Illegal ATV ride in Utah showcases public lands battle

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    May 15, 2014 12:15 p.m.

    Intentional violation of the law as admitted by Bundy is a criminal offense. All that followed him should follow him to jail.

  • BJ61 South Jordan, UT
    May 14, 2014 10:48 p.m.

    It is so interesting when someone declares with certainty what the Founding Fathers of the 1700's envisioned for our country in 2014. I personally believe (I may be wrong) that men like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin hoped most of all for a unified nation of progressive, accountable, intelligent citizens - citizens that would be willing to bend their own interests to the common good of the nation, to acknowledge that freedom is not "doing whatever suits me," and to be committed to the rule of law. Those are some of my interpretations of the founding documents, but I am always willing to consult their writings to learn more and test my interpretations.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    May 13, 2014 7:07 a.m.

    "I think the bottom line here is that people in the West are just fed up with the Federal Government telling them what to do."

    No, dpal, you don't get to speak for the people of the West.

    It is good that the Feds own these lands. We see what local control of these lands would looks like. These lands do not belong just to you, or me. They belong to all of us.

  • dpal Provo, UT
    May 12, 2014 10:02 p.m.

    I think the bottom line here is that people in the West are just fed up with the Federal Government telling them what to do. It's more than just a problem with lands, which by the way, the State of Utah could govern a whole lot better than bureaucrats in Washington and their "local" subordinates. It has to do with many facets of life, including education. We pay people back in Washington to tell us how to run our schools when those decisions can be better made here at the local level. Federal officials with little understanding of the local situation are quick to try to shove their policies down our throats, but are slow to respond to our concerns.

  • BJ61 South Jordan, UT
    May 12, 2014 9:37 p.m.

    Interesting: Rosa Parks stood up to local/state racially-biased laws that were ultimately rejected and overturned by the federal government. Those racially biased laws caused great harm to individuals and families throughout the country, and especially in the south. Local governance was actually the source of harm. The BLM regulations, which are authorized by the Congress of the United States, are intended to stop harm to antiquities sites in response to actual, documented damages to those sites. In the case of Recapture Canyon, local authorities did not step in and stop the damage. In fact, local authorities appear to support it. The BLM is simply responding to damaging behavior and activities by a small, local minority, just as the federal government responded to racial segregation laws in the 1950's and 1960's. I support the BLM's position.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    May 12, 2014 9:48 a.m.

    So you hate the Federal Government yet you carry a US flag? How odd.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2014 9:46 a.m.

    Dutchman, pretty tough time you have in Utah, huh? You have many run ins with the Feds there in Murray?


  • Dutchman Murray, UT
    May 11, 2014 4:35 p.m.

    It must be nice living in states where very little land is owned and controlled by the federal government. Enjoy your freedom. Try living in a state like Utah where almost 80% of the land is owned and controlled by the Feds. You would probably protest too.

  • photobeauty Blanding, UT
    May 11, 2014 2:24 p.m.

    The people of Blanding, Utah should have more say about what happens in their immediate area than someone from New York or California, for example. Law is supposed to be made by state legislatures and our national congress not by a federal employee. The power that the BLM now has over our lives is a far cry from what the founding fathers envisioned. I think the federal lands should be given to Utah and other western states just as it was given to the eastern states at statehood. I am very happy that Commissioner Lyman stood up to the extremists on both the right and left. The BLM seems to be more cognizant of the pressure from outside environmental groups than the wishes of local folks. If the BLM would cooperate, we would provide the labor to reroute the Recapture trail to avoid sensitive areas. You can not tell me that a heavy horse track on a sensitive area does less damage than a rubber tire.

  • Red Smith American Fork, UT
    May 11, 2014 2:07 p.m.

    The Feds broke Indians treaties, broke State treaties, and broke Cliven.

    The Feds promised States who joined title to their lands. BLM manages 60 million acres rightfully owned by Utah.

