After several failed attempts to open a dialog with the management of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, on June 22, 2021, we made our final plea to them. Following is part of the correspondence from our last letter to then Superintendent Wendy Ross:
“We commend your staff for creating the new wild horse portal as a way of communicating with the general public. We understand the emotions that surround these horses and the stress that constant questioning of their management has on your limited staff. We are also asking that you not redirect us to that portal. This is an attempt to open a line of communication specifically between our non-profit organization and TRNP park management. If that is not something you can commit to, we will refer your responses back to our attorney to discuss other legal recourse.
We understand that there are different federal guidelines for meetings in federal buildings than what our current state regulations are due to COVID. We are open to meeting with you in person if that is allowed, or through a conference call via zoom or telephone at your earliest convenience.
Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to working with you for the health and well being of our wild horses.
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates”
We did receive a response from Wendy Ross on that day:
“Hi Chris –
Thank you for your email. The park will continue to communicate about the park horses through the horse communication portal (https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/nature/feral-wild-horses.htm ). As I have stated in previous emails, it is the only equitable way to provide information to all stakeholders, ensuring that each group gets the same information at the same time.
We have written a post on the communication portal concerning your request. If you have additional questions, please submit them via the portal.
On July 26, 2021, we signed a retainer agreement with Eubanks and Associates.
We have been communicating with our legal team for approximately 8 months now. We should also note that this legal team came highly recommended to us by American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC). We have been communicating with AWHC since August of 2020, when we first brought our concerns regarding the management of the wild horses in TRNP to their attention.
Both AWHC & Eubanks & Associates NEVER simply took our word for the concerns we were raising. Each group did their own individual research and came to their own conclusions. Yesterday, while I was going over the last bits of the letter to the park with our lawyer, one snippet of our conversation really says it all.
He simply said: “It is my job to tell you the truth.”
And he has – every step of the way. Part of that “truth” is that if Eubanks & Associates did not feel that we had a strong case, they would not have taken us on as clients. They had to do their own initial research to get there.
Last fall, our attorney asked us, “What does a win look like for Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates?”
We discussed that in great detail and came up with our plans from there.
We discussed records that we wanted to get from TRNP through the Freedom of Information Act. We have shared much of what we received, and an appeal is in process.
Further discussions with our legal team included the following FACTS, with regard to the current wild horse management:
- TRNP is in violation of several NEPA (National Environmental and Planning Agency) laws
- TRNP is in violation of several of their own NPS (National Park Service) rules and regulations.
In all honesty, about a week before the announcement came for the new wild horse management plan, we were discussing our case with our legal team. Our biggest concern at that moment was that the weather was getting warmer, and we felt that captures were inevitable. We asked our legal team to switch focus from the FOIA appeal to this letter that we shared with you yesterday. FYI – that letter is now in library section of our website.
Our talks included the facts that TRNP and the NPS are well aware of the successful litigation history of Eubanks and Associates with regards to wild horse advocacy issues. IF our lawyers were to decide to litigate against TRNP, those costs would have to come from TRNP’s own operating budget. Meaning, there is no NPS “pool” of money to cover litigation costs. This is something that TRNP would like to avoid, if possible.
Our lawyers also stated that with the number of violations that TRNP & NPS park management know that they are in violation of, the EASIEST way that they can fix those would be to start the process of formulating a wild horse management plan.
And within two weeks, that is EXACTLY what they did!
When TRNP announced their wild horse management plan last week, we had several conversations with our lawyer – mostly about IF we still wanted them to send the letter anyway.
We decided that we did. The letter was already written for the most part. There were a few points changed to reflect the announcement of the new management plan. More than anything, this letter outlines EXACTLY how we (ALL OF US) need to shape our comments AND what documentation we need to submit when we comment on the management planning website.
We will go over that subject in more detail tomorrow.
We hope this helps you understand the extensive amount of advocacy work we have been doing – ESPECIALLY for this extremely important part of our advocacy work. We also hope this helps you see the competency of our legal team and WHY we need them with us every step of the way through this management planning process.
Now, if TRNP park management would like to take us up on those offers we have made to open some form of communication outside of their portal, they can work that out through our legal team.
Our advocacy work for these horses is far from over! There is STILL A LOT that needs to be done to ensure that these amazing wild horses are able to continue to survive and thrive for future generations!
WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!!
Please support our advocacy efforts! There are several ways that you can help support us list here on our website: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/
Thank you for your support!