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Expedited Review of Prairie Dogs in Irrigated Lands

Update (Sept. 2): Boulder City Council accepts agriculture, prairie dog, soil health and land restoration recommendations 

Since May 2019, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) has been reviewing agriculture and prairie dog management, soil health and land restoration efforts on irrigated city open space lands. On Tuesday, Sept. 1, the Boulder City Council accepted Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) recommendations and provided guidance for the management of OSMP irrigated agricultural fields occupied by prairie dogs, which include the following actions:

  • Meet with stakeholders, including neighboring property owners.
  • Relocate prairie dogs from 30 to 40 acres of irrigated agricultural lands annually.
  • Remove approximately 100-200 acres via lethal control annually.
  • Allow agricultural activities that may damage prairie dog burrows.
  • Restore soils and vegetation for irrigated agricultural use and carbon sequestration.
  • Apply for a special permit for lethal control on irrigated agricultural lands.
  • Establish a 100% removal goal within an irrigated agricultural field.
  • Install barriers where appropriate.
  • Work with tenants and neighbors to coordinate removals.
  • Allow relocation of up to 20 individual prairie dogs from urban sites.

Review complete the complete set of actionsWatch the video of City Council’s Sept. 1 consideration of agriculture, prairie dog, soil health and land restoration management recommendations. Read a memo prepared for city council members for this meeting. 

Council’s acceptance of OSBT agriculture, prairie dog, soil health and Read a memo prepared for city council members for this meeting. land restoration management recommendations last night comes after council members heard a staff presentation and received public comment during a public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 11.  City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) would like to thank the community members who participated in the process and who shared a broad range of perspectives. OSMP also would like to thank the Boulder City Council, the Open Space Board of Trustees for their direction and guidance.

Summary of OSMP Review / Media Statement  

Open Space and Mountain Parks Statement

Since May 2019, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) has been reviewing agriculture and prairie dog management, soil health and land restoration efforts on irrigated city open space lands. On Tuesday, Sept. 1, the Boulder City Council accepted Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) recommendations and provided direction for the management of OSMP irrigated agricultural fields occupied by prairie dogs, which include the following actions:

  • Meet with stakeholders, including neighboring property owners. 
  • Relocate prairie dogs from 30 to 40 acres of irrigated agricultural lands annually. 
  • Remove approximately 100-200 acres via lethal control annually. 
  • Allow agricultural activities that may damage prairie dog burrows. 
  • Restore soils and vegetation for irrigated agricultural use and carbon sequestration. 
  • Apply for a special permit for lethal control on irrigated agricultural lands. 
  • Establish a 100% removal goal within an irrigated agricultural field.
  • Install barriers where appropriate.
  • Work with tenants and neighbors to coordinate removals. 
  • Allow relocation of up to 20 individual prairie dogs from urban sites.

The complete set of actions can be read here. Council’s acceptance of agriculture, prairie dog, soil health and land restoration management recommendations comes after council members heard a staff presentation and received public comment during a public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 11. City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) would like to thank the community members who participated in the process and who shared a broad range of perspectives. OSMP also would like to thank the Boulder City Council, the Open Space Board of Trustees for their direction and guidance.

BACKGROUND

Over the last two decades, the City of Boulder has prioritized non-lethal control measures for managing prairie dogs inside the city and on city-managed public lands. Today, the city continues to protect prairie dog colonies through a program that includes a series of wildlife ordinances and a network of OSMP lands that conserve habitat for prairie dogs and associated species across more than 3,100 acres of grasslands. These efforts have helped to make the city a municipal leader in protecting prairie dogs. The City of Boulder Charter identifies the preservation of wildlife habitat and natural areas as a focus for open space and the work of the Open Space and Mountain Parks department (OSMP).

Boulder also has a long legacy of preserving agricultural lands as part of over fifty years of work to build one of the nation’s largest municipal open space systems. The City Charter also specifically identifies the preservation of agricultural uses and lands suitable for agricultural production as a focus for open space and OSMP.

