Mark Walker mwalker at
Mon Jun 1 16:46:50 EDT 1998

James Adams wrote:

....I can relate, and I feel a loss every time a favorite area is altered
in the name of progress.

You know, as a child in southern California I did what I could to explore
every vacant lot I had access to (and there were many in 1968).  In sadness,
I watched them all but disappear (other than those added after the
occasional riots, firestorms, and earthquakes).  Later, when relocating to
Fontana, CA. in search of an affordable home to buy, I again confronted this
issue to an extreme I never thought possible.

You see, Fontana is an old Steel town, an area characterized by desert
chaparral and river wash from the San Gabriel Mountains.  While the Rancho's
were thriving a few miles away, this area was dusty, hot, and pretty much
god-forsaken.  A few hardened pioneering landowners did have some success
growing wine grapes there, but by 1980 there wasn't much out there but the
shut-down steel mill and acres of abandoned vineyards.  Oh, and piles of
granite stone where the floodwaters would occasionally rage.

Well, after the master-planned-community developing wizards from the Irvine
Company got the idea to start building zillions of low-cost matchbox homes
in Fontana, acres and acres of otherwise "useless land" began being gobbled
up.  And I, still prone to spending hours walking in available vacant lots,
began to see my walking areas disappear.  Soon, they even pushed out the old
guy who built Rancho de las Palomas, a 10-acre botanical and zoological
garden etched into the hillsides with Blood, Sweat, and Tecate.  They did
leave it as community parkland, but gone forever were the cactus gardens and

You know you've got the bug when you find yourself becoming sentimental over
the loss of open areas that NO one else is worrying about (Sierra Club and
Nature Conservancy included).  Trashy, dusty, treeless, dead and hostile
land being replaced by groomed, manicured, landscaped greenbelts and
parkways with flowering shrubs...  I was heartbroken.

Interestingly, there have been some casualties.  A race of Anthocharis has
disappeared from the nearby Jurupa mountains, and a very cool fly (sp?) from
nearby Colton has been added to the Endangered Species list.  The remaining
undernourished coyotes are also struggling, but then no one cares about them


Mark Walker.

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