Secretary Zinke Opens Up Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge for Emergency Grazing Relief

Cattle to arrive on Refuge in coming days

Last edited 9/29/2021

Date: July 29, 2017

JORDAN, MT – Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will open the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (CMR) for emergency grazing relief. Allotments will be made immediately available for ranchers who lost grazing land in the Lodgepole Complex fires.

"We have a saying that Montana is one small town with really long roads, and as a neighbor in that small town, the Department is dedicated to providing disaster relief and resources where possible," said Secretary Zinke. "When I talk about restoring trust between local communities and the federal government, and being a good neighbor, this is exactly what I mean. My staff and I heard from ranchers, equipment dealers, and other concerned citizens, and we all got to work. I applaud the quick work and flexibility of the team at the CMR for getting this done for the community."

"This is a difficult time for many families in Montana and we are eager to get to work as neighbors do and help people impacted by this fire disaster. We stand ready to welcome our neighbors in need," said Paul Santavy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Charles M. Russell Refuge manager.

"I am proud to have worked with Secretary Zinke to find immediate help for our hard working ranching families," said Senator Steve Daines.

"Secretary Zinke's decision is a common sense solution to help Montana's farmers and ranchers impacted by the Lodgepole Complex fires. I appreciate Ryan sharing our sense of urgency and responding quickly to our letter requesting aid," said Congressman Greg Gianforte. "The fact is we have grass available and hungry cows. Allowing them to graze on retired grazing allotments within the CMR just makes sense."

For assistance, ranchers can contact the Refuge at (406) 538-8706.

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