Wildlife monitoring has indicated that some OSMP irrigated agricultural lands have the highest levels of prairie dog occupation since the department began regular mapping of prairie dog colonies in 1996. In spring 2019, the Boulder City Council and the city’s Open Space Board of Trustee (OSBT), in providing management direction to city staff, indicated that this recent and abundant expansion of prairie dogs onto city open space irrigated fields members have:

  • Highlighted a conflict between city prairie dog management practices, which have prioritized non-lethal control measures, and viable open space agricultural operations.
  • Contributed to soil degradation and loss, affecting Open Space and Mountain Parks’ ability to fulfill agricultural open space purposes outlined in the Boulder City Charter.
  • Limited OSMP’s ability to fully implement soil carbon farming and climate-mitigation practices. Irrigated agricultural lands represent some of the best opportunities to accelerate soil-based carbon capture on Boulder open space lands.

City Council and Open Space Board of Trustee members also indicated that it may be infeasible to address large prairie dog populations on agricultural lands in a timely or economical fashion by current non-lethal practices alone. As of 2019, the city had 1,257 acres of irrigable agricultural land that was occupied by prairie dogs. However, it can only accommodate the relocation of about 40 acres of prairie dog colonies each year because of costs, contractor availability and permitting requirements.

Prairie dog relocations – including recent efforts to remove prairie dogs from development sites, city parks and OSMP agricultural lands – are logistically complicated and expensive as is finding suitable relocation sites. Many plant communities, such as xeric tallgrass prairie, and animal species like grasshopper sparrows do not thrive where there are active prairie dog colonies. This makes some grasslands poor choices for relocating prairie dogs. When planning relocations, OSMP also considers several factors in the city’s Grassland Ecosystem Management Plan

Open space relocation sites must also meet standards to obtain a relocation permit from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. OSMP’s ability to relocate prairie dogs is further constrained by neighboring landowner concerns about relocating prairie dogs near their property, and a state law requiring county commissioner approval to receive prairie dogs from areas outside of their counties.

In spring 2019, the Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) recommended and the Boulder City Council directed the OSMP staff to: “Undertake an expedited public process to look at agricultural uses on the northern grasslands including factors affecting the ecological conditions of the land, high soil health, healthy agricultural uses, wildlife health, and other conditions.” In their motion, City Council stated that new land management tools could be considered, including key-lining, soil amendments, lethal control and other measures to achieve charter open space goals. As part of this effort, the city has been considered when, where and how lethal control of prairie dogs might be used to address this challenge.

Since receiving direction from elected and appointed city leaders in spring 2019, OSMP has been reviewing agriculture, prairie dog management, soil health and land restoration efforts on irrigated city open space lands. In fall 2019, OSMP sought initial community input on managing prairie dogs in irrigated fields and improving agricultural soil health. OSMP used feedback it received to develop a draft management approach, which the department released in January for public review and comment. The draft management approach included:

  • Non-lethal control measures the city currently prioritizes, such as relocations, as well as lethal-control options.
  • Ways to prevent prairie dogs from entering or returning to irrigable OSMP lands once removed.
  • Opportunities to restore lands that were occupied by a high abundance of prairie dogs.
  • Describing options to change city burrow damage and lethal control regulations for irrigable lands.

The department analyzed community feedback – along with input it received from a Feb. 12, 2020Open Space Board of Trustees study session (OSBT) – to develop a draft preferred alternative. On March 11, the OSBT reviewed and revised the draft preferred alternative before unanimously recommending it for consideration by the Boulder City Council. The Boulder City Council heard a staff presentation and received public comment regarding this effort during a public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

Key management recommendations that Council considered during a continued public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 1, included:

  • Meet with stakeholders, including neighboring property owners. 
  • Relocate prairie dogs from 30 to 40 acres of irrigated agricultural lands annually. 
  • Remove approximately 100-200 acres via lethal control annually. 
  • Allow agricultural activities that may damage prairie dog burrows. 
  • Restore soils and vegetation for irrigated agricultural use and carbon sequestration. 
  • Apply for a special permit for lethal control on irrigated agricultural lands. 
  • Establish a 100% removal goal within an irrigated agricultural field.
  • Install barriers where appropriate.
  • Work with tenants and neighbors to coordinate removals. 
  • Allow relocation of up to 20 individual prairie dogs from urban sites.

