Homeless camps along the Columbia River raising concerns in Wenatchee, East Wenatchee

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It hasn’t yet reached the level of the problems seen in Seattle, but homeless tent camps in the Wenatchee Valley are becoming a bigger concern.

As a result, a task force is being formed to address the growing number of tent camps along the Columbia River.

The action was prompted by reported drug use and conflicts between transients and Loop Trail users.

It’s a situation they need to get ahead of before it gets worse, said Chelan Douglas Health District board member and Douglas County Commissioner Dan Sutton.

“Timing is of the essence on this,” Sutton said. “We don’t want this to get out of hand and we want to get those riverbanks cleaned up. We have a lot of citizens that use those riverbanks for recreational purposes and they have the right to a clean and picturesque, safe waterfront.”

The waterfront land is owned and managed by a variety of public entities.

Sutton says the task force will be comprised of representatives of both the cities of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee, along with Chelan and Douglas counties and the two PUDs.

Chelan County PUD officials say they regularly patrol the shoreline along their reservoirs, which includes the area in Douglas County from the Fred Meyer store south to Kirby Billingsley Hydro Park.

Chelan County PUD spokeswoman Kimberly Craig says the PUD works with local enforcement to notify the people to leave and to clean up debris.

If it’s not on PUD property, the PUD make law enforcement and property owners aware of it, she said.