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  • Incident At FMDH Results In Officer Involved Shooting

    Michelle Bigelbach, The Courier|Apr 5, 2023

    At approximately 2:35 p.m., on March 29, an incident occurred at Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital (FMDH) involving a Valley County detention officer, sheriff deputies, a hospital employee and an inmate from the Valley County detention center, later identified as 47-year-old Jonathan Ryan Hamilton. Hamilton was originally arrested on a Blaine County arrest warrant in another state and was returned to Montana to face several criminal charges pertaining to child sexual assault. According to Valley...

  • BLM Resource Advisory Council Application Period Opens

    For the Courier|Apr 5, 2023

    Interested in volunteering your time to advise the Bureau of Land Management on public land management issues? BLM Resource Advisory Councils are citizen-based groups which assist in the development of recommendations that address public land management issues. Both the Western Montana and the Missouri Basin RACs are accepting applications until April 28, 2023. Resource Advisory Councils are chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act and consists of 15 members who serve two to three-year terms. The BLM is looking to fill vacancies in...

  • Governor Gianforte Holds Roundtable With Ag Leaders

    For the Courier|Apr 5, 2023

    To mark Montana Agriculture Day, Governor Greg Gianforte convened a roundtable discussion with ag leaders to discuss challenges and opportunities facing the industry on March 21. “Agriculture is Montana’s number one industry, and we’re committed to being a good partner to producers as they drive our economy, strengthen our communities, and feed the world,” Gov. Gianforte said. “With farmers and ranchers in mind, we delivered Montanans the largest tax cut in state history, and with farmers and ranchers in mind, we’re investing in value-added...

  • An Update Of The Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital Incident From Sheriff Tom Boyer

    Sheriff Tom Boyer, For the Courier|Mar 29, 2023

    Update To The Incident From March 29 The Yellowstone County Coroner’s Office has identified 47-year-old, Jonathan Ryan Hamilton, as the deceased person from the March 29, 2023, officer involved shooting incident, that occurred in Glasgow, Montana. Hamilton was originally arrested, on a Blaine County Arrest Warrant, in another state and was returned to Montana to face several criminal charges pertaining to child sexual assault. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families involved in these incidents. During the afternoon o... Full story

  • Landowners Have Until March 15 To Apply For FWP Public Access To Public Lands Programs

    For the Courier|Feb 22, 2023

    Landowners have until March 15 to submit applications to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks for enrollment in the Unlocking Public Lands (UPL) Program or the Public Access Land Agreement (PALA) Program. These programs are designed to provide recreational public access to state (Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation) or federal (Bureau of Land Management or United States Forest Service) land where no or limited legal public access currently exists. For enrollment in UPL, landowners will receive a tax credit in the amount of $750 p...

  • Montana State Announces Finalists For Agritourism And Sustainable Agriculture Program

    MSU News Service, For the Courier|Feb 15, 2023

    The Montana State University College of Agriculture has announced finalists for a new leadership program focused on sustainable agriculture and agritourism. The Montana Agritourism Fellows Program will center on the goal of developing leaders to advance sustainable agritourism. The fellowship is designed to engage agricultural producers and train them in methods of communicating and promoting sustainable agriculture for farmers, ranchers, professionals and communities. It was funded by a grant from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research...

  • Daines, Rosendale, Zinke Push For Local Engagement In American Prairie Reserve Grazing Proposal

    For the Courier|Feb 15, 2023

    U.S. Senator Steve Daines and Representatives Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke sent a letter on Jan. 27 urging the Biden administration to hold its appeals hearing concerning the American Prairie Reserve Grazing Proposal in Malta, instead of Billings, which is over 200 miles away from Phillips County. This would allow Montanans most affected by the proposal to easily attend the hearing. “The American Prairie Reserve’s proposal, if implemented, will open nearly 70,000 acres in Phillips County to grazing by non-production livestock, eliminate int...

  • Commissioners Meet For Regular Discussion and Decision

    Michelle Bigelbach, The Courier|Jan 11, 2023

    In their first meeting of the year and Commissioner Mary Armstrong’s first meeting as Chairman, the Valley County Commissioners met for their regular Discussion and Decision meeting on Jan. 4. In addition to their normal business of approving employment and termination/resignation notices, the Commissioners discussed the Valley County Healthy is Wellness Program Proposal, the Stop the Bleeding program, Resolution No. 7-2023, and provided information on the cooperative status on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Resource Management Plan (...

