Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Don Peay, founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, listens as Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, presents HB481 to a committee at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 5, 2018. The bill would have renamed the National Parks Highway the Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway.

SALT LAKE CITY — Calling it "a great ride" and declaring that "16 years is enough," longtime state Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, has announced his retirement from the Utah Legislature, according to

Noel, who first took office in 2002, over the years built a reputation for challenging environmentalists and conservationists and advocating for rural Utah. He did not immediately respond a request for an interview Friday.

As the sponsor of the failed Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway bill, Noel received a deluge of angry phone calls and emails from Utah residents and people around the country. The decision to not seek re-election, however, was made for personal reasons, not political ones, reported.

When the Legislature passed HCR11 in 2017, a resolution calling on President Donald Trump to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument designation, Noel was one of its most outspoken advocates. The president acquiesced to the request, causing a national controversy between the right and the left.

The reason Noel sponsored HB487, according to what he told the House committee, was to honor Trump for "taking the courage and the abuse" necessary to review former President Barack Obama's Bears Ears National Monument declaration and reduce its size.

He told the committee that the Legislature should recognize Trump for that feat because "it's an absolute lie" that Trump has "decimated the public lands."

"If we don't stand up for the things that are right, who will do that?" Noel asked the committee.

He praised Trump's Bears Ears action as a reversal of executive overreach and a return of power to the people.

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Don Peay, a leader of Trump's campaign efforts in Utah, said lawmakers' action in 2017 "may be the first time that this body has passed a resolution that a president has actually acted upon."

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, made headlines when he said he would propose an amendment to Noel's bill adding "Stormy Daniels Rampway" to the frontage roads of the highway if the bill made it to the Senate.

Noel pulled the bill after saying he and his family were getting death threats from Trump haters, according to