Longmont: Great Western Flex Colony

On May 9, 2017 advocates became aware of a proposed development across the street from Longmont's iconic Sugar Mill at Ken Pratt and Great Western Drive. 

The proposed development of the Great Western Flex Building would impact a long lived, 13 acre colony of black-tailed prairie dogs.  The City of Longmont Land Development Code (15.05.030.g.9) states that prairie dogs in the way of development "shall be relocated".   PPC took immediate action to ensure that the land development code would be followed as we had recently been able to secure a relocation site at the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge (RFWR).  Historically no relocations of prairie dogs have occurred in Longmont, under this land development code, because relocation sites could not be secured.

PPC contracted with an experienced prairie dog relocator, Growing Ideas, who surveyed the site and put together a proposal for a Wild to Wild relocation of approximately 300 prairie to the RFWR.  PPC representatives, Growing Ideas, and Longmont residents met with the developer, Sun Construction/HSW Land, to discuss the relocation of the prairie dogs on their site, per Longmont's code.

Sun Construction/HSW representatives were openly hostile to this proposal, stating that they would prefer to have the prairie dogs trapped and donated to the black-footed ferret recovery program as this option was less expensive than a live relocation.  In fact, Sun Construction had, to date, failed to ahere to the City's code of making a "good faith effort" to relocate the colony, electing to contact the black-footed ferret (BFF) donation program as their first step. 

The live trapping and subsequent donation of prairie dogs to the BFF Recovery Program consists of an exterminator setting traps for 2-3 days, donating the very small number of prairie dogs actually trapped and then proceeding to exterminate the remaining, large percentage, of prairie dogs on the site with Fumitoxin. 

It was clear to PPC at this point that a campaign to ensure the City required adherence to their code was going to be required as Sun Construction had no intention of adhering to the code.  In fact, Sun Construction/HSW they stated they should not have to relocate since no other developers had ever been required to relocate in Longmont.  The fact that PPC had secured a relocation site for this colony made this situation historic.

The refusal of Sun Construction/HSW to work with PPC and Growing Ideas necessitated our grass roots campaign of speaking at City Council, Coffee with Council and writing countless emails and letters to City representatives and Council members.  Many news stories were generated as a result of this campaign and we secured large support for this relocation from Longmont citizens.

After months of pressure the City of Longmont did in fact require Sun Construction to submit a relocation application to Colorado Parks and Wildlife for a Wild to Wild relocation of this colony to RFWR.  Sun Construction refused to submit the application and, in a meeting with City officials, requested a waiver on relocating these prairie dogs.   The City of Longmont denied the waiver and the very next day Sun Construction pulled their application to develop the property.

PPC has continued to reach out to Sun Construction/HSW Land, even offering to relocate this colony to RFWF for no more than it would cost to exterminate the 300 prairie dogs on their property.  Sun Construction/HSW Land has refused to enter into a discussion with PPC for reasons which are unknown to us.

We can only believe that Sun Construction/HSW they viciously exterminate the prairie dogs on their property since they are no longer under the land development code requirements set by the City of Longmont.  Sadly it was clear from the beginning that Sun Construction/HSW Land has a hatred for prairie dogs that seems to override all else, even completion of a million dollar development.

This colony would have been exterminated in May had PPC and Longmont residents not interevened to save them.  Our work has generated much public support for prairie dogs in Longmont and has shone a light on the sad history of the thousands of prairie dogs exterminated across Longmont in recent years.  We have garnered the support of multiple City Council members and the City of Longmont has plans to institute a prairie dog working group this year to ensure that prairie dogs are given every opportunity a relocation over extermination.

PPC will continue to be directly involved with the City of Longmont to ensure that prairie dogs are relocated whenever possible.