THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BLANDING, Utah — About 30 people rode their ATVs on an off-limits trail in southern Utah on Saturday in a protest against what the group calls the federal government’s overreaching control of public lands.
A handful of U.S. Bureau of Land Management law enforcement personnel watched as protesters drove their ATVs in Recapture Canyon near Blanding.
BLM Utah State Director Juan Palma, in a statement, said the riders might have damaged artifacts and dwellings that are up to 2,000 years old, and the agency will pursue “all available redress through the legal system” to hold them accountable.
San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, the protest’s organizer, says it was designed to show that the federal agency isn’t the “supreme authority” and local residents have a right to have their opinions heard.
State Sen. Jim Dabakis (D-SLC) released a statement on Saturday.
"I call upon law enforcement officials, Attorney General Reyes and local sheriffs to live up to their oaths and honor the law. Governor Herbert needs to be strong in defending the rule of law and protect this ancient heritage if he wants the federal government to turn more land over to the state. We do not live by mob rule.
"The state of Utah is a serious contributor to the problem. For example, passing HB 148 in 2012, a ridiculous message bill that demands the federal government turn over almost all of the federal land in Utah to the state by December 31, 2014. Demands! someone needs to remind our state officials that state law is inferior to federal law and that instead of political stunt-making, we need to be in serious negotiations with the feds to make serious generational changes."