BILLINGS — The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) is expressing disappointment in the release of BLM’s draft environmental assessment finding no significant impact for a bison grazing proposal submitted by the American Prairie Reserve (APR).
MSGA vice president Jay Bodner says in recent years, MSGA has raised a variety of concerns with APR’s request to BLM to change the class of livestock from cattle to bison, change the authorized seasons-of-use, and the removal of interior fences.
“This request would remove a number of the interior fencing requirements or infrastructure,” said Bodner. “It also does allow a lot of year-round grazing. And that's one of the things I think our producers really have moved away from. We've done a lot of grazing systems."
"We have a lot of infrastructure in place so that we can move livestock around and move animals around so we can meet those rangeland health standards," Bodner added. "If you start removing all of that infrastructure and there is any kind of resource damage, then there is no way to really address that. And so that's some of the concerns that we see initially in that.”
APR said in a news release it is "pleased with the BLM’s proposed action and it’s initial findings conclude that there will not be a significant environmental impact on the land or local economy, and that our request will improve the local land, water, and wildlife. We look forward to working with our public land managers and neighbors to ensure we do our part to protect the long-term health of the land, the health of our bison herd, and of the Phillips County livestock industry.”
A public comment period will run through August 29, 2021, plus a virtual public meeting is planned for July 21, 2021, via Zoom to provide the public an opportunity to comment.
Gov. Greg Gianforte has also urged the BLM to provide Montanans with sufficient opportunity for in-person, public comment on the BLM’s Environmental Assessment of the American Prairie Reserve’s bison grazing proposal.