BOULDER COUNTY - Imagine pulling up to a campsite only to find it covered in trash and hazardous materials.
That seems to be a growing problem in Boulder County, one of the most popular areas for camping in Colorado. Some campgrounds like Gordon Gulch in Nederland are especially problematic, officials said.
Joe Hall lives two miles from Gordon Gulch. He drives through the area two to three times a week, where he often sees campers ignoring the rules and trashing campsites.
One campsite was determined to be a hazardous waste site after 50 to 100 needles were found abandoned there, along with piles of trash and a smoldering fire.
"I'm not exaggerating when I say this kind of campsite, we are finding all over the forest," he said. "There are probably hundreds of campsites like this."
Accountability is difficult since Gordon Gulch is a designated dispersed campground with many hidden locations that are tough for most people to find.
"People have felt they could come up here and just kind of get away with stuff," Hall says, "it's amazing that common sense doesn't prevail around here."
To put it frankly, Hall got sick of people acting carelessly. Last year, he started Peak 2 Peak Forest Watch, which is made up of a group of volunteers and residents who patrol campgrounds. Peak 2 Peak Forest Watch is now a non-profit.
"I plan on living here for the rest of my life and I don't want my backyard trashed," he said.
Not only are people leaving trash behind, many campers forget to put out campfires. Sunday, Hall put out 5 fires at Gordon Gulch that were abandoned by campers.
"My house is 2 miles away and these abandoned campfires, one of them is going to burn my house down."
Human waste is also an issue in some areas of Gordon Gulch, according to Hall.
"We don't care who you are or when you come to the forest, there are probably hundreds of campsites like this," he said.
On Peak 2 Peak's website, campers can report issues and see a map that shows where the problems are occurring.
No agency is primarily responsible for clean up so a lot of trash is still sitting in piles. Hall encourages more people to volunteer.
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