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Jury finds San Juan County Commissioner guilty for protest ride in Utah’s Recapture Canyon

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SALT LAKE CITY – After deliberating for about 7 hours, the jury has reached a verdict in the trial for four men, including the San Juan County Commissioner, who allegedly rode all-terrain vehicles through a restricted area as part of a protest against the Bureau of Land Management and the issue of federal management of land in Utah, and two of the men were found guilty.

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman and Monte Wells were both found guilty on misdemeanor counts 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. The other two men on trial, Shane Marian and Trent Holliday, were found not-guilty on both counts.

Sentencing for the men is scheduled for July 15. According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office, the two men face: "Potential sentence of 1 year in jail and a $100,000 fine."

Lyman spoke to FOX 13 News as he left the courtroom following Friday night's verdict.

"This is a shout-out, I guess, to county officials that: 'You do not have jurisdiction in your counties: it is a federal jurisdiction state,'" he said.

BLM spokesman Tom Gorey released a statement via the U.S. Attorney's Office Friday night.

"Today’s verdict underscores the importance of protecting the nation's irreplaceable archaeological treasures. These ancient dwellings and artifacts are essential for understanding the story of the earliest inhabitants of the American Southwest. As Congress has directed, the BLM will continue to protect these resources while managing the public lands for multiple-use and sustained yield on behalf of all Americans."

The four men were allegedly among at least 50 people who rode ATVs through Recapture Canyon in San Juan County, which had been closed to motorized vehicles by the BLM to protect the canyon and archeological artifacts in the area.

The canyon was closed to motorized vehicles in 2007. Jay Redd was also charged in connection with the ride, but the charges against Redd were later dropped. A motion to drop charges against the other four was denied.

Prosecutors said earlier in the week that Lyman and the others “knowingly and willingly crossed the line in an act of defiance,” and that “there was no way for confusion or error.”

Outside of court Wednesday, Lyman replied “no” when asked if he regretted his role in the ride.

7 comments

  • bob

    Disgusting. The Constitution does not authorize the Federal government to won the physical land within any state. That’s what a “state” IS. When a territory is admitted to the Union, control of the public land within that territory is ceded to the new State.

    That’s why the Constitution provides specific, and carefully limited, EXCEPTIONS for a national capital and for military reservations.

    The “BLM” has no jurisdiction.

    It’s sad how willingly the formerly free citizens of this country accept Federal tyranny. Nobody cares as long as THEY get to do as they please.

    • Edward Bruce Patrovsky

      Bob, I respectfully disagree with your interpretation of the Constitution. The element you quoted relates to land ceded by the States to the Federal Government. Since the Federal Lands in Utah were never State Lands, the Property Clause of the Constitution, Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2 prevails. This gives Congress the authority to manage Federal Lands. The Courts have consistently upheld this provision.

      • kenmedenbach

        Ed, you said the Courts have consistently upheld some provision. The 10th Amendment states:The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
        Where in the Constitution does it say the Courts are delegated the power to interpret the Constitution?

  • Seth

    I respect the juries decision in all outcomes. But from the video I need to ask what damage was done? There appears to have been a road there already. And the water master drives it all the time. So what damage charges can be trumped up?

  • Wishful

    This proves that the BLM is completely incompetent as far as protecting anything. They obviously new of the planned protest ride, they were there and watched, yet they failed to protect what ever it was they claimed was a national treasure. Overpaid fraudulent land management is par for the BLM. Some credible investigative journalist needs to covertly follow the BLM around and document just how corrupt they are. There is no credible on the ground land or resource manage going on, yet they continue to pillage the tax payers. Public bureaucratic corruption is a far greater crime than the indiscretion of a private party. I feel strongly that we should earnestly call for an impartial behind the scenes documentary look at what passes for federal land management today. The federal government is rogue corrupt out west and the public is ignorantly apathetic.

  • kenmedenbach

    You are exactly right Bob, and your constitutional reasoning is backed up with the 2nd Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a FREE STATE, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The fed is pushing We the People,to the edge, soon We the People are going to have to make a decision!

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