  • Governor Gianforte Appeals Judge's APR Bison Grazing Decision

    For the Courier|Dec 28, 2022

    Governor Greg Gianforte announced on Dec. 23 his administration has filed its briefing in the appeal of a judge’s decision denying the state’s petition for stay after the Biden Administration approved the American Prairie Reserve’s request to graze bison on Bureau of Land Management land in northeast Montana. In briefing, entitled a Statement of Reasons (statement) and submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Board of Land Appeals, the Gianforte administration again requested a stay of the decision pending appeal, highlig...

  • Rosendale Urges Reversal on Grazing & Land Allotment Decision

    For the Courier|Nov 16, 2022

    On Oct. 28, Congressman Matt Rosendale sent a letter demanding that the Montana Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) reverse their position on livestock grazing on land allotments in Montana. The decision ignores 90 years of best range management practices and current federal law. The letter was sent to Judge Veronica Larvie, Administrative Judge for the Department of Interior’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, and Tracy Stone Manning, Director of the Bureau of Land Management. At the helm at BLM, Ms. Manning...

  • Stockgrowers Commends State For Halting Bison Grazing On State Lease

    For the Courier|Nov 9, 2022

    The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) commends the state of Montana for their action in not providing authorization of bison grazing, construction, modifications, or electrification of fences on Flat Creek and Whiterock state allotments. “We would like to thank Governor Gianforte and his administration for their leadership and continued perseverance on this issue. We stand with the state and agree there are deficiencies within the BLM Environmental Assessment and final grazing decision. The decision to not approve grazing on the two a...

  • Daines Demands Explanation Over Dismissal of Montana Ag Concerns in APR Grazing Decision

    For the Courier|Nov 2, 2022

    U.S. Senator Steve Daines sent a letter to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Tracy Stone-Manning on Oct. 27, demanding an explanation for the flagrant dismissal of Montana ag groups’ concerns in the decision making process for the America Prairie Reserve Grazing Proposal. “On July 28, 2022, the Bureau of Land Management issued a Final Decision for the America Prairie Reserve Grazing Proposal covering nearly 70,000 acres of land in Phillips County. As you know first-hand, given the unprecedented nature of this proposal—authorizing grazi...

  • Water Rights

    Sep 7, 2022

    Dear Editor, Stockwater is one of Montana's oldest water uses and is critical to the continued survival of a Montana livestock industry. Before the Montana Water Use Act of July 1, 1973, livestock water rights belonged to whomever owned and watered livestock on a customary range. The person did not need to own the land or file a claim. The right became private property as soon as the livestock drank water. The right was for exactly as much as the herd needed to drink and no more. Livestock...

  • Why Are We Treated Differently?

    Sep 7, 2022

    Dear Editor, The Montana Cattlemen's Association is disappointed in the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) decision to authorize the American Prairie Reserve to use 63,065 acres of public lands in Phillips County for bison. In reaching this decision, a number of important issues have been overlooked or completely ignored. This unprofessional failure on the part of BLM to consider all the implications of allowing bison to graze public lands is disturbing. Among the issues ignored are public...

  • Governor Gianforte Appeals Biden Administration's Bison Grazing Decision

    For the Courier|Sep 7, 2022

    In addition to Attorney General Knudsen and the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) filing appeals, Governor Greg Gianforte has also appealed the Biden administration’s approval of the American Prairie Reserve’s (APR) bison grazing proposal for 63,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in northeast Montana. The federal decision comes despite significant opposition from impacted communities and elected officials in Montana. In an appeal to the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), the governor outlined reasons the BLM’s decis...

  • Creating Access and Restoring Wildlife

    Aug 31, 2022

    Dear Editor, Every person in Montana, regardless of income, deserves an opportunity to enjoy our great outdoors. That's why I'm happy to report that two recent developments at American Prairie have made it easier for all Americans to access their prairie grasslands and enjoy native wildlife now and into the future. New Public Access on 73 Ranch In mid-July, we announced the public is welcome to access and enjoy the historic 73 ranch. American Prairie purchased the 73 in late 2021. It's a...

