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BLM Closes Local Wetlands

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EUGENE, Ore. — The clock is ticking for homeless people illegally camping in the west Eugene wetlands.

The Bureau of Land Management will start evicting campers this week.

People who frequent the area say while they’re disappointed by the closure, they’re looking forward to the upcoming changes.

“I put in a proposal three years ago, and that funding has arrived,” said Chuck Fairchild, Acting Field Manager.

BLM says this has been a long-awaited effort.

“Our concern is for the public safety and health. You know, we’ve got 90 to 150 on site with no sanitary facilities other than one porter potty,” Fairchild said.

And they’re not the only ones who are happy about that funding.

“There’s a lot of pollution, needles. There’s a year’s worth of garbage in there,” said wetlands user John Coggins.

People working nearby say they hope this will help clean-up more than just the messes left behind.

“As a business we’ve had our lighting grids broken into and all the copper stolen out of our electric wiring. It’s phenomenal. I think it’s over-needed and past due, and I think it’s a great move to be made,” Coggins said.

But there are those who say it’s the few ruining it all for the many.

“Many of the ones who have been around for while have spent hundreds of hours hauling out trash left by people before them. People have really been going above and beyond to try to keep this area clean,” said homeless advocate Sabra Marcoft.

Homeless advocates and those their helping argued the piles of trash aren’t all from them. Though they feel troubled about moving, they understand and agree it is work that needs to be done.

“These lands are public lands. They’re for everyone to use, and with the people being there, that’s limited the use for other people to be there. So what we’re trying to do is get these lands restored back so that all the people can use these lands here,” Fairchild said.

The cleanup will begin on Wednesday, and once that is completed, the restoration process will start. BLM hopes to have everything completed by the end of August.

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