Conservationists Gain Vital Acreage for Mojave Desert Tortoise

With the combined efforts of several agencies and organizations, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources acquired nearly 53 acres of private property on the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve in southwestern Utah to protect the Mojave desert tortoise. 

The Utah Department of Natural Resources, the DWR, Washington County, and The Nature Conservancy joined forces to enable the long-time effort to complete this purchase, the DWR reported Tuesday.

“Acquiring key inholdings in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve has been a priority for many years,” said Dave Livermore, Utah State Director for The Nature Conservancy, in the statement. “The Nature Conservancy is glad to be a part of this partnership, and we salute everyone involved with this purchase. This is definitely a conservation win worth celebrating.”

This newly acquired property was one of the largest remaining parcels still in private ownership in the Reserve, according to DWR wildlife biologist Ann McLuckie. The property contains some of the highest observed densities of desert tortoises in the Reserve.

“Long-term protection of this entire parcel is vital,” McLuckie said. “The parcel supports high numbers of desert tortoise and provides quality habitat for a number of other desert species too.”

The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve was created to protect the Mojave desert tortoise habitats from development. Urbanization is the biggest threat the population faces, said McLuckie. With roughly 2,011 adults, the Reserve’s population density is much higher than populations elsewhere. 

“This purchase is the culmination of many years of effort by private, local, state, and federal partners to find a solution to protect this critical portion of the Reserve,” DWR Manager Rick Fridell said. “We appreciate the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in protecting the tortoises and their habitat.”

Utah residents located near the Reserve can participate in an adoption program.

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