Welcome to the Ridgecrest Chapter of the California Turtle and Tortoise Club.
Ideally, this blog will summarize previous meetings and events for those unable to make it, and will provide reminders for upcoming events.
Check back here to find out what's going on at the club!
|Posted by Sue on March 18, 2020 at 10:50 PM||comments (2)|
Call to order: 7:30 p.m. with eight people in attendance.
Guest speaker: Judy Fair-Spaulding spoke to us on behalf of the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area at Cal City. Saturday the 14th will be DTPC’s (Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee’s) clean-up day in the desert tortoise area. They plan to rake up leaves and use the “hula hoe”. If you can help, meet at the Interpretive Center between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. Later at the end of March, the DTPC will have a Grand Re-Opening featuring their upgraded information kiosks. On March 22nd, the local Audubon group will be taking a tour of the DTRNA. The place is located near the Mojave/Randsburg Road.
Discussion: Tonight’s meeting was mainly about future events as we will join the Kerncrest Audubon’s program next week on March 19th at 7:00 p.m. at the Maturango Museum. Dr. Brittany Slabach of the DTPC will talk about the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area including land acquisitions and restoration activities at the site.
(***At the time of this typing, the program has been canceled due to Coronavirus precautions. Brittany Slabach from the DTPC says she will be happy to give her lecture at a later date.)
The 45th anniversary of the DTPC will be on Saturday with a luncheon and a program in Lancaster. On Sunday will be the DTPC 45th anniversary celebration. (***At the time of this typing, the luncheon on the 28th is canceled, but the special 45th anniversary on the 29th is still on).
Members are encouraged to sign up for several weeks or a month during the summer to feed the tortoises at the Maturango Museum Tortoise Enclosure. In April, Bob will feed the tortoises. Members and interested individuals are encouraged to sign up for May, June, July or August. They need to be fed twice a week. Some suggestions for food would be mulberry leaves, old greens from home, collard greens, kale, dandelions, and non-poisonous weeds. You may try different types of food.
Treasurer: We have enough money this year to do some special projects.
At previous meetings, we all agreed that a scholarship for a graduating Cerro Coso Community College student transfering to a 4 year institution majoring in Environmental and/or Biological Science was a good way to spend some of the funds that our club has received. Sue had sent out emails to club members outlining the information she gathered for criteria and the best way to provide scholarships. She requested some feedback on how the scholarships should be handled. She handed out a copy of the CTTC Scholarship Proposal information plus a copy of a student application form for us to review. We would evaluate prospective applicants' future goals and look at their grade point average. The club agreed that we would like to choose students continuing full time. The amount of the scholarship may be $500 or whatever the club ultimately decides on. Also, a perpetual scholarship (as opposed to a one-time scholarship that we would have to organize ourselves) would be the best option as the Cerro Coso Foundation would manage the investment and disbursement over several years.
Adoptions: Bob mentioned that there are lots of tortoises ready for adoption.
Adjourned: 8:35 p.m.
|Posted by Sue on January 15, 2020 at 11:20 PM||comments (0)|
Call to Order: 7:30 p.m. 8 people present
At the last Quarterly Executive Board meeting held in Arcadia on January 11th, yearly dues for each Chapter was raised due to increased management costs. The Investment Committee for the CTTC inheritance reported a very large increase on investment overall this year. Discussion followed that the chapters should see an increase in this year's award ending in a vote that will award each Chapter $4,000. Our chapter had another member sign up for a life membership last month.
In response to this news, ideas for using these funds were discussed. It would be nice to provide a scholarship for a student who is majoring in biological science at Cerro Coso Community College. A couple of suggestions were to start with a $1,000 scholarship or two $500 scholarships. Sue will contact Cerro Coso to ask about the process & details to giving scholarships.
There is also a 2 day workshop offered yearly by the Desert Tortoise Council held in Ridgecrest in early November. Titled "Introduction to Desert Tortoises & Field Techniques" it is designed for wildlife biologists, zoologists, natural resource specialists, wildlife managers, land managers, recreation specialists, persons dealing with the public, teachers, & the general public. There was discussion about a possibility of offering a scholarship paying the cost for an interested member or someone local interested in attending. Our club has provided tortoises for the hands-on field techniques.
