Bison Reintroduction Prioritized in Public Lands Resiliency Management Plan

The Department of the Interior’s Restoration and Resiliency Framework identifies strategic investments designed to enhance important ecosystems, enhance climate resiliency, restore key species such as bison

WASHINGTON – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers praised a strategy released this morning by the Department of the Interior that commits to restoring healthy, wild populations of American bison on US public lands as part of an overall plan to conserve the prairie ecosystem.

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

BHA President and CEO Land Tawney praised the Interior’s announcement, noting that more than two-thirds of US grasslands have already been removed and that sagebrush grasslands and landscapes are critical to a variety 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,” Tawney said. “We applaud your commitment and look forward to helping advance the work that will anchor the conservation of our public lands both immediately and in the long term. In particular, we are excited to work with tribes, government agencies, conservation partners, and hunters to restore robust bison populations to our nation’s lands.

“Secretary Haaland is laying out an approach that refines and sharpens current bison restoration efforts and lays the foundation for a more cohesive strategy,” Tawney continued. “In 2008, the formation of the Bison Task Force as part of the department’s Bison Conservation Initiative took important steps forward. Today’s announcement builds on the good work tribes and other stakeholders have already done so that we can finally take meaningful action to make free 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, as well as integrating the best available science and indigenous knowledge.

“Over the past 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 said. “It is time to redouble our efforts and focus our collective attention on the American bison, the cornerstone of that conservation pyramid. Protect grasslands, restore ecological engineers, and connect cultures and people. We are ready!”

The Department of the Interior’s Restoration and Resiliency Framework outlines a comprehensive plan for coordinating agency programs and effecting change on the ground by making targeted strategic investments in critical landscapes that enhance climate resiliency. The components of the plan will impact a variety of ecosystems, species, and key priorities in the US as the focus now shifts to its execution and implementation.

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