Two dozen cars lined the Jim Jones Shooting Range road and more than 30 people fanned out over the forest floor at the Forest Service cleanup day on March 3.
In one area, it looked like a house had blown up. A couch, water heater, household trash and construction material lay strewn about next to the road.
“On Monday when we checked out this area, none of that was here,” said Rachel Hohl, Forest Service ranger.
The volunteers swarmed the area, making quick work of the mess.
“It looked awful when we first got here,” said Dusty Miller, “and in half an hour, look at this.”
He pointed to the pristine meadow uncovered after volunteers collected and bagged the trash for Forest Service personnel to haul away.
The half-ton Forest Service pickup trucks could barely keep up with the loads of trash the large group of volunteers collected in a short time.
As the trucks moved trash from the site, volunteers put in fence posts and strung wire along the user-created trails to keep others from future dumping. Signs have been posted to keep litterbugs out.
People who dump in the forest can be ticketed and given a stiff fine. In comparison, taking trash to the landfill can cost less than $10 or have no charge at all.
“It’s uncalled for with so many places to dump for free,” said Ben Lindley. “It must be because people believe it’s remote out here that it’s OK to dump.”
This past weekend, the landfill hosted a “dump your appliance for free” day. Landfill management has other days scheduled for the future, such as a tire recycling day and a paint dump day.
The next forest cleanup day is scheduled for April 7.