Tens of millions of American Bison roamed North America from Canada to Mexico for centuries. Bison are a “keystone species” - that is, a species that has an outsized impact on its ecosystem, and upon which many other species depend. Removing a keystone species from its natural habitat has a drastic effect on the environment. Yet, as we know, bison were nearly extinct by the 20th century. Many of the remaining bison were subject to cross-breeding with cows, in an attempt to domesticate the animals for food production. Today, there are an estimated 15,000 - 30,000 wild bison in the United States.
the bison bridge
Projects to recover and repopulate wild bison exist around the country, from Montana to Indiana. Restoring prairie land and repopulating wild bison go together, and efforts to grow native plant and animal populations are improved with the re-introduction of American bison. Integral to Native American culture, tribal leadership has been at the forefront of reintroducing American bison to the landscape. Efforts from The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with Native American tribes, have resulted in an increase in wild bison populations and prairie restoration.
Our vision for the Bison Bridge includes introducing a small herd of wild bison. With approximately 100 acres of grazing land on either side of the river, and the westbound lane dedicated to bison crossing, the Bison Bridge project will provide a space for reclaimed prairie and the opportunity to grow the wild bison population. The bonus? Repurposing the eastbound lane for pedestrians provides the unique chance to see bison up close safely and to learn more about this incredible American animal.