Vancouver begins cleanup after city bans camping in Burnt Bridge Creek area due to wildfire risk


Peter Bracchi knows Arnold Park like it’s his own backyard – and that’s because it is.

The West Minnehaha resident moved into his home on the north side of Arnold Park six years ago. Since then, he’s become a fierce advocate for protecting the park’s sensitive environment.

That’s why when the Vancouver City Council updated its city code Monday to ban camping and “outside habitation” in the area to mitigate wildfire risk, Bracchi called it the happiest day of his life.

“This area is not meant for people to live in, it’s made for preservation,” he said Tuesday afternoon while walking through the west side of the park. “This is a different kind of park. This isn’t swings and slides, this is a nature preserve. This area used to have so many deer, owls, birds. All that’s changed. Simple logic says: ‘With all the people living here for so many years, all the garbage, the feces, the chemicals, and the rain washing it all into the creek, it can’t be good for the environment.’ I can’t prove anything, but it can’t help.”

A retiree, geology major and nature lover, Bracchi became invested in Arnold Park and the areas surrounding Burnt Bridge Creek after he started noticing homeless encampments off the trail. Some of them were well-hidden and well-established. Many were surrounded by litter, burn barrels, propane tanks, gasoline cans and other flammable materials. Some had structures built from trees cut down in the park, while others had all the natural vegetation removed, creating areas ripe for invasive weeds.


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