Daniel Lee Felstead, age 38, and Kenneth James Brown, age 67, were fined $35,000 for working on an unauthorized road on Bureau of Land Management property in Recapture Canyon. Federal Magistrate Samuel Alba handed down the fines, and probation, on January 21, 2011.
The local men admitted that they used tools on the ATV trail. The outrage is over what many residents say is an excessive fine for the work, on a trail that had been used for years.
Judge Alba determined the amount of the fine, which was $27,000 for Brown and $8,000 for Felstead. The fine is based partially on the BLM estimate that the work caused approximately $350,000 in damages. The damage included damage to several archaeological sites.
U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen, who prosecuted the case, said that it was not possible to attribute all the damage in the canyon to the two men.
San Juan County has submitted an application to open the trail with a right-of-way application through the BLM.
A number of multiple-use advocates, including SPEAR, have announced a fund raising campaign to help the men pay the fine. Accounts have been set up at local banks. See a number of letters to the Editor beginning on page 4.
“Wanted dead or alive” signs, including threats to the Great Old Broads for Wilderness advocacy group, were posted at a number of locations, including the Recapture Canyon ATV trailhead.