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Life on the American Prairie Reserve

Ranchers and researchers collide in an ambitious effort to convert Montana ranchland to a 3 million-acre wildlife refuge

This story has been edited to fix certain inaccuracies. Please note that views expressed here are the author's and aren't meant to represent those of the American Prairie Reserve

A pickup truck stops within a dozen feet of us. We are sitting at a round dining room table inside the house watching the truck through the sunlit window. Two men step out and take a few steps forward and I lunge down the carpeted stairs to meet them at the door. We say hello and are all in a jolly mood. The two men, like us in the house, have probably just finished work for the day. They asked whether the Holzheys were around and I realized they were looking for the family that used to live here. I had moved in about three weeks ago with a crew of five other young people to collect data on the American Prairie Reserve (APR), a private wildlife refuge that is buying out ranchers to aggregate more than 3 million acres of land and create a fully functioning prairie ecosystem. We were all, ranchers and researchers alike, on the front lines of the change that is happening in this sparsely populated and tree-less stretch of land in northeastern Montana. 

American Prairie ReservePhoto by Morgan Cardiff When fully realized, the American Prairie Reserve will include 3 million acres of land, making it significantly larger than Yellowstone National Park.

I think the two men may have known that the Holzheys had already sold their ranch, but perhaps the family had left more suddenly than anticipated. The men said they had come to talk a little shit to their friends (perhaps for selling out, now that I think about it), but instead found the family gone and the land silent and stripped of machinery. Six young scientists, sprawled comfortably in the family's former residence, must have been a sight to them. One of the men asked what we were doing there, and when I told him that we were collecting data for the APR, his face lost all signs of the joking mood that he had come with. The men said goodbye and departed with a somber air.

When fully realized, the APR will be significantly larger than Yellowstone National Park and much more remote. The project has been described by National Geographic as an American Serengeti, and has been in the works in various forms, by various organizations, since the 1980s. With over 305,000 acres acquired so far, the APR is already incredibly vast and teaming with wildlife. A herd of 440 bison roams there and sage grouse erupt from the sagebrush and disappear over the horizon.

My crew and I work for a small organization that collaborates with the APR, collecting data on a 30,000-acre parcel of land called Sun Prairie that was recently added to the refuge. I arrived in Montana in early August to begin work. Almost immediately, I witnessed the intensity of weather and sky that the state is known for. My arrival coincided with the start of a storm that would hover overhead for the next several days, barring my crew from conducting any work or driving back to town. The dirt roads could no longer be driven and were flooded out in many sections. As we took refuge in an RV, over 6 inches of rain fell in a county where the average annual rainfall is just 12 inches. The walls of my tent buckled with the constant winds, and water crept inwards at its four corners. After the storm, the landscape burst into renewed life and the mosquitoes came so thickly that they produced a fur on my jeans beneath which you couldn’t see any fabric. The intensity of the insects led one crewmember to have a breakdown. We all wore head nets to protect our faces as we played card games in the RV, awarding extra points to those who killed the mosquitoes that seeped in from outside.

The conditions made collecting data more challenging, and upon hearing that we were camping, the locals were in awe. A month later, we moved to a recently purchased ranch — the Holzhey’s former home — on what the APR has named Sun Prairie North. The fact that we were living in a former rancher's house seemed to change the way that locals viewed us, and it was hard not to feel as though we were occupying someone else’s territory. 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which handles the grazing permits on the thousands of acres of public land surrounding the ranch we were staying in, calls the small pieces of private property associated with these federal lands "base properties." Visible from several miles away, the ranch definitely looks like a base. There stand a half dozen large grey silos that will be sold or donated to other ranches as the land is converted to prairie, high fences surrounding the property, and more than twenty individual structures — including barns, machine-shops, and sheds — densely packed on a small rise. Left-behind cats hide in abandoned RVs from hungry coyotes. A great big western school bus is parked forever in the front yard.

Since 2004, the APR has purchased 14 ranches. These ranches have been erased from the landscape to varying degrees. The APR bought the Holzhey’s property and the associated BLM permits in 2014, acquiring 22,000 acres and bringing its holdings past the 300,000-acre mark. It will likely take years to remove the internal fencing, the numerous rusted and crumpled vehicles, and cut down the non-native Russian olive trees that guard the north side of the ranch from the wind, but this is perhaps a small matter considering the beautiful and extensive land to the east.

American Prairie ReservePhoto by Morgan Cardiff A heard of 440 bison roams on the 305,000 acres that currently make up the American Prairie Reserve.

