Friday, December 23, 2011

Study on cattle debunks UN myth

From the California Cattlemen's Association:
In 2006, the United Nations (UN) released a report declaring that 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions were the result of livestock. Although the report was challenged and one of the report’s authors acknowledged that the information was a misrepresentation, the damage had already been done.

Fortunately, this week, new research by Jude Capper, Ph.D., from Washington State University shed some light on the previous study and released new numbers that will hopefully debunk the UN myth. Research published in the December version of the Journal of Animal Science shows that raising a pound of beef in the United States today uses significantly fewer natural resources than it did 30 years ago; a fact that will surprise few in the cattle business. What may be a point of interest is that each pound of beef raised in 2007 used 33 percent less land, 12 percent less water, 19 percent less feed and 9 percent less fossil fuel energy than equivalent beef production in 1977. Waste outputs were similarly reduced, shrinking the carbon footprint of beef by 16.3 percent in 30 years.

Should population growth continue as projected, and numbers climb to 10 billion people by the year 2050, the world will be more dependent than ever on the ability for the United States, and specifically California, to be able to produce more food with fewer resources. As technologies improve and ranchers continue to do more with less, California beef producers will continue to play an important role in the feeding of the world.

I've interviewed Judith Capper and she's a fascinating person. She's good at debunking myths, too, including one that says large-scale livestock production is bad for the environment.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter farmers markets thriving in California

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:
While tree fruit growers are counting the chill hours, the nip in the air isn't cooling Americans' appetite for locally grown produce, according to a US Agriculture Department report on winter farmers markets. California has seen a 12 percent increase in winter farmers markets over the past year, today totaling more than 150. New York is the only state to have more winter farmers markets, with 180. The Agriculture Department says that winter farmers markets meet the need of consumers looking to buy locally grown food throughout the year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The truth about the economy

So-called mainstream media at all levels are heavily invested in seeing President Obama re-elected in 2012, having carried the water for him so egregiously in 2008, and they know the economy is his Achilles' heel. So they're plenty eager to unquestioningly trumpet on their front pages or lead their newscasts with made-to-order administration statistics that suggest a budding recovery.

Lest anyone suffer from irrational exuberance, however, the folks at offer a sobering 50-point assessment of just how troubled this economy still is. The top 10 points:

#1 A staggering 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be "low income" or are living in poverty.

#2 Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be "low income" or impoverished.

#3 If the number of Americans that "wanted jobs" was the same today as it was back in 2007, the "official" unemployment rate put out by the U.S. government would be up to 11 percent.

#4 The average amount of time that a worker stays unemployed in the United States is now over 40 weeks.

#5 One recent survey found that 77 percent of all U.S. small businesses do not plan to hire any more workers.

#6 There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million extra people to the population since then.

#7 Since December 2007, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% once you account for inflation.

#8 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006. Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.

#9 A Gallup poll from earlier this year found that approximately one out of every five Americans that do have a job consider themselves to be underemployed.

#10 According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.
Meanwhile, the chief of the International Monetary Fund warns that the world's economy "stands at a very dangerous juncture."

Dry December not all that alarming

Just got off the phone with Sari Sommarstrom of the Scott River Water Trust, and she's plenty worried about the lack of rainfall so far this winter and what it could mean for the water year.

But former Record Searchlight weather guru Scott Mobley isn't all that concerned, according to an e-mail he sent blogger Marc Beauchamp:
December dry spells are a little more common in Redding, and in fact, December 1989 was completely rainless. So no record there. But with no real pattern change in sight through the rest of the month (at least according to current projections), this month will surely go down as one of the driest in over 100 years. [...]

December is traditionally one of the year's wettest months, so if we miss it, we pretty much lose our chances for an above-average water year. But a drastically dry December is not always cause for concern. Rains returned in winter and spring of 1957 and 1979. Season totals wound up below normal both years, but not disastrously so. The rainless December of 1989 came during the prolonged drought of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and indeed, the 1989/1990 water year was pretty pathetic (though nowhere near as dire as 1976/77).

This year, after Lake Shasta nearly topped out two seasons straight, we're probably in for a sub-par rainfall year. But one crummy year isn't a huge cause for concern, and odds are rains will resume in January and the season total may not be so sub-par. California can quickly make up rainfall deficits, and in fact, just a few major storms each year deliver the bulk of the state's rainfall.

Read his entire message here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Scott River coho making a comeback

From the Scott River Water Trust, which provided the photo:
This season’s surprisingly higher return of coho salmon to the Scott River is generating lots of local excitement. At least 340 adult coho are documented, as of December 8th, at the Scott River weir. This number represents a significant increase over the 62 fish counted when this brood year last returned 3 years ago in 2008.

"The California Department of Fish and Game is encouraged by the preliminary 2011 adult coho returns to the Scott River indicating an increase in adult coho salmon abundance," commented Morgan Knechtle, an associate fisheries biologist with CDFG in Yreka. Knechtle operates the department’s video weir where the fish data are collected, located 18 miles upstream from the mouth of the Scott River.

Habitat restoration efforts are one of the reasons for the better numbers, says Gary Black, contractor and former senior project manager with the Siskiyou Resource Conservation District (RCD). “The Scott Valley community should be proud of the unexpectedly higher coho return because measures taken by its residents have helped the stream habitat in the Scott River and tributaries to become much better than it was 10-15 years ago. The facts tell us the Scott River is a good and improving stream for fisheries.”

Ocean conditions also play a role in salmon population cycles. Coho salmon tend to return in three-year cycles, hence the comparison between the 2008 and 2011 runs. Biologists had predicted a much lower return of about 37 fish for this low brood year, based on the average past survival rate of yearling coho leaving the Scott River and returning as adults. The Scott River has one stronger brood year and two weaker ones. The stronger brood year was in 2010 with 927 coho returning and again in 2007 when 1,622 returned.

