Desert Managers Seek OHV Funds For Tortoise Conservation

In partnership with the National Park Service, the Desert Managers Group has applied for a grant from California State Parks Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Commission. The grant would be used for education and safety messages focusing on conservation of the threatened desert tortoise.

Many of the designated OHV areas and routes in the California deserts are within desert tortoise habitat. The Mojave population of the desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, was listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) in 1989 and the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1990. Environmental education programs based on the desert tortoise were identified in the Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan (FWS 1994) as a priority recovery action. The coordinated implementation of recovery actions for the tortoise is a high priority for the Desert Managers Group.

Improper OHV recreation has been identified as a threat to the tortoise. There are, however, a variety of behavioral changes desert recreationists (OHV and non-motorized) can make that will cause a lower impact to the tortoise and other sensitive desert resources. To educate OHV recreationalists about the desert tortoise and promote low impact behavior, California OHV grant funds will be used to support a variety of desert tortoise outreach projects including:

  • Attendance at OHV and community events in Southern California to create desert tortoise awareness. Volunteers will distribute safety information, brochures, and a variety of promotional items.
  • A media campaign will prepare and distribute print news stories, radio and television public service announcements, brochures, newsletters, and press packets.

These and other desert tortoise outreach projects will continue with the support of the OHV Commission grant. You may download a copy of the grant application in pdf format here or pick up a copy at Joshua Tree National Park Headquarters, located at 74485 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms, California.

For Desert Managers Group information, go to

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