Montana Halts Bison Grazing on APR State Leases
October 31, 2022
In a letter obtained by the Western Ag Network, the State of Montana has notified American Prairie Reserve (now known as American Prairie) that they are not authorized to graze bison on two state grazing leases in Phillips County.
The letter stated that:
“In 2008, American Prairie (AP) requested to graze bison on State Lease Nos. 4873 and 8124, concurrent with its request to graze bison on BLM land included in the Box Elder and Telegraph Allotments. In 2009, BLM completed an environmental assessment and issued permits for AP to graze bison on those allotments. In conducting analysis pursuant to the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) in June 2009, DNRC relied on the BLM environmental assessment and authorized AP to graze bison on State Lease Nos. 4873 and 8124.”
The state leases in which American Prairie Reserve requested a change in status were State Lease 8171 Flat Creek Allotment and State Lease 9361 Whiterock Allotment. These leases are contiguous or interior to BLM's Flat Creek Allotment and Whiterock Allotment.
The letter continues:
"On July 28, 2022, BLM issued its Notice of Final Decision authorizing AP to graze bison on the Flat Creek, Whiterock, French Coulee, and Garey Coulee allotments. Numerous individuals and entities - including DNRC and other Montana State agencies - challenged the adequacy of the BLM Environmental Assessment and final grazing decision. These challenges rendered the validity of BLM' s decision uncertain.
DNRC does not intend to conduct an environmental review of AP's proposal to graze bison on State Lease Nos. 8171 and 9361 pursuant to MEPA, until the challenges related to BLM's decision conclude. At that time, DNRC will evaluate how to proceed with AP's request.
In the meantime, AP is not authorized to graze bison and may not proceed with construction, modification, or electrification of fences on State Lease Nos. 8171 and 9361. AP remains authorized to graze bison on State Lease Nos. 4873 and 8124, consistent with the terms of those leases.
Please respond with AP's stocking plan for BLM allotments while the appeal process is underway. Please detail how you will prevent bison from grazing on State Lease Nos. 8171 and 9361 by Monday, November 17, 2022."
This is a developing story.
Source: Western Ag Network