In a letter to residents, East Area Commander Capt. Joshua
Campos said his department is aware that with the warming weather, piñon pickers will soon follow.
“Some pickers may be parking on the side of the road and entering private land without permission to harvest the piñon,” he wrote. “In addition, some may cause vegetation damage with vehicular traffic and leave litter across the property.”
Shift deputies are aware of this problem, he said, and contact with the pickers who are in violation of state laws and county ordinances. Appropriate enforcement action will be taken. All deputies have been directed to conduct frequent patrols of the affected areas, he said.
“We rely heavily on community involvement in proactive policing matters,” Campos said. “We understand that piñon pickers may enter private property and cause some damage. We here at the Sheriff’s Office desire incidents of this nature to be reported to our nonemergency number at 798-7000 in order for a deputy to be dispatched to address the issue before it develops into a bigger problem.”
Residents can also request a period welfare check for their property through the same nonemergency number, he said.
If deputies respond to a “trespasser” call and find people are indeed on private property and if they do not have permission to be there, a report will be written and they will be told to leave the area, Campos said. Other steps, such as issuing a court summons, can be issued if the property owner is present and requests prosecution, he said.
Pickers are reminded to only harvest on public property and Forest Service land.
“It is understood that many property owners in the East Mountains have expanses of property which are not easily identified as being private property,” Campos said.
He noted state law that requires “no trespassing” signs be properly posted for law enforcement to take legal actions.