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Campers in woods off China Hat Road south of Bend get notice to vacate; temporary campfire ban imposed

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Faced with a rising tide of calls for action about campers off China Hat Road from southern Bend residents and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, the Deschutes National Forest conducted an “emphasis patrol” in early June, imposing a new temporary campfire ban and issuing notices to vacate their often long-time locations.

While the campfire ban was new, the 14-day notices to move on – actually 28 days total in a calendar year – have been issued frequently over the years, to little practical impact, Public Affairs Officer Jean Nelson-Dean said Thursday.

“We don’t have the authority to trespass people from public lands,” Nelson-Dean said. “We write a citation,” with a $100 fine, for federal court. But “magistrates have said, ‘We have bigger fish to fry,’” she said – and “even when we get people to move out, other people will move in.”

Nelson-Dean noted that recent homeless campsite removals by the city of Bend and ODOT have prompted more homeless to take up residence in the woods off China Hat Road – prompting heightened concern about fire and other dangers by nearby residents.

“What we’re trying to do is reduce the number of people out there,” Nelson-Dean said, with some possibly facing trespassing action if there for a long time.

Some Bend city councilors expressed dismay that the Forest Service was taking such action amid heightened efforts to coordinate and come up with solutions, with no plan in place for where the campers will go next.

Nelson-Dean said the Forest Service is hopeful the new coordinated efforts to deal with homeless issues by Deschutes County and its cities will help address the issues and look at "how we can all work together."

But in the meantime, challenges remain, she said, and pushing people out of one area just adds to issues for neighboring jurisdictions.

“We have four law enforcement officers for 1.8 million acres,” Nelson-Dean noted. “We have removed hundreds and hundreds of vehicles out there.”

Author Profile Photo

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.



    1. They did this only under pressure. Understand that their focus is on “managing” the forest, not the safety of the campers or the neighbors in the close-in residential areas. What is really needed is a camping ban in this same area (as campfires will occur with camping regardless of the rules). This extra distance from residential areas will give the authorities the time needed to evacuate these neighborhoods once a fire gets started, saving lives and property. The Forest Service knows the extreme fire danger in this same area and has proposed the Cline Butte Vegetation Management Project to start within a couple of years to reduce the fuel load. The plan even mentions that fire starts, most man caused, have increased from about 6 per year in the 1980s to an average of over 18 in the last decade. Consider the speed of burn and the devastation from fires like Skeleton and the “18” from just a couple of years ago. Yes, the City and County have to come up with a solution on where the homeless can go, but they should not sacrifice the safety of the lives of the neighbors, and the campers themselves, while we wait. This is truly a clear and present danger.

    2. It doesn’t amount to anything.. $100 fine that can’t be adjudicated in court means nothing.. What does a bench warrant mean to a homeless person…Until the federal laws are beefed up and this becomes an issue with the federal prosecutors not much can be done by the FS…
      The amount of time and effort put into dealing with homeless folks by the county and others would surprise you..

          1. The correct legal term is “illegal trespasser” as the citation they are being given will state such an act against a rule, regulation or law.

            1. If they have not been given such a citation, that would be incorrect. It would be like calling someone who got a warning from police a “speeder.”
              Others can call them what they will. Journalists have to have higher standards, for accuracy.

              1. Even someone who gets a verbal warning from a police officer for speeding is still a “speeder;” just like a intoxicated person cut off at a bar by the bartender is a “drunk” and a journalist who is fired from a newspaper for making false claims in a news article is still technically a “liar”.

                1. Nice ! Your rationale and logic are sound- a rarity around these parts !

              2. Since 2012 when travel management Started on the deschutes. national forest The rule for dispersed camping is “it’s only allowed in historic camps sites And no more than 300′ from a open road” The term for these people would be squatters

                1. That’s a pejorative we won’t use and will somewhat restrict others using. Generalizations and labels that are putdowns are unfortunate and sad. Each has their own story to tell if folks listen. Just another facet of the Blame Society.