There has been considerable protest from the local population regarding these purchases, in part due to concern that traditional ranching lifestyles will be jeopardized by environmental efforts in the region. But it should be said that the change that these acquisitions bring is not necessarily rapid. For example, the agreement regarding the APR’s largest holding, known as Timber Creek, allows ranchers to graze livestock on the roughly 150,000 acres for another 12 years.

It's not just old buildings and abandoned cars that remain on the landscape. Despite the fact that the majority of land here has never been tilled or otherwise severely altered, Sun Prairie, like much of the land in the region, is covered with earthen dams that were built to trap water. These water features, which alter the flow of the precious water here, were constructed to take advantage of natural gullies in the landscape, trapping water to form stock ponds for the cattle. In Phillips County, where the Sun Prairie parcel of the APR is located, there is, on average, one stock pond for every square mile in Phillips County. The APR has never actively removed these dams, but is passively letting the infrastructure run its course and allowing the land to return to its natural state. The torrential rain that brought the mosquitoes in the beginning of August also tore through a 20-foot earthen dam on the northeastern side of Sun Prairie, freeing the water once again and bringing change to the landscape.

To see the landscape at the detail required for our research, one has to walk, and I can honestly say that I have never walked this much in my life as I did on the reserve. Walking long distances seems to be a fundamental part of gathering data here. My legs are strong and the sharp spikes of the prickly pear cactuses have worn strange perforations in the rubber soles of my boots. I have come to realize not only that I am fully capable of walking up to 12 miles a day for five or six days a week, but that doing so makes me feel happy and strong. It is through the hundreds of miles of walking that I came to see nearly all corners of the 30,000-acre parcel from which we are collecting data. After just two or three weeks I was able to readily orient myself in the prairie landscape. And it has been through walking that I have come to grasp the shear size of what the APR proposes.

The fences of the Sun Prairie parcel are, in effect, training wheels for my imagination as I attempt to grasp the vastness of this incredible conservation project and understand how the wildlife inhabits such places. Fences have a long history on the prairie, and they are a hugely important technology for both ranching and the re-wilding being done by the APR. In his book, Rewilding the West, Richard Manning argues that it is the invention of barbed wire that readily allowed homesteaders to fence land in Montana in the first place, bringing to an end the era of roaming cowboys and their long-horn cattle freely grazing on federal grasses. By 1902, writes Manning, Montanans had illegally fenced 3.5 million acres of federal land in anticipation of new land use policy and a new way of life. Today, fences are one of the most important types of infrastructure on the reserve. Without them, the management of a herd of bison would not be possible, as free roaming bison are illegal and are perceived by cattle ranchers as additional foraging competition for cattle, not to mention a source of disease.  

The fences that the APR uses are advanced. They contain a lower smooth wire and two barbed wires sandwiching an electrified wire. The design allows pronghorn — whose legs can carry them faster than any other land mammal on our continent, but are too delicate to jump with — to duck beneath the fences. They also keep the bison in while keeping the neighboring cattle out. In my final weeks on the prairie, black and white plastic tags were hung between the barbs on the top strand of wire to deter low-flying sage grouse from colliding with them. A series of camera traps mounted on the fences allows us to study how wildlife interacts with the fence line, with the hopes of further improving the design of these fences in the years to come.

For now, the fences constitute strict boundaries. In October, a bison bull escaped. We heard about the escape from APR management staff over the radio, and asked if they needed our help in rounding the animal back into the reserve. They had chased the animal for hours on four-wheelers and on foot, and the bison had charged one staff member. In the end, the bull, which probably never understood the difference between one side of the fence and the other, was shot and butchered. A week later we received four or five pounds of meat for the freezer. 

Whether the herd will ever be free roaming depends a lot on the project's political future and the desire of the people of Montana.  Like the herd in Yellowstone, the bison on the APR will likely never be completely free roaming. If the reserve ever expands towards population centers, such as Malta to the north, the animals will likely be actively herded away. On the other hand, it’s hard to believe that the herd will always be as enclosed as it is now within 30,000 acres of Sun Prairie, though it is not infeasible that a perimeter fence could be built to enclose the fully formed 3 million-acre reserve.

The bison sometimes walk along the fences that contain them, making long, grey, dusty tracks. Perhaps it is because the pronghorn, elk, coyotes, and many birds all pass through the fences with ease that I consider the bison and I different from the other species. We are in some sense the residents of Sun Prairie, here by hire, or in the case of the bison, by a very strange twist of fate. It is simply incredible to share space with such beautiful and large creatures. In my mind, the bison, the ranches, and the local people here are the seed that will germinate into the greater reserve, and I often imagine how magnificent it will feel to stand in the tall grasses of a 3 million-acre, uninhabited, new American landscape.

