Custer, SD. – What began as an idea in 2012 to improve water availability for cattle and wildlife on Elk Mountain, located along the Wyoming and South Dakota state line near Newcastle, WY, has finally become a reality. Hell Canyon Ranger District on the Black Hills National Forest and numerous partners completed the Elk Mountain Water project over the last two days by installing the final two wildlife water guzzlers.
Wildlife water guzzlers collect rain and snow, year round, to provide a source of water for wildlife.
An extensive pipeline system now supplies clean water across the 23,500 acre allotment to stock tanks and wildlife water guzzlers. This project will improve grazing distribution for livestock and big game animals and provide water for all wildlife species to encourage their occupancy on public lands.
“The project consists of approximately 13 miles of pipeline, 21 stock tanks, 4 wildlife guzzlers, 9 storage tanks and 3 water source locations,” said Justin McConkey, Range Management Specialist on the Hell Canyon Ranger District. “The project has truly been a collaborative effort and would not have been possible without the hard work of local ranchers, wildlife organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mid-West Sheep Foundation, Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, Water for Wildlife Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License (Bighorn Sheep Coalition), South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Forest Service.”
Funding for the materials was provided by wildlife organizations as well as South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Project clearance, design and labor expenses were paid for by the USFS and grazing permittees.
“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provides funds for these excellent projects that provide land protection and access, enhance habitat, and provide for hunting heritage,” said Mason Cooper, Regional Director, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “We are thankful for having the opportunity to have assisted in the project on Elk Mountain.”
The pipeline and associated water tanks will be maintained throughout the grazing season, which generally ends around October 15. The tanks will be left full of water for wildlife use.