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Stewart Introduces Washington County Conservation Bill

Today, Congressman Chris Stewart (UT-02) introduced the Desert Tortoise Habitat Conservation Plan Expansion Act, H.R. 7815. This bill renews the Mojave Desert Tortoise Habitat Conservation Plan, expands the Red Cliff Desert Reserve, authorizes the Northern Corridor route, and clarifies the sovereign independent status of the Shivwits Band of Paiutes.

“The HCP has been successful at recovering tortoises for over 20 years. Reauthorizing this plan is an easy decision.  Everything in this bill is important for the economy and future growth of Washington County.” – Rep. Chris Stewart

“Federal agencies should not restrict the private property rights in our area.  The bill protects those rights and ensures that our transportation planners can continue to manage a system that meets our residents’ needs.” - Representative Walt Brooks (Utah House of Representatives)

“This is a great bill because it simply recognizes things that Congress and prior Administrations have approved—namely a Northern Corridor, a county-wide desert tortoise incidental take permit, and sovereignty for the Shivwits—and acknowledges that Washington County is a responsible steward and partner in managing the area’s public lands.”- Washington County Commission Chair, Victor Iverson

"St. George City strongly supports this important HCP legislation which provides enhanced protection for the desert tortoise by preserving additional habitat. This bill will also enable our community to continue to develop in sustainable and responsible ways.”Jon Pike, St. George Mayor

“The Shivwits Band of Paiutes (Tribe) supports this Bill because it preserves a lot of conservation habitat and provides the Tribe a meaningful voice in protecting desert tortoises and their habitat. We like this Bill because it clarifies Congress’ 1980 Act to restore the Tribe in a way that allows our Tribe to interact effectively with stakeholders. We appreciate our good relationship with state and local authorities and are glad to support this Bill by Representative Stewart.”- Shivwits Band of Paiutes

More about this legislation:

This bill authorizes administrative changes that are necessary for Washington County.

  • Renews the Desert Tortoise Habitat Conservation Plan incidental take permit in Washington County, Utah for 25 years.
  • Expands the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve by nearly 7,000 acres, referred to as Zone 6 to improve tortoise management and provide a land bank for mitigation to impacts to the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. 
  • Clarifies that the Shivwits Bands of Paiute Indians is sovereign and independent.
  • Preserves the existing utility corridors and utility development protocols that were written to protect tortoises when utilities are being constructed.
  • Preserves existing grazing rights within Red Cliffs National Conservation Area or Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area.
  • Clarifies that water rights are not to be held by the federal government in either the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area or Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area.
  • Authorizes the ROW for a Northern Corridor to be built through the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve to move traffic east and west.
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