American Prairie Foundation Spring Newsletter
American Prairie Foundation’s long time enthusiasts and supporters know well that the beauty of this project is that like many things in science, art and nature, it is simultaneously simple and complex. On the one hand is the elegant simplicity. Our singular goal is to create the largest, most imaginative prairie-based wildlife reserve in the world. On the other hand is the richly complex, multi faceted, holistic approach to conservation enabling us to guarantee that within this straight forward, highly focused project there is truly something for everyone.
I am delighted to report on the last few months’ progress spanning the many aspects of this endeavor. The following includes news about recent financial support, American Indians, local economics, spring wildlife babies, new land acquisitions and more. We deeply appreciate the rapidly growing support and are delighted so many of you are interested in visiting the reserve this year.
Please enjoy this update and I look forward to adventuring with you on the prairie.
Progress Report of American Prairie Foundation:
The David and Lucille Packard Foundation has chosen for the fourth year in a row to support American Prairie Foundations efforts to create this reserve. In April the Foundation awarded APF $500,000 in general support enabling APF VP Rochelle McReynolds to move forward in building further development & fundraising capacity within APF. We greatly appreciate the Packard Foundation’s continued confidence in APF’s ability to bring this bold vision to reality.
In March an anonymous foundation awarded American Prairie Foundation with a $ 1 million gift for land acquisition. This gift was a result of a challenge grant which required APF to raise $ 1 million in new funds in order to be eligible for the match. APF met the requirements nearly six months ahead of the required date. The foundation’s next challenge to American Prairie Foundation is to raise $ 3 million in new money, at which point they will award APF $ 1.5 million for land acquisition.
In just the past four months more than seventy individuals, foundations and other institutions have contributed financially to our efforts. We are tremendously grateful for your trust, steady enthusiasm and partnership.
As mentioned in the last newsletter we have, in the last five years, completed five separate land transactions bringing our total acreage including deeded and leased lands to more 31,400 contiguous acres. By comparison that is more than twice the land area of the island of Manhattan, NY. As the pace of the project picks up we now anticipate more than doubling that number of acres in just one year by spring 2007. As the land base increases so do the opportunities for making a positive economic impact in the local area, offering more varied visitation opportunities, increased partnerships and increased science and biodiversity restoration work.
A rare and exciting opportunity to view snowy owls has kicked off the birding season on the reserve. Swainsons hawks have returned from their winter trip to Argentina, sage grouse are gathering on their leks, long billed curlews, pipets and mountain plovers are staying close to their ground nests.
Last month during our weekly staff conference call American Prairie Foundation’s reserve manger Bill Wilcutt reported that all five of our new bison calves seemed fit and are greatly enjoying their first weeks of life on the Montana prairie. It has been more than 120 years since the magnificent American plains bison has given birth in this region. Please visit our website to view pictures posted by APF webmaster and photographer Valerie Bruchon. http://www.americanprairie.org/page.php?link_id=52
World Wildlife Fund continues to make great strides with sound science in our project area. Dr. Curt Freese, Managing Director of WWF’s Northern Great Plains Eco Region is overseeing a big jump in science related activity in the project area in 2006. WWF’s monitoring of APF’s herd of genetically pure plains bison includes imaging of herd movements by way of satellite tracking and radio collars affixed to the herd’s two lead matriarchs. It was WWF’s technology that enabled APF’s ranch manager Bill Wilcutt to just last week find a portion of the herd who were enjoying a brief “field trip” led by a rambunctious two week old bison calf. The itinerant calf, her momentarily anxious mother and other concerned buffalo relatives where gently coaxed back inside their temporary 460 acre enclosure within a matter of hours.
WWF Northern Plains Ecoregion is managing many additional wildlife conservation projects including riparian restoration, radio tracking of pronghorn antelope migrations, native plant ecology, prairie dogs, grassland birds and more. Visit their website at http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildplaces/ngp/index.cfm for a expanded story of their most recent work.
George Horsecapture Jr. of the Gros Ventre (White Clay) tribe and Clayton Hawley of the Assinoboine tribe participated in both APF /WWF sponsored June safaris. George and Clayton told the gathered crowds stories of how their ancestors lived on these open plains for hundreds of years subsisting primarily on the enormous herds of buffalo. Standing at the top of a 400 foot high buffalo jump they told the captive audience of adults and children how previous generations would run the buffalo off the jump then camp for weeks in the surrounding area processing the animals into food, clothing, teepee hides and tools. For more information on the history of buffalo jumps or “pishkuns” visit http://fwp.mt.gov/mtoutdoors/HTML/Articles/2003/UlmPishkun.htm. George and Clayton speculated that their ancestors would look favorably on such a project given the focus on recreating much of what used to be on the plains with the flora and fauna, but also the fact that even early on in the project people of both European and native American decent are discovering ways to work together on this common vision.
Visiting the Reserve:
We have hosted more than 100 visitors to the project in just the last three months including representatives of the Bureau of Land Management, Fish Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, project supporters and donors from across the U.S., tribal members from Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation and many others. The largest groups have come to participate in large group safaris, one with 25 participants and one with more that 60, all spending three days and two nights on the prairie in order to learn about project progress and experience both days and nights in this vast landscape.
In addition to many other activities the last safari participants visited the new bison babies, enjoyed a tremendous performance by Cowboy Poet Paul Zarzyski http://www.paulzarzyski.com/ helped plant more than 300 trees with riparian specialist Martha Kaufman on Telegraph Creek, participated in a prairie painting clinic led by Clyde Aspevig http://www.clydeaspevig.com/ and had a chance to interact with George Horse Capture Jr. and Clayton Hawley from the Fort Belknap reservation http://www.fortbelknapnations-nsn.gov/ who along with their many stories also provided atlatles (primitive spear throwing weapons) allowing children and adults a chance to hunt a large but surprisingly elusive cardboard box. Another safari is planned for September. Please contact us for dates.
Thanks to the efforts of APF Board member Clyde Aspevig, Christine Twito and Bill Wilcutt we now have a recently remodeled, very comfortable, four bedroom ranch house available for hosting supporters who wish to visit the project and perhaps get involved in some of the ongoing science work.
Bill and Pam Bryan of Off the beaten Path http://www.offthebeatenpath.com/ attended a June safari last month and are working with APF to develop new ways for people to experience the prairie. We will keep you posted on the emerging opportunities to travel with OBT in the region.
American Prairie Foundation in the Press:
The past few months has brought increased frequency to media stories about our efforts. The following link http://www.americanprairie.org/page.php?link_id=31will take you to recent print, radio and television coverage.
Some of the topics we’ll cover in our next message due out in early August:
Fall events calendar including APF event at Sotheby’s in New York, fall Safari schedule, news and profiles of new team members at APF, progress on Prairie Union School restoration, efforts to increase local economic impact and more.
I hope you enjoy these periodic news updates and really hope you are making plans to come visit us and see the substantial progress on this incredible endeavor.
All the best and I hope to see you on the prairie soon.
American Prairie Foundation
Work Phone: 406-587-4002
E-mail: [email protected]
APF Web Site: http://www.americanprairie.org
American Prairie Foundation
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