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Shell Game

Around the state of Nevada, work began on building McMansions, solar plants, and strip malls all over the desert.  The result of this overdevelopment was the natural habitat of the desert tortoise was getting taken over, and the species landed on the Endangered Species list.

In a frantic effort to combat this, work began on the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center just outside of Las Vegas.  Completed in 1990, it is currently home to about 1,400 tortoises.  It costs roughly $1 mil a year to run.

The sanctuary was initially self-sufficient.  The Bureau Of Land Management would charge fees to real estate developers choosing to build on the tortoises' habitat (yeah, that must have been a real deterrent. -- G), and funded the sanctuary from that.  But when the housing market collapsed in 2008, no one is developing anymore, so there are no more fees coming in.  And with no more fees, there's supposedly no money to give the sanctuary.  (I say "supposedly" because, with all the wasteful government spending going on, they can't spare the $1 mil for that?)  The sanctuary is expected to close up in early 2014.  The sturdiest specimens will be released back into the wild, but about half of the 1,400 tortoises are considered too feeble and will be killed.

Interesting to think the tortoises will survive as long as there isn't money to be made.

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