SALT LAKE CITY — Controversial federal public lands critic Phil Lyman announced on his professional Facebook page that he will he seek to replace retiring Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, to represent rural voices in the Legislature.
"Rep. Noel has been a champion of access to public land, a defender of families, an advocate for hard work and independence, and most of all a man of integrity. He has been a great friend and will continue to be a force for good in southern Utah. His departure at the end of this year will leave a huge hole in the Legislature," Lyman wrote in a Tuesday post.
Lyman gained notoriety, and the admiration of San Juan County locals, when he and 200 other people participated in what prosecutors said was an illegal ATV ride on a federally closed road in Recapture Canyon. Locals had appealed the closure by the Bureau of Land Management, but the issue dragged on with no resolution for seven years.
Both Lyman and Monte Wells were convicted in federal court of misdemeanors and appealed the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled there was no grounds for reversal.
Lyman has maintained his innocence, and recently Noel — who is retiring after 16 years on the Hill — has floated the prospect of a presidential pardon for his friend.3 comments on this story
In his post, Lyman said rural Utah is at a pivotal point in its history.
"The issues we face in this district are vitally important to Utah's identity. Rural Utah is under attack like never before, but we also have opportunities like never before, including an administration that respects our right (to) work — to ranch, farm, log, mine, recreate, hunt and access public land," he wrote.
"We have a window of opportunity to resolve the conflicts brought on by external forces, and to establish a viable economic future for our communities."