Many Americans trace the modern conservation movement back to President Theodore Roosevelt, known for his love of the outdoors and for creating the U.S. Forest Service and the national parks system.
But what if government isn't the only, or the best, entity to protect America's natural wonders?
The American Prairie Reserve is a nonprofit group that wants to establish the largest nature reserve in the lower 48 states and it aims to do so with private funding. So far, American Prairie Reserve owns or leases more than 300,000 acres with a goal of stitching together 3.5 million acres of private and federal land across to create a reserve 1.5 times the size of Yellowstone National Park. And they believe that their unique approach will reduce the tension with local ranchers and farmers that national parks often experience.
"Currently, wildlife has no economic value to ranchers and, as such, the ranchers don't want them around," says Pete Geddes, managing director of American Prairie Reserve.
But American Prairie Reserve aims to fix that problem with its Wild Sky Beef program. Wild Sky is a brand associated with a for-profit company, and the proceeds from its profits go towards funding incentives for ranchers to engage in wildlife-friendly practices such as creating gaps in their fences for herd animals to pass through, planting native grasses, and allowing prairie dogs to establish colonies on their property. The more benchmarks the ranchers meet, the bigger the payout.
"As we're successful and we gain more attention over time, you'll see other groups trying to put this together at a much larger scale," says Geddes.
Watch the video above to learn more about American Prairie Reserve and Wild Sky Beef. Scroll down for downloadable versions. Subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel for daily content like this.
Approximately 5 minutes. Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Field produced by Alex Manning and Paul Detrick. Camera by Manning. Prairie and wildlife footage by Gib Myers. Music by Adam Selzer, Michael Howard, Waylon Thornton, and Kitaygorod.