IF the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) wasn’t bad enough….
IF the fact that Theodore Roosevelt National Park misled the public with their defense of the apparent economic impact their proposed action of removing the horses from the park will have…
Hold on to your hats! The Park seems to be saying “Hold my beer!” when it comes to the question of how much worse things could possibly get.
NEW this week….
If you remember, when the Draft EA came out, we requested documents that were cited but we did NOT have access to. NEPA requires them to make those documents available to the public.
A full week after the Draft EA was released, the Park dumped about 80 documents on their website for the public to view. Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates HAS made an official request for an extension of the current comment period. We have yet to receive a response from the Park.
One of those documents that were added to the website is a pdf file titled “NPS 2022h”. One of our followers brought it to our attention last night. OH BOY!
Because things like this tend to mysteriously “disappear” (like the Jenny Powers YouTube video) we have downloaded the documents, we have sent the link to the Wayback Machine, we have taken screenshots of the page and printed the full document list. Hard lessons learned!
And in case you have been wondering about Jenny Powers, she’s back!!! And so is former TRNP Park Superintendent Wendy Ross!
All in newly released document entitled “Theodore Roosevelt National Park Livestock Plan and EA Overview Document Workshop Notes”.
It seems that on October 11-13, 2022, several Theodore Roosevelt National Park employees: Superintendent Angie Richman, Deputy Superintendent Maureen McGee-Ballinger, along with Chief Resource Manager, Blake McCann, Chief Ranger, Bret Morton, Joe Neubauer from EQD (Environmental Quality Division – NEPA specialist) Aleks Pitt from the NPS Regional Office, and a few people from EMPSi – the people creating the EA for the park, were joined by a few people virtually from the Regional Office AND Amy Duin – seemingly giving them legal advice from the Solicitors Office at the Department of the Interior. And yes! Our dear friend Jenny Powers was there virtually too!
What a powerhouse of people gathered at the Roughrider Hotel to meet for 3 days to talk about the narrative they would be feeding the public on December 12, 2022. You remember – when the Park let us know that their (THEN) PROPOSED ACTION was TOTAL elimination of the horses from the Park.
From page 6 of this document:
“The group discussed how it will be important to connect the dots for the public about why alternatives changed between civic engagement and public scoping and why NPS is changing its focus from managing for a historic scene to managing for a native ecosystem. Amy Duin oversaw a legislative review related to horses and cattle and the historic scene; the group will request this information from Amy.
- Since the 1970s, herds have increased on BLM lands and opportunities to see them now exist in many places.
- There are fewer opportunities to see bison in a natural setting and a native ecosystem.
- The historic scene in the 1978 EA reflected a management perspective at that time. Historic scene is not the emphasis now, it is managing for a native species, resources, and ecosystems.
- While Roosevelt noted that there were horses and cattle on the landscape, his stronger overarching message for the body of his work was his conservation mindedness. Roosevelt viewed horses as an intrusion or runaway on the landscape as quoted in the 1978 EA.”
Does that “connect the dots” for you? No need to have wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park because since the 1970’s wild horse numbers have increased, and you can see horses in MANY places. There aren’t as many opportunities to see bison. Their management perspective has changed (AGAIN) and hey – Teddy himself thought the horses were a pain in the A$$!!!
This ENTIRE document is FILLED with documented conversations between the Park Service personnel in attendance on how they would twist facts to suit that narrative they are feeding to the public!
For starters – longhorn steers will no longer be called longhorns or steers – just cattle please.
Horses will no longer be referred to as feral horses or wild horses – just horses please.
Gotta keep that “livestock” theme going!
And by the way – there is talk throughout this document – in case you missed this slight of hand by the Park:
The FORMER “Livestock Management Plan” is now referred to as the “Livestock Plan”
There will be NO managing any livestock in this Park! In case you thought otherwise!
And hey – remember the 2014 Theodore Roosevelt National Park Foundation Document?
You know the document that (by the Park’s own words IN the document!):
“Every unit of the national park system is to have a foundational document that will provide basic guidance for planning and management decisions. The core components of a foundation document include a brief description of the park as well as the park’s purpose, significance, fundamental resources and values, other important resources and values, and interpretive themes.”
They were instructed during this meeting to give a short description addressing the shift away from the foundation document. Why? Because the Park’s Foundation document stated this with regards to the wild horses in TRNP:
“Feral Horses. Bands of feral horses roam throughout the park’s South Unit. Horses were an important part of the cultural landscape when Theodore Roosevelt lived in the area and they are a very popular visitor attraction today.”
