It's an important water source in Mojave National Preserve

Volunteers are needed for a major work project to replace the Old Dad Bighorn Sheep Guzzler inside the Mojave National Preserve the weekend of Oct. 4-6. The project will replace three water tanks and the collection pipe that feed this critically important water source for the Old Dad herd of bighorn sheep.

     Historically, this mountain range held few sheep because there were no permanent water sources, and only occasional wandering rams used the range. The Department of Fish and Wildlife added the Old Dad guzzler and others in the area that gave sheep permanent water sources in this rich habitat and it became one of the largest desert sheep herds in California, used in the past for capture and relocation efforts to restore other historic herds.

     Old Dad Peak is a limestone mountain and stays cooler than surrounding mountain formations, making it an ideal lambing area. But until water sources were added, the range could not be used year-around. 

     The guzzler needs complete replacement if it is to continue to support this herd of sheep, and the project will take place two miles inside of wilderness that was created after the drinker was constructed. While no vehicles can drive to the site, all of the tanks and materials will be carried by helicopter to the location.

     Volunteers will need to be able to hike the arduous two miles to the site with a 1,700-foot elevation gain up a steep, rugged canyon, and then plan on a full day of work at the site each day. All volunteers should also plan to carry their own lunch, snacks, and drinking water to the work site each day they help. 

     Coordinating the effort are the volunteers for the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep, and the group’s Scott Gibson issued a second plea for more volunteers for this major effort early this week.

     “We are still in need of more people to help,” said Gibson. “New tanks and piping have been staged at the National Park Service yard in Baker, and the helicopter is confirmed to arrive in camp on the Saturday, October 5th.  We just need more help.”

     Gibson said people interested in helping should call him at 909-210-0548 in the evenings or via e-mail at scottygibson@gmail.com. 

     The camp site and staging area is located 24 miles southeast of Baker just off Kelbaker Road. Most volunteers will be camping at the staging area, and there will be a caravan of four-wheel drive vehicles to the wilderness boundary where the hike to the work site will begin each day.

     There are currently three 2000-gallong plastic tanks at the site and they are decades old and about the age where leaks and breakages start to occur. One of these tanks is already empty, and it will be removed first by the helicopter. The first of the new 3000-gallon tanks will be hauled in and set onto the footprint of the removed tank. Then the water in the two remaining old tanks will be pumped into the new tank. Those two tanks removed and the two new 3000-gallon tanks. A new four-inch pipe will be run from the collected dam (which will also have repairs, as needed) to the tanks. The old collection pipe was two-inches in diameter and not adequate to take advantage of monsoon rains in the summer, allowing much of the runoff to go down the desert canyon instead of into the tanks.

     The DFW and national park service will have adequate tools helicoptered to the site to do all the work needed, so volunteers just need to wear appropriate clothing and boots and have gloves and sun protection. Volunteers with other questions, can contact Gibson.