49th Annual Desert Tortoise Council Symposium
Hybrid event (both in-person and virtual attendance options) to be held at the South Point Hotel, Casino, and Spa, Las Vegas, NV, February 21-23, 2024.
The Desert Tortoise Council is pleased to announce the 49th Annual Meeting and Symposium, which will be a hybrid event (both in-person and virtual attendance options), will be held at the South Point Hotel, Casino, and Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada in February 2024. Please mark you calendar for this event. We will update this information with the dates for field trips and other activities as soon as they are available. We look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas in 2024.
48th Annual Desert Tortoise Council Symposium
Our 2023 hybrid event (in-person/virtual) symposium in Saint George, Utah, was another great success. Details for the now past event below.
The Desert Tortoise Council is pleased to announce the 48th Annual Meeting and Symposium, which will be a hybrid event (both in-person and virtual attendance options) that will be held at the Dixie Center in Saint George, Utah, in February 2023.
The Symposium will include keynote, invited, and featured speakers and contributed papers and posters. The program will be exciting, challenging, and full of new information! After two years of Covid-19 variants limiting large conferences and symposia due to health concerns, we are fortunate in 2023 to have a combined in-person and hybrid symposium in St. George, Utah, the heart of the Upper Virgin River Recovery Unit for the desert tortoise and a backdrop of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.
We have a symposium full of papers on desert tortoises, effects of climate change, tortoise demography and connectivity of populations, roads and culverts, and the latest in techniques for surveys, and methods for evaluating anthropogenic effects on habitats. A paper on Texas tortoises and another on Mohave ground squirrels calling for formation of a new council for a threatened species of squirrel endemic to the western Mojave Desert both add to the list of interesting papers. Not to be left out are papers on genetics and health and the problems with illegal cannabis grow farms. We have a contribution from indigenous members from the Shivwits Band of Piute Indians, who have teamed with biologists from the Washington County HCP, Conserve Southwest Utah, and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. On February 22, the day before the Symposium, the Utah scientists and wildlife biologists have outdone themselves by offering two field trips, one in the morning to the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and the other in the afternoon to the Red Cliffs Reserve, and they will be presenting several papers. Also on February 22, SNEI has generously offered to hold a pre-conference mixer to welcome everyone back to an in-person event. We will share more about plenary speakers soon and the program will be posted on the website 30 days prior to the Symposium.
The symposium schedule is based on Mountain Standard Time.
Pre-Conference Mixer, Social, Banquet, and Meals
The Symposium will get off to a great start with the Pre-Conference Mixer at 6:00 pm (Mountain Standard Time) on Wednesday, February 22, 2023. SNEI has generously offered to sponsor this event again and the Council is so appreciative of their support in helping the Symposium to be kicked-off with a great social and networking event! The Pre-conference Mixer will be held at the Dixie Center and will include food and beverages so we hope to see everyone there! Please introduce yourselves to the SNEI staff and thank them for their generosity!
On Thursday evening at 6:00 pm, after the completion of the Thursday program, the Council will be sponsoring a social networking event at the Dixie Center. The event will include food and a no-host bar and this will be a great opportunity to reconnect with friends, meet new people, and discuss the presentations heard during the day. We encourage everyone to participate and to have fun!
The banquet will be held at the Dixie Center on Friday evening at 6:00 pm and it will include a great meal and no-host bar as well as a banquet address by Cameron Rognan where he will share his amazing photographs of reptiles and reptile behavior in southwest Utah. The presentation of the Council’s awards, student awards, special awards, and photo contest awards will follow the banquet. The raffle and live auction will complete the night and will include great opportunities for bidders to win amazing prizes! We hope everyone will attend.
During the daily symposium program, snacks will be provided during morning and afternoon breaks and lunches will be provided on Thursday and Friday. Coffee, tea, and water will be available all day on each day of the symposium.
