Lime Ridge corral case finally closed
The case is finally closed two years after a gate was closed on a corral on Lime Ridge in San Juan County.
Mark Franklin, age 63 of Durango, CO, pled no contest before Seventh District Judge Don Torgerson on April 1 to misdemeanor charges of trespassing on trust lands and criminal mischief.
A felony charge of attempted wanton destruction of livestock was dismissed with prejudice as part of the plea deal.
The plea came after two years of legal wrangling over the controversy. An April 1 trial date had been set in a case that had previously been delayed and moved from San Juan County to Price.
Franklin was fined $1,000 and ordered to stay off of Utah State Trust Lands for a year. The corral is on a section of trust land that local ranchers have leased.
The charges will be dropped after one year if Franklin avoids further troubles.
In a statement, Franklin said that he “interfered with the activities of a lessee, with intent to halt, impede, obstruct, or interfere with the lawful operation of animal enterprise.”
Franklin also writes that he “attempted to intentionally and unlawfully tamper with the property of another and as a result recklessly endangered human health or safety.”
Franklin and his wife, prominent environmental activist Rose Chilcoat, were charged after officials said the corral gate was closed on April 1, 2017. They said the action threatened the livestock in the area.
The case attracted considerable attention, with allegations that local officials targeted Chilcoat because of her involvement with the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, an active environmental organization.
Local officials state that the charges were justified after a series of escalating events.
Charges against Chilcoat were dropped in 2018.