PHOTO / MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES

  • Map of the project area. This is the area where the Boulder City Council directed staff to examine the overlap of prairie dogs’ colonies and irrigated city OSMP lands. This area DOES NOT include all of the areas where prairie dogs overlap with agricultural properties or many Grassland Preserves, Prairie Dog Conservation Areas and Multiple Objective areas on city open space. Members of the media can take pictures and record video of prairie dogs from streets and publicly accessible trails.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Watch a video that highlights why the city began this effort and current agricultural and prairie management efforts.
  • Read about the value of local agriculture and how preserving agricultural lands and their uses is a specific open space purpose. 
  • Learn more about prairie dogs and their local importance.
  • Review prairie dog management plans and policies.

2020 Project Update Log   

Update (Sept. 2): Boulder City Council accepts agriculture, prairie dog, soil health and land restoration recommendations 

Since May 2019, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) has been reviewing agriculture and prairie dog management, soil health and land restoration efforts on irrigated city open space lands. On Tuesday, Sept. 1, the Boulder City Council accepted Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) recommendations and provided direction for the management of OSMP irrigated agricultural fields occupied by prairie dogs, which include the following actions:

  • Meet with stakeholders, including neighboring property owners.
  • Relocate prairie dogs from 30 to 40 acres of irrigated agricultural lands annually.
  • Remove approximately 100-200 acres via lethal control annually.
  • Allow agricultural activities that may damage prairie dog burrows.
  • Restore soils and vegetation for irrigated agricultural use and carbon sequestration.
  • Apply for a special permit for lethal control on irrigated agricultural lands.
  • Establish a 100% removal goal within an irrigated agricultural field.
  • Install barriers where appropriate.
  • Work with tenants and neighbors to coordinate removals.
  • Allow relocation of up to 20 individual prairie dogs from urban sites.

The complete set of actions can be read here. Council’s acceptance of agriculture, prairie dog, soil health and land restoration management recommendations comes after council members heard a staff presentation and received public comment during a public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 11

City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) would like to thank the community members who participated in the process and who shared a broad range of perspectives. OSMP also would lke to thank the Boulder City Council, the Open Space Board of Trustees for their direction and guidance.

Update (Aug. 31) City Council public hearing to be continued on Tuesday, Sept. 1

Items for Sept. 1 public hearing 

  • Agenda and Memo
  • REMINDER: There will no opportunity for additional public comment during the public hearing on Sept. 1.

Items for Aug. 11 public hearing 

  • Watch the Aug. 11 City Council meeting .
  • Read the City Council memo. pdf
  • Review the  staff presentation.
  • Staff prepared  a “handout” with some summary information  as a reference for the public hearing.
  • Watch a video, produced by Channel 8, that highlights why the city began this effort and current agricultural and prairie management efforts. This video is intended to provide City Council and community members an opportunity to virtually tour sites visited by some City Council members.
  • On Thursday,  Aug. 6, two City Council members toured some of the lands in the project area. There were two questions raised in advance of the Aug. 11 public hearing. Review those questions, along with answers from city staff.
  • On Wednesday, Aug. 5 , the Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) submitted a recommendation to Council on how the city proceeds in managing irrigated agricultural lands in the proposed project area.  Read recommendation .

Update (Aug. 20) City Council public hearing to be continued on Tuesday, Sept. 1

The Boulder City Council heard a staff presentation  and received public comment regarding this effort during a public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 11. The Boulder City Council is scheduled to continue its public hearing for recommendations to manage agriculture, prairie dogs, and soil health on irrigated lands on  Tuesday, Sept. 1. The public comment portion of this public hearing has been concluded. Visit the  Council webpage for meeting updates. Watch the Aug. 11 City Council meeting. A memo for the public hearing  is available online. A city video provides additional background information.

