Red Cliffs National Conservation Area
Through the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Congress designated the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area (NCA) in Washington County, Utah “to conserve, protect, and enhance …the ecological, scenic, wildlife, recreational, cultural, historical, natural, educational, and scientific resources” of public lands in the NCA. The designating legislation directs the BLM to develop a resource management plan for the Red Cliffs NCA. The plan will guide the long-range management of the NCA, providing protection to those resources for which the NCA was designated.
The approximately 45,000 acres of public land in the NCA are located in south-central Washington County. The towering Pine Valley Mountains and Dixie National Forest lie to the north, while the communities of Ivins, Santa Clara, St. George, Washington, and Leeds ring the NCA. The NCA is an important component of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, a multi-jurisdictional land base that has been collaboratively managed by BLM, the State of Utah, Washington County, and local municipalities since 1996 to protect populations and habitat of the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise
and other at-risk native plant and animal species.
The Colorado Plateau, Great Basin Desert, and Mojave Desert overlap in Washington County. In this transition zone, unusual plant and animal species have evolved, including the dwarf bearclaw-poppy and Shivwits milk-vetch, small native plants that grow nowhere else on earth. The hot, arid Mojave Desert provides habitat for diverse wildlife, such as kit fox, Gambel’s quail, and the Mojave Desert tortoise. This native tortoise is listed under the Endangered Species Act and is at risk of extinction due to habitat loss and other factors. The newly-designated Red Mountain and Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness areas are also within this NCA. Here, hikers, backpackers, and equestrians can enjoy scenic vistas, solitude, and natural quiet, just a few miles drive from local communities.
More than 130 miles of non-motorized recreation trails (hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trail riding) are available for public use in the NCA. The Red Cliffs Recreation Area offers camping and day use areas, in a developed site where fees are collected. All motorized vehicle travel, including Off-Highway Vehicles, is limited to designated roads in the NCA. No motorized or mechanized vehicle travel is allowed in the Red Mountain and Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness areas, without special authorization from BLM.