SALT LAKE CITY – A two-count misdemeanor information filed in federal court Wednesday morning in Salt Lake City charges five individuals in connection with an unlawful ATV ride in Recapture Canyon on May 10, 2014. The information alleges one count of conspiracy to operate off-road vehicles on public lands closed to off-road vehicles and one count of operation of off-road vehicles on public lands closed to off-road vehicles.
Charged in the information are Phillip Kay Lyman, age 50, of Blanding; Monte Jerome Wells, age 50, of Monticello; Jay Demar Redd, age 40, of Santa Clara; Shane Morris Marian, age 33, of Monticello; and Franklin Trent Holliday, age 31, of Blanding. A summons will be issued to the five to appear in federal court in Salt Lake City on Oct. 17, 2014, at 2 p.m., before U.S. Magistrate Judge Evelyn Furse. Each count in the information carries a potential penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine of $100,000. The investigation in the case is ongoing.
The information charges the five individuals with conspiracy to operate off-road vehicles on public lands closed to off-road vehicles. According to the information, from about Feb. 27, 2014, and continuing until about May 10, 2014, the defendants conspired among themselves, with each other, and with others known and unknown to operate off-road vehicles through land restricted to off-road vehicles and administered by the BLM. The information alleges the purpose of the conspiracy was to unlawfully operate off-road vehicles through the restricted area as a means of expressing opposition to the BLM and its management of Recapture Canyon.
“We respect the fact that the citizens of this State have differing and deeply held views regarding the management and use of Recapture Canyon, and recognize that they have the right to express those opinions freely. Nevertheless, those rights must be exercised in a lawful manner and when individuals choose to violate the law, rather than engage in lawful protest, we will seek to hold those individuals accountable under the law,” Acting U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen said today.
“Regrettably, a number of individuals organized and engaged in an illegal ATV ride through Recapture Canyon, an area rich in archaeological history” said BLM Director Neil Kornze. “Today’s actions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office underscore the importance of protecting culturally significant areas and holding accountable those who broke the law.”
Count one of the information alleges beginning on or about March 2, 2104, Lyman began advertising the proposed ATV ride through the restricted area to occur on May 8, 2014, through social media. It was further part of the conspiracy, the information alleges, that on April 11, 2014, Lyman advertised the proposed ATV ride through the restricted area of Recapture Canyon by publishing an article in the Deseret News. The information alleges Lyman further promoted the published article using social media. Later in April, according to the information, Lyman, using social media, began advertising a change in the date for the proposed ATV ride from May 8, 2014, to May 10, 2014, to allow more people to participate.
The information alleges that in late April, Lyman and Wells used social media websites to publish and promote an invitation, with accompanying instructions, to the public to join the proposed ATV ride through the off-road vehicle restricted area in Recapture Canyon on May 10, 2014.
Around May 5, 2014, Lyman and Wells filmed a three-part video interview in which they discussed the nature, origin, and plans for the proposed ATV ride through the off-road vehicle restricted area in Recapture Canyon. It was further part of the conspiracy, according to the information, that Lyman and Wells used various social media websites to advertise and promote the proposed ATV ride.
According to the information, Lyman and Redd spoke to a large gathering of people at a meeting in Blanding the morning of May 10, 2014, before the ride, instructing and encouraging the group assembled regarding the proposed ATV ride.
The information alleges each defendant committed an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy by knowingly and willfully operating an off-road vehicle through the restricted area of Recapture Canyon on May 10, 2014.
Count two of the information alleges the five defendants operated an off-road vehicle through land closed to off-road vehicles and administered by the Bureau of Land Management and did aid and abet each other.
An information is not a finding of guilt. Individuals charged in an information are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.
Recapture Canyon is federal public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Recapture Canyon contains unique archaeological resources, including ancient rock art and dwellings that are culturally significant and irreplaceable. According to the BLM, the archaeological record left behind shows that the area was previously occupied for at least 2,000 years. For this reason, Recapture Canyon was closed to motorized use in 2007 but remains open to the public for walking, hiking and horseback riding.
There are more than 2,800 miles of OHV trails administered by the BLM in southeast Utah that are open to public use. The BLM will continue to work with all stakeholders to address the various uses of public lands, including the development of new OHV trails.