Southwestern Utah is home to some of the best outdoor recreation, scenic vistas and most ecologically sensitive landscapes in the United States. Without adequate protections, these important resources could be lost forever. Right now there are planning proposals that include a highway that would bisect Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, and utility lines that would buzz through a proposed multi-species wildlife corridor!
The Red Cliffs National Conservation Area (NCA) is part of the larger multi-jurisdictional Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, a place that is considered “a privilege to visit.” It’s not just another mountain bike trail or horseback ride; it’s a 62,000-acre scenic wildlife reserve set aside to protect the Mojave Desert Tortoise and other rare plants and animals.
At the merging of three great ecosystems, the Mojave Desert, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau, the Reserve is biologically rich with a unique array of animals and plants. The Reserve contains the most northern populations of the desert tortoise, Gila monster, sidewinder rattlesnake, and chuckwalla – reptiles typically associated with hotter and more southerly deserts, like the Mojave. A significant portion of the shrubs in this area, such as blackbrush, are more commonly found in the cooler Great Basin Desert. The conditions in the region are such that several endemic species, those which occur nowhere else in the world, do occur there.
To preserve Utah’s southwestern landscape and maintain its valuable resources, the Bureau of Land Management must adopt a management strategy that prioritizes conservation in southwestern Utah.
Southwestern Utah’s unique natural character, local wildlife and diverse recreational opportunities draw thousands of visitors from across the country and around the world every year. While neighboring protected areas like Zion National Park help preserve some of these resources, the region’s other desert gems remain at risk and need stronger protections.
Take Action: Tell BLM that you care about all of southwestern Utah’s wildlands, and support the agency’s efforts to protect desert ecosystems, recreation opportunities like hiking and stargazing, and the conservation of lands beyond Zion National Park!
(photo by xmarksthescot.com)