Solved — sort of

fence
The mystery fence

| A few months ago, a mysterious fence appeared around a 1/2 square mile of the desert bounded by Mission Lakes Blvd, Little Morongo Rd, and Indian Canyon. And a strange fence it is, too.

This fence has been a consuming mystery to me. It is clearly an expensive fence. The posts are planted at precise intervals and workers toiled for several days to string a cable, approximately 1/4 inch in diameter, through the posts. It's extremely taut, without a bit of sag to it. At first I thought it might be electrified, but there are no insulators; instead the cable is fed through a hole at the top of the post, and in a final bit of over-design, each post has a metal cap on it. Someone thought long and hard about this fence and invested considerably time and, I assume, money to erect it.

A corner of the fence
Definitely a well-built fence

The enduring question has been, What is it for? The fence clearly won't keep any critters in or out, whether two-legged, four-legged, or no-legged. The enclosed area is simply a chunk of desert with the usual sand and weeds that someone has decided to enclose. To be sure, there is a great wash that flows with water during flash floods, but the fence is obviously irrelevant to that.

Google Earth view of the enclosed area
Google Earth view of the enclosed area. A is a water-district facility, B is an RV parking lot, and C is a small shopping center. The rest is just desert where water sometimes flows.

Obviously the fence is just a demarcation of some boundary, but the boundary of what? This week while driving along near the RV parking lot, I noticed a sign posted inside the fence. Aha!

Sign
The fence marks the boundary of reserve lands

It seems that the area in question has been made part of "Reserve Lands" by the Coachella Valley Conservation Commission. These folks have a plan, the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, to protect open space and plant and animal species.

The CVMSHCP aims to conserve over 240,000 acres of open space and protect 27 plant and
animal species. By providing comprehensive compliance with federal and state endangered
species laws, the Plan not only safeguards the desert’s natural heritage for future generations, it
allow for more timely construction of roads and other infrastructure that is essential to improving
quality of life in the Coachella Valley.

It seems that as of August 2016 the entire city of Desert Hot Springs is now covered by the plan, which coincides nicely with the erection of the fence.

What remains a mystery is why cordon on that half square mile as opposed to the similar spaces on the other side of Indian Canyon Ave. I'd dearly like to know what those 27 species are that are being protected. But frankly, I don't want to know badly enough to sift through the web site for the plan which consists of nothing but PDF files.

Last updated on Mar 18, 2017

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