    Civil dis-obedience created America. George Washington refused to pay his taxes to the King (England's IRS) - disobeyed the "rule of law." Had he obeyed, perhaps we'd all be English.

    Turtles and Cattle have lived together before the US was created.

    BLM could have created a hybrid turtle mitigation area (Bundyville) to receive the displaced turtles from Harry's Chinese solar power play. No US citizens pointing guns at US citizens was needed. Lucky it's an election year, or Cliven would be dead.

    The Chinese would gladly subsidize the 52 disenfranchised cattle ranchers for project approval.

    The Chinese get land for their solar farm. Harry's get "non-money" from the Chinese for getting it done. Bundy and his 52 cattle ranching neighbors get to keep ranching. The turtles get cow poop to eat. We get cheaper red meat for the BQ.

    Who declared - "Turtles and Cattle can't be on the same land" - the cause of Bundyville fiasco. Why can't the Fed/BLM be honest?

  • Fitz Murray, UT
    May 11, 2014 12:56 p.m.

    There is total misunderstanding of motor vehicle use in Recapture Canyon. This trail in question has been a legal motor vehicle used trail for decades, long before ATVs. For reasons poorly explained by the local BLM office, BLM temporarily closed the trail. This closure was made in Spet. 2007. The RMP for this area includes Recapture Canyon trail as open for ATVs. So, the key word here is temporary. BLM has fiddled around with the closure for 7+ years now and that is way too long to put in place the changes that they think need to be made. It was not intended for this trail to be closed, not in the RMP and not by the temporary closure order. The BLM is, and has been for decades, extremely slow in follow through. There is reason locals do not trust the BLM, or the feds in general.

    To 'Cats', the antiquities case was poorly managed by the feds. There was absolutely no justification for the number of law enforcement officers carrying automatic weapons that were part of the raids. These raids were handled extremely poorly. It was overkill and could have been done in a much more civil manner.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 11, 2014 12:10 p.m.

    It is sad for me to see people break he law to seek public acceptance of their disagreement with our government.

    It is sadder still for me that they would use the American flag to justify their actions against the American government.

    It is even sadder to me when they bring children into their disagreement with the government and voice of the people.

    Public lands as the name implies belong to all the people of America, not just the people of the county and state where they are located. The public is allowed to use public areas for personal use on a temporary basis so long as they do not injure the public area. Even though they are part of the owners of the public area they are not allowed to use the public area as if it were their own private property.

  • KidfromBlanding Everett, WA
    May 11, 2014 11:54 a.m.

    As someone who grew up in Blanding, there is so much of the context of this situation that people are missing:
    1. While 60% of Utah is owned or under the control of the federal government, approximately 90% of San Juan County is under federal control. Yes, only 10% of land in Blanding and the greater San Juan County area is private.
    2. Recapture Canyon is not some far away, remote place. The area in question is only 1-2 miles from Blanding in most spots.
    3. This is an area that people in San Juan County have been using for generations for walking, hiking, horseback riding, and yes, sometimes using for motorcycles, ATVs and other motorized vehicles.
    4. The average resident of the area knows the special nature of the area that we have and acts as a good steward of the Anasazi ruins that are literally everywhere in this region.
    5. Again, given that 90% of the land is under federal control, this even was to raise awareness of the BLM's lack of responsiveness to the concerns of the people of Blanding.
    6. Finally, I know Phil Lyman and his family. He is simply working to represent the legitimate freedoms and rights of the local community.

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    May 11, 2014 11:50 a.m.

    They were carrying flags with the slogan, "Don't Tread On Me?" Hilarious and oblivious. Photos I have seen show numerous ATVs treading off of the main trail.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    May 11, 2014 11:07 a.m.

    Years ago I wrote a letter to the editor to the Binghmaton Times of New York, addressed to the constituents of Maurice Hinchey who was sponsoring wilderness designation for Utah wilderness. I asked them to ask him, "Well, if the lands belong to all Americans, who does the poverty belong to when 98% of the land in a county is owned by the federal government and sawmills, etc are closing down." The answer, was, of course, the land belogs to all Americans. The poverty belongs to the people of Southern Utah.

