Deal in the facts about bison grazing

Dear Editor,

No doubt: A proposal to expand bison grazing over the next 10 years by the American Prairie Reserve will always elicit strong positive and negative reactions from neighbors. After two terms on the BLM Resource Advisory Commission based in the Lewistown office, I’ve come to expect non-factual assumptions whenever the APR suggests additions or modifications to the grazing provisions of its leases on BLM land. I write to ask everyone to get a firm grasp of facts before leaping to conclusions about the current modification proposals.

I’ve read the APR’s proposal seeking to gradually allow bison grazing across 17 grazing allotments on 236,239 acres of public lands overseen by the BLM over the course of the next 10 years. This proposal will impact less than 33,000 leased Animal Unit Months, (AUMs), enough to pasture a maximum of 2,750 cow-calf pair annually. This represents a very small percentage of the total cattle annually in this grazing region.

This plan has minimal, if any, affect on the APR’s farmerrancher neighbors; it will continue the APR’s efforts helping to diversify a struggling regional economy, resulting in wildlife recovery, promoting and developing new outdoor recreation and hunting opportunities. The results, including attracting more visitors captivated by the APR’s bison herds, elk and deer populations and tremendous bird habitat, are obvious.

It is in the best interest of all property owners, tenants and occupants in the region that the BLM manages grazing privileges equitably, whether the lessee intends to graze genetically-pure bison, cattle or hybrids.

Please, please, go to the actual BLM website to learn more and restrict your comments to the issues presented, rather than criticizing your neighbors simply because they have chosen to raise bison.

Larry Epstein,

Essex and Helena, Montana

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