Wednesday, November 28, 2012

U.S. and Mexico team up to bring Wild Bison Back

The wild bison herd standing in the golden grass looked like they stepped out of a painting of the Old West. But this was Northern Mexico and these bison are part of a modern day effort to restore native grasslands. “There’s one of the males,” said Jose Luis Garcia Loya, pointing to one of the largest animals. Garcia Loya runs Rancho El Uno, an ecological reserve about 80 miles south of the border.  The majestic animals, also known as buffalo, once roamed North America by the millions, and their vast territory stretched into Northern Mexico. Bison were hunted to near extinction in the 1800s. Now, the U.S. and Mexico have teamed up to bring wild bison back. Nearly 46,000 acres at Rancho El Uno are part of an ambitious plan by the Nature Conservancy to restore grasslands destroyed by overgrazing. The Nature Conservancy also has wild bison in the United States in South Dakota, Missouri and Iowa. The herd in Janos did not migrate across the prairie. It started with 23 animals trucked across the border in 2010 from South Dakota. A three-year study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature found restoring wild bison to their historic range would benefit the land in Canada, the United States and Mexico. Mexico’s president declared the 1.3 million acres surrounding Rancho El Uno a federally protected area and named it the Janos Biosphere Reserve.  The ranch is now cultivating the next generation of conservationists. Students in the area started their own ecological clubs after a field trip to see the bison...more

Remember the Buffalo Commons proposal?

The Buffalo Commons is a conceptual proposal to create a vast nature preserve by returning 139,000 square miles (360,000 km2) of the drier portion of the Great Plains to native prairie, and by reintroducing the buffalo, or American bison, that once grazed the shortgrass prairie. The proposal would affect six Western States (Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas), and four Midwest states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. The proposal originated with Frank J. Popper and Deborah Popper, who argued in a 1987 essay[2] that the current use of the drier parts of the plains is not sustainable. The authors viewed the historic European-American settlement of the Plains States as hampered by lack of understanding of the ecology and an example of the "Tragedy of the Commons". The Poppers propose that a significant portion of the region be gradually shifted from farming and ranching use. They envision an area of native grassland, of perhaps 10 or 20 million acres (40,000 or 80,000 km²) in size. One way to achieve this would be through voluntary contracts between the Forest Service and Plains farmers and ranchers, in which owners would be paid the value of what they would have cultivated over the next 15 years. In the meantime, they would be required to plant and reestablish native Shortgrass prairie grasses and forbs, according to a Forest Service-approved program. At the end of the period, the Forest Service would purchase their holdings, while granting owners a 40-acre (160,000 m2) homestead.
And they are still pushing their proposal.  This from a 2011 article:

"We never really expected it to have the impact it did and does. We would have recoiled then that we would still be talking about it 23 years later. It's clear that in the intervening years a quiet muscle of reality, a lot of the trends we saw in the depopulation of the Plains has continued." Those trends have been born out in two censuses since the Poppers' initial research was published, the couple contends. "Young people leave and the people who stay are getting older. The Plains has for a long time had one of the highest median ages of any place in the country," Frank Popper said. "More positively, though, the Buffalo Commons has begun in clear ways to materialize." For one thing, he mentioned that buffalo production has increased. Banks are financing buffalo producers in increasing numbers and many Indian tribes use the Buffalo Commons as a central part of their land use planning. For another, the couple offers the increase in development of land easements. "You are seeing land purchases from The Nature Conservancy, (non-governmental organizations) like American Curry Foundation, the Grassland Foundation, and the Great Plains Restoration Council all are pursuing Buffalo Commons style buyouts," he said.

Of course this fits in nicely with The Wildlands Project, now called The Wildlands Network, and their Spine of The Continent Initiative.

The Wildlands proposal takes up central and southern NM, and the Buffalo Commons will consume the eastern part of the state.  We are so blessed with others who want to plan our lives for us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All areas where there were very few buffalo. I guess I will sell them my water rights.