Archive for the ‘Wild Lands Confiscation’ Category

Posted: 2014-06-11

Sean Holstege, The Republic | azcentral.com 7:42 p.m. MST June 11, 2014 AZ Republic 6-11-14

FBI and ATF agents responded to a Nogales power plant after a makeshift bomb went off Wednesday.

A makeshift bomb exploded at a Nogales, Ariz. power plant Wednesday, rupturing a large fuel tank and prompting the FBI and federal bomb experts to respond.

Local officials were alerted at 9:30 a.m. to a call of “suspicious activity” at the UniSource Energy Services Valencia Plant. An explosion had ruptured a diesel storage tank and caused what Nogales Police Lt. Carlos Jimenez described as a relatively small spill that was confined to the immediate area.

Officials closed off the power plant and an adjacent car dealership on North Grand Avenue. The FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Arizona Department of Public Safety were called.

Agents were still processing the scene at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Arizona Corporation Commission spokesman Rebecca Wilder said there were no power disruptions related to the explosion and the plant sustained only minor damage.

“The reason for the high-scale response is the plant is an electrical substation and critical to the area,” Jimenez said, explaining that as many as 30,000 customers in the area – the entire town of Nogales and its environs – depends on the plant for power.

“The whole city of Nogales could have been compromised,” he added.

There were no reports of injuries and authorities said they knew of no suspects or witnesses.

They described the explosive as “a suspicious device,” but would not elaborate. The fuel did not ignite, Jimenez said.

The investigation continues.

Staff Writer Mary Jo Pitzl contributed to this report.

 

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/2014/06/11/nogales-explosion-power-plant-arizona-abrk/10351107/

By Teresa Carson Reuters -11-29-12

PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) – A Canadian environmentalist accused of taking part in a campaign of arson attacks across the U.S. West surrendered on Thursday after a decade on the run to face charges in what authorities call the “largest eco-terrorism case” in U.S. history.

Rebecca Jeanette Rubin turned herself in to FBI agents at the Canadian border in Blaine, Washington, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. She is charged with helping set a wave of arson fires between 1996 and 2001 that were carried out by self-proclaimed members of the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front.

              “Rubin’s arrest marks the end of her decade-long period as an international fugitive in the largest eco-terrorism case in United States history,” the Justice Department statement said of the arson spree.

              Officials have given no reason for her surrender.

              Prosecutors said at the time that the case stood out for the number of fires set and damage caused, which was estimated at more than $40 million.

              Rubin, 39, faces arson, destructive device and conspiracy charges in Oregon, California and Colorado. She was expected to make an initial court appearance in Seattle before she is returned to Oregon for trial in U.S. District Court.

The government indicted Rubin in 2006 of taking part in a conspiracy with 12 others involving 20 acts of arson.

              She is charged with participating in a 1997 arson fire at a wild horse and burro facility belonging to the Bureau of Land Management in Burns, Oregon, that was set to retaliate for what the group believed was poor treatment of the horses.

              Animals were set free and firebombs placed around the facility, according to a federal grand jury indictment.

She is also accused of participating in a 1998 attempted arson at the Medford, Oregon, offices of U.S. Forest Industries.

In Colorado, Rubin faces eight counts of arson for the 1998 firebombing of a Vail ski resort to stop an expansion that the group felt would encroach on a lynx habitat.

She is also charged with conspiracy, arson and using a destructive device in a 2001 fire at a Bureau of Land Management horse and burro facility near Susanville, California.

Ten of the other 12 defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy and multiple counts of arson in 2007 in Eugene, Oregon, while two, Joseph Dibee and Josephine Overaker, remain at large.

              If convicted on all charges, Rubin could face a maximum penalty of hundreds of years in prison, although the other defendants were sentenced to between 37 to 156 months behind bars, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer said.

              Rubin can consent to have the charges from the three states consolidated and be tried in Oregon, or she can be tried in each jurisdiction, Peifer said.

