"8 hours + 4 inches = 90 More Desert Bighorn Sheep - Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn and WSF Create Water for Wildlife
Las Vegas, Nevada and Bozeman, Montana – April 11, 2016:
While the equation is simplistic, and a great deal more time, treasure and talent was needed to make it happen, on April 9th, 65 Fraternity of Desert Bighorn (FDB) and Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) members including the WSF board of directors and several WSF staff, were flown by helicopter atop a mountain north of Las Vegas in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge for a day of hard work, great satisfaction and even greater rewards for Nevada’s desert bighorn sheep and other wildlife.
“The Fraternity of Desert Bighorn and Wild Sheep Foundation partnered on this needed Wild Sheep Foundation Hidden Valley Guzzler to replace a nearby slick-rock development plagued by silt and debris due to its river-wash location,” FDB President and WSF Secretary Brett Jefferson stated. “This project would not have been possible without help from a $10,000 grant from WSF, along with a multi-agency partnership that included personnel from the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, and volunteers from FDB augmented with the WSF board of directors and staff volunteers. Together we built a 3,200 square foot metal apron, essentially a roof and gutter, to collect rainwater to be stored in four tanks on a hand-graded dirt pad which will provide more than 8,800 gallons of critical summer season water for Nelson bighorn sheep and other wildlife,” Jefferson added.
NDOW biologists and desert bighorn experts estimate an adult bighorn ram or ewe needs 100 gallons a year to survive. While most of this comes from the forage they eat, during the summer months and relentless 100 plus-degree days, supplemental water is critical to their survival.
FDB board member, Ed Pribyl at 78 years young, is a veteran of more than 120 of these water development projects. “Given the footprint of the metal apron, it will take only about 4 inches of rain to fill these tanks which will provide a year’s worth of water for about 90 desert bighorns,” Pribyl stated while taking a brief break from grading the tank pad with a metal rake. “In the 1960s Nevada had fewer than 2,000 bighorn sheep. Through efforts like we are doing today, providing water and improving habitat for wildlife, we have helped grow Nevada’s desert bighorn population to over 10,000 animals,” Pribyl rightfully beamed.
Volunteers came from as far away as Pennsylvania and Florida to the east and Alaska to the north but all had common traits – a passion for wild sheep and a commitment to wildlife conservation. WSF & FDB Life Member Dale and WSF Life Member Donna Gaugler of Pennsylvania were not only volunteers, but they also paid for the privilege to work in the desert heat and eventual hailstorm. Dale and Donna were the successful high bidders for the opportunity to serve which was sold at the recent Wild Sheep Foundation convention in Reno, Nevada. “This is the finest thing I’ve ever purchased!” exclaimed Dale Gaugler after laboring on the mountain.
In addition to coming from far and wide, the volunteers came in all ages with several FDB members bringing their children along to help shovel, rake, ferry dirt and rock and otherwise make a difference for wild sheep. “This is the essence of hands-on conservation and stewardship,” stated WSF President and CEO, Gray N. Thornton, setting aside a pick and shovel while working with the storage tank pad team. “These volunteers are not only working for wildlife, they are setting an example for the next generation of hunter/conservationists. The youngsters here are learning to give back to wildlife and in many cases, they are giving back before they have had the opportunity to hunt themselves,” Thornton added.
As a result of this labor of love, another water source for wildlife was developed in the Las Vegas Range and given time, 90 more desert bighorns will call this range home. To complete the project WSF Chairman-Elect Doug Sayer is donating a bronze plaque to be installed at the site noting the Wild Sheep Foundation Hidden Valley Guzzler name and will include both the WSF and FDB logos to commemorate the joint effort.
WSF salutes our conservation partners the Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn, Nevada Department of Wildlife, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Sundance Helicopters and the many volunteers who made this conservation success a reality.
For more information, or if you would like to become a member of the Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn, or donate money or time to the next project, email the Fraternity at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.desertbighorn.com. You can follow the Fraternity and their activities in Southern Nevada on Facebook as well."
(I have no idea why this one is so small.)
Because there were so many volunteers on the mountain, when a thunderstorm headed our way there was no way everyone could be safely shuttled off the mountain before the storm hit. So most of the team got to hike the 5+ miles back to the staging area, in the rain.
Here's the rain matt.
It rained like crazy just as we left, then again shortly thereafter at least once.
Las Vegas, which is just 15 miles south of the drinker, recorded a record-by-a-mile .81" that afternoon and evening.
Other projects bury the tanks, but only in places a backhoe can get to.