ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Cherry Creek State Park is quieter now, but its natural beauty remains intact. Some people say trash and transient camps are tarnishing that beauty.
Brian Palmer has lived near the state park for five years and said seeing homeless people in the park has become common in the last few months.
"Some of them have cardboard; I've even seen some pitch tents," Palmer said.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Spokesperson Jason Clay said Palmer's observation is spot on.
"We've seen a little bit of a recent uptick in these homeless camps inside the park and both outside the park," Clay said. "We can cite or warn them and have them go on their way. We try to work with the people a lot, provide them resources, places where they can go, give them information to help them out."
A woman wanting to be identified only as Patricia said she recently cleaned up homeless camps in the park and threw them in the dumpster. She said it's public land, and she is within her rights.
"If we have a public property, that means no one person gets to claim that property as their private domicile," Patricia said. "So, if I've thrown my stuff all over, if I have open sewage, and if I've left garbage and needles along with all my other stuff, none of that is OK."
Clay said the CPW does not endorse taking another person's belongings because it is illegal.
"Theft is not going to be tolerated," Clay said. "The best route to go would be to contact the rangers and let us handle it."
Since the beginning of fall, a handful of homeless people have been arrested.
However, in most cases, park rangers say they attempt to direct the homeless to other resources for help.