The annual survey of coho spawning grounds in the mainstem Scott River and tributaries is also ongoing to identify where the redds (nests) and carcasses are found. In Scott Valley, the Siskiyou RCD staff is leading the survey where access is available, while CDFG is coordinating the effort in the canyon area. [See attached photo.] This information will help the Scott River Water Trust identify where the young coho salmon may need additional water next summer to ensure better survival. As a win-win tool for fish and farmers, the Water Trust will pay for water to be left instream.

An estimated 2,174 yearlings migrated out of the river for this brood year in the spring of 2010, representing 34.5 yearlings produced per adult, according to Fish & Game data. This freshwater survival rate appears to be an indicator of in-river conditions. In contrast, the out-of-basin survival rate may indicate downriver and ocean conditions. Until this year, that rate had averaged 1.74 percent yearlings to survive as returning adults.

Coho salmon in the Klamath River Basin were listed as a threatened species in 1997 under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and in 2005 under the California ESA. Before and after those listings, the Scott Valley community has actively participated in voluntary watershed and stream restoration efforts. More restrictive regulatory programs by state and federal agencies were also proposed. Expectations are for increased population trends of all three coho brood years.

Winter wheat progressing in California

Winter wheat emergence has progressed in California and more than three-quarters of the crop was above ground as of last week, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The earliest planted acres had started to head, and producers were applying herbicides for broadleaf weed control, the report stated. Crop conditions were rated mostly good to excellent.

The progress comes after wheat farmers in the Klamath Basin enjoyed a record harvest, buoyed by a cool summer, the availability of water and the absence of frost in September, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Monday dilemma

A couple of weeks ago there was a discussion on Facebook about decisions by the Red Bluff Daily News, the Eureka Times-Standard and other daily newspapers to cease publishing their Monday print editions. Some saw it as a defeat for local newspapering, or something that will leave their communities a little less informed, but I'm not so sure.

Today's Record Searchlight is a case in point. In the time it took me to wait for a prescription at the pharmacist this morning, I was able to finish thumbing through both sections of the newspaper. There was one locally generated story about some veterans being honored in Anderson, and the rest of the paper consisted mostly of wire-generated national news and sports, most of which already aired yesterday on Fox News, ESPN and other cable channels. Fortunately, I got home and checked and it had lots of updates from today, many of them local.

I don't know exactly how much it costs to publish an edition of the paper the size of the Record Searchlight each day, but I do know it's expensive when you add up the cost of the paper, the newsprint, the electricity to run the presses, wear and tear on the presses, man-hours in the backshop, etc., etc. When the end product is a bunch of national news that aired on TV yesterday, one can be excused for wondering, "What's the point?" And how do you justify the "carbon footprint"?

Now I've heard the argument that if a daily paper were to stop publishing on Mondays (or other days of the week), it would no longer "be relevant." Yet the same people will tell you in the next breath that the future of newspapers is online, not in print. And again, using the Searchlight as my example, it has one of the most dynamic and groundbreaking newspaper Web sites in the country. People can and do return to four or five times a day for new information. And I've yet to be convinced that traffic would be any lighter today if there weren't newspapers in the racks.

I know there are lots of other factors besides editorial content that go into deciding whether to publish fewer editions, such as the advertising revenue that's generated on those days, where it comes from, etc. And this isn't advice for the Searchlight or other papers to stop publishing on Mondays. My point is only that if they ever do decide to do this, I will understand why.

Early in my career, I worked for two different papers -- the Roseville Press-Tribune and the Colusa County Sun-Herald -- which have since changed from being daily papers with wire services to publishing only three days a week with all local content. They both have Web sites that update daily. Obviously, my current employer publishes a print edition once a week, and two years ago we consolidated all our zone editions to save on costs. But is constantly updated, and we still have separate online pages for each of the states that were formerly zoned.

In none of these cases have I heard anyone say the papers were better when there were more wire stories in them. The fact was they did what they needed to do to survive or stay ahead, and they created nice niches for themselves in the process.

Friday, December 16, 2011

State fire fees put on hold

From the California Cattlemen's Association's weekly legislative bulletin, hot off the presses:
As reported last week, the Board of Forestry (BOF) submitted emergency regulations for the State Responsibility Area (SRA) fee to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for review and approval for implementation. It has been publicized, however, that the Board of Forestry withdrew the emergency regulations yesterday, Dec. 15. It has been said that the BOF withdrew the emergency regulations after the OAL asked for clarification on the implementation of the fee with regards to multi unit structures.

The delay in submission of the emergency regulations to the OAL will result in a delay of implementation of these emergency regulations and further push back the creation of formal regulations. The projected time line, which anticipated the development of final regulations in June 2012, will likely be pushed back at least an additional month.

The road to emergency regulations for the SRA fees has not been an easy one for the BOF. After having created emergency regulations in August, the BOF was met with political pressure from the Governor’s office to increase the fees, forcing a November revision of the regulations. Now it appears that the OAL has found fault with the emergency regulations and wants to ensure clarity {...}

CCA will continue to advocate against this tax, follow this process and provide members with updates as soon as they are available.
I'm working on a story on the issues behind the fire fee and why organizations like the CCA and the California Farm Bureau Federation oppose it. You can look for it at later this month.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

State cuts won't affect UCCE

The $1 billion in midyear state budget cuts that Gov. Jerry Brown announced yesterday won't affect the University of California Cooperative Extension's programs to assist farmers and ranchers, a UC spokeswoman told me today.

The university will use reserves to absorb its $100 million cut, said Dianne Klein, who handles media relations for the UC's Office of the President.

She explained in an e-mail:
What the university intends to do, on a short-term basis, is draw upon reserves currently held to pay for unexpected cost spikes in employee health and welfare plans. This, in essence, is a rainy day fund. We’ve declared a rainy day. There may be other measures taken to cover the $100 million, but this represents the lion’s share of the cost.
For more on how the cut will affect (or won't affect) agriculture-related programs, check soon.

It's clouding up

... and about to give us the first rain we've had in a while, albeit a light one. The National Weather Service gives us the low-down:
A quick-moving system will bring some light rain and snow to the region late tonight and Thursday morning. Most liquid precipitation will be less than 0.10 inches in the valley and less than 0.30 inches in the mountains. Expect less than 2 inches over higher elevations, the heaviest snowfall is expected in the northern mountains of Shasta county, with only a dusting down to 2500 to 3000 feet. Breezy northerly winds will develop behind the weather system Thursday night into Friday night.

The weather service also provides a word to the wise: Dry Decembers don't make droughts. In Red Bluff, for instance, there was no rain in December 1989, yet the city finished that water year with 22.02 inches, or 99 percent of normal.

How much has Romney flip-flopped?

I've heard often in casual conversation about the 2012 presidential race that Mitt Romney has "flip-flopped on everything," but how true is that, really? One blog made up of Romney supporters tried to answer that question recently. While the author is unquestionably biased, he/she uses sourcing -- including links to mainstream media fact-checkers -- to give his/her case credibility, or at least make it interesting.

For example:
4) Health Care Reform – Did Romney want RomneyCare to be a “model for the nation?” – All three fact-check organizations looked into this claim and all three found that Romney has not flip-flopped in regard to this claim. The conclusion from Politifact is here, the FactCheck summary is here, and the Washington Post article is here. It is very clear to those who have taken the time to investigate this issue that Romney has never changed his position in regard to health care reform. For those in the press to continue repeating this falsehood shows a true lack of journalistic integrity. Romney has always spoken in favor of state-led initiatives where the each state is free to adopt whatever policies will work best for that particular state.

Again, not an endorsement, just food for thought.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Poll: Americans fear big government

From Gallup:
Americans' concerns about the threat of big government continue to dwarf those about big business and big labor, and by an even larger margin now than in March 2009. The 64% of Americans who say big government will be the biggest threat to the country is just one percentage point shy of the record high, while the 26% who say big business is down from the 32% recorded during the recession. Relatively few name big labor as the greatest threat.

Details here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Agenda 21 opponent to speak

From Pie N Politics:
Our friend Rosa Koire from is here for the very first time with a strong message for anyone on the left who hasn’t figured out where the environmental movement is taking us and the credentials to back it up!

For those already engaged in the battle against environmental extremism you will learn a lot and find an amazing advocate in Ms. Koire. Invite your friends who think all tea party ideas come from the Republican party and have some fun watching them rethink their whole viewpoint ;-)

December 12, 2011
6:00 – 8:00 PM
Destiny Fellowship 2570 S Bonnyview Rd Redding 96001

Are you curious about terms like “Sustainability”, “Collectivism”, “Smart Growth”, “Eminent Domain”, “Globalism”, “One World Order” to name a few? It’s easy to dismiss these things as conspiracy or right wing tea party ideas. How about a lifelong liberal Democrat joining forces with those on the other side of the “social issues fence” to preserve our American way of life? Interested? Rosa has not been to our area before and it has taken months to arrange the schedule for this talk so don’t put it off for next time or you will miss this great opportunity.
For my take on Agenda 21, click here.

In other tea-party-vs.-environmentalists doings, William Kay from was this week's guest on the "We The People" radio show. Listen to the archive here.

Left, media war on banks 'becoming dangerous'

The Media Research Center's Dan Gainor writes at
According to police, a letter bomb was recently sent to the CEO of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.

It was only a matter of time.

Left wing protesters – from the union loonies at SEIU to the equally loony, but more radical Occupy Wall Street crowd – have been targeting bank executives for some time. It was bound to happen that someone would take all the venom aimed by the media and the left at so-called “banksters” and turn it into a near Unabomber homage.

The term “bankster” sounds cute. Though the way the left uses it, “bankster” would be hate speech if applied to some protected class they support. The website, for example, claims it wants “to be your go-to site for updates on the financial services re-regulation fight in Congress and for progressive net-roots campaigning against the big boys on Wall Street.” It all appears fairly benign, except that the logo for the site is riddled with about three dozen bullet holes.

The entire column is worth a read, here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Over 1,000 gather for 'Winter Crush'

In the photos, from the top: Dewey Lucero (center), founder and co-owner of Lucero Olive Oil in Corning, conducts a tour of the plant during today's first "Winter Crush" event; Rick Webb runs a slicer and deleting machine; and co-owner Katie Lucero sips a sampling of Arbequina olive oil.

Give the folks in Tehama County one thing: they sure love their local ag. Whether it's the Dairyville Orchard Festival, Farm-City Week, the Bull Sale or countless other livestock-related events at the fairgrounds, people come out in droves to see what their neighbors are producing and just celebrate the area's rural culture. By any measure, today's first-ever "Winter Crush" at Lucero Olive Oil had to be considered a success, drawing more than 1,000 people to its mill tours, vendor booths, store, hot food and live music.

My story will delve into Dewey Lucero's explanation of why extra-virgin olive oil from places like his mill are superior to many bottles of olive oil you'll find in the supermarket. He has research from UC-Davis to back him up.

Look for my coverage at next week.

Logue, Gaines to host Yreka jobs hearing

Two state lawmakers are apparently set to send a message to Siskiyou County voters that they won't lose effective representation when Assemblyman Jim Nielsen and Sen. Doug LaMalfa are redistricted away from their area next year.

From Assemblyman Dan Logue:
North State Assemblyman Dan Logue today announced that LA Fox News 11 Investigative Reporter Heidi Cuda will be covering his upcoming “Jobs & Economic Development Hearing” scheduled for Monday, December 12th at 10:00 am. The hearing will take place at the Yreka Community Theater, 810 N. Oregon St. in Yreka. Assemblyman Logue will be joined by North State Senator Ted Gaines, along with several local elected officials as part of a panel that will hear from local business owners about the difficulties they are facing.

