VAIL, COLO. – Gov. Doug Burgum today met with U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt on the first day of the Western Governors’ Association’s three-day annual meeting in Vail, discussing a variety of topics including natural resources, energy development and improvements to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Burgum, who is vice chair of the WGA, thanked Bernhardt for his proposal announced last week to increase access to public lands by creating new or expanded fishing and hunting opportunities at 74 national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including the Valley City National Fish Hatchery in North Dakota.
Bernhardt also reaffirmed his support for the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Medora, at the doorstep to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. In February, Bernhardt told the governor that the presidential library and museum “could be a fantastic project for the state, and we at the Department of Interior will continue to work closely with the State of North Dakota.”
During a WGA panel discussion today, Burgum thanked Bernhardt for his collaboration and support of the project and said it’s important to honor the individual who set the conservation ethic for America at a time of much debate about the environment and the future.
“The future of managing these public lands is going to involve – and we need to involve – a strong commitment by the public sector, good partnerships with the private sector and a lot of community support, and that’s what that project represents, and it’s a great story,” Bernhardt said.
The Interior Department oversees the National Park Service, which recently reported that visitor spending in communities near national parks in 2018 resulted in a $40.1 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 329,000 jobs.
“We deeply appreciate Secretary Bernhardt’s continued collaboration, responsiveness and understanding of the opportunities and challenges faced by North Dakota and other Western states,” Burgum said.