Are Colorado’s Forests Becoming The New Homeless Shelters?

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Rainbow Lakes Nederland
Rainbow Lakes Campground near Nederland, Colo.

Colorado’s forests are supposed to be the definition of picturesque beauty, but a new story in this month’s issue of 5280 Magazine sheds light on a different reality.

Journalist Tracy Ross reports on the rising numbers of homeless people illegally camping in the forests near Nederland, a mountain community west of Boulder. In the story, she describes how campgrounds increasingly are plagued by mounds of trash, used needles and dangerous encounters with long-term, nonrecreational campers.

Ross spoke with Colorado Matters about what could be causing this migration and what people are doing to preserve Colorado’s wilderness.