SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has declined to dismiss charges against a county commissioner who participated in a protest ride through a canyon that was closed to motorized vehicles in order to protect archeological resources.
San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman and others charged with misdemeanors after the Four Corners Area protest from last year appeared in court, asking a judge to dismiss the case and citing their First Amendment rights.
“Demonstrations are legal,” Lyman said. “We didn’t break any laws. That’s why I don’t think we should press charges.”
A group of protesters road all-terrain vehicles into the off-limits Recapture Canyon as part of a protest of federal land policies. The canyon was closed to motorized vehicles by the BLM in order to preserve archeological resources in the area.
A judge denied the motion to dismiss, and the trial is scheduled to start at the end of the month. Lyman is one of five individuals charged, the others are Monte Wells, Jay Redd, Shane Marian and Trent Holliday. All five pleaded not guilty in October.
The charges against Redd have since been dropped.