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National Park Service - Joshua Tree

Preliminary Application Comments

 Hello, We are endorsing the grant application to support the desert tortoise outreach program at Joshua Tree National Park. We think this is important education for riders of all ages. Sometimes it is hard to remember when you are having fun that you could be destroying animals en route - especially ones who are slow and burrow for existence. Both Jeff and I spend time hiking in the desert in Joshua Tree and the Mojave Desert. We enjoy the desert and hope others will too but not at the expense of the beauty and wildlife that is abundant but not obvious. [Jeff and Marcia Olsen - 4/6/09]

 I have read the State Parks OHV grant application for the National Park Service - Joshua Tree Desert Tortoise Outreach & Education program. While there are problems with the desert tortoise in the Joshua Tree area and having a person to coordinate education and outreach would be a good thing, taking money from OHV grants is not an appropriate way to fund this work. The OHV grants are to promote and protect OHV recreation in California. Joshua Tree National Park has no OHV opportunity, which makes this grant request very one sided. Safety and education money should go toward more worthwhile OHV projects than this. [Ed Stovin, CORVA - 4/5/09]

 Hello. My name is Brendan Hughes and I would like to express my support for Joshua Tree National Park's Grant Application. Education regarding proper use of OHVs in the desert is critical for the protection of natural landscapes and native species for future generations. I believe this grant application should be fully funded. [Brendan Hughes - 4/3/09]

 For the past four years the California Department of Fish and Game has been a member of the partnership organization working on this grant.

The desert tortoise is our state reptile and is state listed as threatened. We are in full support of this proposal. Education of this species is greatly need because of the wide variety of use in the desert region which impact not just the tortoise itself, but also the habitat that it depends on.

Due to the large influx of people moving to the desert and the amount of recreational use, it is important to educate children and adults about the fragile environment and the species that live in it. The proposal does that.

Your efforts in supporting this project are greatly appreciated. [Becky Jones - 4/2/09]

 Thank you for the opportunity to offer comments in support of the Joshua Tree National Park Desert Tortoise Education grant proposal. The Fish and Wildlife Service continues to be a partner in the desert tortoise outreach and education program, which has been made possible through various grant opportunities such as this. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of the outreach and education component of the ongoing recovery efforts for the desert tortoise. Educating the public, young and old, about the plight and conservation needs of the desert tortoise, other endangered species, and rare and unique resources in the California deserts is paramount in ensuring future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate our natural heritage.

Joshua Tree National Park staffs have played a key role in developing a program that actively gets information out to the public. They have filmed and recorded public service announcements, published brochures, created school programs, and participated in special events throughout Mojave Desert communities. Without their efforts, implementing the desert tortoise outreach and education component of the recovery plan would be a huge challenge. Therefore, we support funding the subject grant proposal so that this important educational program can continue its momentum and potentially reach millions of desert residents. [Jody Fraser, Biologist, Desert Tortoise Recovery Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - 4-2-09]

 I would like to comment on the grant for Joshua Tree National Park Desert Tortoise Education/ RE G08-05-01-S01

I believe this is vital work needed not only to ensure the ongoing safety of the Desert Tortoise but also to raise awareness with recreational users of the park and children of conservation efforts in general. I believe the lessons planned here not only effects the Joshua Tree National Park and the Desert Tortoise but also will have the added benefit of broader education. I fully support the grant and hope the Government does too. [Sinéad Borgersen - 3/31/09]

 As a member of the management team at Mojave National Preserve, I am writing in support of the Joshua Tree National Park Desert Tortoise Education - RE G08-05-01-S01grant proposal. Mojave National Preserve is a partner organization working with the grant applicant in educating the public about the federally listed desert tortoise. The partnership was established in 2005 and includes government and non-governmental organizations including the California 4-Wheel Drive Club.

As shown in the cost estimates, partners make a significant contribution to planning the program, creating educational materials, and staffing events. However, it is critical that we have the support of this grant to fund our single dedicated staff person and associated costs. Without this coordinator, our project cannot continiue.

OHV use kills desert tortoises and destroys their burrows, yet many OHV participants are completely unaware of the impact they have on these animals, threatened with extinction, when they illegally ride off trails outside of approved open areas. It is unrealistic to expect a change in behavior is those breaking the rules if they don't understand the negative impacts of their actions. Through this project, land managers are working cooperatively with others interested in the issue to help OHV enthusiasts understand the consequences of their actions.

I appreciate your efforts in supporting our project and look foward to continuing to work with this committee. [Linda Slater - 3/30/09]

 I am in full support of the Joshua Tree National Park Desert Tortoise Education - RE: G08-05-01-S01.

I have been working with the partners listed in the grant for several years to develop an education outreach to the community concerning the desert tortoise.

The health of the desert tortoise will have an impact of OHV recreation opportunities.

And, this education outreach effort is a viable method of reaching the recreationists and enlisting their assistance in protecting the desert tortoise and ultimately, their recreation opportunity. [John Stewart - 3/30/09]

 I'm very impressed with the Desert Tortoise Outreach Project. The project is managed by Joshua Tree National Park. The environmental education "tortoise trunks" will be an effective tool to educated California students on how desert ecosystems work. I hope student understand the need to protect, conserve and enjoy the beautiful Mojave desert.

I've been a teacher for 21 years and I recognize this as a valuable tool.

Thank you for your kind consideration. [Virginia McMillin - 3/27/09]

 I would like to recommend and support the Desert Managers Group (DMG) & National Park Service (NPS) in their effort for Desert Tortoise Information and Outreach. This program has been successful in bringing public awareness to Southern California. I especially like the Mojave Max Emergence Contest. I understand the program is gaining more student entries year by year. Please support the grant submitted by Joshua Tree N.P.and continue this program. Good job! [Frederica M. Staley - 3/27/09]

 I’m writing to encourage your support of the Desert Tortoise Outreach and Education Program. I feel this program warrants funding for the reasons below:

1.  Desert Tortoise deserves our advocacy at all levels of government. The delicate balance of human interests and the natural world is dramatically illustrated by the Desert Tortoise’s tenuous existence in our desert ecosystem. It is in many ways ‘the canary in the coal mine’ relative to maintaining (at least) and enhancing (as a worthy goal) the health and rejuvenation for all the creatures and plant life struggling to survive. The Desert Tortoise Outreach Program educates OHV recreationist and the general public to tortoise habitat and behavior. This offers dual benefits of directly supporting an endangered species and the ‘rippling out’ added bonus of overall desert conservation awareness.

2.  The tensions that often rise between OHV public land use, other recreational pursuits (birding, hiking etc) and conservation are mitigated when education is accessible and proactive such as the Desert Tortoise Outreach Program provides. I believe change in behavior does occur when people are informed about the impact of heir behavior on others and on the environment. Educating the public about the Desert Tortoise offers the otential of inviting citizens to participate in conservation as they make choices about their recreational endeavors. OHV pursuits and conservation need not be mutually exclusive, but it does require opportunities for information to be shared and dialogue encouraged.

The wide support for this program via the DMG and desert communities is another ‘canary in the coal mine’. It is a statement saying this is important, this has far reaching implications, this is key to shifting the tide before too much is lost. This funding has a multiplier is hard to quantify. Each child exposed to Mohave Max, each parent that hears their child’s story and enthusiasm for the Desert Tortoise and each citizen that is exposed to the connection between their behavior and the vitality of the desert they love make different choices. So, it happens one by one by one and on and on. One thing is quantifiable though, if there is no Outreach Program then the affect will be notable in the Desert Tortoise’s habitat.

Thank you for your time and your service. [Peg Hopkins - 3/19/09]