There are a number of wildlife drinkers that have been built over the years to catch water when it rains and used later in the drier times which are frequent in Arizona.
Even in the country under the Rim, it is necessary to create man-made catchments that will aid in wildlife survival during the dry months.
They are rather simple in construction and operate on gravity with a simple float adjustment to monitor the valuable resource in Arizona that we call water.
With years of use in extreme weather conditions, parts wear out or deteriorate while some have been damaged by vandalism.
David Daniels, wildlife manager for the northern half of Unit 23, made a tour of all of the catchments in his area and found eight that were not functioning and in need of repair which could entail hundreds of manpower hours to get them all working.
He initiated a plan for a combined effort of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Mogollon Sporting Association, Arizona Elk Society, the Mule Deer Foundation and many other volunteers for a weekend work project in late August.
A group of high school students from Payson Education Center were accompanied by their teacher Gayle Wade as part of the volunteer team in a working field trip of outdoor education and biology.
They were given the specific goal of repairing the most remote drinker in very rugged terrain that had been completely overgrown with brush and locust saplings created by the Rodeo-Chediski Fire.
All of the old fencing had to be taken down and replaced before the area was cleared for the mechanical improvements. By the end of the day on Sunday, it was in full operation in a newly enclosed wildlife area.
Elk, deer and other game as well as the non-game species will benefit from a newly renovated permanent water source which is well off the beaten path.
Much to the surprise of the Payson Education Center participants, was a $550 check donated to the students for a later field trip to Washington, D.C. This was presented to them by the Mogollon Sporting Association of Payson.
The MSA has generated nearly $1.5 million over the 20-plus years of this volunteer organization’s existence.
The funds that the MSA generates is used extensively in wildlife improvements as well as helping the students of this community reach their goals in education and athletics.
There are still more than 100 wildlife drinkers in need of repair in the northern half of units 22 and 23. They will hopefully be repaired as later projects with the combined effort of numerous wildlife groups, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and the Mogollon Sporting Association.
It was a day-long responsibility feeding over 50 hard-working volunteer laborers with big appetites. This was no easy task! The local MSA organization was up to the challenge and provided all the food for the weekend under the leadership of head chef Gary Barcom.
The MSA is comprised of outdoor enthusiasts, anglers and hunters who have set a goal of making a positive difference in the Rim Country. They have succeeded and yet, are always in need of more help, especially when it comes to planning the most successful banquet on the Payson calendar.
If you would like to help in any way, give Jack Koon a call at 474-1662 for more information.
This weekend enjoy an outdoor hike into the Rim Country — God’s creation.