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home : features : features May 1, 2016


4/30/2014 6:00:00 AM
Water improvement sought for Black Mountain critters
DON MARTIN/Special to the Miner
This is a photo of the general area where a water catchment is being proposed.  If the project is approved and funded, it will provide a permanent and reliable water source for desert bighorn sheep, birds and small mammals that live in the area.
DON MARTIN/Special to the Miner
This is a photo of the general area where a water catchment is being proposed. If the project is approved and funded, it will provide a permanent and reliable water source for desert bighorn sheep, birds and small mammals that live in the area.
DON MARTIN/Special to the MinerArizona Game and Fish Wildlife Manager Luke Apfel, left, and Wildlife Program Manager Jeff Pebworth, center, along with BLM biologist Rebecca Peck discuss the proposed sites of a new water catchment.
DON MARTIN/Special to the Miner
Arizona Game and Fish Wildlife Manager Luke Apfel, left, and Wildlife Program Manager Jeff Pebworth, center, along with BLM biologist Rebecca Peck discuss the proposed sites of a new water catchment.
Don Martin
Outdoors Writer

KINGMAN - Ask any of our Hunter Education graduates this question: What is one component needed for wildlife to survive, especially in the desert?

The answer: Water.

Arizona Game and Fish Department staff knows this all too well, so in an attempt to make sure that wildlife in the Black Mountains has sufficient water, they conducted a water analysis of that mountain range.

"We looked to see if there are areas that are over three miles from current water sources," said Jeff Pebworth, a wildlife program manager for Region 3. "One area we identified that was outside of wilderness areas in Unit 15D was in the Silver Creek area."

Department personnel have seen desert bighorn sheep in the area, Pebworth noted, and it's considered medium-value sheep habitat.

"Areas where we construct waters have to be analyzed to see if it meets the requirements we have established, such as having good escape cover," he said.

Luke Apfel, the wildlife manager for Unit 15D, hiked all over the mountain range on the west side of the Black Mountains to see if he could find a location where a water catchment could be placed.

Apfel found a possible location in a rugged mountain range south of the Silver Creek Road. Apfel said he brought in Joe Curry, who is the department's habitat planning program manager, to review the area. Two possible sites were selected.

Before any projects can be started, the Bureau of Land Management, which manages these public lands, has to approve it.

A field trip was put together to inspect possible site locations, and as an interested member of the public and a Region 3 representative of the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, I was invited to attend.

Joining us were biologist Rebecca Peck and archeologist Tim Watkins. Pebworth and Apfel represented the Game and Fish Department.

We checked out two sites. The proposed project is now in the hands of Peck, who will be doing an environmental assessment of the project.

The sites have already been cleared for cultural findings, and threatened and endangered species.

But the final approval won't come until all aspects of the National Environmental Protection Act process are completed.

There is scoping as part of that process; which means a time when the public can offer up any concerns they have. The final decision will be made by Kingman Resource Manager Ruben Sanchez.

If approved and after the decision is published, the public still has 30 days to appeal the decision.

The project, if approved, will take the Game and Fish Department about eight days to complete. That estimate is based upon using both paid staff and volunteers to complete the work.

The project is estimated to cost about $70,000 and will entail installing a walk-in drinker and four 2,500-gallon tanks. The tanks will be painted to match the surrounding area to minimize visual issues. Because of the remote location, materials will be flown in by helicopter, while workers will walk in.

The project is expected to be funded through the Habitat Partnership program if it approved.

Once completed, the catchment will serve bighorn sheep and other wildlife, including birds and small mammals that also live in these rugged mountains.

Pebworth noted as they were driving from the area they spotted a group of over 20 sheep on the mountain. Pebworth said there were 11 lambs in the group, many just a few days old.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, May 4, 2014
Article comment by: Page McDonald

In reply to Desert Girl: G/F tells us not to put out food and water for wildlife in RESIDENTIAL areas because that encourages the wildlife to come in close to humans and their pets, which in turn draws the animals who predate on wildlife and who may have your pets for lunch instead. Operative word is RESIDENTIAL. This proposed drinker will collect and store water for ALL wildlife and is located in natural habitat and when there is no other available source of water within 3 miles. (In the Black Mountains)

Butch, if you know of a year round spring within the proposed water project, please contact Jeff Pebworth at Game and Fish to tell him exactly where it is.

Water projects like the one being proposed are huge investments in time, money and material by the Arizona Game & Fish Department, conservationists and conservation organizations like the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society.

