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California desert tortoise is spared off-road ruin … for now

By Gary Bogue
Friday, January 8th, 2010 at 6:57 am in Desert Tortoises.

Tortoise photo by Flickr user Caitlyn Willows used under a Creative Commons License.
tortoise caitlyn willows

Here’s an update on the California desert tortoise and its seemingly never-ending battle to survive, from the Jan. 7, 2010, weekly e-newsletter of the Center for Biological Diversity:

Last week a judge overturned a decision to open two off-road vehicle routes imperiling threatened desert tortoises in California’s Mojave Desert.

The routes, planned for a site of critical environmental concern directly abutting the Desert Tortoise Natural Area, had been closed in 2002 to protect the tortoise — but in 2008 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management decided it would be OK to reopen both routes if it introduced an off-road education and permit program that in fact provided no education and tracked no permits.

Tortoise, photo by Beth Jackson/USFWS

Now the Bureau must close the routes again and go back to the drawing board on off-road planning for the area.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been working to protect desert tortoises since the 1990s. They have helped save the species from numerous off-road threats and millions of acres of cattle grazing, as well as recently halting a disastrous plan to relocate 1,000-plus tortoises to inferior habitat, killing hundreds of them in the process.


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