Armory Colony Boulder -A New Home On Open Space
In the spring of 2016 PPC board member, Mirabai Nagle, happened to see a sign for an application to the City of Boulder for a development on a site that contained a much-loved colony of prairie dogs at North Boulder’s Armory site. Instantly it was clear that the most likely fate for this keystone species would be poisoning by carbon monoxide. This is Boulder’s idea of a “humane” way of killing “unwanted pests”.

With the guidance of PPC a group of 5 ladies interested in helping the prairie dogs met to start mapping out a plan.

Four ladies set up a meeting with City Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) staff to address the issue of where these dogs could be relocated. We were met with high resistance and a complete lack of willingness to work with us to relocate these animals. We were given a map by OSMP staff which showed the zones of where prairie dogs were located, where they were “allowed” and where they are “not allowed”.   We took the map and left feeling very frustrated at the lack of help we had received as well as having no guidance on how to change the laws that were in place to block a relocation.

Over the next few days, we poured over the map trying to find space in the lands that were "designated" for  prairie dogs.  A few options were identified and we emailed OSMP staff with these options and were promptly told why all of our options would not work.

With PPC's guidance, we started attending City Council meetings to voice our concerns. We needed more supporters however, so we created a flyer and started papering the town with information and a way of contacting us. We received many responses and started organizing weekly conference calls. From here things starting to really pick up momentum due to the size of the group. 

We split many of the tasks up for different members of the group to work on, some members wrote guest opinions for the local newspapers, we put informative ads in the papers and we contacted news outlets to get the story published. Updates were posted on the Prairie Protection Facebook and Instagram page. Our group continued to attend City Council meetings to speak on the issue, letter campaigns were set up to send letters to the City Council members, protests were organized , and a petition was circulated locally and on the web to “Save the Armory Prairie Dogs” .

We received over 100,000 signatures which we personally delivered to City Council. All the while, people were doing research on laws, and communicating with the developer, all to relocate this small but loved colony of prairie dogs.

After countless hours of very hard work, many ups and downs and tremendous frustration, a very large group of supporters attended the City Council meeting and the prairie dogs were finally on the agenda!

After many speeches from our supporters, OSMP staff attempted to explained to City Council why they could not possibly move the prairie dogs to the land we had suggested, even though we had previously proven that all the road blocks that OSMP staff had laid outwere easily overcome.  We had also proven that a failure to relocate the Armory Colony created a standard of inconsistency within the Prairie Dog Policy that Boulder had adopted. Thankfully, after OSMP staff presented their road blocks, City Council acknowledged the many issues we had posed and came to the conclusion that the OSMP staff was not following the City policy.  Council agreed that the Armory prairie dogs were to be relocated, not exterminated.  Furthermore, the City Council created a Prairie Dog Working Group to better guide situations like these in the future.

It was beyond incredible to experience government working where they could see the logic we laid out and the red tape staff laid out and actually acknowledge the discrepancies and chose the path of logic and compassion.  There was a lot more red tape that had to be crossed with regard to the land available, the OSMP staff, City Council and the developer, however that was work on without PPC.

When it came time for the relocation, PPC and the group had to fight for a proper relocation and took a watch dog position over the kill group, Roe Environmental, to make sure that the prairie dogs were properly relocated. The relocation was successful and the prairie dogs were relocated to the OSMP land where they are thriving today .