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Know the West

Wildlife Saloon


In arid areas where streams run only during the spring or during storms, deer, elk and bighorn sheep can have a hard time finding a drink. Now, an artificial water hole called the "Wildlife Saloon" lets animals drink their fill.

On the surface, all you can see is a small, mostly buried stock tank. The heart of the system lies beneath the ephemeral stream channels near which the saloons are built.

It consists of a narrow, long underground reservoir, filled with gravel, and lined above and below to keep water from seeping into the ground or evaporating into the desert air.

Rain and runoff periodically fill the reservoirs, which then meter out the stored water into a valve-controlled water hole. The Pueblo of Santa Ana in New Mexico recently installed a 30,000-gallon system; construction costs for the reservoirs range from $1.50 to $2 per gallon of storage capacity.

For information, call Wildlife Saloon, operated by geologist Greg Hunt of Cedaredge, Colo., at 970/856-9478, or check www.wildlifesaloon.com.