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations (LE&I) program states it "has been monitoring and evaluating UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] intermittently since 1997, when their use was considered in support of Operation Linebacker, a border enforcement initiative." While this "Sole Source Request" details desired equipment specifications, the Forest Service could produce no documents spelling out what they want to use drones for or why pilot-less craft are preferred, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from PEER.The drones purchase took place shortly after Forest Service LE&I spent $600,000 buying tasers for its entire enforcement staff, without any guidelines or training program. The tasers are still sitting in storage cartons. After PEER revealed the taser fiasco, LE&I staff told PEER about the drones and suggested a records request in order to validate staff concerns that the purchase -Has little practical law enforcement application in the national forests and reflects a "boys with toys" mentality among LE&I leadership; May also sit in storage because LE&I lacks qualified personnel to operate the drones. Although the purchase package includes training, LE&I notes that new Federal Aviation Administration rules "could make it more difficult to obtain Certificates of Authorization to fly the UAVs"; and Is a low priority when the Forest Service is cutting back on the number of Special Agents and law enforcement officers. Forest Service law enforcement force levels have shrunk by more than one-third over the past 15 years. LE&I is holding more than 200 positions vacant, even as President Bush is proposing further cuts in the next fiscal year. "As with tasers, a cash-starved Forest Service is buying glitzy hardware with zero justification as to why this is a good use of tax dollars," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "Why stop at drones? Are they going to buy Robo-Rangers next?"In contrast to LE&I, Forest Service Fire Management is making a relatively modest investment in drones as a possible tool to aid fighting wildland fires. In 2005, the agency's fire program spent $10,560 on a Cyber Bug drone to begin developing greater command and control capacity in fast-moving fires.Unlike fire uses, law enforcement application of aerial monitoring raises privacy issues for forest visitors who may not realize that they are being watched, photographed and cybercast from an elevation of 7,000 feet by a drone. The Sky Seers can hover for more than one hour and have[...]