Protect Your Forest

The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forests are your lands. You have a stake in what happens on them. There are laws that protect the forest's biodiversity, scenic views, water, soil and the cultural heritage. If you see an activity that you think is suspicious, we encourage you to report it.

Where and when do forest crimes occur and what crimes are committed?

  • Illegal activities can take place anywhere and at any time but usually occur later in the evening or on weekends.
  • Theft of timber and other forest products; arson; vandalism of private and government property; damaging Forest Service campsites, roads, or trails; and illegal drug manufacturing and sales are just some examples. These are crimes prosecutable under both federal and state laws.

What to look for when reporting suspicious activity on national forests and grasslands to your local law enforcement agency or a Forest Service office:

  • ATVs operating off of established roads or trails.
  • Suspicious activities in the woods such as forest products being loaded into pickups or vans, especially in the evening.
  • Campfires in locations where they should not be or campfires left unattended.
  • Bright lights on hillsides at night.
  • Chainsaws running in the middle of the night.
  • Dumping of household or commercial trash.
  • Anyone damaging a Forest Service recreation site or trail or deliberately setting a fire.

How to Observe and Record:

If you think you have witnessed a crime, do not approach the person and do not take a photo of them unless you can do so safely. Instead observe what they are doing, record it on paper or on your cellphone messaging or texting app.

Do not call 911 unless someone is in danger or to report a fire . Instead, report what you have seen at When you report a tip, provide information such as a description of the person(s) and of their vehicle or boat, any registration or distinguishing logo (car rental identifier, license plate), what they are doing, when, and where.

Thank you for your interest and concern for your lands and facilities