WASHINGTON (March 31, 2022) – Today, the Public Lands Council (PLC) and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) denounced the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed decision on the American Prairie Reserve’s (APR) request to graze bison on seven grazing allotments in Montana.
“In addition to an unacceptable disregard for animal and rangeland health, this decision fails to address the longstanding, science-based concerns raised by Montana ranchers, land managers, and conservation experts. PLC, NCBA, and our partners on the ground have consistently raised foundational flaws in the BLM’s assessment, starting with the inappropriate use of an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for total conversion of these allotments. This decision poses clear threats to rangeland and riparian ecosystems and is in direct conflict with the agency’s mandated responsibility to uphold multiple use,” said Executive Director of PLC and NCBA Natural Resources Kaitlynn Glover.
Bison follow significantly different grazing patterns and behaviors than cattle, and this decision would alter the grazing authorizations and season of use on six of the seven allotments under consideration. If finalized, this conversion will result in resource degradation and undermine the careful stewardship of existing grazing permittees. The BLM’s decision also faces serious questions about the legality of conversion of the allotments under existing federal grazing law.
Land management decisions – especially ones that permanently alter the forage profile, soil health, and waterways of a grassland ecosystem – should be led by the expertise of people on the ground. Through continued engagement, including the submission of comments on the draft Environmental Assessment in September 2021, NCBA and PLC stand with Montana Public Lands Council and Montana Stockgrowers Association to ensure the concerns that have been by raised by ranchers in Montana and across the West are not dismissed in this process.