In 1987, a Big Open with bison was proposed for a large area including much of the refuge. That year, Frank and Deborah Popper proposed an even larger buffalo commons. Vehemently opposed by the livestock industry, subsequent discussion produced no bison on the ground.
Since at least 2001, Montana again tangled with bison restoration. There have been reports, an expensive quarantine program, public meetings, an appointed advisory committee and unfulfilled promises. A vague plan and impact statement has lain dormant over four years. All to no avail.