How ADOT works with desert tortoises

How ADOT works with desert tortoises

By Mary Currie / ADOT Communications
July 17, 2023
A desert tortoise eats a shrub in the desert. Saguaro cactuses are in the background.

We’re talking tortoises today at the Arizona Department of Transportation. 

Did you know that ADOT helps support tortoise populations by paying attention to where these shelled reptiles may burrow near highways. Our biologists follow steps to help protect them, like building fences to keep them off the roads and guide them to places to cross safely. 

Before highway construction projects begin, environmental specialists survey the area to identify tortoises that may be living there. Construction and maintenance workers are trained to look for tortoises, too. See how ADOT works as an environmental steward in this video.

ADOT’s Biology Team Lead Joshua Fife began as a college intern working with desert tortoises. He spent the majority of his time training with two experienced biologists conducting long-term projects monitoring desert tortoises. One of the projects studied tortoise movement along US 93 north of Wickenburg for ADOT, and that led to his career with us.

Fife said, “Desert tortoises became very important to me, and It means a lot to me that ADOT is a part of desert tortoise conservation. Desert tortoises are truly amazing creatures, and we want to make sure they are around for many generations to come.” 

Managing wildlife along the state highway system is a partnership between ADOT, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and others whose work helps tortoises thrive next to  busy roadways. Click here to learn about desert tortoises

If you liked this, ADOT Kids has all sorts of educational stories, activities and videos to interest kids and adults this summer — and don’t miss the color-by-numbers activity we created to make you smile.


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