McCook needs bison burgers on local menu
The Cranes! The Cranes! The Jobs! The Jobs! The Tax Revenue!!
I’m referring to the article that appeared in the Gazette July 13, 2017.
The Crane Trust has significantly capitalized on what some might consider a migrating pest to crops in the southern part of the USA. $14.3 million positive economic impact in 13 surrounding counties. Creation of 182 full-time jobs, $379,000 in tax revenue per year, 46,500 visitors per year with 93% being from outside the local area and $90+ / day spent per person daily.
This article also brings out the fact that tourism is the third largest revenue source in the State of Nebraska. On the skirt tails of this fact, Nebraska is the second largest producer of Bison in the nation only behind South Dakota. A little- known fact, but I think significant if one considers the continued demand for product. This lack to meet this demand is at least 30 percent weekly just in the Denver metropolitan market not to mention the west and east coast markets.
The Crane Trust not only has capitalized on the Cranes but has wisely realized the importance of Bison to enhance the goal of keeping the property as natural as possible. They started with approximately 41 head two and a half years ago and is now at 76 including this year’s calf “crop.” They currently plan to expand to 100 head of adults, that translates into a calf crop of approximately 70 – 80 calves per year. Ask Aric Riggins the Superintendent of the Southwest Nebraska Reservoirs the visitors love seeing Bison calves.
I would strongly suggest the economic leaders in Southwest Nebraska take a serious look at what the Crane Trust is doing. Cabins rent for $1000 / night. Packages include biking, kayaking, crane blinds, Bison tours and meals. $1000 / night!! Why would this not be an attractive business in Southwest Nebraska? Yes, “we” don’t have the Cranes but we now do have Bison, Steve Lytle, Lakes with water in, camping, hunting, boating, etc., Why could we not have biking, kayaking and horse riding in a package?
I just spent 10 weeks actively working to improve the property the Bison are on next to Hugh Butler Lake. I’m fortunate to have the local support I do — significant process is being made.
I guess my biggest disappointment at this point in time is no local eating establishment has Bison in one form or another on the menu on a regular basis. McCook is the Capital of Buffalo Commons and has dominating Bison athletic teams and yet no Bison Burgers are served on a regular basis.
The Bison is now the National Mammal, the McCook School Mascot, Nebraska is the second largest producer of Bison in the Nation, the legacy of Buffalo Jones locally, a symbol of the USA Interior Department.
What else can be so well teed up for McCook and SW Nebraska to take advantage of to attract tourist?
Dancing Leaf Earth Lodge is a perfect example of thinking “out of the box” and being successful. Why is it allowed to let “formal” county boundaries and city limits curtail cooperation in events occurring that would benefit all?
Both I and the Crane Trust utilize cattle in managing pastures to ensure a well-balanced pasture grazing mix.
So let’s build bridges and not fences to move forward for the betterment of the SW Nebraska economy.
Darrell A. Meister
Nebraska Bison Rancher