Skip to main content

Surveying Future Development Sites for Tortoise Habitats


Having performed hundreds of focused surveys for the desert tortoise throughout the West Mojave Desert, we have a unique pleasure and opportunity here in the Morongo Basin – from Yucca Valley to Twentynine Palms – to share habitats with a federally threatened species. Whereas the Agassiz’s desert tortoise has disappeared from large regions such as the Antelope Valley, Victor Valley, Lucerne Valley, and Indian Wells Valley, for now they seem to be persisting regionally in the Morongo Basin. This presents a unique opportunity and challenge: Why here and not elsewhere and how can we keep them here?

Ed LaRue, biologist, has performed approximately 265 focused surveys on thousands of acres in the Morongo Basin over the past 23 years. He will share distribution and detection information on how and where to survey, what to look for, and what to expect. As development continues in the Basin, there are likely to be contracted consultants who do not know what they’re looking for in terms of tortoise signs. Ed has shared his data base with agencies, local governments, and researchers to realistically predict where tortoises are likely to occur and not occur. He will share this detection information with regional commercial and residential development to identify those places where tortoises are persisting, which equates to habitats that should be protected. He will also share distribution information for a dozen other rare species identified in the Basin.

Sponsored by the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park, this lecture will be held at the Black Rock Visitor Center, 9800 Black Rock Canyon, Yucca Valley, CA 92284 on Friday, January 18, 7 pm – 8 pm. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Desert Institute at (760) 367-5535,, or visit

Joshua Tree Gateway Communities, Palm Springs & Coachella Valley, Inland Empire & Victor Valley