This article from the Sacramento Bee, estimating 200 illegal campers fleeing the rising American River, validates, again, sadly, the historic estimate of 300-400 homeless illegally camping in the American River Parkway at any given time, a situation that has been incredibly destructive for the Parkway.
After years of drought, the Sacramento region’s rivers Wednesday were flush with water as a result of recent storms and increased water releases from Folsom Dam.
The rising water levels sent an estimated 200 homeless campers along the American River scrambling for higher ground. Over the past few days, Sacramento County park rangers have warned campers to move, while a Sacramento police helicopter broadcast the same message from the sky.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Ann McCallops said while sipping a cup of coffee next to a chain-link fence bordering Interstate 5 at Discovery Park.
McCallops was camped under a bridge next to the river with her husband, but she said rangers told them to leave early Wednesday.
Homeless people have long lived on the American River Parkway and in other wooded areas, but the drought opened up new opportunities to establish camps as waters receded to historic lows. Homeless camper Will Henkins said many opt to live as close as possible to the river so they aren’t disturbed by park rangers.
“That’s the only place we can hide from the rangers,” he said. “Out of sight and out of mind. If they don’t see us, they won’t bother us.”