              3. “journalist standards” – is that a thing these days at all?
                you sound a bit high and mighty like your profession is noble.
                maybe in the past for a hot minute but your industry is in decay in 2022.
                CNN is owned by the dems.
                you are part of propaganda and state media now, barney. even if you do not yet realize it.

                1. Keep slapping and proving nothing. We have many friends who know the truth when they read it. The caustic social media is what’s changed, not the goals and work of the vast majority in my profession.

              1. Well, you’re not really a journalist either, son. You seem to spend the majority of your time defending the illiterate and unwashed from the comments of their betters. I don’t recall the last time you actually broke a news story that you didn’t pull off the wire. Hell, I’ve seen you pull inaccurate stories off the wire that you don’t bother to correct. The amount of times people here have needed to correct the spelling and grammar in your articles is astounding. As for ethics? Don’t make us laugh. It’s obvious to anyone who isn’t half asleep that you maintain absolutely not a shred of ethical consistency.

                1. Thankfully, we are doing very well. And the attacks speak far more of the attackers’ mindset and motives than any alleged … did you point to us actual errors in these ‘wire’ stories? It’s an automated feed, we don’t “pull” anything, and 1,000s flow through every day, if not pointed out to us, to use them to attack with falsehoods later says far more about you than us. I’ve been a journalist since 2nd grade and all the false allegations in the world won’t change what I and many others do to the best of our abilities, and to the thanks and gratitude of many, as the metrics show. Loud doesn’t equal accurate, nor does endlessly repeating unproven or untrue “facts.” I’m 66 and my father died decades ago, so please skip the “son.”
                  I don’t spend the majority of my time reading this stuff. Who would? I may get to spend even less, soon, and some folks who have nothing better to do than attack and hate here all day and night may have to go somewhere else and fire their barbs, hitting no one. Might even read more actual debate of the issues and far fewer lousy nasty personal attacks. I can’t wait.

                2. I agree with your message here. I’m sure that many other people who regularly read these comments agree with you as well.

                3. Ha-Haaaa… Brutally honest- and we always disagree ! Props to you bud- you finally found your voice.

                4. Neuro, you should take a class in decency. While I don’t always agree with Barney’s, I respect his opinion. He has been here for 35+years I am guessing. Most likely longer than you. I have found he truly does love central Oregon. Even though we don’t agree at times on how to improve C.O. we can still have discussion without getting personal.

                1. Oh My- since when is it the medias job to try and change minds ??? Stick to reporting the news- leave the brain washing to CNN.

                2. We don’t expect to change the minds of those who promote free speech by claiming we support free speech. Fixed it for you.

                1. Oregone… Best part is watching you get upset and ranting living in Oregon knowing that you’re agenda and politics are irrelevant and never going to come to pass…. Move on looser we have enough lower IQ around here

      1. Society has become so ass backwards that people are more concerned about what the correct term to call them, instead of focusing what the problem is. That alone says so much

        1. Symbolic of the blame society. Full of buzzwords like “fake news,” “cancel culture,” “snowflake” and “woke.” Once blame is assigned, we move on, other than to just keep blaming, and hating. THAT says more.

          1. Like domestic terrorist, white supremacist, red neck??? You are ok with that sickening blame. You even post these fake stories. Clown town ktvz

              1. But you do. Don’t recall the story you ran on Confederate monuments in Oregon? Inaccuracies were brought to your attention and you didn’t care. Just one example off the top of my head. There’s more.

                1. No I don’t recall. But it wasn’t a locally produced story, of that I’m certain. If there were errors, I’m sure we passed that word back to the source. Or a reader could contact them directly.

              2. oh, barney, bless your heart on the “fake stories”.
                it’s CNN darling.
                it’s only one sided and very slanted and has often been proven to be fake / state news.
                i can’t imagine you feeling like your job is noble and honest whereas it’s the opposite. i feel for you.

