Sunday, August 28, 2005

Valles Caldera

I had to chuckle at the story in the Albuquerque Journal today regarding the grazing program at the Valles Caldera in the Jemez Mountains. This is the piece of pristine public land that is being managed under a scheme that pretty much deemphasises the professional public land managers in the US Forest Service and other agencies in management of that property. The Valles Caldera was purchased by the Federal Government some years ago but part of the deal was that the care of the land would be divested to a nine member committee appointed by the White House. This was an experiment that was aimed at giving locals control of Public Lands owned by all Americans. This committee has been working very hard however and they are finding this land management business is tricky. Their chief executive, former state land commissioner Ray Powell just resigned after only 10 months on the job.

It seems that the committee is spending a major portion of its time trying to manage its short grazing season. Like any grazing program in the west they are finding out that the revenues will probably never pay for the cost of the program, just like most of the other grazing programs on public or State trust lands in the west. The taxpayers continue to get soaked for these grazing lease give aways on public lands all over the west. That is just a fact and it probably won't change. The myth of the Cowboy and their 'way of life' is just to hard to overcome.

The Committee's mountain bike touring program is bringing in as much money as grazing and it causes less impact and environmental damage on the land. It probably is paying for itself.

My son Justin has been working for the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign in Washington, DC. They are working to get legislation allowing voluntary buyouts of grazing leases on public lands in the west. The idea is that ranchers aren't making any money, they are costing the taxpayers money in subsidizing them, and wouldn't it make more sense to buy them out of the allotments to give them a bankroll to start another business. The land is then retired from heavy grazing so it can recover and the taxpayer subsidies will go down.

Today, Justin is driving from New York to Albuquerque to spend the rest of the year here on the job for his employer before attending graduate school next year. Bobbi is traveling to Houston and she and Noelle will be driving home from there. Noelle has been working in Houston on her summer break from Rice University. Noelle leaves for Bangkok for a fall semester of study on September 8th. Bobbi and I are scheduled to go see here in November.

Anyway, they will all be arriving here late Monday night around the same time and we will be a nuclear family over the next ten days. Our first get together will undoubtedly be at the Frontier restaurant for breakfast burritos. The kids eat them by the dozen when they are in town. They will all be here for my 60th birthday on September 6th. That's cool.

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