Recapture Canyon, truth and lies – Part 3

by Joe B. Lyman

Part 1
Part 2

(Editor’s note: This is the third of a three-part series in which Joe B. Lyman outlines his view of issues surrounding the Recapture Canyon protest.
Last week, Joe discussed trail construction, BLM working with the county, ATV trails, and closure of the canyon. The full series can be found at the San Juan Record website at

Prevailing media reports on Recapture Canyon all regurgitate the same misinformation and outright lies that have been perpetrated by activist environmentalists and the BLM.
In order for readers to get the other side of this story, I will present a summary of several myths about Recapture.  This is part three of three parts.
Recapture Canyon is a pristine canyon full of treasure that needs to be protected from the locals: The fact that Recapture Canyon is on the immediate border with Blanding and yet still offers such a magnificent experience refutes this assertion.  The locals have offered all along to help the BLM re-route the trail around any area of particular concern.  These offers have been refused.  
Apparently that isn’t what the BLM really wants to do.  They prefer denying access as the default position. Recapture Canyon is roughly 37 miles long, and was “open” to motorized travel.
The only portion of road taken in the emergency closure was the section included in the County’s Title V Right of Way application: Following the closure, the County dropped seven miles of trail from its application because it was held by the BLM that the southern half of the closed area contained important archaeology.
The County was promised that, by dropping this section, the BLM Area Field Manager would lift the closure on the remaining section. No one has taken an OHV on the section, which was removed from the County’s ROW application.  
Anthropologist Steven Simms, Professor of Anthropology reminds us that “1,000 years ago, the Wasatch Front was probably the most densely populated part of Utah.”  
And yet the Wasatch Front is a major point of origin for criticism of the locals in San Juan County where the ancient history has been preserved.
This is Public Land: There is a whole debate about what that may mean, especially when you consider that the United States have never honored the State Charter of Utah and other western states.  
Article IV Section 3 of the Constitution describes Congress’s role in managing Territory and other property which it owns. Article I Section 8 clause 17, which prohibits almost all Federal ownership of land, defines what the United States may own within a State and the method and limitation of acquiring such ownership.  
States are free to retain the character of land as public space, but the jurisdiction over that land is not by Congress, but by the State.
We in Utah do not dictate to Eastern States how they use their backyard and the Citizens of San Juan County will not tolerate unconstitutional and arrogant demands of misguided politicians and bureaucrats fixated on “managing” Utah’s Statehood birthright.
The BLM is not heavy handed: Tell that to those who are brutalized and terrified at gunpoint by heavily armed federal agents.  
The BLM have dragged 70-plus year old men out of their homes in shackles in their underwear in the wee hours of the morning in the style of the Nazi SS and the Soviet KGB.  
BLM actions have driven three people to suicide.  Their current actions in Southeast Utah are driven by the continued personal vendetta of agent Dan Love.
We have witnessed the hypocrisy of the BLM and the Forest Service.  They profess to preserve and protect archaeology while deploying heavy equipment to clear cut hundreds of acres of land for whatever reasons they have with apparently no regard for the archaeology.  
Oh, I’m sure the Feds can explain it away, but people have documented this hypocrisy with photo evidence of the destruction of archaeology sites.  
Where are the so-called reporters when this happens?  Where are the activist group complaints about the actions of Federal Agencies?  Their silence speaks to their true agenda.  Many of them seek only power and control.  Others are simply uninformed and mislead.  Archaeology is only a tool to be employed to deny access to these lands.
The story in Recapture encapsulates so much of what is wrong with big oppressive government.
I challenge any and all news agencies to do some real reporting and tell the other side of this story.

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