from Stephen Capra
It has been more than an interesting week for us at Bold Visions Conservation. We were contacted by a donor who was very concerned about the fate of the prairie dogs in Castle Rock, Colorado. In Castle Rock, plans for a new mall meant a collision course for the prairie dogs that had lived on this land for as long as anyone could remember. Within 72 hours we were able to travel to Castle Rock, halt prairie dog poisoning, hire a crew to remove the prairie dogs and begin negotiations with the developer to try to salvage some positive outcomes from a very bad situation.
Another conservation group had been running a campaign to save the prairie dogs, but along with their bold talk and acts of civil disobedience, came the death of more than 1000 prairie dogs, many in a very gruesome manner at the hands of the local exterminator hired by the developer. This was a devastating outcome that was only going to get worse. In conservation, being bold is as I have said many times a vital component to working for change.
However, good judgement is equally important and understanding that your work is not about you, but the very wildlife or wilderness you have the privilege to protect.
Bold Visions arranged to rescue over 100 prairie dogs from the small remaining survivors in this developer’s killing field. We could not get them all, but we made a difference for those survivors who will spend their remaining days in the splendor of a Ted Turner ranch in southern New Mexico.
We also negotiated the following proposal with the developer:
• Mitigation for burrowing owls in the shopping center rescue area;
• $22,000 to rescue of a total of 500 prairie dogs from Castle Rock land slated for development;
• $160,000 construct a prairie dog education center, or to purchase prairie dog habitat;
• Start a fund with $15,000 that's dedicated to future prairie dog relocation.
While it’s far from perfect, our goal was to have a learning center for youth to become inspired by the life of prairie dogs and help them educate their parents.
The leadership that initiated the lawsuit seems determined to reject this proposal, but they aren’t forthcoming with a counter to that offer.
They wish instead to move to replace the Castle Rock Town Council and fight on against the developer, which is fine to a point, but the largely conservative majority population of this community almost ensures the ultimate defeat of these actions; still, with these community activists, anything is possible!
It is important to note that the activists in this community have displayed an iron will and have done a tremendous job to protect these prairie dogs. But the question remains: are we doing what’s best for the prairie dogs still?
Our organization has come under heavy criticism from this leadership, but Bold Visions has created a very positive outcome for the remaining prairie dogs. We negotiated the best deal we could, with a desire to do what was necessary for the prairie dogs throughout Castle Rock. In addition, we must never forget the thousands more that remain in harm’s way in areas poised for future short-term development threats.
We will be back to the community in the coming weeks, because there are so many more prairie dogs in dire need of rescue: we will need your support!
We continue to try to support these fantastic activists with a little good news at the end of a traumatic week. We will continue to make a difference in that community for some time to come, for all the prairie dogs that face the same sad fate those at the shopping center site endured.
Please take a moment to support our prairie dog efforts! This is a long-term, extremely important wildlife issue!
We met with representatives from Senator Tom Udall’s office to press for serious changed to his Chemical bill that has come under intense criticism from the likes of Barbara Boxer and others concerned about child safety. We will post our follow-up letter online in the coming days.
We will be having our second conference call this coming week with the newly formed Wolf Coalition and we are now planning our first action.
Bold Visions Conservation