                1. I don’t depend on critics here to determine my self-worth, but the many who would strongly disagree with you publicly if it wouldn’t put them in the line of unfair fire.
                  Believe what you will. The vast majority of CNN’s content is factual and tells both/all sides. The proof is usually simply non-existent.

            1. Remember that January 6th thing? But when the Portland federal court was being attacked by fire for months you never once reported insurrection??? You know by definition that is insurrection. You are a hack.

              1. WE focus our resources on local news. We use our news sources for state/national news. No one used the term in the Oregon violence. The stories only called it a riot when police declared one. We do responsible journalism. Using a false labels 1,000s of times only puts a label on our unfair, untrue critics. We rely on authorities and reputable news sources. Others can voice their opinions. We don’t. Have a good night.

          2. Hardly do we move on. We get to work. But, some would rather dance around the issues and continuously re-labeling them, as of that accomplished something. It looks like Nero lost his fiddle and picked up a pen.

      2. Wouldn’t vagrant be more appropriate by definition? I do think the word ‘campers’ throws people off and is not really accurate. Just my two cents.

        1. Dictionary definitions can be considered offensive, depending on context.
          I’m sure The Associated Press, a reputable newsgathering organization, will be trashed by the critics, but here FYI is there current Stylebook section on this issue:

          homeless, homelessness
          Homeless is generally acceptable as an adjective to describe people without a fixed residence. Avoid the dehumanizing collective noun the homeless, instead using constructions like homeless people, people without housing or people without homes.
          Mention that a person is homeless only when relevant. Do not stereotype homeless people as dirty, mentally ill, addicted to drugs or alcohol, reliant on charity, or criminals. Those conditions can often contribute to or be byproducts of homelessness, but many homeless people also hold jobs and are self-sufficient.
          Homeless shelter is an acceptable term for a building that provides free or very inexpensive but temporary indoor refuge for people without homes, generally run by a government or charity. Do not use flophouse.
          Government agencies do not always agree on what legally constitutes homelessness, but the term generally refers to people staying in shelters or on the street.
          Avoid disparaging terminology such as derelict, bum, beggar, tramp and hobo. Terms like couch surfing (staying temporarily in various households) or transient (someone who moves from city to city but is not necessarily homeless) can be useful to describe specific situations. Avoid vagrant.
          A migrant is someone who moves from place to place for temporary work or economic advantage and is usually not considered homeless.
          Indigent describes someone who is very poor and is not synonymous with homeless.

          And The Bulletin has been doing a great “Faces of Homelessness” series of individuals and families, trying to kick the judgmental stereotypes into the dustbin where they belong. By definition, they are also PEOPLE.

          1. “Integrity” is your middle name. I am all for everyone who writes here adopting journalistic standards. I have the old ‘Strunk and White Elements of Style.’ In the chapter ‘An Approach to Style’ hint #1 is ‘Place Yourself in the background.’

            “Write in a way that draws the reader’s attention to the sense and substance of the writing, rather than to the mood and temper of the author. If the writing is solid and good, the mood and temper of the writer will eventually be revealed, and not at the expense of the work.”

            You’re right. The Bulletin series is quite good. Stereotyping can only lead to a mob mentality that eventually transforms into scapegoating–and all the human endangerment and violence that follows.

    1. Maybe they should of stepped up a long time ago instead of acting like their wasn’t a homeless problem until it became the big issue it has become. If they would of taken any steps to deal with it would of made a huge difference by now.

  1. So I would like to know where you think they will move to? None of the true issues of homelessness are being addressed by any government agencies. True there are those that wish to live like this, but there are many that would prefer to have a home. I have been there, not by choice, luckily I wouldn’t be the victim and with the help of resources that I had no idea existed prior to having been in that position I am better than I have ever been. Don’t judge unless you are confident that you are so privileged that you will never have anything bad happen in your life. It can and does happen to anyone.

