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Keeping All the Pieces

Keeping All the Pieces is an outreach campaign and a 15-minute documentary film that promotes conversations about the public lands of western North Dakota known as the Badlands. The campaign aims to raise awareness about the impacts of oil and gas development while inspiring further self-education and advocacy. The future of the Badlands should be a decision made by the people, not by the oil industry.

What is the best way for North Dakota to wisely develop our oil and gas resources while maintaining the environmental health of our deeply valued natural and agricultural landscapes? This is the question Keeping All the Pieces seeks to answer by forming a partnership between residents of North Dakota and advocates of conservation and wildlife. North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms has predicted that the land in western North Dakota won’t be fully restored to pre-boom conditions until the turn of the 22nd century. Thoughtful planning that takes the entire landscape into consideration must be a priority —  otherwise, future generations will have no likelihood of successfully reclaiming the land. These decisions cannot wait. They must be made now.

Keeping All the Pieces is inspired by the land ethic of wildlife conservationist and author Aldo Leopold’s Round River, published in 1953:

The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.

Leopold is known worldwide for his 1949 publication of A Sand County Almanac.

Keeping All the Pieces is a collaboration of Badlands Conservation Alliance and the ND Wildlife Federation, with additional support from the Lewis and Clark Wildlife Club, ND Natural Resources Trust, the ND Chapter of the Wildlife Society and World Wildlife Fund. Since April of 2016, Mike McEnroe and Jan Swenson have given 26 presentations of Keeping All the Pieces, initiating an open dialog and public participation all across the state.

Get Involved

Participation Shapes Public Policy

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Talk to your family, friends and neighbors about what pieces of North Dakota you want to protect for future generations.

Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Stop by the Visitor Center to learn about the wildlife, geology and history of the land and pick up a park map. TRNP has day hikes, wheelchair-accessible hikes, and is one of many entry points for the 144-mile Maah Daah Hey trail system.

Explore the wild beauty of the Little Missouri National Grassland. Managed by the US Forest Service, ninety-five percent of the Grassland’s one million acres of public land are currently open to oil and gas development. Our self-guided Southern Badlands Adventure is a great way to get an overview of the Grassland for both new and return visitors.

The Prairie Legacy Wilderness proposal is a foundation of Badlands Conservation Alliance. The United States Forest Service manages less than 40,000 acres of the one-million-acre Little Missouri National Grassland as Suitable for Wilderness where oil and gas development is currently not allowed. The only avenue for permanent protection of these last remaining gems is through Wilderness designation by the US Congress.

Go to Watford City and see a Bakken boomtown. The cities and towns of western North Dakota have changed drastically since the beginning of the boom, and continue to change in both positive and negative ways.

Join us on a BCA outing. In 2017, we combined issue education with good clean fun by visiting areas like Kendley Plateau and Twin Buttes, both of which are managed as Suitable for Wilderness. We visited the site of proposed new oil and gas development in the southern Badlands, and a proposed river crossing of the Little Missouri State Scenic River. United States Forest Service personnel gave our group a tour to learn about the 5400-acre Magpie wildfire. We hiked, we camped, we howled at the moon!

Current Issues

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Keep Up on Evolving Issues

These current issues require comments from you, the public. This is an excellent way for you to become more involved. We will update you on the issues and on opportunities for participation as they occur. Becoming a member is the best way to ensure that you’ll receive the latest information.

You can learn more about each of these topics on our current issues page.

Fracking Water Permits. Withdrawal from the Little Missouri State Scenic River.

Expansion of HWY 85. A proposed four-lane divided highway through the Little Missouri State Scenic River Valley and trespassing on the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Industrial Park or National Park? Meridian Energy Group is proposing to build a refinery next to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Billings County Bridge. Proposal near Elkhorn Ranch Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.


Explore articles, reports and websites.


North Dakota Industrial Commission

The North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) is the state entity in charge of oil and gas development.

Our Voices Must be Heard!

Tell your elected officials you want to protect the Badlands for the future.

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Email and phone calls are the quickest and often preferred methods for constituent communications.

Postal Service mail for Congressionals generally travels more quickly if you send your letter to the Bismarck office where letters are bundled by staff and sent on to Washington, DC with more expedient security protocols. Mark please forward on the envelope.

If you are mailing a letter, feel free to hand deliver to one of the many local offices across ND so you open a relationship with local staff.

When calling an office, ask to speak to the staffer in charge of your issue. You may have to leave a voice mail so be sure to specifically ask for a call back. Write down the staffer’s name.

Leaving a message with the person answering phones is OK, but do ask for a response.

Writing Your Letter

If the official has taken action to support conservation issues in the past, express your gratitude. State your issue and your request. Provide supporting facts and reasoning.

Personalize with a brief value statement or an illustrating story. Conclude by repeating your request in clear, concise language. Thank them for their time and attention. Ask for a response. It’s important to include your contact info: street address, phone, email.


North Dakota Contact Information

Addresses and emails for State Legislators may be found here:

The Honorable Doug Burgum
Governor of North Dakota
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505
(701) 328-2200


The Honorable John Hoeven
United States Senator
338 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-2551

- or -

312 Federal Building
220 E Rosser AVE, Rm 312
Bismarck, ND 58501
(701) 250-4618


The Honorable Heidi Heitkamp
United States Senator
SH-516 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-2043

- or -

228 Federal Building
220 East Rosser Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58501


The Honorable Kevin Cramer

United States Congressman
1717 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-2611

- or -

328 Federal Building
220 East Rosser Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58501
(701) 224-0355


If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not.
— Aldo Leopold
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