Submit comments to BLM on APR’s Bison Application
BLM is taking public comment regarding their draft environmental assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for bison grazing proposal submitted by the American Prairie Reserve. APR has proposed to take seven grazing allotments out of agricultural production to turn them over to free-roaming bison. By approving this request, BLM would be establishing a new precedent whereby federal lands reserved for livestock grazing could be permanently taken out of production.
How to Comment
Comment Deadline: September 28, 2021
Or mail your comments to:
BLM Malta Field Office
Re: APR Grazing Proposal
501 South 2nd Street East
Malta, MT 59538.
Points of Emphasis:
- APR is asking BLM for permission to graze their bison year-round on their grazing allotments. Ranchers have spent the past 80 years working with BLM to develop seasonal grazing practices which have improved the range to pristine condition. Year-round grazing presents serious implications to the health of the affected range, and compromises the ability to respond to changing conditions.
- Bison are not included in the definition of livestock allowed to graze on federal land (see 43 CFR 4100.05-5). The Federal Grazing Regulations permit bison to graze on federal land only with a more-limited Special Use Permit.
- APR has also asked to remove interior fences from their allotments. This would reduce the future usefulness of that land and should not be allowed. Should an allotment change hands, the next lessee would face a large burden in replacing the fences to properly manage their livestock and the range.
- Today APR’s bison are considered domestic animals. However, APR has made it clear that they intend to turn loose those bison as wildlife at the earliest opportunity. BLM’s EA does not address management of wild bison on these grazing allotments, nor the cumulative effect of their plan to impose an enormous nature reserve.
- Changing the use of the BLM grazing allotments effectively removes them from agricultural production. The Taylor Grazing Act reserved BLM lands for production agriculture. For BLM to approve this application would be to set a new precedent contrary to the law.
- If BLM allows this new precedent, we will likely see other NGOs throughout the West buy up property in order to take more grazing allotments out of production. BLM grazing lands were created in part to provide food security for our nation. Allowing those lands to be subverted for non-productive uses would adversely affect food supplies and raise consumer costs.
- Allowing APR’s change of use application would have severe economic impacts on the area. Already APR has had a negative economic impact by taking thousands of head of cattle out of the local economy. This negative trend will be made worse if BLM approves APR’s application.
- Wild bison present tremendous risk to neighboring landowners in the form of property damage and as vectors of disease that can infect livestock, humans, and other wildlife.