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Buddy the Bison Will Promote the Bison Bridge

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Artist Atlanta Dawn with Buddy the Bison

The effort to open the Bison Bridge now has a mascot.

Buddy the Bison is a life-size fiberglass bison that'll help promote Chad Pregracke's vision for the old, I-80 bridge between Rapids City and LeClaire.

Moline artist Atlanta Dawn is painting Buddy, to make him represent the project.

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Artist Atlanta Dawn working on Buddy the Bison

"Blues and greens and teals, and then we're going to have prairie grass coming up his legs and wildflowers that are native to the Iowa 80 restoration area. I want him to tell the message of what the Iowa 80 restoration is and the Bison Bridge by looking at him."

Iowa and Illinois have begun working on plans for the I-80 bridge, and if it's replaced by a new one, Chad Pregracke of Living Lands and Waters wants to turn it into a tourist attraction, with land on either side and a herd of bison wandering back and forth.

Dawn says once she's done painting Buddy, he'll show up at farmers markets and community events to promote the Bison Bridge Project. So far, they've collected 30,000 signatures supporting it, and their goal is at least 50,000.