The Colorado environmental activist charged with trespassing and wanton destruction of livestock in Utah pled “no contest” on Monday, April 1, 2019, to Class A and Class B misdemeanor charges of “trespassing on State Trust Lands [with the intent to do harm].”
Mark Franklin, Durango, Colo., husband of Rose Chilcoat, a radical environmentalist who carries out anti-grazing activities in Colorado and Utah, entered the plea on the opening day of his trial in Utah’s Carbon County. Prosecutors claimed Franklin closed a rancher’s corral gate on grazing lands in southeastern Utah in an attempt to purposely cut the cattle off from water in 2017.
With the “no contest” plea, which is the equivalent of a guilty plea, Franklin was able to avoid more serious felony charges. The court ordered him to pay a $1,000 and, per the terms of his probation, he is barred from entering Utah State Trust Lands for one year.
Chilcoat, who is a member of the environmentalist group “Great Old Broads For Wilderness,” also was originally charged in the scheme but those charges were later dropped.
Chilcoat, who has been associated with Friends of Cedar Mesa, an environmentalist group headquartered in Bluff, Utah, and once served as director for the “Great Old Broads for Wilderness,” has been accused before in Utah for bizarre anti-grazing tactics and efforts to force cattle off the range. She was originally charged in the scheme with Franklin, but those charges were later dropped.
The incident began when Franklin and Chilcoat drove to the corral of rancher Zane Odell, and closed the gate to his cattle’s water source inside the corral. Suspecting the gate was closed with malicious intent, Odell mounted a game camera along the road. When Franklin and Chilcoat returned a few days later they were detained by Odell and Zeb Dalton until sheriff’s deputies arrived.
With evidence showing that the pair was in the same car earlier captured by the game camera, they were charged with “attempted wanton destruction of livestock,” a felony, along with “trespassing on Utah State Trust Lands.” Chilcoat, who then attempted to get the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to review grazing permits held by Odell and Dalton, was later charged with “attempted retaliation against a witness.”
Had he been convicted of the more serious felony charges, Franklin faced up to six years in jail.