HELENA, Mont. (July 1, 2021) – The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) is expressing disappointment in the recent release of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) draft environmental assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).
“Our organization has consistently provided comments outlining concerns regarding the impacts a request like this can have on rangeland health, riparian areas and economic impacts to the livestock industry,” stated Jim Steinbeisser, MSGA President. “Today’s release of the draft EA and Finding of No Significant Impact is very impactful to ranchers across the state. This assessment may have a much larger ripple effect moving forward on setting precedent for public land grazing permits.”
In recent years, MSGA has raised a variety of concerns with the American Prairie Reserve’s (APR) request to BLM to change the class of livestock from cattle to bison, change the authorized seasons-of-use, and the removal of interior fences.
MSGA has highlighted the potential for natural resource damage that can occur through conversion of the existing permits from season-long grazing to year-round grazing. In previous BLM documents, the agency also acknowledged that year-round grazing will lead to increased riparian trampling where bison tend to concentrate. Additionally, the removal of interior fences reflects a strategy of limited management of bison, therefore, raising the concern of the intent of the APR to adequately manage the population of their bison herd in the future.
“The fences represent a significant monetary investment in improvements, and if this change in grazing management proceeds, BLM must analyze what steps will be taken to address any resource damage”, continued Steinbeisser. “We feel many of the request changes in the draft have significant resource impacts and have not been fully vetted or analyzed by the BLM.”
MSGA will continue to advocate on behalf of the ranchers of Montana during the comment, protest and appeal periods. To find out more on the work MSGA is doing regarding this issue, visit www.mtbeef.org.