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'Don't buffalo me': Private buyers restore U.S. grassland, baffle cowboys

'Don't buffalo me': Private buyers restore U.S. grassland, baffle cowboys

by Max Baring and Gregory Scruggs

Sagebrush waved in the breeze, prairie dogs chattered, pronghorn antelope galloped and bison wallowed under the Montana sun.

This classic prairie tableau had become a rare sight across most of North America's Great Plains, after almost two centuries of Euro-American settlement that has tilled or fenced off much of the vast grassland for agriculture and cattle ranching.

In the last 15 years, more than 405,000 acres (164,000 hectares) of prairie have been restored to their natural state through a free-market approach proponents say is more effective than government-led conservation efforts.

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