  • Tumbleweed Centerville, UT
    May 11, 2014 9:53 a.m.

    The federal bully is constantly enforcing policies that are unnecessary and overly broad. See "Cat's" comments. For you liberals it's like catching dolphins with the tuna. Federal employees who understand this should get some backbone, speak up and refuse to enforce overly-broad policies.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    May 11, 2014 9:31 a.m.


    The antiquities case was not overkill. Generations of Utahans have acknowledged that they illegally made money from antiquities stolen from public lands. In some cases entire sites have been damaged and even destroyed, burial sites have been desecrated. If tomb robbers destroyed the graves and were offering the remains and personal effects of famous Utah pioneers for sale on the internet, there would be an outcry demanding the return of those materials and many of those same people in southern Utah would be demanding legal prosecution of those who were involved.

    What is the difference between Native American remains and Caucasian remains? If the people of southern Utah get to choose which laws they can violate, does law have any meaning at all? The proper place to protest this is in the state legislature, the courts and in the halls of Congress. And in the meantime, obey the law.

  • TrueAmerican56 Corpus Christi, TX
    May 11, 2014 9:21 a.m.

    If you look into the whole thing, and as the BLM said, there are 2,800 miles of park land ATV's can travel, all within a very very short distance from the town, yet that isn't enough, they want to be able to drive through and destroy sensitive areas. ATV's don't just travel lightly, they dig into the trail, creating ruts and deep cuts that hamper hikers and others, and many of them don't even stay on the trail, one of the reasons they were banned from that area in the first place. Some areas in our park systems are very sensitive to damage, and ATV's do a lot of damage, not only to the trails, but to plants and sensitive areas. There is proof all over this country to prove what I say, even where I live their are sensitive sand dunes that protect the coast, ATV's try to use them all the time, but the park service and county governments work hard to stop them.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    May 11, 2014 9:16 a.m.

    It is time for the people of southern Utah to realize that those public lands are not solely THEIR lands, those lands belong to us all. But keep protesting and damaging archaeological sites. I'm sure that with such a record and attitude there is no way that the people of this nation will ever allow the state of Utah to gain control of one square inch of those lands.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    May 11, 2014 9:06 a.m.

    It is really a shame that a small band of inconsiderate people can ride ruff shod over sensitive archeological areas.

    These people are raising awareness, but unfortunately that awareness is shining the spot light on their own irresponsible behavior.

    Another expample of the new "conservative sense of entitlement".

  • Norman Wright Provo, UT
    May 11, 2014 8:58 a.m.

    I am a Westerner by birth and have spent well over half of my life living in Utah. I disagree with the actions of these people. You are breaking the law by riding your vehicles into lands that have been set aside for enjoyment by all. I don't get to break a law just because I happen to disagree with it. Neither do you. It would be different if the vast majority of Westerners shared your viewpoint but we don't. This is government by the people and for the people and you are treading on my rights!

  • Benny Hill SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    May 11, 2014 8:53 a.m.


    Isn't interesting that the federal government ownes anyware from 25% to 80% of western states and never relinquished control to the states and private ownership? Many people outside the west say that these lands are "all of our lands." Well, what about the lands in Virginia? Surely they are all of our lands, too. In fact, those lands in Virginia, the crisp green foilage, dense deciduous forests, are like an oasis to someone like me who has grown up in Utah, where the forests and landscape are beautiful, too, but different than those on the East Coast. Why is Virginia not 67% owned by the government? I think there are a lot of animals and history to protect all across America. Given the increasing arbitrariness of our people in power in government, let's take protection to the next level by confiscating at least 50% of Virginia land from the the state and private owners there, to preserve them, so that all Americans can enjoy the forests of the East. I like hiking the outdoors, and wish to hike unhindered throughout the whole East, in forested areas. I ought to be able to do so because I am American.

  • ShaunMcC La Verkin, UT
    May 11, 2014 8:44 a.m.

