Pregracke shares vision for the “Bison Bridge” project

Bridging the gap: This 3D rendering illustrates what the Bison Bridge may look like if the project is undertaken.

By Sam Barnes

Back when Chad Pregracke was only 16 years old, he had a vision to bring a herd of native bison to the Quad Cities. With his newest proposal, this vision comes closer to reality than he could’ve ever dreamed.

He proposed that the I-80 Bridge through LeClaire be converted into a wildlife crossing rather than being demolished, possibly saving taxpayers millions of dollars in demolition costs while also bringing a national attraction to our area. He also believes that a small herd of bison would be a welcome addition to the local ecosystem.

“It’s not like we’re bringing giraffes or elephants over- this was well within the natural range of bison for centuries before we came along. Who knows, if we hadn’t arrived then maybe there’d still be some right here,” said Pregracke.

Over the last couple of decades Pregracke has collaborated with ecologists and engineers alike to prove that this initially far fetched idea could become a reality. The research is clear; while perhaps unusual, this project would do wonders for the local ecosystem.

Spencer Mesick, environmental science teacher, weighed in on the project.

“I think it’s absolutely feasible, I think Chad Pregracke is a visionary. He has helped do absolutely incredible things, cleaning the rivers and raising awareness for environmental issues. He’s been thinking about this for a long, long time and has people that he works with that all truly know what they’re doing”

The project has numerous endorsements, including from the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, Visit Quad Cities, and Pregracke’s home organization Living Lands & Waters. Yet, even with the weight of these organizations behind it, the Bison Bridge still has a wide river of red tape to overcome.

Pregracke implores as many people as possible to, “join the herd” at to show support for the project. 50,000 signatures are needed for Pregracke’s vision to be realized, and as of early April the project had garnered just over 26,000 signatures.

Pregacke also had a message for all students at Bettendorf.

“You’ve got to stick with it- if this proves anything it’s that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. For a guy like me, it just happened to be bison in the Quad Cities.”

Sam Barnes is a sophomore.

This is his first year as a staff writer for The Growl.


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