With preliminary construction for a gravel-mining operation set to begin on 25 acres in Western North Dakota near Theodore Roosevelt’s former ranch, dozens of conservation groups are making a last-ditch effort to halt the plans. Eight years ago, the U.S. Forest Service purchased property in the Badlands that also included a 25-acre tract once owned by the Eberts family. Mineral rights were not included in the sale. Soon thereafter, the owners of the Montana-based Elkhorn Minerals snapped up those rights with the intention of mining gravel, citing growing demand as a result of energy development in the Bakken Shale. Opponents of the mining efforts include members of the Boone and Crockett Club. The group initially raised $500,000 to help fund the government’s purchase (and preservation) of the property only to discover the mineral rights issue after the sale to Elkhorn Minerals was complete. The ensuing lawsuits have lingered in the court system for years. The Forest Service has consistently sided with Elkhorn Minerals, saying the company is operating within its legal rights.
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Photo Credit: National Trust for Historic Preservation