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Prairie Dog Working Group

Prairie Dog Working Group

The City of Boulder has formed an advisory working group to review the city’s current prairie dog management practices. Through collaborative efforts, the advisory group will make recommendations to the city manager regarding management of prairie dogs and their habitats on city-managed public land.

The formation of the group comes in response to a request last August from Boulder City Council members. Council members asked City Manager Jane Brautigam to appoint a diverse working group of community members to solicit broad community input and develop recommendations on the city’s prairie dog management efforts.

Prairie Dog Working Group Meetings

Meetings will be open to the public with a portion of the meeting reserved for public comment. Meetings are scheduled from 5:30-8:30 pm on Feb. 13, March 6, March 20, April 10, April 24 and May 8, and will be held at the OSMP Administration Building, 66 S. Cherryvale Rd. Meeting information is available below.

Prairie Dog Working Group Members

The working group includes 12 City of Boulder resident and non-resident members, representing broad interests and community perspectives. The City Manager has appointed the following participants - Aaron Cook, Amber Largent, Amy Masching, Carse Pustmueller, Dan Brandemuehl, Deborah Jones, Elle Cushman, Eric Sims, Jr., Jeff Edson, John Vickery, Lindsay Sterling-Krank, and Patrick Comer.

Interested in participating?

Working group meetings are open to the public; the working group agreed to take 10 minutes of verbal public comment at the beginning of each meeting. If there is not enough time to attend to each public comment or question, members of the public will be encouraged to submit a written comment. There will be 10 minutes left open on the agenda for addressing written comments. Written comments can be summitted online or at meetings.

What are the objectives of the working group?

  • City Council suggested that City Manager Jane Brautigam appoint an advisory working group of resident and non-resident members who demonstrate city values and who can recommend, based on a broad understanding of the full range of community perspectives, adaptable management practices that can be implemented under existing policy as well as possible longer-term policy changes.
  • The objectives of this working group are both to serve as a model for the city regarding collaboration, innovation, and respect, and to build trust in the city’s implementation of existing policies, and to work toward meeting the working group priorities as described below.
  • The working group will deliver a report of consensus-based recommendations to the City Manager by May 2017.

Working group priorities

  • The first priority is to determine relocation methodologies under existing plans and policies that can be used in 2017.
  • The second priority is to determine relocation methodologies under existing plans and policies that can be used in 2018 and beyond.
  • The third priority is to determine longer-term ideas that might need further exploration or require changes to city plans and policies.

What was the criteria for selection?

The city manager selected working group members based upon participants’ ability to meet established criteria and represent broad interests and community perspectives. Criteria for selection included:

  • A clear commitment to attend six, three-hour meetings. 
  • The ability to think broadly about the subject matter and represent the community as a whole, rather than singularly representing a particular issue of concern.
  • An assessment of how applicants demonstrate collaboration, innovation and respect as part of the working group. The selection committee also considered previous collaborative experience with community and city groups.

How has the City of Boulder helped local prairie dogs and their associated species?

Currently, City of Boulder prairie dog management plans, policies, practices and ordinances developed over the last two decades prioritize conservation of prairie dogs and minimization of lethal control. In fact, the City of Boulder is a pioneer in limiting lethal control of prairie dogs and effecting large-scale relocation projects – with more than 1,150 prairie dogs relocated in 2013 and 2014. Today, the City of Boulder’s intense focus on minimizing lethal control is unique among land management agencies in northern Colorado. 

City of Boulder prairie dog management timeline

1967: Boulder residents voted to approve a specific tax to acquire and maintain open space – the first time citizens in the United States voted to tax themselves for open space. That tax measure allowed the City of Boulder to acquire thousands of acres of grassland open space where prairie dogs now thrive.

1996: The City of Boulder developed a plan – with the help of farmers and community members – that had a set of goals for prairie dog management, including the creation of conservation areas for this important wildlife species.

2005: The Boulder City Council adopted a Wildlife Protection Ordinance pdf after a long and intense public process, which limits the use of lethal control on prairie dogs and wild birds by requiring landowners to obtain a permit from the city. In order for a permit to be issued, the landowner must satisfactorily demonstrate that all non-lethal options for managing prairie dogs or wild birds on a site were considered, and are not feasible.

2006: The City Council accepted the Urban Wildlife Management Plan, which included measures to identify prairie dog protection opportunities in the urban service area and strategies for resolving conflicts.

2010: The City Council accepted the Grassland Ecosystem Management Plan, which reflected the ecological importance of prairie dogs in creating and sustaining distinctive ecological conditions on City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) grasslands. That plan provides a framework to conserve prairie dogs and their associates with the other conservation targets by:

  • Establishing viability standards and conservation objectives for all eight targets, including prairie dogs and associated species.
  • Defining land management designations and applying them to every prairie dog colony mapped on OSMP lands.
  • Developing criteria to guide relocation of prairie dogs to, from, and within the OSMP land system.

2016: In August, Boulder City Council members suggested City Manager Jane Brautigam appoint a working group of resident and non-resident members to solicit community input and obtain recommendations on the city’s prairie dog management efforts. In October, the city helped supervise the successful relocation of a 153-member prairie colony in north Boulder to city open space east of Cherryvale Road and north of Marshall Drive, where the colony is now thriving. 

2017: In January, the City of Boulder began seeking applicants for an advisory working group to review the city’s current prairie dog management practices, and make recommendations to the city manager regarding management of prairie dogs and their habitats in Boulder and on city-managed public land.

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