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Federal Authorities Approve Tortoise Removal from Marine Base

In this Sept. 3, 2008, file photo, an endangered desert tortoise, sits in the middle of a road at the proposed location of three BrightSource Energy solar-energy generation complexes in the eastern Mojave Desert near Ivanpah, Calif. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
In this Sept. 3, 2008, file photo, an endangered desert tortoise, sits in the middle of a road at the proposed location of three BrightSource Energy solar-energy generation complexes in the eastern Mojave Desert near Ivanpah, Calif. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. — Federal authorities have approved a plan to move nearly 1,500 desert tortoises from a California Marine base.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise says the Navy and the Bureau of Land Management have signed off on the proposal.

The Marine Corps wants to remove the tortoises from about 88,000 acres of land at the Twentynine Palms base in the Mojave Desert so it can use the area for training.

Exercises with tanks and live ammunition are scheduled to begin in August.

The removal could begin at the end of this month or in April after the reptiles emerge from their underground winter hibernation.

The tortoises would be flown by helicopter to BLM land near Barstow.

Critics say the move will devastate the threatened species.

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