NEVERMIND all that! Out with that thought – there is NEW management direction now. The foundation document means nothing these days. At least with regards to the wild horses within the Park’s boundaries.
Oh and speaking of which…
WHEN they do the week long helicopter roundups to capture as many horses as they can initially, the horses WILL be once again put on the GSA auctions website. This was part of their discussion over these 3 days with respect to that:
You will find this gem on page 2…
“The EA should define GSA auction and should include euthanasia for horses that the Park is unable to place after multiple attempts.”
And we have always been worried about kill buyers buying up our beloved horses. They won’t make it to the kill pens! The Park will take care of that themselves. And if you are thinking that they will HUMANELY euthanize the horses, remember, their bodies can’t stay in the park if they are drugged in any way – NOT good for the food chain and all those “native species” they are fighting so hard to protect!
And YES! As suggested by this group meeting, the euthanasia point was made in the current Draft EA (you will find this on page 12 of the Draft EA):
“Other Management Components Euthanasia of individual horses or cattle could be used under certain circumstances, including individuals affected by a chronic or incurable disease, injury, lameness, or serious physical defect that would not allow them to maintain an acceptable quality of life for the foreseeable future; individuals posing a danger to visitors, threatening Park resources, or presenting a nuisance; and individuals that the NPS is unable to place or sell (as a last resort).”
A few other notes:
There seems that there were A LOT of talks about Section 106 – this has to do with the historical and cultural aspects. They don’t share any details, but it sure was a concern.
Remember in the Draft EA how the horses were ruining archaeological sites?
You will find this on page 29 of the Draft EA:
“Impacts on archeological resources from native species have been documented in other parks and likely occur in the South Unit. For example, the NPS has noted that bison have impacted numerous archeological sites at other parks, causing artifact concealment, breakage, displacement, and damage to prehistoric structures (NPS 2017). Burrowing animals such as prairie dogs, common in the Park (see Section 3.4, Wildlife), also create potential for the displacement and damage of archeological materials.
Based on the Park’s cultural resource data and horse location observations by Marlow et al. (1992), approximately 9,300 acres (56 percent) of the area most frequently used by horses (16,700 acres) in the South Unit have been surveyed, with 120 known archeological sites. Of these 120 sites, 25 are recommended as eligible for listing, have been nominated for listing, or have been listed in the NRHP. While these areas represent those most likely to be frequented by horses during the time period they were observed by Marlow et al. (1993), horses have access to the entire South Unit of the Park and could potentially affect archeological sites in other areas of the Unit. While not specifically documented, horses at the Park may contribute to impacts on archeological resources similar to those described above for native species where such resources overlap with horse use or areas in which ground-based horse management activities occur.”
Those DAMN horses!!!
During the little secret meeting they had a year ago, this was discussed on page 9:
“Cultural: there is overlapping animal damage, primarily from bison (for instance, there is some known archaeological damage).”
Didn’t they tell us in the EA that they knew bison impacted archaeological sites in other parks, but the horses frequent the areas where they COULD POTENTIALLY affect archaeological sites?
I guess all that matters is that they successfully “connect those dots” for the taxpaying public and then cross their fingers that we accept this garbage Environmental Assessment as FACT and quietly kiss our beloved wild horses goodbye!
Not in this lifetime!
Not as long as all of you continue to support Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates and our Fight for the Spirit of the Badlands!
We have A LOT of work to do!
Please make sure you read this document for yourself! You can read it on the Park’s planning website, we have also added it here for you to download easily.
Oh, and for those of you who will be tuning into the virtual public meeting tomorrow night, pages 17-18 of this document will give you an outline on what kind of a scripted night to expect – as approved by this group.
At least they can check “civic engagement” off the list as we move one step closer FINALLY being able to solve their 76-year-old “livestock” problem!
And hey – since Superintendent Richman seems to have “no comment” on ANYTHING! It seems that former TRNP Park superintendent Wendy Ross has been given some “talking points” in case anyone wants to contact her down at the regional office (see page 16 of the report).
Yes – we are a little upset by this document. Yes, we have talked to our lawyers. And the press. And our North Dakota State legislators. And many more people today.
We NEED everyone to comment and as promised, we will begin discussing that this week.
Please share our posts and help raise awareness about the plight of these horses. We are closer than you think to losing this herd altogether! We can’t let that happen!
Thank you for your continued support!