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With 14,000 Critical Acres Added to Montana Wildlife Reserve, It May Become the Largest in the Lower 48


American Prairie Reserve

Alison Fox, APR Executive Director, highlighted the importance of the new acquisition when she said, “We are very excited to add Blue Ridge to the Preserve and we anticipate that recreationists will be too. The acquisition of Blue Ridge brings us one step closer to achieving our goal of building a haven for people and wildlife forever preserved as part of America’s heritage. “

In fact, the 29th purchase brought the total acres of land on the reserve to 419,625, of which 104,578 acres are private land owned by the reserve and 315,047 acres are public lands (federal and state) leased by the reserve. This excludes the 1.5 million acres of Charles M. Russell NWR and Upper Missouri Breaks NM, which act like the bread in the conservation sandwich.

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The Blue Ridge Ranch unit shares a five-mile border with another parcel of land owned by the reserve, connecting it with nearby Russell NWR, opening critical migratory corridors for traveling mammals such as the pronghorn antelope.

In years past, the reserve was a small patchwork of disconnected units, and the APR was a dream of the Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). However, now the APR is becoming one of the best places in the state to investigating wildlife, and published articles on reserve properties include some on beavers, cougars, highland game birds such as grouse, the ecology of bison and pronghorn migration, and research on the swift fox in danger of extinction.

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Along with the goal of having the largest bison herds in the country, the reserve’s purchase of the deeds to ranches in the proposed area has removed 63,777 acres of leased public land in Russell NWR that was originally used for breeding won. Now he will return to wildlife management, expanding the grazing land available for bison.

In a previous World at Large storyWe note that the American Prairies or Great Plains region spans 16 states, is the ancestral home of dozens of Native American tribes, and contains the natural habitat of nearly all North American megafauna species.

In 1999, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) published Ecoregional Planning in the Northern Great Plains Steppe, which, for the first time, identified specific critical areas of the Northern Great Plains that were the most viable for conserving existing plant diversity. And animals. .

The region north of the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Montana was identified as a top priority for grassland conservation, due to the relatively pristine condition of the land and the diversity of life species. wild in the area.

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Shortly after the TNC published its findings, WWF decided to initiate a conservation effort in Montana’s glacial plains, one of the key areas identified by the TNC. They determined that an independent entity, in this case APR, that would be able to focus all of its time and resources on preserving the Northern Great Plains of Montana, would be the best vehicle to initiate a large-scale conservation effort.

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