Before he was a war hero, governor or president, Theodore Roosevelt was a rancher. He spent two years living in North Dakota’s badlands, herding cattle and mourning his wife and mother, who both died on the same day.
A century later, historians and environmentalists worry Roosevelt’s secluded ranch is being threatened by North Dakota’s shale drilling boom. More from NPR:
Conservationists fear that North Dakota’s oil boom will ruin the ranch’s contemplative seclusion; that wells will be drilled along the ridges lining the Little Missouri; that a dusty, noisy gravel mine just across the river will soon start up; and that a big bridge will soon be built too near the ranch.
“We know damn well where that bridge belongs,” says Jim Arthaud, chairman of the Billings County Board of Commissioners. “On federal ground, about three miles north.”
Arthaud also owns a trucking company. He says the bridge will be out of earshot and eyesight of the ranch. But studies of those effects have not been completed. It is estimated that at least 1,000 trucks a day would cross the bridge. But Arthaud says tourists would use it, too.
“The whole public would be able to use that place, not just the elitist environmentalists,” he says. “That lousy 50, however many acres it is, 200 acres or whatever, where Teddy sat there and rested his head and found himself.”