West of Dickinson, North Dakota, the land mounds up, mini volcano-shaped hills made of a beige gray clay or sand, punctuated by sage brush and grasses. The texture of the land was a relief; the previous six hours of driving had offered expanses to the horizon, cultivated land, flat and harmonious. I had enjoyed that great sense of empty flat land while chuckling over the joke my cousin told me:
What is the North Dakota state tree?
A telephone pole.
True, there are few trees punctuating this North Dakota land. Those I saw huddled together, braced against wind or farmers.
But now I was in a land largely untouched and certainly not by a tractor, speeding into the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I think of Teddy as a privileged easterner who headed west from time to time to hunt. The story told here is that he came to shoot his bison and stayed for several years, buying two ranches. In that rugged landscape, he became tough enough to become President of our country. He owes his greatness to this landscape.
It was what he saw out west that convinced him that we had remarkable natural resources and that we were not conserving them for the future. In the case of the bison—he arrived in the nick of time.
Theodore Roosevelt did not protect this park I drove into and hiked for two days, but it is named to honor the fact that he preserved over 230 million acres of land during his presidency. This park needs protecting: just outside its borders are the pumps, fracking into this land.