House Republicans Free Border Patrol of Liberals’Red Tape

Kevin “Coach” Collins,FloydReports.com

It’s not likely you have heard of H.R. 1505,The National Security and Federal
Lands Protection Act (NSFLPA). This outline of what’s in HR 1505 will tell you
why the media is keeping a lid on this bill.

NSFLPA will free our Homeland Security Department Border Patrol agents from
short sighted and phony environmental laws that keep our borders porous and
uncontrollable.

This 180-degree-turn in America’s approach to stemming the tide of illegal
aliens sneaking into our country was introduced by Republican Congressman Rob
Bishop of Utah. NSFLPA will wave enforcement of a litany of unnecessary and
counterproductive liberal laws that have been destroying true conservation
efforts for decades.

Under Bishop’s tough enforcement bill,the Department of Homeland Security’s
work to protect our borders and coastlines within 100 miles of our borders would
no longer be impeded by extraneous laws. In many states Border Patrols would be
totally free to protect Americans from border to border. Freeing DHS officers to
pursue illegal aliens into protected wildlife and forest areas can be
accomplished by suspending enforcement of multiple laws.

H.R. 1505 would provide waivers of these laws….

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more
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Securing the Border With Smart-Aleck Semantics

Securing the Border With Smart-Aleck Semantics

May
11th, 2011

The Washington Times

President Obama made a run for the border yesterday to shore up his
credentials on the immigration issue. Speaking from Chamizal National Memorial
in El Paso, Mr. Obama defended his strategy as if it were working. “They’ll
never be satisfied,” he said, lashing out at critics. “The truth is, the
measures we’ve put in place are getting results.”

The Obama administration has cooked up a novel way to calculate what a great
job his Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been doing in stemming
the flow of aliens flooding over the border from Mexico. In March, Ms.
Napolitano stood on a bridge connecting El Paso to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and
proclaimed border security to be “better than ever.” In testimony before the
Senate Homeland Security Committee last week, Ms. Napolitano claimed that the
meaning of “operational control” of the border is “archaic” and that she intends
to devise a “more quantitative and qualitative way to reflect what actually is
occurring at the border.” She said she wants an index that would include a
measure of how many persons have been deterred from even attempting to jump the
border.

By counting these theoretical illegals – as opposed to real ones – Ms.
Napolitano’s border-security mission becomes much easier. While hundreds of
thousands actually cross over annually, compared to, say, Mexico’s entire
population of 112 million, they represent a tiny fraction. Preventing border
crossing in a computer model or a spreadsheet allows Ms. Napolitano to proclaim
“mission accomplished” without having to actually crack down in a way that would
offend left-wing open-border advocacy groups.

Ms. Napolitano’s attempt to redefine what it means to secure the U.S. border
is a brilliant example of double-speak worthy of “Big Sis.” Real numbers are far
less forgiving. In February, the Government Accountability Office reported that
the Border Patrol has only 873 miles of the 2,000-mile southern border subject
to “operational control.” The term means simply that the Border Patrol has the
capacity to deter illegal crossers and pursue them when they’re spotted. The
remaining length is mostly open for free passage. In remote regions of Arizona,
cartels have established observation posts providing intelligence to ensure safe
border transit for drug couriers.

Mr. Obama and his economic advisers do deserve some credit for discouraging
illegals from crossing the southern border.

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Everything Obama Said About the Border Was a Lie

Everything Obama Said About the Border Was a Lie

May
11th, 2011

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, NRO

President Obama’s immigration speech in El Paso today is a poor substitute
for the real border security the country still desperately needs. And it was a
transparent attempt to keep using illegal immigration as a campaign issue, as
President Obama made no attempt to solve this problem during the two years his
party held huge majorities in both houses of Congress. His own administration
has not done its job to finish the border fence that is a critical part of
keeping Americans safe and stopping illegal immigration.

Rather than holding immigration summits at the White House with special
interests and making speeches, President Obama should direct the members of his
administration tasked with homeland security and patrolling the border to enact
measures that have already been made law by Congress.

Five
years ago, legislation was passed to build a 700-mile double-layer border fence
along the southwest border
. This is a promise that has not been kept.

Today, according to staff at the Department of Homeland Security, just 5
percent of the double-layer fencing is complete, only 36.3 miles.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’s investigative arm,
reported in early 2009 that only 32 miles of double-layer fencing had been
built. That means under President Obama, only 4.3 miles of double layer fencing
has been built. This is woefully inadequate.

