Fish Springs residents like the rural atmosphere |

Fish Springs residents like the rural atmosphere

by Nancy Hamlett

Location. It’s the first thing Fish Springs valley residents mention when they talk about their neighborhood. It’s also the second, third and fourth item on their list.

For many people, the seemingly isolated valley wouldn’t be their ideal setting for a home. In Fish Springs, there isn’t anywhere you can pick up a gallon of milk, unless one of your neighbors raises milk goats or cows. There isn’t a gas station. Or a fast food restaurant. There are just miles and miles of open space. And a few hundred houses.

The open space is one of the things that attracted Bonnie and Ray Jones to the Fish Springs Valley over 23 years ago.

“We chose Fish Springs because back then you could get a lot of land for the price,” said Bonnie. “We were the fifty-ninth house in the whole valley. There were no phones, no cable TV. To communicate with our neighbors we used CB radios. It was real, real country and we liked it that way.”

Norbert and Linda Monohan have lived in Fish Springs for more than 17 years. Even though they’ve planted over 600 trees to dress up their acreage, the rugged, natural beauty can’t be tamed.

“This valley is special because we are surrounded by hills and mountains,” said Linda, a secretary at Gardnerville Elementary School, and the Fish Springs Flyer corespondent for The Record Courier. “There are no street lights, no sidewalks, and no paved roads, other than the primary roads. We have real dark skies at night. The lights from Gardnerville don’t make it over the hills. And it’s peaceful. Is there a better place to live?”

Bill Arnett doesn’t think so. He and his wife, Sylvia, first started looking at property near Gardnerville after Sylvia’s mother moved to the Carson Valley. A real estate agent called them about a 10-acre ranch in Fish Springs. They looked. They liked what they saw. And they bought the ranch.

“We rented the house for 11 years until we were ready to retire,” said Arnett, who worked in the aircraft industry, as did his wife. “We moved in three years ago, and can’t imagine living anywhere else. The remoteness is what is so appealing. I don’t mind driving 4 miles of dirt roads to get home.”

Before the influx of civilization, the Fish Springs Valley was mostly government land with a few ranches thrown in. Over 40 years ago a few hearty souls moved onto the land, made improvements and earned title from the United States Government under the Homestead Act.

“Many of the original families still live in the valley,” said Monohan. She named off the Fingar, Finch, Jones and Hanson families. “They are the real pioneers.”

Residents in Fish Springs are reluctant to classify their homes as trendy mini-ranches or ranchettes. They are simply ranches, raising everything from alfalfa to horses, dogs and goats. Tremendous gardens and sapling trees thrive in the valley, as long as they receive enough water.

“Before we moved here we planted trees on the property,” said Monohan. “Every time we visited we had to haul water up the hill to water them.”

But like all out-of-the-way places, civilization is creeping through the canyon and settling into the valley.

“We’ve not been affected like the people in the middle of the valley,” said Jones. “We have 1,000 trees on the property, and we back up to the BLM. The traffic is getting bad, though. And the larger animals, like the wild horses and deer, have either been hauled away or stay away due to the increase in the population.”

Jones spoke about something that seemed to be on everyone’s mind. Several weeks ago, a resident herd of wild horses was rounded up and taken to the Wild Horse and Burro Placement Center in Palomino Valley. The removal of the herd caused a lot of heated debate, both in the newspapers, and on the street.

“They were on my property when BLM rounded them up,” said Arnett. “I didn’t mind them being there, and I didn’t like it that they came and took them. But I blame the people who fed and watered them as much as the ones who complained. They taught them not to be afraid of humans.”

Arnett also said that the horses were one of the reasons he and Sylvia bought the ranch in the valley.

“We have horses ourselves, and we enjoyed watching them,” said Arnett. “When our friends came to visit they were always impressed by the sight of them roaming through the valley. Now we have to tell them that the horses are gone.”

Monohan uses a spotting scope to scan the valley for wildlife. She hopes that, someday, another band of horses will migrate down from the Pinenut Range.

“The horses were here long before we were,” said Monohan. “It isn’t right to remove them from their home.”

In the meantime Monohan and the other residents of Fish Springs will have to be content to gaze upon other wildlife that lives in the valley.

“I saw a Great Horned Owl the other day,” said Monohan. “We have coyotes and eagles, hawks and skunks. And some people have even seen bob cats or mountain lions.”

Fish Springs is actually two types of subdivisions tied together by location. To the south of Fish Springs Road, parcels can’t be any smaller than two acres. North of the road the parcels are 5 acres or larger.

“We have ten acres, and I hope that is enough of a buffer when more people more in,” said Arnett. “We like our neighbors, but we also like our privacy.”

Monohan has a hot tub in the middle of Norbert’s prize-winning gardens. At night she likes to slip into the water “au natural.”

“Can you imagine doing that in town?” Monohan laughed. “I would hate to lose that. Owning a larger parcel of land almost guarantees that I will always have that privacy.”

Location. Privacy. An appreciation of nature. These are the common denominators that bind the residents of Fish Springs together.

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