Buffalo To Roam Southern Badlands Once Again

Jun 12, 2013

The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council passed a resolution that opens the door for the return of buffalo to the South Unit of the Badlands National Park.

The tribe is working out an agreement with the Park Service to make the Southern half of the Badlands the first ever tribally run National Park.   

Council representative Craig Dillon says restoring buffalo to the South Unit after more than a century is a very positive thing for the tribe.

“This to me is taking a step back in time. It’s giving them their rightful place on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation because at one time they were a mainstay of our life, “ says Dillon.

The effort includes the installation of several miles of new buffalo fence.  

Two council representatives voted against the measure expressing concerns over the National Park designation of land they consider to be tribally owned and sacred.

Badlands Bison have called the northern part of the National Park home for many years. This new plan calls for them to again roam in the southern half on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Credit Courtesy Badlands National Park

Part of the plan removes some of the Badlands out of federal grazing land designation.   This means some cattle ranchers who lease federal lands in the area will have to move livestock elsewhere.  

But the plan calls for paying the grazing fees for landowners affected during the final year of cattle crazing in the fall of 2015. Dillon adds that ranchers will be offered grazing land elsewhere.