Lewis and Clark County sheriff to clear encampment south of Helena on Saturday

An encampment of at one time 30 unsheltered people grew under the shade of an aspen grove about a mile south of Helena, and its defacto leader – a man named Rad – said the modest stand of trees saved his life and the lives of others.

The encampment on Oro Fino Gulch Road is expected to be cleared out Saturday morning. Lewis and County Sheriff Leo Dutton said the property owner asked they be removed.

People living in the camp range in age from the young to elderly. Two dogs and a cat also call the encampment home. One of the dogs recently gave birth to 11 pups.

The Montanans in the camp are military veterans, Native Americans, recovering addicts.

The camp has four sizeable solar panels connected to an inverter and car battery. The setup is used to charge a couple of cellphones.

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About 10 tents of varying sizes donated to the camp dot the narrow strip of gulch, the tops of which can just be seen from the highway. The cat, named Voodoo, lays claim to what one resident called “the smallest tent in camp,” a short shade structure made

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