Gov. Doug Burgum today expressed his deepest gratitude to state legislators after they voted to approve an endowment for the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum (TRPLM), laying the foundation for a world-class tourism destination in North Dakota.
The $50 million endowment will be used for operations and maintenance, contingent on $100 million in private donations being raised to build the library and museum in Medora, at the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The endowment, included as an amendment to the Governor’s Office budget, overwhelmingly passed the House today and the Senate Tuesday.
“We are deeply grateful to the legislators who recognized the historic opportunity presented by this project, and to all those who have worked for almost two decades to establish a Theodore Roosevelt presidential library in North Dakota,” Burgum said. “This game-changing legislation supports the creation of a world-class tourist attraction that will elevate North Dakota in the eyes of the nation, have lasting economic and educational benefits, and share the incredible legacy of Theodore Roosevelt for generations to come.”
“By seizing this opportunity to transform our image of ourselves, the Legislature has honored a man who, by immersing himself in our rugged, beautiful and untamed Badlands, transformed himself into a bold and fearless leader whose later actions transformed our nation and world,” Burgum added.
The $50 million endowment will come from two sources: a $35 million loan from the Bank of North Dakota and $15 million from the general fund. Of the $15 million, $9.8 million is carryover of unspent funds that were appropriated for a presidential library by previous legislatures, and $5.2 million is from higher-than-anticipated revenues from the current 2017-19 biennium – in March alone, sales tax revenues exceeded projections by more than $18.5 million. No dollars will be appropriated from 2019-21 general fund revenues or Legacy Fund earnings, so the project does not compete with any 2019-21 appropriations and does not take away from other priorities such as social services, behavioral health, long-term care, education, infrastructure and raises for teachers and state team members.
The state Department of Trust Lands will oversee the $50 million endowment. Earnings from the endowment will be sent to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation for the operation and maintenance of the facility, but only if several conditions are met, most notably that the foundation board first must raise or have binding pledges totaling $100 million. The board also must first certify that $10 million of the privately raised money has been donated to cover the cost of the ongoing digitization of Roosevelt’s documents at Dickinson State University, and for the creation of a Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Scholars program.
“Because of the how this legislation is structured, for the first time in over a decade we have alignment between Dickinson, Medora, Dickinson State University, the TRPL Foundation, the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, the State of North Dakota, donors and other stakeholders, and we have the opportunity to move forward together to create something truly transformational and extraordinary,” Burgum said. “Today is not the finish line, it’s just the beginning of what will be a tremendous new investment in our state’s third-largest industry – tourism – and an exciting chapter in our state’s history, honoring the legacy of a great leader who said, ‘I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota.’ ”
The TRPLM has support from the Roosevelt family, including the 26th president’s great-great-grandson, Theodore Roosevelt V, who visited North Dakota in January. Other key supporters include Dickinson State University alumnae and TRPL Foundation board member Melani Walton and her husband, Rob Walton, who also visited in January to urge support for the project.
Multiple significant and influential national partners have expressed their strong desire to assist in any way possible. The U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Foundation, Theodore Roosevelt Association, Boone & Crockett Club, and Walton Foundation have joined the coalition of supporters to see the project through. Support has also come from current and former congressmen and women, former governors, the Economic Development of North Dakota Association, the State Historical Board, the Tourism Alliance Partnership, Destination Marketing Association, Chambers of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureaus, the North Dakota Petroleum Council and others.