Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Living off the Land
April 27, 1999
No rain, more planes threaten ranchers
By PEGGY McCRACKEN
PECOS, April 27, 1999 - Low-level bomber flights over West
Texas ranches are not likely to stir up any rain. Damage
caused by the jets, joined with a record drought, just could
finish off some cattle operations.
Margaret Lindley, who moved to an 87-section ranch lying
along the Pecos River when she married Herman Lindley in
1940, said she fears for what little is left of the home
Roy Lindsay has the acreage leased, but the only cattle on
the range now belong to his hired hand, Lindley said.
"There's nothing to run on. We just have to hold until it
rains and makes feed," she said.
And she won't try to predict when rains will come.
"Used to, you could predict rain," Lindley said. "By May 27,
you could pretty well depend on getting your first rains.
The last 15-20 years, you can't depend on anything. It may
be dry from now on."
The area below Red Bluff Dam, where the Lindley ranch lies
on both sides of the Pecos River in Reeves and Loving
counties, has been harder hit than Pecos in the most recent
drought, she said.
Even the river is too dry to attract storms like it used to.
Livestock on the ranch depend on water from the 10-12
windmills scattered across the landscape and pipelines that
deliver water to stock tanks. Lindley fears that the bomber
training flights will damage the windmills, which are
expensive to repair.
Turbulence from the aircraft can cause windmill wheels to
turn too fast and tear up gear boxes, Lindley said.
"When they were stationed in Pecos and in Pyote during World
War II, the pilots got bored and would dive at the windmills
and then pull up. The updraft would spin the wheels as fast
as they would go," she said. "It didn't tear them up every
time, but it tore up a lot of them."
Windmill parts are expensive, and it takes a specialist to
repair and rebuild them. The closest windmill "doctor" is in
Monahans, she said.
"A windmill costs thousands of dollars. You used to put one
up for $1,500 to $2,000," Lindley said.
Dirt tanks on the ranch supplement water from the windmills
when it rains, but they have been so dry for so long, it
would have to rain quite a bit to soak up the dry bed so
they will hold water.
Lindley said the ranch only got 3 inches of rain last year,
and none has fallen since October, 1998.
"It has been awful dry," she said. "When you get that dry,
there's just not much hope for us. We hope it turns around.
Your ranch life is a wonderful life when you get the rains -
and even in drought areas normally.
"This is the ninth year of this. It is an unusually long
drought. It just gradually got a little drier and a little
drier all the way through."
Lindley said that most ranchers have begun liquidating their
herds, if they haven't already done so, because they can no
longer feed the cattle.
"They have a government program that will help with feeding,
but you have to have something to feed on," she said. "If
you have already run out of something to feed on. You just
can't do it any longer."
Some areas that got rain had a weed crop, but they grew to
about one inch high and bloomed out, she said.
"In some areas south of us, where they have had showers, you
can feed," she said. "You can't if you don't have grass or
browse to feed on."
When pastures are green and mother cows are dropping calves,
a rancher has to keep a sharp eye out for coyotes.
"You have to keep the coyote population down a little bit.
If they get thick and run in bunches, you have to clean
Lindley sold a farm and a ranch in New Mexico after Herman
died in 1985 and leased out the home place to Lindsay
because it was too much for her to manage alone.
"I don't think I have ever found anyone better than Roy, but
you still have the responsibility of keeping everything
going," she said.
Nearing 83 years of age, Lindley still does the bookwork and
"keeping everything going." She has no plans to retire. If
the drought and bombers don't do her in.
Envirocare seeking land away from aquifers
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, April 27, 1999 - A Utah firm whose efforts to locate
a low-level radioactive waste storage site in Andrews County
were halted last month is looking at sites closer to the
But the same concerns about underground water that kept
Envirocare of Texas from getting its site in western Andrews
County certified for radioactive waste storage has the
company searching for locations away from Pecos' underground
water field south of Pyote, in central Ward County.
A story in last Wednesday's Odessa American said the company
had talked with Monahans city officials about finding a site
in Ward County, but talks to purchase land west of Pyote
from Texas Utilities fell through.