    1. I think it’s more then proven that the city dosent want actually deal with the issue, they just keep getting pushed from one place to the next. When are they going to actually realize that it’s making things worse and it’s just going to keep getting worse until something is actually done.

      1. I disagree. They want them here. The culture of the city, it’s employees, and the council have all created a welcoming environment- this is about culture they shove down our throats.

    2. Maybe decriminalizing hard drugs was a stupid idea by the dumbocrats??? But they won’t admit it. I say herd them up and let them live on Kate brown’s property.

    3. The government cannot address all of these issues. Look at measure 110 -a complete cluster. I lived on the streets for several years. I can tell you most of these folks don’t want the help we seem to want to FORCE on them. If we cannot arrest, cite, jail, and compel them to get help. They won’t. It needs to be awful enough.

    4. Before the Biden administration- I would have argued against your main premise about “bad things just happen”- they usually don’t… but with Biden in office- waging war on Americans of all income levels- I must say- I’ve had to rethink that position. Biden and the Demokrats have created an unsustainable level of financial hardship- and it’s going to get much worse… I blame the DNC more now than I do individuals making life mistakes.

  2. Clean out the progressive do-gooders currently in office. Then fire bureaucrats likes Public Affairs Officer Jean Nelson-Dean and replace them with actual officers willing to do the hard work. I can’t think of any mountain towns that would allow what’s happening out there to continue. Unregulated squalor camps are a recipe for disaster.

  3. Drop in the bucket. It’s not the forest services problem where people go after they are done breaking the RULES. It’s absurdity. Local residents end up footing the bill in a dozen different ways. When is enough enough?

    1. Still trying to figure why Troy Field is not being used as the pilot homeless camp (or is it the city hierarchy does not what to actually acknowledge the issue)?

      1. Perfect. That could be the piece of land they city ponies up. We have to vote out Perky and her friends and replace with folks who will spank the city manager and put him in a corner. The city council has two employees and yet cannot manage this ONE.

      2. yes – seems fitting and there’s plenty of room. same with discovery park in NWX – lots of room for tents and a bathroom close by. seems perfect!

    1. A lot of the places that offer the resources to help people require them to follow rules and a lot don’t care too. I think pan handling should be banned in city limits, it will eventually force people that don’t want to do what should be already to move on. If they don’t want to put the effort in then that’s on them, tax payers shouldn’t be responsible for it

  4. This situation in the forest exemplifies the status quo. So many commenters here support the status quo, because they offer no legally justifiable, pragmatic alternatives.

    I will write once again that the most positive, proactive measures against the status quo are being taken by the Bend City Council. In just two years they have acted in partnership to bring about Veterans Village, the Second Street Shelter, and the possible construction of a new facility on 27th St. on church property dedicated to women and children without homes. They are acquiring and renovating motels, as part of their multimodal approach to come up with solutions that match the needs of individuals.

    The status quo means fire danger, means desperately taken survival measures, means additional stress on an already understaffed police dept., means no ready access to services, medical care, and other needed interventions. When you quarrel indiscriminately with anything anyone tries to do for a solution, then you are supporting the status quo.

    Again–and I will keep on asking–what exactly are your solutions?

    1. Solutions
      1- force council to fire city manager- he and the lawyers are the REAL problem. Let’s put a ‘Fire the KING’ campaign together.
      2- terminate current lawyers who are paid by the city
      3- force city, county, BLM, and Forest Service to each give up one parcel of land for camping and then make it illegal to camp anywhere else.
      4- vote out Perkins and her minions and elect people who want to represent all of us.

    2. Gee Bill- you’ve told us all about the failed efforts of the council- and now want us to come up with a better solution…. easy- do what Texas did- bus these people to Salem and drop them off.

    3. you sound like a council member to me!
      the policies you have in place are simply ineffective and pandering to this community and enabling their behavior is not working.
      are you looking to crowd source ideas in your post? ideas you can then take credit for?
      bus these folks out of bend, perhaps. send them elsewhere.

