Jim Urquhart, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2011 file photo, environmental activist Tim DeChristopher waves to supporters at the Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse in Salt Lake City. Lawyers for DeChristopher, who is serving two years in prison for disrupting a federal oil-and-gas auction of public lands near Utah's national parks, are seeking to overturn his convictionl. Oral arguments are set for Thursday, May 10, 2012 at the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver.

DENVER — Lawyers for an environmental activist who disrupted an oil and gas auction for land near Utah's national parks say the protest drew attention to parcels that shouldn't have been for sale.

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In federal appeals court in Denver on Thursday, Ron Yengich argued that Tim DeChristopher interrupted bidding to protect the environment because he believed the auction was illegal. Yengich says the attention raised by DeChristopher helped lead to nearly half of the parcels being blocked from future bidding.

Federal prosecutor Dave Backman said DeChristopher signed a form explaining the rules before the 2008 auction.

Backman said there are many ways to protest "but breaking the law is not one of them."

DeChristopher is asking the court to overturn his conviction.