Wildfire Brings New Attention To Transient Problem In Nederland

NEDERLAND, Colo. (CBS4) – Some residents are working to address the transient camps that have popped up in Nederland following the destructive wildfire that claimed eight homes and other structures.

Deputies say Zack Kuykendall and Jimmy Suggs of Alabama failed to properly extinguish their campfire. Authorities say they are transients. They’ll be back in court in September.

Zachary Ryan Kuykendall, left, and Jimmy Andrew Suggs, right (credit: Boulder County)

Zachary Ryan Kuykendall, left, and Jimmy Andrew Suggs, right (credit: Boulder County)

Since the Cold Springs Fire more residents are working to address the transient camps that have popped up in and near Nederland. According to some residents, the camps have been a problem for decades.

Joseph Hall started Peak to Peak Forest Watch, a private Facebook group less than one year ago. Now 500 members strong, they’re working to crack down on transient camps across the Nederland area.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“We encourage people to observe and report, and call the appropriate authorities if they see something that’s life-threatening,” Hall said.

Hall said he started the page when residents realized transients were taking advantage of public and private land.

“When people set up a camp, there’s a 14-day stay limit for the people, not the camp,” he said.

Hall said many times food and other garbage is left behind.

“Looks like a five-course meal for bears,” he said as he showed CBS4’s Andrea Flores a pile of garbage. “This is their entire food jar right here, and you can tell it’s already been attacked by animals.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Hall said there is also criminal activity happening at the transient camps.

“Sometimes there’s needles in here, and this is one of the reasons we discourage people from cleaning up stuff like this,” Hall said. “People have found meth labs and pit toilets that are open. Some people had tried to dig a well and then had covered it with some branches”

The U.S. Forest Service has been cleaning up campsites deep in the woods Hall said are hardly ever seen.

“People really aren’t aware of it, you don’t see it, so it’s not in your face.”

Now Peak to Peak is working with agencies in the area, including the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, to try and find a solution to the ongoing problem.

“This group can be our eyes and ears. They’re not going to be working for us, they’re not an extension of us, but we want them to be able to provide us with information,” Boulder County Undersheriff Tom Sloane said.

The volunteer group is developing a website and app to report issues.

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