Sunday, August 16, 2009

Generational harmony, eternal gift

Generational harmony, eternal gift

August 16, 2009

By Julie Kay Smithson

April swirls about me as the hill falls beneath my feet toward the creek. In some places the ground is still cold; in others, it is being warmed by a tender spring sun. Trees are transitioning from bud to leaf; winter-dormant grass is flirting with gamut of green. A young blue heeler cattle dog frolics, still busy learning from my actions whether he should join the herd or observe from a polite distance. He chooses to observe. Good dog! Greatness dipped from the gene pool has been provided to me in spades. If only I can always remain cognizant of that.

Muzzles dripping from their morning thirst-quencher, a clot of horses watches my approach. They've come down from the barn, tummies full of third cutting alfalfa. Ears up, gentle souls survey this person they know well. No flies have come yet to make them stomp or swish. Morning eases into day as the night before retreats.

No grain required

One young lady is first to nicker hello, closely followed by her father's more throaty welcome. The bay filly and her father look so alike -- their color only a tiny part of the equation. They share so much more. Strong bones and hooves, short backs, tulip-shaped ears, black-tipped, well laid back shoulders, musculature built upon generational DNA, minds ever-learning and curious, eager to please, full of playfulness but with no dearth of heart.

A favorite game involves me morphing into a sort of two-legged cutting horse. The first to be worked with has already sensed that he's "it," and he is filled with excited delight, knowing that we're going to do things this morning that will stretch our minds and our muscles. He fairly dances with joy, blowing rollers and tossing that black flag of a tail o'er his back, his hooves cadenced in the poetry of motion, whisking air neath them as they carry him to me. We're close enough to blow our own breath into one another's nostrils ... then he does a perfect rollback and canters up the hill, saying clearly, "Catch me if you can!" I know full well how effortless this is, because he will soon put his nose through a halter, eager to be the chosen one this day. In the interim, I ignore him, smiling as my herd cavorts 'round me, darting this way and that, feigning a charge, only to stretch out my hand to meet an outstretched prehensile equine lip. A touch, then we both whirl and "flee." A fleabitten grey mare with the "bloody shoulder" roan patch, the bottom of the pecking order, has patiently waited for "her turn." Now she accompanies me up the hill, my hand in her mane so she can help me up the steeper part. The others wait "up top," watching us proceed with eyes of utmost fondness. No grain is required to "catch" any of my horses.

We work a bit. He takes the first bit he's ever known into his mouth, tastes it and considers the possibilities. It's a rubber bit, large rings on either side and snaps attach it to his halter. Like many others before him, all training is done with respect, gentleness, praise, and firmness. When this colt moves on in life to another person -- often another family, complete with children he will carry, as he will carry their parents -- he will do so with confidence, knowing that bits, like saddles, are a part of sharing life with people. He will bugle a "Hello!" to people and will come running to meet them.

The fuzzy brown rectangle

Often I have dreamt of how my horses view the world and this puny human that they trust for their health and very lives. They must trust that I will provide them with clean, fresh water -- cool in summer and not frozen in winter. They must trust that I will keep their pastures and hay of the best possible quality, that I will keep them vaccinated against disease and wormed against parasites. They trust me to keep their strong hooves rasped and smoothed at the correct angle to maximize their ability to defy gravity and leave nothing but my gasp of wonder at their fleetness of foot. They trust. I, in turn, strive to be trustworthy.

Through the chocolate-colored rectangular window of their eye, fringed with lashes that have to shelter against sun, wind, and more, they look upon this world. May they always see people as kind, protective, yet also with the call to adventure that may be found when sitting upon their back, our eyes focused between their ears.

Our dogs share their wisdom through their joy, patience, work ethic, and loyalty. Wiggles grants me his life that I may better learn to live my own. He asks only for kind words, a gentle hand, food and water and a place to sleep that is within reach of his "mom."

The present embraces the past

Horses that are now gone back to the earth, hold our hearts hostage. Our favorite dogs do the same. Through our memories, they leave hoof and footprints on our souls and mold the people we have become. They gift us with the knowledge that wisdom is eternal, and all we need do to know this is to look deeply into their eyes, their souls. A glimpse of this eternity may be found there. What we do with these gifts is our thank you to them for having graced our lives, no matter how many days/weeks/months/years. We choke back a sob as we recall the most special times with them. This is our private paradise, out of which we cannot be driven. We pray that we will be reunited with them, to know them without aging or infirmities or earthly bonds.

My babies. With quiet humility to be so blessed with this time in my life, I walk amongst these wondrous horses, at an utter loss to describe their greatness, a lump rising in my throat as I consider the horses and people of a faraway desert on the other side of a distant ocean.

In that far-off place, an olive-complected man appraises his wealth with a loving eye as one drinks deeply at a rare oasis. His mare carries an old spear scar on her hip, but has never limped. She has carried him for many years, and still he draws a ragged breath, thinking of her courage and strength. So like her granddam is this one, her tenth foal suckling her milk as she sips water. Her lips sound like they are pulling air and water through her teeth, and so they are, as she sifts sand from water. Her eyes close in pleasure at his touch, her trust in him complete to the point where he can handle her foals with never a worry. He is a king, a sheikh, his wealth born from oil; yet ... his dearest treasure is an Arabian mare.

Harmony through the generations: Man and horse and dog. God spoke to the south wind, His breath creating the horse. We, who love horses and dogs for their beauty, functionality, grace, speed, kindness, and more -- thank God for this gift.

1,204 words.


Julie Kay Smithson was blessed to have wondrous horses for 34 of her 57 years. Wiggles blue heeler remains still her companion, though the horses were dispersed in order to help her keep her home in the country. She has become a decent property rights researcher and champion of responsible resource providing. She is certain that Heaven holds horses and dogs, for how could God not love these manifestations of His Greatness?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Get the Picture?

Get the Picture?

Who stands to gain when orchards of fruit and nut trees, vineyards groaning 'neath the weight of plumping grapes and fields ripening with summer crops, are all rendered EXTINCT due to water shutoff?

August 14, 2009

By Julie Kay Smithson, researcher and consumer

Remember when you were a kid in school and were shown a picture and asked to pick out what didn't belong in the picture? It might have been a picture of a house, with a yard, porch, driveway, kids, and ... a giraffe sticking its head up from the back yard.

That was easy.

