North Dakota Roosevelt Ranch Acquired by Forest Service

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Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced the USDA Forest Service and the Eberts family reached an agreement for the agency to acquire the historically significant 52 hundred acre Elkhorn Ranch located in the Badlands of western North Dakota. Theodore Roosevelt, the nation's 26th president, operated a large ranching operation for many miles along the Little Missouri River from his Elkhorn cabin site in the 1880s. The ranch lands will become part of the Little Missouri National Grasslands.

"This is a unique piece of land both historically and ecologically," said Johanns. "President Roosevelt developed a strong attachment to the Badlands and he attributed his passion for conservation to his time in Dakota Territory. The Bush administration is working to capture the essence of a burgeoning conservation movement that will guide conservation and environmental stewardship during the 21st century."

President Roosevelt frequently read and wrote on the veranda of his Elkhorn Ranch cabin site and described the scenic buttes located on the Eberts Ranch property. This time in Theodore Roosevelt's life inspired his life long mission of preserving the special places and natural resources of America for future generations.

Through the Cooperative Conservation Initiative, USDA is working to unify diverse bodies of stakeholders behind shared conservation goals. The process leading up to acquisition of the Eberts Ranch embodies the principles of cooperative conservation and is a tribute to President Roosevelt's legacy as well as a symbol of a new and exciting era of conservation and stewardship.

More than 50 local and national wildlife and natural resource conservation organizations, most associated with the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP), have worked together for the last 15 months in cooperation with the Forest Service to secure the acquisition of the ranch at a cost of just over $5 million. This effort was lead by the Boone and Crockett Club which Roosevelt founded in 1887 and is the oldest wildlife conservation organization in America.

The USDA Forest Service, a multiple-use land management agency, will continue to honor all existing legal rights and valid permits on the lands in which it acquires. Traditional uses such as livestock grazing and hunting will continue. As a condition of the acquisition, the Forest Service will convey a like-number of difficult to manage, isolated federal acres to the private sector to ensure there is no net gain of federal lands in Billings County, North Dakota.