New research proves importance of man-made water sources in Mojave Preserve
By JIM MATTHEWS
A new study published recently proves the importance of man-made water sources in the Mojave National Preserve for all wildlife species in the region, providing further evidence the National Park Service’s Management Plan for Developed Water Sources is flawed and would have negative impacts on wildlife.
The park service’s plan calls for the removal of nearly all man-made wildlife water within wilderness areas and most drinkers or “guzzlers” outside of wilderness.
The study points out the importance of this water to a wide range of wildlife. Some of the species most likely to be negatively impacted include four species of bats, over 18 species of birds, along with a eight large and small mammals, including kit fox, gray fox, coyotes, mule deer and bighorn sheep.
The study, published in the Journal of Wildlife Management by three Berkeley scientists and one from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, summarizes the importance of both the small game “guzzlers” and big game drinkers:
“We recommend that managers expend the time and resources needed to maintain existing artificial water catchments (AWCs)…. We also recommend modifying AWC structures, if needed, to make them accessible to as many species as possible. This will help maximize the net gains of maintaining these features. Lastly, we recommend systematically monitoring species’
presence at AWCs during times of high, low, and average water availability, and monitoring survival and reproduction for a limited set of focal species. This information would facilitate a more efficient use of labor and capital resources, help ensure the decision to maintain AWCs is influenced by empirical data, and enable assessments of fitness and range shifts.”
The study measured distribution of all wildlife in areas with and without man-made water sources using camera traps and acoustic recording devices. Of the 44 different species detected, the water sources proved critical for 30 of the 44 species. The study was conducted over a broad area and its results have landscape implications across the Mojave desert.
While not addressing the NPS’ water management plan by name, the study suggests through its conclusions that the sound scientific thing to do would be to dramatically modify the final water management plan still awaiting approval at the Department of Interior. The mandate to abandon or removed man-made water in the plan must be changed or desert wildlife is facing a disaster.
Storm damage leads to closure
of popular forest road 1N09
San Bernardino National Forest officials have closed 22 miles of popular forest service road 1N09 between Highway 330 and Seven Oaks Road in the upper Santa Ana River drainage. The closure began Wednesday this past week. This the same route closed last year for long overdue repairs.
The route is likely to be closed throughout the summer while work on the washouts, sink holes, mud and rock slides, sloughing roadsides, and fallen trees is remedied. This will block access to popular fishing spots along the Santa Ana River below Seven Oaks and Bear Creek below Big Bear Lake Dam. It will also block access to Manzanita Flat and Keller Cliffs which are popular hiking areas.
“Repairing 1N09 is a priority project for the forest,” said Mike Nobles, the forest’s Deputy Fire Chief. “Not only is it a key road for suppression during a wildfire, but it’s very popular with the recreating public. Work has already begun to address the numerous issues along the artery.”
In addition to his role as the forest’s deputy fire chief, Nobles has been appointed as the incident commander for an incident response team to address storm damage throughout the forest. More road closures are expected in the coming weeks as the damage is assessed. For more information, call the Front Country Ranger District at 909-382-2851.
Wildlife Conservation Board
provides funding for acquisition
of 1,415 acres near Lake Isabella
Through two grants, the Wildlife Conservation Board has given The Trust for Public Land (TPL) $1.3 million to acquire 1,400 acres of land to protect wildlife and natural resources in Kern County near Lake Isabella. Most public uses, including hunting, will be excluded.
The property is being purchased to increase the protection of threatened and endangered species, preservation of desert springs with year-round surface water and a riparian corridor, and secondarily provide minimal public use opportunities, with limited education and interpretation programs offered by the land’s new caretakers, the Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT).
The property purchased includes 14 parcels divided into eight different clusters. The general area is bounded by Lake Isabella and State Routes 178 and 14 to the north, State Route 58 to the west and south, and State Route 14 to the east. The 1,400 acres are primarily surrounded by vacant Bureau of Land Management land.
Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 909-887-3444.