By Virgil Vaupel
Thanks For Listening 

Nonproductive Land


Introducing the North American Serengeti. A proposed million acres or so of Montana land, public and private, which will turn productive land that would feed hundreds of thousands of people into a reserve that produces, actually, nothing.

“We want to create a place where people from all over the world can come and see the American West as it was a thousand years ago.” Those were the words of the APR (American Prairie Reserve) Marketing and Content Director, Katie Teson when I asked if creating an “American Serengeti” from the holdings of the APR was in their long-range plans.

Their holdings include 57,972 acres of deeded ground and land under conservation easement. This includes 66 parcels in Valley County and 127 parcels in Phillips County.

The American Prairie Reserve also controls 215,262 acres of Bureau of Land Management and state land allotments which are attached to the private properties.

Point is ... The APR is taking productive land and turning it into non-productive buffalo pasture and a place for city folk to come visit nature at it's remotest. They want folks to experience the wildness of Montana. Oh, BTW, they recently spent about a hundred forty thousand dollars getting power into their headquarters so they could provide their 'back to nature' guests with air conditioned Yerts and telephone service.

Seems to me a real back to nature adventure would be to sleep in a tepee and use buffalo chips for fire fuel while they boil soup in a buffalo paunch.

With our government trying their darnedest to run off the American farmer and rancher so we can import wheat and beef from “developing countries” we should be using every available piece of ground to raise our own groceries don'tcha think?

There are around 50 national parks in the United States those city-fied folks can visit if they have the cherished desire to see buffalo mate. Go there and leave Montana alone.

And now the APR has come up with a "feel-good, warm-fuzzy window-dressing" plan, offering "better than prime" prices for their neighboring ranchers beef. The one big catch is that the neighbors must have a "like mind with the APR when it comes to conservation issues." Now what the Sam Hill does that mean? Let's see how that one plays out.

Seems the APR is also in the “Angus” beef business as well as the black-footed ferret, prairie dog, bison, wolf, cougar, grizzly bear and rattlesnake business.

According to their web site at, they will offer to their neighboring ranchers, prime prices for their beef IF the rancher's beef is hormone and anti-biotic-free and has not been fed grain or other feed supplements.

As in all contracts one must ... MUST read the fine print in its entirety and have a reputable lawyer (wouldn't that be an oxymoron?) look it over to protect your interests.

I'll hold judgment until I see that contract.

With a third of the world population living in poverty, hungry and with sparse housing and clothing one, would think that taking heretofore productive land and turning it into non-productive land isn't the thing we need to be doing.

By the APR's own admission, they plan on having a herd of bison numbering 10,000 or more. There are no plans to market bison meat so how in the Sam Hill will they control their bison population?

They want to help restore prairie dog towns as they were in the days before Lewis and Clark “discovered” the West. Don't those folks know the devastation a huge prairie dog town “that reaches from horizon to horizon” can cause with their mounds numbering in the thousands and each covering a full 50 to 75 square feet of prairie grass in two feet of dirt?

It's exactly this kind of the lack of fore-thinking that disturbs me. These folks have no idea of the Pandora's Box they are opening. No idea of the hardships to Montanans who border their proposed area.

And one other thing.

The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks people want to put bison on the CMR, most of which borders a lot of the holdings of the American Prairie Reserve.

Think about that.

That's it for now folks. Thanks for listening.


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