Fox News 11 Cuda Investigative Reporter Heidi Cuda, representing the 2nd largest media market in the nation, has spearheaded a special news series entitled "Saving the California Dream" which looks at what's working in our state economy and what's not and why businesses are leaving in record numbers. Cuda will travel from LA to Yreka to participate and to examine why some are saying state and federal agencies have gone out of their way to shut down North State farms, water and the timber industry. To view her recent interview with Assemblyman Logue: Click Here

"This is very significant that Fox News is willing to come all the way to Yreka to hear firsthand from North State business owners, farmers and ranchers about the regulatory challenges they face as they struggle to keep their doors open during this economic downturn," stated Logue. "It is not very often that we are able to tell our story to a statewide audience and I think it is critical that folks from throughout California, even Los Angeles hear for themselves, the incredible hardships that out-of-control regulatory agencies are putting on our North State farming, timber and other industries."

"They are putting entire sectors out of business and the fact is, when they do it to California's rural regions, it effects Los Angeles and the rest of California."

Logue has held similar hearings throughout California, including recently in Redding, as well as in the states of Nevada and Texas bringing this critical issue to the forefront of the discussion in California.

“I am honored to work with business leaders in Siskiyou County,” said Logue. "I look forward to hearing how we can help make California a better place to do business.”

Assemblyman Logue represents the 3rd Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Butte, Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra and Yuba.

For additional details about the hearing: Click Here
I just hope Fox 11 keeps in mind that Logue and Gaines are candidates in an election and there are other hopefuls running.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cattle prices discussed in podcast

Our weekly podcast is up, in which I participate by discussing my story on cattle prices. Here's what I said:
Cattle prices have hovered near record highs in recent weeks. They dipped yesterday to $119 per hundredweight for February live cattle after going as high as $130 per hundredweight in December. There are a number of factors pushing prices up. Skyrocketing grain prices are one reason. While they've come down a bit in the last year, wheat and corn contracts are still above $6 a bushel. Producers hadn't been making money because grain prices hadn't been high and cattle prices weren't high enough. Another factor is the booming demand for beef overseas. Through September, U.S. beef exports were up 26 percent in volume over the first nine months of 2010, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Experts say they don't expect prices to come down soon. If forecasts projecting more rain in drought-stricken Texas and the South hold up, ranchers are expected to keep more of their cows to replenish their operations, causing one expert to predict the number of females slaughtered will drop by as many as 1 million during the next two years.

You can find our podcasts as well as a daily AgMinute segment on the Capital Press' flagship blog, Blogriculture.

Olive mill to host 'Winter Crush'

From Lucero Olive Oil in Corning:

Lucero Olive Oil is proud to announce the 1st Annual “Winter Crush” taking place at Lucero Olive Oil’s mill in Corning, California.

The event will be held on Saturday, December 10, 2011 from 10:00am-4:00pm. Attendees will experience making olive oil first hand while savoring the aromas of the citrus crush. As a producer, Lucero Olive Oil’s citrus crush oils have won numerous awards and seeing this process is a unique experience you won’t want to miss. Fresh citrus is added to the olives before they are crushed producing a zesty Meyer lemon or mandarin orange flavor in the extra virgin olive oil. “I see our mill manager, Larry Treat, breathing in the fresh olive oil aromas… eyes closed, and a big smile on his face,” said Dewey Lucero.

After you finish watching the citrus crushed olive oil being made, see how it’s used by top local chefs. Cooking demonstrations will be available at 11:30am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm by head chefs from CR Gibbs of Redding and Farwood Bar and Grill in Orland; using Lucero Meyer Lemon, Mandarin and Olio Nuovo olive oils. Bobby Lucero, Dewey’s Dad, will be on stage sharing special Lucero family recipes as well!

Additional activities will be going on throughout the event. A market place featuring local vendors will be open all day showcasing products grown and produced right here in Northern California. Carol Firenze, author of the “Passionate Olive” will be on hand to talk olive oil and sign copies of her book. Live music will be provided by Johnny and the Bootleggers and food vendors will be selling an array of dishes.

See how olive oil is made first hand, and experience the citrus crush at Lucero Olive Oil’s 1st Annual “Winter Crush,” Saturday, December 10th, 2011 from 10:00am-4:00pm. For more information about this event please call 530-824-2190.

For my coverage, check next week.

Why many Republicans fear Gingrich

Peggy Noonan puts her finger on it in a column set for Saturday's pages of the Wall Street Journal:
The biggest fear of those who've known Mr. Gingrich? He has gone through his political life making huge strides, rising in influence and achievement, and then been destabilized by success, or just after it. Maybe he's made dizzy by the thin air at the top, maybe he has an inner urge to be tragic, to always be unrealized and misunderstood. But he goes too far, his rhetoric becomes too slashing, the musings he shares—when he rose to the speakership, in 1995, it was that women shouldn't serve in combat because they're prone to infections—are too strange. And he starts to write in his notes what Kirsten Powers, in the Daily Beast, remembered: he described himself as "definer of civilization . . . leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces."

Those who know him fear—or hope—that he will be true to form in one respect: He will continue to lose to his No. 1 longtime foe, Newt Gingrich. He is a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, "Watch this!"

What they fear is that he will show just enough discipline over the next few months, just enough focus, to win the nomination. And then, in the fall of 2012, once party leaders have come around and the GOP is fully behind him, he will begin baying at the moon. He will start saying wild things and promising that he may bomb Iran but he may send a special SEAL team in at night to secretly dig Iran up, and fly it to Detroit, where we can keep it under guard, and Detroiters can all get jobs as guards, "solving two problems at once." They're afraid he'll start saying, "John Paul was great, but most of that happened after I explained the Gospels to him," and "Sure, Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize, but only after I explained how people can think fast, slow and at warp speed. He owes me everything."

It's funny, in an ironic sort of way, that tea-party conservatives seem so hungry for a candidate with a big mouth they're about to nominate the epitome of Washington insiders for president. Think about it -- they've spent three years meeting, demonstrating, organizing, writing letters and circulating petitions to oppose the policies of Barack Obama, who they consider to be an imperial president. Then after all that, who do they put up against him? A former Speaker of the House-turned-lobbyist who sees himself as the "definer of civilizations". Ironic, indeed.

As Noonan says, it's a risk that's not without its upside. But if Gingrich wins the nomination with vast tea party support and he implodes, I fear it will be the end of the tea party as a credible movement. Any noise its supporters make in Obama's second term will ring eerily hollow.

