A man accused of abandoning a 15-foot travel trailer in the Tonto National Forest has been caught by Forest Service officials.
Dan Smith, a law enforcement officer for the Tonto National Forest said a recent article in the Payson Roundup heightened the community's awareness of illegal dumping.
"I got an anonymous tip that led me to the guy that dumped that trailer that you depicted on the front page," Smith said. "He's been fined and is in the process of cleaning that out."
The trailer was abandoned near Forest Road 209, also known as Crackerjack Road, off Highway 87 just 2 miles north of Payson. The area is a popular illegal dumping site and is littered with large appliances, patio furniture, construction debris and other garbage.
The trailer had been ransacked. Dozens of romance novels, an old toilet and trash were scattered nearby.
Walt Thole, Payson Ranger District recreation officer, also received phone calls in the days following the article.
"We got four or five people calling and offering to use their (equipment) during a cleanup day," Thole said. "We are going to schedule a cleanup day for the Payson district, with our employees here working with some of these folks who have offered to help out."
A Payson Ranger District staff meeting is scheduled for today to set a firm date for the cleanup.
"I'm thinking with the way things are going, with the fire season having the potential of picking up right now, we'll probably end up doing it once a month starting sometime middle to late July," Thole said.
The district has also received numerous calls from individuals volunteering to pick up trash.
"They just want to go out and do what they can, so I gave them some bags," Thole said.
Despite the response, the district can still use a lot more volunteers.
"We found another trailer on the road to the rifle range and then another abandoned vehicle at Flowing Springs today," Thole said. "It just never ends."
While the Crackerjack Road area is probably the worst for illegal dumping, according to Thole, similar areas exist all over the Rim country's forests -- near Shoofly Indian Ruins, Mesa del Caballo, Round Valley, Granite Dells, Paiute Draw and Doll Baby Ranch Road to name just a few of the worst illegal dumping sites.
To report illegal dumping in the forest or to volunteer for cleanup efforts, call the Payson Ranger District office at (928) 474-7900.