The town of Nederland has been on edge since a group of long-term campers from Alabama were accused of accidentally starting a wildfire last month.
The backlash has been strong enough that one local pastor has stopped bringing sleeping bags and blankets to campers, as he told the Times.
Confrontations are boiling up, Jack Healy reports:
Some residents have begun taking photographs of hitchhikers or videotaping confrontations with homeless people camping in the woods and posting them online, including on a private Facebook page created recently called Peak to Peak Forest Watch. Some say the campers have cursed at them for driving past without picking them up, or yelled at them while they were cycling or hiking. They say they no longer feel comfortable in some parts of the woods.
Colorado may be a particularly hot spot for this issue. A survey of Forest Service officers last year showed that the Rockies and the Southwest were the most common places to find long-term campers, the Times reports.
The Times was able to find two other fires blamed on “transient” campers since 2010. That doesn’t seem like very many – but it feels very different, I’m sure, when it’s your town in the smoke.
One of the biggest issues: Neither the U.S. Forest Service nor these small towns have enough people to keep up frequent patrols through these vast stretches of land. For more on this issue, I might suggest the Boulder Daily Camera’s previous coverage.