Will the BLM Reward Terroristic Threats, Desecration & Vandalism in Utah’s Recapture Canyon?

Old women and kids put in danger by lawbreakers

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Poster found attached to signs at the trail head to Recapture Wash and on road signs in San Juan County, Utah, in December 2010. – See more at: http://greatoldbroads.org/…

By FishOutofWater, Daily Kos

Two hooded men in a pick up drove aside a BLM wrangler on I-15 in Utah on Tuesday, May 6. One pointed a gun, apparently a Glock, at his head while the other held a hand-scrawled sign saying “You need to die”. The wrangler is safe, but the gunmen got away. To protect workers, BLM markings were stripped from trucks in western Utah. The terrorists remain at large.

The wrangler was driving a load of horses and burros north on Interstate 15 about 11 a.m. near Mills when a dark blue Dodge 1500 extended-cab pickup pulled up alongside the wrangler. The two occupants “told him he was No. 1 with that certain gesture,” said Eric Reid, the wrangler’s supervisor at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Fillmore Field Office.

The pickup fell back and the wrangler continued north. A few minutes later, the pickup reappeared, Reid said. The men, wearing hoods, held up a sign, apparently scrawled on a piece of paper, that read, “You need to die.” One of the men pointed what appeared to be a Glock handgun at the wrangler. The wrangler tried to make out a license plate number, but the plate had been covered with duct tape, Reid said.

Police have made no statements about possible links between this terroristic threat and today’s illegal off road vehicle ride through Recapture Canyon, but the BLM took careful precautions to avoid violent incidents which could endanger the public or BLM workers. BLM decided to avoid a situation like the incident with armed outlaws at Bundy Ranch, Nevada, where the confrontation could have spun out of control. BLM quietly gathered evidence while making no attempts to block the illegal off road vehicles. Because some of the riders were armed and other riders included children without helmets, any BLM action could have placed the children in harms way. The parents used their children as hostages.

Today’s lawless behavior in Recapture Canyon is one event in a long history of lawlessness, criminal vandalism, environmental destruction, theft of Anasazi artifacts, desecration of archaeological treasures where the ancestors the Hopi people lived and were buried,  and threats of violence associated with Recapture Canyon. After illegal “improvements” for vehicle access were made in 2006 to the trail through Recapture Canyon by local residents the BLM was pressured by Great Old Broads for Wilderness to enforce federal laws protecting archaeological treasures and riparian habitat. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage was done, the perpetrators were found guilty and fined thousands of dollars and the BLM had to eliminate further off road vehicle access to prevent further damage. After the BLM shut down vehicular access to Recapture Canyon in 2007 the “Wanted Dead or Alive” sign threatening Great Old Broads was posted at the trailhead. Undaunted, the Great Old Broads turned the threat into a t-shirt.

But that’s not what makes me furious. I’m livid because these criminals intend to use intimidation and threats of violence to pressure the BLM into authorizing their plans to establish a permanent road for All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) so that they can profit from leading tourists on ATVs through Recapture Canyon.

ACT NOW! Tell the BLM to keep Recapture Canyon closed to vehicles. Lawlessness and threats of violence must not be rewarded or it will spread like wildfire.

It’s not just my opinion as a former westerner. Here’s an editorial the Salt Lake City Tribune wrote in 2011 before the latest lawlessness and attempts to intimidate the BLM.

Published: February 16, 2011 12:28AM

If the Bureau of Land Management allows San Juan County to legitimize an illegal all-terrain-vehicle trail in Recapture Canyon, it might as well give up even a pretense of enforcing protections for scenic and archaeological treasures in other remote areas.

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Recapture Canyon has been called a “Little Mesa Verde”.

Making this trail that leads to ancient Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings and relics a federally accepted trail would do irreversible damage to the environment in two ways. It would allow ATV users easy access to these particular ruins and put the artifacts at risk. And it would send an unmistakable message to other renegade ATVers: Hack an illegal trail on public land and there’s a good chance that trail will get the blessing of the BLM. The two men who blazed this trail were fined $35,000, and the BLM closed the access, which had been built directly over archaeological sites. But now, under pressure from county officials and residents who see no need for federal protections and want to attract more tourists on all-terrain vehicles, the agency is considering reopening the trail.

That would be disastrous. Too many ATV users, the trail-busters being two good examples, believe the outdoors belong only to them and they have a right to do anything they please once they climb aboard their motorized vandals. Reopening an illegal trail to take even more riders of these potentially destructive vehicles closer to ancient dwellings and relics is simply asking for trouble. With its limited enforcement abilities, BLM would not be able to monitor use and restrict it to responsible users.

The mentality of the rogue ATV users and those who want even more access to Utah’s backcountry is evidenced by the “Wanted, Dead or Alive” posters they have put up near the canyon, threatening members of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a group based in Durango, Colo., that has been fighting for more protection of archaeological sites.
We agree with Rose Chilcoat, associate director of the Great Old Broads, who asked,”Why on earth would BLM legitimize a criminal act …? It’s a little like giving the bank robbers the money they stole.”

Reprinted with permission from The Daily Kos.