ST. GEORGE, Utah — Southern Utah officials are proposing a land swap deal with the federal government in order to build a highway through the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.

The Spectrum reports Washington County officials are drafting federal legislation with members of Utah’s congressional delegation to swap land needed for the Washington Parkway.

County Commissioner Dean Cox says the legislation would take out about 150 acres of the reserve near St. George and ease restrictions on utility lines.

Cox says about 7,000 acres of land south of Santa Clara would be added to the 62,000-acre reserve. The legislation would also renew the Habitat Conservation Plan, allowing the county to manage the reserve.

Conservation advocates have opposed the proposal, saying it could harm Mojave desert tortoise and other species on the reserve.

Information from: The Spectrum,