              (Writing and additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Cynthia Osterman and Lisa Shumaker)

http://news.yahoo.com/environmental-activist-long-wanted-u-arson-attacks-surrenders-015817129.html

Louise (Glasser) believes that the Institute “is the most effective organization in the West for promoting conservation and smart growth on a community level.”

http://sonoraninstitute.org/

Strategic Plan: Bold Plans for the Changing West http://sonoraninstitute.org/about-us/strategic-plan.html

The Legacy Project: Sustainable Desert http://www.sonoraninstitute.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=154&Itemid=12

Land chief takes job at non-profit

Ariz. commissioner will join Sonoran Institute as its  CEO

by Craig Harris – Nov. 21, 2012 10:18 PM The Republic | azcentral.com
Arizona Land Commissioner Maria Baier, who has worked for two Republican  governors and served on the Phoenix City Council, will leave state government to  become chief executive of the Sonoran Institute.

“I’m really excited about it,” Baier said of her new job. “They do great  work. They really try very hard to bring diverse interests together on land  issues that affect the western United States.”

Baier’s last day with the state agency, which is responsible for managing  millions of acres of Arizona trust land, is Nov. 29. She becomes the Sonoran  Institute’s CEO on Dec. 3.

“Maria was our top choice, and we are thrilled she has accepted our offer,”  said Bill Mitchell, chairman of the institute’s board. “We are very excited  about the enthusiasm, vitality and vision that she brings to our organization  for the future.”

The Sonoran Institute is a Tucson-based non-profit organization involved in  public-policy decisions affecting land issues in western North America. For the  fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011, the institute reported having 53  employees, nearly $2.1 million in net assets and $6 million in revenue.

Baier will replace Luther Propst, who founded the organization in 1991 and  has led the Sonoran Institute since its inception.

Baier, 51, quipped that Sonoran’s CEO job opens only every two decades and  that it was something she couldn’t turn down.

John Shepard, senior adviser for the institute, said Baier brings expertise  in land management and public policy from her roles in state government and on  the Phoenix council, where she served before becoming land commissioner.

Shepard said the group expects Baier to expand the organization in  intermountain states.

Baier said she will divide her time in her new job between the Sonoran  Institute’s Phoenix and Tucson offices and will travel to other offices in  Montana, Colorado and Mexico.

Shepard declined to disclose Baier’s salary.

Propst was paid $120,640 a year, according to the group’s most recent  financial records.

Baier, who lives in Phoenix, was appointed land commissioner in 2009 by Gov.  Jan Brewer.

During Baier’s tenure at the Arizona State Land Department, the agency earned  $560 million in revenue through leasing and sales of 25,000 acres of trust  land.

Proceeds from the sales and leasing benefit schools.

Baier, who also worked for then-Gov. Fife Symington, said she was proud that  the Land Department had started solar leases and wind farms while she ran the  agency.

“Even in a bad economy, we generated a lot of money for the beneficiaries of  the trust,” she said.

The governor called Baier a “wonderful asset” to her administration.

Brewer must now appoint a new commissioner.

Matthew Benson, a spokesman for the governor, said that if the governor does  not appoint a replacement for Baier by Nov. 29, Deputy Commissioner Vanessa  Hickman will become the acting commissioner.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2012/11/20/20121120land-chief-takes-job-non-profit.html

by Bob Unruh 5-17-12

The Obama administration has launched a new battle over water rights that threatens not only the the economies of arid Western states, which largely voted against him in the 2008 election, but their very existence.

WND reported last month that the federal government was creating obstacles for Tombstone, Ariz., to restore its water supplies following last year’s forest fire and monsoon-triggered floods in the nearby mountains. The federal government said crews could not use machinery to rebuild pipelines and spring-water collection systems.

Now, a letter contradicting longstanding federal practice asserts a claim to water in arid Western states, such as Utah, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, that supersedes all other authorities, including decisions by state water courts.

“Federal water rights are entitled to a form of protection that is broader than what may be provided to similarly situated state law rights holders,” states a letter from Julie Decker, the deputy state director in the U.S. Department of the Interior to the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

The letter was objecting to state plans to do a routine “Designation of Adequate Water Supply,” which reviews water resources, rights and uses when changes are proposed.

Decker’s letter said water is not “legally” available for some users who may want to develop property in the area, because “the expressed federal reserved water right created by Congress is senior to all junior water users who initiate uses after the date of the establishment of the reservation.”

Nick Dranias, who holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute, called it an “existential threat to the Western states.”

The institute is fighting on behalf of Tombstone for its right to repair its water supply system and use the water.

A statement from the institute said the city of Tombstone “is no longer the only one fighting the federal government for water rights.”

