The Super-Rich Look to Cultivate the Serengeti of Montana

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A photo from the American Prairie Reserve

When Lewis and Clark made their voyage across what would later become Montana, they saw a relatively untouched expanse of land that was home to bison, deer, coyotes and a panoply of native creatures.  Now, the American Prairie Reserve is hoping to recreate an ecosystem with that level of biodiversity.

The goal of the American Prairie Reserve is to cultivate a grassland reserve of 3 million acres that could function as "a wildlife spectacle that rivals the Serengeti."

With funding from high-profile, wealthy donors like billionaire candy heirs Forrest Mars Jr. and his brother John, and Susan Packard Orr, daughter of the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, the organization has been buying up properties in Montana to form the largest contiguous national park in the lower 48. The area of land is about the size of the state of Connecticut and surpasses Yellowstone by one million acres. Since its inception, it has raised $60 million. The wildlife reserve would be for public enjoyment.

Pete Geddes, is a managing director of the American Prairie Reserve, and he explains why preserving these lands would greatly add to the nation's rich and robust collection of national parks. 

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Pete Geddes

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Jessica Miller and Mythili Rao


T.J. Raphael

Comments [2]

Amanda from San Francisco

The cost for obtaining and managing 3 million acres is certainly enough to turn heads. Funding sources of the "super-rich," as the interview stresses, is largely in part to kick-start a vast percentage of fundraising necessary for this dream to materialize. This by no means does not exclude the average Joe willing to contribute to the APR. While the reserve may not be physically accessible to most folks, the APR is preserving American history and one of the world's rare ecological gems for our children. So while many believe this to source the outcome of an "elitist playground," I ask the question of- what do all of your other "symbolic donations" to respected activist groups such as the World Wildlife Fund do? I doubt you will be playing with a tiger in your backyard anytime soon.

Jul. 11 2013 01:04 PM
Jerrold Richards from Lyle, Washington

Nice idea, but as presented presently the plan has that stench of trust fund, of elite money. It all could, I'll say would, deteriorate down to an elite playground, with the 99% of us ignorant peasants kept out.

They need to get people of all net worth levels involved. Substantive involvement, in particular in the management and decision-making processes, as compared to being allowed out there now and then to pull weeds, or whatever.

Your guest says the goal is national park status, which implies some exposure at least to the processes of representative government. Hmmmph. It could happen, but I doubt it. It is the rare elite fatcat, the rare trustfunder, who, when it really comes down to it, would move in the direction of giving up control to the vast unwashed dorks.

Jerrold Richards
Helena High School 1967

Jul. 10 2013 12:49 PM

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