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Sun Apr 19, 2015 at 05:23 PM PDT

The Good of Offshore Oil Drilling

by ban nock

A little known but vitally important benefit of offshore drilling is being debated in Washington DC right now and I'd be obliged if you would call your representative about it, especially if they are Republican.

It's called the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the money comes entirely from offshore oil and gas drilling. It's free money for conservation. $900,000,000, that's nine hundred million with an M. Two problems, the mandate has run out and even when the fund is in effect congress regularly steals money from the project. House Bill 1814 would make the fund permanent.

When you call your representative about 1814 two things are important to say. Make the Land and Water Conservation Fund permanent, and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Of late votes in congress have split down party lines, they don't have to. Recently my Republican senator who hales from the oil producing part of our state voted against an amendment to return federal land to the states. This bill for the LWCF is strongly supported amongst all people in the western states, Republican representatives are feeling the heat. Politicians don't always vote only for money, money is only a path to reelection, enough engaged constituents can help any senator to come to Jesus.

The LWCF leverages it's purchases by buying the most crucial pieces of private land that allows access to even larger pieces of public land formerly blocked from public access. The LWCF also buys land in urban environs that formerly had none. A baseball or soccer field just down the street can give kids a healthy place to recreate that is invaluable. LWCFunding can also be used for the vital upkeep sorely needed on parks and forests. Just about any and everything on public lands can benefit from LWCF.

To give you an idea of the size of the potential funding if it were fully funded it would be about as large as the famous Pittman Robertson fund from gun and ammo sales. The money is small in oil company dollars but huge for conservation.

Disclosure, I'm a member of the fastest growing conservation organisation in the West, maybe the country. Our primary focus is on raising money to buy land in hopes of giving it to the US government to be put permanently into National Forest, Wilderness, Recreation Areas, etc. We believe that our government as flawed as  it is, is a the best caretaker of our lands and that public lands should be open for the enjoyment of all. Some things government does much better than the private sector, public lands is one of those things. We raise money not by pestering people with junk mail or sending scary emotion grabbing mailers but by having banquettes and raffelling gear at the dinners. Over 6 million acres bought or put into easements or otherwise improved.

http://www.lwcfcoalition.org/...

http://onyourownadventures.com/...

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So says a new  study by researchers at Cornell published in this month's issue of Wildlife Management. Like any study they came up with a name and an acronym for what they were studying, they were looking at PEBs or "pro environmental behaviours".

Warning: Photos, images, or text, may be disturbing to some and could possibly contain subject matter that is unsettling to others. It is entirely possible that in viewing this diary you might be see real images or video of animals killing or being killed. You've been warned.

Above bonasa umbellus known in W Central Massachusetts as a "paatrij" or partridge in English. Partridge are a favored game species for their taste and also their flight habit. The breast meat is white because of the musculature involved with short distance flight, and the species will wait until one is almost upon them before taking flight in any direction often flying through low bushes and trees making for a difficult shot. Image from bio web uw lax

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and the winner is......Rock Hills Ranch. Yes a real ranch, they raise cows, beef cows, to eat. They took the land out of crops and put it back into grass. The idea being the land didn't lend itself to crops as much as it did to grazing. Looking at the vid I'd agree, there's a slope, and lots of rocks.

I follow the Sand County Foundationon Twitter and I'm always impressed with the choices they make for awards.

I know that ranchers are a hated demographic here on Daily Kos, why I can only speculate. I guess for the same reason anyone hates an entire other people, fear due to propaganda, ignorance, all the usual suspects.

The dirt that rancher breaks in his hands is about as good as it gets.

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The Selkirk Caribou herd has lost 2/3 of it's already critical population in the past five years bringing the total number of individuals down to 18. It's thought that without assistance the caribou would be extirpated.
"Caribou" by Dean Biggins (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) - US FWS, DIVISION OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, WO3772-023. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

You're probably wondering why Canada is saving US species. Me too. Probably because the Selkirk herd wanders back and forth across the international border between our two countries and the Selkirk herd is part of the efforts in the South Peace to reverse the decline of caribou herds.

