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Palm Desert development OKd near peninsular bighorn sheep area

March 16, 2009 |  6:35 pm


The Palm Desert City Council has approved a luxury home development to be built within 240 yards of lambing pens for the endangered desert bighorn sheep, an about-face that wildlife advocates say will harm the sheep.

The two 10,000-square-foot homes would encroach on pens that are part of a captive breeding program operated by the nonprofit Bighorn Institute. The organization says that a buffer of at least 400 yards free from human intrusion must be maintained in order for sheep reared in captivity to be successfully released in the wild.

The council initially rejected the development plan but relented after attempts to secure a land swap with federal agencies failed. One stipulation was secured: no construction during lambing season, from January to the end of June.

-- Leslie Carlson

Photo credit: Leslie Carlson