Wednesday, May 23, 2018

U.S. House panel hears bill that would carve highway across reserve in Southern Utah

A bill U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart is proposing as a way to clear room for a “northern corridor” highway across the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area passed through a congressional subcommittee on public lands Tuesday. House Resolution 5597 carves out about 140 acres within an area set aside for the federally protected Mojave desert tortoise, but brings more than 6,000 acres from a different part of the county into protection under the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, Stewart said, describing the bill in testimony to a subcommittee of the Natural Resources committee chaired by fellow Utah Republican Rob Bishop. “If I could invest $147 and get more than $6,000 back, I would do that in a second,” Stewart said. Washington County Commissioner Dean Cox said the proposal is a net benefit to the tortoise, suggesting that county surveys of the area show the addition to the reserve would include about 500 animals, compared with "15 to 20" that would be affected by the highway...MORE

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