[Disclaimer: I'm an independent, so I make these observations about the GOP from outside the party. And personally, as a voter, I've not yet settled on a candidate for president.]

Siskiyou supes to DFG: No thanks

Speaking of the Department of Fish and Game, Siskiyou County supervisors this week voted not to participate in the agency's in-stream flow study in the Scott and Shasta rivers.

John Bowman of the Siskiyou Daily News reports (hat tip: Pie N Politics):
On Nov. 1, the DFG presented information about its intention to perform an assessment of data needs for the study by way of its release of a Request For Proposal of data needs. The department says it will identify data needs and create study plans necessary for the eventual development of in-stream flow recommendations for fish resources for the two rivers.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Siskiyou County Resource Policy Specialist Ric Costales presented his recommendation to participate in the early stages of the study. He advised the board that the county could have more influence over the process from within than they could from the outside.

DFG Supervising Biologist Mark Pisano told the board on Nov. 1 that the flow study is only in its planning stage at this point. He said the study will be open and transparent, and will include a stakeholder team and many opportunities for public input.

Pisano reiterated those statements at Tuesday’s meeting and said he fully supported the participation and input of Costales, agreeing that the only way for the DFG to include the county’s input is for it to be involved.

All of the supervisors except District 2 Supervisor Ed Valenzuela strongly opposed official county participation, citing fears that it could be construed as approval and support for the process.

“I am fundamentally opposed to this,” District 5 Supervisor Marcia Armstrong said. “This process is obviously structured to redirect already-adjudicated water resources.”

She added that Costales’ participation would be viewed as a stamp of approval by the board. Armstrong said she also took issue with the board being lumped in with “stakeholders.”

“We are not stakeholders,” she said. “We are elected officials who directly represent our constituents. We are government and deserve a government-to-government relationship and role in this process. And, as the County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, we have jurisdiction over flows, not [the DFG].”

Liz Bowen of PNP thanks the four supervisors for their vote -- including the one she wants to recall, Marcia Armstrong.
You heard us! You voted to stand against a state agency’s over-reaching regulations! There are plenty of stream flow studies and data. The State does NOT need to spend more of the tax payers $ on this study! We appreciate you standing up for us!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Raucous crowd greets DFG planners

In the photos taken at tonight's Fish and Game vision-planning meeting in Redding, from the top: participants sit around several tables discussing the plan to create a "strategic vision" for the Department of Fish and Game and Fish and Game Commission; Erin Ryan (center, seated) of the Redding Tea Party makes a point; and project spokesman Clark Blanchard (far left) explains the process to one of the discussion groups.

Close to 100 people attended tonight's meeting at Turtle Bay, and "surprised" may have been the buzz-word for the evening. Many of the attendees said they were surprised by learning of the state's plans for reforming Fish and Game, which didn't help their mood to begin with, and they were more surprised (unpleasantly so) by the meeting's roundtable format. I think the meeting's organizers seemed a bit surprised and unprepared for the impassioned and opinionated crowd that awaited them, even though they knew it was on the radar screens of local tea party groups and the Record Searchlight.

Participants included hunters and anglers who were concerned over water issues and habitat preservation, and landowners and tea party folks worried about encroachment on property rights and the general advancement of government.

"One of my concerns is, why are we even talking about a special prosecutor?" tea party activist and former rancher Ann Meyer of Redding said to me. "We're not talking about dirty politicians. We're just talking about someone maybe getting a fish caught in a net."

While I would say Meyer's sentiments were in the majority, they were far from unanimous. Randy Compton of Round Mountain, a self-proclaimed environmentalist who owns a garden shop, held up an aerial photo of forest land that had been clear-cut. He said he'd like to see the DFG get more involved in protecting forest wildlife.

"I think Fish and Game would be well off by focusing intently on fish and game, and forget about the special interests," he told me.

The meeting was definitely loud, thanks in part to the acoustics and tight quarters of the Turtle Bay classroom. But at no point did the armed peace officers who were ubiquitous in the room come close to having to do anything to restore order; they just stood on the sidelines and watched. One smart facilitator took his group out into the lobby, where it was quieter and, as one participant put it, "more civil."

People have until next Friday (Dec. 16) to comment on the first draft of the strategic vision, which you can read here. But despite the misgivings of some about not having much time, I don't think anyone's arrived late to the party. Blanchard tells me another draft will be out in February or so and then the final vision statement will be presented in July to the governor and legislature, which will presumably need to debate and approve portions of it.

For my story on this issue, check soon.

Shasta Farm Bureau offers scholarship

From the Shasta County Farm Bureau:

In keeping with the Shasta County Farm Bureau's goal of supporting youth activities and education, we are announcing the creation of the annual Intermountain Ranch Rodeo scholarship. Each year, a $500 scholarship will be awarded to a Shasta County student that has a desire to continue their education at a vocational trade school.

The Shasta County Farm Bureau understands the value of real world experience which these schools provide. We are very excited to broaden the spectrum of students which we can help reach their career goals and look forward to awarding this scholarship.

Applications must be received no later than February 10, 2012. The recipients will be awarded a scholarship certificate at the 2nd Annual Intermountain Ranch Rodeo on March 10, 2012 at the Intermountain fairgrounds.

The Shasta County Farm Bureau awards $5,000 in scholarships to Shasta County in 2011. We hope to continue to increase this amount with the support of our members. If you have any questions or would like an application mailed to you please contact Tiffany Martinez at (530) 547-7170.

'A hodgepodge of potential recommendations'

That's how Clark Blanchard, spokesman for the California Fish and Game Strategic Vision Project, described the several hundred action ideas outlined in Appendix B of the vision statement referenced below, including the 40 items that have to do with compliance.

In a conversation with me this morning, Blanchard said the ideas for such things as increasing the number of wardens, increasing fines and penalties and setting up a special prosecutor's office were aimed at stopping poaching and overfishing, not farming.

"Those definitely weren't the conversations," he said, referring to the DFG's conflicts with landowners in the Scott and Shasta valleys in Siskiyou County. "It was more fish and wildlife, hook and bullet type crimes."

