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FracTrackers to document oil impact on Theodore Roosevelt National Park

By Lauren Donovan

A group dedicated to protecting America’s national parks will team up with oil and gas data mappers FracTracker to document the oil boom experience of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The National Parks Conservation Association is looking for up to 20 volunteers willing to spend an expense-paid weekend in the park documenting how oil and gas development affect the park to help educate the nation.

The park field trip is scheduled May 29 through June 1.

Volunteers will hike out to photograph and video the park’s south and north units, as well as the Elkhorn Ranch Unit, said association spokesman Tim Stevens.

A team from FracTracker will join the field trip and produce a clickable web-based map of the park, detailing special places in the park and the sights and sound of oil well flaring, roads, traffic, and generators that park visitors will experience. FracTracker’s technology inserts the images into a geographical framework, he said.

Stevens said the park is a world-class venue in the midst of a world-class oil boom.

“There are very real concerns about the existing impact. We want America to recommit to the principle of protecting this special place,” he said. “This will be a citizen-driven educational tool, a cautionary tale.”

This is the association’s first joint effort with FracTracker, which on its own has documented the effects of shallow gas fracking on special places on the East Coast.

Stevens said he already has a half-dozen volunteers who’ve signed up and he’s hoping for people who are already familiar with the park, to blend with others who simply want to see the situation for the first time.

The field trip will begin with a reception and orientation May 29. On May 30 and May 31, volunteers will be afield in the park’s three units. The final day, June 1, will include a tour led by the National Park Service.

The association will cover the cost of lodging, meals, park entrance fees and mileage.

Anyone who wants more information can email Stevens at tstevens@npca.org, or call 406-222-2268.

Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 701-220-5511 or lauren@westriv.com.

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