The outcome of the Telluride Town Council work session, regarding Prairie Dog Management on the Valley Floor, unfolded through polite listening, Q&A with participants and discussion of the stewardship required in the decision making for the Valley Floor’s long term Forever Wild nature.
The 23-acre Gunnison’s prairie dog colony has been expanding. The questions posed pertaining to the Valley Floor Management Plan’s intention to provide habitat in order for all native species to succeed, scenic value, river/wetlands importance and recreational opportunities were all tied to the discussion of how prairie dogs are actually the environment’s ecological restoration crew. It takes time and a pause in interventions to see what Forever Wild looks like. The keystone species, Gunnisons prairie dogs, from whom approximately 150 other species benefit for habitat or prey, need to be respectfully effected. Mayor Fraser and Town Council members Chris Myers, David Oyster, Brian Werner, Thom Carnevale, Bob Saunders and Ann Brady unanimously declared lethal control to be off the table as a management tool of our prairie dog colony in a remarkably responsible voted-upon action. The working government of our unique town is commendable in their collective leaning into a broad body of scientific evidence on prairie dog ecosystems. This group rose above greenwashing and conceding to pressures of unscientific historic control methods. Such methods and the abiding prejudices have decimated this species’ population by a staggering 98 percent; effectively reducing numbers and habitats of many dependent species.
Town Council’s integrity, as they committed to a collaborative means of managing the dispersing prairie dogs, is applaudable. All concerned have a better appreciation of a long misunderstood keystone species thanks especially to Nicole Rosmarino, PhD, wildlife expert for the non-profit group Wildearth Guardians. I am grateful to the Council’s wisdom in the ultimate conclusion of this portion of the work session for our Town Planner Lance Macdonald to proceed with Dr. Nicole Rosmarino, the Telluride Open Space Commission and Gary Hickox of the San Miguel Conservation Foundation in an effort to create a plan to bring to Town Council on overseeing the prairie dogs’ activity. This was an act of community building as well as humane and courageous conservancy of a native endangered species.
– Amy Cannon, Wilson Mesa
Kudos to the Town Council for their decisions on the Valley Floor prairie dogs. Besides opening up a dialogue, taking lethal control off the table will help protect biodiversity and avoid serious unintended consequences. The council insightfully separated the issues of the few prairie dogs that are beginning to spill onto private property from the issues of the colony on the Valley Floor. As soon as possible, the council seeks to aggressively address the off property migrants, with the effective and humane use of fences, shrubbery and /or raptor perches to act as barriers. On the other hand council is taking a slower approach to the colony near the Shell station. With the help of Nicole Rosmarino, Phd., and the Wild Earth Guardians, local agencies will develop well researched and scientifically founded solutions that will produce a comprehensive, ecologically sensitive and cost effective management plan. This plan will serve the wildlife community, the Telluride community and generations to come. We can consider ourselves lucky to have a Town council that responds to the needs of the community and the needs of a planet where nature is on the run.
– Dan Chancellor, Placerville
This is an open letter to the Telluride Town Council in appreciation of their recent decision to maintain stewardship of the Valley Floor using the ecological, educated, and sound expertise of wildlife professionals. Your actions are transforming the slogan “Forever Wild” into a reality. Human perceptions of beauty are unique to each individual and are often formed by societal norms. I believe that as a species we are evolving to an understanding that our vitality is dependent on all of nature and we cannot pick and choose species to vilify as unsightly and in need of eradication based on prejudicial notions of what some perceive as unsightly. Like many others who hold the same perception, I find the most amazing beauty in the Prairie Dog colony on the Valley Floor. My hope is that your work with expert wildlife professionals will result in what is best for the natural habitat of the wildlife on the Valley Floor. People’s perception of what is beautiful is fluid and ever changing but extinction will result in far reaching consequences to the world we inhabit. Thank you for your diligence in seeking the best solution to a very complex situation.
– Paula Ciberay