Have you cleared your schedule for 6-7 pm MST TODAY?
Theodore Roosevelt National Park will be holding their Virtual Public Scoping Meeting today. They will be giving a presentation on their proposed plan and will be answering questions. PLEASE make sure that you are on this meeting today. Many of you have asked and we do not have any reason to believe that there will be a recording made available. The park only shared a transcript of the last meeting with the public. The horses of TRNP NEED you to be there! You can get information on the different ways you can join the meeting here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/MeetingNotices.cfm?projectID=105110
IF you are lucky enough to be one of the people who get their questions answered by the park – what should you ask?
Following are a few questions that were mostly generated for the last public comment period. We submitted them to the park and the did not answer any of them. We invite you to modify them, if need be, in the event you are fortunate enough to be able to ask the park’s panel of experts a question:
Has the park surveyed the economic impacts of their decision to eliminate the entire herd of horses from the park on businesses in the state, specifically those in Medora and the surrounding communities?
According to the Park, the bighorn sheep found in there today are descendants of California bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis californiana) that were “introduced” to the Park, see Nat’l Park Serv., General Management Plan at 10 (1986); why then are bighorn sheep not managed as “livestock”?
Given that horses have roamed free across the lands that now comprise the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (“the Park”) since long before the Park’s establishment, and that the Park does not provide feed or shelter for these animals in a manner consistent with domesticated livestock, why does the Park classify wild horses as “livestock” rather than “wildlife”?
Given that the Park’s proposed “livestock” management plan entails long-term management of horses that are historically important to the Park, unique to North Dakota’s Badlands, and have long been a controversial subject, will the Park commit to preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for its proposed livestock management plan pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), or is the Park considering conducting some lesser scope of NEPA analysis like that found in an Environmental Assessment?
Given that NEPA prohibits federal agencies from making “any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources which would be involved in the proposed action should it be implemented” before the associated NEPA process has been completed, see 42 U.S.C. § 4332(C)(v); Conner v. Burford, 848 F.2d 1441, 1446 n.13 (9th Cir. 1988), will the Park commit to suspending any gathers and/or fertility treatments of wild horses until its proposed livestock management plan has been completed?
Given that the Park’s Management Policies explicitly contemplate management directives for “nonnative” or “exotic” species, see Nat’l Park Serv., Management Policies at 43 (“Exotic species are those species that occupy or could occupy park lands directly or indirectly as the result of deliberate or accidental human activities.”), can you please clarify this distinction as applied to wild horses.
Given that the Park has historically managed its longhorn cattle herd in a manner consistent with the ordinary understanding of “livestock”—including by “salting, watering, and feeding” those animals, see Nat’l Park Serv., General Management Plan at 42 (1986)—but that wild horses have never been managed in the same way, why is the Park proposing to manage longhorns and wild horses together under the same management plan?
Assuming the Park plans to continue managing wild horses as “livestock,” does the Park plan to provide food, water, and/or veterinary care for the Park’s wild horses? If not, why?
The Park has consistently acknowledged “the historical significance of wild (feral) horses in the badlands and throughout the West.” Nat’l Park Serv., Environmental Assessment for Feral Horse Reduction at 8 (1978). As such, the Park’s herd has been managed as a “historic livestock display,” id., which “adds authenticity to the historical interpretation of the park,” id. at 6. Given that that the Park’s central purpose is to preserve the “landscape that inspired [Theodore] Roosevelt” and that wild horses “were an important part of [that] landscape when Theodore Roosevelt lived in the area,” Nat’l Park Serv., Foundation Document: Theodore Roosevelt National Park at 6, 10 (2014), what steps does the Park plan to take to ensure that the modern herd is an authentic representation of those horses found in the Badlands during Roosevelt’s time there?
Under all of the draft alternatives proposed by the Park at this point, the maximum size of the herd will 60 horse head. On which studies has the Park relied on in reaching that maximum number? And to the extent that those studies are unpublished and/or unavailable to the general public, will the Park commit to sharing those studies/findings immediately to facilitate informed public comment?
PLEASE REMEMBER – no matter what Calls to Action you are answering – the #1 Call to Action we ALL have is to send our individual comments to the park through this link: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=167&projectID=105110&documentID=125324
Thank you for your support! We hope to “see” you all tonight at the meeting!
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.