Men fined $35,000 for illegally building ATV trail
A federal magistrate has sent a strong message that unauthorized construction of trails on federal land would not be tolerated.
Daniel Lee Felstead, age 38, and Kenneth James Brown, age 67, admitted before Federal Magistrate Samuel Alba on January 21 that they used tools to create an ATV trail in Recapture Canyon east of Blanding. Alba fined the two men from Blanding a total of $35,000 and placed them on probation.
Brown was sentenced to one year probation and fined $27,000. Felstead was fined $8,000 and placed on probation for two years.
“The probation and restitution ordered in this case today represents a just outcome in this matter. These defendants have been held criminally responsible for their wrongful actions and required to pay thousands of dollars in restitution to repair the damage attributable to their conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen at the sentencing.
Christensen added that it was not possible to attribute all the damage in the canyon to the two men.
“I understand many Utahns have strong feelings on both sides of the debate when it comes to Recapture Canyon,” Christensen said. “However, we must balance many factors when we pursue a criminal prosecution.”
The sentencing on January 21 came just ten days after charges were filed. The misdemeanor charges stated that the men damaged federal land administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The trail, built in 2005, went through several archaeological sites.
In recent weeks, a controversy has developed over signs posted at a number of areas in central San Juan County, including the Recapture Canyon ATV trailhead.
The “wanted dead or alive” signs included threats to the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a wilderness advocacy group that has been active in pursuing closure of the Recapture Canyon trails.