WHY PUBLIC COMMENTS ARE IMPORTANT – MSGA encourages its members to engage in the public comment process. This is an opportunity for you to be involved in the decision-making process happening within federal and state agencies, to offer your thoughts on alternative ways for an agency to accomplish what it is proposing, to offer your comments on the agency’s analysis of the environmental effects of the proposed action, and possible mitigation of potential harmful effects of such actions.

Check below to view current public comment opportunities.

Public Comment Sought on Sage Grouse Stewardship Grant Draft Environmental Assessments

The Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program is seeking public comment on three Draft Environmental Assessments from the 2020 and 2022 Sage Grouse Stewardship Grant cycles.

The Nature Conservancy submitted an application to enter into a permanent conservation easement with Alexander Ranch to conserve 679 acres of sage grouse habitat in the upper Medicine Lodge Valley, west of Lima in Beaverhead County.  This application was part of the 2020 Stewardship Grant Cycle.

The Montana Land Reliance submitted an application to enter into a permanent conservation easement with Bequette Ranch to conserve approximately 2,524 acres of sage grouse habitat near the confluence of Carbon, Yellowstone, and Bighorn Counties.  This application was part of the 2020 Stewardship Grant Cycle.

The Montana Land Reliance submitted an application to enter into a permanent conservation easement with Roen Ranch to conserve 3,639 acres of sage grouse habitat in Musselshell County.  This application was part of the 2022 Stewardship Grant cycle.

The draft Environmental Assessment for each Conservation Easement can be found on the Montana Sage Grouse Stewardship Fund Grants webpage: https://sagegrouse.mt.gov/Grants

Submit Comments Online

Comments can be submitted electronically through the public web application tool.  Look for the comment box and link on the right side of your screen, or follow the link below.

Electronic comments and attached documents must be received by 5:00 p.m. on November 28, 2022.

Submit Written Comments

Written public comments may be submitted through postal mail or hand delivered to the Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program.

1539 Eleventh Avenue, PO Box 201601, Helena, MT 59620.

Postal mail comments must be received on or before November 28, 2022.

The Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program will review public comments received on the draft environmental assessments. The final assessments will be completed and available for public review later in December.

Contact: Therese Hartman
Position: Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (406) 444-1467
Website: https://sagegrouse.mt.gov/

The Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program works to sustain viable populations of sage grouse and conserve habitat, enabling Montanans to maintain control of their lands, wildlife, and economy by avoiding a listing of the greater sage grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act.

USDA Requests Public Input on Implementation of Inflation Reduction Act Funding

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is asking for public input through a Federal Register request for information on implementation of more than $19 billion provided by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will use the investments provided through IRA-funded conservation programs to support farmers and ranchers in adopting and expanding climate-smart activities and systems. NRCS asks for comments on how to target program benefits, quantify impact, and improve program delivery and outreach, especially for underserved producers. Comments are due Dec. 22, 2022. NRCS will identify immediate changes that can be made in fiscal year 2023 and will continue to identify and adopt additional changes in future years.

“Agriculture is at the forefront of the nation’s effort to address climate change, and we want to hear from people on the ground how to implement our programs to maximize climate benefits, promote equity and assist all producers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “From climate-smart agriculture, to supporting healthy forests and conservation, to tax credits, to biofuels, infrastructure and beyond, this legislation provides USDA with significant additional resources to lead this historic charge.”

The Inflation Reduction Act provided unprecedented funding levels for several of the existing programs that NRCS implements.  The increased funding levels begin in fiscal year 2023 and rapidly build over four years, totaling these additional amounts:

  • $8.45 billion – Environmental Quality Incentives Program
  • $3.25 billion – Conservation Stewardship Program
  • $4.95 billion – Regional Conservation Partnership Program
  • $1.4 billion – Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
  • $1 billion – Conservation Technical Assistance

NRCS is asking for public input on to how to best maximize benefits for climate mitigation, including targeting practices and programs that provide quantifiable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, NRCS is requesting feedback to help identify strategies and provide recommendations on how to maximize, target, monitor, and quantify improvements to soil carbon, reductions in nitrogen losses, and the reduction, capture, avoidance, or sequestration of carbon dioxide, methane or nitrous oxide emissions associated with agricultural production. NRCS is also seeking ideas for how to further streamline and improve program delivery to increase efficiencies and expand program access for producers, especially underserved producers.

