Crime stoppers offers reward for headgate tampering

A ranch in southern Madison County has been struggling with vandalism of headgates to their ditches for several years and this year Madison County Crime Stoppers is stepping forward to help out.

The Three Dollar Ranch has water rights to Sheep Creek dating back to 1888 and the water they divert from the stream is used to water cattle in their pastures, said ranch manager Marina Smith.

For the past several years, people have vandalized the ranch’s headgates on Sheep Creek by putting in boards and shutting off the water.

“They put boards in our water control structure and shut our water down and it shuts it down completely for the ranch,” Smith said.

When the cattle run out of water, they get antsy and can break fences and cause damage trying to find water, she said.

And though shutting off the water causes a pretty immediate effect, turning the water on takes time, as the ditch has to soak up again to flow water.

“It creates a lot more work for us when people do this,” Smith said.

Madison County Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the tampering of Three Dollar Ranch’s water control structures on Sheep Creek. These structures are located on the Gallatin National Forest near Raynolds Pass. Vandalizing property on federal land is a federal offense.

Smith is also going to place signs on the headgates with contact information for the ranch.

“I understand that people may have different values and concerns and may not be happy about what’s going on, but we just wish they would contact us,” she said.

If you have information about the vandalism, contact crime stoppers at 1-877-NoCrme1 or 1-877-662-7631.

You can also contact the Three Dollar Ranch at 682-5790.

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