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Housing is priority for upgrades at Roosevelt National Park

November 15, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Employee housing is a priority as officials make plans for improving and upgrading Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s aging facilities.

The park’s planning team is consulting with American Indian tribes and the State Historic Preservation Office about the long range goals for North Dakota’s top tourist attraction.

Park Superintendent Wendy Ross has a proposed list of improvements that also include upgrades to administrative facilities, visitor centers, park entrances and parking. Public comments on the plans are due by Nov. 30.

Housing is “the No. 1 driver of improvements and deferred maintenance in the park,” Ross said, given the park’s tight quarters and limited housing in western North Dakota.

“We need to take care of housing as our No. 1 priority,” she said.

Badlands Conservation Alliance President Lillian Crook said her organization will be following the planning process. She’s aware of the housing difficulties from her time on the park staff, and she’s excited about the park’s potential for partnerships, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

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“The challenge we face when addressing the visitor needs is to balance that with the unspoiled landscape as per the mission of the national parks,” Crook said.

Ross would like to see the Painted Canyon visitor center expanded to a “year-round, multi-agency information facility,” rather than a highway rest stop.

Partnerships with the state government and the planned Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library could potentially “provide this welcome center to western North Dakota and a gateway to western national parks,” she said.