300 ATV riders protest access controls of monument

(AP) — A crowd of more than 300 all-terrain and off-highway vehicle riders held a weekend rally near Kanab to protest federal government restrictions on access to Grand Staircase-Escalante National monument.The rally included a mass ride up the muddy Paria River.Under a Bureau of Land Management plan for the 1.9-million acre monument the meandering river in Paria-Hackberry Wilderness Study Area is closed to motorized vehicles.Riders say they want federal land managers and environmentalists know area residents have as take in control of the monument.”People are the government,” organizer Shawna Cox said Saturday, dressed in a vest of the U.S. flag. “We need to go back to the Constitution. … We’re standing up for our rights to access.”In April, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a county lawsuit and upheld the BLM’s plan. Historically, the BLM has not enforced the policy and depended on voluntary compliance. That continued Saturday, with law enforcement simply watching as vehicles rolled through the shallow stream.BLM spokesman Larry Crutchfield said the public must respect the law. He said there are 600 miles of roads in the monument open to ATV and OHV use.A group of counter demonstrators were also at the river, documenting the protest with pictures.Wayne Hoskisson, chairman of the Utah chapter of the Sierra Club, said he wonders if the BLM was adequately representing all the people through lax enforcement.”If they don’t stop this, how are they going to protect our interest?” he asked.

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