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Volunteer group works to clean up Forest 'Dump' - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Volunteer group works to clean up Forest 'Dump'

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Illegal dumping has become a major problem in the Pike National Forest. Illegal dumping has become a major problem in the Pike National Forest.

Pike National Forest in Teller County is a splendorous swath of dense stands of Lodgepole and Ponderosa Pine trees and large Aspen groves.  The beauty and tranquility lure fresh-air seekers out under the cobalt blue sky to enjoy the best Colorado has to offer.  But all too often, people use the rural isolation of these forests to clandestinely dispose of their trash free of charge.

"This is just unacceptable in my eyes that people come out here and dump full trailers of trash, leave beer cans, and have no respect for our beautiful forest," said Steve Pichette of Woodland Park.

The group Focus on the Forest spent Wednesday in the forest north of U.S. Highway 24 between Woodland Park and Divide with gloves, shovels, trash bags, and a pickup truck, hauling away illegally disposed scrap wood, carpeting, tires, beer cans, and other household trash left to pollute the serenity of the forest.  "I've spent my whole life in the mountains and it's continually getting worse," said Shawn Nielsen, founder of Focus on the Forest.  "It's beyond disappointment.  I mean, we live in these mountains for a reason, and it's not to see trash."

 The non-profit cleans these forests frequently.  It is not uncommon to find much larger items, including furniture and appliances, left dumped in the woods.  Recently, a clothes dryer was spotted dumped along Hwy. 24 near Cascade.

Homeowners who live near the forest access say illegal dumping is a huge problem.  They say they appreciate Focus on the Forest's dedication to cleaning up after illegal dumpers, but would prefer that the forest be more closely monitored, possibly by game cameras, and that penalties for illegal dumping be increased.

Focus on the Forest is hosting a major cleanup day on May 20, ahead of Memorial Day weekend.  You can contact the group via their Facebook page.

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