It’s that time of the year again. Great weather is rapidly approaching, the county’s scenic mountains and the beautiful desert areas are just begging to be explored.
As people head out into the untamed areas of mostly uninhabited portions of Mohave County, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see some unscrupulous individuals have no respect for our public lands or private property.
It’s paradoxical that even though we reside in a very picturesque area, some treat Mohave County as their personal dumping ground. Proof of this can be seen daily while driving the highways, the dirt roads that stretch throughout our county, and on the public lands managed by Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Arizona State Trust Lands and even in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area (a U.S. National Park).
Fast-food containers, baby diapers, old tires, the paper cup that held yesterday’s latte, beer and soda cans, water bottles and other trash are haphazardly thrown along the sides of roads, on vacant lots and on public lands.
Drinking beer in vehicles and then tossing out the empties is a major problem within the county, as evidenced by the number of bottles and cans haphazardly tossed along our streets, roads and highways. Not only is it unsightly pollution, it is very much illegal to drink and drive.
Not all trash alongside roadways and out in the uninhabited areas of the county is deposited by residents. Some visitors traveling through our area toss trash out of car windows instead of using an in-vehicle litter bag, not waiting to place it in containers at gas stations or other appropriate receptacles.
There are a select few residents who have even shown a total disregard to our picturesque areas by discarding mattresses, couches, household appliances and abandoned vehicles in them.
It’s beyond comprehension why some residents spend more time and money purchasing gas to drive out into the middle of nowhere to illegally dump. It would take less money and effort if they actually took their junk and trash to the landfill at 7300 Mineral Park Road in Golden Valley, the landfill at Highway 95 and Chenoweth Drive in Lake Havasu City or the landfill at Highway 95 and El Rodeo Road in Mohave Valley.
Illegal dumping creates an environmental eyesore and victimizes property owners, who sometimes end up paying big bucks to remove the junk and trash.
People who illegally dump their trash, TVs, appliances and vehicles do not think they will ever be caught. Well, there is news for them; “big brother” is actively looking for them.
Mohave County officials are not accepting the litter problem as just a fact of life. The Mohave County Parks Department has a program called Environmental Rural Area Cleanup Enforcement (ERACE) that deals with the continuing problem.
ERACE is a multi-faceted program that goes after the people dumping illegally. If convicted of illegally dumping garbage in county areas, commonly referred to as “wildcat dumping,” people could spend time in jail and pay a hefty fine.
“If people can’t take their trash to the dump,” ERACE Coordinator Todd Davison said, “they should not dump on someone else’s property.”
According to ERACE officials, if people illegally dump less than 300 pounds of trash, it is a misdemeanor, and if more than 300 pounds, the violator can be charged with a felony.
“We have had more felony and misdemeanors prosecuted for illegally dumping in the first two months of 2018 than we had all of last year,” Davison said.
Local city and county governments do not have the funds to hire hundreds of people to actively search for illegal dumpers. That’s where concerned residents come into the picture. If they happen to see someone illegally dumping trash, they should take pride in our beautiful lands and get involved. Write down the description of the person or persons illegally dumping, the description of their vehicle, the vehicle’s license plate number, the location where the illegal dumping occurred and the time and date of the incident. If they have a camera with them, take a picture of the culprits, the vehicle being used and after the illegal dumpers leave the area, a photo of the trash that was dumped illegally. The more information they provide law enforcement personnel and agencies, the better the chances the perpetrators will be caught and prosecuted. Never attempt to contact or confront the person or persons illegally dumping. Contact your local law enforcement agency or call ERACE at 928-715-0480 if you spot someone illegally dumping within Mohave County.
ERACE also assists residents with community-improvement projects. They, in cooperation with other local and county public works, highway and sanitation departments, are more than willing to assist residents interested in cleaning up their neighborhoods. The various departments sometimes provide large dumpsters during community clean-up projects, may even send a truck to pick up the bagged litter or big items, and provide paint to cover up graffiti.
Both city and county governments also schedule free trash days for residents to get rid of large junk items, trash and toxic waste such as old cans of paint, at a specific location for no charge.
Litter on lands managed by the BLM is not always put there by the people you might suspect as the culprits. It’s not just kids who go onto the BLM lands to party, leaving their beer bottles and cans behind. Many adults litter there, too.
BLM officials consider littering and illegally dumping a very serious problem. The maximum allowable punishment an individual can receive under federal law for an illegal dumping incident, which might include toxic waste, on BLM lands is 12 months in jail and a $100,000 fine.
There is one easy solution to the problem of trash in the areas people might be traveling across or visiting. Take a large plastic bag when hiking, camping or just traveling through those areas. Bring out your trash and some that has been dropped by other visitors. It doesn’t take that much effort to bend over and pick up those pieces of paper, water bottles, trash and beer cans someone else thoughtlessly left behind.
If each visitor picked up just a small portion of the garbage randomly discarded by those who don’t care about our environment, then Mohave County will continue to be as picturesque as it is now.
We, the residents of Mohave County, need to take that extra effort to keep our area beautiful. Take pride in what we have.
Nobody wants to vacation or live in a dump.