Gary Gray, Adobe Stock
Clashes over land use resulted in new charges being filed in the San Juan County case of an environmental activist accused of blocking cattle from a water source, underscoring tensions involving ranchers, environmental groups and local residents.

SALT LAKE CITY — A prominent environmental activist is now facing additional felony charges in a San Juan County case involving accusations that she and her husband shut a gate to block cattle from their water.

Rosalie Jean Chilcoat, 58, a founding board member of Friends of Cedar Mesa who has long been affiliated with Great Old Broads for Wilderness, appeared in 7th District Court Monday to answer to charges of attempted wanton destruction of livestock, a second-degree felony; trespassing on state lands, a class A misdemeanor; and giving a false personal identity to a peace officer, a class C misdemeanor.

An additional new charge of retaliation against a witness, victim or informant — a third-degree felony — was added in her case that stems from April encounters with a pair of ranchers.

A San Juan County sheriff's press release said the incidents happened at Lime Ridge off state Route 163 between Bluff and Mexican Hat where a cattleman found the gate to his corral closed on April 1, blocking the ability of his cattle to access water. Deputies said they found evidence 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 Chilcoat, 58, and her husband, Mark Franklin, 61, both of Durango, Colorado.

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

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.

A preliminary hearing has been set for the pair on Aug. 22.