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Biden’s BLM approves radical APR bison grazing request, ranchers will fight

Brett French

Montana Standard

BLM gives final OK to American Prairie bison grazing plans; GOP politicians vow to fight

In a decision opponents are plotting to reverse, the Bureau of Land Management on Thursday issued its final decision approving American Prairie’s request to graze domesticated bison on 63,500 acres of public land in Phillips County.

A change was denied on a seventh request because American Prairie shares the allotment with another cattle rancher. The grazing leases are good for 10 years but subject to review and monitoring.

American Prairie said in a statement the BLM’s decision “will facilitate the sustainable growth of their private conservation herd of bison from approximately 800 animals to 1,000 animals by 2025. By comparison, the majority of American Prairie’s land base is leased out to local cattle ranchers and supports over 10,000 head of cattle.”

The change to its grazing permits was first requested by American Prairie in 2017, which was downsized two years later due to public outcry. More than 2,500 comments were received on the initial proposal.
American Prairie is a nonprofit group formed in 2001 that has purchased ranches across Eastern Montana totaling more than 450,000 acres (117,611 private and 334,817 public).

The group’s goal is to one day lace together its private lands with 3 million acres of adjoining public property to create a wildlife preserve and refuge for prairie species. The group also offers visitor access to parts of its property for recreation, including camping and hunting. It has previously been known as the American Prairie Foundation, and the American Prairie Reserve.


Adversaries have 30 days to appeal the BLM decision, which seems likely given comments from state and federal politicians and the Montana Stockgrower’s Association.

“To say we are disappointed with the final decision would be an understatement,” Jim Steinbeisser, MSGA president, in a press release.

The release goes on to contend that the BLM’s “decision is a significant change to grazing on federal lands and will have serious repercussions on BLM grazing throughout the West.

Sen. Steve Daines directly blamed President Joe Biden, saying it was “yet another example” of the administration “ignoring input from Montana ranchers.” His statement goes on to say he will work “closely” with Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte on a response to the BLM decision.

Gianforte said the BLM failed to give the public a chance to comment and lacked “statutory authority” to enact its proposal.

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