  5. It’s confusing, in a story a few weeks back these people are called “Houseless people” then in this story they are called “Campers” or Nelson-Dean calls them “Homeless”, what’s up with that?
    I’m beginning to believe they all have the same meaning. (Transient), A person who is staying or working in a place for only a short time. That’s not it either, as most of these people want to be here permanently, and many do not work.

          1. The target of your constant untrue personal attacks has the right to defend himself – and delete them if they go too far. Both of you get the vast majority of your stuff online here, but of course believe every pearl of wisdom, no matter how offensive, should be allowed unaltered or we’re picking on you. Most folks know better.

              1. Your false screen name shows just who you are, so thanks for proving MY point. Most folks who haven’t given up on comment systems as a caustic waste of resources don’t allow their people and product to be unfairly and nastily trashed in the system they provide as a free service. We may well join them. Then you can go to Reddit or wherever and scream censorship until the cows come home. Others will, no doubt, thank us.

    1. You oughta know. I’ll take the pros’ advice on whether your screen name should be deemed offensive and require changing. They did recommend not allowing our staff or station to be trashed in comments. It’s gotten very, very old.

      1. Lol, sounds like you are working your way out of a job.
        BTW, how long have you been talking about this new system that’s coming?
        It’s gotten very, very old.

        1. You kidding? This stuff, thankless as it can be at times, is NOT “my job.” My job is writing news, working with the young reporters to get their stories on the web (and air), etc. Hope to gain more time for that thanks to this new platform.
          I sure hope it will become less toxic when community moderation, AI and a company with a group of full-time professional moderators help make the tough calls and perhaps put their foot down on the hateful offensiveness more than I’ve been inclined to do. We would like to “err on the side of freedom of speech,” but the abuse here by a relative few makes it a challenge.
          I’ve only been mentioning it for a few weeks, likely to deploy in July. Likely to be on the app as well.

            1. Yes, because we have been aiming for an improved system, restoring some Disqus functions and more like very successful Reddit, for some time. Other, higher priorities took precedence. The time has arrived.

              1. So again, longer than a few weeks. More like years that you have been talking about this. As I said it’s gotten very, very old, “moderator”.

          1. Whaaat ? “This… is NOT “my job.” My job is writing news”… Ummm- not according to your job title- it says nothing about “writer- journalist- mentor”… It says “Digital Content Director” ! Correct me if I’m wrong.

            1. My title and job description encompasses many things, especially writing news and working with young journalists to be the best that they can be. And we succeed in so many eyes that the bait of hate here is usually ignored by those with open minds and hearts, except to sadly shake their head and commiserate with me about the unfair, untrue attacks I encounter daily from those who know better — or don’t know better. I am as confident as ever in my abilities, and the many friends and viewers who support me which I’m so thankful for. This stuff? I lose no sleep over it whatsoever.

              1. I thought we all learned a valuable lesson from Rachel Dolezal- that simply “self identifying” as some-one or something- doesn’t make it true. Argue all you want- but being a real writer or journalist includes trips to the field- over-night stakeouts- demanding questions and man on the street interviews… I’m pretty sure that ‘cut and paste” is not considered a valuable skill in today’s market. My opinion- you are free to go all Rachel on me- I too will not lose any sleep over this conversation.

              2. Well, hopefully those aspiring young journalists actually end up getting off their duffs and doing something. With the benefit of your 2nd grade career it’s doubtful. Sad to peak when you’re seven,

                1. Thanks for the laugh. Yes, I do work from the home or my own office at the station (first in my career!) – and they go shoot video, I work the phones, help them in a myriad of ways, rewrite/fill holes in news releases etc. (Yep, Community Billboard is all cut and paste, and well-written news releases can run in full here, even in top stories, properly sourced – rewrite when we must – allows us to cover a lot more ground than we would otherwise. Every media outlet has done that for a long, long time. But the putdowns don’t work on me, they just reflect poorly and sadly on the critic.

