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Guzzlers provide precious water

Guzzlers collect and store rain and snow

Duchesne — Three new guzzlers in northeastern Utah are helping wildlife find water during this severe drought.

Deer are among the wildlife that drink from guzzlers

Deer are among the wildlife that drink from guzzlers.

Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Alex Hansen, a habitat biologist for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says DWR biologists installed two new guzzlers in Slab Canyon and one in Avintaquin. "The guzzlers went in just before some recent showers," he says, "so they're already holding some water in an area that's very dry."

The DWR used oil and gas mitigation funds derived from wells on DWR lands in Rabbit Gulch, Lake Canyon and Skitzy Ridge. The mitigation funds help offset the impact drilling has on wildlife and wildlife habitat. The DWR uses the funds to repair and improve wildlife habitat and watersheds. Through this partnership, Hansen says DWR biologists have completed numerous projects that will benefit wildlife in the Uintah Basin.

"The Bill Barrett Corporation, Berry Petroleum and El Paso contributed the mitigation funds," Hansen says. "We used the funds to buy materials for the 8-foot by 16-foot guzzler tanks and the additional 12-foot by 20-foot catchment structures that catch the water and provide it to the tanks."

Hansen says the funds also paid for a helicopter to lift the tank and all of the materials, supplies and DWR personnel needed to build the guzzlers into the remote, inaccessible sites where the guzzlers were placed.

A guzzler's catchment structure captures water from rain and snow, which then flows down into the guzzler's holding tank. The tank stores the water and also allows wildlife access to the water in a corner of the tank known as the drinker.

By both catching and retaining water, this simple structure works extremely well in drier regions that are prone to short—yet vigorous—rainfall.

Hansen says a wide variety of wildlife should use the new guzzlers. "We plan to see deer, elk, bear, cougars, a number of birds, small mammals and other species using the guzzlers," he says. "This has been a great partnership."

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