Associate Professor Gregory Buckley spent part of August in and around Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota. The purpose of the visit was to assess and document some of the resource management issues faced by the National Park Service in this particular park, in preparation for Buckley’s teaching a special topics course in Sustainability Studies (SUST 390, Sustainability of the National Parks) in Schaumburg next May. The course plans to have a field component, with students traveling to a national park.
“America’s National Park System as a whole has always been presented with a unique challenge–to find a balance between the conservation of these national treasures and the use and enjoyment of them by the public. Theodore Roosevelt National Park faces a number of critical challenges in the immediate and not too distant future, including wildlife management, industrial and agricultural pollution of the air and water, and threats from invasive vegetation,” says Buckley.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park will be adopting the practice of reducing the size of the elk population this fall using small teams of volunteer hunters, a first for this particular park. Buckley continues, “While hunting is strictly forbidden within most of the National Parks, some remedy for an explosive population growth of elk, bison and other grazers, in the absence of natural predators, must be imposed. For a number of very logical reasons, this was determined to be the most reasonable approach for controlling an elk herd that has expanded from 47 animals in 1985 to over 1000 today. The sustainability of this particular ecosystem depends on this type of management.”
If you are interested in participating in the Sustainability Studies special topics course on national parks, contact Professor Buckley for more information.