Residents may have noticed one or two human-made structures amidst the wilderness at East Walker Ranch, but it’s for a beneficial cause that has shown to be successful since its installment two weeks ago.
After looking over some suggested Eagle Scout project options, Valencia High School student Alex Fetzer, 14, decided to help the local wildlife.
“I teamed up with the city of Santa Clarita, and a member of the city showed me a sight where I could help,” he said.
In two locations at the East Walker Ranch, 140-acre open space adjacent to Placerita Canyon Park and operated by the city, Fetzer decided to build wildlife guzzlers.
These structures are usually placed in natural environments to help the wildlife have access to drinking water, especially in areas that are often dry. A wildlife water guzzler is often installed where animals frequently travel, for both predators and prey alike.
“These are really helpful in the Santa Clarita Valley because it helps keep the wildlife away from neighborhoods,” said Fetzer. “They can’t find water, and so they wander into people’s pools, and this helps give them a designated area.”
The 14-year-old received help from a handful of local volunteers. The two-week process, which began Oct. 13, consisted of digging, setting up a self-filling pond through a potable water source and the second with a rain collector, and clearing nearby roads of rocks to frame the guzzlers.
“Small rocks and gravel were used to help keep the guzzler and water in place, which is recommended during a fire so it won’t burn easily,” said Fetzer.
Though not the first water guzzler installments in the SCV, Fetzer said others had shown to be less effective through time as some were found infested with bees and wasps. Using smaller rocks will help prevent this from happening at East Walker Ranch.
The installments have since shown to work, he said.
“The week after we finished the work we saw a lot of birds and lizards, and even coyote tracks around there,” the Valencia High student said. “You could tell it had an immediate effect.”
In a Facebook post congratulating Fetzer for his work, the city shared photos of bears and mountain lions that have been photographed, depicting “the type of wildlife that are residents to East Walker Ranch and who will be using the new water supply!”