  6. You know what? I totally don’t care what Barney, KTVZ, or any of the “politically correct” crowd says.The fact is, there is an increasing problem with homeless camps, bums, panhandlers, etc. in Bend and other cities. Now, I know for a fact that during the 1960’s through the early to mid 1980’s, in conservative-led communities, this was much less a problem. I’m sorry, but if you choose not to live within the framework of civilized society in AMERICA, then you should probably try and find somewhere else to live. I am SICK AND TIRED of seeing bleeding heart liberals gain power and pass laws and ordinances designed to prevent law enforcement from rousting these n’er do wells and making them move on. It is time we took our communities back, and you liberals need to just get out of the way or leave. Period.

      1. Unlike you- who’s gonna roll over and take every injustice- unfair act- and foot stomping with ignorance and apathy ? That is exactly how this State- this Nation- our planet has become so mucked up over the past two years… Mr “No Action Is Action” !

    1. So basically you’re an old man who shouts at kids to get off his lawn. Got it. News flash for you, Gramps: Society has changed since you were in your twenties and thirties. Values have changed. The rights of those identifying as LBGTQ have come to the fore and any who have a problem with it are being shouted down and ostracized from polite society. Homeless people are no longer considered “bums” by the majority of free-thinking folks. And those of you who identify as “conservative” and deride those who would show compassion for them are being dismissed and relegated to the fringes. I seem to recall that you mentioned in one of your posts that you are no longer in the workforce. This is a good thing for you, because your ultra conservative sentiments would likely get you fired and barred from working at many jobs, once management figured out your true nature. If you actually live in Bend, then I would urge you to move to another state such as Idaho or Texas, where your white privilege, misogynist, racist, and gender-biased attitude will be more likely to fit in with the majority in your state. And enjoy those times while you can, because we are coming for those states too.

      1. Agree with you, Jackalope. Values, thank god, are changing. Whether fast enough to ward off destruction of our democratic republic is anybody’s guess. Good news: Idaho Republicans successfully fought off extremists in their primary and in Texas Beto and Abbott are in a virtual statistical tie. So, glimmers of hope everywhere.

  7. When will people understand government doesn’t want to solve homelessness. Too much $ involved. When I moved to Bend, virtually every church provided meals, shelter, some medical, some showers for struggling people. Then government came in, mandated regulations. Like must have licensed food handlers, registered medical, inspections, etc. Was too costly. So, now can hardly find any private group providing charity. Look at highest paid government worker in major cities. Seattle, it is woman in charge of homeless services. Gets paid more than mayor, chief of police. Nope, homelessness is big business. As long as we provide services, as long as we Ena le people to continue making bad decisions, homelessness will continue. Cut social services. That will start to solve the problem.

  8. Neuro, you should take a class in decency. While I don’t always agree with Barney’s, I respect his opinion. He has been here for 35+years I am guessing. Most likely longer than you. I have found he truly does love central Oregon. Even though we don’t agree at times on how to improve C.O. we can still have discussion without getting personal.

  9. Reading over all these comments i cant help but think to myself “you guys think that this is an issue” while i agree that this is an issue this is a tiny issue. I have watched the news my whole life around here and im ready to inform central oregon residents of the truth. On June 13th there was a shooting off of sherman road in Redmond, the police say the community is safe no arrests were made. The guy that shot the other man with a shotgun moved here from Texas and was accused of nearly beating a two month old child to death and now hes here shooting people and he is still a free man. Once they release the public his name i will post a link to the link of this man and his record in Texas i dont want to be in trouble for releasing the mans name. At any rate a convicted felon with a history like that is on our streets shooting people with a shotgun but the community is safe. This is my first time speaking out on here and i have a lot more to say i think its time for the corruption in this county to be exposed. The ones that know the truth have been silenced for way to long and in order for things to get better we need to know the truth!

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