BHA recognizes USMC Squadron with Plaque and Ram Skull

BHA and partner organizations recognize U.S. Marine Corps Squadron HMLAT 303 and Major Johnny "CONGO" Zimmer for their critical role in support of desert bighorn sheep during the extreme drought of 2021. 

Along with the California Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, the Department of Fish & Wildlife and California State Parks Association, BHA recently presented two plaques and a ram skull to the unit to commemorate their outstanding service and commitment to wildlife in Southern California. 

In 2021 HMLAT 303 provided aerial support for water hauls to guzzlers in three different locations to provide critical habitat resilience for sheep during the extreme drought during which numerous water sources had dried up. The diverse project team made up of the Marines, numerous state agencies and NGOs successfully hauled water to guzzlers in remote portions of Anza Borrego Desert State Park, the Sheephole Mountains Wilderness, and Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command 29 Palms.

Read about this ambitious project in the press

Check out this Backcountry Journal article about the project 


U.S.M.C. Major Johnny "CONGO" Zimmer talking about his role helping to coordinate multiple helicopter projects in support of the Peninsular desert bighorn sheep. 

Capt. “Alley Cat” Castro, who piloted her UH-1Y helicopter to deliver a new water tank to the Pinyon Wash bighorn sheep guzzler in Anza-Borrego last year.

We are incredibly grateful to the Marines for their service to our country and their outstanding service to wildlife. We look forward to continuing to work together in support of wildlife in Southern California and we are in the process of planning a guzzler tank replacement project for Anza Borrego this Fall. Stay tuned! 

Watch the video from last year's guzzler tank replacement in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

About Devin O'dea

Devin grew up abalone diving, spearfishing, and backpacking in CA before discovering a love of bowhunting and wing shooting. He worked as a marketing manager for a carbon division of Mitsubishi, but the allure of adventure and wild places led him to BHA