Dunn Road: fragmenting habitat

Mar 14, 2015

Dunn Road from the air looks like a rugged 30-mile dirt road, stemming off I-74 and winding its way through the middle of the Santa Rosa Mountains. The original intent of the road was a short-cut to private residences in the mountains around Palm Springs, California. Dunn Road was the brain-child of Mike Dunn, an ambitious entrepreneur who, in the late 1960s, single-handedly bull-dozed the entire road, skirting the edges of federal land.

Currently, the failed investment of Michael Dunn is an impassable scar upon the landscape, cutting through the middle of critical Peninsular bighorn sheep habitat. Most of the private lands along the Dunn Road route have been acquired by one of the following: the BLM, the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy, Friends of the Desert Mountains, and the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians. However, the road is still illegally used by a contingent of off-road enthusiasts, who are trying to raise an estimated $300,000 and permission from the BLM to begin repair and reconstruction work on Dunn. This would be devastating to the Peninsular bighorns that number only in the hundreds.