(Photo: Jeff Scheid/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File)
RENO — The Bureau of Land Management is closing sections of public land in Washoe and Lyon counties to overnight camping because people are violating the 14-day camping limit.
BLM said areas of Golden and Sun valleys near Chimney Drive and an area off State Route 50 will be closed starting April 1, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported Wednesday. The locations will remain open for day use and hiking.
Carson City District Manager Ken Collum said both of areas have had more people living in unofficial camps for extended periods, negatively impacting people who want to use the land.
Under the agency's policy, campers can only stay on undeveloped public land for 14 consecutive days within a 28-day period. Campers are then asked to move to a site at least 25 miles away.
Officials said 12.5 square miles of public land has become home to dozens of people, with about 15 camps between the two locations and one to multiple vehicles or tents per camp.
"There's a lot of BLM land out there to camp on," Collum said. "But the reasons we're having so many problems (in those areas) is there are minimarts and someplace to go get something to eat or drink near these areas."
Supervisory Law Enforcement Ranger Logan Briscoe said he routinely hears illegal campers say they don't have anywhere else to park their vehicles because recreational vehicle parks in town limit the age of the RVs allowed. He also mentioned an increase in trash and abandoned vehicles, which has cost the agency up to $5,000 to remove, he said.
"That's taxpayer money. We don't receive a budget for removing those vehicles. It really is a big burden, and it's on the taxpayer," he said.
"A lot of this just coincides with a lack of affordable housing and apartments," Collum said, and there are not enough resources to enforce the 14-day policy.
Collum said the closures are indefinite and that there could be more closures.