Unheralded

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘If You Know Wilderness In The Way That You Know Love … ‘: Two Retreats To The North Unit

It has been my great fortune to have made two retreats to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park these past few weeks, a place in the Bad Lands that is very dear to my heart.  The North Unit is the heart of wildness in North Dakota and is, right now, awash in autumn glory. My first outing was …


JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘A Bridge To Nowhere’

Well, after nearly a dozen years of delay, it looks like Billings County is finally going to build a bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora, N.D. The county posted a notice in the Federal Register on Oct. 12, 2006, that it was beginning an Environmental Impact Statement process “for a proposed roadway project and river …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Dispatches From Theodore Roosevelt National Park

We slipped away from domestic chores this week for an interlude in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit) along with a night in the charming village of Medora, N.D., where we were treated to two very pleasant days, warm and sunny, with a gentle breeze. We took a hike on the Jones Creek trail and two drives through the Park …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Of Refineries And Bridges

There is news this week on several fronts involving threats to the North Dakota Bad Lands. There are some long documents to read. Here’s a summary. More when I get done reading them. THAT DAMN REFINERY First, Meridian Energy’s proposed oil refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park. You probably read that the Dakota Resource Council and its legal ally, the …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — ‘I So Declare It!’

My day started out OK this morning. My pillbox told me it was Thursday — it’s always nice to know what day of the week it is right away in the morning. I had a pretty good bowel movement — for you young readers, that‘s pretty important for someone my age. I got my belt through every belt loop but …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Walk On The Wild Side — In The Bad Lands

While life at Red Oak House here on Missouri River is filled with many blessings and much happiness, as frequently as possible we refresh our spirits with visits to the Bad Lands of North Dakota, which we did early this week, joined by our daughter, Chelsea, and Paul and Joe, our friends from Arizona. We met on the veranda of …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Rollin’ Up Our Sleeves

It is the tradition for members of the Badlands Conservation Alliance to do a day of service, usually in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, on the weekend closest to Earth Day. On this past Saturday, we did just that, rollin’ up our sleeves for Theodore Roosevelt National Park, in the heart of the Bad Lands, our sacred landscape. I’ve been involved …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Another Set Of Eyes On Our Wild Bad Lands

North Dakota has more than a million acres of public land, most of it in western North Dakota, our Little Missouri National Grasslands, managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Most of it is grazing land, although it’s grazed by more than cattle and sheep. Pretty much every creature that lives in North Dakota has a presence there. For some — …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Wild Lands In North Dakota: A Red-letter Day In North Dakota History

Today was a red-letter today in North Dakota history, specifically N.D. conservation history. This morning, at the Bismarck Public Library, the film “Keeping All the Pieces” was released by the Badlands Conservation Alliance and the North Dakota Wildlife Federation. Presented by Jan Swenson, BCA executive director, and Mike McEnroe, of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation, this 15-minute film dramatically captures …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Mother-Daughter Date To Theodore Roosevelt National Park

My daughter and I had a Theodore Roosevelt National Park getaway Thursday. She hadn’t been out there since Labor Day, and she described the day as “rejuvenating.” She loves the Bad Lands as much as I, and she is particularly in love with the wild horses that inhabit the South Unit of TRNP. She is a photographer and a member …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘The Hour of Land’

“The Hour of Land: a Personal Topography of America’s National Parks,” Terry Tempest Williams (Sarah Crichton Book, 2016). The National Park Service observed its centennial in 2016. During this year, writer Terry Tempest Williams published “The Hour of Land,” her personal journey and meditation on the national parks, essays written as she traveled the country visiting some of the iconic sites …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — The Elkhorn Ranch: A Love Letter

In the last days of 2016, Jim and I sent a handwritten letter to President Barack Obama, a heartfelt plea to him to act in his last days to protect the Elkhorn Ranch. We were inspired to do this after a Christmas winter campout to that area. Here is a two-part series Jim wrote about that campout: Camping at the Elkhorn …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Read Bluemle’s New Book

John Bluemle’s new book, “North Dakota’s Geologic Legacy” (actually published in 2016 and now in its second printing), is a culmination of a career of more than 40 years he spent with the North Dakota Geological Survey, researching all facets of North Dakota’s geology, carrying the title of state geologist. It’s his fourth in a series of books designed, as …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Autumn Aspen On BCA Annual Meeting Day

It has truly been a lovely autumn here in Bismarck. On Sunday, our small aspen grove rewarded us with golden glory. Three of the aspen trees were a gift from dear Sheila Schafer, as a tribute to Jim’s late mother. Sheila came over to watch Cashman Nursery plant the trees. She loved to see trees planted and frequently gave these …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Conflicts Of Interest Could Plague Scenic River Commission

The North Dakota Legislature approved, and Gov. Doug  Burgum signed, legislation last May authorizing the use of water from the Little Missouri State Scenic River for fracking oil wells. Now our state engineer, Garland Erbele, has issued industrial water permits authorizing more than 2.1 billion (that’s 2,142,000,000)  gallons of water to be taken from the river. So far. The withdrawals …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Maybe The Governor Shouldn’t Send Engineers To Represent Him

“Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it,” the wise man said. And you might not like what you get, I might add. That’s what I was thinking about four hours into last week’s second meeting of the newly reconstituted Little Missouri Scenic River Commission. I’ve been harping for a couple of years on the idea …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Theodore Roosevelt: The Naturalist In The Arena TR Symposium 2017

