By: Victoria Ortiz
Only four places on Earth still contain vast, unplowed native grasslands: Siberia, Mongolia, Patagonia and the northern Great Plains of the United States. Over the last few years Adventure Scientists has partnered with the American Prairie Reserve on the Landmark project, in which multi-national volunteer crews live on the reserve year round to collect key wildlife data, build a global constituency for this special ecosystem, and record the human experience of living on the prairie. American Prairie Reserve uses the data to manage and protect this wild landscape and advance their goal of creating the largest protected wildlife area in the continental United States.
On December 18, Colleen Ferris hopped out of the truck to shut the prairie gate behind her. It’s an action she’s done hundreds of time, initially as a Landmark crewmember in its first season in February 2014, and later as the Landmark Program Manager. This time, however, marked the end of the last Landmark field season. Thousands of acres of rolling grasses turned white with frost blurred behind frozen eyelashes.
By Josiane Segar
Landmark Crew Member
If one thing has been impressed upon me in my two summers of working at American Prairie Reserve, it’s that setting up a large-scale conservation initiative is a phenomenally tricky line of work; simply buying pieces of land is not enough. A fundamental principle of conservation science is based on the concept that wildlife is not static. On the Great Plains, the migratory patterns of many cervid and bird species can be hundreds of miles, and therefore biological corridors are a necessity if any organization wishes to ensure the long-term prosperity of their furry inhabitants. Working off the backbone of this intuitive principle, the Reserve, in collaboration with Landmark, have applied a multifaceted approach, not only to link core wilderness zones with ranches that surround their properties, but also to allow wildlife to pass uninterrupted between them.
By Martina Caplice
Landmark Crew Member
Canis latrans, the coyote, the prairie song dog, can be heard singing its story to the endless sky from dusk until dawn. These wild singers have been much persecuted throughout the years, along with many prairie predators. Lucky for the coyote, the value of predators is beginning to be recognized. In some places the coyote can breathe a sigh of relief and earn its bed and board by allowing a fleeting moment of its life to be captured on camera.
By Adventure Scientists Staff
From the heat of August to the deep freeze of January, our Landmark crews collect wildlife data on the American Prairie Reserve. The data is used to help American Prairie Reserve make wildlife management decisions that support their goal to create the largest protected wildlife area in the continental United States.
To further that goal, American Prairie Reserve has created Wild Sky, a for-profit beef company that uses proceeds from their sales to encourage wildlife-friendly ranching adjacent to the reserve. Through education and incentives, they hope to get ranchers to view wildlife as a benefit, instead of a liability. Our Landmark crews help provide the wildlife data that American Prairie Reserve and Wild Sky need to educate these local ranchers. This video from Wild Sky shows why our camera traps and wildlife data are crucial to accomplishing these goals.
Writing by Sydney Toni
Photos by Deniz Bertuna
ASC Landmark crew
Our day starts at eight o’clock. As the rest of the crew gathers in the kitchen to pull together breakfast, or pull themselves together with coffee, I step outside onto the porch of the Enrico Science Center. The sun has yet to crest the small hill that lies directly to the east, and I watch two white-tailed deer skip away across a nearby field. It’s windier than yesterday. I can hear the low singing of the wind in the creek bed.
Cinematography and field recordings by Eli Allan
Original Music by Mitchell Flowers
ASC Landmark Crew members Nov./Dec. 2015
ASC Landmark crews live and work on the American Prairie Reserve in northeastern Montana. The crews record wildlife observations while hiking transects, deploy remote cameras to monitor wildlife-fence interactions, and map prairie dog town perimeters to determine expansion rates. This effort provides Reserve staff with valuable year round data that can be used to inform management decisions.
Eli Allan spent 2 months on the American Prairie Reserve monitoring wildlife with the ASC Landmark crew and put together this short montage of footage from his time in the field.
Watch this video and others like it on Eli's Vimeo page and see more of his work by visiting his website.
Read the Landmark Notes blog: