Gov. Doug Burgum today welcomed U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to North Dakota, emphasizing the importance of state and federal collaboration on the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Medora and highlighting its potential to boost tourism in conjunction with upgrades at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
“Working together, we can seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a world-class destination that grows our tourism economy and honors the legacy of a president who was transformed by North Dakota and went on to transform our nation and world,” Burgum said. “We greatly appreciate Secretary Bernhardt’s visit, his collaborative approach and his commitment to addressing deferred maintenance in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, our state’s top tourist attraction. By linking the presidential library and the national park, we will highlight Roosevelt’s legacy of conservation and provide a unique educational, recreational and inspirational experience for generations to come.”
As Interior Secretary, Bernhardt oversees the National Park Service. At a morning press conference with U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and the governor, Bernhardt said he looked forward to learning more about the library project during a tour of the Medora area today.
“This is a very special project in that you have real interest and commitment by the state of North Dakota – that’s special – and you have obviously a very significant private philanthropic effort as well, and that’s special,” Bernhardt said. “And so these are precisely the types of things that we hope succeed and that we can partner with going forward.”
Bernhardt, Hoeven and Cramer discussed their efforts at the federal level to address the National Park Service’s $12 billion maintenance backlog, which includes roughly $50 million in deferred maintenance at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The tour schedule also included stops at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center, the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora, and potential sites for the presidential library and museum.
Since President Trump announced in early February that he was nominating Bernhardt to lead the Interior Department, Burgum has engaged the secretary in discussions about the library to lay the groundwork for future collaboration on the project. National Park Foundation CEO Will Shafroth also has voiced his support for the project as Burgum has hosted him multiple times in North Dakota since January.
In April, the state Legislature approved, and Burgum signed, legislation authorizing the creation of a $50 million endowment for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum if $100 million in private donations is first raised for its construction. The $50 million endowment will always be held by the state Department of Trust Lands, and only the earnings from the endowment will be used for library operations and maintenance.