Wildcat dumping has plagued the Golden Valley desert for several years, and the mounds of trash continue to grow despite the valiant efforts of a local volunteer trash brigade.
The Golden Valley Cactus Cleaners are a group of volunteers who banded together two years ago in an attempt to help clean up the areas outside Golden Valley. The areas had become filled with trash from people illegally dumping items that should have been taken to the landfill.
Even though the Cactus Cleaners have the support of dozens of people, and continuously go out into the desert to cleanup dumpsites, the sheer amount of dumping that takes place
makes it difficult for the group to stay caught up.
“They’re dumping it faster than we can pick it up,” said one of the original members, Wayne Hollins. “What we’re doing, it’s not working.”
The belief that the Cactus Cleaners’ efforts are not working may be difficult to understand considering what they have accomplished so far.
Hollins said that the group has picked up about 155,000 pounds of trash, 6,400 tires and at least 7 boats since they came together two years ago.
“Wayne Hollins and the Golden Valley Cactus Cleaners have been instrumental in getting trash and tires removed after a case has been closed due to lack of prosecution or contact with the trash generator,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Jean Bishop.
The idea that there is no improvement however, shows that illegal dumping has clearly become a major problem.
“Littering is a serious problem in Mohave County that affects the health and welfare of citizens and degrades property values,” Bishop said.
Although there are severe penalties for illegal dumping, it is difficult to prosecute a person whose trash can be found, but they cannot. Without leaving behind personal identification, or having a constant watch, it can be difficult to track down the dumpers.
“Unfortunately, most cases lack the witnesses or evidence for prosecutions,” Bishop said.
In 2002, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors helped develop the Environmental Rural Area Clean-up Enforcement program. ERACE detectives patrol the desert looking for illegal dumpsites and any possible identification of the people involved.
“Many trash generators are identified, educated and forced to clean up dumpsites at their own expense to avoid prosecution,” Bishop said.
The education of proper dumping procedures has become a major focus for the Cactus Cleaners as well as ERACE.
Hollins has offered some tips for people who are looking to pay someone to take materials to the dump. Because there have been people hired to do this very simple task but end up illegally dumping in order to also pocket the land fill fee. These tips can help save the employer possible charges if their items are found at an illegal dumpsite.
Look into the history of who you are hiring if at all possible.
Record their name, phone number and license plate number.
Request a receipt from the landfill to be delivered as soon as the task is complete.
Hollins said that he hopes that the Cactus Cleaners’ efforts, as well as their social media presence, can show people how big of a problem illegal dumping has become, as well as show that there is a way to combat the problem.
“Participation doesn’t have to be on the ground, at the dumpsites,” Hollins said. “You can contribute in other ways. If all you can do is hold a bag, hold a bag.”
For those who come across an illegal dumpsite, Detective Todd Davidson said they should report it to ERACE by calling 928-715-0480 or by reporting it to the Mohave Silent Witness line at 888-227-8780. Davidson also said that if you come across an illegal dumping in progress, you should immediately report it to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office by calling 928-753-0753.
Hollins said that reporting alone doesn’t solve the problem however.
“Rather than just pointing a finger and waiting for the trash to be picked up by someone else, go out there and take care of it,” Hollins said. “If every resident in Golden Valley picked up just one pound a week, they would do more than we ever could.”