Bump and Grind Trail Debate Gets Heated
Desert hikers take on the endangered bighorn sheep as the debate on whether to close part of a hiking trail that may disturb the protected species gets heated.
It's shaping up to be the battle of the bighorn sheep versus hikers. Who gets the trail? Over 100 hikers and residents showed up to say what they thought of the last half mile of the Bump and Grind Trail closing.
"Show some respect," said a Palm Desert Councilwoman after the crowd started shouting.
From angry words...
"All of these places are slowly being taken away in the name of the sheep!"
"What else are you going to take from us?" The crowed cheered.
To some boos...
It was a heated night at Palm Desert City Hall.
"I'm amazed we're talking about a half a mile, it appears this is more about winning than hiking," said one speaker.
Another resident said, "I think everyone here loves bighorn sheep, stake my life on it. All we want is definitive proof that we are killing the sheep in some way,"
California Fish and Game says that proof is out there.
"In the recovery plan there are numerous studies sited that provide several of the references for that, that talk about how humans will cause sheep to abandon areas, will cause sheep to become more skittish," said Fish and Game Regional Manager, Kim Nicol.
But some hikers say Fish and Game has made false statements about lambing areas, and water springs.
"It bothered me that the State of California might be lying about the closure and so we started digging and digging and digging and sure enough we found all these inconsistencies, so the passion came from not being told the truth by the state of California," said Bermuda Dunes resident, Blaine Carian.
But other hikers disagree.
"I've been on the trail, I've seen sheep three seperate times, I've used the trail for many years. For me I'm an animal lover, bighorn sheep, dogs, horses, bears, doesn't matter. And I just feel like you don't really need a study to know that 400 people a day affect a mother and her baby," said Sky Valley resident, Julie Casserly.
We asked Assemblymember Brian Nestande if he thought this meeting could actually change anything.
"I hope so, because it's important I think for the Department of Fish and Game that a lot of folks that live here, that use that trail are very upset that they are closing that last little portion of it," said Nestande.
A seperate study was to be done to see if hikers did impact the bighorn sheep. But officials say there is no money for it right now.
Assemblymember Nestande hopes to get that study done.