Clarifications: The original version of this story inaccurately named the former owners of the ranch the author was staying in as the "Jacobs" instead of the "Holzheys." Also, Phillips County has an average of one stock pond for every square mile, not every acre of land.

 

Jason Gregg
Jason Gregg is a conservation field biologist and writer based in the United States.

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Comments

Mr. Gregg,

Due to your lack of response to many questions asked in these comments it seems that you are AFRAID to defend what you wrote, what you believe, and the program you participated in this past summer.  Good thing that not all “environmentalists” are afraid of controversy.

By Kathy on Sat, January 24, 2015 at 7:58 am

As president of American Prairie Reserve, I want to be clear that this article in no way reflects our feelings or viewpoint and it was not initiated or sanctioned by APR. Our staff have reached out personally to those affected by the story to apologize for the impacts of the writer’s mistakes and in hopes of reassuring them that it is always our intent to be respectful of their families and their land. We have also taken steps to ensure that others volunteering with this group recognize the importance of being good neighbors during and after their visits to the Reserve. I am grateful that we all care so much about this landscape, and I welcome you to contact us directly with questions about the project.

By Sean Gerrity, president, American Prairie Reserve on Fri, January 23, 2015 at 2:35 pm

When will APR be joining this discussion?  About time to hear from them.

By Ann Swinle on Fri, January 23, 2015 at 11:52 am

The idea that Yellowstone National Park bison are the last wild free-ranging herd in the U.S. is ridiculous.  With the invention of barbed wire, the days of free ranging hers of anything came to an end.  Yellowstone bison are confined to a certain area.  They cannot pick up in the winter and head south.  This herd is also the only public or private herd that is infected with brucellosis.  It is certainly not fair that the bison remain perpetually sick because of the human mismanagement by the National Park Service and well meaning but misguided so called environmentalists.

By Taylor on Thu, January 22, 2015 at 6:56 am

According to the Western Bison Association there are over 400,000 bison in private herd in the U.S. today.  However, they are not recognized as being “real” bison.  Only 4% of privately owned bison have been DNA tested for cattle genes, and current DNA tests are inadequate.  So no one actually knows how many privately owned bison have cattle genes.  This is the reason why environment groups and some government people are pushing for vastly enlarged public hers.  Very few of these groups recognize the contribution of private bison herds to the entire gene pool of bison.

By Stan on Wed, January 21, 2015 at 7:30 pm

APR claims that they want to restore this prairie to what it was when Lewis & Clark arrived.  Many ranchers in the area have already done that.  The work with conservation groups, rotate their her to encourage a healthy mix of prairie grass and set aside ample room for sage grouse, plovers and herons.  They are trying to till less ground, which can destroy an underground ecosystem.  Some even allow small colonies of prairie dogs, which many exterminate as pests.  The ranching families of the area are good stewards of the land and I doubt APR has the knowledge or experience to do the same.

By Sandra on Wed, January 21, 2015 at 10:58 am

Last January, Peter Geddes (Managing Director of APR)told a group at the University of Utah School of Law that APR “just signed a three year contract with a group called the Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation.”  Geddes said: “So these guys ... are out on the grounds installing camera traps and walking tracks with hand-held GPS, and we’ll probably have some really cool battery powered drones flying around this summer”  He added: “We’ll be really freaking out our neighbors by flying drones around up there”.  I’m sorry but that is not something to make jokes about.  Flying drones just to irritate your neighbors is NOT the Montana way.  Yet APR contends they make every effort to be a good neighbor.  I can tell you that my friends in Montana will tell you it is all for show.

By Vincent Green on Tue, January 20, 2015 at 8:29 pm

After reviewing the website of APR I must say I admire their lofty goal.  But really, where will all those people and towns go if there are free roaming bison.  Those benefactors would do well to find another means to leave a legacy.  Like maybe helping the ranchers “feed the world”.

By Jack Sumner on Tue, January 20, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Why would anyone cut down trees?  What is APR thinking to get rid of Russian Olive trees.  Can someone explain that to me?

By Ruth Connor on Tue, January 20, 2015 at 8:14 pm

It would seems to me that when a writer cannot get their facts straight that the publisher should retract the article.  Wonder when that will happen.

