Utah Department of Transportation
Southern Corridor Sustainable Development Initiative and Southern Corridor Endangered Plant Preserve
Dwarf bear poppy protected by the creation of the White Dome Preserve.
White Dome, Utah.
Several years ago, the City of St. George, Utah, was anticipating a number of new large-scale development projects that had the potential to put a strain on some of the area's natural resources. These development projects included the Southern Corridor project, a proposed major east-west highway; relocation of the St. George airport; and development of the "South Block," a 10,000-acre parcel of land south of the city that has the potential to become a community with residential, commercial, and industrial uses. The City of St. George realized the importance of careful planning for and coordinating of these multiple development projects in order to preserve the quality of life residents enjoyed and to minimize environmental impacts. With support from Federal and state agencies, the city identified a number of sustainable development initiatives that were included in two key documents: the Southern Corridor Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the South Block Master Plan.
Southern Corridor Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the City of St. George identified the Southern Corridor project as a pilot project to streamline the EIS process by mutually agreeing on project issues. Two goals developed as part of the pilot project were to include information in the EIS regarding the potential cumulative impacts of regional growth and to explain how planning decisions made to accommodate growth could affect the environment. This information was included in a chapter on Smart Growth that presented an analysis of sustainable growth initiatives and outlined how these initiatives, if implemented, could reduce environmental impacts and provide economic and social benefits to the area.
South Block Master Plan
The EPA and FHWA provided the City of St. George with grants to use for modeling analysis to study sustainable development scenarios and land use impacts associated with the Southern Corridor Project. The agencies also provided the city support in preparing a new master plan. The plan included sustainable development initiatives to minimize the environmental impacts from the new development. The earlier modeling work provided the basis for many of the concepts proposed in the updated St. Georges' South Block Master Plan. The plan, approved by the City Council in 2007, identified a sustainable community of five compact neighborhoods with parks and trails throughout the area. The higher density neighborhoods are expected to help accommodate affordable housing and preserve open space.
To ensure that the area's most critical lands are preserved, portions of open space were designated as nature preserves. These preserves were created through a collaborative effort among the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, The Nature Conservancy, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UDOT, and FHWA. One of the preserves, the White Dome Nature Preserve, will encompass 800 acres of habitat for several at-risk species, including the endangered dwarf bear poppy, a species only found in this region of Utah. Another preserve, the Milkvetch Preserve, contains approximately 172 acres of habitat for the endangered holmgren milkvetch plant. Both preserves will incorporate public-access hiking trails. These preserves will play an important role in sustaining endangered plant species, while encouraging sustainable recreation and development in sensitive environments.
Fort Pierce Wash Watershed.
Implementation of these sustainable development initiatives will allow the City of St. George to minimize environmental impacts and provide economic and social benefits to the area. For more information about the Southern Corridor Sustainable Development Initiative, please contact Tamerha Maxwell, Project Manager with UDOT, at Tamerha@utah.gov or (435) 865-5511.