LA Times.com-This eye-blink of a town in the state’s scenic southeastern corner bills itself as the “Gateway to Adventure.” But this weekend it promises to be more like a launchpad for civil unrest.
A band of angry citizens plans to ride all-terrain vehicles onto closed-off, federally managed public land Saturday in protest against the federal Bureau of Land Management, which many say has unfairly closed off a prized area, cheating residents of outdoor recreation.
The ride, organized by San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, is a gambit to assert county sovereignty over Recapture Canyon, known for its archaeological ruins, that BLM officials say has been jeopardized from overuse. The canyon was closed to motor vehicles in 2007, the agency said, after two men forged an illegal seven-mile trail. Hikers and those on horseback are still allowed there.
Lyman and his supporters want the BLM to act more quickly on a years-old request for a public right-of-way through the area. “You can’t just arbitrarily shut down a road in San Juan County,” he said. “If you can do that and get away with it, what else can you do?”
The revolt has received national attention, coming at the heels of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s successful standoff last month against the BLM that suggests a rising battle across the West over states’ rights on federally managed public lands. Tensions rose in Utah this week after two men pointed a gun at a BLM employee on a highway.
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