AMERICAN PRAIRIE RESERVE

aka American Prairie Reserve   |   Bozeman, MT   |  www.americanprairie.org

Mission

Our mission is to create and manage a prairie-based wildlife reserve that, when combined with public lands already devoted to wildlife, will protect a unique natural habitat, provide lasting economic benefits and improve public access to and enjoyment of the prairie landscape.

Ruling year info

2001

President

Mr. Sean Gerrity

Managing Director

Mr. Pete Geddes

Main address

PO Box 908

Bozeman, MT 59771 USA

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EIN

81-0541893

NTEE code info

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Wildlife Sanctuary/Refuge (D34)

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Communication

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Land Acquisition & Management

The goal of American Prairie Reserve (APR) is to create the largest wildlife reserve in the lower forty-eight states, consisting of approximately 3.5 million acres of both private and public lands. APR intends to acquire and manage approximately 500,000 private acres, which will serve to glue together roughly three million acres of existing public land. Multi-jurisdictional management of the eventual wildlife complex will be conducted by the various entities with land ownership and wildlife management authority including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Montana Department of State Lands, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and American Prairie Reserve. Conservation biologists have determined that a mixed-grass prairie would need to be approximately 5,000 square miles (roughly 3.2 million acres) in size in order to be a fully functioning ecosystem that supports the full complement of native prairie biodiversity and provides room to endure episodic localized natural phenomena like fire, disease and winter ice events. The Reserve currently spans more than 305,000 acres of deeded private land and leased public land.

Population(s) Served

The plains bison, also commonly known as the buffalo, is an iconic symbol of the free and open spirit of the North American prairie. While tens of millions of bison, described as “innumerable” by early 18th century European explorers, once roamed the Great Plains, only an estimated 500,000 bison remain in North America today. Of these, less than 4% (about 19,000 bison) live in conservation herds. Most of the bison on the landscape today are raised for commercial purposes. At present, no herd on the Great Plains is wide ranging, and the majority of North American bison conservation herds are not managed to preserve genetic integrity over time. Bison were crossbred with cattle at the turn of the 20th century in the hopes of mixing cattle domesticity with bison hardiness; of the approximately 500,000 bison alive today, fewer than 7,000 are non-hybridized.

We seek to restore bison to their original habitat on American Prairie Reserve lands, providing modern visitors a chance to witness the majestic species that astounded the earliest explorers and played a central role in the culture and spirituality of the Native Americans who preceded them.

On a cold and rainy night, not long past midnight on October 20, 2005, 16 bison stepped back onto the Montana prairie after an absence of more than 120 years. APR and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) staff watched as the bison began to graze in their holding pasture, acclimating to their new home before being turned out onto American Prairie Reserve. Several of these bison were pregnant cows. After much waiting, the APR Reserve Manager was proud to report the births of five baby bison on the Reserve in April 2006. Sine then, the herd has grown to approximately 450 animals.

Population(s) Served

We believe that everyone should be able to enjoy the natural wonder of American Prairie Reserve (APR) through activities such as hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, camping, bicycling and hunting. APR will never be “locked up” from public use. Instead, both the public and private lands that comprise APR will be thoughtfully managed to provide a quality outdoor experience for the general public, with the intent that APR will one day become a world-class destination for visitors and outdoor enthusiasts.

Population(s) Served

We believe that connecting people with the landscape in meaningful ways is central to our goal of instilling a deeper appreciation of the prairie and its wildlife in the general public. In line with our mission of providing quality visitor access, we seek to offer the Reserve as a living resource for educators, students and researchers. We routinely host educational programs for local students and visiting college groups and have partnered with graduate students to provide research internships.

We have sponsored field days on the Reserve for local schoolchildren with science instructors from Montana Outdoor Science School and regularly host programs like National Geographic Student Expeditions. We also offer internships and research opportunities for college and graduate students.

