Putting Water on the Mountain
By Ron Camp, Utah State Chair
Got water? Wildlife in Utah do now, thanks to the efforts of RMEF volunteers and the US Forest Service.
Utah is one of the driest states in the West. Although the Pine Valley Mountains north of St. George may see plenty of snow in the winter, by the time summer rolls around, the water is all but dried up. Elk and other wild critters need a reliable, year-round water source. And, not surprisingly, if they have it, they’re more likely to stick around, taking the pressure off of surrounding areas.
So how does one do that? It sounds simple enough. Just put water where you want the animals, and that is exactly what we did. This past summer more than 20 volunteers from RMEF chapters across the state helped the Forest Service install a wildlife guzzler on Grassy Flats in a single day. The RMEF Utah State Leadership Team oversaw the project.
We started by removing sagebrush so we could lay down a specially treated fabric that acts as a catch basin for the rainwater, funneling it downhill to the guzzler. Once we got the fabric in place, we put rocks on top to hold it down. Then, we covered the edges with dirt to protect it from the wind.
Finally, it was time to install a 1,800-gallon guzzler—a specially designed tank built of durable plastic equipped for years of use. We had to bury the guzzler in the ground at a precise height to maximize efficiency, before installing the plumbing to connect the catch basin to the guzzler. Then, we built a fence around it all to keep livestock out. This required setting lodgepole posts and running wire fencing around the entire exclosure. Elk, deer and other wild animals will have no problem going under or over the fence to access the guzzler.
This project served as the main event of the Utah Summer Rendezvous. The affair was sponsored by the Les Schwab Tire Company, who supplied all the food. The rendezvous allowed RMEF volunteers from all over the state to meet and share ideas on how to improve our banquets, recruiting, training and more. Most volunteers brought their recreational vehicles to the event, and great times were had by all in this beautiful mountain setting. Big thanks to Cedar City Chapter volunteers Chris and Katye Halterman for hosting and cooking at the rendezvous.
"It is not often that volunteers have the opportunity to start and finish a big project like this in a single day. This guzzler will benefit wildlife for years to come. Thanks to all who participated in this effort, which truly goes to the heart of RMEF’s mission." says Bill Christensen, Utah regional director.