Brief report of two Peak to Peak public meetings on irresponsible campfires and related topics

Posted on: August 11th, 2016

From Pam Sherman

Brief report summary of two Peak to Peak public meetings  held around the irresponsible campfires issue and related topics. 

Tuesday Meeting 8/2 on Campfires and other Forest Issues of Concern:

The meeting took place at the Ned Community Center auditorium 5 – 8 pm. There was standing room only.

Present were Boulder County Sheriff’s Dept., U.S. Forest  Service, both the Boulder office and the A/R Forest as a whole, Town of Ned Police, Fire, administration, U.S. Incident Commander for the Cold Springs Fire, head of NICHE, the local Ned organization working with homeless people in the forest, and head of Peak2Peak Forest Watch, local Peak to Peak organization working to bring together the above groups, private landowners, and the public around safety issues wrt people starting illegal and dangerous campfires and otherwise breaking the Forest/County laws and endangering locals. Reps from the county commissioners and from Polis, Gardner, and Bennett’s offices came to listen, as this is very much a national as well as local issue.

Members of the public, while thanking the fire officials profusely for their amazing work saving homes and putting the fire out, also got down on them for thinning, patch cuts, not removing slash piles and piles being made not according to spec, and not assigning more patrol officers in the forest. In response, the fire officials reported that thinning, with the attendant slash piles, and patch cuts, are an essential part of fire fighting and helped a lot to fight this fire.

They also acknowledged that the agencies just do not have the money to increase patrols. There are two USFS law officers who patrol the area from Continental Divide to Boulder and parts of Larimer and Gilpin. On summer weekends, the USFS pays the Sheriff’s Dept. for more deputies to come into the mountains. They don’t really have time to patrol per se; rather they are going from one called-in trouble spot to another from morning to night.

It would take several years to get a paid campsite or get  hosted campsites or get camping banned here in the A/R National Forest due to USFS rules.

In case you haven’t seen it, here is a link to the presentation given by a Peak to Peak property owner who deals with illegal and irresponsible campfires all the time on his family’s land; it was published as a guest opinion in the camera: No 10 Gallons, No Campfirehttp://www.dailycamera.com/guest-opinions/ci_30198375/doug-mckenna-no-10-gallons-no-campfire

Brief Report Summary of Peak to Peak Forest Watch Meeting Saturday 8/6  4-6 pm

This meeting was a presentation and discussion led by Joe Hall, who started the Peak to Peak Forest Watch group at the end of March. Currently it is a closed FB group with close to 600 members.

P2PFW is working hard on getting a website up, where local residents, local businesses, concerned visitors, Sheriff’s Office, US Forest Service, local fire departments, local police departments, and other concerned folks and organizations can meet online and share concerns, exchange information, communicate, monitor, take action. When it’s up, it will be the main hub for the group rather than Facebook.

The goal of the group is to ensure the safety of those of us who live here by reducing the  irresponsible, illegal campfires and other actions taken by temporary forest residents that endanger our homes, lives, and the forest.

There was discussion of local residents doing friendly patrols of the area this type of camper is trashing–observing and reporting any rule-breaking (fire, feces, guns, drugs, whatever), not speaking to the campers unless spoken to, and if spoken to, being friendly,  just checking on the situation. This would happen after the 501 (c) 3 is in place.

The Sheriff’s Office, Forest Service, local fire departments and police, teaming with Forest Watch and other local citizen groups are looking at offering training next summer for those interested in monitoring/patrolling and related issues.

The FB page is Peak to Peak Forest Watch. Email is p2pforestwatch@gmail.com