Envirocare is still looking for land in the area that would
be suitable for storing radioactive waste in concrete
buildings above ground, but both Rick Jacobi, vice president
for Envirocare of Texas, and Monahans Mayor David Cutbirth
said any site would have to be in the northern sections of
Ward County, or closer to the Texas-New Mexico border in
Winkler or Loving counties.
"We're looking in parts of Ward County and Loving County,"
Jacobi said. "We're aware of the water supplies further to
the south and to the east."
"The area is not over the Monument Draw trough or over any
aquifer," Cutbirth said. "Any area they look at could not be
over an aquifer."
"We've talked to various land owners, and are still in
negotiation with them" said Jacobi, who didn't want to
discuss the names of the landowners or the locations in
A University of Texas study of western Andrews County
countered an earlier study by Texas Tech and halted plans by
Envirocare and Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists to
seek a state contract to store waste at sites just east of
The UT report said the sites were close enough to the
Ogallala Aquifer to pose a danger of seepage into the
system, which stretches north from Andrews County through
the Panhandle and into Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
Water is also underground in central and western Winkler
County, while Cutbirth said the Pecos Alluvial Trough
stretches south from the Barstow area towards Fort Davis,
making most of Reeves County unsuitable for a radioactive
waste storage site.
Texas had sought to put a state-run underground storage site
in Hudspeth County, first north of Fort Hancock and later
southeast of Sierra Blanca. But the Hudspeth County site was
abandoned in the early 1990s after a lawsuit was filed by
the city of El Paso, and a state panel advised the Texas
Natural Resource Conservation Commission and Gov. George W.
Bush to reject the Sierra Blanca site late last year, due to
threats of earthquakes from fault lines that run though the
mountainous areas of West Texas.
That led to the efforts by WCS and Envirocare to seek the
contract to store low-level transuranic waste from Texas,
Maine and Vermont. The Texas Legislature has approved
allowing the waste site to be run privately, but in moving
the site east, underground water has replaced earthquakes as
the main concern of state regulators.
"The State of Texas does very comprehensive water studies,"
Jacobi said. "But we would be required by the State of Texas
to do much more comprehensive studies that could take up to
a year or so."
He said any site selected would require samples from
drilling down 700 feet to check for underground water.
Loving County sits at the southern edge of a 4,000-foot
thick salt deposit, located in Eddy County, N.M. It's the
area being used by the federal government's just-opened
Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to store low level radioactive
waste in salt domes 2,150 feet below ground.
Loving County has been targeted before for radioactive waste
storage, but residents, landowners and oil company
representatives fought an effort seven years ago to build a
hazardous liquid waste injection well north of Mentone. Fear
that fissures could leak the waste into areas containing oil
and gas deposits was a major concern of those in opposition.
Jacobi said because Envirocare's storage site would be above
ground, "There's a tremendous difference between downhole
injections and this. All our waste is solid, there's not any
He said the waste would be stored in an "assured isolation
building that would be constructed above ground, with the
foundation below. We would put the waste in concrete
cylinders that could be inspected and maintained."
"The State of Texas sent me a brochure that said they wanted
an isolated disposal site that is geologically sound,"
Cutbirth said. "If the waste had to be moved for some reason
over the next 100-200 years, it would be easy to come in and
Jacobi said the top of the building would also be made of
concrete, and then covered with dirt, to protect it from
another possible threat, tornadoes. "It would look like a
low hill," he said.
Aside from the area around Pyote and in Andrews County,
Jacobi said "I have talked to officials all over western and
northern Texas," about seeking a site for a low-level dump.
He said that did not include the Freeport McMoRan lands in
northwestern Reeves and northeastern Culberson County.
Freeport announced the planned closing of its sulphur mine
last June, and said it would take offers for the site and
its surrounding lands.
""We have not looked that far west," Jacobi said. "I know
there are some wells in the vicinity we would have to look
at, but we're not looking at Culberson County at this time."
Cutbirth, who works in the oil industry along with serving
as Monahans mayor, said he has more concern about natural
hazards in Ward County than in any threat a dump would bring.
"We have naturally occurring radiation from here (Monahans)
to about Barstow," he said. "And in oil production we have
to live with hydrogen sulfide (a poisonous gas) and other
"If we can pursue it and they can do it safely and provide
some high-paying jobs too, it's not much different to what
we have now."
By Sue Toone
Wind, wind, wind. Hope you have been able to get your
transplants into the garden by now. I have planted annuals
on the east side of the house, but the wind has done awful
things to the ones on the south and west sides. However, the
silver lining on the south and west sides is that the
perennials and native plants are blooming. These hardy
plants have absolutely survived the wind for a couple of
years. I plan to add as many more as I can this spring and
fall, then I won't have so many problems.
The perennial herb usually not thought of as an herb,
Artemisia, is a wonderful addition to any garden. Several
species are available but only one species, French Tarragon,
A. dracunculus, is used in cooking. The rest are of
ornamental value. We will talk about the species that will
do well when used in wreaths, bouquets, dried arrangements,
and home decorations of many types. The plan is that you
will become interested in growing some of these plants and
then enter your creations in the fall fair in October.
Southern wormwood, A. abrotanum, has lovely,
tangerine-scented, green, feathery leaves. In another time
it is said it was used in closets to repel moths. Other
foliage plants have lemon and camphor scents.
Silver King artemisia, A. Iudoviciana albula (A.albula), has
silvery white foliage used in arrangements. It grows up to
three or four feet tall and is invasive. Cultivar Silver
Queen is smaller but has more finely cut foliage.
Artemisia A. `Powis Castle' has finely cut, silvery gray
leaves and grows up to three feet tall and spreads to six
feet wide. This is the hybrid I chose from the nursery and
set it out a nearly two weeks ago. I have had to keep a
10-inch wide by twelve-inch tall PVC pipe around it because
of the wind. The plant is like most of the other artemisias
we have talked about today as it can live in a hot, dry
environment. Even as a small plant in my flower bed, its
silvery gray foliage looks so beautiful near the small
purple flowers of Mexican Heather and it seems to soften the
bright red of the salvia. The bright yellow coreopsis
flowers have yet to bloom. This plant's foliage is also
wonderful for fresh or dried arrangements, and craft
Now for some really exciting news: the Fall Fair will
include a Herb Show! The rules and regulations will be
available soon. However, here is a list of some of the
probable and possible divisions.
Division 1 - Cut Stems
There could be about 85 or more classes in this division.
The fair committee will pare the list of herbs down to a
manageable ten or so. If you have any suggestions, call me
before the committee meeting in early May.
Division 2 - Collection, and Displays
A collection is a specific kind and stated number of herbs.
For instance, 8 fresh annual herbs, or, 3 cat herbs. Other
collections could include dried tea herbs, fresh tea herbs,
or Biblical herbs. There could be many classes in this
Next, there could be a class for potted kitchen herb garden
with three or more cooking herbs. And there could be fresh
or dried herb wreaths, herbal vinegar, herbal craft projects
and arrangements of fresh or dried herbs. The list could go
on and on. Perhaps you have other ideas. If so, do not
hesitate to phone or email®MDRV¯ email@example.com The
divisions and classes must be decided by the first of May.
There are other things going on pertaining to the Fall Fair.
There will be a Farm and Garden Products, which will,
hopefully, include a division for garden scarecrows and
there could be three classes. The guy or gal could be a
traditional farm or garden scarecrow, or get out your
paper-mache and bleach bottles and create a non-traditional
scarecrow, or you could create a character or a celebrity.
Start thinking about it. Rules and regulations will come out
Of course, the Home Economics division will be in place
again. The Textiles Show includes painted fabric, knitting,
tatting, quilts and special occasion decorations to name a
few. The Craft Show, and the Food Show Will be there too. So
get your scissors and hot glue gun and get busy.
Another new show is Dried Arrangements. The materials to be
used in creating the arrangements or whatever you choose,
must be gathered and/or grown by exhibitor in our county.
Fresh flowers exhibitor has grown or gathered may be used in
product. (The sunflowers in our ditches and along county
roadways are beautiful along with the dried grains, grasses,
cotton burrs, Yucca pods, and many other dried plants. The
rules and regulations will be available soon. If you have a
thought about this, please let me know.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1999 by Pecos Enterprise