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Lewis and Clark National Forest seeking information on vandalism at Hellgate Pictographs

The initials "JR" and "DR" carved into limestone at the Hellgate Pictographs site
Courtesy Lewis and Clark National Forest
The Lewis and Clark National Forest Service is asking the public for help with an ongoing investigation into a recent act of vandalism near the Hellgate Pictographs.

The Lewis and Clark National Forest Service is asking the public for help with an ongoing investigation into a recent act of vandalism near the Hellgate Pictographs, located east of the Canyon Ferry Reservoir outside Helena.

Vandals etched the initials “JR and DR 2022” into limestone rock at the historic site. The vandalism is thought to have occurred sometime between July 3 and July 28, when forest officials discovered it.

“This pictograph panel is one of the largest rock art sites in Montana," said Forest Service spokeswoman Chiara Cipriano. "It holds high spiritual value to the local tribal nations. Some of the art on this panel has been radiocarbon dated over 1,200 years.”

The Forest Service is asking anyone who may have information to contact the Townsend Ranger District at 406-266-3425 or local law enforcement Officer Corey Scevers at 406-387-3839.

Cipriano says the forest may be able to bring in experts to rehabilitate the site, but the process is difficult and expensive.

In past cases of vandalism, the forest service was able to identify the vandals through social media.

Ellis Juhlin is YPR's Statehouse reporter based in Helena.