Phil Lyman receives Presidential Pardon

Blanding resident and Utah House of Representative member Phil Lyman received a Presidential Pardon Tuesday from President Donald Trump.

In 2014 Lyman, who was serving as a San Juan County Commissioner at the time, led an ATV protest ride in Recapture Canyon, located just outside of Blanding.

About 50 ATVs and motorcycles drove through the closed portion of the canyon. A trail running through the canyon had been closed to motorized vehicles several years earlier by the Bureau of Land Management and local residents had grown frustrated by the lack of progress in settling the long standing issue. The canyon contains Native American cliff dwellings.

After being convicted for organizing the ride in 2015, Lyman was sentenced to ten days in jail and ordered to pay about $96,000 in restitution.

Lyman's pardon was supported by Sen. Mike Lee and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, according to a statement from the White House.

In a statement Lyman said

“Today is an important day for my family and me, and for rural Utah. To say the last five years were difficult would be an understatement. My family has been my salvation in the darkest moments.”

Lyman said the protest was more about government overreach than the actual closure of the trail itself.

Tensions were high at the time, following a controversial 2009 federal artifact raid that resulted in the arrest of several Blanding residents and the suicide of one of them, Dr. James Redd.

In addition, two Blanding area residents were fined $35,000 for creating a new ATV trail through Recapture Canyon without permission from the BLM.

“We protested a federal agency that wrongly and maliciously raided our community. Had the Administration at the time done what they should have in 2009, it would have prevented a massive waste of taxpayer dollars and the devastation of the lives of the honest people who were targeted by dishonest people.”

Lyman expressed his thanks to President Donald Trump, Senator Lee, Former Representative Chaffetz and others.

The pardon of Lyman is one of approximately 20 pardons that were announced by the White House on December 22.

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