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BLM Plans to Clear Wetlands

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EUGENE, Ore. – Some local homeless campers will soon have to find a new place to live as the Bureau of Land Management has begun the process of clearing out some local wetlands.

The city has been doing a lot of work with the homeless community, but recent news about the BLM’s plan to clear encampments in the West Eugene wetlands has some homeless people and their advocates riled up.

The BLM says the area of land near Seneca Road and 5th Avenue is long overdue for a makeover.

“The purpose of the project that we’re doing here is habitat restoration,” said Michael Mascari, BLM Public Affairs Officer.

Mascari says it needs to be done in order to make the most of the space.

“This area is really unique. It’s got a lot of intended purposes. And being so close to the city of Eugene, it’s a really unique area,” Mascari said.

One of those intended purposes does not include camping. While signs say it’s not allowed, it’s no surprise to hear there are people living out in it.

“It’s basically to where we got a place to stay instead of sleeping on the streets. Basically it’s a safe place to go,” said homeless guy. “Quite honestly, I’m looking for an uprising between the homeless and the government.”

While he may not see or believe it, the city, the BLM and various social service groups are working to make sure they’re taken care of.

“There’s a lot of different ways that we’re trying to deal with it. It’s not something that goes away because you ignore it. We have to find a way to manage this and manage the impact on community and care for in a humanitarian way for people in need,” said Mayor Kitty Piercy.

The Bureau of Land Management will begin putting up signs and reaching out to those living in the area about the need to clear out by the end of month.

City council will revisit the issue at Wednesday’s meeting.

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