United Property Owners of Montana and their policy director, Chuck Denowh, were unfairly criticized recently in a lengthy Gazette guest opinion. The authors were urban gentlemen whose topic expertise appears to be that they served on Resource Advisory Committees.
UPOM is proud to have someone of Chuck Denowh’s integrity working for property owners and property rights. UPOM never fought to remove the monument, only to consider reducing its overreach. Currently UPOM is helping hardworking ranchers and farmers spread the word that they don’t want to be replaced by a wildlife reserve.
At issue is American Prairie Reserve’s plans for a 3-million acre wildlife reserve in the Upper Missouri Breaks of Montana, APR’s self-proclaimed “American Serengeti.”
It’s difficult to compete with the APR, with the millions of dollars their nonprofit status helps them solicit from around the globe. Locals can only try to get the message out that not everything is as APR says.
“Save the cowboy, stop American Prairie Reserve” is an exercise in free speech that in no way infringes on anyone’s private property rights. It’s an expression that the “American Serengeti,” a playground for the world’s elite and curious, won’t happen without many family farms and ranches selling out to APR.
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If APR succeeds, local farms and ranches may have no choice but to sell. Large predators and free-roaming bison cannot co-exist with production agriculture, and eco-tourism would be a poor replacement for this area’s economy and communities.