Dave Cawley, Deseret News
The view on Utah SR-95, at the edge of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in San Juan County. Tension over grazing in San Juan County led to criminal charges being filed against an environmental activist and her husband after they were allegedly caught trespassing on trust lands and deputies say the man blocked cattle from getting to water.

SALT LAKE CITY — Criminal charges were filed against an environmental activist and her husband after an alleged incident earlier this month in San Juan County involving cattle that were blocked from their water source.

The charges against Rosalie Jean Chilcoat and Mark Kevin Franklin came this week in 7th District Court after a San Juan County Sheriff's Office investigation into incidents at Lime Ridge off state Route 163 between Bluff and Mexican Hat.

A press release by the sheriff's office said a local cattleman found the gate to his corral closed on April 1, blocking his cattle's ability to access water. Deputies found evidence at the scene that included footprints and surveillance from a camera.

A few days later, the same cattleman spotted a car that matched the vehicle caught on tape, stopped it and called authorities.

Deputies say the people in the car were identified as Franklin, 61, and Chilcoat, 58, both of Durango, Colo.

The land involving the incidents is owned by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration and has been leased for cattle grazing.

Chilcoat has been affiliated with Great Old Broads for Wilderness since 2001 and is a founding board member of Friends of Cedar Mesa, another environmental organization.

She was charged with trespassing on state trust lands involving an animal enterprise, a class A misdemeanor, and giving false personal information to a peace officer, a class C misdemeanor.

Franklin was charged with attempted wanton destruction of livestock, a second-degree felony, and trespassing on state trust lands, a class A misdemeanor.

According to the sheriff's press release, Franklin admitted to shutting the gate.

Through her involvement with Great Old Broads for Wilderness, the organization was among multiple environmental groups fighting new grazing allotments that were under consideration on public lands in neighboring Colorado.

Josh Ewing, executive director of Friends of Cedar Mesa, said Chilcoat was not doing any work on behalf of the organization.

"Our organization takes animal welfare very seriously, and our board of directors will be looking closely into this issue to get all the facts," he said. "We would hope that everyone involved would give Rose what all Americans are due … the right to be innocent until proven guilty by a court of law."

Chilcoat is on the organization's board of directors.

The two face an initial court appearance on May 8.

Calls to Chilcoat were not immediately returned.