Illegal Campsite Problems Along Auburn Ravine in Lincoln

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LINCOLN -- The city of Lincoln has recently seen an increase to its homeless population and with it the number of illegal campsites that pose a threat to both the community and the environment.

The Auburn Ravine location was once known for it's beautiful scenery and touch of nature for locals to enjoy.

"Today we encountered a Coleman stove, a BBQ, candles, open fire pits and if you look around this is brown timber around us. It's just waiting to go up," said Lincoln Chief of Police Doug Lee.

Fire isn't the only concern authorities have about the area.

Police routinely remove truck-loads of trash that they say belong to the 50 or so homeless people that live in Lincoln. That number is up about 25 percent from just six months ago according to police.

"The garbage that gets dumped into the ravine itself, into the water, when we had the floods last winter the amount of things that came floating down stream was just astounding," Lee said.

Ruth Escobar, like many of the homeless living in illegal campsites down near the ravine were given a 72-hour notice to vacate, or be arrested. Escobar says she has tried local shelters, but they are not for her.

"You only have a certain amount of time to be in there and then you've got to go. I don't have my own space, I like my own space. If I have it with other people, it's not good," Escobar said.

"They're not allowed to have pets with them. They're not allowed to be intoxicated, not allowed to have drugs with them. And some of those people, those are rules they don't want to abide by," Lee said.

Thursday Lincoln police did arrest a woman and cited a man they encountered during their effort. Both were related to illegal drugs which police say is a major problem as well among the campsites.