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During the June 4 administrative public hearing, the Board of Mesa County Commissioners approved the $58,581 invoice for the Connected Lakes Encampment Emergency Cleanup. This project involved 17 acres of property and about 20 camps east of Dike Road and north of Highway 340.

Beginning on April 24, 2024, crews from nine agencies collaborated to tackle the emergency encampment cleanup. Their efforts aimed to improve safety and quality of life for property owners and nearby residents, prevent future crime and wildfires, and provide resources and shelter options for individuals living in the area.

The cleanup operation required extensive coordination and contributions from the following agencies:

  • Mesa County Sheriff’s Office
  • Mesa County Sheriff’s Office Co-response Unit
  • Mesa County Behavioral Health
  • Mesa County Animal Services
  • Mesa County Code Enforcement
  • Mesa County Planning
  • Mesa County Wildland Fire Management 
  • Grand Junction Fire Department
  • Grand Junction Regional Communication Center

The project was deemed an emergency primarily due to the imminent risks and pressing timeline, including nearby water conditions, wildfire season, and upcoming community events that would make resource allocation for the operation a bigger challenge. In 2024, the Grand Junction Fire Department responded to six small wildfires started by individuals living in the encampment. Additionally, a recent law enforcement pursuit led to the area and highlighted the severity of the encampment's growth, emphasizing the urgent need for the cleanup.

The first step in the process was getting the unsheltered residents and their pets out of the encampment with notice and access to housing, medical resources, and other useful resources. The agencies then collaborated to complete the cleanup, including removing trash and brush to prevent future wildfires. 

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Aerial view of junk, trash, and vehicles on open space surrounded by bushes and trees.