Public comments can be submitted to [email protected] until Dec. 22, 2022. More details are available in this Federal Register notice.

More Information

On August 16, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. It is a historic, once-in-a-generation investment and opportunity for the agricultural communities that USDA serves. The Inflation Reduction Act will help producers stay on the farm, prevent producers from becoming ineligible for future assistance and promote climate-smart agriculture by increasing access to conservation assistance. In October, USDA took action using Inflation Reduction Act funds to immediately provide relief to qualifying distressed borrowers whose operations are at financial risk while working on making transformational changes to loan servicing.

USDA has already provided nearly $800 million in assistance to financially distressed borrowers and has outlined steps to administer up to an additional $500 million in payments.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.

Lolo National Forest Land Management Plan Revision

Your input is welcome!

As a first step, we need your help to ensure that our public engagement strategy meets your needs. We invite you to review our Draft Public Engagement and Participation Strategy and let us know what you think by sending a note to our Lolo Revision Inbox ([email protected]). Your input will be most helpful if submitted by December 31, 2022. You will find other useful information on our Lolo Revision Web Hub to help you prepare to engage in the process (http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/lolo/planrevision).

Shortly after the new year, we will launch additional information on the Web Hub, including a calendar of public engagement opportunities. From January to April, these engagements will be focused on various topics related to the development of an assessment of the Lolo National Forest.  After this first milestone, we will begin working with you on developing a draft revised plan. Throughout this process, we will offer educational materials to ensure you are up to speed on the process and how you can provide meaningful input.

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) is seeking nominations and applications for conservation district supervisors to serve on the newly formed Conservation Districts Advisory Council (CDAC). CDAC was created to replace the former Conservation Resources Advisory Council (RCAC).

Council’s Name and Agency 

Conservation Districts Advisory Council, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Council’s Composition 

The composition of the Council shall be seven (7) members with one (1) from western Montana, one (1) from south central Montana, one (1) from northwestern Montana, two (2) from eastern Montana and two (2) from north central Montana.

Council’s Purpose 

  1. Advise and assist the Conservation Districts Bureau on district operations and conservation-related issues including impending conservation matters.
  2. Facilitate communication between the Conservation Districts Bureau and districts.
  3. Advocate the importance of the work and value of the conservation districts to the public, partners, and stakeholders.

Council Member Responsibilities

The Council will meet at a minimum of 2 times per year. Members will be tasked with ensuring that the Conservation Districts Bureau is in alignment with its purpose of empowering conservation districts to meet their mission through legal and operational support, financial assistance, and professional development.

If interested, please complete the gubernatorial application and send to Stephanie Criswell. She is available for questions and nominations at 406-444-6669, [email protected].

PLC Seeks Information on Voluntary Grazing Adjustments

The Public Lands Council has been working with the BLM and Forest Service to ensure they’re directing their staff to use as much flexibility as possible during the upcoming grazing season. The agencies have asked PLC to help them encourage permittees to report actual use, or to help them demonstrate that permittees are already making grazing decisions that match the landscape needs. There are a variety of reasons a permittee may not report actual use, but in order to push the agencies to use more flexibility, we need your help. 

Please complete the two question survey below, and share with your neighbors, state PLC delegates, and friends. Personal identities are not collected as part of the survey unless you want to be contacted as an example of grazing changes.


The Montana State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is revising the state’s five-year preservation plan, Preservation Montana, and we need your input on how SHPO and Montana’s preservation community can better promote and facilitate preservation across the state. Our 10-question survey provides you an opportunity to express your opinions and identify emerging preservation issues. SHPO will synthesize survey results and revise the current plan’s Issues, Goals, Objectives, and Strategies for a 2023 rollout.

Take the survey now:
Survey – Montana Preservation Plan Update 2023-2027 (surveymonkey.com)

SHPO appreciates you sharing your most valuable commodities: your time and thoughts!

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have published the first of their two-phase rulemaking to repeal the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR). Following a recent court decision in Arizona that vacated the NWPR, the agencies have been implementing the 1986 regulation. Phase 1 of the rulemaking removes NWPR from the Code of Federal Regulations, so that the agency is able to implement the 1986 regulation, with revisions, while they work to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” through a second phase.