Here's another picture: spotted owls, tiger salamanders, Preble's Meadow jumping mice, Canadian gray wolves, Indiana bats, black-footed ferrets, polar bears, delta smelt, sage grouse, and ... the Endangered Species Act.

Not so easy, you say?

Once the truth emerges, it's actually even easier to decipher than the first picture. The answer is: the Endangered Species Act. It doesn't belong in the second picture because, truth be told, none of the species mentioned are in actual danger of "extinction." Entire communities of people -- including the Inuit of the Arctic -- are shoved toward actual extinction with this ruse.

Come ON, you say! The polar bear, surely! Didn't "they" prove the icecaps are disappearing?

What about the spotted owl? Wasn't logging to blame for "loss of critical habitat"?

Consider this axiom: When the emotions are twanged, the intellect is paralyzed. Many people -- otherwise intelligent and rational -- can be deceived if the ploy is delivered in such as way that it appears plausible.

What if the truth was that the polar bear was actually thriving in virtually all of its "historic range" and that icecaps, overall, were not disappearing worldwide?

What if the real threat to the spotted owl turned out to be the larger barred owl, which views spotted owls as menu items?

What if ... things were not as most people have believed?

What it means

Disinformation - False information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth. - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, May 2009. Function: noun. Date: 1939.

Should people remain in a constant state of "Chicken Little / sky is falling" over whichever "poster species" has been trotted out for effect in order to exterminate responsible resource utilization in America?

What if loggers were never a threat to owls?

What if farmers, irrigators and ranchers were never a threat to smelt, salamanders and sage grouse?

What if beachgoers were never a threat to piping plovers?

What if the black-footed ferret had actually been imported from Russia and was not even a native species?

What if the "Preble's Meadow jumping mouse" was not even a distinct species, but merely an emotion-plucking name given to mice that are anything but endangered?

Who stands to gain when orchards of fruit and nut trees, vineyards groaning 'neath the weight of plumping grapes and fields ripening with summer crops, are all rendered EXTINCT due to water shutoff?

Consider the possibilities. Some call it 'conspiracy theory' when thoughtful people voice the probability that America's natural resources are being shut down in order to maintain them as collateral for bankers holding loans on our tanking economy.

Others wonder how litigious "environmental" and "conservation" organization groups seem to have figured out how to milk the apparent cash cow of the "Equal Access to Justice Act" in order to litigate endlessly. Certainly, many of "experts" in Washington, D.C., and other political hotbeds, may not be as "expert" as they'd have us believe. When cattle are plastered in the public consciousness as being somehow dangerous to our rangelands, how are they different from any other grazing animal? Is their domestic status somehow grounds for blacklisting them from eating and being raised / harvested for food? How is the raising of cattle in Brazil, Argentina, etc., less "harmful" to "the environment" than raising cattle in America and saving all that "fossil fuel" shipping food from thousands of miles to "nurture" our health? Locally grown food has been proven healthier for people, yet America's health is being drained in the form of her ability to be "food and fiber self-sufficient."

Will the salmon/suckerfish/smelt actually go extinct unless farming/irrigation/ranching go extinct?


The "Endangered Species Act" appears to be the playbook for restricting/forbidding "activities" that have the "potential" to "adversely" impact any poster species. Substitute any "endangered," "threatened" or "candidate" species, change the location, and repeat as needed until there are no activities left that could be construed as AEI -- American Economic Independence.

Wherever we turn, we are expected to believe that, if we just use a little less, a little more less, and even more less -- Nirvana awaits. The truth is, no matter how little water farmers/irrigators use, it will always be "too much."

The truth is, no matter how few trees are grown and harvested in America, using the most efficient methods, it will always be "too many." "Old-growth" differs by tree species, and no trees live forever. Pines have shorter lifespans than redwoods. Oaks live longer than poplars. Once past their prime, decay and weather damage erode trees. Litigating forest harvest to a grinding halt is not "good for trees." It is good for someone wanting the public to believe that song and dance, but it is not "good" for trees, animals, birds, people, and the local and national economy. Perhaps the smoke inhalation factor benefits the "health care industry," but that is a left-handed "benefit."

"All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender, for it is all give and no take." - Mohandas Ghandi

Compromise, collaboration, cooperation -- result in eventual capitulation. Man is not the bane of Earth's existence. People are often very good for the earth. It's time they relearned that fact and stopped being reactionaries to "the Great Oz." Getting the picture is easy once the curtain is pulled back and the fellow with the megaphone is exposed!

976 words.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009



June 13, 2009

By Julie Kay Smithson

If this question were posed to most Americans today: Would you embrace the concept of losing your property rights and entire region's economy? The answer would be a resounding "No!"

Worded differently -- say, in the form of "protecting" and/or "restoring" a posted "endangered" or "threatened" species of flora or fauna (whether or not any actual proof exists that said poster species is in any danger of harm to its numbers) -- twenty-first century Americans seem unable to register any red flags to themselves.

The "Endangered Species Act," touted as being the best thing since sliced bread for "saving," "protecting" and/or "restoring" things, has actually done very little. It has, however, wreaked utter havoc on America's former economic independence. Were people to take a long, hard look at the things over the past thirty years that have reduced this nation to paper tiger "status" and massive dependence on other countries for its food and fiber, its energy sources and now even its "tech support" and call centers -- they might rethink their view of such legislation.

Is canned salmon still available on the shelves of your local grocery store for a reasonable price?

Those in charge of "policy" are only too happy to make a far larger profit on their investment in distant lands where "human resources," like natural resources, are shamelessly exploited without the checks and balances and better working conditions and benefits once enjoyed in America. The thought of a "middle" class of people that actually dare to believe they should own property and know life without abject poverty, is apparently abhorrent to those who are busy collateralizing our every resource in order to skim the power and make our middle, property-owning class go extinct. Since the last quarter of the eighteenth century, America has been the place people could go to become free, own property and be independent. Should our steps forward be negated without a whimper as the Albert Gores of the world seek to make us -- but never themselves -- little more than serfs and peasants in service to their masters?

I ask people to unpack and stop taking those wholesale guilt trips they've been conditioned to take at the drop of a hat. Consider that what's actually happening is the undermining of our economic health and independence, while food and fiber is produced in countries with far less stringent growing conditions and regulations than ours. Would Americans ever knowingly produce pet or human food "salted" with deadly melamine? Why shouldn't we raise our own food, grow our own trees -- to be harvested, because they are, after all, a renewable resource -- and utilize our own manpower once again? We owe it to future generations to unpack!

