Trusties clean up squatter camp
FRISCO – Sheriff’s office trusties spent two days late last month hauling out more than two pickup truck loads of trash from an area near the Meadow Creek Trail where squatters had taken up residence.
The camps were composed of large shelters made of fallen logs and covered in plastic and blankets, all surrounded by trash – newspaper, clothing, grocery bags, sleeping bags, beverage bottles – even broken marijuana pipes and tattered winter uniforms from Copper Mountain Resort.
Debris found at the site was pretty typical of squatter camps, said U.S. Forest Service enforcement officer Tom Healy.
“A lot of that stuff has been there for several years,” Healy said, adding he remembers encountering the man who first built a shelter there to protect his tent from bears. “It’s gradually mushroomed over the years.”
The structure was easier to dismantle than Sheriff’s trusties thought it would be, he said.
“It was held together with kite string,” Healy said. “We thought it would be nails and wire. I don’t know what was holding it up. It was remarkable it didn’t collapse.”
Summit County Sheriff Joe Morales came up with the idea to send the trusties to clean up the area; trusted inmates often conduct such work in the forest.
According to Healy, people live in the woods for a variety of reasons. Some are there because they choose to be farther from the bustle of everyday life in the city, others have alcohol and drug problems, some are trying to save money to get into a more permanent home and others enjoy the privacy and serenity found in the woods.
Work crews did not encounter anyone during the two days they worked along the trail. Healy said he plans to take Morales up on his offer to use the trusties to clean up other squatter camps on the national forest. Other popular sites are along Tiger Road north of Breckenridge, Montezuma Road east of Keystone and Miner’s Creek south of Frisco.
“It’s a start,” he said. “It’s kind of like the story of eating an elephant. Where do you start? You start one bite at at time. We’re chipping away at it one piece at a time.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or email@example.com.
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