Biologists scour Mojave in desert tortoise roundup
More than 100 biologists and contract workers fanned out across a nearly pristine stretch of the eastern Mojave Desert on Friday to start rounding up tortoises blocking construction of the first major solar energy plant to be built on public land in Southern California.
On a sunny morning in the height of tortoise courting season, the biologists methodically peered under every bush and into every hole on both sides of a two-mile lane traversing the project site. Following close behind, workers bladed century-old creosote bushes and erected fencing in areas that will soon be declared "tortoise-free zones."
The effort in San Bernardino County's panoramic Ivanpah Valley, just north of Interstate 15 and about 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas, disrupted complex tortoise social networks and bloodlines linked for centuries by dusty trails, shelters and hibernation burrows.
Photo: A desert tortoise looks out of its burrow in the Ivanpah Valley. Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times