The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC also referenced as installation) embarked on a project to translocate desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) ahead of the commencement of a new training regime in the newly acquired Western and Southern expansion areas of MCAGCC.
an estimated 1300 adult tortoises were moved from within the training footprint of MCAGCC to areas within and outside the installation.
Recipient areas outside the installation are primarily managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and include land that is leased for private endeavors.
One such parcel is leased to Shield Ranch (the “Ranch”), which holds a grazing allotment of approximately150,000 acres in the Ord-Rodman Desert Wildlife Management Area (DWMA), adjacent to the Lucerne-Ord tortoise translocation site.
Preservation Ranch, LLC, (“Preservation Ranch”) was established for the purpose of implementing conservation actions that support recovery of the Desert Tortoise in the West Mojave Desert through the establishment of mutually beneficial partnerships with public and private stakeholders that respect multiple use management to maintain and restore the West Mojave Desert’s ecological, cultural and scenic value.
Preservation Ranch has partnered with the Ranch to execute conservation objectives on the allotment, and has been granted specific power and authority to enter into an agreement with the DoD on behalf of the Ranch.
On 04 April 2017, a Cooperative Agreement between Preservation Ranch and the US Navy was awarded to establish the framework for a mutually beneficial collaboration between the Parties to promote landscape conservation, benefit listed and sensitive species, and facilitate regional cooperation among public and private stakeholders in the West Mojave Desert that furthers these shared objectives.
In 2017, MCAGCC completed a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement documenting the intent and environmental impacts of increasing its training footprint in a western and southern expansion areas acquired from BLM and private landowners.
As stipulated in Biological Opinion 8-8-11-F-65RF (BO) the Marine Corps is required to conduct habitat enhancement, fencing, conservation monitoring, and other conservation actions in the off-base recipient sites.
One such off-base recipient site in particular is the parcel leased to the Ranch, managed by Preservation Ranch.
This proposed Cooperative Agreement seeks to fulfill conservation actions required by the BO as mitigation for the increased training footprint of the installation.
This is considered to be a new action that has not been previously awarded.
This Cooperative Agreement outlines terms and the cooperative effort of the DoN, Navy Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest (NAVFAC SW), on behalf of MCAGCC for implementing a cooperative program to conduct conservation actions for desert tortoise in the Shield Ranch Grazing Allotment.
This Cooperative Agreement will be used to develop and implement a set of viable conservation actions that shall include any combination of tortoise-protective fencing, off-highway vehicle (OHV) exclusion fencing, closed OHV-route habitat rehabilitation, invasive species control, predator control, conservation monitoring, and conservation infrastructure maintenance (e.g.
inspection of all permanent desert tortoise exclusion fencing).
The Government will review the proposed actions submitted by Preservation Ranch and will make a collaborative decision on how to best address the BO at hand with Preservation Ranch’s proposed actions.