Governor urges BLM officials to provide ample opportunity for public comment, face-to-face public hearings
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: July 7, 2021

HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte today urged the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to provide Montanans with sufficient opportunity for in-person, public comment on the BLM’s Environmental Assessment of the American Prairie Reserve’s bison grazing proposal.

Despite the impact of the BLM’s proposal on Montanans, the BLM announced it would hold one, remotely conducted public hearing on the proposal. Further, the BLM’s announced public comment period coincides with haying and harvest season, making it more difficult for local farmers and ranchers to participate fully.

“This simply does not constitute an adequate opportunity for public comment and participation,” Governor Gianforte wrote to BLM officials. “Given the significance of this proposal to Montanans, State lands, and lessees of both state and federal lands, an extension of the comment period and public comment opportunity will ensure robust, thorough, and necessary public participation occurs.”

In the letter, the governor formally requests the BLM hold in-person public hearings in, at a minimum, each of the affected counties – Phillips, Chouteau, Fergus, Petroleum, and Valley. The governor also requests a 45-day extension of the public comment period.

“The Montanans most affected by this proposal spend their days in the field, far from a computer, and in many instances, far from reliable internet service,” the governor wrote. “These Montanans are currently in midst of an unprecedented drought.”

“I ask that the BLM recognize these compounding factors and take action to facilitate comment and public participation in a comprehensive and meaningful manner. As this process moves forward, it is critical for BLM officials to come out from behind their computers and meet in person, face-to-face, with Montanans,” the governor concluded.

Gov. Gianforte’s letter urging BLM officials to provide Montanans with ample opportunity to have their voices heard about the bureau’s APR proposal can be viewed here.