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Lawmakers want to see study aimed at protecting Theodore Roosevelt National Park

BISMARCK -- Lawmakers are asking to study the economic impact around the Theodore Roosevelt National Park to determine the best practice for sustaining and enhancing the areas' tourism and recreation as well as oil and gas development.

Sen. Jim Dotzenrod, D-Wyndmere, has introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 4029 as a way to address the state's rapidly expanding oil boom that he says could infringe on the outdoor recreation and experience of the park.

"Are our future generations going to be able to see what we see?" he said. "We may find in the future we have sacrificed something we can't get back."

The study also would address oil activity around the North Dakota Badlands and Little Missouri River.

Dotzenrod said the current process of developing new infrastructure projects, specifically in western North Dakota, doesn't evaluate right away whether they will run into land or other problems with the state park.

"There has never been a view to start with the park first," he said.

He said he doesn't have any data indicating there are problems now, but the resolution would make the state proactive to potential problems, rather than reactive in the future.

The resolution was first heard in the Senate Natural Resources committee Thursday. No action was taken.

Evacuation orders

Mayors and county commission board chairs will be able to declare a mandatory evacuation once Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs House Bill 1120 into law.

The bill, which passed the Senate Thursday by a 37-10 vote, allows the "principal officers" to declare an evacuation if the governor does not. Current law only allows the governor to declare a mandatory evacuation.

The local officials cannot delegate the authority and the governor can still issue an evacuation if the local officers cannot or refuse to act.

Sen. John Andrist, R-Crosby, said both committee hearings did not have any opposition to the bill since there is a growing potential for the Red River Valley to flood again and consensus to increase flood protection measures.

The House passed the measure 84-5.