Group seeks to relocate prairie dogs to another rec district parcel

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By Ramsey Scott

A group trying to relocate prairie dogs from two parcels of Foothills Park and Rec District land wants to move them to another Foothills property.  

The group has worked since December to find a new home for prairie dogs on two pieces of Foothills land up for sale. The properties are on the northeast and northwest corners of South Wadsworth Boulevard and West Coal Mine Avenue.

The northwest parcel is currently under contract with a developer that plans on building a medical center. The rezoning of the property was approved by the county commissioners in their consent agenda on April 29.

Gina Writz, who lives near the two properties, has led the push to find the prairie dogs a new home. She became concerned when she heard there was no plan to relocate the rodents. 

“Prairie dogs are important. It affects a lot of other animals when you kill prairie dogs,” Writz said. “They have a purpose in this ecological system. They support other wildlife.”

Writz and the nonprofit group the Prairie Dog Coalition believe they have found the perfect home for the 100 prairie dogs on the two pieces of land: the Foothills-owned Eagle Ridge Greenbelt, south of Simms Street and West Coal Mine Avenue. 

The park is about 23 acres in size and currently has one small colony of prairie dogs, Writz said. Writz and volunteers from the coalition would handle the relocation of the animals.

The Foothills Board of Directors indicated April 22 it would support the plan, but only if the homeowner associations of the two subdivisions next to the park, Eagle View and Panorama Ridge, agreed to the relocation. 

Board member Jill Nunes said during discussions that the board wouldn’t make a decision affecting residents’ backyards without consulting them.

While Writz said the board gives homeowner associations too much say in district decisions, she appreciates its support. 

“I’m glad they’re considering this and supporting me in this,” Writz said. “I think it says a lot about Foothills Park and Rec and Jefferson County that they do care about the animals.”