Press Release

Press Release: New York Times Names Theodore Roosevelt National Park a 2016 Top Travel Destination


New York Times Names Theodore Roosevelt National Park a 2016 Top Travel Destination

ELPC Asserts Conservation Must be Priority for Park and Elkhorn Ranch Within

Jamestown, N.D. – The New York Times’ travel editors listed Theodore Roosevelt National Park near the top of its coveted annual list of the best places to visit on the planet in 2016. The park includes Elkhorn Ranch, which President Theodore Roosevelt built in the 1880s and is known as the “cradle of conservation” where he was inspired to establish many national parks, forests and monuments that became the foundation for the National Park Service.

“The Environmental Law & Policy Center is working to protect Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s scenic view and the historic Elkhorn Ranch from new gravel mines and oil well flaring that harms the natural landscape,” says Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, a Chicago-based non-profit. “The New York Times put Theodore Roosevelt National Park around the top of its must-visit travel list because it’s a special place that should be preserved for the 600,000 annual visitors to experience the beauty and quiet of this iconic American landscape.”

ELPC sued the U.S. Forest Service last fall in federal court on behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association for violating the National Environmental Policy Act when it approved a gravel mine within view of Elkhorn Ranch. The gravel pit owner has already begun digging at the site, creating noise and dust, even though the lawsuit is ongoing.

Meanwhile, the development of the Bakken oil fields near the park has led to the wasteful venting and flaring of natural gas in the area. While many have noted the lightening of the park’s night sky due to flaring, the proximity of the pollution coming from the flares also poses threats to the park’s signature plants and animals.

“The flaring and venting of natural gas resources takes needed tax revenue away from North Dakota’s coffers,” said Mindi Schmitz, government relation specialist with ELPC’s North Dakota office. “But flaring and venting in the backyard of Teddy Roosevelt National Park does even more damage — it threatens the experiences highlighted by the New York Times in naming the park one of the world’s must-see destinations.”

Soon the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is expected to release standards for the venting and flaring of natural gas on public lands. Strong standards could help boost North Dakota’s natural resource revenues while also offering additional protection for the park.

The National Park Service turns 100 this year.  In recent years, Elkhorn Ranch was named one of the 11 most endangered historic places in America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.