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WSF Grant- in-Aid Project Update

June 17, 2022

For decades, the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep (SCBS), often working in partnership with the California Wild Sheep Foundation (CA-WSF), have sited, designed, built, filled, maintained, repaired, and replaced water development guzzlers in the Mojave Desert of southern California.

The guzzlers provide water to desert bighorn sheep and many species of desert-dwelling wildlife (e.g., quail, tortoises, mule deer, mountain lions, reptiles, and non-game birds and mammals). Though many guzzlers have been situated for decades, monitoring has been difficult. The sites are located in remote, difficult-to-access areas, often on military lands where access is not readily available.

During the past 24 months, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions by the U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center near 29 Palms, CA, prohibited SCBS access to the base to conduct needed repairs on two monitoring systems, heightening the importance of a new way forward.

By installing modern-day, solar-powered remote-sensing devices, sheep biologists and conservationists can now monitor water levels, wildlife use, evaporation rates, timing, and water delivery, which are particularly important as climates change and precipitation patterns alter.

For the past two years, at up to $6,000/year, the Wild Sheep Foundation has underwritten placement and recurring charges of 26 remote-sensing units installed and maintained by SCBS. When low water levels were detected, water hauls were performed to keep these guzzlers functional. The Newberry Guzzler, in the Newberry Mountains, has ~150 desert bighorn sheep using it. Six water hauls were done in the past 12 months to provide water for desert BHS and other wildlife.

WSF thanks the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep and the California Wild Sheep Foundation for bringing this worthwhile project forward and carrying it through to completion.  

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