OP-ED: The Verdict is in. APR'S Reserve Plan is About to Hit Major Headwinds
September 29, 2021
Despite APR’s Pete Geddes’ 9-15- 2021 opinion piece in the Lewistown News Argus that proclaimed everything is going swimmingly for APR, CEO Alison Fox told APR’s membership in a September 2021 email that APR is changing its name and logo to ‘American Prairie’ and claims to be focusing more on public land access and preserving biodiversity on the prairie in northcentral Montana.
For those of us who don’t drink APR’s Kool-Aid, we note that APR’s web site does not reflect any particular revisions to its goal of creating a multimillion acre American Serengeti in our region featuring free roaming bison.
APR is obviously trying to repair its battered standing with area landowners by trying to convince them that it’s only about “being a voice for the prairie” in order to facilitate prairie restoration and protection.
What appears to be happening is that APR needs to temporarily reduce its perceived footprint in the area in an effort to diminish the breadth of BLM’s Environmental Assessment of APR’s bison grazing request. To do that, APR reduced its year round grazing request from 18 allotments on 290,000 acres spanning multiple counties to just seven allotments in Phillips County. In so doing, APR hopes BLM will drink the Kool-Aid and limit the extent of its EA analysis on cumulative effects, reasonable foreseeable outcomes and direct and indirect impacts of bison grazing on federal land.
Unfortunately, BLM proposes to approve APR’s grazing request as written but has overlooked and misinterpreted federal laws, statutes and executive orders that govern livestock grazing on federal land.
Farmers and ranchers will be presenting in their public comments the regulatory disconnects and wrongdoings that have occurred in the EA process that require remedy.
In the meantime, CEO Fox may want to visit her ‘reserve’ and ask to see BLM’s NEPA approval of all the fencing changes APR employees have already made and try crossing that electric bison proof fence up there. A tour of bison grazing impacts in riparian zones might also be a good idea.
Overall, the reserve concept seems to be sputtering and APR should prepare for a major headwind coming their way.
Ron Poertner of Winifred is the secretary for the Missouri River Stewards, an organization of farm and ranch landowners formed in 1999 to promote and protect landowner interests.