Vandalism to facilities managed by the Bureau of Land Management’s Billings Field Office is mounting, and land managers are seeking the public’s help to bring it to an end.
According to a Thursday news release, the BLM recently cited several people for vandalism at the Acton Recreation Area, 18 miles north of Billings. On top of that, what the agency calls “nonstop vandalism” at the popular Shepherd Ah Nei Recreation Area has led the BLM to cancel any further plans to repair or replace vandalized property.
“We’ve spent about $200,000 improving facilities and adding amenities at our different sites over the last five years,” said Jim Sparks, field manager for the Billings Field Office. “I’ve got to think long and hard before I invest any more taxpayer dollars into improving those sites if those enhancements are only going to be destroyed by vandalism.”
BLM staff continues to see an increase in newly installed improvements — signs, fenced parking areas, fire grates and picnic tables — being riddled with bullet holes, ripped out or burned.
The Billings Field Office maintains a number of recreation sites designed to provide the public with nearby recreation opportunities while protecting the region’s cultural and paleontological resources.
People convicted of vandalizing natural and cultural resources or facilities managed by the BLM are subject to fines up to $1,000 and imprisonment. With a territory of about 434,000 acres to cover, BLM rangers can’t always be in the right place at the right time, the news release states.
Sparks said that while members of the general public should not expose themselves to dangerous situations, they’re encouraged to note vehicle descriptions, take photos if possible and contact BLM law enforcement with any valuable information that might help the agency to solve the crimes.
Reach BLM law enforcement at 406-698-9854, the Billings Field Office at 406-896-5013 or the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office for non-emergency events at 406-657-8200. Callers may remain anonymous.