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In a recent video from the New York Times we are given a second look at the reintroduction of wolves to the Northern Rocky Mountains. I don't agree with all of what is said in the vid, but what is unusual is that another side to the issue is even shown. In general I'd characterize the NYT as being not supportive of rural people or hunting. It's a measure of just how far this issue has moved, that the Times would produce a video that even shows a different perspective.

"It's really unfortunate that many of us did not think harder about the potential for the back lash". Says wolf advocate Lisa Upson Executive Director of Keystone Conservation Formerly of Natural Resources Defence Council.

"From a social experiment standpoint the wolf reintroduction has been a disaster of the greatest degree, and we're going to pay for that for years to come" Says Randy Newberg founding board member at Orion the Hunters Institute  which provides leadership on ethical and philosophical issues to promote fair chase and responsible hunting." He goes on to say, "As a hunter you know, I thought, "we can handle this" as long as the agreements are followed this isn't the end of the world."

Ed Bangs former director of the wolf program for the US FWS "all of a sudden you had hunters who had stayed on the sidelines saying, "holy moly I'm not seeing any elk here all I'm seeing is wolf tracks"

"I was noticin that formerly very reasonable people" said Hal Herring, Environmentalist, Writer for High Country News, and Contributing Editor at Field and Stream "were beginnin to despise the Endangered Species Act, the wolf recovery, the whole thing"

Since this video was produced a federal judge in Washington DC has returned wolves in three Western Great Lakes States to federal protections. Though the Western Great Lakes are a different wolf population segment, this is probably one of the more encouraging developments for Rocky Mountain wolf management in quite a while.

Links below

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Sun Jan 04, 2015 at 05:43 AM PST

A Deer Hunt That Went Right

by ban nock

All I did was look up, and I saw the doe looking down. It was up the hill standing sideways between some trees looking down at me with that slightly inquisitive look. So I went down on one knee and tried to line up on the thing. That’s the idea right? Hunt deer, shoot a deer?

My breathing from walking up the hill was too hard, distance too far, crosshairs jumping all over the place. So I sat my butt down right there and unfolded the bipod, I can shoot from a bipod. Deer still there, still looking at me. The snow was cold, temps had been close to zero since before it started snowing. Sitting was too low, brush and rocks and logs were in the way, so I rolled onto my knees and folded the bipod back onto the rifle and took a  couple steps over to a tree to use a branch to lean on.

Maybe the deer wondered just what in the heck I was, I’d been half shuffling ever since I started following the small herd a half hour before. The cold snow was on top of bare ground and walking was loud. Shuffling I didn’t step down on quite as much dry cold snow, it was quieter if akward. It was so cold I’d choked on heading out early but I rallied for the afternoon hunt. Deer have to eat, all that digestion gives off heat as a byproduct, I figured I had as good a  chance the second day into a cold snap as any.

The tree was no good either. The deer was only visible through a gap in the trees and moving to the tree was out of the sight line.

When I stepped back to where I could see, there was the deer, still looking at me. So I went down on one knee again intent on seeing if I could at least steady up. Moving forward is out of the question. A deer might wonder what the heck the stupid animal is floundering in snow but something moving towards it is a potential threat.

I’d caught my breath with all my fumbling so pulling off my mitten with my teeth I put the thing in my sights, my finger inside the guard and the second the crosshairs lined up on the sweet spot the gun went off.

Where once I’d seen a solitary doe looking from between trees a long ways away, I now saw bits of three or four deer glimpsed running through the trees. Must have been more than one. One thing with shooting is there are no do overs. I put my mitten back on and started walking up to where the deer had been.

