The U.S. Forest Service has received reports of people camping near the Miners Creek trailhead in Frisco and although Dillon Ranger District officials have not been able to locate the suspects, Rich Doak, recreational staff officer for the White River National Forest, said long-term camping, or squatting, is illegal on national forest property.
“People have a right to camp recreationally where camping is allowed, but there is a clear difference between camping for recreation and someone residing on the national forest to get out of paying rent,” Doak said.
Forest Service officials were first informed about the potential squatters earlier this month. Rangers from the Dillon Ranger District went out searching for the illegal campers, but were only able to find a campsite that had been long abandoned, Doak said.
“The campsite had been there for quite a while, but it looked like whomever was camping there left a long time ago,” Doak said. “We didn’t find any individuals, but this is something the district is very familiar with. We’ve been dealing with squatters for years.”
According to United States Department of Agriculture regulations, camping on U.S. Forest Service land in Colorado is limited to 14 days during a continuous 30-day period, or 28 days during a continuous 60-day period in a designated campsite. Long-term campers are required to relocate off of forest service land for an equal period of time to provide other members of the public with an equal opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, Doak said.
“We have a lot of popular campsites, especially in Colorado,” Doak said. “The regulations are designed to give everyone an equal opportunity to go camping.”
However, Doak said the U.S. Forest Service has a zero-tolerance policy for squatters.
“If you set up your tent for anything other than recreational purposes, you are in violation of U.S. Forest Service regulations, even if it’s just for one night,” Doak said. “I’ve been with the Forest Service for over 30 years and these regulations have been in place the entire time, so it’s nothing new.”
Residents who think they have encountered people squatting on U.S. Forest Service land are encouraged to report potential violations to the Dillon Ranger District at 468-5400. Provide forest service officials with as much information as possible, including detailed descriptions of the place, people, vehicles and license plate numbers, if possible.
“But absolutely do not put yourself at risk to get that information,” Doak said.