HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte has announced a settlement agreement that ends litigation between the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) and United Property Owners of Montana (UPOM).
“Under the previous administration, FWP didn’t do right by farmers, ranchers, and private property owners. In its effort to spread bison across parts of Montana, FWP didn’t do enough to account for the impacts to local communities and relied on outdated data,” Gov. Gianforte said. “This settlement agreement protects our livestock producers and rural lands and reaffirms the state can and should do better going forward.”
“FWP is committed to engaging communities and stakeholders on the impacts of decisions like this. We’re grateful to have this lawsuit behind us,” said Hank Worsech, director of FWP.
In January 2020, FWP issued a Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Bison Conservation and Management in Montana (EIS) and an associated Record of Decision. In March 2020, UPOM filed suit against FWP alleging the agency violated MEPA, MAPA, and environmental impact review requirements during the EIS process.
In the settlement agreement, FWP and UPOM agree the Final EIS failed to adequately consider disease transmission between bison, livestock, and other wildlife, there was an inadequate public comment opportunity, and the Final EIS relied on outdated data, among other things.