By Kathy Harrold on Tue, January 20, 2015 at 6:52 am

Mr. Gregg, I am anxious to hear you response to whether these lands in our state should be used to feed the world or for free roaming bison.  I think you should ask APR to weigh in on this question as well.

By Susan Miller on Mon, January 19, 2015 at 5:26 pm

So what I am reading in the comments from the ranchers is they are upset because they don’t want to share federal land with bison and believe that APR is “killing” a way of life that seemed to already be on its way out for a while now.  If people don’t want to sell their property because ranching is treating them well then by all means DON’T!  This is America and small family ranches dying, blaming ARP is not going to change that, hell at least there is a group willing to pay for that land now.  There isn’t entitlement to land simply because your family lives on land for X year, just ask the natives and the millions of buffalo that once roamed the land.  We run off business and if someone can front the capital then by all means, do it.

By sean on Mon, January 12, 2015 at 9:32 am

AS a resident of South Phillips County, Montana and a neighbor to APR and the CMR National Wildlife Refuge, I still have my doubts about the accuracy of your one stock pond per square mile.  Remember, the CMR is 855,00 acre.  One square mile is 640 acres, therefore the CMR is 1336 square miles.  The CMR reports 215 reservoirs or stock ponds which equates to .16 ponds per square mile.

You consider yourself a scientist and I would hope that means you prefer to get the facts correct.

By Perri Jacobs on Fri, January 09, 2015 at 7:15 am

Mr. Gregg,

I appreciate that you have retracted our name from the article.  It now reflects more accurately what happened in our neighborhood this past spring.

In a previous comment you indicated that you are a proponent of what APR is doing.  If you support their efforts you should also be able to defend the action of APR.  So again I ask you, How are 10,000 bison more important to this planet we call home than to feed 12 million people annually?  Think about that every time you take a bite of food and remember that there is most likely someone in this world, including in our country, that is hungry!

By Perri Jacobs on Fri, January 09, 2015 at 7:09 am

Yes, Jason I do feel your article is trying to make ranchers look bad! And you really need to learn how to do your research better. You had so many things in that article wrong it is not even funny.

By Stephenie Holzhey on Thu, January 08, 2015 at 6:12 pm

Jason Gregg and APR advocacy,

In the interest of clear, accurate, and direct information—an educational virtue that seems a dearth in both your article and APR correspondences as a whole—it may behoove you to know that APR is overwhelmingly abhorred by the people of NE Montana.  If you doubt the validity of that statement I encourage you to drive through the streets of Malta (and ranches of Phillips County, etc.) and note the propensity of signs on front lawns expressing extreme and unwavering opposition to APR.  Be advised: the severe weather you mention in your article also produces a formidable resolve in people hearty enough to thrive in such conditions for generations.  APR’s fight to bring its future vision to fruition will be long, hard, and ultimately barren.  APR’s advocates would be wise to funnel their energies, etc., in support of some other project/goal.

Sincerely,
Kate Veseth

By Kathryn Veseth on Thu, January 08, 2015 at 5:09 pm

I read this article and realize all the inaccuracies within it.  The Glaring ones being the first name on it and sec.  the number of damns.  How can you call yourself a researcher and make so many mistakes because you did not check your facts.
Also if APF is running 440 bison why are they only paying taxes on 227?  Are they also tax evaders? 
Why would anyone want to see land that is so well taken care of taken out of ag. production.  The only reason APF wants it is because it is in such good condition.  And this land was all homesteaded and for every homestead there had to be 40 acres plowed and put into production, so here again you wrongly represented the makeup of the area.
As a landowner in the area we know that APF tries to out bid everyone on every piece of property that comes up for sale.  They claim every ranch they have bought the people have come to them and yet we had a buy-sell signed and they came in and tried to out bid us. Another lie by APF.
And you should think twice about removing the trees in that area they are a very important source for many birds and wildlife.
This area is a place where wildlife and ag production has been compatible for 100 years and now you want to take it out of production so more people can go hungry.  We are proud of the fact that we do have so much wildlife and also feed the world.

By Vicki Olson on Thu, January 08, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Perri Jacobs,

My sincere apologies!  I am very surprised and frustrated to find out my made-up name is actually one used by a ranching family in Philips County.

As for the water comment, its well taken and will be fixed.  The accurate statistic is: nearly one stock pond for every square mile in Phillips County. 

I appreciate aspects of your other comments as well, especially your knowledge on the agricultural capacity of the region and the rancher’s expertise and point of view. 

