Saving The Prairie is Saving Ourselves
Scientific statistics speak for themselves: prairie dog habitat of the great western plains has been reduced to approximately one percent of its historical range. Prairie dogs once dominated the short and mixed grass prairies of the Great Plains, occupying as much as 100-250 million acres. Today, they occupy a mere fraction of that, and are struggling to survive. In 1900, it is estimated that there were only 20 wild buffalo roaming the American plains where once there were over 60 million. Gone forever are the plains wolf, plains grizzly, Audubon's bighorn sheep and the Eskimo curlew. Many consider that the Great Plains are more endangered than the rain forests of central America.
The nationwide demise of prairie dogs, the keepers of the prairie, is well documented. The factors that have contributed to this demise are habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, systematic poisoning, sylvatic plague and recreational shooting. Of the five species of prairie dogs, one species, the Mexican prairie dog, is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act; the Utah prairie dog is listed as a threatened species; the black-tailed prairie dog is a candidate for listing as a threatened species; and a petition to list Gunnison's prairie dogs as threatened or endangered was partially granted in February 2008, finding that Gunnison's are warranted for listing in a portion of their range in New Mexico and Colorado.
Interagency Management Plan for Gunnison’s Prairie Dogs in Arizona
- Identifies minimum number of active acres to be maintained in Arizona (108,353 acres)
- Requires maintaining prairie dog populations across 75% of their historic range
- Directs monitoring incidence of plague and threats to habitat
- Requires development of mitigation program for urban prairie dogs
In 2004, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was petitioned to list the Gunnison’s prairie dog for protection under the Endangered Species Act. As a result of this petition, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies created the Gunnison’s Prairie Dog Conservation Assessment (Seglund et al. 2006) to assess the conservation concerns of the species. The Conservation Assessment led to the White-tailed Prairie Dog and Gunnison’s Prairie Dog Conservation Strategy (WAWFA 2006) a guide for each state within the range of these species to write its own state prairie dog management plan for conservation. In Arizona, the Arizona Game and Fish Department created a Gunnison’s Prairie Dog Working Group to assist with the drafting of its state plan. Habitat Harmony, Inc. is pleased to have been an active member of the Gunnison’s Prairie Dog Working Group since its inception in 2006. The final draft of the Interagency Management Plan for Gunnison’s Prairie Dogs in Arizona (Underwood, 2007) was finished in December 2007, and will serve as a comprehensive conservation guide for Gunnison’s prairie dogs in Arizona.
Expert Forum for Wildlife and Open Spaces
- Flagstaff scientists advocating for preservation
- Commenting goals, policies and strategies in the revised Regional Plan
- Contributing to an on-line Resource Inventory for the Flagstaff Area
- Creating a map for a Conservation Lands System for the Flagstaff area and advocating for its implementation
- Funding a map of vegetation, wildlife corridors and habitat hotspots
- Supported purchase of Hoffman Tank with Open Space bond money
- Commenting on the Regional Transportation Plan
The mission of Habitat Harmony’s Expert Forum for Wildlife and Open Space (formerly known as the Study Group for Wildlife and Open Spaces) is to contribute scientific expertise to the planning process for preservation of wildlife and open spaces in the greater Flagstaff area.
Conservation Study Forum
Conservation Study Forum 2012
The Conservation Study Forum (CSF) has continued to meet once a month in 2012. During the summer of 2012 the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Regional Plan did not meet as a group but participated in small working group that focused on individual Elements of the Regional Plan. Several members of the CSF met with working groups including Economic Development, Design Scenarios, Transportation and Circulation. We also met with the Natural Resources Map working group. Our members contributed a large portion of the GIS information on natural resources for the Concentration of Natural Resources Map and the Natural Resources Flora, Fauna and Geology Map. See the City of Flagstaff Regional Plan website http://az-flagstaff2.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=754
We are currently giving input to conservation and development of state land parcels. Soon we will be reviewing the Land Use Element of the Regional Plan.
During 2012 we wrote a vision/mission statement for the Conservation Study Forum. Please click here for that document!
A Message to Humans
"I used to be a city fellow. I grew up with the city noises of cars and trains and machines and humans. My family lived close to downtown Flagstaff not far from the railroad tracks along Route 66. What a busy, frightening place it was."
Read My Letter to You