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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Release Bighorn Sheep Data Points

The data points are being used to craft a very unpopular public policy (closure of the upper portion of the Bump & Grind), and without these data points the necessity of the closure cannot be verified.

This is a letter sent on Oct. 7, 2011 to Julie Virtue of the California Department of Fish and Game by Coachella Valley resident Blaine Carian about the release of data points showing the location of Peninsular bighorn sheep.

Ms. Virtue, 

I am in receipt of your letter dated October 6, 2011 (attached) in response to my Public Records Request No. 11-09-291. I strongly disagree with your reasoning and will be appealing the department’s decision.

Your assertion that the public interest is served by withholding this information is disingenuous.  The GIS points are being used to craft a very unpopular public policy (closure of the upper portion of the Bump & Grind), and without these data points the necessity of the closure cannot be verified.  You’re argument that releasing the information would imperil the bighorn sheep is without foundation.  All interested residents of the Coachella Valley know the location of bighorn sheep.  These data points are only necessary to highlight the arbitrary closure by DFG of many valley trails.

Kim Nicol (Regional Manager, Inland Desert Region CDFG) attended a town hall on September 19th and told those in attendance that she would provide the data requested.  When we discussed the matter in private she asked that I make the request in a PRA so that the department would comply in a timely fashion pursuant to California law.  The information you are claiming would place the bighorn in jeopardy was displayed by Ms. Nicol on slide 13 of the department’s power point presentation.  It has also been published in various scientific studies, however the resolution in both instances does not allow for the determination of trail intrusion into bighorn habitat that DFG is claiming.  However current publications containing the GIS points do not prevent locating the sheep for nefarious reasons making your supposition baseless.

I would ask you to discuss this matter with Ms. Nicol.  In her capacity as the regional manager for this area she told hundreds of valley residents that this information would be provided in an attempt to provide clarity to DFG’s public policy.  In the meantime we will be pursuing all options to compel release of the information.

Regards,

Blaine Carian
Bermuda Dunes

linda hanna October 08, 2011 at 07:38 PM
There is nothing to debate. These are PUBLIC records.
Roland Alden October 09, 2011 at 12:53 AM
"Without Ms. Virtue, happiness cannot be." (apologies to) Thomas Jefferson
Mick Vanaman October 09, 2011 at 07:02 PM
More ridiculous behavior from the "religion of ecology" people at department of game and fish. Their lives are meaningless if they cannot "protect" wildlife from some imagined threat, usually at the expense of the public's use of public land! Bighorn Sheep are endangered because of a viral infection introduced almost 100 years ago by domesticated sheep and to which they have no natural resistance. No amount of closing hiking trails during the prime hiking season will change this. These people cannot be reasoned with because it is their faith and not based on reason.
Bob gelesko October 10, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Open the top of the trail now! This joke has lasted long enough...The sheep are not going to go away because of the top of the Bump and Grind Trail being open! People have been hiking that trail for over 30 years!!!! The sheep population is up!!!! What kind of ignorant people are in charge of this stupid decision to close the top of the trail? I understand that the Bighorn Institute must have these sheep declared endangered otherwise they would lose their jobs...just open the top of the trail like it used to be for decades...
James H Burgess October 25, 2011 at 12:34 PM
http://dobermandesign.com/bumpngrnd.jpg

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