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2013-10-26. Vision of Prairie Paradise Troubles Some Montana Ranchers.

posted Oct 28, 2013, 12:25 PM by Alan Gould
For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 2. Excerpt:  MALTA, Mont. — On fields where cattle graze and wheat grows, a group of conservationists and millionaire donors are stitching together their dreams of an American Serengeti. Acre by acre, they are trying to build a new kind of national park, buying up old ranches to create a grassland reserve where 10,000 bison roam and fences are few. ...“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said George E. Matelich, the chairman of the conservation group, American Prairie Reserve, ....  The trouble is many ranching families here in northern Montana say it is not a project for them. As the reserve buys out families and expands its holdings — it now has about 274,000 acres of private ranches and leased public lands — some here are digging in their heels and vowing not to let their ranches become part of the project. ...Officials at the American Prairie Reserve say they have done everything possible to be good neighbors and have not foisted their vision on anyone. They have installed electric fences to ensure that their 275 bison do not roam onto other people’s property. They allow hunting on the land. They lease back some of their land to allow ranchers to graze their cows. ...The reserve’s goal is to revive a landscape that existed when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark passed through in the early 1800s. They have taken down 37 miles of fence. They have replanted some tilled ground with native grasses. They have pulled down barns and sheds and cleared away heaps of trash.... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/us/vision-of-prairie-paradise-troubles-some-montana-ranchers.html. Jack Healy, The New York Times.