Looking Back, Forward & Up
President’s Message from Sean Gerrity
It seems that each year the pace of work increases, and we’re now seeing year-round activity on American Prairie Reserve. In the first few months of 2014, we’ve been building momentum by growing the APR team, working with our international bison partners, and launching a new collaboration here in Montana that will bring outdoor enthusiasts from around the world to explore the prairie ecosystem.
Find Your Path to the Prairie
Planning a Trip to the Reserve in 2014
This year American Prairie Reserve offers more visitor experiences than ever before. Throughout the snowy days of winter, we’ve been working on new interpretive signs, facility upgrades, and the first season of geocaching, a GPS-based scavenger hunt.
Landmark: By The Numbers
In February we launched a citizen science program called Landmark. Thanks to a new partnership with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, Landmark uses the power of outdoor enthusiasts to collect data. Read more below.
0 – Cost for researchers, land managers, schools, & the public to access data collected through the Landmark program.
6 – States represented by the first crew of six volunteers, including NJ, MD, WI, PA, CA, and IL.
8 – Average miles traveled each day by a volunteer on foot, snowshoe, skis, or on a mountain bike.
12 – Months of the year that Landmark crews are actively collecting data.
40 – Remote camera traps throughout the study area monitored by Landmark crews.
20,000 – Estimated miles traveled by volunteers over three years, nearly one circumnavigation of the earth.
Update: APR & the Economy
American Prairie Reserve is in the business of landscape scale conservation, but one of our goals is to ensure that the land remains productive in ways that clearly contribute measurable and sustainable benefits to the local economy. Since 2002, we have added $24.2 million to the region, including land purchases, Reserve management, employee wages, taxes and fees, and visitation.
Stop the Car!
A visitor story from Victoria Weston
Retirement makes you think about what’s important, and for me, supporting American Prairie Reserve hits the top of my list. As a young girl, I listened to the Lone Ranger on the radio and became fascinated by the American West. After purchasing a home in Bozeman, I wanted to share my Montana experience with my sister Liz and invited her out for a visit in 2007.
The notion of an organization rekindling the spirit of the “great American Prairie” was so enthralling that I couldn’t resist a visit. As we navigated the rough washboard roads leading into American Prairie Reserve, Liz suddenly yelled, “Stop the car! There are baby foxes along the road.” We parked and turned off the engine, watching the kits peek out at us from a grassy ditch. We were so taken by them we stayed for 30 minutes until they were brave enough to hop out of the ditch and run home.
A Moment in Time
You won’t spot the Plains spadefoot toad out on American Prairie Reserve this time of year. This well-adapted amphibian uses the bony, shovel-like ends of its hind feet to dig a winter hideout before the snow flies. There are many grassland creatures that survive winter without migrating to sunny regions, and we featured five of them in a recent blog post featured on the National Geographic homepage. Find out which species outsmart winter, and see all of our recent blog posts.
LANDMARK: Adventure Science Comes to American Prairie Reserve
When you ask Gregg Treinish why he’s excited about Landmark, the answer comes easily. “It’s real information. It’s science that’s not sitting on a shelf waiting to be published years from now.” Sitting alongside APR President Sean Gerrity in our conference room, Gregg looks at wildlife photos on the office walls. “It will advance both of our missions by including the outdoor community in discovery and decisions.”
Sean nods in agreement. As members of National Geographic’s Explorers Program, both Sean and Gregg are in the habit of thinking big and navigating uncharted terrain.
In 2011, Gregg founded Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), which pairs outdoor enthusiasts with conservation projects needing data from remote environments. Two years and 2,500 athletes later, Gregg and Sean met at a National Geographic event. The combination of ASC’s expertise with American Prairie Reserve’s need for long-term wildlife data led to Landmark, a multi-year adventure scientist initiative that will harness the power of volunteers.
Through Landmark, each crew of six volunteers traverse transects in the 31,000-acre Sun Prairie region for a month or more, year-round. Crewmembers check camera traps and track wildlife populations like elk, pronghorn, deer, and big cats. They are also on the lookout for sage grouse and snakes.
The cameras installed on perimeter fences will teach us how animals interact with and navigate the prairie. Over time, wildlife observations, population estimates and accompanying GPS points will provide us with data and information crucial to the Reserve’s management decisions.
Bison Across the Border: Your Questions Answered
We asked our Facebook community for questions about moving bison from Canada’s Elk Island National Park for the third time this spring. Reserve Supervisor Damien Austin responds:
Q: How many will be relocated? – Doug | Do you pay customs fees? – Ron
By how much does the herd grow every year naturally? – Pat
How do forage choices of new bison compare to veteran APR bison? – Shayan
Visions and Voices: Montana’s One-Room Schoolhouses
What We’re Reading
Charlotte Caldwell’s remarkable anthology of Montana’s one room schoolhouses is much more about the people who learned and worked in them than about the buildings themselves. Not only were the schoolhouses a place of learning, they were also social centers of many communities. Each page reveals a first-hand account from one of the school’s students or teachers and reminds us of a culture that endured great hardships with optimism and ingenuity. APR’s own Prairie Union School is featured with a telling of how it came to rest at its current location. If you enjoy heartwarming and fascinating tales of people from across Montana, this is the book for you.