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Rural News

Farm Bureau Asks Congress to Save Rangelands, Control Wild Horse and Burro Population

Farm Bureau | Posted on June 24, 2016

Congress must act quickly to keep fast-growing herds of feral horses and burros from further damaging the environment of the western United States, the American Farm Bureau Federation said today. At current rates, AFBF said, their already excessive numbers will double in a mere four years. Callie Hendrickson, chair of AFBF’s Federal Lands Issue Advisory Committee, testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands. Hendrickson also serves as executive director of the White River and Douglas Creek Conservation Districts in Rio Blanco County, Colorado.  “The rangeland of the West has its share of unique natural resource challenges, not least of which is the burden it carries of an overpopulation of wild horses and burros,” Hendrickson said. “This overabundance is critically damaging the ecology of western rangelands with severe, long-term consequences for the native plant and animal life that call it home.”  Even though law requires it, the Bureau of Land Management has neither the money nor the ability to fairly balance wild horse and burro populations so that other wildlife, livestock and vegetation can thrive. Ranchers face rapidly shrinking grazing allotments while continuing to pay for the allotments they once had lest they lose them – if and when the grazing lands recover from severe overgrazing by feral horses and burros.

Drought Killed 66 Million Trees in California

US News | Posted on June 24, 2016

The number of trees in California's Sierra Nevada forests killed by drought, a bark beetle epidemic and warmer temperatures has dramatically increased since last year, raising fears they will fuel catastrophic wildfires and endanger people's lives, officials said. Since 2010, an estimated 66 million trees have died in a six-county region of the central and southern Sierra hardest hit by the epidemic, the U.S. Forest Service said. Officials flying over the region captured images of dead patches that have turned a rust-colored red. The mortality from Tuolumne to Kern counties has increased by 65 percent since the last count announced in October, which found 40 million dead trees.California is in the fifth year of a historic drought, which officials say has deprived trees of water, making them more vulnerable to attack from beetles. Gov. Jerry Brown in October declared an emergency, forming a task force charged with finding ways to remove the trees that threaten motorists and mountain communities. These efforts have hit obstacles, slowing the tree removal as California enters a potentially explosive wildfire season.

No Puppy Left Behind

Boston Globe | Posted on June 24, 2016

Considering that dogs are already sleeping in their owners’ beds, shaping family vacations, and spending time in the workplace, it would seem their integration into human society is complete.  But not quite. Like children before them, a growing number of dogs are being enrolled in enrichment programs — undergoing a formal education in a way once reserved for show dogs. They are taking puppy kindergarten, basic manners classes, manners classes so advanced they have prerequisites, agility and tricks courses, and “nosework” —a wildly popular program that teaches civilian dogs police-dog style scent detection.

Mock derailment helps first responders stay on track

Daily Yonder | Posted on June 22, 2016

Freight train derailments have been making national news in recent days, including in Washington D.C., in which 16 cars went off the tracks, some of them leaking sodium hydroxide or ethanol. Closer to home along the Upper Mississippi River, freight trains carrying ethanol have jumped their tracks on both the east and west sides of the river, leaking fuel into the river or its tributaries. The geography here is unglaciated bluff country, with thick timber leading to mostly undeveloped waterfront. Derailments in areas like this that leak fuel and toxic chemicals aren’t usually immediate threats to human life and property like they are in urban areas. But they create environmental consequences to the river and riparian areas.

Moving to Arizona Soon? You Might Need a License

New York Times | Posted on June 20, 2016

Animal masseuses are hardly alone. Over the years, states across the country have added licensing requirements for a bewildering variety of jobs, requiring months or years of expensive education, along with assessing costly fees. ontinue reading the main story Today, nearly 30 percent of the American work force needs a license to work, up from about 10 percent in the 1970s. the White House announced that it would provide $7.5 million in grants to organizations interested in working with states to reduce overly burdensome licensing and make it easier for licensed practitioners to work across state lines, an issue of particular importance to military families.

