‘Camping crisis: Some western Boulder County sites under siege’

Read the report in the Daily Camera here. Excerpt copied below:

Thompson, the co-owner of the Mountain Man Outdoor Store, voiced a degree of compassion for some of the people living in the forest. And he’s one more person trying to be part of the solution; he spent part of a recent Saturday helping to clean up the West Magnolia campsite.

“I lived in San Francisco for 15 years, and for a year and a half of that, I was homeless. So I am well versed in what the good and bad of the situation is,” Thompson said.

“Some people, they have nothing else that they can do. But there’s a fair amount of people who do it because, ‘Oh it’s free, I can live up in the woods for the summer, not pay any money and just do whatever I want.'”

Theft from stores — his and others — is one more problem linked to the issue.

“They use all sorts of techniques and tactics, so they’re doing it knowingly,” said Paul Carrill, the town marshal. “We’ve had examples of the sole individual shoplifter, all the way up to the swarming of a dozen transients into the grocery store, all taking things beyond the ability of the shop owner or law enforcement to grab all of them at once.

“That scares and upsets a community and the business owner, so we’re addressing those types of things directly and severely.”

Several people interviewed invoked the legalization of marijuana as just one more lure for some of the out-of-state itinerant to Colorado national forest lands — despite the fact that using it on federal lands is illegal. Begley, the young mother tending her baby in a tent, was of those happy to see the Colorado give pot the green light.

“I’m from Humboldt County, Calif., so obviously, I’m going to be promoting marijuana,” she said. “I mean, marijuana has helped me. Marijuana has got me off harder drugs. Marijuana has helped me raise my children … I think Colorado is on the right path.”

Meanwhile, whether Nederland and its neighbors are on course to correct problems associated with people living in the national forest remains to be seen. Tools being employed even include Boulder County Jail inmates, periodically being taken on work details to campgrounds that need cleanup or rehabilitation.

“I think we can solve this problem,” said Hall, creator of the “Transients/troublemakers” Facebook page. “I think there are always going to be transients and troublemakers moving through this area. That has been the case for 50 years.

“But, part of that sentence is, ‘moving through.’ Leave the forest. Leave it as you found it. And then move on.”

Volunteers Kristen Nielson, left, Chris Bondus and Juan Torres collect trash from an abandoned campsite at the West Magnolia campground outside Nederland.

Volunteers Kristen Nielson, left, Chris Bondus and Juan Torres collect trash from an abandoned campsite at the West Magnolia campground outside Nederland. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)
— MRW 

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