Across the open plains of North Dakota, you can travel for miles without seeing a house or business. But today, with some towns doubling in population due to a new landscape formed in the wake of the discovery of the Bakken Oil Field, you are more likely to see one of 8,000 wells and countless drilling rigs on the horizon than you are deer or antelope. That same development is slowly encroaching
on the craggy ravines, tablelands, and gorges of the North Dakota badlands.
For a century and a quarter, the terrain remained virtually unchanged from the day Theodore Roosevelt stepped off the train here in 1883, eager to shoot his first bison. Within two weeks, the future 26th president purchased an open-range cattle ranch, and the following year he returned to establish a second, which is part of the 110-square-mile national park that today bears his name.
Roosevelt became dedicated to the preservation of the animals and land he saw devastated by hunting and overgrazing. He established the U.S. Forest Service and signed into law 150 national forests, 51 bird reserves, 4 game preserves, 5 national parks, and established 18 national monuments. Theodore Roosevelt National Park was created in 1947 to commemorate his efforts.