TELLER COUNTY — A local organization has been called on to help remove an eyesore that's becoming a larger issue. The organization called Focus on the Forest is helping to remove abandoned trailers and campers in nearby forests.
Shawn Nielson, the founder of the organization, says, the group helped remove a 38-foot trailer attached to a vehicle last week and a pop-up camper from Pike National Forest which sat abandoned for weeks.
"Generally, they're in really bad shape. Most of them are very trashed, there's a lot of garbage in them, shelves are torn out, beds are torn out, and most of the time they're gutted," said Nielson.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, there is a UFC special order for recreational camping that restricts camping "at any location within the same 20-mile radius for more than 14 days within any continuous 30-day period." This applies to Pike and San Isabel National Forests.
If forest officials believe property has been abandoned, they'll try to contact the owners. With no luck, they'll then tag the property, and call on the help of volunteers at Focus on the Forest.
Nielson says contacting the owners, however, can be a difficult task.
"Most of the times, they're not registered to the rightful owner, so they'll get ahold of somebody, who has sold it to somebody, who has sold it to somebody down the line," said Nielson.
Nielson says the group has helped remove at least seven trailers and campers this year, which is the most they've had to remove since starting the organization four years ago.
"The thing is people are losing their jobs all over the place, so living out here in the forest becomes their only option," said Nielson. "I don't know exactly if it's because of COVID, but it seems to be getting more and more every year."
Although it's unclear whether or not 2020 has anything to do with more abandoned property, Nielson says when temperatures start dropping, that's when most of the property is being found.
"The people who live up here, the weather drives them out, and at some point, it gets too cold to stay up here," said Nielson. "But we need to get them (the trailers and campers) out before the snow comes or else they're stuck in the forest for the season."
Abandoned property is stored at a nearby facility for 90 days, where owners have one more chance to claim it. If no one does, Nielson says soon, the organization hopes to begin recycling parts. Nielson is open to suggestions from people who have ideas on how to recycle.
Removing abandoned trailers is a small part of what Focus on the Forest volunteers helps with. Throughout the year, the group focuses their efforts on picking up trash and cleaning the forest. They host community pick-ups and so far, they've collected 350,000 pounds of trash throughout Teller County and El Paso County.
If you know of a dump spot, or see what looks like an abandoned trailer, you can contact the organization. For more information, click here.