“The latest move by the federal Bureau of Land Management appears to herald a bigger and much more comprehensive effort to seize water and access rights on federal lands throughout the Western states,” the statement said.

The newest dispute is the federal government’s letter concerning water rights in Arizona’s San Pedro Riparian watershed. The letter came in response to a request by Sierra Vista’s Pueblo del Sol Water Co., which claims water rights in the area but is being told it cannot use the water without the federal government’s permission.

“This new federal policy not only defies decades of deference to and accommodation of state sovereignty over water law, but it throws a noose around Arizona’s neck, for which water is life,” the institute said.

“The growing federal stranglehold over water rights in Arizona is a direct assault on state autonomy. There is perhaps no better way for the federal government to quell restive Western states, like Arizona, that dare to resist federal immigration, health care, and unionization policies.”

Dranias explained the situation to people in regions of the country where water is more plentiful.

“Water is the lifeblood of the arid Western states. Development would not exist without pretty intensive development of scarce water. That is only possible with the incentives created by ownership,” he said.

Without assurances that water is available, there is no possibility that economic development can occur, he said. In fact, some states have provisions, such as in Colorado, saying a homeowner cannot occupying a building unless a water right is documented for the structure.

He said it was only a few decades back that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a New Mexico case that the federal government deferred to states on water rights.

Now, however, the policy is being repudiated, threatening virtually every water user west of the Mississippi River.

Dranias cited the Tombstone dispute, in which federal officials won’t give the city permission to take equipment into a protected region to repair damage from a forest fire and monsoon-induced flooding. The city has obtained its water from the area since Wyatt Earp helped build a pipeline.

“The federal government doesn’t care about a direct threat to human life, a direct threat to property, a direct threat to the economy. It is will to risk all of that in pursuit of whatever they’re trying to claim as a superior position of water rights,” he said.

Tombstone, which can document through federal letters its ownership of the rights back 130 years, is in a far superior position to most water users in the West. Dranias told of Arizona ranchers who own specific spring-fed water rights but only leased rights-of-way for pipelines.

The federal government is demanding as a condition for renewing the pipeline permits that ranchers cede to the federal government all water ownership and rights, he said.

The radical “green,” or ecological, element appears to be playing a role, Dranias noted.

As part of the litigation over Tombstone’s water, he said, emails to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from various activists cheered the fires and floods that destroyed Tombstone’s water supply system.

“Hooray, the water’s running free again,” he said the emails expressed.

“Any state like Arizona … is facing the same situation,” he said.

Dranias said the fight over Tombstone’s water simply cannot be lost, because of the implications that could ripple across the nation, even beyond the West.

The state has declared the Tombstone situation an emergency, but, even so, federal officials refuse to allow repairs. Losing the case could set a precedent that emergency measures needed to mitigate oil spills and other environmental problems might not be allowed because of restrictions by the federal government, he said.

Federal officials have declined to answer questions about the court case.

http://www.wnd.com/2012/05/existential-threat-to-western-u-s-states/

by Daniel Gonzalez- May.  8, 2012 11:36  PM The Republic | azcentral.com

Since October, the Bureau of Land Management has expanded its operations at  two national monuments in southern Arizona, trying to crack down on smugglers  and illegal immigrants who trample and trash the pristine desert on their way  north from Mexico.

slideshow  BLM efforts to guard against smugglers

The federal agency has brought in more than a dozen law-enforcement rangers  from other states to beef up patrols at the Sonoran Desert National Monument,  south of Phoenix, where towering saguaro cactuses, wide-open valleys and  flat-topped mountains create one of the most iconic vistas in the Sonoran  Desert. The operations also have focused on the Ironwood Forest National  Monument north of Tucson.

Because of their remote locations and ample hiding places, the monuments have  become superhighways for violent smugglers sneaking drugs and illegal immigrants  from the Mexican border into Arizona.

The smugglers have cast off acres of trash and created miles of illegal roads  by plowing through the desert with disregard for the fragile vegetation, often  using stolen vehicles that are driven until they break down and are abandoned,  authorities say.

During seven two-week operations, the agency’s rangers have seized more than  27,000 pounds of marijuana and arrested more than 1,200 illegal immigrants,  according to the BLM. That is in addition to the thousands of pounds of drugs  and thousands of illegal immigrants arrested by law-enforcement authorities.

