This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Hikers on San Juan County's Cedar Mesa recently took pictures of two notes they saw on a sign board near Muley Point and sent them on to the Bureau of Land Management and the FBI.
The first note said: "Entering Greater Canyonlands National Park. No ATVs. All ATV trails are closed. No wood gathering. No hunting. By order of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness and Coloradoans for Utah Wilderness."
The second note declared an "open season on backpackers" with "no limit on how many can be harvested" and stated that "any weapon can be used."
These pranks are eerily consistent with the bogus signs I wrote about recently tacked on bulletin boards in San Juan County.
One was a phony news release purportedly from the Department of Interior posted at the post office in Bluff and in several gas stations in the county, saying the Interior Department was poised to take over more than 4 million acres of the Navajo Nation. It was clearly designed to roil Native Americans in the area against the federal government and the possible designation of the Bears Ears National Monument.
The second was a phony flier supposedly from the Utah Dine Bikeyah (UDB), a nonprofit American Indian grass-roots organization supporting the monument, that invited the public to a party to celebrate the new Bear Ears National Monument, except Utah Navajos, who were directed to "stay away from our party."
A third fraudulent letter claimed the Bears Ears National Monument would ban firewood gathering and American Indian access for sacred activities. In fact, monument designation would protect such activities. It purportedly was signed by Albert Holiday, vice president of the Navajo Nation's Oljato Chapter, who had nothing to do with the letter and said his name was forged.
Then there was the incident I wrote about on Monday in which a group of nature walkers were handcuffed, shackled, detained for hours, separated from their children and taken to the Vernal jail for strolling too close to a tar sands mine on SITLA land in Uintah County.
It seems there is a hostility, bordering on potential violence, toward conservationists and environmentalists not just from an underbelly of extremists, but among some law enforcement and elected officials in Utah's outback as well.
Congressional leaders no help: A press release from a group called the Ballots Not Bullets Coalition denounced the possibility of armed confrontation in response to the proposed Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah and scolded Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Jason Chaffetz for comments that seemed to justify the anti-government extremists prone to violence against federal officers.
The group cited a statement from Hatch, who said: "I would hope that my fellow Utahns would not use violence [in response to the designation of Bear Ears as a national monument], but there are some deeply held positions that cannot be ignored."
The group also cited a statement from Chaffetz, who said: "There is a lot of conflict that has escalated into being on the precipice of violence that is unnecessary and unwarranted."
Both Hatch and Chaffetz oppose the monument designation.
"Neither has made any public statements denouncing violence in response to the designation or acknowledging that such violence would be unacceptable and extra-constitutional," the coalition said.
Finicum was the Arizona rancher involved in the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon who was shot and killed during a confrontation with federal officers in January.
The Finicums' group, Liberty Rising, will also be featured at a constitutional seminar July 30 at the National Parks Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Orem.
The $15 per-person class will discuss federal government overreach and how Americans can reclaim their liberties. The proceeds will go to help the Finicum family.
The BSA said in a disclaimer on the advertisement of the event that "The Boy Scouts of America allowing Liberty Rising to rent their building should NOT be interpreted as them supporting or sharing the views and opinions expressed at this event. Our affiliation is merely a business relationship."