29 Palms scouting – Round 3

This was SCBS’s third scouting mission to survey desert bighorn sheep use and theChecking the Shade Quality possibility of water enhancements within the 29 Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.  Carlos Gallinger, Glenn Sudmeier and Steve Marschke spent 4 days exploring 3 training zones of the base.  We were successful in locating sheep sign in a few previously unexplored canyons.  While we did find desert bighorn sheep sign, after having seen much more of the region we felt that the areas visited in an earlier trip were better habitat.  We attempted to reach one previously selected water development site by 4x4 and we were successful.  Yea!  This means no helicopter work would be necessary for what was designated ‘Rainbow 1.’   While we were there we staked and remarked our proposed site so that the base personnel could find it and make the required assessments under the NEPA rules.   Carlos took the evening off and Glenn and Steve hiked cross-country through TOW missile training zones  (watch out for the wires!) to reach our previously selected site of Rainbow 4.  We felt that we would prefer something a bit farther from the impact zone and, if possible, accessible by 4x4.  We wandered around discussing options and finally settled on Rainbow 5 site.  We marked and staked it and headed back to the vehicles.  We reached Carlos just before dark.

We continued the next day and explored the northeast portion of the Lavic Lake training zone and didn’t find much vegetation and only a little bit of sign at the far extremes.  Perhaps in better years this region could be great habitat but not right now.  We returned to the Argos Pass zone and explored for something between our previous Long ViewSunshine Peak and Argos Mtn systems.  The logic is that we could strongly bolster the survivability of the bighorn by placing another water development in relatively close proximity.  We the difficulty of base access and fitting in with the training schedules, a semi-redundant water source would be like an insurance plan.  Glenn and I headed up into a side canyon and wer enot impressed until we got fairly far along.  Then we started finding sheep pellets.  A bit farther and we found a high level spot at a wash junction that had hosted a prospector camp, crucibles and tent anchors with baling were still in place  We decided that this location would be relatively easy for construction and was very close to midway between the existing systems.  Also, although down off the mountain proper, it was securely in the foothills and suitable for bighorn.Rainbow 1 Project Site

Conservation Challenges

The Wild Sheep Working Group of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has recently published a position paper discussing the challenges of conserving and managing bighorn sheep populations. It covers background information regarding a lot of important topics and describes the group's recommendations for management goals and specific strategies associated with each challenge. Feel free to download and share the publication as much as possible.  For more more information about WAFWA click here: http://www.wafwa.org/html/wswg.shtml

To view the paper click here:  

Brewer C. E., V. C. Bleich, J. A. Foster, T. Hosch-Hebdon, D. E. McWhirter, E. M. Rominger, M. W. Wagner, and B. P. Wiedmann. 2014. Bighorn sheep: conservation challenges and management strategies for the 21st century. Wild Sheep Working Group, Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA.


Video Dedicated to Nancy Andrew

We received a large cash donation a few years ago to name a new wildlife water system after NCrew low resancy Andrew.  Nancy Andrew was a strong advocate for bighorn sheep when the American Canal was lined with concrete.  Her knowledge and position as DFG biologist allowed her to drive the requirement to fence the canal (to prevent wildlife drownings) and to make water available to wildlife outside the fence as replacement for lost access. 

SCBS cooperated with a local property owner and were able to locate the new system near Amboy California.  The owner was very helpful and did the rough grading with their heavy equipment and also partially buried the 2 new tanks.  That saved us a huge amount of work.  We used 2 of the newest SCBS designed direct burial tanks.  The remainder of the work was performed by SCBS, including finish grading, plumbing, laying the Hypalon rain collection mat and installing a dedication plaque.  It took us a few trips to the site to finish all of the work.

We installed an infrared trail camera at the site and had photos of sheep using the new system.

SCBS member Debbie Miller Marschke made a short video of the work project.  Please view it through this link:



Welcome Big Red!

retired GMCAfter 60 years of resistance, SCBS has finally purchased our own vehicle.  Previously, we had been using DFG (now DOW) vehicles under our volunteer service agreement.  However, due to the sorry state of the California budget, DFG has not dedicated appropriate funding to maintain and upgrade the DFG vehicles at Camp Cady.  The GMC truck was headed to Bishop for a new set of tires last summer but had a blowout and the subsequent damage was beyond repair - the DFG retired that vehicle.

The motor pool has steadily dwindled over the years from 3 vehicles to 1 Dodge that only works part of the time. 

We felt as the board, that it was asking too much of our volunteers to use their personal vehicles without at least putting in some SCBS funds.  Furthermore, few volunteers have the appropriate vehicle to haul water, pumps and tools.  We needed a 1 ton flat bed truck like the DFG vehicles.  Through some last minute phone calls, board member Terry Anderson  secured a significant donation to purchase the SCBS truck.  We managed to find a 2011 Ford F350 with dual rear wheels and a stakebed.  Although it has the V10 and not the more efficient diesel, it was a great bargain.  Many thanks to Mark Dickson for the very generous donation!  Now that we own our own vehicle there are a host of additional costs associated – insurance, fuel and maintenanceLast working DFG truck being the primary ones.  If you would like to help support our mission of Desert Bighorn Sheep conservation please consider making a donation to the vehicle maintenance fund.  


Upcoming Events

Sat Mar 13 @08:00 - 05:00PM
R-05 Guzzler Rebuild Phase 1
Sun Mar 14 @08:00 - 05:00PM
R-05 Guzzler Rebuild Phase 1
Sat Mar 20 @08:00 - 05:00PM
R-05 Guzzler Rebuild Phase 2