American Prairie Reserve purchases Petroleum County ranch

By: 
DEB HILL
Managing Editor

The Two Crow sign hangs above one of the ranch gates. The ranch sold Wednesday to the American Prairie Reserve.

Photo courtesy of Weaver Ranch Properties

 

The American Prairie Reserve has purchased the Two Crow Ranch located approximately 30 miles north of Winnett, according to a press release sent out Wednesday. The ranch borders the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge on the north, and includes over 5,000 acres of deeded land, as well as 41,273 acres of leased, mostly public, land.

American Prairie Reserve CEO Sean Garrity said the large percentage of public land was exactly what made the Two Crow ranch a good fit for the organization’s purposes.

“We are always interested in any properties with a high amount of public land. In this case, 80 percent of the Two Crow is public. Our mission is about wildlife and public access, so this gives us an extraordinary running start to have so much [public land],” Garrity told the News-Argus Thursday.

According to their press release, the APR is a nonprofit organization working to “knit together” nearly 3 million acres of existing public land by purchasing some 500,000 acres of private land near the CMR and the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.

“Once complete, the Reserve will be the largest park in the continental United States and home to all the wildlife that once lived on the Great Plains,” the press release reads.

Garrity said he learned about the Two Crow opportunity from a real estate listing on the Multiple Listing Service.

“While this is our first property purchased in Petroleum County, it is our 26th property acquisition,” Garrity said. “We plan to continue to allow cattle grazing for a while, as we have leased the property back to the former owner for cattle.”

Over the next few years, other than removal of a few interior fences and perhaps some additional signage aimed at directing the general public to the property, Garrity said APR ownership would not change things much at the Two Crow.

“People are usually surprised to find there is much less change [on lands we purchase] than they thought there would be,” Garrity said.

 

Wildlife key to APR mission

The abundance of wildlife and the placement of the Two Crow Ranch, which shares a 9-mile border with the CMR, were also key to the APR’s interest in purchasing the property.

“The Two Crow represents an incredible chance to permanently conserve key habitat in the region’s wildlife corridors,” the press release quotes Garrity as saying. “Because the Two Crow shares a substantial border with the Refuge, this purchase will provide wildlife in the CMR with additional habitat and provide additional opportunities for recreation.”

Among other things, Garrity said he believes the area will attract those interested in bird watching.

“We might see an influx of birders,” Garrity said, “as this area is exceptional for grassland birding opportunities.”

As for the reintroduction of bison, perhaps one of the most contentious of the APR’s programs, Garrity said that might be a while.

“It probably won’t happen for the next few years,” Garrity said. “We have bison on three of our management units – Sun Prairie, Dry Fork and White Rock –and there is plenty of grazing land available there.

All three of those management units are located north of the Missouri River.

Garrity said the APR’s approach to land management is based on the “Freese Scale for Grassland Restoration,” which is based on 10 “ecological drivers.” Garrity referred people to the organization’s website to read more.

“We look forward to evaluating the recreation opportunities of this new area and sharing more about our plans in the near future,” Garrity is quoted in the press release as saying. “WE look forward to being good neighbors in Petroleum County.

“I am happy to answer questions about our organization,” Garrity added in his interview with the News-Argus. He invited people to phone him, or visit the APR’s website, americanprairie.org, for more information. “I’m also glad to show up and explain our operations if local groups are interested in hearing more.”

 

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