Another idea for using our funds would be to renew or replace the sign at the tortoise enclosure at the Maturango Museum. Informational kiosks are in the planning stages to be placed at the enclosure. Perhaps, we could include the names of the tortoises on the sign: Starful, Schlo-mo, Peaches, and Dash. A contest was held by the museum to name the 4 new residents, with a drawing for the winning names. It was mentioned that children who visit the museum are always asking about the names of the tortoises.
Program: “Adventures of the Ridgecrest Tortoise Club” by Bob Parker
President Bob Parker put together a delightful power point presentation showing information about our mission & the outreach activities of our club over the past ten years!
Important tortoise groups working for the welfare of tortoises in our area are the California Turtle and Tortoise Club, Desert Tortoise Council, Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee, Inc., & the Tortoise Group.
Bob, Sue, Montynne & others have volunteered their time to attend events throughout the years. They have talked to people about tortoises, answered questions, handed out pamphlets & provided adoption forms. Posters, business cards, website & email addresses of tortoise organizations help the public learn about tortoise habitats & behavior. Plus, a Tortoise Care Sheet was developed to illuminate facts about proper feeding & housing for adopted tortoises. Often, the club brings live tortoises to events so people can see them up close. It has been important to make people aware of protecting tortoises & to encourage individuals to adopt homeless tortoises that cannot be returned to the wild.
Some examples of the events the club has participated in over the years are: Earth Days at Cerro Coso Community College and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Red Rock Canyon Campfire Talks, Moose Anderson Days at Jawbone Station, a Girl Scouts’ special event at a park, California City Tortoise Days, the Orange County Turtle and Tortoise Show in La Habra, the DTC Tortoise Handling Workshop, the Wildflower Festival, the Petroglyph Festival, & the Tortoise Habitat enclosure at the Maturango Museum. The BLM has brochures has worked with the club at some of these events, as well as Maturango Museum.
Our local Club donated $600 to help Zach the Eagle Scout toward completing his project of building the tortoise enclosure at the Maturango Museum. Bob & has planted some native plants in the enclosure for the four tortoises.
At the Orange County Show our club has had an informational booth. The show at various times featured the 3 largest species: Galapagos, Aldabra, & Sulcata tortoises. One year they had Michael Jackson’s Aldabra tortoise visit.
At the DTC workshop, there is up to a hundred people studying & practicing tortoise handling under the guidance of Peter Woodman. This event takes place in November in Ridgecrest & costs about $300. Participants perform field techniques while wearing gloves & using sterilized tools to record biological data on tortoises. Participants also practice monitoring & surveying by transects in a prepared field in order to look for fake (Styrofoam) tortoises, burrows, & scat.
"Thanks, Bob, for an entertaining presentation! We all loved the photoshopped pictures of the “giant” creatures in our desert!
Adjourned: 8:30 p.m.
Next Meeting: Monday, 7:30 p.m. February 10, 2020, at the Maturango Museum.
|Posted by Sue on January 14, 2020 at 2:05 PM||comments (0)|
Call to Order: 7 p.m.
Our club along with Kerncrest Audubon Society sponsored speaker Tim Shields, founder of Hardshell Labs. Tim, a desert biologist, has 35+ years experience in the field, surveying & observing. He decided to refocus from study only to action. He is established as a leader in threatened desert tortoise population management. Most recently he led development & demonstration projects for HSL’s innovative avian deterrence technologies & processes with leading agencies & corporations involved with desert conservation in southern California including: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Raven Management Working Group, Desert Tortoise Council, Desert Tortoise Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management & utility companies with power powers in the affected conservation areas.
Hard Shell Lab's mission is to find "humane avian damage control". He described development & showed several deterrence devices he has used in Ridgecrest for Raven deterrence. His talk was animated & interesting with many staying afterwards to ask further questions & see his "tortoise bombs" & drones.
Adjourned: 8:30 p.m.
|Posted by Sue on January 12, 2020 at 9:50 PM||comments (0)|
Call to Order: 7:35 p.m.
The club welcomed some new members & guests. Each participant introduced themselves & spoke about their tortoises or about their interest in the club. Membership forms were given out to a few people.
Members were reminded about renewing their memberships for the year.
