TfSP Assists Caprock Canyons S.P.
with the Bison Release
(Excert from TfSP E-News September 2011)
September 16-17, Texans for State Parks took part in the planning and implementation of the undefinedBison Release‖ program at Caprock Canyons State Park. Director Barbara McKnight organized a trail ride for guests and visitors to the site. Saturday and Sunday the park was open to the public with displays and a Barbeque hosted by the Caprock Partners Foundation.
An official ribbon cutting was held Saturday with Brent Leisure and a number of dignitaries from Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Stark family, and the Chairman of the Comanche Nation taking part. The ribbon used was a piece of the original Goodnight ranch barbed wire. Charles and Mary Ann Goodnight rescued the herd in 1879 and they have now been returned to their native land thanks to Texas Parks and Wildlife. Visitors can now drive through the area and view these animals in their native range.
TfSP President John Cobb organized and oversaw the Living History encampment, and Director Ken Pollard was in charge of cooking and feeding the participants over the weekend. Education Day brought 274 local students out to learn about the Park and the Official Texas State Bison Herd.
It was a very nice event, and TETRA was very well represented. Debby Alley, Geri Bischoff, Juanita Brooks, Barbara McKnight and Jack Borchers were there along with the Buffalo soldiers and the Living History Re-enactors. The buffalo seemed right at home.
09/07/2011 Photos by Earl Nottingham © TPWD
The Texas State Bison herd in their new 700-acre habitat at Caprock Canyons State Park
Texas State Bison Herd:
An Epic Journey, from Near Extinction to Celebration
There is perhaps no greater symbol of the American West than the American buffalo, or more correctly, bison. The largest land animal in North America, it has endured as an icon of our heritage, spirit and culture. Its very existence has been an instrumental link to our pastundefinedboth good and badundefinedand efforts to restore these magnificent animals are also representative of an optimistic future. Once threatened to the brink of extinction, bison are doing quite well today. Thanks to private-government partnerships, herds can now be seen in many states and number in the tens of thousands.
Yet, the majestic Southern Plains Bison remains an even more unique story. Legendary rancher Charles Goodnight started the remnants of the herd on his JA Ranch in the Texas Panhandle in 1878, in attempts to save the animals that had meant so much to him. It was actually his wife that influenced the cattle and business tycoon to preserve them, before they disappeared, so that future generations might be able to see and appreciate these special creatures.
Somehow, against the odds, a herd of genetic-related Southern bison have managed to survive the decades since, and now, we all benefit from the Goodnights’ vision. When the bison were initially donated to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and moved to Caprock Canyons State Park in 1997, it was discovered that their DNA was different, and feature genetics that are not shared by any other bison in North America. In fact, the Official Texas State Bison Herd at Caprock represents the last remaining examples of the Southern Plains variety.
The next step in managing these animals is to release them from captive pens back to their native home, free-roaming an open range of 1,000 acres at Caprock Canyons State Parkundefineda fitting landscape of tall-grass prairie, sandstone escarpments and wide-open spaces. Releasing them will be a historic event, as it marks the first time these animals have had free range in their lifetimes, and will also provide visitors an up-close experience of seeing them roam throughout the park. Eventually, the master plan is that a larger herd will inhabit an even larger, 5,000-acre range on site at the Park. From: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/parkinfo/bison/