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Trash, paintball marks, squatters unwelcome sights in Illahee Forest

One of the county’s parks is losing ground to vandals and squatters.

“Approximately 20 paintball enthusiasts were playing in the forest Sunday,” according to Illahee Forest steward Irwin Krigsman. “When they were informed paintball was not allowed, the response was: ‘There’s no sign posted that says we can’t.’”

Also, he said, “Two new ‘roads’ were pushed through to the center of the woods, and all sorts of garbage was strewn about. Until the proposed gate is placed at the Thompson Lane entrance, there’s no real point for (county crews) and other volunteers to continue clean-up efforts, since it appears we’re right back where we started.”

Krigsman said the county promised to erect “No Paintball” signs. The stewards are also waiting for an electronic-access gate at another entrance which Dori Leckner, special projects coordinator for county parks, said, will be installed this spring.

“The contract (to build) the gate has been let” by the county, added Krigsman. The gate will be at Thompson Lane N.E. and N.E. Riddell Road. Thompson serves as an easement to a small, private residential development inside the park’s boundaries.

Jim Aho, president of the stewards, said five homeless tents were found recently. The park is not equipped for over-night stays.

“Some of those in the encampments were still working,” he said, adding that many were just down-on-their-luck and couldn’t afford an apartment. It was not easy telling them to move on.

Americorps was notified of the squatters.

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