WASHINGTON, MAY 7, 2007 AT 2:15 PM EDT - Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced that the USDA Forest Service has purchased a 5,200 acre parcel—which houses the historically significant and natural resource rich Elkhorn Ranch in western North Dakota.
The Elkhorn Ranch—located in the Badlands of western North Dakota—was the site where President Theodore Roosevelt operated a ranch in the 1880s. The ranch, purchased for $4.8 million from a private owner, becomes part of the Little Missouri National Grasslands. The Forest Service will honor existing legal rights and valid permits. Traditional uses such as livestock grazing, oil and gas development, and hunting will continue. It is the intent of the Forest Service to convey a like number of acres to the private sector to continue the same balance of federal lands in North Dakota.
"This is a unique piece of land both historically and ecologically," said Johanns. "President Roosevelt helped to define conservation practices throughout the 20th century. The process leading up to acquisition of the ranch embodies principles of cooperative conservation; this is a tribute to President Roosevelt's legacy as well as a symbol of a new and exciting area of conservation and stewardship."
"It's our hope," stated Ted Roosevelt, IV "as the Friends of the Elkhorn Ranch, that the lands that once served my great grandfather as a great source of inspiration and enterprise, will serve as a testament to a past we value, a model of conservation partnerships today and a promise to future generations of our continued commitment to the conservation of our nation's natural resources."
More than 50 sportsmen conservation organizations, led by the Boone and Crockett Club, as well as prominent national and local officials, worked with the USDA Forest Service to secure the acquisition. Support came from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Friends of the Elkhorn Ranch. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently contributed a $500,000 challenge grant to complete the $5.3 million purchase and restoration of the ranch. Friends of the Elkhorn have set a goal of raising $500,000 to restore native prairie and r