Illegal campers trash popular Spokane Valley hiking spot

The Dishman Hills conservation area covers more than 500 acres — the land is protected — but illegal campers don’t seem to care.

“This is terrible, it’s horrible. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Joyce Ortiz, whose property borders the park. She’s lived in the neighborhood for more than three decades.

“I love this neighborhood. My kids were raised here and it’s just a great place to live.”

But seeing abandoned camps full of litter and other discarded belongings make Ortiz’s blood boil.

“I’ve picked up syringes, needles, we found pill bottles…”

Ortiz said she the homeless campers leave during the day and return at night. She’s found several camps during her hikes. Ortiz said she also found evidence of campers making fires to cook food.

“We’re worried about our houses catching on fire with all the brush back there. And my husband has gone up several times with the fire department with his own shovel and was putting out fires.”

Ortiz refuses to give up. She’s established a strong reationship with park rangers and reports everything she sees.

“Yesterday, [the park ranger] put two notices on two other camps, they had 24 hours to pick up their stuff and get out.”

Ortiz said she can’t fight the illegal campers on her own. She’s asking anyone who hikes in the Dishman Hills area to contact park rangers at (509)-477-6395 if they come across illegal camps or large amounts of trash themselves.

“Just keep an eye on stuff. Report it every time we see it. Get them out. We don’t want them in here!”

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