Spring 2013 Newsletter

An Entreprenurial Approach
President’s Message from Sean Gerrity

In March, I spoke at Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West about American Prairie Reserve’s entrepreneurial approach to large-scale conservation. It was gratifying to see so many people, including young students, eager to discover how we are achieving conservation success through private contributions. The ensuing discussion focused on how the Reserve’s sure and steady growth is a powerful example of how a mission driven, non-governmental effort can result in one of the most ambitious conservation projects ever undertaken in American history.

You're invited... »
APR’s innovative approach means that each of us has a stake in the conservation of this landscape. I invite you to join us this year by visitingvolunteering or supporting the Reserve, and I hope you enjoy reading about some of the remarkable people – staff, donors, scientists and volunteers – who are making the APR mission a vibrant reality.

Not Just Acres – Reserve Staff Grows

We’re excited to welcome two new staff members to our Reserve team, James Barnett (Reserve Supervisor) and Lars Anderson (Reserve Assistant). Both James and Lars will live full-time on the Reserve and greatly increase our capacity for restoration, bison and public access projects. We are also happy to bring two new families to the local area.

Your Gift – Doubled!

Thanks in part to a generous $50,000 matching grant from The John and Kelly Hartman Foundation, year-end fundraising in 2012 was a record-setting success. The Hartman Foundation has been a supporter since 2005, helping us expand our outreach to Montanans and annual donors of all levels. Your generous gifts over the holidays helped us not only meet, but exceed, the Foundation’s match, which doubled or even tripled the impact of $1–$1,000 gifts. Thank you to everyone who helped us achieve this ambitious goal!

Kids & Nature – By The Numbers

76 – Percent of youth ages 6-12 that participate in outdoor recreation to “be with family and friends.”
44 – Percent of campers that cite their father as the person that introduced them to camping.
8 – Age at which children can identify 25% more Pokémon video game characters than wildlife species.
6 – Hours spent a day in front of an electronic screen by an average American child.
1 – Ranking of “teenager” in a list of words least associated with “camping.”

Like a Needle in a Haystack

This spring, APR staff members and biologist Kyran Kunkel set out to expand our bison tracking efforts with an additional GPS collar. With more than 14,000 acres to roam, the Reserve’s bison population moves widely across the land. GPS collars are one way that we track these movements, and the information helps us make management decisions, like needed fence improvements.

What We're Learning »
Because bison herds are matriarchal, collars are placed on older, lead females that make decisions for the larger herd. Over time, the bison will naturally divide into family groupings as the population continues to grow. Data from multiple collars will tell us about these sub-herd interactions as well as their travel across the landscape – a story that teaches us what terrain and vegetation bison prefer.

The GPS collars also inform ongoing science projects, allowing us to measure the time the bison spend on prairie dog towns and the area affected by our prescribed burn. After we expand the herd’s range to 31,000 acres this summer, we’ll even be able to observe how the bison change their grazing as they explore the additional acreage. Stay tuned! We’ll report back later this year on the new data.

A Gift That Doesn’t Need Wrapping

Last Christmas, Idaho residents Tom and Janet Rahl were inspired by National Geographic’s American Serengeti to make an unexpected gift to their kids and grandkids – a $1,000 donation to help build American Prairie Reserve.

Grandma and I were not giving any presents on Christmas Eve... »
Tom writes: “Our kids and grandkids spend Christmas Eve at our house every year, where we eat chicken and dumpling soup and then open up some gifts. In October when we gathered for Janet’s birthday, I told everyone about the APR. I also indicated that this year Grandma and I were not giving any presents on Christmas Eve, nor did we expect any from anyone else. Instead we would donate a thousand dollars to the APR. All they had to do was give up a gift from us, plus they didn’t have the hassle or expense of getting us something. Pretty much everyone thought it was a great idea. The two youngest (8 & 10) were not overly enthused at first, but soon came around.”

A Moment in Time

The harsh winter of 2011 was catastrophic to pronghorn in the Reserve region. The Montana Game & Fish Department estimates that populations suffered up to 70 percent losses. Last month, Reserve Foreman Dennis Lingohr was surprised and encouraged by an increase in sightings of this uniquely North American mammal. As Dennis tells it, “I jumped out of my 4-wheeled office and snapped these images. You just never know what might greet you on the prairie.”

Interview: Why Are Some Species Rare In Nature?

In our last newsletter, we shared a new book from World Wildlife Fund Lead Scientist Eric Dinerstein, The Kingdom of Rarities. Eric, who also serves on APR’s National Council, has traveled the world to learn about and conserve rare species, including animals that call the prairie home. In this interview, APR President Sean Gerrity asks Eric why some species are naturally, or become, rare and how your efforts to build American Prairie Reserve can help. Read the full interview. 

Are Invasive Plants Hurting The Prairie? Your Questions Answered

Q: We see invasive species like Kudzu or the Emerald Ash Borer in southern and midwest areas; are there species that are hurting the prairie? – from Sarah on Facebook

Read the answer... »
A: The APR region is largely free of noxious weeds, or plants that pose a threat to property, agriculture, wildlife, or recreation. Some areas are battling Spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe), Leafy spurge(Euphorbia esula) and Houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale), but the sites are few in number and small acreages. These species tend to be isolated around areas with higher precipitation and waterways. If we were to find noxious weeds on Reserve lands, APR has a comprehensive weed management plan that outlines protocols for addressing infestations. – Damien Austin, Reserve Supervisor

“A Must See in 2013″ – What We’re Reading

The Missouri River Breaks region has been named a Top Destination for 2013 by National Geographic Traveler. A related article, now online, appeared in the Jan. 2013 issue of the magazine and includes the APR bison herd as one of region’s attractions. The Montana Quarterly also celebrated the Northern Plains in a photo essay written by Scott McMillion with stunning photographs by Montana’s Tony Bynum. Both articles will feed your adventurous spirit and inspire you to plan a 2013 trip to the Reserve area, even if it’s only as an armchair traveler.



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