Prairie Dog Conservation

Douglas County recognizes the importance of the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) and believes that the species has a right to exist on County-owned open space and park land. The primary purpose of Open Space is to protect the habitat for native wildlife. Black-tailed prairie dogs are an important species because of their interconnectedness with other wildlife species. They provide an important food source for numerous predator species. Prairie dog burrows provide cover and nesting sites for several mammals, birds, and reptiles. Prairie dogs also provide recreational and other intangible values for the community.

Long-term Management and Conservation

The County has developed recommendations on the long-term management of Open Space through its Parks, Trails, and Open Space Master Plan and has developed several site-specific management plans over time. As part of this management planning, the Division of Open Space and Natural Resources will designate existing and future Open Space properties. The designation will be completed using one of three prairie dog management/conservation categories commonly used along the Front Range. These three categories are generally defined as follows:

  • Prairie Dog Habitat Conservation Area (HCA) – ideally allow prairie dogs to function with minimal human intervention without causing or experiencing significant negative impacts to or from adjacent lands.
  • Multiple-Objective Areas (MOA) – allow prairie dogs to coexist with other uses but they may not be the highest management priority of a given open space parcel.
  • No-Prairie Dog Areas (NPD) – are unsuitable for prairie dogs because of ecological conditions or incompatible land uses.

The County will evaluate its open space properties, or portions thereof, and designate each as HCA, MOA, or NPD within two (2) years following adoption of this Policy by the County. Designations will be based on habitat characteristics (e.g., soils, vegetation, slope, elevation, connectivity, and barriers) and land use characteristics (e.g., intent of purchase, history of use, current use, anticipated use, and adjacent ownership and uses).

For more information visit the  Prairie Dog Conservation Policy