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Browns Creek Alliance, a Chaffee Recreation Adopters group, cleaned up 160 campsites in the Browns Creek/Raspberry Gulch dispersed camping and recreation area west of Nathrop, at the base of Mount Antero. More than 30 volunteers showed up to do the May 16 cleanup, which resulted in 2,050 pounds of material on the scale at the Chaffee County Landfill.

“That’s over a ton of material removed from the area,” said Browns Creek Alliance spokesperson Rick Berckefeldt. “If a visitor arrives at a clean, well-maintained area they are more apt to keep it that way, and now the Browns Creek Recreation Area is ready for Memorial Day guests.”

Volunteers collected trash and fire pit ash, dismantled inappropriate fire rings, and downsized fire pits that were too large or too tall. “While the majority of the material collected was fire pit ash, some trash was collected as well as an abandoned bucket of human waste,” added Berckefeldt.

The cleanup involved volunteers who used heavy-duty, biodegradable lawn and leaf bags to collect the ash with shovels, buckets and trash cans. They dumped the refuse into a trailer provided by Chaffee County Fire Protection District and used wheelbarrows to spread out the rocks taken from dismantled or downsized campfire rings.

Stage I fire restrictions are in effect throughout the area, meaning that fires are not permitted in rock rings until the ban is lifted.

“I appreciate the community coming together to care for these areas,” Chaffee Fire Chief Robert Bertram said. “Cleaning out fire rings and removing excess rings helps keep everyone safer.”

Chaffee Recreation Rangers from the U.S. Forest Service Salida Ranger District, Chaffee Recreation Adopters Event Coordinator Joe Greiner, and Chaffee Fire staff joined 27 volunteers on the cleanup day.

The Chaffee Recreation Adopters’ mission is to help the community care for all lands in the county. Volunteers use a mobile app to assess areas, report problems to land management agencies, and take action such as the cleanup day.

Greiner praised the initiative of the homeowners of the Mesa Antero area and their Browns Creek Alliance organization that led the cleanup. The program offers resources to help with similar events. Greiner said he is eager to help more organizations plan cleanups. If you have an idea for a neighborhood cleanup, contact

The Chaffee Recreation Adopters program is funded by Chaffee Common Ground, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), and the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau.

Featured image: Volunteers with Chaffee Recreation Adopters worked with Chaffee County Fire Protection District and Chaffee Recreation Rangers to clean up 160 campsites in the Browns Creek Recreation Area, removing more than 2,000 pounds of ashes and trash on Monday, May 16, 2022.