ATV protest: A few thousand ride to 'Take Back Utah'

ATV protest: A few thousand ride to 'Take Back Utah'
SLC protest » Federal government, wilderness are targets.

By Tom Wharton

The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 08/09/2009 07:21:36 AM MDT

Protest signs carried by about 3,000 American flag waving-motorized recreation enthusiasts riding off-highway vehicles up State Street to the steps of the state Capitol told the story of Saturday's Take Back Utah rally.

"I'll keep my guns, my freedom, my land. You keep the change," read one sign.

"This is the Place for US, not the U.S. government," opined another that was part of a parade that included sheep trailers, mountain bikers, oil and coal trucks and dozens of ATV riders exercising their freedom by not wearing helmets.

"A Man and His ATV -- A Beautiful Thing" read a placard carried by one participant, while another rider wore a T-shirt claiming that "paved roads are a fine example of needless government spending."

Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett addressed an appreciative and somewhat angry throng. So did two of Bennett's 2010 Republican Senate nomination opponents, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and firebrand Cherilyn Eagar, who sang part of a Sesame Street song.

Organized by Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, and a host of off-highway vehicle clubs and sponsored by a diverse group of public land users including hunters, ranchers, farmers, miners and oil and gas companies, the event was long on anger and rhetoric and short on specifics about how federal land management should be changed or even eliminated.

"We're God-fearing and gun clinging," said Mike Swenson of the off-highway vehicle group USA-ALL, who offered
a message for what he called radical environmental groups: "You guys that love rocks and trees more than human beings, you have awakened a sleeping giant. We are not going away. We've been way too easy on you. There is a new war in the western United States to take back our lands."

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance -- one sign read "Don't commit SUWA-cide" -- joined the Bureau of Land Management, the Obama administration, any wilderness designation and the federal government as the rally's biggest bogeymen.

Noel, who worked for nearly 20 years for the BLM as a lands specialist before quitting in disgust when the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was established by then-President Bill Clinton, said he hoped the event would energize Utahns who might not have time to backpack into scenic parts of the state for two weeks but want to access public lands.

"This is more than about recreation, it's about farming and mining and keeping revenues generated by the lands of Utah," Noel said. "This is a beginning. We have got to be extreme in the way we take back these public lands."

Hatch said he joined the Sagebrush Rebellion to get more state and local control over Western public lands in 1976 when Jimmy Carter was president and told the crowd that he was glad the movement is alive and well.

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, laid out a historical and constitutional case against wilderness and federal ownership of public land and said the reason many states with vast areas of public land have trouble funding education is because of a lack of private land.

Part of Saturday's speeches involved the political posturing by U.S. Senate rivals Bennett, Shurtleff and Egar, who all tried to establish their credentials as freedom-loving states' rights advocates.

"Back to the beginning of the Obama administration, they shut down the oil leases all across Utah," Bennett said. "They listened to SUWA rather than abide by the law."

Shurtleff boasted of winning legal battles to keep roads open and lands from being designated as wilderness.

"These are our roads, our lands, our families, our resources, our rights and we are going to stand up for them once and for all," said the state attorney general.

Eagar called federal ownership of 67 percent of Utah not only wrong but unconstitutional.

"Washington, we don't need your help," Eagar said to the crowd. "We can take care of ourselves."

Michaelyn Erickson, of Bountiful, one of hundreds of OHV club members hailing from across Utah, said she came to let legislators know she wants free access to public lands for everyone.

"If you designate a wilderness, it is limited to hikers and horseback riders," she said.

If there were Democrats or environmentalists amid the throng, they kept a decidedly low profile.

SUWA associate director Heidi McIntosh issued a pre-emptive news release Friday.

"You just have to ask: 'take back Utah from what, exactly?'' McIntosh said, in questioning the rally's theme. "Despite their rhetoric, these groups have long had access to nearly all public lands in Utah, frequently to the detriment of the long-term health of the public lands, with no long-term economic stability."

That statement would probably be lost on the man carrying a sign mocking wilderness supporters' iconic "Wild Utah" bumper stickers by saying, "Utah is wild enough. No more wilderness and road closure."


Well-Known Member
Good to see such a large turn out for something like this.


Well-Known Member
"TAKE BACK UTAH" rally at the state capital.
Utah legislators and citizens band together to TAKE BACK UTAH in the
Sagebrush Rebellion II

Salt Lake City, UT – Legislators and citizens are banding together on August 8, 2009 in a combine parade and rally through the streets of the capitol see to Take Utah Back. Too much of what makes Utah a great place to live,work, and play has been taken from us. Over 63% of Utah lands belong to the federal government. In contrast, less than 5% of Texas has been declared public lands. Many Utah counties have been hard hit by these federal landgrabs, none more so than Southern Utah’s Kane County.

Kane County’s own Representative Mike Noel leads the charge in this David and Goliath battle: "I am dedicated to multiple uses for public lands, which is the key to maintaining a healthy and prosperous agricultural, small business, tourist and resource-based economy in southern Utah."

A cold war has been brewing in the Western United States for decades over the use of public land and resources. The Take Back Utah movement is a grass roots effort sponsored by many local and regional organizations and legislators. We are committed to responsible use of and access to public land in Utah.

On August 8th, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Utahns will arrive from all over the state to participate in a parade/rally to Take Utah Back. They will gather at 200 E 500 South in downtown Salt Lake City, where the parade will begin and wind its way toward the Capitol Building where the rally will be held on the south steps. The rally will be comprised of speeches and music.

