Don’t fence the wild and scenic Missouri

Dear Editor,

Growing up on the Everson Bench next to the Big Sag meant going to the Missouri River for picnics and water sports. When the Wild and Scenic River was put in place in 1976, and later the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Clinton’s last hour in 2001, we accepted these changes as being somewhat necessary to protect this beautiful river bottom.

In my eyes, it is great so many people float, fish and camp on this stretch of the Missouri, and now that the PN Ranch belongs to the American Prairie Reserve, they hope to increase tourism by adding a hut-to-hut system, driving tours, hiking, biking and horseback riding. This all sounds fun until they throw in several thousand bison. To prevent the bison from hanging out on the riverbanks with the floaters, they propose to build a new fence along the Missouri River.

One important rule of “the Monument,” states the delicate soil is not to be disturbed. It is impossible to build a fence, especially one that will potentially keep in bison capable of effortlessly jumping a 6-foot high fence, without threatening this fragile soil. Even if this fence would keep the people safe from these wild animals, it will disturb this beautiful “Wild and Scenic River,” which is the center of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. When floating down the river, which is virtually untouched by man and looks as it did 150 years ago, wouldn’t it be a shame to see a newly built fence. Cattle do not require a fence since the river forms a natural boundary. Bison, however, will swim across, which is why the APR is proposing this ugly fence.

I strongly believe it is as dangerous to allow bison to roam along this river, enjoyed by so many people, as it would be to put a few in Central Park. We would all love to see our country as it was 150 years ago. I bet Central Park was amazing too, but people’s safety and livelihood must come first.

Please write to the BLM, no later than May 9, and let them know that allowing the APR year-round grazing for bison is not a wise choice for Central Montana for many reasons, but certainly because this fence will ruin a naturally beautiful area.

Email: blm_mt_scoping_ncmd@blm.gov or mail: APR Scoping Comments, BLM Malta Field Office, 47285 Highway 2, Malta, MT 59538.

Coke Knox

Denton

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