The Ivanpah Desert Tortoise Research Facility was acquired and built by Chevron in 2011 as a creative partnership between the company, the National Park Service and National Park Trust. It was part of a settlement to satisfy park land mitigation obligations for impacts by the Mountain Pass rare earth mine on desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Addition of the facility was motivated by a desire to go beyond habitat protection (the facility protects 7 acres of high-quality tortoise habitat) and park restoration (removal of pipeline in the Preserve). It added a research program, as part of conservation and mitigation plans, to increase the tortoise population by “head-starting,” or raising them in captivity to a certain size, to ensure greater survival in the wild.
National Park Trust took over custody and management of the facility under a lease from Chevron while the National Park Service completed due diligence for transfer of the property from the corporation to NPS ownership. The partnership with NPT gave the NPS immediate use for research. On September 5, 2014 the permanent transfer of the property and building into NPS ownership was celebrated at a dedication event hosted at the research facility.
Chevron donated an additional $491,000 to NPT which is it distributing to NPS over 6-years (2011-2017) for funding of conservation projects. The restricted funds will cover the associated costs for facility operation and maintenance in addition to research.
The Ivanpah facility has been very successful in hatching and raising tortoises for release into the wild. Research continues to determine their survival rate and its potential contribution to the increase in the tortoise population.
Students from Clark County participated in the land/facility dedication of the facility and met with scientists to learn about the work taking place at the facility. NPT continues to work with local schools to provide opportunities for them to meet with the scientists and see up close the hatchlings and other local wildlife.