(KUTV) — The Bureau of Land Management is working to create a sanctuary for the endangered Desert Tortoise in southern Utah.

Wildlife experts from the BLM are working with the American Conservation Experience to plant nearly 5,000 plants within a 100-acre lot near the Utah-Arizona border.

For the past few decades, the Desert Tortoise has been slowly dying off, due in part to wildfires in Southern Utah.

“The tortoise population here in southwestern Utah went down 50 percent,” said BLM biologist John Aellama.

Conservation experts say the new plants will offer food and security to the rare animal.

“We’re planting seven native plants,” Aellama said. “Each represents a key part of tortoise ecology.”

The project will take about eight days.

Once the group is done, they will move to the Red Cliffs area near St. George, another hot bed for the Desert Tortoise.

Efforts to save the species will continue until the tortoise population increases.

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