As for the reference to the Humane Society as a "partner", Blanchard said the organization donated for veterinary care for DFG canines after funding for the care was cut from the budget. He said this was used as an example of a beneficial partnership but was confusing in the document and "misconstrued" by some.

Blanchard emphasized these ideas haven't been debated or discussed, but were put out for public discussion. This vision document is a draft, with a final version to be sent to the governor and legislature next summer.

Curiously, though, I asked Blanchard whether anyone had suggested training for wardens and other DFG officers about property and adjudicated water rights or observing the jurisdiction of local law enforcement entities, and this is what he said.

"I don't think we've gotten that specific," he answered. "This project has really tried to keep it at the 30,000 foot level."

Is the DFG's strong arm about to get stronger?

If you're in Redding and you're not doing anything after work tonight, you might be interested in what's happening at Turtle Bay, where a committee is taking input on the state Department of Fish and Game/Fish and Game Commission vision thing. The panel's roundtable meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

Among the proposals being considered are about 40 action items under the heading of "Compliance" and fitting this summary of their goals: "Consistent and publicly visible enforcement and compliance, supported by highly trained personnel and extensive public awareness of statewide rules, regulations and associated public trust benefits."

The proposed action items include, in the document's exact words:

-- Utilize efforts by partners to promote DFG mission (i.e. The Humane Society enforcement efforts, resource conservation district land owner outreach), with proper firewalls and considerations of public perception of partners

-- Increase DFG presence in the local community including public outreach efforts and local and regional resource management efforts

-- Provide education to other law enforcement agencies about DFG laws

-- Increase the number of wardens (requires addressing collective bargaining issues)

-- Increase DFG ability to gather evidence as needed to enforce laws ...

-- More or more effective enforcement partnerships

-- Increase both fines and penalties with fines used to pay resources needed to implement

-- Create law enforcement specialty units within the DFG law enforcement division comprised of additional enforcement positions (must have additional funding in place for the PY's)

1. Environmental Crimes Unit specializing in the investigation of Fish and Game Code sections 1600 and 5650 (water pollution and streambed habitat destruction)

2. An overt Detective Unit to lead complex statewide and interstate poaching investigations, streamline intelligence on repeat offenders, and use of specialized surveillance equipment to effectively apprehend serious poachers

3. Increase the size of the Special Operations (Covert) Unit (SOU)

-- Activity - make sure everyone knows the laws and the consequences of breaking them

-- Improve coordination with AG's Special Prosecutor

-- Educate district attorneys and judicial branch about DFG laws

-- Develop a cadre of experienced prosecutors to charge and try these cases (funded by fines?) (e.g. circuit DA system). Same as create special district attorney capacity focused on F&G Code violations (housed in Sacramento) to assist all county district attorneys ...

-- Assign DFG wardens to coordinate with California District Attorneys' Association (CDAA) to ensure appropriate and consistent prosecution. Could ensure consistency with all 58 counties and enhance Environmental Crimes Circuit Prosecutors Project, sponsored by the CDAA (coalition of district attorneys cross-deputized in multiple counties to specialize in prosecuting poaching and other environmental crimes)

-- Refine the Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule - California Rules of Court (for the California Fish and Game Code and the Title 14 California Code of Regulations) and include additional code sections not mentioned in the Bail Schedule. Require distribution of the F&G/T14 Bail Schedule to the respective courts in all 58 counties

-- Review types of violations to determine which should be raised from misdemeanor to felony (such as abalone violations). Work with wardens to do this task

Again, these bullet points are not my words but were taken directly from the vision document. The document also contains language about improving communication with the public and hiring staff regionally to match the regional make-up. However, there are no provisions that I could find requiring wardens or other Fish and Game officials to be trained on the finer points of property or adjudicated water rights, or observing and respecting the jurisdiction of local law enforcement entities.

Now I don't think you'll find too many people who are against cracking down on poachers, especially the ones who engage in it large-scale for big money. But the average person could be pardoned for reading this document and surmising they're planning on hauling a heck of a lot of people off to jail "in all 58 counties" -- and trampling on the jurisdictions of local law enforcement and court systems in the process.

Remember that this agency already has come under fire for reported heavy-handedness on the part of its wardens, and for enabling a reality TV crew to violate suspects' due-process rights. Could the DFG's newly minted Environmental Crimes Unit or covert Special Ops unit head up to Siskiyou County, start arresting farmers and marching them in front of some special prosecutor in Sacramento? One could be excused for wondering.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Did Romney just call Obama a communist?

In a speech today, Mitt Romney said this about President Obama (hat tip: NRO's the Corner):
He seeks to replace our merit-based society with an entitlement society. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people to enjoy truly disproportionate rewards are the people who do the redistributing—the government. …
Isn't that pretty much the definition of communism?

Moments of clarity

Sometimes they come along, as one did today with the news that the Obamas send their children to a school that would serve Japanese food on the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

I know the Japanese are now our friends and trading partners. But, as my wife likes to say, really?

'Commonwealth of common sense' on climate

Another nail in the global-warming coffin. More inconvenient truths from the Washington Times:
Canada has flat-out rejected the proposals pushed at the United Nations‘ annual global-warming summit in South Africa. This could be the start of a trend of countries dumping environmentalist fashion statements and returning to rational energy policies. If only the United States would do the same.

As the U.N. conference heated up in Durban, Canada poured cold water on attempts to extend the Kyoto Protocol limiting carbon-dioxide emissions before the treaty’s Dec. 31, 2012, expiration date. “Kyoto is the past,” Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent told reporters in Ottawa. On Monday, he clearly stated that his government had no interest in renewing the treaty.

Much has changed since Kyoto took effect in 1997. Escalating energy prices have made Canada’s vast oil reservoirs a valuable resource for a hungry U.S. market. The existing pact obligates countries to cut their carbon-dioxide emissions 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by the end of next year. Canada is 17 percent above this target, partially because of its growing oil industry. Failure to meet treaty requirements would force the country to purchase carbon-dioxide emissions offsets at the cost of billions of dollars. Rather than fill the pockets of the carbon charlatans peddling dubious greenhouse-gas credits, Canadians can save some loonies by opting out.

