When planning campus expansion, Copper Mountain College (CMC) recognized its responsibility as an environmental steward of the Mojave Desert ecosystem, and implemented a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in 2006. The HCP was designed to protect native species and habitat during campus expansion, and has been cited as a model of responsible development. The HCP designated an 85 acre translocation area to protect the tortoises removed from potential harm in the campus construction areas, and to serve as a permanent tortoise preserve.
CMC continuously monitors the preserve to determine effects of predators and human activities on both native and translocated tortoises. These comprehensive monitoring efforts include ecological surveys of population growth, survival and reproduction, as well as the health status of individual tortoises. The tortoise preserve provides an excellent natural laboratory for students to gain research experience in environmental science, act locally to help protect a threatened species, and think globally about environmental issues.
CMC minimizes human activities which could harm desert tortoises or their habitat by providing a Tortoise Awareness Program. This program educates visitors, students, contractors, employees, teachers, construction workers and the community about what to do if they encounter a tortoise. By law, anyone who has access to campus construction areas must receive this training. CMC utilizes orange hardhat decals and rear view mirror hangers to identify construction personnel who have had such training and are authorized to work in the area.
CMC’s Desert Studies Club and Committee provide outreach education for the local community, including programs in desert tortoise conservation at local environmental events, community education classes, and an online “Sponsor A Tortoise” webpage at the CMC website, and an academic seminar in desert tortoise survey techniques.