Yesterday, Conserve Southwest Utah and a coalition of 14 organizations formally filed a protest of the Bureau of Land Management’s recommendation for a four-lane highway through Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. The Conservation Lands Foundation has partnered with Conserve Southwest Utah throughout the process and is part of the coalition filing the protest.

The Bureau of Land Management’s final environmental study, released last month, recommends that the Northern Corridor Highway cut through these protected public lands. Red Cliffs is sensitive, scenic, and protected habitat in southwestern Utah. A highway through this beloved region would negatively impact the public’s experience on these lands, threaten cultural sites, and set a dangerous precedent for National Conservation Lands elsewhere in Utah and throughout the country.

The highway also violates the purpose of our National Conservation Lands, which are to be conserved, protected, and enhanced for present and future generations.

Our protest reflects the fact that the 300+ issues we’ve submitted to the Bureau of Land Management have not been adequately addressed. We’ve requested the agency assess the impact of the recent wildfires, address the illegal use of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and correct the alternatives cost estimates - which have gone unanswered.

Conserve Southwest Utah maintains support for the alternative transportation routes outside Red Cliffs. Unlike the Northern Corridor Highway, these routes would not destroy threatened wildlife, scenic beauty and access to trails in the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.

Sarah Thomas, our Director of Southwest Utah’s Public Lands Program, said it best in a recent press statement:

“Transportation alternatives located outside of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area were studied and proven more effective than the Northern Corridor Highway in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. This analysis, in addition to the thousands of public comment letters supporting transportation alternatives outside Red Cliffs, should have convinced the Bureau of Land Management to protect this sanctuary for the future. We’re disappointed that the agency would ignore scientific experts, recreationists, homeowners and thousands of local residents who love the Red Cliffs NCA, in favour of a 4-lane highway that has failed approval six times in the past because it’s wrong for Red Cliffs and our community, and sets a dangerous precedent for our country.”

We will continue to do everything in our power to protect these special public lands.

For the latest updates on this project, and to help us save Red Cliffs, visit our website.

About
Tom Butine is the Board President of Conserve Southwest Utah.
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