ATV ‘Patriots’ Protest Recapture Canyon’s Closed Road in SE Utah

A small war over access to Recapture Canyon east of Blanding has been brewing since 2005, when some apparent locals constructed a road to accommodate ATVs and other off-road vehicles. Concerned environmental, wilderness, and archeological watchdogs asked alerted the local BLM office, and after surveying the damage done to lovely Recapture Creek’s lush riparian habitat and the several hundred Anasazi ruins and burial sites dating from over at least two thousand years ago, the BLM closed the illegal road to motorized vehicles in 2007.

Well, that sincerely pissed off some of the local members of the Patriot Movement, Sagebrush Rebellion, and What.Ev.Ers, and they staged an ATV protest at another wilderness study area in 2009. By 2010, the Great Old Broads for Wilderness began trying to repair and assess some of the damage, and one fine day came to the canyon entrance and found a number of: ‘Wanted Dead or Alive: Great Old Broads for Wilderness’ posters had been nailed up. Ha.Ha.(grrrr.)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any CC photos to show you the sweet canyon, but here are some images, including some from the Great Old Broads and those ‘grrr-eat old patriots’. So, in another spate of irony I’ll show you this video made by Monte Wells who runs a motorized outfitting tour business, as in: not tours by horse, but by ATV. He also keeps this ‘Recapture our public lands’ theme alive on one of his websites. ‘Recapture Recapture’, get it? Yes, Monte; we get it in spades.

The San Juan County Commission had asked the BLM to consider a grand proposal for interconnected motorized right of ways, including Recapture Canyon, and have gotten a bit surly at the slow process under federal protection laws. So, feeling his oats after Cliven Bundy seemed to have ‘won a victory’ in Nevada recently, Commissioner Phil Lyman advertized an ATV protest ride, and the news of course went viral within that community (the redneck version of ‘the moccasin telegraph’, perhaps?).

Because see, it really doesn’t matter to them that there are over 2800 miles of back-country roads in the county that are open to motorized traffic, and a mere 14.3 miles closed to it. Oh, no: we have to hear shite like this out of their mouths (in print or video interview):

“Rider Devan Palmer said he doesn’t understand why the government forces private businesses to install handicapped-accessible facilities but blocks elderly people from riding ATVs on Recapture.

“They’ll make you spend millions so my grandmother can get to the bathroom, but they won’t let her on trails she grew up on.”

Plus all of the ‘My grandaddy ran cows here back in the day: don’t fence him out now that he’s old!’ harangues.“We were informed the federal folks decided not to attend,” said Charlotte Black, who supports the protest. “I’m glad; no one wants to see them with all of their SWAT gear and automatic guns.”

Or, from the Cortez Journal:

In 2007, the BLM closed the road to motorized traffic, saying it damaged natural resources and passes through Native American ruins.

“We were informed the federal folks decided not to attend,” said Charlotte Black, who supports the protest. “I’m glad; no one wants to see them with all of their SWAT gear and automatic guns.”

She and her husband, Pete, have been riding ATVs on the Recapture Trail all their lives, and run cattle on property adjacent to the trail.

In 2007, the BLM closed the road to motorized traffic, saying it damaged natural resources and passes through Native American ruins.

“The pretense in which it was closed was really silly. How much damage can a little trail cause? It doesn’t,” said Pete Black. “We used to be able to take our friends down here on ATVs, and I’m too old to walk it anymore.”

Well, boo-bloody-hoo; so go somewhere else. We used to hear some variation on that schtick at every wilderness meeting we went to. Some self-designated Sagebrush Rebels just say that it belongs to them, and screw the Federal government and the ATV they rode in on. And who cares about a bunch of dead Induns, anyway? Oh wait: they claim they (or the locals) can care for the area far better than the Feds, in this case, the BLM (Bureau of Livestock and Mining). . The canyon has been called ‘the most Anasazi site dense’ area in all of southeastern Utah.

From Elko Daily:

“Vehicle damage to vegetation and riparian areas can be repaired over time. Damage to archaeological sites is permanent and the information about our collective past is then lost forever,” said Jerry Spangler, executive director of the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance, a Utah-based organization that advocates for the protection of archaeological sites on public lands.

Environmentalists and Native Americans say the ban is needed to preserve fragile artifacts. Navajos claim the people who lived there and are buried there as ancestors.

Those ancient sites are the equivalent to churches,” said Mark Maryboy, a former Navajo Nation Council delegate. “It’s very disappointing that they have no respect for Native American culture.”

Spangler said the Recapture Canyon trail passes through six nationally significant archaeological sites that include residences and storage structures, as well as three religious structures known as kivas.

The canyon, he added, has “tremendous” spiritual significance to Puebloan groups such as Hopi and Zuni and to the Navajo.

“(The ride) is nothing short of a slap in the face to Native Americans who treasure the cultural resources of that canyon as part of their past and present,” he said.

You may or may not have hiked or camped in any of the canyons near Blanding, but if you have, you likely had found all sorts of damage done by these machines and their riders. A favorite sport is to zip up red slickrock walls, or race over the delicate fields of cryptogamic (biological) soil that is virtually irreplaceable, but crucial to high desert ecosystem survival.

Oh, and don’t forget intentional or inadvertent looting of Ancestor Puebloan sites, including the grave-robbing of artifacts that can be sold to collectors or dealers who don’t care much about false or missing documentation as to provenance.

