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John H.
Republican ND

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  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park

    by Senator John Hoeven

    Posted on 2016-01-11

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    HOEVEN. Madam President, western North Dakota is getting a lot of attention these days because of its vibrant energy economy. But people also need to know about the spectacular landscape and natural beauty that thrives side by side with energy development in my home State. So I want to speak today for a few minutes about a remarkable asset in my home State of North Dakota that was highlighted this past weekend in the New York Times.

    The Times ranked Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota as fifth on its list of 52 worldwide destinations to visit in 2016. Only Mexico City, Bordeaux in France, the Mediterranean island of Malta, and the Caribbean city of Coral Bay St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands ranked ahead of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

    Tim Neville for the New York Times wrote of the park: Few presidents have done as much for conservation as Teddy Roosevelt. Fly into Dickinson in western North Dakota to visit the park named after him, where rolling grasslands dotted with bison collapse into the spectacular red, white and gold badlands of tumbling mud coulees.

    The more than 70,000-square-acre park consists of three parts: The south unit, which is the largest of the two units, the north unit, and the site of Roosevelt's Elkhorn Ranch, which lies between the north and south units. The Little Missouri River meanders through all three sections of the park.

    Roosevelt captured a colorful picture of life on the Elkhorn Ranch in his 1885 book called ``Hunting Trips of a Ranchman.'' My home ranch-house stands on the river brink. From the low, longer veranda, shaded by leafy cotton-woods, one looks across sand bars and shallows to a strip of meadowland, behind which rises a line of sheer cliffs and grassy plateaus. This veranda is a pleasant place in the summer evenings when a cool breeze stirs along the river and blows in the faces of the tired men, who loll back in their rocking-chairs (what true American does not enjoy a rocking- chair?), book in hand--though they do not often read the books, but rock gently to and fro, gazing sleepily out at the weird-looking buttes opposite, until their sharp outlines grow indistinct and purple in the after-glow of the sunset.

    Theodore Roosevelt National Park has preserved what Roosevelt saw more than a century ago. For that reason, it gets half a million visitors a year, but more should come to see it, and I believe more will as a result of the New York Times list. Speaking of New York, the Times was the right venue to highlight Teddy Roosevelt's National Park because Teddy Roosevelt was a native son of New York, born in the heart of Manhattan at the dawn of the age of concrete canyons and bustling growth.

    More than 135 years ago, he fled the hectic pace of New York for the solitude of North Dakota's western Badlands on a hunting trip. During that trip--his first to what was then called the Dakota Territory--he was so taken with the land that he bought a ranch before he left for home.

    Within a year, back at home in New York, however, tragedy struck in a cruel way. Both Roosevelt's wife and his mother died in the same House on the same day. He was crushed, but being a man of action, he sought to redirect his grief by throwing himself into a new adventure--cattle ranching in North Dakota. He went west and built the Elkhorn Ranch on a plot of land that is now part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

    Roosevelt long acknowledged his debt to North Dakota. He said: ``I have always said I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota. . . . It was here that the romance of my life began.'' That romance is still alive and well in western North Dakota. I invite travelers from around the world to visit us and see what the New York Times described as a ``century of protecting America's magnificence.'' ____________________

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