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“My stress level gets much smaller,” said Hornfeldt, a recently retired teacher. “It’s really important to have places like this. People crave this.”
Oil pumpers and more flares and traffic would spoil the grandeur, Hornfeldt said.
“Find another place,” added Virnig, who spoke in sign language with Hornfeldt translating. Natural spaces are getting smaller and smaller, she said.
With an average of fewer than 600,000 visitors a year recently, Theodore Roosevelt Park has never been among the country’s most-visited. But as the population around it increases, the hum of the boom permeating the landscape, its popularity may increase.
On Christmas Day, for instance, when the park is usually abandoned, a dozen cars were in the parking lot, Naylor said. Oil industry workers now seek it out to get away from the constant construction, traffic, dust and noise that the boom has brought. That slice of serenity is more important than ever, Naylor knows.
Gravel crunched under Naylor’s ranger boots as she hiked to the River Bend Overlook, which she pronounced “the most beautiful view in all of North Dakota.” She held her wide-brimmed hat against the whipping prairie winds.
“I love this park,” Naylor said. “I will continue to always protect it.”
Pam Louwagie • 612-673-7102