Coverage of Saturday’s event is quite varied as to numbers who actually drove their stinky machines up the trail, but at least two hundred were at the rally in a Blanding park beforehand. And yes, two of Cliven Bundy’s sons were there urging people to break the law to show them damn Feds, as were some well-armed Montana Militia members. The local sheriff and some deputies were there ‘just to keep the peace’, and some Feds stayed in the background taking names or something. They’d already announced that there would be no citations given that day, but perhaps later, yada, yada. The Sheriff said he wasn’t about to create some shootout, so the day passed ‘Peacefully’, according to the Cortez Journal. The er…Great Old Broads wisely decided not to attend.

In the OMG department, NewsMax reported this gem previously unknown to me:

The federal government owns two-thirds of Utah’s land, and the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature passed a law in 2012 demanding Utah be given control of those lands before 2015, excluding national parks. Lyman, the San Juan County official, believes it’s possible to reopen the canyon to ATVs while preserving the artifacts.

If you care to watch their antics, has video of the ‘protest’, including a few interviews. Hilariously, with a national spotlight on him, butter wouldn’t melt in Commissioner Lyman’s mouth.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Society advises that we might take a moment to ask the BLM’s Monticello field office to keep the road closed permanently (e-form here).

One has to wonder if the BLM will simply knuckle, and if these groups will keep upping the ante as all this ‘state’s rights for me, but not for thee’ stuff spreads. Reading some of the quotes is hard for me: I’ve known a number of these folks for decades, and watched the movement spread in our county. What a sorry state of affairs.

Because it’s spring, and because I need an antidote to all this peckerwood horseshit, an apple blossom:

P1120843 (2)

And for the Canyon and the folks who would rape and ruin her: a Diné Healing Song

(cross-posted at

10 responses to “ATV ‘Patriots’ Protest Recapture Canyon’s Closed Road in SE Utah

  1. They’ll knuckle. It’s the same way we lost our Keys’ continental coral reefs. Knowing, armed outlaws would fill US’ open navigable waters; the Corps of Engineers wouldn’t deputize its agents as the LAW provides; the EPA’s armed agent wouldn’t arrest, and the damage would be perpetuated to OUR waters (and wetlands) of the US. They would however, jail the outlaws’ environmental consultant for the paper crime of perjury to an assistant U.S. attorney; meanwhile, W let Libby “Scoot” for the same crime, at the SAME TIME! In any case, Some COMMUTE!!

  2. It’s so hard to think you’re not right, bruce. And the county sheriff said something akin to: ‘If any citations are issued, it will be down to the BLM to do’. brilliant. Wonder what the fuquetards will do when the federal government doesn’t give Utah back two thirds of the state’s worth of federal land to abuse? and mind you, i think the bureau of livestock and mining peeps are wretched stewards 97% of the time.

    their twist on ‘we the people’…makes my stomach roil.

  3. As a federal public servant (aka chronic disgruntled employee), remembering the taxpayer who actually paid my comfortable salary ALWAYS instructed my personal regulatory decisions (read regular supervisory override). And your 97% execrable assessment accurately reflects my observation of the ~3% efficacious public servants employed in Club Fed! (I’m always astounded by the de minimis numbers of competent, caring people keeping society from complete collapse; e.g., only 100K signing a net neutrality petition to the FCCtards, when prolly 100 Million benefit, but can’t be bothered*). *This reflects how little (14.3 miles out of 1800!) is asked by our posterity to Be PRESERVED: 0.8% of these backcountry trails! (BTW, e-link now works, and have added my humble contribution).

  4. that you considered that your regulatory decisions need to be in service to the people, not your masters. is very good to hear, bruce (and especially that you never went postal in abject frustration). :)

    the 100K you mention is similar to the ‘don’t watch us’ or whatever movement i sucked it up to post. global reaction was similarly pathetic.
    the BLM technocrats (forest circus, as well) always rose to the higher levels, and i guess taking the temp of the locals *and* not making waves, *and* sucking up to superiors…was almost guaranteed to reap job advancement.

    i’m sorry; the memories of the past battles are clashing against what the future seems to hold, and it all leaves me frustrated and ill. back in ‘the day’ we used to be able to rally 50, 100 caring folks for wilderness and related protection issues (massive unnecessary power lines, etc.). then kids, $ difficulties, electoral disgust, and growing tired over losing the battles wore us all down. goddam. we need a song.

  5. Couldn’t Find A STAMP ;-) But may the waterfall soon meet the rising tide in greening grass:

  6. oh, vintage stones…i love them. and speaking of rising tides…

    coming soon to a theater near me and thee?

  7. Indeed, first up: ‘art deco’ motels of Miami Beach; already underway –
    And speaking of Art, Miami Channel 10’s “Water Wars” feature was where, as undercover ‘Art’; I anonymously blew the whistle (and steam) on Army Corps’ calumny on wetlands’ “protection”, back in the day (and to keep from “going postal”)!
    The tide cannot be contained, and the oncoming saltmarsh cordgrass will be succeeded by turtlegrass in the Florida Straits’ reclamation of Biscayne Bay!

  8. with recent news, the experts time horizon may be purdy wrong, eh? good thing that the feds will pay to rebuild the 10%’s houses on the southern coast, eh?

    good on you for venting your personal pressure cooker. i just sent this boots riley tweet to hotflashcarol; she’s friends with boots and the coup. (she’s working her tail off to pay irs debts and her obamaDontcare bill.

    from barcelona, i think.

  9. Boots the sleeveless army fatigues off MO’s maudlin tweets of ‘compassion’. Glad I’m no longer hip to this hop, or I’d be needing what I call ObamacareLe$$ ! (Sorry hfc’s being Club Fed double-teamed).

  10. Pardon? no comprende, senor.

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