2 Moffat County residents charged with dumping on BLM land


Two Craig ranchers have been indicted by a federal grand jury for using public land in Moffat County as a private dumping ground.

The brothers, Leland Smith, 70, and Bradford Smith, 65, also were accused of digging trenches to divert water from Woodbury Gulch to land where they kept livestock.

In total, the brothers were charged with two counts of “committing crimes” on Bureau of Land Management land.

Jeff Dorschner, public affairs officer for the Department of Justice in Colorado, said they used heavy equipment to tear up ditches for dumping refuse.

“They diverted water, to create a ditch from a pond, to an area where they had a flock of sheep,” Dorschner said.

Dorschner said this is an especially contentious issue during drought season.

“It can impact public land in ways that can’t be foreseen,” he said.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said that this issue is between the BLM and the ranchers using the property.

“A lot of people have these properties for so long that it feels like their own,” Mathers said. “I guess I’d question what they were dumping. Was it baling twine or manure?”

Dorschner said he could not release the details of what was dumped but just said it was “trash.”

The brothers pleaded not guilty Monday to both charges and now are waiting for the judge to set a trial date.

If convicted, the brothers would have to pay as much as $500,000 in fines and each would face as many as years in prison.


Colette Erickson 3 years, 10 months ago

Either way, Tom Mathers, the land DOES NOT belong to the Smith brothers. Yep, they use it as their own because they feel very entitled and folks are afraid of them. Bottom line - it IS NOT THEIRS. If you feel that "baling twine or manure" are of little consequence, then I guess you won't care if someone dumps some in your yard or the Mathers' Bar parking lot.


cory5611 3 years, 10 months ago

The Smith brothers have been doing this kind of stuff for a long time illegal hunting practices witch the get a slap on the wrist when they get busted for it the have posted public land privet and try and run people off the public lands and now it comes down to this dumping on public lands and diverting the water and then Tom Mathers says it depends on what they were dumping well Tom what if we showed up with dozers and started building pits on you land and start dumping there would it matter then I bet it would or if we Diverted all the water from your land to the public land does that matter then again I guess it does not bother you


jeff corriveau 3 years, 10 months ago

When will Tom Mathers learn to just keep his mouth shut? This doesn't even concern him nor Moffat County. Did he not learn anything from the last "FEW" times he shot his mouth off to the media. C'mon man!!!!


oawow 3 years, 10 months ago

Cory5611, Privet is hello in Russian. Why can't they post a hello sign on public land?


cory5611 3 years, 10 months ago

yea I seen I spelled private wrong my fault trying to type on a phone


Joanna Hatten 3 years, 10 months ago

Hey yamparob......why don't you back off your attack on ranchers. Just because these two idiots seem to think that they can do whatever they want doesn't mean all local ranchers behave that way. I have many friends that are farmers/ranchers and are probably the hardest working honest people I know......And they follow the rules. To lump them all into one category because of two jerks is idiotic. If you wanna bash the Smith brothers....whatever....but show a little respect for the others that are decent honest hardworking people. I assure you the Smiths DO NOT represent the values of all ranchers.


ruralmom 3 years, 10 months ago

I am a rancher and though I do not always agree with others, govt. or not, it comes down to the lack of respect for the land and the law. It is obvious these men are lacking in any type of morals and respect. This is a third case of a large ranching operation that has had their way for years. I would give the local BLM and DPW a bit of credit for just doing their jobs. I only wish it was a bigger deal of what the Smith's have done and damaged than who they are.


firstofthefallen 3 years, 9 months ago

It's really unfortunate that so many of these comments were deleted by the Daily Press. I read most of them before their removal and didn't find them to be offensive. I didn't necessarily agree with most of them but it sure is fun sometimes to read people bickering back and forth. When comments get removed it spoils the entertainment value. I know a lot of us come here for that.


David Moore 3 years, 9 months ago

Wow, what a housecleaning, never seen that much at one time, and, as would be typical, someone apparently got their wittle feewings huwt:( Awwwwww...... I agree with the above post, who comes here to actually talk serious? Well, once in a while I guess but entertainment, that's what it is all about.


Frank Estey 3 years, 9 months ago

Smith brothers Nobody needs to be afraid of these two , they are not Ranchers, they are sheep herders, less than real Ranchers that’s why they do and act the way they do….old history in Moffat County, no empathy for those around them.

Commissioner, Politician looking for handouts make ridiculous comments.


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