Wyoming attorney addresses Stockgrowers in Billings on legal challenge to BLM’s grazing decision

Brett French

Montana ranchers are on the “spear point” of what has the potential to be an issue of national importance, attorney Karen Budd-Falen told the Montana Stockgrowers Association on Friday.

Budd-Falen is representing the group, along with the North and South Phillips County Cooperative State Grazing Districts, in an appeal of a Bureau of Land Management decision to allow American Prairie to graze bison on 63,500 acres of public land in north-central Montana. Montana’s governor and attorney general also challenged the BLM ruling.

“I gotta tell you, I think this is a really, really important case for the livestock industry,” she said during a talk at the group’s annual convention at Billings’ Northern Hotel. “This is not, in my mind, just a little fight because the Malta Field Office BLM didn’t do things right. I think the precedent that we set here about who’s gotta follow the rules and who doesn’t — and you can’t write two separate sets of rules for two classes of people — is going to impact grazing permittees on BLM West wide.”

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