Update (Aug. 12): Council public hearing to be continued

The Boulder City Council heard a  staff presentation  and received public comment for an Open Space Board Trustees recommended preferred alternative on  Tuesday, Aug. 11 . City Council concluded the public comment portion of the public hearing and will continue their discussions on a date that has yet to be determined.  Watch the City Council meeting .

Update (Aug. 12): Items Posted in Advance of Aug. 11 Public Hearing 

  • Watch the meeting.
  • Review the City Council memo for the public hearing pdf.
  • Review a staff presentation.
  • Staff prepared  a “handout” with some summary information  as a reference for the   public hearing.
  • Watch a video , produced by Channel 8, that highlights why the city began this effort and current agricultural and prairie management efforts. This video is intended to provide City Council and community members an opportunity to virtually tour sites visited by some City Council members.
  • On  Thursday, Aug. 6 , two City Council members toured some of the lands in the project area. There were two questions raised in advance of the Aug. 11 public hearing. Review  those questions, along with answers  from city staff.
  • On  Wednesday, Aug. 5 , the Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) submitted a recommendation to Council on how the city proceeds in managing irrigated agricultural lands in the proposed project area.  Read recommendation .

Update (Aug. 6): Memo for Aug. 11 for City Council Public Hearing

Update (Aug. 6) Environmental Advisory Board Recommendation  

The Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) submitted a recommendation to Council on how the city proceeds in managing irrigated agricultural lands in the proposed project area.  Read recommendation .

Update (Aug. 5) Video Tour: Management Review of Irrigated Lands Occuped by Prairie Dogs 

Watch a video , produced by Channel 8, that highlights why the city began this effort and current agricultural and prairie management efforts. This video is intended to provide City Council and community members an opportunity to virtually tour sites visited by some City Council members.

Update (July 20): Soil Carbon Mini-Paper and Web Map

In response to requests from community members, OSMP staff has prepared this mini-report pdf and web map associated with an in progress study of grassland soils.  

Update (July 8): OSBT meeting update presentation and information about OSMP property names and prairie dog management designations

View the staff presentation pdf  to the OSBT as part of the July 8 update. OSMP staff also has received requests for information about the names of OSMP properties and the corresponding prairie dog management designations as described in the  Grassland Plan  where irrigated agriculture and prairie dog occupancy overlap in the project area. This document pdf provides that information.  (Corrected: July 15, 2020)

Update (July 1): OSBT meeting update written materials available

Read the   update memo   being provided to the Open Space Board of Trustees for their July 8 meeting. If you are interested in listening to an update about this process,  follow this link   on July 8. No public hearing is scheduled. Members of the community are welcome to comment earlier in the meeting during “Public Comment for Items not Identified for Public Hearing.”

Update (June 22): Watch the March 11 OSBT meeting and review changes to the preferred alternative recommended by the OSBT (updated June 29: March 11 OSBT meeting minutes link added)

On March 22, the city’s Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) reviewed and revised staff’s preferred alternative before unanimously recommending OSBT’s preferred alternative to the Boulder City Council. The OSBT recommendation includes measures to manage irrigated fields, prairie dogs and soil health including lethal control. Watch the March 11 Open Space Board of Trustees meeting. Review the previously posted changes to the preferred alternative pdf recommended by the OSBT. Read the staff prepared materials, including the draft preferred alternative pdf. Minutes of the March 11 OSBT meeting pdf.

Update (June 17): Open Space Board of Trustees Update & City Council Public Hearing scheduled

6 p.m., Wednesday, July 8:  Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) staff is currently scheduled to provide a project update to the Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) at their July meeting. The OSBT is not being asked to take action, and no public hearing is scheduled.  However, members of the community are welcome to comment earlier in the meeting during “Public Comment for Items not Identified for Public Hearing.” Materials associated with the update will be posted here and available  on the OSBT web page  on Wednesday, July 1 (select “Open Space Board of Trustees Meeting Agenda and Memos” July 8 at the top of the box on the right side of the screen).  PLEASE NOTE:  The City Council schedule may be adjusted in response to COVID-19. A notice will be provided here if changes are made to the schedule.

