NPT Takes on Stewardship Role to Save Desert Tortoises in Mojave

NPT has entered into an agreement to provide interim stewardship of a new seven acre facility near Mojave National Preserve that will help save the area’s endangered desert tortoises.

The Desert Tortoise Research Facility was built by Chevron Environmental Management Corporation in 2010. Starting this past Spring, researchers from the University of Georgia and the University of California at Davis have used pens at the Facility for the safe hatching and nurturing of baby desert tortoises, and to research ways to protect them in the wild. 

Chevron built the Facility under a Special Use Permit with the National Park Service (NPS), and has agreed to turn over ownership of the Facility to NPS. However, before this can be done, NPS must comply with a variety of governmental administrative steps, including a boundary change to Mojave National Preserve so that the Facility can ultimately lie within this amazing desert Preserve’s formal boundaries.

In order to best allow the research and nurturing activities to go forward while waiting for these steps to be completed, Chevron asked NPT to take over interim stewardship of the Facility until NPS itself can do it, sometime in 2013.  

As Ray Sherbill, a lawyer and NPT Trustee who donated time to the project, explained, “NPT is a nimble and trusted partner to both government agencies and private companies and charities. We are glad we could quickly step in to fill a gap that will help protect more of these threatened tortoises and speed up the full use of this important Desert Tortoise Research Facility.”

NPT took possession last month, and is cooperating with the Universities to allow their important tortoise research activities to continue. Over 80 tortoise eggs have already been hatched. Researchers are releasing a portion of them this fall and will document their survival rate as well as challenges to their survival.

NPT’s Mojave work for the desert tortoises dovetails perfectly with NPT’s dual missions of preserving parks today, and creating  park stewards for tomorrow. As part of its efforts to preserve our parks, NPT actively promotes directing environmental mitigation activities to programs that expand parks and help save park wildlife. 

In addition, NPT stewardship of the Facility helps us to create our park stewards for tomorrow.   Researchers have agreed to help teach Buddy Bison students from under-served schools from the Las Vegas and Mojave areas about the grave threats desert tortoises face, and how we can help protect them.  

As part of those ongoing Buddy Bison programs, now in their third year in the Mojave area, NPT has provided transportation to the Preserve and additional educational programming for the students in cooperation with the supportive and wonderful NPS rangers at Mojave. These programs give students their first steps into our national parks, and their first ideas about making a lifetime goal of protecting parks and nature.

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