Back in 2010 then-Democratic Senator Tim Johnson tried to make a portion of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland adjacent to Badlands National Park part of the Tony Dean Wilderness Area. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) tried to revive it in 2011. Had Sen. Johnson been successful in passing S. 3310 as a part of the doomed Omnibus Wilderness Bill the land would have been placed within the stewardship of Badlands National Park.
In 2019, the World Wildlife Fund, Defenders of Wildlife and the Nature Conservancy teamed up with the National Park Foundation, Badlands Natural History Association, Badlands National Park Conservancy and the National Park Service Centennial Challenge fund to expand the bison range at Badlands National Park by nearly 35 square miles. Led by The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit that began buying land there in 2007, sold some land in 2012 to Badlands National Park. Conata Basin is on the top ten ecotourism sites chosen by the University of Nebraska's Great Plains Center.
A South Dakota state park named for a war criminal keeps a drove of allegorical mooching donkeys as a slap in the face to the South Dakota Democratic Party and stages an annual mock bison roundup appropriated from the hunting practices of some indigenous peoples.
Sure, the Lakota acquired horses around 1742 then used them as weapons of mass destruction conquering most of the northern plains and the Black Hills region. But, likely with help from dogs for some ten thousand years before that the ancestors of the Crow, Arikara and others drove bison over cliffs and into sinkholes like the Vore site near Beulah, Wyoming.
The Anthropocene is now and time to rewild some of the American West eventually becoming part of a Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge connecting the CM Russell in Montana along the Missouri River through North Dakota to Oacoma, South Dakota combined with corridors from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon in the north and south to the Pecos River through eastern Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, western Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
Clear the second growth conifers, restore habitat for aspen and other native hardwoods, prescribe burns, begin extensive Pleistocene rewilding using bison and cervids, empower tribes, lease private land for wildlife corridors, turn feral horses from Bureau of Land Management pastures onto other public land to control exotic grasses and buy out the welfare ranchers Tony Dean warned us about.
Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), the economic arm of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, has secured nearly 28,000 acres of native grassland for the creation of a new plains bison herd with the support of the Rosebud's Tribal Land Enterprise. With a capacity to support 1,500 animals, the Wolakota Buffalo Range will become North America's largest Native American owned and managed bison herd. The Wolakota Buffalo Range combines Lakota-based regenerative agriculture and social impact investment to generate socioeconomic opportunity. "We are doing something that has never been done. It shows what is possible when we create multiple bottom line initiatives supporting the environment, people, fiscal responsibility, and Native nation building," REDCO's CEO, Wizipan Little Elk said. [Rosebud Sioux Tribe to Create North America's Largest Native Owned and Managed Bison Herd]ip photo: bison clear invasive grasses at Wind Cave National Park.
Today we celebrated something that you, our supporters, helped make possible: Badlands National Park is opening up 22,000 acres of new bison range! Here's what happened: https://t.co/5kGu7azNwb pic.twitter.com/OCyte974kj— World Wildlife Fund (@World_Wildlife) October 11, 2019
Cheatgrass is gradually taking over rangeland across the West. Researchers say this invasive species of grass that's spreading across states like Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada could make wildfires worse.@Abigail_KRCC reports: https://t.co/pccwIpv9EZ #mtnwestnews pic.twitter.com/xeKrXABX6h— KUNC Colorado (@KUNC) October 7, 2019