Tuesday, Aug. 11:  City Council is currently scheduled to provide direction to staff for this project based upon the OSBT-recommended preferred alternative.  This agenda item will include a public hearing during which members of the community can provide input to the City Council. Materials associated with the City Council meeting will available on Wednesday, Aug. 5, on the  City Council Agenda and Materials webpage  (scroll down and select “Download Agenda for the 08/11/2020 City Council Special Meeting) P  LEASE NOTE:  The City Council schedule may be adjusted in response to COVID-19. A notice will be provided here if changes are made to the schedule. 

Update (April 23): Extended engagement due to COVID19-related delay in Expedited Process will close on April 30 and City Council calendar update

On March 31, City Council decided to delay the public hearing on the preferred alternative recommended by the OSBT due to the COVID19 emergency. As described in the April 17 update, given the unexpected extension in timing for this process, staff opened limited extended engagement with stakeholders. This  extended  engagement will conclude on April 30. If you have any questions or comments, please email [email protected] by 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 30.  

Due to the COVID19 emergency response, City Council is in the process of refining its calendar of scheduled items. The expedited review of prairie dogs on irrigated land has not yet been rescheduled by council but is anticipated to be back on City Council’s calendar in August or September. This webpage will be updated once the date is set.

Update (April 17): City staff continues engagement due to COVID19-related delay in process 

Due to the COVID19 pandemic, City Council decided on March 31 to delay reviewing prairie dogs on irrigated land until later this year. Given the unexpected extension in timing for this process, and in consultation with Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) members advising on process, staff has continued limited engagement with stakeholders and will reassess the original engagement plan that was designed for an “expedited process”.

In order to address questions about the OSBT’s recommendation to Council, staff held three virtual engagements using Microsoft Teams (a product like Zoom) with stakeholder groups that had reached out to staff with questions during this time.

Please see below for meeting notes from each of the three calls:

This document summarizes the changes to the preferred alternative recommended by the OSBT pdf.

If you have questions or comments related to these meeting notes, please email [email protected].

Update (March 31): April 21 City Council Public Hearing Postponed

The Boulder City Council Agenda Committee today determined that, in consideration priorities associated with responding to coronavirus/COVID-19, the public hearing for the Management Review of Irrigated OSMP Fields Occupied by Prairie Dogs would be postponed from April 21. A new date for the hearing has not been scheduled. Please check back here for further updates.

Update (March 11): City staff presented a preferred alternative for managing irrigated fields, prairie dogs and soil health to the OSBT on Wednesday, March 11 

The Open Space Board of Trustees on Wednesday, March 11, considered the results of an expedited staff review process that examined prairie dog management, soil health and land restoration efforts on irrigable city open space lands. This effort is looking at new land management tools on the northern grasslands, including considerations such as ecological conditions of the land, improving soil health, supporting ranching and farming, and protecting wildlife.

Prairie Dog Working Group

Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) and department staff who served on the Prairie Dog Working Group (PDWG) appreciate the group’s service and their recommendations. OSMP wants to stress that the city will continue to implement working group recommendations that Council (memo) and the Open Space Board of Trustees (memo) accepted in spring 2019, along with direction City Council provided on Sept. 1, 2020.

The recommendations the city received last Tuesday DO NOT replace or displace PDWG-recommendation implementation, which will continue to be an important part of prairie dog management across OSMP’s broader system. OSMP hired a prairie dog coordinator to implement the recommendations and this staff member will continue to focus on moving them forward as budgets and capacity allow, according to the PDWG-implementation plan approved by council.

Council’s action on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, is a result of council and OSBT discussions of PDWG recommendations in spring 2019. During those discussions, both the council and the OSBT gave OSMP direction to explore whether, when, and how additional prairie dog management tools might be effective in reducing impacts to city irrigable agricultural lands the northern part of OSMP’s system. 

