The Park Record editorial, Oct. 14-16, 2015 |

The Park Record editorial, Oct. 14-16, 2015


Last week, the Utah Association of Counties named San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman as the state’s 2015 County Commissioner of the year. If that name sounds familiar it is because Lyman is the official who led a parade of sagebrush rebels on ATVs through Recapture Canyon, a federally protected area that is closed to motorized vehicles.

Images from the protest ride depict a defiant crowd of flag-waving citizens raising a cloud of dust driving past sensitive archeological artifacts. There didn’t seems to be any Confederate flags but there were a slew of those bright yellow "Don’t Tread on Me" banners that have come to symbolize the Tea Party and other disaffected groups.

The protest was uncomfortably reminiscent of the dispute between the Bureau of Reclamation and Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who, in 2014, also decided to take the law into his own hands, resulting in an armed standoff with federal officials.

Lyman is currently awaiting sentencing on federal charges. But before facing the judge, next month he will be feted at UAC’s annual convention. Apparently, here in Utah, lawmakers are rewarded for breaking the law.

One has to wonder whether any Summit County officials were in on that dubious decision to select Lyman for the honor. Hopefully not.

And this isn’t the only time that UAC has gone off on a political bender that runs counter to federal efforts to designate and protect environmentally threatened lands. In 2011 UAC threatened to sue the federal government over new rules designed to inventory potential wilderness areas and protect them from potentially damaging activities.

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Currently, UAC is advocating against efforts to reinforce the Endangered Species Act and to turn more regulation over to states. UAC also opposes recent efforts to more closely monitor natural waterways using the well-worn code words "federal over-reach."

In the meantime here in Summit County, residents are calling for more protection for the environment. They are lobbying their Congressional representatives for a new designation in the Wasatch Mountains to protect the area from encroaching development, and they are passing local laws to guard against air and water pollution.

As Summit County officials consider packing their bags to attend next month’s UAC convention, we would urge them to carefully consider whether the organization is serving the best interest of their constituents.

At the very least Summit County’s delegation could stage a bike ride around the convention center to protest UAC’s blatant disregard for the state’s irreplaceable natural wonders, to say nothing of the laws of the land.