When I got to about where I thought the deer had been standing I got to wishing I’d taken a more careful look. It was quite a ways. So I went a little further. Sure enough there was a tiny bit of red, a flek really, not a drop but something that looked like it had entered the snow with some velocity. But no deer. This is fairly open country mind you, one can see a few hundred feet in most directions. Very widely spaced thin aspen.

So I walked in the direction the deer had run looking for more blood. None. The deer noticing me walking towards them bounded away, no obvious limping. I stopped and put my glasses on them. No red spots. I watched them turn and walk back right downhill. They were stepping pretty in that exaggerated step they use when ready to bolt in an instant. Any limp would really show up on that kind of walking. I wanted to put the wounded one down, and in my freezer but I just couldn’t decide which one was wounded without a limp or a red spot.

I could have just picked one to be the wounded one, like a big doe or something, but I wasn’t to that point yet. Our freezer had been empty since the summer. That’s a lot of empty space. Cheap factory farmed pork and chicken sometimes tastes a little off. Beef is way out of my paygrade, even hamburger. The deer were temptingly close.

I walked back to where I’d seen that splatter of blood in the snow. Sure enough, there it was, one fleck of red, and all the deer tracks. I couldn’t make believe it wasn’t there. The deer were still there, not looking at me really but further down the slope, and that gave me an idea. I walked down a little and a rock caught my eye, except all rocks were covered with the light snow, and there it was, a doe deader than all get out. I approached from the nose and put muzzle to eyeball looking for blink, no use catching a hoof from a dead deer.

Three or four years old, not a giant but not a fawn either. I put my pack down took out my cleaning kit and my tag, signing and scratching in all the right places, then I called my wife and told her I’d be very late. It was a fine shot, double lung, no damage to heart or liver meat. I shoot those big copper bullets that go very fast, same bullet for all animals, keeps me from having to learn new things.

I cleaned quickly but carefully. My hands more nimble as they warmed up from handling the guts. The temps were right at zero when I left my truck, no doubt well below zero with the light mostly gone. Much of the work of cleaning is done as much by feel as anything else the guide hand under the back of the knife holding the belly away, keeping the lungs and stuff away while sawing up through the breast bone, holding the bladder away while sawing through the little bone at the front of the hips, reaching way up inside the carcass to cut across the windpipe and then while pulling the whole thing out slicing away those connectors by the diaphragm.

Cutting the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys out of the rest of the guts I felt the cool air on my hands. I slipped the innards into a cheesecloth bag, peeled my thick surgical gloves off inside out and tossed them too in the bag and into my pack, knives folded and away in cleaning kit, zipped my tag carefully in my breast pocket and put my mittens back on. Nippy.

I tied a parachute cord around the neck of the deer and a large loop to go around me. It drug, if not easily. It was work to get it up to where it was standing when I shot it. I should have known, shot deer run downhill. I’d pull for five paces then stop, cough, pant, catch my breath, pull five more paces. Once I started downhill things got much easier. Depending on the gradient I could go quite a ways before stopping.

I wear highly specialized technical gear for extreme temperatures and hunting. On my feet I wear boots with lots of wool socks. For pants I wear cotton sweat pants under loose cotton poly army surplus over trousers that have elastic cuffs and waist, Up top a lightweight down jacket from Costco under a cheap orange polyester hoody and an orange fleece hat. Works for me just fine.

Pulling the deer warmed me up quite a bit and I rolled my hat up above my ears, must have been ten below. The area I hunt is National Forest but difficult to access. I’ve only seen a couple hikers up there in the many many times I’ve hunted. There are no trails thank god. The quarter moon behind clouds was more than enough to see by. I didn’t find my way back to my truck I just walked. Getting the deer into the back of the truck was a bit of a struggle. Mule deer are big. I figure it took me less than a couple hours to walk out. Truck defrost started blowing warm air after I was mostly down out of the mountains. Made it home before the kids went to bed.

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A couple weeks ago when Craig Johnson's snowmobile broke through the ice and he was soaked to the chest in arctic waters a long way from nowhere, things looked grim.

