Solutions sought to control desert dumping

Mattresses and other trash litter the desert landscape north of town north and west of Mohave Community College with Bull Mountain in the background. County officials and residents are concerned with the vast amounts of trash illegally dumped in the surrounding desert.

Photo by JC Amberlyn.

Mattresses and other trash litter the desert landscape north of town north and west of Mohave Community College with Bull Mountain in the background. County officials and residents are concerned with the vast amounts of trash illegally dumped in the surrounding desert.


Trash left by “wildcat” dumpers is more than what county officials and volunteers can clean up.

KINGMAN – Wayne Hollins is getting tired of cleaning up all the trash that’s been illegally dumped in the desert around his home in Golden Valley, and he doesn’t see Mohave County doing much to stop or even slow the criminal activity.

Hollins and a group of volunteers removed 99,000 pounds of trash and 33 tires and barely made a dent in the clutter that ruins the area’s natural beauty and looks as if people have no pride in their community.

“We’re not keeping up,” Hollins told county supervisors at their Dec. 19 regular meeting. “They’re dumping faster than we’re picking it up.”

The Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance in 2015 to crack down on “wildcat” dumpers, as they’re called, with a fine and jail time if they’re caught and don’t clean up their trash within five days.

They attached a $500 fine to a state law for prosecuting illegal dumping, offering the money as a reward for anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of wildcat dumpers.

It’s been a problem for years not just in Mohave County, but throughout the state, said Todd Davison, program coordinator for ERACE, or Environmental Rural Area Cleanup Enforcement.

Mohave County created ERACE in 2003 to address illegal dumping, taking a percentage of landfill fees to pay for three investigators who would work to educate the public and enforce the law.

“We have ERACE, but it’s not very effective,” Hollins said. “Dumpers have a better chance of winning the lottery than they have of getting caught. It’s not working and it’s every one of your fault. They’re not worried about getting caught. What? You get five days to clean it up.”

Davison said ERACE removed 322 tons of litter from public property in 2015-2016, including more than 2,900 discarded tires. The agency has 350 open investigations and 358 closed cases.

“It would take 81 full-size garbage trucks to remove that amount of trash,” Davison said. “It’s quite a bit.”

In the month of November, ERACE assisted in the removal of 47,000 pounds of trash during cleanup projects in Meadview; 8,200 pounds in Dolan Springs; 1,140 pounds in Golden Valley; and 1,595 pounds in Kingman.

Difficult prosecution

If an illegal dumper is positively identified, an arrest could be made, Davison said. However, only one reward was paid through Mohave County Sheriff’s Office for a successful prosecution, he noted.

Public Works receives help from the Sheriff’s Office, Environmental Health, Development Services and probation department for providing labor for clean-up.

Doug, who did not want to give his last name, complained to the Daily Miner about 6-foot wooden spools that were dumped off of Stockton Hill near Cactus Wren. They’ve been there for a couple of months.

“I go cruising out there and don’t much like it,” he said “I’m going to get rid of them myself. I just want to know, who’s the dog?”

He suggests putting trail cameras in areas that are common dumping grounds to identify perpetrators.

“If we don’t have evidence … some people may dump and not leave the same evidence,” Davison said. “If we had more witnesses, we could have more prosecutions. Sometimes we know who left it, but not who generated it.”

It’s a huge job – almost impossible – for three people to cover the entire area of Mohave County, Supervisor Gary Watson said. He asked about reducing the grace period from five days to three or even two.

“Usually people will clean it up before five days,” Davison said. “I don’t know that changing the time frame will pick up more trash.”

“How about 24 hours to clean it up or you go to jail?” Watson responded.

Davison said a fine in addition to the five-day notice might be more of a motivator. A lot of people hire contractors to haul away their trash, and those are the cases lacking sufficient evidence for prosecution.

“We have to treat it like prostitution,” Supervisor Steve Moss said. “I’d like to put the fine on the homeowner who knows the person they hired isn’t licensed. That person knows what they’re doing. They’re part of the problem.”

Mandated service

Perhaps mandating trash pickup in higher density areas would help solve the problem, Supervisor Jean Bishop suggested. With its low tax structure and cost of living, Mohave County attracts people from lower-income brackets who want to live cheaply, and many of them get by without paying for trash pickup, she said.

“I know it’s not the popular thing to do, but maybe it’s time to require mandatory trash pickup,” Bishop said.

Davison said he could see that in some areas of Butler, Birdland and Golden Valley. ERACE does schedule a community cleanup day, which is basically a free dump day, he said.

“Maybe mandatory trash pickup can be set up in some way. One person with a trailer. It doesn’t have to be a trash company,” Davison said. “We have areas where there is no trash service required and trash piles up on the property. It would certainly cut down the problem in areas of Golden Valley.”

