Billings, MT – In the last few days a wide variety of information has been circulating regarding a vandalism incident at Pompeys Pillar National Monument. As this is an ongoing investigation, the BLM will continue to provide as many facts to the public as possible that will not jeopardize the investigation.
“We appreciate the public interest and support of such an important site in our nation’s history,” says Jeff Kitchens, Pompeys Pillar National Monument Manager. “The BLM will continue its due diligence and work hard to see that appropriate steps are taken throughout the investigation.”
On Oct. 10, 2013, the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Department responded to an alarm set off at the monument. The County Sheriff’s Deputy contacted and identified two suspects in the area that potentially sounded off the alarm. Alarms sound off regularly at the monument but rarely end in vandalism. All triggered alarms are responded to by either BLM law enforcement or the County Sheriff’s Department.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at Pompeys Pillar until BLM personnel climbed the boardwalk to conduct maintenance on October 17, and noticed a new carving near William Clark’s historic signature. After reviewing security camera footage, BLM law enforcement met with the Sheriff’s Deputy and confirmed the two suspects who set off the alarm on Oct. 10 were also those vandalizing the monument.
BLM law enforcement has contacted the suspect Cole Randall who admitted to carving on the monument. Mr. Randall was then informed that a damage assessment will be conducted at the site to help determine the penalty for the vandalism. The penalty could range up to a felony offense but is still unknown. The BLM is consulting with the U.S. Attorney to help identify next steps taken in the investigation.
The monument visitor center and vehicle use are closed beginning in the fall and will not reopen again until the spring. However, walk-in access is still permitted year-round.
Pompeys Pillar contains the signature of Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Clark’s inscription is the expedition’s only remaining physical evidence visible of its actual route. An interpretive center at the site recounts Clark’s journey through the Yellowstone Valley in 1806. More information on the national monument can be found at http://www.blm.gov/mt/st/en/fo/billings_field_office/pompeyspillar.html.
Members of the public interested in volunteering can contact Pompeys Pillar National Monument at 406-875-2400. For the latest BLM news and updates visit us on the web at www.blm.gov/mt, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BLMMontana, or follow us on Twitter @BLM_MTDKs.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM generated $5.2 billion in receipts from public lands.