President Bob Parker talked about using clear epoxy over the permit sticker when putting it onto the tortoise. The museum has tortoises which the club has adopted. Tortoises will eat mulberry leaves & collard greens. Before brumation, a tortoise should have an empty stomach as the food might rot in their stomachs. Sometimes, the club has sulcatas for adoption.
A guest who had found a tortoise had a few questions on its care. Q: What about winter? A: The tortoise is better off in a burrow. Putting straw in the entrance protects the opening & allows air to flow in & out. Refer to the website, “Ridgecrest Tortoise Club”. Bob passed out brochures. A tortoise stops eating in the fall, then goes into its burrow. Males in the wild fight over territory. It’s fine to keep a tortoise solitary. Dandelion greens are good. Kale is okay but the kale has a lot of water in it from the store. There is a list from Jawbone Canyon about food. “The Tortoise Table” is a good UK website.
Bob presented a short program on local critters in preparation for Dr. Phil Leitners’s Mojave ground squirrel program on the 29th of October. Dr. Leitner is an authority on Mojave ground squirrels. The lecture is sponsored by Kerncrest Audubon & our club. The lecture is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the Maturango Museum.
Many different desert living creatures were featured in the PowerPoint, entitled “Burrows”. A few of the creatures mentioned were burrowing owls (who lay eggs in their burrows), wasps, desert iguanas, whiptail lizards, collard lizards, badgers, & kangaroo rats.
Mohave ground squirrels are differentiated from Antelope Valley ground squirrels by the lack of stripes on their sides. They hibernate & spend a lot of time underground, about nine months out of the year. This depends on the amount of rain in a season. If there is no food to eat, there are no babies.
More creatures featured in the PowerPoint were desert mice, rabbits (they do use burrows), jack rabbits/hares (they do not use burrows), reptiles (they use others’ burrows), & spiders (ex: tarantulas). The only poisonous snakes around here are the rattlesnakes.
Tortoises use burrows that are often under bushes (shade). Tortoises are diurnal. They might use the same burrow for 100 years!
The next meeting will be on Monday, November 11th at 7:00 p.m. A lecture by Tim Shields will be presented. Tim will talk about his raven studies which will include information about using laser technology & mechanical tortoises.
Adjourned: 8:30 p.m.
|Posted by Sue on May 1, 2019 at 12:25 AM||comments (0)|
Meeting started at 7:30 p.m. with 8 people attending.
The meeting was shorter than normal as the Audubon meeting on Wednesday will feature a special program of interest to the club. President Bob Parker told us about the lecture hosted by the Kerncrest Audubon Society on Wednesday, April 17th, at 7:00 p.m. here at the Maturango Museum. A representative from “The Living Desert Zoo & Botanical Gardens” in Palm Desert will talk about how ravens are causing a decrease in the tortoise populations.
We received two nice letters from the AmericanTortoise Rescue. The facility burned down in the Woolsey fires. The tortoises were safely removed before the fire decimated the facility. Our club sent $100 to help them rebuild.
The Living Desert is providing a “Tortoise Trunk” that will be very useful at schools & community events. It's purpose is provide materials, games, etc. that will help educate the public on tortoises & their place in the environment. The trunk will be given to the local BLM office. It will be kept at the museum & be available for docents to use.
Bob adopted out a small tortoise to a family with kids. They decided on a small tortoise instead of a hatchling when they understood the shell is still soft & vulnerable & could easily be harmed with overhandling or dropping.
There are 3 tortoises in the outside enclosure at the museum. Bob mentioned that members could take turns feeding them during the summer. It would be nice if people would sign up for a month or even just a week to help out. The tortoises eat mulberry leaves & certain greens. Kale is heavily fertilized, so organic kale is better for them. Talk to Bob about a feeding turn.
Saturday, April 20th, is the Executive Board Meeting in Arcadia. The CTTC’s money has been invested very well. If we have a project, we could probably get a $1,000 to fund it. Possibly, we could spend it on a taxidermist to preserve a tortoise that has passed away in order to take it to educational events. We might offer a scholarship to a Cerro Coso student pursuing study in the biological or environmental sciences.
Monday, April 22nd, the Base will observe Earth Day from 9:30 a.m.-12:00, for 4th graders. Bob will talk for about 10 or 15 minutes about tortoises during the indoor program. The museum will also attend. Bob & Sue will take tortoises to the outside grassy area for the students to look at after the program.