Jason Gregg

By Jason Gregg on Wed, January 07, 2015 at 8:59 pm

This is in response to your question to Ms. Holzhey asking “does this piece really show ranchers in a bad light in your opinion?”  While I will not directly address that question, I do wish to represent one rancher’s side of the story.

The American Prairie Reserve has a goal of a 3 million acre reserve, according to their website.  They have publicly stated that those 3 million acres will encompass what is currently known as Phillips, Valley, Fergus, Petroleum, Garfield and Blaine counties of Montana.  Let’s explore how much those counties contribute economically and from a food production standpoint.

According to the 2012 Montana edition of the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) publication, this six county community had almost $497,000,000.00 in gross farm income for 2010.  In a 2008 Sheep Industry Economic Impact Analysis prepared for the American Sheep Industry it stated that every $1.00 created by the U.S. Sheep industry is multiplied by 3.65 in the economy.  Using that information, in 2010 this specific agriculture community created $1.8 billion dollars of economic impact that ripples through our communities, counties, state, nation, and the globe. 

Again, according to NASS, in 2012 these six counties had 286,000 head of cows and heifers that had calved.  The industry standard would say that if 90% of them calved we would have 257,400 calves.  The beef industry typically keeps 15% of the heifers for replacement.  Therefore there would be 218,790 head of calves going to the feedlot.  According to the Southern SARE a 1000 pound beef carcass yields 300 pounds.of meat.  Those 218,790 head of calves will produce at least 65.6 million pounds of edible beef.  According to the USDA, average beef consumption in this country is 56 pounds per person.  Therefore, these six counties would feed beef to 1.17 million mouths annually.

NASS also said that in 2011 these six counties harvested approximately 24 million bushels of winter and spring wheat.  According to the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee one bushel of wheat equals 60 pounds.  Therefore, these counties produced 1.44 billion pounds of wheat.  The USDA said that in 2010 the average American consumed 134 pounds of wheat annually.  That equals feeding 10.75 million people every year with that amount of wheat production. 

So let’s recap.  The Phillips, Valley, Blaine, Fergus, Garfield, and Petroleum County agriculture community creates $1.8 billion in economic impact and feeds 12 million people annually.  Keep in mind the number of people we feed does not include sheep, cull cows, or other crops such as peas, lentils, and barley. 

Mr. Gregg, the question becomes how do 10,000 bison replace the economic activity and the food that the agriculture community currently provides?  How will 10,000 bison provide all the jobs that we do, support the schools that we do, support the businesses that we do and support the families that we do?

Remember, if you eat (even if you are vegetarian) you are involved in agriculture.  You should thank every farmer or rancher you meet for the time, effort, blood, sweat and tears they pour into their family agriculture operation so that you are provided the sustenance you require to maintain life.

Also, the vast majority of farmers and ranchers in our area are conservationists, environmentalists, sustainable, respectful of the whims of Mother Nature, and fiercely protective of their right to conduct their food production business in the manner that works best for their situation.  They must be good stewards of the land and all its’ inhabitants.  They have learned that proper stewardship is rewarded when the land, in turn, takes good care of them and their family!

By Perri Jacobs on Wed, January 07, 2015 at 5:47 pm

I must admit that I am offended and angered by your use of my surname in your article regarding your visit to APR.  You see, Francis, Dolores, Lee and I are the Jacobs family ranch of south Phillips County. That makes us neighbors and a lessee of APR and neighbors to the Holzhey ranch.  When your article first appeared the alarm was raised among our friends and neighbors that we sold out to APR.  I can’t begin to tell you how many phone calls and emails I have fielded to explain that the article is not really about us and is probably about Holzhey’s.  I see there is currently a disclaimer on your article in regards to our name but that is not how it was first published.  Your response to Ms. Holzhey about the name was “I used a different name to protect your privacy because I had never actually met your family and I did not know if you would like to be referenced in such a piece” I am here to tell you that you have violated the Jacobs family privacy, we have not met you, and we do not like being referenced in your piece.  I would request that you find an entirely different surname to use, one that can’t be found in Phillips County.  They do exist.

While I am here we should discuss other misinformation that you have printed.  You state, “on average, one stock pond for every acre of land”, which is absolutely ludicrous.  Let me explain.  Merriam Webster Online defines an acre as 4,840 square yards.  The dimensions of an NFL regulation football field are 120 yards by 53 1/3 yards.  When multiplied, those 2 figures equate to 6,396 square yards.  That is the equivalent of 1.32 acres per football field.