Background

The City of Boulder formed the Prairie Dog Working Group (PDWG) in 2016 including 12 community members representing a variety of viewpoints and five staff members from OSMP, Parks and Recreation (P&R) and Planning. The working group completed their work and presented the resulting recommendations to the City Manager in two phases – the first was completed in 2017 and the second in 2018. Outcomes from the PDWG were presented to Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT), the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) and the Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) in August 2018. Following these meetings with the three relevant boards, staff performed further initial analysis of the recommendations and presented their findings to the City Council at a study session on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. City staff presented a new set of staff analysis of a subset of Prairie Dog Working Group recommendations to the OSBT on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, and to the City Council on May 7, 2019.

April 10, 2019 OSBT Meeting Memo and Video

City staff also presented these recommendations to PRAB on Monday, April 22, and EAB on Wednesday, May 1. All boards supported a staff recommendation to implement the advisory working group's prairie dog management proposals. The OSBT also offered three of their own prairie dog management recommendations pdf.

May 7, 2019 OSBT Meeting Memo and Video

City of Boulder staff then presented suggestions for how the city can implement Prairie Dog Working Group recommendations to the Boulder City Council on Tuesday, May 7. City Council also approved city staff’s plan to implement many of the working group’s recommendations. 

During OSBT and Council discussions, council and OSBT members ALSO gave OSMP direction to explore whether, when, and how additional prairie dog management tools might be effective in reducing impacts to city irrigable agricultural lands the northern part of OSMP’s system. 

City Council, Open Space Board of Trustees and Community Engagement Overview 

Sept. 1, 2020, City Council meeting 

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, the Boulder City Council accepted Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) recommendations for the management of OSMP irrigated agricultural fields occupied by prairie dogs, which include the following actions:

  • Meet with stakeholders, including neighboring property owners.
  • Relocate prairie dogs from 30 to 40 acres of irrigated agricultural lands annually.
  • Remove approximately 100-200 acres via lethal control annually.
  • Allow agricultural activities that may damage prairie dog burrows.
  • Restore soils and vegetation for irrigated agricultural use and carbon sequestration.
  • Apply for a special permit for lethal control on irrigated agricultural lands.
  • Establish a 100% removal goal within an irrigated agricultural field.
  • Install barriers where appropriate.
  • Work with tenants and neighbors to coordinate removals.
  • Allow relocation of up to 20 individual prairie dogs from urban sites.

The complete set of actions can be read here.

Aug. 11, 2020, City Council meeting 

The Boulder City Council heard a  staff presentation and received public comment for an Open Space Board Trustees recommended preferred alternative on Tuesday, Aug. 11. City Council concluded the public comment portion of the public hearing and will continued their discussions on Tuesday, Sept. 1.

July 8, 2020 OSBT meeting

OSMP staff provided a project update to the OSBT during a virtual meeting on Wednesday, July 8. No public hearing was scheduled. Community members were invited to and did comment at the beginning of the meeting. 

  • View the meeting
  • Read memo  the July 8 meeting. 
  • View the staff presentation pdf
  • OSMP staff also has received requests for information about the names of OSMP properties and the corresponding prairie dog management designations as described in the  Grassland Plan  where irrigated agriculture and prairie dog occupancy overlap in the project area.  This document  provides that information. 

April 23, 2020 Update: Extended engagement due to COVID-19 related delay in Expedted Process will close on April 30 and City Council calendar update

On March 31, City Council decided to delay the public hearing on the preferred alternative recommended by the OSBT due to the COVID19 emergency. As described in the April 17 update, given the unexpected extension in timing for this process, staff opened limited extended engagement with stakeholders. This extended engagement concluded on April 30. If you have any questions or comments, please email [email protected] by 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 30.  

Due to the COVID19 emergency response, City Council was in the process of refining its calendar of scheduled items. The expedited review of prairie dogs on irrigated land was not yet been rescheduled by council but was anticipated to be back on City Council’s calendar in August or September. 

April 17, 2020 Update: City staff continues engagement due to COVID-19 related delay in process

Due to the COVID19 pandemic, City Council decided on March 31 to delay reviewing prairie dogs on irrigated land until later this year. Given the unexpected extension in timing for this process, and in consultation with Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) members advising on process, staff has continued limited engagement with stakeholders and will reassess the original engagement plan that was designed for an “expedited process.”

