First Phase of 37B Ninety-Six Hills Project

Dedicated Sportsmen Complete Phase One of 37B’s Ninety-six Hills Water Development Project

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During the weekends of March 14 and April 4, 2010, interested volunteers and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) constructed Coyote Peak and Rock Tank catchments, the first two of seven proposed water developments in the 96 Hills, located between Florence and Tucson, in Game Management Unit 37B.

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The 96 Hills represents some of the best mule deer and javelina habitat in the unit.  It has remained relatively ungrazed for over 10 years due to a lack of water.  Water is extremely scarce throughout the range and is only present in earthen stock tanks after a heavy monsoon period and during wet winter and early spring months which seldom lasts into May.  Jojoba, a critical browse species for mule deer, which comprises from 40-70% of their annual diet, and up to 90% during a drought period, is abundant throughout the 96 Hills but is underutilized due to a lack of nearby water.

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The installation of seven new water catchments strategically located throughout the range will enable mule deer to take advantage of forage resources currently unavailable due to lack of nearby water.  The project will be completed in a series of four phases, installing two to three catchments per year, pending funding and volunteer availability.  The 10,000+ gallon systems are either Xerxes, PVC or apron/ring tank systems.  Each system will utilize either an R-panel collection apron or a drainage collection point or a combination of the two.  Wildlife friendly fences will be installed around each of the developments to exclude livestock.

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These projects would not have been possible without the help of dedicated sportsmen from around the state. The following people deserve recognition and a kudos for their efforts: Jason Saline, Tom Joiner, Scott Henderson, Thomas Gulino, Bret Snelgrove, Olympia Snelgrove, Tate Snelgrove, Tracy Boorn Jr., Angela Guzman, Mike Wiemann, Wesley Stark, Zachary Haws, Jeremy Selting, RJ Vega, Amanda Moors, Dave Brochu, Larry Audsley, Travis Scott, Ken Miller, Steve Cheuvront, Matthew Christ, Kevan Williams, Stephen David, and Matt Padilla. As I said above, without you guys this would not have been possible. I greatly appreciate your help. The Arizona Deer Association, CouesWhitetail.com, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation were all represented by some volunteers. Thanks Steve Cheuvront for cooking excellent meals and providing us with tome great campfire humor.  I also wish to thank the following AGFD Development personnel who worked on the project: Paul Puckett, Kevin Clarke, Jason Dennerline, Ed Jahrke, and Joe Currie.  Your efforts are much appreciated and are too often unrecognized.

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Also, thanks to the Arizona Deer Association (ADA) and the Arizona Chapter of Safari Club International (AZSCI), we were able to use our new 1000 gallon water trailer on these projects.  The ADA and AZSCI used banquet funds to purchase this much needed piece of equipment.  This will save the AGFD a great deal of time and money in water hauling expenses.  The AGFD greatly appreciates your support for this.

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The ADA and Mule Deer Foundation recently voted to fund five upcoming projects in 37B including the second phase of the 96 Hills project.  If anyone is interested in helping with these projects, please email me at bbrochu@azgfd.gov or call at (520) 229-3222.  Thanks again to all of you that helped make a difference.

Ben Brochu  – Wildlife Manager Unit 37B