Working to assure the continued survival of viable populations of the desert tortoise throughout its range

Who We Are

The Desert Tortoise Council was established in 1975 to promote conservation of the desert tortoise in the deserts of the southwestern United States and Mexico. The Council is a private, non-profit organizationDesert Tortoise Council 40th Anniversary logo comprised of hundreds of professionals and laypersons who share a common concern for desert tortoises in the wild and a commitment to advancing the public’s understanding of the species. For the purposes of the Council, desert tortoise includes the species complex in the southwestern United States and in Mexico, currently referred to as Gopherus agassizii and Gopherus morafkai.


What We Do

The Council promotes conservation of the desert tortoise in the wild in a variety of ways.

  •  We hold an annual Symposium in the spring of each year to bring together scientists, managers, and concerned people to share the latest information available on the desert tortoise and its management. We publish the proceedings.
  •  We hold an annual techniques Workshop to help field workers and others learn how to comply with procedures needed to protect the desert tortoise.
  •  We provide educational grants and recognition to those working in desert tortoise conservation. Each year we give the David J. Morafka Memorial Research Award and the Best Student Paper Award at the Desert Tortoise Council Annual Meeting and Symposium.
  •  We provide information to individuals, organizations and regulatory agencies on matters potentially affecting desert tortoise science, conservation and management within the historical range of the species.
  •  We produce a quarterly newsletter to keep our membership informed.
  •  To learn more about the Council online, read our bylaws and quarterly newsletter.

Announcement: Comment Form for the Draft EIR/EIS for the DRECP

The Desert Tortoise Council is actively reviewing and preparing formal comments on the Draft EIR/EIS for the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, or ‘DRECP.’ At the time of this writing, comments are due by 23 February 2015. We want our membership to be involved and to be heard. This plan stands to programmatically change how conservation and recovery of Agassiz’s desert tortoise is implemented throughout California deserts. In terms of scope and effect, there has not been another proposal with potential for such a substantial change in policy and protection of the desert tortoise since 1980 when the California Desert Conservation Plan was formulated.

Please get involved. If you are experienced at reviewing and commenting on technical reports, we ask that you simply identify the page number and section of the DRECP on which you wish to comment, cut and paste the pertinent text, followed by your comment. If you are not experienced and wish to participate, please contact Ed LaRue either by phone (760-964-0012) or email ( Although only our final comment letter will be posted on our website, we will readily share with you the current status of our review and comments. We hope you take this opportunity to help the Desert Tortoise Council be as thorough and as insightful as possible in commenting on this important plan. Please click comment form to download the interactive form and provide your comments.


Desert tortoise
Wild desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii.
Photo by Michael W. Tuma.