Water for Wildlife 2015

Well the year of 2014 is almost over and I really cannot wait to start another New Year.  The WFW volunteers worked so hard in 2014 and made the year another success in providing and maintaining water for our desert wildlife.  Just Google, facebook water for wildlife, and see for yourself how hard these men and women work.  These volunteers get NOTHING but a thank you and some food, without them nothing would get done no matter how much money was in the bank.  The year of 2015 will be the tenth year of restoring and maintain water for our desert wildlife.  With the help and donations from organizations like the CA Deer Association, Safari Club of Orange County, Turner's Outdoorsman, Predator Callers of Orange County, Private Citizens and the CA Fish & Wildlife we can continue our quest to provide water for wildlife.

I just have to say a couple things that have been on my mine for some time.  There are several organizations that do not like what we do.  These organizations want all these drinkers removed and want to turn the desert back to what it was a 1000 years ago.  These folks want to get rid of, what they call "artificial water".  I have tried to find out, what is "artificial water".

Is water behind a dam "artificial water"?  Is water out of my tap "artificial water"? Is rain water that runs into a cistern deemed as "artificial water"?  Water pumped from a well "artificial water"?   What is artificial water??  To these organizations who want to remove all artificial water it seems like their definition of artificial water would be....if any kind of wildlife drinks from anything that is man made and it captures water, it needs to be removed?????? These organizations seem to only concentrate on wildlife's water.  

Let's start with the removal of all the dams that hold our "artificial water", then we can turn off the wells that pump our "artificial water", I am sure there are hundreds of different species of wildlife that drink from lakes, and treatment plants, etc., through out the Western US.  It is hard to understand why these groups want the DESERT WATER removed???  If someone can help explain it to me feel free to call or send me an email.

Anyway....done with my rant, below is the schedule for 2015 and details on the first project in Feb.

Cliff McDonald

February 13-14-15 BLM land south of I-40, Water Rd exit
March 20-21-22 Goffs CA, camping at Goffs
April 17-18-19 Mojave National Preserve, camping at equestrian center
May 15-16-17 Mojave National Preserve, camping at equestrian center
June ???? Maybe Bishop, CA

The reason June does not have any dates:  The CA F&W called me and asked if the Water for Wildlife projects could include working on four drinkers located near Bishop, Ca.  Bishop is a long drive and I/we need to know how many volunteers would be willing to make this drive.

It would take a commitment of at least 25 volunteers before it would be a go on this project. The dates would be 12-13-14-15 if we were to have the project.  If you want to do this please let me know.  Bishop is really nice this time of the year and the fishing should be good.

Our cook (Judy), for the last six years, has volunteered to cook for us again.  All I can say is that we all lucked out again to have Judy as our cook. For those of you who have tasted Judy's dinners knows what I am talking about.

A couple guys that volunteer for WFW will not sit still during the winter.  Lyle organized a project last Nov and fixed several cracks in a drinker on the preserve, plus he has put together another small project, Jan 10-11 on BLM land at Kelbaker Rd, they will completely restore another drinker.  If anyone wants more details about this project email me.

Diehard volunteer finds Lutz BGG unassisted!

Due to some communication mix up (mostly mine) and a little bit of schedule delays (Zac) we crossed paths at the Dr. Lutz repair project. I had exchanged emails with Zac about a week prior to the project and he indicated that he was coming. I didn't hear back from him and wasn't sure WHEN he was planning to show up. During the project we had wondered when he was coming.  John and Linda were holding down camp so it wasn't a big deal, he would get there when he gets there. After we finished the project and still no Zac by Saturday morning, we figured that something came up and he couldn't make it. Turns out he showed up Saturday morning just after we left to head over to Weavernoy. I had taken down the SCBS sign as we left but Zac found our tracks and followed 10 image from Zacthem. Once in the canyon he saw the small rock cairns and followed them all the way up to the tanks. As far as I know Zac did not have the GPS coordinates. Not bad for a new volunteer and his first time to Dr. Lutz guzzler! It must have been his Marine Corp training. He obviously did a fairly good job of tracking to be able to find the guzzler.  Anyway he saw our work, found a ram's skull and had a great time. He definitely wants to help out again. Hopefully we won't cross paths next time.

