Gov. Herbert: Uphold laws during ATV protest
By Brady McCombs
The Bureau of Land Management is warning riders to stay out, vowing prosecution against those who ignore a law put in place after an illegal trail was found that cuts through ruins that are nearly 2,000 years old. The canyon is open to hikers and horseback riders.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he understands frustration around the issue, but urged people to uphold the law and not disrupt public safety during the protest.
The protest is the latest illustration of tension between Western residents and the federal government over management of public lands. But the off-road protest isn't expected to end in a confrontation like other recent ones.
By Matt Lee-Ashley
Yet San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman (R-UT) and his supporters appear determined to defy federal law by riding their ATVs through Recapture Canyon, an area of southeast Utah known as a “mini-Mesa Verde” because it contains one of the highest densities of archaeological sites in the country.
Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who has refused to pay more than $1 million in grazing fees he owes U.S. taxpayers, has reportedly urged his supporters-–who include armed militia members–-to join Lyman in Utah this weekend.
“We need to help the people of Blanding re-establish who is in control of the land,” said Bundy and his wife, Carol, in an email that was reported by E&E News. “This is your next stand. Will you be there to help them like you helped us?”
Since well before the state of Nevada, the federal government, and farmers and ranchers occupied the area, tribal nations–including the Las Vegas Band of Paiute, Moapa Band of Paiute, and other tribes in the area–have respected and honored the Utah Canyon as a sacred place. Native peoples believe the canyon contains many markers from their ancestors. An action like this is no more appropriate than a similar activity at a church or other place of worship.
The NCAI strongly urges federal authorities to act–as part of its trust responsibility to tribal nations–to prevent this potential destruction of sacred places. We would oppose an action of this type not only by Mr. Bundy and his supporters, but by anyone with a disregard for Native peoples and cultures.
Trail ride challenges federal control of Utah land
By Jennifer Dobner
The ride into Recapture Canyon, which comes amid heightened political tensions, is a protest against indecision by federal land managers on whether to reopen canyon trails to recreational vehicle use after more than seven years of study.
About 300 people rallied at a nearby park before dozens of people, some of them armed with guns, set off in about 60 ATVs down a closed-off trail, which winds through red rock desert. The local sheriff had armed officers on horseback monitoring the protest.
The dispute is the latest squabble between conservative states' rights advocates in Utah and across the West, who want to take back millions of acres of public land over which federal agencies have authority. More than 60 percent of Utah's land is under federal control.
The canyon in the Four Corners region of Utah is home to the ruins of ancient dwellings and other cultural resources of Ancestral Puebloans. The Bureau of Land Management closed the area in 2007 after an illegally constructed trail was found and some artifact sites were damaged.
Utah ATV protest peaceful
But BLM says it documented illegal use
By John Peel
A rally before the ride and the ride itself both went off peacefully Saturday morning. But there were some testy moments at the morning rally at Centennial Park on the southwest edge of town as visitors from outside the area exhorted San Juan County residents to fully flaunt their right to the part of Recapture Canyon in question, located on Bureau of Land Management land and closed to ATVs in September 2007.
Also, a statement issued after the ride from BLM Utah Director Juan Palma said the agency had documented those who rode Saturday into the area closed to motorized use.
“The BLM was in Recapture Canyon today collecting evidence and will continue to investigate,” Palma’s statement said. “The BLM will pursue all available redress through the legal system to hold the lawbreakers accountable.”
By John M. Glionna
Their message Saturday was clear amid the dust: This was the latest challenge by citizens saying they are defending state and local rights against an increasingly arrogant federal government that has overstepped its role in small communities such as Blanding.
The protagonist this time wasn't a private rancher like Cliven Bundy, who prevailed in a standoff with the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada. This protest was the brainchild of a public official, San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, who contends that this town of 3,500 residents has tried hard to compromise with the bureau to reopen scenic Recapture Canyon to all-terrain vehicles.
BLM officials banned the vehicles to protect archaeological sites, a move residents say has cheated them out of a prime recreational area. Unlike in the Bundy incident, no guns were brandished here, but the words were volatile. "If you make a rule that I have to lick your boots," Lyman said of federal officials, "I'm just not going to do that."
Protesters ride ATVs through canyon despite ban, BLM officials document illegal activity
Welfare Cowboy Jr. Leads 300 Armed Protesters on Crusade for More Stuff They Aren’t Entitled To
Comment: For more on Cliven Bundy, see What Bundy and Sterling Tell Us and Cliven Bundy vs. Dann Sisters.