Public Reports of Illegal Use of National Forest Lands Results in Successful Prosecution
In August of 2021, the United States Forest Service received multiple complaints from the public concerning a long-term campsite on lands managed by the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Law enforcement investigated the complaints and found an unattended campfire, several dilapidated vehicles, trailer homes and extensive garbage scattered throughout the area. “The trailers were parked haphazardly throughout the trees and brush, causing extensive resource damage,” said Rayce Angell, USFS Patrol Captain.
USFS officers were able to contact an adult male at the campsite, who admitted to living on the forest and acknowledge all the items were his. Three federal citations were issued. Two weeks later, the officers came across the same male at a different location. The individual acknowledged that he was continuing to live off the forest and was trying to sell his belongings. The officer issued additional federal citations to the man.
In October the federal court in Jackson, Wyoming found the male adult guilty of three misdemeanor citations: residing on forest lands, leaving a campfire unattended, and leaving a campsite in unsanitary conditions. The individual was banned from being on or engaging in any activity on both Caribou Targhee National Forest and Bridger Teton National Forest for five years. The individual was also placed on probation for a length of five years and fined a sum of $800.00. Federal Violations are pending for an adult female who was with the male at one of the campsites.
Taking up residence on national forest system lands and/or facilities is illegal. Permanent camping creates a variety of issues for forest officials who seek to balance public access and resource conservation. Disposal of waste, trash and other environmental concerns associated with more permanent residences affects all public land users. The USFS appreciates members of the public for reporting violations and urges the individuals to continue to report any suspicious or illegal activity on their public lands.