The agency also has removed 60 abandoned vehicles, 110 bicycles and more than  24 tons of trash, enough to fill 1,239 garbage bags. And the agency has covered  up more than 15 miles of illegal roads.

But some of the agency’s work to protect the pristine desert areas from  smuggling activity has caused concern among conservation groups.

Last year, the agency began erecting long vehicle barriers made of welded  scrap-steel railroad tracks to block smugglers from driving vehicles through  wilderness areas inside the Sonoran Desert National Monument. The barriers have  been highly effective, BLM officials say. Not a single smuggler has driven into  wilderness areas where the barriers have been installed, they say.

Conservation groups say the barriers, although effective, also mar the  landscape. However, they view the barriers as the lesser of two evils.

Monuments under pressure

In 2000, President Bill Clinton created the Sonoran Desert and Ironwood  Forest national monuments to protect them from urban sprawl extending south from  Phoenix and north from Tucson.

The 487,000-acre Sonoran Desert National Monument is located between Gila  Bend and Casa Grande, off Interstate 8. The area is the most biologically  diverse desert in North America and is known for its abundant forests of  saguaros interspersed with paloverde trees, creosote bushes, sage and ironwood  trees.

The area also contains many archaeological and historic sites, including  remnants of villages that once belonged to the ancestors of the Tohono O’Odham,  Quechan, Maricopa and other Native American tribes.

The smaller Ironwood Forest National Monument encompasses 129,000 acres of  desert west of Interstate 10 and north of Tucson. The area is known for its  concentration of ironwood trees, some more than 800 years old, and its  collection of more than 200 ancient Hohokam sites.

The Sonoran Desert National Monument includes the Vekol Valley, where one man  was killed and another wounded in April 2011 during a shooting involving drug  smugglers.

The smugglers have carved foot trails that spider through the desert and have  left behind acres of plastic water bottles, coats, backpacks and other items  cast off after trekking for days from the U.S.-Mexican border to rendezvous  points 75 miles to the north along I-8, the main highway smugglers use to  transport drugs and illegal immigrants to stash houses in the Phoenix area or to  California.

“There is quite a bit of damage done by smugglers,” said Thom Hulen,  executive director of the Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, a  group that advocates for the monument’s protection. “In addition to all the  damage and all the trash, (the smuggling activity) scares people away. They get  spooked.”

Signs of smuggling

During a tour of the Sonoran Desert National Monument one recent afternoon,  Jon Young, the BLM’s chief ranger in Arizona, pulled his pickup truck off I-8  and stopped next to Mile Marker 157.

He told his passengers to wait in the truck while he got out to make sure  there weren’t any drug smugglers hiding in the brush. Young poked around in the  brush for a few moments and then gave a thumbs up.

The ground was littered with fresh signs of smuggling activity. Young picked  up a boot made of carpeting used by smugglers to conceal their footprints.  Strewn nearby were several burlap sacks, remnants of homemade backpacks used for  hauling marijuana through the desert.

There were also several mud-caked jackets and lots of empty half-gallon  plastic water bottles, colored black to make them less conspicuous in the  sunlight.

Young pointed to the ground beneath the bushes, which had been matted down  from the weight of smugglers. A well-worn path leading south toward the border  also was clearly visible.

Young said smugglers typically hike four or five days through the desert with  backpacks loaded with about 45 pounds of marijuana. They usually travel in  groups of 10 to 15 but sometimes break into smaller groups.

They also are typically accompanied by a scout who, instead of drugs, carries  a backpack full of food, water, radios and cellphones, Young said. Depending on  how far the group is traveling, the smugglers may have several support people  hiking with heavy packs full of food and extra water, he said.

Once they reach I-8, they hide until other members of the smuggling  organization arrive to pick up their loads of drugs. The marijuana is then  loaded into pickup trucks and driven to stash houses in nearby towns or the  Phoenix area, Young said.

Smuggling has become so prevalent, the BLM has posted signs on roads leading  into the monuments that warn the few remaining visitors to travel with caution.  The agency doesn’t track visitors, but rangers and conservation groups have seen  a decline in the number of hikers and campers who use the monuments, and many  now carry guns for protection.

“Smuggling and illegal immigration may be encountered in this area,” the  signs say.

Ranger teams

During operations at the monuments, the BLM transfers about 12 to 16 rangers  from other states to Arizona. They work with the 10 rangers assigned to the  BLM’s Phoenix district, which manages the Sonoran Desert monument, and 12  rangers assigned to the BLM’s Gila district, which oversees the Ironwood  monument.

