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

Montana's American Prairie Reserve conserves a wide area of grassland so nature–include burrowing owls, bison, and bighorn sheep–can thrive.

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The American Prairie Reserve, one of the nation’s largest and most ambitious conservation projects, acquired the property of Blue Ridge Ranch in northern Montana’s Great Plains in August last year.

The property is home to a large elk herd, along with a healthy population of prairie dogs, burrowing owls, bighorn sheep, and mule deer.

“The topography and habitat of Blue Ridge are extremely important to the regional elk population,” said Reserve Superintendent Damien Austin in a statement. “We feel very fortunate to be able to add such a wildlife-rich area to the Reserve”.

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The American Prairie Reserve (APR) is like nothing else on the North American continent. It is a project designed to acquire enough privately owned land—in the hundreds of thousands of acres—between the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument to connect two units of federally managed land in a mosaic of terrain that would create the single largest reserve in the lower 48 states.

The scale epitomizes Montana’s nickname of “Big Sky State,” as the reserve’s private-public mix of 419,000 acres stretches across the North American Prairie—one of the largest grassland ecosystems on Earth, and one of only four places on the planet where a grasslands ecosystem can be preserved on an ecosystem-wide scale.