The local chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Mogollon Sporting Association are joining with several other conservation organizations and the Arizona Department of Game and Fish to provide water for elk and other wildlife during the drought that is gripping the state.
According to veterinarian Drew Justice, president of the local Rocky Mountain chapter, more acute areas of the state will be addressed first.
"We haven't started hauling locally yet, but they started up in unit 9 (the Tusayan/Grand Canyon area) where it's more severe on Tuesday," Justice said. "It'll probably be mid-June to July 1 before they get here."
Water trucks driven by private contractors and state employees will be deployed. Their mission is to keep drinkers, water tanks and other catching devices filled.
The participation of other groups and individuals is encouraged to help offset the cost of the water-hauling program, which is estimated at $47,000.
"The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation approached Arizona Game and Fish with the water-hauling idea, and we kicked in the first $10,000," state chairman Dan Hunter said. "Since then, we've added another $12,000."
Hunter has been working with the state agency to devise and implement the water-hauling plan. The state has been divided into regions with participating groups covering the cost of the program in their respective geographic areas.
In addition to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Mogollon Sporting Association, participating groups include the National Wild Turkey Federation, Mule Deer Foundation, Arizona Elk Society, Arizona Mule Deer Association, Arizona Bowhunters Association, Yuma Valley Rod & Gun Club, Arizona Antelope Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Council.
Justice said the money donated by the local groups is enough to get the program started.
"That should get us through to the monsoon season, but if we don't get rain we may have to do a major fund-raising job down the road," Justice said.
Groups or individuals interested in joining the effort can reach Hunter at (623) 582-2217 or by e-mail at DHunterSCO@ aol.com.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has conserved or enhanced more than 3.3 million acres of habitat for elk and other wildlife nationwide. The organization has 138,000 members.
The Mogollon Sporting Association is an organization with about 25 active members.
"We are a non-profit group that got together exactly 10 years ago, and we raise money to help the schools and the wildlife," President Jack Koon said. "Half of our money goes to youth and half to wildlife."
Koon said the MSA has earmarked $7,500 for the local effort.