Friday, January 26, 2007

Prairie dogs to go to Pawnee National Grassland (Part 1)

By Rocky Mountain NewsJanuary 22, 2007Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests supervisor GlennCasamassa has upheld a controversial decision on the number of black-trailed prairie dogs that will be allowed on the PawneeNational Grassland northeast of Greeley.District Ranger Steve Currey made the original decision last October after environmental analysis and public involvement concerning thenumber of rodents that should be maintained on the 193,000-acrenational grassland — a checkerboard of public and private lands inWeld County, the Forest Service reported in a release today. The decision was to manage for a minimum of 1,000 acres ofblack-tailed prairie dog colonies in a minimum of 30 towns, and amaximum of 8,500-acre prairie dog colonies with no upper limit onthe number of towns. Various tools, including shooting, were included in the decision toconserve and control prairie dogs.The decision wasn't popular with either livestock producers or conservationists — polar opposites on how many should beallowed.Ranchers said due to the drought on the plains, the prairie dogs were eating too much of the grasses needed by cattle and sheep.Conservationists argued to preserve a grassland, prairie dogs are anintegral component, providing not only food for predators, but shelter for burrowing owls and other species.Five appeals to the decision were received by the Forest Service.After reviewing the record and considering the work and recommendations of the appeal review team, Casamassa upheld thedecision."This decision provides for the conservation of black-tailed prairie dogs on the Pawnee National Grassland while allowing the ForestService to be a good neighbor and limit encroachments onto stateand private lands," said Casamassa.


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