SUMMARY OF BLM’S DRAFT EA ON AMERICAN PRAIRIE RESERVE CHANGE APPLICATION FOR BISON
ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT
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.
IN ALTERNATIVE B, APR IS REQUESTING TO:
- Change the class of livestock from cattle to bison
- Change in authorized seasons-of-use
- 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.
- Action from BLM to issue a ten-year grazing permits
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.
POINTS TO CONSIDER
- Is BLM making a special exception for this application due to the animals being bison?
- 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?
- Should there be consideration that APR’s bison are a conservation herd and not a commercial herd.
- How would BLM treat an application requesting removal of fences and season long grazing for cattle or sheep?
- If BLM approves this application, this is a precedent for similar applications to approve cattle allotment requests.
- 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.
- How will range monitoring be completed and documented to meet range standards?
- 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?
- Has BLM considered a comprehensive approach to APR’s plan for bison restoration?
- Is an EA adequate or should an EIS have been completed?
- What are the socioeconomic effects the alternative will have on the local community?
- APR pays Department of Livestock per capita fees on the bison they own, classifying them as domestic livestock.
Public comments may also be submitted electronically or by U.S. Postal Service:
Submit comments electronically here: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/103543/595/8002333/comment
Or mail your comments to:
BLM Malta Field Office
Re: APR Grazing Proposal
501 South 2nd Street East
Malta, MT 59538.
The public comment period has been extended, and individuals can submit comments electronically through September 28, 2021.
For any other comments or questions, please contact Jay Bodner or Raylee Honeycutt at the MSGA office at 442-3420 or email at [email protected] or [email protected].