In order to address questions about the OSBT’s recommendation to Council, staff held three virtual engagements using Microsoft Teams (a product like Zoom) with stakeholder groups that had reached out to staff with questions during this time. Please see below for meeting notes from each of the three calls:

If you have questions or comments related to these meeting notes, please email [email protected].

April 21,2020 Update: City Council Public Hearing Postponed

The Boulder City Council Agenda Committee determined that, in consideration priorities associated with responding to coronavirus/COVID-19, the public hearing for the Management Review of Irrigated OSMP Fields Occupied by Prairie Dogs would be postponed from April 21. 

March 11, 2020 OSBT Meeting

On March 11, the city’s Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) reviewed and revised staff’s preferred alternative before unanimously recommending OSBT’s preferred alternative to the Boulder City Council. The OSBT recommendation includes measures to manage irrigated fields, prairie dogs and soil health, including lethal control.

Monday, Jan. 6, 2020 through Sunday, Feb. 16. 2020

OSMP used community feedback from the first window to develop a draft approach and an evaluation of potential actions  to manage irrigable agricultural land with large populations of prairie dogs. The department requested community feedback on its proposed approach from Monday, Jan. 6 through 5 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 16. This community engagement window included an opportunity for the Open Space Board of Trustees to provide comment during a study session on Feb. 12. Evaluated actions included options for both non-lethal and lethal control measures.

Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, through Wednesday, Nov. 6., 2019

In October 2019, Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) hosted  an open house  where community members could learn about the challenges and share ideas on managing irrigated agricultural fields north of Jay Road currently occupied by extensive prairie dog populations. The department also invited comment through an online questionnaire.

Review documents detailing what OSMP heard from community members in fall 2019: 

  • Read a  summary of community input  from this process’ first engagement window, which OSMP used to develop the draft approach and an evaluation of potential actions.
  • Review  online responses  OSMP received. 

The open house provided community members an opportunity to share their interests and ideas for this complex management topic and to learn about: 

  • Updates on ongoing prairie dog management and implementation of Prairie Dog Working Group recommendations.
  • ​Agricultural uses on the city’s northern open space lands and city efforts to preserve healthy and sustainable agricultural operations.
  • Challenges the city faces in managing prairie dogs in and around agricultural areas, especially when there is a high abundance of prairie dog colonies.

For more information on the open house you can:

Aug. 14, 2019 OSBT meeting

OSMP staff presented an update on the expedited community engagement process to the Open Space Board of Trustees.

June 12, 2019 OSBT meeting

The Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) supported staff’s recommended timeframe for an expedited community engagement process that will result in recommendations to alleviate conflicts between viable agricultural uses of OSMP and city prairie dog policies and practices. The proposed 11-month process was in response to OSBT and City Council motions directing OSMP to lead an expedited public process to look at the use of lethal control.

Presentation

May 7, 2019 City Council Meeting

The City Council also reviewed Prairie Dog Working Group recommendations and reviewed the OSBT recommendations. Open Space and Mountain Parks recently received direction to explore whether, when, and how additional prairie dog management tools might be effective to reduce impacts to city irrigable agricultural lands. As a first step in carrying out council directives, OSMP staff will work in partnership with the city’s Open Space Board of Trustees to develop an expedited process to consider possible new prairie dog and soil health management tools. Those can include key-line plowing, adding soil amendments, donating animals to endangered-species recovery programs for animals like the Black-footed ferret, and considering, in general when, where and how lethal control might be appropriate. 

May 7 Meeting Memo and Video

April 10 OSBT meeting

During a public hearing, the OSBT reviewed Prairie Dog Working Group suggestions and made three prairie dog management recommendations to City Council. One of those recommendations to City Council said:

“Prairie dog levels on numerous Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) irrigated agricultural properties have created a conflict between the city prairie dog and agricultural policies and prevent OSMP from fully meeting Charter purposes. It is infeasible to address these problems only by non-lethal means in a timely fashion. Accordingly, we recommend commencing an expedited OSMP-led process, with appropriate outreach, to evaluate whether, where, and how to use lethal control to address these problems.”

