Bighorn sheep that roam Joshua Tree National Park in California just got a reprieve from park officials who closed a trail recently to ensure the animals have access to water. As drought continues to plague the West, animals that rely on surface water and other natural springs are in danger – and in California, that means closing the 49 Palms Trail to all tourists so bighorn sheep can get water without any issues, according to The Sacramento Bee.
“The park is under extreme drought conditions and herds in the area are increasingly reliant on the oasis spring to survive the hot summer months,” said park officials.
The trail will remain closed “until summer monsoons provide enough rainfall” to fill other water sources for the area’s hundreds of bighorn sheep, according to The Sacramento Bee.
“Water is critical to bighorn survival. In early spring of years with good winter rains they get enough water from the grass they eat to go without drinking,” said Joshua Tree officials. “At other times they must trek to a spring or water-holding depression at least every third day.”
With over 85% of the state in extreme drought, officials say that the extreme heat and drought will only get worse in Joshua Tree before it gets better.
For updates on the status of the closure, click here.