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Letter: Two projects threaten the pristine Badlands

Two new projects being considered would be in the very heart of the North Dakota Badlands.

An out-of-state owner of the mineral rights, on land purchased by the U.S. Forest Service, for protection of the nearby Elkhorn Ranch portion of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, has applied to the Forest Service for a permit to operate a gravel pit for the purpose of mining gravel.

A second proposed project is new construction of roads and a bridge crossing the Little Missouri River. This crossing would be located between the South Unit and the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, connecting U.S. Highway 85 to N.D. Highway 16.

Both will greatly diminish the treasured tranquility and solitude experience the public expects from their national parks and national grasslands. The national grasslands of the Badlands are recognized nationally for its pristine landscape and historic and cultural qualities.

Opening the center of the Badlands will increase industrial traffic, and it will also change the make-up of the rural ranching community by increasing the sales of subdivided tracts to outside interest for reasons other than grazing. With increased access, smaller acreage with housing will replace the unique outdoor heritage we have cherished for generations.

I ask, is the permanent loss of this small portion of our state, with such diverse landscape, worth the economic gain to be had for the next few years? It's you, the public, that this rests on. You can do nothing and let greed rule or you can voice you sentiments by contacting the Forest Service at 99 23rd Ave. W., Dickinson, ND 58601, or email, concerning the gravel pit.

You may also contact Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson at 128 Soo Line Drive, Bismarck, ND 58501 or email concerning the river crossing.

Buel Sonderland, Fargo