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An older male desert tortoise being monitored by biologists with a locator device watches from the safety of his temporary housing under some desert foliage outside the gates of the BrightSource Ivanpah Solar construction site in area deemed safe and away from construction. This tortoise has not been relocated into the protective pens at BrightSource but is under the watchful eyes of the Bureau of Land Management and BrightSource biologists.The project, in the Mojave Desert near the Nevada state line, will have a 3,500-acre footprint with three power towers, each standing 450 feet tall encircled by a field of more than 175,00 mirrors, reflecting the power of sunlight to heat the steam generators. Biologists have been rounding up most of the endangered tortoises ahead of and during construction, placing them in pens until they can be relocated.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

A relocated desert tortoise emerges from a manmade burrow in a pen at the BrightSource Ivanpah Solar construction site.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Bureau Of Land Management biologist Larry LaPre keeps his distance from an older male desert tortoise hunkered down in temporary housing under some desert foliage outside the gates of the BrightSource Ivanpah Solar construction site.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Biologist Ileene Anderson with the Center For Biological Diversity walks past one of the desert tortoise burrows in the Ivanpah Valley.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

A relocated desert tortoise strolls in its pen at the BrightSource Ivanpah Solar construction site.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

"Geo" E. Keyes Jr. takes a break from his daily task of watching over the tortoise pens at BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah solar power plant construction site.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Bureau of Land Management biologist Larry LaPre, left, and and BrightSource biologist "Geo" E. Keyes Jr. check on the tortoise population in the pens at the BrightSource Ivanpah Solar construction site.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

A BrightSource biologist walks the fence at the BrightSource Ivanpah Solar construction site looking for any desert tortoises that might have to be moved.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

BrightSource biologist "Geo" E. Keyes Jr., checks on the tortoise population in the pens at the BrightSource Ivanpah Solar construction site.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

One of the relocated desert tortoises takes a walk in its pen at the BrightSource Ivanpah Solar construction site.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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Protecting the desert tortoise in California’s Ivanpah Valley

1 Comment

  1. March 4, 2012, 10:04 am

    I had a dear little tortoise as a pet – in the 1930's- living in West Los Angeles. My parents found him in the Mojave Desert and brought him back to our back yard -filled with grass and flowers. "Ikey" also loved to eat grapes and lettuce. Every winter we brought him into the house – and he found his favorite place to hibernate – under the uprght piano. He was a dear pet – and we loved him so. Hats off to the people who are working hard to save these special creatures. Thank you for the great article in the Times. N.F. Brown

    By: nfb2@cox.net

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