Recapture ATV protest ride
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Protesters ride through Recapture Canyon as part of a protest led by San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman. See the story and more photos on pages two and three. Staff photo
Five San Juan County residents face federal charges related to the May 10 ATV ride into Recapture Canyon. The charges were announced on September 17 by the acting U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen.
A two-count misdemeanor information filed in federal court alleges one count of conspiracy to operate off-road vehicles on public lands closed to off-road vehicles and one count of operation of off-road vehicles on public lands closed to off-road vehicles.
San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman is charged, along with Monte Wells, Jay Redd, Shane Marian, and Franklin Trent Holliday.
Each count in the information carries a potential penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine of $100,000. The investigation in the case is ongoing.
According to the charges, from about February 27, 2014 until about May 10, 2014, the defendants conspired among themselves, with each other, and with others known and unknown to operate off-road vehicles through land restricted to off-road vehicles and administered by the BLM.
The information alleges the purpose of the conspiracy was to unlawfully operate off-road vehicles through the restricted area as a means of expressing opposition to the BLM and its management of Recapture Canyon.
“We respect the fact that the citizens of this State have differing and deeply held views regarding the management and use of Recapture Canyon, and recognize that they have the right to express those opinions freely. Nevertheless, those rights must be exercised in a lawful manner and when individuals choose to violate the law, rather than engage in lawful protest, we will seek to hold those individuals accountable under the law,” said Christensen.
Count one of the information alleges that beginning on or about March 2, 2104, Lyman began advertising the proposed ATV ride through the restricted area to occur on May 8, 2014, through social media. It was further part of the conspiracy, the information alleges, that on April 11, 2014, Lyman advertised the proposed ATV ride through the restricted area of Recapture Canyon by publishing an article in the Deseret News. The information alleges Lyman further promoted the published article using social media.
Later in April, according to the information, Lyman, using social media, began advertising a change in the date for the proposed ATV ride from May 8, 2014, to May 10, 2014, to allow more people to participate.
The information alleges that in late April, Lyman and Wells used social media websites to publish and promote an invitation, with accompanying instructions, to the public to join the proposed ATV ride through the off-road vehicle restricted area in Recapture Canyon on May 10, 2014.
Around May 5, 2014, Lyman and Wells filmed a three-part video interview in which they discussed the nature, origin, and plans for the proposed ATV ride through the off-road vehicle restricted area in Recapture Canyon.
It was further part of the conspiracy, according to the information, that Lyman and Wells used various social media websites to advertise and promote the proposed ATV ride.
The information alleges each defendant committed an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy by knowingly and willfully operating an off-road vehicle through the restricted area of Recapture Canyon on May 10, 2014.
Count two of the information alleges the five defendants operated an off-road vehicle through land closed to off-road vehicles and administered by the Bureau of Land Management and did aid and abet each other.
An information is not a finding of guilt. Individuals charged in an information are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.
Recapture Canyon is federal public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Recapture Canyon was closed to motorized use in 2007.