As 2016 starts afresh and we look forward to the New Year, it’s also fun to reminisce about memories from the last twelve months.

Among the milestones, one is especially memorable. 2015 was the year that the NFF, U.S. Forest Service, and many partners worked together to bring a small herd of bison to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie outside of Chicago, Illinois.

Many staff at the NFF played a role in the tremendous effort, and as part of the complex process, I was fortunate to see the bison cows shortly before they made the trip from Gann Valley South Dakota to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

Just over 10 hours from Midewin, Gann Valley is located in aptly named Buffalo County. Along with expansive views, deep blue skies, and breezy air, the rumble of tractors and musty odor of agriculture penetrates the senses. The area has a long history of bison ranching and several working ranches.

The bison headed for Midewin were born and raised at the ranch of Jim and Cindy Lutter. As we prepared to move the bison to Illinois, Jim and Cindy generously opened their hearts and home to the Forest Service and NFF staff involved in the process. We couldn’t have asked for friendlier hosts. A similar sentiment was present in the local community – “Eat with us!” “You can stay in our home!”