Dear OBT Subscribers,
Hello Everyone. Before I begin this edition of On the Buffalo Trail, I would like to take a moment to express our sympathies for all our friends and neighbors of the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Our hearts go out to you. During this difficult time, the Campaign has found innovative ways to support some of your recovery efforts and, for that at least, we take heart. Reading that Chuck Sams and the National Park Service have allocated substantial resources to rebuild the area around the North Entrance is welcome news indeed. While our resources are stretched, the Campaign will continue to do what we can to support you all. Like the Buffalo, we stand with our herd.
If you’ve read our most recent Updates from the Field, you’ll know that our 2021-22 Field Season has now ended. Because of BFC’s persistent efforts in the field and in the courts, we and our neighbors now enjoy the annual return of bison to their calving grounds on Horse Butte, and celebrate their return to the Park fattened and free from agency interference. You will also know by now that our hosting of the House of the Moon and our 25th Anniversary Celebration were huge successes (the latter, in spite of the heavy rains). We were honored to have red-tail hawks circling overhead during our annual board meeting, and then the next day, after the rains, we were visited by circling osprey and a rainbow. While we welcome these natural blessings, we also know that there’s no time for us to rest on our laurels — we still have important initiatives and positions that must be addressed.
We’re busy trying to identify a suitable Ph.D. Wildlife Biologist to help with our ESA threat assessment, and we’re also looking to fill important coordinator positions for next season’s campaign. So, if you’ve been thinking about dedicating your time to a worthy effort, BFC is the place for you. If you can’t commit to full-time employment or a full season but would still love to help us out, our Summer Volunteer Coordinator Gunnar is looking for a few good folks. Come to Camp and spend a few weeks to a month giving Gunnar a hand. He knows how to honorably stand with wild Yellowstone bison. Come, join us and you’ll experience new relationships that you will cherish the rest of your life. You will definitely earn my respect and admiration along the way. I really honor those who give their time — Life’s most precious possession — to Yellowstone buffalo and our Campaign.
Another big piece of this summer’s outreach and programming is bringing small groups to Camp. Following the success of the House of the Moon camp, we’re already in discussions with other tribal groups, both adult and youth, about coming here to share in our buffalo renewal story. Would your small group like to come and engage with us? We offer unique opportunities that will enrich your group or organization, while fostering awareness about the plight of Yellowstone bison.
One of my favorite things to do after the close of the Field Season is catch salmon and donate them to the Campaign. With this year’s abundance from a few tributaries I hope to provide a lot of king salmon for our next Field Season. Our volunteers always eat well! As a Nez Perce fisherman, I’m honored to fish for my Sacred Circle of friends. My tribe, the Nez Perce, have now assumed sole management of the Dworshak National Fish Hatchery in Orofino, Idaho. This recognition of our sovereign expertise from other non-tribal government agencies re-affirms how Tribes with treaty-reserved rights for Yellowstone bison consistently demonstrate our inherent capacity for spearheading species recovery, restoration, management, and reintroduction across large landscapes in satisfaction of obligations under the Endangered Species Act, all the while enacting and preserving the treaty rights and cultural lifeways of our people.
As the United Nations itself now acknowledges, the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of those of us who’ve lived on the land for tens of thousands of years is central to the planet’s recovery strategies. And, as the latest science on restoring biodiversity acknowledges, so are wild Buffalo! Bison bison have been identified as a climate keystone species capable of restoring over half-a-million square miles of America’s remaining grassland habitats, a key component of any climate recovery plan. Rest assured that BFC, in cooperation with many of the Tribes, is already actively involved in those efforts through policy discussions at the highest levels and on the ground with the buffalo. As care-providers for America’s last and best wild buffalo, we are already playing a key role in climate and biodiversity recovery, and your continuing support will empower us in those efforts.
So as you can see, there’s a lot of work to do, and time is of the essence. For now, we need another good wildlife scientist, more dedicated staff members, increased donations, help moving our lovely 2023 calendars and another season’s worth of volunteers to help us continue all this good work. I hope we will hear from some of you very soon. Take care my good people. Qeciyewyew (thank you) for standing with us as we tell the story of wild Yellowstone bison.
For the Buffalo,
James L. Holt Sr., ED