SCBS' Bob Burke Selected for Desert Advisory Council

Congratulations go to SCBS Member Bob Burke on his selection for the BLM Desert Advisory Council.  The DAC reviews policies for the BLM and is comprised of members from several catagories of interested users.  Bob was selected as a member-at-large.  Apparently the wildlife consevration positions were already filled.  You can read the BLM press release here:


Bob has been involved with SCBS for several years and was instrumental in getting permission to update and improve the water development at the BLM Sawtooth campground.  In addition to being on the SCBS Borad of Directors, Bob has been inspecting and maintaining several of the SCBS water developments in the Cady and Newberry Mountains as well as organizing the SCBS Camera Project.  Now he will have the opportunity to be directly invovled with BLM mangement policies and looking out for desert bighorn sheep. 

Sawtooth Project Completed

Through the cooperation of the Barstow Field Office of the BLM; Quail Forever and SCBS have refurbished a small game guzzler and converted it into an all-species water source.  Sawtooth DigThe old system was built many years ago but has recently been incorporated into the Sawtooth Campground boundary.  We removed the old 500 gallon tank and replaced it with a new SCBS style tank with integral drinker.  The old tank was recovered by Quail Forever for reuse elsewhere.  We were fortunate enough to be able to access the site with a small backhoe, although it took just as much time to dig as by hand, we prevented a lot of sore backs.  The Quail Forever masonry crew did an excellent job of installing an intake screen and small rock dam where the old collection surface had drained straight into the old tank.

There have been desert bighorn sighted in the area over the last few years, possibly attracted to the water despite the presence of humans and even though the water was not available to sheep due to the design of the small game guzzler.  Sawtooth IntakeThis area has seen a rather large increase in sheep population over the last 5 to 10 years.  At the same time, the Victorville / Apple Valley / Lucerne Valley has had a tremendous amount of development and providing water sources can be the difference between a healthy well connected population or the path to eventual extirpation.  By providing accessible water developments, SCBS can help foster a “metapopulation”, that is a population of populations.  Desert bighorn sheep by their nature tend to form in small groups or herds; groups that in many cases are not sufficiently large to ensure long term genetic diversity that is necessary to the survival of the species.  It is rather well known that desert bighorn sheep tend to favor steep terrain, but they must not be restricted from the foothills and valley floors - they must cross these areas in order to spread genes from one mountain range to another.  Sawtooth FinishedThis interlinking between classic herd groups is what is called a metapopulation.  Only through a metapopulation can desert bighorn sheep survive as a species.  SCBS is dedicated to providing all-species wildlife water developments as a primary avenue to foster a metapopulation of desert bighorn sheep.  If we make our systems accessible to sheep, all other species can benefit as well.
Thanks to all the volunteers that stopped by to help; due to the location we had a large number of visitors and nearly all were enlisted to help in some way.  Bob Burke provided a “low country boil” dinner and if you haven’t had this before you are really missing out.  Come on out to the next project and maybe you’ll get a taste.

Bob Wood Development

Burnt Spring Old BoxSCBS completely refurbished an old spring box system in the Marble Mountains.  We installed a new tank buried in the ground to augment the two small wooden spring boxes that were deteriorating.  The old spring boxes held approximately 50 gallons each.   The capacity of the new tank is 2300 gallons and will allow the system to remain well watered throughout the hot summer months.  We plumbed the tank from the existing spring box by adding about 30 feet of 2 inch PVC pipe.  No other collection system is needed as this small seep has been a reliable producer.Burnt Spring Finished

This system is dedicated to Bob Wood by his grandson Shawn Wood.  A plaque will be installed at a future date, hopefully when Shawn can attend.  Bob Wood was a SCBS volunteer on many projects and was recruited by his father Marvin Wood, also a long time SCBS volunteer.  In fact, one of the other wildlife water systems in the Marble Mountains is already dedicated to Marvin Wood.  This new system makes two for one family!  The rest of you have a lot of catching up to do; let’s make Marvin, Bob and Shawn an inspiration to us all to do whatever we can for desert bighorn conservation.

Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep

PO Box 94182
Pasadena, CA 91109
(310) 339-4677

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