    It is appropriate for the citizens of Utah to have this debate, but the Federal Government should have no say. The Constitution specifies what the Federal Government can own as it pertains to lands. The land in question does not fall under that definition and as such, should be owned or controlled by the state or by private owners. The BLM is out of line.

  • DonO Draper, UT
    May 11, 2014 8:36 a.m.

    This type of behavior is ridiculous, let alone illegal. It's galling that these people and the Cliven Bundy's of the world wrap themselves in the flag while flaunting the very laws of the country the flag represents. There are thousands of miles of ATV trails in Utah that these folks and others can ride. Perhaps they wouldn't trash the historic sites on the trails in question, but it's a lead pipe cinch someone eventually would. Witness the Goblin Valley rock topplers. Obey the law of the land, folks.

  • Jim Cobabe Provo, UT
    May 11, 2014 6:47 a.m.

    Not even accurate to say that ATV riding is illegal here. There are numerous trails around Recapture Canyon that are perfectly legal for ATV riding or any other such activity. The restrictions were implemented to protect sensitive areas. But to some, any restriction is a challenge. What freedom gives us license to rampage over public lands and ruin them for everyone? Are there not enough places already designated for such use to satisfy everyone?

    Presumably the fines will be in the mail for those who would live like they can ignore these rules. Because some apparently now approach the attitude where even sensible laws represent "repressive government".

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 11, 2014 5:32 a.m.

    Most of these negative comments about the protest and the people are from out-of-staters and people who have no idea whatsoever about what goes on in San Juan County. These federal actions don't effect their lives one iota.

    This is about federal over reach and excessive enforcement by bureaucrats in most cases--not elected officials. The trail was open and bureaucrats cut it off. Cutting off this trail to ATVs does NOTHING to protect artifacts and the ATVers didn't damage any artifacts. (In fact, they mostly work very closely with the BLM to protect sites. They're responsible, respectful people.) It's just an arbitrary action by federal bureaucrats.

    And... I'm so glad someone brought up the antiquities case of a few years ago. That was another example of federal overkill--a sledgehammer to kill a gnat. Three suicides resulted and the whole thing was grossly mishandled by the feds. It was a tragedy that didn't need to happen.

    These people were mostly respectful and law abiding. They have a right to have their voices heard.

  • WhatMadeTheRedManRed? Woods Cross, UT
    May 11, 2014 4:58 a.m.

    Basically what Utahns want is the right to do with "Utah Public Lands" as Utahns see fit. We are tired of people who aren't connected to the land like we are telling us what we can and cannot do. I do not suppose to assume someone has zero ties to anything without speeking with them first. I will state I have often been covered in Utah's red sand, waded through cold mountain creeks, climbed the canyon rocks, hit my brakes for passing deer and have looked into yellow eyes after hearing the piercing scream of a cougar. These are the things that a true Utahn should treasure, not some machine. Nature was meant to be discovered on foot, where you can notice the sun hit the quartz on a rock or smell the dew as the sun climbs up the hill. My point is that we must remember what we are actually trying to pass on to future Utahns and worry less about those people we don't think should have a say. Ultimately we live here and are the actual stewards of the land, it's our responsibility.

  • RichardB Murray, UT
    May 11, 2014 4:17 a.m.

    Less a public lands battle and more of a slow acting Federal government. A decision should have been made by now, it's long overdue. However getting the public angry over trespassing will not force a decision.

    Utah's public land battle is more about private ownership vs. public ownership, and locking up our wide open spaces.

  • Unitedtruth dallas, TX
    May 11, 2014 2:13 a.m.

    The Hooliganism needs to stop. Just because you don't like a particular law, the line forms to the left. But breaking laws is absolutely nuts, and Phil Lyman should be ashamed and seen this coming. You can't continue to spew hate and believe there aren't any ramifications.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    May 11, 2014 12:03 a.m.

    Upson Downs, you are the one who doesn't understand the history of the West.

