Substantive Comment letter: Historical & Cultural Significance – Part 2

We have just 18 days left in this public comment period.  We are asking our followers to make sure they are taking the time to make a SUBSTANTIVE comment to the Park.  We have offered several examples of information to share in your comment letter in our blog posts. 

Our past blogs have gone over the Purpose & Need, the Livestock Classification and last week we began our discussion about the argument for historical and cultural significance.

Today we will wrap up the historical aspect.

First, unlike any other national park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park was named for President Theodore Roosevelt.  More than that, this park exists to honor Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy.

For starters, the Park wants to tell us that legacy is now ONLY Theodore Roosevelt’s CONSERVATION legacy NOT his ranching legacy.  Even though it seems obvious, it is worth noting in your comment letter that it is well known that Theodore Roosevelt would NOT have had a conservation legacy without his ranching experiences in the Badlands of North Dakota.

We know without a doubt that Theodore Roosevelt’s time in North Dakota included wild horses.

Dr. Castle McLaughlin’s report (which you can download to read on our website) is filled with valuable information showing the historical and cultural significance of wild horses in Southwestern North Dakota.  Instead of quoting her here, we are working on setting up a NEW Horse Talk with her so she can share her insights and answer your questions.  You can also watch our last Horse Talk that we had with Dr. McLaughlin. The video can be watched on our YouTube channel here:

We know that the horses also have cultural significance. Earlier this year, The MHA Nation unanimously passed their own resolution that was sent to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  In that resolution, they stated:

“The MHA Nation is held holds horses in high esteem as horses are significant to the MHA people and have played a major role in MHA history, tradition and culture.”

We also know that for as much as the Park is telling us that the horses will first be offered to local Native American Tribes and that they are consulting with the Tribes, in January of this year the United Tribes of North Dakota sent a letter to Superintendent Richman letting her know that they stood with Governor Burgum and the State of North Dakota and asked that they allow the wild horses to remain IN Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Their letter stated:

“United Tribes has reviewed the letter to you from Governor Doug Burgum dates January 30, 2023, and now hereby submits this letter to provide their general support for the continued preservation of wild horses and longhorns in TRNP as proposed by the Governor.”

Most importantly, Theodore Roosevelt National Park ALSO knows that these horses have historical significance.  They have always referred to these horses as a historical demonstration herd and their 1984 Natural Resources Management Plan and Environmental Assessment, stated that the TRNP herd was a

“historical demonstration” herd requiring “management as a natural resource, to control population size and to protect the grassland resource.”

More recently, Melissa Thompson completed her graduate paper, Genetic Breed Association And Contraceptive Response GWAS Of The Feral Horses (Equus Caballus) Of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  As a graduate student at the University of North Dakota, it is worth noting that Blake McCann, currently Director, Resource Management and Science at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, was part of the “Faculty Advisory Committee under whom the work has been done and is hereby approved.”

In her report Thompson states:

“The feral horses are maintained as a “living history demonstration”, representing the free-roaming livestock that Theodore Roosevelt documented during his residency (Harmon, 1986).”

Our next series of blog posts will take away some of the anxiety over making a SUBSTANTIVE comment and give you some ideas on how to write your own impactful comment to the Park. It’s easier than you think!

Remember, comments ONLY get added to the administrative record when you comment through the Park’s planning website: or by mailing your comments to:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
P.O. Box 7
Medora, ND 58645.

Thank you for your support and have a GREAT week!

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