April 10 Meeting Memo and Video

April 2019 Field Tours

Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) is hosted two tours on OSMP lands on Tuesday, April 2, and Wednesday, April 17, 2019, to provide information on OSMP prairie dog management efforts and its relationship to ecosystems and agriculture management. The tours presented an opportunity for Boulder City Council and Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) members to view several properties and project sites in advance of their upcoming discussions of the staff analysis of Prairie Dog Working Group recommendations. Staff presented an analysis of the Prairie Dog Working Group Recommendations to the Open Space Board of Trustees at their monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 10. Learn more about the  Prairie Dog Working Group recommendations.

Tour Materials from the Public

Public comments submitted for Prairie Dog Management Tours pdf

Handouts from Community Members - Apr. 2 Tour pdf

Additional Tour Materials

Additional Tour Information pdf

Questions and Answers from the Apr. 2 and Apr. 17 Tours pdf

Tour option #1: Schedule
  • 1 p.m.: Leave OSMP Hub, 2520 55th St.
     
  • 1:15 p.m.: Arrive at Junction of Hwy 170 and South 66th St., 6600 Marshall Drive
     
  • 1:15 to 1:35 p.m.: Recent Prairie Dog Receiving Site
    • Observe and discuss recent relocation site 
    • Discuss receiving site infrastructure and logistics
       
  • 1:35 to 1:45 p.m.: Travel to 2300 South 66th St.
     
  • 1:45 to 2:05 p.m.: Overview of Southern Grassland large-habitat block 
    • View proposed receiving site near Marshall Lake 
    • Grassland Management Plan receiving site vegetation criteria 
    • Native grassland conservation
       
  • 2:05 to 2:35 p.m.: Travel to Left Hand Trailhead, 3850 Neva Road
     
  • 2:35 to 2:55 p.m.: Overview of prairie dog populations in northern Grassland Preserve
    • Discuss widespread occupation in northern grasslands 
    • Habitat model and habitat availability
    • Boulder Valley Ranch lease area and impacts to livestock grazing 
       
  • 2:55 to 3:05 p.m.: Travel to Eagle Trailhead, 5797 51st St.
     
  • 3:05 to 3:25 p.m.: Conflict with agricultural land
    • Impacts to OSMP leased land
    • Conflict with private agricultural lands
    • Recovery of irrigated agricultural lands 
       
  • 3:25 to 3:45 p.m.: Travel back to OSMP Hub, 2520 55th St.
     
  • 3:45 to 4 p.m.: Final thoughts and questions
Tour option #2: Schedule
  • 9 a.m.: Leave OSMP Hub, 2520 55th St.
     
  • 9:15 a.m.: Arrive at 2300 South 66th St.
     
  • 9:15-9:35 a.m: Overview of Southern Grassland large habitat block 
    • View proposed receiving site near Marshall Lake 
    • Grassland Management Plan receiving site vegetation criteria 
    • Native grassland conservation
       
  • 9:35 to 9:45 a.m: Travel to Junction of Hwy 170 and South 66th St., 6600 Marshall Drive
     
  • 9:45 to 10:05 a.m.: Recent Prairie Dog Receiving Site
    • Observe and discuss recent relocation site 
    • Discuss receiving site infrastructure and logistics
       
  • 10:05 to 10:35 a.m.: Travel to Left Hand Trailhead, 3850 Neva Road
     
  • 10:35 to 10:55 a.m.: Overview of Prairie Dog populations in northern Grassland Preserve
    • Discuss widespread occupation in northern grasslands 
    • Habitat model and habitat availability
    • Boulder Valley Ranch lease area and impacts to livestock grazing 
       
  • 10:55 to 11:05 a.m.: Travel to Eagle Trailhead, 5797 51st St.
     
  • 11:05 to 11:25 a.m.: Conflict with agricultural land
    • Impacts to OSMP leased land
    • Conflict with private agricultural lands
    • Recovery of irrigated agricultural lands 
       
  • 11:25 to 11:45 a.m.: Travel back to OSMP Hub, 2520 55th St.
     
  • 11:45 to Noon: Final thoughts and questions