The rest is here.

It's been said that for many, global warming is the end-time theology of the religion that is secular humanism. However, it appears to be going the way of the notion of a pre-tribulation Rapture. Slick books, motion pictures and media campaigns aside, neither idea has shed its detractors and skeptics. To the contrary, the failure of some dire predictions to materialize has bred all the more skepticism and disbelief. And the more their adherents fret with their end-is-nigh prognostications, the sillier they look when they're shown to be wrong.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Alec Baldwin booted off plane


What a smart Alec.

Hot-head Alec Baldwin was kicked off an American Airlines flight this afternoon in Los Angeles because he refused to turn off his cell phone, the actor said.

On his Twitter account, Baldwin wrote: "Flight attendant on American [Airlines] reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving."

Fellow passengers stuck on the runway at Los Angeles International Airport quickly tweeted about the incident moments after it took place.

I could just imagine what that was like. After all, who can forget this gem?

Baldwin is known for his bad temper.

In 2007, the actor left a nasty voice mail tirade for his young daughter, calling her a “rude, thoughtless little pig.”

I think they ought to put Baldwin on a no-fly list just for his pompous attitude, not to mention his anti-American sentiments.

What a jackass.

Shasta, other local Farm Bureaus honored

More from the California Farm Bureau Federation's annual convention:

Outstanding work to benefit family farmers and ranchers earned recognition for county Farm Bureaus across California, during a ceremony at the California Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Sparks, Nev., last night.

The Tulare County Farm Bureau earned top honors as winner of the Golden State Hall of Honor Award. The Shasta County Farm Bureau earned the Innovator Award for a unique activity. The Napa, Siskiyou and Yolo county Farm Bureaus earned County of the Year awards in their respective membership categories, and 15 other county Farm Bureaus were recognized for excellence in program activities.

As winner of the Golden State Hall of Honor Award, the Tulare County Farm Bureau was judged to have accomplished the most outstanding program of work during 2011. The county Farm Bureau held a Bounty of the County event promoting locally grown farm products, had two members participate in the Leadership Farm Bureau program and earned Committee of the Year honors for its Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. In addition, the Farm Bureau hosted its annual youth leadership program for high school juniors and distributed more than $20,000 in scholarships to high school graduates. Tulare was also named County of the Year in its membership category of more than 2,000 members.

The Shasta County Farm Bureau earned the Innovator Award for organizing a rodeo that brought together community members from across the county to raise money and compete in ranching traditions including ranch cow milking and herd counting. The weekend’s events also featured a ranch horse competition, herding dog trial, tri-tip barbecue and silent auction. The event raised more than $13,000 for the county Farm Bureau.

The Napa County Farm Bureau was named the County of the Year in its membership category of 651 to 1,200 members. Outstanding activities organized by the county Farm Bureau included a Farm Day that reached 1,000 students and a bilingual farm safety training seminar. The county Farm Bureau also sent a record number of teachers to the annual Agriculture in the Classroom Conference.

The Siskiyou County Farm Bureau earned County of the Year honors among county Farm Bureaus with fewer than 650 members. It has worked during 2011 providing tours and meeting with legislators and others involved in issues within the county, challenging state Department of Fish and Game regulations that would broaden DFG authority to regulate water rights, and cooperating with the California Cattlewomen to introduce fourth graders to various aspects of Siskiyou County agriculture.

Among county Farm Bureaus with 1,201 to 1,999 members, the Yolo County Farm Bureau earned County of the Year for activities that included successful opposition to a Caltrans project that would have harmed local farms, and collaborating with 4-H and other agricultural youth organizations to hold a Farm Connection event that doubled the number of participating students from the previous year. The Yolo County Farm Bureau also worked with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to donate a pickup truck to the Woodland Community College Agriculture Department.

Along with Napa, Siskiyou, Tulare and Yolo, four other county Farm Bureaus earned President’s Program of the Year awards for outstanding programs within their membership categories: San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura.

In addition to the county Farm Bureaus named above, 11 others were honored with County Activities of Excellence Awards: Butte, Imperial, Kings, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, Shasta, Solano, Stanislaus and Tehama.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 74,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 6.3 million Farm Bureau members.

In the photo, members of the Shasta County Farm Bureau discuss their budget at a recent meeting.

Monday, December 5, 2011

CFBF president urges outreach for ag

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:

For agriculture to enjoy continued success, farmers and ranchers must carry their message to the general public and the elected officials who represent urban areas. California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger conveyed that message to a packed room of CFBF delegates and guests at the federation’s annual meeting today in Sparks, Nev.

“When you think about California and how little is rural, it is the folks who don’t have much agriculture in their districts, who don’t understand what their votes do to our industry, who we have to reach to make sure they understand,” he said.

Reflecting back on 2011, Wenger said many in agriculture assumed that policy issues would become more difficult with the change in governors. But, he said, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.

“Gov. Brown has really reached out to agriculture,” Wenger said, citing two examples.

The first concerned the state budget, where the governor reached out to agricultural organizations and asked for recommendations from them as to where to make cuts within the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The other example was “card check”—a form of union-organizing legislation that had been vetoed previously by former Gov. Schwarzenegger.

“The UFW assumed they would have card check signed but the governor vetoed card check, then went back to the drawing board and created his own plan to keep the secret-ballot election,” Wenger said. “What we got was pretty darn good. We don’t think agricultural producers are doing any of the egregious things that some people think we’re doing.”

Solar energy became a controversial subject in 2011, when some utility-scale solar sites were proposed on prime farmland in the San Joaquin Valley. Wenger said that CFBF supports solar energy, but not at the expense of losing productive farmland. He also questioned the wisdom of constructing a high-speed rail route through the heart of the San Joaquin Valley rather than building it in areas where it could be better utilized.

“If we’re going to do high-speed rail, let’s do it where people are. Let’s build it between Los Angeles and San Diego and San Francisco and San Jose. Why start building the train where no one will be able to ride the train?” he asked.