Annual Business Meeting
The Annual Business Meeting of the Desert Tortoise Council will be held in conjunction with the Annual Symposium on the morning of February 23, 2023. The Board of Directors will provide a summary of accomplishments over the past year, report on the financial status of the organization, recommend any revisions to the bylaws to be voted on by the general membership, and hold the annual election of officers. All Council members in good standing are invited to attend and eligible to vote, regardless of whether or not they are registered for the symposium. Please attend the Annual Business Meeting and actively participate in the operations of YOUR Council.
Our 2023 annual symposium will be presented in a hybrid format. When you register, you can choose either in-person or virtual and you are able to switch between the two through January 31. All sessions will be livestreamed for the virtual attendees.
Note: In-person and virtual attendance options are equally priced. Due to the significant technology costs, we are not able to discount the registration fees for virtual attendees. The DTC strives to offer a comprehensive symposium available to all and this also provides flexibility for those who may need to change their plans.
Registration at the symposium will include refreshments during morning and afternoon breaks, a buffet lunch on Thursday and Friday, and a banquet on Friday night. Coffee and tea will be provided all day each day. Note that breakfast is not included on any day of the symposium so registrants will be responsible for dining at their hotels or for providing their own breakfast. Also, if the symposium sessions extend into Saturday afternoon, registrants will be responsible for their own lunches on Saturday.
Become a member or renew your membership prior to registering for the symposium for discounts on our annual symposiums.
Health & Wellness Protocol
The Desert Tortoise Council would like to ensure that all persons attending the Symposium “in person” are safe and well. The infection rates for Covid (including the new BN.1 variant), influenza, and other infectious diseases (e.g., respiratory syncytial virus – RSV) are increasing this winter. Consequently, we are implementing the following protocol when you are in the Dixie Convention Center.
- If you feel ill, have recently tested positive for Covid, or have symptom(s) of Covid, influenza, RSV infection, or another infectious disease, please do not attend the symposium in person and please follow the CDC COVID isolation procedures until you are no longer infectious. If you are unable to attend the symposium because you test positive, you can switch between in-person and virtual participation. If you are unable to attend virtually, cancel your registration and request a refund of the registration fee.
- For the safety of all attendees, please wear a mask and when possible, practice social distancing. The exception to wearing a mask would be when presenting your talk, eating, or drinking. The Council will have masks and hand sanitizer available.
- We encourage in-person attendees to be vaccinated/boosted for Covid and vaccinated for Influenza.
Exploration of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Feb 22, 2023
This year we are fortunate to offer two field trips, providing opportunities for those driving from distances. The morning field trip is led by Ann McLuckie and Pete Woodman and departs from the Dixie Center in St. George at 9:30 am, returning at about 3:30 pm. Cameron Rognan and Mike Schijf offer an afternoon trip on the same day, also departing from the Dixie Center, beginning at 2:00 pm and returning at about 6:00 pm.
The Desert Tortoise Council has arranged for 80 rooms to be blocked for registrants of the 2023 Annual Symposium in St. George, Utah. These rooms are split between three different hotels located close to the Dixie Center. The hotels agreed to provide their federal per diem rate of $98/night (plus tax) at each of the three hotels. The Cutoff Date for booking rooms at the discounted rate is Monday, January 23, 2023. Any reservations made after that date will not be able to get the discounted rate.
The information about each of the hotels is provided below along with the link to reserve rooms at the discounted rates. The Group Code for the Symposium registrants is DTC.
Fairfield Inn St. George
1660 S. convention Center Dr., St. George, Utah 84790
Holiday Inn St. George Convention Center
1808 Crosby Way, St. George, Utah 84790
1(800) 888-HOLIDAY or 1(435) 628-8007
Hyatt Place St. George/Convention Center
1819 S. 120 E, St. George, Utah 84790
1(800) 323-7249 or 1(435) 656-8686
The closest major airport to St. George, Utah is Harry Reid International Airport (McCarran Airport) in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is approximately two hours from the conference venue in St. George, Utah. Rental vehicles are available at the airport and the St. George Shuttle is also an option for traveling between Las Vegas and St. George. The rates vary depending upon the time of day but generally range between $37 and $59.
St. George Utah Regional Airport might be another option for some travelers but flight availability may be limited.
