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Sen. Hoeven, US Interior official tour Theodore Roosevelt National Park Scenic Loop

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau toured Theodore Roosevelt National Park with park Superintendent Wendy Ross on Tuesday and discussed opportunities to update and improve the Painted Canyon Visitors Center as well as reviewing the progress of repairs for the Scenic Loop Drive in the TRNP South Unit.

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Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, (right) speaks with Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau during a tour of the scenic loop in Theodore Roosevelt National Park Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
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THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK, N.D. — The Scenic Loop construction project in Theodore Roosevelt National Park is making groundbreaking steps toward completion. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau, along with other stakeholders, visited the park Tuesday, Aug. 17, and reviewed the heavily eroded condition of the road, which has been blocked off for quite some time.

Hoeven invited Beaudreau to review the progress of repairs on Scenic Loop Drive in the Roosevelt National Park South Unit and discuss opportunities to update and improve the Painted Canyon Visitors Center. Park Superintendent Wendy Ross guided the tour.

“The real priority is for him to see the Scenic Loop, and we've secured $39 million to fix the Scenic Loop. It’s in the design phase right now. They'll start construction on it next year; I'm pushing to try to get them to finish by the end of ‘22, (but) it may take a little longer,” Hoeven said.

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“But obviously, that's vital for the park — for the South Unit. So we worked to get the funding and get the work going as soon as we can so we get it finished as soon as we can.”

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Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, shares his views on the future of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park during a tour Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, at the Painted Canyon Visitors Center. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

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A group of governmental officials and stakeholders, including Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, and Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau, view the condition of the eroded road on the scenic loop in Theodore Roosevelt National Park Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

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A group of governmental officials and stakeholders view the condition of the eroded road on the scenic loop in Theodore Roosevelt National Park Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Having Beaudreau along on the tour to review the condition of the heavily eroded road was a key aspect to the day, Hoeven noted.

“(It felt) really good because we took him out into the park so he could actually see the road and see where it's sloped,” Hoeven said.

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park Superintendent Wendy Ross explains how the road on the scenic loop in the park has eroded and is in need of repair during a tour with governmental officials and stakeholders Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

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A heavily eroded stretch of road on the scenic loop in Theodore Roosevelt National Park is shown. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Funding for the work is being sourced from the Restore Our Parks Act, Hoeven said.

Hoeven cited the complexity of the construction project.

“It’s the nature of the Badlands, so they’re kind of shifting all the time because (of) the typography with the scoria, the sand, the rock and as water runs through it, you can get these sinkholes,” Hoeven said. "Fixing is not an easy thing. There’s a lot of engineering that goes into it, testing and monitoring so that you build a stable road. You don’t want to put that money into fixing the road and have it slump out in another year or two. "

The design phase is expected to be completed by the end of this year, with construction beginning in 2022. The project is expected to be finalized in 2023.

Following the tour, Hoeven and Beaudreau met with National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth, Roosevelt National Park staff, state and local officials and the Medora Grazing Association. The group addressed maintenance needs at the park, efforts to establish the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and access to federal lands for grazing and other uses.

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Jackie Jahfetson is a graduate of Northern Michigan University whose journalism path began in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as a freelancer for The Daily Mining Gazette. Her previous roles include editor-in-chief at The North Wind and reporter at The Mining Journal in Marquette, Mich. Raised on a dairy farm, she immediately knew Dickinson would be her first destination west as she focuses on gaining aptitude for ranch life, crop farming and everything agriculture. She covers hard news stories centered on government, fires, crime and education. When not fulfilling deadlines and attending city commission meetings, she is a budding musician and singer.
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