MARINES HAVE BEGUN MOVING TORTOISES OUT OF JOHNSON VALLEY

MARINES HAVE BEGUN MOVING TORTOISES OUT OF JOHNSON VALLEY

Operation Desert Tortoise is in its seventh day as Marines work to move over a thousand Desert Tortoises out of Johnson Valley. The Marines, working with about 125 wildlife biologists, expect to move 1,156 tortoises, clearing areas expected to be most disturbed by live-ammunition training missions. It’s part of a multi-year, $50 million-plus tortoise relocation and study program approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, following a 2013 vote by Congress to add about 88,000 acres in Johnson Valley to the Twentynine Palms Combat Center. Marines say the expansion will allow them to hold longer and more-involved live-ammunition desert training missions, set to start this summer. For the tortoise, a species listed as threatened with extinction, it means the loss of more than 100 square miles of quality habitat.

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