Gov. Doug Burgum today released the following statement after the National Park Service (NPS) announced that the public comment period is now open on its draft environmental assessment related to the herds of wild horses and cattle within Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The public comment period closes Oct. 25.
“We continue to urge the National Park Service to maintain a herd of wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, just as wild horses roamed those lands during Roosevelt’s transformative years in the Badlands, when President Truman signed the bill creating the park in 1947 and when it received official national park status in 1978,” Burgum said. “These horses are a hugely popular tourist attraction, embodying the untamed spirit of the Badlands while also reminding us of the deep ties to Roosevelt’s ranching and conservation legacy. As we’ve expressed repeatedly to the NPS and Director Sams, the state remains ready and willing to collaborate with the Park Service to keep wild horses in the park in a manner and number that supports genetic diversity and protects the park for visitors now and long into the future.”
Burgum held a press conference on Jan. 30 with tourism officials, state legislators and other stakeholders to bring attention to the issue, submitting a letter the same day urging the NPS to maintain a herd of wild horses at the park. The governor later reiterated his position in a phone call with NPS Director Charles Sams and has continued to push agency officials to allow wild horses at the park, stressing their importance to the state’s tourism industry and their deep historical and cultural connections to the park and Roosevelt himself.
North Dakota legislators in April also passed a resolution urging the Secretary of the Interior and the director of the NPS to modify its livestock management plan and “continue to allow for interpretative, cultural, and historical purposes a herd of longhorn steers in the North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the presence of a wild horse herd in the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.”