Bison Reintroduction Prioritized in Admin Plan for Public Lands Resiliency

News for Immediate Release
March 3, 2023
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]

Interior Department’s Restoration and Resilience Framework identifies strategic investments designed to enhance important ecosystems, improve climate resilience, restore key species like bison

WASHINGTON – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers lauded a strategy released this morning by the Department of the Interior that commits to restoring wild and healthy populations of American bison to U.S. public lands as part of an overall plan for conserving the prairie grassland ecosystem.

A secretarial order from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland prioritizes the department’s work to restore both bison populations and prairie grasslands through intra-departmental collaboration and partnerships with states, Tribes, landowners and other entities in an approach based on the best available science and Indigenous knowledge. More than $25 million from the Inflation Reduction Act will drive the new program.

BHA President and CEO Land Tawney commended the Interior announcement, noting that more than two-thirds of U.S. grasslands already have been eliminated and that grasslands and sagebrush landscapes are critical to a range of wildlife species, including mule deer, pronghorn and upland birds, as well as bison.

“Today’s announcement by the administration outlines the most pressing conservation issues in our great country,” said Tawney. “We applaud their commitment and look forward to helping advance the work that will anchor our public lands conservation both immediately and in the longer term. In particular we are excited to work with tribes, governmental agencies, conservation partners and hunters to restore robust populations of bison on our nation’s lands.

“Secretary Haaland is presenting an approach that refines and sharpens current bison restoration efforts and sets the stage for a more cohesive strategy,” Tawney continued. “In 2008, formation of the Bison Working Group as part of the department’s Bison Conservation Initiative took important steps forward. Today’s announcement builds on the good work that tribes and other stakeholders have already done so we finally can undertake meaningful action to make free-roaming bison a reality once again. We appreciate the secretary’s commitment to a plan that will unite stakeholders around this shared purpose and ensure that a comprehensive but flexible framework is established with partners in addition to integrating the best available science and Indigenous knowledge.

“Over the last century, we have collectively built a conservation restoration pyramid that stands as a shining example of what conservation success can and should look like,” Tawney stated. “It’s time to double down and turn our collective attention to the American bison, a capstone on that conservation pyramid. Protecting grasslands, restoring ecological engineers, and connecting cultures and people. We are ready!”

The Interior Department’s Restoration and Resilience Framework outlines a broad plan to coordinate agency programs and effect on-the-ground change by making targeted, strategic investments in critical landscapes that improve climate resilience. Components of the plan will impact a range of key ecosystems, species and priorities across the U.S. as the focus now shifts toward its execution and implementation.

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