American Prairie Reserve allocates funds to pay participating Wild Sky ranchers for modifying operations in accord with the organization’s biodiversity goals. The ranching protocols outlined in the program cover a number of areas in support of wildlife conservation — from the preservation of native prairie and the tolerance of prairie dogs, to the installation of wildlife-friendly fencing. Details on this graduated program are available in the Wild Sky guide.
Participating ranchers are audited annually to confirm they adhere to voluntary protocols, and are paid accordingly. The financial incentives provide a benefit for ranchers to welcome wildlife, which helps to blur the boundaries of the reserve with surrounding agricultural lands. The anticipated result is a wildlife-friendly landscape where neighbors receive economic benefit from protecting wildlife, habitat, and ecosystem services, in addition to agriculture.