Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Areas

Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Areas

Current Status:
PENDING

Case Title:
Case 1:21-cv-01506

Staff attorney(s):
Todd Tucci

Client(s):

Conserve Southwest Utah
Conservation Lands Foundation
Center for Biological Diversity
Defenders of Wildlife
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
The Wilderness Society
WildEarth Guardians

To Protect:

National Conservation Areas
Mojave Desert Tortoise

States:
Utah

Case Information:

June 3, 2021 – Advocates for the West filed suit against the Department of Interior and Bureau of Land management for a plan approved under the Trump Administration to move ahead with plans to punch a four-lane highway through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. The planned highway would pave over a protected, sensitive, scenic desert paradise in southwest Utah, violating bedrock environmental and cultural resource protection laws. In addition, the region contains critical habitat for the threatened Mojave desert tortoise.

March 24, 2017 – Advocates for the West filed a motion to intervene in the Washington County, Utah appeal of the Final Resource Management Plans (RMP) for the Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Areas (NCA).

Earlier in the year, Washington County filed an appeal with the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA), contesting the final RMP for the Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash NCAs. At the heart of the appeal is Washington County’s claim that BLM failed to consider and approve the construction of a highway through the Red Cliffs NCA. We are intervening to ask the court to uphold the BLM’s decision to exclude the construction plan from its RMP.

The Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash NCAs were established by legislation in 2009 after years of collaboration and input from the public and other stakeholders. Red Cliffs was designated in large part to protect habitat for the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise, while allowing development in other areas of Washington County. This compromise was agreed to and signed by officials in Washington County as part of a Habitat Conservation Plan in 1996.

BLM led a process for the last six years to develop an RMP for the Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash, which it finalized on December 20, 2016.

The Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash NCAs when designated became part of the National Conservation Lands—a collection of places around the West recognized for their scenic, ecological, historic or cultural significance. They were established to “conserve, protect, and enhance for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generation the ecological, scenic, wildlife, recreation, cultural, historical, natural, educational, and scientific resources of the NCA; and to protect listed threatened or endangered species.”