Figure 1. Historical Winsor Castle and one of two ponds at Pipe Spring National Monument where the bat surveys and interpretive activities took place.
Water plays the starring role in the history of Pipe Spring National Monument in northern Arizona. The natural springs that emerge here are one of the few stable water sources in an arid strip of desert sandwiched between Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks. Wildlife, prehistoric people, Paiute Indians, Mormon pioneers, and national park visitors have all used this oasis as a life-sustaining rest area. Here the Sevier fault routes groundwater from an adjacent aquifer to the surface, where three springs emerge from the sandstone.
Mormon pioneers developed the springs around 1880, catching the water in basins or ponds and diverting it for irrigation and for cattle and sheep. They also constructed a fortress-like structure directly over the main spring. Known as Winsor Castle (fig. 1, above), this historical building is symbolic of the struggle over water rights that ensued and is a central feature in the story of Pipe Spring National Monument.
The ponds continue to provide a constant supply of water for livestock and irrigation for the gardens and fruit trees that reflect the park’s rich history. These open water sources also benefit local wildlife. At least 21 species of squirrels, rats, shrews, and mice are present in the area, all of which are food sources for coyotes, bobcats, badgers, and foxes (Bogan and Haymond 2001). Red-tailed hawks and great horned owls also spend time in the trees surrounding the ponds in hopes of gaining an easy meal. Additionally, bats rely on the ponds as a place to hunt insects.
Taylor, J. R., A. Bornemeier, A. Alfen, and C. Jack. 2013. Bat research and interpretive programming: Increasing public interest in Pipe Spring National Monument. Park Science 30(1):14–19.
Available at http://www.nature.nps.gov/ParkScience/archive/PDF/Article_PDFs/ParkScience30(1)Summer2013_14-19_Taylor_et_al_3648.pdf.