Mirada donates $250,000 to help save species from extinction

RANCHO MIRAGE, Cali. -  The Mirada Custom Lot Association donated a quarter of a million dollars to The Bighorn Institute in Rancho Mirage Wednesday morning. The original Mirada homeowners association set up the fund ten years ago.
     Andy Gladstein is the current HOA president, he's extremely proud the association has the power to make a difference and present the check to the institute. "Many years ago, they used to wander up and down our streets, just absolutely wild and beautiful. But, it was dangerous. So, we put a beautiful fence in and we see them all the time. They're just a gorgeous animal and we want to make sure they proliferate," Gladstein said. "We're just thrilled we could give them over $273,000 to help them and help the bighorn sheep and keep their habitat protected."
     Jim Deforge is Executive Director of The Bighorn Institute, founded in 1982 to find out why the bighorn sheep seemed to be disappearing. He doesn't see the fund as something the foundation is entitled to. He said, "Andy Gladstein is a very humble man the way he presented this to us. And, to me it's a gift from the Mirada Custom Lot Association and there's no other way of looking at it."
     The institute plans to use the money to hire an additional biologist, buy another vehicle and to fund the ongoing monitoring of the sheep. The entire region surrounding the Mirada development area is bighorn sheep territory.
     The sheep was put on the endangered species list in 1998, shortly after a population count of 260 in 1996. Today the estimates total around 950.
     Aimee Byard is a biologist at the institute who attended the presentation of the check. She's very hopeful about the future of the sheep. "We were just floored when they told us, and we're just ecstatic. We're really excited to be partnered with Mirada, we're excited that they want to help the sheep. You know our goal is to get them off of the endangered species list, and with support like this, that's how you do these things," Byard said.
     While all of the problems of the bighorn sheep won't be solved by this donation, it's sure they won't butt heads with extinction anytime soon.

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