Old Dad Rebuild
SCBS, DFW and NPS cooperated for our first ever complete rebuild of a water development within the Mojave National Preserve.
The Old Dad Peak development was originally installed in 1975 and in the early 1990’s the tanks were replaced after one developed a crack and a Bighorn sheep fell in and died, thereby poisoning several additional sheep. A similar crack was discovered in 2015 and one of the tank outlet flanges was also cracked and leaking, wasting the water that had been collected.
Since taking over land management in 1994, the NPS regulations had made permits for repair of this system difficult to obtain. After working over 10 years, the NPS finally released their Water management plan which included maintaining this system (other systems did not fair as well.)
After numerous attempts to obtain permission to repair using a variety of designs, our own Scott Gibson and Paige Prentice from DFW managed to get approval from the NPS. NPS paid for the materials, DFW used their helicopter contract to fly in the materials, and SCBS provided the volunteer labor. The project notice was cross posted on the internet and several members of the Explorers of the Mojave Desert Facebook page joined for their first experience with a wildlife water development.
One team of the crew installed 3 new tanks, plumbed the manifold between them and installed a new drinker box. Another team installed a new 4 inch collection pipe with heavy duty bolted flanges. The supports for the collection pipe were repurposed from the original 2 inch collection system. Meanwhile, a DFW crew was handling water drops from the helicopter to fill the new tanks.
The volunteers had to hike up and down each day of the project for 4 days in a row. This is probably one of our most difficult sites to access and although the hike is only 1.5 miles, it is an unmaintained trail that has over 1000 feet of elevation gain and traverses narrow ledges and rocky chutes with large drop offs.
Bob Keeran and his son-in-law John Maley set up an elaborate camp kitchen and cooked for the entire crew for 4 days. The food was excellent and relieved our foot weary hikers from that task, we are all looking forward to the next project.
2019 Water Haul - Old Dad
Many thanks to all of you that participated. After many years of hauling water only by trucks, the DFW arranged for a helicopter to transport water to Old Peak BGG. It did not receive any rain this year and was dry. At the same project, trucks were scheduled to move water to Kerr BGG through the typical process. Scott Gibson did some investigational shopping and found a surplus water bladder (called a ‘pumpkin’) so that we could have 2 at the project site for better efficiency. The NPS came participated with personnel, water from their maintenance yard in Baker, and transportation of water with their 4,000 gallon truck to helicopter camp. The water was put into the pumpkins from the big truck. Shasta Air, still under contract with DFW did the sling work, dipping from the pumpkin, then flying to Old Dad and dropping the water into the collection dam. Our own John Voght and John Roy kept the helicopter pumpkin filled with the backup pumpkin. The truck crews filled from the backup pumpkin, thus staying out of the way of the helicopter. DFW crew hiked up to Old Dad to manage the valves and observe the water drop. I wasn’t able to attend, so I apologize in advance if I mixed up any details.
The good news is that about 4,000 gallons made it into Old Dad and Kerr was filled from 2 feet to the top. The bad news is that Old Dad is still leaking from the crack in Tank 3 AND we have discovered that the valve doesn’t completely shut off so we are losing something around 25 gallons a day. Efforts are under way as I write this to stop the leak and conserve the expensive water.
New Guzzler - Creosote
We did it again! In January 2019, SCBS and the Marine Corps cooperated to construct the 9th water development within 29 Palms Marine Corp Ground Combat Center. This is the 7th Raincatcher style system within in the base. The Raincatcher system has been designed entirely by SCBS to maximize collection efficiency and minimize maintenance. We hired Diversified Equipment to dig the hole for the 2 tanks saving our backs and allowing our volunteers to concentrate on laying the rainmat and fitting the plumbing. Many thanks for Rodger Lopez and his son Steven for cooking for the entire crew. Red got stuck in the sand trying to haul a full load of the rainmats, all the tools, and the tank trailer. Joe Priess and John Nelson came to the rescue and took over the tank trailer relieving Big Red of that burden. Otherwise the project was completed without a hitch. George Sutton, John Maney and Kathleen Daugherty headed up the satellite monitor installation crew so that we can monitor the rainfall and water levels remotely. Overall we had 56 volunteers from SCBS, WSF, and a local Boy Scout troop plus nearly the entire crew of the Natural Resources department (led by Major Tran) from the base including several conservation law enforcement officers. They used their military duty “razor” UTV to move the rainmats from Big Red up the embankment for us. 500 pounds on the tailgate – no problem!
We timed this installation just right, within 10 days we had already collected over 1 foot of water by the June 1 the system was full. Funding was provided by SCBS, WSF and DFW.