Washington County leaders say new BLM plan could stop developing roadway

May 13, 2024, 3:43 PM

** FILE **A desert tortoise finds relief from the sun under a bush in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve...

** FILE **A desert tortoise finds relief from the sun under a bush in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve north of St. George, Utah, seen in this, April 18, 2001, file photo. Fires burning in the desert Southwest are endangering habitats for the desert tortoises, whose populations have decreased significantly this decade because of drought. Among the many fires that wiped out tens of thousands of acres in southwestern Utah in the last week was one that burned in the middle of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

(AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

ST. GEORGE — Washington County officials are asking residents to support a roadway that has been in development since 2009 but could end due to new federal plans for the area.

According to a Washington County press release, the Bureau of Land Management released a planned draft that revokes Utah officials right-of-way to build the four-mile Northern Corridor roadway, which will connect Washington Parkway to Red Hills Parkway in St. George.

“The Northern Corridor crossing a small portion of the Red Cliffs National Conservation was pre-approved by Congress and President Obama in 2009. We have been studying, planning, and fighting for this highway for over fifteen years,” said Washington County Commissioner Adam Snow in a written statement.

BLM provided five other roadway projects for where the Northern Corridor would be built, but Washington County officials state their plans are the “only viable alternatives.”

“Rather than supporting the existing right-of-way, which has been amply studied, the BLM is promoting half-baked concepts that will significantly harm the quality of life for Washington County’s human and Mojave desert tortoise populations alike.” Snow wrote.

Because of the proposed right-of-way removal, Washington County officials are asking residents to send public comments to the BLM website.

The county listed five key points that it wants residents to consider, including fulfilling the 2009 roadway construction promise, addressing traffic and air pollution, and projecting endangered wildlife.

BLM stated on its website that the right-of-way removal is to comply with several environmental and wildlife policies, such as the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

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Washington County leaders say new BLM plan could stop developing roadway