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Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill To Create a Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, North Dakota.

August 10, 1946

[Released August 10, 1946. Dated August 9, 1946]

I HAVE WITHHELD my approval from H.R. 4435, "To establish the Theodore Roosevelt National Park; to erect a monument in memory of Theodore Roosevelt in the village of Medora, North Dakota; and for other purposes."

The area that would be established by this bill as the Theodore Roosevelt National Park does not possess those outstanding natural features or scenic qualities that would justify its establishment as a national park and has no direct historical association with Theodore Roosevelt. Neither the Maltese Cross Ranch, in which President Roosevelt had an interest, nor the Elkhorn Ranch, which he owned, are embraced within the proposed park area. The Maltese Cross Ranch is situated some distance south of Medora, North Dakota, while the proposed national park area is situated north of Medora. The Elkhorn ranch is situated thirty-five miles north of Medora, and is a considerable distance from the proposed park.

The land within the proposed national park area is now a part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge, and is best fitted for use as a wildlife protection and management area. Prior to its inclusion within the Refuge, it was a part of the Roosevelt Recreational Demonstration Area, which consisted of submarginal land acquired originally by the Resettlement Administration for recreational demonstration purposes. The area is largely of a badlands character, the formations being rounded, mostly dark red in color, and interspersed with grass-covered flats and plateaus. It is not of national park caliber.

Existing or authorized national parks contain or relate to areas that possess scenic, scientific, or historic features of outstanding national significance. The same high standards should be maintained whenever national parks are established in the future. I feel strongly, therefore, that to confer national park status upon the area described in H.R. 4435 would be an unwise departure from sound policy. If a national park is to be established in honor of Theodore Roosevelt, it should more fully measure up to the standards developed and maintained in the past for national parks.

I may add, in this connection, that the bill contains a provision with respect to the determination of the validity of the title to the lands in question, which provision I would have considered sufficiently objectionable to justify a disapproval of the measure, entirely aside from the above indicated reasons for its disapproval. I refer to the provision for the determination, by the Secretary of the Interior instead of by the Attorney General, of the validity of the land titles in question. This duty of examining the titles of lands acquired by the Government has, for more than a century, been vested in the Attorney General with respect to the vast majority of acquisitions, and I perceive no reason to change this general practice which has proven satisfactory through the years.

Accordingly, I am constrained to withhold approval from H.R. 4435.


Harry S Truman, Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill To Create a Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, North Dakota. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232014

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