American Prairie Reserve: Fact-checking on the American Prairie
Lands Manager for American Prairie Reserve
American Prairie Reserve works hard to be on good terms with our ranching neighbors. Our employees and APR support local organizations and shop in the same local stores. Neighbors have leased grazing from us and cut hay and grass seed on our land. We have also worked with our neighbors to provide them additional markets for their beef. Unfortunately, a recent article by the Tri-State Livestock News didn’t do anyone any favors by spreading false information about our goals and our management philosophy.
It is true that the American Prairie Reserve has applied to graze bison on 17 public lands grazing allotments in Central Montana and we have encouraged public participation. Our bison already graze on 2 BLM allotments and state leases. However, your article incorrectly states the American Prairie Reserve is seeking free-range bison. Our bison herd is classified as domestic livestock by the state of Montana. Although we seek to manage our bison as much like wildlife as possible, they are behind a perimeter fence that keeps them off our neighbor’s property or other lands they don’t belong.
I’d also like to correct the record on our fences and general management. The American Prairie Reserve takes being a good neighbor very seriously. We have consistently met permit obligations, maintained all of our bison fences, and we treat our noxious weeds. There are no instances where our bison have harmed livestock or people, spread disease, and the few instances some have escaped, they have been returned promptly.
Your article also misrepresents our positive work for hunters and wildlife. Public access and wildlife habitat is a core value and we work alongside our neighbors and the public to continually make it better. That’s why no less than six local hunting organizations in Montana support our current proposal in addition to the Fort Belknap Indian community and multiple recreation groups.
The current public process before the Bureau of Land Management will be based on facts. For this reason, it is very important your publication also provide facts on this issue. We invite the Tri-State Livestock News out to Montana see why we think our proposal will help recover America’s wildlife and rangelands, fuel new outdoor recreation and hunting opportunities, and drive new visitation in the region, all while having a minimal impact on traditional agriculture and our neighbors.
Betty Holder, Lands Manager for American Prairie Reserve.