We are so grateful for our supporters and we couldn’t do this work without you. Donations help us build partnerships, develop restoration and conservation strategies, and welcome back more keystone species (like the prairie dog!). Together, we are ensuring a healthy, wildlife-rich prairie for generations to come. THANK YOU!!!

GRIZZLY BEAR: Let’s kick off our 2023 highlight reel with arguably the most exciting moment of the year: spotting a grizzly bear on the PN. That trail cam photo was the first record of a grizzly this far east in close to 150 years. 150 YEARS!!!! Remarkable. Thanks to Mike Ferda on our field team for his keen eye spotting tracks, we were able to place trail cams and grab some pictures of the bear. Read more about the incredible moment here.

Some of our most exciting moments in 2023 wouldn’t have happened without a trail cam on site to capture the action. Keep reading to learn more about our Cameras for Conservation program!

CAMERAS FOR CONSERVATION: It was a banner year for trail cameras on American Prairie, and the fact that we started the year off with a photo of a famously elusive bobcat and ended the year with that unprecedented picture of a grizzly? Just perfection. While the grizzly bear photo was the result of a specific quest, the bobcat and all the other critters spotted throughout the year were photographed as part of a program called “Cameras for Conservation.” Nearby landowners are providing valuable habitat for a number of prairie species. Cameras for Conservation is one way that we collaborate with those landowners in an effort to increase wildlife tolerance on their private land. Working together, we place trail cameras on their properties to learn more about wildlife migration corridors and other aspects of behavior. Curious about these collaborative projects and others? Learn more about Wild Sky here.

HABITAT ACQUISITION: Thanks to incredible donor support, we completed four property acquisitions that equaled nearly 7,000 acres added! The biggest of them all was the Wild Horse property, which officially made us fence-line neighbors with our friends and partners in the Fort Belknap Aaniiih Nakoda community! The four new parcels are some of the northernmost lands we manage, and also some of the most accessible – half are easily reached by Highway 204, and the other are right next to Highway 191. The new parcels are fantastic habitat for an array of prairie and wetland bird species, and the land brings us close to sharing a border with the Korsbeck Waterfowl Production Area, which is part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Bowdoin Wetland Management District. Read more about the new parcels here on our blog.

FRIENDS COMING TOGETHER ON THE PRAIRIE: In April, we had the distinct honor to host a very special gathering at our Antelope Creek campground. Hosted by Catcher Cuts the Rope, a friend and neighbor from the Aaniiih community at Fort Belknap, veterans from the 3rd Platoon (A Company, 1st battalion, 3rd Marine division) who fought in the Battle of Fallujah in 2004 were invited to spend a week of healing and celebration on the prairie. The image of the aurora borealis dancing in the sky over three tipis (included with this post) was shared with us by one of the Marines who spent the week on Antelope Creek. To read more from Catcher, check out the Summer 2023 issue of our magazine, “The Sentinel.”

FIELD SCHOOL: This year and probably every year since it started, American Prairie Field School deserves a spot on our highlight reel. Our Field School program uses the prairie as a living classroom, offering Montana kids an opportunity to learn by doing, and experience the magic of the prairie ecosystem. We have programs available for kindergartners through high school students, and we make use of both our National Discovery Center in Lewistown and our Antelope Creek campground. We work with subject matter experts from our staff and our partner organizations, and kids get to try their hands at setting up trail cameras, learn to identify prairie plants, and so much more. Ask any of the kids what their favorite part of Field School was and they will almost invariably answer: Native games! This session is taught by Aaniiih Nakoda instructors, and kids have the chance to learn and play a number of different games loved by generations of Indigenous children who lived on the prairie. Field School is available to all Montana schools, and programming costs are completely covered by American Prairie. Learn more here.

MEDIA: During 2023, we were grateful for the opportunity to share our love for the prairie with a number of journalists working in our region, and beyond! The year started out with a feature article in the New York Times and went on to include coverage from the BBC, Outdoor Life, 60 Minutes, and much more. We were also featured on the BHA and Hal Herring’s “Podcast and Blast.” Keep up with all the latest news, from our press room and others, on our website.

WEBSITE: We started 2023 with the launch of a new website! Designed to be more immersive and easier to navigate, the redesigned website unveiled a new “Plan Your Trip” section with lots of resources for planning a visit to the prairie. The entire site features beautiful videos and images, and the “Sights & Sounds” page includes a library of audio clips from a number of prairie birds and other animals. Users can scroll through past issues of the Sentinel, check out our neighbor newsletter Field Notes, and read news and stories on our blog The Latest. We also include details on our ongoing work in land acquisition, rewilding, and collaborations.

MCC INTERN: A definite highlight from 2023 was the opportunity to host a Montana Conservation Corps intern: Allison Blahitka, a student at Texas A&M. Allison helped staff the National Discovery Center throughout the summer, but her real focus was building a cultural inventory of homestead and other non-Indigenous sites on our properties. Her work took her all over the prairie and yielded a fantastic knowledge base. Read more from our fall newsletter here.

PRAIRIE DOGS: These pint-sized ecosystem engineers are incredibly susceptible to sylvatic plague, meaning we spend a good part of every summer dusting and dosing their burrows across our properties with environmentally-friendly plague mitigation products. And this past summer was no different! Long considered a pest, prairie dogs actually fill a crucial niche: extremely particular about their habitat, their selective pruning and grazing actually helps create better vegetation for other grazers like pronghorns, and habitat for ground-dwelling prairie birds. Want to learn more? Check out our Summer 2023 issue of our magazine, “The Sentinel.”

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