Through pleading “no contest” to the Class A and Class B misdemeanor charges of “trespassing on State Trust Lands [with the intent to do harm]” Franklin was able dodge the 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.

by Marjorie Haun

Mark Franklin, husband of Rose Chilcoat, a radical environmentalist who carries out anti-grazing activities in Colorado and Utah, plead “no contest” on Monday, April 1, to charges related to their attempt to harm cattle two years ago today. Franklin plead “no contest,” which is the equivalent of a guilty plea, in a Monticello, Utah courtroom while accompanied by Chilcoat, who abetted his 2017 crimes but against whom all felony charges were dropped several months ago.

The pair originally faced several felony charges related to their repeated attempts to harm cattle in southern Utah’s Lime Ridge area. On April 1, 2017, they drove to a corral belonging to rancher Zane Odell, and closed the gate to his cattle’s water source inside the corral. Odell, suspecting that the gate was closed with malicious intent then mounted a game cam along the road to the corral. Franklin and Chilcoat returned a couple of days later, where they were detained by Odell, and Zeb Dalton, who was working on a well at the corral, until a sheriff’s deputy arrived at the scene. With evidence showing that the pair was in the same car earlier captured by the game cam, 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.”

Through pleading “no contest” to the Class A and Class B misdemeanor charges of “trespassing on State Trust Lands [with the intent to do harm]” Franklin was able dodge the 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 is closely 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. She is well-known in southeastern Utah for her bizarre anti-grazing antics and endless efforts to get cattle off the range. Despite the plea of “no contest,” Franklin continues to assert that he was out sightseeing at the time he closed the gate, and that he did so because he felt threatened by Odell’s cows. The Salt Lake Tribune quotes Franklin:

“I pulled off the highway to relieve myself on public land near a prominent, overbuilt corral and turned my vehicle and trailer around in front of an open wire gate,” he said. “When leaving, an unusually large tire in the corral caught my eye….As I walked towards the trough, one of the cows turned and gave me the ‘stink eye.’ At the same time, two other cows began to move behind me,” Franklin said. “That made me concerned, so I pulled the unlatched pipe gate closed to prevent them from surrounding me. I did this for my personal safety and the safety of my vehicle and trailer, and to avoid any conflict with the cows.”

The evidence gathered by Odell and Dalton, as well as the San Juan County Sheriff’s Department, contradicts Franklin’s story, and his plea of “no contest,” reinforces the notion that when he and Chilcoat entered the corral area, they were up to no good.

The end of a long and convoluted legal battle, the brief trial brought great relief to Zane Odell, who was with Zeb Dalton in the Monticello courtroom at the time Franklin took the plea deal. Odell told Free Range Report, “At first it didn’t really sink in what happened today.” And he continued, “I’m happy. I can’t remember being this happy for a long time. We won.”


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