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Northwest neighborhood fears desert tortoises are paying the price for housing development

Northwest neighborhood fears desert tortoises are paying the price for housing development

Nature versus development, it’s an issue that frequently comes up, as new housing, new shopping centers, even new roads, go up around Southern Nevada.

Now, the people who live in one northwest neighborhood fears the threatened desert tortoise is paying the price.

The 215 near Lone Mountain is the prime tortoise habitat and the construction project that covers 48 acres with 328 units going in.

« It’s unfair, it’s not right. They’re taking away their environment; they can’t get away from this, » said neighbor, Kimberly Lanam.
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Kimberly and her father Tim, watch construction behind their northwest Las Vegas home and worry about the desert tortoises they’ve seen wandering out of the desert.

« Two weeks ago I saw about twelve. And there were babies walking down the street and they were coming up through here too, » said Tim.

Now with land being leveled, another housing project is planned and the Lanam’s think, tortoises habitat is being destroyed.

« They deserve better than that, they’ve been flourishing here for years this is their home, » said Kimberly.

The spokesperson with Clark County, Dan Kulin says any developer has to pay a tortoise mitigation fee.74440b9c-b334-4d72-8835-8d7b3a54c443-medium36x25_IMG_2520

« They have the proper permits. It’s $550 per acre, and also if they see a tortoise while there’s active construction going on, they give us a call and we send someone out there to pick them up, » said Kulin.

Kulin said the fee goes towards education programs, restoring habitat, and tortoise relocation costs. A program that’s been around since 1991.

As for the number of tortoises neighbors say they’ve seen; Kobbe Shaw with the non-profit Tortoise Group says it’s possible the animals were dumped and they were possibly former pets, released into the wild.

« Folks think they’re doing the right thing, they think they’re helping the wild population but actually, it’s exactly the opposite, » said Shaw.

Shaw says that’s because captive tortoises often carry upper respiratory tract disease, something that spreads quickly and can kill an entire wild population.

As for the Lanam’s, they’re keeping an eye on construction and watching the desert slowly disappear.

« It’s like a reserve back there so I’m surprised they’re doing what they’re doing, » said Tim Lanam.1fddef44-a6ba-4b8f-85f6-392fe30e6dbe-medium36x25_IMG_2553

Connect with Denise Rosch on Twitter @DRoschNews3LV 

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