BLM unveils options for Trump-era highway in tortoise habitat

By Scott Streater | 05/09/2024 01:24 PM EDT

Approved in Trump’s last days in the White House, the 4-mile project would cut through Utah’s Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.

A Mojave Desert tortoise on a dirt road.

A desert tortoise sits in the middle of an eastern Mojave Desert road. The Bureau of Land Management is reconsidering whether a highway through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area in Utah would harm the threatened tortoises. Reed Saxon/AP

The Bureau of Land Management is taking another step toward resolving a yearslong battle over a proposed Utah highway corridor that would cut through a national conservation area and habitat for a threatened tortoise.

BLM has completed a draft supplemental analysis of the Trump administration’s last-gasp approval of the corridor through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. The administration greenlighted the project in January 2021, just days before Joe Biden’s inauguration.

But the draft supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS), outlined in an advance notice in Thursday’s Federal Register, doesn’t include a “preferred alternative” indicating what direction BLM is headed with the contentious project.


The bureau could decide to uphold then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s approval of the corridor, reject it outright or modify the proposal.