Hello and Happy Tuesday to everyone!
I received an email last night from a follower. She was feeling pretty defeated and honestly, I completely understand. I have many days like that.
I want to start by saying, I don’t believe there is a manual for “Effective Wild Horse Advocacy”. Even Wild Horse Education, American Wild Horse Campaign, The Cloud Foundation, In Defense of Animals, and all of us are learning as we go. What works today MIGHT work again tomorrow, then again, maybe it won’t!
I think that all of us believe in our heart of hearts that somewhere within the walls of the Department of the Interior (or whatever government office) that they are still part of a government that is “OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people.”
Most days it doesn’t seem like that, does it?
Someone else emailed me yesterday concerned because another page said that the “fate” of these horses will be decided on November 24, 2023.
NOTHING could be further from the truth!
The TRUTH is the Park is engaged in a NEPA process. The LAST public comment period for this particular part of the process ends on November 24, 2023.
THAT is ALL that ends on November 24th!
I have said this before, and I will say it again – we are ONLY in the beginning of what looks like will be a very long fight for the freedom of these horses.
On November 24th, this public comment period ends. The Park then reviews the comments and either comes back with a FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact) OR they do a more in-depth analysis of their proposed action and move on to perform an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). OR They come back with a FONSI and our lawyers advise us to fight for an EIS. OR our lawyers advise us that it is time to file a lawsuit against the park for whatever reasons they give us. OR about a million different scenarios that I have running through my mind happen.
We keep fighting.
The “fate” of these horses is decided when we STOP FIGHTING. And THAT is what the Park is counting on.
Wearing us down.
Making us tired.
Having us feel like nothing we say matters.
OUR VOICES DO MATTER!
The Code of Federal Regulations tells us that!
What is the Code of Federal Regulations?
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) annual edition is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government.
43 C.F.R. § 46.110(c) states:
“[t]he Responsible Official must, whenever practicable, use a consensus-based management approach to the NEPA process; see also Nat. Park Serv., National Park Service NEPA Handbook at 55 (2015). This means that NPS “should consider any consensus-based alternative(s) put forth by those participating persons, organizations or communities who may be interested in or affected by the proposed action.” Id. § 46.110(b). And, where the decision-maker finds “that the consensus-based alternative, if any, is not the preferred alternative, he or she must state the reasons for this determination in the environmental document.” Id. § 46.110(d).
What the heck does all that mean?
From our lawyers: “My take away is that the more consensus we can build around a certain alternative, the better because NPS has a regulatory duty to seriously consider any such alternative (or, explain why it hasn’t).”
THAT is why a SUBSTANTIVE comment matters.
THAT is why simply sending in a comment simply saying you won’t go back to the Park does NOT help these horses.
THIS IS NOT AND NEVER HAS BEEN about the NUMBER of comments that the Park receives. It is about the number of SUBSTANTIVE comments that the Park receives.
This is NOT a time for short and sweet comments, it is not a time for matter-of-fact comments. Senator Hoeven went to bat for us and asked NPS Director Sams for a 30-day extension to this comment period. In his request he said:
“Given the significant interest in maintaining wild horses at the park, members of the public should have ample opportunity to fully review the draft EA and provide MEANINGFUL input on any proposed changes to the management plan.”
~ Senator John Hoven 10/18/2023
“A 30-day extension of the comment period is necessary to ensure members of the public are able to contribute to a well-informed decision related to the future management of wild horses at the park.”
~ Senator John Hoeven 10/18/2023
We have some AMAZING people advocating with us for these horses. Let’s not toss their hard work aside by minimizing our comments.
We get ONE chance to save these horses. We are in the thick of it for sure. Take your moments away when you need to – but please, for the just under 200 horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home, make sure you come back to the fight.
They need you.
We ALL need you.
For those of you interested in creating meaningful, well informed, educated comments on the future of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, please check back here later as we continue discussing how to make your comment count.
I want to end by saying, I in NO WAY think I have all the answers. This has been an extremely hard learning curve for me. Insert the words of Stevie Nicks that echo in my head: “My mind won’t rest and I don’t sleep…not even in my dreams.” There is A LOT to all of this and THAT is an extreme understatement. Believe me, I have my people I turn to too in those moments when I feel completely defeated. And when I don’t understand, I don’t make things up, I phone a friend (and sometimes a couple) until I find someone who can explain it to me in terms I can understand.
And yes, some days I just want to crawl back in bed and ask for a day “off” from all this. Some days I am angry, mad, upset. And yes, some days I cry. Like when I was looking through the videos I sent to my friend at National Geographic.
These horses need every single one of us. Every single one of us together creates a loud voice that can’t be silenced.
Don’t worry about the lies and deceit coming out of the Park. I like to believe that the truth always finds a way to come out. A friend of mine always says “God doesn’t like ugly!”
And IF – If You Ever Did Believe is now stuck in your head – here is the link to listen: https://youtu.be/89IE9m1ZRHk?si=CkFcTmkNK6rEaLxp
I’ll see you back here later. We have A LOT of work to do and 200 reasons to keep fighting.