Nuffer ruled that San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman and Monte Wells were responsible for the damage caused by the ride, whether or not they actually caused it.
“The person who lights a fire is responsible for the consequences of the fire,” said Nuffer at the end of an October 28 hearing in the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City.
Lyman and Wells were convicted by a jury of two federal misdemeanor counts each for their role in the protest.
The October 28 hearing was simply a restitution hearing. Lyman and Wells are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Nuffer on December 18.
The local residents face the restitution penalty under the federal Mandatory Victim Restitution Act. The US Attorney argued that the federal land was the victim of the illegal ride.
Lyman and Wells face a fine totaling $96,955.61, which the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said was the direct expenses related to emergency repair and stabilization along the route.
The BLM initially estimated that the protest ride caused nearly $300,000 in damage. That figure was reduced after hearings and motions that were primarily sealed to the public.
On May 10, 2014, Lyman led a group of nearly 100 ATV riders along an established maintenance road in Recapture Canyon, in protest of BLM policies that resulted in the closure of the canyon to motorized traffic in 2007.
Lyman and many riders turned around at the end of the maintenance road, but dozens of others continued through the canyon on a more primitive trail.
The damage was along the primitive trail. The US Attorney said the group damaged eight archaeological sites and caused additional damage to riparian and upland soil areas.
The US Attorneys said that the cost to investigate the damage is $65,507.92 and the cost for emergency stabilization work was $30,447.69, resulting in the $95,955.61 total.
Lyman argued that he did not ride on anything other than the maintenance road, which is used by the San Juan Water Conservancy District to maintain a pipeline.
In addition, Lyman provided a report from an archaeologist that argued the damage is minimal.
For the December 18 sentencing, the US Attorney asks that Lyman spend from ten to 12 months in prison and pay an additional fine up to $30,000.
The US Attorney requests that Wells spend six to 12 months in prison and pay an additional fine up to $20,000.