Officials in San Juan County are conducting a case of political and malicious criminal prosecution against Mark Franklin and Rose Chilcoat. The case, over a year old now and not yet even in the trial phase, is already a blow against Mark and Rose and a black eye for San Juan County. They saw a nefarious way to seek revenge against Rose, who is a successful, effective conservationist, and they are getting it. Mark and Rose have accumulated over $100,000 in related legal bills defending themselves against trumped up charges for an utterly insignificant event. They suffer the stress of being falsely accused of crimes that could incur substantial fines and decades in prison. It is a travesty that court proceedings have been allowed to grind on to this point. There is, alas, more legal grinding yet to go.

Rose is a hero in conservation circles. She has been successful in raising issues about how public land is illegally misused in the Southwest, particularly in San Juan County. Her name is well known there because of it and she is fiercely resented by certain loud locals who think the land is somehow rightfully theirs and that they should be allowed to use it however they please, without interference by the law. These are people who revere and emulate Cliven Bundy, and like Bundy, manage to get away with their crimes. Bundy is a scofflaw. Long before the armed standoff in Nevada in 2014, he was twice convicted in federal court, fined, ordered to pay his grazing fees, and to remove his trespass cows. He never paid his fines, he never paid his fees, and he never removed his cows. Somehow, he gets away with it. Try to imagine how you would get away with defying the U.S. Government in such a way. Unless you are part of the protected class of white, male, cowboy-hatted Mormons in the West, you can’t imagine it. Senator Orrin Hatch does not have your unprivileged back. It is unequal justice. It is an ongoing, ugly situation. It strikes at the heart of the American ideal.

Rose with the bloody hag mask.

The elected officials in San Juan County, particularly county commissioner Phil Lyman, despise Rose because of string of successes over the years where she has managed to protect public land from illegal damage and abuse.

In 2006, the Great Old Broads for Wilderness got a call from a concerned local citizen about an illegally constructed ATV trail in San Juan County’s Recapture Canyon. Rose and others went to check it out and found the illegal trail. Later they also uncovered looting and grave robbing of Native American artifacts which was happening as a result of the road-building. They gathered their allies and resources, and over the years thoroughly documented the impacts and reported enough evidence to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that the BLM was finally compelled to issue an emergency closure of Recapture Canyon to motorized use in the upper part of the canyon. As reported in High Country News, such vandalism triggers automatic closures to motorized vehicles under the Archaeological Protection Act, but locals blamed Rose and The Broads, not the vandals and illegal road builders.

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