As I sit down to write this, I’m listening to thunder and hoping that regular rain will return to the northern Plains. Today I’m reflecting on the Theodore Roosevelt: the Naturalist in the Arena Symposium that Jim and I attended at nearby at Dickinson (N.D.) State University last week, the 12th annual. We attended the first and several others in the intervening …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Dakota Night Astronomy Festival

“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.” — Theodore Roosevelt Gentle reader, if you are looking for the perfect autumn getaway in North Dakota, I suggest the fifth annual Dakota Night Astronomy Festival, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in beautiful Medora, N.D. From the Theodore Roosevelt National Park press release: “People have been marveling at the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — President Theodore Roosevelt Crashes The Birthday Party

The most auspicious day on our calendar arrived. My husband and our twin daughters share the same birthday. (Karma, eh?) And we celebrate big each year. This year was ramped up by a long shot because it was Jim’s 70th. Around this milestone, we planned a family reunion with his six siblings and their spouses, held in historic Medora, N.D. …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Crenelated Landscape

Crenelated landscape. That’s where we’re home from. The Bad Lands of North Dakota, where we gathered for one of Badlands Conservation Alliance‘s summer outings. Driving there, we listened to the excellent radio segment “Natural North Dakota.” We’re members of Prairie Public Radio and partial to the vast majority of their programming, mostly listening in the car. Jim drove while I also …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — River Of My Heart

Poor little river of my heart, my Little Missouri River. In this year of drought, you are sadly diminished. Monday night’s storm was mostly lightning and thunder and just a trace of rain. This morning dawned another scorching day. Prairie fires continue in western North Dakota. The bison and horses and birds continue their wild lives here at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Taking The Bad Lands For Granted

Many people take the breathtaking beauty of the Bad Lands for granted, going on with their lives and assuming it will always be as it has been for thousands of years. Well, gentle reader, it ain’t so! Stalwarts have been diligently working for decades to protect the remaining wild landscapes so future generations can enjoy the grandeur. The effort culminating …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — A Victory For The Good Guys — And The Bad Lands

In a major victory for conservationists, and for the North Dakota Bad Lands they work hard to protect, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland of Bismarck ruled this week that the state of North Dakota and four western North Dakota counties have no right to go in and build roads in areas of the Little Missouri National Grasslands that have been inventoried …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Black Butte

I crossed off another item on my North Dakota bucket list last weekend. With Lillian, her two sisters and her daughter, I hiked to the top of Black Butte, and at the top, promptly declared, to the amusement of the ladies, that I was the oldest person ever to climb to North Dakota’s second-highest point. Well, there was no one …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Going To Visit My Aunt Junette

My daughter and I made a date this week to visit my elderly Aunt Junette Henke at Edgewood Vista Assisted Living in Bismarck. I am blessed with many very strong and independent women in my life, and my Aunt Junette stands in front of that line. She is my godmother, my mother’s older sister, and like me, the middle child. …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Of Cougars, Dipshits And Teddy Roosevelt

When was the last time someone called you a dipshit? I swear, I hadn’t heard that word in 20 years, or maybe 30 or 40, until this week, when somebody called me that in a comment at the bottom of my blog. I remember it as a word we used back in the 1950s or ’60s, to describe someone we …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The North Dakota Bad Lands: Still On The Brink

In the early 1990s, a group of 17 conservation organizations, as diverse as the National Wildlife Federation, the Bismarck-Mandan Bird Club, the North Dakota Wildlife Society and the Fargo-Moorhead Audubon Society, gathered under a symbolic big tent and produced a document outlining the dangers facing the North Dakota Bad Lands and offering a plan to protect some of North Dakota’s …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Camping At The Elkhorn, Part 2

I’ve spent a lot of nights sleeping within spitting distance of the Little Missouri River. God willing, I’ll spend a lot more. I’m pretty sure I’ve slept there in every month on the calendar. Some nights — and some months — were better than others. I’ve slept there alone, I’ve slept there with canoeing buddies, I’ve slept there with wives,  …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Camping At The Elkhorn, Part 1

I’ve written a two-part series about winter camping at the Elkhorn Ranch Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park for Dakota Country magazine. Here’s the first part. The Elkhorn Ranch Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a tiny 218-acre island in a vast million acre sea of Bad Lands, broken prairies, scoria roads, cattle ranches and oil development. The fact that even …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Getting Ready For 50,000 Oil Wells

Setting aside protests for a while, let’s look at a planning effort that’s being done right. Here’s an article I wrote for this month’s Dakota Country magazine. Is it too much for North Dakota citizens to expect that they should be provided a reasonable forecast of the environmental effects of 20,000 to 50,000 oil wells on our western landscape? Hmm. …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Protecting Humans, Critters and the Little Missouri River Valley

U.S. Highway 85 is North Dakota’s deadliest highway. If you’re not familiar with it, it is the road that runs north and south along the western edge of the state, from our border with Canada to our border with South Dakota, through the North Dakota Bad Lands, some of the state’s most scenic and fragile landscapes. Even though it passes …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — This Summer’s Prize For Tackiness On The Highway

If you head for the Bad Lands this summer, be prepared for some new scenery. All along I-94 from Dickinson to Medora, N.D., you’re going to see the latest abomination brought to us by the oil industry: “repurposed” semi-trailers painted up with advertising messages parked along the ditches beside the freeway. It’s what happens when greedy, tasteless money-grubbers stretch the …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Why My Dad Would Be Thinking Bad Words Today

A month or so ago, in an article I first wrote for Dakota Country magazine and posted later here on my blog, I talked a bit about my father and his love of North Dakota’s outdoors. If you missed that, you can read it here. I need to share a few more words about my father — and growing up in …