Does APR pay taxes?
Yes. American Prairie Reserve pays real estate property taxes on all of its deeded lands like any other private landowner. Public charities in the state of Montana, like APR, can apply for exemption from paying real estate property taxes on no more than 160 acres and are required to pay real estate property taxes on all lands owned in excess of that acreage. American Prairie Reserve has not applied for that exemption. The Reserve also pays taxes on personal property, including our bison and other taxable personal property.
How does APR affect real estate prices in the region?
Our analysis of real estate trends shows that American Prairie Reserve’s presence has had no effect on the regional market. As with agricultural properties elsewhere in eastern Montana, prices increase and decrease based on regional and national economic conditions, regional and national demand, property productivity, and cattle and grain prices, which vary from year to year. In compliance with industry standards and best practices, all American Prairie Reserve land acquisitions are advised by independent professional appraisals.
Why do local landowners sell to APR?
Ranchers may sell their land for a variety of reasons, such as a desire to purchase new grazing pastures, a need to consolidate their herds, or a decision to move their cattle operation to another part of Montana or out of state. People are often surprised to learn that most sellers with whom American Prairie Reserve has done business are still in the ranching business and the vast majority of them still reside in the local area. Like any neighborhood, land ownership in the region is constantly shifting. Many of the properties we’ve purchased have been bought and sold three or four times in the past two decades.
Will APR’s presence negatively affect the ranching economy?
In the seven-county area in which we are working, there are recorded 441,000 head of cattle. In just Phillips County alone, cattle numbers have increased from 80,000 head to 86,000 head in the years that American Prairie Reserve has owned land, increasing 5% since 2007. When complete, the Reserve will likely be a relatively small island in a vast sea of agriculture in northeastern Montana, which is one of the reasons we started the Wild Sky Beef program (see below).
What economic impact will APR have in the region over time?
We expect over time that the assembly of American Prairie Reserve will significantly increase expenditures on outdoor recreation, education programs and science research in the region. This will result in an influx of revenues for motels, restaurants, caterers, sporting goods stores, gas stations, outfitters and others who service these visitors and programs. As demonstrated elsewhere in the American West and many other places around the world, restoration of large natural areas and the resulting recreational opportunities help local communities attract and retain people, from retirees to young business professionals and entrepreneurs.
What is APR doing to create economic opportunities right now?
American Prairie Reserve is already contributing significantly to the regional economy through its daily operations. Since 2002, APR’s expenditures in the seven-county region total more than $36 million including land purchases, wages paid to local staff, tourism activities, equipment and supply purchases, payments to local contractors and real estate taxes. In 2013, we launched Wild Sky, a program designed to provide an economic benefit to neighboring ranches that raise cattle with wildlife-friendly practices that are similar to management on Reserve lands.
What is the Wild Sky program?
Wild Sky is a company created and owned by American Prairie Reserve. Wild Sky exists to get 100% natural, grass-fed beef to consumers with profits returned to American Prairie Reserve and neighboring ranchers who raise their cattle in conservation-oriented ways. The beef we sell is not yet wildlife-friendly itself – rather, proceeds from the sale of our high-quality beef from established sources provide the economic incentive for ranchers in the APR region to agree to wildlife-friendly practices. Over time, the beef from these ranchers will meet the Wild Sky criteria of grass-fed and hormone and antibiotic free and can be sold directly to Wild Sky. Our eventual goal is to sell as much beef from around the Reserve as possible as a way to soften the boundaries between American Prairie Reserve and neighboring ranchlands for the benefit of wildlife.