Texas Loses Fight to Keep Syrian Refugees Out

Texas Tribune | Posted on June 17, 2016

Texas on Thursday lost its fight against the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state, ending a monthslong battle during which refugees from the war-torn country continued to arrive.  Dealing the final blow to Gov. Abbott's effort to keep Syrian refugees out of the state, a federal judge dismissed Texas’ lawsuit against the federal government and a refugee resettlement agency over the resettlement of the refugees. In an order dated Wednesday and released Thursday, Dallas-based U.S. District Judge David Godbey said the state did not have grounds to sue the federal government over in the case and failed to provide a “plausible claim” that a refugee resettlement nonprofit breached its contract.

New England governors say fighting stigma key to opioid battle

Central Maine | Posted on June 17, 2016

ll six New England governors attending the conference said fighting the social stigma associated with addiction is the key to battling the opioid crisis raging across the region, claiming thousands of lives.

The governors pointed to a series of steps needed to fight the epidemic, from increasing education in schools about the addictive nature of opioids to limiting first-time prescriptions for opiate painkillers and ratcheting up law enforcement efforts targeting heroin.   They said critical to all the approaches is removing the stigma around addiction and getting people into treatment.

Minneapolis Governor vetos tax relief bill

CBS | Posted on June 17, 2016

Governor Mark Dayton today made good on a promise to veto a major tax relief bill because it included a 101-million dollar error. The veto set off a flurry of fingerpointing, and new calls for a special session. The tax bill came out of a rushed and chaotic end to the legislative session. It included a one-word mistake that cut by $101 million a fund that pays for the new Vikings stadium. After the veto came a blunt rebuke from the governor.  “My message to legislators today: Come back and finish your work,” Dayton said.

Great Recession Changed U.S. Migration Patterns

Univsersity of New Hampshire | Posted on June 16, 2016

The economic shocks of the housing-market crisis and Great Recession were associated with striking changes in net migration patterns in both rural and urban America, with rural farming communities experiencing different migration trends than other rural areas, according to new research funded by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station. Ken Johnson, a demographer and professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin, found: As the economic situation deteriorated, fewer Americans migrated. Counties with histories of net migration losses or minimal migration gains prior to the recession had smaller losses or actually gained migrants during the recession. In contrast, counties with histories of significant migration gain prior to the recession experienced smaller net gains, or lost migrants during the recession. “Overall migration rates slowed to record lows during the Great Recession. We suspect that the recession ‘froze people in place’ with houses they couldn’t sell, retirement plans that lost value, and a precarious labor market that offered little incentive to relocate,” said Johnson, who also is a senior demographer at the UNH Carsey School of Public Policy.

The researchers found clear geographic variation in the patterns of migration change before, during, and after the recession. Just before the Great Recession, migration patterns across the nation were consistent with those of the past several decades. Net migration gains were greatest in large areas of the West and Southeast, in suburban counties of many large metropolitan areas, and the recreational areas of New England, the Upper Great Lakes and the Mountain West. In contrast, migration losses were greatest in rural areas of the Great Plains and the Corn Belt, in much of the industrial belt of the Great Lakes and East, as well as in the Mississippi Delta and the urban cores of large metropolitan areas in the East and Midwest. Most counties with migration losses prior to the recession actually showed migration gains during and after the recession. The patterns are most distinct in the Northern Great Plains, where the impact of the energy boom on migration in the Dakotas is clearly reflected. In areas that gained migrants prior to the recession, migration losses during the recession also are clear. Migration losses were evident in most traditionally fast-growing areas in the West and South.

Delaware rolls out health care reform

Delawareonline | Posted on June 16, 2016

Delaware is plagued with numerous health care issues. There are shortages of psychiatrists and dentists, and the general health of the state's population is less than stellar, ranking 32nd in the nation, according to the United Health Foundation. But one of the most urgent problems, experts say, is the cost to the state for providing care. Doctors, hospital officials, insurance companies, patient advocates and policy analysts are now working to change Delaware's costly and very sickly path. Part of the effort includes revamping how physicians get paid for diagnosing and treating patients, increasing behavioral health resources, recruiting more medical professionals and creating 10 "healthy neighborhoods" to support health outreach already being done in the community.