Saturday, April 27th, there will be a Bioregional Festival in Kernville. Bob is going to attend the Fest with the local Audubon group. California City Tortoise Day is also on the same day.
Our May and June meetings are usually in the Leroy Jackson Park at an earlier hour of 6:00p.m. People may bring their tortoises if they want to. There will be no meeting in July. In August, there is the Orange County Tortoise Show.
|Posted by Sue on February 13, 2019 at 12:05 AM||comments (0)|
Meeting started at 7:30 pm with 14 people attending.
Treasurer's Report: The CTTC Executive Board sent each chapter $1000 for special projects. Our club plans on putting 3 informational kiosks around the Tortoise Enclosure at the Maturango Museum. We may be able to interest an Eagle Scout looking for a project & offer support.
"Something Completely Different" - Cheetahs Bob Parker presented a program on his summer job in 1972 in charge of the Cheetah Compound at Marine World, Africa USA in Redwood City. He not only covered facts on habitat, behavior, & speed, but added in some great stories of escapes, including a leap onto a passing tour boat. This lead to collars & leashes that could be grabbed as they dashed by, & also better fencing.
Following Bob, Lisa Lavelle shared photos of her month volunteering for the Cheetah Conservation Fund in 1998 in Namibia, Africa. This research & education center takes in orphaned cheetahs too young to have learned how to hunt & live wild. They also work with farmers educating them on alternative ways to discourage cheetahs from hunting livestock rather than trapping & shooting them. Cheetahs are diurnal & more visible than other predators & so more often tracked & killed.
Ray Kelso & Dave Kurdeka mentioned that some of their photos taken on African safari & other trips were on display in the Maturango Museum's gallery.
The March 11th program will feature Pete Woodman, a Biologist Consultant speaking & demonstrating field techniques including identifying sign as well as assessing desert tortoise health in the wild. He has offered a course at the Desert Tortoise Council Workshop held in November in Ridgecrest for many years. It is designed for wildlife biologists, zoologists, natural resource & recreation specialists, wildlife & land managers, persons dealing with the public, teachers, & the general public. Our club has provided tortoises for the field work for several years. In turn, our tortoises health is measured & we are able to assure our adopters that they are receiving a healthy pet.
Meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm.
|Posted by Sue on February 12, 2019 at 11:15 PM||comments (0)|
Meeting began at 7:30 pm with 14 people attending.
Treasurer's Report: The Executive Board sent each chapter $1,000 for special projects. Our plan includes 3 informational kiosks placed around the Tortoise Enclosure at the Maturango Museum. We may work in tandem offering a possible project for an Eagle Scout as we did with the enclosure.
"Something Completely Different: Cheetahs" President Bob Parker presented a program on his summer of 1972 in charge of the Cheetah Compund at Marine World, Africa USA in Redwood City. Interviewing for a photographer's assistant position, he was offered the position when he said he was earning his degree in wildlife biology. Highlights included not only facts, but stories about escapes, leaping into a passing tour boat - which led to collars and leashes for all, & individual personalities of each.
Following Bob's presentation, Lisa Lavelle showed pictures of her month volunteering at the Cheetah Conservation Fund center in Namibia, Africa in 1998. The CCF is a research & conservation center working with local farmers to educate on ways to discourage cheetahs from hunting down livestock, instead of trapping & shooting them. Cheetahs were targeted mainly because they are diurnal & visible compared to other predators. After, Ray Kelso mentioned to the group that he had a number of photos on display in the Maturango Museum's Sylvia Winslow gallery of animals taken on his African safari.
March Program: Pete Woodman, Biologist Consultant, will speak & demonstrate assessing the health of desert tortoises in the wild. He introduces field techniques for the Desert Tortoise Council November Workshop held in Ridgecrest, designed for wildlife biologists, zoologists, natural resource & recreation specialists, wildlife & land managers, recreation specialists, persons dealing with the public, & teachers.
Meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm
|Posted by Sue on January 23, 2019 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
The meeting started at 7:30 p.m. with eight people in attendance.
Treasurer’s Report: The club currently has a total of $5,700 in its account. Club members voted to reimburse the Parkers for veterinarian fees & postage.