The shore ice is freezing up pretty solid about now. Later in the winter it will be eight feet thick and strong enough to drive a D9 Cat on. Driving on the ice saves time, the ice is flat and smooth. For whatever reason Craig broke through, like I said wetting himself to the chest. He wasn't far from land and he hoofed it the mile and a half to where he sought shelter in the below zero temps at the remnants of a tent platform used during the milder seasons for hunting and fishing.

Tracks out onto the shore ice.

He sat for 3 days emptying his gun at a wolverine that figured it had found a meal eventually fending it off with a stick. When found rescuers put him in a tent awaiting a flight, and he was in a lot of pain. Often people who spend a lot of time freezing end up loosing some parts, I hope that's not the case here and that Craig makes a timely and full recovery.

http://www.adn.com/...

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In a surprise ruling issued late Friday a federal judge relisted under the Endangered Species Act all wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Usually it takes the lawyers a couple days to go over these decisions and figure out exactly what is said in the 100 plus page ruling, and even more time trying to guess where it will eventually lead.

In the short term there should be no effect on either wolves or other wildlife in the Western Great Lakes, (WGL). The annual hunts are past, and so few wolves were harvested that populations were expanding anyway.

Wolf advocates though surprised have been appreciative of what is a "win" for their side. David Mech America's widely accepted leading wolf researcher and founder of the International Wolf Center said of the ruling, "It sure is going to surprise a lot of people, especially wolf biologists,’’ . Star Tribune Unfiltered comments coming as they did Friday evening after the sun had crossed the yardarm, from directors of conservation orgs and state wildlife agencies were less sanguine.

Scientifically I don't think there is much argument amongst scientists, or state and federal wildlife managers. Minnesota alone was home to roughly twice the number of wolves as in the entire northern rocky mountains. The current cull rate was exceeded by population increases. The current delisting had been held up for a decade by obstructive litigation.

Wolves however are a political issue, not a scientific one, and are seen in moral terms as seen in many diaries and comments here at DK. Wolves come with a complete quasi scientific mythology and vocabulary. It is no doubt from this perspective that the judge who might well have never taken a step off the pavement ruled.

I personally like many others who live far away from this conservation action could care less about listing or delisting in the WGL. It will have no direct affect on me or on anyone I know, but there is a potential upside.

Wyoming also had a confusing relisting recently via a judge on the other side of the continent that seemingly didn't make much sense, and made even less sense when Wyoming promptly complied with the judge's wishes yet received no relief being required to return to the years long delisting process.

Wyoming by itself currently has about zero political clout, come January they will have much more. Also amongst the WGL legislators is Al Franken, a longtime and strong supporter of delisting, one of five Democratic senators from the WGL.

A rider such as was passed for Idaho and Montana, is certainly something on the minds of everyone now. A rider perhaps including the WGL and Wyoming and maybe even areas not yet delisted. The Montana/Idaho rider simply affirmed the delisting of the US Fish and Wildlife Service but it was a de facto override of the Endangered Species Act. The ESA has been long overdue for a reset, whether it's by nibbling away via riders, a rewrite of the EAJA, or other forms I just don't know. I'm sure there are some Republican legislators who along with their financial backers are chomping at the bit, not to delist wolves but to put some serious hurt on the ESA. This ruling will no doubt add pressure and cover to do so.

I'd think the pendulum is about to swing back, how far is anyone's guess.

Update: To the predictable trolls. I don't even read troll comments, and based on past experience I'm not missing much. What I wrote speaks for itself. I'm sure there will be ample opportunities to revisit the subject, indeed the Sage Grouse rider is but a sample of what's to come.

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Sat Dec 13, 2014 at 04:45 AM PST

Horn Porn

by ban nock

I took these photos last weekend. Some are fairly close up but I'm a voyeur. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder they say, we are interested in, and take photos of, that which interests us. I realize not everything is to everyone's taste, but there you have it.