    The federal government has owned these lands ever since the Mexican War, we explicitly "forever disclaimed any right and title to" these lands in our State Constitution, and in many cases *we pled with the feds to actively administer the lands after private and state administration had proved disastrous.* For instance, the Manti Forest Reserve was created by (Republican) Teddy Roosevelt in response to (Republican) Senator George Sutherland's campaign on behalf of petitioners in Sanpete County who found that when their fellow citizens totally denuded the mountains, horrific mudslides and cholera-contaminated municipal water were the result.

    We aren't a fledgling state now like we were in 1903, but attitudes like yours and Commissioner Lyman's tell me we still aren't ready to administer lands wisely.

    These lands belong to GaryO just as much as to you. GaryO and his Virginia compatriots don't get to decide what happens to Shenandoah without your input any more than you get to decide what happens to Recapture Canyon without their input. Both areas are the heritage of all Americans.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    May 10, 2014 10:14 p.m.

    I would look for this story to be picked up by national news organizations, including magazines, and the people of Blanding are not going to look very good.

    The history of looting archeological artifacts by Blanding residents is well documented, and their cultural conflicts with Native Americans in that corner of the state has a very long history.

    This county commissioner will regret leading this ride.

  • mountainlocal Brooklyn, NY
    May 10, 2014 10:11 p.m.

    If the land is privatized, expect restrictions to be worse. Look no further than Park City that has been bought, paved, and turned into cookie cutter condos and third homes for folks that visit twice a year. The trails that used to be biked and hiked 25 years ago are now on private property and inaccessible. I hope the Feds keep the land, otherwise it will go to the highest bidder and we will all lose. It might not be immediate, but give it a couple of generations and access would evaporate.

  • Upson Downs Sandy, UT
    May 10, 2014 10:10 p.m.

    GaryO from Virginia, your comments read like someone who is from Virginia and is totally uneducated about issues in Utah or the West. Do you even know any people who ride ATVs? Go back and study the History of the West since you are from the East and obviously know nothing of what you speak. You are right about one thing though. Those of us who were born and raised here in the West are sick and tired of transplanted Easterners, like yourself and the BLM and Forest Service employees, coming out here to the West and ruining our lands with your pro environmentalist views that only allows hikers to visit lands we have grown up on. Please keep your views about land use back where you live in the East and let us Utahns take care of our own lands.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    May 10, 2014 9:56 p.m.

    Article: "Six years later, it is a San Juan County commissioner who organized an illegal ATV ride to vent their frustration over what isn't happening — access."

    Not entirely true. The canyon is already perfectly legally accessible on foot or horseback. The dispute is only over motorized vehicle access.

    Commissioner Lyman is to be commended for calling for restraint and a scaled back legal protest. Too bad some did not heed his call.

  • RickH Blaine, WA
    May 10, 2014 9:10 p.m.

    Another example of why the biggest mistake Utah made was joining the Union. And the greater mistake was the Union accepting them!

  • mck201111 mariposa, CA
    May 10, 2014 7:53 p.m.

    Open letter to Phil Lyman
    Your ride through known archaeological sites is reprehensible. This freedom ride is limited to a small group with their own self-interest in mind. I agree with the premise of free access to travel on public lands, but there is a delicate balance where your freedom, will and desire should not impinge on my freedom, will and desire. That balance is known as law, it is how we as a people have elected to live in this country in a mutual contract. so while you espouse that you are protesting against an unfair government ruling, you are unilaterally denying any private citizen that disagrees with your position and abides by that contract a say in the matter. I wholeheartedly disagree with it and I consider it to be a criminal action, with real flesh and blood victims. Your protest is akin to vandalizing a cemetery. Those founding patriots with whom you have aligned yourself were willing to take responsibility for their actions, are you? I suggest that you be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for any damage incurred.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 10, 2014 6:12 p.m.

    These are decent respectful people who have no desire to damage any artifacts or cause any controversy. They're just sick of the Federal Government constantly encroaching and stepping on them.