At the February 27 meeting of the County Commission, Commissioner Bruce Adams said the county claims the road and directed the county road department to destroy the berm “that has been placed in the middle of our road” and do whatever is required to make the road passable.
Adams also asked that the road department track all costs on the project, in the event a citation is issued, to determine the restitution that would need to be paid to the county.
The road in question is County Road #0570, located in the Creek Pasture area east of Canyonlands National Park. The road is a San Juan County D road claimed under the Federal RS 2477 Statute.
The road was noticed by area residents, who later informed county officials. Photos of the road closure were taken and the incident is well documented.
Heavy equipment was used to push dirt up and block access to the road, apparently several months ago. Two BLM “Road Closed” signs were then installed.
One of the signs was placed on top of the berm in the center of the road, and the other sign in the middle of the road several hundred feet away. Shortly after BLM officials were questioned about the road closure by the local residents, the signs were removed and the berm was partially shoveled out.
The BLM told the residents that the road had been closed by mistake but that it was now open. The Sheriff’s Office has determined that at least one of the signs was placed by a BLM employee. However, the BLM denies blocking access to the road by creating the berm and denies placing a BLM sign.
The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office is investigating to see if Utah State statute was violated. Federal BLM investigators have been contacted, and have agreed to open an investigation and assist the Sheriff’s office to determine possible violations of NEPA laws, and or the BLM’s own policies and procedures.
Adams reports that Sheriff Rick Eldredge has completed his investigation and is waiting for the completion of a BLM investigation before taking action.
The Sheriff’s office said this action is similar to the activities of two Blanding residents who said they were trying to improve an existing road on BLM land near Blanding. They faced federal charges and a $35,000 fine.