Julie Kay Smithson is a property rights researcher in rural west-central Ohio.
Please visit a place to learn about your property rights and how to protect them.

If Wolves Had Coattails

If Wolves Had Coattails

May 7, 2007

By Julie Kay Smithson

Focus should be redirected from wolves to those behind their 're' introduction and that of other large predators. Such Endangered Species Act (ESA) abuse provides sublime job security. Consider that the real predators may be walking on two legs and "interpreting" the Endangered Species Act for their own benefit and not that of the actual species.

Keeping factions like ranchers, sportsmen and miseducated folk at one another's throats, merely enhances the smokescreen.

Large predators -- and other species of flora and fauna -- have no say in such matters. They are manipulated and volunteered to be de facto real estate agents for The Wildlands Project (TWP). They become "poster species" for the driving forces bent upon gaining control over property.

TWP is not about "rewilding," but rather controlling all resources and wiping out property rights.

If a wolf could tell us, it would not choose to be trapped, moved to a warmer / different climate, bred in captivity, radio-collared, poked, prodded, and turned loose in places where the wolf density is already so high that there's simply not enough food to go around and lots of infighting between the now-crowded large predator population.

Think of an inner city with two gangs. Suddenly, someone drops off ten more gangs in an area where the turf is already claimed. All Hell is SURE to break loose!

If wolves had coattails, the number of two-legged "human" predators riding on them would be amazing. Closer scrutiny will peel the onion's layers.

The Many Facets of the Endangered Species Act

The Many Facets of the Endangered Species Act

Updated version published September 6, 2005 (Original version published May 2002)

By Julie Kay Smithson .htm

While we are familiar with the enforcement of the ESA in America, the Act and its enforcement have expanded to include species found anywhere on the planet. By specific exclusion as a species, human populations have become victims of the ESA.

Treaties, International Agreements and the Origins of the ESA

Congress passed the Endangered Species Preservation Act (ESPA) in 1966. This law allowed listing of only native animal species as endangered, and provided limited means for the protection of species so listed. The Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Defense were to seek to protect listed species, and insofar as consistent with their primary purposes, preserve (protect) the habitats of such species. Land acquisition for protection of endangered species was also authorized.

The Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 (ESCA) was passed to provide additional protection to species in danger of "worldwide extinction." Import of such species was prohibited, as was their subsequent sale within the U.S. This Act called for an international ministerial meeting to adopt a convention on the conservation of endangered species.

A 1973 United Nations conference in Washington D.C. led to the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which restricted international commerce in plant and animal species believed to be actually or potentially harmed by trade.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) signed by the United States on March 3, 1973, which combined and considerably strengthened the provisions of its predecessors.

The ESA is arguably one of the most recognized acronyms in rural America. First written in 1973 using its current title, it has undergone numerous revisions. This "law of the land" contains more facets than the Hope Diamond and may have its purported curse as well. Mere mention of a landowner having "possible habitat" for a protected, threatened, or endangered species wreaks immediate havoc, both emotionally and economically.

The ESA was amended in 1976-1982, 1984 and 1988, and actually expired in the early 1990s, but has been kept alive through Congressional funding on an annual basis.

The United States' international commitment of America's resources under treaties and "other international agreements" has its roots in 16 U.S.C. 1351. An Executive "international agreement" is not ratified by the Senate.

The ESA began with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918* between the United States, Great Britain and Canada. This treaty usurped powers reserved to the States. The Migratory Bird Treaty has even been expanded several times.

Some treaties, such as the Western Hemisphere Treaty (Treaty of Tordesillas), have no enforcement clause and are merely good faith treaties that impose no obligation or burden upon anyone.

U.S. v. Pink 315 US 203 (1942), which used treaties to undermine constitutional safeguards, should raise significant, related issues.

If international matters are raised and held to, the matter of which treaty or International Agreement is being applied, comes into play. Legal arguments can and should arise from the implementation and enforcement of the ESA against private property owners.

The Ute Mountain Ute Nation did an excellent job of challenging and defeating the ESA. The Ute Mountain Ute Nation did not sign any of treaties or international agreements -- thus, the ESA does not apply to their lands in the southwest quarter of Colorado.

Many definitions contained in the ESA come directly from UN and IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) glossaries, including but not limited to CITES definitions.

A few definitions from the ESA are necessary in order to understand the complexities of the Act itself:

The ESA definition of an endangered species is "Any species which is in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range."

The terms ''conserve'', ''conserving'', and ''conservation'' mean to use and the use of all methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered species or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to this chapter are no longer necessary. Such methods and procedures include, but are not limited to, all activities associated with scientific resources management such as research, census, law enforcement, habitat acquisition and maintenance, propagation, live trapping, and transplantation, and, in the extraordinary case where population pressures within a given ecosystem cannot be otherwise relieved, may include regulated taking.

The term ''critical habitat'' for a threatened or endangered species means -

(i) The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the provisions of section 1533 of this title, on which are found those physical or biological features

(I) Essential to the conservation of the species and

(II) Which may require special management considerations or protection; and

(ii) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed in accordance with the provisions of section 1533 of this title, upon a determination by the Secretary that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species.

A "threatened" classification is provided to those animals and plants likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their ranges [Section 3].

A "species" includes any species or subspecies of fish, wildlife, or plant; any variety of plant; and any distinct population segment of any vertebrate species that interbreeds when mature. Excluded is any species of the Class Insecta determined by the Secretary to constitute a pest whose protection under the provisions of the Act would present an overwhelming and overriding risk to man [Section 3].

The term ''fish or wildlife'' means any member of the animal kingdom, including without limitation any mammal, fish, bird (including any migratory, nonmigratory, or endangered bird for which protection is also afforded by treaty or other international agreement), amphibian, reptile, mollusk, crustacean, arthropod or other invertebrate, and includes any part, product, egg, or offspring thereof, or the dead body or parts thereof. ["any mammal" could this be expanded to include humans?]

The term ''take'' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. [This definition is especially meaningful from the context of those human species who have been "harassed, harmed, pursued, wounded, etc." by the implementation of the ESA.]

