Protesters ride ATVs through canyon despite BLM ban

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BLANDING, Utah -- It's a fight for rights over public lands; protestors drove ATVs through an area banned to riders for years Saturday morning.

Saturday's ride began at about 9 a.m. in Recapture Canyon in Southeastern Utah, and between 300 and 500 protesters were in attendance.

BLM officials were also there, but they arrived in plain clothes rather than in uniform and all interactions were peaceful.

The showdown was organized by San Juan's County Commissioner, who said the ride is a demonstration of his disgust with the federal government. The BLM had warned riders to stay out, and the governor urged Utahns to follow the law.

"Recapture was chosen because it's right next to town,” said Phill Lyman, who is the man behind Saturday's protest. "It's been close to 8 years since the country put its right way of application. It feels like it's been dragging on and on."

Western residents at odds with the federal government drove their ATV's through Recapture Canyon in an act of defiance.

"BLM has been very adamant,” Lyman said prior to the protest. “They said, ‘Don't do it, or we will cite you with criminal and civil penalties.’ I don't like that. The sheriff has been very supportive and recognizes what we're dealing with. He's from here, he's local, we have a great sheriff and he doesn't plan on giving citations tomorrow, keep the peace and look out for the people who are exercising their rights under the Constitution.”

Lyman said he wants people to stand up for what he calls their right to public lands.

Monticello resident Monte Wells said he planned to support the protest.

He said: "Sometimes people have to stand up and say, ‘This is what we want. This is the way it should be.’”

The trail in Recapture Canyon was closed to motorized vehicles in 2007 after the construction of an illegal trail damaged archeological sites.

The Bureau of Land Management, which has been on high alert after an agency wrangler was threatened at gunpoint on Tuesday on 1-15 in Juab County, released a statement Friday, saying in part: "We regret that the illegal ATV ride planned for tomorrow appears to be going forward. Recapture Canyon is public land belonging to all Americans and contains ancient cultural sites and artifacts that are at serious risk of being destroyed or damaged."

Governor Gary Herbert also released a statement promising to work with all the parties involved but also said: "I encourage everyone to uphold the law and not do anything that could disrupt public safety."

"There's natural law, then there's political law. To me this is political," Wells said.

The fight over public lands has long existed, especially in Utah. It most recently gained national attention when Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy, whose been in a 20-year legal dispute with the BLM and had the support of some Republicans, made remarks about whether black people would be better off as slaves. He has since lost the support of conservative politicians but the fight over public lands only seems to be intensifying.


  • Mickey Bitsko

    Good! The BLM doesn’t own the land. Ignore them.

    “Uphold the law”, says our State Dictator. They ARE upholding the law! The U.S. Constitution trumps all other “laws.” The Constitution does not authorize the Fed to own the physical land within any State, and expressly forbids it from doing anything that isn’t Constitutionally authorized.

    There is no such thing as “BLM land.”

  • Utah Red

    Actually, Mickey, the Constitution DOES grant the Federal government the right to own land. 10 square miles called Washington D.C.

    • Mickey Bitsko

      And military reservations.

      Know how they get around it? BLM land is divided into 10 square mile increments. I’m serious.

      Liberals have no problem with that kind of thing.

      And, of course, being conservatives, we all want to see the planet destroyed and ourselves choked to death on fumes…..right?

  • Will

    Why throw in the bit showing a couple side arms? They couldn’t even find anyone wearing an AR over their shoulder? Why not ask the question about BLM and other federal employees wearing guns? What do they need guns for? There in an entire sheriffs department who can keep the peace. Why not explain how the ruins would be damaged? I have hiked the trail. You have to leave the trail and hike up the canyon walls to get to the ruins. If someone wants to destroy parts of the canyon they don’t need an atv to do it. It’s only been closed for 7-8 years how was the whole canyon not destroyed before then? Why not point out the constitutional conflicts of the federal government owning so much land?

  • Trevor

    “The trail in Recapture Canyon was closed to motorized vehicles in 2007 after the construction of an illegal trail damaged archeological sites.”

    Can’t believe they are going to ride around for a few hours of fun and possibly damage more archeological sites, and break the law. So what if the BLM doesn’t own the land. They are tasked with managing it and protecting it from people like this. Are there not enough trails near Blanding for ATV’s already? I find that hard to believe. This is ridiculous. I hope they all get punished for this.

    • Mickey Bitsko

      And you assume the Fed’s story is true? Their original claim against Bundy had nothing to do with “grazing fees.” They claimed his cattle were harming desert tortoises……until a NON-GOVERNMENT survey showed that there are MORE tortoises on grazing land than elsewhere. And that the BLM agents were using the tortoises for target practice.

      If an archeological site is threatened then put up signs or a fence. If it continues to be damaged then it’s being damaged by CRIMINALS. Don’t place prior restraint on citizens on the assumption they’re all criminals.

  • dave klimek

    The reason we have rules and laws is so the majority are protected from the minority. The government does not own the land they are in charge of it and have responsibility to protect it from the few that think they can do anything they want to it. The few have already destroyed more than their share.

    • Mickey Bitsko

      The majority IS being held hostage by the minority.

      The government is only “in charge” of what the Constitution says. Read the Tenth Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

      Oh, wait…..that would label you as a “terrorist.” Never mind. The NSA is watching.

    • Mickey Bitsko

      Rules and laws, Dave, are enacted by the representatives of the MAJORITY. The majority never has a problem getting its way. The minority is protected by the CONSTITUTION and the Bill of Rights.

      Today, a Federal government that is running rampant, outside its Constitutional mandate, is controlling the lives of ALL citizens. Not just a “majority” or “minority.”

      The Fed has NO right to “control the land” beyond Washington, D.C. and military reservations limited to 10 square miles. Read the Constitution. When a State is admitted to the Union, control of the public land within that State reverts to the State.

      That’s how it always was East of the Mississippi. When the 13 original colonies became States there were still huge areas of unoccupied “public land.” Why doesn’t all THAT belong to the BLM? Eh? Why didn’t the concept apply east of the Mississippi?

      The Western territories were viewed in terms of MINING. Especially gold and silver reserves. The Fed wanted control of that. So they invented a “right” for themselves which didn’t exist. Nobody “back East” cared what happened “out West”, so they didn’t object. But it’s still illegal.

      Every been to a State Park, Dave? Utah is quite capable of “protecting resources” when the citizens of Utah deem it appropriate. We are not chomping at the bit for an excuse to destroy everything. But we would like to be able to SEE our own land.

  • John Hamilton

    I don’t see resources destroyed either but BLM has an attitude that’s it their way or the highway. Why can’t we just work together? The land belongs to all citizens not just BLM.

  • Mickey Bitsko

    Bundy has not lost the support of “conservative politicians.” He has lost the support of politically correct RINOS.

    Conservative politicians don’t exist in Washington.

  • Chas Holman

    To be fair, none of these domestic terrorists are educated enough to know what ‘Restoration Area’ or ‘Ancient Indian Burial Grounds’ even means.

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