Discussion: Many of us braved the heavy rains tonight to attend the meeting. Bob mentioned that the tortoises probably enjoy this rainy weather.
The Parkers & Montynne attended the quarterly Executive Board Meeting Saturday the 12th at the Arboretum in Arcadia. CTTC will be giving each chapter $1,000. The number of desert tortoises that all of the CTTC clubs are holding is down from last year, 248. There are 11 Russian tortoises & 3 Sulcatas. If anyone is interested in adopting any of these, please contact the clubs.
Please share ideas for programs with Bob. A possibility for an activity at one of our meetings might be for everyone to participate in a lecture with a specific topic. Also, we might invite local biologists Peter Woodman or Rachel W. to give a lecture & possibly a demonstration on measuring & assessing the health of tortoises in the wild. They conduct the Tortoise Survey Workshops, offered in November. Our club has provided tortoises for this workshop for several years, gaining health information on those we are holding for adoption at the time.
Concerning the tortoise enclosure at the museum, we would like to start a list of volunteers for those interested in feeding the tortoises in the summer. Also, we need to plant more shade for the tortoises. We might plant a desert willow. Bob went ahead & bought & planted some vegetation a Girl Scout troop had promised to acquire & plant, then were unable to follow through.
Returning! The Orange County & Chino Chapters are combining to host the “Live Turtle and Tortoise Show” on Sunday, August 25, 2019, located at the La Habra Community Center at 101 W. La Habra Blvd., La Habra, CA 90631. The past shows have been a fun & educational event on turtles & tortoises, & very well attended. There will be vendors/sellers of turtle & tortoise related items (Absolutely no live tortoises will be for sale). Our club has always attended with a table & willing hands to help with set-up, etc. Those that volunteer to help in advance will get a T-shirt.
Program: “Our Desert Reptiles”: Bob presented a very interesting power point about mostly local lizards, snakes & tortoises. Some of the wildlife discussed were chuckwallas (largest lizards we have here), rattlesnakes, desert-banded geckos, scorpions, leopard lizards, zebra-tailed lizards, yellow-backed spiny lizards, side-blotched lizards, Southern Desert horned lizards (who appear fierce!), Great Basin whiptail lizards, gopher snakes, rosy boas, red racers & many types of tortoises. It was amazing to see slides of how many lizards appear illuminated under UV light!
Interesting myths have been told about snakes (there are no Mojave Reds). The Green Mojave’s name is just an indication of their color which can vary. Also, there are no 6-foot Mojave rattlesnakes. These snakes have a neurotoxic venom. Eighty percent of snakes are not venomous.
Biologists have discovered that tortoise eggs that develop in colder temperatures (78-87 degrees F) produce more male tortoises. When the weather is warmer (91-95.4 degrees F), then more females tend to be produced. How tortoises deal with the weather & brumation were also topics of the power point.
Meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm
|Posted by Sue on January 23, 2019 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
Member Montynne & her family invited the club members to celebrate the holiday season at their beautiful home. Everyone brought snacks to share with drinks & hot dips provided.
We had lots of fun exchanging Secret Santa Christmas gifts surrounded by hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of gorgeous Christmas decorations, many animated & lit up! It was wonderful to relax and enjoy the holiday season with friends. We all are looking forward to the year ahead as we will be thinking about what we might be able to do to improve the lives of wild as well as captive tortoises.
Thanks to Montynne & her family!
|Posted by Sue on January 23, 2019 at 12:15 AM||comments (0)|
The Club combined their October meeting with the Kerncrest Audubon Society's on their regularly scheduled meeting night Thursday, November 8th. Dr. Daniel Leavitt, a biologist for the Environmental Management Division at the China Lake Naval Base was the guest speaker.
Dr. Leavitt talked extensively on the wildlife & tortoises living on Base property. The power point presentation included pictures of ravens & their impact. An important piece of advice to help reduce the large population of ravens in this area is to verbally chase away the birds when they are feeding on garbage at dumpsters. Ravens are known to avoid those areas if they are scared away.
After the engaging lecture & answering questions from the audience, Dr. Leavitt gave us his email address for any more questions we might like to ask him. His email is: [email protected]
We enjoyed the opportunity to join with another group & hope to share in other programs in future.