BLM reviews American Prairie Reserve bison grazing proposal

More than 4,600 bison could roam in a massive pasture in northcentral Montana if APR’s proposal is approved by the BLM.

The Bureau of Land Management has given the preliminary OK for the American Prairie Reserve (APR) to graze bison on BLM land in Phillips County, MT. The bureau is now seeking public comment over a draft environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact (FONSI).

In September 2019, APR submitted a proposal to modify seven of their BLM grazing permits that cover more than 69,000 acres. APR is seeking to amend the class of livestock allowed from cattle to cattle and/or bison. The group also wishes to combine certain pastures and receive 10-year grazing permits.

BLM found there would be no significant impact if APR’s proposal were to be granted. “The proposed action does not violate any known federal, state, local or tribal law or requirement imposed for the protection of the environment,” the FONSI read. “Federal, state, and local interests were given the opportunity to participate in the environmental analysis process.”

Public comments will be accepted through Aug. 29. To submit comments online, visit eplanning.blm.gov and search for NEPA number DOI-BLM-MT-L010-2018-0007-EA. Comments may also be submitted by mail to BLM Malta Field Office; Re: APR Grazing Proposal; 501 South 2nd Street East; Malta, MT 59538.

BLM will also host a virtual public meeting July 21 from 1-4 p.m. MT via Zoom to provide commenting opportunities. Pre-registration is required. To sign up for the virtual meeting, visit the “How to Get Involved” tab at eplanning.blm.gov after searching for NEPA number DOI-BLM-MT-L010-2018-0007-EA.

After all comments are reviewed, a final EA and FONSI will be produced and released. BLM will then issue a grazing decision. Decisions are subject to a 15-day protest and a 30-day appeal period. — Anna Miller, WLJ managing editor

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