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Federal agents review information from off-road protest

Federal agents review information from off-road protest



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SALT LAKE CITY -- The U.S. Attorney's Office is reviewing notes taken by federal agents during an off-road protest over the weekend.

As a show of protest, hundreds of people rode ATVs and motorcycles up southern Utah's Paria River, which is off-limits. The Salt Lake Tribune reports Bureau of Land Management agents took pictures of the riders and wrote down license plate numbers, then gave the information to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Kanab resident and protest organizer Shawna Cox told the Tribune, "We felt like that was pretty low. We thought we were living in a communist country."

Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, says he saw two men in camo gear there who said they were BLM agents watching the proceedings at the request of the U.S. Attorney's Office. He says other BLM rangers were there, too.

"I talked to several people who said they were taking pictures of license plates and individuals," he said.

He says environmentalists also where there.

"They traveled along the riverbed, they had all their cars and trucks and vehicles down there right along side the others but I don't know if they took their pictures too," he said.

Noel formerly worked for the BLM. He helped lead Saturday's protest.

The U.S. Attorney's Office will not comment on the matter.

Protesters were rallying for more public access.

The area in question is the Paria corridor in Grand Staircase-Escalante National monument. It has been closed to motorized vehicles since 2000, but people ride there anyway because no one enforces the law. Kane and Garfield counties sued over the issue. The BLM plans to enforce the closure following a federal appeals court ruling last month in its favor.

E-mail: mrichards@ksl.com

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Mary Richards

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