29 Palms scouting – Round 3
This was SCBS’s third scouting mission to survey desert bighorn sheep use and the possibility of water enhancements within the 29 Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. Carlos Gallinger, Glenn Sudmeier and Steve Marschke spent 4 days exploring 3 training zones of the base. We were successful in locating sheep sign in a few previously unexplored canyons. While we did find desert bighorn sheep sign, after having seen much more of the region we felt that the areas visited in an earlier trip were better habitat. We attempted to reach one previously selected water development site by 4x4 and we were successful. Yea! This means no helicopter work would be necessary for what was designated ‘Rainbow 1.’ While we were there we staked and remarked our proposed site so that the base personnel could find it and make the required assessments under the NEPA rules. Carlos took the evening off and Glenn and Steve hiked cross-country through TOW missile training zones (watch out for the wires!) to reach our previously selected site of Rainbow 4. We felt that we would prefer something a bit farther from the impact zone and, if possible, accessible by 4x4. We wandered around discussing options and finally settled on Rainbow 5 site. We marked and staked it and headed back to the vehicles. We reached Carlos just before dark.
We continued the next day and explored the northeast portion of the Lavic Lake training zone and didn’t find much vegetation and only a little bit of sign at the far extremes. Perhaps in better years this region could be great habitat but not right now. We returned to the Argos Pass zone and explored for something between our previous Sunshine Peak and Argos Mtn systems. The logic is that we could strongly bolster the survivability of the bighorn by placing another water development in relatively close proximity. We the difficulty of base access and fitting in with the training schedules, a semi-redundant water source would be like an insurance plan. Glenn and I headed up into a side canyon and wer enot impressed until we got fairly far along. Then we started finding sheep pellets. A bit farther and we found a high level spot at a wash junction that had hosted a prospector camp, crucibles and tent anchors with baling were still in place We decided that this location would be relatively easy for construction and was very close to midway between the existing systems. Also, although down off the mountain proper, it was securely in the foothills and suitable for bighorn.