Policing may not be option for river hobos

No one is home early Wednesday, but a sign on the door of the camp trailer in Carson River Canyon reads, "To whom it may concern: I will have trailer moved ASAP."

But it looks like it's been there for a while, with a collapsed tent, stuffed animals and trash around it and a weary-looking dog tied to the trailer to guard the whole scene. At least four other trailers sit within a mile of this one.

It's this scene members of the Carson River Advisory Committee, particularly member Kevin Walsh, are targeting for clean-up.

While land along the Carson River in public control is kept clear of squatters, private lands in the Brunswick Canyon area appear to draw long-term campers. Those "hobo camps", said Carson City Sheriff's Intelligence Officer T.M. Casey, make recreational river users uneasy. Casey said sheriff's deputies aren't even allowed into the canyon alone.

Casey told members of the river committee Wednesday although officers have cited the trespassers, without complete support of the property owners, the trespassers can't be prosecuted. Therefore, sheriff's deputies are waiting to follow through on removing the hobo camps.

The river committee can't force property owners to do anything, but committee member Claire Clift said they should offer any help possible and encourage efforts to work with the property owners to properly post no trespassing signs.

"We help facilitate problems owners have," Clift said. "This is just another problem along the river we can help them with."

Casey said beside the obvious deterrent to recreation, living conditions along the river are unsanitary - for those living there and for the environment.

"There are pros and cons," he said. "Some say these poor people are trying to make a living, but you also have littering and human waste. A couple people make complaints. The river advisory board asked us to take a look at it. We're between a rock and a hard spot since the property owners haven't made a complaint."

He does have letters from the property owners giving permission to arrest trespassers, but unless the owners show up in court, it renders the letters ineffective.

Walsh offered to continue to work with three property owners in the area.

Farther up the river near Lloyd's Bridge, a trailer on Bureau of Land Management land drew the interest of BLM District Law Enforcement Ranger Stan Zuber. Nobody was home at this trailer, either, but Zuber said he would return to warn the owner camping is not allowed along the river. A 14-day camping location sits off Flint Drive

Camping along this section of the river isn't a big problem. Zuber only asks someone to move one a week.

"What we're trying to do is protect the riparian area," Zuber said. "The collateral problems are fires, trash. You get people who are not camping, they're living here. They're essentially living out of their trailers.

"People will set up in these areas. You have families. There are people uncomfortable when you see a camper set up and you can tell it's not a camper you'd run into up in the forest."


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