For more than six months, a special task force studied ways of solving the problem of migrant workers making a home out of two Fairfax County campgrounds. The situation has now been overtaken by the economic downturn.

Hundreds of workers from as far away as West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio would trek to Northern Virginia each summer for construction work.

Because they could not afford the high housing costs in this area, they set up tents and campers in county campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax parks for up to a week before switching parks because of county regulations.

The crowds of itinerant workers have all but disappeared with the economic slowdown that has left the housing construction market flat.

According to a report delivered to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this month, only 48 workers stayed at county parks during the March-to-August camping season. By comparison, last summer the county found 529 "groups" staying at the parks, fewer than a tenth of whom were families.

Officials said they have noticed a similar dropoff at Little Bennett Regional Park in Montgomery County, another popular campground.

"One of the reasons we figure they're not here is the job market is not what it has been in this community," said Gail Ledford, executive assistant to the director of the Fairfax Department of Human Development.