You may remember that in March of this year, Theodore Roosevelt National Park invited the public to submit questions regarding the management of the wild horses and their new “Livestock Management Plan”. Understandably, there was a limit to the questions that could be answered on that Zoom conference. The park did state that they would answer the questions that they were not able to get to on their website.
Many of you have contacted us because you are as upset as we are that the park still has not answered questions that were submitted almost 4 months ago.
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates reached out to Superintendent Angie Richman to find out when they would be answering the questions that were submitted as well as for clarification on when the next phase of the management planning process will begin.
We will update you when we receive an answer.
Things may seem quiet as we wait for this next phase of the management planning process to begin, but please know that Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is always hard at work advocating for these amazing horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home. Please help support our advocacy work.
Thank you for your support!
We are writing to confirm that the public’s questions which were submitted, but not answered by the Park, during the March 30, 2022 public meeting concerning wild horse management will, in fact, be placed in the administrative record for the Park’s forthcoming management plan.
As I’m sure you are aware, there were several questions submitted by individuals and organizations (including Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates) that the Park did not answer, despite those questions having been properly submitted in accordance with the Park’s instructions for the registration process and in the Zoom link. While we were discouraged that our questions went unanswered during the meeting, we understand there was only so much time in which to address the public’s concerns. As such, we appreciated that Ms. Patterson, one of the Park’s representatives at the meeting, committed to answering our questions after the meeting via the Park’s FAQ page. See Meeting Tr. at 2:17.000-2:26.000 (“If there are additional relevant questions that we aren’t able to get to tonight, the Park Service will answer those questions on the FAQ pages . . . .”).
To date, our highly relevant questions (along with others submitted by the public) have not been answered on the FAQ page or elsewhere. After the meeting, however, the Park updated its website to add the following notice: “Questions and comments submitted through this portal will continue to be answered through updated FAQs, but they will not contribute to the administrative record for management planning.”
Naturally, we found this notice to be concerning since the questions submitted by Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates during the public meeting are, of course, a part of the “whole record” for this agency action (i.e., the Park’s “Livestock Management Plan”). 5 U.S.C. § 706; see also Boswell Mem. Hosp. v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 788, 792 (D.C. Cir. 1984) (“If a court is to review an agency’s action fairly, it should have before it neither more nor less information than did the agency when it made its decision” because “[t]o review less than the full administrative record might allow a party to withhold evidence unfavorable to its case, and so the APA requires review of the whole record.”).
In the interest of transparency and to obviate any issues regarding the proper scope of the record, we ask that the Park make clear that questions submitted during the public meeting will be included in the administrative record for this matter, even if those questions (and answers thereto) are later posted to the Park’s FAQ page.
As a related matter, we would like to know when the public can expect to receive answers to the questions the Park was unable to address during the meeting. As you know, nearly four months have passed since the meeting, and the Park’s answers to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates questions are necessary for preparing useful comments during the impending public-participation periods for the “Livestock Management Plan.” Thus, we look forward to the Park making good on its commitment to provide “answer[s] [to] those questions on the FAQ pages.” See Meeting Tr. at 2:17.000-2:26.000.
Finally, we would also appreciate some clarification about the Park’s timeline for the public-participation periods in this matter. According to the Park’s FAQ page, “[p]ublic scoping is planned for summer 2022”; however, the Park’s planning portal indicates that the public scoping period is “anticipated for the Fall of 2022.” We understand there are several considerations that bear on the timing of this process, but any additional information you may be able to provide regarding the estimated timeline would be much appreciated.
Thank you in advance for your time and attention to these matters. We continue to appreciate the opportunity to work with the Park on this important matter, and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is committed to advocating for a wild horse management plan and protection for these unique wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home! We are fighting for a management plan that is guided by science especially when it comes to decisions regarding the removal of horses and the administration of birth control. Many other wild horse management plans have proven to be successful with their science-based plans. We are asking for the same for this amazing group of wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home.