Remember this project will help ALL wildlife in this area, NOT JUST SHEEP!

One final point. In December, when sheep are hunted with very limited permits, they require water maybe once every TWO weeks!

It is the hot summers, when temperatures reach well over 120 degrees in the Black Mountains that sheep and other wildlife need water almost on a daily basis and this project will supply that need.


Posted: Saturday, May 3, 2014
Article comment by: Butch Meriwether

All someone has to do is visit the old dam site adjacent to Silver Creek and they will know water runs through that area year round. Not only do the donkeys visit that area, big horn sheep have been spotted there too. Let the bighorn sheep drink form that water that runs out of the ground and spend the $70,000 that benefits all people and not just the hunters. I'll be driving past the old dam on Sunday so I'll take a photo so all can see there is plenty of water there and no need to dig a well and put storage tanks there..

Posted: Saturday, May 3, 2014
Article comment by: Desert Girl

Arizona Game and Fish continually say we should not put water and feed out for the wildlife, but they are about to spend thousands of dollars to do the same. Why is that? Maybe they should practice what they preach.

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Wiley Coyote

The same economic logic would rationalize stripping and prostitution as a great way to fund your daughter's college educations.

There may be better ways to fund 'saving" wildlife than taking kickbacks from the people who profit from killing the wildlife.

If the author wasn't just publicizing his hunting outfitting business and if the AZ Game and Fish officials quoted weren't trophy hunters, and if the voice of scientific objectivity wasn't just the paid PR spin for AZG&F, maybe people would believe some of this.

Try getting rid of the government subsidized cattle so the wildlife can have their natural springs and grasslands back. Get rid of trophy hunting so the bighorns and antelope can build their populations with natural selective breeding and let natural predators do their jobs to keep them in check.


Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: V Stokes

"...sites have already been cleared for cultural findings..."

"Please spell out the "cultural" findings that were oked.".

That's pretty self-explanatory L.A., surprised you didn't get it since you profess to love all the old history in the area.

It means someone went in and looked at the area for evidence of old indian burial grounds, any sort of glyphs on rocks, or some old mine, etc, etc, that may have had some historic or cultural importance. If they found nothing, then it would be cleared for the work to proceed.

They may still encounter something, just like they did at Lee Williams H.S., in which case work would stop while it is investigated.


Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: Zen Mocarski

Human activities have separated some populations from historic waters. It isn't just the Colorado River through that area, but natural springs. Water catchments have been used for years as a means to mitigate human impacts in regards to separation of wildlife from historic watering sites and as a means to support the overall population (there are many throughout Arizona). Hunting dollars have helped restore and/or conserve wildlife populations throughout Arizona, including bighorn sheep. Without sportsman dollars, bighorn sheep would have likely been extirpated from the state. Aggressive efforts in regards to transplants have restored many historic populations. Humans have already impacted wildlife, so any suggestion of non-interference is without merit. Humans have already interfered.

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Dear God. Here are the operative words to fear.

>>>The sites have already been cleared for cultural findings, and threatened and endangered species.<<<<

>>>the Bureau of Land Management, which manages these public lands, has to approve it.<<<

>>>Habitat Partnership program<<<<

>>>>the National Environmental Protection Act <<<<

Don has gone over to the dark side and doesn't even know it. Perhaps we could bring some sheep home one weekend a month for dinner too.

Please spell out the "cultural" findings that were oked.

Then I have suggested reading for you.

Wm Perry Pendley's "Sagebrush Rebel" and also "Warriors For the West".

Elizabeth Nicksons "Eco-Fascists - How Radical Conservationists are Destroying our National Heritage".

Looks like the animals were healthy enough to keep producing. Why not try leaving them alone and save us $70,000.


Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: Uncle Anson

Why? These are wild animals and an integral part of the ecosystem. There is a balance. 30 sheep and 11 lambs should tell you something. Seems to me that might say something concerning that ecosystem. When you do as proposed you have taken away the wild and started farming. Nothing more and nothing less. Nature is gone forever. It cannot be recovered once destroyed or irrepairably damaged. So go ahead and farm the sheep if you must but toward what end? What is the real agenda here Don?

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: Golden Eagle

"Ask any Hunter Education Graduate what one component is needed for wildlife to survive"......I noticed the answer was not "remove all hunting".

This water spot will be great. Line up all the hunters on the ridge above the watering hole and blast away.....like shooting fish in a barrel.




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