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Who is responsible for Fig Lagoon upkeep?

December 15, 2008
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF TONI BLACKMAN Tires lie under a tree near Fig Lagoon, areas of which are in various states of disrepair. The area is owned by the Imperial Irrigation District but had been maintained by the Fish & Game Commission about a decade ago.

I have visited Fig Lagoon off Derrick Road for several years. It is a beautiful place to watch birds and to view the most outstanding sunrises and sunsets. There are concrete benches and even a trash can. Recently, the place has become a dumping area. The trash can is never emptied. I called the county and they said it was up to the Imperial Irrigation District. I called IID and no response. We should value the beautiful places we have and keep them clean. Who is responsible for up-keep to Fig Lagoon viewing area? — Concerned Nature Lover, El Centro

We don’t really know.

IID owns the area, but its responsibility is for maintaining the inlets and the banks of the lagoon, which is really just an evaporation pond for agricultural tail water.

IID spokesman Kevin Kelley said the IID is aware that the area is used as an illegal dumpsite, as are many IID areas throughout the county. He said the district and the county are now in negotiations to figure out when and how the trash will be cleaned up.


But Kelley, after talking to officials at the district’s water department, has no idea what else is out there, meaning IID has no knowledge of the concrete benches or the trash can, “but based on this query, we’re going to find out,” he said.

We’ve heard, through a state Fish & Game warden, that the benches might have been paid for by the Imperial County Fish & Game Commission. Not so.

After talking to George Fowlkes, who was on a Fish & Game Commission volunteer committee tasked with looking after Fig Lagoon some 10 years ago, the improvements were actually paid for by the late Jim Kuhn and a group of birdwatchers who frequented the area.

The commission, with Fowlkes heading up the committee, was taking care of the area, but Fowlkes said as far as he knows no one is taking care of the area now.

We tried repeatedly to get hold of Fish & Game Commission members and officials. The ones we did talk to did not recall the benches at Fig Lagoon.

Hopefully, this will stoke someone’s memory, or at least get in gear someone or some entity who wants to take responsibility for the upkeep, whether that be the IID, the Fish & Game Commission or local birdwatchers.

To contact PROBE, send your question by e-mail to or by standard mail: Imperial Valley Press, ATTN: PROBE, 205 N. Eighth St., El Centro, CA 92243.

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