SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — There are growing concerns illegal camping is threatening a jewel in Sacramento.
The American River Parkway Foundation this week has demanded city and county leaders to intervene. It's expecting a detailed plan by March on how to tackle the removal of illegal campers from the 23-mile-long nature and recreation area.
The demand also focused on the county's response to the damage caused by illegal camping.
For many people, the American River Parkway is where nature and serenity meet, but in recent years, many have observed two sides to the parkway.
"Over 15 percent of the parkway burned, and 99 percent of those fires were caused by illegal campers on the parkway," said Dianna Poggetto, the executive director of the American River Parkway Foundation.
Poggetto wants to see more action and less talk. She believes the March deadline is reasonable.
"We put those deadlines because if we don't have a date, then how do we hold anybody accountable?" she said.
People walking along the parkway at the William B. Pond Recreation Area are also raising concerns.
"I do think the last couple of years – the last two years, three years, maybe – seeing more of the tents, more evidence of it," said Robbie Russeau of Carmichael.
He's been coming to the parkway for about 20 years.
Diane Wolfe sees a bigger problem than just merely cleaning up the area.
"The pressure needs to be put on – and especially the county – which is not doing anything to come up with safe parking and the biggest thing we need is affordable housing," said Wolfe.
The county and city say they did receive the letters.
Meanwhile, the county said in a released statement, in part:
"The County is in receipt of the letter sent today from the American River Parkway Foundation. We look forward to working cooperatively with all our municipal and community partners, including the American River Parkway Foundation, to keep the American River Parkway a place for all to enjoy and welcome additional discussions around the complex stressors affecting the Parkway."
A spokesperson for the City of Sacramento told CBS13 it's in talks with the county on what to do next.
In the meantime, the foundation has been taking matters into its own hands by doing cleanups, maintaining trails and placing needle boxes.
This year, it created the Parkway Fire Council, comprised of utility companies, fire departments and community stakeholders, to tackle vegetation removal.
The Lower American River Parkway did receive $12 million from the state but most of the money went toward building improvements.
The foundation believes, in order to preserve the entire parkway, the county needs to step in now.
"We're kind of ground-zero for the illegal campers on the parkway and what's being caused on the parkway," Poggetto said.
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