Aquatic Escape Ramp Project

A recent wildlife project was to install aquatic escape ramps in existing water troughs and water features in Region 5

Image of the project team behind a water trough with a visible excape rampFor years, ranchers have positioned water troughs across the landscape to encourage livestock dispersal and provide reliable water during critical hot dry months. Water troughs also occur in the form of wildlife guzzlers which are purposely placed on the landscape to provide water for large and small game species. Additionally, campgrounds often have water troughs to support horsemen with their stock. Collectively these water sources are an important resource for wildlife and for recreationists on our forests in a variety of habitats including rangelands and forested areas. However, a potential downside of these water developments is that small wildlife including some snakes, lizards, small mammals, and bats can accidentally fall into these water developments and are unable to escape. Thus small wildlife incur mortality and they also pollute the water source for other larger wildlife species that may be using the water.

Image of outreach materials to educate about aquatic escape rampsIt was discovered that effectively designed and installed aquatic escape ramps affixed to the troughs prevented smaller wildlife from dying when they got into the troughs but couldn't get out. The primary purpose of this project is to prevent the unnecessary drowning deaths of snakes, lizards, birds, bats and numerous other species and to provide clean, safe drinking water to livestock and wildlife. Our objective is to provide Region 5 Forests in with materials (escape ramps and associated hardware) and aquatic resource information (pamphlets produced in coordination with Bat Conservation International) to improve wildlife survival, habitat value, and water quality at structural water sources. The project will also provide an opportunity for managers to involve and educate the public and partners while installing escape ramps.

This project is aligned with Region 5 Ecological Restoration Leadership Intent to enhance terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, deliver clean water, expand and develop partnerships, increase conservation education, interpretation and volunteer programs to promote understanding and support for restoration actions and increase understanding of the value of healthy watersheds and the ecosystem services that they deliver, as described here.

Image of project team with water troughThis innovative collaboration among Dan Teater (R5 Aquatic Education Lead), Linda Angerer (R5 Bat Lead), Dan Taylor (Bat Conservation International Program Manager), Anne Yost (Regional Range Program Manager), Chrissy Howell (Regional Wildlife Program Leader) and Kary Schlick (R5 Herpetology Lead) is producing materials for distribution within Region 5 intended to assist Forests to meet multiple objectives within their Forest Land and Resource Management Plans and is in partnership with Dan Taylor (Bat Conservation International Program Manager) and Terry Riley, PhD (Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation).