By Tom Mustin
DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Swastika graffiti, garbage, and dangerous fires. Visitors at Daniels Park have had enough.
“In my eyes it’s disgraceful,” visitor Paul Roumell told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.
The 1,000-acre park in Douglas County has some of the most scenic views in the state. In the past few weeks vandals have targeted the area, leaving behind a disturbing trail of trash, open campfires and racist tagging.
“I’ve been coming to this park since the late 1970s and I’ve never seen the park in this kind of condition before,” said Highlands Ranch resident Mike Woodland. “They’ve done a lot of tagging and damage. People have taken buckets of paint and doused these rocks with it.”
Along with the disturbing graffiti, Woodland has also come across fires still smoldering on windy days.
Woodland has contacted local politicians and law enforcement, including Denver Mountain Parks, the property’s owners.
“It’s a crime literally and figuratively,” said Park Ranger Bob Toll.
Toll says the issue is being addressed. Fences have been built to isolate some areas of the park. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has added extra patrols. Even so, the vandals are becoming an expensive problem.
“The city has to pay a lot of money and in some cases cannot even replace these treasured resources. It’s really a shame,” said Toll.
The sheriff’s office says most of the vandalism has happened after hours and on weekends. Deputies say they’re disturbed by the crimes, and teenagers are suspected.
With a long summer ahead, Woodland is hoping that shining a spotlight on the issue will make the vandals think twice before striking again.
“I would like to see people come up here and respect the park if you’re going to use it,” he said.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Denver Mountain Parks are working together to address the issue. They’re asking visitors to Daniels Park to be aware, and report any suspicious activity.