A load of construction debris scattered about the new Mills Peak Trail confronts hikers and bikers during the week of March 23. Many trail users reported the illegal dump to the Forest Service and the culprit was caught and cited. Personnel at the Forest Service said illegal dumping is a regular occurrence on national forest land. Photos by Carolyn Carter
With the thawing of the snow and the warming up of the season many trail explorers will be taking advantage of the trails all over the area. However, on March 23 numerous hikers on the new Mills Peak Trail near Graeagle discovered that they were not the only ones who take advantage of the secluded wilderness.
More than eight mountain bikers and hikers reported a construction debris dump to the Forest Service that Saturday. The trash was dumped illegally directly on the trail near Summerhouse Mohawk Chapman Road by Gold Lake Highway.
The garbage included a sink, mirrors, a bathtub cut in half and shower doors, as well as personal trash. Broken glass was littered throughout the trail and forest floor, and the personal trash was scattered about by foraging animals.
Forest Service spokesperson Lee Anne Schramel Taylor said dumping is very typical in the national forest. The reoccurrence of the situation can be because of a lack of proximity to a dump, inconvenience and an attempt to avoid any charge from a dumpsite.
However, with a $375 fine charged to the culprit by the Forest Service, avoiding a $20 charge from a dumpsite does not always bring a cost-efficient reward.
“Because of how many people use the trail the person was easily tracked, cited and asked to clean it up,” said Taylor.
Taylor said often a person is given the task to dump the garbage, and money to put it in the dump. Frequently the person will keep the money and just pick a point in the forest to dump anything from toxic waste to car parts.
“It affects the forest visually, but it also impacts it in terms of the waste leaking into the soil and the animals eating things they aren’t supposed to,” said Taylor. “It’s a real problem.”
Taylor also said the Forest Service is not funded to pick up the trash, so the time and manpower is taken out of other budgets. She said it is very helpful when members of the community call them about the illegal dumping and include detailed directions to the location and a picture if possible.
“We appreciate the many members of the community who help let us know,” she said. “A lot of people think they live in the wilderness, but they really don’t. This is our home, and it’s not fair.”
The culprit was ordered to clean up the debris by Saturday, April 6,or face a court appearance. The community is asked to report such dumping to the Forest Service so the area can remain usable for all the outdoor recreation enthusiasts that find our national forest so inviting.
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