There's oil in them thar hills, inshore drilling

Road proposal riles activists in Roosevelt country

BISMARCK, N.D. - Plans to turn a secluded Badlands trail into a major road and river crossing might not have created such a stir if not for where it is: near the ranch where Theodore Roosevelt helped conceive the American conservation movement.

But as it is, hundreds of people and groups have flooded the officials in charge with their thoughts on the proposal, which has been stalled for years but now appears to be moving closer to reality.

But opponents fear it will become a road heavy with RVs and traffic from the area's oil booming industry, ruining an area that inspired the conservation-minded president.

As oil flows in North Dakota, a boom and burdens follow

STANLEY, North Dakota: At dawn, people from faraway states huddle outside the Mountrail County courthouse here, the coldest ones leaving briefcases and books to secure their spots in line for the moment it opens.

It is a peculiar sight in Stanley, population roughly 1,200, one in a constellation of isolated and, in some cases, shrinking farm towns along North Dakota's wide open western edge where few residents recall a traffic jam.

The early morning line hints at the sudden fortune that has arrived: Oil companies, saying that they located what may prove to be one of the largest recent oil finds in the United States, have begun drilling all through the area. Fifty-two drilling rigs were at work in the state at the end of December; a count taken in October showed that 198 new wells had been drilled in a year, state officials said.

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