While we are familiar with the enforcement of the ESA in America, the Act and its enforcement have expanded to include species found anywhere on the planet. By specific exclusion as a species, human populations have become victims of the ESA.

The full 49-page text of the Act may be found at

* - 9%20%20AND


The listing process was originally planned to protect both species and their habitat. U.S. and foreign species lists were combined, with uniform provisions applied to both (Section 4).

Categories of "endangered" and "threatened" were defined (Section 3).

Broad taking prohibitions were applied to all endangered animal species, which could apply to threatened animals by special regulation [Section 9].

Authority was provided to acquire land for listed animals and for plants listed under CITES [Section 5]; and U.S. implementation of CITES was provided [Section 8].

All Federal agencies were required to undertake programs for the conservation of endangered and threatened species, and were prohibited from authorizing, funding, or carrying out any action that would jeopardize a listed species or destroy or modify its "critical habitat" [Section 7].

Significant amendments were enacted in 1978, 1982, and 1988 although the overall framework of the 1973 Act remained basically unchanged.

As with most other Federal regulations, a species is proposed for addition to the lists (50 CFR Part 17) in the Federal Register. The public is offered an opportunity to comment, and the rule is finalized (or withdrawn). Species are selected by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) for proposed rules from a list of 'candidates.'

To become a candidate, FWS relies largely upon petitions, FWS and other agencies' surveys, and other substantiated reports on field studies.

The Act provides very specific procedures on how species are to be placed on the list (e.g., listing criteria, public comment periods, hearings, notifications, time limit for final action) and may be found at 50 CFR Part 424. Selection from the list of candidates for a proposed rule is based upon a priority system (September 23, 1983, Federal Register).

Species may be active candidates from a number of sources. FWS has its own biologists who are monitoring the status of some species. Other agencies [The Nature Conservancy, The Center for Biological Diversity -- formerly known as the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity -- and others] have similar staffs that can report when a species seems to be at some risk to its continued existence. Informal letters and various reports are also submitted to FWS from the States and private groups and individuals. There is also a formal petition process available under the Act.

Anyone can petition to have any species -- as defined in the ESA -- listed.

In the years since its inception, this process has expanded to include "possible habitat?" and has often used the "critical habitat" designation to halt human use of large blocks of land. In a 1998 memo, Donna Darm, the acting regional administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS / NOAA agency) wrote: "When we make critical habitat designations, we just designate everything as critical without analysis of how much habitat a (population) needs, what areas might be key, etc. We just say we need it all."

"This has been our assumption of their attitude all along," said Chuck Garner, manager of the Kennewick Irrigation District in the mid-Columbia Basin of Washington State. He gave district directors copies of the comments at a board meeting. "They just go in without showing any scientific evidence of what habitat is critical; they just list everything," Garner said.

Some species have been "emergency listed" in order to stop road improvements. For example, the bull trout near South Canyon Road at Jarbidge, Nevada, was the "sacrificial lamb" used to close the only road for miles in a remote part of northeast Nevada. The bull trout was "emergency listed" for this reason alone: to close a road. Concerned citizens reopened the road on the fourth of July in 2000 in the face of threats of lawsuits and jail time.

Plant species are the special province of the Smithsonian Institution, as directed by the Secretary of Agriculture. The Smithsonian is to review plant species that are or may become threatened or endangered, and recommend methods adequate to conserve the species.


Much of what has given the ESA its "black eye" with those impacted by it is the methodology involved.

Federal environmental policy surrounding this law is often seen to pit one species against others, or speciesism.

Lake Koocanusa is in northwestern Montana and straddles the American-Canadian border. A manmade lake built in the 1970s by the Army Corps of Engineers, Koocanusa was promoted to increase fishing and tourism. A "protected species" of salmon listed in 1992 has put another protected species, the White Sturgeon, at risk.

The United States Fish & Wildlife Service working with the National Marine Fisheries Service, is conducting a "50-year experiment," using the lake levels to discover if decreased lake levels in the spring will help the salmon in the Columbia River, 800 miles downstream. This effectively puts the spawning grounds of the sturgeon in eminent danger by reducing lake levels at a time when the sturgeon most needs higher levels. This is a prime, but far from isolated, example of the Endangered Species Act violating the Endangered Species Act.

In other highly publicized stories, lynx fur and grizzly bear hair have been used to falsify the boundaries of "critical habitat" for both species, leading to the question: How many other "science-based statistics" have been invented in order to "create" critical habitat?

The Endangered Species Act has been selectively used to protect species other than human and domestic. Many rural producers are descendants of war veterans who settled and improved their lands after government promises of land and water. Indeed, many veterans had deeds -- signed by various U.S. presidents -- granting them and their "heirs and assigns" land and water rights in perpetuity.

As prospects for rural economic survival dwindle, a federal government or environmental group buyout is touted as the only alternative. Resource providing and resource extraction -- farming, ranching, logging, mining, and commercial fishing -- are presented to the general public as hurtful "to the environment" and obsolete careers. Tourism and recreation are promoted as being better for all concerned.

Left out of the equation are the facts: people, like any other species, need food and shelter for survival. In order to have both, resource providing and extraction must continue. Sending both to other countries does not bode well for their economies or their environment.

Think there's no such thing as RURAL/CULTURAL terrorism?

A 2000 ESA hearing, sponsored by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, actively excluded testimony from landowners that have seen their property values reduced or completely negated by regulations.

Victim stories are legend. Thousands -- perhaps tens of thousands of families and businesses -- have been forced to relocate and/or go out of business due to this single statute. Here are but a few:

*Dave Fisher, third generation cattle rancher and owner of the Shield "F" Ranch near Barstow, California

Dave Fisher has become both the endangered species and the victim. His story is the tip of the iceberg, as there are 1,400 ranch families who fell victim to the ESA along with him.

In late 2001 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sent Dave a notice that if his 307 head of cattle were not removed from the 154,848-acre Ord Mountain allotment in the California Desert within 5 days, they would be impounded by the BLM. The BLM declared its lands and those under private ownership in the affected area to be "critical habitat" for the desert tortoise. It did not notify the 1,400 affected families in the area of its intent until after the ink was dry.

Dave and his neighbors tried to cooperate with the BLM. They appealed the original BLM May 15, 2001 decision to the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) and won. That original decision was remanded back to the BLM because it had failed to consult, cooperate and coordinate (CCC) with the permittees as required by Section 8 of the Public Rangelands Improvement Act and as required by the BLM's own regulations.

