2016 is an important year for the National Park Service marking their 100th birthday. National Parks truly were America’s “best idea” and I urge you to get out and visit as many as you can, including those that are off the beaten path. This past summer we did just that when we had the opportunity to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the badlands of North Dakota.
Vast. Spacious. Vacant. I’m having trouble finding the words I want to use to describe this park.
We only had an afternoon in our schedule to allot to the park, but it was definitely worth the trouble to get there. The park is one that you can see primarily from your car. There are large bison to observe and beautiful wild horses to admire, as well as tiny prairie dogs to try and figure out.
There were a few short hikes that we were able to take. We usually try to get to the highest point possible and overlook the land. It was quite rewarding to do that at Theodore Roosevelt.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is right on the front lines of public land conservation vs private enterprise during this NPS centennial year. In addition to the National Park, the Forest Service owns a lot of the surrounding land, but not the mineral rights. For instance, the land surrounding Roosevelt’s former cabin is part of the National Park, but the surrounding area is not. The mineral right owner wishes to mine for gravel. “I have the right to mine my gravel. It’s legal. It’s constitutional.” Roger Lothspeich told FoxNews. Under federal law, the Forest Service said the agency “must provide access to allow the owner of private minerals to remove their minerals.” But, conservationists argue that the visual blight and noise from the operation will significantly alter the land often called the “birthplace of conservation.”
Like I said, 2016 is an important year for the National Park system, and for TRNP as well. Walking in the badlands of North Dakota, it is easy to wish you could hear what Theodore Roosevelt would think about the matter.