We have a shocking update for you on North Dakota Senate Concurrent Resolution SCR 4014. This update and the information in our previous post that we shared today speaks to the work that still needs to be done and shows the difference between active advocating and those who choose to advocate when it suits their purpose.
Back in December, we reached out to our North Dakota state legislators, we attended the weekly “Coffee with the Legislators” BEGGING for their help to save the TRNP horses. Honestly, there were times we did NOT think that there would be a resolution from the state of North Dakota. But we persisted! It was a roller coaster ride for sure!
When we FINALLY had a firm response from a group of legislators to sponsor the resolution, we worked with our friends at American Wild Horse Campaign and drafted a resolution. We submitted it to our legislators, and they loved it!
Please remember, the park’s proposed “livestock management plan” includes the longhorn cattle in the north unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
That simple fact may not mean much to the horse loving community, but it is important to respect that it means a lot to the citizens of North Dakota, especially the ones that live near the parks north unit, who also love the uniqueness of having longhorn cattle in the park and understand that they are also a draw for tourism in their communities. Rightfully so, their state representatives wanted to make sure any legislation included the longhorn cattle.
At the same time that we submitted our draft resolution, the legislators near the north unit also drafted their own. Since theirs included BOTH the horses and the longhorn cattle, their resolution was the one that was used. The language wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but we understood, and it also gave the resolution more support.
When the time came to testify in front of the ND senate committee, the ND Livestock Assn weighed in. They showed support for keeping the horses and the longhorns in their respective parks. More than that, they had language added to the resolution that included the benefits of livestock grazing to the environment. ANY wild horse advocate can speak to what it means to have a local livestock association supporting wild horses.
Also, the state of North Dakota classifies horses and cattle as livestock. The park’s plan is a “LIVESTOCK management plan” – many of us have tried to have that wording changed with no luck so far.
We discussed our concerns about the use of the word livestock with wild horse advocacy friends before the senate hearing to see if it was worth arguing over, especially because the longhorn cattle were now included. They all told us no.
In essence, this resolution is simply a request from the state of North Dakota asking the park to keep the horses and longhorn cattle IN the park.
The day of the Senate committee hearing, when amendments to the resolution were being made, the person from the organization that refused to work with us made sure to show up. They made no comments on proposed amendments. During the Senate committee hearing was the time to request changes ESPECIALLY since the sponsors of the bill were present and would have openly discussed their concerns or approval of any suggested amendments. The time to ask for an amendment was BEFORE it went to the ND Senate floor for a vote and then over to the ND House.
Instead, this group waited until the resolution moved to the ND House. They were not asking their followers to submit testimony. They didn’t even share that this resolution passed the ND Senate unanimously. They could not even make it a point to personally testify virtually, as many of us did because of the impending blizzard. Instead, they prepared a speech for someone local to read in person NOW asking for the words “livestock” to be removed from the resolution. The person they sent couldn’t even answer a simple question from the committee about why the BLM wasn’t managing these horses. (These horses are managed by the National Park Service)
And so, select places where the word “livestock” was used was taken out. The committee gave it a “DO PASS” and the ND House unanimously passed SCR 4014. Said group has not mentioned that at all to their followers.
ND Senate and House both passed versions of the resolution UNANIMOUSLY.
Remember those legislators by the north unit? They are now concerned about the ND House amended version. They feel like the ND House amended version is not including the longhorns.
So now what?
ND House Minority Leader Representative Josh Boschee contacted me last night to let me know that he noticed that SCR 4014 is going to Conference Committee – which means that the Senate doesn’t agree with the changes made by the House. He spoke with one of the Senators who told him they are concerned about the longhorn livestock are also being protected. A Conference Committee is where 3 Senators and 3 Representatives discuss the changes. They will either 1) Agree with the Senate version 2) Agree with the House version or 3) recommend additional amendments. Depending on what the committee decides, it will go back to one or both chambers for a final vote, since each chamber has to vote on the final version. So, if the committee agrees with the House version – then it goes back to the Senate for a final vote. If they decide on the Senate version, it goes back to the House for a final vote. If they amend it beyond those two versions, then both chambers will have to vote on it.
It is fine if you don’t want to work with us. It is fine if you disagree with the way we advocate. What is not ok is to make waves in the progress we are making. This group knows how to contact us if they in fact changed their minds and want to help us with the work we are doing or want to know what we are working on and how they can help.
We are going to Washington DC to fight for these horses, and now I am not sure if this resolution will pass by then. It sure would have been helpful for my meeting with Congressman Armstrong’s office if he was sent a copy of this signed resolution BEFORE April 24th .
Our North Dakota legislators might pass this before then, but they are also coming to the end of their very busy yearly session. This week’s blizzard will definitely impact the progress of their session as a whole.
I can guarantee you that none of our state legislators contacted this group to let them know about this change in the progress of the resolution. While they won’t share any of our information, they make sure to visit our website regularly. They will be hearing this news here on our website this morning with the rest of you. Their ignorance to see the bigger picture and their lack of understanding of basic political procedures has now hurt significant progress that we made.
We will keep you updated on any movement on SCR 4014 as we hear about it.
Thank you for your support and please share our posts and help support our advocacy work. THIS is something we work hard on every single day.
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.