When planning the 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.
About the Habitat Conservation Plan
The HCP designated an 85-acre translocation area to protect the tortoises removed from the campus construction areas from potential harm. It serves as a permanent tortoise preserve and has been cited as a model of responsible development.
CMC continuously monitors the preserve to determine the effects of predators and human activity 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 provides conservation information to the public through community outreach events, a “Sponsor A Tortoise” page on the CMC website, and a “Desert Tortoise Conservation Biology” class co-sponsored by the Desert Institute of Joshua Tree National Park.
National Geographic’s “The Tortoise and the Solar Plant” (Copper Mountain College’s Tortoise Preserve was used in this video)
Meet the Tortoises of CMC
Between September 16, 2008 and October 9, 2008, there were 14-16 tortoises observed on the Copper Mountain College property. Seven of the 16 tortoises were marked, including five tortoises that were moved from the impact area to the translocation area.
Meet some of the CMC tortoises that have been marked and named.
The tortoise population in the Translocation Area at Copper Mountain College is monitored closely to determine the effects of construction and other activities. The comprehensive monitoring efforts entail ecological surveys of tortoise population growth, survival, and reproduction, as well as the health status of individual tortoises.
Reports relating to these matters can be found here, and if you have any questions relating to these matters you can contact Biologist Dr. Paul Delaney at 760.366.3791, ext. 0257
- California Turtle & Tortoise Club Turtle & Tortoise Rescue & Adoption
- A Society Dedicated to Turtle & Tortoise Preservation, Conservation, and Education Since 1964
- United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Desert Tortoise Recovery Office
- California Department of Fish and Game, endangered reptile species page
- Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee and Desert Tortoise Natural Area
- Bureau of Land Management
- The Desert Tortoise Council answers common questions about desert tortoises
- A publication by the U.S. Geological Survey, “Threats to Desert Tortoise Populations: A Critical Review of the Literature”
- A desert tortoise data and information portal sponsored by the Mojave Desert Ecosystem Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the University of Redlands, and the Desert Managers Group
- The Mojave Desert Ecosystem Program
- The Mojave Desert Land Trust