The Council has identified a group carpool website where Symposium attendees can connect to share rides to and from the airport in Las Vegas. A DTC 48th Annual Symposium Carpool page has been created for people to start a carpool and to take on passengers. When joining a carpool, make sure to provide your phone number so you can communicate between drivers and passengers. If you need to delete a carpool, make sure to delete all passengers first. We have not used group carpool before, so we would appreciate feedback on how it works.
Sponsors & Partners/Vendors
Please consider sponsoring the annual Symposium of the Desert Tortoise Council. These one-time donations go directly to defraying the costs of the respective Annual Symposium. For additional information on sponsorship levels and to download the sponsorship form, please click the button below.
Vendors and non-profit partners are invited to apply to exhibit organization information and products at the Symposium. Vendors and non-profit partners will be listed in the Symposium program, acknowledged at the Symposium, and included on the Council’s website. The deadline to have your information listed in the Symposium program is January 20, 2023, but space is limited so space will be allotted on a first come, first served basis.
Vendor displays should be available to the attendees from noon on Thursday through noon on Saturday. Setup and take-down will be available before and after those times. One six-foot table with 2 chairs and access to an electrical outlet (if requested ahead of time) will be provided. Let us know of any additional needs.
All vendors/non-profit partners must be registered (in the appropriate category) to attend the Symposium and those selling items will need to provide an item (or items) totaling at least $50 in value to be auctioned or raffled by the Council at the Symposium.
For additional information about participating in the Symposium as a vendor or non-profit sponsor, please click the button below.
Thank you for your support!
Each year we encourage our membership to submit their best wildlife and nature photographs for a chance to win cash prizes, as well as to aid the Desert Tortoise Council in educating the public and advocating desert conservation through photography.
There will be specified times to present your poster on-site at the symposium (posters will be presented on-site and on the web, this year). Poster authors will be available on Thursday after the afternoon session, from 5:05 – 6 PM to answer questions before the Banquet. Click the button below to view this year’s posters.
The Desert Tortoise Council provides grants and funding to individuals, students, and organizations for projects and programs aimed at providing scientific research, management, and conservation actions that benefit desert tortoise populations and their habitats. Applications are being accepted for three grants that will be awarded at the symposium, including the David J. Morafka Memorial Research Award, the Linda J. Allison Memorial Grant Award, and the Glenn R. Stewart Student Travel Fund. Please visit the Grants & Funding page for applications and information about these grants.
The Awards Committee is responsible for recognizing individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the conservation and/or knowledge of desert tortoises and their habitat, or to achieving the goal and objectives of the Desert Tortoise Council. We consider several awards at our annual symposia.
Best Student Paper
The Desert Tortoise Council Awards Committee presents the Best Student Paper Award at the close of each Annual Symposium. A presenter must give notice to the Program Chair of his/her student status at the time the Abstract is received. The Best Student Paper Award notice accompanies the Call for Papers.
Symposium Raffle & Auction
The symposium will include an auction and various types of raffles to raise funds so the Council can continue to expand its conservation efforts for the tortoise. The auction and raffle are only open to those who register for the Symposium. Registrants are encouraged to bring donated items for the auction and raffle to help raise funds for the Council. As a teaser for the auction, the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch has donated a 2-night B & B stay at their amazing dude ranch in Colorado and Sky Island Falconry Experience in Arizona has donated a hawk walk for two people where you can experience the thrill of a trained hawk flying to your gloved hand! With the hybrid nature of the 2023 symposium, the Council will hold both in-person and online raffles during the symposium, so all registrants can have the opportunity to win great prizes. Raffle tickets for in-person registrants can be purchased at the Symposium venue. Virtual participants will be provided with a link to purchase raffle tickets for E-Gift card prizes. For those who would like to donate items to the auction and/or raffle, the donation form is available via the button below and copies will be available at the symposium.
You must be registered for the symposium to be eligible for the raffle, and tickets must be purchased by 5pm MST the day before each drawing. All raffle tickets purchased are valid for the entire symposium.
Past Proceedings & Abstracts
Our 47th Annual Desert Tortoise Council Symposium was a great success. Click below to download symposium abstracts from this and all previous years.