Northern Great Plains Stories

  • In the Northern Great Plains, partnerships with ranchers protect vulnerable grasslands

    WWF Magazine: Summer 2024
    Our “Common Ground” feature took us to the Northern Great Plains, where 32 million acres of grassland habitat have been destroyed over the past decade, primarily for row crop agriculture.
    Rancher on horseback watching cattle
  • How the US's number one crop is putting grasslands at risk

    WWF Magazine: Summer 2024
    Also known as maize, corn is the second largest crop in the world—number one in the US—and a standard ingredient in many household products, foods, and beverages.
    Collage of corn and corn products
  • We’ve lost millions of acres of grasslands. Here’s how we can protect what’s left.

    October 25, 2023

    WWF’s 2023 Plowprint report shows that 1.6 million acres of grassland habitat were destroyed in the Great Plains across the US and Canada in 2021. Since 2012, we’ve lost 32 million acres, plowed up primarily for row crop agriculture.

    An aerial view of a tractor driving over a large swathe of converted land with unconverted grasslands in the background
  • Native Nations lead the way to returning bison to their traditional homelands

    October 02, 2023

    Native Nations seeking to restore bison to their lands remain the cornerstone of the species’ recovery. Since 2014, WWF has partnered with Native Nations throughout the Northern Great Plains in support of their efforts to conserve and restore grassland ecosystems within their communities and stands behind local visions and strategies that aim to bolster ecological, economic, and community benefits.

    TJ Heinert stands for a portrait in front of a barn at the Wolakota Buffalo Range on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota
  • Nearly 1.8 million acres of grassland destroyed in US and Canada in 2020

    October 24, 2022

    Nearly 1.8 million acres of grasslands were destroyed across the US and Canadian Great Plains in 2020 alone, according to WWF’s seventh-annual Plowprint Report. Each year, the report analyzes plow-up that occurred two years prior to the report's release.

    A single tree stands in a pool of water in a large dirt field
  • Why we need The North American Grasslands Conservation Act

    July 27, 2022

    To protect and restore iconic grassland landscapes, World Wildlife Fund and more than a dozen of North America’s leading conservation groups are touting the introduction of critical new legislation—The North American Grasslands Conservation Act.

    A bison sits aside her calf in the tall grass of the Wolakota Buffalo Range, Rosebud Sioux Reservation
  • Bison help to restore grasslands

    March 30, 2022

    The Wolakota Buffalo Range demonstrates the benefits of utilizing traditional ecological knowledge and Western science for grasslands restoration.

    Wide shot of two people standing on a fencing overlooking a herd of bison grazing
  • Eight species making a comeback

    March 03, 2022

    Recovering species is essential for effective wildlife conservation and critical to the work WWF does around the world. Here are just a few of our favorite, recent recovery stories.

    Banke Nepal camera trap
  • Newly proposed grassland conservation act offers hope for vital ecosystems

    February 10, 2022

    Following in the footsteps of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, a volunteer-based fund that has supported almost 3,000 wetlands improvement projects across 30 million acres in all 50 states, a new bill has been proposed to do the same for grasslands, our continent's most imperiled ecosystem.

    Yucca plant in the grasslands of Cody, Nebraska
  • More than mere insects: the brilliant mind of Charles Henry Turner

    Charles Henry Turner was one of the pioneers of the study of insect cognition. However, tragically and despite his brilliance, Turner wasn’t afforded an opportunity to conduct his research within one of the world’s great scientific institutions because of blatant discrimination over his race. 

  • Where the meadowlark sings

    October 26, 2021

    Grassland birds are spectacular, but they are also North America's fastest-declining group of birds.

    western meadowlark
  • Our home, our story

    WWF Magazine: Fall 2021
    Four members of the Oglala Lakota Nation share stories from their lives.
    Thunderclouds on the horizon
  • Reseeding the Northern Great Plains with wildflowers

    WWF Magazine: Fall 2021
    WWF and Air Wick Scented Oils® and Botanica by Air Wick® have teamed up to reseed 1 billion square feet of grassland and wildflower habitat over the next three years, restoring critical habitat.
    Closeup of bee on flower
  • 3 things you can do to help your local pollinators

    June 24, 2021

    Everyone knows the honey bee, but did you know that there are over 20,000 different species of bee in the world? Here are a few easy things that you can do to help out your local pollinators. 

    A close up of a bee clinging to a flower's stamen to collect pollen
  • New Rangeland Atlas reveals the importance of healthy rangelands to wildlife and humans

    May 26, 2021

    Until now, grasslands have rarely been a target of international conservation agendas. Although they provide key habitat for wildlife and critical ecosystem services, they are often undervalued because we have not invested the necessary resources to calculate their benefits to people and nature. The Rangelands Atlas fills part of that void.

    Healthy grasslands in Lowry, South Dakota
  • Hopeful beginnings: First bison calves born on Wolakota Buffalo Range

    April 27, 2021

    As fresh snow redecorated the tranquil plains of the Wolakota Buffalo Range, new and precious life entered the world. Two bison calves took their first breaths amid the falling flakes—the first to be born on this ground in at least 140 years.

    A bison cow and her calf stand in a snowy field
  • Carter Roberts talks with Wizipan Little Elk about reintroducing bison to native land

    WWF Magazine: Summer 2021
    WWF president and CEO Carter Roberts talks with Wizipan Little Elk, CEO of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), about reintroducing bison to native land and how to be an ally.
    Headshot of Roberts and Little Elk
  • Growing the herd

    March 18, 2021

    Help bring bison back to their native home in the Northern Great Plains.

    Bison facing front with herd behind
  • The great monarch migration

    March 16, 2021

    Every year, the Eastern monarch butterfly flies up to 2,500 miles from its breeding grounds in the US and Canada, all the way down to its hibernation grounds in central Mexico. These tiny creatures have the most highly evolved migratory pattern of any known species of their kind, but this unique phenomenon is under threat.

    Monarch butterflies
  • 100 bison find a new home with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe

    October 30, 2020

    The Tribe will create the largest native-owned and managed bison herd in North America. These 100 bison are the first of as many as 1,500 animals setting foot on 28,000 acres of native grassland.

    Bison walk out into a brown field
  • After 51 years, swift foxes return to the grasslands of Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana

    September 24, 2020

    Twenty-seven swift foxes were brought to the area from Wyoming in September, marking the beginning of a five-year reintroduction program led by the Assiniboine (Nakoda) and Gros Ventre (Aaniiih) Tribes of Fort Belknap.

    A reintroduced swift fox stands in tall yellow grasses
  • New project will help improve 1 million acres of grasslands to help fight the climate crisis

    September 22, 2020

    WWF is joining forces with The Walmart Foundation, McDonald’s, and Cargill to invest more than $6 million in this initiative to make lasting improvements to America’s iconic grasslands.

    Northern Great Plains
  • America's disappearing backyard

    August 05, 2020

    From 2014 to 2018, tillage of grasslands across the Great Plains occurred at an average rate of four football fields lost every minute. This means that millions of acres of America’s temperate grassland, one of only four left in the world and a critically important ecosystem, is being plowed up for crop production.

    A tractor plows a vast field with a rain storm in the distant background
  • Cindy and Harry Eisenberg on leaving a legacy for nature

    WWF Magazine: Fall 2020
    Cindy and Harry Eisenberg reflect on the meaningful experiences that continue to inspire their support of WWF.
    Buffalo grazing in high grass