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Press Editorial: Don't Let the Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park Disappear

The Dickinson Press Editorial Board stands with the wild horses and calls on the National Park Service to extend public commentary period

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A band of wild horses race across the beautiful scenes of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, N.D.
Photo by Chris Kman / For The Dickinson Press
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"There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country," - Theodore Roosevelt

The wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park have been a symbol of the legacy of the wild west for decades. These majestic creatures have roamed the rugged Badlands, inspiring awe in visitors and instilling a sense of wonder and connection to the land. But now, the fate of these horses remains uncertain as the National Park Service considers removing them from the park.

We have reported, published impassioned letters from our community and fielded countless phone calls calling on The Dickinson Press to take a stance.

Today, we are doing so.

We understand some of the concerns raised by the park service. We understand the challenges of preserving and interpreting the horses. We understand that the National Park Service has a limited ability to keep livestock in any park, let alone one that isn't counted among their most visited attractions in the country.

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We understand that...but.

The idea of removing these horses is not only a blow to the local economy, but it also goes against the very principles of the Park's namesake, President Theodore Roosevelt. As an advocate for conservation and the protection of America's wild spaces, it is hard to imagine that he would stand idly by while these horses are removed from the land that bears his name.

These horses are not just a tourist attraction, they are a vital part of the park's ecosystem and a symbol of the rugged spirit that defines the West. They are a reminder of the importance of preserving our natural heritage for future generations. The day that horses no longer peer out over the beautiful badlands from atop a butte, is the day that WE as citizens of the Western Edge have failed in our duty.

As area residents, it is our responsibility to speak up and take action to protect these horses and their legacy.

We must make our voices heard and let the National Park Service know that the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park are a treasured part of our community and should be protected for future generations to enjoy.

The public comment period for the livestock management plan ends on January 31st.

North Dakota Rep. Josh Boschee sent a letter to officials at the national park urging, as we do here at The Dickinson Press, for an extension of the deadline for public comments by sixty days to provide opportunity for those who have been busy with the holiday season, which may have diminished public participation in the decision, an opportunity to respond.

As we ponder the fate of the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we must ask ourselves, do we want to live in a Western Edge that no longer has these majestic creatures roaming the Badlands?

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Are we willing to trade our heritage and legacy for the sake of making the park service's duty slightly less difficult?

Imagine a future where the rugged spirit of the west is no longer embodied by these wild horses. Imagine a future where the Badlands are home to millions of prairie dogs, but void of the awe-inspiring sight of galloping wild horses racing across the prairie.

What will you tell your grandchildren and great grandchildren?

That once there were horses that roamed this land, but those days are nothing but a distant memory.

Are we willing to be the generation that lets them disappear?

Join us as we urge the National Park Service to work with the local communities to find a solution that preserves these wild horses and their habitat for future generations to enjoy.

Comments, including suggesting alternatives and supporting documentation, can be submitted until Jan. 31, online through the park's Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/LP or by writing to:

Superintendent

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park

P.O. Box 7

Medora, N.D., 58645

"I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us." - Theodore Roosevelt

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