For question, please reach out to Raylee Honeycutt at [email protected]

Montana’s Livestock Loss Board is looking to revamp the loss prevention grant process and is requesting suggestions from Montana Ranchers to make the process easier for ranchers to apply. Give your ideas today!

In order to facilitate a new process, the board directed two of their members to come up with a new grant application. Elaine Allestad a rancher from Big Timber and Patty Quisno a rancher from Harlem have begun working on new grant requirements. Early thoughts in the process are lowering a cost share requirement for a grant match to make it more affordable. It’s not always a cash match for a cost share. It can be value for your labor such as installing an electric fence to help keep grizzly bears out of smaller pastures as just one example.

“The board’s philosophy has always been that a rancher will know what will work best for their own ranch. We will never tell you what you need to do to reduce predation. This is where you come in. If you have ideas that may help the board, we want to hear from you.” – George Edwards, Livestock Loss Board Executive Director

Ideas can be sent to [email protected]. Please keep in mind that our funding is restricted to non-lethal methods related to grizzly bears and wolves. 

The Livestock Loss board encourages public comment throughout their meetings and your input will help the board come up with better solutions In the future. 

A board meeting to discuss a new grant form will be held sometime during the week of October 11-15th. Meeting details can be found at www.llb.mt.gov.

MSGA Files Appeal on BLM’s Final Decision Regarding APR Grazing Allotments

HELENA, Mont. (August 29, 2022) – Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) has filed an appeal on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) decision regarding American Prairie’s grazing allotments. In partnership with North and South Phillips Grazing Districts and under the counsel of the Budd-Falen Law Offices, LLC, MSGA appealed the recent decision and requested a stay on this decision. 

“Although we have filed the appeal, we still have a long road ahead. We are asking everyone who is concerned about BLM’s favorable decision towards the APR and who is passionate about public land grazing, holding federal agencies accountable, and protecting and conserving Montana’s iconic open spaces to please consider donating to our advocacy fund,” asked Jim Steinbeisser, MSGA President. “We are fighting for all Montana ranchers, our rural communities, and for the legacy of ranching in the American West.”

Donations can be made at www.protectopenspaces.com. The MSGA Advocacy Fund allows for a collective voice for cattle ranchers advocating for change and accountability at the state and federal levels. MSGA’s Advocacy Fund supports issues like promoting the benefits of cattle grazing, protecting cattle grazing on public lands, and holding state and federal agencies accountable.

American Prairie’s American Serengeti concept is a threat to the grassland ecosystem, rural communities, and Montana’s cattle industry. MSGA is calling for all who are passionate about the protection and stewardship of Montana’s lands, heritage, and legacy to please consider supporting this cause at www.protectopenspaces.com.


MSGA Rejects BLM’s Final Decision Regarding APR Grazing Allotments

HELENA, Mont. (July 28, 2022) – Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) concerns and member protests were not addressed before the release of the final decision for the American Prairie Reserve Change Application for bison on seven grazing allotments.
“To say we are disappointed with the final decision would be an understatement. Ranchers have worked diligently for over a century caring for the public land livestock graze. Ranchers are held to the highest standards by federal land agencies in the areas of range management, range monitoring, range improvements, and processes within the BLM’s grazing regulations, yet when concerns were raised regarding these areas in comments and protests, BLM did not acknowledge these concerns.”
MSGA President, Jim Steinbeisser

Montana Public Lands Council Says BLM Has Failed To Protect The Land In APR Grazing Allotment Decision

HELENA, Mont. (July 29, 2022) – Today, Montana Public Lands Council (MPLC) Chair, Vicki Olson, issued the following statement regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final decision for the American Prairie change for bison on seven grazing allotments:

“As the state’s largest organization representing individuals who graze on public lands, the final decision issued by the BLM is a failure to our public lands system. We feel this final decision did not take into account the additional vetting and analysis needed to make a proper decision and the rangeland will be the ultimate victim. Past experience has proven bison graze differently than cattle, yet that was not considered in this decision.


On Sept. 24, 2019, the American Prairie Reserve (APR) submitted a proposal (an update to their earlier proposal submitted on Nov. 20, 2017) to modify certain terms and conditions of seven BLM-administered grazing permits held by the APR. APR’s original proposal sought permit changes for 18 BLM grazing allotments located in four counties. The APR’s updated proposal reduced the number of BLM allotments involved and requested and is only in Phillips County. 

