The Vore Buffalo Jump Foundation has asked supporters to help raise $6,000 for safety rails to create a safe touring environment in the Vore Buffalo Jump near Beulah, Wyo., by May 1.
Without rails leading to the bottom of the world-famed historic attraction, it may have to close for this year, according to Jacqueline Wyatt, president of the nonprofit foundation that manages the site.
The Vore Buffalo Jump is a sinkhole where Native Americans trapped bison during hunts held between 1550 and 1800. The archeological site was discovered in 1969 during construction of I-90. The buffalo were driven to the deep sinkhole where they fell to their death.
The depth of the hole, and the steep path to the facilities at the bottom brought the new requirement.
Wyatt said, "The rail has to be up by May 1 in order for us to open by June 1."
That came on orders from the site's insurance company.
"We're going to have to put up a two-rail guard rail strong enough for a 200 pound person hitting it," she said.
"There is no rail at all right now," she said. "We would hate to lose somebody like they used to run the buffalo over the ledge."
The operation is run by the nonprofit with an all-volunteer board and five or six interpreters hired for the summer.
"It's not so much that we're arguing it ought to be done, it's something we were not prepared to pay for," she said.
The University of Wyoming excavated the Vore Buffalo Jump in 1970 and 1971 and continues to conduct research at the site. The Vore Site is open to the public during the summer months. Interpreters lead tours through the tipi-style exhibit hall and the building in the bottom of the sinkhole that covers the bone bed. The remains of at least 4000 bison and tools used by the hunters are preserved in discrete layers of the floor of the sinkhole.
Wyatt said, We were fortunate to receive a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund to pay for half of the project, but we need to raise an additional $6,000 to complete the project.” Contributions are tax deductible, and individual donors of more than $100 and corporate donors of more than $250 will be acknowledged on a plaque that will be mounted on the new rail.
"Anything above cost of the rail will go to pay down our loan on our tipi building," she said.
For further information, please contact Jacqueline Wyatt directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-281-0011.