July 16-17, 2012 – Governor Steve Bullock “asked FWP to go forward with this - would like BOL to be a part of the forthcoming plan as part of the decision making.” (Board of Livestock meeting minutes, PDF, 312kb)
July 23, 2012 – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Dept. of Livestock release scoping notice on Proposal to Allow for Bison to Occupy Suitable Habitat Year-Round in Montana On Lands Near the Border of Yellowstone National Park. (PDF, 260kb)
August 20-21, 2012 – Approximately 100 people attend public scoping meetings in West Yellowstone and Gardiner Montana. (PDF, 164kb)
July 2013 – Montana releases Draft Joint Environmental Assessment, PDF, 4.6MB (EA) for Year-Round Habitat for Yellowstone Bison.
“The final decision will be made by officials from FWP and the Montana Department of Livestock.” (See EA page 16)
“The decision to be made is whether Yellowstone bison should have year-round access to locations identified in this analysis document or to maintain the current management of bison outside YNP in specified areas only during the winter and spring.” (See EA page 16)
September 13, 2013 – Over 100,000 people submit comments on year-round habitat for public buffalo in Montana. (Rebecca Cooper MT FWP) (BFC Right to Know Request for number of public comments, PDF, 124kb)
January 13-14, 2014 – The “population number is the issue and need to tie tolerance of bison outside the park to a population” target, Christian Mackay, Dept. of Livestock Executive Officer, addressing the Board of Livestock. (Board of Livestock meeting minutes, PDF, 236kb)
March 17-18, 2014 – Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Dept. of Livestock present a “modified alternative” to the Board of Livestock to reduce the buffalo population in Yellowstone National Park to 3,300 - later revised to 3,000 “as directed by the board.” (Board of Livestock meeting minutes, PDF, 184kb)
The “modified alternative” for 3,000 buffalo was never analyzed by Montana or presented to the public for review and comment. (West Side Expansion EA Population Range and Operational Activities, undated Draft, PDF, 276kb).
Establishing a buffalo population target and triggers were issues Montana eliminated from further study in its environmental analysis:
“Population size is addressed in the IBMP, and this proposal does not change the population target/triggers of the IBMP.” (See EA page 18)
May 19-20, 2014 – A vote by the Board of Livestock “… to postpone this decision indefinitely … ” carried unanimously.
“… if the board votes to go ahead proposal will be put before the IBMP for vote as a state decision to allow tolerance [sic] one [sic] the population is down to 3,000.” (Board of Livestock meeting minutes, PDF, 156kb)
Background on Year-Round Habitat for Public Buffalo In Montana
“The bison-tolerant boundary of Alternative B represents 0.4% of Montana’s 147,200 square miles.” (See EA page 107)
“The vast majority of this area is owned by the Gallatin National Forest (88.5%) with the remainder owned by FWP (3.3%), private landowners (3.8%), the National Park Service (0.7%), and small percentages owned by Montana Department of Transportation (right-of-ways), and local government.” (See EA page 32)