[Hpn] SQUATTERS LIVING IN STATE PARKS BECOMING A WAY OF LIFE
William Charles Tinker
Sun, 28 Aug 2005 07:37:43 -0400
Here we go again people just trying to survive and laws restricting their
rights to live.
Yes same old same old NIMBY Not In My Back Yard mentality,or SNOB zoning
your OK to be homeless long as no one sees you, or you die creating problems
for persons door stoop you died on!
And yet not one homed person realizes that these homeless folks were them
not so long ago?
In The Struggle
William "Bill" Tinker
Squatters pose problems in state forests
Annual passes for camping to be scrapped by December
By Nin-Hai Tseng
Posted August 28 2005
OCALA NATIONAL FOREST · A wall of pine trees buffers the Buck Lake
campsite from the outside world. Here, weekend campers seeking serenity come
to fish and canoe away from the roar of civilization.
Except Doug Joyner, 45, who is here because the rent is cheap -- dirt
cheap. His $60-a-year camping pass is a stark contrast to the hefty payments
many face in Central Florida, where the supercharged real-estate market has
driven the median cost of a new home to $240,000.
But forestry officials say those who call a campsite home are abusing
the privilege. They plan to scrap the annual passes by December as part of a
series of measures aimed at shooing away the unwanted permanent patrons. A
total of 1,382 annual camping passes were sold last year.
"A lot of people are taking advantage," Ranger Rick Lint said.
"They're squatting on public land, and that creates problems."
A major problem is the littered sites long-term campers leave behind.
Derek Ibarguen, a forestry assistant recreation-program manager, pointed to
the mess left by a mother and her two young sons: half-discarded cartons of
juice and half-empty boxes of granola bars rotting beneath a blue tarp,
flies buzzing over leftovers on a propane-gas stove and holes dug by the
family's five pit bulls.
The crackdown on campground squatters comes amid heightened concerns
about environmental damage caused by forest guests. Forestry officials in
May barred off-road vehicles from 8,200 environmentally sensitive acres of
the trail-scarred forest. They plan to restrict motorized vehicles to newly
On a recent day, Lint estimated that there were 30 long-term visitors
in campgrounds on the south-central part of the 383,000-acre forest. Many
put down stakes -- holding up homes of nylon or canvas -- in this part of
the forest because towns such as Altoona and Umatilla, and jobs, are nearby.
The squatting problem worsens in the winter, when snowbirds and
hunters arrive for recreation and when the Rainbow People, a group of
transients and hippies, gather. Along with the wear and tear they cause to
the forest, extended visitors sometimes crowd out traditional campers, who
often don't appreciate their unkempt neighbors.
Undergoing cancer treatment, Jeanne Jones, 43, of Floral City wanted
to take a trip down memory lane by returning for the first time in 15 years
to a forest campground she used to frequent. She recalled coming to the
Farles Lake campground and letting her kids run free around the camp at
night. It was not how she remembered it.
"It's a side of human nature I wouldn't want to come out here to see,"
said Jones, referring to the squatters' dogs and rowdy drinking at night.
Besides doing away with the annual passes, forestry officials are
considering other ways to get rid of freeloaders and squatters.
Only campers with vehicles are charged, so those who don't have cars
or recreational vehicles are able to dodge the $4 to $8 nightly camping fee.
Forestry officials are considering doing away with the freebie for campers
Officials also are reviewing a length-of-stay policy that allows
visitors to occupy campsites in most of the forest's 14 campgrounds for up
to two weeks at a stretch. There is no limit for how long a camper can
remain in the forest, which officials say has created a loophole for the
poor and the free spirits to hopscotch from one campground to the next
It's unknown how many people are living in Florida's public and
private campgrounds. The state Office of Homelessness does not include them
in homeless counts because they're paying rent.
Homeless advocates say campsites usually are the last resort for many
when shelters are full and there's no money or vouchers for motels available
from government or social-service agencies. Although it's more common to
find singles living in camps, families with children also turn to
campgrounds so they can remain together.