Dozens of appeals were filed, protesting the BLM's September 7, 2001, decision.

The BLM did not respond to even one of those appeals.

The desert tortoise "protections" arose from a negotiated California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) lawsuit settlement between the BLM, The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Sierra Club. This agreement empowered the BLM to partially implement the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's 1994 Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan recommendations for livestock reduction and removal from critical habitat. Proven help for the desert tortoise from cattle droppings (providing moisture and shade) were not factors included in this decision. Dave suggested to the California state BLM director that the director exchange Fisher's ranch for another ranch. That offered solution was never acted upon.

Ironically, it was rancher stewardship of the land that attracted the desert tortoise in the first place.

Not until the Fisher family drilled water wells on its own land did the desert tortoise became prevalent in the California Desert Conservation Area. The tortoise, in moving into a new habitat provided by ranchers grazing cattle, attracted the attention of the environmental groups. It was used it to pressure federal officials to push Fisher and his 1,400 ranching neighbors off the land.

This is an example of ranchers who stayed within the system, cooperated fully with all agencies involved and still -- without court order or decision -- became its victims. Threats of lawsuits against the Department of Interior (DOI) by three powerful environmental groups seem to have provided the directives for DOI/BLM actions.

*Anita Cragg, Florida builder

In 1992, Anita Cragg, president of Space Coast Management Services, bought a housing subdivision in Country Cove, Florida with the goal of building new homes next to existing ones. She had the necessary building permits and interested buyers lined up when FWS ordered her to stop all development because it allegedly posed a hazard to the Florida scrub-jay, a bird which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

What Cragg didn't understand was how her planned development threatened the scrub jay when there were no scrub-jay nests on the property.

Both the FWS and an independent environmental engineer hired by Cragg could not find any nests on her land.

However, when FWS officials were surveying her land in 1993, they saw two scrub jays fly onto her lots. Because Cragg's property had the potential to be suitable scrub-jay habitat, the agency suspended construction for 18 months.

To get construction resumed, FWS forced Cragg to purchase four acres of land off-site to compensate for the loss of every acre of potential habitat on her property. That cost her $100,000. Cragg says her deal with the government "didn't really help the scrub-jay because we weren't hurting it in the first place."

*A Sovereign Nation's border

The U.S. Border Patrol's aggressive efforts to stem illegal immigration and cut crime along the Texas-Mexican border have been a resounding success. In just two years, Operation Rio Grande, the agency's high-tech interdiction effort, cut the number of illegal aliens attempting to cross the border from 216,000 in 1996 to less than 160,000 in 1999 along a 200-mile stretch of the Rio Grande River. If it weren't for the operation, Border Patrol officials estimate that there would have been 350,000 illegal aliens attempting to cross the border in 1999. In addition, in just one year, crime in Brownsville dropped 45 percent.

If "environmentalists" have their way, all these gains will be negated.

The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and the Audubon Society plan to file a lawsuit to put a halt to the Border Patrol's use of critical interdiction technology, which the groups claim pose a "threat" to "endangered species." These groups argue that the agency's use of high-powered lights, which prevent border crossings under the cover of night, also disrupts the habits of the ocelot and jaguarondi, two nocturnal-oriented wildcats on the endangered species list.

"We feel the Immigration and Naturalization Service can accomplish its job without the floodlight and fences and with far less intrusive technologies that have no impact on wildlife," says Jim Chapman of the Sierra Club.

Not so, Border Patrol. Border Patrol assistant chief Rey Garza says. "Taking away the lights will negate everything."

The Rio Grande River is pitch-black, making it an obvious haven for illegal aliens and drug criminals. Garza says that Border Patrol officers have been stabbed and shot trying to do their job on its murky banks.

By installing permanent and mobile light fixtures along targeted sections of the river, the Border Patrol's ability to catch criminals and illegal aliens has increased dramatically. Says officer Garza, "The lights have proven to be a powerful deterrent."

The environmentalists' planned lawsuit especially frustrates Border Patrol officials. They had already agreed to not place their high-tech equipment in U.S. Fish and Wildlife sanctuaries in an attempt to address environmental concerns -- even though those sanctuaries have become refuges for illegal aliens.

*Jay Monfort, New York businessman with 300-year family history

Jay Monfort of Fishkill, New York, began the permitting process in 1990 of trying to expand a gravel mine on his own land. Jay owns a company that manufactures concrete block. He also owns property that could largely supply the gravel needed for his business. Fishkill, New York judged Jay to be in compliance with its zoning regulations and approved the expansion of his Sour Mountain gravel company.

After filing his permit application with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Jay became ensnared in a process that continues today. His Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was rejected as "incomplete" in April 1993, almost six months after the state was required by law to issue its opinion. After resubmitting his EIS, the DEC finally approved it in 1995.

Then the DEC, in collusion with local environmental groups, devised new and costly reasons to further delay the project. At what should have been the end of the process, Jay was told that he would have to start over again because a den of rattlesnakes had been "discovered" on an adjoining property owned by -- surprise! -- a conservation group. The protected species of snakes were not even on Mr. Monfort's property, and his previous EISs had already addressed potential impacts on the snakes by his mine.

The DEC informed Jay that he would have to spend several additional years studying the snakes before a decision could be rendered on his proposed mine expansion.

Monfort declares, "The motivation for such abusive tactics appears to be a desire of the state" and the local conservation group, Scenic Hudson, to acquire his property for a land trust.

Jay has not given up. In January 1998 he filed a lawsuit demanding that the state issue a final decision based on his original permit application. The permit process alone has cost him more than $3 million.

A better way to protect wildlife

Federal "management" of both endangered species and other wildlife has led to a delicate balancing act. A major reason for this, according to Howard Hutchinson, executive director for the Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties, is that critical-habitat designations for endangered species are often determined by "citizen" lawsuits rather than being formulated by people who understand the needs of the species. As a result, he says that decisions are made by Justice Department lawyers based on agreements reflecting political purposes.

Hutchinson cites an example. As the result of a much-publicized "citizen" ESA lawsuit filed by some of the same environmental groups involved in the Klamath Basin crisis, protection of the Mexican spotted owl virtually eliminated the timber industry in Arizona and New Mexico several years ago.

