NICHE

The Nederland Interagency Council for Homeless Encampments (NICHE) is a collaborative organization with shared responsibilities that foster public health and safety through care for the vulnerable, stewardship of natural resources, and respect for the needs of the mountain community.

Current Work

Many COVID guidelines are in flux, but for now, the US Forest Service official campgrounds are closed – that is, those areas normally with camp hosts, metal fire rings, and bathrooms – while the dispersed camping areas remain open. Campfires are not allowed anywhere, but people can camp for 14 days, and move to another site 5 miles away for 14 more days.

 

We welcome Andrew Young, the USFS Boulder District Law Enforcement officer, for his first full summer in the mountains around Nederland! Recreation in the forests, for housed and unhoused individuals, is at an all-time high, so Officer Young and the USFS Boulder Ranger District are working closely with local, county, and law enforcement partners to manage things as best as they can, while still allowing people to get outside. Please, we encourage all recreaters to follow local and state health orders and to be kind to one another.

 

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Department re-assigned two of their long-time mountain deputies, and now has a larger group of committed officers serving our area. They have all been trained about issues around homeless camping and positive communication, and they are maintaining a cohesive coordination with the Nederland Police. The Sheriff has made it a priority to help educate the public on topics like masking and social distancing.

 

Trash is a major concern, not only for homeless campers who struggle to carry their bags into town, but also for lazy weekend warriors who drive away from piles of trash at the same camping areas. Sadly, due to COVID, we can no longer rely on Boulder County Jail Crews to help with clean ups. Neither can the USFS assign their employees to re-direct their time for that sort of work. If you find trash in the woods, please call the agency responsible for that area; but know it may take some time to respond. Be extremely careful about any volunteer clean-ups.
Engaging in that is your own risk, from safety and legal perspectives. The good news is that many agencies are allowed to remove anything with caloric content that would endanger wildlife; and the Boulder County Commissioners has partnered with NICHE to pay for removal of any personal trash that a particular homeless camper collects.

 

The NICHE homeless advocates will continue their work, to connect people in need to existing resources and to educate campers on safe procedures with regard to wildfires, wildlife, waste, water, and weather. They are in regular communication with Boulder County homeless systems and the two homeless outreach agencies. COVID protocols are expected to shift through the
summer, but there will always be hygiene and safety products available in Nederland, health screenings at the Community Church, and a plan to test and isolate anyone who is flagged for symptoms.

 

From a recent Mountain Ear article: “We are blessed with a good snowpack, experienced homeless service providers, and a solid model to address issues surrounding homelessness. (In fact, there is still a bill waiting at the Capitol, to replicate the NICHE model across other areas of the state.) Still, it could be a worrisome summer in many ways, which makes the stress we are all already under with COVID, worse. Kindness, suspension of judgment and working together as
a supportive community will be our best plan.”

NICHE News

 

Download the most recent NICHE Newsletters here.

Camping Brochure

 

For any campers in the Peak to Peak Region, who might be homeless or traveling, this brochure will help you know the rules, fire safety, waste management, wildlife prevention, and where to get help.

Recent Work

Thank you to the Boulder County Community Services department, for the financial support to maintain another summer of homeless advocacy, outreach, and education!

Please visit www.fs.usda.gov/arp for the most recent updates to forest management with regard to COVID.

NICHE has been awarded a Metro Vision Award from the Denver Regional Council of Government! Every year about 6-8 organizations are celebrated for their excellence, innovation, collaboration and leadership in problem-solving among communities and their partners

New Boulder Law Enforcement Officer - Andrew Young is the new U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer stationed in Boulder, replacing longtime officer Paul Krisanits who retired in May 2018.

Andrew comes to the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest from the Nez-Perce Clearwater National Forest in Idaho where he has been working in the range program and has also had the opportunity to work with many other programs including recreation, timber, and special uses in addition to Forest Service law enforcement.

