In order to resolve the campsite on the Hocking River bank, close to the Falls Mill Bridge, a group consisting of the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office, Logan Code Enforcement, and the Hocking County Prosecutor’s Office met on Wednesday, March 22.
The Hocking River Commission is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to stewardship, education, and the recreational use of the Hocking River. The encampment was situated on property owned by private persons, the Ohio Department of Transportation, and the commission.
In addition to addressing the trespassing, littering, and overnight camping, the coordinated response involved a cooperative effort to provide support and aid to any residents who might require it. For several months, the Sheriff’s Office has been attempting to resolve the situation by advising people not to the property. Most of the time, these people just move to a new part of the riverbank or disappear for a little while before reappearing. The Hocking River Commission asked the Sheriff’s Office last week for help in removing the people who were camping there unlawfully due to the encampment’s expanding size and the health and safety dangers it posed. The Hocking River Commission reaffirmed that no property they control is open for overnight camping, and that their group was becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of the conservation area for both tourists and the owners of nearby properties.
When several people were discovered in the encampment, they were informed both orally and in writing that they had to leave the area within 48 hours or face arrest or criminal charges. Additionally, there were signs warning of criminal trespassing placed within and outside the campground.
Information about neighborhood services for addressing drug addiction and homelessness was given to every person deputies spoke with. After it was discovered that two people had active arrest warrants, they were taken into custody without incident. The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office returned to the campground on Friday, March 24, following the 48-hour timeframe, and made four arrests for criminal trespass. Deputies spoke with these people on Wednesday, and they had not attempted to leave or gathered their stuff in pursuit of doing so. Additionally, these people had previously been issued multiple trespass warnings.
In order to return the riverside and conservation area to their original state of beauty for the enjoyment of visitors, a cooperative clean-up initiative involving the removal of tents, collected trash, and human waste is scheduled to occur shortly.