Hutchinson, who serves on the spotted-owl recovery team, says the "resulting growth of underbrush in the forests has not only led to this summer's devastating wildfires, but has also had a negative effect on several other species that have been declared endangered." And, says Hutchinson, research has shown that because of the increase in timber density the forests are retaining more water, thus decreasing the amount of water in Southwestern streams by 30 percent. As a result, he says, the Gila trout, Apache trout, spiked ace and loach minnow -- all of which live in the streams and also were subjects of "citizen" ESA lawsuits -- are suffering.

Even more bizarre than this pitting of one species against another, say critics, is the pitting of a species against itself. This is happening in the case of the Coho salmon, one of the allegedly threatened fish that was the subject of several of the lawsuits that forced the government to turn off the irrigation water in the Klamath Basin.

According to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS / NOAA agency) the government agency that administers the ESA for marine and anadromous (fish that migrate from the ocean to freshwater to spawn) species, the salmon being protected in the Klamath River do not constitute a species as properly defined. The NMFS says they are just one of 52 "distinct population segments" -- DPSs -- or " evolutionarily significant units" (ESU) of salmon that are found in Oregon, Washington state, Idaho and California. But one-half of the 52 ESUs are protected under the ESA. The Klamath River fish belong to an ESU called the Southern Oregon/ Northern California Coasts Coho salmon. It was listed as threatened under the ESA in 1997.

So what distinguishes one ESU of salmon from another? A genetic difference? No. A difference in the taste of the fillet on the dining-room table? Not even that. According to a regulation promulgated in 1996 by Bruce Babbitt, Clinton's secretary of the interior, a group of vertebrates qualifies as an ESU if it "is markedly separated from other populations of the same taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological or behavioral factors."

According to NMFS spokesman Brian Gorman, geography is the primary distinguishing factor.

Gorman says the hatchery fish were not counted because, although they have been released into rivers for at least 100 years, NMFS biologists recently have concluded that the hatchery fish have different "behaviors" and actually are a threat to the "wild" fish. He claims the hatchery fish "diminish the vigor" of the wild fish and make them easier for fishermen to catch. He also says hatchery salmon reproduce less successfully in the wild than "wild" salmon.

In 1998, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel were videotaped using baseball bats to kill thousands of Oregon coastal Coho salmon at a hatchery in the Alsea River basin. "There is a rationale for killing the salmon," says Gorman. "Each hatchery can only handle so many fish, so when the hatchery's capacity is reached, the excess fish must be killed."

A similar parallel could be drawn between bovine excreta and that of wild elk or antelope. The head of the Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, Kieran Suckling, rages about domestic cattle defecating in streams -- yet patently refuses to acknowledge that all wild animals produce and drop scat on land and in streams.

Wildlife has been existing, mostly in harmony, with private citizens for many years. The partnership has benefited both: deer and many other avian and animal species forage on the edges of land planted in grain. Species that are of different successions -- early, mid and late -- are needed by wildlife in order to flourish. Driving a species such as the American Bison almost to extinction was a profound learning experience. The passenger pigeon's demise was another. The twentieth century found stewardship and land/water use progressing wisely in private hands.

It is certainly possible for most species to have "possible habitat" in many areas where they are not found. That theory holds true for both endangered and healthy populations of humans, flora and fauna. The ability to adapt -- stronger in some species than in others -- has perhaps encouraged diversity more than hindered it, since it dictates progression or extinction.

The continuing educational process that humans are undergoing to better care for and harvest renewable resources -- including timber, sustainable harvest of game birds and animals as well as domestic -- points the way toward a far different scenario than environmental extremists have painted. Freedom of choice made possible by private ownership is a viable alternative to today's ESA restrictions. Truly free enterprise offers healthy, threatened and endangered species ways to partner, which over-regulation and the locking up of millions of acres can never accomplish.

"Envisioning" the future of the ESA

Non-governmental organizations and unelected bureaucrats are using the ESA as a leverage tool to end resource providing in America. This arbitrary and capricious agenda is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If all grazing permits are purchased by such as the Nature Conservancy -- thus ending grazing on all Federally owned lands -- families will feel the loss in their pocketbooks and on their dinner tables. A much larger percentage of disposable income will go for food as prices go up and availability goes down.

With the remainder of arable land and its water resources being placed off-limits to resource production and extraction -- and human habitation -- food and water will soon achieve a place in the American psyche that they have not held for two hundred years. The standard of living that we take for granted will evaporate.

Protection of some species at the expense of others is an artificial scenario, neither practicable nor scientific. Past precedent shows beyond reasonable doubt that the future of the ESA as currently structured and enforced is bleak.


This Act is a property rights destroying monster. It has wreaked havoc throughout America and beyond, and cannot honestly claim even one "success story." What the Endangered Species Act can claim is the demise of thousands of rural communities and billions of taxpayer dollars. It can claim many shattered lives, whether through the stoppage of logging, farming, mining, ranching, or commercial fishing in many areas, or the many recreational pursuits (including hunting and fishing) that have been placed off-limits. It has been the secondary reason for many destroyed families -- through stress, divorce, suicide, ruined health or nerves, and even early death. Rural and urban people alike must put this law where it belongs: in the wastebasket. Not only has the ESA failed species miserably; it has also failed the American people.

As an economic and cultural change agent, it has no parallel.

Landowners who once provided abundant species habitat have been and are being forced off their land in record numbers. One need look no further than the Klamath Basin of Oregon and California for proof. Property values are gutted, families are wrecked, and once-thriving communities are turned into rural ghettos. Species have not recovered anywhere. The ESA has failed to "protect" any species, and has, in fact, been a substantial contributing factor to actually making some species become endangered that once enjoyed healthy populations.

There is currently a move afoot to "reform" and "strengthen" the ESA -- even to the point of codifying "invasive species" by inclusion of language.

Current ESA draft "reform" legislation even dovetails a version of Kelo v. New London, Connecticut, by use of a "50 percent clause" -- more than half of one's property must be removed from use before any compensation is considered or applicable.

How many people are content with losing half their property rights before any property compensation even comes into play?

Far from needing reform or strengthening -- either of which further decimates property rights -- this expired 'piece of work' that has Draconian and unconstitutional roots must be uprooted and finished off, to never again make victims of honest folk.


