CLIFTON, Colo. — Reducing crime, decreasing fire danger, and increasing overall safety are the main goals of the Clifton Restoration Project. Nearly one year ago, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office received approval from Union Pacific Railroad to clean up the one mile stretch between 32 1/2 Road and 33 1/2 Road. And this week, work is underway to complete the project.
Last Fall, the land adjacent to the railroad tracks was polluted by trash, human waste, and hazardous materials, as well as overrun by thick brush and overgrown trees. In response, a professional cleaning and restoration company spent several days with deputies removing the rubbish. Megan Terlecky from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office says the team is cleaning up a concerning area in Clifton and is “hoping by taking this approach it will have a long term solution to not only the crime issues in the area, but also the fire issues as well.”
For the next several weeks, Mesa County Road and Bridge and Mesa County Wildland Fire Team will remove the invasive plant species, which pose significant fire danger. Deputy Troy Rolbiecki says, “the number one thing is fire mitigation.”
Over the years, deputies have responded to multiple reports of fires started and illegal camping. Deputies say that a fire in that area could have been extremely destructive due to the dry vegetation. Rolbiecki adds, “it would be hard for us to get apparatuses in there to help stop that fire.”
This final phase of the project will not only clear the dry and dangerous vegetation, but the team is leaving the native grasses, trees, and plants in place, which provide privacy and shade to nearby neighbors. Terlecky says the clean up transformed the land and “now [it] actually looks like a nice area that could be adjacent to homes.”
Mesa County Sheriff’s Office hopes the clean up will stop future fires and illegal use of the land. And Terlecky said that if the project proves to be a successful safety solution, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office will look into cleaning other areas using the Clifton Restoration Project as a model.
Further, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office partnered with a number of agencies to assist with those who were trespassing in the area. Deputies have notified these people of available resources in the community, which will help anyone who is in a crisis.