By Todd Wels
Triplicate staff writer
Despite last years $100,000 cleanup efforts, vandals are still dumping garbage into the Pacific Shores Subdivision.
Pacific Shores has long been an area that people in this county have viewed as a dumping ground, said Del Norte County Supervisor Clyde Eller Tuesday. He added that illegal dumping is widespread throughout the county, with vandals leaving garbage on both public and private property.
Crescent City resident Daniel Honeywell said the county is not doing enough to curb the problem.
I cannot grasp this, why every damn year we have to go through this, he said Monday.
Honeywell said he has spent several days attempting to clean up recyclable materials dumped at the site off Tell Road.
Materials at the site Monday included: a car door, glove compartment and dashboard; two lawnmowers, more than 15 pairs of shoes, several pounds of broken glass, including more than 20 alcoholic beverage containers; a roll-away bed with a torn mattress, a demolished camper shell and other items.
That stuff wasnt here yesterday, Honeywell said, pointing to the camper shell.
Both Honeywell and Eller pointed out that recent county road improvements in the area have made it more attractive for dumping.
The improvements were made to provide easier access for emergency vehicles, which have had difficulty reaching those areas in periods of inclement weather.
That access is being threatened, however, because much of it is dumped on county road right-of-ways, Eller said.
Last year, the Del Norte County Solid Waste Management Agency secured a $100,000 grant to clean up the area, Eller said.
Many of the past cleanup efforts in the area were also paid for with grant money.
Del Norte County Solid Waste Management Director Kevin Hendrick said his staff is putting the finishing touches on another, similar grant.
Eller worries, however, about the damage dumping could do if that funding were to dry up.
The county doesnt just depend on grant funding, however, according to Hendrick.
His department has joined with others, including the California Highway Patrol and the Regional Water Quality Control Board to form the Del Norte Environmental Task Force.
The task force is charged with both dumping cleanup and prevention.
Pacific Shores is not the only area in which illegal dumping is carried out.
Eller said representatives of both Pacific and Simpson timber companies have logged many complaints regarding illegal dumping on their property. He added that vandals often dump the materials behind locked gates. Eller believes most illegal dumping is done to avoid paying the fees that come with disposing of garbage legally whether or not the person can afford the fees.
Theyre going to risk a $1,500 fine for $20? What a bunch of morons, Honeywell said.
Hendrick pointed out that many illegal dumpers actually travel farther and spend more money to dispose of their trash, than if they had done so at the landfill.
According to Hendrick, it costs $6 to dispose of up to 200 pounds of garbage.
Its hardly a financial hardship, he said, calling those who dump illegally irresponsible scofflaws.
The difficulty is actually catching the violators, said Operations Commander George Mina of the Del Norte County Sheriffs Department.
If we can catch them, we will definitely pursue it, he said. The Sheriffs Office has an officer dedicated to county code violations, of which dumping is one.
According to Hendrick, catching those who dump illegally is made much more difficult in rural areas because there are so many areas for them to hide.
Unfortunately, many witnesses to illegal dumping take a long time to make a report to the Sheriffs Department.
We encourage people. Dont call us two months later; call us when its happening, Mina said.
The penalties for illegal dumping range from minor infractions to actual misdemeanor convictions, with fines as high as $1,500 for dumping hazardous materials.
A leaking, half-empty container of Ortho Triox weed killer was found at the Tell Road site Monday.
Honeywell has recommended that the Sheriffs Department place cameras in the entries to Pacific Shores.
You get a picture of them when they drive in full and you get a picture of them when they leave empty, he said.