The public land in the Pryors is managed by three separate federal agencies: Custer National Forest (CNF), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (BCNRA) which is part of the National Park Service (NPS). The three different agencies have different missions and goals, different policies, rules and regulations, different time schedules for planning decisions, and separate chains of command. In fact they are in different government departments with the Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture, and BLM and NPS in the Department of Interior. This provides major challenges to coherent management of this single special landscape with its deeply interconnected ecosystems and cultural heritage.
It doesn’t help that all three agencies are under funded and understaffed, which limits possibilities for even the most dedicated management staff to collaborate and cooperate among managing agencies. Also there is insufficient time, and priority, to update management plans to address changing conditions such as the rapidly increasing public interest in the Pryors and greatly increasing public demand for recreational opportunities in the area. Limited staff and funding also limit the agencies’ ability to implement any management plans and policies.
It would greatly help preservation of the Pryors for future generations if some designation was established for the entire Pryors (USFS, BLM, and NPS) which provided the three managing agencies with a common set of goals for management of this very special area.
There is no precise definition of the exact boundaries of “The Pryors.” Considering only the part of the public land uplifted above the elevation of the surrounding prairie, the Pryor Mountains consist of approximately 120,000 acres. About 63% (75,000 acres) of this is USFS land, about 32% (38,000 acres) is BLM land, and about 5% (6,000 acres) is NPS land. BLM and NPS manage important additional low elevation land surrounding the “mountain” in what has been called the “Greater Pryors.” There is also a significant area of the Pryor Mountains on the Crow Indian reservation to the north of the public land, and there are a few private inholdings within the public land.