Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
NEVADA FWO: Revised Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan
California-Nevada Offices , August 25, 2011
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Roy Averill-Murray attaches a monitoring device on a desert tortoise
Roy Averill-Murray attaches a monitoring device on a desert tortoise - Photo Credit: USFWS

By Jeannie Stafford, Public Affairs, Nevada FWO

This August, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) released a revised Recovery Plan for the Mojave desert tortoise. The revised Recovery Plan takes a new approach to reversing tortoise population declines through a coordinated effort of science-based implementation and evaluation of conservation actions. Regional recovery implementation teams will bring together partners from land management, scientific, conservation, and land-use groups to work together with the Service on implementing, tracking, and evaluating recovery actions.

 The Endangered Species Act (ESA) directs the Service to develop recovery plans for the conservation and survival of a listed species and to periodically review and update those plans. For instance, the revised Recovery Plan for the Mojave desert tortoise provides a description of the species and its habitat, summarizes the threats that caused the species to be listed under the ESA, and outlines actions by federal, tribal, and state agencies and other organizations to remove the threats so that the species is conserved into the future, and provides measurable criteria for determining when the species is recovered. Recovery plans do not obligate the expenditure of funds or require that actions be implemented.

Strategic elements within the revised Recovery Plan include the following: 1) Develop, support, and build partnerships to facilitate recovery; 2) protect existing populations and habitat, instituting habitat restoration where necessary; 3) augment depleted populations in a strategic, experimental manner; 4) monitor progress toward recovery, including population trend and effectiveness monitoring; 5) conduct applied research and modeling in support of recovery efforts within a strategic framework; and 6) implement a formal adaptive management program that integrates new information and utilizes conceptual models that link management actions to predicted responses by desert tortoise populations or their habitat.

The emphasis on partnerships in the revised Recovery Plan will direct and maintain focus on implementing recovery actions as well as a system to track implementation and effectiveness of those actions. The success of implementing the desert tortoise revised Recovery Plan will rely heavily upon the involvement of our partners and a commitment to implementing the strategic elements listed above, coupled with a functioning adaptive management program.

Contact Info: Jeannie Stafford, 775-861-6300, jeannie_stafford@fws.gov
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