Eberts' ranch is dedicated

MEDORA -- The fates were smiling and shining down on those who gathered at the Burning Hills Amphitheater here for the commemoration of the Eberts' ranch acquisition by the United States Forest Service.

MEDORA -- The fates were smiling and shining down on those who gathered at the Burning Hills Amphitheater here for the commemoration of the Eberts' ranch acquisition by the United States Forest Service.

Even keynote speaker Edmund Morris' coined the expression "Rooseveltean Sunshine" when he talked about the man of the hour, Theodore Roosevelt, who was probably never quoted by so many speakers as he was during the ceremony Saturday afternoon.

Morris talked of the many sides of T.R. and lesser known facts about a man who Morris has become closely entwined with as a biographer and Pulitzer Prize winning author of "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt."

"The first Roosevelt era, seemed to most Americans to be 7½ years of summertime. The United States was so admired and the president was worshiped," Morris said.

Worship seemed to be a good way to describe the enthusiasm and ambition of those present to keep Roosevelt's spirit of conservationism alive through the use of the Eberts' ranch acquisition.


The ranch was a place frequented by Roosevelt during his time in the Badlands and who often spoke and wrote about how important the experience was for him. Many speakers such as Morris spoke about how Roosevelt's time in North Dakota shaped his life and in turn our nation's history.

"T.R.'s priority was always on soft speech first," Morris said. "It was the availability of raw power not the use of it that determined who prevailed in the international confrontations."

More than 100 people were present at the occasion, which included dignitaries and various organizations from around the nation.

The overarching theme of the dozen speeches was continuing T.R.'s conservation legacy through local and national efforts. Every speaker talked about the example set by Roosevelt, which must be preserved by the actions taken by anyone willing to do it.

Gov. John Hoeven gave the welcome speech for the commemoration with former Gov. Ed Schaefer serving as the master of ceremonies, who then introduced each speaker.

"Standing on the butte overlooking Medora with my father when I was only this (knee) high I remember him saying 'There's too much here to be lost,'" Schaefer said. "I want to thank all of you and your efforts for being here for recognizing this land as we place it in the U.S. Forest Service's hands to conserve, compare and use for all of us for the future. It was quite an effort and it was right."

The first speaker was Deputy Secretary of Interior P. Lynn Scarlett, who also acknowledged the Eberts family for their work on preserving the ranch. She also recognized the city of Medora represented by Mayor Doug Walker for its preservation efforts.

"This is a cradle of conservation because it was here Teddy Roosevelt found inspiration for conservation which engaged a nation," Scarlett said. "T.R. looked to hunters, anglers and those with a passion for outdoors and a deep connection to place as we laid the foundation of conservation."


Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark E. Rey also spoke on the ceremony's theme of conservation. Rey talked about the growing concept of co-operative conservation as the next chapter in our country's efforts for preserving natural resources and the environment.

Tweed Roosevelt, the great-grandson of T.R. and Theodore Roosevelt Association vice chairman, said the main reason he comes back to North Dakota is not entirely due to the famous family patriarch. Instead, he said it is the people he meets here, friendships forged and the lessons he's learned.

"I'm absolutely astonished at the North Dakota people because they are people who think big," Tweed Roosevelt said. "It's amazing what has been accomplished."

Roosevelt added he has found that people who come here learn about themselves and their country like Theodore Roosevelt did.

Friends of the Elkhorn Ranch Founder Lowell Baier also spoke and he was also spoken about by other participants who often thanked and congratulated him for his continuing efforts to acquire the Eberts' ranch for so long.

Several speakers compare Baier's determination in getting the Eberts ranch to that of T.R.'s own bully spirit.

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Director David Gagner echoed these sentiments. He called Baier his hero and reported that Baier is one of four finalists for the Foundation's 2008 Conservationist of the Year.

Boone and Crocket Club Chairman Andrew Hoxsey talked about the foundation laid by T.R. when starting the club and the continued commitment the organization is making to this day, which included helping make the Eberts ranch acquisition a reality.


Andrew Hoxsey, chairman of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation talked about the Eberts' ranch as being a part of the birthplace of American conservation and the importance of its purchase.

Final speaker of the ceremony was great-great-grandson Simon Roosevelt, who spoke about his lineage and going to the Eberts' ranch that morning, seeing what T.R. saw and knowing it was virtually the same landscape.

"This has been well worth the effort," Simon Roosevelt said. "It is a tranquil monument and great tribute to Theodore Roosevelt."

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