Each year, American Prairie Reserve provides volunteer and internship programs aimed at educating the public about the value of the prairie landscape. These programs provide participants an opportunity to directly contribute to the Reserve’s progress through hands-on projects while learning about the land and its ecology in the company of knowledgeable Reserve staff. During late summer and early fall, we hold volunteer work safaris that draw large groups of participants. In 2014, we partnered with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation to launch Landmark, a three-year volunteer-driven wildlife monitoring program bringing volunteers into the field in all four seasons.

In spring 2015, we opened the Enrico Education & Science Center, a new facility serving as a hub for students, partner organizations, and volunteers.

Population(s) Served

American Prairie Reserve aims to restore a complete and fully functioning prairie ecosystem, the largest of its kind in North America. This is critical to secure long term conservation of the grasslands. We also aim to restore the natural, historic abundance of species in the region. To do such, we rely on our values and innovative and sound science. Our approach is rigorous, collaborative and inspiring.

American Prairie Reserve’s (APR) approach to biodiversity restoration is built around the Freese Scale for Grassland Restoration. Developed by conservation biologist Dr. Curt Freese with Dr. Kyran Kunkel and Dr. Sam Fuhlendorf, the scale identifies the ten major ecological drivers for restoring and conserving biodiversity on temperate grasslands. This scale can be used by land managers trying to achieve a balance between agricultural production and biodiversity as well as those, like APR, which are solely focused on maximizing native prairie biodiversity.

Each year, our biologists, along with input from partners and experts, rate all APR properties on the Freese Scale. The total score for a particular area is recorded and retained, allowing for annual comparisons. Armed with this information, we decide what approaches in management could lead to an improved score for a particular area of the Reserve.

Population(s) Served

At American Prairie Reserve (APR), we believe in making a positive impact on local communities in the six-county region surrounding the Reserve. APR has studied the relative success of wildlife reserves around the world and gathers best practices applicable to our project that can help us to make a positive contribution to surrounding communities. We have found that similar projects have had an overwhelmingly positive impact on their communities, serving to stimulate and diversify the local economy.

In 2014, we launched Wild Sky Beef, a wildlife-friendly beef label paying a premium to area ranchers who implement specified conservation protocols on their land. We have signed up three ranchers and plan to expand the program in coming years.

Population(s) Served

American Prairie Reserve (APR) sees the northern Great Plains as a pivotal landscape that has shaped the development and spirit of America. We are committed to preserving the elements of human history that have colored the area and shaped the story of Montana’s Great Plains as part of its overall mission to create a unique prairie reserve. Our historical preservation endeavors seek to reveal stories of settlement and habitation, while honoring the spirit of those who made the northern Great Plains their home, from the Native Americans who lived on the land for centuries to the pioneers who followed in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark.

We are committed to preserving human history within American Prairie Reserve (APR). Our first restoration project involved the Prairie Union School, which is located about 50 miles southeast of Malta. In service from 1943 to 1956, the Prairie Union School was built in 1912 for the Hockett family homestead.

APR plans to work with members of the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes to research their abundant history in and around American Prairie Reserve. This opportunity will focus on the traditional tribal use of APR land, the places significant to each tribal culture and preservation of these cultural sites for future generations. Native American tipi rings and petroglyphs have also been identified on the Reserve, and will be preserved as part of our long-term management strategy.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

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Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

American Prairie Reserve’s bold vision is the creation of a grassland reserve on Montana’s Northern Great Plains that will span more than 3.5 million acres of public and private land when complete (an area roughly the size of Connecticut). By purchasing approximately 500,000 acres of private land, APR will link together more than 3 million acres of adjoining public land to create a seamless landscape capable of supporting a fully-functioning grassland ecosystem. Campers, birdwatchers, photographers, students, and others find a warm welcome on the Reserve, ensuring our children and those who come after have the opportunity to experience a stunning part of our state’s natural heritage.

With less than three percent of temperate grasslands under any form of protection, the region of Montana we work in has been identified as a conservation priority by organizations including The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN considers the Northern Great Plains one of only four remaining places in the world where large-scale grassland conservation is still possible (the others are the Kazakh, Mongolian, and Patagonian steppes). American Prairie Reserve is working to ensure at least one of these vanishing landscapes is set aside for future generations before the window of opportunity closes forever.

