Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

On American Prairie


Dear Editor,

I recently read an American Prairie Reserve (APR) article titled, 'Freese Scale for Grassland Biodiversity, Background Summary'. This strange document was designed to justify the program proposed by APR. They rate 10 'ecological conditions' for each of their management units and come up with a biodiversity score. For example, the Timber Creek Unit (the old Etchart Ranch) had a total score or 17 out of 70. The reasons for the low 'Herbivory Pattern' included, "unnatural hydrology; Interior fences; Rest-rotation grazing systems". 'Herbivorous Mammals' received the lowest score (1) due to, "Low wildlife populations; Livestock grazing". The management action proposed was, "Work on public tolerance for higher wildlife populations". The 'Fate of Ungulate Production' also received a score of 1 because of, "Low wildlife populations due to overharvest; Livestock present". The management action to correct this problem was, "Manage bison population without artificial selection or removal of animals". While the problems and solutions presented in this document border on the ridiculous it does help to clarify APR's agenda. Residents of NE Montana had better sit up and take notice because they have big changes in store for our region! The problem is these are not a few greedy schemers milking rich philanthropists with pie-in-the-sky dreams of creating a utopia. Rather there is a very large group of international biologists, ecologists, environmentalists and a host of other -ists sitting in university, agency and NGO offices drawing up plans to rewild the remote areas of the world. We happen to be in the crosshairs of one such scheme.

If you winnow through the APR rhetoric you find their basic plan is to change the ungulate management from one of commodity production that has been improving the ground cover to one of minimum management with no commodity production. The difference is that under current management improvements can be measured while under the proposed plan any change is natural and acceptable. It is hard to argue how much ecological damage will be caused by no management when their response is that any change is good.

In order for APR to carry out its mission, the entire 3.5 million acres will have to be depopulated. They then intend to remove all man-made structures (however, their buildings, yurt camps and other facilities apparently don't qualify as 'man-made') including roads (but not the ones to their buildings and camps). The loss of population and commodity revenue will be devastating to the social and economic fabric of NE Montana!

Another major change to this region will be the loss of hunting opportunity. APR may allow hunting in the short term (they are, however, currently dropping out of several Block Management contracts) but hunting is not included in their long range plans. For example, they plan to increase elk numbers. At present hunters are the main tool used by FWP to reduce elk numbers. APR mentioned that wolf introduction into Yellowstone National Park reduced the elk population and they plan to eventually bring wolves to this region. What do you think that will do to the hunting? In fact their stated goal is to have all ungulates die and decompose on the range (putting their nutrients back into the soil).

So what can we do to protect our small piece of heaven? First and foremost, please do not sell your land to them! They would not be here is no one sold to them. Secondly, the Valley County Conservation District has drafted a proposed change to the previously passed bison ordinance. We hope to put this on the ballot this fall and feel it will better protect our soils, water and economic base. The survival of our Hi-Line communities depends on us combating this very destructive plan that is already steamrolling through our area.




It is declared policy of the Montana Conservation District Law to protect the soil and water resources in Montana and to, "....preserve wildlife, protect the tax base, protect public lands, and protect and promote the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state." (76-15-102 MCA).

Uncontrolled, unmanaged and/or unrestrained bison/buffalo have the potential to damage the soil and water resources, the economic base, and the health and welfare of the residents of the Conservation District. Therefore, the Valley County Conservation District declares all bison/buffalo within the confines of the District shall be classified as 'domestic livestock' under the legal jurisdiction of the Montana Department of Livestock (MT DOL) and be subject to all laws, rules and regulations that pertain to domestic livestock.

The MT DOL can only respond to a suspected disease outbreak if it is reported to them. Reportable diseases are generally discovered during routine veterinary herd work or during slaughter. Non-commercial domestic animals that are not part of the livestock industry may not be monitored for diseases by either method. Therefore, in the interest of public and animal health safety in Valley County, all owners of non-commercial domestic animals in Valley County must submit a plan detailing annual veterinary herd health inspections to the MT DOL.

Ron Stoneberg



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