Elk plan comment period closesA plan more than five years in the making has taken one its final steps towards completion.
By: John Odermann, The Dickinson Press
A plan more than five years in the making has taken one its final steps towards completion.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s Draft Elk Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement closed up its public comment period last Thursday and Bill Whitworth, the chief of resources management for TRNP said they were happy with the response.
“It was a good mix of handwritten, typed out, it was just across the board,” Whitworth said of the over 380 responses the public comment period gathered, which ran from Dec. 19 through March 19.
Whitworth said he hasn’t been able to review all of the comments as of yet, especially those submitted on the park’s Planning Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) site, but he has looked at most of those sent directly to the park through e-mail or the mail, which amounts to about 25 percent of the total responses.
Individuals and organizations from eight states, including North Dakota submitted comments in that 25 percent, of which 23 percent favor hunting in the park, Whitworth said. An additional 12 percent supported hunting outside the park as an alternative and 10 percent advocated for no form of hunting being allowed at all.
Whitworth said the park received responses that supported each of the alternatives, including no action at all and even one that advocated the introduction of wolves as a management method.
As the park reviews the remaining comments it is required to respond to each comment, but Whitworth said that isn’t as daunting as it might seem.
“We do, but that response will probably be, basically be reproduced — the letters — and published with the final document,” Whitworth said, adding that comments will likely be grouped into categories and responses will be written that respond to several comments.
Whitworth said the Park Service hopes to have the final Elk Management Plan/EIS completed by December.