Bringing Adventure-Science to the American Prairie
From Marco Polo to Lewis and Clark wide open grasslands have long inspired adventurous spirits, and voyages of discovery. However, very few of these vast landscapes still exist unaltered. Only the steppes of Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Patagonia and the Northern Great Plains of America have never been plowed and shelter remnants of their original biodiversity. Beginning in January 2014 Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC) and American Prairie Reserve (APR) are partnering on an adventure-science wildlife study on the prairies of northeastern Montana.
The Reserve across the seasons. Photos by APR.
Since 2001 APR has been working to create the largest protected wildlife area in the Continental United States. National Geographic has called the Reserve “one of the most ambitious conservation projects in American history.” When complete the area will be larger than Yellowstone National Park and contain many of the species present when Lewis and Clark first crossed the plains, including the nation’s largest herd of free-roaming bison. Currently the Reserve covers 270,000 acres and is used by more than 60 mammal species and 250 species of birds either as a home range or a migration corridor. Among the diversity of animals that call APR home are many of North America’s native and iconic species including bison, pronghorn, sage grouse, prairie dog, bald eagle and mountain lion.
Sage grouse lekking. Photo by APR.
ASC has partnered with APR to begin Landmark, a multi-year adventure-science project to collect a broad set of wildlife data. The collected open-source data will help inform APR management decisions on the Reserve. Landmark is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in one of the most exciting American conservation projects since the founding of the National Parks. To help cover the rugged terrain of the Reserve we need motivated adventurers with excellent outdoor skills, interest or experience in field science, and the desire to spend time under the big sky in one of the most wild and remote parts of the U.S.
The beauty and vastness of the Reserve. Photo by APR.
Landmark crews will consist of six-person teams of adventurers. Crews will have the opportunity to spend a month exploring and collecting data on one of the most uncharted sections of the American Great Plains. During this time they will traverse the Reserve on foot, skis, snowshoes and mountain bikes and participate in projects including setting wildlife transects, maintaining camera traps, mapping prairie dog colonies and identifying sage grouse leks. A month of service on the Reserve is an opportunity to pursue adventure in an iconic American landscape with a group of like-minded people.Landmark crew members will have the opportunity to use their outdoor skills to contribute to the creation of a wildlife reserve on par with Yellowstone or the Serengeti and see tangible results of their efforts in their lifetime.
APR will eventually be home to the largest free roaming bison herd. Photo by APR.
Want to participate in one of the largest conservation efforts in American history? Join Landmark and use your skills and passion to protect one of the last remaining sanctuaries of its kind in the world. Not sure you can do it? All it takes is a passion to make a difference, backcountry travel skills, and a commitment to adventure. ASC will help with the data collection skills by providing on-site training in non-invasive wildlife tracking, GPS use, camera trapping and scientific wildlife observations. Apply today!
Watch this short film to learn more about the American Prairie Reserve.
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