To combat smuggling inside the two monuments, the BLM rangers work with other  law-enforcement officers who are part of the Alliance to Combat Transnational  Threats, a group of law-enforcement agencies that includes the Border Patrol,  Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Pinal County and Maricopa County  sheriff’s offices.

The most recent operation ended last week, resulting in the collection of 219  bags of trash, the seizure of 6,000 pounds of marijuana and the discovery of the  body of one migrant.

On a recent Saturday, Joe Nardinger, 38, a BLM ranger from the Upper Missouri  Breaks National Monument in Montana, found 46 bundles of marijuana weighing  1,000 pounds while patrolling a wash on the Sonoran Desert National  Monument.

Nardinger, who was sent to Arizona for two weeks, had been following some  fresh tire tracks when he found the marijuana. It was hidden in the bank of the  wash, covered by branches the smugglers had cut from nearby paloverde and  mesquite trees.

“I smelled it before I saw it. I got a whiff, a big dose of it,” Nardinger  said.

Installing barriers

In addition to beefed up patrols, the BLM has been cleaning up trash and  getting rid of illegal roads and foot trails created by smugglers.

Despite the efforts, drug smuggling continues to increase in the area,  although illegal-immigrant traffic is down, Young said.

Their cleanup and restoration work has been applauded by conservation groups.  But conservationists are less enthusiastic about the vehicle barriers the BLM  has been installing inside the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

Last fall, the BLM erected 1.3 miles of vehicle barriers at the southern end  of the Sonoran monument abutting the border of the Tohono O’odham Reservation.  They were intended to prevent smugglers from driving north from the reservation  through the heart of the monument’s designated wilderness area.

Last week, the agency finished erecting about a quarter-mile of vehicle  barriers northwest of the Table Top Mountain Range.

Those barriers are designed to prevent smugglers from driving south from I-8  to rendezvous points inside the monument.

The BLM plans to install more barriers in other parts of the Sonoran  monument, Young said.

Known as Normandy barriers, after the coastal barriers used in Nazi-occupied  France during World War II, the 2-foot-high barriers have proved effective in  preventing smugglers from driving through wilderness areas and creating illegal  roads,Young said.

The Border Patrol has installed miles of barriers along the Arizona border  with Mexico.

But this is the first time Normandy barriers have been used away from the  border, said Matt Skroch, executive director of the Arizona Wilderness  Coalition, a conservation group.

The barriers mar the landscape, and conservationists are concerned that those  being used inside the Sonoran monument will open the door to more in other  pristine desert areas throughout the state, Skroch said.

“We certainly don’t want to see a scenario where we keep installing more and  more vehicle barriers,” he said.

But the group isn’t opposed to the barriers outright, Skroch said, because so  far, they have been effective in stopping smugglers from creating roads and  destroying more of the desert landscape.

“This is the lesser of two evils,” Skroch said.

“But it’s not something we are particularly happy about.”

Read more:  http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2012/05/04/20120504new-blm-efforts-guard-arizona-desert.html#ixzz1ugw0JhJe

(Note: These groups thrive on the demise of human resource providing, and use ‘endangered species’ as the basis for countless lawsuits that are designed to implement The Wildlands Project and excise humans — except those ‘designated’ to keep tabs on the ‘endangered species’ — from most of this country, and the world.)

Peter Galvin 520-907-1533 Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) http://www.sw-center.org/swcbd/index.html

Bill Marlett 541-330-2638 Oregon Natural Desert Association (Oregon) http://www.onda.org/

Jon Marvel 208-788-2290 Western Watersheds Project (Idaho) http://www.westernwatersheds.org/,

John Horning 505 988 9126 EXT 153 Forest Guardians (New Mexico) http://fguardians.org/

Mark Salvo 503-757-4221 American Lands Alliance (Oregon) http://www.americanlands.org/

Katie Fite 208-429-1679 Committee for the High Desert (Idaho) http://cihd.org/

Charles Watson 775-883 -169 Nevada Outdoor Recreation Association (Nevada)

Erik Molvar 307-742-7978 Biodiversity Conservation Alliance (Wyoming) http://www.biodiversityassociates.org/

http://www.propertyrightsresearch.org/articles2/citizen_groups_sue_forest_servic.htm