Some folks are elderly and don’t have a trailer to haul their trash or even a vehicle to pull the trailer, he added.

“They just can’t get the trash there. That’s their excuse,” he said. “We try to do it once a year in problem areas. We don’t want it to replace trash service. They save it up for the community cleanup and that’s not a good idea.

“Maybe we need a combination of things. Mandatory trash service, maybe a community cleanup twice a year in bad areas. We wouldn’t do more than that or it basically becomes a transfer station.”

Supervisor Buster Johnson said illegal dumping is never going to stop until the county puts serious consequences in place.

“People out there could use $500 for Christmas. They’ll set up trail cameras,” Johnson said. “Make some people rich. Put some people in jail. You’re giving them five days’ notice and no prosecution.”


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WindyCity 3 weeks ago

If Mohave County wants to solve the desert dumping problem, all they need to do is look at how neighboring La Paz County solved the problem. In La Paz County there are waste Transfer Stations in each small town where residents can dump their trash for FREE. As a result desert dumping in La Paz County is almost nonexistent. La Paz County is one of the poorest Counties in Arizona and yet they have run this very successful program for years.


Smith 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Unfortunately republicans run Mohave County, they cannot keep track of over a million dollar theft by one of their own, doubt they collectively can figure out how to do this, but maybe you can put a bug in their ear! :-)


Gunguy45 2 weeks, 1 day ago

It must be terrible to live in your brain RH/Smith. A person makes a perfectly good suggestion and you drag politics in to it. No suggestion of your own, no atta-boy for WindyCity, just hate hate hate of Republicans.

Btw, the theft was in the City of Kingman, not the County. And I'd say they found who did it and what she did with it pretty quickly. The travesty is that it's taking so long to go to trial, giving her plenty of time to get rid of or hide things. And her bond was ridiculously low. There should have been an immediate confiscation of all portable property and a lien placed on her home. If she was found innocent (ha) here's your stuff back.


Ljackson86401 3 weeks ago

I have lived here my entire life......this has been an ongoing problem FOREVER and not a sole seems to care... 50 percent of the "birdland" Butler Addition area looks like a dump and it's filthy....shameful...a few years back the County/City were supposed to put together a task force and cleanup Kingman-- So much for that! As time goes on this town is turning into a ghetto in places...I am hoping for some changes with the new Mayor and City Council members....time will tell...But don't hold your breath..on second thought you are soon going to have to around the Butler Addition area due to the smell of the garbage everywhere...


Xsandiego 3 weeks ago

erace is a joke. i watch out here in north GV and a local (BHC) bug control guy pulled into the desert near my house and started dumping a green liquid. i ran out there and stopped him but, i stopped him TOO SOON. i called the sheriff and was referred to ERACE. the erace officer decided that there wasnt much of a dump and let the guy go. THERE WASNT MUCH DUMPED BECAUSE I STOPPED THE GUY. the ERACE IDIOT officer also decided it wouldnt get into the waterway because it WASNT IN A WASH, but i showed the IDIOT where it ALL dumped into the main wash from that same area. i say we need less guys writing reports and more people fining the dumpers.


minergirl50 2 weeks, 6 days ago

The Sheriffs are a joke. A couple years ago i had called them out because i caught a trespasser that broke into one of my mines, All they cared about was if anyone had warrants. They never even bothered arresting the guy and seemed to not even GAF. The guy even admitted he broke the lock off my mine door and went inside. All they did was just want all of our ID's to check for warrants! They spent more time checking warrants than putting the cuffs on the guy even after he admitted breaking into my mine. After it was all said and done, i asked them if they planned on arresting him and all they said was "theres nothing we can do and we have other calls to worry about!" What a fking joke the whole thing was!


schmiedeke 3 weeks ago

This article needs correcting. Wayne Hollins and Golden Valley Cactus Cleaners have cleaned (quoted from BOS meeting of Dec. 19, 2016) 99,000 pounds of trash and 3,300 tires from the Golden Valley area.


billy 3 weeks ago

simple fix. put open top dumpster next to the recycle bins (which have cut down on plastic and cardboard going to the dump 10 fold) and allow folks to dump trash at those open top dumpsters. If the cost is an issue raise ALL residents trash bills by 5 dollars per month and the cost would be lowered and the city and county would become cleaner. We need to spend money were it is needed. instead of splash pads for 200k (which now the city has to pay for keeping it up) and branding the city for 45k spend it on cleaning the city. Get the dump that makes huge profits to donate some dumping costs. We spent 45k for city branding and got ZERO increase to the area. Kingman is already BRANDED since the 1950's RT 66 did that. every person knows we are here. who wants to travel to see a dump. Our RT66 is lined with scrap yards and junk not cool stores & drive in restaurants and sonic don't count. our new mayor needs to pull in the over spending and clean the city.


