Natural water exists in all wildlife environments. However, supplemental water is provided when the owner actively provides water in addition to the natural sources. This category of wildlife management activity includes providing supplemental water in habitats where water is limited or redesigning water sources to increase its availability to wildlife. For the purposed of wildlife valuation, wildlife water developments are in addition to those sources already available to livestock and may require protection from livestock. Some examples of recommended practices include:
- marsh or wetland restoration or development
- managing well, trough and windmill overflow
- spring development and/or improvements
Marsh or wetland restoration or development can provide supplemental water in the form of shallow wetlands for wetland-dependent wildlife, even in areas where inadequate water does not limit wildlife. Owners may include seasonally available water such as:
- greentree reservoirs
- specific shallow roost pond development
- seasonally flooded crops and other areas
- moist soil management
- cienega (desert marsh) restoration, development and protection
- maintaining water in playa lakes
Based on the wildlife’s needs and the suitability of the property, managing water levels annually is desirable. To be effective, a minimum of at least one marsh/wetland should be restored or developed every five years.
Managing well, trough and windmill overflow can provide supplemental water for wildlife and provide habitat for wetland plants. Owners also may drill wells if necessary and/or build pipelines to distribute water. Building devices—known as wildlife water guzzlers—to collect rainfall and/or runoff for wildlife in areas where water is limited also helps protect wildlife, but these devices must be a part of an overall habitat management program.
Spring development and/or improvements can be designed to protect the immediate area surrounding a spring. Excluding and/or controlling livestock around springs may help to maintain native plants and animal diversity. Other ways to protect areas include moving water through a pipe to a low trough or a shallow wildlife water overflow, making water available to livestock and wildlife while preventing degradation of the spring area from trampling.
Improvements also could include restoring a degraded spring by selectively removing appropriate brush and revegetating the area with plants and maintaining the restored spring as a source of wildlife water. Maintaining critical habitat, nesting and roosting areas for wildlife and preventing soil erosion must be considered when planning and implementing brush removal. This practice should be planned and implemented gradually and selectively over a period of time.