You too can track the desert tortoise with Ranger Chip

TUCSON, AZ - The creatures of the desert and big and small.  Some are especially quiet.  In fact, if you didn't know any better, you could pass them up without even realizing it. That's where Ranger Chip comes in.

Chip Littlefield is a U.S. Forest Service Ranger at Saguaro National Park.  "As far as I am concerned, there isn't a better job," he said.

Ranger Chip spends his days sharing his passion for the Sonoran Desert with just about anyone who'll listen. Old and young alike, he takes them on adventures through Saguaro National Park West in search of one of the desert's most elusive creatures--the desert tortoise.

"Somewhere in this direction #421 is out there, doing its thing,"  Ranger Chip said as he scanned the landscape.

This season the park has a couple of desert tortoises outfitted with transmitters.  On this morning we were looking for #421.

"They don't have that big an area that they move," Ranger Chip said. "A couple of football fields is normally the home range that they'll maintain.

"What we'll do is turn this off, walk another 100 yards, then we'll try it again and see where the sound has become relative to where we are."

Ranger Chip knows the tracking device better than any one.  On this day he was just beginning to doubt himself.  When, all of a sudden he literally stumbled across it.

"Got it!"  He exclaimed.  "Yes!"

There quietly at the base of an ocotillo sat #421. Ranger Chip takes hundreds of people on this adventure but he especially likes to reach disadvantaged kids who wouldn't normally set food in the desert.

"Sometimes I only get you know one shot," he said.  "I get two hours with a child and in that two hours, where it's my hope just to plant a seed. And if the seed gets nurtured, if it grows to fruition, if it does something down the road, then good. I've left my life impact and the message we need for these special places."