U.S. Marine Corps Helicopters to Haul Water for Wildlife

marine corps water haul

Photo credit: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl Gabrielle Sanders

With huge support from the United States Marine Corps, the California Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA), the California Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation (CA WSF), Desert Wildlife Unlimited (DWU) and the Society for Conservation of Bighorn Sheep (SCBS) are collaborating to support the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP) in their efforts to help Desert Bighorn Sheep during this drought emergency. 

There are two wildlife drinker systems (guzzlers) in the Sheephole Mountains, located near 29 Palms, that have run dry. In addition there are two systems in the ABDSP and two located on the 29 Palms Marine Base that are also dry.

We are thrilled that the United State Marine Corps will be supporting this volunteer effort by hauling water with helicopters to these tanks August 28-30. Volunteers will be coordinating efforts on the ground to set up infrastructure and equipment needed to pump water into the tanks. Conditions could be extremely hot (well in excess of 100 degrees) and we urge prospective volunteers to exercise caution when considering supporting this initiative. Details regarding meet-up locations, project scopes and duration will be provided after volunteers RSVP and are approved.

Background on Whale Peak and Harper Canyon Systems:

The desert bighorn sheep located in Anza-Borrego State Park are a federally listed “endangered” subpopulation called “Peninsular Bighorn Sheep.” Approximately 60% of the endangered Peninsular Bighorn population resides within the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Whale Peak Guzzler consists of (2) tanks at 2500-gallons each and 5000-gallons total. Harper Canyon guzzler consists of (2) tanks at 2500-gallons each and 5000-gallons total.

Background on Bear Claws, Sudzhole and MCAGCC 29-Palms systems:

The desert bighorn sheep located in the Sheephole Mountains have been isolated for decades. A new network of developed water sources on MCAGCC 29-Palms has recently created connectivity through the Bullion Mountains on the Marine Corps Base. SCBS has installed (10) guzzlers on the base over the last 20 years. Sudzhole Guzzler consists of (3) tanks at 2000-gallons each and 6000 gallons total. Bear Claws Guzzler consists of (3) tanks at 2000-gallons each and 6000 gallons total. Linking the meta-population of desert bighorn sheep through habitat connectivity will likely increase the genetic diversity and overall resilience of the herds.

Please only RSVP if you are sure you can commit to this effort as we will need a select crew of fit individuals to accomplish our mission.


About California BHA

The California Chapter of BHA seeks to ensure that North America's outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing is sustained for generations, through education and work on behalf of the state's wild public lands, waters and wildlife.