MORENO VALLEY, Calif. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a Record of Decision for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement authorizing the translocation of more than 1,500 desert tortoises from military training areas near the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms to four pre-determined sites on BLM-managed lands in San Bernardino County. This decision supports a joint effort with Department of Defense (DOD) to support the expansion of military training activities as authorized in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.
The DOD, along with the BLM serving as a Cooperating Agency, prepared a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the environmental impacts of translocating desert tortoises. The draft Supplemental EIS was released to the public on September 30, 2016. The final Supplemental EIS was released to the public on January 6, 2017. On January 31, 2017, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service issued a Biological Opinion (BO) for the project that covered actions on DOD and BLM-managed lands.
In addition, authorization is given for desert tortoise habitat improvements, including the installation of fencing and signs and rehabilitation of unauthorized routes on BLM-managed lands, an action necessary to support the expansion of military training activities at the military base.
The acceptance of desert tortoises onto BLM-managed lands is subject to a 30-day appeal period commencing on February 22, 2017, with the posting of the record of decision in the Federal Register. The Supplemental EIS along with translocation maps may be viewed at: http://seisforlaa.com/Documents.aspx.
Instructions for filing an appeal on the BLM decision record can be found at: http://bit.ly/2kUdlfQ