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.

Who We Are

In Summer 2018, NICHE started a pilot program to hire an outreach worker, our Summer Homeless Advocate for Residential Encampments. The SHARE program started with three goals: first, we want to connect people experiencing homelessness who choose to camp on public lands to existing resources, particularly through the government and non-profit programs in Boulder; second, we want to educate the homeless community on appropriate camping practices, to make themselves and the mountain community safer; third, as the country’s first study that analyzes strategies and outcomes of human service to homeless campers on public lands, we intend to learn best practices that we can share with other communities that face similar situations and problems.

 

The initial grant from the Boulder County Community Services Department went to hire Claudia Schauffler, who was then trained by the US Forest Service, Nederland Police Department, and Boulder County Homeless Services. Through the summer she and Rev Hansen Wendlandt, of Nederland Community Church, continued to work with those agencies, as well as the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, CO Parks & Wildlife, Emergency Family Assistance Association, Clinica Family Health, Mental Health Partners, Boulder County Coordinated Entry, and the Town of Nederland.

  • Claudia met 175 campers experiencing homelessness. This represented about 50% of the summer homeless population, which was lower than in any of the last several years.

  • The typical contact was a 45-year old male, homeless and wandering for over a decade. We did, however, meet several younger and older men and women, as well as families that were experiencing homelessness.

  • Of the 175 clients, we met only 5 who revealed that they had already interacted with Boulder County homeless services.

  • Barriers to connecting them to Boulder County services were transportation, urban anxiety, and frustration with the ‘system’.

  • Despite that, Claudia was able to connect 64 people to various services: Coordinated Entry, healthcare, mental health, job referral/training, transitional housing, addiction recovery, childcare, and more.

  • We educated 100% of our campers about fire safety, and 97% accepted further education about wildlife safety and waste management.

 

For Summer 2019, NICHE has received another grant from Boulder County Community Services Department! This will allow our SHARE worker, Claudia Schauffler, to expand outreach from April to October. Her objective goals this year are a) to increase contacts to 60% of the estimated homeless population, b) to increase resource connection to 40% of those we contact, and c) to increase the amount of those enlisted in Coordinated Entry by 25%. We will continue to offer education about wildfire prevention, wildlife interactions, waste management, as well as water-borne illness and weather preparation.

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

NICHE is happy to announce that we were approved as a United Way, Live United Collaborative! There are about 15 groups in Boulder and Broomfield counties that have met the qualifications for various agencies working together to solve some of our most pressing social issues.

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.

Andrew is currently in Federal Law Enforcement Training Center training. Then he’s on to 12 weeks of field training. He is expected to be back on the district by August.

Stewardship Days - The Boulder Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest, along with several volunteers, completed 8 stewardship days in April-June. Projects included campsite removal, installation of vehicle barriers, installation of buck-n-rail fence, and installation of signs. 

Other Forest Service locations that already have support from the local communities:

o East Magnolia Road area (Forest Road 321)
o Peewink Mountain Road area (Forest Road 332.1)

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 through Peak to Peak Forest Watch 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.

  • Collaborated with Peak 2 Peak Forest Watch to provide training that allows for volunteers to inform and educate forest users about rules and regulations and provide reports to local law enforcement and Forest Service staff through the centralized reporting system;

  • 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…

  • Peak to Peak Forest Watch

  • 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

  • Former Representative 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

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