On June 7, 2016 the majority of qualified electors in Phillips Conservation District (PCD) cast votes for the approval of a bison grazing ordinance, number 2016-1, with 1168 in favor and 315 against the ordinance, resulting in 79% voter approval.
In October 2016, American Prairie Reserve (APR) requested a variance from the ordinance. Specifically APR requested a variance from Sections 7(1)(b) and 7(1)(e), citing great practical difficulties and unnecessary hardship as a reason for the request.
Section 7(1)(b) requires: “All bison/buffalo must be tested and certified, by a state veterinarian to be disease free.” Section 7(1)(e) requires “bison/buffalo must be branded, tattooed, tagged or otherwise identified to track its health status.”
As a result of the APR’s variance request, a DNRC appointed Board of Adjustment was created to hear the variance request. The hearing is set for November 12, 2019 at the Phillips County Courthouse.
The Board of Adjustment set procedural rules and deadlines at its meeting on March 29, 2019 in Fort Benton, Montana. The first deadline requires any qualified elector residing in Phillips County who seeks to intervene in the variance proceeding to file a Petition to Intervene by May 24, 2019. If the Board grants approval to the Petition to Intervene, the Intervenor is then allowed to participate in all aspects of the legal proceeding and is required to follow all rules and procedures adopted by the Board in the conduct of the pre-hearing discovery and the hearing proceeding.
It is important that the Intervenor be able to present evidence or witnesses that will provide factual information regarding the issues of the case that will assist the Board in reaching a decision on the issues presented and not just express their personal opinion on the matter. Petition for Intervention forms, and other legal forms are being drafted and can be obtained at http://dnrc.mt.gov/public-interest/public-noticesor by calling District Administrator Jenifer Anderson at (406)654-4262.