Illegal dumping continues to be a serious problem on all districts of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Dumping destroys the natural beauty and habitat of National Forest System (NFS) lands and discourages people from visiting areas where dumping is occurring.
Illegal dump sites are constantly being discovered. Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Law Enforcement Officers are finding dumps that include yard debris, animal carcasses, household garage, appliances, and even motor vehicles.
“It is unlawful to dump any material brought off private property onto NSF lands,” said Bill Dunkelberger, Forest Supervisor. “Illegal dumps detract from the beauty of our forests we all enjoy.”
The maximum fine that can be imposed for illegal dumping is $5,000 and/or six months in jail. Person(s) caught dumping may also be responsible for the cost of clean-up and restoration.
The costs paid by the Forest to continually clean up illegal dump sites are significant to taxpayers. The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest have spent thousands of dollars for clean-up, proper disposal and restoration of these sites.
According to Forest officials, funds used to clean up illegal dumping sites could be used for other purposes, such as maintaining or improving recreation facilities and providing better customer service by hiring more seasonal employees.
Illegal dumping hurts the environment, as well as disrupts the natural processes on land and water. Disposal of toxic substances, such as motor oil or household cleaners, and other solid waste contaminants may seep into soil or groundwater. In the event of heavy rainfall, chemical pollutants present in illegal dumps can be washed onto local watersheds, thus polluting local drinking and recreational waters.
Dumping interferes with proper drainage of runoff. It also increases the potential of flooding if waste blocks ravines, creeks, culverts and drainage basins. In addition, illegal dumping hinders the forest floor from its natural decomposition processes. Air quality is also threatened if the illegal dumpsite is burned; many plastics and other waste products are known to be extremely toxic when burned.
Illegal dumping also affects the health and safety of humans and wildlife. Items such as metal, old appliances, broken glass and other objects may contribute to physical injuries if unexpected contact is made. Birds and small animals may die or become injured after ingesting or becoming entangled in debris. Fish and other aquatic species could be killed when decomposing litter and food wastes contaminate water.
Dump sites that include scrap tires are a perfect place for mosquitoes to breed. Insects can breed 100 times faster than normal in the warm, stagnant water which collects inside the tires. Some mosquitoes can carry life-threatening diseases. Other insects, rodents and animals that are attracted to dumps may also pose health risk.
It is important for everyone to do their part in keeping our Forest clean and safe. If you see someone illegally dumping, please do not approach the violator. After leaving the area, contact your local Forest Service office and provide the following information:
- Date, time and location of illegal dumping
- Description of vehicle and license plate number
- Description of the person dumping
- What was being dumped at the site