Dumps mar the woods
Whitlock, who patrols about 300,000 acres, said he can find one to two sites a month in the Lassen and Plumas counties — and it’s not just a bag or two of household garbage.
“You name it, I think we’ve had it dumped on us,” Whitlock said.
In the Paiute Lane area in Susanville, Whitlock recently found a large amount of stuff including DVD cases, a barbecue and computer. In the Lake Forest area, Whitlock discovered two different sites — one had a mattress and big screen television. He has also found dumpsites with tires and abandoned vehicles.
Not only do the dumpsites cause an eyesore, Whitlock said there is the possibility of hazardous materials — biological and chemical — in the trash
When Whitlock sees a dumpsite he will stop and go through the trash to see if he can find out who the trash belongs to.
“I’m not averse to digging through the garbage to identify people,” he said.
People leave behind items easily identifying themselves, which Whitlock said also opens the doors for identity theft. If there is identification, Whitlock said he calls the Sheriff’s department.
In several cases, Whitlock said the owner of the garbage has been contacted to clean-up their mess.
According to the California Penal Code it is a misdemeanor to dispose of garbage on public or private lands and is punishable by a fine of no less than $250 and no more than $1,000.
Illegal commercial waste dumping is punishable by imprisonment for up to six months and a fine.
Whitlock said disposing garbage at the landfills and transfer stations is “doggone cheaper compared to a citation.”
Lassen Regional Solid Waste Management Authority Manager Tom Valentino said illegal waste dumping is one of the LRSWMA’s more pressing issues.
He said its an ongoing problem and there is no easy solution to it.
As a way to combat illegal waste dumping, Valentino said LRSWMA tries to keep waste disposal fees low at the landfills and transfer stations, especially for household trash. It also offers one free garbage disposal day a year.
Currently, the Bass Hill Landfill accepts household trash at $59.40 per ton.
It has eliminated gate fees for refrigerators and freezer disposal costs were reduced from $25 to $15 per unit.
It also accepts, at no charge, for green waste, scrap metals, asphalt, rebar-free concrete and soil.
He said LRSWMA is interested in hearing suggestions on dealing with illegal waste dumping.
In one case, Whitlock said a Lake Forest resident’s trash ended up in the woods in Westwood. When the owner was contacted, the owner explained they hired someone to haul their trash away.
He suggests if a person or contractor hires someone to haul their trash away to ask for a receipt from the landfill or transfer station.
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