Bighorn Institute’s Spring Fling was held on April 4th at the exclusive Stone Eagle Golf Club and was a great success! The weather was wonderful, views unbeatable and guests enjoyed a delicious sit-down dinner, silent auction, putting contest and a surprise live auction. Thanks to all who joined us and made it a memorable evening! Pictured to the right are Judy and Bob Sanders with Cathy Stockton.
Final EIR Released for La Quinta Fence
We’re thrilled to report that the final EIR (Environmental Impact Report) for the La Quinta fence has finally been released and on April 26th was approved by the CVCC (Coachella Valley Conservation Commission). We recommended the “toe of slope” alternative A in the draft EIR, but PGA West wanted the fence to go up and over the ridge out of view so the revised route is called alternative A2. This route eliminates 112 acres of sheep habitat, but we know more sheep will die by coming down to the golf courses without a fence so this is the best that can be done with private landowners’ permission necessary to build the fence. At least one artificial water source is supposed to be built in the mountains so the sheep will have reliable, year-round water after being closed off from PGA West and Lake Cahuilla. Traditions and The Quarry are still not onboard with the fence so there will still be 2 of the 4 golf courses accessible to the sheep. Now the CVCC will put out a bid for fence construction and meet with the wildlife agencies to firm up the design, etc. We don’t know when the fence construction will begin, but things are moving forward, which is good.
We documented just a few more lambs since last month, but the good news is most of them are still alive in the northern and central Santa Rosa Mountains herds. While we saw 4 lambs in the San Jacinto Mountains herd this year, we haven’t seen any of them recently and know for sure at least 2 are already gone. If you’re out on Palm Springs trails and see any lambs, we’d love to know about it. Please email us your sighting information and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
55th Desert Bighorn Council Meeting
This year’s biennial Desert Bighorn Council took place April 16-19, 2019, in Mesquite, Nevada and was informative. The conference focused on connectivity, disease and genetics relative to collaborative management across states. Each state gave an update on their desert bighorn populations and they are as follows: Arizona over 7,000, California ~690 desert bighorn, ~800 Peninsular bighorn, Colorado ~540, Nevada ~10,000, New Mexico ~1,200, Texas 1,500, Utah 2,600. So, there are over 24,000 desert bighorn sheep in the US. We were pleased to participate and see the state of the sheep elsewhere. Disease continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing desert bighorn herds across the west.
Earth Day Celebration
We had an information booth at The Living Desert and thoroughly enjoyed their Earth Day celebration in late April! This was a fun opportunity to educate the public about bighorn sheep and we were pleased to be included. We were able to see their sheep, which made the day all the more fitting for us! Pictured to the right are ewes and lambs at The Living Desert.
Snakes Are Out
It’s getting warmer so the snakes are out more regularly now so remember to watch for them while hiking. Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and will not chase you, but may strike if startled so you want to be aware of your surroundings. We’ve already had a handsome Sonoran Gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer affinis) on our property and are seeing plenty of snake tracks as well! Pictured to the left is a Sonoran Gopher Snake at BI.
The April Member Hike was cancelled since the La Quinta fence public meeting was the same date and time. With the heat setting in, we will be on a Member Hike hiatus until the fall so we hope everyone has a great summer!
Available at Bighorn Institute, The Living Desert and the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center. All proceeds benefit the Institute. Contact 760-346-7334 to pick up your copy for $20.