“A privately funded, nonprofit organization is creating a 3.2 million-acre wildlife sanctuary — American Prairie Reserve — in northeastern Montana, an area long known as cattle country.
But the reserve is facing fierce opposition from many locals because to build it, the organization is slowly purchasing ranches from willing sellers, phasing out the cows and replacing them with wild bison. Those private properties are then stitched together with vast tracts of neighboring public lands to create one giant, rewilded prairie. The organization has purchased close to 30 properties so far, but it needs at least 50 more.
‘I see them coming in with big money, buying up ranches and walking over the top of the people who are already here,' says ranch owner Conni French. ‘For them to be successful in their goals, we can't be here, and that's not OK with us.'”