Speakers: Representative Mike Noel, Sheriff Richard Mack and others
Music: David Osmond and others
For more information contact:

Mike Swenson


Well-Known Member
Above is what was posted before the event. Myself (Team Xterra Racing), Allen Gerber and a few other local off road racers took our race cars to the state capital on Saturday. Although we had a good showing, I don't think it is nearly enough. We need to start working on the next move now. This little display caused the eviros and SUWA to get on the defence. I am sure they won't be wasting anytime in getting their game plans together.

The links below may not work for long. Go direct to the channel site and look for the stories. Channel 4 ABC (SLC) is to air a full broadcast of this Aug.14th

link to KSL 5;

link to FOX 13;,2024030.story


Non Sugar Coated
I'm happy that it went well. Most of the NATZI cops in utah would have impounded everything on a public street and then blamed the outcome on the "unruly" off roaders then fed the whole thing to the local media. You guys be careful I at one time lived in that state the locals are not all that thrilled about everyone owning some type of off road vehicle now as compaired to 20 years ago when nowbody but a few had one.


Well-Known Member
"paved roads are a fine example of needless government spending." Crazy funny.

on a more serious note, We have to show our numbers. The town hall effect works.


Well-Known Member
Take Back Utah Is a Success

If you haven't heard already the capitol parade and rally was a huge success. We had about 3500+ attend the rally! The parade took over an hour from the first vehicle leaving downtown and the last arriving at the capitol building. There were many different groups represented and a atmosphere of unity and strength was felt by all.

Every single local TV station covered our event as did both major Salt Lake news papers. Some reports were more accurate than others. Some can't help themselves and have to spin everything the report on. Channel 2 was the most favorable and Channel 5 (KSL) was the most inaccurate with downright shoddy reporting. A previous version of the one we have linked to claimed, "that hundreds" participated, and they made reference to environmental concerns that ATVs are often the culprit of wild fires. They have since moderated their story. We will include a full list of media coverage on our website. This should be updated by late tonight or early tomorrow. Sorry for delays we really are a small grass roots movement so things (website updates, etc) don't get done as quick as we all would like.

During the rally we were pleased to hear from many different speakers and be entertained by talented artists. We wanted to thank all involved. 2 days prior to the event we found out we could broadcast it live to the entire state. We had to do many last minute changes and it changed how we conducted the rally. We appreciate everyone's willingness to work with us on that.

We were most impressed with the behavior of the rally and parade participants. I personally was so proud of everyone. There was not a single incident or problem with anyone. All were on their best behavior. All were passionate yet under control. The SL police department commented on how well it was planned and executed. I especially want to thank the nearly 100 volunteers we had. These individuals took ownership and control of their responsibilities. Planning such an event was a big undertaking for us. None of us have professional event planning experience. This really was a grass roots effort. The planning committee made up of myself, Chris Brimhall, Rick Whiteside, Shawn Taylor, Chad Booth, Braxton Southwick, and Representative Mike Noel. These guys deserves a HUGE pat on the back. They all gave much time and energy to make this happen.

For those who felt the rally may not have hit their issue or been what they expected, fear not. This really is just the beginning. There will be more rallies, more events, and much more to come. We know there were some mistakes made on Saturday and we will get better at this as we do more events.

We want this movement to sweep the western United States. We intend to facilitate that. We first and foremost want to protect our interests as citizens of Utah. But we know this is something that neighboring states need. Take Back Utah will begin to be a leading voice on state's rights issues. Protection of access to public land will be a key and leading issue for this movement.

If you were impressed by what you saw at this rally consider donating to our cause. It costs an incredible amount of money to pull this event off. We are still paying for it. We would like to do more events to inspire even more people to get involved. We have provided a link in this email if you would like to donate and help us do this. Your dollars will stay in a restricted account to help do future events and protect access to public land.

The event on Saturday brought much needed attention to the issues of access to public land, it showed a unified broad cross section of the public, it made political leaders want to act, it gave leading organizations like USA-ALL a larger voice and more influence with political leaders, it brought many new individuals, organizations, and businesses into supporting our movement. Also notice was served to our opposition that we are not going to lay down and let them take away our rights, our quality of life, control our government, or harm our citizens.

With your continued support of this movement we will accomplish our goals and not only take back Utah but we will take back our country.

Spread the word, get on board, we're going places!

Pictures and Video
We will have the website updated in the next few days with photos and videos of the event. We also will modify the page to include other issues and add a new form for people to sign up to get our emails.If you have vidoes or pictures you would like to share with us send them to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . We will include links to videos and so forth.
Donate To Our Cause Here...

If you would like to discuss where your money goes or have ANY questions give me a call at 801-830-9112.

Thanks for your support. We hope to see you and many others at future events. We also hope to gain the support of thousands more just like you. Please help us by spreading the word, if we stick together and recruit more support we will protect our home state, our quality of life, and the values we all believe in.


Michael Swenson
Take Back Utah & Utah Shared Access Alliance


Well-Known Member
Wow on the Ksl coverage. That's just downright bad. I like how 78% of the people they polled want more protection. Of course SUWA is going to poll the people that want more protection. I sure didn't get to vote.

And what are these weeds that the enviro-lady is talking about? It's not a garden, there are no weeds...