The Huffington Post
By Mark Tercek, President and CEO, The Nature Conservancy
Ted Turner is one of my personal heroes, going back to his 1977 win of the America’s Cup in Newport, Rhode Island, at the helm of the boat Courageous. Back then I never would have guessed that I would someday be talking conservation with Ted at his Flying D Ranch in Montana.
Of course that America’s Cup is just a minor aside in Ted’s extraordinary list of accomplishments, from transforming cable television to developing the Goodwill Games to ease Cold War tensions to his historic $1 billion gift to the United Nations Foundation.
These days much of Ted’s big thinking is focused on the environment. Since the 1990s the Turner Foundation, Inc. has given almost $372 million to protect and restore the natural world. The second largest individual landholder in North America, Ted established the Turner Endangered Species Fund in 1997 to protect endangered species with a focus on the role of private lands in biodiversity conservation.
I recently spoke with Ted on the occasion of the new PBS series EARTH: A New Wild, which explores people’s relationship with wildlife in some of the planet’s most spectacular places, including Ted’s beloved Great Plains.
Mark Tercek: Why did you decide to bring bison back to North America’s plains?
Ted Turner: Bison are magnificent creatures, and I’ve been interested in them for as long as I can remember. They’re iconic American animals, which were dangerously close to extinction. It broke my heart to see this species slipping away.
So, I stepped in and did what I could – today, there are more than 500,000 bison roaming North America. Bison’s becoming more and more popular in the restaurant industry not only because consumers enjoy the taste, but it’s a much leaner option than beef.