of the events involving the Wilks Ranch fencing issue.
- Through efforts spearheaded by the Central
Montana Hunters, the Public signed an online
petition created on Mar. 2nd, as well as
hand signed petitions totaling over 1600 signatures and public
comments which were then submitted
to the BLM State Director Jamie Connell on April 16 2014.
As a result, the BLM rejected the Wilks land exchange proposal.
- Mar. 19th, 2014 - The
Wilks sought a land trade with the Bureau of Land Management,
exchanging ranch land near Bullwhacker road in Blaine County for
the Durfee Hills, which is situated right in the middle of their
property with no public access, except by plane or helicopter.
However, even though it is a wee bit more difficult to access,
it is prime elk habitat.
- Mar. 23rd, Proposed
land exchange raises profile of landlocked public parcel
- April 29, 2014 Wilks
say they are going to open access to Bullwhacker Road.
- May 3, 2014 Wilks
brothers 'blindsided' by BLM decision on land swap
- Aug. 19, 2014 BLM-Wilks
land exchange off table, but online
- The Wilks then began tearing up a swath of
land to erect a fence "on their property", encircling
the BLM Durfee Hills summer 2014.
- This fence was first photo documented by
a bowhunter (wingman) that flew into the Durfee Hills on Sept.
5th on the Hunt
- After seeing the first photo of a 5 wire
fence, I began posting documents citing legal fencing laws and
regulations, even if it was erected on private property.
- Sept. 26, 2014, BLM published
release concerning the BLM starting the process to restore access
to the Bullwhacker, with contact information, purpose and
3 scoping meetings at the beginning of Dec. It also stated, "A
proposed land exchange to restore access was considered, but was
determined to be not in the best interest of the American people
who have entrusted the BLM to manage their public lands for them.
- On Oct. 1st, as a result
of a number of the public raising questions, the Billings Gazette
ran an article, based on the Sept.
30th BLM Public Notice, that the Durfee Hills fence built
by the Wilks was okay - no encroachment/trespass - it was not.
- Oct. 7th, I contacted the
Fergus County Clerk & Recorder, followed by the Assessors
office - there was no professional survey on record!
- Oct. 8th, After speaking
with BLM about the lack of a professional survey, I sent an official
request for a survey and investigation into the other possible
trespass matters to BLM State Director Jamie Connell, posted
the request to th EMWH Blog, the Hunt Talk Forum and sent
it out through the EMWH Newsletter, requesting others express
their concern as well. Later that day I received an email from
Stan Benes the Regional Director acknowledging my request.
- Oct. 9th, I received a phone
call from Geoff Beyersdorff the BLM Field Manager that BLM would
be conducting a Cadastral survey and investigation.
- Oct. 19th I was flown out
to the Durfee Hills by another conservation hunter to document
part of the fencing.
- Oct. 20th, I met with the
Lewistown DNRC and BLM offices concerning documentation.
- Oct. 21st I sent in an official
complaint and request for survey and investigation to the Lewistown
DNRC office - Clive Rooney.
- BLM's Mel Lloyd relayed that the Cadastral
survey would begin on the 23rd.
- Oct. 24th-27th I was flown
out by a different conservation hunter for a campout to extend
- Nov. 13th, filed my BLM
FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).
- Nov. 21, replying to my
request on Durfee Hills survey, BLM
Dist. Mgr. Stan Benes replied, "As for the survey, it
is in the cadastral shop for record construction, review, and
approval, prior to going to the Federal register for I believe
30 days. Until that process is complete, as our lead suveyor says,
there are no results to share."
- Dec. 23rd, BLM FOIA approved
- Dec. 24, 2014,
2nd press release adding another scoping meeting in Billings on
Jan 15, 2015.
- Please see Wilks
Fencing Updates for 2015 Timeline
Jan. 26, 2016, BLM Central Montana District Manager, Mark Albers,
announced today athe Central Montana RAC meeting, not to pursue
a WIlks Brothers Land Exchange Proposal at this time; also, no road
building will be pursued at the Bullwhacker either.
Brothers Durfee Hills Interactive Map
This map provides photographic and videographic documentation, links
to documents involved such as the grazing leases, fencing laws for
Montana and the BLM Fencing Standards to assist the reader with
a virtual tour of sorts of the situation at hand.
Brothers Land Exchange Rebuttal / BLM Breaking Faith Page
Thread - Wilks brothers true colors are shining through.....
created by Wingman (second pilot to fly me out to the Durfee Hills
concerned over Durfee Hills fence, BLM to conduct Survey
by Charlie Dennison (PDF version, front page, continued on page
8) Interview with Kathryn QannaYahu
largest landowners keep expanding
by Brett French
"In Montana alone the Wilkses
own 341,845 acres, according to Montana Cadastral mapping figures,
making them the largest private landowners in the state. That figure
now tops Plum Creek Timber Co., which for years was the largest
landowner in the state.
The Wilkses, on the other hand, have staked
out the majority of their Montana property in central Montana. Looking
at a map, the Wilkses’ holdings have been clustered near where
Fergus, Musselshell and Golden Valley counties adjoin — expanding
out from their first purchase of the N Bar Ranch onto adjoining
property." Now, I do not begrudge people purchasing and owning
land (that is their right), but the fence issues that affect our
wildlife, unlawfully inclosing our Public Lands, possible privatization
of our wildlife, cutting off public access to Public Lands and public
hunter harassment are a different matter."