Fenner Valley Desert Tortoise Conservation Bank
In 2015, we established the Fenner Valley Desert Tortoise Conservation Bank, a land conservation bank that makes available approximately 7,500 acres of our properties for permanent protection of habitat for the desert tortoise, a State of California and federally-listed threatened species. The Fenner Bank was approved by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the public agency responsible for coordinating California’s land conservation banking program, and is the largest such land bank in the U.S. The undeveloped properties included in the bank are located in the Piute Valley area of eastern San Bernardino County, near the Mojave National Preserve, the Mojave Trails National Monument, and the Nevada border in an area designated by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service as Desert Tortoise Critical Habitat.
The Fenner Bank offers credits that can be acquired by entities that must mitigate or offset impacts linked to planned development. For example, this bank can service the mitigation requirements of renewable energy, military, residential and commercial development projects that may occur outside the bank’s boundaries but could impact the desert tortoise. Upon sale of credits, the Bank properties are permanently protected under a conservation easement and managed in perpetuity by the San Diego Habitat Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing high-quality habitat management services in undeveloped areas throughout Southern California.
The desert tortoise is the largest terrestrial turtle in the United States and is a keystone species in the Mojave Desert ecosystem. The desert tortoise spends 95% of its time in burrows beneath the desert soils and can live to be 50 years old in the wild. In recent years ensuring the survival of the tortoise has become an increasing challenge due to loss of habitat.
Under an MOU with San Diego Zoo Global, a leader in the conservation and reintroduction of native species into the wild, we will make the Bank properties available for the development of conservation management strategies for the desert tortoise and other conservation-dependent wildlife within the bank properties.