Few legacies have been misused as much as that of President Teddy Roosevelt
Kevin Cramer was right that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has restored the true spirit of Teddy Roosevelt. For too long, the environmental political movement has used the words and actions of the early 20th century president to promote its agenda of locking off lands to any development and preventing the use of natural resources. They use Roosevelt to limit economic, hunting, and public use of lands.
However, when Roosevelt moved to the state, he was among the first to utilize the land for economic purposes. He managed herds of cattle on two different ranches following the construction of a meat packing plant, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He used the land for his own potential profit, but recognized the value of conservation during his time ranching and organized fellow ranchers to prevent overgrazing. His interest was both in protecting the land and in ensuring the land retained its ability to be ranched for economic benefit.
Roosevelt would celebrate the energy revolution in North Dakota. He would have that big “Teddy grin” when boasting that American ingenuity ended the stranglehold of OPEC. He would appreciate the state’s national park and its commitment to preservation. He would also be amazed that a pad of eight oil wells next to the park can produce as much as eight million barrels of oil, that the eight wells use less than 1 percent of the land, and that a modern, extremely clean refinery can be built with virtually no impact to the park. He would appreciate the six-figure opportunities brought to the men and women who operate the facilities, much like he adored the cowpokes that operated his ranch.
For Roosevelt, the effort was about conserving land and natural resources for the future benefit of Americans, which includes both the beauty and the economic use of the land.