Managing Water for Wildlife
April 26, 2006
Contact: Larry Whalon
, 760 252-6104
In response to a California Department of Fish and Game proposal to convert twelve abandoned ranching wells to wildlife waters, the National Park Service (NPS) initiated an environmental assessment in November 2005. After considering potential impacts and public comments, the NPS has selected a science-based alternative from among several proposals for managing water for wildlife in Mojave National Preserve. The decision was recorded through the signing of a Finding of No Significant Impact document.
The selection of this alternative means that some abandoned ranching wells will be converted to wildlife watering devices, known as guzzlers, in order to carry out research on the need for additional water sources for wildlife over broad areas. The research will provide sound factual information which will be used to make future management decisions about the need for additional wildlife waters.
In implementing the decision, the National Park Service, in consultation with the California Department of Fish and Game, is soliciting independent research proposals for projects that address the presence or absence of artificial waters and their effect on mule deer and other wildlife. Research topics may include:
-Effects of water developments on wildlife populations, including both game and non-game animals;
-Effects of water developments on predators; -Water quality at both artificial and natural water sources;
-Effects of water developments on plant communities;
-The role of water developments in transmission of diseases.
-Mule deer population studies to determine distribution, abundance, health, population genetics and water needs.
Over 130 springs and seeps are spread across Mojave National Preserve. The National Park Service recently initiated a long-term monitoring project to determine how precipitation patterns affect the availability of water for wildlife at these natural water sources by surveying them during the driest part of each year. Over 75% had water during the last survey. In addition to natural water sources, there are also six existing large-game guzzlers (principally used by desert bighorn sheep) and 119 small-game guzzlers (principally used by quail, chukar and other small wildlife), as well as several dozen currently operating water developments for cattle ranching.