DENVER — It's hard to miss Denver's homeless population when you're walking around downtown.
But park rangers outside the city streets are now seeing a rise in homeless camps inside and around Cherry Creek State Park.
"Since late summer, early fall, we have seen an increase in some homeless camps that have been popping up," said Jason Clay with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). "It goes in waves. As people get dispersed from other areas, they have to go to a new spot."
Camping is allowed inside the park, but only on approved campsites that people have booked. Rangers said they often find trash and drugs near the illegal camps.
There have been several arrests made over the past several months, according to Clay, when rangers found the camps, and police found people with warrants.
The vast open space of the park makes it easy for people to hide away in camps and not be seen, according to Clay. Cherry Creek State Park is near Denver and has trails from the city that lead into it. CPW said that makes it easy for people to travel there.
"We can’t just let everyone go in and camp and not follow the rules," said Clay. "We’re going to enforce the regulations. You have to have a daily pass or an annual pass to be in the park at any time. If you’re camping you have to be camping lawfully."
But Clay said the focus is getting help for those who are homeless.
"They can either issue a citation or a warning," said Clay. "They will try and help them, provide them with resources on where they can go."
CPW works to connect those experiencing homelessness with shelters before kicking people out of the park.
They ask if you’re hiking in the area and see an illegal campsite, that you let rangers know.
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