ILLEGAL DUMPING CLEAN UP PROJECT REMOVES MORE THAN 70 TONS OF TRASH
FROM PULASKI COUNTY
PULASKI COUNTY-The combined efforts of volunteers, local agencies and federal dollars have led to the removal of more than 70 tons of illegally dumped items from five different locations in Pulaski County. Dumpsites on Belle, Rawlins and Texas roads and US Forest Service Road 1620 and 344 are now clean.
The illegal dump clean up effort was a pilot project, initiated by the Meramec Regional Planning Commission and the Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District, with grant funding from the USDA Rural Development and the solid waste district, and launched last fall. "We really appreciate all the cooperation and assistance we had on these cleanups," said Tammy Snodgrass, MRPC environmental programs manager. "Once the sites are cleaned up, we want to keep it that way. We really appreciate the fact that several area residents have volunteered to keep an eye on the site for us.
Work in Pulaski County started in early May when Pulaski County Commissioner Dennis Thornsberry and a five-person crew from the Pulaski Road and Bridge Department, including Ronnie Walters, Steve Street, Chuck Carter, John Routh and Tom Robertson, spent many hours during May 4-12, 2005 cleaning up two old dumpsites located on Belle Road and Rawlins Road that have been local eyesores and concerns for many years. Almost 30 tons of trash was removed from these two sites. Disposal costs were covered by grant funds.
A local resident-Alex Wiggs-took the initiative to clean up another dumpsite along Texas Road in St. Robert. Wiggs saw the dump develop and increase in size over the past six months and decided to address the problem by taking a day off from work and cleaning it up. Three truck loads of trash were removed from this stretch of road and properly disposed of at the St. Robert Transfer Station. Again grant funds were used to cover the disposal costs.
Clean up efforts in the county continued with two more illegal dumpsites in the Mark Twain National Forest being removed, thanks to the efforts of the US Forest Service staff and with help from the Missouri Department of Corrections and the Pulaski County Road and Bridge Department. More than 11 tons of trash was removed from FS Road 1620, and another 26 tons of trash was removed from FS Road 344. In addition, Forest Service volunteers picked up another three tons of metals and 200 tires that were scattered over National Forest lands.
"We are fortunate that these folks were willing to partner on these projects," said Snodgrass. "Our grant funding is winding down, and we would not have been able to accomplish so much had these local agencies and volunteers not been willing to do the hard part of picking up the trash and debris and allowing us to pay for proper disposal. Literally, their "sweat" equity made these clean ups possible."
Prior to clean up efforts, MRPC completed a survey and documented 69 illegal dumps in the Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District, which includes Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties. Water sources are particularly vulnerable to the effects of illegal dumping as hazardous materials can seep through the ground and contaminate water supplies.
An illegal dumping advisory committee was formed and consists of local landowners, county officials, local media and representatives of local, state and federal agencies. The committee is advising MRPC on effective methods for educating residents, organizing volunteers and cleaning dumpsites. Local residents were asked to volunteer time to help clean dumpsites and make sure that the cleaned sites remain clean. Two educational meetings were held during September 2004in Phelps and Maries counties. The group's final meeting is planned June 23 in St. James.
Besides being aesthetically unpleasing, illegal dumping lowers property values and poses an unsanitary risk to residents living near a dumpsite. The Missouri Department of Transportation spends more than $6 million every year to pick up litter and county governments spend thousands as well. MRPC staff is currently working with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, county sheriffs, prosecuting attorneys and judges to catch and prosecute illegal dumpers in the Ozark Rivers district. MRPC also maintains a hotline to report illegal dumping. To report an illegal dump, you may call 1-800-NO2-DUMP (1-800-662-3867), or call your county commissioner or sheriff. A waste disposal guide for the Ozark Rivers district is available at city halls or utility offices in every city in the district. This guide points residents to businesses who accept hard-to-dispose-of items, including refrigerators, tires and motor oil. The guide is also available on MRPC's website at www.meramecregion.org..
For more information on the MRPC, ORSWMD or the illegal dump cleanup program, please contact Nongluk Tunyavanich or Tammy Snodgrass at (573) 265-2993.