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For week ended August 01, 1999 Posted 7 Aug 1999

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Home of Escalante Environmentalists Is Vandalized; LDS Bishop Calls Couple `Lucky'

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Home of Escalante Environmentalists Is Vandalized; LDS Bishop Calls Couple `Lucky'
Salt Lake Tribune 27Jul99 L8
By Kelly Kennedy: Salt Lake Tribune

As the U.S. Bureau of Land Management prepares to release a management plan for the new Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, local residents that oppose the Monument have vandalized the home of two Escalante environmentalists again. In the wake of the vandalism, local LDS Bishop Wade Barney says that activists Tori Woodard and Patrick Diehl were 'lucky.'

Woodard and Diehl came home on Saturday night to find their home covered with paintballs, two windows broken and beer bottles inside the home. Their phone lines were also cut. "We are the only people in town right now who are outspoken about these issues, and you can see why," said Woodard.

Police say that the vandalism occurred during the town's Pioneer Days Parade. They same someone forced in the door, and that they found fingerprints and a blood sample on the scene. The evidence has been sent to a state crime lab for testing.

The vandalism comes in the wake of comments by the local LDS Bishop, Wade Barney, who called a recent demonstration in Escalante the begining of a war against environmentalists, who he called "exclusionists." Now, after the most recent vandalism, Barney indicated that Woodard and Diehl were lucky. "Our people have lived here for more than 100 years. Now you want to come in and make it so we can't enjoy it. At the rally, I said this was a religious war -- Christians against the exclusionists. I asked our people to stand up and defend our county commissioners and our rights." Barney says that residents object to closing roads and limiting four-wheeled access to the new monument.

Woodard, noting that Barney has significant influence over the majority-LDS population in the area, called for the Church to take action, "The church should take a stand on the vandalism," she said. "And encourage the bishop not to say stuff like that. There are 1,100 people here, and only 175 are non-LDS. What he says has a big influence here."

But Barney says that its ridiculous to say that anti-environmentalists were behind the vandalism, "I wouldn't be surprised if they did this themselves -- that's the kind of people they are." He also thinks that Woodard and Diehl were asking for it. "We had this demonstration with the Bureau of Land Management, and [Woodard and Diehl] showed up to protest it," he said. "Come on now, they asked for it. They're lucky they're still in as good shape as they are. Anyplace else, [Diehl] wouldn't have fared as well."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information