U.S.

Defying BLM, Protestors Ride ATVs Into Restricted Land

Protestors against a motorized vehicle ban set by the Bureau of Land Management rode dozens of ATVs into restricted lands Saturday.

Defying BLM, Protestors Ride ATVs Into Restricted Land
The Salt Lake Tribune / Trent Nelson
SMS

ATVs, guns, American flags, and federally-managed land — if it sounds like something to do with the Cliven Bundy land dispute in Nevada, you'd be close. 

Protestors rode into restricted land in Utah Saturday in defiance of the Bureau of Land Management's ban on motorized vehicles. (Via KSTU)

This footage from USA Today shows some of the ATVs riding into Recapture Canyon. The ban has been in place since 2007 after an illegal 7-mile -long trail was constructed, damaging archeological sites.

The Los Angeles Times reports that residents in areas like Recapture are fed up with federal restrictions on land, with some tearing down signs on BLM land and telling managers that they aren't recognizing U.S. authority over their land.

But environmental groups are on the Bureau of Land Management's side and have backed the ban on motorized travel in the past.

In a press release, The Wilderness Society condemned the protest, saying that "Plans to willfully violate federal law—and to disregard other stakeholders and damage natural and cultural resources in the process—are reprehensible."

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman organized the ride and told The Salt Lake Tribune that the ride was a way to assert local jurisdiction over public lands.

LYMAN: "One of the motivations is to assert local jurisdiction where its appropriate. And to challenge federal jurisdiction where its not appropriate." 

But for some, the protest bears a resemblance to recent armed standoff between the federal government and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. (Via ABC)

Referring to that conflict, San Juan's county sheriff told The Salt Lake Tribune that "We don’t want to see clashes between citizens, and clashes between BLM and militia. This is not going to be Bunkerville."

Federal officers in Utah avoided confrontation Saturday but documented the protestors, some of whom were reportedly armed, for possible persecution in the future.