Mo­tor­coach Lots for Sale

Snowbirds & RV Travelers - - California -

In a beau­ti­ful set­ting with a panoramic view of the Santa Rosa moun­tain range, this mo­tor­coach re­sort of­fers the ul­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence. All of the qual­ity fea­tures de­vel­oped in over 20 pre­vi­ous Out­door Re­sorts lo­ca­tions are in­cluded. There are 400 beau­ti­ful lots in­clud­ing 136 on a nav­i­ga­ble waterway.

ex­ur­ban sprawl, over­graz­ing by live­stock, poach­ing, in­va­sive plants, de­vel­op­ment of high­ways and dirt roads, and ex­pand­ing use of off-road recre­ational ve­hi­cles. The degra­da­tion and frag­men­ta­tion of habi­tat cre­ate bar­ri­ers for the slow­mov­ing tor­toise in its search for food and wa­ter and also bring dan­ger from mo­torists and off-road­ers. Eggs of the un­born are some­times tram­pled. Also, the lives of many are cut short by an up­per-res­pi­ra­tory disease, pos­si­bly in­tro­duced into the desert by sick pet tor­toises that were turned loose by their own­ers.

Tor­toise num­bers have di­min­ished by as much as 90 per­cent in some ar­eas of the Mojave, ac­cord­ing to Hugh­son. In Au­gust 1989, the Cal­i­for­nia Fish and Game Com­mis­sion listed the desert tor­toise (Go­pherus agas­sizii) as a threat­ened species un­der the U.S. En­dan­gered Species Act of 1973. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fol­lowed suit with fed­eral pro­tec­tion in 1991. The Pre­serve was cre­ated in 1994 un­der the Cal­i­for­nia Desert Pro­tec­tion Act, fed­eral leg­is­la­tion that was in­tended to pro­tect re­main­ing Cal­i­for­nia desert wild lands.

The act called for large-scale man­age­ment of the Mojave biore­gion west of the Col­orado River in con­junc­tion with Joshua Tree and Death Val­ley na­tional parks, as well as the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment (BLM). Also in 1994, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service com­pleted its Desert Tor­toise Re­cov­ery Plan, an­other mile­stone in large-scale ecosys­tem plan­ning. The plan re­quired the Na­tional Park Service and BLM to work to­gether in plan­ning for the re­cov­ery of the threat­ened species. In the sum­mer of 1996, Moly­corp Inc. (not the com­pany that cur­rently goes by that name), op­er­ated an open-pit mine and chem­i­cal-pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity be­tween Clark Moun­tain and In­ter­state 15 near the Pre­serve. The com­pany in­curred fed­eral, state, and county li­a­bil­i­ties af­ter a waste­water pipe­line rup­tured at the site, spilling 350,000 gal­lons of wa­ter con­tam­i­nated with haz­ardous heavy met­als and low-level ra­dioac­tive waste. The spill rep­re­sented up to 100 times ac­cept­able lev­els, ac­cord­ing to Eric C. Nys­trom in his ad­min­is­tra­tive his­tory of the early years of the Pre­serve. The cleanup cost the min­ing com­pany $3.6 mil­lion. It also di­verted Pre­serve staff from their reg­u­lar du­ties to in­stall 6.4 km (4 mi) of fenc­ing to keep tor­toises away from the ground that was pol­luted with toxic waste.

By the late 1990s, Chevron Corp. had ac­quired UNOCAL, Moly­corp’s owner since 1977, and with that pur­chase came the li­a­bil­i­ties for Moly­corp’s spill. Chevron and its sub­sidiary, Chevron En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Co., now had to deal with the legacy of the spill. Or­di­nar­ily, un­der the En­dan­gered Species Act, com­pen­sa­tion paid to a fed­eral agency for dam­ages to habi­tat would be set­tled with the pur­chase and dona­tion of se­lected land parcels. In­stead, an idea arose for con­struc­tion of a seven-acre re­search fa­cil­ity in the Pre­serve to help the pop­u­la­tion re­cover us­ing preda­tor-proof hold­ing pens for young tor­toises.

The fa­cil­ity is used to con­duct ex­per­i­ments to sup­port the re­cov­ery work, in­clud­ing a study that would help iden­tify habi­tat pref­er­ences. In th­ese ex­per­i­ments, re­searchers at­tach tiny ra­dio trans­mit­ters to tor­toises that are then re­leased and tracked. Pre­vi­ous stud­ies dis­cov­ered their at­trac­tion to the shoul­ders of Pre­serve road­ways, where runoff af­ter rains pro­vides drink­ing wa­ter and lusher veg­e­ta­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, this can lead to deadly im­pacts with pass­ing au­to­mo­biles.

The new re­search will arm re­searchers with ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about tor­toise be­hav­ior that en­dan­gers their sur­vival. Re­searchers hope that the ben­e­fits of nur­tur­ing and study­ing this new gen­er­a­tion of tor­toise will have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact. “The idea is to aug­ment the nat­u­ral pop­u­la­tion in the wild,” Hugh­son says. “The baby tor­toises are pro­tected from preda­tors in reg­u­lated pens, seg­re­gated by age.”

Most have min­i­mal in­ter­ac­tions with the re­searchers to main­tain their fear of hu­mans—also nec­es­sary for their sur­vival. The project is in­tended to con­tinue in­def­i­nitely, ad­dress­ing new tor­toise man­age­ment is­sues as they arise.

“It’s not just for the Pre­serve and other parks ad­min­is­tered by the Park Service, but for tor­toises found on BLM lands and in Fish and Wildlife re­serves, too,” she said. “It’s for the re­cov­ery of the species.”

Tor­toise of the Mojave

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