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More Than 16K Comment On Highway Planned Across Desert Tortoise Habitat

(Brain Passey/The Spectrum via AP, File)

Federal officials say more than 16,000 public comments have been submitted for a proposal to build a highway through a protected Mojave Desert tortoise habitat in southern Utah.

The Spectrum reports the proposed four-lane road has drawn criticism from conservationists, because the corridor would run through land set aside to protect the tortoise. The Bureau of Land Management opened the public comment period last month and will now go through all of the comments before releasing the draft environmental impact statement.

Officials say the Utah Division of Transportation and Washington County proposed building the Northern Corridor that would pass through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.

A definite route for the road has not yet been determined, but officials say an alternative route is possible.

Officials say after the department releases the draft environmental impact statement, a new 90-day public comment period will open.

A decision is expected by 2021.

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