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.
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.