Updated elk population counts underscore importance of improving management

The most recent elk population counts show a disturbing trend of Montana’s elk herd increasing to crisis levels in many areas of the state. Three quarters of Montana’s hunting districts have an elk population above the sustainable population objective set by the Montana Fish & Game Commission, with over thirty districts at more than double the objective number. “This has been the trend for years—the elk population continues to grow far beyond what the biologists estimate as a healthy, sustainable level,” said Chuck Denowh, the policy director of United Property Owners of Montana. “Today we are at nearly double the number of elk that we should have in Montana.”

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Mabee Road case a victory for landowners, but at what price?

The Mabee Road case is a cautionary tale for all Montana landowners. This saga started in 2007 when Mark Robbins gated a road on his property to stop trespassers. That action caught the attention of the Public Land Water Access Association, a nonprofit that exists to sue landowners to take their property. PLWA first attempted to pressure the Fergus County commission to declare the road public. The commission asked their attorney to examine the matter—he concluded the road was private. Next, PLWA sued the Robbins’s with the objective of taking the road for public use—the district court concluded the road was private. So PLWA appealed to the Montana Supreme Court, which in a unanimous decision affirmed that the road was private. It sounds like this result is a resounding win for...

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UPOM wins bison lawsuit—documents obtained from FWP detail high degree of coordination with APR

We’re pleased to announce that FWP has agreed to settle our lawsuit against them regarding their bison management plan. They’ve agreed to scrap the bison plan and will not undertake a new EIS for bison management for at least ten years. You can read the settlement agreement here. As part of the litigation against FWP to challenge their bison management plan, UPOM requested all communications from FWP related to the bison management plan. We received over 2500 pages of documents. Through that discovery, we learned that FWP was in deep negotiations with APR to establish a herd of free-roaming bison on the CMR wildlife refuge. This despite repeated claims by FWP that they were not considering any specific relocation sites as part of their bison EIS. Due to the damning...

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How we Stop APR from abusing Montana’s tax code

By Rep. Dan Bartel In central Montana the American Prairie Reserve has amassed 420,000 acres of prime ranch land. This is a fraction of their ultimate objective: to control 3.2 million acres. The land they acquire will eventually be taken out of agricultural production and “re-wilded.” The thriving ranching communities in and around APR’s 5,000 square mile target area will be wiped off the map. If you’re a Montana taxpayer, you’re helping APR pay for their radical plan.

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by Nathan Descheemaeker Can private property serve as a privileged sanctuary from which multi-national tax-exempt foundations can incrementally transition and consolidate millions of acres of productive agricultural lands? The APR in its paper Building a Legacy of Conservation pg. 1 states “When complete, the Reserve will consist of more than three million acres of private and public land (using the existing 1.1-million-acre Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge as the public land anchor). The result will be a wildlife complex the size of Connecticut, set aside for conservation and public access.” On pg. 2 of the paper the APR reveals their appeal for the chosen area, “There’s a tremendous amount of public land to leverage.”

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Coronavirus shutdown exposes need for regulatory takings legislation in Montana

Keeping Montanan small businesses afloat during the coronavirus shutdown was one of the most important actions taken by our federal government. The relief package kept many people working and may prevent, in the long term, the closure of thousands of businesses. Some have characterized the relief for business owners as “bailouts.” They’re not. A bailout is a government handout to businesses that lost money due to their own mismanagement. The government bailed out financial institutions during the 2008 financial crisis. That’s not what’s happening today. The businesses receiving relief are not in financial trouble due to any fault of their own. They’re in financial trouble because government has forced them to shut down. The government’s relief package is a recognition that those...

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