Last November, 10 genetically pure bison were released on the 2.2-million-acre Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The last wild buffalo to be seen there was in 1885.

Arapaho and Shoshone people on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming—2.2 million acres of tribal lands—released 10 genetically pure bison on November 3, 2016. Imported from the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa, these animals are the first to establish a wild herd there in 131 years.

Wind River was created for the Eastern Shoshone in 1868; and 10 years later, Northern Arapaho people were moved there. For centuries, bison had provided both tribes with the major part of their existence.

This spring, on May 3, 2017, there was another notable event for this herd: the first calf, a male, was born.

Six of seven major game species that once roamed Wind River have been recovered: bighorn sheep, elk, moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer and pronghorn, such as those shown above. Now, bison complete the revival. ©Jennifer Strickland, USFWS

As the number of Wind River bison grows, it is expected that the landscape they live on will blossom, too. Bison tend to graze in patches, churning and fertilizing the soil as they go. Their particular pattern of movement prevents overgrazing and stimulates forb and grass growth.

Bison also roll on the ground—or “wallow”—to get rid of flies or molted tufts of fur. This leaves large depressions in the earth that can hold water from rain or snowmelt, creating microhabitats for amphibians, other wildlife and water-dependent grasses. And unlike cattle, bison do not trample riparian areas, leaving these critical habitats intact. In fact, a study published in the journal Science showed that a loss of grassland species diversity could be reversed by the grazing of herbivorous mammals, such as bison. Burrowing owls, ferruginous hawks and mountain plovers all benefit from the presence of bison.

Watch the video below from PBS. In it, you’ll learn how bison—combined with a method of land management known as patch burning, where about a third of the acreage is torched every spring, summer and fall, mimicking ancient seasons of fire—are saving America’s lost prairies.

Earlier than expected, in spring 2017, the first calf, a male, was born into the new Wind River Reservation bison herd. ©Richard J. Baldes

In the meantime, this small, little calf, it is hoped, is just the start of much bigger things to come.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,