Greetings Buffalovers…my name is Christine Donohoe and I have been a Buffalo Backbone Member (Herd Bull Subscription Level) for about a year now. When I first joined I was very excited about my Buffalo coffee, t-shirt and tote-bag. The newsletter and emails gave me a good idea of where my monthly donations were going, and I have to say, I felt pretty good about my contribution.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to visit the BFC headquarters, to meet the Board of Directors, founders and volunteers, and most importantly to receive an oral history of the beginning of BFC at the site where much of their direct action advocacy started 26 years ago. Justine and Roman Sanchez (BFC Board Members) took me to a now peaceful field in West Yellowstone where Buffalo migrate over the Yellowstone National Park boundary to find food in the winter. We hiked atop Horse Butte, a protected area where the Buffalo cannot be harassed. We watched mother Buffalo nurse their red dogs on the front lawns of land owners who welcome their presence.
What I would not have known if it was not for BFC, is that the park boundary, in that peaceful field, used to be a place where Buffalo got run down with helicopters and ATVS. Horse Butte, a peninsula that made for an easy place to trap Buffalo, used to be the location of a Buffalo Capture facility. And years ago Buffalo were often not welcome on private property.
The way I get to experience Buffalo today is the outcome of 26 years of work by BFC. This summer I am lucky enough to live in Yellowstone National Park, where I have Buffalo grazing and napping in my neighborhood. I get to sit in the Hayden Valley in the foggy morning and wait for one Buffalo to appear out of the mist, and then a few more, and a few more, and finally the fog has lifted and I can see hundreds of Buffalo. I get to hike through Pelican Valley and watch a huge bull chase another full speed across the valley floor. And yes, I get to sit in Buffalo jams when the Buffalo decide they want to lay in the road and don’t care if you have plans to be somewhere, so all you can do is turn your car off and enjoy the view.
Now when I have these experiences, I think of the many things the founders and members of BFC have done to contribute to that moment. And I am so grateful to be a small part of it.
Christine Donohoe, her partner, Amelia Jaffe (Herd Bull Subscriber), and her friend Grace Solomine (Yearling Subscriber), are all nurses inside Yellowstone National Park and all Buffalo Backbone Subscribers and strong advocates for Wild Migratory Buffalo!