San Juan commissioner says May 10 Recapture Canyon ATV ride will go forward
by Rudy Herndon
Staff Writer
May 08, 2014 | 1590 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman and a federal archaeologist spent a quiet day this week visiting the prehistoric Ancestral Puebloan sites of Recapture Canyon.

But when Lyman returns to the area this weekend, the canyon just north of Blanding could be anything but tranquil.

Lyman and others are planning a Saturday, May 10 all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride up the canyon to protest a 2007 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decision that closed an ATV route to motorized traffic.

BLM Utah State Director Juan Palma maintains that the route was illegally developed, and he says the closure was needed to protect the rich archaeological record that Ancestral Puebloans left behind.

But Lyman says the ATV trail has been in use for decades, and he believes the BLM tried to erase that history of use when it closed the trail to motorized vehicles.

“We don’t like it, and we’re not inclined to let it happen,” he said May 7.

The BLM previously fined two men who built a 7-mile long and 4-foot wide trail through the area, maintaining that they damaged Ancestral Puebloan artifacts and ruins.

Palma now fears that the planned ATV ride could further damage many of the canyon’s archaeological resources, and he said in a statement that the BLM is prepared to take action against anyone who violates the closure.

“The BLM-Utah has not and will not authorize the proposed ride and will seek all appropriate civil and criminal penalties against anyone who uses a motorized vehicle within the closed area,” he said.

Lyman, for one, is not concerned about violating the agency’s rules.

“It’s the point of the protest,” he said. “It is civil disobedience.”

San Juan County claims jurisdiction over the roads and trails within its borders, he said, adding that supporters of the planned ride believe the BLM has been heavy-handed in its dealings with Blanding-area residents.

“They don’t talk to the people here. They just come in with their SWAT teams, like they did back in 2009,” he said, referring to a sting operation in which the BLM charged numerous area residents with violations of two federal archaeological laws.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.