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The Desert Tortoise
The desert tortoise is a timid reptile that has been federally listed in the United States as a threatened species. The tortoise, found in the Southwest portion of North America, relies on delicate desert grasses for its existence. When Kern River began a significant pipeline expansion, detailed plans were enacted to avoid any impact on this creature. Handbooks including detailed instructions on how to avoid impacts to the desert tortoise were developed for all individuals working on the project.
Tortoise habitat in the pipeline construction path was identified, and employees working in these areas were given additional training to address specific responsibilities.
These carefully planned environmental provisions were a success; the pipeline expansion was completed with no significant impact to the tortoise. Habitat compensation funds provided by Kern River are utilized for multi-species recovery efforts. The tortoises shown above are part of the Clark County, Nev., tortoise translocation program.
Preserving Desert Vegetation
When Kern River proceeded with a major pipeline expansion, the company also committed to complete the project in an environmentally responsible manner. The expansion project included the installation of more than 700 miles of pipeline from Wyoming to California. One of several environmental aspects associated with this significant project was a plant salvage program. During a four-month period, two environmental contractors and nearly 100 workers and inspectors flagged and transplanted the unique desert vegetation prior to pipeline construction. Since regeneration of these plants could require 50 years or more, a large-scale transplant effort was selected to be the best option for restoring the area impacted by the pipeline.
Kern River also collected and stored yucca and succulents including cacti and agaves growing in the desert tortoise habitat. Reseeding efforts included plants that are part of the diet of the tortoise, a federally listed threatened species. The vegetation was stored in temporary nurseries and then replanted in the right of way as part of the overall restoration. To make sure this effort is as successful as the plant relocation, the company will monitor the plants for six years.