• Montana grasslands support native wildlife and welcome visitors

    2014-07-18

    One of the most important and iconic features of the natural American landscape is the rolling prairie that covers much of the West. Though the grassland has retreated somewhat in the face of encroaching civilization, United States travel still offers a wealth of untamed land to explore that is unmatched by many other industrial nations.

    Untouched plains
    West of the Mississippi River, there are still many places where a visitor can see few signs of human habitation. According to American Prairie Reserve, Montana has some of the most well-preserved, biologically diverse grasslands in the country. In addition to the natural ecological complexity in the area, residents do a good job of preserving the local nature habitats, making this region a good fit for efforts to guard the various animals and plants that make their home there.

    Protecting wild land
    APR has used these advantages to help them set up a protected section of land to serve both the wildlife in the area and anyone who would like to visit a relatively unspoiled natural habitat within the U.S. For more than a decade, APR has been buying land from private owners to create a large swath of protected prairie in Montana. Connecting their own property to adjacent public land, the organization hopes to create the largest wildlife reserve in the continental U.S. Its stated goal is to connect 3 million acres of land.

    More than just being stewards of the prairie, APR has said that it strives to advance scientific research into wildlife. The organization has worked with researchers to reintroduce foxes to the plains and study their movements and those of other native animals.

    According to National Geographic, the Northern Great Plains are one of only four grasslands left in the world that remain unaltered by human development. The news source also reported that APR's project will shelter the largest herd of free-roaming bison in the country.

    Visiting the reserve
    In addition to keeping the area safe for its inhabitants, APR's mission is to make the land accessible to the public. Visitors to the reserve are able to camp, hunt and hike on much of the land already set aside. The organization also offers opportunities to learn about its mission and about wildlife conservation in general while staying on the reserve. For those who would like to take advantage of APR's educational programs and financially support the reserve, but aren't too keen on roughing it, the organization also offers a small number of luxury suites for rent.

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