May 29th was an awesome day to say the least. Fully settled into the Prairie Reserve lifestyle (and fully expecting to wake up to a hot sun beating down on our tents… in a peaceful way) we all woke up early and were treated to some PHENOMENAL chocolate chip-banana pancakes courtesy of Devon, Sierra, and Janette. I (Elias) made some eggs but they were overshadowed because these pancakes were thick, AND we had peanut butter to put on top of them. Andrew had about six (whether voluntary or not). Safe to say we were all satisfied.
We followed up breakfast with a long, but extremely fulfilling talk with the Manager of Wildlife Restoration on the reserve, Dan. In between detailed explanations of the overarching mission of the APR and how real progress is being made day by day, Dan took question after question from our extremely curious group. What qualities do you guys look for in the land you acquire as the APR expands? How are working relationships formed with neighboring cattle ranchers? How does the shifting preference of American diet to organic and grass-fed beef play into the conservation strategies of the APR with regard to local beef farms? Dan addressed all these questions and much more, leaving us with a well-rounded idea of how special the plans for the “American Serengeti” really are! We finished up with a tour of the apparatus in which the bison are herded for transport, and even got a chance to put ourselves in the bison’s shoes (hooves?) by doing a human version of the herding process. Dan is a seriously awesome dude.
The rest of the day was spent searching for prairie dogs (Andrew got some phenomenal shots of one that he was able to creep up next to) and flying the drone along the vast expanse of land that extends in any direction one chooses. We also got a chance to take a *loooooong* drive out to see a giant Medicine Rock that was inscribed and used by Native Americans that had previously lived on the lands. Rattlesnake and spiky cactus threats aside, it was an extremely scenic drive that made for awesome conversation and old-school navigation. We returned to another beautiful sunset, whipped up a taco dinner for the squad, and even made s’mores — all while we got to watch an angry thunderstorm strike down 30 or 40 miles off on the horizon. Never a dull moment out in Montana 🙂