While the border-fence construction lags, Mexican cartels continue to smuggle
drugs, weapons, and illegal aliens into our country, attracting violent
crime.

The United
States Attorney’s Annual Statistical Report for Fiscal Year 2009
stated that
“violence along the border of the United States and Mexico has increased
dramatically in recent years.” Citing a National Drug Intelligence Center
report, it continued, “Mexican drug trafficking organizations represent the
greatest organized crime threat to the United States and the influence of
Mexican drug trafficking organizations over domestic drug trafficking is
unrivaled.”

Last month, officials
in Brownsville, Texas, found a homemade, improvised explosive device
on
Highway 77 that resembled the bombs used against U.S. troops in the Middle East
and by Mexican drug cartels.

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more
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The Southern Border Could Get Much Worse

The Southern Border Could Get Much Worse

By Robert Eugene Simmons Jr

The southern border of the USA is no longer something that we can ignore or use as a political tool. Successive presidents have failed to control this border for one reason or another, but the escalation of drug cartel violence on the southern side of the border is making the issue of illegal immigration almost an afterthought. It seems that if something doesn’t change, we could be looking at an all-out war with Mexican drug cartels.
Police Chief Jeff Kirkham of the border town Nogales, Arizona, told Tucson Channel 9 (ABC) news that he has received threats that the Mexican drug cartels will start using snipers to target on- and off-duty police officers from across the border.
Video

Given the fact that Nogales sits right on the border with the town of Heroica Nogales on the other side, the threat is entirely credible and feasible. Heroica Nogales would provide ample places to hide within sniper range of many parts of Nogales. With an effective range of over one mile, modern rifles could easily target U.S. citizens and police in an eerie echo of the siege of Sarajevo in the Bosnian war.

If snipers start setting up shop in Heroica Nogales, we certainly won’t be able to count on the Mexican military to take care of the problem. The cartels clearly don’t fear the Mexican military, given the enormous intimidation and bribery that they are able to bring to the table. Leaked stories of massive Mexican military corruption and intimidation are commonplace in the border regions.
Given that the Mexican military would be of dubious worth, what options are left for the Obama administration to deal with the problem? Would Obama fire predator missiles into Mexico from drones to take out snipers, or would the risk of a real military conflict with the regular Mexican army and civilian casualties make that option out of the question? Would counter-snipers be employed to take out drug cartel snipers? Given Obama’s reluctance to deploy anything more than logistic personnel from the National Guard to the border, the answer is likely “no.” If Obama will not authorize return fire, what is the game plan for the police and civilians being shot at from across the border? If Obama did authorize return fire across the border, how would Mexico react to military snipers from our side shooting drug cartel snipers from theirs? Finally, what would the rules of engagement be? Would American military snipers be authorized to take out anyone deemed a threat, or would the life of a police officer or civilian have to be taken before they can fire back? Even the military will admit that counter-sniper operations are complex and fraught with risk.
However dismal the sniper scenario sounds, the problem doesn’t stop there. The Mexican drug cartels are exceptionally well-manned and armed with fully automatic AK-47 rifles, RPGs, and standard grenades, none of which are available for sale in the USA. How long before the cartels realize that they have far more men and armament than a border crossing and outright attack the police manning the crossing? It could start with the Mexican border control agents abandoning their post to avoid certain death and end with the cartels attacking a border crossing, thus opening up a floodgate through which tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, narcotics traffickers, criminals, and terrorists could flood into the USA in a matter of hours.
If the Mexican drug cartels stop fighting each other and unite, this scenario could rapidly become a catastrophe. Imagine a wave of violent drug cartels overrunning the border, crossing in Nogales and then the entire town. The most frightening thing is that the scenario is entirely plausible. With a foothold in the USA, the flood of people and narcotics would be virtually unstoppable, and we would end up with an urban war in our own borders.
Make no mistake that America is under an invasion. The army is not that of the Mexican government, but it is an invasion nonetheless. If we continue to turn a blind eye to the situation, it could easily escalate out of control into an international and human catastrophe. We can no longer wait and see what happens on the border and then react to it. Any military strategist will tell you that if you are merely reacting, you are losing.
It’s time that we send the American military, not just the National Guard, to the border to defend the USA, as is the responsibility of the federal government. This suggestion is not meant to disparage the Arizona National Guard, but they are simply not built for large-scale combat operations, and this is no longer just a simple law enforcement situation. We need to secure the border with combat troops and convince the Mexican drug cartels that they are better off squabbling with each other than fighting the USA. In fact, if the border becomes so secure that nothing can get through, the cartels will have to find other routes for their drug trade, leave the border area, and improve the lives of law-abiding Mexicans on the other side of the border as well.
In addition to securing the border, it is time for Mexican President Calderón and Obama to meet to discuss the possibilities of worsening assaults on the border and our possible responses to these events before they actually happen. If protocols and understandings are there beforehand, the likelihood of any incident spinning out of control into a war is greatly reduced.
Finally, Obama needs to reprioritize his administration away from attempting to sue Arizona and toward addressing the problem that prompted Arizona to pass the law in the first place. Only after the border is secure should we talk about what to do about illegal immigrants still in the USA and expanding work permit programs for law-abiding Mexicans to make a living here.

San Francisco’s Unconstitutional Arizona ‘Boycott’

San Francisco’s Unconstitutional Arizona ‘Boycott’

By Bruce Walker

San Francisco and other city governments have jumped on the bandwagon of formally “boycotting” business with Arizona in response to that border state’s new law to assist the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Boycotts are an honorable way to influence governments or citizens. When the Nazis came to power, millions of Americans boycotted German imports. Blacks in Mississippi boycotted the Montgomery Bus System for its discriminatory practices toward blacks five decades ago. American patriots boycotted British goods prior to the Revolutionary War. Conservatives prior to our toppling Saddam Hussein called for boycotts of French goods. 
Boycotts have been used against conservatives like Dr. Laura and against leftists like Rosie O’Donnell. In a world in which we have enough “stuff,” there is a compelling case to be made that all of us should use our votes in the marketplace to support values we treasure instead of just getting the best economic bargain. Many of us do that. I have not watched new television programming for decades. Millions of us boycott Hollywood.
The term “boycott” derives from a British officer, Captain Charles Boycott, who zealously enforced the legal but draconian rights of British landlords against Irish tenants in 1880. The Irish people voluntarily decided to have absolutely nothing to do with Captain Boycott. They neither offered nor threatened violence. They acted as a group, but as a group of private individuals. Within a fairly short period of time, the captain and his family left Ireland and returned to England.
Those cities threatening to “boycott” Arizona, however, are not threatening a boycott at all. Instead, as governments under our Constitution, these leftist city councils are creating an embargo. This is wrong, and it is unconstitutional. Under our federal system, state governments and their political subdivisions may not impose undue burdens on interstate commerce. Moreover, states and cities have no right to punish private citizens in other states for the actions of the state governments. Citizens have the right, within our federal system, to be treated equally and fairly.
Arizona, for example, could not pass a law preventing any business with San Francisco until that city modified its ordinances on sexual relations or gun control. It would not matter if an overwhelming majority of Arizonans thought this embargo was good. Political majorities and politicians backed by those majorities may not discriminate against citizens or states which displease them. 
Likewise, San Francisco could not refuse to carry merchant traffic from its port facilities to Arizona. Likewise, Arizona could not stop interstate commerce traveling from San Francisco through Arizona. If state and city governments begin to exercise an extra-constitutional power to obstruct interstate commerce by imposing political filters, then there is no logical ending point to a feud between politicians from one part of the country and those in another part of the country. State and local governments throughout the nation have duties to each other. Apolitical and open trade is one of those duties.
Who is hurt when the City of San Francisco “boycotts” (i.e., embargoes) trade with the State of Arizona? The injured parties are the citizens of San Francisco and the citizens of Arizona. Commerce between those governments would exist only if that commerce made economic sense. In other words, the only time in which the prohibitions enacted by San Francisco government would go into effect would be when it makes economic sense to do business with Arizona. Ordinary citizens — who have always had the private right to boycott those they dislike — lose. 
Who wins from an embargo when leftist run cities artificially substitute politics for market value in investments? Politicians with an almost insatiable appetite for power and praise win politically — after all, it is not their businesses hurt by an economically irrational embargo against Arizona. Who wins financially? Shrewd investors who buy undervalued assets in places like Arizona! The effect of an utterly political embargo is to reward those who ignore it. 
An unconstitutional embargo could also easily cause economic blowback. What if Arizona passed a retaliatory embargo on commerce with the City of San Francisco? How short a step would that government-to-government embargo be from an Arizona embargo that precluded commerce with any business licensed by the City of San Francisco? Such businesses, after all, must largely conform to San Francisco municipal laws, and those laws would formally discriminate against Arizona. What argument would there be against such a discriminatory embargo by Arizona — particularly when the underlying rationale for a San Francisco government embargo on business with Arizona is explicitly to hurt Arizona businesses? 
The underlying problem reflects a concern which I expressed in a recent article: The gravest problem in America today is not government, per se, but the use of government as a sock puppet for an angry, relentless partisan or interest group movement. When those groups seize governments, then the general welfare, as opposed to the welfare of special groups, melts into limp glop. The welfare of the citizens of the several states, even the welfare of ordinary San Franciscans, is abandoned so that political bosses can kowtow to particular interests.
America has an excellent mechanism for punishing those who follow the law but behave badly. It is called the free market. Nearly all of us make our consumer choices based upon complex factors which include more than pure economics. Just as we give our money to churches and to synagogues and we give our time to charities and to community activities, so we buy goods and services, in part, because we approve of the values of those selling. The danger of substituting brute state force for persuaded consumer opinion is that there is no end to the cycle of action and reaction — and no resolution to any of the underlying problems.
Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and his recently published book The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.

Our borders are broken windows

Our borders are broken windows

Don Watson

Obama has characterized Arizona as being misguided and irresponsible by passing a law that authorizes deputies to inquire about a person’s citizenship. If the “don’t ask don’t tell policy” that the Federal government has been standing by now for decades isn’t irresponsible I don’t know what is. For Obama, it’s not only irresponsible, his comments and decision to challenge the legality of the law are arrogant and insulting.

The fear that ramped up racism is about to be unleashed upon the Latinos of Arizona is about as rational as strip searching Norwegian grandmothers at the airport. Never the less Obama is keenly aware of this hysteria and is banking on it politically.

How can our government have such little regard for the people who actually live on the border in the midst of all the drug and people trafficking and trashing of the environment that it so willfully ignores? It is not okay now and never has been.

Our borders are the broken windows (worth reading) that invite crime and violence and denigrate the quality of life. They are chaos. Hurrah for Arizona for standing up for itself. Latinos will benefit from this as much as everyone else.

Don Watson

Taxpayer-Funded War Against Ranchers

A Taxpayer-Funded War Against Ranchers (PJM Exclusive)

Posted By Callie Gnatkowski On April 27, 2010 @ 12:03 am In . Feature 01, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

There is a war going on in the West. It has nothing to do with guns and bullets. It’s an environmental war, declared by eco-activists against farmers and ranchers who work the land.

It’s not covered by the mainstream media. But environmental groups boast that their aim is to run ranchers off their land, put them out of business, and bar beef and other food from our tables. And the environmentalists get taxpayers to pay them for their attempts at destruction.

The tools they use are the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and other acts, along with a small army of lawyers who find bureaucratic loopholes to bankrupt farmers and ranchers.

While ranchers struggle to pay attorneys to represent their interests in these lawsuits, environmental groups are getting paid by taxpayers. Even though the activists don’t win all of these cases, they are reimbursed for their attorneys’ fees through the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). The abuse of EAJA, where environmental groups collect up to $650 per hour for frivolous lawsuits, was covered recently [1] by Pajamas Media.

“Essentially, these environmental groups are being paid to sue the federal government,” said Wyoming attorney Karen Budd-Falen. “They file hundreds of lawsuits, and rather than fight the suits, the government often settles the case, agreeing to pay attorneys fees in the settlement.”

Here are some of their cases.

Wyoming sheepman Carl Larson and his family continue the operation founded by his grandfather 100 years ago. The operation is made up of private and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, which the family pays to use and maintain. Because of the land ownership in their area, the BLM land is critical to the operation. When the activist group the Western Watersheds Projec [2]t (WWP) filed a lawsuit that would have stopped grazing on the grazing allotment, based not on proof of damage to the land but on procedural issues with the permit, the family was forced to intervene.

“Losing this permit would have been devastating to our family and our livelihood,” Larson said. “We intervened because WWP had requested a stay of any grazing on the allotment until all litigation was completed, which would have effectively put our family ranch out of business.”

The WWP could not show any proof that the Larsons’ use of their land was causing any damage, so after several months the request for a stay on grazing was denied. The litigation is ongoing, and some problems were found with the BLM’s permit renewal procedures. “We have absolutely no control over the BLM’s processes, but have to live with the consequences and had to spend $35,000 to keep our ranch,” Larson said. “There is no way to get that money back from the WWP, even though for the short term, we beat them.”

In addition to the cost of the litigation, the Larsons have invested a lot of money over the years in improvements to the allotment including fences, water developments, and bridges. “If the allotment were closed, it would be a major taking of private property rights and my family would lose its business,” Larson said.

Jordan Valley, Oregon, rancher Rand Collins was also forced to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the WWP that would have eliminated the family business that has been in the family for 46 years. In 1997, the group sued the BLM to eliminate grazing on 68 grazing allotments, including Collins’ allotment. “All of these allotments, like mine, have been grazed by livestock for over 100 years. Like the Louse Canyon Community allotment for me, the use of these allotments is necessary for the continued existence of our ranchers and way of life,” Collins said.

The WWP lawsuit claimed that the BLM had not completed the necessary paperwork under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for permit renewal, and requested that livestock be removed until that paperwork was complete. While the court agreed that the BLM had violated NEPA, livestock were not removed, but the case is ongoing.

“WWP’s website boasts that it wants to eliminate my livelihood and family, but because it cannot challenge me directly, WWP and other groups find errors in the bureaucratic process as a backdoor way to harm my legitimate use of the land I have loved for 46 years,” Collins said.

“So many times, these cases are not filed on anything substantive, but on paperwork and missed deadlines,” Budd-Falen explained. “It’s all on paper — nothing in the lawsuit even impacts the environment.”

Ranchers like Tim Lequerica, based in Oregon’s Owyhee River valley, were assured that their historic operations would be protected when Congress gave the river near Lequerica’s home its Wild and Scenic designation in 1984. That was put to the test, however, by litigation filed in 1998 by the WWP and the activist Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), which joined WWP challenging the BLM’s management plan for the wild and scenic river.

The litigation claimed that cattle should not be able to get water from the river and requested that grazing be stayed or eliminated pending the outcome of the litigation. The river was the ranchers’ only source of water. Ranchers intervened, arguing that they would keep cattle from drinking from the river if they were provided alternative water locations. “Our issue was not whether we had to use the Owyhee River, we just wanted a source of water for our thirsty livestock,” Lequerica said. “Our argument was that if the court would allow us to install water pipelines and tanks on dry BLM lands, we would be happy to keep cattle from drinking in the river as the environmentalists wanted. The environmentalists wanted no water at all, which would mean our cattle would go thirsty.”

The ranchers spent $42,000 to participate in the litigation, and in the end, the court granted the ranchers’ requests. The ranchers were able to put in new pipelines and tanks to provide water for both livestock and wildlife. “However, because the BLM failed to jump through some procedural hoops with regard to the written wild and scenic river management plan, the federal government voluntarily agreed to pay ONDA and WWP $128,000 in attorney fees and costs. Thus, my money paid for every part of the litigation,” Lequerica said. “I paid my personal attorneys to represent me; my tax dollars paid the federal government and their attorneys who failed to do all the paperwork correctly; and my tax dollars paid the ONDA and WWP to sue the federal government.”

Millions have been spent on the reintroduction of Mexican grey wolves into southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, which started in 1998 as the result of environmental activist groups suing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). Today, very few wolves have survived in the wild, area wildlife is sparse, and livestock depredation is putting ranchers out of business. Since 2000, Gene and Ginger Whetten, of the Adobe Ranch in far southwestern New Mexico, have been living with dead and missing livestock, lost profits, and litigation caused by the wolves, and there’s no end in sight.

In 2007, the Whettens had nine wolves living right below the house, killing cattle every night. They estimate that they lost $100,000. “This year, we’ve found nine or ten dead calves, and pieces of 14 more. That doesn’t include those that you never see, that you just know are gone because a cow comes in with a tight bag,” Ginger Whetten said. “It’s been a big financial hit for us and an even bigger one for some of our neighbors who only run 50-100 head of cattle. When the wolves get in on them, it just wipes them out. It is heartbreaking to watch as they lose their livelihoods and way of life.”

Working and spending time together as a family brought the Whettens to the remote ranch, but much of that has been lost to the constant stress of the wolves. “The wolves are on our minds and on our property all the time. It’s not what we wanted for our family.”