Let’s use another point of reference in regards to this water issue.  The CMR National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 1.1 million acres and includes the UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge and Ft. Peck Lake.  Land managed by APR is bordered by the CMR on some of its’ southern boundaries.  According to Wikipedia, Ft. Peck Lake is 245,000 acres.  Therefore, the true landmass of the CMR and UL Bend is 855,000 acres.  According the CMR Summary of Comprehensive Conservation Plan and EIS there are currently 215 reservoirs/stock ponds on the CMR.  Essentially they are saying there are .00025 reservoirs/stock ponds per acre in the CMR.  How can there be such a huge difference in the reservoir/stock pond density between these two areas?  The answer is, there is not.  They are in the same area, similar geography, similar moisture and weather patterns, similar wildlife, and similar reservoir density.  Mr. Gregg, you have a long ways to go to prove to me that there is “one stock pond for every acre of land”!

Essentially you are saying that this area is covered in water.  If that were true there would not be enough grass for APR to graze their goal of 10,000 bison.  If they did try to graze that many bison, they would be guilty of gross mismanagement of the land.  The land would be as bare of grass as any desert you could name and thus drive out all of the wildlife, birds, and other species that call this place home.  Not much of an accomplishment for an organization that touts its’ conservation efforts.

The article also describes our area as a “tree-less stretch of land in northeastern Montana”.  First of all we are not tree-less.  I will admit that in some areas they are few and far between.  On the other hand, along the Milk River, they are plentiful.  I also note that your article mentions that APR will “cut down the non-native Russian Olive trees that guard the north side”.  Aren’t you talking out of both sides of your mouth when you say we are tree-less and mention the Russian Olive trees?  You may want to consider explaining to your readers why APR would tear out Russian Olives trees when we have so few trees and they are not considered a noxious weed in the state of Montana.

Mr. Gregg, I think you have a long journey ahead of you if you want to consider yourself a writer and a conservation scientist.  As a writer your article contains, in my opinion, glaring errors in print and in omission of information.  As for the conservation scientist in you, I am just plain speechless and those who know me will tell you that rarely happens.  On the other hand a trusted friend had it right when they said, “you can’t fix stupid”!

By Perri Jacobs on Wed, January 07, 2015 at 5:45 pm

I watched the Dan Rather presentation.
I saw a very close parallel of the residents opposition to APR goals to that of the native americans.
“They want us off our land, to be jobless, homeless, dependant of the government. This is our life and we want our children to live here as did our ancestors and enjoy this beautiful country.”
How long does one need to occupy land before it becomes “our heritage?”
Sad yes, but natural reserves have always created divisions of thoughts and lives.
The natives were forced to leave their land and assimilate into new homes, jobs, and lifestyle. It couldn’t havevhappened any other way. The whites were more advanced in weapons, knowledge, and population.
Just as the natives who first gained the advantage of horses and numbers took land from the natives and slaughtered them, thus will it always happen.
The strong will force their way upon the weak.

By James Priddy on Tue, January 06, 2015 at 11:57 pm

Hi Ms. Holzhey,

I do realize that the ranch was owned by your family, the Holzheys.  I used a different name to protect your privacy because I had never actually met your family and I did not know if you would like to be referenced in such a piece.  I have worked with Earth Island Journal to note that the Jacobs name is fictitious.
Additionally, I would like to add that I am not associated with APR.  I am simply a small time observer and was on the reserve for only a few months.  This piece is an effort to record my own experience and opinions, not to outline the APR’s policy, broad plans, or interactions with ranchers.  Though I am a proponent of what the APR is doing I also tried to show the effect of these changes on families such as your own.

Does this piece really show ranchers in a bad light in your opinion?

By Jason Gregg on Sat, January 03, 2015 at 10:10 am

Jason, you really should get your facts straight!! It is not the Jacobs ranch you are staying on it is the HOLZHEY ranch!!! And people knew we where moving and when we were moving. I am sick and tired of all the lies and inaccurate stuff I have read since the APR bought our ranch in June. Sean Garrity saying in an interview that the APR has NEVER approached one ranch to ask to buy their ranch is one of the biggest lies I have heard. We certainly did NOT approach them, they called us and asked us about buying our ranch. The only reason we sold our ranch to them is because of working relationship we were in was not good!!! I would think as a scientist you would make sure your info is dead on!!! As for people not treating you guys good, maybe all the lying that the APR is doing should be stopped!!!! You guys need to start being honest and up front with people and quit skulking around like coyotes!!!

By Stephenie Holzhey on Wed, December 31, 2014 at 11:13 am

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