U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
|Desert Tortoise Management|
The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages millions of acres of public land across the deserts of Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. This management area includes 74 percent of the designated critical habitat for the Mojave population of the desert tortoise (4,790,600 acres of the total 6,446,200 acres designated in 1994). Since the 1970's, BLM has been actively involved in conservation of the species. The agency has designed and participated in research, restored and conserved habitat and participated in monitoring the species. Daily, BLM employees work to uphold the provisions of the Endangered Species Act by taking actions to conserve and recover the species and reduce the impact of activities BLM authorizes. Below are a few highlights:
The BLM manages the Beaver Dam Slope in Utah. This is the site of the Woodbury Desert Study Area where the original ecological study of desert tortoises was conducted by the University of Utah in the 1930's and 1940's. Thirty-five square miles of this area was designated as critical habitat in 1980 when the Utah Beaver Dam Slope population was listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The BLM in Utah is also a participant in the Washington County Habitat Conservation Plan, which includes provisions for the BLM to acquire tortoise habitat essential to the Upper Virgin River Recovery Unit to facilitate tortoise recovery.
In Nevada, BLM has set aside more than 940,000 acres as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern to conserve adequate habitat for the species. Through the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act and participation in the Clark County Habitat Conservation Plan, BLM has restored hundreds of acres of critical habitat, installed protective fencing, closed livestock grazing allotments, acquired environmentally sensitive private lands within these ACECs and designated roads. In addition, BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Nevada Department of Wildlife operate the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Las Vegas, a 222-acre facility on an 11,014-acre management area for desert tortoise and Mojave Desert research. The facility also houses the Clark County, Nevada Desert Tortoise Translocation and Holding Facility.
In 1973, the BLM began a long process to protect tortoise populations in the western Mojave Desert through establishment of the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area north of California City, California. The 38-square mile preserve was formally designated in 1980. That same year the BLM also protected another area with a nationally significant tortoise population in the southeastern Colorado Desert by establishing the Chuckwalla Bench Area of Critical Environmental Concern. In cooperation with the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee, The Nature Conservancy, and other groups, the BLM has established a very successful land acquisition program for both areas.
BLM manages the majority of the desert tortoise habitat in the Sonoran Desert in the United States, as well as the habitat upon which the listed Mojave population of desert tortoises are dependent on the Arizona Strip. Management actions on the Arizona Strip include protection of more than 166,000 acres of critical habitat in the Virgin Slope and Beaver Dam Slope Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and installation of desert tortoise protection fencing along Highway 91. Future actions include research to identify effective herbicide methods to reduce exotic grasses that degrade desert tortoise habitat quality.
The BLM manages public land for many different resources and uses other than wildlife, such as mineral exploration and development, production of energy, recreation and livestock grazing. To reduce impacts to the tortoises and their habitats, BLM closely reviews activities proposed on the public land. In some cases, special actions to protect the species and its habitat are required.
Below are some additional highlights of BLM’s activities:
|Last updated: 11-29-2008|
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