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New group to help raise awareness about park

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MEDORA -- A new volunteer organization aimed at raising awareness and funds for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park is soon to be a permanent staple for the park.

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The "Friends of Theodore Roosevelt National Park" are holding their kickoff event on Sunday, June 29, at Shelter 10 in Sertoma Park along Riverside Park Drive in Bismarck at 6 p.m. CDT. The idea to create a "friends" group that came from other national parks with similar groups.

"A lot of national parks have 'friends' groups, about 160," said Valerie Naylor, superintendent of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. "Yet Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a major national park unit that did not have a friends group."

Naylor took the first step to organize the group by talking with park supporters a few years ago to generate interest. From there, a seven-member steering committee was formed to create a mission statement and form the purpose of the group before other members are invited to attend.

The upcoming kickoff event Sunday is the first time the public is invited to join the group, or to learn more about the purpose of the group. Naylor said after members of the group are established; a board of directors is to be elected.

"North Dakotan's love the outdoors," said Joe Satrom of the steering committee. "We hope that a great many people will come and it will generate a lot of interest."

Annual membership fees to join the group are $25 for an individual, $35 for a family, $10 for a student and $5 for the young explorers, who are children ages 10 and under.

The first 50 members to join the 'friends" group receive a commemorative cap.

Those interesting in joining can sign up at the kickoff event Sunday in Bismarck, or call Satrom at 701-255-3095.

"It's a great opportunity to get involved," Naylor said. "'Friends' groups in national parks range from very large groups to very small groups, but they are all helpful to the national parks in raising funds, friends and supporting events and getting people involved in the national park. We are excited to have a 'friends' group in our park."

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