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042615-nws-bison001 (copy)

The sun rises behind a buffalo near the Sage Creek area of Badlands National Park in 2015.

Badlands National Park is expanding its bison range by 22,000 acres, thanks to $743,000 in donations.

A news release from the park said 43 miles of new fence has been installed, along with cattle guards, to expand the bison grazing area in the park to 80,193 acres. The park's total area is 244,000 acres, which is about 380 square miles.

The park said the expansion of bison grazing will "contribute to the health and genetic integrity of the herd and continued health of the prairie."

"Visitors will also have more opportunities for viewing, photographing, and learning about bison in their native habitat on the badlands' iconic and stunning landscape," the news release said.

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The fundraising effort for the project was a public/private partnership, the release said.

Badlands National Park partnered with the National Park Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, the Defenders of Wildlife, the Nature Conservancy, the Badlands National Park Conservancy and the Badlands Natural History Association to implement the Bison Resource Stewardship Plan and open new grazing areas to the existing herd.

The partner group, including the National Park Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, Defenders of Wildlife, the Nature Conservancy and the Badlands National Park Conservancy and their donors raised $740,000. Of that amount, $513,754 was raised in only two weeks by the National Park Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund, the news release said.

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