Elkhorn RanchElkhorn RanchTheodrore Roosevelt National Park

Cradle of Conservation

Elkhorn Ranch is the location of Theodore Roosevelt’s second ranch in Dakota Territory.  Roosevelt established the ranch in 1884 when he returned to the remote Dakota Territory for solitude and hard work while he mourned the loss of both his wife and his mother on a single day. Time spent at Elkhorn Ranch influenced Roosevelt’s ideas about conservation and lead to the formation of the US Forest Service and National Park System.  His actions protected more than 230 million acres of wild lands.

Roosevelt’s views on conservation are embodied in the following comments:


“We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.” (Conference on the Conservation of Natural Resources, Washington, D.C., May 13, 1908)

"I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the nature resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us." (Osawatomie, Kansas, August 31, 1910)