APR intends to acquire and manage approximately 500,000 private acres, which will serve to glue together roughly three million acres of existing public land. Multi-jurisdictional management of the eventual wildlife complex will be conducted by the various entities with land ownership and wildlife management authority including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Montana Department of State Lands, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and American Prairie Reserve. Conservation biologists have determined that a mixed-grass prairie would need to be approximately 5,000 square miles (roughly 3.2 million acres) in size in order to be a fully functioning ecosystem that supports the full complement of native prairie biodiversity and provides room to endure episodic localized natural phenomena like fire, disease and winter ice events. The Reserve currently spans more than 305,000 acres of deeded private land and leased public land.

As a free-standing non-profit, American Prairie Reserve receives the vast majority of its funding from private contributors. About ten percent of our funding comes from private foundations interested in land conservation; about 90% comes from individuals.

Founded in 2001, American Prairie Reserve has a proven track record of success. Our progress to date includes:

• Fundraising: $75 million raised since inception. To date, we have received
contributions from 50 states and 12 countries.
• Land Acquisition: APR owns or leases nearly 300,000 acres of public and
private land. (see map)
• Science and Wildlife: APR is engaged in a range of field studies, projects and management discussions with its science collaborators, including Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the Bureau of Land Management. Projects include bison reintroduction, noxious weed control, controlled fire regimes, cougar and pronghorn range monitoring, prairie dog restoration, grassland bird surveys, and citizen science wildlife data collection.
• Public Access: The Reserve is open for a variety of uses including hiking, biking, hunting, wildlife viewing and horseback riding. There is a campground and a visitor’s map with suggested sites of interest. APR is in the early stages of installing trails and signage to improve the visitor experience.

APR’s capable staff draws on the best practices of for-profit businesses to manage its nonprofit enterprise. Our staff represent a variety of professional backgrounds and skills. We also have a National Council and Scientific Advisory Council comprised of experts in a variety of fields who provide advice to our project.

Our Board meets five times a year, with two in-person meetings and three phone meetings per year, and provides financial oversight. We have six standing committees (executive committee, audit committee, board building committee, community involvement fund committee, safety committee and compensation committee). Board members must vote to approve our yearly budgets and major spending initiatives.

As a Board and staff, we run our business each and every day following the principles outlined in our six values. In our interactions with one another and with those outside our organization, including our donors, our partners and the community around the Reserve, we do our best to act in accordance with these values. We share them with you here because we believe they are a window into our organization and our culture.

Our values are:
Openness with Respect
Innovation and Optimism
Continuous Improvement
Execution
Sustainable Pace
Teamwork

American Prairie Reserve’s goals are ambitious. To date, we’ve assembled 305,000 acres of public and private land, with the long-term goal of eventually assembling 3.5 million acres. Public access opportunities abound and as the Reserve grows over time, we will continue to add campgrounds, hiking trails, etc. Our bison herd numbers about 450 animals, and our long-term vision is that it will eventually number in the tens of thousands.

Full details of our progress may be found on our website at: http://www.americanprairie.org/projectprogress/.

Financials

AMERICAN PRAIRIE RESERVE
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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AMERICAN PRAIRIE RESERVE

Board of directors
as of 9/16/2016
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. George Matelich

Kelso & Co.


Board co-chair

Mr. Gib Myers

Mayfield Fund

Sean Gerrity President

American Prairie Reserve

Elizabeth Ruml Retired Managing Director

Salomon Brothers

Charles Abbe Retired President/COO

JDS Uniphase

Clyde Aspevig Artist

Juniper Ridge Studios

Erivan Haub Owner and Chairman

Tengelmann Group

Helga Haub Chairwoman

Elizabeth Haub Foundation

Susan Matelich Private Investor, Active Volunteer

Jeff Miller President

JAMM Ventures

Susan Myers Community Volunteer

Keith Anderson Chairman & CIO

Anderson Global Macro

Tim Kelly Past President

National Geographic Society

Jacqueline Mars Retired Vice President

Mars, Inc.

Nancy Mueller Retired Founder/President

Nancy's Specialty Foods

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes