Desert tortoises need to move—and often cross roads—to find food, to reach water, to find mates, and for other activities essential for survival. Unfortunately, this threatened species is being struck and killed by the thousands each year by motorists in the southwestern US, and their population numbers continue to decline. The Center for Large Landscape Conservation is working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and other public and private partners with the goal of providing safe passage for these animals across roads.
The following reports were produced by staff members from the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, Western Transportation Institute, ARC Solutions, and USFWS under the guidance of the Desert Tortoise Transportation Ecology Task Force. Formed in 2021, the interdisciplinary Task Force was made up of a voluntary group of representatives from a variety of agencies and organizations to identify challenges and opportunities for Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) conservation and recovery. The group aimed to establish standard policies and practices that can be implemented consistently across the desert tortoise’s four-state range, to minimize tortoise deaths along roadways.
Read about the threats the Mojave desert tortoise is facing in the Southwest, and some of the challenges in working to protect them.
Video: The Road to Recovery
The Center for Large Landscape Conservation and USFWS partnered with Clark County Nevada’s Desert Conservation Program and University of Nevada-Las Vegas film students to create The Road to Recovery, a short documentary chronicling Mojave Desert Tortoise transportation ecology issues.
Banner photo: Mojave desert tortoise crossing the road in Joshua Tree National Park – NPS/Brad Sutton. Small photo: Desert tortoise – USFWS