The Clackamas County Forest and Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management joined forces in 2003 to track down and prosecute illegal dumpers on public forest lands. "Dump Stoppers," as the program is called, is funded by a federal grant to deter illegal dumping and vandalism on U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Clackamas County owned forest lands within the County. The partnership also includes: private timberland owned by Longview Timberlands, Port Blakely, Olympic Resource Management and Weyerhaeuser, which is adjacent to federal lands; the State of Oregon Department of Forestry and Department of Fish & Wildlife; Portland General Electric; and Hopkins Demonstration Forest. This grant does not apply to illegal dumping on private property.
An increase of illegal dumpsites has taken its toll on federal forested lands in Clackamas County over the years. This continuing problem has prompted the closure of recreation areas in the county with other sites being considered for closure.
"The problem is massive," said Tom Ortman, Clackamas County Retired Natural Resource Coordinator and program founder. "This is literally an epidemic of illegal dumping and vandalism and we are facing major health concerns in our public lands."
The Dump Stoppers program utilizes a multi-pronged approach to confront the illegal dumping. At the heart of the program is a Clackamas County Sheriff's Deputy dedicated to tracking down illegal dumpers and vandals, along with support from an Operations Coordinator/Environment Assistant. A Compliance Hearings Officer and/or the District Attorney’s Office support the program as needed to prosecute offenders; and community corrections crews are used to clean up larger dumpsites, with County Forest staff used on smaller sites and/or in the county's back country.
The Dump Stoppers program track record has proven the program is highly successful. In 2010, a total of 75,180 pounds of solid waste was collected, along with 857 pounds of scrap metal, 1000 pounds of hazardous waste, 572 tires and the removal of 43 vehicles. Group efforts also were reflected in the recovery of 680 pounds of dry waste and 649 pounds of recyclable materials. [In 2009, recycling efforts were stepped up to include recovery of construction dry waste and other recyclable items such as aluminum cans, plastic bottles, glass and cardboard. A total of 6,909 pounds, excluding tires and scrap metal, was removed from the forest and not landfilled.]
The overall program totals from 2003-2010 are 667,787 pounds of solid waste, 5,082 pounds of hazardous waste, 58,533 pounds of scrap metal, 7,342 tires, 412 vehicles, and 2 illegal structures removed from the forest! There was a 40% reduction in waste collected in 2006 compared with 2003, with a slight increase in 2007-2010 specifically with construction and remodeling waste. These increases are most likely due to the current state of the economy.
One source of waste that does not seem to dissipate or decrease is the trash associated with shooting areas. These clean up results are due to coordinated efforts and the hard work of our partners, staff and volunteers.
Citizens are asked to play a major role in the Dump Stoppers program. A telephone tipline is available for persons to call when they see or suspect illegal dumping on federal, county, or timber company lands. The number is 503-650-3333. Callers are encouraged to leave their information so staff can confirm their complaint, however, callers can remain anonymous.
Lawn signs and bumper stickers with the Dump Stoppers logo and phone number are available upon request to individuals and groups who live near these forested lands. "We're working closely with rural groups in a form equivalent to 'Neighborhood Watch' in the urban areas," Ortman said.
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