Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

A hardy group of volunteers took on a monumental task Saturday of cleaning up an area overflowing with garbage from years of illegal camping, dumping and hoarding.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife property, located behind billboards near South Beach off U.S. 101, included piles of rain-soaked garbage, ranging from clothes to electronic items, furniture, tarps, tents, bicycle parts, stuffed animals, bedding and even containers of human waste.

It’s unknown how long the area has been used for illegal camping and dumping, but not much had changed since a Triplicate report in April 2017 highlighted several trashed areas connected by trails in the wooded area.

Solid Waste Management Authority Director Tedd Ward said the authority was mostly out of the loop on the cleanup, which was handled by volunteers from several local groups.

Del Norte County Supervisor Roger Gitlin’s Take A Bite out of Blight volunteers were among workers taking part in the massive cleanup, which took tons of waste from the forest floor. Gitlin and Supervisor Bob Berkowitz, in whose district the cleanup was conducted, were on the ground taking part in the massive cleanup.

In an email Monday, Gitlin said the cleanup was a huge success.

He said more than 50 volunteers took part and no public funds were spent on the project.

He said two, 20-cubic yard dumpsters and one 6 cubic yard Recology dumpster were filled to capacity with “human-generated filth too vile to describe.” Gitlin estimated the weight of the trash at 4-7 tons.

“There were scores of drug needles among the debris with one of the volunteers whose job it was to walk up and down the line of trash when others located needles, and to properly dispose of the sharpies,” Gitlin said.

Otherwise, no negative incidents or injuries occurred, he said.

The forest floor is now clear and some brush has been cleared from entry trails that allow for clearer views of the area.

“I am extremely proud of this elite group of volunteers and how this huge effort impacts the will of so many to keep our community beautiful,” Gitlin wrote.

Giltin said the California Coastal Commission was informed of the cleanup and supported it, though no permit was needed. An encroachment permit was secured by DFW through Caltrans, Gitlin noted.

DFW information officer Kyle Orr suggested that if anyone sees illegal camping or dumping taking place on the now-cleaned land, they can call the department’s CALTIP line, 1 888 334-CALTIP (888 334-2258).

Orr is looking into whether the property will be posted with signs in the future.

The people

Berkowitz provided the following list of volunteers:

Craig S Bradford, Bonnie K Brown, Gregg Cetnar, Jim and Sheila Coop, Eileen Cooper, Peter Davis, Amy Durham, Angie Gitlin, Sherey Gould, Annemarie Hazelton, Ashley Herrera, Keith Jones, Kerry Killian, Matt Kime, Autumn Lee, Nissa Levy, Jacob Lord, Dave Mason, Ron and Debbie Mayhue, James Mierkey, Kerri and Grant Morris, Colleen Murray, Rhyn Noll, Jim Norton Jr., Richard Pederson, Michael Poole, Ginny Restad, Karna Robb, Evelyn Santillan, Randy Scott, David Short, David and Marilyn Slagle, Jake and Patricia Smith, Elmer Steeves, Brighton Stromberg, Gine Van Wormer, Phillip Wadsworth, Joel Wallen, Donna Westfall, Richard White and Jaime Yarbrough.

Special thanks were given to: Hambros WSG, Team Home Depot, Team Walmart, Crescent Ace Hardware, The Interfaith Council and missionaries from the Church of Latter Day Saints, Surfrider Del Norte, Del Norte Amateur Radio Club, KCRE/KPOD, Caltrans, and Take a Bite out of Blight volunteers.

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