By Kay Braddock
Officials from the Prairie County Grazing District are encouraging local residents to attend a September 16 meeting in Malta.
It’s a meeting that not only ranchers should attend, said Prairie County Grazing District secretary Sandra Brown.
“It will affect Prairie County, if something like that comes this way,” Brown said.
The something Brown is referring to is the recently released Bureau of Land Management’s “Treasured Landscapes” document that has ranchers in Phillips and Valley counties concerned that the BLM is considering creating a national monument without the input of locals in the area.
The Antiquities Act allows the president to designate new national monuments by proclamation without local input, something that occurred when former President Bill Clinton created the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in north-central Montana.
Director of the Bureau of Land Management Robert Abbey is scheduled to speak at the public meeting to address those concerns. The meeting will be held Sept. 16 at 7 to 9 p.m. in the Malta High School gymnasium.
After attending a State Grazing District meeting in Ekalaka last month members from the Prairie County Grazing District became more convinced of their need to show support for ranchers in Phillips County.
According to Brown, who along with Clint Grue and Ron Tibbetts attended the August 26 meeting in Ekalaka, Phillips County rancher Vicky Olson delivered a message that inspired the group to attend the Sept. 16 meeting in Malta.
With Prairie County’s almost evenly divided checkerboard landscape of BLM and deeded property, Brown stressed the need to support the local agriculture industry. An industry, Brown said, that would be under direct attack if ranchers lost grazing leases.
“It affects them,” Brown said of business owners who rely on farmers and ranchers. “… We’re an agriculture-based community. That’s our bread and butter. We have to support each other.”
To encourage local attendance the Prairie County Grazing District will offer a bus ride to Malta. The bus will leave between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m. on Sept. 16. Those interested in attending the Malta meeting are encouraged to contact the Prairie County Grazing District office at 635-5868 so that space can be reserved.
Published Sept. 8, 2010