American badger and desert kit fox dens inspections were conducted as part of the desert tortoise clearance survey, conducted within the project area and buffer within a maximum of 48 hours prior to ground-disturbing work directly ahead of construction. The following protocols were enforced:
- American badger and desert kit fox dens located outside the project area and within the survey buffer were flagged for avoidance.
- Unoccupied dens located in the project that couldn’t be avoided, were excavated and backfilled by hand.
- Dens that appeared to be active were further investigated for activity using flour, stick gates, and/or motion cameras.
- During the non-breeding season (July 2 to January 15) one-way doors were utilized to prevent activity and dens shall be hand excavated once documented to be unoccupied.
- A 500-foot no-disturbance buffer was maintained around all active dens during the breeding season (January 16 to July 1).The active den will be avoided until it is determined that the occupied den did not contain pups or until after the breeding season. Active dens and dens within the buffer of the clearance survey shall be marked so that the equipment operators can identify and avoid such dens. These locations shall be flagged prior to initiation of the maintenance/replacement activities in the area.