Local high school camping party busted by Forest Service

Dozens of life lessons come in form of $180 fine

By Mark Reaman

It is no surprise that each year on the night of the Crested Butte Community School high school graduation, local students gather for an overnight camping session. For the last several years the location has remained the same on public land up Brush Creek toward Farris Creek. This year however, what appears to be a raid on the party led by U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers busted the party and issued several dozen citations, most dealing with underage drinking.

“I can confirm that USFS Law Enforcement Officers responded to the incident. There were violations issued but we cannot yet release details,” commented Gunnison Forest District forest ranger Dayle Funka. “The incident was on USFS land — using this land comes with a responsibility to be responsible stewards. All in all, enforcement was coupled with an educational message regarding being a responsible public land user.”

The Crested Butte News asked for an incident report and also asked several basic questions, from how many officers were involved, how many citations were issued, what time it took place, if any DUIs were detected, if there was any escalation of tension at the incident, if contesting the tickets in local court was an option, and if other local law enforcement groups were part of the raid. As of press time, there was not a response from the USFS.

Some students who attended the party or local parents of kids at the campout described the situation on conditions of anonymity. The kids said the bust came before midnight and officers stayed on the scene for several hours. They estimated between three and four dozen citations were handed out to the kids by what appeared to be four law enforcement officers. The citations were primarily for underage drinking and ‘minors in possession’ of alcohol. The citation fines amounted to about $180 each. The fines can be paid through the mail, or based on a parents’ understanding, the person issued the citation can take the matter to court, but that is apparently in Grand Junction.

The students said there was a group of kids who were designated drivers and not drinking at all. The plan was to have a crew clean up the site on Sunday after most of the people had departed the area. The students admitted that a bonfire was part of the party situation.

According to a high school student at the scene, the situation remained calm between officers and campers. Some of the kids were told to take a breathalyzer test and according to the student, some kids were prohibited from leaving as things were sorted out by the officers. One anecdote relayed was that a student at the scene did not have a beer in his hand but was told to take a breathalyzer test. It apparently registered 0.0 but he was still given a minor in possession ticket.

After the law enforcement officers left the scene, the party resumed.

Another parent said some families had talked about retaining a lawyer to address the legalities of the situation, but it can’t be confirmed if that happened.

Crested Butte marshals and Mt. Crested Butte police were not involved in the incident.

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