Rare Grazing Relief Offered on Wildlife Refuge


Jordan – Ranchers impacted in the Lodgepole Complex Fire met in Jordan on Friday with representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to discuss how to utilize the grazing recently made available on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.

Paul Santavy from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered these guidelines for producers in developing agreements:

  1. Grazing relief is only being offered for those producers that have been impacted by the Lodgepole Complex Fire.
  2. For grazing relief due to fire, CMR is not limiting stocking rate as it would under normal grazing circumstances.
  3. Agreements and pasture assignments will need to be negotiated individually between CMR and the producer.
  4. The producer will be required to fill out a permit application and obtain a permit from CMR, but the paperwork can be completed after the cows are moved per the negotiated individual agreement. A simple move slip indicating the number of cattle and move-in date can be used to record the move into the assigned pasture.
  5. The producer will be charged this year's grazing rate as determined by USDA, which is $24 per AUM, for actual use. This is consistent with policy used to manage CMR's existing 60+ permittees that have permits to graze the refuge.
  6. Producers will be expected to pull their cattle out of their assigned pasture on their normal planned shipment date, or November 1st at the latest.

As of July 31st, four ranchers have entered into verbal agreements with FWP and one has already moved their cattle onto the CMR. Additional ranchers are in conversations with FWP about taking advantage of this opportunity.

If you were impacted by the Lodgepole Complex fires and are interested in evaluating whether CMR grazing is a good option for you, please call Paul Santavy at 406-538-8706 or email him at paul_santavy@fws.gov.

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