Area Captain Program
Recognizing a need for a constant water supply to conserve the desert bighorn sheep, the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep, working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management, provided the labor force to establish viable water sources to augment natural waters that would be accessible to the sheep and other indigenous wildlife. The SCBS volunteers helped install these water sources, originally called Big Game Guzzlers (now known as Wildlife Water systems) in San Bernardino, Riverside, Inyo, Imperial, and San Diego counties. The first completed Big Game Guzzler is located in the Blue Spring area of Anza Borrego State Park in the Pinyon Mountains and was opened in April of 1971.
To ensure that the wildlife water systems continue to perform as designed, the Bighorn Sheep Society created the Area Captain Program in June of 1970. There are now more than 70 systems available to wild sheep. Some of the systems include accessories such as motion sensitive cameras and satellite monitoring systems. Through the use of infrared camera traps, SCBS has collected over 300,000 photos of wildlife using these systems. A vast diversity of desert wildlife has been caught on film, thereby proving that these systems benefit more than just "big game."
Area Captains serve as volunteers under the auspices of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) as well as the Society (SCBS) and have the privilege of functioning as authorized agents in the wilderness areas of the state. The program specifies that an Area Captain will be assigned to each installation and that he or she will voluntarily accept the responsibility of performing an on site inspection twice a year (in the spring and again in the fall), completing a report (inspection form) on the condition of the system, and filing the report in a timely manner. The inspections usually require a four-wheel drive vehicle and an overnight stay near the site. Also on the inspection form is a section to record the amount and type of wildlife usage. These forms are sent to the Area Captain Program Coordinator and are kept in the SCBS files with copies sent to allied agencies. The forms are used to help monitor the activities, environment, and well being of the desert bighorn sheep.
If you have any interest in volunteering or need further information about the Area Captain Program: e-mail Scott Gibson at