Tortoise Awareness

Tortoise Awareness

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 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) 

National Geographic News Article 

Meet the Tortoises of CMC

Between September 16, 2008 and October 9, 2008 there were between 14 and 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.

Below you can meet some of the CMC tortoises who have been marked and named.

Tortoise Documentation

CMC Tortoise Preserve Sign

The tortoise population in the Translocation Area at Copper Mountain College are monitored closely to determine 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 tortoise.

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.

Training Documentation