County Officials in Utah Steal Signs from National Monument

The U.S. EPA might be protecting the air in national parks and wilderness areas, but who’s watching out for the land in national monuments? If you happen to live in southern Utah, the answer is: not your local elected officials. Kane County Commissioner Mark Habbeshaw and Sheriff Lamont Smith are being investigated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for removing at least 31 signs prohibiting all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles from roads in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Removing or destroying the signs on federal lands is a crime, but Smith, a self-described ATV enthusiast, claims the two were within their legal rights: “These roads have been used for years and years.” Mike Leavitt, the Republican governor of Utah and President Bush’s pick for U.S. EPA administrator, has been negotiating with the U.S. Interior Department over which routes are federally protected and which are county roads open to all traffic.