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Gravel Pit Near Roosevelt National Park Draws Lawsuit

The U.S. Forest Service is being sued for approving a large gravel mine adjacent to Theodore Roosevelt National Park's Elkhorn Ranch. Credit: Eric Foltz.
The U.S. Forest Service is being sued for approving a large gravel mine adjacent to Theodore Roosevelt National Park's Elkhorn Ranch. Credit: Eric Foltz.
October 1, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. – The U.S. Forest Service faces a federal lawsuit for its approval of a large, new gravel pit on the outskirts of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The suit comes from the National Parks Conservation Association, represented by the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

Staff attorney Jennifer Cassel says there was not a strong enough environmental review with the approval, a violation the National Environmental Policy Act.

"In this case we're talking about a nearly 25-acre gravel pit within view of a very historic area in our country, which is President Roosevelt's former ranch," she explains. "Indeed, that is what he himself considered to be sort of the cradle of his own conservation ideas."

The suit is requesting that the Forest Service conduct a more thorough analysis of the environmental impacts that the proposed gravel pit could have on Theodore Roosevelt National Park's Elkhorn Ranch, as well as the park's visitors.

Cassel says the development of this mine would include the improvement of several roads in the area that are leased by gas and oil companies.

"Thereby potentially allowing for increased oil and gas development likely also within view and within earshot of the national park," she points out. "And the evaluation that was done of those impacts was simply inadequate in light of the potential impacts that they're going to have on this critical historical resource."

While this pit is not in the park itself, it is on property where Roosevelt's historic ranch lands were located, which were purchased by the Forest Service several years ago and are on the National Register of Historic Places.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND