Mark Twain once said, "Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."
His point was recently brought home on a recent junket into the Tonto National Forest with Payson Ranger District Recreation Officer Walt Thole. The mission: to photograph and record examples of illegal dumping, a growing problem in the Rim country and in all our nation's forests.
Just a few hundred yards down Crackerjack Road north of Payson was pile after pile of trash. And it wasn't just campers leaving their beer cans and paper plates behind. It was washers, dryers, stoves, water heaters, tires, mattresses, roofing materials, automobiles, and even an abandoned camper trailer.
What is it that's so difficult about taking trash and junk to the landfill? True, it's a bit of a drive. And it does cost a few bucks.
But the alternative too many Rim country residents choose -- sneaking off into the forest and dumping illegally -- is simply not acceptable.
It's not only rude and inconsiderate, it's dangerous and it's illegal. And it verifies what Mark Twain said about the human race.
Meanwhile, up Highway 87 a few miles beyond Crackerjack Road, Buckhead Mesa Landfill awaits your unwanted refuse. You'll pay $22 a ton for green brush, $37.51 a ton for typical household garbage, and $44.77 a ton for all other trash, including construction materials and most of the other large items dumped in the forest.
There's also a $5 freon evacuation fee for items like refrigerators and other freon-powered coolers and devices. That may sound pricey, but a large pickup load will only cost you about $10, according to Thole. And on occasion, if you listen to the radio and read the Roundup, you can take advantage of free metal days at the landfill.
Buckhead Mesa Landfill is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call the landfill at (928) 476-3350.
We are fortunate in the Rim country to have the Tonto National Forest as an extended back yard. Do people trash their own back yard because they're lazy or cheap? Or are they simply stupid?
There was a time when landfills were known by the less politically correct term "dumps." Maybe if we went back to calling them that, the idiots who are defiling our forests would get it.
In the meantime, it's up to the rest of us to help the Payson Ranger District catch the perpetrators. Call (928) 474-7900 with any information about illegal dumping.