Diogenes_Lantern 3 weeks ago

The answer is already had in a number of comments above. Put "free to dump" trash bins in select locations and trash dumping in the desert will decrease substantially. I can't afford trash pickup as I live in a limited income, so I bag it up and once a week take it into Kingman and put it in one of their free trash bins. I've been caught a couple of times and asked where I lived. When I responded "Golden Valley" I was told to take it there and dump it. I asked, "Where? In the desert" and was told they didn't care, just not to bring GV trash to Kingman. I have also called ERACE a number of times over illegal dumping and never got a response. Mohave County is trash. So be it.


billy 2 weeks, 6 days ago

the bins your throwing your trash in are not free trash bins they are recycle bins for cardboard and plastic not your trash. get a job if you can't afford 17.00 per month for trash how do you afford the items you cause the trash with.


Gunguy45 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Billy, billy, billy, once again you have your facts wrong. All the dog parks and I believe the City parks have trash bins. I don't know whether they are for public use or not, but they aren't recycle bins.


AlGleason 3 weeks ago

Before moving to Kingman I lived in Tuolumne county in CA. We had a similar dumping problem however in Stanislaus county next door (Mark Twain of jumping frog fame) they included the cost of county trash cleanup to the county property tax assessments. That county is as clean as a whistle!!!!! I know taxes are a naughty word, but really, that is the solution.


mountaingirl 2 weeks, 6 days ago

I am from Prescott, but have lived here for over 15 years. The trash issue will continue until residents find some pride for their community. In Prescott, you know better than to dump as you will be confronted and reported. The locals will even find evidence in that trash heap that was dumped and report it. I agree that we need some free trash bins for those that cannot afford trash service. I too, have tried to report dumping to ERASE, and agree it is a joke. Not to long ago, I followed a truck with a trailer full of debris around long enough that they gave up and left the area. It was out on North Bank, so if you plan to dump there again, I will be there to try and change your mind.


minergirl50 2 weeks, 4 days ago

Actually this is the dirtiest city ive been in in a long long time (and ive nearly been all over the US). As i said in another thread, if the city would stop spending the budget on stupid sht then thered be many good things that could happen for the city(cleaner city streets and surrounding areas, better streets, etc). And yea im all with you on trying to change their minds on dumping. I remember watching on the Justice Channel (Alaska State Troopers i think it was) some time ago where they was investigating some trash left in wilderness by some campers. They ended up catching the individuals by finding mail and prescription bottles with their names on it in the garbage piles they left. LMAO

I notice lots of people will dump in the dumpsters along the alleys and behind businesses BUT id rather them do that than to dump out in the desert to lay there and rot. I dont know just how much trash ive picked up out on public lands and hauled to the dump since ive been in Kingman.


Smith 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Republican geniuses run Mohave County anyone expecting any new ideas is dreaming, the republican party seems to want us all to return to them good old colonial days of no electricity, high mortality rate due to illness, etc., they pine for a time which if they actually go it they would be whining so loud it would be deafening! :-)


Gunguy45 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Why the politics RH/Smith? Where's your suggestion to help? Ahh, you don't have one...just like to cry, got it.


Matt45 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Lots of good ideas here....except for the mandatory trash pickup. The county has the money to address the problem. Over 10 million dollars sits in the landfill budget earmarked for BS projects and pipe dreams that will never happen.

The county use to have transfer stations, 15 of them located in Yucca, Wikieup, Dolan Springs, Meadview etc. There was no illegal dumping problem in the county until these transfer stations were closed. Fund the transfer stations with the excess monies in the landfill account.

Get rid of the ERACE officers and hire equipment operators. Buy a backhoe and two dump trucks and start cleaning up the mess. If you ain't going to prosecute the offenders then clean up their mess.

The problem is, if the county tried to set up a transfer station, it would take them five consultants and 15 years to select 1 location. The problem is not the illegal dumping, the problem is the incompetency to deal with it.


lonfu 2 weeks, 1 day ago

first, thank you daily miner for doing away with facebook sign in. I like being able to protect my family from unwanted comments that should be directed at me. When I moved out from the city in 2001, yes, I know a long time ago, we had a dumper who would dump right next to our property common trash. I picked all the trash up, a 16 foot car hauler that was piled 8 feet high. I then installed a "cowboy" gate across the non- county maintained road where the trash was dumped. The person was forced to dump their trash on the federal road just down the street. Eventually they were caught, but the trash is still there......15 years later....... It was one of the "independent" trash haulers in town...... Sadly, one of the county folks came out and said they had a complaint that I was piling rocks on the road. The Road is a "wash" but I needed more rocks for construction any ways so I went and collected them up. The gate is still there and no more trash has been dumped. The road has washed out and now is in-passable.