BLM Director Speaks with Northern Ag Network


Photo from Drew Markle, Glasgow.The region was buzzing last week as national BLM Director Bob Abbey made his way to northern Montana to discuss the contentious topic of national monuments.    An internal BLM concept paper leaked to the public earlier this year outlined plans for numerous national monuments in the western U.S.  One such plan talked of a national monument that would span over a great deal of northern Montana.  Northern Ag Network was in Malta for the meeting and below you will find rancher interviews, public testimony and a question and answer segment with Director Abbey.  Take it all in and feel free to give us your thoughts by commenting at the bottom of this page! 

Interview Bob Abbey and Montana Ranchers:


Public Testimony:


Question and Answer with Director Abbey:

Before the public meeting on Thursday evening, Northern Ag Network spoke with Director Abbey at the regional BLM office.

We asked Abbey to explain that concept paper and the talk of national monuments.  He told us there is no proposal right now.

In the most recent Phillips County News, Abbey stated that a lot of the national monument documentation had been taken out of context.

We wanted to know how that could be when the document (click here to see) is readily available.  Abbey admitted to being the principal author.

Who has more say in our Montana land?  With the public screaming “no” in Malta, we were curious as to how much weight our thoughts had in the big picture.

Abbey told us that it doesn’t matter where people live when they look at that input.

This is not the first time that we’ve seen Washington, D.C. paperwork reflect plans for national monuments.  Despite promises that the Antiquities Act would not be used for such an action, President Clinton used his power to do just that moments before leaving office.  As a representative of the Obama Administration, could Abbey give us any assurance that there will be no monuments? 

He told us he couldn’t speak for the President.

With the national deficit soaring, it seems like a purchase of millions of acres of land probably isn’t in the best interest of taxpayers and the government’s bottom line.


Abbey told us that in some cases, acquiring land now is appropriate.

Russell Nemetz  and Taylor Brown were both active participants in the Governor’s Range Tour that was held Tuesday and Wednesday in Phillips County.

While Abbey wasn’t there too look at the sweat and blood that went into keeping and resurrecting these great lands, we asked him if he though the ranchers were doing a good job.

And how much noise can folks in Montana make?  Busses from as far away as Terry were being chartered to listen to the Director.


Abbey told our team what that one-on-one involvement means to him.

And while the farmer, rancher and landowner input is being heard now, why did other groups seem so involved in the planning?  While not in the BLM concept paper, emails back and forth have included ideas from groups such as the World Wildlife Federation.

Abbey told us that he, again, was the sole author and that he had very little interaction with anyone in putting together the drafts.

Stay tuned to the Northern Ag Network for the latest on this ongoing controversial story.



© Northern Ag Network 2010

Russell Nemetz, Taylor Brown & Haylie Shipp


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