Montana refuge opened to ranchers who lost grass to fires
Jul. 29, 2017
MILES CITY, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is opening the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge to grazing for ranchers who lost rangeland in a large wildfire in eastern Montana.
Refuge manager Paul Santavy says the fire left some ranchers with no rangeland for cattle to graze.
Without the rangeland grass, ranchers would be forced to sell their cattle.
Individual agreements will need to be negotiated, but refuge managers plan to allow ranchers to move cows onto the refuge and complete the paperwork later.
In addition, the normal regulations guiding how many cows are allowed in a pasture will be waived.
Four fires near the refuge scorched about 421 square miles (1,090 kilometers) of farmland and public land over the last week.