News.bytesSPOTLIGHT ON PARTNERS
An occasional feature of BLM California's News.bytes

Desert Wildlife Unlimited

Survival in the desert, particularly for wildlife such as bighorn sheep, often depends on the availability of water. In the California Desert, wildlife have strong advocate in one of BLM’s longest-term partners, Desert Wildlife Unlimited (DWU).

A desert bighorn approaches a guzzler in the desert

DWU was formed in 1979 by local sportsmen concerned about wildlife mortality occurring in the Coachella Canal in Imperial County as deer slipped into the newly-lined channel seeking scarce water. Led by Brawley resident Leon Lesicka, this volunteer sportsman corps decided to begin installing permanent, accessible water sources where needed throughout the Desert to stabilize or enhance wildlife populations.

two desert bighorns at another guzzler

Often this water is needed on public lands, and BLM, along with the CA Department of Fish and Game, with guidance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, works closely with DWU volunteers to site and authorize construction of these wildlife “guzzlers” in key locations where appropriate. Care is taken to ensure sensitive habitats are avoided and immediate restoration undertaken where work occurs. Innovative water systems requiring very little maintenance and providing water for up to three years or more without rain with normal use are becoming the standard.

Often called “drinkers,” these water sources consist of a large tank, either buried or camouflaged with steps attached. All labor is donated and funding comes from a variety of sources, including the California Department of Fish & Game and private groups.

Volunteers prepare a guzzler...
workers prepare a guzzler

...which will blend into the desert like this one:
A

Leon Lesicka of Desert Wildlife Unlimited, directs a group inspecting the results of one installation.
Leon Lesicka of Desert Wildlife Unlimited, directs a group inspecting the results of one installation.

Desert Wildlife Unlimited website

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BLM California News.bytes, issue 264