Vandalism, wildfire threat at Daniels Park in Douglas County

DCSO, Park Rangers increasing patrols
Posted at 10:21 PM, Apr 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-18 01:06:36-04

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- A Metro-area park known for its beauty is now dealing with vandalism and the threat of a wildfire. 

People are lighting illegal campfires, spray painting rocks, and leaving their trash at Daniel's Park in Douglas County.

It's a growing problem that both Douglas County Sheriff's deputies and Denver park rangers say they're cracking down on.

"I've enjoyed the beauty for many years, I feel like I owe this park something," said Mike Woodland, a longtime Highlands Ranch resident who has been documenting the problem with photos and videos.

Woodland showed Denver7 the worst spots at Daniel's Park off Castle Pines Parkway, which included graffiti spray-painted on rocks, dumped trash, and burn spots from illegal campfires.

Woodland said his biggest concern is a wildfire.

"Walking over there, and I came upon a burning fire right here," he explained while showing Denver7 an illegal campfire.  

Woodland took video of the smoldering campfire that he said was left unattended during the fire ban earlier this year.

"It could pick up an ember and carry down," he said.

Not far from the site, the Chatridge grass fire burned dangerously close to homes in Highlands Ranch in 2016. That fire did not start from an illegal campfire, but showed how quickly the area can ignite.  

"Once it got started it was very difficult to put out," Woodland said.

Douglas County deputies and Denver park rangers said they are increasing patrols and plan to crack down on illegal activity.

Rangers also put up wooden fences to try and keep people out, but Woodland isn't sure it's enough.

"They're very easy to climb over or climb through, he said.

Woodland has a message for the people threatening the park's beauty.

"Enjoy the park, enjoy the beauty, enjoy the views, but respect the park," he said.

Denver Park Rangers tell Denver7 anyone caught vandalizing the park or setting an illegal campfire will face fines starting at $100.

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