The National Park Service has prepared a Management Plan and Environmental Assessment for Developed Water Sources in Mojave National Preserve. The Plan was made available March 20 for public comment; the public comment period has been extended to July 19, 2018.
Mojave National Preserve is a 1.6 million-acre unit of the National Park Service, established by the California Desert Protection Act in 1994. The Act protected a vast landscape of Great Basin, Sonoran, and Mojave desert ecosystems. The Act also specified hunting as a permitted activity within the preserve.
By 1994, many wells, springs and seeps had been developed within the preserve for cattle and game. Six big game guzzlers and numerous small game guzzlers, which intercept and store rainwater for wildlife, had also been built. All of the big game guzzlers and many of the small game guzzlers are in areas now designated as wilderness.
Private donors started buying and donating grazing land to the preserve in 1998. When ranchers left, their troughs, windmills, and pipelines were taken or left in disrepair. Some hunters have called for abandoned wells to be converted to game guzzlers. Conversely, wildlife advocates have pointed out harm to wildlife as a reason for taking guzzlers out.
Mojave National Preserve now manages water sources on a case-by-case basis. The preserve's general management plan called for an ecosystem-scale Water Resources Management Plan for springs, seeps, water diversions, and artificial water sources to maintain wildlife and groundwater at safe yields; this plan seeks to meet that goal.