Fast-growing southern Utah county getting a new road through tortoise habitat

in People

SALT LAKE CITY — A proposed 4.5-mile, four-lane highway on Washington County’s wish list for more than two decades received the green light Thursday from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

The decision granting the right of way application came after the federal agencies worked with the applicant and Washington County to consider ways to offset the Mojave desert tortoise habitat losses from any approved development in southern Utah.

“The service is proud to continue long-term partnerships with Washington County, the state of Utah, the local community and the BLM to conserve the threatened desert tortoise while also balancing the long-term needs of growing communities,” said the service’s director Aurelia Skipwith. “This (plan) advances conservation through these crucial partnerships, and we thank all those involved for their collaboration and input.”

The BLM has approved the Northern Corridor right of way for 1.9 miles on federal lands, and for a total of 4.5 miles on all jurisdictions. The final decision approves the establishment of a 6,813-acre zone within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, which will be managed for species conservation. The final decision also requires certain habitat improvements to protect and restore native plant species.

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