Phil Lyman, a Blanding Republican representing the 73rd District in the Utah House of Representatives, will finally pay the rest of the $95,955.61 fine imposed on him for his illegal UTV ride in San Juan County’s Recapture Canyon in 2014.
Lyman was convicted by a jury for misdemeanor trespassing after leading 50 UTV riders through the canyon, which the Bureau of Land Management had closed to off-road vehicles to preserve Indigenous archaeological sites.
“When you strike a match, you’re responsible for the fire,” said U.S. District Judge David Nuffer at the time of the trial.
Lyman was sentenced to 10 days in jail in addition to the fine.
Lyman had been paying the fine incrementally at $100 per month, but after being elected to the Utah State Legislature in 2018, prosecutors sought to up that amount. In recent weeks, U.S. Attorney John Huber and Assistant Attorney Allison J.P. Moon requested his tax returns in order to discern whether Lyman’s restitution payments should be increased. After missing two court-ordered appointments to provide the returns, Nuffer has given Lyman until noon on Oct. 16 to pay the rest of the fine.
In late August, Lyman released his 2017 and 2018 tax returns while “under duress,” describing his case and conviction as “bogus,” a “sham,” “extortion” and a “farce” in a letter to Nuffer. Nuffer noted that Lyman still hasn’t provided his 2019 tax returns and the 2017 and 2018 returns are incomplete.
Lyman has long been vocal in his criticism against the amount of federally owned land in his district and in the American West more broadly, viewing public lands as the property of specific Utah counties, not the federal government. He has prominently opposed the designation of Bears Ears National Monument.