Dear Editor,How sad I was to note that Rhythm on the Rails regular Robin Abb would not be acting as emcee in 2011. For me, the first person I think of in relation to Rhythm on the Rails is Robin. Her wonderful enthusiasm and welcoming presence will certainly be missed on stage this summer. Thank you, Robin, for your dedication, energy, innovative ideas, and creative leadership in celebrating and improving our unique community of Niwot.
With the Niwot Cultural Arts Association co-managing the event, Niwot can benefit. By the NCAA operating the adult beverage tent with tip jar proceeds going to local non-profits, Rhythm on the Rails can augment funding for local initiatives and agencies. I would suggest that even a percentage of the revenue from sales be dedicated to the local non-profits.
There’s always the dreamed-for Niwot Library to make a reality.
Mary Elizabeth Lenahan, MS, OT
I am a 35-years Gunbarrel Estates Resident and owner of property directly contiguous to the Richardson II Property. I am also a member of the Concerned Citizens of Gunbarrel, a group of residents formed to oppose the relocation of 500 prairie dogs from Foothills Community Park in the City of Boulder to the Richardson II Property east of Gunbarrel Estates.
The Concerned Citizens of Gunbarrel … are by and large not interested in or proposing that prairie dogs be exterminated. The Group is also not requesting that the approximately 100 prairie dogs currently living on the Richardson II Property be relocated. What the Group is looking for is the City of Boulder, through their Open Space Mountain Parks (OSMP), changes its plan to transfer the problems they are experiencing with prairie dogs. We all need to find a solution to this problem that is a win for Boulder, Gunbarrel and the Prairie Dogs.
So, where does that leave us, residents of the Gunbarrel Community, when the OSMP proposes to relocate some 500 prairie dogs to Open Space/Grass Land habitat around our community? Especially troublesome is OSMP admission that the critters will be relocated and released onto 109 acres of land without ANY provision being made for CONTROLLING and CONTAINING the expanding prairie dog population that will result. I will concentrate the balance of this correspondence on some options that may benefit everyone.
Immunocontraceptives: Perhaps the ultimate control of prairie dogs in Urban/Suburban environments is the use of oral contraceptive(s) to prevent birth of pups in the spring. Chemically laced bait would be placed around a Colony that had expanded beyond the capabilities of the environment to sustain it.
Hard Barriers: Barrier fencing constructed from vinyl, wood, steel or fabric are basically not effective long term. Prairie dogs either eat through or burrow under the barriers. In addition, adverse environmental conditions, especially wind, take a major toll on the effectiveness of hard barriers. However, there is a fencing material by the commercial name of “hardware cloth” that, when buried in the ground two feet and extending three feet above ground, has met with some success, according to Environmental Chemistry.com.
Vegetative Barriers: Most of the writings contained in management handbooks, plans and conservation documents concentrate on the use of various ground covers to help confine prairie dogs. The one notable vegetative barrier may be native switchgrass, which is very drought tolerant and, according to the University of Nebraska, the University of Texas and Denver Parks and Recreation, not a favorite food of prairie dogs.
Raptor Perches: There is general agreement that raptor perches encourage predation by hawks, eagles, falcons and owls. However, there is little recent science to support the notion that raptor perches increase the density of raptors in an area and hopefully reduce the density of unwanted critters (see Steven Reinert study published by USDI 1n 1984).
Summary: After studying Management Plans from numerous Local, State and Federal governmental agencies and research documents dating back to the 1970’s, I can confidently conclude that no one has devised an effective “non lethal” method of confining prairie dogs to a specific geographical area. This is true regardless of whether the property is Rural, Suburban or Urban.
Having said that, I do believe there are some methods of mitigation that have been successfully employed by others that should help mitigate the effects of a rapidly expanding prairie dog population on the Richardson II Property.
Proposal: Barring CDOW (Colorado Department of Wildlife) REJECTING the City of Boulder's application to “Permit to Capture, Transport, Hold and Relocate Prairie Dogs “ to the Richardson II Property, which would be the Citizens of Gunbarrel and my first choice, I believe the following recommendations will serve to mitigate the effects on residents of Gunbarrel Estates.
1. Since the Richardson II Property already has an established prairie dog colony, reduce the number of prairie dogs relocated to the property by 50% so that both the Richardson II Property and the Foothills Community Park locations have a better chance to adjust to the change. The resulting population on both properties will increase at a reduced rate that will buy time for the approval of “immunocontraceptives” in a bait vaccine format to control prairie dog populations.
2. Place straw bales around the circumference of the Richardson II property just outside the fence already in place.
a. This does little other than to help contain them.
3. Plant Native Switch Grass, Panicum Virgatum, in several parallel rows just inside the fence on ALL four sides. This is not 100% proven.
4. Install raptor perches on the property to increase predation.
5. Place a hard barrier on all four sides of the property. Use a trencher to dig a 24 inch deep trench and insert 60 inch “hardware cloth” held in place with steel fence posts – refill the trench. This will keep all but the most adaptable prairie dogs off private property. This is the preferred method of the Citizens of Gunbarrel.
Robert F. Angliss