Early Efforts

Our early efforts have resulted in measurable successes, including:

  • Strengthened communication between local law enforcement (Forest Service, Boulder Sheriff’s Office and Nederland Police Department);

  • Increased law enforcement patrols, particularly in dispersed camping areas;

  • Additional funding provided to Nederland Police Department for addressing issues on National Forest System lands;

  • Centralized reporting for issues across the National Forest that reaches all local law enforcement and Forest Service staff;

  • Improved data gathering and sharing amongst local and federal law enforcement;

  • Stewardship days that engage community members in activities such as campsite restoration, fire ring removal, installing signage, and fence building for resource protection;

  • Regular work days with the Boulder County jail crew to pick up abandoned property, perform campsite restoration, and fence maintenance;

  • Published brochures about fire safety and appropriate camping practices, with info on where to get help down the mountain;

  • Build relationships and trust with the homeless community, and connect them with the organizations that manage the camping areas, wildlife, and fire protection;

  • Trained groups on how to build more open communication with homeless campers;

  • Collaborate with Boulder homeless service providers, so they know what we face and we know what help is available;

  • Partnered with Boulder Open Space, the Boulder Municipal Judge, and the Boulder Homeless Outreach Team to direct people experiencing homelessness to safer places;

  • Connected with many, many other agencies that care about this issue, or deal with it in their own local context.

  • Developed a process with the Forest Service to evaluate and recommend implementable management options for areas impacted by dispersed uses on National Forest lands that incorporates the input and participation of our partners and of local community stakeholders;

  • Published a new brochure, with the latest news about homeless services in Boulder, namely the new presence of 210 beds in the summer, a better system for identifying needs and providing appropriate resources, and more housing-focused shelter options

Collaboration

NICHE is a collaborative of several organizations, many of which have met since 2015. We have a steering committee composed of… 

  • Nederland Community Presbyterian Church

  • Boulder County Sheriff’s Office

  • Nederland Police Department

  • US Forest Service

  • Nederland Town Hall

  • Boulder County Commissioner’s Office

 

Other organizations that work with us…

  • CO Parks & Wildlife

  • Nederland Fire Department

  • Boulder Homeless Shelter

  • Boulder Bridge House

  • Peak to Peak Human Services Alliance

  • Boulder County Community Services Department

  • Boulder County Public Health

  • Boulder County Open Space

  • City of Boulder Open Space

  • City of Boulder Water Quality

  • City of Boulder Police Homeless Outreach Team

  • Nederland Business partners

 

And other governmental partners who have taken part in conversations…

  • CO State Senator, Steve Fenberg

  • CO State Representative, KC Becker

  • Senator Cory Gardner’s Office

  • Senator Michael Bennet’s Office

  • Governor Jared Polis’ Office

  • Town of Ward Mayor and Marshal

The U.S. Forest Service has purchased 125 new retro-reflective signs and will be implementing a new sign plan during fire restrictions. These signs meet highway standards for size of text for speed limits, have standardized language and better visibility, especially at night.

Media Stories

"When Homelessness Become Everyone's Problem" https://themtnear.com/2020/05/when-homelessness-becomes-everyones-problem

 

Legislature could expand Nederland program helping homeless campers, Daily Camera, Nov 17, 2019, https://www.dailycamera.com/2019/11/17/legislature-could-expand-nederland-program-helping-homeless-campers

Colorado Edition: Coming Together, KUNC, Nov 4, 2019, https://www.kunc.org/post/colorado-edition-coming-together#stream/0

Summer Homeless Advocacy, Mountain Ear, Nov 25, 2018, https://themtnear.com/2018/11/summer-homeless-advocacy/

Homeless Advocacy a Success, Mountain Ear, Oct 23, 2018, https://themtnear.com/2018/10/homeless-advocacy-a-success/

Homeless Outreach Coordinator Hired, Mountain Ear, July 8, 2018, https://themtnear.com/2018/07/homeless-outreach-coordinator-hired/

NICHE on Homeless Encampments, Mountain Ear, May 30, 2018, https://themtnear.com/2018/05/niche-on-homeless-encampments/

Opening Story, Denver 9 News, June 8, 2018, https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/our-colorado/nederland-launches-pilot-program-to-address-homeless-campers

As Homeless Find Refuge, Anger is Palpable, New York Times, Aug 21, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/22/us/as-homeless-find-refuge-in-forests-anger-is-palpable-in-nearby-towns.html

 

Camping in the Peak to Peak Region, safety brochure, http://nederlandcpc.org/summer-sandwiches-socks/

 

Boulder Country Coordinated Entry, information, https://www.bouldercounty.org/homeless/

Find us: 

Nederland Community Center

750 HWY 72 

Nederland, CO 80466