Based on APR’s amended proposal and public input received during the scoping period, the BLM prepared a draft EA and FONSI for the following seven BLM allotments managed by its Malta Field Office: Telegraph Creek, Box Elder, Flat Creek, White Rock, East Dry Fork, French Coulee and Garey Coulee.

The public comment period will run from July 1 through September 28, 2021. The BLM encourages public review and comment on the Draft EA and FONSI by visiting the BLM’s ePlanning website at https://eplanning.blm.gov. Search using the NEPA number: DOI-BLM-MT-L010-2018-0007-EA. 

American Prairie Reserve (APR) has submitted a proposal asking the BLM to modify their grazing permits. APR is seeking changes in the class of livestock from cattle to cattle and/or bison and modifications to their season-of-use and construction and/or removal of range improvement projects. The project also includes adjustments to allotments (such as combining pastures) and administrative actions (such as issuing ten-year grazing permits). Comments regarding this environmental assessment should address the APR proposed alternative, Alternative B.

  1. Change the class of livestock from cattle to bison
  2. Change in authorized seasons-of-use
  3. Change to remove interior fencing and manage their private lands along with the public lands as one common pasture. This includes construction, reconstruction and/or removal of some fences and adjustments to allotments.
  4. Action from BLM to issue a ten-year grazing permits
  1. Is BLM making a special exception for this application due to the animals being bison?
  2. 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. Should bison be allowed under this current proposal?
  3. Should there be consideration that APR’s bison are a conservation herd and not a commercial herd.
  4. How would BLM treat an application requesting removal of fences and season long grazing for cattle or sheep?
  5. If BLM approves this application, this is a precedent for similar applications to approve cattle allotment requests.
  6. A range management principle in general is – increase fencing (cross fences) and you increase carrying capacity because you have more control over the livestock’s movements. So the reverse should be true – decrease or remove fences and you lose carrying capacity because the animals will concentrate in their favorite or the best areas. 
  7. How will range monitoring be completed and documented to meet range standards?
  8. APR states that it has implemented a wildlife-friendly bison fence that does not inhibit wildlife movements, so is there a need to remove interior fencing?
  9. Has BLM considered a comprehensive approach to APR’s plan for bison restoration?
  10. Is an EA adequate or should an EIS have been completed?
  11. What are the socioeconomic effects the alternative will have on the local community?
  12. APR pays Department of Livestock per capita fees on the bison they own, classifying them as domestic livestock.

BLM Announces proposed decision for the APR Change Application for bison on seven grazing allotments


  1. Craft a “Substantive” Comment – a substantive comment is one that: 
    • Questions the accuracy, methodology or assumptions used in the analysis;
    • Presents new information or reasonable alternatives not analyzed; or
    • Causes changes or revisions.
  1. Support Your Point – This can be personal observations, experience or cited sources. 
  2. Avoid Vague Statements – Specifics help the agency to consider and evaluate the issue you have identified. 
  3. Provide Detail – Describe the issue, what can be done, the specific location, what resources are involved, etc. 
  4. Present Solutions – Include a potential fix to the problem you have identified. 


The National Environmental Policy Act “… is intended to help public officials make decisions that are based on the understanding of environmental consequences…” (40 CFR 1501 (c).) To achieve this, the EIS considers the effects of agency actions on social, economic and natural resources within the planning area. Citizens, such as yourself, often have valuable information about places and resources they consider important and the potential effects proposed agency actions may have on those places and resources.


Examples of Substantive Comments  Examples of Non-Substantive Comments
Example 1:
“While we understand the desire to increase access to public land for recreational opportunities, we feel it is important to work with agencies and recreation groups to find acceptable solutions for all stakeholders. Additional recreation use results in added operational expenses for permittees, including weed management or fence repair. We recommend the inclusion of a statement that the Council will foster collaborative efforts to address conflicts and help reduce the costs for permittees.”Example 2:
“In short, the description of a species’ habitat must not be used as justification for the Services to regulate themselves into a position of authority across broad swaths of lands and waters where the agencies would otherwise have no authority.”
Example 1:

Simply disagreeing with a proposed action.

“I do not support Alternative B.”

Example 2:

Simply stating an opinion.

“Protect our resources!”

Example 3:

Commenting on items outside the scope or proposal.

“Please extend your office hours for those who work between 8-5pm Monday-Friday.”