BLM Seeks Comments on US Prairie Preserve Bison Proposal
LEWISTOWN – The Bureau of Land Management invites the public to comment on its draft EA and its finding of no significant impact, often referred to as “FONSI” for a proposal to graze bison on BLM administered land located in the Phillips County, Montana.
On September 24, 2019, the American Prairie Reserve submitted a proposal (an update of its previous proposal submitted on November 20, 2017) to amend certain terms and conditions of seven grazing licenses administered by BLM and held by the RPA. The original American Prairie Reserve proposal was to amend permits for 18 BLM grazing plots located in four counties. BLM conducted a public scope study from April 9 to June 11, 2018, including public meetings held in these four counties. The BLM received 2,497 submissions which were reviewed and considered to determine the final set of questions to be included in NEPA’s analysis.
The documents associated with the completed public scoping period of the evaluation are available on the BLM ePlanning site. The updated RPA proposal significantly reduced the number of BLM allotments involved and called for a more conventional grazing regime, including rotational grazing in accordance with current range management practices.
Based on the amended RPA proposal and the public comments received during the scoping period, the BLM prepared a draft assessment and a FONSI for the following seven BLM assignments managed by its Malta field office: Telegraph Creek, Box Elder, Flat Creek, White Rock, East Dry Fork, French Coulee and Garey Coulee.
APR requested from BLM a change of livestock class to cattle and / or native animals (bison), changes in the seasons of authorized use, the construction, reconstruction and / or removal of certain fences and adjustments to the allotments (such as the combination of pastures).
The public comment period will run until August 29, 2021. The BLM encourages public review and comment on the draft EA and the FONSI by visiting the BLM’s electronic planning website. Search using the NEPA number: DOI-BLM-MT-L010-2018-0007-EA.
Public comments may also be submitted through the US Postal Service to: BLM Malta Field Office; Re: APR grazing proposal; 501 South 2nd Street East; Malta, MT 59538.
A virtual public meeting is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on July 21 via Zoom to give the public the opportunity to comment on the environmental assessment project and the FONSI. Pre-registration is required. See the e-Planning project website for more details.
“Even if people cannot attend the virtual meeting, we still hope that they will visit the ePlanning website to read the draft EA and the FONSI, and provide thoughtful and substantive comments,” said Tom Darrington, BLM Malta field director. “All comments received will be reviewed and taken into account by our interdisciplinary team. “
“Public input is an important and valued part of the environmental assessment process,” added Mark Albers, District Manager for BLM North Central Montana. “We know everyone has a busy life, and we are grateful to anyone who takes the time to get involved and contribute substantial feedback on the actions proposed by BLM. This contribution is essential to help us make decisions that are good for the land and people, while respecting BLM policies. “
Submitted public comments may be the subject of requests under the Freedom of Information Act. Please do not include in your EA / FONSI preliminary comments personally identifiable information that you do not wish to be made public.
Once the draft EA and FONSI comments have been received and reviewed, a final EA and FONSI will be produced and published. The BLM will then make a grazing decision. All grazing decisions are subject to a 15-day protest and a 30-day appeal period.
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