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Central Mountains/Sonoran Region

Slow and Steady to Survive

Photo courtesy of the Desert Tortoise
Preserve Committee

Desert tortoises are found within Ironwood Forest National Monument and throughout the Central Mountains/Sonoran region, particularly in areas with boulders or incised washes. In Ironwood Forest, they occur with greatest frequency in the Sawtooth, West Silverbell, and Silverbell Mountains. Highest density is in the West Silverbells and Ragged Top, but they are common in down cut washes in the flats as well, where they construct burrows in the banks.

Like bighorn sheep, tortoises would also benefit from Wilderness designation. Less human and motorized access will result in fewer tortoises being taken for pets or being released, possibly with disease, after having been a pet.

Because of how tortoises use washes, the Bureau of Land Management should prohibit driving in washes. Washes tend to have more vegetative cover and serve as areas where many animals, from quail to peccaries and deer, regulate their body temperatures. Stress caused by vehicles could impair tortoise and other species’ health and survival.

-Arizona Wilderness Coalition mission statement