Classy, not trashy: Moffat County sees less illegal dumping on public lands
Folks aren’t trashy in Craig and Moffat County.
The Bureau of Land Management says residents of Moffat County and Craig don’t illegally dump trash on rural public lands at the rate some Western Slope communities do.
Colorado has struggled in the past with illegal dumping, especially on the hundreds of thousands of acres of federal BLM lands that dot the state.
BLM officials in Utah estimated they spent more than $125,000 between 2005 and 2009 to clean up dumped electronics. Closer to home, the BLM’s Grand Junction Field Office cleaned up more than 63,000 pounds of illegally dumped trash in 2009 and some 37,000 pounds in 2010.
Though he didn’t have any recent data on illegally dumped trash in Moffat County, BLM Spokesman David Boyd said cleaning illegally discarded refuse isn’t always easy.
“Illegal dumping on BLM land is a challenge throughout western Colorado given the proximity of BLM land to communities,” Boyd said in an email. “It actually isn’t as common on BLM land in Moffat County as it is on BLM land in some other counties in western Colorado.”
When illegal dumping does occur, Boyd says it’s mostly yard clippings.
“Sometimes people will dump yard waste like grass and branches and assume that is OK since it’s ‘natural’ or ‘biodegradable,'” Boyd said. “But yard waste actually is a problem for a number of reasons. It looks bad. It can add to fire danger and spread weeds. But the biggest problem is dumping yard waste basically turns the area into a place where people think they can dump anything. First there is a pile of branches, and then another, and then a couch and some household trash, etc.”
At its July 23 council meeting, Craig City Council discussed the dumping of branches and other yard waste inside Sherwood Forest and are making plans to remove or mulch the dumped brush. Though the brush is one example of illegal dumping in the city, Craig Community Service Officer Jill Nelson — who handles all of Craig’s animal and code enforcement calls along with a team of community service officers — said they spend “less than 1% percent of our time” handling calls related to illegally-dumped trash.
If there’s illegally dumped trash in the wide-open, unincorporated areas of Moffat County not on public land, chances are Dan Miller and his Moffat County Road and Bridge crews will find it. Miller said Moffat County taxpayers spent some time and money cleaning up others’ trash.
“In the last 10 years the county has spent a total of 215.5 man-hours picking up illegally dumped trash,” Miller said in an email. “We see a fair amount of tires and an occasional sofa or refrigerator.”
Miller said that trash usually isn’t a problem for his crews — or for taxpayers.
“There isn’t a huge problem with illegal dumping in the county,” Miller said.
Aside from dumped trash, Boyd said the area’s recreational shooters should be sure and clean up after themselves.
“Target shooters should clean up after they are done and not shoot things like glass and monitors,” Boyd said.
If residents need to dispose of lots of junk, the county dump is probably the best bet. Residents can dispose of a literal ton of trash and other special waste for $55 or less, depending on what kind of waste is being disposed of. The dump will not, however, take refrigerated units without the proper certification, liquid waste, hazardous waste/chemicals, biohazard bags/refuse, or propane tanks with the valve still attached.
“We ask the public to please use the appropriate facilities like county dumps,” Boyd said.
Residents can report illegal dumping to Colorado State Patrol Dispatch at 970-824-6501 or the BLM Little Snake Field Office at 970-826-5000.
A Craig mother charged with criminally negligent homicide after her son perished in a house fire on Christmas Eve is set to appear before a Moffat County judge next week.