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Repairs could cost over $5,000

By Hilary Corrigan

Triplicate staff writer

The Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority expects a $5,000 reward offer to help catch the off-road vehicle riders who left ruts in a $6 million landfill.

During a meeting Wednesday, the authority board of commissioners agreed to offer the reward and consider more signs or cameras to better secure the 160-acre site off Old Mill Road after agency workers found the damage and broken lock on a gate that morning. Repairs could cost more than $5,000.

The landfill lacked any lining to block pollution into the soil and water was ordered closed by the state. In 2005, the authority completed that decade-long, costly process that installed gas and water drainage systems, along with layers of plastic lining, dirt and vegetation to cap the 23-acre, 50-foot tall landfill mound.

Authority director Kevin Hendrick suspects that the off-road vehicle riders entered the site from the south end by a road from state park lands. Hendrick has found off-road vehicle, horse tracks and footprints before in the area, but not on the mound.

"Now we have a problem," he said.

The authority must make sure that emissions from the former landfill meet state limits on gas, water and chemicals. The agency must also block health and environmental threats from the potentially explosive methane gas at the site.

The agency's board of commissioners may hold a closed-door meeting to talk about security measures and could also seek stricter penalties for trespassing violations.

Hendrick also wants the board to define a policy that prohibits off-road vehicle use at the site. Commissioner Gerry Hemmingsen had toured the county-owned land earlier this year to consider it as a riding area, without including the mound.

Commissioner Randy Hatfield used to see similar problems at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds where he serves as manager.

"It's usually the same group giving the off-road vehicle people a bad name," Hatfield said.

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