To protect citizens like the Whettens, and others who feared for the safety of their families, Catron County, New Mexico, adopted an ordinance designed to give its citizens relief from wolves living in their front yards. “The federal government did not take any legal action against the county for the ordinance, and we felt we had a sworn duty to protect the health and safety of our citizens,” said Catron County Commission Chairman Ed Wehrheim. “The ordinance stated that if a wolf was harassing a person, the county would protect that person as allowed by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).”

In 2007, the radical activist group WildEarth Guardians (WEG) sued Catron County in federal district court claiming that the county ordinance violated the ESA. In the end, the court ruled in the county’s favor on all counts, and specifically held that the ordinance as written was lawful. Catron County spent over $100,000 in attorneys’ fees defending its ordinance. “Even though the suit was brought under the ESA, we cannot recover that money from the WildEarth Guardians,” Wehrheim said. “In contrast, they and other groups have filed countless suits against the government about the wolves, and are able to get their attorneys’ fees repaid.”

In another suit, the Western Watersheds Project (WWP) sued the FWS in 2001 to list slickspot peppergrass under the ESA. The FWS ultimately decided against listing the species as threatened or endangered, but agreed to pay the WWP $26,663 to reimburse their attorneys’ fees.

After this decision, a number of ranchers in the Mountain Home, Idaho, area, including Charlie Lyons and Ted Hoffman, came together with the state of Idaho to create a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA), which was approved by the FWS under the ESA. The agreement, which was signed by many ranchers, included specific, on-the-ground actions ranchers and landowners agreed to take to protect the species. According to a 2009 report, the slickspot peppergrass had the highest recorded population numbers. “We believe these population counts show the actions in the CCA were working and making a difference,” Lyons and Hoffman said.

In 2004, the WWP sued again to force a listing under the ESA, the court agreed, and the species was listed. In 2007, the FWS withdrew that decision, based on the protection given by the CCA. The WWP sued again, and won. Following that decision, the governor of Idaho filed a suit contesting the latest listing, and that litigation is ongoing.

Due to the litigation, the CCA is useless and the faith and hard work that the landowners and permittees put into management for the plant is down the drain. No one can show that this plant is any better protected by some legal federal paper designation than it was by true on-the-ground management, Lyons and Hoffman said.

Ranchers have spent $30,000 in litigation, plus time and effort developing the CCA, on this issue. The environmental group WWP has received a total of $238,163 in taxpayer money in settlement agreements on this species. “WWP’s objective is to run ranchers off the land in the spring,” Lyons and Hoffman said. “If they are successful in their efforts, it would mean a death sentence to the slickspot peppergrass and ruination of our ranches.”

Southwestern New Mexico rancher, farmer, and Catron County Commissioner Hugh B. McKeen has been battling environmental activist groups and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for years, just to keep the family operation, established by his grandfather in 1904, in business. Today, the family’s farmland is at risk of being washed away because of a lack of forest health work, and the family is ten years into a lawsuit against the USFS regarding punitive cuts to his grazing allotment.

Because the endangered loach minnow has been found in the San Francisco River, the McKeens are no longer allowed to use equipment to maintain the river and its channel. The river is now aimed directly at the McKeens’ private land irrigated field, and the USFS is requiring a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis and Corps of Engineers permit before work can be done in the river. “They just don’t care,” McKeen said. “Part of my land has been destroyed — the floodplain is gone, so now the river is aimed right at my field.”

The problems with their grazing permit also involve the loach minnow. The activist groups the Center for Biological Diversity and the Forest Guardians (now known as WildEarth Guardians) filed a suit claiming that the USFS had not considered the impacts of grazing on two fish and a bird species and requesting that all livestock be removed from 42 allotments until the consultation process was completed. Ranchers intervened, spending about $100,000.

In the end, the court ruled that extra work would only be required on allotments where the fish are actually found. “Even though our attorneys stopped the groups from eliminating all grazing and then won most of the case on the merits, the federal agreement voluntarily agreed to pay the two groups $300,000 in tax dollars,” McKeen said.

The fish species were found on the McKeen’s allotment and private land, so the USFS built a fence to keep his cattle out of the river. Maintaining a fence along the river is difficult, and when the fence is down the cattle get in the river. In punishment, the USFS has cut the family’s grazing permit for 25 percent.

The McKeens suit against the agency has been ongoing for ten years. “Even if we win the suit, all I get are my cattle numbers back, no restitution, no compensation for lost income, nothing,” McKeen said. “They cut my numbers by 25 percent, reducing our income by 25 percent. No business can sustain that.”