Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Town Meeting

Tonight I had the opportunity to attend a town meeting in Vernal with the Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes, Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Mike Pool, and Acting Director of the Forest Service Dan Wenk. Hayes was the only one who said anything. Which seems odd to me because he's had his current job for less than a week. The other two guys are career guys in their bureaus.
Anyway it was incredibly educational. The reason Hayes gave for coming was because of concern over the withdrawal of 77 leases. Concern in the last sentence is defined as "a the tri-county lawsuit against Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar for illegally revoking the leases". As a result of Salazar's action, many jobs have been lost in what was previously a growing economy in the Uintah Basin and Eastern Utah.
The meeting was a "listening session" which means that after a few opening remarks, (which the audience found insulting) citizens were invited to come up and speak to the Deputy Director via a microphone and express their views. The views were overwhelmingly against Salazar's actions and the Obama administration's policies and practices concerning the area. I heard such comments as "We don't want stimulus, we want jobs.", "Obama ran on change, I'm lucky if I have any change in my pocket.", and "These people know the land, work the land, and love the land.". However, there were dissenters from the majority. Three of which came to the microphone. They had a hard time getting their views across because of the boos and angry responses to their comments. Booing is in bad taste as is interrupting and shouting, but it goes to show that emotions were high.
One of the most popular speakers was Lincoln Brown, the local conservative talk radio host. But his comments weren't the most informative. It was the local guys who actually serve on committees and in local offices who had actual facts that got my attention.
The 77 leases weren't withdrawn because they were "rushed" or "near National Parks and Monuments". It took years for these leases to get to the point of sale. Resource Management Polices were made and approved after years of work following the 80,000 or so regulations set up by the government regarding mineral exploration. None of the leases is closer than 15 miles from any National Park or Monument and all of them are immediately adjacent to existing mineral leases actively operating and producing natural gas.
Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel and meets Obama's standards for clean fuel. It is also used to heat 61% of homes in the United States. Blocking the production of natural gas hurts everyone. Some of those 80,000 regulations concern what happens to the land once the wells are dry or abandoned. The lease owners have to return the land to as close a state as possible to what it looked like before construction. Environmental impact studies must be done before any construction (that's why I even have a job!) and so forth.
Many of the comments refuted environmentalist's concern that oil and gas exploration is raping the land and destroying natural resources. The comment "The people know the land, work the land, and love the land." was given by Lincoln Brown who, in my opinion, knows the people of the Uintah Basin. The same people who work in the oil and gas fields are the ones who play in it, they're the ones who live in it, they're the ones who take care of it.
Attention was also given to the hypocritical actions of the Obama administration. President Obama speaks about development of renewable fuels, but ignores the non-renewable fuels with which our public lands are loaded. Fuels which, if developed, can bring our nation into energy independence. He bails out failing industries, then attacks others which provide just as many jobs as failing ones. He says he want to stimulate economic growth, but he appoints Salazar who kowtows to environmentalists as soon as he gets into office by blocking what drives Uintah Basin economy. Then Salazar appoints an environmentalist as his 2nd.
I'm glad I went. I learned more about why my wages and hours were cut and why many of the people I work with no longer have jobs. I felt the thrill of participating in politics and letting my voice be heard. I hope to be able to participate in more stuff like this.

Praying for change,


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Horny Toads

You may remember last September, I posted this photo of a small horny toad.

Then just a couple weeks ago, I posted this one of a horny toad I thought was so big.

Well, this week, I found something else. I think this is the king horny toad.

There he is on Dave's hat. He was the most docile and lethargic horny toad I'd ever seen. He only blinked when we picked him up.

I need to go pack the diaper bag,


Friday, May 15, 2009


Don't wake the Oomoo,


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Desert Spring

Spring is my favorite time of year in the desert of the Uinta Basin. Why? Because for about two weeks, it's actually green. Also, there are abundant beautiful flowers to be found. I've posted pictures of desert flowers before here, but not these kinds.That last one is actually a wild onion.

In addition to green foliage, animal life is pretty abundant. I've only ever seen 4 snakes since I started this job (I guess you can call me lucky). But three of them have been in the past two weeks. Here are two of them; a big one and a little one.Besides snakes, other squamate reptiles like the desert too. I know I've put a horny toad on here before, but this guy was big! He didn't even move when we got close. Also, this lizard had no tail and was super aggresive. As one of my co-workers and I were digging up a fossil, he wouldn't leave the area, we even saw him rush, tackle, and run off another one of his species (one with a tail).Lastly, this spidery guy and one of his friends were living under a rock filled with crocodile vertebrae that we collected. He was about an inch in diameter if you include his legs.
Just goes to show you, the desert isn't completely barren, and that I know how to find live animals in addition to fossilized ones.

Your diamond brightly burns,