Press Release Sep 29, 2015

Incomplete Environmental Review Prompts Lawsuit to Protect President Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch

National Parks Conservation Association Files Complaint against the US Forest Service

Jamestown, N.D. – Today, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), represented by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service for violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in its approval of a large, new gravel pit within view of President Theodore Roosevelt’s historic Elkhorn Ranch. The Elkhorn Ranch is located within Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

The lawsuit challenges the Forest Service’s decision to issue a permit for the 24.6 acre gravel pit on Forest Service land without analyzing all of the potential impacts of the project on the adjacent National Park. NPCA is requesting that the Forest Service conduct a more thorough analysis of the impacts that the proposed gravel pit could have on Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s Elkhorn Ranch, as well as the park’s visitors.

“The Elkhorn Ranch at Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of North Dakota’s most significant historic places that offers all Americans an opportunity to walk where President Roosevelt walked and contemplated our Nation’s conservation legacy. We are asking the Forest Service to consider that legacy too,” said Bart Melton, NCPA’s Northern Rockies Regional Director. “The Forest Service has an obligation to North Dakotans and all Americans to follow the letter of the law when considering this type of development within view of a National Park, let alone where President Roosevelt once sat on his front porch.”

In its review, which was finalized in January of 2015, the Forest Service approved the gravel mine without fully considering its ability to preserve the integrity of that land.

“The Forest Service must go back and conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement to consider reasonable alternatives to permitting a gravel pit this close to Theodore Roosevelt National Park,” said Mindi Schmitz, ELPC’s Government Relations Specialist in Jamestown, N.D. “As a native North Dakotan, I hope the Forest Service pursues alternatives that would protect the beauty and quiet of this special place that we care deeply about.”

The Elkhorn Ranch has been called the “cradle of conservation” for the influence it had on shaping Roosevelt’s overall conservation ethic. Roosevelt created the United States Forest Service and established five national parks, 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves, and 18 national monuments. Altogether, President Roosevelt protected roughly 230 million acres of public land.

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About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.