Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 8, 2003 - Issue 80


pictograph divider


Home on the Range for the Buffalo

by Matt Moline

Buffalo Cow and CalfIn the 1870s, buffalo hunting became a popular Kansas tourism magnet, attracting gun-toting visitors by the trainload, and eventually leading to the near-extinction of the four-legged beasts on the Great Plains.

A century later, renewed proposals by ecologists to re-introduce thousands of wild bison to potential wildlife preserves in Kansas or other Plains states could stimulate a new tourism bonanza.

Naturalists predict that the resulting eco-tourism ventures, based not on killing, could create opportunities for Americans to experience bison and other native wildlife on the animals' terms for the first time since white settlement.

One of the more recent proposals has come from California ecologist Dale F. Lott, who has suggested the creation of a 5,000-square-mile bison preserve to be developed on the western High Plains, perhaps in far western Kansas.

"The goal of the park, or refuge, or some such, would be not simply to provide a place for bison," Lott said last week, "but also to restore the plant community to the extent possible, and re-assemble the animal community that originally lived there."

Lott, who was born on the 29.5-square-mile National Bison Range in Montana, is the author of "American Bison: A Natural History," published last fall by the University of California Press.

"Ideally, the large preserve or park I propose would be available to the public on terms like those that currently prevail in our present public parks and wildlife preserves," he said.

In his new book, Lott envisions a preserve -- which would measure 50 miles by 100 miles, if laid out in a rectangular configuration -- that would perience of the world of other living beings, and at the same time a greater sense of the natural richness of America," Lott said.

According to retired University of California Press editor Ernest Callenbach, whose classic bison book "Bring Back the Buffalo!" was revised two years ago, the movement to re-introduce wild bison to the central Plains "will not die."

"The Canadians have a large grasslands national park, but we don't have one in the U.S.," Callenbach said. "It is probably the only major ecosystem that is not represented by a substantial national park in the U.S., except for these little spotty parks."

According to Callenbach, a preserve of the size proposed by Lott could accommodate as many as 10,000 wild buffalo, easily the largest public bison herd in the United States.

Even more ambitious than Lott's proposed Great Plains bison refuge is the concept of a sprawling "buffalo commons," extending from Mexico into Canada -- a plan that has been advanced since 1997 by the Great Plains Restoration Council in Fort Worth, Texas.

The GPRC buffalo commons concept is based on a 1987 plan first envisaged by New Jersey researchers Frank and Deborah Popper, who proposed a 130,000-square-mile preserve -- nearly the size of the state of Montana.

Frank Popper, who teaches in the urban studies department at Rutgers University, is a board member of GPRC.

As the initial land elements of a future border-to-border buffalo commons, GPRC's board hopes to purchase three tracts of 10,000 acres in three Great Plains areas -- Colorado, Texas and the Dakotas -- perhaps within the next 10 years.

Great Plains Restoration Council
Great Plains Restoration Council is a 501(c)3 multicultural, multiracial non-profit organization building the Buffalo Commons step-by-step by bringing the wild buffalo back and restoring healthy, sustainable ommunities to the Great Plains. From the Indian Reservation to the prairie outback to the inner city and beyond, GPRC organizes specifically where the areas of environment, human rights and human health, and animal protection interact in social change.

pictograph divider

Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!