Welfare Ranching: Subsidized Destruction of the American West

I’m definitely going to eat less beef in future. Cows are TERRIBLE for the environment.

Ranchers on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) property have 94 percent of their grazing costs covered by taxpayers. …

Ranchers leasing BLM land cost taxpayers an estimated $500 million a year (and probably much more—some say a billion dollars).

According to Stephen Nash’s Grand Canyon for Sale, about 15,000 ranchers receive a $33,000 from the federal government annually.

This windfall of this bill comes in the form of radically reduced leasing fees (that some ranchers, such as Cliven Bundy, refuse to pay altogether). The cost of grazing cattle on privately owned land in the West is $21.60. BLM ranchers pay $1.41 per animal unit month (AUM), the amount of monthly forage eaten by a cow and her calf. In essence, ranchers on BLM land have 94 percent of their grazing costs covered by taxpayers. …

These subsidies apply to only 2.7 percent of livestock producers in the United States. Six percent of beneficiaries get 66 percent of the proceeds. So, rather than these subsidies leading to cheaper meat (which might, depending on one’s economic philosophy, justify them), the program tends to benefit corporate ranchers with names such as Koch, Walmart, and Hilton. …



Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West tells the story of a vast region, sparsely populated by people but tragically battered by an activity many of us have mistakenly believed is benign.

In fact, the production of livestock is incompatible with the ecological health of much of the lands in the West.

Aridity is chief among the factors limiting compatible uses of western landscapes. Over decades, the placement of exotic, water-hogging, ill-adapted livestock on western lands has changed diverse native plant communities …


Bikepacking Patagonia – days 19-20

Feb 1, 2019 – Queulat National Park to wild camp (74km)

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5/6 |7/8 | 9/10 | 11 | 12/13 | 14 | 15 | 16/17 | 18 | 19/20 | 21/23 end

In bright sunshine I rode out of Queulat National Park.

And immediately had problems. ☹️

No cyclist likes to see something like this coming up ahead.

That means I’d be pushing my bike up a long hill.

But the scenery over these next two days was the best so far.

When taking photos I’m tempted to crop out the road.

Quite quickly it became obvious that my self-fixed pannier rack was not working. The fix I had installed was gone. ☹️

All I could do was replace the spacer with a sunscreen lid held with a zip tie.

To keep this one from breaking I decided to carry my hiking pack rather than try to strap it on the rack.


The great weather and gorgeous scenery kept me going, however.

I stopped at tiny Villa Amengual to use their library wifi.

And bought my first completo.

These are the super popular Chilean hotdogs. Mine actually turned out to be some kind of ground beef.

Little towns like this on the Carretera are all trying to become more attractive to the passing tourists. All are being improved in 2019.

Not to mention the spiffy statues!

As there were no long hikes en route today, I tried to put in some miles. The sooner I get to a bike shop for repair, the better.

About 7pm I happened upon a perfect campsite. Couldn’t resist.

A lovely night. No fly.

Fine dining with red wine.

Feb 2, 2019 – wild camp to Coyhaique (121km)

Next day dawned perfect again.

I decided to try to push though about 120km to Coyhaique in one day.

I took very few photos.

My biggest cycling day of the trip.

In the sun, I worried about heat emergency at times.

Though I drank 4 litres over the day it wasn’t nearly enough.

There was a huge hill to climb just before the city. End of day.


Still, I was thrilled to actually make Coyhaique. The population is about 55,000 — a megalopolis compared with the other towns I’d seen all 4000 or less.

Too tired to eat I had, instead, chocolate milk, Diet Coke and Rum & Raisin ice-cream.

This is it. The end of the line for this cycling trip. I’ll be shipping back my rental bike from Coyhaique … but not until I do some days cycling around the city.

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Bikepacking Patagonia – days 16-17

Jan 29, 2019 – La Junta to Puyuhuapi (45km)

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Nice breakfast at my place in La Junta. But no milk for the coffee.

I do like La Junta. But sure wish someone would open a hostel here.

This little town is infamous for it’s highway memorial to Pinochet.

He was the horrible dictator of Chile between 1973 and 1990.

Pinochet assumed power in Chile following a United States-backed coup d’état on 11 September 1973 that overthrew the democratically elected socialist Unidad Popular government of President Salvador Allende and ended civilian rule. …

Pinochet persecuted leftists, socialists, and political critics, resulting in the executions of from 1,200 to 3,200 people, the internment of as many as 80,000 people and the torture of tens of thousands. …

It was Pinochet who pushed through this southern highway in the face of criticism. It wasn’t needed. … Only a dictator could have got it done at the tine.


Soon after La Junta the highway reverted to gravel. They are slowly but surely paving the highway north to south.

I stopped at huge, beautiful, undeveloped Lake Risopatron and did a little day hike.

It was here I noticed that one of the tie downs for my pannier rack had broken off. I now understand this is the most common maintenance issue on this cycling route. They should be welded instead of bolted.

This is the good side. The other side broken.

I wobbled my way another 12km to Puyuhuapi (pop. 826) hoping to find a mechanic to fix it (somehow).

An American had run a Hostal here for 20 years but had shut down for this season. He’s selling it. But recommended the excellent Cornuy-huapi bed and breakfast. (C$60)

I unloaded the bike … then decided to wait until morning before trying to find a mechanic.

It was fiesta time in Puyuhuapi. Everything festive. Music in the plaza. Foot races for kids. Much of the town had been repainted in bright colours.

I’m sure I didn’t stop here 15 years ago. No doubt my ride rushed past on the highway.

With a bit of extra time I listened to Coffee Break Spanish lessons. Caught up on this trip report. And wandered the town.

AND I enjoyed my best meal on this trip so far … crusted salmon a lo pobre (fries, caramelized onions and eggs).


Jan 30, 2019 – Puyuhuapi (0km)

Nothing opens early in small town Patagonia. I decided to stay another night in my B&B to allow time to repair the bike.

I went first to the main mechanic in town. He said he couldn’t help me.

Instead I tried a temporary fix using zip ties and a metal pipe fitting I bought at the hardware. I believe it will work. #ZenAndTheArtOfBicycleMaintenance

I’ll reinforce with wire if needed.

This was my most tranquillo day so far. I peddled the area on a naked bike. Walked the village several times. Hung out in the plaza. …

AND there was a parade. Only two floats, but HEY … quality over quantity.

I’m headed for Quelat National Park next.

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Bikepacking Patagonia – day 7/8

Jan 20-21, 2019 – 98km Castro to Parque Tantauco

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I’d gotten all the information I needed at the Castro office for Parque Tantauco. I anticipated a first class operation. 🙂

For some reason cycling felt easy today.  Perhaps the rest in Castro helped.

The ride was 80km of minor highway. Then 18km up a hilly gravel road. I didn’t stop for photos.


About 7pm I rolled up to the Park gates. Staff was playing with a family of foxes!

Too late in the day to make it to the first campground, friendly Rangers recommended I camp just outside the gates. For free.

Next morning I enjoyed a leisurely 20km ride stopping frequently to enjoy the sights. 😀

flush toilets!
800 years old
Lake Yaldad

It’s not crowded. There are only about 8000 visitors a year. This is considered a remote part of Chile.

I didn’t think the 38km road to Lake Chaiguata was particularly difficult in dry weather. Apparently you need a 4-wheel-drive when it’s wet.

I carried up only what I needed for one night. Stashed the rest of my kit back by the Park gates.

Tantauco Park is an attractive ecotourist destination due to the remarkable biodiversity of its nearly untouched Valdivian temperate rainforest.

Chaiguata is one of two campsites. The other is accessible only by floatplane, boat  … or 5-day walk.

Lake Chaiguata campsite

The billionaire President of Chile developed this Park privately. I have to say it’s MUCH grander than if the government of Chile developed it.

Park entrance is C$7.

The campsites are fantastic. As good as anywhere in the world. At C$30 / night each, they are expensive for Chile. It was raining as I set up.

Unique are these domes available for rent.

There are hot tubs for rent too.

My favourite spot was the expensive restaurant.

I highly recommend visiting unique Parque Tantauco. It’s a memorable experience.


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I love Sultana Biscuits

My favourite cookies are most often called Sultana Biscuits.

In Vancouver you can find them in speciality Asian food stores.

Superstore no longer stocks them. Walmart no longer stocks them.

Update. Superstore in Calgary had them in the foreign food speciality aisle December 2018. 

You can buy Sultanas online from Amazon.com. But not Amazon.ca.