AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Trent Nelson
ATV riders cross into a restricted area of Recapture Canyon near Blanding, Utah, during a protest held May 10 against what they call government’s overreaching control of public lands.

ATVs in Recapture Canyon: What Are They Fighting For?

Christina Rose

An All Terrain Vehicle rally brought 60 ATV riders out on Saturday, May 10 to challenge the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to protect Recapture Canyon in San Juan County, Utah. The BLM closed the path to motorized vehicles in 2007 in an emergency action after ATV riders attempted to widen the road and caused significant damage to 31 archaeological sites. The area is ancestral to the Hopi, Navajo, Utes, and other local tribes.

RELATED: ATV Protest Rides Through Native American Sacred Sites

There are 2,800 miles of ATV trails in the area surrounding Recapture Canyon, which is the distance from New York to Los Angeles. Of that, only 1,870 acres of that land are closed off to ATVs by the BLM. Yet that small amount of land is being fought for by ATV riders who refuse to recognize the sacredness of the area, and are instead putting their fight for state’s right ahead of the respect for the history and remains of the area’s people.

“There are burial grounds, human remains of the ancestors of people living and thriving there today. It is as much about preserving resources as it is about respect, and we have to respect that the canyon is a place of human remains,” Megan Crandall, BLM Utah spokesperson, said, citing that Recapture Canyon holds an extraordinary amount of archaeological evidence.

Frank White, a member of the popular ATV groups Tread Lightly and Blue Ribbon Coalition, said both organizations were opposed to the ride. “I feel bad for what went on. To me they were down there to cause trouble, they wanted an incident.”

White said, “Carrying guns and the flag, they were out here to cause a fight. I call them Freedom Fighters and they just don’t want to be told what to do. It’s embarrassing; and then on tribal land, it’s just a big no-no. I don’t believe motorcycles and ATVs need to be everywhere.”


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bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
The Bureau of Land Management is a federal agency who has a monumental task with a very small staff. They are one of the few agencies that generates more revenue than it costs to operate. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) has only modestly begun to flex its muscle by prosecuting few grave looters and those destroying religious sites. It is time to step up the pace and show that it has a backbone if we are to see preservation of our history for future generations. These ATV law benders and breakers openly showed their disdain for federal regulations which is a display of their careless and reckless behaviors. Sad to see that they are showing their own youth total disrespect for laws.

dreamsthunder's picture
Submitted by dreamsthunder on
Why is it when protesting, white people show up with guns, its called a "rally"; but when people of color show up, it is called a conflict. Where is our government? Why are arrests not being made for trespass? If I recall right, don't most protests have to get a permit? Why has the government put up with this blatant disregard for the law; i.e. the Bundy Cattle fiasco and this? I am full of questions and don't know the answers.

choctawgirl's picture
Submitted by choctawgirl on
Because the government encourages them dreamsthunder. The government doesn't want them to stop. The genocide continues...and it always will until they are stopped.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Like I said before, get about 25-50 NDNs on motorcycles and ATVs to ride through a few White graveyards and see if they get the comparison.