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ATV riders face potential jail time, fines for protest ride in Recapture Canyon

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Posted at 10:03 PM, Oct 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-18 00:03:14-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Five ATV riders appeared in federal court Friday and are facing misdemeanor charges for riding on BLM land that is closed to motorized vehicles.

The defendants include San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, as well as Monte Wells, Jay Redd, Shane Marian and Trent Holliday. All five pleaded not guilty.

The incident stems back to May 10. The riders were holding a protest at Recapture Canyon, in San Juan County.

The riders are upset that part of the canyon has been closed to motorized vehicles. BLM officials said Recapture Canyon land has been closed since 2007 in order to protect artifacts in the area that are potentially 2,000 years old.

As part of the protest, the riders disobeyed BLM law and rode their ATVs in the closed-off area.

The riders are charged with two misdemeanors. One count conspiracy to operate off-road vehicles on public lands closed to off-road vehicles and one count of operation of off-road vehicles on public lands closed to off-road vehicles.

"In court, the men were advised that each count can have up to one year in jail and up to $100,000 in fines,” Prosecutor John Huber said.

Holliday spoke with FOX 13 News following the court proceeding.

"It seems like selective prosecution," he said. "I think we have a strong case."

Holliday also added that he has no regrets.

FOX 13 News spoke with the attorney for Monte Wells, Nathan Crane.

"We look forward to the opportunity to go to court, we have some beautiful public lands here in the state of Utah and we just love to enjoy them," Crane said.

He also said that his client has no regrets.

Lyman, Redd and Marian had no comment following the court proceedings.

Huber said the defendants may be required to pay restitution.

"We indicated to the judge today that restitution is an issue in this case,” he said. "There is an issue in the case where there was damage to the land due to the ATV ride."

The trial is tentatively scheduled to begin December 22.