Julie Kay Smithson lives in rural Ohio. She has become a property rights researcher by default, due to the assault on prime farmland in her part of Ohio by an agency of the Department of Interior, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Please visit to learn more about property rights, resource providers, consumers, and recapturing freedom.

Thanks to the National Center for Public Policy Research for its Victim Directories, which were of priceless help in the writing of this article.

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Parallel Universe, Part One: When Two Worlds Collide – Ranching and Litigation

Parallel Universe, Part One: When Two Worlds Collide – Ranching and Litigation

By Julie Kay Smithson, property rights researcher, London, Ohio

Today’s ranchers raise beef that is leaner, grown with an eye toward both responsible grazing techniques and health-conscious consumers. Unlike America’s east, where private property is in the majority of land ownership, the federal government owns vast areas in the American west. Ranchers own grazing permits on federal lands. Modern ranching has become complex. Ranching practices must be leaner and greener in order to be environmentally responsible and profitable.

The West and its federal, or “public,” lands, is no exception.

Under the Taylor Grazing Act, the first grazing district to be established was Wyoming Grazing District Number 1 on March 23, 1935. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes created a Division of Grazing within the Department to administer the grazing districts; this division later became the U.S. Grazing Service and was headquartered in Salt Lake City. [1]

The Continental Congress, through the "Land Ordinance of 1785," adopted a “Rectangular Survey System” on May 20, 1785, which defines the public lands by Township, Range and Section, modified by the Act of May 18, 1796, and other subsequent Acts into the recognizable cadastral survey system of today. Originally established by Congress in 1812 under the Treasury Department as the “General Land Office.” The GLO, among other things, was responsible for the surveys of the public lands. Successor to the GLO emerged when the consolidation of the GLO and the Grazing Service occurred on July 16, 1946, creating the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). [2]

In today’s world, being savvy about definitions and laws is vital to running a business. It is also of paramount importance to those whose custom and culture, work and lifestyles, carry the indelible stamp of resource providing: America’s farmers, commercial fishermen, miners, ranchers, and timber growers and harvesters. The saying, “If it can’t be grown, it must be mined,” is true. Food and fiber grown in America is necessary for the health of our nation. Responsible resource utilization encompasses not only the ability to extract or harvest resources, but also the keen, ever-learning manner in which those resources are brought from source to consumer.

Twenty-first century resource providers never leave the classroom – they are constantly in pursuit of new and better ways to both protect the natural environment and provide products that are skillfully grown/raised to be healthful. The old days of just “being” a rancher, farmer, logger, miner, or fisherman, are, as they say, “history.” Today’s history is being written by those dedicated to making a positive contribution to the earth and its people. Such dedication requires a willingness to learn that goes far beyond the confines of learning institutions, one that also respects the science that is ever evolving from those places.

Today’s holders of grazing permits in the West must keep in mind that new ways of grazing mean everything from riparian restoration to making sure livestock don’t tarry too long at any one watering or grazing location.

Grazing allotments carry specific restrictions, including the number of AUMs (Animal Unit Months) that may be on each grazing allotment. One AUM means the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow, five sheep, or five goats for a month. A full AUMs fee is charged for each month of grazing by adult animals if the grazing animal (1) is weaned, (2) is 6 months old or older when entering public land, or (3) will become 12 months old during the period of use. For fee purposes, an AUM is the amount of forage used by five weaned or adult sheep or goats or one cow, bull, steer, heifer, horse, or mule. The term AUM is commonly used in three ways: (1) stocking rate as in X acres per AUM, (b) forage allocation as in X AUMs in allotment A, and (3) utilization as in X AUMs consumed from Unit B. [3]

Livestock grazing requires that land be rested. Rest means the absence of grazing by livestock to benefit plants for regrowth between grazing periods, for critical periods of plant growth and development, or for critical periods of plant establishment. [4]

Today’s ranchers win awards for their stewardship that prove their actions. These men and women also place a high value on wildlife and wildfowl, for protecting habitat means everyone wins. Ranch hands know when to steer clear of areas known to be in use by nesting birds or denning wildlife. They steward these places and keep a close eye on things that they know to report to the ranch boss/headquarters.

"The good thing about it is that good cattle country is also good sage-grouse country,” stated John Dahlke, founder, Wyoming Wildlife Consultants, LLC, Pinedale, Wyoming.

The multiple use of federal land is synonymous with the ability to access that land. The land, and its plant and animal life, is made more delicate by the sparseness of precipitation. Annual rainfall that would fall in just one season, “back East,” is all there is for the entire year. In times of drought, there may be many months in a row when negligible or no rain falls. Maintaining and caring for land, water, livestock, and wildlife, becomes more of a science than a job at those times – but it also requires ranchers to keep an eye on the horizon, never taking one drop of moisture for granted and making sure that their animals don’t overstay their welcome in any one location.

Range management has become a well-attended college course, a science in its own right. Ranches and farms now earn many of the awards once handed only to self-proclaimed environmental organizations. The “great wrinkled ranges” of the West may still look the same from the air, as they have come to be called “flyover country” – but they have come to be tended by far more knowledgeable hands and minds.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management manages livestock grazing on about 160 million acres, having stewardship responsibilities for nearly two thirds of all public rangelands. [5]

The Bureau of Land Management does not make an annual national “count” of the livestock that graze on BLM-managed lands, because the actual number of livestock grazing on public lands on any single day varies throughout the year and livestock are often moved from one grazing allotment to another. So an aggregate head count would provide very little information on overall livestock use. Instead, the BLM compiles information on the number of AUMs used each year, which takes into account both the number of livestock and the amount of time they spend on public lands. … Over time there has been a gradual decrease in the amount of grazing use authorized by the BLM, and that trend continues today. Authorized (as distinguished from actual) grazing use on public lands has declined from about 22 million AUMs in 1941 to 12.5 million AUMs authorized in 2008. In most years, the actual use of forage is less than the potential amount available for use because forage amounts and demands depend on several factors, such as drought, wildfire, and market conditions, as noted earlier regarding annual public land grazing levels. In 2008, the number of AUMs actually used on BLM-managed land was 8.6 million. [6]

