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Oct. 25, 9a-3p. The premise is simple: Get outside and meet community groups, non-profits, government organizations, retailers, outfitters and...
Oct 25. Nevada State Museum. Historians Larry Gragg, Eugene Moehring and Michael Green hold forth on the fabled home of the Rat Pack, that...
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Run, tortoise, run!
by By Heidi Kyser | posted April 1, 2014
The Nevada desert tortoise faces contemporary foes that are apparently – given the rapid rate of their recent decline in numbers – more daunting than the meat-eating sharks and egg-poaching seabirds that have preyed on their aquatic relatives for 65 million years. For instance: cattle ranchers and solar arrays.
Adding to the fracas over Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy’s refusal to pay for, or vacate, BLM land on which his cattle graze, the Center for Biological Diversity has filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue several federal agencies if they don’t kick Bundy’s herd off the land. The reason? The cows are hogging all the grass. “As they emerge form their winter sleep,” writes an outraged Rob Mrowka, “[the tortoises] are finding their much-needed food consumed by cattle.”
As if that weren’t bad enough, the explosion of solar development in the Mojave Desert is not just driving tortoises out of the natural habitat; it’s also killing them, writes Peter Laufer for High Country News. He says the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System at the California-Nevada border has claimed “several score desert tortoises” as its victims, and that if solar development continues at its current pace, it could wipe out the venerable Gopherus agassizii.
The problem seems to be part apathy, part money. Federal funding for programs to protect the tortoise, once the poster-boy of Mojave conservation efforts, dried up along with development during the recession. The BLM’s Desert Tortoise Conservation Center is scheduled to close in December of this year “due to funding issues,” according to a statement on its website.
One bit of good news: The Las Vegas Springs Preserve is getting a tortoise habitat later this year. The planned 65-acre area may not be enough to reverse the havoc wreaked on the species by development and outdoor recreation, and it won’t be an adoption or drop-off site for wayward tortoises (for that, see the Tortoise Group). But it could, at least, provide some much-needed public awareness.
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