An important issue that needs to be addressed by Congress this year is immigration reform, Wenger said.

“Immigration is an issue that we’ve got to solve this year. A lot of people would say that nothing will happen with a controversial subject like immigration during an election year, but if Congress wants to show they can actually do something, this will be a key issue so our labor force doesn’t have to worry about being pulled over on their way to the fields and have families torn apart,” he said.

Wenger said that on many California farms and ranches, including his own, the bond between farm owners and longtime employees represents much more than a business relationship.

“I know when we think about our own family farming operation, for a time we were working 23-24-hour days and decided we had to hire someone. The Wenger family met the Ochoa family. They have worked side by side with us—they’re family,” he said.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 74,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 6.3 million Farm Bureau members.

Could Trump's questions be any worse?

Andrew C. McCarthy at NRO's The Corner nails it with regard to this silly controversy over Donald Trump's endeavor to moderate a GOP presidential debate.

I carry no brief for Mr. Trump, who is something of a carnival act, and I join the editors in commending Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, and whoever else among the candidates has the good sense to send his or her regrets. But just to recap, here is a list of just some of the left-leaning moderator/sponsors of the debates — those that have occurred to date, and others scheduled to occur between now and March 19, 2012: CNN (7 times), NBC News (including CNBC and MSNBC) (5 times), Politico (2 times), Bloomberg, the Washington Post, CBS News, the National Journal (2 times), ABC News (2 times), the Des Moines Register, PBS Newshour (2 times), Google, the St. Petersburg Times, and NPR. [...]

So to sum up, we are having debate after debate moderated by left-wing media organizations that, under the guise of objective journalism, actively promote Obama’s policies and are, for all practical purposes, an adjunct of the president’s reelection campaign. Their charade is more damaging by leaps and bounds than anything Donald Trump could dream of pulling off.

The thing is, some of the very people who've (rightly) been complaining about the moderators of past debates are the ones slamming the idea of a Trump-led forum. But could Trump be any worse a moderator than, say, John Harris?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Is the jobs picture really improving?

CNSNews' Bill Hobbs warms people not to get too excited over today's (made-to-order-for-the-legacy-media) Labor Department jobs report:

Imagine, if you will, that the entire population of the city of St. Louis decided to stop looking for a job and just gave up because the economy was so bad - and the government called it good news.

That's what happened today.

The Obama administration announced that the unemployment rate dropped from 9 percent to 8.6 percent, and called it "improvement." But the reality is, the economy is still not creating jobs anywhere near fast enough. So, in the month of November, 315,000 people gave up and stopped looking for a job. The population of St. Louis is 319,000.

All it will take to get the unemployment rate under 8 percent by Election Day is for a few million more Americans to get discouraged and give up on the economy - but that would not be an "improvement" no matter how hard the Obama administration tried to spin it.

More here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

AccuWeather predicts wet winter ahead

From AccuWeather, which created the accompanying map:

AccuWeather reports the Long-Range Forecasting Team still expects a brutal winter for the U.S. with the worst in terms of snow and cold targeting the Midwest and interior Northwest.

Big Midwestern cities, such as Chicago and Minneapolis, will lie in the heart of this zone.

While the worst of winter will be focused over the Midwest and Northwest, it does not mean other parts of the country are off the hook.

Above-normal snowfall is also forecast for the interior Northeast and northern New England.

A region-by-region breakdown on what to expect this winter can be found farther down on this page.

Factors Behind the Forecast

A weak to moderate La Niña is a key factor in the 2011-2012 Winter Forecast with more typical La Nina winter conditions expected.

"La Niña, a phenomenon that occurs when sea surface temperatures across the equatorial central and eastern Pacific are below normal, is what made last year's winter so awful for the Midwest and Northeast," Meteorologist Heather Buchman stated in the initial release of the 2011-2012 Winter Forecast.

Niña winters feature a stronger Northern jet stream, an area of strong winds high above the Earth's surface. This positioning and strength of the jet stream tends to cause storms to track across the northern tier, spelling harsh winters from the Northern Plains to the Ohio Valley.

Typically, the southern tier of the U.S. ends up mild and dry in a La Niña winter. There will be some exceptions to that this year with wet weather anticipated for parts of the Lower Mississippi Valley.

Another big factor in the winter forecast is the potential for a blocking pattern to develop with the NAO, or North Atlantic Oscillation, possibly turning negative for a time. This essentially means that a large area of high pressure could set up over Greenland, forcing cold blasts to reach the U.S.

"The lack of sea ice has been believed to contribute to the development of blocking. This past summer and early fall, sea ice reached near-record low levels," according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. [...]

Winter Looking Wetter for California, Still Stormy for Northwest

The 2011-2012 Winter Forecast was updated to show even more rain and snow for northern and central California with the Pacific jet stream expected to hover over this area for most of the winter season.

Farther inland, this winter is expected to be another active one for the northern Sierra and interior Northwest with above-normal snowfall forecast.

In contrast, the Pacific Northwest, including much of Washington and western Oregon, will get some breaks from the wet weather.

"Watch for a 'Pineapple Connection' during the mid- to late season that will send some areas well above-normal precipitation," Pastelok said. This means "snow in the mountains and rain and mudslides in the valleys."

Also known as the "Pineapple Express," the Pineapple Connection is a phenomenon that occurs when a strong, persistent flow of tropical moisture sets up from the Hawaiian islands to the West Coast of the U.S. This phenomenon often leads to excessive rain and incredible snow events.

Despite the on again, off again stormy weather for the Pacific Northwest rather than a constant storm train, the region will not be spared winter's blow. Pastelok added that the bitterly cold blasts will invade northern areas, especially during the mid- to late season.

After being active early in the season, there will be less precipitation in Seattle and Portland, Ore., later on. However, both of these cities could get cold for a time with arctic air penetrating from the north and east.

For what it's worth. I have my doubts about a pineapple express, which I understand to be more of a fixture of El Nino than La Nina. But hey, what do I know?