Enter the “Western Watersheds Project.” Against the responsible, award-winning grazing of livestock in harmony with nature on federal lands by ranchers, the WWP boasts: "WWP manages the 432-acre the Greenfire Preserve on the East Fork of the Salmon River in Central Idaho. The Preserve incorporates more than 1.25 miles of the East Fork, which provides critical habitat for Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout all listed under the Endangered Species Act. The preserve also provides winter habitat for 150 elk, over 2,000 whitetail and mule deer, wolves and the remnant White Cloud herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. The Preserve also provides year-round habitat for a wild horse band of sixteen horses. Since WWP began management of the property, more than 50,000 acres of public-lands grazing allotments associated with the Preserve have been closed to livestock grazing. Peregrine falcons, bobcats, spotted bats and wolf packs have replaced cattle. WWP's management program for Greenfire includes an extensive restoration project funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency." [7]

“Advocates for the West” filed a lawsuit, Case No. 08-cv-435, against the U.S. Department of the Interior and its agency, the Bureau of Land Management, on behalf of the WWP. 08-cv-435 seeks to stop all public lands grazing “…within the habitat of the Great Basin core population of greater sage-grouse in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and its implementing regulations, and the Clean Water Act.” This allegation, in the form of sixty-nine pages and numerous claims “for relief” by the WWP, “…covers a five state region of southern Idaho, northern Nevada, southern Oregon, eastern California, and western Utah.” The lawsuit accuses the DOI and BLM of refusing to acknowledge “ … that their grazing, vegetation treatment, energy development and other management actions are, in fact, contributing to the loss and fragmentation of greater sage-grouse populations and habitat across the Great Basin.”

WWP makes nebulous and non-factual allegations, like: “Livestock grazing is also pervasive across the Great Basin. Domestic livestock are exotic or alien species to this landscape, and have exacted a terrible toll on the ecological health of the Great Basin. Bred for the cooler and moister conditions of northern Europe, domestic livestock are poorly adapted for the hot dry summers and long cold winters of the Great Basin. Livestock thus tend to congregate around water sources and shady areas during hot periods, causing severe damage to streams, springs, seeps, and wet meadows – habitats that are critical for survival and reproduction of many native wildlife species, including sage-grouse.”

The following map shows the scope and intent of current litigation by groups such as the WWP:

The map [8] suggests that sage-grouse habitat is very limited, with connectivity through narrow bands (green). The map is questionable, since sage-grouse range is actually far more widespread. There is a difference between “habitat” and “range.” Range refers to: 1. The geographic range is the entire area where a species is known to occur or to have occurred (historical range). The range of a species may be continuous, or it may have unoccupied gaps between populations (discontinuous distribution). 2. Some populations, or the entire species, may have different seasonal ranges. These may be overlapping, or they may be widely separated with intervening areas that are, at most, briefly occupied during passage on relatively narrow migration routes. 3. Home range refers to the local area that an individual or group uses for a long period of life. [9] Habitat means the particular type of place where an organism lives within a more extensive area or range. … characterized by its biological components and/or physical features. [10]

Livestock grazing can result in impacts on public land resources, but well-managed grazing provides numerous environmental benefits as well. For example, while livestock grazing can lead to increases in some invasive species, well-managed grazing can be used to manage vegetation. Intensively managed "targeted" grazing can control some invasive plant species or reduce the fuels that contribute to severe wildfires. Besides providing such traditional products as meat and fiber, well-managed rangelands and other private ranch lands support healthy watersheds, carbon sequestration, recreational opportunities, and wildlife habitat. Livestock grazing on public lands helps maintain the private ranches that, in turn, preserve the open spaces that have helped write the West's history and will continue to shape this region's character in the years to come. [11]



[3] BLM Rangeland Program Glossary

[4] The National Range and Pasture Handbook Glossary

[5] Hope on the Range, Final Script, January 16, 2009: (4 pages; 132.81 KB)




[9] December 15, 2004 (page 12 of 654 pages; 5.22 MB)

[10] Ibid. Page 10



Part Two will explore the reasons litigation has become pervasive.


Article citation: "First published in the August/September 2009 issue of Progressive Rancher Magazine."

Also posted at these Internet locations:

Western Institute for Study of the Environment:

Klamath Bucket Brigade:

Klamath Basin Crisis:;article=40112;title=Our%20Klamath%20Basin%20Water%20Crisis

Who loves ya, baby? What sage grouse really need & want

Who loves ya, baby? What sage grouse really need and want

August 11, 2009

By Julie Kay Smithson

I believe to my very core that responsible ranchers should never apologize for the many things they are doing right. Having driven many of the most rural roads of Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, etc., I have witnessed evidence of the caring these strong families have poured into these places. If anything, they must be even more dedicated to these places than the farmers of the East, because forgiving weather conditions seldom happen in the West.

It is very important to me that my research be distilled into something that offers a means for those whose very lives and multi-generational family legacies, to understand the ways in which language has been used very effectively (until now) to put them out of business and off the land.

It is something considered by very few until now -- that words on paper could be such a powerful tool when employed against their honest blood, sweat and tears equity.

The sage grouse is far more important and precious to ranchers than most of them can even put into words, because it is a species that validates their reasons for getting into ranching in the first place: to make land and water burst with abundance in the form of, not only healthy cattle ranging the West, but also the inherent beauty of the arid places in America being helped, not hurt, by men with hope in their hearts and families, too.

The sage grouse is not the only one with an historic range, a mating dance, and the bond of family and offspring. So, too, it is with the ranchers and their families sprinkled across these wide-open places with strange-sounding names that keep calling, calling those whose devotion is evidenced in streams with green along their courses. Men, women and their children still make it their life's work to be part of the abundance, a help to the flora and fauna, a foundation upon which the deer and the antelope may not only play, but may also thrive.

Unkempt places, locked down and shut down, bear silent witness to lack of stewardship. One need look no further than the difference between a working ranch where Westerners show their love in ways not seen by most, but where a quiet pride exists every corner -- and one where the land is blowin' in the wind.

Water rights, grazing rights, property rights -- these rights are never taken for granted by ranchers, who are the real environmentalists.

Just as Patrick Henry remains a building block of America with his soul-stirring words, as powerful today as they were on March 23, 1775 -- "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me: Give me liberty or give me death!" Read his entire impassioned speech here: -- so, too, our western neighbors hold true to the building blocks that feed our bodies good, healthful meat, and feed our souls the vast beauties of the places they call home, thereby keeping us free in this God-beloved land of America!

529 words.

Also posted on the Internet here: