Letter: Keep development away from parts of North Dakota
Most North Dakotans who love the buttes and Badlands and the Little Missouri River thought that these would always be protected from massive development.
This was certainly true for me when I rode my horse as a boy in the Killdeer Mountains and Badlands back in the 1950’s and ‘60s, and it was true for my son and his cousins when they were growing up, as well.
We now know that very few undeveloped places remain in North Dakota, and these could be lost for all time to industrial interests. Even those of us who enjoy some benefits of the boom recognize that rapid, relentless development is threatening something precious. We must act quickly to protect the North Dakota we most love.
The leaders in the Badlands counties should be the first to help with this, but some of these leaders are going in the opposite direction.
According to a column by Dave Pieper, former Dakota Prairie Grasslands supervisor, “Not only is the Bakken oil boom changing the character of western landscapes, but now another more insidious threat looms on the horizon.
Four western counties (McKenzie, Billings, Golden Valley and Slope) and the state of North Dakota are claiming ownership of public roads, easements and rights of way (section lines) on the national grasslands.”
The people of North Dakota—hunters, hikers, Scouts, educators, everyone — need to speak up quickly to let these leaders know that it is not acceptable to insist that all of the Badlands and grasslands be opened to roads.
These public lands are designated as multiple-use areas, and most are already open to mineral leasing (a striking 95 percent), livestock grazing, travel and recreation. Let’s honor the full intent of “multiple use” and protect the remaining undeveloped pockets.
These small tracts of land are clearly identified in the “Prairie Legacy Wilderness Proposal” developed by citizens’ groups committed to protecting the quality of life in North Dakota.
For more information, click on the “Prairie Legacy Wilderness” icon at badlandsconservationalliance.org.
Please let your voice be heard on this, because time is running out. Our federal legislators especially need to know that you support keeping some parts of North Dakota free from development, for current and future generations.
Rob Sand, Killdeer