Deputies sweep Carson River homeless camps |

Deputies sweep Carson River homeless camps

Karl Horeis
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Transients including Michael Hesse, center with back turned, watch as Carson City sheriff's deputies leave their campsite after warning them they have one week to vacate the area or face trespassing charges. Below, an unidentified couple comfort each other with a hug after the warning.

Carson City sheriff’s deputies swept through homeless camps along the Carson River Saturday morning, telling about 50 people they have seven days to move.

Owners of land on both sides of the river between Deer Run Road and the Lyon County line have signed complaints against squatters.

Deputies on horseback and on foot visited about 25 camps under cottonwood trees, talking with people and leaving notices on vehicles. Many sites were unattended.

“They’re being pretty cool,” said Kellie Ballan, who has lived along the river off and on for three years. “But they’re running everybody’s name (to check for arrest warrants). That don’t bother me because I’m clean.”

She was driving her 6-month-old grandson, Sebastian, to the city in her daughter’s hatchback after a night on the river. She planned to ride her bicycle back there later.

“They gave me a week to get out, but it’ll probably take me a month.”

Deputies were not removing people from the property on Saturday, but informing them of a complaint filed by land owner John Serpa.

“This is a courtesy that the sheriff’s department really doesn’t have to do,” said Search and Rescue member Richard Finn, also the director of the Western Nevada State Peace Officers Academy. “The sheriff is very personable. The alternative is ‘You have to get out now.'”

Deputies heard from other transients along the river that those living near a teepee in thick trees were heavily armed and could be cooking methamphetamines. Deputies wearing bulletproof vests approached, maintaining radio contact with others on the road.

They saw several men flee into a thicket of willows. Later the men were picked up by a car, a mounted deputy said.

Deputies placed orange stickers on vehicle windows reading “Notice of Violation … you are trespassing. You have a week to vacate the property.” They also wrote down the serial numbers of unattended vehicles along the river.

There are about 10 RVs and trailers, maybe 20 older trucks, a few school buses and several smaller cars scattered under trees along the banks.

One site is equipped with satellite television – the dish mounted permanently on a new concrete pad. That site also has an outdoor stone fireplace with 7-foot chimney and wooden gazebo. Assorted exercise equipment was set up under the trees.

At another site closer to Deer Run Road, three families were living on the south side of the river with three large tents and about five trucks. Three little girls played under trees Saturday, one sitting in a pink Power Wheels Jeep.

“I would like the owner to know that I did take care of this land,” said Michael Hesse, who said he’s done a lot of clean up at the site since he was laid off as a mechanic four months ago. He doesn’t have custody of his children but they visit the camp every other week.

He’s not sure what he’ll do now.

“I’ll be on BLM land somewhere until they kick me off,” he said. “I love this old desert. I wouldn’t trade it for Hawaii or Southern California or anyplace.”

The Carson City sheriff’s Department had yet to decide when and how a follow-up sweep will be done after the seven-day deadline.

Contact Karl Horeis at or 881-1219.