In 1983 Platte River purchased its original bison herd from a ranch near Wray, Colorado, including nine cows, 10 calves and one mature bull, "The Duke of Wellington." The animals descended from the herd at Custer State Park in South Dakota.
Platte River purchased its herd through an "Adopt-a-Buffalo" program proposed by general manager Albert J. Hamilton and approved by the board of directors. A total of 28 businesses, Platte River staff members, groups and individuals donated funds to purchase the original herd. Split into upper and lower herds in 1999, station staff manage between 20 and 51 animals in each, on the energy station’s range land. Two herd bulls — George (born in 2015) and Sarge (born in 2012), each weighing approximately one ton (2,000 lbs.), are used to perpetuate the herds.
Since 1986, Platte River earned numerous awards and honorable mentions by showing bison in the National Bison Association (NBA) Gold Trophy Show and Sale at the National Western Stock Show. In 1997, Stock Show judges bestowed the Tony Heim Memorial Award on Platte River, as the Stock Show’s bison producer of the year. In 2010, Platte River also received the producer of the year award at the Peak-to-Peak Bison Show and Sale.
Platte River staff manage the herds by providing water, supplemental feed and by rotating the herds from pasture to pasture. They also assist herd veterinarian, Dr. Robert Mortimer, DVM, Colorado State University, when needed.
The opportunity to observe the harmony that can exist between Buffalo, which once inhabited the Rawhide site, and Platte River’s modern facility that will produce energy there, will provide an invaluable lesson in the way a coal-fired power plant can be operated without environmental degradation.
- Albert J. Hamilton