Last year, the Dollar Ridge Fire in Ashley National Forest burned over 100 square miles of land in Utah, including several state wildlife management areas, destroying several guzzlers that help supply water for wildlife during the dry season.
On June 11, at the Wildcat Wilderness management area off US highway 40 in Duchesne County, a helicopter landed with a new guzzler to replace one destroyed by the 2018 Dollar Ridge fire. It was one of the 7 guzzlers installed by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources last week.
Guzzlers are structures that store water for wildlife, which can be essential during the dry, hot months of summer.
“They are important in Utah because we are such a dry state," said Pat Rainbolt, who has been a habitat biologist with the UDWR for 11 years. "We use these guzzlers to supplement different water sources throughout the state and create new water sources in areas where there is quality habitat, but we are just lacking in water for wildlife use.”
Rainbolt said guzzlers provide water for all kinds of animals - large animals like deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and small animals like birds, coyotes and mountain lions. There are around 900 guzzlers throughout Utah and Rainbolt said they can last about 30 years out in the backcountry – if not destroyed by a fire. Because of their size, materials for guzzlers must be flown into the backcountry sites for assembly by helicopter.
“What they are is about a 12 foot by 16 foot plastic tank and they have one exposed opening to minimize evaporation of the water that they catch. We build a 12 foot by 40 ft apron which is very similar to the roof of your house and that funnels addition water in the tank,” Rainbolt said.
Once the materials are delivered to the site, UDWR staff and volunteers travel by foot or horse to assemble the guzzler.