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| Debbie Miller | Trip Reports

2016 - Report - Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep

Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep
SCBS is an all volunteer, non-profit corporation founded in 1962 to help conserve desert bighorn sheep within California. We are associated with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. We do a lot of various things to help DFW but primarily we construct, inspect, maintain and repair wildlife water sources throughout the California deserts. Perhaps you have come across a ‘guzzler’, if so you probably saw a small concrete pad with an underground tank. These are sometimes referred to as small game guzzlers or quail guzzlers. Our organization constructs larger systems and they are typically located farther into the rugged parts of the mountain, hence, it is less likely that you have accidentally come across one but they perform the same function. 
We feel a special duty to properly maintain these systems as bighorn sheep have come to depend on them for survival. In addition to the man-made sources, there are many natural seeps and springs that require periodic maintenance, from removing sediment to trimming vegetation to keep the water accessible. We can use help performing these inspections. The inspection tasks are a bit like combining map reading and navigation, off-road driving skill, exploration, hiking and scientific field work into one project. Since we have limited volunteers and many sites to visit, these inspections are performed by only a few people per trip and many even go solo. Many of these systems are miles from paved highways and often within what was later designated as wilderness. Because of our volunteer status as agents of DFW we have special agreement with BLM that allows us to drive into wilderness areas (on existing trails) to perform our work. This was specifically allowed under the desert protection act of 1994 but something that is little known and not advertised for fear of attracting the “wrong” people. If these events are what you like to do (and I think so or you wouldn’t be in DE), please contact me either through email or through our website for more details.
We have an upcoming project on Feb 18-21, where we will be constructing a brand new water development system inside the 29 Palms Marine Corps base. This will be our 7th system inside the base and our third one this season (we’ve been busy this year.) The newest systems have been designed by SCBS members; they collect rainwater using a rubber like mat and channel it into underground low profile tanks. The water is available on the surface of the ground for all wildlife. We designed the entire system to have essentially zero maintenance (other than inspections) and little visual impact on the overall desert scene. Glenn Shaw, Joe Preiss and Mignon and Joaquin Slentz helped on previous events and they all had a great time. The construction projects require a bit less of the navigation and exploration skills and much more manual labor but I guarantee that you will get a great workout helping us. We’ll take any volunteer, we can find something for you to do. There is a fantastic sense of accomplishment and it’s pretty exciting to be part of a team that can construct an entire system in one weekend that will survive and serve wildlife for years and years to come. 
— Steve Marschke
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