An eight-year-old plan to give bison grazing room outside Yellowstone National Park has never been put in place because promised federal funding hasn't materialized. Federal agencies are reneging on the agreement, a conservationist said this week. The Interagency Bison Management Plan adopted in 2000, aimed at limiting the spread of disease from bison to cattle, provided for a $2.8 million, 30-year lease of grazing rights for the Yellowstone herds on the Royal Teton Ranch adjacent to the park. The lease would allow the bison to migrate onto an additional 7,500 acres of winter habitat. The plan was adopted and signed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Montana Department of Livestock. "It's not in the budget," said Bruce Knight, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs for APHIS. Knight said his agency's entire budget for managing brucellosis, a disease that causes bison and cattle to abort, is less than $9 million. In addition to bison removal, the service has been seeking a "meaningful long-term solution without the need for land acquisition," Knight said, referring to efforts to develop a vaccination protocol for bison. Brucellosis has been fully eradicated nationwide except for remnants in the greater Yellowstone area, he said. Tim Stevens, Yellowstone program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, said federal agencies are reneging on the agreement, despite state and private commitments of more than $1.3 million for the lease. The federal agencies had agreed to provide $1.5 million, Stevens said after watching a bison roundup on Tuesday morning. "There is an agreement on the table between the state of Montana and the Royal Teton Ranch that will eliminate any perceived possibility of brucellosis transmission between bison and cattle by virtue of removing the cattle," Stevens said. "If (APHIS) really intends to implement this plan that they created, they will find the money to make it happen." Stevens' group and three other organizations are lobbying federal lawmakers to uphold the agreement. "This plan, in and of itself, is not the silver bullet for bison but it's the biggest step forward in decades," Stevens said. "If the agreement is not funded ... such an opportunity will not present itself again in our lifetimes, if ever." In a March 11 letter to Montana's congressional delegation, the environmental groups wrote, "APHIS has been unwilling to commit its resources to this project APHIS is spending over $1.5 million each year on hazing, capturing and slaughter of bison, quarantine research and other disease management programs." The plan is also supported by the Montana Stockgrowers' Association. "The livestock industry takes a huge black eye for (the slaughters)," said Errol Rice, executive vice president of the association. "We want a healthy coexistence with bison that are allowed to roam outside the park." (AP) Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com.