Yup, it's about elk antlers, horns as we say.

There's actually a lot more to elk antlers than one might think. Notice how large the antlers of the elk are in proportion to his body? There are actually reasons for this that are more complicated than just impressing the ladies.

Territorial deer have small horns. The antlers are used more to drive competition out of one's territory. Doe muntjac for instance stay with the buck because he has the best patch of forest, and drives others from it, not for his pretty rack.

Elk are a herd animal, and an animal of the open spaces. Bull elk attract cows for mating and cows actually get to "choose" which bull they wish to become part of the harem of. But why big horns? Why not a good coat or large size or pretty eyes or macho bearing or any one of many other features? Over the entrails for answers.

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Those aren't my words. That's a direct cut and paste from a recent report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

For the first time in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys, there is more support for gun rights than gun control.
http://www.people-press.org/...

More below the orange depiction of synapse collapse.

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Thu Dec 11, 2014 at 04:59 AM PST

Budget Rider for Sage Grouse?

by ban nock

I don't think endangered species listing is enough to keep President Obama from signing or congress from voting on the must pass spending bill.

Politico has a pretty good in depth write up.

Sec. 122. None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used by the Secretary of the Interior to write or issue pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S. C. 1533) --
a proposed rule for greater sage-grouse (Centrocerus urophasianus);
a proposed rule for the Columbia basin distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse;
a final rule for the bi-state distinct population segment of greater sage-grouse; or
a final rule for Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocerus minimus).
So what's the big deal? This is congress making decisions on endangered species. The important part is what listing might do and who does and doesn't want it listed.

Big Oil. Big Enviro.

Listing could impede or stop every access road to do anything at all in the oil fields of most western states. Environmentalists have looked upon sage grouse as the holy grail of endangered species, the species occurs just about everywhere there is sage brush. Listing the sage grouse could justify lawsuits to stop everything from oil to ranching to condos to any sort of building at all. All the states have robust sage grouse conservation programs as do many private landowners etc. They are making every effort to appear to be trying like hell to save the prairie chickens (yes I know technically they aren't exactly the same bird, gimmee a break) The problem is populations have crashed already and no one is sure why or how to increase them or if it is even possible.

The sage grouse is a spotted owl on steroids. It would allow litigation over most BLM land. This rider only addresses a few distinct population segments, and only for a year. I strongly suspect that the new congress will make changes to the Endangered Species Act itself. The Oil lobby has been pumping an unusual amount of money and effort into old large powerful Sportsmen's Groups, something they hadn't done before. I doubt all this forethought and effort is simply over sage grouse which is a barely hunted species.

I'd look for many more riders to come.

I figured this is an appropriate song, Garden of Eden is an anthem to a sullied environment and it's by the New Riders of the Purple Sage.

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I've seen this myth before and I read it again in a rec listed diary and I'd like to drive a stake right the hell through this zombie that keeps reappearing.

The Democratic Party is not losing working class whites because of Obama, we are the ones who voted for him, twice.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/...

After the 2012 election Romney's advisors tried to say that at least they won the middle class. Middle and working class doesn't mean what it used to in America. About half the country makes less than $50K, and a heck of a lot of us make less than $30K, Obama voters. Romney won the over $50K crowd, but not the under $50K bunch, and that included a heck of a lot of white people, more white people than the over $50K bunch did. http://www.slate.com/...

Look at that trend line it doesn't start trending up again until over sixty (or eightieth percentile of family income for the south), and that's family income, not individuals. The line barely makes it past the 50% mark for whites at just over the 95th percentile, those are some really rich white people. It's true the Democratic Party is losing an ever growing percentage of white working class votes, but don't blame that on Obama, or racism, blame it on policies that hurt working Americans. Worry more that without Obama on the ticket an ever larger sector of the working class of all ethnicities might desert the Democratic party.

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