  • Attorney General Knudsen Asks Federal Panel To Overturn BLM's Bison Grazing Decision

    For the Courier|Aug 31, 2022

    On Aug. 26, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen asked a federal board to overturn the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decision to grant a permit change allowing bison grazing in Phillips County. The permit is a part of the American Prairie Reserve’s broader effort to expand bison grazing on the plains across northern and eastern Montana. Attorney General Knudsen’s appeal asks the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Hearings and Appeals to overturn the decision and issue a stay until the appeal is resolved to prevent irreparable harm t...

  • BLM Issues Final Decision on Bison Grazing Proposal

    For the Courier|Aug 3, 2022

    The Bureau of Land Management issued a final decision on July 28 for a bison grazing proposal involving seven allotments in Phillips County, held by American Prairie, which allows for bison grazing on six of the seven allotments. The Telegraph Creek, Box Elder, Flat Creek, White Rock, French Coulee, Garey Coulee and East Dry Fork allotments – a total of approximately 63,500 acres of BLM-administered lands – currently provide 7,969 animal unit months of permitted use. One common allotment grazed with another livestock operator would remain app...

  • Comments On The BLM'S EA For The APR Changes

    Apr 27, 2022

    Dear Editor, There is a saying in northeastern Montana that a couple of good rains make every rancher a good grass manager. The converse is that a couple of years of severe drought show who the good grass managers really are. Over the years grazing management has morphed from continuous grazing to incorporating rest periods to facilitate vegetation recovery. Often, during periods of ideal growing conditions, the benefits of rest periods are not readily noticeable. However, they really show up...

  • Bison Restoration Guided by Science, Laws and Partnerships

    Apr 27, 2022

    Dear Editor, After four years of analysis and public input, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued their proposed decision on American Prairie's application to restore bison across 63,000 acres of public lands in north central Montana. As Director of Bison Restoration for American Prairie, it is my job to manage those bison as an ecological tool to benefit wildlife, protect our public lands, and improve the prairies where they graze. My team does this work by relying on sound science,...

  • VC Commissioners Protest Letter To BLM On APR Decision

    Apr 20, 2022

    The following letter written by the Valley County Commissioners was sent to Field Manager Tom Darrington at the Bureau of Land Management Malta Office on April 13. Tom Darrington, Field Manager Bureau of Land Management Malta Field Office 50 I South Second Street East Malta, Montana 59538 4/13/2022 Dear Tom Darrington, The Valley County Commissioners protest your Notice of Proposed Decision concerning APR’s grazing applications in southern Phillips County. We believe your decision is in error because it would establish a precedent for p...

  • Stockwater Rights Vs. The WWF's Plans

    Apr 13, 2022

    Dear Editor, Unfortunately, the stars are lining up for the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) grandiose plan to rewild the Northern Great Plains. Their pilot project in northeastern Montana, being coordinated by their spin-off, the American Prairie Reserve (APR), has recently received a shot in the arm. Emails, via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), detailed the cozy relationship between the Bullock administration and the APR. Now two former members of the Bullock administration are heading the...

  • Daines, Rosendale Urge Biden Admin To Extend Protest Period for Bison Grazing Proposal

    For the Courier|Apr 13, 2022

    U.S. Senator Steve Daines and Congressman Matt Rosendale wrote a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Debra Haaland and Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning on April 4 urging to extend the protest period on the proposed decision affecting grazing allotments on the American Prairie Reserve in Phillips County. The full letter is below: April 4, 2022 The Honorable Debra Haaland Secretary Department of the Interior 1849 C Street, N.W. Washington DC 20240 The Honorable Tracy Stone-Manning Director Bureau of Land Management...

  • BLM Finalizes Bison Grazing Proposal EA, FONSI and Issues Proposed Grazing Decision

    Apr 6, 2022

    This article contains information provided by the Bureau of Land Management, Montana Stockgrowers Association and the Montana Public Lands Council. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a proposed decision on a bison grazing proposal involving seven allotments in Phillips County, Mont., held by American Prairie (AP). In conjunction with the proposed decision, the BLM released an associated Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The Telegraph Creek, Box Elder, Flat Creek, White Rock, French Coulee,...

  • The Battle For The Soul Of Central Montana Is On

    Mar 30, 2022

    Dear Editor, In the next few weeks, it is believed that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will be releasing its Record of Decision (ROD) on the American Prairie Reserve's (APR) application for bison grazing in south Phillips County. Based on the language in the draft Environmental Assessment BLM released last year, it is likely that BLM will approve some form of APR's application for bison grazing on its federal allotments. BLM's anticipated decision comes as no surprise given the multiple...

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